The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Stephen the Philosopher... and Forger?

I've been reading about Islam's court-astrologers. In the 'Abbasi and Marwani eras, these were tightly bound with the official historians.

Theophilus of Edessa has long been famed as an astrologer and a chronicler; he was also a teacher. Antoine Borrut flags one of his students: one Stephen the Philosopher, among whose published works was an astrology book - in Greek, at Constantinople, in the 790s. That would be after Second Nicaea and the end of iconoclasm, under Constantine VI and Irene. George Syncellus is usually cited as Theophanes’ means to “the Syriac Common Source”. This allows for a Byzantine historians’ isnad: Theophanes < George (as of c. 810) < Stephen (as of the 790s) < Theophilus.

Borrut also alerts us to Hermann Usener, “De Stephano Alexandrino”, Kleine Schriften 3 (Bonn: 1880), 266-89 which I'll re-link, here. This is what Roueché had called “Horoscope of Islam”, and flagged as an after-the-fact fraud (if contemporary with our Stephen). Constantine VII attributed that to a Stephen the Mathematician.

Borrut, Pingree, and Usener have been wondering if Stephen the Philosopher wrote this “Horoscope of Islam”. But the Horoscope pretends to be Heracleian, much earlier. And now we have the Chronographeion (probably) backing that up. Either way if our 790s-era Stephen wrote the "Horoscope", he forged it. Tagging his concoction with his own name.

Roueché, 20 thinks better of the later Stephen. So do I. And Borrut and his Darwin Press editors really should have read Roueché. UPDATE 12/21: ditto, Emmanouela Grypeou.


posted by Zimri on 17:46 | link | 0 comments

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