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Ma'lelas

or MALALAS, IOANNES (Ἰωάννης Μαλέλα or Μαλάλα), a native of Antioch, and a Byzantine historian. According to Hody he lived in the ninth century; but it is more probable that he lived shortly after Justinian the Great, as Gibbon very positively asserts (Decline and Fall, vol. vii. p. 61, not. 1, ed. 1815, 8vo.). Those, however, who pretend that he could not have lived after Mohammed, simply because his name in Syriac, (" Malalas,") means " an orator," the Syrian language being soon superseded by the Arabic, are much mistaken, for the outrooting of the Syriac was no more the work of a century than of a day. It is unknown who Malelas was.


Works


Chronicle of the World

Malelas wrote a voluminous history, or rather chronicle of the world, with special regard to Roman, Greek, and especially Byzantine history. It originally began with the creation of the world, but the commencement is lost, and the extant portion begins with the death of Vulcanus and the accession of i his son Sol, and finishes abruptly with the expedition of Marcianus, the nephew of Justinian the Great, against the Cutzinae in Africa. We do not know how much of the end is lost. This history is full of most absurd stories, yet contains also some very curious facts, and is of great importance for the history of Justinian and his immediate predecessors. The earlier emperors are treated very briefly; eight lines seemed sufficient to the author for the reign of Arcadius. The Eastern emperors have more space allotted to them than the Western. The style is barbarous, except where the author copies other historians who wrote well: the Chronicon Pascale and Cedrenus are extracted to a large extent.


Editions

Edmund Chilmead of Oxford prepared the Editio Princeps, from a Bodleian MS., but he died before he accomplished his task, and the work was published by Humphrey Hody, Ox. 1691, 8vo. That MS. does not contain the beginning of the work, but Chilmead thought that Georgius Hamartolus had copied this portion of the history of Malelas, and consequently supplied the defect from the dry account of Hamartolus. The whole work was divided by Chilmead into 18 books, the first of which, as well as the beginning of the second, belong to Hamartolus. Hody added very valuable prolegomena. The Venice reprint of the Oxford edition (1733, fol.) is quite useless. The Bonn edition by L. Dindorf, 1831, 8vo., is a very careful and revised reprint of the Oxford edition, which contains a considerable number of small omissions, misprints, and other trifling defects, though, on the whole, it is a very good one. Dindorf thought that the account of Hamartolus was not identical with that of Malelas, and consequently published it separately, under the title " Anonymmi Chronologica ;" he might as well have put the name of Hamartolus on the title. A very good account of Malelas is given by Bentley in his "Epistola ad Joannem Millium," on Malelas and other contemporary writers, which is given in the Oxford and Bonn editions.


Further Information

Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. vii. p. 446, &c.; Cave, Hist. Lit. p. 568; Hamberger, Nachrichten von Gelehrten Männern.

[W.P]

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