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Zo'naras, Joannes

Ἰωάννης Ζωναρᾶς), a celebrated Byzantine historian and theologian, lived in the twelfth century under the emperors Alexis I. Comnenus and Calo-Joannes. During the reign of Alexis he held the high offices of Great Drungarius, or commander of the emperor's body-guards, and of Protoasecretis (Πρωτοασηκρῆτις), or first private secretary of the emperor; but he quitted the world during the reign of Calo-Joannes, and retired to the monastery on Mount Athos, where he spent the remainder of his life in the composition of the various works mentioned below. He is frequently quoted by subsequent Byzantine writers, who all speak of his learning and abilities in terms of the highest praise. He is said to have died at the age of 88 years, and to have been buried in the monastery of St. Elias.


The following is a list of his works which have been printed : --

1. Χρονικόν, or

In 18 books, from the creation of the world to the death of Alexis in A. D. 1118. It is compiled from various Greek authors, whose very words Zonaras frequently retains. The earlier part is chiefly taken from Josephus ; and in the portion which relates to Roman history he has for the most part followed Dio Cassius. In consequence of the latter circumstance the Annals of Zonaras are of great importance in studying the early history of Rome. Of the first twenty books of Dio Cassius we have nothing but the abstract of Zonaras; and even of the later books, of which Xiphilinus has made a more full epitome, Zonaras has preserved many statements of Dion which are entirely omitted by Xiphilinus [XIPHILINUS]. In the latter part of his work Zonaras wrote as an eye-witness of the events he describes, but with a brevity which is surprising, considering the many interesting and important occurrences of his time. His deficiencies, however, in this respect are amply supplied by Anna Comnena, the daughter of the emperor Alexis. [COMNENA.] The history of Zonaras was continued by Nicetas Acominatus, whose work commences at the death of Alexis. [NICETAS.] The first edition of the Annals of Zonaras was printed under the superintendence of H. Wolf, Basel, 1557, 3 vols. fol. The next edition, which was much improved, formed part of the Paris collection of Byzantine writers, and was edited by Du Fresne Du Cange, Paris, 1686, 2 vols. fol. : it was reprinted in the Venice edition of the Byzantine writers. The last and best edition is by Pinder, Bonn, 1841, &100.8vo., which is not yet complete : it forms part of the Bonn collection of Byzantine writers.

2. Συναγωγὴ λέξεων συλλεγεῖσα ἐκ διαφόρων βιβλίων, παλαιᾶς τέ φημι γραφῆς καὶ τῆς νέας καὶ αὐτῆς δήπου τῆς θύραθεν.


This Lexicon was published for the first time by J. A. H. Tittmann, Lips. 1808, 2 vols. 4to. Tittmann thinks that it is the same work as Suidas quotes under the title of Ἐτυμολογικὸν ἄλλο or δεύτερον, in which case it could not have been compiled by Zonaras, as Suidas probably lived in the tenth century.

3. Ἐξήγησις τῶν ἱερῶν καὶ θείων κανόνων, &c.,
an Exposition of the Canons of the Apostles, Councils, and Fathers.


The Exposition of the Apostolical Canons was printed, with a Latin translation, by J. Quintinus, Paris, 1558; and the Exposition of the Canons of the Councils and Fathers was printed by Antonius Salmatia, Milan, 1613. Both parts of the work were published in Greek and Latin by Beveridge (Beveregius), in his Pandectae Canonum, Oxford, 1672, fol.

4. Λόγος πρὸς τοὺς τὴν φυσικὴν τῆς γονῆς ἐκροὴν μίασμα ἡγουμένους.


Printed in Bonefidius, Jus Orientale, 1573, 8 vo., and in Leunclavius, Jus Graeco-Romanum, vol. i. p. 351.

5. Ἐκ προσώπου τῶν ἀρχιερέων περὶ τοῦ μὴ δεῖν δύο δισεξαδέλφους τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγαγέσθαι πρὸς γάμον

To show that two nephews ought not to marry the same woman, printed in Cotelerius.


Monument. Eccles. Graecae, vol. ii. p. 483, foll., Paris, 1681, 4to.

Other works still in manuscript

There are several other works of Zonaras in manuscript, the titles of which are given by Fabricius.

Further Information

Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. xi. p. 222, foll., vol. vii. p. 465, foll.; Schöll, Geschichte der Griechischan Litteratur, vol. iii. pp. 195, 247, 467.)

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1118 AD (1)
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