Matthew of Edessa’s Chronicle (Volume 1) is one of the five gems of medieval Armenian literature that marks the start of Sophene’s Dual Language Series. In this series, we aim to make the most important works of ancient Armenian literature accessible to the broadest possible audience by placing the original Armenian text on the left-hand side and the corresponding English translation on the right-hand side.
A valuable source for this history of the Near East in the 10th – 12th centuries. Matthew’s work describes the period from 952 to 1129. Appended to it is a continuation by Gregory the Priest, which describes events from 1137 to 1162. Western scholars have used the Chronicle primarily for its unique information on the Crusades. It contains, additionally, invaluable information on Byzantium, the Arabs, Seljuks, Iranians, and especially the Armenians, both secular and clerical, both lords and louts. Along with this, Matthew describes such diverse phenomena as urban mobs, siege warfare, and confessional disputes, and he presents a welter of remarkable material of interest to many disciplines, including folklore and anthropology.
Volume 1 was written over eight years (1102 to 1110), and covers the period from 952 to 1052. Nothing certain is known about Matthew’s life. The city of Edessa, whose medieval history is an important focus of Matthew’s Chronicle, played a major role in the development of Armenian literary culture. It was a cosmopolitan center of Syrian, Armenian, and Jewish culture from remote antiquity, and later was influenced to some extent by Greek Hellenism. At the time Matthew was writing—as well as before and after—Armenians of various faiths and speaking numerous languages, lived in a vast stretch of territory, from Georgia in the north, through eastern, central, and western Asia Minor, western Persia, northern Mesopotamia, the Levant, and Egypt.
Length: 240 pages
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
The books in the medieval Armenian literature set address important episodes in Armenian and Near East history, including the Mongol and Seljuk invasions, the fall of Ani, the Battle of Manzikert, the Crusades, etc. The books also contain a welter of information about Armenian anthropology and folklore, and are invaluable learning tools for students of Classical Armenian (Grabar).
The five editions of this set are translated by the renowned Armenologist Robert Bedrosian, who received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1979, specializing in ancient and medieval Armenian history, and went on to have a decades-long successful career in computer programming. These books respect Armenia’s great literary and cultural legacy, as well as Robert’s lifetime contributions to Armenian history, literature and culture.