John Skylitzes and George Kedrenos versions (late 11th & early 12th century)

The translation below is a later rendition of the Niketas Ooryphas’ transfer as retold by  John Scylitzes’ Synopsis of Histories (late 11th century) and his copyist George Cedrenus’ Synopsis of Histories (late 11th/early 12th century).  The latter repeats the former’s account word for word, leaving out only the bracketed phrase below.  I will add the Greek text at some point.  The following translation is a working one based on the copies of the Greek texts in the Bekker 1838 edition and digitized into the TLG.

See Paul Stephenson’s  explanation of Skylitzes.  A full English translation is available in John Wortley’s John Scylitzes, a synopsis of histories (811-1057 A.D.): A Provisional Translation. Wortley published a final translation in 2010 which can be previewed here.  I have not yet reviewed the 2010 translation, but I have compared my translation below with Wortley’s 2000 version.


“Another fleet from Crete was again raised in opposition.  For when Sael, son of Apochaps the admiral was governing Crete, a certain man named Photious, skilled in warfare and energetic was sent by him against the Romans with twenty-seven koumparia [and a multitude of myoparonon and pentekontors], which are usually called galleys.  Photius, setting out from Crete, plundered the islands and the coasts, and struck as far as  Proconessus in the Hellespont, kidnapping and destroying the areas along the way.  Meeting him with the Roman fleet was the patrician Niketas Ooryphas, the droungarios appointed in command of the Roman fleet, near Kardia around the mouth of the Aegean.  Engaging in a mighty battle he immediately burned twenty of the Cretan ships with liquid fire; sword, fire, and water were apportioned to the barbarians in them.  As many as escaped the danger from the ship battle undertook safety by flight.

But although the Cretans in this matter were shattered terribly, they were not content to remain quiet but again attacked by sea.  Equipping pirate ships, they menaced the Peloponnese and the islands below, keeping as their admiral the Photius mentioned above.  Niketas Ooryphas the patrician, commanding the Roman fleet, set out to meet them.  Benefitting from a favorable and auspicious wind, he reached the Peloponnese within a few days and brought his ships to port in the harbor of Kenchreai.  Learning then that the ships of the enemies were plundering the western part of the Peloponnese, Methone, Pylos, Patras, and the land near Korinth, he devised a plan brilliant and skillful.  Dizzied by the thought of circumnavigating the Peloponese around Tainaros and Cape Malea, covering a distance of thousands of miles in vain and losing valuable time, he held this course: at night across the Corinthian Isthmus, employing many hands, he immediately carried his ships to the other sea over dry land.  Putting on board his men, he undertook the deed.

And in this way, he suddenly made an attack on enemies not aware about this, and confounding with fear in violation of their expectations, and throwing their wits into confusion, he did not allow them to get themselves together and to remember their strength, but straightaway they sought flight.  And so, burning some of the the enemy ships and sinking others, destroying some of the barbarians with the sword and making other drown in the deep, and killing the leader of the ships, he forced the rest to be scattered over the Peloponnese.  And netting them later and catching them alive, he subjected them to different punishments.  Some he separated the skin from their flesh, and all the more more those denying their Christian baptism, saying even that this thing separated from them was not their own; others strips of skin were painfully dragged away from their head to ankles; and lifting others with rope he then let them down into kettles filled with boiling pitch; and subjecting others to all sorts of other forms of bad things.  And accomplishing these things, he put terror into them, and brought it about that they not send out more troublesome things against the the Roman empire.”

1 comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s