9 Astronomical Knowledge in The Slavonic Apocalypse of Enoch: Traces of Ancient Scientific Models

Florentina Badalanova Geller

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The celestial cosmography revealed in The Slavonic Apocalypse of Enoch (also designated among the specialists as The Book of the Holy Secrets of Enoch, or 2 Enoch)1 follows the sevenfold pattern of Creation, thus implicitly referring to the biblical scenario of Genesis 1–2, which is also reflected in other Judeo-Christian apocryphal writings, along with Rabbinic tradition and Byzantine hexameral literature. The symbolism of seven as the hallmark of esoteric wisdom in 2 Enoch is reinforced by the fact that the visionary himself is born seven generations after Adam,2 thus completing the first “heptad” of antediluvian ancestors and becoming its “Sabbatical” icon. Seven is also the number of heavens through which Enoch ascends and learns the secrets of the Universe.3 Seven are the planets, about the movements of which he is instructed by the Creator,4 and the heavenly rings, where the luminaries are located, are also seven; seven are the substances from which Adam is composed,5 and seven are the traits assigned to him. In fact, cosmogonic and anthropogonic narratives anchored by the universal formulaic number seven contain some unique cultural features attested exclusively in the last lingua sacra of Europe, Old Church Slavonic. One such case is presented by the planetary order in 2 Enoch; its description offers one of the most enigmatic schemes of celestial topography. While revealing the secrets of the creation of heavenly bodies to the visionary, God states:

On the first and highest ring I placed the star Kronos [= Saturn]; on the second ring, below it, I placed Aphrodite [= Venus], on the third—Ares [= Mars], on the fourth—the Sun, on the fifth—Zeus [= Jupiter], on the sixth—Hermes [= Mercury], on the seventh—the Мoon. I adorned the lower ether with smaller stars [= constellations?], and I put the Sun to shine during the day, while the Moon and stars were to shine during the night; and I ordered the Sun to advance through each zodiac sign, with each of the twelve zodiac signs allocated to a [particular] month. I gave names to the zodiac signs, and the time when they enter to be born [i.e., their Heliacal risings], and the period of their rotational movement. And after that it was night and morning—the fifth day.6

The specific sequence of the seven luminaries in 2 Enoch is a conceptual hapax which so far has not been attested in any other extant cosmographic accounts containing ancient and medieval epistemological models; it does not have a counterpart in texts reflecting exact sciences from either Babylonian or Hellenistic traditions, nor does it occur in writings concerning the astronomical knowledge from the period of Antiquity to the Middle Ages.7 It is rather significant that in the above-quoted fragment from 2 Enoch there is a statement that “each of the twelve zodiac signs is allocated to a [particular] month”; this is a typically Babylonian trait, since in the early development of the zodiac, which we know originated in Babylonia some time before 400 BCE, each of the twelve zodiac signs were conveniently associated with a corresponding lunar calendar month.8 This pattern changed later in Greek astronomy, in which zodiac signs were no longer associated with a lunar month but became a feature of the solar calendar. As a result, the correspondence between a zodiac sign and a single lunar month was gradually abandoned.

A brief survey of planetary order in Slavonic texts of the Byzantine Commonwealth, which are representative of the cultural and scientific context of 2 Enoch, reveals an intriguing epistemological template. Against this particular background, the picture becomes more transparent.

One of the earliest star/planet lists in Old Church Slavonic is found in an astronomical fragment presented in the Symeonic Florilegium, the oldest extant copy of which, Sviatoslav’s Miscellany, comes from 1073.9 In this source, the list of the seven heavenly luminaries (copied on Fol. 250 v, columns i-ii and Fol. 251 r, column i) is rendered in an astral scheme described in relation to the twelve zodiac signs. The scribe claims to be quoting one particular excerpt from the famous Fountain of Knowledge (or Fountain of Wisdom) by John of Damascus (676–749);10 indeed, in the Symeonic Florilegium the section is entitled “John of Damascus on the months in the Macedonian [calendar] according to the Church tradition” [Iѡa(на) Дамаскина о македоньскыихъ мсцихъ отъ црк҃вьнааго прѣданиꙗ]. The opening paragraph of this section reads as follows:

Гл҃ють бо илине сѫшта дъва на десѧте животы • звѣздами на небеси противьноѥ пошьстиѥ имоушта • слъньцѫ же и лоунѣ • и инѣмъ пѧти планитомъ • и • ıв҃ • животы прѣходѧща • седми тои • седми же планитъ сѫть имена се • слъньце ло(у)на • зеус • ѥрмись • ари(с) • афродит(и) • (к)ронос • планиты же наричѫть ꙗ • имьже странъ небесе пошьствиѥ имоуть • ѥсть же по коѥмѹжьдо поꙗсѫ ѥдинъ отъ з҃ • планитъ • а҃ • на прьвѣѥмъ и на вышьшнимь • кронъ • в҃ • на въторѣмь же дии • г҃ • на третиимь же ареи • ☿ • д҃ • на четвьрьтѣмъ • жѣ слъньце • на пѧтѣмъ же афродити • ♀ • ѕ҃ • на шестѣмь же ѥрмии • ꙁ҃ • на седмѣѥмь же и долѣшьниимъ лоуноу • ☾ да слъньце оубо по коѥмоужьдо животоу ходить мсць • а҃ • и на дъва на десѧте мсца • оба на десѧте миноуѥть животъ • ıв҃ • же животъ сѫть имена • и тѣхъ мсци • а҃ • овънь • мсца марта • ка҃ • приѥмлеть сльньце • в҃ • тельць • мѣсѧца априлѧ • въ • кг҃ • д҃ • ракъ • иоунѧ • кд҃ • е҃ • львь • їоулѧ въ • ке҃ • ѕ҃ • дѣвица • аугуста въ • ке҃ • ꙁ҃ • ярьмъ • сетебра • въ • ке҃ • и҃ • скорпиос • октоврѧ • ке҃ • ѳ҃ • стрѣлець ноꙗбрѧ • въ • ке҃ • ı̄ • козьльрогъ • декѧврѧ въ • ке҃ • ı̄а • водолѣиць • їѥнъуарѧ • въ • к҃ • вı̄ • риба • феуавраара • к҃ •11

The Hellenes say that there are twelve astral zodiac signs, which move in heaven in a direction opposite to that of the Sun and the Moon, along with another five planets; these seven [luminaries] pass/move through the twelve zodiac signs. These are the names of the seven planets: Sun, Moon, Zeus [= Jupiter], Hermes [= Mercury], Ares [= Mars], Aphrodite [= Venus], Kronos [= Saturn]; and these move in a direction opposite to that of heaven: that is why they are called planets [= wanderers]. On each of the seven rings there is one of these seven planets. On the first and the highest ring is the planet Kronos [= Saturn], on the second is Dii (Διός) [= Jupiter], on the third is Ares [= Mars] ☿12, on the fourth is the Sun, on the fifth is Aphrodite [= Venus] ♀, on the sixth is Hermes [= Mercury], on the seventh and the lowest is the Moon ☾. In each of the twelve months [during the solar year] the Sun passes through one of the twelve zodiac signs. It passes through all the twelve signs. These are the names of the zodiac signs, along with the names of the months. The Sun goes into the first one, Aries, on March 21st. The second one, Taurus, [begins] on April 23rd; [then comes the third, Gemini]; the fourth, Cancer, [begins] on June 24th; the fifth, Leo, on July 25th; the sixth, Virgo, on August 25th; the seventh, Libra, on September 25th; the eighth, Scorpio, on October 25th; the ninth, Sagittarius, on November 25th; the tenth, Capricorn, on December 25th; the eleventh, Aquarius, on January 20th; the twelfth, Pisces, on February 20th13

Significantly, on the page on which the above-quoted fragment appears in the Symeonic Florilegium, the twelve zodiac signs14 are illuminated along the margins of the text. The order is idiosyncratic, starting from Sagittarius (стрѣльць) and going through Aquarius (водолѣиць), Aries (овънъ), Taurus (тельць), Gemini (близньцы), Leo (левъ), Libra (ѧрьмъ), Cancer (ракъ), Virgo (дѣвица), Scorpio (скорп), Pisces (рыба), and Capricorn (козълърогъ). There have been many attempts to explain the reason behind this peculiar rendition of zodiacal sequence,15 but none of them is satisfactory. On the other hand, a more precise comparison between the astronomical section in the Symeonic Florilegium and the respective excerpts from the Fountain of Knowledge shows that the Florilegium comprises information from two different chapters of the Fountain of Knowledge. Thus in Book 2, Chapter 6 (Concerning Heaven), John of Damascus lists the seven luminaries in an order which differs from that offered by him in Chapter 7 (Concerning light, fire, the luminaries, sun, moon and stars); in Chapter 6 he states the following:16

It is maintained that there are seven heavenly girdles which are situated above each other. It is said that the substance of the heavens is similar to that of a thin smoke, and on each girdle there is a planet. It is maintained that there are seven planets: the Sun, the Moon, Dii (Διός) [= Jupiter], Hermes [= Mercury], Ares [= Mars], Aphrodite [= Venus] and Kronos [= Saturn]. Aphrodite is called either the Morning Star or the Evening Star. They are called planets [= wanderers], since they move in a direction opposite to that which the heavens follow; because the heavens and other stars move from east to west, and only [the planets] move from west to east. And this can be seen [while observing] the Moon, which moves each evening a little backwards [i.e., eastwards].17

Fig. 9.1: “The Angel of the Lord rolls up the skies”; fresco (1476) from the Dragalevtsi Monastery of the Holy Theotokos of Vitosha (Драгалевски манастир Света Богородица Витошка), Bulgaria. The fresco represents an iconographic rendition of the eschatological accounts in Isaiah 34: 4 (“And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree”) and The Apocalypse of John (The Book of Revelation) 6: 14 (“And the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together”). Depicted on the scroll of heaven, rolled up in the hands of the angel, is the disappearing image of the Sun; next to the image of the Moon (at the bottom) is the winged Aphrodi [Venus], depicted in a boat (alluding to her designation as a planet, i.e., as a “floating one”). Other winged luminaries (also in boats) are depicted to the left of the angel, next to the image of the Sun. The lower figure is difficult to identify, but the one above it is labelled as Ermis [Mercury]. Since the inscriptions are not clear, one can only guess that on the top edge of the scroll, to the right of the angel, are depicted (counterclockwise) Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer; Virgo[?]; then below, clockwise, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn; below, Aquarius[?], Pisces, and Leo. Photo: FBG.

Fig. 9.1: “The Angel of the Lord rolls up the skies”; fresco (1476) from the Dragalevtsi Monastery of the Holy Theotokos of Vitosha (Драгалевски манастир Света Богородица Витошка), Bulgaria. The fresco represents an iconographic rendition of the eschatological accounts in Isaiah 34: 4 (“And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree”) and The Apocalypse of John (The Book of Revelation) 6: 14 (“And the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together”). Depicted on the scroll of heaven, rolled up in the hands of the angel, is the disappearing image of the Sun; next to the image of the Moon (at the bottom) is the winged Aphrodi [Venus], depicted in a boat (alluding to her designation as a planet, i.e., as a “floating one”). Other winged luminaries (also in boats) are depicted to the left of the angel, next to the image of the Sun. The lower figure is difficult to identify, but the one above it is labelled as Ermis [Mercury]. Since the inscriptions are not clear, one can only guess that on the top edge of the scroll, to the right of the angel, are depicted (counterclockwise) Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer; Virgo[?]; then below, clockwise, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn; below, Aquarius[?], Pisces, and Leo. Photo: FBG.

It is relevant to note that the above-quoted passage and other abridged excerpts from the Fountain of Knowledge were translated into Old Church Slavonic by John the Exarch,18 one of the most important men of letters working at the end of the ninth and the beginning of the tenth century in Preslav, then capital of Bulgaria. They were put together into one composition entitled Theology (also known as Heavens).

As for the particular planetary order, which was initially presented by John of Damascus in Chapter 6 of his Fountain of Knowledge, it corresponds to the ancient philosophical concept of musica universalis (or harmony of the Spheres) regarding proportions in the movements of the seven celestial bodies (the Sun, the Moon, and the five planets) as “seven musical tones” (octave, with 1st = 8th constituent); this theory rests on the Pythagorean idea that the Sun, Moon, and the five planets all produce their own unique tone (= “orbital resonance”) based on their “orbital revolution.” In fact, the concept of “orbital revolution” is presented in the concluding chapter of Plato’s Republic, Book 10, in The Myth of Er, where he describes the rotation of the Spindle of Necessity. It is during the course of his afterlife journey that Er sees the cosmic mechanism of “orbital revolution,” the Spindle turning on the knees of the deity Necessity, who is surrounded by her daughters, the three Fates, responsible for the present, past, and future of those born on Earth. This Spindle was stretched from the extremities of the heavens in the middle of a pillar of light. It resembled the brightness of the rainbow, its luminosity-like bonds holding the sky together:

In the center of the light the ends of its bonds stretched from the sky: for this light was what bound the sky together, like the braces of triremes, so holding together the whole revolution. Stretching down from either end was the spindle of Necessity by means of which all the circles turn. Both its shaft and hook were made of adamant, while the whorl is a mixture of this and other sorts of material. The nature of the whorl is as follows: its shape is like the ones we use, but you have to imagine what it’s like from his description of it, just as if in a large hollow whorl scooped out right through, another one of the same sort lies fitted inside it, and so on, just like boxes that fit into one another, with a third and fourth and four more. The total number of whorls is eight, each lying inside the other. Their edges seen from above are circles, forming from the back a continuous single whorl around the shaft, the latter being driven right through the center of the eighth.19

The cosmos is described here as a revolving vault or spindle whorl consisting of seven inner rings, which rotate concentrically within the eighth outer ring. This motif of rotating spheres resembles the description of the heavens in 2 Enoch in similar terms, and it is possible that the celestial models from which the Myth of Er and 2 Enoch were derived were comparable, or perhaps shared a common ancestry. One thing, however, is clear: the planetary order described by John of Damascus in Chapter 6 of his Fountain of Knowledge and its subsequent renditions in the Symeonic Florilegium and John the Exarch’s Theology suggest that these traditions continued to be a vibrant part of the epistemological scope of exact sciences in the Byzantine Commonwealth at least until the tenth century.

Then again, as briefly stated above, only the first paragraph of the astronomical section in the Symeonic Florilegium derives from Chapter 6 of The Fountain of Knowledge; its second paragraph stems from Chapter 7 (Concerning light, fire, the luminaries, sun, moon and stars), where John of Damascus gives a totally different planetary scheme which follows the Ptolemaic system in reverse order. In the Old Church Slavonic rendition of Chapter 7, as translated by the medieval Bulgarian intellectual John the Exarch, the following is stated:20

There are, it is said, seven planets amongst these luminaries; it is said that these move in a direction opposite to that of heaven: hence the name planets [= wanderers]. For, while they say that heaven moves from east to west, the planets move from west to east; but heaven bears the seven planets along with it by its swifter motion. Now these are the names of the seven planets: the Sun, the Moon, Zeus [= Jupiter], Hermes [= Mercury], Ares [= Mars], Aphrodite [= Venus], Kronos [= Saturn]. Each of these seven planets [belongs to] a separate girdle. On the first and highest is Kronos [= Saturn]; on the second—Dia (Διός) [= Jupiter]; on the third—Ares [= Mars]; on the fourth—the Sun; on the fifth—Aphrodite [= Venus]; on the sixth—Hermes [ = Mercury]; on the seventh and lowest—the Moon.21

As we can see, the version in the Symeonic Florilegium (see pp. 105107 above) represents a rather abridged redaction of the two astronomical excerpts from the Fountain of Knowledge; it also has some specific textual features which indicate that it was translated from a source which was not identical with the source used by Jоhn the Exarch. Still, in both accounts (the Symeonic Florilegium and Jоhn the Exarch’s Theology) the pattern given is: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, which is the standard Ptolemaic sequence of planets but in reverse order. The author of 2 Enoch, on the other hand, puts Venus between Saturn and Mars. Still, in all three sources (2 Enoch, the Symeonic Florilegium, and Exarch’s Theology), Kronos (Saturn) is placed on the first and highest heavenly ring. Then again, in 2 Enoch, Kronos and other luminaries were considered to be “stars” (as in Babylonian astronomy), while in the Symeonic Florilegium and John the Exarch’s Theology they are called “planets” (as in Greek astronomy).

The survey of Slavonic sources containing astronomical fragments betrays, however, a certain uneasiness on behalf of the compilers, suggesting that they considered this kind of information to be related to astrological knowledge rather than to Christian discourse. Thus, in the first Slavonic Hexameron, also compiled by John the Exarch in the late ninth century, the list of the planets is rendered within the framework of the zodiacal signs, and is presented in the Homily on the fourth day as a treaty against astrologists who define planets as benevolent and malevolent:22

Since the so-called planets are in fact “floating stars,” they [the astrologers] divide them into benevolent [and malevolent]. The star of Dii [that is, Zeus = Jupiter] and the star of Aphrodite [= Venus] they call benevolent, whereas Ares [= Mars] and the star of Kronos [= Saturn] are considered to be malevolent. As for the star of Hermes [= Mercury], it is considered to be commonly representative of either of the two groups. They further maintain that the Sun and the Moon have the power of rulers.23

Since John the Exarch’s Hexameron is a compilation based on the homilies composed by one of the Cappadocian Fathers, St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesaerea (around 370 CE), it can also be treated as evidence for the attitude of the Church towards astronomical and astrological knowledge not only as esoteric, but also as erroneous and blasphemous. This will also explain why 2 Enoch, densely packed with ancient scientific—astronomical, calendrical, and mathematical—information, was featured in all the Slavonic redactions of the Indices of Prohibited Books. As for the sources outside of these Indices (such as The Interpretative Palaea, The Historical Palaea, and The Chronographical Palaea, along with The Chronicle of John Malalas, The Chronicle of George Hamartolos, and, last but not least, The Alexander Romance of Pseudo-Callisthenes), the survey of astronomical schemes offered in them shows that their scribes conventionally follow either of the two universal versions of planetary lists, as outlined in John of Damascus’ Fountain of Knowledge. Then again, the context in which the Byzantine chronicler John Malalas (c. 491–578) describes the order of planets (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Sun, Moon) is rather symptomatic. Thus the statement attributing the authorship of the astronyms to Adam’s son Seth is linked to the narrative about the mythical ancestry of kings and rulers who were named after the heavenly bodies. The Chronicle claims, for instance, that from the lineage of the first son of Noah came a giant called Kronos (named after the star) who ruled over Assyria and Persia. He was married to Semiramin (Semiramis), who also descended from Noah’s son Shem. She was called Aria (Ares) in Syria, due to her great stature and intellect. From this union Zeus was born, along with his brother Nin and sister Ira, whom Zeus married and produced a son, Velon, the founder of Babylon. Another son of Kronos married a woman called Astronomy, and from this union Aphrodite was born.24

The same symptomatic link between the list of kings and list of planets (Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury) is attested in The Chronicle of George Hamartolos (842–867).25 Having stated that Seth was the one who invented “Hebrew script” and possessed wisdom and knowledge about heavenly portents [= astrology], Hamartolos, following Malalas, maintains that it was also Seth who gave names to the five “wandering stars” [= planets], so that people may know them correctly. The first “wandering star” he called Kronos [= Saturn], the second—Ares [= Mars], the fourth—Aphrodite [= Venus], the fifth—Hermes [= Mercury]. Subsequently Hamartolos embarks on a description of the lineage of Nimrud as a descendant of Ham, the cursed son of Noah. According to the Chronicle, he founded the city of Babylon and showed his people how to hunt and do magic. He also taught Persians the “law of the stars [i.e., astronomy], astrology, and movements of the heavens, and everything generated in them.” Having associated his narrative with the biblical account of the Flood, Hamartolos then hastens to describe the genealogy of the kings of Assyria, with Kronos being the first among them; Semiramis, his wife, was called Area (that is, Ares) by the Assyrians. Their first son was called Dii [Zeus = Jupiter], according to the name of the “wandering star”; the second was given the name of Nin, and the daughter was called Ira; Nin reigned after Kronos, and married his mother Semiramis, while Dii took his sister Ira as a wife. Nin ruled Syria and founded a great city in this land named after him: Nineveh. From him Zoroaster was born.

Despite otherwise confusing renditions of quasi-historical events, both The Chronicle of John Malalas and The Chronicle of George Hamartolos provide an important piece of information—that the ancient king lists were seen in conjunction with the lists of astronyms, with each ruler assigned a particular star. What then if we try to apply the same epistemological scheme to the planetary order in 2 Enoch? Can it be suggested that the astral list in 2 Enoch is in fact a counterpart of the list of deities?

Let us once more return to the order of heavenly bodies in 2 Enoch: Saturn, Venus, Mars, the Sun, Jupiter, Mercury, and the Moon. Might there be a narrative behind this list concerning the gods who are identified with these luminaries? What about Babylonian god names behind these planets? Might there be some reason why Venus (Ishtar) follows Saturn (Ninurta), or Jupiter (Marduk) follows Mercury (Nabu)? Is there a relevant genealogy or mythology here? What if 2 Enoch and this unusual order of stars/planets might be hiding something which has been missed so far: a Babylonian narrative, partially surviving in Slavonic texts from the Byzantine Commonwealth?

Finally, there may be one further clue to explain the idiosyncratic order of luminaries in 2 Enoch, which appears to have had Venus and Jupiter exchange places: Babylonian astronomy of the Seleucid period had Venus in the second position in the order of planets,26 and 2 Enoch may have attempted to follow this order, which required that Venus change places with Jupiter. In this way, 2 Enoch appears to be a compromise between the Seleucid Babylonian and Ptolemaic Greek order of planets/stars, and therefore reflects neither system precisely. Moreover, the interchange between Venus and Jupiter in the 2 Enoch list may show their mutual links within Babylonian astrology as being both benevolent and portending favorable omens (in contrast to malevolent Saturn and Mars, and ambivalent Mercury);27 in fact, John the Exarch’s Hexaemeron (see p. 111 above) provides firm evidence for such a hypothesis.

Indeed, 2 Enoch gives an idiosyncratic scheme which does not appear to follow either Babylonian or Greek astronomy (in contrast to the Symeonic Florilegium and John the Exarch’s Heavens, which conform to Ptolemy’s order of planets), suggesting that 2 Enoch drew from different sources. This, in turn, indicates that in the period when the Slavonic protograph of 2 Enoch was composed (along with the Symeonic Florilegium and John the Exarch’s Heavens and Hexaemeron), medieval Slavonic science did not have at its disposal an established system of astronomical knowledge; scientific concepts of this period derived from various competing sources from different traditions.

Appendix

Part One: Fragments from the Slavonic translation/redaction of The Chronicle of John Malalas

Seth had Wisdom from God, and by God’s will he invented the names of the stars and of the five planets [lit. “wanderers”], so that men may know them correctly. The first star he called Kronos [= Saturn], the second Dii [= Jupiter], the third, Areya [= Mars], the fourth Aphrodit [= Venus], and the fifth Ermin [= Mercury]. It is said that all together there are seven, five stars and two [great] luminaries [i.e., Sun and Moon]. He is also the one who invented Hebrew script [= “Hebrew characters”] and wrote them [down]. As for the [two] great luminaries, these are named by God Himself. The ruler of the day He called the Sun and the ruler of the night is the Moon. This is what the wise Fortunus, the Roman chronographer wrote. This work I composed in Constantinople.28

[…]

In that year, from the tribe of Aphraxad, a certain Moor came along. His Indian-astral name was Gandovari, and he was the first in India to write about astronomy. From the tribe of Ham, a Moor by the name of Hus was born. He begot Nimrud the giant, who founded Babylon. Persians call him a god, and they call the stars in heaven “planets” [lit. “wanderers”]. He was the first hunter and he gave to everyone food from his hunts. […] Syria and Persia were under the control of the tribe of Shem. From the first son of Noah, a giant was born, whose name was Kronos, given this name by his father Damya, after the name of the star / planet. He was very strong and showed how to rule and hold power, ruling in Assyria for many years and keeping under his control the entire land, called Persia by the Assyrians. He was a terrifying soldier, more than anyone else.

His wife was Semiramin [= Semiramis], who was called Aria [= Ares] in Syria, because she was great of stature and very clever. She was also from the genealogy of Shem, son of Noah. Kronos had a son whose name was Pika, who was called by his parents Zeus, since he was named after the wandering star / planet [i.e., Jupiter]. Kronos had yet another son whose name was Nin and a daughter named Ira. Zeus, who was also called Pika, took his sister as a lawful wife, and they all lived together. […] Zeus had a son from her and he was called Velon [abbreviation of Vavilon = Babylon?], since he was speedy. […] His grandfather Kronos left his son Pika in Assyria, along with his wife Area, also called Semiramida [= Semiramis], and with many brave men he went to the western lands which were ruled by nobody, and he conquered the lands westwards of Syria. […] He [Kronos] had a son from his wife Filura whose name was Afron, and he gave him the land of Lybia. He married the woman whose name was Astronomy, and by her he had a daughter whose name was Aphrodita. […] And by Filura Kronos had a son whose name was Chiron the Philosopher, who reigned for 20 years in Assyria.29

Part Two: Fragments from the Slavonic translation/redaction of The Chronicle of George Hamartolos

Seth was the one who invented “Hebrew characters,” and wisdom and heavenly portents [= astrology], and customs, [and] the four seasons of the year, and months and weeks, and he gave names to the stars, and to the five “wandering stars” [= planets], so that people may know them correctly. The first “wandering star” he called Kronos [= Saturn], the second—Ares [= Mars], the fourth—Aphrodite [= Venus], the fifth—Hermes [= Mercury].

After the Flood, Cainan—the son of Arphaxsad, wrote the “law of the stars,” and he found the name of Seth and his children and the names of the stars written on a stone tablet, because for Seth’s grandchildren it was professed from above that people will perish; and two columns were created, one of stone and one of clay. And on these he [Cainan] wrote [the knowledge which he received] from the discourse of his grandfather Seth, concerning the heavens. Thinking that if the world would perish from water, the stone column would remain, along with what is written on it. If [the world would perish] from fire, the clay column would remain, along with what is written on it. As [Flavius] Josephus says, this particular column survived the Flood and it is on Mt. Siridon [Sidon?] up until today.

Afterwards there was a giant, called a Titan, whose name was Nimrud, son of Hus the Ethiopian, from the genealogy of Ham. He founded the city of Babylon and showed how to hunt and do magic. He also taught Persians the “law of the stars” [i.e., astronomy], astrology, and movements of the heavens, and everything generated in them. […]

From the genealogy of Semel and Aron, from them are the Assyrians. And they reigned in Assyria and Persia and all the countries to the East. And after that a gigantic man, called Kronos [= Saturn], after the name of the “wandering star,” came along. Being very strong, he subjugated and subdued many, thus being the first to constitute kingship and subdue other people. First, he was the King of Assyria for 56 years and reigned over the entire Persian lands. […] He had a wife, Semiramis, whom Assyrians called Area [= Ares?], and they had two sons and one daughter. The first son was called Dii [Zeus = Jupiter], according to the name of the “wandering star,” and the second son he called Nin, and the daughter was called Ira, who was taken by Pik as a wife, just like Zeus took his sister as a wife. Nin reigned after Kronos for 52 years; and Nin married his mother Semiramis, since Persians had the custom of marrying their mothers and sisters. Dii afterwards took his sister Ira as a wife. Nin ruled mightily in Syria and founded a great city in this land […] and gave it a name after his own name, Nineveh. From him Zoroaster was born.30

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Footnotes

The proto-corpus of apocryphal writings attributed to the biblical patriarch Enoch was originally composed in either Hebrew or Aramaic, probably no later than the first century BCE, and after the discoveries of the Dead Sea scrolls from Qumran it became clear that some of its segments may be dated to the end of the third and beginning of the second century BCE. This ancient proto-corpus of writings was the intellectual ancestor of three main offspring: Ethiopic (1 Enoch), Slavonic (2 Enoch), and Hebrew (3 Enoch). As for the Slavonic corpus of 2 Enoch, it must have originated from an earlier Greek edition of the apocryphon based on a Hebrew or Aramaic Vorlage; this (no longer extant) Greek protograph was fostered by Septuagint-related tradition and further influenced by Christian ideology of the Byzantine Commonwealth. The translation from Greek into Old Church Slavonic (using the Glagolitic script) was made most probably by a scholar close to the scribal circle of the Preslav Literary School, no later than the eleventh century. Various editions of a number of Church Slavonic text-witnesses were published by Popov (1880), Novaković (1884), Sokolov (1899, 1910), Ivanov (1925, 165–191), Vaillant (1952), Navtanovich (2000, 204–241), Jovanović (2003), Reinhart (2007), Mil’kov and Polianskii (2009, 459–493), Macaskill (2013), and others. For English translations of the apocryphon (with commentaries), see Morfill and Charles (1896), Andersen (1983), Pennington (1984), Badalanova Geller (2010), Macaskill (2013). See also the discussion in Bonwetsch (1896, 1922), Meshcherskii (1963, 1964), Alexander (1998), Böttrich (1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2012), Orlov (2004), Khristova (2008), Badalanova Geller (2012, 2014, 479–482, 2015). Several essays gathered in New Perspectives on 2 Enoch (2012) (under the editorship of A. Orlov and G. Boccaccini) are valuable and pertinent to the study of Enochic traditions in the Slavonic realm of the Byzantine Commonwealth.

Cf. Jude 1:14.

Yarbro Collins (2000, 37–39); Schäfer (2004, 233–274; 2009, 85). However, there are singular cases in which the number of heavens is not seven but ten; the reasons for this numerical shift will be examined elsewhere.

See also Yarbro Collins (2000, 47–54).

See Lincoln (1986, 11–33).

See Badalanova Geller (2010, 55–57).

In fact, I have consulted with Alexander Jones, Gerd Grasshoff, and John Steele, and none of them could identify any familiar pattern in the Enochic sequence of planets. I am grateful for their advice on this matter.

See Brack-Bernsen (2003, 24–25) (reference courtesy F. Rochberg).

This copy was made in Kiev for the Russian Prince Sviatoslav (hence its designation). As for the Slavonic protograph of the Florilegium itself, it was originally compiled in Bulgaria in the period between 914 and 927, during the reign of Symeon, on the basis of a Greek (Byzantine) Vorlage, and most certainly was commissioned by the king himself. It was designed as a compendium containing articles from various spheres of medieval knowledge: Christian theology and ethics, along with ancient science and philosophy; see Ševčenko (1981, 330–334), Lunt (1983), Dinekov (1991), Thomson (1993), Bibikov (1996). Actually, it is also in the Symeonic Florilegium where the first reference to the Enochic apocryphal corpus in the Slavonic realm of the Byzantine Commonwealth appears. The reference to Enoch is found at the very end of the Ms (Fol. 254), in the section devoted to the Index of Prohibited Books, the authorship of which is attributed to Isidore of Pelusium (d. c. 450). Enoch is listed at its very top, coming in second position after The Life of Adam and Eve; see Dinekov et al. (1991, 701). The Ms can be found online (http://catalog.shm.ru/api/pdf/2EC1vsn-oxUeFwTrSEVUvzwT156uM2KwKo8D9BMC8Mk.pdf). See also http://catalog.shm.ru/entity/OBJECT/178472?fund=21index=11.

The text of De mensibus macedonicis is contained in Book 2, Chapter 7 (Concerning light, fire, the luminaries, sun, moon and stars) of the Fountain of Knowledge.

For the text of the Symeonic Florilegium, see Dinekov et al. (1991, Vol. 1, 694–695).

The astrological symbol ☿ designates Mercury [Hermes, ʽἙρμῆς], not Mars [= Ares, Ἀρης]; obviously, the copyist made a mistake.

Author’s translation.

On the duodentary animal cycle in medieval Slavonic tradition (with special emphasis on Russian texts), see Ryan (1971, 12–20). Zodiac imagery also appears frequently in the iconography of Isaiah 34: 4 and The Apocalypse of John (The Book of Revelation) 6: 14; see 9.1

See the research on the topic by Ivan Dobrev (1979), Elisaveta Musakova (1992), Tatiana Slavova (1993, 1994), and others.

For the original Church Slavonic text of John the Exarch’s Theology, see Mil’kov and Polianskii (2008, 63).

Author’s translation.

See Thomson (1991), Trendafilov (1995, 1996, 1998a, 1998b, 1998c, 2003, 2004).

See Emlyn-Jones and Preddy (2013, 470–473); see also the discussion in Badalanova Geller (2015, 387–388, fn. 19).

For the original Church Slavonic text of John the Exarch’s Theology, see Mil’kov and Polianskii (2008, 69).

Author’s translation.

For the original Church Slavonic text, see Barankova and Mil’kov (2001, 452).

Author’s translation.

The Chronicle of John Malalas was translated into Оld Church Slavonic no later than the tenth century in Bulgaria (most probably in the capital Preslav by contemporaries of John the Exarch); for relevant fragments see the Appendix, Part One.

The Chronicle of George Hamartolos was translated into Оld Church Slavonic in Bulgaria, most likely in the eleventh century; for relevant fragments see the Appendix, Part Two.

See Koch-Westenholz (1995, 120, footnote 2).

See Rochberg-Halton (1984, 123).

For the original Church Slavonic text of this fragment see Istrin (1897, 6); author’s translation.

For the original Church Slavonic text of this fragment see Istrin (1897, 11–12); author’s translation.

For the original Church Slavonic text, see Istrin (1920, 33–35); author’s translation.