Skip to main content

Historisch-philologischer Kommentar zur Chronik des Johannes Malalas

Links to the project

The work attributed to John Malalas was compiled in the 6th AD as a universal chronicle – an outline of the history of the world from Adam up to the author’s own time. Little is known about the author himself, of whom we have no trace outside his work. If it is at all possible to infer any biographical details from the chronicle, he must have lived in Antioch (present-day Antakya, Turkey) under Justinian (527-565 AD) and was perhaps employed in the provincial administration. The shift in focus from Antioch to Constantinople in the last part of the chronicle, after the narration of events of the year 532, is probably a sign that the work was the subject of a continuation. In its extant state, the text ends a few months before the death of Emperor Justinian (AD 565) due to a lacuna in the main manuscript.

Malalas’ chronicle is of crucial importance for the history of the reigns of Emperors Anastasios, Justin and Justinian, that is, roughly the author's lifetime, as it transmits information that would otherwise have remained unknown. Furthermore, later Byzantine chroniclers not only followed the structure, but also frequently excerpted, summarized, or expanded parts of Malalas’ work so that it ultimately became a cornerstone of Byzantine historiography. The chronicle, which in its first books depicts biblical stories interwoven with the historical and mythological traditions of Antiquity, recounts from the 10th book onward the history of the Roman Empire, organized in imperial reigns. This historical work not only constitutes a fundamental source for the 6th century, but also yields important information regarding earlier periods as well as how the 6th century conceived of this distant past.

Due to its complexity and richness, Malalas’s work has proven difficult to thoroughly explore. The project’s objective is to address this issue and facilitate scholarly access to the chronicle by providing a comprehensive philological and historical commentary. Beyond this, the text will be analysed, contextualised, and made more approachable by specific independent studies. The project thereby also seeks to broaden our understanding of Late Antique and Early Byzantine historiography.

Historisch-philologischer Kommentar zur Chronik des Johannes Malalas

Host Academy
Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Location and federal state
Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg

Editions: Medieval and (Early) Modern History

Project number

Back to overview