Bk 1. xxvii. 11-12 (Orthography cont.)

Isidore is the first medieval Latin writer to mention Troy, and it is clear that he knew not only the Roman poets’ allusions but the work by – or attributed to – Dares the Phrygian whom Isidore describes in another passage as the first historian. He says  “Among us Christians Moses was the first to write a history, on creation. But among the pagans, Dares the Phrygian was first to publish a history, on the Greeks and Trojans, which they say he wrote on palm leaves.” (I.xlii.1)

Dares’ work exists in a Latin manuscript dated to the sixth century AD, and is said to show influences also found in (or deriving from) the writings of a contemporary Syrian author, an Antiochian named John Malalas, whose Chronography has survived too and can be read  Latin- and in English translation.

The other early account of Troy –  usually linked to discussion of Dares’ – is by a Cretan named Dictys.  Just to be difficult, I’ll give links now for Dares, and leave Dictys until we reach Bk 1.xlii. 🙂




A cumulative, annotated bibliography for modern editions and translations of  “De excidio Troiae historia attributed to Dares of Phrygia, the Ephemeridos belli Troiani attributed to Dictys of Crete, and the anonymous Excidium Troie”.  In  chronological order. [HERE]

Oxford Bibliographies [HERE] includes an abstract of Timothy Arner’s essay, ‘The Trojan War in the Middle Ages’  together with a short bibliography of other modern secondary sources – while noting that there has been, “a proliferation of scholarship on the medieval Troy story since the early 1980s”.

TEXTS – with transcriptions and/or English translations:

Transcription by Otto Ferdinand Meister, Daretis Phrygii De excidio Troiae historia at internet archive [HERE]

John Malalas, Chronography – with the Greek text, Latin translation and notes at the internet archive [HERE]. Dindorf produced that Latin translation and notes although the edition online, printed at Bonn in 1831, gives the names of the series’ editors greater prominence. (Dindorf’s name does not even appear at the end of the Prefatory remarks!) The edition is rarely mentioned in biographies of Malalas, but is included (p.xix) in a recent edition (Brill, 2017) of the study done in 1986 by Elizabeth Jeffreys et. al.  See following

Elizabeth Jeffreys et.al., The Chronicle of John Malalas a translation…,  Australian Centre for Byzantine Studies (1986)

One of the Latin translations is transcribed at The Latin Library [HERE], though the source is not identified.



DARES THE PHYRIGIAN  De Excidio Trojae Historia.

Three manuscripts from the British Library. (More mss can found cited the secondary sources below)


The seminal study in English is Griffin’s. Published in 1907 it is still in print.

**Nathaniel E. Griffin**, Dares and Dictys; an introduction to the study of medieval versions of the story of Troy, (PhD thesis, John Hopkins University 1899), published 1907. The seminal study, still quoted today.  That title links to the internet archive copy.  At the moment, a paperback copy is available through Abebooks [HERE]. Publisher is  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2015).

and Nathaniel E. Griffin,  ‘Un-Homeric Elements in the Medieval Story of Troy’, The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Jan., 1908), pp. 32-52 (JSTOR). Considers ” the origin and leading manifestations of a spirit of antagonism to Homer that plays a conspicuous part in medieval representations of the Trojan War.”

Benoît, Roman de Troie, ed. L. Constans, II: 273-323; Dares Phrygius, De excidio Troiae historia, ed. F. Meister, 40-42; Dares Phrygius and Dictys Cretensis, The Trojan War, trans. R.M. Frazer, 160-161; Homer, Iliad, ed. and trans. A.T. Murray, I: 194-195; R.K. Root, “Chaucer’s Dares.” MP 15 (1917-1918): 1-22.

Jonathan Cornil, ‘Dares Phrygius’ De Excidio Trojae Historia: Philological Commentary and Translation’  –  A short (127) master’s essay  which is a critical evaluation of two modern translations.  The author writes,  “The aim … is to provide future researchers with two modern translations of Dares’ history and to elaborate on some of the aspects that make this text –and translating it- so interesting”. Valuable for that reason, although short on apparatus and making no reference at all to any extant manuscript. Offered as a pdf [HERE].   http://lib.ugent.be/fulltxt/RUG01/001/891/500/RUG01-001891500_2012_0001_AC.pdf


The Encyclopaedia Britannica seems to reject the now-common (if poorly demonstrated) attribution of the sixth-century Greek .  It says:

Dares PhrygiusTrojan priest of Hephaestus who appears as one of the characters in Homer’s Iliad, Book V, and is the reputed author of a lost pre-Homeric “eyewitness” account of the Trojan War. The Daretis Phrygii de Excidio Trojae historia, a Latin work purporting to be a translation of this, dates probably from the 5th century ad. (The Greek original may be dated to the 3rd century ad.) The influence of this pro-Trojan work in the Latin-speaking West from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance, a period when the works of Homer were known only by hearsay, was enormous. It was widely used as a source by medieval writers of Troy romances. 

Jeremy Purves considers the problems involved in treating classical epic today – in terms of modern atitudes and of practical and technical constraints on the film-maker.  Jeremy Purves, ‘Troy – 10 years later (part II)’  [HERE]

If it hasn’t yet been sold and you have £28,500 to spare,  a copy of  the first combined edition of  DICTYS CRETENSIS. Historia Troiana. [edited by Franciscus Faragonius] [with:] DARES PHRYGIUS, De excidio Troiae historiae.  Published in 1498 in Messina by Guilelmus Schonberger. Impeccable pedigree; being offered by the Heritage Bookshop.

Ornaments in this post:

  • header – ‘ad troiam’  (detail) Brit.Lib. MS Cotton MS Vitellius C VIII fol. 6r. (12thC)
  • Troy and the wooden horse – (detail) bas de page from Brit.Lib.MS Stowe 54 f. 201v.
  • border pattern with garland – (detail) folio 1v, Psalter of Christina of Markyate. England. 1124-1145. Ms in Hildesheim Dombibliothek.
  • border pattern, white vine – created from a motif in Burney MS 216
  • sources for the English translation, and for the Latin transcription, see sidebar.



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