John Malalas (or Ioannes, or Malelas) (Syriac for "orator") (c. 491 578), Byzantine chronicler, was born at Antioch.
He wrote a Chronographia (Χρονογραφία) in 18 books, the beginning and the end of which are lost. In its present state it begins with the mythical history of Egypt and ends with the expedition to Africa under Marcianus, the nephew of Justinian. Except for the history of Justinian and his immediate predecessors, it possesses little historical value; it is written without any idea of proportion and contains astonishing blunders. The writer is a supporter of Church and State, an upholder of monarchical principles.
The work is rather a chronicle written round Antioch, which he regarded as the centre of the world, and (in the later books) round Constantinople. It is, however, important as the first specimen of a chronicle written not for the learned but for the instruction of the monks and the common people, in the language of the vulgar, with an admixture of Latin and Oriental words. It obtained great popularity, and was conscientiously exploited by various writers until the ninth century, being translated even into the Slavonic languages. It is preserved in an abridged form in a single manuscript now at Oxford.
For the authorities consulted by Malalas, the influence of his work on Slavonic and Oriental literature, the state of the text, the original form and extent of the work, the date of its composition, the relation of the concluding part to the whole, and the literature of the subject, see Karl Krumbacher's Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur (1897). See also the editio princeps, by E. Chilmead (Oxford, 1691), containing an essay by Humphrey Hody and Bentley's well-known letter to Mill; other editions in the Bonn Corpus scriptorum hist. byz., by L. Dindorf (1831), and in J.P. Migne Patrologia Graeca, xcvii.
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
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