[Anonymous]: the Manuscripts of the "Vetus Synodicon"

The Vetus Synodicon is an anonymous work listing all the councils of the church up to 887 AD, and so presumably written soon after.  Each council is covered by a single chapter.  The author has digested material from the Ecclesiastical Histories of Eusebius, Socrates, etc.  However the compiler adds small details not recorded by these historians -- the number of bishops attending synods, etc -- which the editors suggest he invented himself.  Some of the synods are doubtful or imaginary. "In his zeal ... the writer was anything but a careful researcher, and although in places his sources or copyists may be at fault, he himself must be held responsible for most of those numerous errors which in the past have prevented scholars from treating the SV as a historical document above suspicion." (Duffy p. xv)

The text first became known in the West by manuscripts written by a dubious individual called Andreas Darmarius.  It has recently been given its first critical edition, with English translation, by Duffy & Parker, from whom these notes have been extracted.

The extant manuscripts of SV fall into two main groups, designated g and b, representing two branches of the tradition.



Shelfmark & Notes

Date /

D Andros Monh_ th~j 9Agiaj 88.  Paper, 417 folios.  Belongs to group g

The codex consists mainly of canonical works, including the canons of various councils. SV appears on fols. 339v-357r, and the complete treatise of 166 chapters has been copied. The scribe was reasonably careful, stayed close to his exemplar, and, with a few exceptions (e.g., chaps. 47 line 1; 115 line 8), did not deliberately change the text.

S. P. Lampros, Katalogoj tw~n e0n th~| kaya_ thn 1Andron Monh_| th~j 9Agi/aj kwdi/kwn  in, Filologikoj Su&llogoj Parnasso&j, 'Epethri/j  2 (1898), 211-20.


L Florence: Bibliotheca Mediceo-Laurenziana

Codex Laurentianus Plutei 86,6; vellum, 112 folios.   Belongs to group g

The MS is composed of theological works including pieces by Nemesius of Emesa, Anastasius of Antioch, andJohn Damascene. SV (fols. 57r-72r) ends at chapter 162 line 19; in other words it stops with the Eighth Ecumenical Council, the last synod mentioned in the title, and omits the final four chapters.

A. M. Bandini, Catalogus codicum graecorum bibliothecae Laurentianae, III (Florence, 1-770), 293-96.


G Metochion (?)

Meto&xion tou~ Panag/ion Ta&fou 410; paper, 35 folios.   Belongs to group g

In addition to part of a nomocanonical collection the present MS (the survivor of a larger book) preserves three synodical documents: (a) a treatise of the well-known type on the seven ecumenical councils (b) a short chronology of synods, (c) SV (fols. 5r-13v), the same length as L, ending at the Eighth Council. Due to the loss of leaves, however, the greater part of chapter 162 (lines 3 -19) has not been preserved in the original hand but was supplied in the margins much later (nineteenth century?).

A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus,  9Ierosolumitikh_ Biblioqh&kh, IV (Saint Petersburg, 1899), 365-67.


A Mt. Sinai: St. Catherine's Monastery

Codex Sinaiticus Graecus 482 (1117). paper, 372 folios.   Belongs to group b.

A large MS by various hands whose first half is occupied by the nomocanon, the collection of canons, and the commentaries of Theodore Balsamon, while the second contains a miscellany of texts including imperial novellae, canonical and synodical decisions, patriarchal letters, and three treatises on synods: Germanus, De haeresibus et synodis (257V-264V); an anonymous description of ecumenical and selected local councils (311r-324v); SV, all 166 chapters (357v-365r). The section of the MS from 340r to 372V was badly damaged by moisture, and a later hand went over many of the affected parts in an effort, often unsuccessful, to retrace the obliterated writing. Toward the end of SV the original scribe (364r-365r), pressed for time or space, began to compress his writing and even resorted to pruning words. Otherwise he stayed close to the exemplar and made few copying errors.

V. Benesevic, Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum graecorum qui in monasterio Sanctae Catharinae in Monte Sina asservantur, I (Saint Petersburg, 1911), 266-93; v. J. Darrouzes, in REB, 24 (1966), 25-39.


C Rome: Vatican, Bibliotheca Apostolica

Codex Vaticanus graecus 419. paper, 330 folios.    Belongs to group b.

The greater part of the MS (fols. 9-312) consists of homilies by Saint Basil, along with extracts from Anastasius of Sinai and John Chrysostom, while the last two quaternions (fols. 313r-330r) contain three short works written by two different hands: 

(1) a fourteenth-century Notitia metropolitarum et archiepiscoporum throw Constantinopolitano subdttorum (313r-313v); 
(2) Nicephorus Chumnus against Plotinus on the soul (315r-326r); 
(3) SV (326v-330r). Only part of the text, however, is preserved, since the MS comes to a halt at chapter 47 line 1. The abrupt ending can be explained by Devreesse's claim that folios 325-30 had been left blank originally and were later filled by a contemporary hand. As far as it goes, this is a straightforward copy of SV with some scribal errors.

R. Devreesse, Codices Vaticani graeci, II (Vatican City, 1937), 131-34.


E Andros

Monh_ th~j Panaxrantou  7. paper, 134 folios.    Belongs to group b.

The codex is a varied mixture of canonical, legal, theological, and epistolary texts, including pieces by Pope Leo I, John Pediasimos, and Michael Attaleiates. SV, all 166 chapters, appears on fols. 40r-60r, framed on three sides by extracts from Epiphanius' Panarion written in the same hand. 

The copyist was not content with the text of SV as he found it; he tried his hand at emendation, left out or added words, and incorporated material from the treatise on ecumenical and local councils which is also found in MS A. It is a document which, after the description of the Seventh Council, adds the Synodicon of Orthodoxy (with prologue) and the Tome of Union (with prologue). From it E grafted on to SV part of its title, substituted its longer account of Paul of Samosata for chapter 27, borrowed some phrases, and added at the end as an extra chapter the Tome of Union preceded by its prologue.

S. P. Lampros, Katalogoi kwdi/kwn e0n tai=j monai=j th~j nh&sou 1Androu 9Agi/w| Nikola&w| kai\ Panaxra&ntw|   in, Filologikoj Su&llogoj Parnasso&j, 'Epethri/j  3 (1899), 27-30.



The parent of LG represents, in a sense, a revision of the text by someone who saw fit to exclude the last four chapters; to omit or combine chapters (80-81, 124, 126-27); and to add, leave out, substitute, or transpose words and phrases throughout the treatise. Among the many changes are several sound emendations.

The rest of group b consists of a dozen copies in Western libraries, mainly of the sixteenth century, and designated VOTMNSBWXYZU; six of these (BWXYZU) are not independent.



Shelfmark & Notes

Date /


Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1137. paper, 74 folios.

A codex by various hands containing a medley of items including the following: extracts from the Mosaic Law, apostolic canons, some letters, a fragment on the Patriarchs Tarasius and Nicephorus, a treatise on marriages, and SV (fols. 51r-74v). The last page of the MS has suffered damage, and the text of SV ends at chapter 162 line 16 showing that at least one leaf has been lost.


14 (?)

Oxford, Bodl. Laudianus 26. paper, 465 folios. 

A MS written by Andreas Darmarios with these contents: On the Eighth Ecumenical Council (879-80) "from the discourse of (John) Beccos"; the acts of the Eighth Council; SV (fols. 122r-196r); sermons of Athanasius and his disputation against Arius; the dialogue of Basil and Gregory the Theologian and their exposition of the orthodox faith. The text of SV ends abruptly at chapter 160 line 9.  With the scribe's comment  e0ci/thlon h{n to_ te/loj u(po_ th~j a)rxaio&t(htoj). Such remarks by Darmarios, well known for his tricks, should be taken with a pinch of salt. This is almost certainly the copy sold to J. Pappus.

H. O. Coxe, Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Bodkianae, I (Oxford, 1853), 507-8.


late 16 (ca. 1584)
T Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale

Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale, codex graecus 719.  paper, 43 folios. 

A small codex written by Darmarios, who twice asserts ownership (fol. 4r & 32v) Contents: a short explanation of the names given to the books of the Pentateuch and of the Hebrew words in the Books of Kings ( 1-3v); SV (4r-32v); rhetorical prolegomena of John Doxopater (35-43). The text of SV ends, without comment, at the same place as O (chap. 160 line 9).

J. Pasini; Codices manuscripti bibliothecae regii Taurinensis Athenaei, I (Turin, 1749), 227-28.


late 16
M Münich

Codex Monacensis graecus 245. paper, 43 folios. 

It consists of SV alone and was written, according to the subscription, by Darmarios in March 1571 at Valladolid.  SV stops short at chapter 159 line 17.

J. Hardt, Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum graecorum bibliothecae regiae Bavaricae, III (Munich, 1806), 23-24.


March 1571
N Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional

Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional O. 88 (Iriarte, 94). paper, 45 folios. 

Written by Darmarios.  Darmarios tells us in the subscription of this codex, which contains nothing more than SV, that he finished the copy in Madrid on 9 April 1571. This time, however, he decided to give SV an author, inserting after the title (1r) u(po gewrgi/ou Xwmatianou~S V stops short at chapter 159 line 17.

E. Miller, Bibliothèque royale de Madrid. Catalogue des manuscrits grecs (Supplement au Catalogue d'lriarte), in Notices et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Nationale, XXXI, pt. 2 (Paris, 1886), 106-7.


9th April 1571
S Saragossa, 

S = Saragossa, Cabildo de la Santa Iglesia Mayor del Pilar 1310. paper, approx. 40 folios. 

Written by Darmarios.  S V stops short at chapter 159 line 17. Besides the Synodicon Vetus the MS contains another short treatise. Here a different candidate for the author of SV is produced: ponhqe/nti tw~| kuri/w| manouh&lw| tw~| a)kropoli/th|. (f. 1r)

A. Martin, Rapport sur une mission en Espagne et en Portugal. Notices sommaires des manuscrits grecs d'Espagne et de Portugal, in Nouvelles archives des missions scientifiques et littéraires, 2 (Paris, 1892), 217.


late 16
B Rome

B = Rome, Vallicellianus 133 (X). Paper. 

Written by Leo Allatius, this MS contains, apart from SV (fols. 1-16), apostolic canons and canons of certain ecumenical and local councils (in Greek and Latin). The text of SV, ending at chapter 162 line 19, is copied directly from V. In the margins Allatius has noted several variant readings, most of them taken from a close relative of LG (if not from L itself), which also provided him with the final lines of chapter 162, missing in V; the remaining variants are from the edition of Pappus.

{In De Octavo, Synodo Photiana (Rome, 1662), 19 and 33-34, Allatius printed his text of chaps. 161-62 (not known to Pappus) together with a Latin version. It was from here that they were restored to SV by J. Hardouin, Acta Conciliorum, V (Paris, 1714), 1547-50 and thence to J. A. Fabricius and G. C. Harles, Bibliotheca Graeca, XII (Hamburg, 1809), 419-20 (having already appeared in the first edition of Fabricius [Hamburg, 1705-28], vol. XI).}

E. Martini, Catalogo di manoscritti greci esistenti nelle biblioteche italiane, II (Milan, 1902), 202; H. Laemmer, De Leonis Allatii codicibus qui Romae in bibliotheca Vallicellana asservantur (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1864), 7-10.


17 (before 1648)
W Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale

Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale cod. gr. 366. Paper, 248 folios. 

Contents: extracts from Church Fathers on the Song of Songs; homilies of Gregory of Nyssa on the eight beatitudes; a treatise of Saint Maximus; SV (fols. 180-206); a short treatise on synods; a fragment of Pseudo-George Codinus, De offidis. This copy of SV, giving 160 chapters, was made directly fromT. Besides reproducing its peculiar readings, the scribe copied even a marginal note of Darmarios.

J. Pasini, Codices manuscripti bibliothecae regii Taurinensis Athenaei, I (Turin, 1749), 382-83.


late 16
X Milan, Bibliotheca Ambrosiana Milan, Ambrosianus gr. 899 (C 259 inf),paper,357 folios.  SV appears on fols. 1r-23r.  Written by the sixteenth-century scribe Camillus Venetus.

A.Martini and D. Bassi, Catalogus codicum graecorum bibliothecae Ambrosianae, II (Milan, 1906), 1003-8. 


Y Milan, Bibliotheca Ambrosiana Codex Ambros. gr. 704 (Q 727 sup.), paper, 323 folios. Martini and Bassi (op. cit.), 811-12. SV is written on fols. 81r-102r. Written by the sixteenth-century scribe Camillus Venetus. 16
Z Milan, Bibliotheca Ambrosiana Codex Ambros. gr. 723 (R 775 sup.), paper, 230 folios. Martini and Bassi (op. tit.), 835-36. SV on fols. 57r-78v. Written by the sixteenth-century scribe Camillus Venetus.
U Mt. Sinai: St. Catherine's Monastery

Codex Sinaiticus graecus 1726, paper, 222 folios.

An immediate copy of Z by someone who wrote a number of his own corrections in the margins of the exemplar.

V. Benesevic, Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum graecorum qui in monasterio Sanctae Catharinae in Monte Sina asservantur, III (Saint Petersburg, 1911), 170.


XYZ are copies by the sixteenth-century scribe Camillus Venetus, which are now preserved in three Ambrosian manuscripts. X is an immediate copy of W, Y is from X, and Z from Y.

Revised text

A revised version (SV2) of SV also exists which now survives in two manuscripts: Athos, Dionysiou 120, XIV cent., fols. 645v-660v and Vienna, cod. juridicus gr. 73, XVI cent., fols. 38r-71v

The text is often rewritten, with obvious corrections made, wording changed, passages added and left out, and the whole comes to an end on Orthodoxy Sunday (843). Much of the new material has been taken from the works of Theodore Anagnostes, Theophanes, George the Monk, and Joseph Genesios (or a common source). The manuscript of SV used by the redactor was closely related to the parent of LG, though he may have had access to more than one copy, since some of the readings agree with branch b of the tradition. 

There are also several chapters of SV2 quoted in the council treatise in Sinaiticus gr. 482, which may date from the twelfth century. Another MS of this work, Escorialensis X.II. 10, was written in the thirteenth century.


In 1601 Johannes Pappus (1549-1610), a Lutheran theologian of Strasbourg, published the first edition of the text, chapters 1-160, with a Latin translation and notes. In the preface he tells us that when, some sixteen years before, Andreas Darmarios had brought several Greek manuscripts for sale, he purchased from him the Synodicon, mole quidem exiguum, sed rerum, quae in eo tractantur, satis magnum. This copy can hardly be any other than that now bound in the Bodleian Laudianus 26 (O), for, aside from those which Pappus chose to correct, all its peculiarities reappear in the printed text.

It is known from the subscription to Parisinus gr. 2150 that Darmarios was at Strasbourg in July 1584; see M. Vogel and V. Gardthausen, Die griechischen Schreiber des Mittelalters und der Renaissance (Leipzig, 1909), 21.

Pappus makes several references in his notes to a second manuscript (p), which can no longer be traced.  However, since it gave him no better readings than O, it can only have been another copy of the late text.  Pappus text, derived from a bad copy, is not a good representative of the text.    His text and translation were reproduced unchanged by all the subsequent editors:


Only A preserves the chapter numbering correctly, ending with 166; the others are defective in one way or another because of lacunae in the text.



John DUFFY & John PARKER (ed.), The Synodicon Vetus. Washington : Dumbarton Oaks, Center for Byzantine Studies  (1979). Series: Dumbarton Oaks texts  5 / Corpus fontium historiae Byzantinae. Series Washingtonensis 15. ISBN 0884020886.   Checked.  The source for this page

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse. Corrections and additions are very welcome.

This page has been online since 28th December 2002

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