Excerpta Latina Barbari ("Excerpts in Bad Latin") is a Latin translation of a 5th or early 6th century Greek chronicle.


The Excerpta Latina Barbari is a Latin translation of a Greek chronicle composed in Alexandria during the reign of Zeno (474-491) or Anastasius (491-518).[1] The original Greek chronicle was a variation of the Chronica Alexandrina.[2] It was translated into Latin c. 750 by an anonymous Merovingian author. [3] Excerpta Latina Barbari derives its name from the fact that the late Merovingian translator made many mistakes in translating the Greek into Latin. It is also now known that the translator included some alterations to the original chronicle.[4] These alterations include the insertion of a lineage linking the Merovingian kings to the ancient Trojans (see Francus) as popularised in the Liber historiae Francorum.

Joseph Justus Scaliger took the first scholarly interest in the chronicle in his Thesaurus temporum (1606) and first named the chronicle Barbarus Scaligeri. This subsequently became Excerpta Latina Barbari because of the translator's bad conversion Greek into Latin. Some modern scholars have criticized this name, but it remains in use.[5]

The 8th-century manuscript of the Latin version of the text is now housed in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.


The chronicle contains two main sections: (a) the history of the world from the creation to Cleopatra and (b) a list of kings or rulers from Assyria to the consuls of Rome (including the Ptolemaic dynasty, a list entitled "high priests and kings of the Jews" and an entry for Macedonian kings). The king's lists start by including some mythological kings, for example the entry for Assyrian rulers starts from Belus dated c. 2206 BC.[6] Menelaus is also considered a historical king of Sparta.


  1. ^ Joh. Jos. Hoeveler, Die Excerpta Latini Barbari, Festschrift der dreiundvierzigsten Versammlung deutscher Philologen und Schulmanner, Bonn, 1895, pp. 193-214; Theodor Mommsen, Chronica Minora, p. 184(= Monumenta germaniae historica; Auctorum antiqyissimorum) tomus ix; Berlin, 1892, p. 272.
  2. ^ Frick. Chronica minora. 1892. p. 330; f. 48b. cf. his introduction. p. lxxxvii ff.
  3. ^ It was originally dated to the 7th century (MGH AA IX, p. 83, 249; Frick, Chronica [n.57], p.ccxi), but is now assigned to the mid-8th (Loew, CL.A V, no.560; Porcher, in Karl der Grosse, Dusseldorf, 1967. III p. 59f n. 19; Bischoff. Mittel-alterlichen Studien, Stuttgart, 1966, I p. 60).
  4. ^ "Studies in Eusebian and post-Eusebian chronography", Richard W. Burgess, Witold Witakowski, Franz Steiner Verlag, 1999, p. 32.
  5. ^ 'Menelaos' in the Spartan Agiad King-List, R. Ball, The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 27, No. 2, 1977, p. 316.
  6. ^ The Assyrian King list in the Excerpta Latina Barbari claims Belus ruled 1430 years before the first Olympiad (776 BC) thus dating him to 2206 BC.