GUIDI, IGNAZIO, prominent Italian Orientalist (b. Rome, 31 July 1844; d. Rome, 18 March 1935; Figure 1). Guidi can be counted among the greatest of the Orientalist scholars (cf. Baumstark, p. 239), a fact that is emphasized by his membership in numer-ous societies and academies. He mastered a large number of Oriental (and modern) languages and pursued his academic activities up to an advanced age. After beginning his scholarly career as curator of the Numismatic Cabinet of the Biblioteca Vaticana (1873-76), Guidi became an associate professor at the University of Rome in 1878; he was subsequently promoted to full professor there (1885-1919). He was active in a great variety of fields. He established Oriental studies in Rome as an independent academic discipline, founded Orientalist journals (Rivista degli Studi Orientali), discovered manuscripts (see below), and was one of the main co-founders, in 1903, with Jean-Baptiste Chabot (1860-1948), of the Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium (CSCO) as well as co-founder of the Patrologia Orientalis, the successor to Patrologia Syriaca, founded in 1897. Guidi edited and annotated numerous sources himself and also participated in such important collaborative editions as that of Ṭabari (II, pp. 540-1380). Guidi also established indices (among others for Ṭabari [Sezgin, GAS I, p. 326], for the Kitāb al-aḡāni of Abu’l-Faraj Eṣfahāni [q.v.], and for the ActaMartyrum et Sanctorum published by Paul Bedjan). Guidi was exemplary at cataloging and describing manuscripts (see Sezgin, GAS I, p. 735), and he also translated numerous texts.

For Iranian studies, Guidi’s most valuable discovery was the chronicle of an anonymous Nestorian Christian written in Syriac, usually referred to as Guidi’s Chronicle (q.v.), which he presented at the 8th International Congress of Orientalists (and translated into Latin in 1903). Due to its significance, Theodor Nöldeke translated it into German shortly afterwards. It contains otherwise non-attested details of late Sasanian history from the death of Hormizd IV to the fall of the Sasanian empire and is used even today as source material (cf. Frye, p. 334 and Tardieu, p. 68, n. 36). Important, too, is Guidi’s edition of letters and chronicles in Syriac, also refering to important events in Iranian history. Guidi soon recognized the significance of the synodal records of the Nestorian church towards reconstructing the administration of the Sasanian empire. His list of dioceses (Guidi, 1889, pp. 407-14) is a typical example of his profound knowledge and the care he took over his publications, as so often praised by his contemporaries (reviews by Nöldeke in Literarisches Centralblatt 14/3, 1891, pp. 380-82 and Göttingische Gelehrte Anzeigen 1882, pp. 198-212; Duval, p. 139).



A detailed bibliography of Guidi’s works to 1911 appeared in Rivista degli Studi Orientali 5, 1913-27, pp. 4 and 77-89; for his works after 1911, see Giuseppe Gabrieli, Bibliografia degli studi orientalistici in Italia del 1912 al 1934, Rome, 1935, pp. 85-87.

Guidi’s most important publications related to Iranian studies. Catalogo dei codici siriaci, arabi, turchi e persiani della Biblioteca Vittorio Emanuele, Florence, 1878.

“Ostsyrische Bischöfe und Bischofssitze im V., VI., und VII. Jahrhundert,” ZDMG 43, 1889, pp. 388-414.

“Un nuovo testo siriaco sulla storia degli ultimi Sassanidi,” in Actes du Huitième Congrès International des Orientalistes, tenu en 1889 à Stockholm et à Christiania II/1, Leiden 1893, pp. 3-36; repr. in Chronica Minora I, CSCO 1-2, Paris, 1903 (repr. Louvain 1955-1960), pp. 15-39 (text), pp. 15-32 (translation).

“Chronicon Edessenum,” in Chronica Minora I, CSCO 1-2, Paris, 1903, ibid., pp. 1-13 (text), pp. 1-11 (translation).

Eulogies and obituary notices. Anton Baumstark, obituary notice, Oriens Christianus 3/10, 1935, pp. 239-44.

Antonio Maria Collini, obituary notice, Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Comunale di Roma 63, 1936, pp. 203-4 (with picture).

Giuseppe Gabrieli, “Un grande orientalista Ignazio Guidi,” Nuova Antologia, 7th series, vol. 279, 1931, pp. 87-102.

Giorgio Levi Della Vida, “L’opera orientalistica di Ignazio Guidi,” Oriente Moderno 15, 1935, pp. 236-48 (by Guidi’s most distinguished disciple).

Enno Littmann, obituary notice, ZDMG 89, 1935, pp. 119-30.

Silvio Giuseppe Mercati, obituary notice, Byzantion 10, 1935, pp. 794-803.

Critical notices. Rubens Duval, La littérature syriaque, 3rd ed., Paris, 1907.

Richard N. Frye, The History of Ancient Iran, Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft 3/7, Munich 1984, p. 334.

Pierre Nautin, “L’auteur de la ‘Chronique anonyme de Guidi’: Elie de Merw,” RHR 199, 1982, pp. 303-14.

Theodor Nöldeke, “Die von Guidi herausgegebene syrische Chronik: Uebersetzt und commentiert,” in Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Wien. Phil.-Hist. Cl. 128, Vienna, 1893, pp. 1-48.

Michel Tardieu, “L’Arabie du nord-est d’après les documents manichéens,” Stud. Ir. 23, 1993, pp. 59-75.

(Erich Kettenhofen)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: February 24, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 4, pp. 383-384