The bishop of Qus of the eleventh or fourteenth century, who wrote books on the Coptic language. According to G. Graf and G. Bauer, the title of his grammar, Qiladat al-Tahrir fi ‘Ilm al-Tafsir (Necklace of Writing for the Science of Translation) gives the only known information on his life. It says he was born as the son of a priest named Salib in the region west of QAMULAH, which is on the west bank of the Nile between QUS and Luxor, and became a monk in the nearby monastery of Mar Buqtur, also known as Dayr al-Kulah. He became bishop of Qus, which is about 12 miles (19 km) north of Luxor, on the east bank of the Nile.
He is not mentioned by the known writers of grammars and dictionaries of the thirteenth century, and he does not appear in IBN KABAR’s author index. His manual on the Coptic language treats only nouns, verbs, and particles, but has been transmitted in both Sahidic and Bohairic versions. Concerning the date of his life, this has been given as the eleventh century, but according to Bauer (1972) the Berlin manuscript of the grammar of Athanasius contains the preface to another grammatical work, likely by Athanasius, which mentions Yuhanna al-Samannudi’s al-Sullam al-Kana’isi (The Ecclesiastical Ladder) and other philological material, which argues that he lived at the earliest in the second half of the thirteenth century, and perhaps in the fourteenth century since there was an Athanasius of Qus who composed poetry in the period of 1365-1378 and a history of the chrism consecration under the patriarch GABRIEL IV (see the German translation of the Berlin manuscript in Bauer, 1972, pp. 303-306; and Graf, 1947, Vol. 2, pp. 445).
Graf lists other anonymous grammatical works and dictionaries in manuscript, and an anonymous work that has been called the swan song of Coptic literature, named the Triadon for its triplet rhyme. It is a voluminous didactic poem in the Sahidic dialect with a rhyme pattern of three rhyming lines in four-line stanzas, with the fourth line ending in “on” or “an.” The writer, a monk from Upper Egypt who emigrated to Lower Egypt, says he used the old language of his homeland to obtain its reintroduction and to demonstrate its use. It is important because an Arabic translation, probably not by the author, accompanies the text. The text and translation are from the first half of the fourteenth century, and the single manuscript is at the National Library in Naples (von Lemm, 1903).
- Bauer, G. Athanasius von Qus, Qiladat al-Tahrir fi ‘Ilm al-Tafsir. Eine koptische Grammatik in arabischer Sprache aus dem 13./14. Jahrhundert. Islamkundliche Untersuchungen 17. Freiburg im Breisgau, 1972.
- Leipoldt, J. “Triadon.” In Geschichte der christlichen Literatur des Orients, 2nd ed. Die Literaturen des Ostens 7. Leipzig, 1909.
- Lemm, O. von. Das Triadon, ein sahidisches Gedicht mit arabischer Übersetzung. St. Petersburg, 1903.