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E00017: Theophylact Simocatta in his History reports that the relics of *Glykeria (martyr of Perinthus/Heraclea, S00018) at her church in Heraclea (eastern Balkans) produce a miraculous flow of myrrh. The miracle is interrupted when a vessel previously used for magic is used as a receptacle for the myrrh. Written in Greek at Constantinople in the early 7th century.

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posted on 31.08.2014, 00:00 by admin
Theophylact Simocatta, History 1.11

1.11.3-13
(3.) Κατὰ τοῦτον δὴ τὸν ἐνιαυτὸν Παυλῖνός τις, ἀνὴρ τῶν οὐκ ἀσήμων τῆς πόλεως, πλείστης παιδείας μετειληφώς, ἐπὶ τὸ τῶν γοήτων βάραθρον τὴν ψυχὴν κατωθήσας κατάφωρος γίνεται. ὁ δὲ τῆς ἐλέγξεως τρόπος τῶν παραδοξολογουμένων λόγων καθέστηκεν ἴδιος. λέξω δὲ τοῦτον πάνυ καθεστηκότα θαύματος ἄξιον. (4.) ἀργύρεος λεκανίς τις ὑπῆρχε τῷ γόητι, δι’ ἧς τὰς τῶν αἱμάτων χύσεις συνήθροιζεν, ὁπόταν ταῖς ἀποστατικαῖς προσωμίλει δυνάμεσιν. ταύτην τὴν λεκανίδα διαπωλεῖ ἄργυρον ἐμπορευομένοις ἀνδράσιν. (5.) οἱ μὲν οὖν ἔμποροι τὰς τῆς λεκανίδος τιμὰς ἀποδόμενοι τῷ Παυλίνῳ μετεκχωρεῖν ἐνεχείρουν τὸ σκεῦος καὶ πρὸ τῶν θυρῶν τοῦ ἑαυτῶν οἰκίσκου ταύτην προετίθεσαν ἐξουσίαν διδόντες ὠνήσασθαι τῷ βουλομένῳ παντί. (6.) ἐδέησε τοίνυν τὸν ἐπισκοποῦντα τὴν πόλιν Ἡράκλειαν, ἣν Πείρινθον οἱ πάλαι ποτὲ κατωνόμαζον, κατ’ ἐκεῖνο καιροῦ ἐς Βυζάντιον διατρίβειν καὶ θεάσασθαι πρὸς ἐκποίησιν ἠρτημένην τὴν λεκανίδα τοῦ γόητος. ταύτην ὠνεῖται περιχαρῶς καὶ ἀπεκδημήσας τοῦ ἄστεος πρὸς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ θρόνον ἐπάνεισιν. (7.) ἐπεὶ δὲ τὰ θεότευκτα μύρα Γλυκερίας τῆς μάρτυρος χαλκῆ τις λεκανὶς ὑπεδέχετο, αἰδοῖ τοῦ σεβάσματος ὁ ἱερεὺς ὑπαλλάττει τὰ σκεύη, καὶ τὴν μὲν χαλκῆν ἀφαιρεῖται τῆς ἱερωτάτης ἐκείνης λατρείας, τὴν δὲ ἀργυρᾶν δεξαμενὴν προεστήσατο τῶν θεορρύτων μύρων. (8.) ἐντεῦθεν ὁ ποταμὸς ἀποπαύεται τῶν θαυμάτων, καὶ ἡ τῆς χάριτος πηγὴ κατακρύπτεται. οὐ στηλιτεύει τὰς δυνάμεις ἡ μάρτυς, συστέλλει τὸ χάρισμα, ἀφαιρεῖται τὸ δώρημα, καὶ νομοθετεῖ διὰ τὸ μύσος μὴ πηγάζειν τὸ μύρον· τῷ ὄντι γὰρ τὸ καθαρὸν τοῦ μὴ καθαροῦ οὐ θέμις ἐφάψασθαι, ἵνα καί τι τῆς θύραθεν παιδείας προσφόρως ἐνείρω τοῖς διηγήμασιν. (9.) Τούτου δῆτα ἐπὶ συχνὰς γενομένου ἡμέρας, καὶ τῆς συμφορᾶς ἐπιφανοῦς γενομένης τῇ πόλει, πρὸς πένθος ὁ ἱερεὺς ἐτέτραπτο· ὀδύρεται τὸ πραττόμενον, θρηνεῖ τῶν θαυμάτων τὴν ἐγκοπήν, ἀνακαλεῖται τὸ χάρισμα, τὴν ζημίαν οὐ φέρει, τὴν αἰτίαν ἐπιζητεῖ, τὴν αἰσχύνην οὐ καρτερεῖ, καὶ ἦν αὐτῷ ὁ βίος ἀβίωτος, χηρευούσης τῆς ἐκκλησίας τοῦ θαύματος. (10.) διά τοι τοῦτο νηστεῖαι καὶ προσευχαὶ καταβάλλονται, στρατεύονται δάκρυα, συμμαχοῦσιν οἱ στεναγμοί, παννύχιοι δεήσεις ὁπλίζονται, καὶ πάντα συνέρχονται ὁπόσα δύνανται λύπην θεοῦ μεταβάλλειν πρὸς τὸν ἔλεον. (11.) τοῦ τοίνυν θεοῦ καὶ τὸ μύσος ἀποστραφέντος καλῶς καὶ τὴν ἄγνοιαν δικαίως οἰκτείραντος, γίνεται κατ’ ὄναρ τῷ ἐπισκοποῦντι τὴν πόλιν κατάδηλα τὰ περὶ τὴν λεκάνην βδελύγματα. (12.) ὁ μὲν οὖν ἱερεὺς ὑπεξάγει παραχρῆμα τοῦ ἱεροῦ τὴν ὠνηθεῖσαν λεκάνην καὶ ἐν μέσῳ τὴν χαλκῆν ἐνεγκάμενος προτίθησι τῷ σεβάσματι ὡς ἁγνὴν καὶ πρεσβύτιδα λάτριν, οἷα παρθένον τινὰ καὶ ἄχραντον βδελυρᾶς γοητείας. (13.) καὶ δῆτα παραυτίκα ἐπιφαίνονται αὖθις τὰ θαύματα, καὶ κατομβρίζεται μύρον. βλύζει τὸ χάρισμα, πηγάζει τὸ δώρημα, τὸ δάκρυον στέλλεται, τὸ πένθος ἐγκόπτεται, τὸ σκυθρωπὸν διαλύεται, τὸ βδέλυγμα στηλιτεύεται, καὶ πάλιν ἡ πόλις τὴν ἑαυτῆς περιβάλλεται δόξαν· ἕτοιμος γὰρ οἰκτειρῆσαι θεὸς εὐσεβῶς πρεσβευόμενος.

'(3.) In this very year, a certain Paulinos, a man not undistinguished in the city, was discovered to have thrust his soul down to the abyss of witchcraft. The manner of his uncovering has become one of the wondrous stories, and I shall relate it, since it is certainly astonishing. (4.) The wizard had a silver basin, in which he used to collect the streams of blood whenever he communed with the apostate powers. This basin he sold to silver merchants. (5.) And so the merchants, having paid Paulinos the price of the basin, undertook to resell the vessel and placed it before the doors of their shop, allowing anyone who wished to buy it. (6.) Now it happened that the bishop of the city of Heraclea, which the ancients once named Peirinthos, was that time staying in Byzantium and saw the wizard’s basin hung up for sale. He joyfully purchased it, left the city and returned to his see. (7.) Since a bronze basin used to receive the divine myrrh of the martyr Glykeria, the bishop, out of respect for the relic, exchanged the vessels: he removed the bronze one from that most sacred service and set up the silver one as receptacle of the divinely flowing myrrh. (8.) Hence the river of miracles ceased and the fountain of grace was hidden. The martyr did not manifest her powers; she withdrew her benefaction; removed her gift and ordained that the myrrh should not well forth on account of the pollution. For in truth, "it is not right for the pure to touch the impure" (to insert appropriately a piece of secular learning into my narrations as well) [Simocatta is quoting Plato, Phaedo 67B]. (9.) As this happened for several days and the misfortune became known in the city, the bishop fell into grief: he bemoaned the affair, mourned the interruption of the miracles, implored the return of the benefaction, was unable to bear the loss and could not endure the shame. Life was unbearable for him, while the church was bereft of the miracle. (10.) For this reason, fasts and prayers were offered, tears were conscripted, lamentations were made allies, all-night supplications were marshalled, and everything that can turn God’s irritation into mercy was assembled. (11.) Then, once God had properly shunned the pollution and justly pitied the ignorance, the abominations concerning the basin were revealed in a dream to the bishop of the city. (12.) Thus the priest immediately removed from the shrine the basin he had purchased, and, bringing out the bronze one, he placed it before the relic as a pure and venerable servant, like a maiden untainted by abominable witchcraft. (13.) Next miracles occurred at once and and myrrh showered down. The benefaction gushed forth, the gift welled up, weeping dispatched, mourning checked, gloom dispelled, the abomination publicised, and once again the city donned its own glory. For God is ready to pity when he is piously implored.'

In the rest of the narrative, the bishop of Heraclea goes to Constantinople and finds out who the initial owner of the basin was, which he reports to Patriarch John the Faster. The latter goes to the palace and demands the execution of Paulinos, which the emperor Maurice reluctantly orders.

Text: de Boor and Wirth 1972. Translation: Whitby and Whitby 1986, modified.

History

Evidence ID

E00017

Saint Name

Glykeria, martyr in Perinthus-Heraclea in Thrace, ob. 2nd c. : S00018

Saint Name in Source

Γλυκερία

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

620

Evidence not after

640

Activity not before

583

Activity not after

583

Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Constantinople

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work

Theophylact Simocatta

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Liturgical invocation

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous effluent Miraculous behaviour of relics/images Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Pagans

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified Myrrh and other miraculous effluents of relics

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Precious material objects

Source

Theophylact Simocatta wrote his History in Constantinople probably in the late 620s. The period covered by his work is the reign of Maurice (582-602), and the main subjects of the historical narrative are the wars of the East Roman Empire with Persia, and with the Avars and the Slavs in the Balkans. Several digressions of hagiographical, chronographical and geographical interest are inserted in the narrative. Using various earlier sources, Simocatta produces a positive account of Maurice, portraying him as a good emperor overthrown by a tyrant (Phocas). In fact, Maurice was very unpopular in his own times, but cleansing his memory was important to legitimise the rule of Heraclius (610-641), who presented his own coup against Phocas as avenging the murder of Maurice. A supporter and successful official of Heraclius’ regime, Simocatta apparently served this particular political agenda. Further reading: Whitby and Whitby 1986, xiii-xxx (introduction); Whitby 1988; Frendo 1988; Olajos 1988.

Discussion

The story of the pagan aristocrat Paulinos (Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire IIIB, 'Paulinus 3') and his execution after the interruption of the miracles of Glykeria is placed in the early parts of Simocatta’s account of Maurice’s reign. Paulinos was probably the most famous case of an execution for paganism under Maurice who otherwise preferred to be lenient towards pagans who confessed error, thus acquiring a reputation for being a pagan himself. Simocatta’s sources for this story are disputed. He may have reproduced it from a lost life of *John the Faster (S00021) by Photinus (E###), from an unknown Constantinopolitan Chronicle, or from the so-called Hagiography of Maurice (Frendo 1988, 155-156; Olajos 1988, 117; Whitby 1988, 21-22; see E00050). The passage is our only textual source from late antiquity mentioning the myrrh miracle at the tomb of Glykeria at Heraclea-Perinthus (Külzer 2008, 400). The miracle seems to have been a continuous or otherwise frequent phenomenon whose interruption caused distress to the community and the bishop. It is unclear if the myrrh flowed from a closed sarcophagus or if the relic was publicly exposed. The precise location of Glykeria's shrine at Heraclea is unknown. Simocatta is the earliest source mentioning the shrine and the myrrh miracle. Elsewhere he mentions that the Avars damaged the church and that Maurice repaired it (E00016). The Avars are not known to have sacked the city of Heraclea, but they certainly pillaged its environs several times. The only piece surviving from Glykeria's shrine in Heraclea is a middle Byzantine inscription, perhaps from the 9th century, which was carved on a reused marble block from an early Roman frieze, and it referred to the head of Glykeria and the numerous healing miracles she performed. At the top of the block there is a niche where Glykeria's head was placed. The inscription was first seen by John Covel in 1675 in the Byzantine cathedral of Heraclea. The cathedral was a middle Byzantine domed basilica, dedicated to the Apostles (Μεγάλοι Ἀπόστολοι), and it stood on the west end of the fortified acropolis of Heraclea. Covel reports that the Glykeria inscription had been transferred to that church from her ruined monastery which stood by the sea nearby. This monastery was probably the actual site of the basilica mentioned by Simocatta (Covel, ed. Grélois, 120-124). After the abandonment of the Byzantine cathedral in the 18th century, the Glykeria inscription was transferred to the Greek church of Hagios Georgios where it was kept until 1924. It is now kept at the Archaeological Museum of Tekirdağ (Kalinka and Strzygowski 1898, 27-28; Sayar 1998, 383-385).

Bibliography

Edition: de Boor, C., and Wirth, P., Theophylacti Simocattae Historiae (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana; Leipzig: Teubner, 1972). Translation: Whitby, M., and Whitby, M., The History of Theophylact Simocatta: An English Translation with Introduction and Notes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986). Further reading: Frendo, J.D.C., “History and Panegyric in the Age of Heraclius: The Literary Background of the Composition of the Histories of Theophylact Simocatta,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 42 (1988), 143-156. Olajos, T., Les Sources de Théophylacte Simocatta Historien (Leiden: Brill, 1988). Whitby, M., The Emperor Maurice and his Historian: Theophylact Simocatta on Persian and Balkan Warfare (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988). On Heraclea: Covel, J., Voyages en Turquie 1675-1677, Texte établi, annoté et traduit par J.-P. Grélois (Réalités Byzantines 6; Paris: P. Lethielleux, 1998). Kalinka, E., and Strzygowski, J., “Die Cathedrale von Heraclea,” Österreichische Jahreshefte 1 (Beiheft) (1898), 3-28. Κülzer, A., Tabula Imperii Byzantini 12: Ostthrakien (Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2008). Sayar, M.H., Perinthos-Herakleia (Marmara Ereğlisi) und Umgebung: Geschichte, Testimonien, griechische und lateinische Inschriften (Denkschriften der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse 269; Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1998).

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