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E00139: Eusebius of Caesarea refers to a collection of early martyrdom accounts he compiled, probably in the 290s or 300s. Passages from his Ecclesiastical History, written in Greek in Palestine, in 311/325, with references to *Pionios (martyr of Smyrna, S00031), *Karpos, Papylos, and Agathonike (martyrs of Pergamon, S00051), the *Martyrs of Lyon (S00316), and *Apollonios (martyr of Rome, S00106).

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posted on 02.11.2014, 00:00 by robert, dlambert
Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History 4.15.47-48; 5. Pref. 1-2; 5.4.3; 5.21.5.

4.15.47-48
(47.) τῶν γε μὴν τότε περιβόητος μάρτυς εἷς τις ἐγνωρίζετο Πιόνιος· οὗ τὰς κατὰ μέρος ὁμολογίας τήν τε τοῦ λόγου παρρησίαν καὶ τὰς ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ἐπὶ τοῦ δήμου καὶ τῶν ἀρχόντων ἀπολογίας διδασκαλικάς τε δημηγορίας καὶ ἔτι τὰς πρὸς τοὺς ὑποπεπτωκότας τῷ κατὰ τὸν διωγμὸν πειρασμῷ δεξιώσεις παραμυθίας τε ἃς ἐπὶ τῆς εἱρκτῆς τοῖς παρ’ αὐτὸν εἰσαφικνουμένοις ἀδελφοῖς παρετίθετο, ἅς τε ἐπὶ τούτοις ὑπέμεινεν βασάνους, καὶ τὰς ἐπὶ ταύταις ἀλγηδόνας καθηλώσεις τε καὶ τὴν ἐπὶ τῆς πυρᾶς καρτερίαν τήν τε ἐφ’ ἅπασιν τοῖς παραδόξοις αὐτοῦ τελευτὴν πληρέστατα τῆς περὶ αὐτοῦ γραφῆς περιεχούσης, τοὺς οἷς φίλον, ἐπὶ ταύτην ἀναπέμψομεν τοῖς τῶν ἀρχαίων συναχθεῖσιν ἡμῖν μαρτυρίοις ἐντεταγμένην. (48.) ἑξῆς δὲ καὶ ἄλλων ἐν Περγάμῳ πόλει τῆς Ἀσίας ὑπομνήματα μεμαρτυρηκότων φέρεται, Κάρπου καὶ Παπύλου καὶ γυναικὸς Ἀγαθονίκης, μετὰ πλείστας καὶ διαπρεπεῖς ὁμολογίας ἐπιδόξως τετελειωμένων.

'(47.) A certain Pionios was famous among the martyrs of those times [= persecutions under Marcus Aurelius]. The document about him contains a full account of each one of his confessions, and the boldness of his speech, and his apologies of the faith before the people and the magistrates, and his instructive addresses, and, moreover, his acceptance of those who had yielded to temptation in the persecution, and the words of encouragement which he addressed to the brethren who came to visit him in prison, and the tortures which he endured in addition, and, besides these, the sufferings and nailing, and his perseverance on the pyre, and his death with all its extraordinary aspects. We refer those interested to this document, since it is included in the Martyrdoms of the Ancients, collected by us. (48.) There are also memoirs extant of others who were martyred in the city of Pergamon in Asia, namely Karpos and Papylos and the woman Agathonike, who died gloriously after several and distinguished acts of confession.'

5. Pref. 1-2
(1.) Ὁ μὲν οὖν τῆς Ῥωμαίων ἐκκλησίας ἐπίσκοπος Σωτὴρ ἐπὶ ὄγδοον ἔτος ἡγησάμενος τελευτᾷ τὸν βίον· τοῦτον δωδέκατος ἀπὸ τῶν ἀποστόλων Ἐλεύθερος διαδέχεται, ἔτος δ’ ἦν ἑπτακαιδέκατον αὐτοκράτορος Ἀντωνίνου Οὐήρου· ἐν ᾧ κατά τινα μέρη τῆς γῆς σφοδρότερον ἀναρριπισθέντος τοῦ καθ’ ἡμῶν διωγμοῦ, ἐξ ἐπιθέσεως τῶν κατὰ πόλεις δήμων μυριάδας μαρτύρων διαπρέψαι στοχασμῷ λαβεῖν ἔνεστιν ἀπὸ τῶν καθ’ ἓν ἔθνος συμβεβηκότων, ἃ καὶ γραφῇ τοῖς μετέπειτα παραδοθῆναι, ἀλήστου μνήμης ὡς ἀληθῶς ἐπάξια ὄντα, συμβέβηκεν. (2.) τῆς μὲν οὖν περὶ τούτων ἐντελεστάτης ὑφηγήσεως τὸ πᾶν σύγγραμμα τῇ τῶν μαρτύρων ἡμῖν κατατέτακται συναγωγῇ, οὐχ ἱστορικὴν αὐτὸ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ διδασκαλικὴν περιέχον διήγησιν· ὁπόσα γέ τοι τῆς παρούσης ἔχοιτο πραγματείας, ταῦτ’ ἐπὶ τοῦ παρόντος ἀναλεξάμενος παραθήσομαι.

'(1.) The bishop of the church of the Romans Soter ends his life after eight years of leadership. Eleutheros succeeds him, being the twelfth [bishop of Rome] after the apostles. It was the seventeenth year of the emperor Antoninus Verus [= Marcus Aurelius], when persecution against us was rekindled more fiercely in some parts of the world, and, judging from what happened in each one of the provinces, one may conclude that myriads of martyrs emerged from attacks of mobs in cities. These things happen to be preserved in writing for the future generations, since they truly deserve unfading remembrance. (2.) The entire document [or: Every document] of the full account of these things has been included by us in the Collection of Martyrs, for it contains not just an historical, but also edifying narrative. Nevertheless, I shall select and quote here as much as may be relevant to the present subject.'

5.4.3
τί δεῖ καταλέγειν τὸν ἐν τῇ δηλωθείσῃ γραφῇ τῶν μαρτύρων κατάλογον, ἰδίᾳ μὲν τῶν ἀποτμήσει κεφαλῆς τετελειωμένων, ἰδίᾳ δὲ τῶν θηρσὶν εἰς βορὰν παραβεβλημένων, καὶ αὖθις τῶν ἐπὶ τῆς εἱρκτῆς κεκοιμημένων, τόν τε ἀριθμὸν τῶν εἰς ἔτι τότε περιόντων ὁμολογητῶν; ὅτῳ γὰρ φίλον, καὶ ταῦτα ῥᾴδιον πληρέστατα διαγνῶναι μετὰ χεῖρας ἀναλαβόντι τὸ σύγγραμμα, ὃ καὶ αὐτὸ τῇ τῶν μαρτύρων συναγωγῇ πρὸς ἡμῶν, ὡς γοῦν ἔφην, κατείλεκται.

'What is the point of listing the catalogue of the martyrs given in the said text [the Letter of the Churches of Lyon and Vienne], separately listing those killed by beheading, and those cast to be eaten by the beasts, and then those that fell asleep in prison, and the number of the confessors that were still alive at that time? Anyone who is interested can readily find these things in their fullest by consulting the document itself, since this has also been included by me in the Collection of the Martyrs.'

5.21.5
τούτου μὲν οὖν τὰς ἐπὶ τοῦ δικαστοῦ φωνὰς καὶ τὰς ἀποκρίσεις ἃς πρὸς πεῦσιν πεποίητο τοῦ Περεννίου, πᾶσάν τε τὴν πρὸς τὴν σύγκλητον ἀπολογίαν, ὅτῳ διαγνῶναι φίλον, ἐκ τῆς τῶν ἀρχαίων μαρτύρων συναχθείσης ἡμῖν ἀναγραφῆς εἴσεται·

'Whoever is interested to know about his [= the martyr Apollonius'] speeches before the judge and the answers he gave to Perennius' interrogation, and his entire defence before the Senate, they will find these things in the record of the ancient martyrs, compiled by us.'

Text: Schwartz et al. 1999. Translation: Efthymios Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E00139

Saint Name

Pionios, presbyter and martyr in Smyrna Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr, and other martyrs in Smyrna Karpos, Papylos and Agathonike, martyrs in Pergamon Martyrs of Lyon (Gaul) Apollonius, martyr in Rome under Commodus

Saint Name in Source

Πιόνιος Πολύκαρπος Κάρπος, Παπύλος, Ἀγαθονίκη Ἀπολλώνιος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

311

Evidence not after

325

Activity not before

290

Activity not after

310

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Caesarea Maritima

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

Caesarea Maritima

Major author/Major anonymous work

Eusebius of Caesarea

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Source

Eusebius lived in Caesarea Maritima in Palestine between c. AD 260 and 340. He was a pupil and friend of the martyred Christian intellectual Pamphilus. Under Constantine, he emerged as one of the most influential Christian figures of the Roman Empire, and was ordained bishop of Caesarea. Written between 311 and 325, Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History is the first literary work to employ the method and objectives of classical historiography – which, since Herodotus and Thucydides, had traditionally focused on military and political events – in a novel field, the history of the Christian community. The first paragraphs of the work outline its chronological framework and thematic range: it is a narrative of events in the life of the Christian community from the times of Christ and the Apostles to the times of Eusebius (c. AD 260-340); it records the leaders of the most important communities (i.e. successions of bishops in Alexandria, Antioch, Rome and Jerusalem); it records the most notable exponents of Christian doctrine and their works, and also the main heresies and their proponents; it finally records persecutions and people that suffered and were martyred during them. The Ecclesiastical History is mostly a synthesis of quotations and summaries from other sources, for which Eusebius often gives concrete references. Thus his work preserves excerpts from early Christian texts which do not survive any more in their full form. Eusebius’ source material is mostly Greek texts, originating from Christian communities in Anatolia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. These areas constitute the main geographical range of his narrative, while his information about Christianity in the European provinces of the Roman Empire (except Rome) and North Africa is very limited. The text survives in several Greek manuscripts, in a Latin translation by Rufinus, and in Syriac and Armenian translations.

Discussion

Eusebius refers four times to a lost collection of Martyrdoms of the Ancients he probably composed before AD 300. This can be described as one of the earliest attested literary collections composed with the methods and, to some extent, purposes of hagiography. This collection seems to have provided the main source texts Eusebius used in his accounts of the periods of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus in books 4 and 5 of the Ecclesiastical History. The texts explicitly ascribed to this collection are the Martyrdom of Pionios, the Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne (on the Martyrs of Lugdunum and Vienna) and the Martyrdom of Apollonios of Rome. It is probable that the same collection also included the Martyrdoms of Polycarp of Smyrna, and of Karpos, Papylos and Agathonike (see E00014). Most of these texts are of a clearly Anatolian origin, including the Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne which, despite its Gallic subject, probably reached Eusebius from Asia Minor, as it purports to be a letter addressed to the churches of Asia and Phrygia (see E00212). The same may also apply to the Martyrdom of Apollonios, which Eusebius almost certainly consulted in a Greek version; Apollonios is unknown in extant sources from Rome and the West (see E00213). Apparently, these stories were thought to be ancient in the times of Eusebius, hence the title of the collection (Martyrdoms of the Ancients or Ancient Martyrs). Eusebius dates these texts to the reigns of Marcus Aurelius (Polycarp, Pionios, Martyrs of Lyon and Vienne) and Commodus (Apollonius). Neither of the two texts he quotes (the Martyrdom of Polycarp and the Letter of the Churches of Lyon and Vienne) reveals the reasons why he dated them to these periods, but they are likely to have included explicit references to the reigns of these emperors (see E00035, E00096, E00212 and E00213 for the dates of the these texts). In the later books of the Ecclesiastical History, which describe the persecutions of the 3rd century and the Tetrarchy, the author never refers to the Ancient Martyrs, which shows that its contents were irrelevant to the subject of these books. This is of special interest with regard to the Martyrdom of Pionios (E00096), and the Latin Martyrdom of Carpus, Pamfilus and Agathonice (E00353), which ascribe these stories to the persecution of Decius. Eusebius evidently thought differently, since he does not include Pionios or the Pergamene martyrs in his accounts of the Decian persecution. In book 8 of the Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius reports that he intended to write a separate book on martyrdoms he witnessed during his own lifetime (Ecclesiastical History 8.13.12). Part of that work may be the extant text known as the Martyrs of Palestine (E000318, E00294). By contrast, the rationale of the Ancient Martyrs was to provide an anthology of stories that were not in living memory in Eusebius’ time. As such, its composition appears to have been very close to the character, method, and intentions of what we define as hagiography: the author seeks out and collects stories of martyrs who died in places far from his own homeland and many years before his own time, commending them to his readership for the sake of memory and edification. We should notice that Eusebius describes his work by the words συνάγω (synagō = to gather together) and συναγωγή (synagōgē = collection, gathering). This is precisely the verb used in the epilogue of the Martyrdom of Polycarp, where an editor of that text refers to his work of finding and including an ancient martyrdom account in his own hagiographical collection (see E00054). What remains unclear is the precise purpose of his compilation project: was it serving the needs of a growing interest and veneration for the martyrs, or were its intentions rather apologetic and historical, like the Ecclesiastical History?

Bibliography

Edition: Schwartz, E., Mommsen, T., and Winkelmann, F., Eusebius Werke II: Die Kirchengeschichte. 3 vols. (Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1999). Translations: Lake, K., Oulton, J.E.L., and Lawlor, H.J., Eusebius of Caesarea: The Ecclesiastical History. 2 vols. (Loeb Classical Library 153; London and Cambridge, Mass: W. Heinemann and Harvard University Press, 1926). Williamson, G.A., and Louth, A., Eusebius. The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine (London: Penguin, 1989). Further reading: Chesnut, G. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius. Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986.

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