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E00365: The Greek Martyrdom of *Dasios (soldier and martyr of Durostorum, Lower Danube, S00187) recounts the arrest and death of the saint. The text probably derives from an early martyrdom account, and contains a polemical introduction against the survival of pagan customs. Probably compiled after the mid-5th c.

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posted on 06.04.2015, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Martyrdom of Dasios (BHG 491)

Summary:

(§ 1) In the times of Maximian and Diocletian, there is a custom in the army to celebrate a yearly festival of Kronos (Saturn), during which a man is dressed like a king and allowed to satisfy all his shameless desires for thirty days, after which he is sacrificed to the gods.

(§ 2) Dasios was called to celebrate the festival.

(§ 3) This despicable tradition survives into the author’s days and is celebrated by people who call themselves Christians, but persist in keeping the pagan custom. On 1 January, they dress in goatskins and participate in processions.

(§ 4) Dasios knows that this is a foolish custom and resists the devil. He is resolved to suffer martyrdom for his Christian faith, rather than let himself be sacrificed to the demons.

(§ 5) Soldiers call him celebrate the festival of Kronos, but he states that he prefers to immolate himself to Christ rather than to Kronos. They imprison him and next day they take him to the praetorium of the legatus Bassos.

(§§ 6-7) Bassos asks Dasios about his office and name, and asks him to pray before the images of the emperors. Dasios replies that he only serves the heavenly king, Christ.

(§ 8) Bassos repeats his order for Dasios to pray to the images of the emperors, but Dasios confesses being a Christian , and obeying only the heavenly God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

(§ 9) Bassos warns him that everyone has to obey the imperial order, but Dasios persists in his confession.

(§ 10) The legate gives Dasios one day to reconsider, but Dasios states that there is no need for it, since he has taken his decision.

(§ 11) Bassos has him tortured and orders him to be beheaded. While being taken away, he is coerced to offer sacrifice, but he scatters away the frankincense and throws down the pagan images, while he makes the sign of the cross on his forehead.

(§ 12) Dasios is beheaded on 20 November, a Friday, at the fourth hour, on the twenty-fourth day of the moon. He is beheaded by the speculator Aniketos Ioannes at the city of Dorostolon (Durostorum) under Diocletian and Maximian, and under the legate Bassos.

Text: Musurillo 1972
Summary: Efthymios Rizos

History

Evidence ID

E00365

Saint Name

Dasios, soldier martyr in Durostorum : S00187

Saint Name in Source

Δάσιος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

313

Evidence not after

700

Activity not before

303

Activity not after

305

Place of Evidence - Region

Balkans including Greece

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Durostorum

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

Durostorum Drizypera Δριζύπερα Drizypera Büyük Karıştıran

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Soldiers Officials

Source

The text is known from the 10th/11th-century Codex Parisinus Graecus 1539, a compilation of readings related to the feasts of November.

Discussion

The extant text is a composition unlikely to predate the mid 5th century. The subject is purportedly the martyrdom of a soldier at the city and legionary base of Dorostolon/Durostorum in Moesia Inferior. It is thus one of the few surviving pieces of hagiography concerning the Lower Danube provinces. The text begins with an introduction concerning the celebration of Saturnalia, which is presented as the reason for Dasios’ conflict with his fellow-soldiers and arrest. It is disputed whether the claims of the text about the celebration of this festival by the Roman army, including a human sacrifice, are accurate. The author seems mainly concerned with attacking pagan customs practised among the Christian population. The description of the text has been associated with folk ceremonies of New Year, especially the kukeri, a popular festival observed in Bulgaria until today. The subsequent narrative of Dasius’ interrogation does not fit well with the introduction concerning the Saturnalia. Dasios’ dialogue with the legatus does not refer to the festival at all. Instead, it has the usual structure known from other martyr trials, focusing on the cult of images of deities, with an interesting reference to the emperor’s cult in the army. It could therefore be argued that the introduction about the Saturnalia was secondarily added to an earlier martyrdom account, with the purpose of strengthening the arguments of the church against residual pagan practices. The text demonstrates a good knowledge of aspects of organisation of the army: Bassos is described as a lēgatos, presumably a legate of the XI Legion Claudia, stationed at Durostorum. There is also a reference to the provision of military rations by the emperors, namely the annona militaris.

Bibliography

Text and translations: Musurillo, H., The Acts of the Christian Martyrs (Oxford Early Christian Texts; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), xl-xli, 273-279. Pillinger, R., Das Martyrium des Heiligen Dasius: Text, Übersetzung und Kommentar (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1988). [Text, German traslation, and commentary]

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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