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E00562: Greek epigram, ascribed to Menander Protector, recounting the story of Isbozetes, Persian convert martyred c. 551 (= *Yazdbozid, S00115). Written in the late 6th c., and recorded in the 10th c. Greek Anthology.

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posted on 27.05.2015, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Greek Anthology, Book 1 (Christian Epigrams), 101


ΜΕΝΑΝΔΡΟΥ ΠΡΟΤΙΚΤΟΡΟΣ

εἰς Πέρσην μάγον γενόμενον χριστιανὸν καὶ μαρτυρήσαντα

Ἦν πάρος ἐν Πέρσῃσιν ἐγὼ μάγος Ἰσβοζήτης,
εἰς ὀλοὴν ἀπάτην ἐλπίδας ἐκκρεμάσας.
εὖτε δὲ πυρσὸς ἔδαπτεν ἐμὴν πόλιν, ἦλθον ἀρῆξαι·
ἦλθε δὲ καὶ Χριστοῦ πανσθενέος θεράπων·
κείνῳ δ᾽ ἐσβέσθη δύναμις πυρός, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἔμπης
νικηθεὶς νίκην ἤνυσα θειοτέρην.


'Menander Protector

On a Persian magus who became a Christian and was martyred

I, Isbozētēs, was formerly a magus among the Persians, hanging my hopes on a pernicious fraud. When fire was devouring my city, I came to help, and a servant of all-powerful Christ came too. He extinguished the force of the fire, but nonetheless, though I was defeated, I gained a more divine victory.'


Text and translation: Paton and Tueller 2014.

History

Evidence ID

E00562

Saint Name

Yazdbozed, Persian martyr of the sixth century : S00115

Saint Name in Source

Ἰσβοζήτης

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

551

Evidence not after

600

Activity not before

551

Activity not after

600

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

Greek Anthology

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Commissioning/producing an image

Source

The Greek Anthology is a collection of Greek epigrams from dating from the Archaic period to the 9th century AD. It was initially compiled by Meleager of Megara (100-90 BC), whose collection was edited and expanded by Philip of Thessalonica (under Nero), Agathias of Myrina (AD 567/8) and finally by Konstantinos Kephalas (c. AD 900). The word epigram literally means an inscription. Although most Greek inscriptions were in prose, the word came to be specifically connected to those written in verse, and eventually to include poetic texts which were not necessarily inscribed. From the earliest period of Greek literature, epigrams were mostly sepulchral or dedicatory: they either memorialised the dead or marked the dedication of an object to a god. Book 1 of the Greek Anthology contains Christian epigrams from Late Antiquity to the 9th century. It was compiled c. 880-900, containing a considerable number of poems copied directly from monuments. The scholar responsible for the transcriptions may have been Gregorios Magistros, a colleague of Kephalas. Epigrams 1-17 and possibly others were taken down from inscriptions at Constantinople and two of them, namely No. 1 (inscription from the bema arch of St. Sophia) and No. 10 (inscription from the church of St. Polyeuktos) have been found in situ, thus confirming the accuracy of the entries in the Anthology.

Discussion

This epigram is ascribed to Menander Protector, one of the most notable historiographers of the 6th century, active in Constantinople under Maurice (582-602). Like his predecessor, Agathias, Menander seems to have written poems as well as history. This epigram refers concisely to the story of the Persian martyr Isbozētēs/Yazdbozid, echoing the great interest in stories about martyrdoms and conversions in Persia during the reign of Maurice, which was marked by confrontations with the eastern rival empire. In particular, the emperor’s involvement in the civil war of Persia, supporting the restoration to the throne of Khosrau II (589-591), probably excited expectations and hopes that Persia would soon be conquered and Christianised. The same events included the return to the Romans of Martyropolis, a major pilgrimage town in Mesopotamia, hosting the shrine of the *Persian Martyrs. It is probable that relics of other martyrs from the Sasanian lands, including Isbozētēs (martyred in 551, according to his hagiography: cf. E00286), were translated to Roman lands. This epigram may have been composed in order to be inscribed on an image.

Bibliography

Edition and Translation: Paton, W.R., rev. Tueller, M.A., The Greek Anthology, Books 1-5, 2nd ed. (Loeb Classical Library; London, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2014). Other editions: Beckby, H., Anthologia Graeca (Munich: Ernst Heimeran Verlag, 1957). Conca, F., Marzi, M., and Zanetto, G., Antologia Palatina. 3 vols. Vol. 1 (Classici Greci; Turin: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 2005). Waltz, P., Anthologie Grecque (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1928). Further reading on the Greek Anthology: Cameron, A., The Greek Anthology: From Meleager to Planudes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993).

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