Aelia Eudocia Augusta, On Kyprianos (BHG 458, 459)
According to the 9th century Bibliotheca of Photius (184), Eudocia’s paraphrase of the hagiographic legend of Kyprianos and Ioustina consisted of three chapters corresponding to the texts known as the Conversion of Kyprianos and Ioustina, the Confession of Kyprianos, and the Martyrdom of Kyprianos and Ioustina (see E01163
). The first chapter (λόγος) started with the story of Ioustina’s conversion to Christianity, which is followed also by the conversion of her parents. Verses 1-322 of the extant part of Eudocia’s poem belong to the Conversion, from the point where the young Aglaidas attempts unsuccessfully to pursue Ioustina, to the end of the document, with the ordinations of Kyprianos as bishop and Ioustina as deaconess and abbess. Verses 323-479 belong to the Confession from the beginning down to the point of Kyprianos’ penance before the Christians, just before the speech of Eusebios. From Photius’ summary, we know that the rest of Eudocia’s poem continued the paraphrase of the Confession, and also included the Passion, following the narrative as it is known from the prose versions of these texts.
Saint NameKyprianos and Ioustina/Justina, martyrs of Antioch : S01704
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint
Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts
Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom
Literary - Poems
Evidence not before431
Evidence not after460
Activity not before431
Activity not after460
Place of Evidence - RegionConstantinople and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcConstantinople
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Constantinople
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsComposing and translating saint-related texts
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
Monarchs and their family
SourceEudocia’s metaphrasis of the three texts of the legend of Kyprianos and Ioustina has survived only in part. 322 hexameters survive from the part which corresponds to the Conversion of Kyprianos and Ioustina (on which see E001164), including 99 from the beginning of the text. 479 hexameters have survived from the part which corresponds to the Confession (on which see E001163). None of the verses which correspond to the Martyrdom have survived (see E001165), but their existence is verified by Photius (Bibliotheca 184), who gives a summary of all three parts.
DiscussionEudocia’s choice to single out the novel of Kyprianos, of all other hagiographical texts, for her metaphrasis is indicative of its great popularity, but it may also betray personal motives: the central theme of the story of Kyprianos, namely the conversion of a learned pagan to Christianity, very much reflected her own life. Most importantly, however, it reflects the penetration of the hagiographic tradition and the cult of saints through the highest echelons of society, and its integration into the learning and culture of the Roman elite of the time.
The main importance of Eudocia’s epic lies with the fact that it provides a very well dated terminus ante quem for the three documents of the legend of Kyprianos and Ioustina, demonstrating that they had more or less obtained their final form and circulated as a unified hagiographic corpus, by the mid 5th century. Eudocia also produced a paraphrase of the Octateuch which Photius praises for its faithfulness to the source text. It is probable that she followed the same principle in her reworking of the hagiography of Kyprianos. Her text follows closely, but not fully, the prose version of the Conversion and the Confession. Eudocia’s source text probably represents an intermediary stage in the manuscript tradition: in some parts it seems to follow the shorter recension of the texts, and elsewhere the longer one.
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