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E04902: Evagrius Scholasticus in his Ecclesiastical History recounts the miraculous protection of Rusafa/Sergiopolis (north-east Syria) by *Sergios (soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023) during the Persian siege of 542. Written in Greek at Antioch (Syria), 593/594.

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posted on 05.02.2018, 00:00 by erizos
Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, 4.28

Λελέξεται δὲ καὶ ὃ κατὰ τὴν Σεργιουπολιτῶν ἄλλοτε ὑπὸ Χοσρόου γέγονεν, ἐπεὶ καὶ ἀξιόλογόν ἐστιν καὶ πρέπον ὄντως μνήμῃ ἐς ἀεὶ διασωζομένῃ. Ἐπέστη καὶ ταύτῃ ὁ Χοσρόης, ἐκπολιορκεῖν αὐτὴν ἐπειγόμενος. Ὡς δ’ οὖν τῶν τειχῶν ἀπεπειρᾶτο, τὰ περὶ τῆς σωτηρίας τῆς πόλεως πρὸς ἑκατέρων ἐλαλεῖτο· καὶ συμβαίνουσιν ὥστε τὰ ἱερὰ κειμήλια λύτρα τῇ πόλει γενέσθαι· ἐν οἷς καθειστήκει καὶ σταυρὸς ὑπὸ Ἰουστινιανοῦ καὶ Θεοδώρας πεμφθείς. Ὡς δ’ οὖν ἀπεκομίσθη ταῦτα, τοῦ ἱερέως ὁ Χοσρόης καὶ τῶν σὺν αὐτῷ πεμφθέντων Περσῶν ἀνεπύθετο μή τι ἕτερον εἴη. Τῶν δέ τις οὐκ εἰωθότων ἀληθίζεσθαί φησι πρὸς τὸν Χοσρόην καὶ ἕτερα εἶναι κειμήλια, ἅπερ πρὸς τῶν πολιτῶν ἀπεκρύβη εὐαρίθμων ὄντων. Ὑπελέλειπτο δὲ χρυσοῦ μὲν ἢ ἀργύρου κειμήλιον τῶν ἐπιφερομένων οὐδέν, ἑτέρας δὲ προὐργιαιτέρας ὕλης καὶ θεῷ καθάπαξ ἀνεχούσης, τὰ πανάγια λείψανα Σεργίου τοῦ ἀθλοφόρου μάρτυρος, ἔν τινι τῶν ἐπιμήκων σορῶν κείμενα ἐξ ἀργυρίου ἠμφιεσμένῃ. Ἐπειδὴ δὲ τούτοις πεισθεὶς ὁ Χοσρόης τῇ πόλει τὸν ὅλον ἐπαφῆκε στρατόν, ἐξαπίνης ἀνὰ τὸν περίβολον ἀσπὶς ἀνεφάνη μυρία, ὑπερμαχοῦσα τῆς πόλεως· ὅπερ οἱ πεμφθέντες πρὸς Χοσρόου θεασάμενοι ἐπανῆκον, τό τε πλῆθος θαυμάζοντες τήν τε ἐξόπλισιν διηγούμενοι. Ὡς δὲ καὶ πάλιν πυθόμενος ἔμαθεν ὁ Χοσρόης ὀλίγους τῇ πόλει κομιδῆ ἐναπομεῖναι, ἐξώρους τε καὶ ἀώρους, τῆς σφριγώσης ἡλικίας ἐκποδὼν γενομένης, ἔγνω τοῦ μάρτυρος εἶναι τὸ θαῦμα· καὶ δείσας καὶ τὴν Χριστιανῶν πίστιν ἀγάμενος, ἀπῆρε πρὸς τὰ οἰκεῖα. Ὃν καί φασιν ἐν ταῖς τελευταίαις ἀναπνοαῖς τῆς θείας ἀξιωθῆναι παλιγγενεσίας.

‘We shall also recount what was done by Chosroes on another occasion against Sergiopolis, since it is both remarkable and truly preserved in perpetual memory. Chosroes attacked this city too, eager to sack it. As he was assaulting the walls, the two parties negotiated the sparing of the town, and they agreed that the sacred treasures should be given as ransom for the city; these included a cross which had been sent by Justinian and Theodora. When these things were delivered, Chosroes asked the priest and the Persians who had been sent with him whether there was anything else. One of those who are not in the habit of telling the truth said to Chosroes that there were other treasures as well, which had been hidden away by the townspeople who were not numerous. Now, none of the portable offerings of gold or silver had been left back, but there was one very important object which belonged to God once and for ever, namely the all-holy relics of the victorious martyr Sergios which lay in one of the oblong coffins, covered in silver. When Chosroes, believing this, released his whole army against the city, suddenly myriads of shields appeared on the circuit wall, defending the city. On seeing this, those sent by Chosroes turned back, marvelling at their number and extolling their armament. Now, as Chosroes enquired and found that only few people had been left in the city, and those either too old or too young, for those of age fit for fighting had departed, he realised that the prodigy was from the martyr. Thus, in awe and amazement for the Christian faith, he returned home. They say that at his final breath he indeed was honoured with the sacred rebirth.’

Text: Bidez, Parmentier 2014.
Translation: E. Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E04902

Saint Name

Sergios, soldier and martyr of Rusafa : S00023

Saint Name in Source

Σέργιος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

593

Evidence not after

594

Activity not before

542

Activity not after

594

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antioch on the Orontes

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

Antioch on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora

Major author/Major anonymous work

Evagrius Scholasticus

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Towns, villages, districts and fortresses

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracles causing conversion Miraculous protection - of communities, towns, armies Miraculous interventions in war

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Pagans Foreigners (including Barbarians) Soldiers

Cult Activities - Relics

Reliquary – institutionally owned Bodily relic - unspecified

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Precious material objects

Source

Evagrius was born in about 535 in the Syrian city of Epiphania. Educated at Antioch and Constantinople, he pursued a career as a lawyer at Antioch, serving as a legal advisor to Patriarch Gregory (570-592). He wrote the Ecclesiastical History in 593/4, with the express purpose of covering the period following the coverage of the mid 5th century ecclesiastical histories of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. His narrative starts with Nestorius and the Council of Ephesus (431) and stops with the death of Evagrius’ patron, Gregory of Antioch, in 592. The work offers a balanced mixture of ecclesiastical and secular events in the East Roman Empire, being best informed about Antioch and Syria. Evagrius also published a dossier of original documents from the archive of Patriarch Gregory of Antioch, which has not survived.

Discussion

This account probably refers to the siege of Rusafa/Sergiopolis by Khusro I in 542, which is recounted by Procopius (Wars 2.20.1-16). According to Procopius, the king sent his troops, after the bishop of the city, Candidus, failed to find the money he had promised to ransom captives from the nearby city of Sura. According to Procopius, Candidus offered to send to the king some of the treasures of the shrine, which the inhabitants of Sergiopolis handed to Khusro’s envoys. The king, however, was not satisfied and sent an army of 6000 men to besiege the city. Sergiopolis, defended by 200 soldiers, resisted and was about to give in, but the Persians gave up the siege, because they ran out of water. Evagrius’ account shows that, in his time, some 50 years years after the event, the story was remembered as a miracle of the saint. The author’s reference to the saint’s coffin (ἔν τινι τῶν ἐπιμήκων σορῶν κείμενα ἐξ ἀργυρίου ἠμφιεσμένῃ) is almost identical with his description of the coffin of Euphemia in Chalcedon (τὰ πανάγια τῆς μάρτυρος ἀπόκειται λείψανα ἔν τινι σορῷ τῶν ἐπιμήκων—μακρὰν ἔνιοι καλοῦσιν—ἐξ ἀργύρου εὖ μάλα σοφῶς ἠσκημένῃ. 2.3, E00374).

Bibliography

Text and French translation: Bidez, J., and Parmentier, L., Evagre le Scholastique, Histoire ecclésiastique (Sources Chrétiennes 542, 566; Paris, 2011, 2014), with commentary by L. Angliviel de la Beaumelle, and G. Sabbah, and French translation by A.-J.Festugière, B. Grillet, and G. Sabbah. Other translations: Whitby, M., The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius Scholasticus (Translated Texts for Historians 33; Liverpool, 2000). Hübner, A., Evagrius Scholasticus, Historia ecclesiastica = Kirchengeschichte (Fontes Christiani 57; Turnhout, 2007). Carcione, F., Evagrio di Epifania, Storia ecclesiastica (Roma, 1998). Further Reading: Allen, P., Evagrius Scholasticus, the Church Historian (Spicilegium Sacrum Lovaniense, Etudes et Documents 41; Leuven, 1981). Treadgold, W., The Early Byzantine Historians (Basingstoke, 2006), 299-308.

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