Early Church Fathers
1 On this work, see above, p. 29 sq. As remarked there, the shorter form of the work, the translation of which follows, is found in most, but not all, of the mss. of Eusebius' Church History, in some of them at the close of the tenth book, in one of them in the middle of Bk. VIII. chap. 13, in the majority of them between Bks. VIII. and IX. It is found neither in the Syraic version of the History, nor in Rufinus. Musculus omits it in his Latin version, but; a translation of it is given both by Christophorsonus and Valesius. The Germans Stroth and Closs omit it; but Stigloher gives it at the close of his translation of the History. The English translators insert it at the close of the eighth book. The work is undoubtedly genuine, in this, its shorter, as well as in its longer form, but was in all probability attached to the History, not by Eusebius himself, but by some copyist, and therefore is not strictly entitled to a place in a translation of the History. At the same time it has seemed best in the present case to include it and to follow the majority of the editors in inserting it at this point. In all the mss. except one the work begins abruptly without a title, introduced only by the words kai tauta en tini antigrafw en tw ogdow tomw euromen: "The following also we found in a certain copy in the eighth book." In the Codex Castellanus, however, according to Reading (in his edition of Valesius, Vol. I. p. 796, col. 2), the following title is inserted immediately after the words just quoted: Eusebiou suggramma peri twn kat auton marturhsantwn en tw oktaetei Dioklhtianou kai efechj Galeriou tou Maciminou diwgmw. Heinichen consequently prints the first part of this title (Eusebiou ...marturhsantwn) at the head of the work in his edition, and is followed by Burton and Migne. This title, however, can hardly be looked upon as original, and I have preferred to employ rather the name by which the work is described at its close, where we read Eusebiou tou Pamfilou peri twn en Palaistinh marturhsantwn teloj. This agrees with the title of the Syriac version, and must represent very closely the original title; and so the work is commonly known in English as the Martyrs of Palestine, in Latin as de Martyribus Palestinae. The work is much more systematic than the eighth book of the Church History; in fact, it is excellently arranged. and takes up the persecution year by year in chronological order. The ground covered, however, is very limited, and we can consequently gather from the work little idea of the state of the Church at large during these years. All the martyrs mentioned in the following pages are commemorated in the various martyrologies under particular days, but in regard to most of them we know only what Eusebius tells us. I shall not attempt to give references to the martyrologies. Further details gleaned from them and from various Acts of martydom may be found in Ruinart, Tillemont, &c. I shall endeavor to give full particulars in regard to the few martyrs about whom we have any reliable information beyond that given in the present work, but shall pass over the others without mention.
2 The Martyrs of Palestine, in all the mss. that contain it, is introduced with these words. The passage which follows, down to the beginning of Chap. 1, is a transcript, with a few slight variations, of Bk. VIII. chap. 2, §§4 and 5. For notes upon it, see that chapter.
3 The month Xanthicus was the eighth month of the Macedonian year, and corresponded to our April (see the table on p. 403, below). In Bk. VIII. chap. 2, Eusebius puts the beginning of the prosecution in the seventh month, Dystrus. But the persecution really began, or at least the first edict was issued, and the destruction of the churches in Nicomedia took place, in February. See Bk. VIII. chap. 2, note 3.
4 Flavianus is not mentioned in Bk. VIII. chap. 2. In the Syriac version he is named as the judge by whom Procopius was condemned (Cureton, p. 4). Nothing further is known of him, so far as I am aware.
5 The account of Procopius was somewhat fuller in the longer recension of the Martyrs of Palestine, as can be seen from the Syriac version (English translation in Cureton, p. 3 sq.). There exists also a Latin translation of the Acts of St. Procopius, which was evidently made from that longer recension, and which is printed by Valesius and also by Cureton (p. 50 sq.), and in English by Crusè in loco. We are told by the Syriac version that his family was from Baishan. According to the Latin, he was a native of Aelia (Jerusalem), but resided in Scythopolis (the Greek name of Baishan). With the Latin agrees the Syriac version of these Acts, which is published by Assemani in his Acta SS. Martt. Orient. et Occident. ed. 1748, Part II. p. 169 sq. (see Cureton, p. 52). We learn from the longer account that he was a lector, interpreter, and exorcist in the church, and that he was exceedingly ascetic in his manner of life. It is clear from this paragraph that Procopius was put to death, not because he was a Christian, but because he uttered words apparently treasonable in their import. To call him a Christian martyr is therefore a misuse of terms. We cannot be sure whether Procopius was arrested under the terms of the first or under the terms of the second edict. If in consequence of the first, it may be that he was suspected of complicity in the plot which Diocletian was endeavoring to crush out, or that he had interfered with the imperial officers when they undertook to execute the decree for the destruction of the church buildings. The fact that he was commanded by the governor to sacrifice would lead us to think of the first, rather than of the second edict (see above, Bk. VIII. chap. 6, note 3, and chap. 2, note 8). Still, it must be admitted that very likely many irregularities occurred in the methods by which the decrees were executed in the province, and the command to sacrifice can, therefore, not be claimed as proving that he was not arrested under the terms of the second edict; and in fact, the mention of imprisonment as the punishment which he had to expect would lead us to think of the second edict as at least the immediate occasion of his arrest. In any case, there is no reason to suppose that his arrest would have resulted in his death had he not been rash in his speech.
6 ouk agaqon polukoiranih eij koiranoj estw, eij basileuj.
The sentence is from Homer's Iliad, Bk. II. vers. 204 and 205. It was a sort of proverb, like many of Homer's sayings, and was frequently quoted. As a consequence the use of it by Procopius does not prove at all his acquaintance with Homer or Greek literature in general.
7 The majority of the mss. read "eighth," which according to Eusebius' customary mode of reckoning the Macedonian months is incorrect. For, as Valesius remarks, he always synchronizes the Macedonian with the Roman months, as was commonly done in his time. But the seventh before the Ides of June is not the eighth, but the seventh of June (or Desius). In fact, a few good mss. read "seventh" instead of "eighth," and I have followed Burton, Schwegler, and Heinichen in adopting that reading.
8 Desius was the tenth month of the Macedonian year, and corresponded to our June (see the table on p. 403, below).
9 On the Roman method of reckoning the days of the month, see below, p. 402.
10 We may gather from §5, below, that the sufferings to which Eusebius refers in such general terms in this and the following paragraphs took place late in the year 303. In fact, from the Syriac version of the longer recension (Cureton, p. 4) we learn that the tortures inflicted upon Alphaeus and Zacchaeus were, in consequence of the third edict, issued at the approach of the emperor's vicennalia, and intended rather as a step toward amnesty than as a sharpening of the persecution (see above, Bk. VIII. chap. 5, note 8). This leads us to conclude that all the tortures mentioned in these paragraphs had the same occasion, and this explains the eagerness of the judges to set the prisoners free, even if they had not sacrificed, so long as they might be made to appear to have done so, and thus the law not be openly violated. Alphaeus and Zacchaeus alone suffered death, as we are told in §5, and they evidently on purely political grounds (see note 10).
11 We learn from the Syriac version that Zacchaeus was a deacon of the church of Gadara, and that Alphaeus belonged to a noble family of the city of Eleutheropolis, and was a reader and exorcist in the church of Caesarea.
12 See above, Bk. IV. chap. 16, note 9.
13 The month Dius was the third month of the Macedonian year, and corresponded with our November (see below, p. 403).
14 monon ena Qeon kai xeiston basilea 'lhsoun omologhsantej. Basileuj was the technical term for emperor, and it is plain enough from this passage that these two men, like Procopius, were beheaded because they were regarded as guilty of treason, not because of their religious faith. The instances given in this chapter are very significant, for they reveal the nature of the persecution during its earlier months, and throw a clear light back upon the motives which had led Diocletian to take the step against the Christians which he did.
15 We learn from the Syriac version that the death of Romanus occurred on the same day as that of Alphaeus and Zacchaeus. His arrest, therefore, must have taken place some time before, according to §4, below. In fact, we see from the present paragraph that his arrest took place in connection with the destruction of the churches; that is, at the time of the execution of the first edict in Antioch. We should naturally think that the edict would be speedily published in so important a city, and hence can hardly suppose the arrest of Romanus to have occurred later than the spring of 303. He therefore lay in prison a number of months (according to §4, below, a "very long time," pleiston xronon). Mason is clearly in error in putting his arrest in November, and his death at the time of the vicennalia, in December. It is evident from the Syriac version that the order for the release of prisoners, to which the so-called third edict was appended, preceded the vicennalia by some weeks, although issued in view of the great anniversary which was so near at hand. It is quite possible that the decree was sent out some weeks beforehand, in order that time might be given to induce, the Christians to sacrifice, and thus enjoy release at the same time with the others.
16 There is no implication here that these persons were commanded, or even asked, to sacrifice. They seem, in their dread of what might come upon them, when they saw the churches demolished, to have hastened of their own accord to sacrifice to the idols, and thus disarm all possible suspicion.
17 As Mason remarks, to punish Romanus with death for dissuad-ing the Christians from sacrificing was entirely illegal, as no imperial edict requiring them to sacrifice had yet been issued, and therefore no law was broken in exhorting them not to do so. At the same time, that he should be arrested as a church officer was, under the terms of the second edict, legal, and, in fact, necessary; and that the judge should incline to be very severe in the present case, with the emperor so near at hand, was quite natural. That death, however, was not yet made the penalty of Christian confession is plain enough from the fact that, when the emperor was appealed to, as we learn from the Syriac version, he remanded Romanus to prison, thus inflicting upon him the legal punishment, according to the terms of the second edict. Upon the case of Romanus, see Mason, p. 188 sq.
18 Valesius assumes that this was Galerius, and Mason does the same. In the Syriac version, however, he is directly called Diocletian; but on the other hand, in the Syriac acts published by Asse-mani (according to Cureton, p. 55), he is called "Maximinus, the son-in-law of Diocletian"; i.e. Galerius, who was known as Maximianus (of which Maximinus, in the present case, is evidently only a variant form). The emperor's conduct in the present case is much more in accord with Galerius' character, as known to us, than with the character of Diocletian; and moreover, it is easier to suppose that the name of Maximinus was later changed into that of Diocletian, by whose name the whole persecution was known, than that the greater name was changed into the less. I am therefore convinced that the reference in the present case is to Galerius, not to Diocletian.
19 See above, Bk. VIII. chap. 2, note 8.
20 See above, Bk. IV. chap. 16, note 9, and Bk. VIII. chap. 10, note 5.
21 Of Urbanus governor of Palestine, we know only what is told us in the present work (he is mentioned in this passage and in chaps. 4, 7, and 8, below) and in the Syriac version. From the latter we learn that he succeeded Flavianus in the second year of the persecution (304), and that he was deposed by Maximinus in the fifth year (see also chap. 8, §7, below), and miserably executed.
22 This is the famous fourth edict of Diocletian, which was issued in the year 304. It marks a stupendous change of method; in fact, Christianity as such is made, for the first time since the toleration edict of Gallienus, a religio illicita, whose profession is punishable by death. The general persecution, in the full sense, begins with the publication of this edict. Hitherto persecution had been directed only against supposed political offenders and church officers. The edict is a complete stultification of Diocletian's principles as revealed in the first three edicts, and shows a lamentable lack of the wisdom which had dictated those measures. Mason has performed an immense service in proving (to my opinion conclusively) that this brutal edict, senseless in its very severity, was not issued by Diocletian, but by Maximian, while Diocletian was quite incapacitated by illness for the performance of any public duties. Mason's arguments cannot be reproduced here; they are given at length on p. 212 sq. of his work. He remarks at the close of the discussion: "Diocletian, though he might have wished Christianity safely abolished, feared the growing power of the Church, and dared not persecute (till he was forced), lest he should rouse her from her passivity. But this Fourth Edict was nothing more nor less than a loud alarum to muster the army of the Church: as the centurions called over their lists, it taught her the statistics of her numbers, down to the last child: it proved to her that her troops could endure all the hardships of the campaign: it ranged her generals in the exact order of merit. Diocletian, by an exquisite refinement of thought, while he did not neglect the salutary fear which strong penalties might inspire in the Christians, knew well enough that though he might torture every believer in the world into sacrificing, yet Christianity was not killed: he knew that men were Christians again afterwards as well as before: could he have seen deeper yet, he would have known that the utter humiliation of a fall before men and angels converted many a hard and worldly prelate into a broken.hearted saint: and so he rested his hopes, not merely on the punishment of individuals, but on his three great measures for crushing the corporate life,-the destruction of the churches, the Scriptures, and the clergy. But this Fourth Edict evidently returns with crass dullness and brutal complacency to the thought that if half the church were racked till they poured the libations, and the other half burned or butchered, Paganism would reign alone forever more, and that the means were as eminently desirable as the end. Lastly, Diocletian had anxiously avoided all that could rouse fanatic zeal. The first result of the Fourth Edict was to rouse it."
According to the Passio S. Sabini, which Mason accepts as in the main reliable, and which forms the strongest support for his theory, the edict was published in April, 304. Diocletian, meanwhile, as we know from Lactantius (de Mort. pers. 17) did not recover sufficiently to take any part in the government until early in, the year 305, so that Maximian and Galerius had matters all their own way during the entire year, and could persecute as severely as they chose. As a result, the Christians, both east and west, suffered greatly during this period.
23 Agapius, as we learn from chap. 6, below, survived his contest with the wild beasts at this time, and was thrown into prison, where he remained until the fourth year of the persecution, when he was again brought into the arena in the presence of the tyrant Maximinus, and was finally thrown into the sea.
24 h kaq hmaj Qekla. Thecla seems to be thus designated to distinguish her from her more famous namesake, whom tradition connected with Paul and who has played so large a part in romantic legend (see the Acts of Paul and Thecla in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, VIII. 487 sq., and the Dict. of Christ, Biog., s.v.). She is referred to again in chap. 6, below, but we are not told whether she actually suffered or not.
25 A city of Palestine, lying northwest of Jerusalem, and identical with the Lydda of Acts ix. 32 sq. For many centuries the seat of a bishop, and still prominent in the time of the crusades. The persons referred to in this paragraph are to be distinguished from others of the same names mentioned elsewhere.
26 To be distinguished from the Agapius mentioned earlier in the chapter, as is clear from the date of his death, given in this paragraph.
27 Dystrus was the seventh month of the Macedonian year, corresponding to our March. See the table on p. 403, below.
28 Diocletian and Maximian abdicated on May 1, 305. See above, Bk. VIII. chap. 13, note 16.
29 When Maxentius usurped the purple in Rome, in the year 306. See above, Bk. VIII. chap. 13, note 21.
30 On Maximinus and his attitude toward the Christians, see above, Bk. VIII. chap. 14, note 2. He was made a Caesar at the time of the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, May 1, 305, and Egypt and Syria were placed under his supervision.
31 Apphianus is called, in the Syriac version, Epiphanius. We know him only from this account of Eusebius. For some remarks upon his martyrdom, see above, p. 8 sq.
32 The modern Beirût. A celebrated school of literature and law flourished there for a number of centuries.
33 The mss., according to Valesius, are somewhat at variance in the spelling of this name, and the place is perhaps to be identified with Araxa, a city of some importance in northwestern Lycia.
34 This was simply a republication in its fullness of Maximian's fourth edict, which was referred to in chap. 3 (see note 2 on that chapter). Eusebius does not mean to say that this was the first time that such an edict was published, but that this was the first edict of Mxirninus, the newly appointed Caesar.
35 It is perhaps not necessary to doubt that an earthquake took place at this particular time. Nor is it surprising that under the circumstances the Christians saw a miracle in a natural phenomenon.