Comments to: David Woods
Last Updated: April 2001

St. Theagenes of Parium

(This is my paper "The Origin of the Cult of St. Theagenes of Parium" Greek Orthodox Theological Review 44 (1999), 371-417)

It is my primary purpose here to bring St Theagenes of Parium to the attention of a wider readership by providing English translations of the key documents. I will also discuss some of the more obvious historical questions by way of introduction to these texts, but this discussion will be limited for reasons of space. On the basis of the evidence presented, it may also appear somewhat speculative at times, but I wish to draw attention to some possible avenues of investigation rather than to explore them in full on this occasion. Three different recensions of the passion of St Theagenes have survived and been published, one Greek (BHG 2416) and two Latin (BHL 8106 and 8107), and I shall refer to each by its number within the standard catalogue of hagiographical texts, and by the chapters into which its editor has divided it. 1 Fortunately, they agree in all the basics of the story, so that their editors have been able to follow the same division into chapters in each case, but each has preserved a different amount of detail at certain key points, so all three recensions need to be considered together.

St Theagenes was the son of a bishop and was conscripted into military service in Phrygia during the reign of the persecuting emperor Licinius (308-24). He was then sent to the legio II Traiana situated in the town of Parium in the province of Hellespontus. He refused to serve, and suffered accordingly. Following interrogation by his immediate superiors, the tribune Zelicinthius and the praepositus Posidonius, he was ordered to be taken outside the city and beaten. He suffered further public punishment also before he was thrown into prison. The door of his cell was sealed, and there he was left to starve. Christ then appeared to him in his cell, and when he began to sing psalms of thanks and praise, a choir of angels joined him. The soldiers were surprised to hear so many voices coming from his cell, and opened the cell-door once more in order to investigate. Yet they found only Theagenes. The next day Zelicinthius reported to the emperor concerning Theagenes' rejection of military service, and was ordered to throw him into the sea. So it was that Theagenes was finally executed on 3 January. The soldiers who drowned him were converted, and returned to the city where they converted others also. A few days later, the officers responsible for the trial and execution of Theagenes were themselves the victim of Licinius' cruelty. Their legs were cut off at the twelfth milestone from the city. As for Theagenes himself, his body was rescued from the sea-shore three days after his death, and was secretly buried at the villa of a certain Adamantius. Subsequently, his shrine became famous for the cures worked there. This, in brief, is the story of St Theagenes of Parium.

The Author of the Passion

The first point to note about the passion is that it occurs in the form of an encyclical letter. BHL 8106 best preserves the introduction (ch. 1) to the main body of the letter, i.e. the passion proper, while all three recensions preserve different versions of the final paragraph of the letter (ch. 13). BHG 2416 and BHL 8107 both include the names of the cities to whose churches the author addressed the letter, but omit to name the author himself. BHL 8106, however, preserves the name of the author of the letter as one Euticus,2 but omits the names of these cities, although it does confirm that he did send it to churches plural. It is important to note that there is no reason to identify the Euticus whom BHL 8106 identifies as the author of the letter with the Euticus whom it mentions earlier as one of the "brothers" who had rescued the body of Theagenes from the shore (ch. 12). The fact that the author Euticus refers to the actions of the earlier Euticus in the third person is itself indicative that they are separate persons. Furthermore, the very first line of BHL 8106 makes a clear distinction between the author's present and the time of the Theogenes' death when it refers to "our nation" (natione nostra), but "that time" (tempore illo). More significantly, perhaps, as far as its trustworthiness in such matters is concerned, it alone preserves a full list of the names of those who had rescued Theogenes' body from the shore. It names four individuals - Euticus, Eustathius, Zoticus and Germanus, while BHL 8107 and BHG 2416 each name a different three of these four, Eutyches, Eustathius and Zoticus in the case of BHL 8107, and Eustathius, Zoticus and Germanus in the case of BHG 2416.

This brings us to the identity of Euticus. BHL 8106 tells us only that he regarded himself as a humble servant of God (ch. 13), which is of no practical help, but the fact that he should have taken upon himself the task of sending an account of the passion of Theagenes to the churches, or bishops, of Nicomedia, Byzantium/Bithynia (see below), Heraclea and Cyzicus, suggests that he was himself a bishop also. We should compare this letter, for example, to bishop Severus of Minorca's encyclical letter of 418 in which he boasted of the role that the relics of St Stephen had played in the conversion of the Jews of Minorca.3 Both authors wished to take advantage of the widespread general interest in martyrs and their relics and to enhance their own stature by promoting the relics in their possession.4 We know the names of only three of the bishops of Parium in late antiquity, Eustathius in 365,5 Hesychius who attended the council of Ephesus in 431, and Thalassius who attended the council of Chalcedon in 451, so there is no problem finding a place for Euticus among their number. The real problem comes when we attempt a more precise dating of this letter and his period in office.

The Date of the Passion

Euticus' claim that he had sent copies of his letter to the churches at Nicomedia, Byzantium/Bithynia (?), Heraclea, and Cyzicus is important because we are fortunate to possess the so-called Syriac Breviary, a Syriac translation of a Greek martyrology which seems to have been composed at Nicomedia originally. 6 The manuscript of the Syriac Breviary dates to 411, while its inclusion among the martyrs of those who had suffered at Synnada in Phrygia under the emperor Julian (360-63) on 19 July 362 points to the completion of the Greek original shortly after that date.7 The key point as far as we are here concerned is that the Syriac Breviary does not mention Theagenes of Parium. The obvious inference is that Euticus must have sent his letter to Nicomedia after the composition there of the Greek original of the Syriac Breviary c.362.

So what is the earliest evidence for the cult of St Theagenes? The Martyrologium Hieronymianum, which was composed in northern Italy, probably near Aquileia, sometime during the period c.431-50, includes him at the head of its list of martyrs whose feast fell on 3 January, and this points to his inclusion in this document from its first composition.8 It is clear that the author of this text used an oriental martyrology as one of his main sources, and that this martyrology had the same ancestor as the Syriac Breviary. So St Theagenes found his way into the Martryrologium Hieronymianum via an oriental martyrology in circulation by the middle of the fifth century at latest. This, unfortunately, is the sum of the evidence for his early cult. On this basis, therefore, we should date Euticus and his letter sometime during the period c.362-450, but internal evidence may allow us to narrow this range even further.

How did Euticus decide to which churches to send his letter? The answer to this question may shed some important light on the political organisation of the empire in his day. First, however, we must resolve an important conflict of evidence between BHG 2416 and BHL 8107. The former lists the churches to whom the letter was sent as those in Nicomedia, Byzantium, Heraclea and Cyzicus, while the latter lists them as those in Nicomedia, Bithynia, Heraclea, and Cyzicus.9 It is clear from the number and order of these names that "Bithynia" in BHL 8107 is identifiable as "Byzantium" in BHG 2416, but which is the correct reading ? In so far as both texts agree on Nicomedia, Heraclea and Cyzicus, and these are all towns rather than provinces, it is clear that the reading "Bithynia" must be wrong. The alternative is a little problematic also, though, in that one might have expected to find the term "Constantinoplis" used in preference to "Byzantium". One possibility is that the original reference was to the town of Bithynium, or Claudiopolis as it was also known, rather than to the province of Bithynia. This coincides with the best explanation for Euticus' decision to send his letter to the churches in Nicomedia, Heraclea and Cyzicus in particular. The only thing that these towns have in common is that they were each the capital of a late Roman province, Nicomedia of Bithynia, Heraclea of Europa, and Cyzicus of Hellespontus, while Bithynium was the capital of Honorias. So "Bithynium" is my preferred candidate as the original term behind the surviving readings of "Bithynia" and "Byzantium". This is relevant here because the emperor Theodosius I (379-95) only created the province of Honorias c.384/7, before which date it had belonged to the neighbouring province of Bithynia.10 Hence the decision by Euticus to single out the capitals of the neighbouring provinces as targets for his letter, i.e. the seats of the metropolitan bishops, and his inclusion of Bithynium among these targets, suggest that he sent this letter after the creation of Honorias. Hence the timeframe during which he sent this letter can be narrowed down to the period c.384-431.

It is important at this point to consider the implications of the claim in BHG 2416 that Parium was superior to Cyzicus (ch. 1, see below).11 But in what sense? As far as the civil and ecclesiastical hierarchies were concerned Cyzicus seems always to have outranked Parium. Its importance is well indicated by the fact that it was the site of an important mint and a state woollen mill throughout late antiquity.12 Indeed, the fact that Euticus sent a copy of this letter to the church at Cyzicus, another city within the same province at a time when civil and ecclesiastical boundaries generally coincided, and that Cyzicus is the only city within his province to which he does send this letter, can hardly be interpreted other than as an acknowledgement on his part that the bishop of Cyzicus did exercise some authority over him. Yet there must have been basis to his claim that Parium was superior to Cyzicus. The obvious suggestion, therefore, is that he wrote at a time when the civil and ecclesiastical hierarchies were no longer in complete agreement, when the bishop of Cyzicus remained the metropolitan bishop of the province of Hellespontus, but the city had lost its title as the civil metropolis, or even its very right to be called a city. So Euticus included his statement that Parium was superior to Cyzicus in his letter as a not so subtle reminder to all that he did not necessarily accept that Cyzicus deserved to remain the ecclesiastical metropolis once it had been stripped of its status as the civil metropolis even if he was not openly pressing the question at that particular point in time.

The punishment of whole cities by stripping them of their status was not unknown, so the problem now is to identify when might Cyzicus have so incurred the imperial wrath that it was punished in this manner.13 One obvious suggestion is that the emperor Valens (364-78) may have punished it for the support which it showed the usurper Procopius c.365-66. Procopius' forces had captured Valens' treasury there, along with his comes domesticorum Serenianus, during the autumn of 365, and although they had had to fight to capture the city, Valens may well have thought that its inhabitants did not resist as strongly as they could have.14 Given that the emperor Julian had earlier promised an embassy from the city that he would support them in their efforts to restore their temples, that he had expelled bishop Eleusius from the city, and had forbidden some foreign Christians from entering with him when he himself had visited there, it is clear that Cyzicus contained a strong pagan faction who would have provided a natural base of support for Procopius on account both of his paganism and of his relationship with their former champion Julian.15 It is noteworthy also that Procopius forgave those who had resisted him as soon as he occupied the city. So Valens' probably had good reason to suspect the loyalty of the Cyzicenes. After he had defeated Procopius, Valens punished the city of Chalcedon for the support which it had showed both Procopius and his short-lived successor Marcellus by destroying its city-walls.16 This is well known only because an oracle found engraved on one of the stones from within the wall was proved true by the Gothic war 377-82. So it is possible that he may have punished Cyzicus at the same time, but that our sources have failed to record this because as a mere administrative change it did not constitute a suitably entertaining tale. It is arguable, therefore, that Euticus wrote this letter sometime after Valens demoted Cyzicus in 366, but before it was restored to its former status as the metropolis of Hellespontus.

In an age when the fortunes of a city often depended on the ability of its bishop to intercede for it with the emperor, Cyzicus was ill-served by its choice of bishop. Bishop Macedonius of Constantinople ordained Eleusius as bishop of Cyzicus c.358,17 but Eleusius managed to find himself on the wrong side of almost every emperor throughout his long episcopate c.358-83. The council of Constantinople had deposed him in 360, and one presumes that Constantius II (337-61) exiled him as he did so many other bishops at this period.18 Eleusius returned to the city under the amnesty which Julian offered to all bishops exiled under his predecessor, only for Julian to expel him once more because of his destruction of temples. He must have returned to the city under Jovian (363-64) since Valens summoned him to his presence in 366 in order to persuade him, on threat of exile and confiscation of his property, to abandon his Macedonian beliefs, and while Eleusius capitulated in the imperial presence, he changed his mind as soon as he had returned to Cyzicus.19 It is an important sign of his popularity in Cyzicus that the people forgave him for his momentary lapse and refused his request to appoint another bishop in his stead. Valens then sent Eunomius as the new bishop of Cyzicus, and Eleusius was forced to build a new church for his congregation outside the city. However, rioters soon drove Eunomius from the city, and it seems that Eleusius was then allowed to resume undisturbed possession of the churches in the city itself. The next we know of Eleusius was that he was present at Constantinople in 381 as one of the chief representatives of a group of 36 Macedonian bishops who came mostly from Hellespontus, but Theodosius I failed to convince them to unite with those whom he considered orthodox.20 This meant that the Macedonian bishops were liable to be expelled from all the churches within their respective sees in favour of claimants supported by bishops whom the state recognised as orthodox. But their sheer number, in western Asia Minor in particular, was such that their expulsion probably took a number of years.21 In 383 Theodosius summoned the leaders of the various factions, including Eleusius as the representative of the Macedonians, to a meeting in which he made a final effort to reconcile them to one another, which is a sure sign that he had not yet made as much progress as he would have liked in expelling the heretical bishops from their sees. The effort failed, however, and one presumes that the expulsion of heretical bishops continued apace.22 This is the last we hear of Eleusius, but such was his age and the increasing political pressure on his theological faction that it seems reasonable to suppose that Cyzicus received a new orthodox bishop sometime during the 380s.23 And he alone would have had the influence successfully to petition Theodosius to restore Cyzicus to its former glory as the metropolis of Hellespontus.

The restricted geographical region inhabited by those to whom Euticus sent his letters - the provinces of Europa, Hellespontus, Bithynia, and Honorias - suggests that he belonged to a theological faction which was confined to those regions. Given that the Macedonian heresy was essentially restricted to the same regions,24 and that it was particularly strong in Hellespontus,25 it is tempting to identify Euticus as the Macedonian bishop of Parium and the recipients of his letters as the Macedonian churches, or bishops, of Heraclea, Cyzicus, Nicomedia and Bithynium. Macedonius had appointed Marathonius as bishop of Nicomedia c.342, a post which he continued to hold until his deposition by the same council at Constantinople in 360 which deposed Macedonius himself, after which no more is known of him, and was so closely connected with Macedonius that the so-called Macedonians were also called Marathonians by some.26 A Callicrates of Claudiopolis, i.e. Bithynium, was among the Macedonian bishops who presented a petition to the emperor Jovian at Antioch in 363,27 and it was bishop Hypatian of Heraclea who acted on behalf of the Macedonian bishops of Hellespontus and Bithynia in requesting imperial permission to hold a council at Lampsacus in 364.28 Hence there ought to have been strong Macedonian communities at all four of the cities to which Euticus addressed his letter. Furthermore, this would also explain his failure to send a copy of his letter to the church at Constantinople, since Constantinople was the first city to feel the full impact of Theodosius' new ecclesiastical policy, and as the imperial residence throughout 380-87, it was probably where the new policy was best enforced also. So Theodosius' new policy may have ensured the temporary extinction, for all practical purposes, of any Macedonian church struggling to establish itself in or about Constantinople.29 But the biggest blow to the Macedonians, and that which essentially extinguished their last pockets of strength, came as a result of their assassination c.430 of Anthony, the orthodox bishop of Germa in Hellespontus, on account of his continuing harassment of their church.30 This gave bishop Nestorius of Constantinople (428-31) the excuse which he needed to persuade the emperor Theodosius II (408-50) to deprive them of their last churches at Constantinople, Cyzicus, and in the rural areas of Hellespontus. To summarize, therefore, scanty though the evidence may be, it points to the identification of Euticus as the Macedonian bishop of Parium writing probably during the mid- 380s. Furthermore, the fact that his names does not occur among the 64 Macedonian bishops to whom bishop Liberius of Rome addressed a letter in 366, suggests that his appointment as bishop of Parium postdates this letter.31

The Fictitious Nature of the Story of St. Theagenes

A cursory inspection of the translations presented here will reveal some immediate problems with the texts of all three recensions of the passion as they survive. For example, the number of centurions who beat Theagenes when he had been led to the parade-ground outside the city remains unclear. All three texts give their number as eight at one point (ch. 3), but as eighteen apparently only a few lines later (ch. 4). It seems obvious, therefore, that one of these numbers is wrong, the result of corruption at a very early stage in the transmission of the text. Again, it must strike one as odd also that BHL 8107 and BHG 2416 both end their accounts of his passion with the claim that Theagenes had spent forty days in prison without food or water (ch. 12). For the main bodies of their narrative read as if Theagenes had been arrested one evening, tortured through the night, and executed on the next day. This contradiction is best resolved by understanding this final reference to the length of time which Theagenes spent in prison as a late interpolation which seeks to compare his endurance to that of Christ himself who had spent forty days and nights without food during his temptation in the wilderness.32 But these are relatively minor issues which relate only to the transmission of the text. My main interest here is in the more substantial difficulties common to all three recensions which seem by their nature to have been present in the text from the time of its first composition even.

The fact that Euticus wrote about the passion of St Theagenes at least sixty years after its alleged occurrence may arouse our suspicions concerning the accuracy of his account, but this does not necessarily require that he must have invented the whole story. Rather, it is nature of the story itself which causes us to question its origin and worth. The noted Bollandist H. Delehaye dismissed the passion of St Theagenes claiming that it lacked authority in all its forms, and it is not difficult to understand why.33 Various details strike the interested historian as highly implausible, if not impossible.

Consider, for example, the claim that Theagenes was sent to the legio II Traiana situated at Parium in the Hellespontus. Note, first, that all three recensions of the passion include repeated references throughout the main bodies of their narratives to the identity of the unit in which Theagenes was being forced to serve as a legion rather than a cuneus, vexillatio, numerus, cohort, or any other type of late Roman military unit, which suggests that this element was present in the text from its first composition (chs. 2, 3, 6, 11). Next, the existence of this unit is well attested, and, as its title reveals, it was created during the reign of the emperor Trajan (98-117). Yet there is no evidence that it was ever based at Parium. Trajan raised it probably for his second Dacian war, to participate in his Parthian war also.34 It is attested in Judaea by 120, and in Egypt by 127.35 The Notitia Dignitatum records its presence in Egypt still c.395, by which time it was divided between Parembole and Apollonopolis Magna.36 There it seems to have remained until the Islamic conquest. So there is no evidence that it was ever based at Parium, and any claim to this effect must be suspect. The possibility remains, of course, that some detachment from this legion, rather than the legion itself, did spend some time in Parium on its journey to assist Licinius elsewhere in the empire. Yet this is a remote possibility only, and the passion does not itself support such an interpretation of the evidence. It is more probable rather that Euticus borrowed the title of this legion from some literary or other source in order to add some authentic-sounding detail to his work. Certainly, the title of the legio II Traiana does not occur in any other surviving hagiographical text,37 but his inspiration in this matter may have been anything from a lost military history to a chance inscription commemorating the career of a local veteran whose service had included a stint in the legio II Traiana.38 It is an interesting coincidence, though, that troops from Egypt did pass through western Asia Minor on their way to Macedonia in about 380, so a detachment of the legio II Traiana may actually have passed through Parium then, and this may have served as Euticus' real inspiration here.39

A second problem concerns the attribution of the death of Theagenes to the reign of Licinius in particular. While it is true that Licinius persecuted Christians in that he subjected them to increasing discrimination and harassment, few were actually killed. Far from conscripting Christians as the passion of Theagenes would have us believe, Licinius actually expelled them from his army unless they were willing to offer sacrifice. Hence Canon 12 of the council of Nicaea in 325 declares:

Those who have been called by grace, and have at first displayed their ardour, but afterwards have run like dogs to their own vomit (insomuch that some have spent money, and by means of gifts have acquired again their former military station), must continue amongst the prostrators for ten years, after having been for three years among the hearers.40

It is generally accepted now that this condemns not military service itself but service in the army of Licinius which had entailed a considerable risk of idolatry.41 Eusebius of Caesarea furnishes further evidence that Licinius forced Christians to resign from his army. For he preserves a copy of an edict issued by Constantine I (306-37) after his defeat of Licinius in 324 by which he sought to undo all of Licinius' anti-Christian measures, and which included the following concession:

Once more, with respect to those who had previously been preferred to any military distinction, of which they were afterwards deprived, for the cruel and unjust reason that they chose rather to acknowledge their allegiance to God than to retain the rank they held; we leave them perfect liberty of choice, either to occupy their former stations, should they be content again to engage in military service, or after an honorable discharge, to live in undisturbed tranquillity. For it is fair and consistent that men who have displayed such magnanimity and fortitude in meeting the perils to which they have been exposed, should be allowed the choice either of enjoying peaceful leisure, or resuming their former rank.42

A concrete example of one such Christian who suffered for his faith under Licinius was the future bishop of Mopsuestia, Auxentius. He served among the notaries at the imperial palace, but was sacked when he refused a request by Licinius himself to place a bunch of grapes at the feet of a statue of Bacchus.43 Similarly, Arsacius, a Persian serving in the Roman army, was dismissed from his position as a lion-keeper, but remained in Nicomedia still until his death there by earthquake in August 358.44 Some may wish to argue that the forty martyrs of Sebasteia were soldiers and that they suffered death under Licinius. There is a strong case, however, that they really met their fate at the end of the third century, and that their attribution to the reign of Licinius represents a late addition to their original passion.45 Indeed, it may not be irrelevant here that Eustathius, bishop of Sebasteia c.357-80, flirted with the Macedonians,46 and that the relics of the forty martyrs which were rediscovered at Constantinople at the beginning of the fifth century had originally belonged to the Macedonian community there.47 Of course, it is always possible that Theagenes' tormentors had exceeded their instructions, and that they did not inform Licinius of the full facts of his case, so that his death ought to be put down to an excess of anti-Christian zeal on their part rather than to imperial policy proper. Yet the fact that Theagenes was the son of a bishop ought to have afforded him a measure of protection from such casual brutality. For Licinius seems to have tried to maintain cordial relations with a section of the episcopacy at least, with the result that bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia was accused by Constantine I later of having been an agent of Licinius.48 All considered, therefore, it does not convince that a Christian conscript such as Theagenes, the son of a bishop even, should have suffered under Licinius in the manner alleged.

This brings us to a more serious problem, the relationship between the passion of St Theodore of Amasea and that of St Theagenes.49 According to his earliest surviving passion (BHG 1761), Theodore was a conscript who was assigned to a legion stationed at Amasea in the province of Pontus. This was during the joint reigns in the East of the emperors Galerius Maximianus (293- 311) and Maximinus Daia (305-13). When Theodore refused to offer sacrifice, or to accept military service, his immediate superiors, the praepositus Brincas and the ducenarius Posidonius, allowed him to go free for a time in order to reconsider his position. That night he set fire to the temple of the Mother of the Gods in Amasea, and was brought before the governor of the province, Publius. Unsuccessful in his effort to persuade him to apostatize, Publius threw him into prison, had the door of the prison sealed, and left him there to starve. Christ appeared to him, however, and left him rejoicing and singing psalms, together with a choir of angels. The guards heard the angels, and even saw them through a window, but when they summoned the governor to open the sealed door they found only Theodore. Next morning Theodore was tried before the governor once more, but when he still refused to apostatize, he was condemned to death by being burned at the stake. A woman by the name of Eusebia retrieved his body afterwards, and took it to her estate at a day's journey from Amasea in a place called Euchaita. She then built a church for him, where wonders have been worked ever since.

The similarities between the passions of St Theagenes and St Theodore are obvious even from the above summary. Both were conscripts, forced to serve against their will. Both received a visit from Christ and an angelic choir after they had been thrown into prison and left to starve. Both counted a certain Posidonius among their superior officers. Indeed, there is a striking similarity between certain passages in these passions, not just in their substance but in their very words even, such that it is clear that the author of one text has used the other as a source for his fiction. A brief quotation from each will suffice to illustrate this point:

During the time of the emperor Licinius, Theagenes, the son of a bishop, was conscripted in Phrygia and sent to the legion entitled the Second Trajan under the tribune Zelicinthius and the praepositus Posidonius. This legion was stationed in Parium in the Hellespontus, which city is superior to Cyzicus(BHG 2416, ch. 2).

During this time, Theodore was conscripted in the eastern region, with many others also, and was sent to the legion entitled the Marmaritae. This legion was stationed in the city of Amasea in Pontus Euxinus under the praepositus Brincas(BHG 1761, ch. 1.).50

So which came first, the passion of St Theagenes or that of St Theodore? Gregory of Nyssa delivered an encomium on St Theodore on 17 February 380,51 whose similarities with the earliest surviving passion of St Theodore (BHG 1761), even in those details which the latter shares with the passion of St Theagenes, point to the existence of this passion (BHG 1761), or an earlier version of the same, by this date. For example, his interrogator asks the martyr the same unusual question, whether God has a son, in all three texts, Gregory's encomium on St Theodore (BHG 1760, ch. 1), the early passion of St Theodore (BHG 1761, ch. 2), and the passion of St Theagenes (BHG 2416, ch. 2). Unless one is to assume that Gregory of Nyssa used the passion of St Theagenes as his source, and the latter's reference to Bithynium, the capital of a province not founded until after 384, rules this out, then it is clear that this was a genuine element of the original passion of St Theodore whence it was borrowed for use in the passion of St Theagenes also. In conjunction with the lack of early evidence for the cult of St Theagenes, this suggests that the passion of St Theodore predates that of St Theagenes. Indeed, at points the passion of St Theodore reads so much more convincingly than does that of St Theagenes that it is difficult to avoid concluding that it is the original and the passion of St Theagenes a pale copy. For example, the passion of St Theodore (BHG 1761, ch. 5) reports that the guards looked into his prison-cell through the window in the door, while the passion of St Theagenes (BHG 2416, ch. 7) reports, less precisely, that the guards looked into his cell through the door.

In summary, therefore, there are a number of important problems with the surviving passion of St Theagenes. No one problem by itself can be used to prove that the surviving passion is a complete fiction. For each individual problem admits of a possible solution, such that the offending material - either the references to the emperor Licinius, or the description of Theagenes' posting to the legio II Traiana stationed at Parium, or the borrowings from the passion of St Theodore- may be explained as a late interpolation or addition to an original tradition, unlikely though this may seem. Rather, it is the sum of these problems which suffices to prove the fictitious character of this passion, since the removal of all the offending material leaves little other than hagiographical commonplaces. In brief, there is no identifiable historical core to this passion about which we may claim that the rest of the material slowly gathered.

The Invention of a Martyr and the Composition of his Fictitious Story

At the end of BHL 8106, Euticus declares that he has written under the influence of "revelation" (per revelationem), but he fails to explain what form this "revelation" took. Whatever form it took, however, it is clear that Theagenes is a fictitious martyr. Here Euticus reminds one of bishop Theodore of Octodurum (c.381-93) who discovered the relics of the so-called Theban legion.52 He seems to have claimed that the martyrs had "revealed" themselves to him,53 and one suspects that Euticus' "revelation" was of similar worth. Whatever form this revelation was supposed to have taken in either case, whether a vision by day or a dream by night, their claims were equally fraudulent. The story of the Theban legion is of particular relevance here because the earliest surviving version of their passion occurs in a letter which bishop Eucherius of Lyons (c.434-50) sent to a bishop Salvius of unspecified see. It is an excellent illustration of the process at work here also, of how the passion of a martyr was best spread by letter from one bishop to another.

In so far as the cult of St Theagenes was located at a specific site, a villa which had used to belong to a certain Adamantius, one assumes that it was some discovery at this site which led Euticus to believe that he had discovered the remains of a martyr, or his burial-site to be more precise. Pious imagination then supplied the missing details. Two points are of particular interest here. The first is that Euticus is strangely reticent about the history of the burial-site. He fails specifically to confirm that the site had only recently been (re-)discovered, although the evidence points in this direction. This suggests that he had relatively little to do with the initial discovery of the site, and was prepared to pass over this in silence for this reason. The second important point is that he provides no indication that they had yet uncovered any actual relics from the site. The fact that he does not mention any effort to translate the relics to some new basilica, for example, is significant.54 All concerned seem merely to have assumed that they were present based on the miracles worked at the site and whatever it was on the surface which had led them to that site in the first place. So what exactly was it that had led him to this site? Our only clues to this lie in the original elements of the passion as recorded by Euticus, those elements which have not simply been borrowed from existing hagiographical literature, in particular Theagenes' name, the location of his commemoration, and the date of this commemoration. So why was Theagenes chosen as the name of this fictitious martyr, why did his cult originate at the villa of Adamantius near Parium, and why was his feast celebrated on 3 January in particular? These are just some of the questions which one must address here.

There are no easy answers to these questions, and the best than one can hope for is that archaeologists will someday locate and excavate the site of the former villa of Admanatius, but one possibility which does merit serious attention is that the cult of St Theagenes may represent a continuation into late antiquity of the cult of the famous Greek hero and athlete of the early fifth-century BC, Theagenes of Thasos, victor at the Olympic games of 480BC, among his other achievements. This is not to claim that any particular features of his Christian cult was necessarily a continuation of a pagan practice. For I am well aware, to quote but one recent commentator, that "to explain the Christian cult of the martyrs as a continuation of the pagan cult of heroes helps as little as to reconstruct the form and function of a late-antique Christian basilica from the few columns and capitals taken from classical buildings that are occasionally incorporated in its arcades".55 I suggest rather the locus of the cult remained the same, as did the name of the object of the cult, Theagenes, but the pagan cult proper was dead, a distant memory only, when a new Christian cult blossomed forth on the same site because a vague local tradition concerning the sacredness of this site was misunderstood and reinterpreted in an entirely Christian fashion.

The story of Theagenes of Thasos has been best preserved by Pausanias of Magnesia in his Description of Greece which he wrote c.160-80.56 His description of various statues erected at Olympia in Elis includes an account of Theagenes as follows:

Not far from the statues of these kings stands a statue of Theagenes, a Thasian, son of Timosthenes. But the Thasians say that Theagenes was not a son of Timosthenes, but that Timosthenes was priest to the Thasian Hercules, and that the mother of Theagenes was visited by a phantom of Hercules in the likeness of Timosthenes. They say that when Theagenes was a boy of nine years of age, as he was coming home from school, he wrenched up the bronze image of some god or other which stood in the market place, and for which he had a fancy, and putting it on his shoulders, carried it home. The citizens were enraged at him for what he had done, but one of them, an old and respected man, would not let them kill the boy, but ordered him to carry the image back from his house to the market-place. He did so, and straightway great was the boy's reputation for strength, and the deed was noised abroad throughout all Greece. I have already narrated the most famous of Theagenes' exploits in the Olympic games, how he defeated Euthymus the boxer, and how he was fined by the Eleans. On that occasion the victory in the pancratium is said to have been gained for the first time on record without a contest by Dromeus, a Mantinean; but in the next Olympiad Theagenes was victorious in the pancratium. He also won three victories at Pytho in boxing, and nine victories at the Nemean, and ten at the Isthmian games, of which nineteen victories some were in the pancratium, some in boxing. But at Phthia, in Thessaly, he abandoned the practice of boxing and the pancratium, and set himself to win a reputation for running also, and he vanquished all comers in the long race. His ambition was, it appears to me, to emulate Achilles, by winning a race in the native country of the fleetest of the heroes. The total number of crowns that he won was one thousand four hundred. When he departed this world, one of the men who had been at enmity with him in his life came every night to the statue of Theagenes, and whipped the bronze statue as if he were mistreating Theagenes himself. The statue checked his insolence by falling on him; but the sons of the deceased prosecuted the statue for murder. The Thasians sunk the statue in the sea, herein following the view taken by Draco, who, in the laws touching homicide which he drew up for the Athenians, enacted that even lifeless things should be banished if they fell on anybody and killed him. But in the course of time, their land yielding them no fruits, the Thasians sent envoys to Delphi, and the god told them to bring back the exiles. The exiles were accordingly brought back, but their restoration brought no cessation of the dearth. So they went to the Pythian princess a second time, saying that though they had done as she bade them, the wrath of the gods still abode upon them. Then the Pythian princess answered them:- But you have forgotten your great Theagenes. While they were at a loss to know how they should recover the statue of Theagenes, it is said that some fishermen who had gone a-fishing on the sea caught the statue in their net and brought it back to land. So the Thasians set it up in its old place, and they are wont to sacrifice to him as a god. I know of many other places in Greece and in foreign lands where images of Theagenes are set up, and where he heals diseases, and is honoured by the natives.57

The cult of Theagenes of Thasos certainly left its mark on the literary record, since it is mentioned by many other authors also, both pagan and Christian.58 The archaeological evidence too proves the continued popularity of the cult of Theagenes at his central cult-site on Thasos itself well into the Roman imperial period.59 So the literary and archaeological evidence combine to support the testimony of Pausanias that the cult of Theagenes enjoyed widespread support by the end of the second century even. But why connect it with the Christian cult of the martyr St Theagenes of Parium? Firstly, their names are identical. This does not prove anything by itself, but it does constitute an important piece in the larger puzzle. Secondly, while there is no specific proof that there was a statue of Theagenes of Thasos at or near Parium, its coastal location and relative proximity to Thasos suggest that this was not unlikely.60 It may well have been one of "the many other places in Greece and in foreign lands where images of Theagenes are set up", to quote Pausanias. Next, the role of the statues of Theagenes as centres for divine healing matches that which Christians expected of their martyria, including that of St Theagenes at Parium, or so his passion alleges (all three recensions, ch. 12). Finally, it is not without significance that Theagenes had been an athlete originally. Christians were accustomed to describe their martyrs as "athletes of God", and this was as true of St Theagenes of Parium as it was of many other martyrs also (BHG 2416, ch. 5; BHL 8106, chs. 1, 5). So it is entirely possible that a description of Theagenes of Thasos as an athlete may have contributed to a misunderstanding as a result of which he was transformed from a simple athlete into an "athlete of God", i.e. a martyr.

But what evidence is there that anyone could ever have made so dreadful a mistake as to identify the statue of a pagan god as that of a Christian martyr ? Worse had happened. The inhabitants of Caesarea Philippi in Palestine even managed to identify one of their public statues as a figure of Christ himself, and this by the end of the third century at latest. Eusebius of Caesarea relates the story as follows:

As I have mentioned this city, I do not think that I ought to omit a story that deserves to be remembered by those who will follow us. The woman with a haemorrhage, who as we learn from the holy gospels was cured of her troubles by our Saviour, was stated to have come from here. Her house was pointed out in the city, and a wonderful memorial of the benefit the Saviour conferred upon her was still there. On a tall stone base at the gates of her house stood a bronze statue of a woman, resting on one knee and resembling a suppliant with arms outstretched. Facing this was another of the same material, an upright figure of a man with a double cloak neatly draped over his shoulders and his hand stretched out to the woman. Near his feet on the stone slab grew an exotic plant, which climbed up to the hem of the bronze cloak and served as a remedy for illnesses of every kind. This statue, which was said to resemble the features of Jesus, was still there in my own time, so that I saw it with my own eyes when I resided in the city. It is not at all surprising that Gentiles who long ago received such benefits from our Saviour should have expressed their gratitude thus, for the features of His apostles Paul and Peter, and indeed of Christ himself, have been preserved in coloured portraits which I have examined. How could it be otherwise, when the ancients habitually followed their own Gentile custom of honouring them as saviours in this uninhibited way ?61

In his epitome of the ecclesiastical history which Philostorgius wrote c.425, Photius provides some important additional details:

Concerning an image of our Saviour erected by the faith of a pious woman in grateful remembrance of her cure from a bloody flux, Philostorgius writes, that it was placed near the fountain in the city among other statues, and presented a pleasant and agreeable sight to the passersby. And when a certain herb, which grew up at the foot of this statue, was found to be a most effectual remedy against all diseases, and especially against consumption, men naturally began to inquire into the cause of this matter; for by lapse of time all memory of the fact had been lost, and it was even forgotten whose statue it was, and on what account it had been erected. Inasmuch as the figure of our Saviour had long stood exposed in the open air, and a great part of it was covered over by the earth which was perpetually carried down against the pediment, especially during the seasons of heavy rain, the notice contained in the inscription upon it was well nigh obliterated. A diligent inquiry was subsequently made, and the part of the statue which had been covered up being brought to light, the inscription was discovered which explained the entire circumstances of the fact; and the plant thenceforth was never again seen either there or in any other place. The statue itself they placed in the part of the church which was allotted to the deacons, paying to it due honour and respect, yet by no means adoring or worshipping it; and they showed their love for its great archetype by erecting it in that place with circumstances of honour, and by flocking thither in eager crowds to behold it.62

The important points to emerge from this description of the statue and its history are that its real identity had long been forgotten, and that it was the healing properties of a herb which grew at its foot which first drew renewed attention to the problem of its identification. Then an inscription was discovered which seemed to lend some credibility to the attempt to identify it as a statue of Jesus. Gullibility and greed combined to do the rest. It is generally agreed that this cannot really have been a statue of Christ,63 although there is much less certainty concerning its true identity. One commentator has suggested that it was a statue of Aesculapius, on the basis, apparently, that it was associated with cures, and Aesculapius was the god of healing.64 But as the sources for the cult of Theagenes prove, Aesculapius was not the only god to whom the ancients turned when miraculous cures were required. It is of little relevance to us at present, however, that we cannot determine the exact identity of this god whom a later generation of Christian inhabitants came to identify as Christ. It matters only that such a mistake could, and did, happen. And if it happened once at Caesarea Philippi, then it may have happened on other occasions also at any number of different locations.

It is my argument, therefore, that Euticus of Parium had his attention drawn to a statue which local tradition credited with healing powers. Although the identity of the statue had long been forgotten, locals had continued to turn to it in their times of need, and it had maintained its reputation accordingly. Matters came to a head when Euticus was asked to investigate the identity of the martyr who was responsible for these cures. After all, who else but a martyr could have worked such cures? The area about the statue was tidied up as part of this process of investigation, and an inscription was discovered which led to the identification of this statue as that of Theagenes. Euticus now had the name of his martyr. He may have been content to assume that his relics were buried in or near this "shrine" and have left things at that, or, less likely, he may have planted some "relics" there. Whatever the case, it remained then to recover the martyr's story. Pious imagination, combined with a little historical research, sufficed to supply his tale as they had, or were to do, in so many other cases also. By historical research I mean that Euticus turned to what he regarded as the best sources for the sufferings of Christians during the persecutions of the Church, the existing acts or passions of the martyrs. He turned to the early passion of St Theodore to assist him in his fiction in the same way that the anonymous author of the passion of St Typasius turned to Sulpicius Severus' account of the life of St Martin of Tours as his source of revelation,65 and Cyrus of Panopolis, bishop of Cotyaeum c.441/2, turned to bishop Basil of Caesarea's homily in praise of St Gordius for his account of the fictitious St Menas of Cotyaeum.66 Similarly, writing probably about the time of the construction of a large new shrine to St Sergius within the walls of Resapha c.425, the anonymous author of the original Greek passion of SS Sergius and Bacchus based much of his account of these fictitious martyrs on the real-life trial and exile of two military confessors under Julian the Apostate.67

It is appropriate at this point to comment in brief upon the obvious similarities between the passion of St Theagenes and the life of Theagenes of Thasos as preserved by Pausanias, for example. The claim that St Theagenes was the son of a bishop is reminiscent of the fact that Theagenes of Thasos was the son, legally if not naturally, of a priest of Hercules. Next, the claim that St Theagenes was taken outside Parium and beaten by night is reminiscent of the story that an enemy of Theagenes of Thasos had used to flog his statue by night. Again, neither Theagenes let his assailants pass unpunished. The statue of Theagenes of Thasos fell on his enemy and killed him, while St Theagenes was able to prophesize that his assailants would meet bad ends, which they did. Next, St Theagenes was cast into the sea to drown, while the statue of Theagenes of Thasos was exiled by being dumped at sea. Again, neither Theagenes was allowed to remain lost. Some fishermen snagged the statue of Theagenes of Thasos in their net and managed to bring him back to land, while the body of St Theagenes was washed back upon the shore in one piece so enabling its recovery and burial.

While these similarities do exist, it seems to me that they are superficial at best, and are due more to the similarities between the social and physical circumstances which saw the invention of each cult, rather than that Euticus availed himself of some account of Theagenes of Thasos in the composition of the passion of St Theagenes. By similar physical circumstances I mean, for example, that Thasos and Parium were both sea-side communities, one on an island, the other on the mainland-coast. It was entirely natural, therefore, that the inhabitants of each should dispose of their rubbish at sea, the Christian Theagenes in the case of the legion stationed at Parium, and the statue of Theagenes in the case of governing-council of Thasos. The author of the passion of St Theagenes did not need any particular source to advise him how to depict the disposal of St Theagenes, not least because it was generally well known that this was exactly how sea-side communities had disposed of their Christians during the persecutions, at sea.68 It was both common-sense, and common knowledge. As for the claim that each Theagenes was the son of a priestly individual, that St Theagenes was the son of a bishop and Theagenes of Thasos was the son of a priest of Hercules, this was simply a device to explain the character of each in a manner which appealed most to the religious expectations of the relevant communities. Being the son of bishop served to "prove" that St Theagenes deserved to be recognised as a martyr, because it made his story that much more credible. What other sort of behaviour would one expect from the son of a bishop? Indeed, the description of Theagenes as the son of a bishop can only reinforce our suspicions that the author, Euticus, was himself the bishop of Parium. Similarly, his being a son of a priest of Hercules served to "prove" that Theagenes of Thasos deserved to be recognised as a god, because it explains how and why the god Hercules managed to father him upon his mother. So while it is difficult to prove so conclusively, it does not seem necessary for Euticus to have had any genuine knowledge of the historical Theagenes of Thasos to produce the text which he did.

This brings us to the date of the commemoration of the feast of St Theagenes, 3 January. Why did our author choose to set Theagenes' death on this date in particular? Normally, one might posit that this was the date of the recovery of the relics, or the date of their translation to their final cult site, which gradually came to be regarded as the martyr's dies natalis, or date of execution also, in the absence of more concrete information. In this instance, there is no evidence that the relics themselves had actually been recovered from the site yet, so one assumes that Euticus claimed to have learned the date of the martyr's death in the same way that he learned everything else about him, by "revelation". There are at least two possible reasons why he should have chosen to claim 3 January as the date of his death. The first is that he was attracted to do so by the commemoration on the same date of the feast of St Gordius of Caesarea. According to Basil of Caesarea, our earliest datable source, Gordius was a centurion who had deserted his post at Caesarea during a persecution of Christians, choosing to live in the wilderness instead, only to return during a public holiday in order to stage a protest in the hippodrome.69 He met his fate accordingly. So Gordius was another martyr who had apparently rejected earthly military service to serve as a soldier of God instead, and Euticus must have come across his name as he scoured the hagiographical literature looking for a model for his new martyr before he finally settled on the passion of St Theodore as his primary source. It is noteworthy also that Gordius is normally assumed to have perished during Licinius' persecution of Christians, just like St Theagenes, although we cannot be sure how reliable this element of his tradition is, or when it first began.70 Nor can we be entirely sure that his feast was actually celebrated on 3 January by the turn of the fourth and fifth centuries. The Syriac Breviary notes the commemoration of the feast of an otherwise unknown Gordianus of Caesarea on 2 March, and Delehaye has identified this as a corrupt reference to the Gordius of Caesarea under discussion here.71 Yet the Byzantine synaxaries normally commemorate his feast on 3 January.72 Nevertheless, it remains a possibility that Euticus was influenced by the cult of St Gordius to locate the death of St Theagenes both on 3 January in particular and during the reign of Licinius in general.

There is an alternative possibility, however. The so-called Feriale Duranum, a fragmentary papyrus copy of the official Roman military religious calendar, which was discovered among the records of the cohors XX Palmyrenorum at Dura Europus, and dates to the period c.223/7, includes the following description of the ritual to be observed on 3 January:

January 3. Because vows are paid and undertaken both for the welfare of our Lord Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus and for the eternity of the empire of the Roman nation, [to Jupiter Optimus Maximus an ox, to Juno Regina a cow, to Minerva a cow, to Jupiter Victor] an ox, [to Juno Sospes? a cow, --- to Mars Pater a bull, to Mars Victor] a bull, to Victoria a cow.73

This is generally identified now as the occasion of the annual renewal by the soldiers of their oath of allegiance to the emperor,74 the sacramentum which each conscript took at the end of his probationary period before he was posted to his final unit.75 It was of this oath that Tertullian famously wrote:

Incompatible are the human oath of allegiance and the divine sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the legions of the light and the legions of the darkness. One soul cannot serve two lords: God and Caesar.76

The Christian emperors of the fourth century retained the oath of allegiance, but in a Christianized form which made it clear that allegiance to the emperor was second to one's allegiance to God,77 which clarification must have disarmed the objections of many to the oath itself. If this oath continued to be renewed on 3 January, and there is no reason to think that this was not the case, then the decision by the author of the passion of St Theagenes to date the death of St Theagenes to 3 January would seem particularly appropriate in the case of a martyr who was alleged to have rejected earthly military service for the service of God. So the choice of this date represents a continuation of the theme of the passion itself, the need to choose between God and Caesar. It was the final deft touch on the part of the author of this essentially pacifist text. No servant of the state could read of St Theagenes and fail to marvel that he had been executed for his rejection of military service on the very day that soldiers were accustomed to renew their oath of allegiance. It was a direct challenge, in fact, to all Christians in the military, or at least the more pious individuals who had attended a church-service earlier that day, not to proceed with the renewal of their oath of allegiance, but to take the opportunity offered them and reject earthly service for that of the divine king.

The decision to date the death of the military conscript St Theagenes to the day on which soldiers were accustomed to renew their oath of allegiance seems deliberate to me. While it was no secret that soldiers were accustomed to renew their vows on this date, the strong consciousness of this fact revealed here, the very subject of the passion itself, and the care taken to include such detail as the name of the unit in which Theagenes had served, and the name of a genuine military unit at that, one which does not occur elsewhere in the hagiographical corpus, all suggest that the author of the passion had some genuine knowledge of the military. The Latinisms within the text, or rather the retention within the text of such Latinisms as were already present in the passion of St Theodore, add some small support to this identification in so far as Latin was the official language of the administration still in the fourth century, and even soldiers from the Greek-speaking areas of the empire would have had to acquire a certain familiarity with the same, such as is suggested by the retention of these terms here.78 Finally, it is important to note not just that the author uses genuine Latin terms for the ranks within the legio II Traiana rather than attempting to substitute equivalent Greek terms, but that he has chosen the correct terms for a unit of its type. As a unit which dated back to the middle principate the legio II Traiana retained ranks such as that of centurion which were no longer in use by the large majority of late Roman military units, many of which had only been created during the military reforms of Diocletian and Constantine I.79 So either the author of the passion made a lucky guess or he knew exactly what he was talking about. In short, his use of the correct terminology in this instance suggests a personal familiarity with the legio II Traiana, such as he might have gained had he himself served in this unit, or, more likely, had he become acquainted with some of its members. This brings us back to our earlier suggestion that a detachment of the legio II Traiana may have passed through Parium on its way to Macedonia c.380.

It is important also to pay due attention to what the passion says concerning the development of Theagenes' cult at this site. It claims that a group of men by the names of Eutyches, Eustathius, Zoticus, and Germanus, together with several others who are left unnamed, brought the remains of St Theagenes to the villa, or country-estate, of a certain Adamantius who was a most faithful and very devout man (ch. 12, all recensions).80 The alleged involvement of a large group of men rather than an individual woman in the recovery of the remains of St Theagenes marks a distinct break with the hagiographical stereotype in such matters.81 The passion of St Theodore, for example, a copy of which was open before our author as he composed his passion, claims that a woman by the name of Eusebia rescued his remains.82 This is significant since the original nature of this element within the passion may provide an important pointer towards the social context which saw its invention. Given both the number of men who are alleged to have participated in the rescue of the remains of St Theagenes, and their description as "brothers",83 it is possible that the villa of Adamantius was an early monastery.84 This is not to claim that some early monks actually rescued the remains of a genuine martyr by the name of Theagenes, but that a later generation of monks at the villa of Adamantius were pleased to accept this tale concerning the origin of what they believed to be a shrine to the martyr Theagenes at or near their villa. This is an attractive hypothesis in so far as monks often gathered about the remains of martyrs, or were eager to acquire their relics in order to enhance the reputation of an existing or new establishment.85 In this context, therefore, one has to imagine that sometime during the mid-380s the monks on the estate of Adamantius made a concerted effort to discover whether the remains of any martyrs lay unrecognised still in the vicinity of their establishment. The result was the discovery of a statue of Theagenes of Thasos which they mistakenly identified as a memorial to "St" Theagenes. It seemed that they had their own martyr at last, but it was no use possessing the relics of a martyr whom no-one else recognised. The opinion of the local bishop was particularly important. Bishop Martin of Tours, for example, had crushed the growing, but unauthorised cult of one alleged anonymous martyr, by declaring that the spirit of the deceased had appeared to him while he was praying at his grave and revealed that he had not been a martyr, but a brigand.86 The method by which he chose to investigate this matter is particularly relevant here. He simply went to the grave and prayed to God, asking him to reveal who was buried there and what his character had been. When called upon to do so, Euticus of Parium may have adopted a similar procedure, one suspects, but with more positive results. His revealation confirmed that "St" Theagenes had indeed been martyred for his faith.

The identification of the villa of Adamantius as a monastic establishment may also explain the form which the passion of this newly-discovered martyr took. Why was he identified as a former-soldier rather than as an ex-farmer, say, or as a member of any other occupation or profession? One cannot help but notice that this theme, the rejection of the service of the earthly emperor in favour of that of the divine king, is a recurrent favourite in the monastic literature of the late antique period. This is not to deny that many former-soldiers did become monks, but to recognise merely that the monastic literature of the late antique period did like to report this fact.87 The more famous examples of soldiers who preferred to serve God rather than the emperor, and as monks in particular, include Martin of Tours and Dalmatius at Constantinople.88 Nor should we forget that Pachomius, the founder of coenobite monasticisn in Egypt, had been a military conscript c.313 when the kindness which the Christians showed towards him in his confinement at Luxor persuaded him to reject the paganism of his youth in favour of Christianity.89 The manner in which monks identified themselves as soldiers of Christ, and contrasted this service to that of the state, can only have been reinforced by the clumsy efforts which the pagan emperor Julian and the Arian Valens made to reduce this source of opposition to their rule by subjecting these monks to a violent conscription.90 It is not surprising, therefore, that the monks' understanding of their position with regards to the state should have impacted upon the production of hagiographical literature also. For example, writing c.397 the author of the passion of the fictitious Mauretanian martyr St Typasius of Tigava based his account of Typasius' resignation from the army of Herculius Maximianus (285-305) on Sulpicius Severus' account of the resignation of Martin of Tours from that of Julian.91 He then depicted Typasius as an anchorite who built a little monastery for himself before the state made an effort to conscript him once more. In brief, the passion of St Typasius appears to have been designed to appeal to an audience sympathetic to monastic ideology, if they were not actually monks themselves. In this context, therefore, at a time when the rejection of the service of the state for that of God was a common feature of literature written by and for monks, the fact that Euticus should have decided to identify the newly-discovered martyr Theagenes as a reluctant conscript rather than as member of some other occupation or profession reinforces the suggestion that it was monks who had "rediscovered" Theagenes' alleged burial-site in the first place.

Conclusion

There can be no doubt that the passion of St Theagenes is a work of fiction, but the real difficulty lies in identifying the circumstances which resulted in such a fiction. This is a question of importance, if for no other reason that the cult of St Theagenes seems to have established itself at a relatively early date, sometime during the period c.384-450. Given the nature of the present evidence, our conclusions can only be tentative at best. It seems, however, that an otherwise unattested bishop Euticus of Parium, a Macedonian apparently, was responsible for the promotion of this martyr, but that he was overhasty in his efforts to discover a local martyr for his flock, and confirmed an antique cult-site of the athlete and hero, Theagenes of Thasos, as that of a previously unknown martyr for this reason, probably during the mid-380s. It is my hope, however, that the present paper may yet spur others to a more critical re-evaluation of this problem.


Notes

1     I refer to all hagiographical texts by their listings either in F. Halkin (ed.), Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca [BHG] (Subsidia Hagiographica 8: Brussels, 1957), or in the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina [BHL] (Subsidia Hagiographica 6: Brussels, 1898-99). For BHG 2416 see the commentary and edition by P. Franchi de' Cavalieri, "La Passio S. Theagenis," in his Note agiografiche 4 (Studi e Testi 24: Vatican, 1912) 161-85. BHL 8107, together with a short commentary, is available in the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum [AASS], January t. I, 133-35, and BHL 8106 in Analecta Bollandiana2 (1883) 206-10.

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2     I shall continue to refer to the author as "Euticus" because it is impossible to distinguish whether the original Greek name should be restored as either "Eutychius" or "Eutyches".

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3     See S. Bradbury, Severus of Minorca: Letter on the Conversion of the Jews (Oxford, 1996). Similarly, it is a letter which preserves the passion of the Donatist martyrs Maximian and Issaac. Normally attributed to bishop Macrobius, the letter addresses both "brothers" and "sisters", so more than Macrobius' fellow bishops. See M. Tilley, Donatist Martyr Stories: The Church in Conflict in Roman North Africa (Translated Texts for Historians 24: Liverpool 1996) 63- 75.

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4     In general, see E.D. Hunt, "The Traffic in Relics: Some Late Roman Evidence", in S. Hackel, The Byzantine Saint (Studies Supplementary to Sobornost 5: London, 1981) 171-80.

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5     Vita S. Parthenii 15 in PG 114.1365.

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6     See the Syriac text, with a parallel Greek translation and relevant commentary, in J. B. de Rossi and L. Duchesne (eds.), Martyrologium Hieronymianum in AASS, November t. II, 1st part (Brussels, 1894) l-lxix.

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7     The Syriac Breviary records the commemoration of Macedonius, Pampuros, Antigonus, Iovinus, Victorinus and Tatianus on 19 July. The coincidences between these names and those of a group - Macedonius, Theodulus, and Tatianus - who were killed by Amachius, the governor of Phrygia, during the reign of Julian (Socrates, HE 3.15; Sozomen, HE 5.11), identifies the former as victims of Julian's reign. The fact that the Syriac Breviary commemorates the memory of bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (31 May) and that of a priest named Arius (6 June) who seems identifiable as the infamous heretic Arius of Alexandria suggests that the original Greek martyrology of which it was a translation had been composed to serve the Arian church at Nicomedia. So while it is understandable that it should omit the names of those victims of Julian's persecution whom the Arians regarded as heretics, it is difficult to explain why it should omit that of Artemius, the magister equitum per Orientem and former dux Aegypti, the persecutor of the orthodox church in Egypt, whose rank ought to have ensured that news of his execution at Antioch on 20 October 362 would have quickly spread throughout the whole of the east. On Artemius, see S.N.C. Lieu and D. Montserrat (eds.), From Constantine to Julian: Pagan and Byzantine Views. A Source History (London, 1996) 210-62; also D. Woods, "The Final Commission of Artemius the Former Dux Aegypti," Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 22 (1998) forthcoming. So the death of Artemius on 20 October 362 provides a terminus antequam for the Greek original of the Syriac Breviary.

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8     See H. Delehaye, Commentarius perpetuus in Martyrologium Hieronymianum ad recensionem H. Quentin in AASS, November t. II, 2nd part (Brussels, 1931) 23-24, where he restores the relevant notice as follows: "In Helisponto civitate Par(io) [quae est] Cyzici prima, Theogenis pueri Christiani filii episcopi, qui sub Licinio inter tirones comprehensus, cum nollet militare, caesus ad mortem, carceri mancipatus, missus in ceppo est donec relatione esset responsum; demersoque in mare, delato corpore eius in litore, a religiossimis viris depositum est in villa Amanti religiosi viri, ubi fiunt orationes magnae."

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9     BHG 2416, ch. 13; BHL 8107, ch. 13: Haec omnia scripta sunt per omnes ecclesias Dei in Nicomedia, Bithynia, Heraclea, Cyzico.

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10     He seems to have named it after his son Honorius, born on 9 September 384, although Libanius provides the earliest reference to its formation in a speech composed in 387 (Or. 19.62). In general, see S. Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor II. The Rise of the Church (Oxford, 1993) 158-63.

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11     Franchi de' Cavalieri, La passio S. Theagenis, 165, dismisses the problem.

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12     Sozomen, HE 5.15.

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13     E.g. Julian stripped Constantia (formerly Maiuma) of its status as a city and made it dependent upon neighbouring Gaza once more in order to punish its predominantly Christian population for their faith (Sozomen, HE 5.3). He also deprived Caesarea in Cappadocia of its status as a city, and forced it to revert to its ancient title of Mazaka, because its inhabitants dared to destroy the last remaining temple in the city during his reign (Sozomen, HE 5.4). This must mean that he appointed another city as the civil metropolis of Cappadocia, but his measures seem to have been reversed under Valens. Again, Theodosius I stripped Antioch of its metropolitan status in favour of neighbouring Laodicea for a short period in 387 as a result of the so-called riot of the statues (John Chrysostom, Hom. 17.2; Libanius, Or. 20.6; Theodoret, HE 5.19).

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14     Ammianus Marcellinus 26.8.7-11.

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15     Sozomen, HE 5.15.

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16     Socrates, HE 4.8. Cf. Ammianus Marcellinus 31.1.4-5.

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17     Socrates, HE 2.38.

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18     Socrates, HE 2.42.

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19     Socrates, HE 4.7.

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20     Socrates, HE 5.8. In general, see R.M. Errington, "Church and State in the First Years of Theodosius I", Chiron 27 (1997) 20-72.

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21     See R.M. Errington, "Christian Accounts of the Religious Legislation of Theodosius I", Klio 79 (1997) 398-443, esp. 440-41 on the problems faced by the proconsul of Asia Auxonius as he tried to implement Theodosius' new policy.

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22     Socrates, HE 5.8.

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23     Bishop Sisinnius of Constantinople ordained one of his priests, Proclus, as bishop of Cyzicus in 427, but he was unable to take up his see because the people of Cyzicus elected the ascetic Dalmatius as their new bishop before his arrival (Socrates, HE 7.28). Socrates refers here to an otherwise unknown law which apparently forbade the people of Cyzicus to choose a bishop without the permission of the bishop of Constantinople, but which the people of Cyzicus claimed to have been a privilege limited to bishop Atticus of Constantinople (406-25) personally. Its existence suggests that Atticus had chosen at least one bishop of Cyzicus, but the identities of the bishops between Eleusius and Dalmatius remain unknown.

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24     Sozomen, HE 4.27, says of it in 360 that it had a strong following in Constantinople, Bithynia, Thrace, Hellespontus and the neighbouring regions.

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25     Socrates, HE 2.45, 4.4.

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26     Socrates, HE 2.38, 45.

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27     Socrates, HE 3.25.

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28     Sozomen, HE 6.7.

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29     There were some Macedonians in Constantinople during the latter years of Theodosius' reign when they seem to have been driven by internal disputes (Socrates, HE 5.24).

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30     Socrates, HE 7.31.

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31     Socrates, HE 4.12.

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32     Matt. 4.2; Mk 1.13; Lk 4.2.

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33     H. Delehaye, Les origines du culte des martyrs (Subsidia Hagiographica 20: Brussels, 1933) 148. The names of Theagenes' persecutors appear in A.H.M. Jones, J.R. Martindale, and J. Morris (eds.), A Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire I: AD 260-395 (Cambridge, 1971), Posidonius at 717, Zelicinthius at 990, but see the remarks by T.D. Barnes, The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine (Cambridge, Mass. 1981) 175-91.

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34     J.C. Mann, "The Raising of New Legions during the Principate", Hermes 91 (1963) 483-89.

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35     B. Isaac and I. Roll, "Legio II Traiana in Judaea", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 33 (1979) 149-56.

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36     Not. Dig., Or. 28.19; Or. 31.34. P. Beatty. Panop. 2 attests the division of the legio II Traiana between Apollonopolis, Tentyra and Ptolemais at least, as early as 300 even. See A.K. Bowman, "The Military Occupation of Upper Egypt in the Reign of Diocletian", Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 15 (1978) 25-38.

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37     On the mistaken modern attribution of the African martyr Marcellus to the legio II Traiana, see B. de Gaiffier, "S. Marcel de Tangier ou de Léon? évolution d'une légende", Analecta Bollandiana 41 (1943) 116-39, at 125-27.

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38     In general, see M.P. Speidel, "Legionaries from Asia Minor", Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt [ANRW] 2.7.2 (Berlin, 1980) 730-46 at 738. Nor should one forget Sulpicius Severus' anecdote concerning the young man of good family from Asia who had come into contact with monasticism while serving against the Blemmyes in Egypt (Dial. 1.22). Perhaps one of those involved in the discovery of Theagenes' burial-site had enjoyed similar service in Egypt.

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39     Zosimus, HN 4.30. The Egyptian troops met the Gothic troops sent to Egypt as their replacements in Philadelphia in the province of Lydia, so the next stage of their journey had to take them through Hellespontus.

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40     Trans. by J. Stevenson (ed.), A New Eusebius: Documents illustrating the history of the Church to AD337 (London, 1987) 371.

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41     E.g. see J.-M. Hornus, It Is Not Lawful For Me To Fight: early Christian attitudes towards war, violence, and the state (Scottdale, 1980) 171; L.J. Swift, The Early Fathers on War and Military Service (Message of the Fathers of the Church 19: Wilmington, 1983) 92.

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42     Vita Constantini 2.33. Trans. by E.C. Richardson, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers I (2nd series) (New York, 1890) 508.

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43     Suda s.v. Auxentios.

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44     Sozomen, HE 4.16.

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45     See P. Karlin-Hayter, "Passio of the XL Martyrs of Sebasteia. The Greek Tradition: The Earliest Account (BHG 1201)", Analecta Bollandiana 109 (1991), 249-309, at 273-4.

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46     Basil of Caesarea, Ep. 263; Socrates, HE 2.45, 4.12.

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47     Sozomen, HE 9.2.

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48     Theodoret, HE 1.19.

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49     The primary texts relating to the cult of St Theodore, whose feastday falls on 9 November, have been collected at AASS, November t. IV, 11-89. For the later cult of St. Theodore, see also C. Mango and I. Sevcenko, "Three Inscriptions of the Reigns of Anastasius I and Constantine V", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 55 (1972) 379-93; C. Zuckerman, "The Reign of Constantine V in the Miracles of St Theodore the Recruit (BHG 1764)", Revue des Etudes Byzantines 46 (1988) 191-210. The problem is further complicated by the strong similarities in parts between both the passions of St Theodore and St Theagenes and the highly reputed acts of the African martyr St Maximilian of Theveste (BHL 5813). The interrogation of Maximilian by the proconsul Dion bears an uncanny resemblance to the interrogation of Theodore by his superiors Brincas and Posidonius, and of Theagenes by his superiors Zelicinthius and Posidonius (ch. 2). This has attracted far too little attention from those who praise the acts of St Maximilian, even from those who do at least acknowledge the resemblance, e.g. E. Pucciarelli, I cristiani e il servisio militare: testimonianze dei primi tre secoli (Florence, 1987) 311-13. Worse, the majority of Roman historians seem unaware that there is a problem, e.g. B. Campbell, The Roman Army, 31BC-AD337: A Sourcebook (London, 1994) 12 and 237. In fact, there is a strong argument to be made that the acts of St Maximilian are a late antique fiction drawing upon either the passion of St Theodore or that of St Theagenes, an argument which I hope to develop at length elsewhere.

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50     See AASS, November t. IV, 29-30. The author has misinterpreted a vague reference to a numerus Marmaritarum in the passion of St Christopher (BHG 310), i.e. a reference to the historical cohors III Valeria Marmaritarum (Not. Dig., Or. 33.34), to refer to a legion rather than a cohort. See D. Woods, "St. Christopher, Bishop Peter of Attalia, and the Cohors Marmaritarum: A Fresh Examination", Vigiliae Christianae 48 (1994) 170-86.

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51     See C. Zuckerman, "Cappadocian Fathers and the Goths", Travaux et Mémoires 11 (1991) 473-86 at 480. An English translation of this text by C. McCambly is available at http://yoda.ucc.uconn.edu/users/salomond/nyssa.

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52     See D. Woods, "The Origin of the Legend of Maurice and the Theban Legend", Journal of Ecclesiastical History 45 (1994) 385-95.

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53     Eucherius, Pass. Acaun. 7.13-14 (BHL 5737 in CSEL 31, 165-73): martyrum corpora post multos passionis annos sancto Theodoro eiusdem loci episcopo revelata traduntur.

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54     In contrast, the passion of Sergius and Bacchus, for example, ends by noting that fifteen bishops gathered to translate the relics of Sergius from their original burial place to a new basilica near Resafa (BHG 1624, ch. 30). See a translation in J. Boswell, The Marriage of Likeness: Same-sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe (New York 1994) 375-90. Similarly, Eucherius records that Theodorus had built a basilica for the relics of the Theban legion (Pass. Acaun. 7-8).

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55     P. Brown, The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity (London, 1981) 6. In general, see H. Delehaye, The Legends of the Saints (London, 1955) (a translation by D. Attwater of the 4th edition of the original French text of 1905) 119-69.

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56     On Pausanias, see J. Elsner, Art and the Roman Viewer: The Transformation of Art from the Pagan World to Christianity (Cambridge, 1995) 125-55.

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57     Pausanias 6.11.2-9. Trans. by J.G. Frazer, Pausanias's Description of Greece I (London, 1913) 298-99.

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58     Plutarch, Praecepta Gerendae Reipublicae 15d-e; Dio Chrysostom, Or. 31.95-99; Lucian, Concilium Deorum 12, Quomodo Historia Conscribenda Sit 35; Athenagoras, Legatio pro Christianis 14; Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica 5.34.9-15.

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59     See J. Pouilloux, Recherches sur l'histoire et les cultes de Thasos I: de la foundation de la cité à 196 avant J.-C. (Etudes Thasiennes 3: Paris, 1954) 62- 106; idem, "Théogénès de Thasos ... Quarante Ans Après", Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 118 (1994) 199-206.

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60     The relevant inscriptions have been collected in P. Fritsch (ed.), Die Inschriften von Parion (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 25: Bonn, 1983). This includes a reference to St Theagenes at p. 78 where he is mistakenly accepted as the bishop of Parium.

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61     Eusebius, HE 7.18. Trans. by G.A. Williamson, Eusebius: The History of the Church (Harmondsworth, 1965) 301-2.

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62     Philostorgius, HE 7.3. Trans. by E. Walford, The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen ... also the Ecclesiastical History of Philostorgius as Epitomized by Photius (London, 1855) 475-76.

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63     E.g. see A.C. McGiffert, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers I (2nd ser.), (New York, 1890) 304, n. 1; also R.J. Deferrari, Eusebius Pamphili. Ecclesiastical History (Books 6-10) (The Fathers of the Church 29: Washington, 1955) 119, n. 1.

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64     xi See G. Bardy, Eusèbe de Césarée. Histoire Ecclésiastique, Libres V-VIII (Sources Chrétiennes 41: Paris, 1955) 192, n. 1.

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65     See F. Scorza Barcellona, "Per una lettura della Passio Typasii Veterani", Augustinianum 35 (1995) 797-814.

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66     See P. Peeters, Orient et Byzance. Le tréfonds oriental de l'hagiographie byzantine (Subsidia Hagiographica 26: Brussels, 1950) 38-41.

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67     See D. Woods, "The Emperor Julian and the Passion of Sergius and Bacchus", Journal of Early Christian Studies 5 (1997) 335-67.

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68     E.g. Eusebius, HE 8.12.5, 13.4, 14.13; Lactantius, DMP 15.3; Ammianus Marcellinus 22.11.10: Historia Monachorum in Aegypto 19.10.

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69     Basil, Homil. 327 (BHG 703) at PG 31.489-507.

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70     Basil does not name the "tyrant" during whose reign Gordius was killed, although most modern commentators accept that he was Licinius, e.g. P. Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea (The Transformation of the Classical Heritage 20: Berkeley 1994) 186. An Armenian passion is the earliest surviving source specifically to name Licinius as such. See M. van Esbroek, "La passion arménienne de S. Gordius de Césarée", Analecta Bollandiana 94 (1976) 357-86 at 378.

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71     Delehaye, Les origines du culte des martyrs, 173.

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72     E.g. H. Delehaye (ed.), Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, in AASS, Propylaeum Novembris (Brussels, 1902), col. 367.

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73     Trans. by R.O. Fink, Roman Military Records on Papyrus (Philological Monographs of the American Philological Association 26: Case Western Reserve, 1971) 428.

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74     E.g. R.O. Fink, A.S. Hoey, W.F. Snyder, "The Feriale Duranum", Yale Classical Studies 7 (1940), 1-222, at 51; M. Meslin, La fête des kalendes de janvier dans l'empire romain (Collection Latomus 115: Brussels 1970) 31; J. Helgeland, "Roman Army Religion", ANRW 2.16.2 (1978), 1470-1505, at 1486.

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75     In general, see H. von Petrikovits, "Sacramentum", in B. Hartley and J. Wacher, Rome and Her Northern Provinces (Stroud, 1983) 179-99.

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76     De Idololatria 19.2. Trans. by J. H. Waszink and J. C. M. Van Winden, Tertullianus. De Idololatria. Critical Text, Translation and Commentary (Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 1: Leiden 1987) 63.

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77     Vegetius, Epitoma Rei Militaris 2.5: 'They swear by God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, and by the Majesty of the Emperor which second to God is to be loved and worshipped by the human race. For since the Emperor has received the name of the "August", faithful devotion should be given, unceasing homage paid to him as if to a present and corporeal deity. For it is God whom a private citizen or soldier serves, when he faithfully loves him who reigns by God's authority'. Trans. by N.P. Milner, Vegetius: Epitome of Military Science (Translated Texts for Historians 16: Liverpool, 1996) 35.

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78     E.g. words from campus, 'parade-ground' in ch. 3; from catena, 'chain', and from scutum, 'shield' in ch. 8; from uncia, 'ounce' or 'bit' in ch. 8.

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79     See W. Treadgold, Byzantium and Its Army 284-1081 (Stanford, 1995) 87-91. It is particularly noteworthy that the author avoids describing anyone as a ducenarius, a rank mentioned in his main source, the passion of St Theodore (BHG 1761, ch. 2), but which would not have occurred in the historical legio II Traiana.

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80     The passion of St. Panteleemon (BHG 1412z; BHL 6429), allegedly martyred at Nicomedia under Galerius Maximianus, records that his remains were buried just outside Nicomedia in a villa belonging to the scholasticus Adamantius. I see no reason why we should identify these two Adamantii as the one individual, nor why we should believe that the author of the passion of St Theagenes borrowed this element from the passion of St Panteleemon rather than vice versa.

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81     See D. Woods, "Varus of Egypt: a fictitious military martyr", Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 20 (1996) 175-200, 194, n. 50.

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82     BHG 1761, ch. 9.

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83     Cf. e.g. Sulpicius Severus, Vita Martini 5.3, 7.2-3; Historia Monachorum in Aegypto 1.13-15, 65.

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84     In general, see J. Percival, "Villas and Monasteries in Late Roman Gaul", Journal of Ecclesiastical History 48 (1997) 1-21. On the development of monasticism in Asia, for which relatively little early evidence survives, see Mitchell, Anatolia. Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor, 109-21.

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85     E.g. Sozomen, HE 9.2; Palladius, Historia Lausiaca 60; Cyril of Scythopolis, Vita Euthymii 44.

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86     Sulpicius Severus, Vita Martini 11.

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87     E.g. Basil, Ep. 116; Sulpicius Severus, Dialogi 1.22, 2.11; Historia Monachorum in Aegypto 23.2; Palladius, Historia Lausiaca 44, 68.

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88     Sulpicius Severus, Vita Martini; the acts of Dalmatius, whose feastday is 3 August, in AASS, August t. I, 213-24.

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89     See A. Veilleux (ed.), Pachomian Koinonia: The Life of St Pachomius (Cistercian Studies 45: Kalamazoo, 1980), 26-27, 300-01.

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90     Historia Monachorum in Aegypto 8.10-13; Orosius, Adversus Paganos 7.33.

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91     Scorza Barcellona, "Per una lettura della Passio Typasii Veterani", 801-03.

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