Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter XI
1. It is time to describe the great and celebrated spectacle of Pamphilus, 2680 a man thrice dear to me, and of those who finished their course with him. They were twelve in all; being counted worthy of apostolic grace and number.
2. Of these the leader and the only one honored with the position of presbyter at Cæsarea, was Pamphilus; a man who through p. 352 his entire life was celebrated for every virtue, for renouncing and despising the world, for sharing his possessions with the needy, for contempt of earthly hopes, and for philosophic deportment and exercise. He especially excelled all in our time in most sincere devotion to the Divine Scriptures and indefatigable industry in whatever he undertook, and in his helpfulness to his relatives and associates.
3. In a separate treatise on his life, 2681 consisting of three books, we have already described the excellence of his virtue. Referring to this work those who delight in such things and desire to know them, let us now consider the martyrs in order.
4. Second after Pamphilus, Vales, who was honored for his venerable gray hair, entered the contest. He was a deacon from Ælia, 2682 an old man of gravest appearance, and versed in the Divine Scriptures, if any one ever was. He had so laid up the memory of them in his heart that he did not need to look at the books if he undertook to repeat any passage of Scripture.
5. The third was Paul from the city of Jamna, 2683 who was known among them as most zealous and fervent in spirit. Previous to his martyrdom, he had endured the conflict of confession by cauterization.
After these persons had continued in prison for two entire years, the occasion of their martyrdom was a second arrival of Egyptian brethren who suffered with them.
6. They had accompanied the confessors in Cilicia to the mines there and were returning to their homes. At the entrance of the gates of Cæsarea, the guards, who were men of barbarous character, questioned them as to who they were and whence they came. They kept back nothing of the truth, and were seized as malefactors taken in the very act. They were five in number.
7. When brought before the tyrant, being very bold in his presence, they were immediately thrown into prison. On the next day, which was the nineteenth of the month Peritius, 2684 according to the Roman reckoning the fourteenth before the Kalends of March, they were brought, according to command, before the judge, with Pamphilus and his associates whom we have mentioned. First, by all kinds of torture, through the invention of strange and various machines, he tested the invincible constancy of the Egyptians.
8. Having practised these cruelties upon the leader 2685 of all, he asked him first who he was. He heard in reply the name of some prophet instead of his proper name. For it was their custom, in place of the names of idols given them by their fathers, if they had such, to take other names; so that you would hear them calling themselves Elijah or Jeremiah or Isaiah or Samuel or Daniel, thus showing themselves inwardly true Jews, and the genuine Israel of God, not only in deeds, but in the names which they bore. When Firmilianus had heard some such name from the martyr, and did not understand the force of the word, he asked next the name of his country.
9. But he gave a second answer similar to the former, saying that Jerusalem was his country, meaning that of which Paul says, “Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our mother,” 2686 and, “Ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” 2687
10. This was what he meant; but the judge thinking only of the earth, sought diligently to discover what that city was, and in what part of the world it was situated. And therefore he applied tortures that the truth might be acknowledged. But the man, with his hands twisted behind his back, and his feet crushed by strange machines, asserted firmly that he had spoken the truth.
11. And being questioned again repeatedly what and where the city was of which he spoke, he said that it was the country of the pious alone, for no others should have a place in it, and that it lay toward the far East and the rising sun.
12. He philosophized about these things according to his own understanding, and was in nowise turned from them by the tortures with which he was afflicted on every side. And as if he were without flesh or body he seemed insensible of his sufferings. But the judge being perplexed, was impatient, thinking that the Christians were about to establish a city somewhere, inimical and hostile to the Romans. And he inquired much about this, and investigated where that country toward the East was located.
13. But when he had for a long time lacerated the young man with scourgings, and punished him with all sorts of torments, he perceived that his persistence in what he had said could not be changed, and passed against him sentence of death. Such a scene was exhibited by what was done to this man. And having inflicted similar tortures on the others, he sent them away in the same manner.
14. Then being wearied and perceiving that p. 353 he punished the men in vain, having satiated his desire, he proceeded against Pamphilus and his companions. And having learned that already under former tortures they had manifested an unchangeable zeal for the faith, he asked them if they would now obey. And receiving from every one of them only this one answer, as their last word of confession in martyrdom, he inflicted on them punishment similar to the others.
15. When this had been done, a young man, one of the household servants of Pamphilus, who had been educated in the noble life and instruction of such a man, learning the sentence passed upon his master, cried out from the midst of the crowd asking that their bodies might be buried.
16. Thereupon the judge, not a man, but a wild beast, or if anything more savage than a wild beast, giving no consideration to the young mans age, asked him only the same question. When he learned that he confessed himself a Christian, as if he had been wounded by a dart, swelling with rage, he ordered the tormentors to use their utmost power against him.
17. And when he saw that he refused to sacrifice as commanded, he ordered them to scrape him continually to his very bones and to the inmost recesses of his bowels, not as if he were human flesh but as if he were stones or wood or any lifeless thing. But after long persistence he saw that this was in vain, as the man was speechless and insensible and almost lifeless, his body being worn out by the tortures.
18. But being inflexibly merciless and inhuman, he ordered him to be committed straightway, as he was, to a slow fire. And before the death of his earthly master, though he had entered later on the conflict, he received release from the body, while those who had been zealous about the others were yet delaying.
19. One could then see Porphyry, 2688 like one who had come off victorious in every conflict, his body covered with dust, but his countenance cheerful, after such sufferings, with courageous and exulting mind, advancing to death. And as if truly filled with the Divine Spirit, covered only with his philosophic robe thrown about him as a cloak, soberly and intelligently he directed his friends as to what he wished, and beckoned to them, preserving still a cheerful countenance even at the stake. But when the fire was kindled at some distance around him in a circle, having inhaled the flame into his mouth, he continued most nobly in silence from that time till his death, after the single word which he uttered when the flame first touched him, and he cried out for the help of Jesus the Son of God. Such was the contest of Porphyry.
20. His death was reported to Pamphilus by a messenger, Seleucus. He was one of the confessors from the army. As the bearer of such a message, he was forthwith deemed worthy of a similar lot. For as soon as he related the death of Porphyry, and had saluted one of the martyrs with a kiss, some of the soldiers seized him and led him to the governor. And he, as if he would hasten him on to be a companion of the former on the way to heaven, commanded that he be put to death immediately.
21. This man was from Cappadocia, and belonged to the select band of soldiers, and had obtained no small honor in those things which are esteemed among the Romans. For in stature and bodily strength, and size and vigor, he far excelled his fellow-soldiers, so that his appearance was matter of common talk, and his whole form was admired on account of its size and symmetrical proportions.
22. At the beginning of the persecution he was prominent in the conflicts of confession, through his patience under scourging. After he left the army he set himself to imitate zealously the religious ascetics, and as if he were their father and guardian he showed himself a bishop and patron of destitute orphans and defenceless widows and of those who were distressed with penury or sickness. It is likely that on this account he was deemed worthy of an extraordinary call to martyrdom by God, who rejoices in such things more than in the smoke and blood of sacrifices.
23. He was the tenth athlete among those whom we have mentioned as meeting their end on one and the same day. On this day, as was fitting, the chief gate was opened, and a ready way of entrance into the kingdom of heaven was given to the martyr Pamphilus and to the others with him.
24. In the footsteps of Seleucus came Theodulus, a grave and pious old man, who belonged to the governors household, and had been honored by Firmilianus himself more than all the others in his house on account of his age, and because he was a father of the third generation, and also on account of the kindness and most faithful conscientiousness which he had manifested toward him. 2689 As he pursued the course of Seleucus when brought before his master, the latter was more angry at him than at those who had preceded him, and condemned him to endure the martyrdom of the Saviour on the cross. 2690
25. As there lacked yet one to fill up the number of the twelve martyrs of p. 354 whom we have spoken, Julian came to complete it. He had just arrived from abroad, and had not yet entered the gate of the city, when having learned about the martyrs while still on the way, he rushed at once, just as he was, to see them. When he beheld the tabernacles of the saints prone on the ground, being filled with joy, he embraced and kissed them all.
26. The ministers of slaughter straightway seized him as he was doing this and led him to Firmilianus. Acting as was his custom, he condemned him to a slow fire. Thereupon Julian, leaping and exulting, in a loud voice gave thanks to the Lord who had judged him worthy of such things, and was honored with the crown of martyrdom.
27. He was a Cappadocian by birth, and in his manner of life he was most circumspect, faithful and sincere, zealous in all other respects, and animated by the Holy Spirit himself. Such was the company which was thought worthy to enter into martyrdom with Pamphilus.
28. By the command of the impious governor their sacred and truly holy bodies were kept as food for the wild beasts for four days and as many nights. But since, strange to say, through the providential care of God, nothing approached them,—neither beast of prey, nor bird, nor dog,—they were taken up uninjured, and after suitable preparation were buried in the customary manner.
29. When the report of what had been done to these men was spread in all directions, Adrianus and Eubulus, having come from the so-called country of Manganaea 2691 to Cæsarea, to see the remaining confessors, were also asked at the gate the reason for their coming; and having acknowledged the truth, were brought to Firmilianus. But he, as was his custom, without delay inflicted many tortures in their sides, and condemned them to be devoured by wild beasts.
30. After two days, on the fifth of the month Dystrus, 2692 the third before the Nones of March, which was regarded as the birthday of the tutelary divinity of Cæsarea, 2693 Adrianus was thrown to a lion, and afterwards slain with the sword. But Eubulus, two days later, on the Nones of March, that is, on the seventh of the month Dystrus, when the judge had earnestly entreated him to enjoy by sacrificing that which was considered freedom among them, preferring a glorious death for religion to transitory life, was made like the other an offering to wild beasts, and as the last of the martyrs in Cæsarea, sealed the list of athletes.
31. It is proper also to relate here, how in a short time the heavenly Providence came upon the impious rulers, together with the tyrants themselves. For that very Firmilianus, who had thus abused the martyrs of Christ, after suffering with the others the severest punishment, was put to death by the sword. Such were the martyrdoms which took place at Cæsarea during the entire period of the persecution.
On Pamphilus, see above, Bk. VII. chap. 32, note 40.352:2681
On Eusebius Life of Pamphilus, see above, p. 28 sq.352:2682
τῆς ᾽Ιαμνιτῶν πόλεως. Jamna, or Jamnia, was a town of Judea, lying west of Jerusalem, near the sea.352:2684
i.e. Feb. 19 (see the table on p. 403, below). We learn from chap. 7, §§3–5, that Pamphilus was thrown into prison in the fifth year of the persecution and as late as November of that year, i.e. between November, 307, and April, 308. Since he had lain two whole years in prison (according to §5, above), the date referred to in the present passage must be February of the year 310. The martyrdom of Pamphilus is commonly, for aught I know to the contrary, uniformly put in the year 309, as the seventh year of the persecution is nearly synchronous with that year. But that the common date is a mistake is plain enough from the present chapter.352:2685
προήγορος, literally “advocate,” or “defender.”352:2686
Gal. iv. 26.352:2687
Heb. xii. 22. Upon Eusebius view of the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews, see above, Bk. III. chap. 25, note 1.353:2688
The reference is still to the same slave of Pamphilus whose tortures Eusebius has just been describing, as we learn from the Syriac version, where the slaves name is given at the beginning of the account.353:2689
I read περὶ αὐτὸν with Zimmermann, Heinichen, Burton, and Migne. The mss. all have περὶ αὐτοὺς, which can hardly have stood in the original.353:2690
The common mode of punishment inflicted on slaves.354:2691
Of the so-called country of Μαγγαναία I know nothing. The Syriac version reads Batanea, which was a district of country lying to the northeast of Palestine, and it may be that Manganea was another name for the same region.354:2692
i.e. March 5, 310.354:2693
It was the universal custom in ancient times for a city to have its special tutelary divinity, to which it looked for protection and to which it paid especial honor. The name of the Cæsarean deity is unknown to us.
Next: Chapter XII
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