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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

THE same writer, in the epistle which he addressed to Fabius, bishop of Antioch, relates the conflicts of those who suffered martyrdom at Alexandria in the following manner: “The persecution with us did not begin with the imperial edict, but preceded it a whole year. And a certain prophet and poet, inauspicious to the city, whoever he was, excited the mass of the heathen against us, stirring them up to their native superstition. Stimulated by him, and taking full liberty to exercise any kind of wickedness, they considered this the only piety, and the worship of their demons, viz., to slay us. First then, seizing a certain aged man named Metra, they called upon him to utter impious expressions, and as he did not obey, they beat his body with clubs, and pricked his face and eyes; after which they led him away to the suburbs, where they stoned him. Next they led a woman called Quinta, who was a believer, to the temple of an idol, and attempted to force her to worship; but when she turned away in disgust, they tied her by the feet, and dragged her through the whole city, over the rough stones of the paved streets, dashing her against the millstones, and scourging her at the same time, until they brought her to the same place, where they stoned her. Then, with one accord, all rushed upon the houses of the pious, and whomsoever of their neighbours they knew, they drove thither in all haste, and despoiled and plundered them, setting apart the more valuable of the articles for themselves; but the more common and wooden furniture they threw about and burnt in the roads, presenting a scene like a city taken by the enemy.

“The brethren retired, and gave way, and like those to whom Paul bears witness, they also regarded the plunder of their goods with joy. And I know not whether any, besides one who fell into their hands, has thus far denied the Lord. They also seized that admirable virgin, Apollonia, then in advanced age, and beating her jaws, they broke out all her teeth, and kindling a fire before the city, threatened to burn her alive, unless she would repeat their impious expressions. She appeared at first to shrink a little, but when suffered to go, she suddenly sprang into the fire and was consumed. They also seized a certain Serapion in his own house, and after torturing him with the severest cruelties, and breaking all his limbs, threw him headlong from an upper story. And further, there was no way, no public road, no lane, where we could walk, whether by day or night, as they, at all times and places, cried out, whoever would refuse to repeat those impious expressions, that he should be immediately dragged forth and burnt.

“These things continued to prevail for the most part after this manner. But as the sedition and a civil war overtook the wretches, their cruelty was diverted from us to one another. We then drew a little breath, whilst their rage against us was abated. But soon, a change in the government toward us was announced, and great danger threatened us. The decree had arrived, very much like that which was foretold by our Lord, exhibiting the most dreadful aspect; so that, if it were possible, the very elect would stumble. All, indeed, were greatly alarmed, and many of the more eminent immediately gave way; others were tempted by the public offices they sustained; others were brought by their acquaintance, and when called by name, approached the impure and unholy sacrifices. Yet, pale and trembling, as if they were not to sacrifice, but themselves to be the victims and the sacrifices to the idols, they were jeered by many of the surrounding multitude, and were obviously equally afraid to die and to offer the sacrifice. But some advanced with greater readiness to the altars, and boldly asserted that they had never before been Christians; concerning whom the declaration of our Lord is most true, that they will scarcely be saved. Of the rest, some followed the one or the other of the preceding; some fled, others were taken, and of these some held out as far as the prison and bonds, and some after a few days’ imprisonment abjured (Christianity) before they entered the tribunal. But some, also, after enduring the torture for a time, at last renounced. Others, however, firm and blessed pillars of the Lord, confirmed by the Lord himself, and receiving in themselves strength and power suited and proportioned to their faith, became admirable witnesses of his kingdom.

“The first of these was Julian, a man afflicted with the gout, neither able to walk nor stand, who, with two others that carried him, was arraigned. Of these, the one immediately denied, but the other, named Cronion, surnamed Eunus, and the aged Julian himself, having confessed the Lord, were carried on camels throughout the whole city, a very large one as you know, and in this elevation were scourged, and finally consumed in an immense fire, surrounded by the thronging crowds of spectators. But a soldier, whose name was Besas, standing near them, who had opposed the insolence of the multitude, whilst they were led away to execution, was himself assailed with their loud vociferations, and thus this brave soldier of God, after he had excelled in the great conflict of piety, was beheaded. Another, who was a Lybian by birth, but both in name and blessedness a Macar (blessed), after much solicitation from the judge to have him renounce, still remaining inflexible, was burnt alive After these, Epimachus and Alexander, who had continued for a long time in prison, enduring innumerable sufferings from he scourges and scrapers, were also destroyed in an immense fire. With these there were also four women; Ammonarium, a holy virgin, who was ingeniously tortured for a very long time by the judge, because she had plainly declared she would utter none of those expressions which he dictated; and having made good her promise, she was led away. The others were the venerable and aged Mercuria; Dionysia, also, who was the mother of many children, but did not love them more than the Lord. These, after the governor became ashamed to torture them to no purpose, and thus to be defeated by women, all died by the sword, without the trial by tortures. But as to Ammonarium, she, like a chief combatant, received the greatest tortures of all. Heron and Ater and Isidorus, who were Egyptians, and with them a youth named Dioscorus, about the age of fifteen, were delivered up. At first he attempted to deceive the youth with fair words, as if he could be easily brought over, and to force him by tortures, as if he would readily yield. Dioscorus, however, was neither persuaded by words, nor constrained by tortures.

“After scourging the rest in a most savage manner, and seeing them persevere, he also delivered these to the fire. But Dioscorus was dismissed by the judge, who admired the great wisdom of his answers to the questions proposed to him, and was also illustrious in the eyes of the people, with the view, as he said, to give him further time for repentance on account of his age. And now this most godly Dioscorus is among us, expecting a longer and a more severe conflict. A certain Nemesion, also an Egyptian, was first indeed accused as a companion of thieves; but when he had repelled this charge before the centurion, as a slander against him, in which there was no truth, being reported as a Christian, he was brought as a prisoner before the governor. He, a most unrighteous judge, inflicted a punishment more than double that of robbers, both scourges and tortures, and then committed him to the flames between thieves; thus honouring the blessed martyr after the example of Christ. But there was a band of soldiers, standing in a dense body before the tribunal, who were Ammon, and Zeno, and Ptolemy, and Ingenuus, together with the aged Theophilus. A certain one being brought and tried as a Christian, and already inclining to deny, they stood near, gnashed with their teeth, and beckoned to him with their faces, and stretched out their hands, and made gestures with their bodies. And whilst all were directing their eyes upon them, before they were seized by any one else, they ran up to the tribunal and declared that they were Christians; so that the governor and his associates themselves were greatly intimidated, whilst those who were condemned were most cheerful at the prospect of what they were to suffer; but their judges trembled. And these, therefore, retired from the tribunals, and rejoiced in their testimony, in which God had enabled them to triumph gloriously.








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