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

OF all those that were celebrated, or admired for their courage, whether among Greeks or barbarians, these times produced noble and illustrious martyrs, in the case of Dorotheus and his associates, domestics in the imperial palace. These, though honoured with the highest dignity by their masters, and treated by them with not less affection than their own children, esteemed the reproaches and trials in the cause of religion, as of much more real value than the glory and luxuries of life; and even the various kinds of death that were invented against them were preferred to these, when they came into competition with religion. We shall give an account of the end of one, leaving it for our readers to conjecture what must have been the character of the sufferings inflicted on the others. He was led into the middle of the aforesaid city, before those emperors already mentioned. He was then commanded to sacrifice, but as he refused, he was ordered to be stripped and lifted on high, and to be scourged with rods over his whole body, until he should be subdued in his resolution, and forced to do what he was commanded. As he was unmoveable amid all these sufferings, his bones already appearing bared of the flesh, they mixed vinegar with salt, and poured it upon the mangled parts of the body. As he bore these tortures, a gridiron and fire were produced, and the remnants of his body, like pieces of meat for roasting and eating, were placed in the fire, not at once, so that he might not expire soon, but taken by little and little, whilst his torturers were not permitted to let him alone, unless after these sufferings he breathed his last before they had completed their task. He, however, persevered in his purpose, and gave up his life victorious in the midst of his tortures. Such was the martyrdom of one of the imperial domestics, worthy in reality of his name, for he was called Peter. But we shall perceive in the course of our narration, in which we shall study brevity, that the martyrdoms of the rest were in no respect inferior to this. We shall only state of Dorotheus, and Gorgonius, with many others of the imperial freedmen, that after various sufferings, they were destroyed by the halter, and bore away the prize of a heavenly victory. At this time also, Anthimus, then bishop of the church of Nicomedia, was beheaded for his confession of Christ, and to him were added a multitude of believers that thronged around him.

I know not how it happened, but there was a fire that broke out in the imperial palace at Nicomedia, in these days, which by a false suspicion reported abroad, was attributed to our brethren as the authors of it; in consequence of which, whole families of the pious were slain in masses at the imperial command, some with the sword, some also with fire. Then it is said that men and women, with a certain divine and inexpressible alacrity, rushed into the fire, and the populace binding others upon planks, threw them into the depths of the sea. The imperial domestics, also, who after death had been committed to the earth with proper burial, their legal masters thought necessary to have dug up again from their sepulchres, and cast into the sea, lest any, reasoning like themselves, should worship them in their graves, as if they were gods. Such, then, was the complexion of things in the commencement of the persecution at Nicomedia.

But, ere long, as there were some in the region called Melitina, and others, again, in Syria, that attempted to usurp the government, it was commanded, by an imperial edict, that the heads of the churches every where should be thrust into prison and bonds. And the spectacle of affairs after these events exceeds all description. Innumerable multitudes were imprisoned in every place, and the dungeons, formerly destined for murderers and the vilest criminals, were then filled with bishops, and presbyters, and deacons, readers and exorcists, so that there was no room left for those condemned for crime. When the former edict was followed by another, in which it was ordered that the prisoners should be permitted to have their liberty if they sacrificed, but, persisting, should be punished with the most excruciating tortures,—who could tell the number of those martyrs in every province, and particularly in Mauritania, Thebais, and Egypt, that suffered death for their religion? From the last place, especially, many went to other cities and provinces, and became illustrious for their martyrdom.








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