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

WHY should I now mention the names of others, or number the multitude of men, or picture the various torments of the admirable martyrs of Christ; some of whom were slain with the axe, as in Arabia; some had their limbs fractured, as in Cappadocia; and some suspended by the feet, and a little raised from the ground, with their heads downward, were suffocated with the ascending smoke of a gentle fire kindled below, as was done to those in Mesopotamia; some were mutilated by having their noses, ears, and hands cut off, and the rest of their limbs, and parts of their body cut to pieces, as was the case at Alexandria? Why should we revive the recollection of those at Antioch, who were roasted on grates of life, not to kill immediately, but to torture them with a lingering punishment? Others, again, rather resolved to thrust their arm into the fire, than touch the unholy sacrifice; some shrinking from the trial, sooner than be taken and fall into the hands of their enemies, cast themselves headlong from the lofty houses, considering death an advantage compared with the malignity of these impious persecutors. A certain holy and admirable female, admirable for her virtue, and illustrious above all at Antioch, for her wealth, family, and reputation, had educated her two daughters, now in the bloom of life, noted for their beauty, in the principles of piety. As they had excited great envy among many, every measure was tried to trace them to their concealment; and when it was discovered that they were abroad, they were, with a deep-laid scheme, called to Antioch. They were now caught in the toils of the soldiery. The mother, being at a loss for herself and daughters, knowing what dreadful outrages they would suffer from the men, represented their situation to them, and above all, the threatened violation of their chastity, an evil more to be dreaded than any other, to which neither she nor they should even listen for a moment; at the same time declaring, that to surrender their souls to the slavery of demons was worse than death and destruction. From all these, she suggested there was only one way to be delivered, to betake themselves to the aid of Christ. After this, all agreeing to the same thing, and having requested the guards a little time to retire on the way, they decently adjusted their garments, and cast themselves into the flowing river. These, then, thus destroyed themselves.

Two other virgins at this same Antioch, distinguished for piety, and truly sisters in all respects, illustrious in family, wealth, youth, and beauty, but not less so for their serious minds, their pious deportment, and their admirable, zeal, as if the earth could not bear such excellence, were ordered by the worshippers of demons to be thrown into the sea. Such were the facts that occurred at Antioch. Others at Pontus, endured torments that are too horrible to relate. Some had their fingers pierced with sharp reeds thrust under their nails; others having masses of melted lead, bubbling and boiling with heat, poured down their backs, and being roasted, especially in the most sensitive parts of the body. Others, also, endured insufferable torments on their bowels and other parts, such as decency forbids to describe, which those generous and equitable judges, with a view to display their own cruelty, devised as some pre-eminence in wisdom worthy their ambition. Thus constantly inventing new tortures, they vied with one another, as if there were prizes proposed in the contest, who should invent the greatest cruelties. As to the last of these calamities, when the judges now had despaired of inventing any thing more effectual, and were weary with slaughter, and had surfeited themselves with shedding of blood, they then applied themselves to what they considered kindness and humanity, so that they seemed disposed to exercise no further cruelty against us. For, said they, the cities should not be polluted with blood any more, and the government of the sovereigns, which was so kind and merciful toward all, should not be defamed for excessive cruelty: it was more proper that the benefits afforded by their humane and imperial majesties, should be extended to all, and that we should no longer be punished with death. For we were liberated from this punishment by the great clemency of the emperors. After, this, therefore, they were ordered only to tear out our eyes, or to deprive us of one of our legs. Such was their kindness, and such the lightest kind of punishment against us; so that in consequence of this humanity of theirs it was impossible to tell the great and incalculable number of those that had their right eye dug out with the sword first, and after this seared with a red hot iron; those, too, whose left foot was maimed with a searing iron; after them, those who in different provinces were condemned to the copper-mines, not so much for the service as for the contumely and misery they should endure. Many, also, endured conflicts of other kinds, which it would be impossible to detail; their noble fortitude surpasses all power of description. In this the magnanimous confessors of Christ that shone conspicuous throughout the whole world, every where struck the beholders with astonishment, and presented the obvious proofs of our Saviour’s divine interposition in their own persons. To mention each by name, would be at least a long and tedious work, not to say impossible.








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