The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 11 (part 1)

The memory of the Great Persecution, under Diocletian, persisted.  Unfortunately the details seem to have been entirely forgotten by Eutychius’ time, and been replaced by fiction.

1. Diocletian began to reign in the eleventh year of the reign of Sabur, son of Hurmuz, king of the Persians.  Together with Diocletian reigned Maximian called Ilkūriyūs (1).  They reigned over the Romans for twenty years.  They inflicted on the Christians great misfortunes and long affliction, painful suffering and great tribulations, too great, in truth, to be described.  They caused the Christians all kinds of evil by killing them and confiscating their property.  Only God knows how many Christians they put to death!  In their days there were thousands and thousands of martyrs (2).  They tortured St George in various ways and put him to death in Palestine.  Saint George (3) was a native of Cappadocia.  They also put to death St. Menna, Sts. Victor, Fikinitiyūs, Abimacus and Mercurius.  In the tenth year of their reign Peter was made Patriarch of Alexandria.  He held the office for ten years.  In the twentieth year of their reign this Peter was beheaded in Alexandria.  In the first year of their reign Eutychianus was made patriarch of Rome (4).  He held the office for eight years and died.  In the ninth year of their reign Gaius was made patriarch of Rome (5).  He held the office for twelve years and died.  In the tenth year of their reign Awriyus [=Tyrannus] was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for eleven years and died.  In the fifth year of their reign Māmūnis was made bishop of Jerusalem  (6).  He held the office for thirteen years and died.  In the eighteenth year of their reign Zabdas was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for ten years and died.

2. Peter, patriarch of Alexandria, had two disciples: one was called Ashīllà (7) and the other Alexander.  There also lived in Alexandria, a heretic named Arius who said:  “Only the Father is God, and the Son is a created being and made.  The Father has always been, but the Son was not”.  Then the patriarch Peter said to his two disciples: “Christ, [our] the Lord has cursed this Arius.  Beware, therefore, from accepting him or his doctrine.  In truth I have seen in a dream, while I was sleeping, Christ with his clothes torn and asked him: “Who has torn your clothes, my Lord?” And he answered me: ‘Arius’. Beware then of bringing him into the church with you.”  Five years after the murder of Peter, Patriarch of Alexandria, his disciple Asilla was made patriarch of Alexandria.  He held the office for six years and died.  Arius pleaded the cause of his friends before the patriarch Asilla, giving proof that he had repented of his perverse doctrine and his wickedness.  Asilla had then welcomed him and admitted in his church as  a consecrating priest.  Diocletian, meanwhile, was trying the Christians and putting them to death.

He was busy hunting them down when he came to a place called Dalmatia (8).  Here the vengeance of God fell upon him, and his body began to decompose and he was suffering from a horrible disease and such great wounds that of his flesh was filled with worms which fell to the ground.  Finally even his tongue and palate broke away and he died.  As for Maximian, called Herculeus, he also contracted a disease that burned his body to a crisp, and he died in Tarsus (9).  After them reigned Maxentius (10), son of Maximian.  Joining with him another Maximian called Galerius (11) reigned, for nine years.  This happened in the thirty-second year of the reign of Sabur, son of Hurmuz, Persian.  The two divided the kingdom between them: Maximian, called Galerius, reigned over the east, over Syria and the territory of Rum, while Maxentius ruled over the city of Rome and its territories.  Both acted towards the Christians like beasts and inflicted on them indescribable misfortunes and extermination like no other king before them had ever done.  Reigning with them over Byzantium and its territories was Constantius (12), father of Constantine.  He was a peaceful man, pious, a hater of idols and a lover of the Christians.  Constantius went into Mesopotamia and ar-Ruha (13).  Stopping in a village of the district of ar-Ruha, named Kafr-Fakhkhār, he happened to come across a handsome woman named Helena, who had received baptism at the hands of Barsiqā, bishop of ar-Ruha, and had learned to read the sacred books.  Constantius asked her father for her hand, and he gave her to him as his wife.  The woman became pregnant by him, and Constantius returned to Byzantium.  Helena gave birth to a son, fine-featured, gentle, intelligent, reluctant to do evil, and a lover of wisdom, named Constantine, who was educated in ar-Ruha and learned the wisdom of the Greeks (14).

3. Maximian, called Galerius, was a coarse, violent man, full of hatred against the Christians and their implacable enemy; a womanizer to the point that he wouldn’t allow any Christian girl to flee without arresting, raping and killing her.  And even as he and his men deflowered the Christian virgins, they took possession of the their property and killed them.  The Christians suffered at their hands enormous tribulations.  It happened that one day someone spoke to Maximian of Constantine and described him as a quiet young man, who kept away from evil and was well educated.  His astrologers even told him that he would become king of a great kingdom.  He therefore thought to kill him, but Constantine heard of it and fled from the city of ar-Ruha, taking refuge in Byzantium, where he came to his father, Constantius, who gave him the kingdom.  A little later Constantius, Constantine’s father, died and God caused the king Maximian serious disease to the point that his decomposing flesh fell into pieces and rolled on the ground so that no-one could stand to be nearby: even his enemies had compassion on him because of the misfortune that had struck him. He came to himself and said: “Maybe this is my punishment because I killed the Christians.”  Letters were sent to all his provinces, ordering the release of the Christians, to honour them, not hurt them, and asked them to raise prayers of intercession for the king.  The Christians prayed for the king and interceded for him.  God gave him healing and then he became more vigorous and healthier than he had been at first.  But being healed and recovered, he resolved to be more evil than usual and sent letters in all his provinces giving the order to put to death the Christians, to exterminate them to the last in his kingdom, not to allow them to live in any city and in any village and annihilate them wherever they were.  Countless Christians, men women and children, were killed.  And many were the dead that were loaded onto wagons and thrown in the sea or in the desert.

4. In the city of Cappadocia there were killed Sergius and Bacchus (15), both citizens of that city, and Saint Barbara.  In the second year of the reign of Maximian Brtāliyūs was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for six years and died.  In the third year of his reign Marcellus was made patriarch of Rome (16). He held the seat for two years and died.

6 thoughts on “The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 11 (part 1)

  1. Is it me, or does everybody in the Roman world claim St. Helena is from their neck of the woods?

  2. It’s an interesting mixture of fact and fiction. The stuff about Arius is fairly mainstream, and most of the narrative hangs together reasonably well. He gets the main martyrs, e.g. Peter of Alexandria, right.

    Where he goes wrong, I think he is led astray by others. If, as I believe, al-Ruha is Urhai, i.e. Edessa, we see here yet another blatant forgery committed by the Syrian Christians of Edessa, comparable to their claim that the Edessene monarch Abgar V wrote a letter to Jesus (‘I have a town, not a large one but big enough for the pair of us’) and was rewarded with the mandylion. I have demonstrated elsewhere how the Edessenes invented the evangelists Addai and Mari, the legendary Apostles of the East, and now we see them staking an impudent claim to Constantine, the first Christian emperor! I suppose that, while deploring their morals, one must admire their chutzpah.

  3. Interesting, though, that Saʿîd Eutychios bin Baṭriq has been schnookered by Edessenes. (BTW: al-Ruha / Sanliurfa *is* Edessa; you needn’t worry.)

    Edessa was Mono-/Miaphysite in character, or at the least Monothelete / Maronite. Our man Eutychius was a Melkite. In fact he was SO Melkite that the local Miaphysite Copts draughted epistles against him. Severus, Refutation de Saʿîd ibn Baṭriq, tr. P. Chebli (Paris: 1905).

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