Severus of Antioch in Egypt
Author(s): E. O’leary De Lacy

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Author(s): E. O’leary De Lacy

Severus of Antioch in Egypt
Author(s): E. O’leary De Lacy
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Severus of Antioch in Egypt
The Council of Chalcedon in 481 left a heritage of strife in the Roman Empire. Strife had followed the earlier counsil of Ephesus, but
that was solved by the migration of malcontents to Persia. It was ot- herwise after Chalcedon. Those who refused its decisions remained and formed a powerful faction. Whilst the West and most of the Greek East accepted its decrees, opposition continued in Syria and Palestine, whilst Egypt was united in rejecting them. The Emperor Zeno tried to reconcile dissidents by a proposed compromise in the Henoticon, but
BM = British Museum.
BN = Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
Borgia =- Borgia Collection in the National Museum, Naples. Catalogued by
Zoega. Cf. The Times for 26. 19. 43 for damage to this Library du- ring German retreat in 1943, and The Daily Telegraph for 7. 12. 43 for the way in which most of its contents were preserved. Cf. also A. van Lantscoot, Cotation du fonds copte de Naples, in Le Museon XLI (1928) 217-224 for corrispondence of Zoega’s numbers with those in the present catalogue at Naples.
CIG = Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum, ed. A. Boeck and others, Berlin, 1828-1877.
CSCO = Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium. HE = Historia Ecclesiastica.
KKS = О. von Lemm, Kleine Koptische Studien, V Académie im Sciences, St-Petersbousg, 1912, LVI-LVII.
MPG = Migne’s Patrologia Graeca.
PM == Coptic manuscripts from the monastery of 5. Michael in the Fayyum
which passed into the hands of the late J. J. Pierpont Morgan in 1918. Reproduced in Codices Copiici photographiée expressi Biblio- thecae Pierpont Morgan, Rome, 1922. Copies in the British Museum and Cambridge University Library.
PO = Patrologia Orientalis.
ROC = Revue de l’Orient Chrétien.
Zoega – G. Zoega, Catalogus codiami Copticorum manuscriptorum qui in Mu seo Bor giano Veletris asservantar, Romae, 1810. Anastatischer Neu- druck, Leipzig, 1903.
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426 DE LACY E. o’lEARY
failed. His successor Anastasius inclined nians, but was himself suspect as of dub a serious rebellion in 514 led by the Th champion of the Chalcedonians. During in great peril, and Anastasius obtained
of what Vitalian demanded.
Anastasius died in July 518 and was succeeded by the Thracian
Justin, who at once reserved Anastasius’ policy. Instead of trying to
conciliate the anti-Chalcedonians, he endeavoured to enforce the Chal-
cedonian decrees and deposed all bishops who refused to accept them,
though shrinking from applying force in Egypt where opposition was
determined and the people disaffected. Amongst the first bishops deposed
were Severus of Antioch and Julian of Halicarnassus, both of whom
took refuge in Egypt. Severus was in great fear of Justin’s severity and
of Vitalian who had made savage threats against him and had a strong
personal animus as god-father of Flavian, the bishop whom Severus
had superseded (1). But Justin mistrusted Vitalian and, after inviting
him to court and flattering him, caused him to be assassinated. Before
that happened Severus, after hiding in Antioch, escaped to Alexandria where he was well received and lived unmolested in the Enaton mona-
stery outside the city with other refugees.
Dioscorus II (515-518) was then Patriarch of Alexandria and Seve-
rus’ friend, but he died on October 24th. Justin did not appoiut a suc- cessor and after some delay the Alexandrians elected another friend of Severus, Timothy HI, who had been Dioscorus’ secretary.
Then a controversy broke out between Severus and Julian. A cer- tain monk asked Severus whether Christ’s human body, as it was before the resurrection, could rightly be termed corruptible or not. That body never suffered corruption and after the resurrection was glorified, but before then it was a human body, as such was it liable to human fra- ilties, including liability to corruption ? Severus replied that it might be termed corruptible, as some of the Church Fathers had so termed
it. One of those present reported this answer to Julian of Halicarnassus, and he protested that the Fathers had not so termed it. He then com- posed a work which he called the Tomarion, in which he maintained
that the body of Christ, though human, was exempt from human needs
such as hunger, thirst, fatigue and liability to corruption, a kind of
phantasma, human in appearance, but really super-human. This work
divided the anti-Chalcedonians into two factions, one for Severus. the
other for Julian.
(1) Pseudos-Zacharias Rhetor (circ. A. D. 569) in PÖ. II. iii. p. 208; Eyagrius, HE. IV. 4.
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Justin died in 527 and his nephew Justinian succeed continue Justin’s uncompromising policy, but was rea with the moderate anti-Chalcedonians such as Severus (1), whilst his
wife Theodora openly supported Severus. Friendly letters were exchang- ed between Severus, Justinian and Theodora, and the exiled patriarch was invited to a conference in the capital (2). In fact he did go there and took part in it, staying in Theodora’s palace with a safe-conduct from the Emperor (3). In the early part of Justinian’s reign he was not molested by the imperial government, which treated him as a possible mediator, but suffered bitter opposition from the Julianists.
An instance of this hostility appears in the account given in the History of the Patriarchs of events in Scetis. When the Tomar ion reached Scetis most of the monks accepted Julian’s views, but seven adhered to Severus. The Julianists attacked those seven, two of whom were killed, the rest scattered « and began to celebrate the liturgy in their cells in the monastery of S. Macarius and in the other monasteries. And this was the cause of their separation and of the prevalence of error in the four monasteries and in the hermitages » (4). That was towards the end of the patriarchate of Timothy III, so probably shortly after 535 (5).
H. G. E. White cites the Coptic document describing the Trans- lation of the Forty-nine Martyrs, which shows that it was the follow- ers of Severus in Scetis who provoked the riot, but agrees with the History that it was they who were worsted and so were excluded from the church and had to celebrate services in their cells (6). This Coptic document is the older evidence, but it applies the name of « Gaianites » to the Julianists, a name not used until after the death of Timothy III.
The Synaxiarium states that when Severus « went to Egypt he wandered about from place and from monastery to monastery, hiding himself » (7), so Michael Syrus, « the holy Severus passed from desert to desert, so as not to be recognised by persecutors, he lived quietly,
(1) The Patriarch Timothy II supported Severus. History of the Patriarchs, ed. Evetts, p. 191.
(2) Evagrius, HE. IV. xvi.
(3) Pseudo-Zacharias Rhetor VII. xv in PO. II. iii. p. 260 and IX. xvi. in
PO. II. iii. p. 292, Athanasius of Antioch, Conflict of Severus, ed. E. J. Good- speed, PO. IV. vi. p. 622.
(4) History of the Patriarchs, ed. Evetts, p. 189 sq.
(5) H. G. E. White, The Monasteries of the Wadi ‘n-Natrun, 11 (1932) pp. 229 sq.
(6) Notices et extraits, XXXIX. pp. 353 sq. cited by H. G. E. White, op. cit. pp. 229 sq.
(7) Synaxarium, ed. Basset, PO. I. 313.
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wearing poor clothes, with hat and sandal and went to the town of Sakha (2), « w head-man » (3). That devout person was Egypt as a fugitive from persecution in
the ferocity of Vitalian, but was allowed to live undisturbed in the Enaton monastery. Then opposition arose, not from the government, but from the Julianists, and he went in disguise to organise and en- courage those who refuse^ Julian’s heresy.
The History of the Patriarchs makes several errors in its account
of Severus’ life. It states that « Anastasius the believing prince died ; and they raised up an evil man after him, a heretic whose name was Justinian, that he might govern the Empire », and describes Justinian as the persecutor who « seized Severus » (4). Justinian here is an error for Justin. Then « after two years, at the request of the believing prin- cess Theodora, the prince left Severus alone and gave him up to her, and so she sent him back to his see » (5). Severus never was restored
to his see. Further « it was made known to the faithful princess Theo- dora that the blessed Theodosius had been banished out of the city of Alexandria, whence she herself had originally come » (6). Theodora was not of Alexandrian origin. The Synaxariam, commemorating the arrival of Severus in Egypt on 2 Babeh (29 September 518), says that this hap- pened in the days of Anastasius « who was hostile to the saint, but the Empress was orthodox and loved him » (7). Anastasius was the friend and patron of Severus, and Theodora was not his wife. The History,
in its account of Theodosius described Qaianus as stirring up trouble
by bribing the governor and commander of the forces to expel Theo- dosius (8). Those officers protected Theodosius and expelled Gaianus. A later entry corrects this statement (9).
Both the History of the Patriarchs and the Synaxariam were late compositions when the events of Severus’ life were in the remote past and the Copts were obsessed by the persecution of the reign of Hera- clius, when the State Church and the imperial government were per-
il) Michael Syrus, IX. ch. xxvi, in PO. H. iii. p. 307.
(2) It was at Xois-Sakha that Severus died. John of Asia (circ. A. L). bob) eh. xlviii, in PO. II. iii. p. 298.
(3) Synaxarium, ed. Basset, 2nd Babeh, PO. I. iii. p. 314. (4) History of the Patriarchs, ed. Evetts, p. 187.
(5) ibid. 189.
(6) ibid. 194.
(7) bynaxanum, ed. Basset, PO. I. in. p. 313.
(8) History of the Patriarchs, ed. Evetts, p. 193. (9) ibid. p. 194.
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secutors and the Gaianites, Severus’ real enemies, had The disorganization of the Gaianites or Acephali dat of Damián (569-605) when their community in the four priests. They chose the oldest of these, Barsen others consecrated him bishop, invalidly. Their bre were indignant, disowned them, and consecrated an
The History states that the governor and a friend Theodosius and put him on board a boat secretly on the river and
conveyed him to a town called Malig within the province of Egypt and
there he remained two years » (2). At the death of Theodosius in 567
the governor of Alexandria « an excellent and philosophic man » who was in sympathy with the followers of Severus, advised them to « go out to the monastery of Az-Zajjaj (Enaton) as if you intended to pray there and appoint yourselves whom you shall elect as patriarch ». So
they went out and elected Peter IV (3). In all this it is obvious that the civil authorities acted in sympathy whit Severus’ followers and con- nived at their freedom, provided their patriarch did not visit the city openly.
Justinian treated Severus as a moderate man who might come to
terms and kept that hope until the uncompromising synod of 536 showed
it to be futile. Then Severus went back to Egypt and was alone, wit-
hout even a secretary, as he complained in his letter to John of Bar
Aphthonia (4). It was not the government but the Julianists who perse-
cuted him and his adherents, and it was those Julianists of whom the
State most disapproved. Peter IV Theodosius’ successor, lived unmolested
in Enaton, but « could not reveal that he was patriarch and was not
able to enter the city openly » (5). Similar conditions prevailed in Antioch where the Patriarch Theophanes was forbidden to enter his episcopal city because he refused to accept the decisions of Chalcedon (6). Later, when Justinian restricted the churches of Alexandria to the Chalcedo-
nian clergy, he permitted the followers of Severus to use two new churches which that built, the Angelion at the Hundred and Five Steps, and the church of SS. Cosmas and Damián east of the amphitheatre (7).
When the conflict took place in Scetis Severus was hiding « in the
(1) ¿bid. p. 210.
(2) ibid. p. 194.
(3) ¿bid. pp. 205-208.
(4) John of Beth-Aphthonia, Life of Severus, ed. M. A. Kugener, in PO.
II. iii. p. 257.
(5) History of the Patriarchs, ed. Evetts, p 207. (6) ibid. p. 208.
(7) ¿bid. p. 200.
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house of a man named Dorotheus, who to aged monks who had rejected the error o the said man was allowed to visit the gov and begged him to take pity on the aged in the desert by granting them the favou
churches and towers instead of those which had been taken from them
by Julian and his companions, so that they might give rest to the monks. Accordingly the governor gave orders to Dorotheus to do as he wished » (1). The towers were the strongholds to which the monks retired when threatened by Berber tribesmen.
The result was that the churches and monasteries in Scetis were
duplicated. The « Church of the South », duplicate of that of S. Maca-
rius, was built with the help of Aristomachus and consecrated by Theo-
dosius, and to it were transferred the relics of the Forty-nine Martyrs
Each of the other three monasteries also had a duplicate. The older
churches and monasteries were retained by the Julianists until those
sectaries disappeared, and the new ones were used by Severus’ followers.
That this duplication was encouraged by the civil governor and that
the two factions were able to live side by side, each excommunicating
but tolerating the other, shows marked forbearance on the part of the secular authorities.
The Persian invasion and conquest of 616-627 brought disaster to Alexandria and the Coptic Church. The monasteries at Enaton where the monks were « independent and insolent without fear through their great wealth and did deeds of mockery » (2) were destroyed and their inmates slain, save a few who hid themselves and the monasteries
« have remained in ruins to this day. » (3) There was a wholesale
slaughter of adult males in Alexandria, and at Nikiu in Upper Egypt
some 700 monks living in a fortified place were slain by the Persians
who heard « that their deeds were reprehensible because of their great
wealth » (4). In 623 the Copts elected as patriarch Benjamin I who had
taken refuge in the monastery at Canopus, which escaped destruction.
Then in 627 the Emperor Heraclius recovered Egypt and appointed Cyrus
as (Melkite) patriarch and governor. Heraclius determined to enforce ecclesiastical uniformity and compel all Egyptians to accept the decrees
of Chalcedon (5). Benjamin fled to Upper Egypt and hid in a small monastery in the desert for ten years, then moved from place to place,
(1) ibid. p. 194.
(2) ibid. p. 221.
(j) loia. p. i’¿’.
(4) ibid. p. 222.
(5) ibid. pp. 22Ö, 2’2У.
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hiding in fortified churches, and finally took refu of Metras, where all the monks were native Egypt defied the imperial government. (1) During the yea carried on a relentless persecution against those ous and they therefore welcomed the Muslim Arabs as persecution left a deep impression on the Copts, ca the Melkite (Greek) Church as their oppressor and
to the State all the hardships suffered by Severus and his followers. Severus Ibn al-Moqaffae (Eutychius) bishop of Al-Ashmunayn, who compiled the History of the Patriarchs, lived in the days of the Fatimid Khalifa Al-cAziz (975-996), when the traditions of the past were confused and few were left who could read Coptic or Greek. His history of the Byzantine period often is inaccurate, but he is reliable for the later period of Arab rule. After the first few years of Justin’s reign the emperors did not molest the anti-Chalcedonians, beyond forbidding the open presence of their patriarch in Alexandria, and that continued until 627. Any active persecution of Severus and his adherents until then was due to the Gaianites, and they had completely disappeared before the Persian invasion.
Tradition associates Severus during his exile in Egypt with the city
of Siout (Lycopolis) and the neighbouring monastery on mount Erebe (2),
on the south side of the city, a mount now known as Er-Rifeh. That monastery of Abu Sawiros (Severus) was well known in the Middle
Ages. Maqrizi says that Severus was one of the great monks and a patriarch, and that he foretold that at the moment of his death a great mass of rock would fall upon the monastic church, and that actually happened, adding that he made this prediction «when he was setting out for the Saeid » (3). The monastery is mentioned in the dedication of the Cheltenham Papyrus Codex of A. M. 719 (A. D. 1003) edited by W. E.
Crum (4), which state that « the priest and perfect monk my father Gre- gory provided it (the codex) at his own expense for the church and monastery of the Patriarch Severus which are on the hills of Erebe on
the south side of the city of Siout». It was not only a monastery dedicated to Severus of Antioch, but one which he had visited and with whose monks he had conversed in the course of his missionary excursions in Egypt, which led him to the Sacid.
At Siout Severus discovered what were believed to be the remains
of S. Claudius, a martyr who had suffered during the persecution un
(1) ibid. p. 233.
(2) ернЯе, E p r’ ß r’ in Theophilus of Alexandria, Canon 2. MGP. 65. (3) Maqrizi, Monasteries, no. 50. Cf. PO. 800: IV. 714.
(4) w. E. Crum, Der Papyruscodex saec. VI- VII der Philippsbibliothek in
Cheltenham, Strassburg, К. Trübner, 1915, pp. 47, 105.
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Diocletian. A homily by Constantine bis to this and celebrating the consecration of
in the course of that homily the author relates that S. Claudius
received a prophecy from S. Psate the bishop of Psoi, (3) who appeared to him in a dream and said ; « I am Psate the bishop of the city of Psoi. I am come to summon thee and thy dear Victor to the land of Egypt. They will kill me there in the city of Tkoou (4), but they will exile thee and kill thee in the city of Siout. And they will exile Victor to the same city, but they will kill him in a castle in the nome of Antinoou. Victor will be killed in the eastern mountain, but thou, Claudius, wilt be killed in the western mountain, and thy body will remain concealed for a long time. A great bishop, a faithful pastor, will go there and he will discover thy body and build a church in thy name. As for Victor, they will build
(1) Constantine bishop of Siout is mentioned in the Synaxarium at the commemoration of S. Elias bishop of El-Moharraq on 20 Kihak (18 December). He was a pupil of the patriarch John II (505-518). He was the author of an encomium on S. John of Eraclea (BM. Orient. 5648. 38), two discourses in S. Athanasius (PM. xlvii. 6, 7) and perhaps of a (lost) encomium on S. Shenoute. (cfr. H. E. Winlock and W. E. Crum, The Monastery of S. Epiphanius, Metro- politan Museum, New York, I. 1926, p. 204).
(2) The discourse of Constantine bishop of Siout at the consecration of
the Martyrium of S. Claudius is given in PM. xlvii. n. 3. Fragments are col- lected in O. von Lemm, Kleine Koptische Studien, Ivi-lviii, L’Académie impériale
des Sciences, St.-Pétersbourg, 19)2, pp. 15-75. There are also Arabie versions
in Paris, BN. arabe 4895, fol. 41-114, « Histoire d’Anba Constantin évêque de
Siout » ; arabe 4776, fol. 101 sqq. « Homélie de Constantin évêque de Siout sur
le martyre du saint Claude, fils du roi Ptolémée », cfr. ROC. 2 ser. iv (xiv)
pp. 182 sq.; arabe 4793 ff. 18 sqq. «Panégyrique de Claudius Г émir martyre,
par Constantin évêque de Siout», cf. ROC. 2. iv (xiv) p. 187. E. Amélineau
has made a translation of the first of these in his Contes et Romans de l1 Egypte chrétienne y 2 vols. Paris, E. Leroux, 1888, vol. IL pp. 1-54. An Ethiopie version translated from the Arabie is published in CSCO. Scriptores Aethiopici, ser. ii. xvii (37) texte et (38) versions, by F. M. E. Pereira, Rome, E. d. Luigi, Paris,
C. Poussielgue, 1907. This text is from Cod. Abbadianus 179, perhaps of the xvii cent., and BM. Orient 686, perhaps of the xviii cent.
(3) Psoi, Ptolemais, of which Strabo says, « then the Ptolemais city, the largest in the Thebaid and not smaller than Memphis, having a political system in Greek fashion » (Strabo, Geogr., xvii, 1, 42). In one place the Ethiopie version calls Psate the bishop of Antinoou (Ethiopie text in CSCO. p. 161) but later refers to him as bishop of Psoi (ib. p. 184). The Arabic, from which the Ethiopie is translated, in each case calls him « bishop of Psoi ». (Amélineau, Contes et Romany IL p. 14, 21).
(4) Txwov Arabic and Ethiopie Qaou, the Roman city of ‘AvtouotcoXu as appears from comparison with Zoega xcix, ccxxxix and ccxliv. It was founded by Hadrian in memory of his favourite Antinous and stood on the east bank of the Nile, nearly opposite Rôda, close to the present village of Sheikh cAbâ- deh. It is mentioned in the Synaxarium in the commemoration of S. Macarius of Tkoou on 27 Babeh and of Herminah of Qaou on 2 Kihak.
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innumerable churches for him » (1). Later in this disc bishop » and « faithful pastor » is shown to be Severus, most prominent dignitary of the Monophysites in Eg
of Alexandria being quite content to remain in the back-ground (2).
The Arabic version of the homily says that: « During the government
of the upright pastor, the clarion of orthodoxy, the great Severus, God (exalted be He), saw fit to disclose the body qf Claudius. Severus caused
a church to be built in honour of the saint, attaching to it a priest
(who was) very charitable, especially towards strangers, one whose table was always ready for them » (3). This last detail shows that the topos was not only a shrine and church, but also had a hospice for pilgrims.
Constanti nes’s discourse at Siout celebrated the discovery of some human remains which were identified as those of S. Claudius. The cult
of martyrs was fully developed in the Egyptian Church and shrines of martyrs were widely distributed. Villages eagerly competed for the possession of such sepulchres, martyria were erected at the sacred sites and became places of pilgrimage. S. Shenoute (d. cire. 468) considered that there was too great a readiness to assume that human remains
discovered in places where they had not been known to exist were necessarily relics of martyrs concealed in the days of persecution. He says : « there are some who say, Martyrs have appeared to us and have told us that their bones are deposited in a certain place, those I have discouraged and have pointed out their error. Some, when houses are pulled down or their stones removed and there appear what seem to
be subterranean vaults and some sarcophagi, declare that these must be (remains) of martyrs. Have they buried in sarcophagi none save those who were martyrs ? is there not a great similarity in those who were thus buried? » (4).
From this it appears that (i) remains thus found were identified as those of specified saints on the ground of visions or dreams of certain persons, presumably those esteemed for their known sanctity or for their distinguished position in the hierarchy of the Church, (ii) Human re- mains discovered in vaults and in sarcophagi were assumed to be relics of martyrs concealed in the days of persecution, though many other persons were thus buried, and there is nothing to differentiate the bones of a martyr from those of ordinary people.
The possession of a topos or martyrium, usually with a church and monastery attached, often with a hospice for pilgrims as well, was an
(1) Borgia cxlv. 19r-29, Zoega cxlvi. 239. Lemm, KKS. p. 23. (2) AméliNeau, Contes et Romans, IL p. 46.
(3) ibid. p. 44.
(4) Borgia clxxxiix, 423-4. Zoega p. 428.
Aegyptus – 28
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434 DE LACY E. o’lEARY
asset to an Egyptian village. It is comm the martyr to receive before death a d fying the exact place where the topos s
which will be attached to the place. A special reward is promised to those who make ready the martyr’s burial (1), and those who write the record of his sufferings and death (2). Invariably a promise is given that their sick brought there shall be healed, sometimes specifying that women visiting the shrine shall be protected in child-bearing and bear children alive (3). Those who serve the topos and those who make gifts for its upkeep shall be richly rewarded (4). Sometimes it is added that those who swear falsely by it shall be punished (5). It is not uncommon for the saint to pray before his martyrdom for such favours to be granted, and for his prayer to be answered by a voice from heaven (6). The record of a martyr’s passion commonly concludes with a precise statement of the day, or days, on which he is to be commemorated with special solemnity (7).
There was, and is, no special process of canonization in the Egyp- tian Church. The proof of saintship lay in the working of miracles at the sainťs tomb, and consequently a record of those miracles often forms an important supplement to the record of his passion.
In spite of the sacred character of the topos and the solemnity of the annual festival, S. Shenoute found it necessary to protest against the frequent profanation of the place and occasion by the disorderly conduct of those who resorted to the sanctuary and observed the festival. « To go to the places of the martyrs in order to pray, read, recite psalms, to sanctify oneself, and to receive the Eucharist is good, but to sing there, to eat, drink, play, still more to fornicate, to commit homicide by intoxication, indulgence and strife is iniquity. There are some who recite psalms, read and celebrate the mysteries within, whilst others outside make the whole neighbourhood resound with the noise
of horns and flutes. The sanctuary of the martyrs is the house of Christ, it is his voice which says concerning it, My house is called the house
of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves. You have made it a market of vanities, of rings and such like articles, you have made it a
(1) Balestri-Hyvernat, Acta Martyrům, in CSCO. ser. 3, tom. I, Acts of Apa Lacaron pp. 20-21 ; Apa Apoli p. 236.
(2) ibid. Apa Apoli p. 236 ; Theodore p. 61 ; Apa A nub p. 236.
(3) ibid. Lacaron pp. 20-21 ; Serapion 85-87; Apa Epime p. 153; Apa Apoli p. 236 ; Apa A nub p. 285.
(4) ibid. Apa Apoli p. 236; Apa Anub p. 87. (5) ibid. Ava Apoli p. 236.
(6) ibid. Apa Lacaron pp. 21-22.
(7) ibid. Apa barapion p. 87; 1 heodore p. öl.
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place where you bargain about your calves, where y are stabled, where you take things for sale. There o for sale can scarcely escape uninjured from the men
him and fight. What they would do in the markets with those who come to sell their goods, they do with those who sell in the topos of the martyrs. О great folly. If you come to the topos of martyrs to eat, drink, sell, buy and do whatever else you please, for what use are your houses, the places where it is usual to sell and buy ? О folly of mind.
If your daughters and mothers seek unguents for the head and kohl
for their eyes, adorning themselves to deceive those who look at them, and if your son and brother and friend and neighbour do thus when they go to the topos of the martyrs, then for what are your houses ? There are many who go there in order to pollute the temple of God, and make the members of Christ the members of a harlot, when they ought to sanctify them and keep them from all iniquity, whether they are men or women, especially those who protest that they have not married a wife, or are not married to a husband. Do not permit the topos of the martyrs to afford occasion for corrupting your flesh in the adjacent sepulchres or other neighbouring places, or in their reces- ses.*It suffices that they who by reason of sickness sleep in the ceme- teries get what they need for food » (1). This last passage refers to the practice of incubation, which was observed in the Christian topos
as in the older pagan temples.
This suggests the question, Did the Christian topos usually replace
a pagan sanctuary ? In some cases undoubtedly it did, but it is rash to assume that this always was the case. It was so with the topos of SS. Cyrus an John between Canopus and Heraclea. There, in the village of Menouthis, about fourteen (Roman) miles from Alexandria had been a a temple of Isis Medica or Isis of Menouthis (2) where the sick were brought for incubation. In the V century that temple was abandoned and no trace of it remained, but a church was built in its place. The worship of Isis, however, continued in secret, there was an oneirokrites or official interpreter of dreams, a priest and a priestess, as well as many idols removed from the temple of Isis at Memphis by a foreseeing priest on the eve of the prohibition of pagan worship (3). Those idols were concealed, but discovered and destroyed during the pontificate of Peter Mongus (4). Nevertheless the sick continued to be taken there until early in the seventh century when the Patriarch Cyril of Alexan-
(1) Borgia clxxxix. 205-210. Zoega pp. 421-2. (2) Isis of Menouthis in CIG. III. 4683. b.
(3) Zacharias Scholasticus 17, in PO. II. 19. (4) ibid, in PO. II. 27-29.
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dria tried to counteract this illegal pagan worship by removing the relics of the martyrs SS. Cyrus and John from the church of S. Mark in Alexandria to Menouthis in order that « those who had formerly erred in coming there might now come to a true and undefiled healing » and so « tread down Satan and expel evil demons » (1). The name of the martyr Cyrus has been preserved in the place-name Abu Kir on the shore north-east of Alexandria.
At Canopus there had been a sanctuary of the Ptolemaic deity Se- rapls. That was destroyed and replaced by a monastery. The monks there are described as Tabennesiotai (2), either because they were from Tabennesi near Pbow (now Faw) in Upper Egypt, west of Kenea, or
because they belonged to the monastic order founded by S. Pakhom
at Tabennesi, an order whose abbots met annually in the parent mo- nastery at Tabennesi and whose spread to Lower Egypt helps to explain
the literary use of Sa’idic in the Delta.
Such conversion of a pagan sanctuary to a Christian topos, and
later into the shrine of a sainted Muslim sheikh has apparently taken place in various places in Egypt, as Hasluck shows has often been the case in Anatolia. It has a parallel in the island in the Tiber where the temple of Aesculapius has been replaced by the church of S. Bartholo- mew where the shrine of the martyred Apostle is frequented by the sick as the pagan temple which it replaces. With this may be compar- ed the instructions given by S. Gregory to S. Augustine of Canterbury on his way to preach to the Anglo-Saxons, directing him to make chur- ches out of the existing pagan temples or to build churches in the same place where temples had been.
Weston-super-Mare (England).
De Lacy E. O’Leary
(1) Cyril of Alexandria in MPG. 77. 1105, 1103. Cfr. Sophonius of Jerusa who speaks of a horrible demon by name Menouthis in the form of a fem dwelling in a village of the same name (MPG. 87. 3409. В and 3413. A relics of SS. Cyrus and John were translated from the oratory of S. Mar Alexandria to the temple of Canopus … in that place beside the sands the demon had appeared in the form of a woman, gave oracles which had no tr prescribed medical treatment which had no use, and the people made gift the altar erected in its name. The Egyptians called it Menouthis (ibid. B-C) Cf. the Synaxarium for 4 Abib when the translation of the relic commemorated. P. Sinthern, in Romanisch. Quartalschr. xxii. 196 shows t Sophronius based his account on a homily by Epiphanius.
(2) Zacharias Scholasticus in PO. IL p. 27.
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