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E00032: Theophylact Simocatta in his History describes how in 594, the general Peter, while campaigning against the Avars on the Danube, participated in the festival of *Lupus (martyr of Novae, S00024) at Novae on the Lower Danube. Written in Greek at Constantinople in the early 7th century.

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posted on 2014-09-08, 00:00 authored by CSLA Admin
Theophylact Simocatta, History 7.2.17-19

(17.) οἱ τοίνυν ἐγχώριοι ἀκηκοότες τὸν στρατηγὸν ἐλευσόμενον τοῦ ἄστεος ἐξεχώρησαν καὶ συνάντησιν αὐτῷ λίαν ἐπίδοξον ἐποιήσαντο καὶ τὸν Πέτρον καθικετεύουσι συνθιασώτην τῆς Λούππου γενέσθαι τοῦ μάρτυρος πανηγύρεως· κατ’ ἐκείνην γὰρ τὴν ἡμέραν ἦν ἡ προεόρτιος ἑορτὴ Λούππου τοῦ μάρτυρος. (18.) ὁ μὲν οὖν στρατηγὸς διημερεῦσαι περὶ τὸν χῶρον διὰ τὴν ἐκ τῆς ἀνάγκης ὁδοιπορίαν μὴ δύνασθαι ἔφασκεν· οἱ δὲ τοῦ ἄστεος παχύναντες τὴν ἀξίωσιν τῇ ὑπεροχῇ τῶν δεήσεων τὸν στρατηγὸν ἐβιάσαντο μέτοχον γενέσθαι τῆς πανηγύρεως. (19.) ὁ μὲν οὖν Πέτρος ἡμέρας δύο ἀνὰ τὸ πόλισμα γεγονὼς ἀπαίρει ἐντεῦθεν [...]

'(17.) Then, when the inhabitants heard of the general's imminent arrival, they came out of the city [Novae], provided him with a most distinguished reception, and begged Peter to join the celebration for the festival of the martyr Lupus. (18.) For that day was the festal-eve for the martyr Lupus. And so the general said that he was unable to spend the day in the place because of the urgency of his march, but the citizens amplified their request with superabundant pleas and compelled the general to take part in the festival. (19.) And so Peter, after being two days in the city, set out from there ...'

Text: de Boor and Wirth 1972. Translation: Whitby and Whitby 1986.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Lupus, martyr at Novae : S00024

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work

Theophylact Simocatta

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Feasting (eating, drinking, dancing, singing, bathing)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Soldiers Other lay individuals/ people Aristocrats


Theophylact Simocatta wrote his History in Constantinople probably in the late 620s. The period covered by his work is the reign of Maurice (582-602), and the main subjects of the historical narrative are the wars of the East Roman Empire with Persia, and with the Avars and the Slavs in the Balkans. Several digressions of hagiographical, chronographical and geographical interest are inserted in the narrative. Using various earlier sources, Simocatta produces a positive account of Maurice, portraying him as a good emperor overthrown by a tyrant (Phocas). In fact, Maurice was very unpopular in his own times, but cleansing his memory was important to legitimise the rule of Heraclius (610-641), who presented his own coup against Phocas as avenging the murder of Maurice. A supporter and successful official of Heraclius’ regime, Simocatta apparently served this particular political agenda. Further reading: Whitby and Whitby 1986, xiii-xxx (introduction); Whitby 1988; Frendo 1988; Olajos 1988.


This passage belongs to Theophylact Simocatta's account of the first campaign of the general Petros (Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire IIIb, 'Petrus 55') against the Avars and the Slavs in 594. It is our only source of information about Lupus and his feast at Novae. It is unknown if this is a local saint or one of the other martyrs known by this name. Nothing is mentioned about the site and practices of his cult, but it seems that this was an important festival involving the entire city to which the visiting general and his troops were invited. The feast was most probably celebrated at one of the local churches. Novae was a city of Moesia Inferior, originating from the legionary base of the Legion I Italica. Lupus may have been a local soldier martyr, by analogy to other soldier saints worshipped at former military bases like *Polyeuctus (S00325) at Melitene or *Sergius (S00023) at Resapha. K. Ilski (2008, 216-220) recently suggested that this may have been a disguised cult of *Ulfila (S###), the apostle of the Goths – the name being translated into Latin (Ulfila = wolf = Lupus). Archaeological excavations at Novae have uncovered a large early 5th century basilica and evidence for veneration of relics, including a chapel with an intact reliquary found in situ.


Edition: de Boor, C., and Wirth, P., Theophylacti Simocattae Historiae (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana; Leipzig: Teubner, 1972). Translation: Whitby, M., and Whitby, M., The History of Theophylact Simocatta: An English Translation with Introduction and Notes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986). Further reading: Frendo, J.D.C., “History and Panegyric in the Age of Heraclius: The Literary Background of the Composition of the Histories of Theophylact Simocatta,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 42 (1988), 143-156. Olajos, T., Les Sources de Théophylacte Simocatta Historien (Leiden: Brill, 1988). Whitby, M., The Emperor Maurice and his Historian: Theophylact Simocatta on Persian and Balkan Warfare (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988). On Novae and Lupus: Biernacki, A.B., “A city of Christians: Novae in the 5th and 6th centuries AD,” Archaeologia Bulgarica 9:1 (2005), 53-74. Ilski, K., “Sources concerning Christianity in Novae,” in: T. Darda, P. Dyczek and J. Kolendo (eds.), Novae I: A Companion to the Study of Novae (Warsaw: Center for Research on the Antiquity of Southeastern Europe, 2008), 213-223.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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