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E00280: Eusebius of Caesarea, in his Ecclesiastical History, recounts the martyrdom of *Marinos (soldier and martyr of Caesarea Maritima, S00157); the Christian senator Astyrios (also S00157), locally known as a miracle worker himself, buried the martyr. Written in Greek in Palestine, 311/325.

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posted on 2015-02-05, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History 7.15-17

Although in that period peace prevailed in the churches, a rich military officer in Caesarea Maritima called Marinos refused to participate in a traditional ceremony and to sacrifice to the emperor. The judge interrogated him and gave him some time to reconsider. The local bishop, Theoteknos, took Marinos to the church and asked him to choose between the gospels and his sword, i.e. between honouring the faith and saving his military career. Marinos chose the gospels. He was taken to the judge, condemned, and martyred.

Ἔνθα καὶ Ἀστύριος ἐπὶ τῇ θεοφιλεῖ παρρησίᾳ μνημονεύεται, ἀνὴρ τῶν ἐπὶ Ῥώμης συγκλητικῶν γενόμενος βασιλεῦσίν τε προσφιλὴς καὶ πᾶσι γνώριμος εὐγενείας τε ἕνεκα καὶ περιουσίας· ὃς παρὼν τελειουμένῳ τῷ μάρτυρι, τὸν ὦμον ὑποθείς, ἐπὶ λαμπρᾶς καὶ πολυτελοῦς ἐσθῆτος ἄρας τὸ σκῆνος ἐπιφέρεται, περιστείλας τε εὖ μάλα πλουσίως, τῇ προσηκούσῃ ταφῇ παραδίδωσιν. τούτου μυρία μὲν καὶ ἄλλα μνημονεύουσιν οἱ τἀνδρὸς καὶ εἰς ἡμᾶς διαμείναντες γνώριμοι, ἀτὰρ καὶ παραδόξου τοιούτου.

'In connection with this affair [the martyrdom of Marinos in Caesarea], there is also Astyrios, remembered for his godly courage. He was one of the senators in Rome, befriended with the emperors and famous to everyone for his noble birth and wealth. Being present at the martyr's death, he took his body on his shoulder, and carried it away on a splendid and costly garment. And he prepared him for the grave sumptuously, and gave him fitting burial. Those acquainted with this man, who remain to our day, relate many other stories concerning him, for he was indeed such an extraordinary figure.'

Eusebius mentions oral traditions about Astyrios successfully exorcising demons at the sources of the Jordan on Mount Paneion near Caesarea Philippi. His intervention ended an ancient pagan rite of throwing a sacrificial beast into the water, which used to disappear immediately, this being regarded as miraculous by the attendants. Astyrios was present when this rite was performed, and he prayed to God for the demonic error to end. Thus, when the victim was thrown into the water, it floated on the surface, instead of vanishing.

Text: Schwartz et al. 1999. Summaries and translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Marinos, soldier martyr in Caesarea Maritima, ob. 262 : S00157

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

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Caesarea Maritima

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

Caesarea Maritima Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Eusebius of Caesarea

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Exorcism

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Aristocrats Soldiers


Eusebius lived in Caesarea Maritima in Palestine between c. AD 260 and 340. He was a pupil and friend of the martyred Christian intellectual Pamphilus. Under Constantine, he emerged as one of the most influential Christian figures of the Roman Empire, and was ordained bishop of Caesarea. Written between 311 and 325, Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History is the first literary work to employ the methodology and objectives of classical historiography – which, since Herodotus and Thucydides, had traditionally focused on military and political events – in a novel field, the history of the Christian community. The first paragraphs of the work outline its chronological framework and thematic range: it is a narrative of events in the life of the Christian community from the times of Christ and the Apostles to the times of Eusebius (c. AD 260-340); it records the leaders of the most important communities (i.e. successions of bishops in Alexandria, Antioch, Rome and Jerusalem); it records the most notable exponents of Christian doctrine and their works, and also the main heresies and their proponents; it finally records persecutions and people that suffered and were martyred during them. The Ecclesiastical History is mostly a synthesis of quotations and summaries from other sources, for which Eusebius often gives concrete references. Thus his work preserves excerpts from early Christian texts which do not survive in their full form. Eusebius’ source material consists mostly of Greek texts, originating from Christian communities in Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. These areas constitute the main geographical range of his narrative, while his information about Christianity in the western provinces of the Roman Empire (except Rome) is very limited. The text survives in several Greek manuscripts, in a Latin translation by Rufinus, and in Syriac and Armenian translations.


The martyrdom of Marinos, a soldier martyred in Eusebius’ hometown of Caesarea, was apparently known to the author from local sources and tradition. The narrative presents typical features of a martyrdom account and may indeed be the summary of a full passio. Nevertheless, the author does not mention such a source and the text, if it existed, has not survived. The story of Marinos ends with the episode of the Christian senator Astyrios taking the body of Marinos himself and offering it a proper burial. Even if this reflects a real event, the narrative is clearly reminiscent of the story of Jesus’ burial by the rich councillor Joseph of Arimathea. This suggests that Eusebius is summarising here a martyrdom account written according to the idea that Christian martyrdoms reflect and reproduce the Passion of Christ, a notion well established in the 3rd century and most clearly echoed in the Martyrdom of Polycarp of Smyrna. From that point, Eusebius goes on to mention the exorcism miracle of Astyrios at the Paneion near Caesarea Philippi, which he ascribes to oral information obtained from people who knew him and were still living in the author’s own times.


Edition: Schwartz, E., Mommsen, T., and Winkelmann, F., Eusebius Werke II: Die Kirchengeschichte. 3 vols. (Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte NF 6/1-3; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1999). Translations: Lake, K., Oulton, J.E.L., and Lawlor, H.J., Eusebius of Caesarea: The Ecclesiastical History. 2 vols. (Loeb Classical Library; London and Cambridge, MA: Heinemann and Harvard University Press, 1926). Williamson, G.A., and Louth, A., Eusebius: The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine (London: Penguin, 1989). Further reading: Chesnut, G. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius. Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986.

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