University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E00349: Fragment of a Coptic Martyrdom of *Phileas (bishop of Thmuis, martyr of Alexandria, S00125), probably written in the 6th c.

online resource
posted on 2015-03-23, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Martyrdom of Phileas, bishop of Thmuis

This fragment contains the beginning of the text:

ϩⲣⲁ ϩⲛ ⲧⲙ[ⲉϩϫⲟⲩ] [ⲡⲉ]ϫⲁϥ ⲛⲁϥ ϫⲉ
ⲧⲟⲩⲉ ⲛⲇⲓⲟ[ⲕⲗⲏ] [ⲟⲩⲛ] ϣϭⲟⲙ ϭⲉ ⲙ
ⲧⲓⲁⲛⲉ· ⲙ[ⲁ] [ⲙ]ⲟⲕ ⲉⲣⲥⲁⲃⲉ·
ⲝⲓⲙⲓⲁⲛⲉ· ⲛ[ⲥⲟⲩ] [ⲫⲓ]ⲗⲉⲁ· ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ
ⲙⲏⲧ ⲛⲙϣ[ⲓⲣ ⲉϫⲙ] [ϫ]ⲉ ⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓϣ ⲛⲓⲙ
ⲡⲃⲏⲙⲁ· ⲁⲩⲧⲁ[ϩⲟ] [ⲁ]ⲛⲅ ⲟⲩⲥⲁⲃⲉ ⲁⲩ
ⲉⲣⲁⲧϥ ⲙⲫⲓⲗ[ⲉⲁ] ⲱ ⲉϣⲓⲛⲉ ⲛⲥⲁ
ⲡⲉⲡⲓⲥⲕⲟⲡ[ⲟⲥ] [ⲧ]ⲙⲛⲧⲥⲁⲃⲉ ⲡⲉ
ⲛⲧⲙⲟⲩ· ⲇ[ⲏⲙⲟ] ϫⲉ ⲕⲟⲩⲗϭⲓⲁⲛ
ⲥⲓⲁ· ⲕⲟⲩⲗϭⲓⲁ[ⲛⲟⲥ] ⲛⲟⲥ ⲛⲁϥ ϫⲉ·

In the 21st (year of the reign) of Diocletian and Maximian, on the 10th day of the month Mecheir, Phileas, the bishop of Thmuis, was placed on the platform (bema) in public. Culcianus said to him, "Is it possible for you to act wisely?" Phileas said,"I am a wise person at any time. I am in search of wisdom." Culcianus said to him, …'

Text and translation: Gesa Schenke


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Phileas, bishop of Thmuis (Lower Egypt), martyred in Alexandria, ob. 303/313 : S00125

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment sheet


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Thmuis Alexandria

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

Thmuis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Alexandria Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



The text P. Köln XII 492 is written on two parchment fragments of a bifolio from a miniature codex, and housed at the Cologne Papyrus Collection under the inventory number 20838e. It is written on the hair side and can be dated on the basis of its script to the 6th century.


This short Coptic fragment is important, as it contains the beginning of the trial which is lacking in the two known Greek 4th century witnesses of the Acta Phileae (P.Bodmer XX and P.Chester Beatty XV). Moreover, it is thus far the only Coptic witness to the trial of this well-known Egyptian bishop. It mentions the date of the saint’s martyrdom on 4 February 305 (10th day of Mecheir in the 21st year of Diocletian and Maximian) and shows similarities with the beginning of the much later Latin manuscripts (eight manuscripts dating to the 9th–14th centuries). According to the Greek and Latin manuscripts, the trial takes place in Alexandria and is conducted by the prefect of Egypt Clodius Culcianus (303–306, PLRE I, p. 233-4), who tries to reason with the bishop, discussing the latter's responsibility for others and the nature of religion.


Edition: Schenke, G., "P.Köln 492: Das Martyrium des Phileas von Thmuis," in: Ch. Armoni, M. Gronewald, J. Lundon, K. Maresch, F. Reiter, and G. Schenke (eds.), Kölner Papyri (P.Köln), vol. 12 (Papyrologica Coloniensia VII/12; Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2010), 188–192. Further reading: Baumeister, Th., "Der ägyptische Bischof und Märtyrer Phileas," in: M.-B. von Stritzky and Chr. Uhrig (eds.), Garten des Lebens: Festschrift für Winfrid Cramer (Altenberge: Oros, 1999), 33–41. Bausi, A., "The Coptic Version of the Acta Phileae," Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies Newsletter 8 (July 2014), 11–13. Pietersma. A., The Acts of Phileas Bishop of Thmuis (Including Fragments of the Greek Psalter), P.Chester Beatty XV (With a New Edition of P.Bodmer XX and Halkin’s Latin Acta), edited with Introduction, Translation and Commentary (Cahiers d’orientalisme VII; Geneva: P. Cramer, 1984). Schenke, G., "Ein koptischer Textzeuge der Acta Phileae," in: H. Knuf, Chr. Leitz, and D. von Recklinghausen (eds.), Honi soit qui mal y pense: Studien zum pharaonischen, griechisch-römischen und spätantiken Ägypten zu Ehren von Heinz-Josef Thissen (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 194; Leuven: Peeters, 2010), 609–615.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager