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E00353: The Latin Martyrdom of Carpus, Pamfilus and Agathonice, of the 2nd/3rd c., recounts the interrogation and martyrdom in Pergamon (western Asia Minor) of *Karpos, Papylos, and Agathonike (martyrs of Pergamon, S00051), and gives 13 April as the feast day of the saints. Text in Latin, probably translated from Greek.

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posted on 2015-03-26, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Martyrdom of Carpus, Pamfilus and Agathonice (Latin version)


(§ 1) In the times of the emperor Decius, the bishop of Gordus [=Gordos Iulia?], Carpus, a deacon from Thyatira called Pamfilus, and a God-fearing woman called Agathonice are arrested and brought to the proconsul Optimus.

(§ 2) The proconsul asks them to sacrifice. Carpus refuses to do so, and rebukes the pagan gods as lifeless idols. The proconsul has him tortured.

(§ 3) Next, the proconsul has Pamfilus tortured and interrogated. The martyr confesses being a citizen from Thyatira, and having many spiritual children in every province and city. He refuses to sacrifice, and endures a long torture.

(§ 4) The proconsul orders both of them to be burned alive, and Pamfilus gives thanks to God for choosing him as a martyr. The martyrs are brought quickly to the amphitheatre for execution. Pamfilus is crucified and, before being burnt, he smiles, to the surprise of the spectators. He states that he saw the glory of the Lord and was glad. Addressing the people, he says that Christians are men like everyone else, but endure all tribulations in order to avoid eternal punishment by God, when he will come and destroy everything, judging every living soul. Offering a prayer, he dies.

(§ 5) Carpus is crucified after Pamfilus, and dies after a brief prayer.

(§ 6) The proconsul interrogates Agathonice, who refuses to sacrifice. He calls upon her to have pity on herself and her children, but she insists. He condemns her to suffer the same martyrdom as Carpus and Pamphilus. She is taken to the place of execution and takes off her clothes. The people lament her beauty. She is suspended on the stake and, after a short prayer, she dies.

(§ 7) The martyrs Carpus the bishop, Pamfilus and Agathonice were martyred in the province of Asia, on the Ides of April (13 April), under the emperor Decius and the proconsul Optimus.

Text: Musurillo 1972. Summary: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Karpos, Papylos and Agathonike, martyrs in Pergamon : S00051 Karpos, Papylos and Agathonike, martyrs in Pergamon : S00051 Karpos, Papylos and Agathonike, martyrs in Pergamon : S00051

Saint Name in Source

Carpus Pamfilus Agathonice

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Apparition, vision, dream, revelation


The Latin Martyrdom of Carpus, Pamfilus and Agathonice is known from the 11th century Codex Latinus 4 of the Library of Bergamo. It is most probably the translation of a Greek recension of one of the earliest known Christian martyrdom accounts, which already circulated in Anatolia in the 3rd century, alongside the Martyrdoms of *Polycarp, *Pionios, *Apollonios, and the *Martyrs of Lyon and Vienne. All these texts, including the Martyrdom of Karpos, Papylos and Agathonike were known to Eusebius of Caesarea, who dated the events they describe to the late 2nd century ($E00014).


The text seems to be a more or less faithful translation of a probably late antique Greek source text. The date of the translation itself is unknown. The story has a similar structure, but diverges in several details from the extant Greek version of the martyrdom account (compare E00352). Our text informs us that Carpus/Karpos was a bishop of Gordus (probably Ioulia Gordos/Gordus Iulia in the province of Asia), Pamfilus/Papylos (note the variation in the name) was a deacon from Thyatira (also in Asia), and Agathonice/Agathonike was a timorata dei (a God-fearing woman). It also provides the name of the proconsul Optimus and dates the story to the reign of Decius (none of which can be found in the extant Greek version), but it omits to name Pergamon as the theatre of the story (which is recorded in the Greek version). The text reflects the structure known from the Greek version, but it does not contain the long apologetic speeches of Carpus/Karpos. Instead, here the interrogations of both Carpus and Pamfilus have a more or less similar length and the same succinct dialogical form. The Latin version probably translates from a text closer to the original martyrdom account, with less secondary modifications than the extant Greek version. Another difference is that that the main protagonist in the martyrdom scene is Pamfilus/Papylos rather than Carpus/Karpos. The execution episode is divided into a longer section on the death of Pamfilus/Papylos who has a vision and addresses the crowd (§ 4), whereas the death of Carpus/Karpos is given in short paragraph mentioning his crucifixion and death after a prayer (§ 5). Unlike the Greek version (E00352), the story of Agathonice/Agathonike is integrated into the account smoothly. She is presented as a follower of Carpus/Karpos and Pamfilus/Papylos, arrested with them and interrogated after them (§ 6). The text contains the full dialogue between her and the proconsul, which was probably unavailable to the author of the extant Greek version. According to some scholars, the author of the Latin version of the martyrdom account edited out what was a genuine narrative of voluntary martyrdom (Tite 2015, 36-37). The text ends with a paragraph giving 13 April as the date of the saints’ martyrdom. This paragraph was perhaps a secondary addition to the Greek source-text, following a formula known from other Greek martyrdom accounts (e.g. of *Polycarp E00056, *Pionios E00096, *Apollonios E00226). Both the Martyrdom of Karpos, Papylos and Agathonike, and the Martyrdom of Pionios were known as 2nd century stories to Eusebius of Caesarea, but were later associated with the persecution of Decius. The calendrical paragraphs added to them include the names of the reigning emperor, Decius, and the proconsul of Asia presiding over the saint's trial. The proconsul Optimus named in our text is otherwise unattested.


Text: Musurillo, H., The Acts of the Christian Martyrs (Oxford Early Christian Texts; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), xv-xvii, 22-29 (text, translation, and bibliography). Further reading Tite, P. "Voluntary martyrdom and Gnosticism," Journal of Early Christian Studies 23:1 (2015), 27-54 (with earlier bibliography on voluntary martyrdom).

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