File(s) not publicly available

E00661: Coptic fragmentary papyrus sheet with a short account of the trial, followed by martyrdom in 305, of an otherwise unattested martyr, the priest *Stephanos of Lenaios (Middle Egypt; S00409), datable by its script and layout to the 4th c.

online resource
posted on 2015-08-19, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
P.Duk. inv. 438

[ϩⲛ ⲧⲙⲉϩⲙⲛⲧⲁϥⲧⲉ ⲛⲣⲟ]ⲙⲡⲉ ϩⲛ ⲧⲙⲛⲧⲉⲣⲟ ⲛⲟⲩⲁⲗⲉⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲕⲱⲥⲧⲁⲛ-
[ⲇⲓⲟⲥ ⲡⲉⲣⲣⲟ ⲁⲩⲱ ϩⲛ] ⲧⲙⲉϩⲣⲙⲡⲉ ⲥⲛⲧⲉ ⲛⲛⲉⲛϫⲓⲥⲟⲩⲉ ⲟⲩⲁ-
[ⲗⲉⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲥⲉⲩⲏⲣⲟⲥ] ⲙ̣ⲛ ⲙⲁⲝⲓ<ⲙⲓ>ⲁⲛⲟⲥ ⲛⲉⲛⲣⲱⲟⲩ : ⲉⲣⲉ ⲁⲣⲓⲁ-
[ⲛⲟⲥ ⲟ ⲛϩⲏⲅⲉⲙⲱⲛ ⲉⲑ]ⲩ̣ⲃⲁⲉⲓⲥ ⲁϥϩⲙⲟⲥ ⲉⲡⲃⲏⲙⲁ ϩⲛ ⲕⲗⲉⲟⲡⲁ-
5 [ⲧⲣⲓⲥ ⲛⲥⲟⲩ ] ⲛⲕⲓⲁϩⲕ : ⲛⲧⲉⲣⲟⲩⲛ ⲥⲧⲉⲫⲁⲛ̣ⲟ̣ⲥ̣ ⲉⲧⲙⲏ-
[ⲧⲉ ] ⲡⲉϫⲉ ϩⲓⲉⲣⲁⲝ ⲡⲕⲟⲙⲧⲁⲛⲏⲥⲓⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲥⲧⲉ-
[ⲫⲁⲛⲟⲥ ⲡⲉ ⲡⲉⲡⲣⲉ]ⲥⲃⲩⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ ⲛⲗⲏⲛⲁⲉⲓⲥ ⲡⲧⲟϣ ⲛⲁⲛⲇⲓ-
[ⲛⲟⲟⲩ ⲁⲩⲕⲉⲗⲉⲩⲉ ⲇⲉ] ⲉⲛⲟϫϥ ⲉⲡⲉϣⲧⲉⲕⲟ ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲱⲥ ⲉⲧⲁϩⲟϥ ⲉ-
[ⲣⲁⲧϥ ⲉⲡⲃⲏⲙⲁ ⲇⲏⲙⲟ]ⲥⲓⲁ : ⲁⲣⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ ⲫⲏⲅⲉⲙⲱⲛ ⲛⲧ̣ⲉⲑⲩ̣ⲃⲁⲉⲓⲥ
10 [ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ ϫⲉ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲣⲛⲧⲕ] ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ ϫⲉ [ⲥⲧⲉⲫⲁⲛⲟ]ⲥ ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ ⲛⲁϥ ϫⲉ
[ⲛⲧⲕ ⲟⲩⲣⲙⲛⲧⲱⲛ ⲡⲉ]ϫⲁϥ ϫⲉ ⲁⲛ̣[ⲅ ⲟⲩⲣⲙⲗ]ⲏⲛⲁⲉⲓⲥ ⲛⲧⲙ̣ⲟⲩ
[ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ ϫⲉ ⲛⲧⲕ ⲟⲩⲣⲙ]ⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲁϥ̣[ⲟⲩⲱϣⲃ ϫⲉ ⲁ]ⲛ̣ⲅ ⲟⲩⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲩⲧⲉ-
[ⲣⲟⲥ ⲡⲉϫⲉ ⲁⲣⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ] ⲫⲏⲅⲉⲙⲱ[ⲛ ϫⲉ ⲡⲁⲟⲩⲱϣ]ⲉ̣ ⲡⲉ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲕⲱⲛⲛϩ
[ⲁⲙⲟⲩ ⲛⲅⲣⲑⲩⲥⲓⲁ ⲡⲉϫⲉ] ⲥⲧⲉⲫⲁⲛ[ⲟⲥ ⲛⲁϥ ϫⲉ] ⲁⲕⲅ ⲟⲩⲭⲣⲏⲥⲇⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ
15 [ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ ⲛⲁϥ ϫⲉ ⲁⲣⲓⲑ]ⲩⲥⲓⲁ ⲛ<ⲛ>ⲛⲟⲩⲧ[ⲉ ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ ϫ]ⲉ ⲛⲧⲓⲛⲁ<ⲣ>ⲑⲩⲥⲓ<ⲁ> ⲁⲛ : ⲡⲉϫⲉ
[ⲁⲣⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉ]ⲕⲙⲉⲉⲟⲩⲉ [ⲙⲡⲣⲙⲟⲩⲛⲕ ⲧⲓⲛⲁ]ⲧ̣ⲓ ⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓϣ ⲛⲁⲕ ⲛⲥⲁ ⲟⲩ-
[ ]ⲛ̣ ⲁϩⲉ· ⲡⲉⲉⲓ[ϩⲱⲃ ⲉⲧⲉⲕ]ⲙⲉⲉⲟⲩⲉ <ⲉ>ⲣⲟϥ ϣⲟⲩⲉⲓⲧ
[ⲁⲣⲓⲥⲁⲃⲉ ⲛⲅⲣⲑⲩⲥⲓⲁ] ⲛ<ⲛ>ⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲏ ⲙ[ⲟⲩⲛ]ⲕ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉⲕⲙⲉⲉⲟⲩⲉ ⲛϩⲏⲧ-
[ⲕ ⲧⲉⲛⲟⲩ ⲉⲕϫⲱ ⲙⲙ]ⲟ̣ⲥ ϫⲉ ⲟⲩ ⲕⲛ̣[ⲁⲣⲑⲩⲥⲓⲁ ⲥ]ⲉ ϫⲛ ⲙⲙⲟⲛ ⲡⲉϫⲉ
20 [ⲥⲧⲉⲫⲁⲛⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲟⲩ]ⲭⲣⲏ<ⲥ>ⲇⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ [ⲛϥⲛⲁⲣⲑⲩⲥ]ⲓⲁ ⲁⲛ : ⲡⲉϫⲉ ⲁ̣ⲣ̣ⲓ̣ⲁ̣-
[ⲛⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲁⲣⲓⲑⲩⲥⲓⲁ] ⲛ<ⲛ>ⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲡⲉϫ[ⲁϥ ϫⲉ ⲙ]ⲙ̣ⲟⲛ ⲡⲉϫⲉ ⲫⲏ[ⲅⲉ]-
[ⲙⲱⲛ ϫⲉ ⲕⲟⲩⲱϣ ⲉⲧ]ⲣ̣ⲁⲕⲁⲁⲕ ⲛϩⲉ[ⲛⲕⲉϩⲟ]ⲩⲉⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲕ[ϣⲁϫ]-
[ⲛⲉ ⲉⲣⲟⲕ ⲡⲉϫⲉ ⲥ]ⲧⲉⲫⲁⲛⲟⲥ ϫⲉ [ⲙⲙⲟⲛ ⲁⲩⲱ] ⲡⲉϫⲉ ⲁⲣⲓⲁ[ⲛⲟⲥ]
[ⲫⲏⲅⲉⲙⲱⲛ ⲛⲧⲉⲑ]ⲩⲃⲁⲉⲓⲥ ϫⲉ [ ]ⲓⲧⲟ .ⲩ̣ⲛ· ⲡⲉϫ[ⲉ ⲥⲧⲉⲫⲁ]-
25 [ⲛⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲛⲧⲓⲛⲁⲣⲑ]ⲩⲍⲓⲁ ⲁⲛ : ⲁⲣ̣[ⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ ⲫ]ⲏⲅⲉⲙⲱⲛ ⲛ[ⲧⲉⲑⲩⲃⲁⲉⲓⲥ]
[ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ ϫⲉ ⲥⲧⲉⲫⲁ]ⲛⲟⲥ ⲉⲝⲓⲥⲧ[ⲓ ⲛⲁⲉⲓ ⲉ]ⲧ̣ⲣⲁⲕⲁⲁⲕ ⲉⲕ̣[ⲱⲛϩ ]
[ ]ⲡⲉ ϩⲱⲕ ⲉⲑ̣[ ] . ⲡⲉϫⲉ ⲥⲧⲉ[ⲫⲁⲛⲟⲥ]
[ϫⲉ ⲁⲛⲅ ⲟⲩⲭⲣⲏⲥ]ⲇⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ· ⲡⲉ[ϫⲉ ⲫⲏ]ⲅⲉⲙⲱⲛ ⲛⲁϥ ϫ̣[ⲉ ]
[ ⲛ]ⲧⲁⲉⲓⲡⲣⲟⲧⲣ̣[ⲉⲡⲉ ⲙ]ⲙ[ⲟ]ⲕ ⲁⲗⲗⲁ[ ]
30 [ ]ⲧⲁⲣⲉⲕⲱⲛϩ [ ] . ⲅⲁⲣ . . . . . . . . . .
[ ] ⲉϥⲥⲙⲟⲛⲧ ⲛ[ ]ⲁ ϫⲛ ⲕⲱⲣϣ ⲉⲣⲟⲕ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲕ-
[ⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲛⲥⲁⲧⲕⲉⲗⲉⲩⲥⲓ]ⲥ ⲛⲛⲉⲛϫⲓⲥⲟⲟⲩ[ⲉ] ⲛⲉⲣⲣⲱⲟⲩ ⲧⲁⲣⲉⲕⲱⲛϩ ⲡⲉ-
[ ] ⲉⲕⲧⲟⲛⲧⲛ ⲙⲙⲟⲕ ⲉⲛⲉⲑⲩⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲛⲁⲕⲣⲓⲟⲛ
[ⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲉⲧⲉⲕⲁⲡⲟ]ⲫⲁⲥⲓⲥ ⲉⲧⲕⲙⲡϣⲁ <ⲙ>ⲙⲟⲥ : ⲁⲩⲱ ⲁϥⲕⲉⲗⲉⲩⲉ
35 [ⲛϭⲓ ⲁⲣⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲣⲉ]ϥⲥϩⲁⲓ ⲙⲡⲉϥⲣⲁⲛ <ⲛ>ⲧⲉⲉⲓϩⲉ ϫⲉ ⲥⲧⲉⲫⲁⲛⲟⲥ
[ⲣⲙⲗⲏⲛⲁⲉⲓⲥ ⲉⲩⲉⲣⲟ]ⲕϩϥ ⲉϥⲟⲛϩ: ⲁϥϫⲱⲕ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲧⲉϥⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩ-
[ⲣⲓⲁ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲙⲛⲧⲙⲁⲕ]ⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲟⲩⲙⲛⲧⲕⲉⲛⲛⲉⲟⲥ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ

[In the fourteenth] year of the reign of Valerius Constan[tius the emperor and in] the second year of our lords
Va[lerius Severus] and Maximinus the emperors [= AD 305], Aria[nos being governor for the] Thebaid sat on the tribunal (bema) in Kleopa[tris on day … of the month] Choiak.
(5) After Stephanos was brought into the midst […], Hierax the commentariensis said: “Ste[phanos is the] priest of Lenaios in the nome of Anti[noopolis.” An order was given] to throw him into prison and afterwards to place him [on the tribunal (bema)] in public.
Arianos the governor of the Thebaid [said: “What is your name?”] (10) He said: [“Stephanos.”] He (Arianos) said to him: [“Where are you from?”] He said: “I [am from] Lenaios in … .” [He said: “Are you a man of] God?” He [answered:] “I am a priest.” [Arianos] the governor [said:] “My wish is it to let you live. [Come and sacrifice!] Stephanos [said to him:] “I am a Christian.” (15) [He said to him:] “Sacrifice to the gods!” [He said:] “I will not sacrifice.” [Arianos] said: [“Do not perish at the cause of] your thinking! [I will] give you time for a […] … . This [conduct which you are] considering is vain. [Be sensible and sacrifice] to the gods or [perish] due to your own thinking! [Now] what [do you say?] Will you [sacrifice?] Yes or no? (20) [Stephanos] said: [“A] Christian [will] not [sacrifice.”] Arianos said: [“Sacrifice] to the gods!” [He] said: “No.” The governor said: [“Do you want] me to leave you some [more days] to let you [reconsider for yourself?”] Stephanos [said: “No.” And] Arianos [the governor of the] Thebaid said: “[…] …” [Stephanos] said: [“I will] not sacrifice.” (25) [Arianos the] governor of [the Thebaid said: “Stephanos, I have] authority [to] let you [live …] … […].” Stephanos said: [“I am a] Christian.” [The] governor said to him: [“…] I ordered you, but […] (30) and you will live […]. For … […] who sets […] or plead with to make you [obey the command] of our lords the emperors that you shall live. … […] you make yourself like the wild animals. [Hear the] verdict which you deserve. Arianos ordered [to let] his name be written down in the following manner: Stephanos [from Lenaios shall be burnt] alive. He fulfilled his martyrdom [in a] blessed and noble manner. Amen.

(Text, Integration and Translation: P. van Minnen, partly modified)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Stephanos, priest of Lenaios (Middle Egypt), ob. 305 : S00409

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Late antique original manuscripts - Papyri Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom



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

Lenaios Antinoopolis

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

Lenaios Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Antinoopolis 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

Officials Crowds


The text of papyrus P.Duk. inv. 438 in the Special Collections Library at Duke University is only 37 lines long and written along the fibres of a single papyrus sheet that now consists of nine conjoining fragments. It is not known where the papyrus was found. A large portion of the text is damaged and missing; the sheet was once folded and sections have broken off along those folds. However, both the beginning and end of the account of Stephanos’ trial are preserved, and enough of the text survives to allow for a plausible reconstruction of the complete story. The papyrus can confidently be dated to the 4th century on the basis of its script.


This is an important early text, attesting to a martyr who is otherwise completely unknown. The character of the story is bald and ‘factual’ rather than literary, focusing on the court hearing (and perhaps based on a transcript of Stephanos’ interrogation) and lacking almost any religious embellishment concerning the martyr himself or his death. No miraculous events are recounted, and only the last sentence (‘He fulfilled his martyrdom [in a] blessed and noble manner. Amen’) proves that this is a Christian text. Stephanos is tried by Arianos, who can be identified as Satrius Arrianus, the governor (praeses) of the Thebaid (PLRE I, ‘Satrius Adrianus’), in a place called ‘Kleopat..’, presumably Kleopatris located on the Nile opposite Antinoopolis, in the month of Choiak at the end of the year 305. His sentence is to be burnt alive. The nature of this account is typical of the earliest martyrdom stories discussed by Delehaye, 'Les martyrs d’Égypte', in Analecta Bollandiana 40; in later martyrdom accounts much more detail of the saint’s suffering (with a strong miraculous element thrown in) are included. The purpose of the text is at the very least to preserve the memory of this martyr; the fact that the precise day of the trial (and perhaps martyrdom) is recorded may well have been in order to hold yearly commemorations of the event. Whether this text was originally preserved as a single sheet, or formed part of a codex collection of multiple early Coptic martyrdom accounts, cannot be ascertained, though the latter is very possible. In any case, for liturgical purposes, the original court proceedings written in Greek were at some point in the 4th century adapted, formatted, and translated into Coptic to produce a presentable account for the commemoration of a local Egyptian martyr.


Delehaye, H., "Les martyrs d’ Égypte," Analecta Bollandiana 40 (1922), 5–154 and 299–364. Minnen, P. van, “The Earliest Account of a Martyrdom in Coptic,” Analecta Bollandiana 113 (1995), 13–38.

Usage metrics