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E01166: The Empress Aelia Eudocia (c. 401-460), in the mid 5th c. paraphrases in Homeric verse the three texts of the legend of *Kyprianos and Ioustina (martyrs of Antioch, S01704) (see E01163, E01164, E01165). Probably composed in Constantinople.

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posted on 2016-03-01, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Aelia Eudocia Augusta, On Kyprianos (BHG 458, 459)


According to the 9th century Bibliotheca of Photius (184), Eudocia’s paraphrase of the hagiographic legend of Kyprianos and Ioustina consisted of three chapters corresponding to the texts known as the Conversion of Kyprianos and Ioustina, the Confession of Kyprianos, and the Martyrdom of Kyprianos and Ioustina (see E01163, E01164, E01165). The first chapter (λόγος) started with the story of Ioustina’s conversion to Christianity, which is followed also by the conversion of her parents. Verses 1-322 of the extant part of Eudocia’s poem belong to the Conversion, from the point where the young Aglaidas attempts unsuccessfully to pursue Ioustina, to the end of the document, with the ordinations of Kyprianos as bishop and Ioustina as deaconess and abbess. Verses 323-479 belong to the Confession from the beginning down to the point of Kyprianos’ penance before the Christians, just before the speech of Eusebios. From Photius’ summary, we know that the rest of Eudocia’s poem continued the paraphrase of the Confession, and also included the Passion, following the narrative as it is known from the prose versions of these texts.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyprianos and Ioustina/Justina, martyrs of Antioch : S01704

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom Literary - Poems


  • 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

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Monarchs and their family


Eudocia’s metaphrasis of the three texts of the legend of Kyprianos and Ioustina has survived only in part. 322 hexameters survive from the part which corresponds to the Conversion of Kyprianos and Ioustina (on which see E001164), including 99 from the beginning of the text. 479 hexameters have survived from the part which corresponds to the Confession (on which see E001163). None of the verses which correspond to the Martyrdom have survived (see E001165), but their existence is verified by Photius (Bibliotheca 184), who gives a summary of all three parts.


Eudocia’s choice to single out the novel of Kyprianos, of all other hagiographical texts, for her metaphrasis is indicative of its great popularity, but it may also betray personal motives: the central theme of the story of Kyprianos, namely the conversion of a learned pagan to Christianity, very much reflected her own life. Most importantly, however, it reflects the penetration of the hagiographic tradition and the cult of saints through the highest echelons of society, and its integration into the learning and culture of the Roman elite of the time. The main importance of Eudocia’s epic lies with the fact that it provides a very well dated terminus ante quem for the three documents of the legend of Kyprianos and Ioustina, demonstrating that they had more or less obtained their final form and circulated as a unified hagiographic corpus, by the mid 5th century. Eudocia also produced a paraphrase of the Octateuch which Photius praises for its faithfulness to the source text. It is probable that she followed the same principle in her reworking of the hagiography of Kyprianos. Her text follows closely, but not fully, the prose version of the Conversion and the Confession. Eudocia’s source text probably represents an intermediary stage in the manuscript tradition: in some parts it seems to follow the shorter recension of the texts, and elsewhere the longer one.


Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologiae cursus completus: series graeca 85 (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1864), 831-864 (M. Bandini). Ludwich, A., Eudociae Augustae, Prodi Lycii, Claudiani carminum Craecorum reliquiae accedunt Blemyomachiae Fragmenta (Leipzig: Teubner, 1897), 16-70. Bevegni C., "Eudociae Augustae Martyrium S. Cypriani I 1-99," Prometheus 8 (1982), 249-62 (the newly discovered verses 1-99) Translations: Kastner, G.R., "Eudokia," in: P. Wilson-Kastner (ed.), A Lost Tradition: Women Writers of the Early Church, (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1981), 135-71. Salvaneschi,, E., "De Sancto Cypriano," in C. Angelino and E. Salvaneschi (eds.), σύγκρισις α’: Testi e studi di storia e filosofia del linguaggio reiigioso (Genoa: Il Melangolo, 1982), 11-80. Further Reading: Bailey, R., "The Confession of Cyprian of Antioch: Introduction, Text, and Translation," MA Thesis, McGill University, Montreal, 2009, 21-22. Bevegni, C., "Note a Eudocia, 'De Sancto Cypriano' 15 e 132," Sandalion 4 (1981), 183-89. ___, "Due note testuali ad Eudocia, De Sancto Cypriano I 275 e II 43," Sandalion 5 (1982), 277-82. ___, "Per una nuova edizione del De Sancto Cypriano dell'imperatrice Eudocia: Prirni passi," FuturAntico 1 (2003), 29-46. ___, "Per una nuova edizione del De Sancto Cypriano dell'imperatrice Eudocia: Note ed esegetische," Nea Rhome I (2004): 35-44. ___, "II viaggio di istruzione al male del mago Cipriano: Due note," Itineraria 3-4 (2005), 51-56. ___, "Sui modelli del De Sancto Cypriano dell'imperatrice Eudocia," in: E. Amato (ed.), Approches de la Troisieme Sophistique: Hommages à Jacques Schamp (Brussels: Latomus, 2006), 389-405. On Eudocia: Cameron, Alan, "The Empress and the Poet: Paganism and Politics at the Court of Theodosius II," Yale Classical Studies 27 (1982), 217-89. Holum, K., Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), 112 ff. van Deun, P. "The Poetical Writings of the Empress Eudocia: An Evaluation," in: J. den Boeft and A. Hilhorst (eds.), Early Christian Poetry: A Collection of Essays (Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 22; Leiden: Brill, 1993), 273-282.

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