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E01849: Fragment from the beginning of Coptic Martyrdom of *Besamon (young soldier in Egypt, S00938), who refuses to serve any longer and to act according to the imperial edict; composed most likely during the 5th–7th century.

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posted on 2016-09-12, 00:00 authored by gschenke
K 09508

The parchment fragment preserves the publication of the imperial edict ordering everyone to sacrifice at the palace, most likely in Alexandria. The soldier Besamon acts immediately and takes off his uniform, confronting the emperor in order to become a soldier of Christ.

ⲛⲉⲩⲛ ⲟⲩϣⲏⲣⲉ ϣⲏⲙ ⲇⲉ · ⲉⲡⲉϥⲣⲁⲛ ⲡⲉ ⲃⲏⲥⲁⲙⲱⲛ ⲉⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲡⲉ · ⲛⲟⲩⲥⲧⲣⲁⲧⲩⲗⲁⲧⲏⲥ ⲉⲡⲉϥⲣⲁⲛ ⲡⲉ ⲃⲁⲥⲗⲓⲧⲏⲥ · ⲁϥⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲡⲉⲥϩⲁ
ⲉⲩⲧⲏϭ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲙ ⲡⲡ[ⲁ]ⲗⲗⲁⲧⲓⲟⲛ · ⲁϥ[ⲱϣ] ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲉϥⲣⲓⲙⲉ ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ · ϫⲉ ⲡⲁϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲓⲥ ⲡⲉⲭⲥ ⲃⲟⲏⲑⲉⲓ ⲉⲣⲟ ·

'There was a youth, whose name was Besamon, the son of a general named Basilides. He saw the letter fixed to the palace. He [cried] out weeping, saying: "My Lord Jesus Christ, help me!"'

Asked by the emperor why he had taken off his uniform, the youth firmly states his intention.

ⲡⲉϫⲉ ⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ ϣⲏⲙ ⲛⲁϥ · ϫⲉ ⲛϯⲛⲁⲉⲣ ⲙⲁⲧⲟ ⲛⲁⲕ ⲁⲛ ⲛϫⲓⲛ ⲉⲡⲉⲓⲛⲁⲩ · ϫⲉ ⲁⲡⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ⲙⲡⲇⲓⲁⲃⲟⲗⲟⲥ · ϫⲉⲛⲟⲩⲛⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛϩⲏⲧⲕ ·:·
ⲁⲗⲗⲁ· ⲉⲛⲁⲉⲣ ⲙⲁⲧⲟ ⲛⲓⲥ ⲡⲉⲭⲥ ·

'The youth said to him: "From now on I will no longer be a soldier for you, since the mind of the devil has taken root in you. But I will be a soldier for Jesus Christ."'

Text: W.C. Till. Translation: Gesa Schenke.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Besamon, soldier martyr in Egypt, son of the general Basilides : S00938 Bēsas, martyr in Egypt, ob. 250/1 : S00220

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

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

Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



K 09508 is a parchment leaf from a former codex, and is housed at the Papyrus Collection in Vienna. The manuscript is datable to the 9th–11th century. For more information on this parchment fragment visit:


Besamon does not occur in the Synaxarium of the Coptic Church and so far is unattested elsewhere. It is difficult to say whether this might be the same Egyptian martyr as the one named Besas in a letter from Dionysios, bishop of Alexandria, who, in 250/1, informs Phabios, bishop of Antioch, about martyrdoms in Egypt during the recent Decian persecution. This information is quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea, listing 27 martyrs, in his Ecclesiastical History, written in Palestine in AD 311/325. See S00220 and E00277.


Text and German translation: Till, W.C., Koptische Heiligen- und Martyrlegenden. Vol. 1 (Rome: Pont. institutum orientalium studiorum, 1935), 42–44.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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