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E02110: The Greek Martyrdom of *Basiliskos (martyr of Komana in Pontus, S00388), of the 6th c. or later, recounts the martyrdom of a Christian arrested in Amaseia, and executed in Komana, after a journey through the villages of Pontus (northern Asia Minor). Presumably written in Pontus.

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posted on 2016-12-12, 00:00 authored by erizos
Martyrdom of Basiliskos (BHG 241)


1. Under Maximian, an evil governor called Agrippas, successor of Asklepiodotos forces Christians to sacrifice. Basiliskos is in gaol, distressed by having been separated from his companions. A voice from heaven encourages him. In the morning he asks his guards to allow him to visit his relatives at the village of Choumiala, before his martyrdom. They go with him.

2. They arrive at Basiliskos’ home and visit his mother, brothers, and other relatives. He asks for their prayers, and returns to Amaseia. The governor is about to offer sacrifices at a temple called Petassos, and the temple of Serapis, in the same city. He is informed about Basiliskos and orders that he and the other prisoners be taken to Komana fettered, and that he be flogged during the journey. They nail iron shoes onto his feet.

3. On the way, the saint recites Psalms 27 and 117. They arrive at the village of Dakozara, which is owned by a pagan lady called Troiane. She offers hospitality to the guards of Basiliskos, and, while they have dinner, the martyr is bound to a withered plane tree. While the saint prays, the land trembles, the tree sprouts, and a spring of water flows at the spot. The people venerate the saint.

4. The lady of the village and her house convert to Christianity, and bring possessed people to be healed by the martyr. The soldiers guarding the saint are converted as well. They arrive at a village, where the soldiers have a meal, but the saint refuses to eat.

5. They arrive at Komana. The governor summons Basiliskos to the temple of Apollo, where he interrogates him and orders him to sacrifice. Basiliskos makes his apologia of the Christian faith, and renounces the pagan god.

6. The martyr offers up a prayer, and fire comes down from heaven, destroying the statue. Enraged, the governor accuses Basiliskos of magic and condemns him to death. He is decapitated at the so-called place of Dioskouros outside Komana, and his body is thrown away in the wilderness. A man called Marinos offers money to the executioners and collects the body of the martyr, which he buries in Komana and builds a shrine (martyrion) that becomes a site of miracles.

Summary: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Basiliskos, martyr of Komana, ob. 304-306 : S00388

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Comana Pontica

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

Comana Pontica Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miracle at martyrdom and death Miracles experienced by the saint Miracles causing conversion Miracle with animals and plants Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Soldiers Pagans Aristocrats Officials Crowds

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


The text of this martyrdom account is known from four manuscripts, on which see:


Basiliskos was one of the most prominent martyrs of Pontus, and probably the main saint of the city of Komana. His cult was already famous in the early 5th century, since it is mentioned by Palladius of Helenopolis in his Dialogue on the Life of John Chrysostom (E02400). The surviving text seems to represent a later version of the legend, probably no earlier than the 6th century, but it is clearly a composite text which may contain sections of an early, possibly 4th-century, text, such as, for example, the interrogation dialogue in paragraph 5. Otherwise, the text is a fine example of a martyrdom account composed in the form of an itinerant narrative, known from the passiones of other martyrs like Sergios of Resapha, and Alexandros of Drusipara. The localities featuring in our account and the route followed by the martyr from Amaseia to his village and then to Komana may reflect the existence of routes of pilgrimage and local shrines associated with the saint in the countryside between Amaseia and Komana. Particularly notable is the fertility miracle with the blooming plane tree and the spring at Dakozara in paragraph 3, and the reference to the meal and entertainment of the soldiers in the company of the saint in paragraph 4. Basiliskos’ story is closely connected to the legends of *Theodoros (E02052), his presumed uncle, and *Eutropios and Kleonikos (E02055), his friends from whom he was separated by the obstinacy of the persecutor, Asklepiodotos. It is probable that the legend of Basiliskos was contemporary with that of Eutropios and Kleonikos, but later than, and dependent on that of Theodoros, who is recognised as the senior of these saints. Both our text and the Martyrdom of Eutropios and Kleonikos share a distinctive interest in family relations and village connections (they both claim that Theodoros and Basiliskos were natives of the village of Choumiala near Amaseia), recalling the Testament of the Forty Martyrs (E00255).


Text and French translation: F. Halkin, Saints de Byzance et du Proche-Orient (Cahiers d'Orientalisme 13; Geneva, 1986), 65-74.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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