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E03501: Theodoret of Cyrrhus in his Cure for Greek Maladies refers to the veneration of relics, the dedication of offerings for healing, the naming of children after martyrs, the replacement of pagan temples by shrines of martyrs, and the festivals of the Apostles *Peter (S00036), *Paul (S00008), and *Thomas (S00199), and of the martyrs *Sergios (soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023), *Markellos (martyr of Apameia on the Orontes, S01456), *Leontios (probably the martyr of Tripolis, Phoenicia, S00216), *Antoninos, and *Maurikios (martyr of Apameia, S01437). Written in Greek in the 420s, at the monastery of Nikerte near Apamea on the Orontes or in Cyrrhus (both north Syria).

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posted on 2017-07-26, 00:00 authored by erizos
Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Cure for Greek Maladies (CPG 6210), 8

For the context of these passages see E03500

The evangelical message not only convinced all people, but also led many of them to willingly give up their lives and suffer manifold tortures for the sake of this faith.

(10.) Τῷ τοι καὶ ἄσβεστον αὐτοῖς ὁ ἀγωνοθέτης ἐδωρήσατο κλέος καὶ μνήμην νικῶσαν τοῦ χρόνου τὴν φύσιν· μαραίνειν γὰρ δὴ οὗτος ἅπαντα πεφυκώς, τὴν τούτων ἀμάραντον διετήρησε δόξαν. Καὶ αἱ μὲν γενναῖαι τῶν νικηφόρων ψυχαὶ περιπολοῦσι τὸν οὐρανόν, τοῖς ἀσωμάτων χοροῖς ξυγχορεύουσαι· τὰ δὲ σώματα οὐχ εἷς ἑνὸς ἑκάστου κατακρύπτει τάφος, ἀλλὰ πόλεις καὶ κῶμαι ταῦτα διανειμάμεναι σωτῆρας καὶ ψυχῶν καὶ σωμάτων καὶ ἰατροὺς ὀνομάζουσι καὶ ὡς πολιούχους τιμῶσι καὶ φύλακας· καὶ χρώμενοι πρεσβευταῖς πρὸς τὸν τῶν ὅλων δεσπότην, διὰ τούτων (11.) τὰς θείας κομίζονται δωρεάς. Καὶ μερισθέντος τοῦ σώματος, ἀμέριστος ἡ χάρις μεμένηκεν, καὶ τὸ σμικρὸν ἐκεῖνο καὶ βραχύτατον λείψανον τὴν ἴσην ἔχει δύναμιν τῷ μηδαμῇ μηδαμῶς διανεμηθέντι μάρτυρι· ἡ γὰρ ἐπανθοῦσα χάρις διανέμει τὰ δῶρα, τῇ πίστει τῶν προσιόντων τὴν φιλοτιμίαν μετροῦσα. Ὑμᾶς δὲ οὐδὲ ταῦτα πείθει τὸν τούτων ὑμνῆσαι Θεόν, ἀλλὰ γελᾶτε καὶ κωμῳδεῖτε τὸ τούτοις παρὰ πάντων προσφερόμενον γέρας καὶ μύσος ὑπολαμβάνετε τὸ πελάζειν τοῖς τάφοις.

‘10. For this reason then, the President of the Game [Christ] granted them [the martyrs] indelible glory and a memory which defeats the nature of time. For the latter naturally causes everything to fade away, but has preserved their splendour evergreen. And the valiant souls of the victors roam in heaven, joining in the choruses of the bodiless powers. As for their bodies, they are not hidden each in an individual grave, but cities and villages have distributed them amongst themselves, and invoke them as saviours and healers of souls and bodies, and honour them as civic patrons and guardians. And employing them as their representatives at the Master of All, they earn through them the divine gifts. 11. Although their body has been divided, their grace has remained undiminished and even that little and tiny relic has the same power as an entirely undivided martyr. For the grace blooming there distributes its gifts, displaying its largess commensurate to the faith of its visitors. As for you, however, not even these things can convince you to praise God, but you laugh at and make fun of the honour bestowed on them by all people, and you regard it as defilement to approach the tombs.’

None of the pagan heroes has ever received honours like those of the martyrs, even though temples were dedicated to them (examples of Hellenistic and Roman rulers are mentioned). After they died, their worship was abolished, and their temples were ruined.

(62.) (……) Οἱ δὲ τῶν καλλινίκων μαρτύρων σηκοὶ λαμπροὶ καὶ περίβλεπτοι καὶ μεγέθει διαπρεπεῖς καὶ παν- (63.) τοδαπῶς πεποικιλμένοι καὶ κάλλους ἀφιέντες μαρμαρυγάς. Εἰς δὲ τούτους οὐχ ἅπαξ ἢ δίς γε τοῦ ἔτους ἢ πεντάκις φοιτῶμεν, ἀλλὰ πολλάκις μὲν πανηγύρεις ἐπιτελοῦμεν, πολλάκις δὲ ἡμέρας ἑκάστης τῷ τούτων δεσπότῃ τοὺς ὕμνους προσφέρομεν. Καὶ οἱ μὲν ὑγιαίνοντες αἰτοῦσι τῆς ὑγείας τὴν φυλακήν, οἱ δέ τινι νόσῳ παλαίοντες τὴν τῶν παθημάτων ἀπαλλαγήν· αἰτοῦσι δὲ καὶ ἄγονοι παῖδας, καὶ στέριφαι παρακαλοῦσι γενέσθαι μητέρες, καὶ οἱ τῆσδε τῆς δωρεᾶς ἀπολαύσαντες ἀξιοῦσιν ἄρτια σφίσι φυλαχθῆναι τὰ δῶρα· καὶ οἱ μὲν εἴς τινα ἀποδημίαν στελλόμενοι λιπαροῦσι τούτους ξυνοδοιπόρους γενέσθαι καὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ ἡγεμόνας· οἱ δὲ τῆς ἐπανόδου τετυχηκότες τὴν τῆς χάριτος ὁμολογίαν προσφέρουσιν, οὐχ ὡς θεοῖς αὐτοῖς προσιόντες, ἀλλ’ ὡς θείους ἀνθρώπους ἀντιβολοῦντες καὶ γενέσθαι πρεσβευτὰς ὑπὲρ σφῶν (64.) παρακαλοῦντες. Ὅτι δὲ τυγχάνουσιν ὧνπερ αἰτοῦσιν οἱ πιστῶς ἐπαγγέλλοντες, ἀναφανδὸν μαρτυρεῖ τὰ τούτων ἀναθήματα τὴν ἰατρείαν δηλοῦντα. Οἱ μὲν γὰρ ὀφθαλμῶν, οἱ δὲ ποδῶν, ἄλλοι δὲ χειρῶν προσφέρουσιν ἐκτυπώματα· καὶ οἱ μὲν ἐκ χρυσοῦ, οἱ δὲ ἐξ ὕλης πεποιημένα. Δέχεται γὰρ ὁ τούτων δεσπότης καὶ τὰ σμικρά τε καὶ εὔωνα, τῇ τοῦ προσφέροντος δυνάμει τὸ δῶρον μετρῶν. Δηλοῖ δὲ ταῦτα προκείμενα τῶν παθημάτων τὴν λύσιν, (65.) ἧς ἀνετέθη μνημεῖα παρὰ τῶν ἀρτίων γεγενημένων. Ταῦτα δὲ κηρύττει τῶν κειμένων τὴν δύναμιν· ἡ δὲ τούτων δύναμις τὸν τούτων Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἀποφαίνει Θεόν.

‘62. (……) The shrines of the rightly victorious martyrs, on the other hand, are splendid and prominent, standing out by their size, beautified with all sorts of ornaments and sending off flashes of beauty. (63) We do not visit them just once or twice or five times per year, but celebrate festivals several times every year, and offer our hymns to the Lord of the martyrs several times each day. The healthy request the preservation of their health, while those struggling with sickness ask to be rid of their suffering. The childless ask for children, barren women implore to become mothers, and those who have enjoyed such a gift petition that they may keep their present intact. Those who are sent on some journey implore to have them as their companions and guides on the way. Those who have achieved their return home offer the confession of their gratitude – and they do not approach them as gods, but beseech them as divine people and implore them to become representatives on their behalf. 64. The fact that those who supplicate with faith receive what they ask for is manifestly witnessed by their offerings which demonstrate their healing. Some offer images of eyes, others legs, others arms. Some of these are golden, others wooden. For their Master accepts even small and cheap things, assessing the gift according to the means of the donor. And, as these things are displayed, they indicate the end of the tribulations for which they have been dedicated as a memorial by those who have been made healthy. These things declare the power of the people resting there, and their power demonstrates that these people’s God is the true God.’

The Christian martyrs were not famous men and rulers, but simple people, soldiers, slaves and maids, some married, others not.

(67.) Ἐκ τοιούτων ἀνδρῶν καὶ γυναικῶν ξυνέστησαν οἱ τῶν μαρτύρων χοροί. Καὶ φιλόσοφοι μὲν καὶ ῥήτορες παραδέδονται λήθῃ, καὶ βασιλέων καὶ στρατηγῶν οὐδὲ τὰς προσηγορίας γινώσκουσιν οἱ πολλοί, τὰς δὲ τῶν μαρτύρων προσηγορίας μᾶλλον ἴσασιν ἅπαντες ἢ τὰ τῶν φιλτάτων ὀνόματα· καὶ τοῖς παισὶ δὲ τὰς τούτων προσηγορίας ἐπιτιθέναι σπουδάζουσιν, ἀσφάλειαν αὐτοῖς ἐντεῦθεν καὶ φυλακὴν μηχανώμενοι. (68.) Καὶ τί λέγω φιλοσόφους καὶ βασιλέας καὶ στρατηγούς; καὶ γὰρ αὐτῶν τῶν καλουμένων θεῶν τὴν μνήμην ἐκ τῆς τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐξήλειψαν διανοίας. Τὰ μὲν γὰρ ἐκείνων οὕτω παντελῶς διελύθη τεμένη, ὡς μηδὲ τῶν σχημάτων διαμεῖναι τὸ εἶδος, μηδὲ τῶν βωμῶν τὸν τύπον τοὺς νῦν ἀνθρώπους ἐπίστασθαι, αἱ δὲ τούτων (69.) ὕλαι καθωσιώθησαν τοῖς τῶν μαρτύρων σηκοῖς. Τοὺς γὰρ οἰκείους νεκροὺς ὁ δεσπότης ἀντεισῆξε τοῖς ὑμετέροις θεοῖς, καὶ τοὺς μὲν φρούδους ἀπέφηνε, τούτοις δὲ τὸ ἐκείνων ἀπένειμε γέρας. Ἀντὶ γὰρ δὴ τῶν Πανδίων καὶ Διασίων καὶ Διονυσίων καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ὑμῶν ἑορτῶν Πέτρου καὶ Παύλου καὶ Θωμᾶ καὶ Σεργίου καὶ Μαρκέλλου καὶ Λεοντίου καὶ Ἀντωνίνου καὶ Μαυρικίου καὶ τῶν ἄλλων μαρτύρων ἐπιτελοῦνται δημοθοινίαι· καὶ ἀντὶ τῆς πάλαι πομπείας καὶ αἰσχρουργίας καὶ αἰσχρορημοσύνης σώφρονες ἑορτάζονται πανηγύρεις, οὐ μέθην ἔχουσαι καὶ κῶμον καὶ γέλωτα, ἀλλ’ ὕμνους θείους καὶ ἱερῶν λογίων ἀκρόασιν καὶ προσευχὴν ἀξιεπαίνοις κοσμουμένην δακρύοις. (70.) Ὁρῶντες τοίνυν τῆς τῶν μαρτύρων τιμῆς τὸ ὠφέλιμον, φεύγετε, ὦ φίλοι, τῶν δαιμόνων τὸν πλάνον· καὶ τούτοις φωστῆρσι καὶ ποδηγοῖς κεχρημένοι, τὴν πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν ἄγουσαν πορείαν ὁδεύσατε, ἵνα τῆς τούτων χορείας ἐν τοῖς ἀνωλέθροις
αἰῶσι μετάσχητε.

‘67. Amongst such men and women were the choruses of the martyrs raised. And thus philosophers and rhetors have been commended to oblivion, and many people do not even know the names of kings and generals, but everyone knows the names of the martyrs even better than the names of their closest friends. And they hasten to give the martyrs’ names to their children, thence seeking to obtain safety and protection for them. 68. But why talk about sages, kings and generals? For the martyrs have obliterated even the memory of the so-called gods themselves in the mind of the people. Their shrines have been so completely destroyed that no trace of their shape has survived nor do the people of our time know what an altar looks like, whereas their materials have been consecrated to the shrines of the martyrs. 69. Because the Master has replaced your gods with his own dead, he has evicted the former and bestowed their veneration onto the latter. Indeed, instead of the Pandia, Diasia, Dionysia, and the rest of your festivals, public feasts are held for Peter, Paul, Thomas, Sergios, Markellos, Leontios, Antoninos, Maurikios, and the other martyrs. And instead for the old pageantry, promiscuity, and scurrility, decent festivals are celebrated, containing no drunkenness, dance, and laughter, but sacred chant, the hearing of holy words, and prayer adorned with praiseworthy tears. 70. Seeing then how beneficial the veneration of the martyrs is, friends, flee away from the fraud of the demons and, employing the martyrs as your beacons and guides, take the way leading to God, in order to partake of their chorus forever.’

Text: Canivet 1958. Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Sergios, martyr in Syria, ob. 303-311 : S00023 Maurikios, soldier and martyr of Apamea on the Orontes and his 70 companions : S01437 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Thomas, the Apostle : S00199 Leontios, martyr in Tripolis

Saint Name in Source

Σέργιος Μαυρίκιος Πέτρος Παῦλος Θωμᾶς Λεόντιος Ἀντωνῖνος Μάρκελλος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Theological works


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Apamea on the Orontes Nikerte

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Nikerte Thabbora Thabbora

Major author/Major anonymous work

Theodoret of Cyrrhus

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Scepticism/rejection of the cult of saints

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Fertility- and family-related miracles (infertility, marriages)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives


Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified Division of relics

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Ex-votos Precious material objects


Theodoret was born in Antioch in c. 393, where he received a formidable education before joining the monastery of Nikerte near Apamea in 416. In 423, he was consecrated as bishop of Kyrrhos/Cyrrhus. During the theological debates of the time, he emerged as one of the chief exponents of Antiochene Christology. The Second Council of Ephesus (449) deposed him as a supporter of Nestorius, of whom he was indeed a friend. He was restored to his bishopric by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. He is thought to have died in c. 460. Composed in the 420s, the Cure for Greek Maladies (Ἑλληνικῶν θεραπευτικὴ παθημάτων/ Curatio Affectionum Graecarum) is regarded as one of Theodoret’s earliest works, probably composed at Nikerte or in the early years of the author's episcopate. It is a defence of the Christian faith against its pagan critics, the last and most elaborate apologia of Christianity in Late Antiquity. The tract makes extensive use of ancient literature, quoting from over three hundred texts. It consists of 12 chapters (defined by Theodoret as dialexeis, ‘lectures’) discussing the following themes: 1. Defence of the Faith of the Apostles 2. The Making of the World 3. Gods, angels, and demons 4. Matter and Cosmos 5. Human Nature 6. Divine Providence 7. Sacrifices 8. The Cult of the Martyrs 9. Laws 10. Oracles 11. Last Judgement 12. Practical Virtue The text survives in fifty manuscripts, on which see:


For a full discussion of the text, see E03500. The names of the saints mentioned as examples in section 69 seem to refer to cults of universal importance and spread, like the apostles (Peter, Paul, and Thomas), followed by names of local martyrs Sergios of Resapha, Markellos and Maurikios of Apameia, and the martyrs Leontios and Antoninos, probably also local martyrs or the famous figures of Tripolis and Palestine.


Text: Canivet, P. Théodoret de Cyr. Thérapeutique des maladies helléniques, 2 vols. Sources chrétiennes 57. Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1958, 2000. (with French Translation and Commentary). Raeder, H. Theodoreti Graecarum Affectionum Curatio, Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana. Lipsiae: B.G. Teubner, 1904. Translations: Halton, T. Theodoret of Cyrus: a Cure for Pagan Maladies. Ancient Christian Writers 67. New York: Newman Press, 2013. Festa, N. Teodoreto, Terapia dei morbi pagani. Firenze, 1931. Further reading: Papadogiannakis, Y. Christianity and Hellenism in the fifth-century Greek east : Theodoret's Apologetics Against the Greeks in Context. Cambridge, Mass.: Center for Hellenic Studies, 2012. Pásztori-Kupán, István. Theodoret of Cyrus. The Early Church Fathers. London / New York: Routledge, 2006. Siniossoglou, Niketas. Plato and Theodoret: The Christian Appropriation of Platonic Philosophy and the Hellenic Intellectual Resistance. Cambridge Classical Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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