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E05115: Coptic Life and Martyrdom of *Eustathios, a general of the emperor Trajan, his wife Theopiste and their two sons Agapios and Theopistos (martyrs in Rome, S01804), relating their tumultuous life after converting to Christianity, their martyrdom and miraculous bodily incorruptibility, as well as the building of a martyr shrine for them in which they were regularly celebrated; written most likely in the 4th century, translated into Coptic presumably in the 6th/7th century.

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posted on 2018-02-21, 00:00 authored by gschenke
Brit. Mus. Ms. Oriental no. 6783, fol. 1a–22b:

The account is introduced as follows:

Fol. 1a; Budge, p. 103, lines 1–8:

ⲡⲃⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲧⲡⲟⲗⲩϯⲁ ⲙⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲉⲩⲥⲧⲁⲑⲓⲟⲥ · ⲡⲉⲥⲧⲣⲁⲧⲏⲗⲁⲧⲏⲥ ⲛⲧⲣⲁⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ ⲡⲣⲣⲟ ⲙⲛ ⲑⲉⲟⲡⲓⲥⲧⲏ ⲧⲉϥⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲁⲅⲁⲡⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲑⲉⲟⲡⲓⲥⲧⲟⲥ ⲛϥϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲛⲧⲁⲩϫⲱⲕ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲉⲩⲁⲅⲱⲛ ϩⲛ ⲧⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲡⲟⲗⲓⲥ ϩⲣⲱⲙⲏ ϩⲛ ⲥⲟⲩ ϫⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⲙⲡⲉⲃⲟⲧ ⲑⲱⲑ ϩⲓ ⲧⲣⲁⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ
ⲡⲣⲣⲟ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲉⲓⲣⲏⲛⲏ ϥⲑ

‘The life and conduct of saint Apa Eustathios, the General of the emperor Trajan, and his wife Theopiste and their sons Agapios and Theopistos. They completed their contest in the great city of Rome on day 20 of the month Thoth (17 September) at the time of the emperor Trajan. In peace. Amen.’

The narrative appears embedded in a homily and begins with the Roman general named Plaketas (Placidus), a relative of the emperor Trajan (98–117 AD), and a man so noble, kind, and compassionate that Christ took an interest in him and revealed himself to him in a vision, appearing to him as a beautiful deer which the general was keen to hunt. Conversing with the pagan general as a deer, Christ is able to convince him to convert to Christianity. When relating his vision to his wife, she confessed a similar vision in which Christ had asked her to come to him with her family.

Both parents decide to take their sons that night and to go and secretly receive baptism. They receive Christian names, Plaketas becoming Eustathios, and continue with their life, but Eustathios is told by Christ that he will be going to suffer the loss of his belongings like a second Job.

When all their slaves, horses, cattle and sheep had died through a set of illnesses, and they had left their house to save themselves, it was plundered relentlessly and destroyed. With nothing left to lose, the family decides to leave Rome for Egypt, but when they board a ship and have no means of paying their fare, the captain decides to take hold of Eustathios’ wife as payment. Single-parenting, Eustathios loses one young son after another to a wild animal, leading the life of a lonely stranger for many years.

Only the emperor’s need for a good general brings the family miraculously back together, when two soldiers who were former slaves of Eustathios are sent out to find the general so that Trajan can go to war successfully. They fulfil their mission and bring Eustathios to Trajan so that he can lead the Roman army successfully in battle with the barbarians. Among the new recruits are his two grown up sons, who each had survived and had been raised by local peasants in two different villages. In the newly conquered land he is reunited with them and with his wife, who outlived the cruel captain, and the family returns triumphantly to Rome.

After his return to Rome, the emperor Trajan dies and is replaced by Hadrian (117–138 AD), who demands that Eustathios pour a libation to Apollo for his victory . When he refuses, the emperor commands that the family be taken to the stadium and thrown in front of a lion. The lion, however, does not attack them, but bows before them and lays his head on the ground. Enraged the emperor has a strong fire prepared in which he intends to burn the family. After a final prayer, they are thrown into the fire, though their bodies are not consumed by the flames, but remain entirely intact, while their souls pass into the hands of God. The many bystanders are amazed when the bodies emerge from the flames entirely unaltered and shining brightly, and they praise the God of the Christians.

Fol. 22b; Budge p. 127, lines 10–31:

ⲣⲟⲩϩⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲛⲧⲉⲣϥϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲁⲩⲉⲓ ⲛϭⲓ ⲛⲉⲭⲣⲓⲥϯⲁⲛⲟⲥ ⲁⲩϫⲓ ⲙⲡⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲙⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲕⲁⲁϥ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲙⲁ ⲉϥⲧⲁⲓⲏⲩ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩϩⲱⲡ
ϩⲛ ⲧⲡⲟⲗⲓⲥ ϩⲣⲱⲙⲏ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲁ ⲧⲣⲉ ⲡⲇⲓⲱⲅⲙⲟⲥ ⲟⲩⲱ ⲁⲩⲕⲱⲧ ⲉⲣⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲟⲩⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲉⲩⲣϣⲁ ⲛϩⲏⲧϥ ϩⲛ ϩⲉⲛϩⲩⲙⲛⲟⲥ · ⲙⲛ
ϩⲉⲛⲇⲟⲝⲟⲗⲟⲅⲁ ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲡⲥⲱⲛⲧ ⲛⲛⲉⲭⲣⲓⲥϯⲁⲛⲟⲥ · ⲉⲩⲉⲧⲣⲉ ⲙⲡⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ⲛⲧⲁⲛⲁⲡⲁⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲛⲛⲉⲓⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲧⲁⲓⲏⲩ ϩⲛ ⲥⲟⲩ
ϫⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⲙⲡⲉⲃⲟⲧ ⲇⲉⲕⲉⲙⲃⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲉ ⲑⲱⲑ ⲡⲉ · ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲧⲁⲥⲡⲉ ⲛⲛⲣⲙⲛⲕⲏⲙⲉ ·
ⲧⲁⲓ ⲧⲉ ⲧⲡⲟⲗⲩϯⲁ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲧⲁⲑⲗⲏⲥⲓⲥ ⲛⲛⲉⲓⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ · ⲫⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲉⲩⲥⲧⲁⲑⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲁⲅⲁⲡⲓⲟⲥ · ⲙⲛ ⲁⲡⲁ
ⲑⲉⲟⲡⲓⲥⲧⲟⲥ ⲛϥϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲁⲙⲙⲁ ⲑⲉⲟⲡⲓⲥⲧⲏ ⲧⲉϥⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ · ⲡⲁⲓ ⲡⲉ ⲡϫⲱⲕ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲁⲑⲗⲓⲥⲓⲥ ⲉⲧⲧⲁⲓⲏⲩ ⁖
ⲟⲩⲟⲛ ϭⲉ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲉⲧⲛⲁⲣⲡⲙⲡϣⲁ ⲙⲡⲉⲩⲣⲡⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲛⲥⲉⲉⲡⲉⲓⲕⲁⲗⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲥⲉⲛⲁⲙⲁⲧⲉ ⲛⲛⲁⲅⲁⲑⲟⲛ ⲛⲧⲙⲛⲧⲉⲣⲟ ⲛⲙⲡⲏⲩⲉ ϩⲓⲧⲛ
ⲧⲉⲭⲁⲣⲓⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲧⲙⲛⲧⲙⲁⲓⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲙⲡⲉⲛϫⲥ ⲓⲥ ⲡⲉⲭⲥ ⲡⲁⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲓⲧⲟⲟⲧϥ ⲡⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲁϥ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉϥⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲛⲁⲅⲁⲑⲟⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉⲡⲛⲁ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ϣⲁ
ⲉⲛⲉϩ ⲛⲉⲛⲉϩ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ ⁖⁖⁖

‘And when it was evening, the Christians came and took the body of the holy martyrs. They placed it secretly in an honourable spot in the city of Rome.
And when the persecution was over, they built a martyr shrine (martyrion) for them, where they celebrated the festival with hymns and eulogies according to the Christian custom, so that they would commemorate the holy death of these honourable martyrs on day 20 of the month December (for September) which is (the month) Thoth according to the language of the Egyptians.
This is the conduct and contest of these blessed holy martyrs: saint Apa Eustathios, together with Apa Agapios and Apa Theopistos, his sons, and Ama Theopiste his wife. This is the completion of their honourable contest.
Now whoever shall be worthy of their holy commemoration and shall beseech them, will obtain the good things in the kingdom of heaven through the grace and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ, this one to whom is the glory and to his good Father and to the Holy Spirit eternally. Amen.’

(Text: E. A. W. Budge; summary and trans.: G. Schenke)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Eustathius, his wife Theopiste, and their sons Agapius and Theopistus, martyrs in Rome under Trajan : S01804 Job, Old Testament Patriarch : S01191

Saint Name in Source

ⲉⲩⲥⲧⲁⲑⲓⲟⲥ, ⲑⲉⲟⲡⲓⲥⲧⲏ, ⲁⲅⲁⲡⲓⲟⲥ, ⲑⲉⲟⲡⲓⲥⲧⲟⲥ

Type of Evidence

Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom Literary - Colophons, marginalia etc. Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts


  • Coptic

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

Edfu Esna

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

Edfu Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Esna Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracle at martyrdom and death Miracles experienced by the saint Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miracle with animals and plants Bodily incorruptibility

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Pagans Monarchs and their family Soldiers Other lay individuals/ people Crowds Animals Family

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


The parchment codex Ms. Oriental no. 6783 is housed at the British Museum. The manuscript was produced by a man name Viktor, deacon of the church of *Merkurios, the General (S01323) at Latopolis/Esna (Upper Egypt) and completed on day 23 of Mesore (16 August) of the year 1003 AD. The expense of copying and producing the manuscript was paid by Zacharias, a deacon and monk at the monastery of Merkurios the General at Apollinopolis/Atbo/Edfu (Upper Egypt), where he donated the manuscript to the saint’s shrine, so that Merkurios as well as all the other saints appearing in this book would intercede on his behalf for the salvation of his soul. The codex includes the following texts: 1. Fol. 1a–22b: Life of Eustathios, the General, and his family 2. Fol. 23a–30a: Life of Apa Kyros/Apakyros, the perfect monk (E05116) 3. Fol. 30b–45b: Encomion on Demetrios, archbishop of Alexandria, attributed to Flavianus, bishop of Ephesos (E05117) 4. Fol. 45b–63a: The ascetic life of Apa Ephraim (E05118) 5. Fol. 63b–67b: An Epistle of Apa Ephraim to a beloved disciple (E05119) 6. Fol. 67b–83a: Life of John the Monk (E05120) 7. Fol. 83a–84a: Colophon and Prayer


Text and translation: Budge, E.A.W., Coptic Martyrdoms etc. in the Dialect of Upper Egypt (Coptic Texts 4; London: British Museum, 1914), 102–127 (text) and 356–380 (trans.).

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