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E05671: John Malalas in his Chronographia mentions the martyrdom of *Kosmas and Damianos (brothers and physician martyrs, S00385) under Carinus (r. 283-285). Written in Greek at Antioch (Syria) or Constantinople, in the mid-6th c.

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posted on 08.06.2018, 00:00 by erizos
John Malalas, Chronographia, 12.36

Μετὰ δὲ τὴν βασιλείαν Νουμεριανοῦ ἐβασίλευσε Καρῖνος Αὔγουστος ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ ἔτη βʹ. ἦν δὲ κονδοειδής, παχύς, πλατόψις, λευκός, οὐλόθριξ, ἀναφάλας, σπανός, μεγαλόψυχος. ἐφίλει δὲ τὸ Πράσινον μέρος. Ἢ μόνον δὲ ἐβασίλευσεν, ἐπεστράτευσε κατὰ Περσῶν εἰς ἐκδίκησιν τοῦ ἰδίου αὐτοῦ ἀδελφοῦ Νουμεριανοῦ· καὶ περιεγένετο αὐτῶν κατὰ κράτος. ἐπὶ δὲ τῆς αὐτοῦ βασιλείας ἐτελεύτησαν οἱ ἅγιοι Κοσμᾶς καὶ Δαμιανὸς τῷ τρόπῳ τούτῳ φθονηθέντες ὑπὸ τοῦ ἰδίου αὐτῶν ἐπιστάτου. ἦσαν γὰρ ἰατροὶ τὴν ἐπιστήμην, ἠγαποῦντο δὲ ὑπὸ τοῦ βασιλέως Καρίνου ὡς ποιοῦντες ἰάσεις· συνέβη γὰρ τοῦτο γενέσθαι τῷ αὐτῷ Καρίνῳ βασιλεῖ. μετὰ τὸ συγκροῦσαι τοῖς Πέρσαις καὶ τὰς ἐπάνω ἐνέγκαι καὶ κόψαι ἐξ αὐτῶν ἄπειρον πλῆθος χειμῶνος βαρυτάτου γενομένου ᾔτησαν οἱ Πέρσαι μηνῶν τριῶν ἔνδοσιν γενέσθαι· καὶ διὰ τὸ ἐπαχθὲς τοῦ χειμῶνος φειδόμενος τοῦ ἰδίου στρατοῦ ὡς κοπωθέντος ἐνέδωκε τῶν τριῶν μηνῶν τὴν αἴτησιν τῆς εἰρήνης. καὶ λαβὼν τὸ ἴδιον πλῆθος ἦλθεν ἐπὶ τὴν λεγομένην χώραν τῶν Κυρηστικῶν, βουλόμενος καὶ τὸν ἴδιον στρατὸν ἀναπαῦσαι καὶ τοὺς πληγάτους θεραπευθῆναι. ἐλθόντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐν τοῖς Κυρηστικοῖς ἐν τῷ χειμῶνι κἀκεῖ αὐτοῦ διάγοντος καὶ τὰ τοῦ πολέμου τρακταΐζοντος, συνέβη ἐξαίφνης τὴν ὄψιν αὐτοῦ εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω στραφῆναι. καὶ πολλῶν ἰατρῶν ἀκολουθούντων τῷ αὐτῷ βασιλεῖ καὶ μηδὲν αὐτὸν ὠφελησάντων ἐκελεύσθησαν οἱ τῆς χώρας ἰατροὶ εἰσελθεῖν πρὸς τὸν βασιλέα ὡς εἰδότες τοὺς ἀέρας τῆς ἑαυτῶν χώρας. ἐν οἷς εἰσῆλθεν καὶ ὁ ἐπιστάτης τῶν ἁγίων Κοσμᾶ καὶ Δαμιανοῦ πρὸς τὸν βασιλέα, καὶ συνεισῆλθαν ἅμα αὐτῷ οἱ ἅγιοι. καὶ μηδὲν δυνηθέντων τῶν ἰατρῶν ὠφελῆσαι τὸν βασιλέα Καρῖνον οἱ ἅγιοι Κοσμᾶς καὶ Δαμιανὸς λαθραίως διελέχθησάν τισι τῶν μεγιστάνων τοῦ βασιλέως, ἵνα ἰάσωνται αὐτόν. καὶ εἰσηνέχθησαν οἱ ἅγιοι τῷ βασιλεῖ ἐν νυκτὶ καὶ αὐτοὶ ἰάσαντο αὐτὸν διὰ τῆς ἰδίας προσευχῆς. καὶ ἐπίστευσεν αὐτοῖς, λέγων ὅτι· ‘οὗτοι οἱ ἄνθρωποι δοῦλοι τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου εἰσίν.’ καὶ ὑγιάνας καὶ ἀποκατασταθεὶς ὡς ἦν τὸ πρῴην εἶχεν αὐτοὺς ἐν τιμῇ καὶ πάντες οἱ μεγιστᾶνες αὐτοῦ. παρακληθεὶς δὲ παρ’ αὐτῶν τῶν ἁγίων ἐποίησεν εὐθέως θείαν αὐτοῦ διάταξιν εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν Ῥωμαϊκὴν πολιτείαν, ὥστε μηδένα τῶν λεγομένων χριστιανῶν ὑπομεῖναί τι κακὸν μήτε δὲ κωλύεσθαι θρησκεύειν ὡς βούλονται. Ὁ δὲ ἐπιστάτης αὐτῶν εἰσαχθεὶς ὑπὸ τῶν ἄλλων ἀξιωματικῶν ἰατρῶν τῶν ἀκολουθούντων τῷ αὐτῷ βασιλεῖ καὶ ἑωρακὼς τὴν πρὸς τοὺς ἁγίους ἀγάπην, ἣν εἶχεν ὁ βασιλεὺς πρὸς αὐτούς, φθονῶν αὐτοῖς ἐκαρτέρησε. καὶ μετὰ τὸ ἐξελθεῖν τὸν αὐτὸν βασιλέα Καρῖνον ἐκ τῶν Κυρηστικῶν εἰς τὰ Περσικὰ δόλῳ ὁ ἐπιστάτης τῶν ἁγίων Κοσμᾶ καὶ Δαμιανοῦ λαβὼν αὐτοὺς μετὰ τῶν ἰδίων αὐτοῦ ἀνθρώπων ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσιν ἐκρήμνισεν αὐτοὺς ὡς ὄντας ἐκ τοῦ δόγματος τῶν χριστιανῶν καὶ οὔτως οἱ δίκαιοι ἐτελειώθησαν. Ἐν δὲ τῷ μέσῳ χρόνῳ τοῦ πολέμου ὁ αὐτὸς Καρῖνος τελευτᾷ ἰδίῳ θανάτῳ, ὢν ἐνιαυτῶν λβʹ.

‘After the reign of Numerian, Carinus Augustus, his brother, reigned for two years. He was short, fat, with a broad face, fair skin, curly receding hair and a thin beard; he was magnanimous. He favoured the Green faction.

As soon as he began to reign he began a campaign against the Persians to avenge his brother Numerian, and he overcame them completely. During his reign the saints Kosmas and Damianos were killed in the following manner, because they were envied by their superintendent. They were doctors by training and were highly favoured by the emperor Carinus because they worked cures; for this is what had happened to the emperor Carinus. After he had gained the upper hand in a battle with the Persians and had cut down an enormous number of them, a very harsh winter set in and the Persians asked for three months' truce. Because of the harshness of the winter he spared his own army, because of their exhaustion, and he granted the request for peace for three months.

Taking his own forces he went to the region known as Kyrrhestike, wishing to rest his army and to have the wounded treated. He arrived in Kyrrhestike in winter and was staying there, dealing with the business of the war, when it suddenly happened that his face was twisted backwards. The many doctors in attendance on the emperor were not able to help him at all, so the doctors of the region were summoned to the emperor, because they knew the airs of their own region. Amongst these was the superintendent of the saints Kosmas and Damianos who came to the emperor, and the saints came with him. When the doctors were unable to help the emperor Carinus, the saints Kosmas and Damianos had a secret discussion with some of the emperor's nobles so as to cure him. The saints were brought in to the emperor in the night and they cured him by their prayer. He put his trust in them and said, "These men are the servants of the most high God". The emperor, restored to his previous state of good health, held them in honour as did all his nobles. At the request of the saints he immediately made a sacred ordinance to the whole Roman state that none of those known as Christians should suffer any harm, nor be prevented from worshipping as they wished.

Their superintendent, who had been brought in by the other high-ranking doctors attending the emperor, saw the favour which the emperor had for the saints, and was in a state of envy towards them. After the emperor Carinus' departure from Kyrrhestike for Persia, the saints' superintendent took Kosmas and Damianos by trickery with his own men and threw them over a precipice in the mountains because they were of the Christian belief. Thus the just men met their end.

In the middle of war the emperor Carinus died a natural death, at the age of 32.’

Text: Thurn 2000. Translation Jeffreys, Jeffreys, and Scott 1986.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kosmas and Damianos, brothers, physician martyrs of Syria : S00385

Saint Name in Source

Κοσμᾶς, Δαμιανός

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antioch on the Orontes

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

Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul Antioch on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Malalas

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Physicians Soldiers


The Chronographia of John Malalas (c. 490–c. 570) is a Christian chronicle of universal history, from Adam to the death of Justinian I (565). It appears to have been composed in two parts, the earlier of which focuses on the history of Antioch and the East, ending in c. 528 or 532. The second part focuses on the urban history of Constantinople up to the death of Justinian. Malalas is likely to have pursued a career in the imperial administration at both Antioch and Constantinople, writing the two parts of his chronicle while living in these two cities. Malalas was widely used as a source by Byzantine chroniclers and historians, including John of Ephesus, John of Antioch, Evagrius Scholasticus, the Paschal Chronicle, John of Nikiu, John of Damascus, Theophanes, George the Monk, pseudo-Symeon, Kedrenos, Zonaras, Theodore Skoutariotes, and Nikephoros Kallistou Xanthopoulos. The text of the chronicle is preserved in a very fragmentary form, based on quotations in other sources (notably the Paschal Chronicle and Theophanes), and on a Slavonic translation which follows a more extensive version of the original text. It is believed that we now have about 90% of the text. On the composition and manuscript tradition of the text, see Thurn 2000, and:


Malalas' record of martyrs in his Chronicle is evidently based on his hagiographical readings. His entry about Kosmas and Damianos attests to the existence of their martyrdom account in the early 6th century.


Text: Dindorf, L., Ioannis Malalae Chronographia (Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae; Bonn, 1831). Thurn, J., Ioannis Malalae Chronographia (Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae 35; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2000). Translation: Jeffreys, E., Jeffreys, M., and Scott, R., The Chronicle of John Malalas: A Translation (Sydney, 1986). On Malalas: Carrara, L., Meier, M., and Radtki-Jansen, C. (eds.), Die Weltchronik des Johannes Malalas. Quellenfragen (Malalas-Studien 2; Göttingen: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2017). Jeffreys, E., Croke, B., and Scott, R. (eds.), Studies in John Malalas (Sydney, 1990). Meier, M., Radtki-Jansen, C., and Schulz, F. (eds.), Die Weltchronik des Johannes Malalas: Autor, Werk, Überlieferung (Malalas-Studien 1; Göttingen: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2016). Treadgold, W.T. The Early Byzantine Historians (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 235-256.

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