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E05715: John Malalas in his Chronographia mentions the martyrdom of *Gelasinos (mime and martyr of Heliopolis in Phoenicia, S02157) under Licinius (r. 311-324). Written in Greek at Antioch (Syria) or Constantinople, in the mid-6th c.

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posted on 2018-06-13, 00:00 authored by erizos
John Malalas, Chronographia, 12.50

Ἐν δὲ τῇ αὐτοῦ βασιλείᾳ ἐχαρίσατο ἐλευθερίαν τοῖς χριστιανοῖς εἰς τὸ μὴ κρύπτεσθαι αὐτούς, ἀλλὰ δημοσιεύειν. συνέβη δὲ ἐν τῷ χρόνῳ τῆς αὐτοῦ βασιλείας ἐν Ἡλιουπόλει τῆς Φοινίκης μαρτυρῆσαι τὸν ἅγιον Γελάσινον· ἦν γὰρ μῖμος δεύτερος καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸ παιγνίδιν πανδήμου ἀγομένου· καὶ πλήθους θεωροῦντος ἔβαλον αὐτὸν εἰς βοῦττιν μεγάλην βαλανείου γέμουσαν ὕδατος χλιαροῦ, καταγελῶντες τοῦ χριστιανικοῦ δόγματος καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου βαπτίσματος. ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς Γελάσινος ὁ μῖμος βαπτισθεὶς καὶ ἀνελθὼν ἐκ τοῦ βουττίου καὶ φορέσας ἱμάτια λευκὰ οὐκέτι ἠνέσχετο θεατρίσαι λέγων ἐπὶ τοῦ δήμου, ὅτι· ‘χριστιανός εἰμι· εἶδον γὰρ δύναμιν θεοῦ φοβερὰν ἐν τῷ βαπτίζεσθαί με ἐν τῷ βουττίῳ καὶ χριστιανὸς ἀποθνήσκω.’ καὶ ἀκούσας ταῦτα ὁ δῆμος ὅλος ὁ θεωρῶν ἐν τῷ θεάτρῳ τῆς πόλεως ἐμάνη σφόδρα· καὶ ὁρμήσαντες ἐκ τῶν βάθρων εἰς τὴν θυμέλην ἐκράτησαν αὐτὸν καὶ σύραντες αὐτὸν ἔξω τοῦ θεάτρου, ὡς φορεῖ τὰ λευκὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ, λιθοβολήσαντες ἐφόνευσαν αὐτόν, καὶ οὕτως ἐτελειώθη ὁ δίκαιος. καὶ λαβόντες τὸ λείψανον αὐτοῦ οἱ ἐκ τοῦ γένους αὐτοῦ ἀπήγαγον αὐτὸ εἰς τὴν κώμην τὴν λεγομένην Μαριάμμην, ὅθεν ὑπῆρχεν, ἔξω οὖσαν Δαμασκοῦ τῆς πόλεως ἀπὸ ἑνὸς ἡμίσεος μιλίου. καὶ ἐκτίσθη αὐτῷ εὐκτήριος οἶκος.

‘In his reign he [Licinius] bestowed freedom on the Christians, so that they did not have to hide but could come out publicly. In the time of his reign there occurred the martyrdom of Saint Gelasinos at Helioupolis in Phoenice. He was second mime and came on to give a comic turn during a popular festival. In the presence of a crowd of spectators they threw him into a large bath-house tub full of warm water, mocking the Christian religion and holy baptism. When Gelasinos the mime was immersed and came out of the tub, he put on white robes and refused to continue performing, saying before the people, "I am a Christian, for I saw a tremendous vision of God while being immersed in the tub, and I will die a Christian". When they heard this, all the people watching in the city theatre became violently enraged. They rushed down from their seats to the stage, took hold of him and, dragging him out of the theatre, as he was wearing his white robes, they stoned him to death. That is how the righteous man died. Taking his corpse, his relatives conveyed it to the village known as Mariamme, where he came from, which was about half a mile outside the city of Damascus. A church was built in his honour.’

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Genesius, mime artist and martyr of Rome : S00508 Gelasinos, mime and martyr of Heliopolis in Phoenicia, ob. 311-324 : S02157

Saint Name in Source

Γελάσινος Γελάσινος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antioch on the Orontes Constantinople

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

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

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Malalas

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

The socially marginal (beggars, prostitutes, thieves)

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


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:


This is the only extant record in the Greek tradition of the legend of a mime miraculously converted to Christianity and dying a martyr. Malalas' entry is almost certainly based on a hagiographic account which has not survived, and which was presumably associated with the saint's shrine near Damascus. The legend became popular in the Latin tradition, where it was associated with martyrs in Rome and Arles, known by the name Genesius (E02497).


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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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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