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E05730: John Malalas in his Chronographia mentions the conversion of the synagogue of Daphne at Antioch into a shrine of *Leontios (martyr of Tripolis, Phoenicia, S00216), after a riot of the circus factions in 507. In the context of the same events, members of the Greens sought sanctuary in a church of *John (probably the Baptist, S00020) outside the walls of Antioch; the right of sanctuary was ignored by the authorities and one person was slain in the church. Written in Greek at Antioch (Syria) or Constantinople, in the mid-6th c.

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posted on 2018-06-14, 00:00 authored by erizos
John Malalas, Chronographia, 16.6

(…) καὶ μετ’ ὀλίγον καιρὸν ἐπετελέσθη ἐν τῇ Δάφνῃ Ἀντιοχείας κατὰ τὸ ἔθος ἡ συνήθεια τῶν Ὀλυμπίων ἡ λεγομένη· καὶ τοῦ πλήθους τῶν Ἀντιοχέων ἀνελθόντος ἐν Δάφνῃ οἱ ἐκ τῆς εἰσελασίας ὁρμήσαντες μετὰ τοῦ ἡνιόχου Καλλιόπα κατελθόντες ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ τῶν Ἰουδαίων τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ Δάφνῃ ἐνέπρησαν αὐτήν, πραιδεύσαντες πάντα ὅσα ἦν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ καὶ ἐφόνευσαν πολλούς, μηνὶ ἰουλίῳ θʹ, ἰνδικτιῶνος ιεʹ. καὶ πήξαντες ἐκεῖ τὸν τίμιον σταυρὸν ἐποίησαν γενέσθαι μαρτύριον τοῦ ἁγίου Λεοντίου. τούτων δὲ γνωσθέντων τῷ αὐτῷ Ἀναστασίῳ βασιλεῖ προηγάγετο κόμητα ἀνατολῆς τὸν ἀπὸ κομμερκιαρίων Προκόπιον τὸν Ἀντιοχέα· ὅστις κατήνεγκε μεθ’ ἑαυτοῦ ἀπὸ θείου τύπου νυκτέπαρχον Μηνᾶν ὀνόματι, Βυζάντιον. καὶ ταραχῆς γενομένης παρὰ τῶν τοῦ Πρασίνου μέρους ἠβουλήθη ὁ αὐτὸς Μηνᾶς κατασχεῖν τινας τῶν ἀτάκτων· καὶ γνόντες ἐκεῖνοι προσέφυγον εἰς τὸν ἅγιον Ἰωάννην ἔξω τῆς πόλεως. καὶ γνοὺς τοῦτο ὁ νυκτέπαρχος ἐν τῷ μεσημβρίῳ ἀπῆλθε μετὰ Γοτθικῆς βοηθείας εἰς τὸν ἅγιον Ἰωάννην· καὶ ἐξαίφνης εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν ἅγιον οἶκον, καὶ ηὗρεν ἐκεῖ ὑποκάτω τῆς ἁγίας τραπέζης τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου τινὰ τῶν ἀτάκτων ὀνόματι Ἐλευθέριον· καὶ κεντήσας αὐτὸν ξίφει ἐκεῖ, σύρας ἐκ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου τὸ λείψανον αὐτοῦ, ἀπεκεφάλισεν, ὥστε τὸ ἅγιον θυσιαστήριον πληρωθῆναι αἵματος. καὶ λαβὼν τὴν κεφαλὴν εἰσήρχετο ἐπὶ τὴν πόλιν Ἀντιόχειαν· καὶ ἐλθὼν ἕως τῆς γεφύρης τοῦ Ὀρέντου ποταμοῦ ἔρριψε τὴν κεφαλὴν εἰς τὸν ποταμόν. καὶ εἰσῆλθεν ἔγγιστα Προκοπίου τοῦ κόμητος τῆς ἀνατολῆς διηγούμενος αὐτῷ τὰ συμβάντα. καὶ μετὰ τὸ μεσημβρινὸν ἐγνώσθη τοῦτο τοῖς Πρασίνοις· καὶ ἐξελθόντες εἰς τὸν ἅγιον Ἰωάννην ηὗρον τὸν κορμὸν Ἐλευθερίου. καὶ λαβόντες εἰς κραβαταρέαν τὸ λείψανον αὐτοῦ εἰσήγαγον εἰς τὴν πόλιν βαστάζοντες αὐτό.

(…) A short time later the celebration of the Olympic games was held according to custom at Daphne in Antioch. The Antiochene populace went up to Daphne, and those who had been on the rampage set off with the charioteer Kalliopas and went down to the Jewish synagogue which was in Daphne; they torched it, plundered everything that was in the synagogue and massacred many people. This was on 9th July of the 15th indiction. They set up the holy cross there, and turned the place into a shrine (martyrion) of Saint Leontios. When these events were reported to the emperor Anastasius, he appointed Prokopios of Antioch, the ex-commerciarius, as comes Orientis. The latter took out with him, in accordance with a sacred decree, a man named Menas of Byzantion as praefectus vigilum. When a riot broke out, caused by members of the Green faction, Menas decided to arrest some of the rioters. They heard about this and sought refuge at Saint John's outside the city. When the praefectus vigilum heard about this, he went at noon to Saint John's with a regiment of Goths. He stormed into the church by surprise and found there one of the troublemakers, named Eleutherios, under the holy altar of the sanctuary. He stabbed him with a sword there, dragged his body from the sanctuary and cut off his head, with the result that the holy sanctuary was drenched in blood. Then, taking the head, he set off for the city of Antioch and when he reached the bridge over the river Orontes, he threw the head into the river. He then went to Prokopios, the comes Orientis, and told him of these events. This was reported to the Greens during the afternoon and they went out to Saint John's, where they found Eleutherios' headless corpse. They took the body, put it on a litter and carried it on their hands back into the city.’

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Leontios, martyr of Tripolis (Syria) : S00216 John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source

Λεόντιος Ἰωάννης

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

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Seeking asylum at church/shrine

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people Jews 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' information that the shrine of Leontios in Daphne was founded in 507 is thought to be inaccurate, since the shrine was probably established by Severus of Antioch in 512, who brought relics of the saint and introduced his cult at Antioch (Mayer and Allen 2012, 89-90). The church of John the Baptist outside the gates plays a prominent role in the Life of Symeon the Stylite the Younger (E04126).


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. Further reading: Mayer, W., and Allen, P., The Churches of Syrian Antioch (300‒638 CE) (Late Antique History and Religion 5; Leuven: Peeters, 2012).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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