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E06070: Jordanes, in his Romana, written in Latin in Constantinople in the mid 6th century, records that the emperor Domitian, after failing to kill *John (the Apostle and Evangelist, S00042) by boiling him in oil, exiled him to the island of Patmos where he had his vision of the Apocalypse.

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posted on 2018-08-01, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Jordanes, Romana 265

Domitianus frater Titi, filius Vespasianis, regnavit ann. xv m. v [...] Manusque in Christianos iniciens, Iohannem apostolum et euangelistam, postquam in fervente oleo missum non potuisset extingui, Pathmo eum insulam exulem relegavit, ubi apocalypsim vidit.

'Domitian, brother of Titus, son of Vespasian, reigned 15 years, 5 months [...] Raising his hand against the Christians, he relegated John the Apostle and Evangelist as an exile, after he could not be killed by throwing him in boiling oil, to the island of Patmos, where he saw the Apocalypse.'

Text: Mommsen, 1882, 34. Translation: David Lambert.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John, the Apostle and Evangelist : S00042

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracles experienced by the saint Miraculous protection - other

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family


Jordanes was a writer of Gothic origin active in Constantinople in the mid 6th century. Two of his works survive, of which one is De summa temporum vel origine actibusque gentis Romanorum ('On the whole of history, or the origin and acts of the Roman people'), more generally known simply as the Romana, a general history of the world, beginning with a survey of biblical and pre-Roman history from the Creation, followed by a history of the Romans from the foundation of Rome to Jordanes' own time. According to his own statement he wrote this work in about 551 (the 24th year of the reign of Justinian: Romana 363). His other surviving work is the better known Getica, a history of the Goths.


Most of Jordanes' account of the early Roman empire is based on Jerome's Chronicle. It includes references to the martyrdom of Peter and Paul at Rome under Nero (Romana 262, which simply reproduces Jerome), and this reference to John the Evangelist. According to Mommsen the passage as whole is based on Jerome, Chronicle 2110, but Jerome has no mention of boiling oil. The tradition that John had miraculously survived being plunged into boiling oil before he was exiled to Patmos was an old one, however: it appears in Tertullian's De praescriptione haereticorum 36.


Edition: Mommsen, T., Iordanis Romana et Getica (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores antiquissimi 5.1; Berlin, 1882). Further reading: Burnet, R., Les douze apôtres: Histoire de la réception des figures apostoliques dans le christianisme ancien (Turnhout, 2014).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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