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E06585: The ‘epic’ Greek Martyrdom of *Patrikios (bishop and martyr of Prusa in Bithynia, S01763) and his companions, Akakios, Menandros and Polyainos, is written probably in Prusa, and probably at some point in the 5th-8th century, a later date being more likely than an early one.

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posted on 2018-09-24, 00:00 authored by Nikolaos
Martyrdom of Patrikios of Prusa (BHG 1432-1432a)

Very brief summary:

The proconsul Ioulios is ill and arrives at the hot springs at mount Olympus in Bithynia in order to sacrifice to Hygeia and Asklepios. He questions the Christian Patrikios about his faith and challenges him to explain the origins of the hot water of the springs. Patrikios launches into a learned exposition of the structure of the created world (including a quote from Homer in support of the location of Tartaros). He explains that the springs are fed by abyssal waters, which accumulate heat according to the degree of their proximity to the subterranean fires of Hell. The governor has the saint thrown into the boiling water, but he emerges miraculously unscathed. The governor then orders his execution by beheading on 19 May, and his relics are buried by Christians ‘in the public εὔριπος’ (see Evidence Discussion).

In addition, the later revised version BHG 1432a also mentions twice (in the prologue and in the execution scene) Patrikios’ three companion martyrs, Akakios, Menandros and Polyainos, who are unknown to the original BHG 1432.

Text: Halkin 1960, 130-144.
Summary: N. Kälviäinen.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Patrikios, bishop and martyr of Prusa in Bithynia : S01763

Saint Name in Source

Πατρίκιος, Ἀκάκιος, Μένανδρος, Πολύαινος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

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

Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Punishing miracle Miracles experienced by the saint

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Officials Pagans Soldiers

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


The Martyrdom of Patrikios of Prusa is extant in two versions. The older BHG 1432 is currently known to be preserved in five manuscripts of the 9th-12th century: The later BHG 1432a is transmitted in a single manuscript of the 12th century: Of these, the first version, BHG 1432, is clearly the older text, a typical early Greek martyrdom account bearing the familiar characteristics of the 'epic' subgenre (Martyrdoms characterised by a relative detachment from historical reality and often including extravagant, even fantastical, elements; see H. Delehaye, Les Passions des martyres et les genres littéraires, Bruxelles, 1966 (2nd ed.), 171-226). Without any specific grounds for a more concrete dating, this and many other similar texts can only generally be attributed to somewhere around the 5th-8th centuries. BHG 1432 is written in the simple straightforward koine Greek typical of this genre. The second text, BHG 1432a, on the other hand, is a revision of the original BHG 1432 in a more elevated, rhetorical style.


It may be noted that the cult of Patrikios is not securely attested before the 9th century (Halkin 1960, 133; however, cf. E03744), which may indicate that the Martyrdom too could be a relatively late composition. The fact that the persecuting governor Ioulios is alternately given the conflicting titles of proconsul (ἀνθύπατος) and consularis (ὑπατικός) certainly suggests that the text may have been composed in a milieu where these terms were no longer relevant in practice and were picked up by the writer from his reading of earlier martyrdom accounts. The problematic word εὔριπος, designating the place of the martyr’s burial, has been understood as meaning a canal or a trench, perhaps somehow connected to the public baths; however, as suggested to me by Efthymios Rizos, it can also refer to a type of cistern of oblong shape, which is probably the more likely meaning here. In any case the idea seems to be that his tomb was located in the context of this specific structure, which is mentioned essentially as a landmark (Halkin 1960, 138). As for Patrikios’ companion martyrs in BHG 1432a, Akakios, Menandros and Polyainos, they are clearly a later addition made to the revised text; this may or may not reflect a pre-existing cult of these otherwise unknown martyrs, later being associated with that of Patrikios. However, BHG 1432a is even more difficult to date than the original, and could well date from the Middle Byzantine period before the 12th century. It may be noted that the 10th century Georgian calendar of Ioane Zosime, based on 5th to 7th century material from Palestine, does not mention Akakios, Menandros and Polyainos (E03744).


Text: Halkin, F., “Les deux Passions de saint Patrice évêque de Pruse en Bithynie,” Analecta Bollandiana 78 (1960), 130-144.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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