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E06968: The 'epic' Greek Martyrdom of *Rouphos, Philemon, Antipatros, Magnos, Theodotos, Theostychos, Artemas, Thaumasios, and Theognis (Martyrs of Cyzicus, S02638) recounts their arrest, interrogation, imprisonment and beheading by the sword. As soon as the martyrs’ bodies are buried by a pious man, they begin performing healing miracles. Possibly written in Cyzicus (north-west Asia Minor) in the 7th century or later.

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posted on 2018-10-22, 00:00 authored by cpapavarnavas
Martyrdom of Rouphos, Philemon, Antipatros, Magnos, Theodotos, Theostychos, Artemas, Thaumasios, and Theognis, martyrs of Cyzicus (BHG 2386)


§ 1: During the pagan persecutions, nine Christian men are apprehended and brought before the governor (of Cyzicus). They categorically refuse to obey the governor’s order and sacrifice to the pagan gods.

§ 2: He then sentences them to harsh torture. While the Christian men endure the corporal punishment boldly and feel no pain, the executioners become exhausted from the whole procedure. Thereupon, the governor commits the nine men to a dark prison, where they start chanting psalms to God.

§ 3: Seven days later, the imprisoned men are ordered to be brought before the court. During their interrogation, they make it clear that they prefer to die for Christ, rather than sacrifice to the pagan idols. The governor, enraged at their intransigence, decides on their beheading by the sword, which takes place on 4 April. A pious man, who heard about their death, bribes the guards with three hundred miliaresia to give him the bodies of the martyrs in order to bury them properly. Many healing miracles then start happening at the place.

§ 4: A devout man, who had paralysis in his arms (μηδόλως τὰς χεῖρας κινῆσαι δυνάμενος, § 4.47), resorts to the shrine of the saints and begin imploring them over their grave to heal him. As his persistent prayers are not answered, he seats himself on the tomb of the saints (ἀνακαθίσας τίθησιν ἑαυτὸν ἐπάνω τῆς σοροῦ τῶν ἁγίων, § 4.50) and intensifies his orisons, wet with tears. At some point, he falls asleep and has the following dream: The saints head towards him and anoint his whole body with oil. Then they hold his hands and announce to him that he is now healed. When he awakes, he praises God who through the intercession of the saints offered him salvation.

§ 5: Another (unnamed) man of noble rank becomes seriously ill and suffers from intense fever (πυρετὸς […] σφοδρός, § 5.57-58) along with constipation or an entire intestinal obstruction (ἔμφραξιν and δυσεντερίαν, § 5.58; cf. Lackner 1973: 40, n. 27, 48, n. 73 and 74). He visits the sanctuary of the saints to pray for his healing. The saints, who hear his prayers and solicitations, heal him in a dream. The next day, he leaves the shrine and proclaims the miracle everywhere. Many other paralysed, sick or possessed people also experience healing miracles at the grave of the martyrs.

Text: Lackner 1973: 45-48.
Summary: C. Papavarnavas.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martyrs of Cyzicus: Rufos, Philemon, Antipatros, Magnos, Theodotos, Theostyches, Artemas, Thaumasios, and Theognes : S02638

Saint Name in Source

Ροῦφος, Φιλήμων, Άντίπατρος, Μάγνος, Θεόδοτος, Θεόστυχος, Ἀρτεμᾶς, Θαυμάσιος, Θεόγνις

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, village, etc


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

Cyzicus Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Chant and religious singing

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Begging

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous power through intermediary

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Aristocrats Officials Pagans

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Construction of cult building to contain relics Reliquary – institutionally owned Other activities with relics


For the manuscript tradition, see: The martyrdom account (BHG 2386) is preserved in a single manuscript dating from the third quarter of the 10th century (Patmos, Mone tou Hagiou Ioannou tou Theologou, Cod. Patm. 254, fol. 23v-25r). For the dating of the manuscript, see Follieri 1971: 343. For a thorough analysis of this manuscript, see Halkin 1954: 15-34. For the edition, see Bibliography.


According to its editor, W. Lackner (1973, 39-45), the Greek version examined here (BHG 2386) is based on an extended – today lost – Greek text which must have been written between the first half of the 7th century (620-634) and the second to third quarter of the 9th century (c. 840-886). His arguments arise from the fact that a kanon by Joseph the Hymnographer (9th century) and some Greek Synaxaria (11th-13th century) include details of the story that the text discussed here (BHG 2386) completely ignores. This may be an indication that the kanon and the Synaxaria used an earlier and more extensive version of the Martyrdom as a source, and that our text is not particularly early. However, the possibility that our text, BHG 2386, may have been produced before the 8th century cannot be ruled out. As far as the cult of saints is concerned, the following aspects are of particular interest: 1. The nine men suffered their martyrdom in the town of Cyzicus (Asia Minor): μαρτυρησάντων ἐν Κυζίκῳ τῇ πόλει. This information, omitted from the text, is provided by the title of the martyrdom account. Thus, the cult of these saints was presumably associated with Cyzicus. 2. The text reveals the significant role of dream visions in the healing miracles and practices of incubation. According to Lackner (1973: 42-43), it is almost certain that the two healing episodes derive from the oldest version of the Martyrdom which is now lost. 3. The miraculous healing of the man, who spent a night sleeping on the tomb (σορός) of the saints, since his prayers had not been answered up to that point, is the most striking feature of this story. He obviously was in such despair, that he decided to seat himself directly on the tomb to force the saints to notice him and fulfil his request. 4. The role of 'dead saints' as intercessors between God and man is attested through healing miracles which are performed by the grace of God. 5. Tears accompanying the prayers and orisons of the faithful indicated repentance and contrition and played a crucial role in the practices of approaching and venerating saints.


Text: Lackner, W., "Eine unedierte Passion der neun Märtyrer von Kyzikos (BHG 2386)," Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 22 (1973), 45-48. Further Reading: Halkin, F., "Un ménologe de Patmos (ms. 254) et ses légendes inédites," Analecta Bollandiana 72 (1954), 15-34. Follieri, E., "Santa Trifena di Cizico," Analecta Bollandiana 89 (1971), 343-362. Hinterberger, M., "Tränen in der byzantinischen Literatur: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Emotionen," Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 56 (2006), 27–51. Hinterberger, M., "'Messages of the Soul': Tears, Smiles, Laughter and Emotions Expressed by them in Byzantine Literature," in: M. Alexiou and D. Cairns (eds.), Greek Laughter and Tears: Antiquity and After (Edinburgh Leventis Studies 8; Edinburgh 2017), 125–145.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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