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E07127: The Greek Martyrdom of *Basileus (bishop and martyr of Amasea, S01634) by the priest Ioannes of Nicomedia, recounts the martyrdom of its hero in Nicomedia, the retrieval of his body in Sinope, and his burial at a church in Amasea, mentioning his feasts on 28 March and 26 April. It also exhorts future copyists to avoid changing the text for fear of heretical alteration. Written in Nicomedia or Amasea, in the late 4th or the 5th century.

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posted on 2018-11-22, 00:00 authored by erizos
Ioannes, priest of Nicomedia, Martyrdom of Basileus of Amasea (BHG 239)


The story of Glaphyra, the imperial maid
1-7. After the defeat of Maxentius and the death of Maximinus, Licinius, who is married to Constantine’s sister, becomes emperor of the East. Initially, his reign brings peace for the Christians, but he soon comes out as a pagan, and sexually assaults all women at the court. His wife reports this to Constantine. Among the targets of Licinius’ lasciviousness is a Christian maid, a virgin called Glaphyra, who reports this to the empress. The latter initially hides her, reporting that she has died. She soon gives money and servants to Glaphyra, and instructs her to leave for Armenia to hide. Glaphyra arrives in Amasea and decides to settle there. She meets the young councillor Kointos, who is a Christian and informs her that the city has a Christian community and introduces her to its bishop Basileus. She donates almost all her riches for the construction of a church and writes to the empress who also sends money to Basileus.

The arrest, imprisonment, and martyrdom of Basileus in Nicomedia
8-11. Glaphyra’s letter is discovered by one of the emperor’s servants, and Licinius is notified that Glaphyra is alive. Enraged, he orders that she and Basileus be arrested and brought to Nicomedia. Galphyra dies before the soldiers arrive, and they arrest Basileus and his deacons Parthenios and Theotimos. Basileus is imprisoned in Nicomedia, whilst the two deacons are kept at the metatum (inn) of a certain Elpidophoros, a hospitable Christian man. Elpidophoros bribes the prison guard and is allowed to visit Basileus and pray with him during the nights. On the third day, Basileus appears in tears during the singing of the Psalms, and towards dawn he discloses to his companions that God has revealed to him that he is about to be martyred. He instructs them to elect Eutychios, son of Kallistratos, as his successor. He bids them farewell and entrusts them to the protection of Elpidophoros.

11-15. The emperor summons Basileus and interrogates him through the Prefect of the City. After reproaching him for failing to report Glaphyra, the emperor offers to appoint Basileus to high office, if he apostatises. Basileus refuses, and calls upon Licinius to repent and return to the Christian faith. The emperor instructs the Prefect to have Basileus tormented and, unless he apostatises, to have him beheaded and thrown into the sea. Basileus is followed by a crowd of Christians to the seashore, where Elpidophoros bribes the executioners and they allow the bishop to give a last sermon and blessing. Basileus gives his blessing to the Christians and is beheaded. Elpidophoros attempts to bribe the executioners again, so that he might take the body and bury it, but they refuse, fearing the emperor’s wrath. Basileus’ body and head are thrown into the sea, in different places.

The relic is retrieved in Sinope and buried in Amasea
16-19. An angel instructs Elpidophoros to take the two deacons and go to Sinope, where they will meet their bishop, which they do. Elpidophoros has another vision, instructing him to throw nets into the gulf which is on the right side of the city, indicating a bright house where the saint was sitting in the company of many soldiers. They hire the boat of a group of fishermen preparing to embark. They attempt three times to throw the nets. Theotimos and Parthenios catch nothing, but Elpidophoros, having invoking Christ’s name, retrieves the body of Basileus, which they take to the shore. The body has been miraculously united with the head, it has suffered no harm at all, and gives off a sweet smell.

20. They enshroud the body, place it in a wooden casket and, five days later, transfer it to Amasea, where they bury it at the church which Basileus had built. The body is buried in from of the east side of the church, where it is said that several bodies of martyrs and bishops rest. Basileus is now the protector of his church against pagans and heretics.

21-22. Informed of these events by his sister, Constantine campaigns against Licinius, deposes, and arrests him. Licinius dies of a disease like Maximinus. Constantine liberates the Christian religion and restores the administration of the Roman Empire to the divisions established by Diocletian. Basileus died on 28 March and was buried on 26 April.

23-26. The story was recounted by Elpidophoros to Ioannes, a deacon in Nicomedia. Ioannes met him during the Arian controversy and was instructed by him about the divinity of Christ. The author exhorts the reader who will wish to copy the text not to add or remove anything, so as to avoid heretical interventions.

Text: Acta Sanctorum.
Summary: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Basileus, bishop and martyr of Amasea, ob. c. 320 : S01634

Saint Name in Source


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 Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Nicomedia Amasea

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

Nicomedia Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Amasea Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Saint aiding or preventing the translation of relics Miraculous behaviour of relics/images Bodily incorruptibility Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future) Miraculous sound, smell, light

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Monarchs and their family Torturers/Executioners Officials Merchants and artisans

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


For the manuscript tradition, see:


This text recounts the legend of one of the main cults practised at the at the Pontic city of Amasea, that of the bishop and martyr Basileus. In the late 6th century, this text was quoted by Eustratius of Constantinople in his work on the State of the Souls after Death, where it is described as an ancient and reliable text (E04192).


Text: Acta Sanctorum, Aprilis III (1675), pp. L-LV

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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