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E07808: Ammianus Marcellinus, in his Res Gestae, alludes to the emperor Julian's order to remove the remains of Christians buried around the Castalian Spring at Daphne, near Antioch in Syria, in 362, which included those of *Babylas (bishop and martyr of Antioch, S00061). Written in Latin at Rome in the 380s.

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posted on 2019-10-25, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae, 22.12.8

Haecque dum ita procedunt more pacis multorum curiosior Iulianus nouam consilii uiam ingressus est uenas fatidicas Castalii recludere cogitans fontis, quem obstruxisse Caesar dicitur Hadrianus mole saxorum ingenti ueritus ne, ut ipse praecinentibus aquis capessendam rem publicam comperit, etiam alii similia docerentur: ... affatibus circumhumata corpora statuit exinde transferri eo ritu, quo Athenienses insulam purgauerant Delon.

'While these things were thus going on, as if in time of peace, Julian, devoted to many interests, entered upon a new way of consultation, and thought of opening the prophetic springs of the Castalian fount; this, it is said, Caesar Hadrian had blocked up with a huge mass of stones, for fear that (as he himself had learned from the prophetic waters that he was destined to become emperor), others also might get similar information. And Julian, after invoking , decided that the bodies which had been buried around the spring, should be moved to another place, under the same ceremonial with which the Athenians had purified the island of Delos.'

Text: Seyfarth 1978. Translation: Rolfe, 1935-39, adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Babylas, bishop and martyr of Antioch, and companions : S00061

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Destruction/desecration of saint's shrine

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Pagans


Ammianus Marcellinus (c. 325/330–after 391) is the most important historian of the 4th century. Born in Syria and a native Greek-speaker, he pursued a career in the army under Constantius II. By the 380s, he had settled in Rome where he wrote a Latin history (Res Gestae) of the Roman Empire from the accession of Nerva in AD 96 to the death of Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The early books are lost, and the extant text begins with events in 354.


Though Ammianus refers to the event in a particularly obscure and allusive (if not deliberately misleading) fashion, there is no doubt that his reference in this passage is to Julian's order to remove the remains of the martyr Babylas from their place of burial in the precincts of the temple of Apollo at Daphne, after he came to believe that their presence was silencing the oracle. This is described in detail by John Chrysostom (E00095 and E02671) and the ecclesiastical historians Sozomen (E02274), Socrates (E02293), and Rufinus (E04541).


Edition: Seyfarth, W., Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae. 2 vols. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1978). Translation: Rolfe, J.C., Ammianus Marcellinus (Loeb Classical Library 300, 315, 331; Cambridge MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1935-1939).

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