previous next

Georgius, bishop of Alexandria, with two others is dragged through the streets by the Pagans of Alexandria, torn to pieces, and burned to ashes; and no one was punished for it.

At about that same time, that notorious state- secretary Gaudentius, who (as I said before) 1 had been sent to Africa by Constantius to oppose Julian there, and also Julianus, a former vice-governor, an intemperate partisan of the same faction, were brought back in chains and punished with death. [2] Then, too, Artemius, sometime military commander in Egypt, 2 since the Alexandrians heaped upon him a mass of atrocious charges, suffered capital [p. 259] punishment. After him the son of Marcellus, at one time commander of the cavalry and infantry, 3 was publicly executed, on the ground that he had aspired to the throne. Finally, even Romanus and Vincentius, tribunes of the first and the second corps of the targeteers, were convicted of designs beyond their powers and exiled. 4

[3] Hardly had a brief time elapsed, when the Alexandrians, on learning of the death of Artemius, whom they dreaded, for fear that he would return with his power restored (for so he had threatened) and do harm to many for the wrong that he had suffered, turned their wrath against the bishop Georgius, who had often, so to speak, made them feel his poisonous fangs. [4] The story goes that he was born in a fullery at Epiphania, a town of Cilicia, 5 and flourished to the ruin of many people. Then, contrary to his own advantage and that of the commonwealth, he was ordained bishop of Alexandria, a city which on its own impulse, and without ground, is frequently roused to rebellion and rioting, 6 as the oracles themselves show. 7 [5] To the frenzied minds of these people Georgius himself was also a powerful incentive by pouring, after his appointment, into the ready ears of Constantius charges against many, alleging that they were rebellious against his authority; and, forgetful of his calling, which counselled only justice and mildness, he descended to the informer's deadly practices. [6] And, among other matters, it was said that he maliciously [p. 261] informed Constantius also of this, namely, that all the edifices standing on the soil of the said city had been built by its founder, Alexander, at great public cost, and ought justly to be a source of profit to the treasury. [7] To these evil deeds he had added still another, which soon after drove him headlong to destruction. As he was returning from the emperor's court and passed by the beautiful temple of the Genius, 8 attended as usual by a large crowd, he turned his eyes straight at the temple, and said: “How long shall this sepulchre stand?” On hearing this, many were struck as if by a thunderbolt, and fearing that he might try to overthrow even that building, they devised secret plots to destroy him in whatever way they could. [8] And lo! on the sudden arrival of the glad news that told of the death of Artemius, all the populace, transported by this unlooked-for joy, grinding their teeth and uttering fearful outcries, made for Georgius and seized him, maltreating him in divers ways and trampling upon him; then they dragged him about spread-eagle fashion, 9 and killed him.

[9] And with him Dracontius, superintendent of the mint, and one Diodorus, who had the honorary rank of count, 10 were dragged about with ropes fastened to their legs and both killed; the former, because he overthrew an altar, 11 newly set up in the mint, of which he had charge; the other, because, while overseer of the building of a church, he arbitrarily cut off the curls of some boys, thinking that this also was a fashion belonging to the pagan worship. [10] Not content with this, the inhuman mob loaded the mutilated bodies of the slain men upon camels [p. 263] and carried them to the shore; there they burned them on a fire and threw the ashes into the sea, fearing (as they shouted) that their relics might be collected and a church built for them, as for others who, when urged to abandon their religion, endured terrible tortures, even going so far as to meet a glorious death with unsullied faith; whence they are now called martyrs.

And these wretched men who were dragged off to cruel torture might have been protected by the aid of the Christians, were it not that all men without distinction burned with hatred for Georgius. [11] The emperor, on hearing of this abominable deed, was bent upon taking vengeance, but just as he was on the point of inflicting the extreme penalty upon the guilty parties, he was pacified by his intimates, who counselled leniency. Accordingly, he issued an edict expressing, in the strongest terms, his horror at the outrage that had been committed, and threatened extreme measures in case in the future anything was attempted contrary to justice and the laws.

1 See xxi. 7, 2.

2 xvii. 11, 5.

3 xvi. 2, 7, 8.

4 They were followers of the banished Athanasius, xv. 7, 7 and 10.

5 According to Athanasius he was a Cappadocian.

6 See, for example, Curtius, iv. 1, 30; Aegyptii, vana gens, et novandis quam gerendis aptior rebus; Trebellius, Thirty Tyrants, 22, 1.

7 Nothing is known of these oracles.

8 I.e. of the city.

9 Cf. xiv. 7, 15, of Montius.

10 veluti seems to indicate that he had the title, but not the office.

11 To Juno Moneta.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1940)
load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1939)
load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1935)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1935)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: