Eusebius on the Egyptian martyrs in Tyre

Eusebius of Caesarea (c.265-c.340): bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and author of a History of the Church and the Life of Constantine the Great.

In Tyre, the Diocletianic persecution, which started in 303, was very serious. Eusebius mentions the martyrdom of bishop Tyrannionnote and the death of a youth named Ulpian, who, remarkably, suffered the traditional punishment for parricide.note Eusebius also offers an eye witness account of the execution of five Egyptians in the circus of Tyre.note which is offered here in the translation by A.C. McGiffert.

The Egyptian Martyrs in Tyre

[8.7.1] Who that saw them was not astonished at the numberless stripes, and at the firmness which these truly wonderful athletes of religion exhibited under them? And at their contest, immediately after the scourging, with bloodthirsty wild beasts, as they were cast before leopards and different kinds of bears and wild boars and bulls goaded with fire and red-hot iron? And at the marvelous endurance of these noble men in the face of all sorts of wild beasts?

[8.7.2] We were present ourselves when these things occurred, and have put on record the divine power of our martyred Savior Jesus Christ, which was present and manifested itself mightily in the martyrs. For a long time the man-devouring beasts did not dare to touch or draw near the bodies of those dear to God, but rushed upon the others who from the outside irritated and urged them on. And they would not in the least touch the holy athletes, as they stood alone and naked and shook their hands at them to draw them toward themselves - for they were commanded to do this. But whenever they rushed at them, they were restrained as if by some divine power and retreated again.

[8.7.3] This continued for a long time, and occasioned no little wonder to the spectators. And as the first wild beast did nothing, a second and a third were let loose against one and the same martyr.

[8.7.4] One could not but be astonished at the invincible firmness of these holy men, and the enduring and immovable constancy of those whose bodies were young. You could have seen a youth not twenty years of age standing unbound and stretching out his hands in the form of a cross, with unterrified and untrembling mind, engaged earnestly in prayer to God, and not in the least going back or retreating from the place where he stood, while bears and leopards, breathing rage and death, almost touched his flesh. And yet their mouths were restrained, I know not how, by a divine and incomprehensible power, and they ran back again to their place.

[8.7.5] Such an one was he.

Again you might have seen others, for they were five in all, cast before a wild bull, who tossed into the air with his horns those who approached from the outside, and mangled them, leaving them to be token up half dead; but when he rushed with rage and threatening upon the holy martyrs, who were standing alone, he was unable to come near them; but though he stamped with his feet, and pushed in all directions with his horns, and breathed rage and threatening on account of the irritation of the burning irons, he was, nevertheless, held back by the sacred Providence. And as he in nowise harmed them, they let loose other wild beasts upon them.

[8.7.6] Finally, after these terrible and various attacks upon them, they were all slain with the sword; and instead of being buried in the earth they were committed to the waves of the sea. Such was the conflict of those Egyptians who contended nobly for religion in Tyre.