15. PERSECUTION UNDER JULIAN THE APOSTATE
Likewise under Julian, the wicked apostate, certain there were which constantly suffered martyrdom by the heathen idolaters: as Emilianus, who was burned in Thracia, and Domitius, which was slain in his cave. Theodorus also, for singing of a psalm at the removing of the body of Babilas, (whereof mention is made before,) being apprehended, was so examined with exquisite torments, and so cruelly excruciate from morning almost to noon, that hardly he escaped with life; who, being asked afterward of his friends how he could abide so sharp torments, said that at the first beginning he felt some pain, but afterward there stood by him a young man, who, as he was sweating, wiped away his sweat, and refreshed him with cold water ofttimes; wherewith he was so delighted, that when he was let down from the engine, it grieved him more than before.
Artemius also, the captain of the Egyptian sol diers, the same time lost his head for his religion indeed; although other causes were pretended against him.
Add unto these moreover Eusebius and Nestabus, two brethren, with Nestor also, who for their Christianity were dragged through the streets and murdered of the idolatrous people of Gaza.
But especially the cruelty of the Arethusians, a people of Syria, exceeded against the Christian virgins, whom they set out naked before the multitude to be scorned; after that, being shaven, they covered them with swill and draft, wont to be given to their hogs, and so caused their bowels and flesh to be devoured of the hungry swine. This rage and fury of the wicked Arethusians Sozomenus supposeth to come of this, because that Constantine before had broken them from their country manner of setting forth and exposing their virgins filthily to whomso ever lusted, and destroyed the temple of Venus in Heliopolis, restraining the people there from their filthiness and vile whoredom.
Of the lamentable story, or rather tragedy, of Marcus Arethusius, their bishop, thus writeth the said Sozomenus, and also Theodoretus in his third book, in these words as follow.
This tragedy (saith he) of Marcus Arethusius doth require the eloquence and worthiness of Eschilus and Sophocles, which may, as the matter deserveth, set forth and beautify his great afflictions, This man, at the commandment of Constantine, pulled down a certain temple dedicated to idols, and instead thereof built up a church, where the Christians might congregate. The Arethusians, remembering the little good will that Julianus bare unto him, accused him as a traitor and enemy to him. At the first, according as the Scripture teacheth, he prepared himself to fly; but when he perceived that there were certain of his kinsmen or friends apprehended in his stead, returning again of his own accord, he offered himself to those that thirsted for his blood. Whom when they had gotten, as men neither pitying his old age and worn years, nor abashed at his virtuous conversation, being a man so adorned both with doctrine and manners, first stripped him naked, and pitifully beat him; then, within a while after, they cast him into a foul filthy sink; and from thence being brought, they caused boys to thrust him in with sharpened sticks to provoke his pain the more. Lastly, they put him in a basket; and being anointed with honey and broth, they hung him abroad in the heat of the sun, as meat for wasps and flies to feed upon. And all this extremity they showed unto him, for that they would enforce him to do one of these things; that is, either to build up again the temple which he had destroyed, or else to give so much money as should pay for the building of the same: but even as he purposed with himself to suffer and abide their grievous torments, so refused he to do that they demanded of him. At length they, taking him to be but a poor man, and not able to pay such a sum of money, promised to forgive him the one half, so that he would be contented to pay the other half. But he, hanging in the basket, wounded pitifully with the sharpened sticks of boys and children, and all to be bitten with wasps and flies, did not only conceal his pain and grief, but also derided those wicked ones, and called them base, low, and terrene people, and he himself to be exalted and set on high. At length, they demanding of him but a small sum of money, he answered thus; It is as great wickedness to confer one halfpenny in case of impiety, as if a man should bestow the whole. Thus they, being not able to prevail against him, let him down, and leaving him, went their way, so that every man might learn at his mouth the example of true piety and faithfulness.
Although the tradition of these aforesaid stories
and persecutions of Persia above premised do stray somewhat out of the order and course of time and place, as which came neither in the time of Constantine, nor be pertinent to the monarchy of Rome; yet because in this present history we are in hand with the holy martyrs and saints of Christ, forsomuch as these also gave such a faithful testimony of the Lord Jesus with their blood, I thought therefore not to pass them over without some testirnony in this our catalogue of holy martyrs. And here an end of these persecutions of the primitive church.