The Greek Martyrdom of *Konon (gardener and martyr of Magydos, S00177) recounts the arrest, interrogation and martyrdom of the elderly gardener and relative of Jesus, living near Magydos in Pamphylia (southern Asia Minor). Probably written in Pamphylia, in the 5th/7th c.
Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom
Martyrdom of Konōn (BHG 361)
After the death of the martyrs Papias, Diodōros and Klaudianos, the governor comes to the city of Magydos and, staying at the suburb of Zeus, he attempts summon the locals, but they flee, and the heralds find the city and the fields deserted. (§ 1)
A certain Naodōros, also called Apellēs, who was a patēr poleōs (pater civitatis), and a temple verger, asks to be given a group of men, in order to seek out Christians. Accompanied by a certain Ōrigenēs and a group of guards, they find the elderly Christian Konōn, watering an imperial garden at a place called Karmena. They greet him and announce him that the governor calls for him. Konōn doubts that the governor may be interested in an old Christian farmer like himself, but they bind him and coerce him to follow them, dragged by a horse. He follows, without complaining. (§ 2)
They take him to the governor, announcing that they found a man willing to abide by the law and the emperor’s decree, but Konōn protests that he only obeys Christ. (§ 3)
The governor asks the martyr about his name and origins. Konōn replies that he comes from Nazareth and is a relative of Christ, whom he worships and recognises as the supreme god. The governor asks him to recognise the pagan gods as well. He does not demand from the martyr to sacrifice, but simply to make an offering of frankincense, wine and of a branch, pronouncing a brief prayer to Zeus. The governor claims that he has been informed by the Jews about the story of Jesus, and asks Konōn to abandon the folly of the Christian religion, and to join the pagans. (§ 5)
Konōn prays silently and replies castigating the governor for his blasphemy, and wishing that the governor had been a Christian himself, instead of leading himself and others to doom. The governor threatens to torture Konōn, to give him up to be devoured by a lion, to throw him into the sea, to crucify him or boil him alive in a cauldron. Konōn replies that his is not afraid of the tortures, and warns the governor for the doom which is awaiting him. The governor threatens with even greater tortures. (§ 6)
The governor orders nails to be put under Konōn’s feet, and he makes him walk in front of his chariot like that, while being flogged by two men with whips. When they reach the marketplace (emporion), the martyr kneels down and prays to be allowed to die. He crosses himself and dies. The governor, astonished by the victory of the martyr, dashes away on his own course. (§ 7)
Text: Musurillo 1972. Summary: Efthymios Rizos.
Composing and translating saint-related textsProtagonists in Cult and Narratives
SourceThe text is only known from one manuscript in the Library of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
DiscussionThe Martyrdom of Konōn is one of three south Anatolian hagiographic traditions concerning martyrs with this name – the other versions (E06711, E06710) present Konōn as a martyr in Isauria ($S00430), and as a pair of martyrs (father and son, both called Konōn) in Iconium (S00429). Given their common provenance from the same broad area (the neighbouring provinces of Pamphylia, Isauria and Lycaonia), it is possible that these three traditions represent different versions of the same cult.
The story is set in Pamphylia, near the city of Magydos, a small town between Attaleia and Side. Konōn is an elderly Christian, working at an imperial estate – a particularly realistic piece of detail, given the proliferation of imperial estates in Pamphylia. It is interesting and uncommon that the martyr is presented as a relative of Jesus Christ. The basic motif of the martyred gardener was also recounted by the legend of *Phokas of Sinope (E01961).
The currently extant text starts and ends somewhat abruptly. In the beginning it mentions the martyrs *Papias, Diodōros and Klaudianos of Attaleia (S00929), whose martyrdom is ascribed to the persecution of Decius (AD 250/1) by their hagiography (E06696, E06697). It is possible that the two stories were initially part of a continuous narrative or corpus of texts concerning the martyrs of Pamphylia.
BibliographyText and translation:
Musurillo, H., The Acts of the Christian Martyrs (Oxford Early Christian Texts; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), xxxii-xxxiii, 186-193.
|Name in Source
|Konon, gardener and martyr of Magydos of Pamphylia
|Papias, Diodoros, Klaudianos/Klaudios and companions, martyrs of Attaleia
|Παπίας, Διόδωρος, Κλαυδιανὸς
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