Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Cyprian/The Epistles of Cyprian/Part 81
To Successus on the Tidings Brought from Rome, Telling of the Persecution.
Argument.—Cyprian Tells the Bishop Successus, that in a Severe Persecution that Had Been Decreed by the Emperor Valerian Xistus the Bishop Had Suffered at Rome on the Eighth of the Ides of August; And He Begs Him to Intimate the Same to the Rest of His Colleagues, that Each One Might Animate His Own Flock to Martyrdom.
1. Cyprian to his brother Successus, greeting. The reason why I could not write to you immediately, dearest brother, was that all the clergy, being placed in the very heat of the contest, were unable in any way to depart hence, all of them being prepared in accordance with the devotion of their mind for divine and heavenly glory. But know that those have come whom I had sent to the City for this purpose, that they might find out and bring back to us the truth, in whatever manner it had been decreed respecting us. For many various and uncertain things are current in men’s opinions. But the truth concerning them is as follows, that Valerian had sent a rescript to the Senate, to the effect that bishops and presbyters and deacons should immediately be punished; but that senators, and men of importance, and Roman knights, should lose their dignity, and moreover be deprived of their property; and if, when their means were taken away, they should persist in being Christians, then they should also lose their heads; but that matrons should be deprived of their property, and sent into banishment. Moreover, people of Cæsar’s household, whoever of them had either confessed before, or should now confess, should have their property confiscated, and should be sent in chains by assignment to Cæsar’s estates. The Emperor Valerian also added to this address a copy of the letters which he sent to the presidents of the provinces concerning us; which letters we are daily hoping will come, waiting according to the strength of our faith for the endurance of suffering, and expecting from the help and mercy of the Lord the crown of eternal life. But know that Xistus was martyred in the cemetery on the eighth day of the Ides of August, and with him four deacons. Moreover, the prefects in the City are daily urging on this persecution; so that, if any are presented to them, they are martyred, and their property claimed by the treasury.
2. I beg that these things may be made known by your means to the rest of our colleagues, that everywhere, by their exhortation, the brotherhood may be strengthened and prepared for the spiritual conflict, that every one of us may think less of death than of immortality; and, dedicated to the Lord, with full faith and entire courage, may rejoice rather than fear in this confession, wherein they know that the soldiers of God and Christ are not slain, but crowned. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell in the Lord.
- Oxford ed.: Ep. lxxx. As Cyprian suffered shortly after, in the month of September, there is no doubt but that this letter was written near the close of his life. a.d. 258.
- Doubtless with Gallienus.
- [Of Rome.]
- [Elucidation XX.]
- Or, “and with him Quartus.”
- [The modern name, Istamboul (εἰς τὴν πόλιν), grows out of like usage in the East. And, as Constantinople was “New Rome,” this illustrates Irenæus and his convenire, vol. i. p. 460.]
- [The baptismal question went by default, and was practically given up by the African Church, amid greater issues. It has never been dogmatically settled by the Church Catholic: and Roman usage is evasive (in spite of its own anathemas); for it baptizes again, sub conditionel. See useful note, Oxford ed. p. 244.]