SELECTIONS FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITERS: ILLUSTRATIVE OF CHURCH HISTORY TO THE TIME OF CONSTANTINE by Henry Melvill Gwatkin, M.A. First Edition, Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1893. Reprinted with additions and corrections, 1897, 1902, 1905. Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram, 2013.
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XXVI. EUSEBIUS, Hist. Eccles. v. 24.


Letter of Polycrates to Victor


«Ἡμεῖς οὖν ἀρᾳδιούργητον ἄγομεν τὴν ἡμέραν, μήτε προστιθέντες μήτε ἀφαιρούμενοι. καὶ γὰρ κατὰ τὴν Ἀσίαν μεγάλα στοιχεῖα κεκοίμηται· ἅτινα ἀναστήσεται τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ Κυρίου, ἐν ᾗ ἔρχεται μετὰ δόξης ἐξ οὐρανῶν καὶ ἀναζητήσει πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους, Φίλιππον τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων, ὃς κεκοίμηται ἐν Ἱεραπόλει καὶ δύο θυγατέρες αὐτοῦ γεγηρακυῖαι παρθένοι καὶ ἡ ἑτέρα αὐτοῦ θυγάτηρ ἐν Ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι πολιτευσαμένη ἐν Ἐφέσῳ ἀναπαύεται· ἔτι δὲ καὶ Ἰωάννης ὁ ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος τοῦ Κυρίου ἀναπεσών, ὃς ἐγενήθη ἱερεὺς τὸ πέταλον πεφορεκὼς καὶ μάρτυς καὶ διδάσκαλος· οὗτος ἐν Ἐφέσῳ κεκοίμηται, ἔτι δὲ καὶ Πολύκαρπος ἐν Σμύρνῃ, καὶ ἐπίσκοπος καὶ μάρτυς· καὶ Θρασέας, καὶ ἐπίσκοπος καὶ μάρτυς ἀπὸ Εὐμενείας, ὃς ἐν Σμύρνῃ κεκοίμηται. τί δὲ δεῖ λέγειν Σάγαριν ἐπίσκοπον καὶ μάρτυρα, ὃς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ κεκοίμηται, ἔτι δὲ καὶ Παπείριον τὸν μακάριον καὶ Μελίτωνα τὸν εὐνοῦχον, τὸν ἐν Ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι πάντα πολιτευσάμενον, ὃς κεῖται ἐν Σάρδεσιν περιμένων τὴν ἀπὸ τῶν οὐρανῶν ἐπισκοπὴν ἐν ᾗ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστήσεται; οὗτοι πάντες ἐτήρησαν τὴν ἡμέραν τῆς τεσσαρεσκαιδεκάτης τοῦ Πάσχα κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, μηδὲν παρεκβαίνοντες, ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸν κανόνα τῆς πίστεως ἀκολουθοῦντες· ἔτι δὲ κἀγὼ ὁ μικρότερος πάντων ὑμῶν Πολυκράτης, κατὰ παράδοσιν τῶν συγγενῶν μου, οἷς καὶ παρηκολούθησά τισιν αὐτῶν. ἑπτὰ μὲν ἦσαν συγγενεῖς μου ἐπίσκοποι, ἐγὼ δὲ ὄγδοος· καὶ πάντοτε τὴν ἡμέραν ἤγαγον οἱ συγγενεῖς μου ὅταν ὁ λαὸς ἤρνυεν τὴν ζύμην. ἐγὼ οὖν, ἀδελφοί, ἑξήκοντα πέντε ἔτη ἔχων ἐν Κυρίῳ καὶ συμβεβληκὼς τοῖς ἀπὸ τῆς οἰκουμένης ἀδελφοῖς καὶ πᾶσαν ἁγίαν γραφὴν διεληλυθώς, οὐ πτύρομαι ἐπὶ τοῖςκαταπλησσομένοις· οἱ γὰρ ἐμοῦ μείζονες εἰρήκασι πειθαρχεῖν δεῖ θεῷ μᾶλλον ἢ ἀνθρώποις».

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall raise up all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve Apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two daughters who grew old in virginity, and his other daughter who lived in the Holy Spirit and rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a martyr and a teacher, who leaned upon the bosom of the Lord, and became a priest wearing the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp too in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito the eunuch, who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the visitation from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day for the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops, and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every holy scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ' We ought to obey God rather than men.'


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