Varus of Egypt: a Fictitious Military Martyr
Author: Woods, David
Source: Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Volume 20, 1996 , pp. 175-200(26)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:The attitude of the early church to war and military service is a subject which has long exercised the attention of many scholars, and doubtlessly this will continue to be the case. There are those who hold a pacifist viewpoint and argue that originally the early Christians completely rejected military service, and there are others who are opposed to this viewpoint. However, all agree on one issue, that there is far less early material on this subject than one would initially prefer. Thus, both sides have felt the need to utilise sources and materials which would otherwise lie neglected, the hagiographical accounts of the early military martyrs in particular. Debate has now centred upon a relatively small number of texts, those which have traditionally been accepted as the genuine acts of authentic military martyrs, to which ever increasing attention has been paid. Unfortunately, concentration upon these texts in particular seems to have led to a neglect of texts which are of great interest in their own right. This was inevitable given that the accounts of the military martyrs have normally been examined only as to their suitability for use as weapons in the ongoing polemic concerning the ‘true’ attitude of the early church to war. Seldom has the development of the cult of military martyrs been regarded as a historical phenomenon worthy of study in itself. Thus, it is the purpose of this note to begin to rectify this situation by drawing attention to the neglected acts of a military martyr, Varus, who allegedly suffered death in Egypt during the reign of Galerius Maximianus (305–311).
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1996-01-01