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Deeds of Zenophilus:

How the Romans Tried to Seize Christian Books, c. 395 CE

[Davis Introduction]

In the great persecution started by Diocletian, a special effort was made to seize all copies of the Christian scriptures, in the hope of depriving the persecuted sect of the means of preserving and propagating its doctrines. The following tells how the search for the books was conducted in Cirta, an important city of Numidia.

When the magistrates and a policeman, guided by the apostatizing secretaries of the bishop, came to the house of Felix the tailor, he brought out five books, and when they came to the house of Proiectus he brought out five big and two little books. Victor the schoolmaster brought out two books, and four books of five volumes each. Felix the "Perpetual Flamen" said to him: "Bring your scriptures out: you have more." Victor the schoolmaster said, "If I had had more I should have brought them out."

When they came to the house of Eutychia who was a Caesarian [i.e., in the government service], the flamen said, "Bring out your books that you may obey the law." "I have none," he replied. "Your answer," said Felix the flamen, "is taken down."

At the house of Coddeo, Coddeo's wife brought out six books. Felix said "Look and see if you have not got some more." The woman said, "I have no more." Felix said to Bos, the policeman, "Go in and see if she has any more." The policeman reported "I have looked and found none."


From: William Stearns Davis, ed., Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources, 2 Vols. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-13), Vol. II: Rome and the West,  289-290.

Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton.

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