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Ancient History Sourcebook:
Certificate of Having Sacrificed to the Gods, 250 CE


[Davis Introduction]: About 250 A.D., during the Emperor Decius’ short but furious persecution, persons suspected of Christianity were evidently obliged to clear themselves by sacrificing to the old gods, then taking out a certificate to protect themselves against further legal proceedings. This example comes from a papyrus found at Oxyrhyncus.

To the Commissioners of Sacrifice of the Village of Alexander’s Island:

From Aurelius Diogenes, the son of Satabus, of the Village of Alexander’s Island, aged 72 years: ---scar on his right eyebrow.

I have always sacrificed regularly to the gods, and now, in your presence, in accordance with the edict, I have done sacrifice, and poured the drink offering, and tasted of the sacrifices, and I request you to certify the same. Farewell.

-----Handed in by me, Aurelius Diogenes.

-----I certify that I saw him sacrificing [signature obliterated].

Done in the first year of the Emperor, Caesar Gaius Messius Quintus Trajanus Decius Pius Felix Augustus, second of the month Epith. [June 26, 250 A.D.]


Source:

From: William Stearns Davis, ed. Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources, 2 Vols. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-1913), Vol. II: Rome and the West, p. 289.

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


This text is part of the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall May 1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu