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On the Greek "Martyrium" of the Negranites

Author(s): G. L. Huxley
Source: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies,
History, Linguistics, Literature, Vol. 80C (1980), pp. 41-55
Published by: Royal Irish Academy
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By G. L. Huxley, m.r.i.a.
Department of Greek, Queen's University, Belfast

[Received 16 August 1979. Read 17 December 1979. Published 16 May 1980.

The Greek Martyrium provides valuable evidence about the martyrdoms at Negra
in the reign of the Emperor Justin I. The text draws upon Syriac sources, but i
gives many additional facts and provides a coherent chronology of events before an
after the massacres inflicted by the Jewish insurgent Dounaas. Of particular intere
is the account of the Ethiopian crusade to avenge the martyrdoms: knowledge o
the diplomatic background to the expedition is shown and the Martyrium throw
much light upon the state of Christianity in south-western Arabia and upon the
tribal politics of the country a century before the rise of Islam.

During the reign of the emperor Justin I Himyarite insurgents, led by the Jew
Dounaas (D?-Nuw?s), put to death by fire and the sword Christian inhabitants of
Negran (Najr?n) in Arabia. To punish this and other outrages of the rebels th
Ethiopian Negus Ella Asbeha, with the encouragement and support of Justin, led
an expedition beyond the Red Sea, and consequently Christianity was re-establishe
at Negran and amongst the Himyarites (Homerites). So deeply did the crusad
impress the historical memory of the Ethiopians that in the fourteenth century
Kebra Nagast not only was the avenging of the persecuted Negranites recalled bu
it was even asserted, in imaginative prophecy, that Justin the king of Rome an
K?l?b (Ella Asbeha) would meet in Jerusalem to share the Holy City and to divid
the earth between them.1
The main testimonies to the Negranite martyrdoms are, however, not Ethiop
but Syriac and Greek. In Syriac there are three texts most worthy of attention.
1. The letter written by Simeon of B?th-Arsh?m at H?ra soon after Monday of th
first week in Lent in the Seleucid year 835?that is, after 19 February 524.2 Simeo
had returned to H?ra from the peace conference, conducted at Ramla in the previou
month, between Mundir III, the Lakhmid king, and the Byzantine ambassado
Abramios. News of the Negranite martyrdoms had been brought to Simeon during
the conference by a messenger sent by Dounaas to boast of the massacres, and mor
details reached him on his return to H?ra.3 2. The Book of the Himyarites* 3. A second

1 Carl Bezold, " Kebra Nagast. Die Herrlichkeit der K?nige", Abh.d.Bayer. Akad. Wiss.
phil.-hist. kl. 23 (1905), 135-136, ? 116. E. A. Wallis Budge, The Queen of Sheba and her only son
Menyelek (London 1922) 76, ? 116. For the connection of Kebra Nagast with the literary rena
sance under King Amda Sion (1314-1344) see Edward Ullendorff, The Ethiopians (3Oxford 1973) 138.
2 The dating in I. Guidi, " La lettera di Simeone vescovo di B?th-Ars?m sopra i martir
omeriti ", Atti R.Acad.Lincei 1* (1880-1) 471-515, at 488 note 1.
3 I. Shah?d, The Martyrs of Najrdn, New documents (Subsidia Hagiographica, No. 49, Brussel
1971) 118. My admiration of the scholarship deployed in this book is not diminished by doubts
about the editor's chronological inferences from the new texts.
4 Axel Moberg, The Book of the Himyarites. Fragments of a hitherto unknown Syriac work
(Lund 1924).

Proc.R.Ir.Acad. Vol. 80c, 41-55 (1980) [C3]

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42 Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy

letter concerning the martyrs.5 This contains the statement that some of them were
crowned by the sword " on the Wednesday of the week, as has been written before,
in the month of the Latter Tishrin < November > of the year eight hundred and
thirty five of ALKSNDRWS < Alexander> " (VI A). The previous mention of this
Seleucid (or Syro-Macedonian) date is missing from the beginning of the text of the
letter; the equivalent date is a Wednesday in November 523. But in the explicit
of the letter the author states that he is writing from the camp of J?bala, king of
the Ghass?nids, at the place called GBYT? <al-J?biya> " in the month of Tammuz
<July> of this year, eight hundred and thirty of ALQSNDR < Alexander > "
(IX B). If the Seleucid year 830 in the explicit were correct, then the year 835 in
VI A could not be also correct. We shall come back to this problem.
4. A fourth testimony is the Greek Martyrium Sancti Arethae et Sociorum in
Civitate Negran. A text of this work was published by J. Fr. Boissonade in 1833.6
Another edition with a commentary of deep learning was produced by E. Carpentier
in 1869.7 The Greek narrative is more comprehensive than the two Syriac letters
(1 and 3 above): it takes the story down to the re-establishment of Ethiopian
authority in the land of the Himyarites by Ella Asbeha, and due attention is given
to the Byzantine background of the crusade. We shall examine the chronology of
Ethiopian naval and military operations directed against south-western Arabia in
the reign of Justin I, with special reference to the Greek Martyrium, before consider
ing the crusade briefly in its wider diplomatic context. It has been claimed that,
in addition to the old Letter of Simeon (1 above), both the Book of the Himyarites
(2 above) and the new Letter (3 above) are the work of the Bishop of B?th-Arsh?m.8
Whatever the truth about the ascriptions may be, it is clear that the three Syriac
texts have much in common with each other. Their historical value is great because
they throw fight on disputes whose persistence contributed to the growth of Islam
a century later.
The Greek Martyrium comes in part from a Syriac source closely related to the
two Letters and to the Book. The source carried the narrative as far as the deaths of

5 Translated by Shah?d, op. cit. 44-64. As in the new Letter, the Seleucid Era in its western
version is sometimes found also in Ethiopie texts under the name of Alexander: O. Neugebauer,
Ethiopie Astronomy and Computus (S. B. ?st.Ahad.Wiss. phil.-hist. kl. 347 [Vienna 1979]) 123.
An?cdota Graeca 5 (Paris 1833; repr. Hildesheim 1962) 1-62. Boissonade relied on Paris cod.
1537 (= A), but made use of Paris cod. (Colbert) 1454 (= B). Carpentier (AA.SS. 59 (Oct. X) 721)
preferred the latter but used the former to fill lacunae. Fragments of an eleventh-century Georgian
translation of the Martyrium (Cambridge Univ. Lib., Georgian ms 5) were published by R. P. Blake
in Harvard Theological Review 25 (1932) 216-219. A secure terminus post quern for the composition
of the Martyrium is given by a statement in ? 2: ecm ?? ri %G)pa x v '0|inpix?v *?K v?to? too
vCv orco tcouaiou? ?>vxo? Kai Xeyon?vou Ooivik?vo?, arc?xouaa jiov?? xpi?Kovxa. Phoinikon was
not subject to the Romans until it was presented to the emperor Justinian by the Ghassanid Ab?
Karib (A?oxipavoc) (Procopius, B.P. 1.19.3). See Carpentier, op. cit. 719 A. Shah?d, op. cit. 202,
suggests that the incorporation of Phoinikon can be dated as early as 529. This would then be
the t.p.q. for the composition of the Syriac source of ? 2 of the Martyrium. The source would
thus be contemporary with the Hymn of John Psaltes on the martyrs. Psaltes, archimandrite of
B?th Aphthonia, gave the number of martyrs as " more than two hundred " (tr. R. Schr?ter.
" Trostschreiben Jacob's von Sarug an die himjaritischen Christen ", Z.D.M.GM (1877), 360-400),
7 Carpentier, torn, cit., 661-762. Metaphrastic version: P. G. 115, 1249-1289. See also Menolog.
Bas., P. G. 117, 124-125 and Synaxarium CP (AA.SS., Propytaeum Novembris [ed.H.Delehaye,
1902] 159-161).
8 Shah?d, op. cit. 8-9,

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Huxley?On the Greek Martyrium of the Negranites 43

the martyrs at Negran and the subsequent atmospheric portents, but no further.9
Thereafter the Martyrium relies mainly on Ethiopian and Byzantine testimonies.
The Seleucid dates in ? 1 and ? 20 of the Martyrium come from the Syriac sources;
? 1 gives the date of the martyrdoms, with the synchronisms Justin Year 5 = Indic
tion 2 ? Syrian Antiochene Year 835. The Indiction and the Seleucid year overlap.
However, the fifth regnal year of Justin I ceased in July 523, but Indiction 2 began
on 1 September 523. So " Year 5 " is to be corrected, as ? 20 confirms: here we are
told Kcft ootgk; ot ayioi, icX?vaviec tou? a?^?va?, eieXei?Oriaav n?vx&q, ev unvl
'Yrcep?EpexaiuH, o? ?axiv 'OKio?pioc ko, ?v8ikti?>vo? Seux?pa?.10 Hyperberetaios
corresponds to October and to Prior Tishrin. Therefore the Greek Martyrium
places the date 24 October 523 within the period of massacres at Negran. According
to the new Letter (3 above) other massacres occurred on a Wednesday of Latter
Tishrin (or November) in the Seleucid year 835. Both dates could well be
correct, because the Syriac and Greek narratives show that the slaughter of the
Negranites did not happen all at once. In ? 8 the number of victims from the city
and the neighbourhood is said to be 4,252. In addition four hundred and twenty-seven
clergy, monks and virgins are reported to have been burned alive; wives of nobles
were decapitated ; Dounaas parleyed with the noble widow Ruhayma or Ruma before
having her killed ; the chieftain Arethas and three hundred and forty nobles were put
to death on another occasion; and 1,297 boys were enslaved. These events could
have taken place during several weeks, even if there is some exaggeration of numbers
in the tradition. The martyrdoms could therefore have lasted from 24 October 523
until a Wednesday in November of the same year, and the Syrian source of the
Martyrium need not be in conflict with the chronology in VI A of the new Letter
(3 above). The Wednesday in November 523 is specifically stated in the new Letter
to be the martyrdom-day of wives whose husbands had already been put to death.11
The omission of the name of the Constantinopolitan patriarch from ? 1 of Paris
Codex 1537 (= A) of the Martyrium is characteristic of the lost Syriac original of
the Greek text. A mentions Timotheos of Alexandria (Patriarch, 517 to 535) and
Euphrasios, who from 521 to 526 was Patriarch of Antioch. In B an attempt by a
Greek redactor to repair the omission can be seen; he added the name of Timotheos
of Constantinople who, however, was not Patriarch there during the second Indiction
of Justin's reign: this Timotheos had died on 5 April 518 and had been a supporter
of Monophysitism.12 Thus the mention of Timotheos of Constantinople in connection
with the martyrdoms at Negran has no authority.

?Carpentier, AA.SS., he. cit., ?? 1-23, 721-740. Local Negranite details taken into the
Syriac source of the Martyrium include the watercourse or w?di O?e8iav<5c (? 20) and the royal
Homerite uovfjxa called in ? 4 ??xa? or skKac (?A-ic?c B)?the name has the article el (as Boissonade
suggested, op. cit. 8 note 3), and the termination resembles Skr. karsha and Tamil k?su (> Portu
guese caxa> caixa, whence English cass> cash). The Homerite unit elkas would have been
adopted from traders sailing between Arabia and Ceylon. The v.l. o?xa? is due to Byz.
?^icr? ( = ?paxufj, E. Schilbach, Byzantinische Metrologie [Munich 1970] 184). Negran paid 130
talents of annual tribute (Martyrium ? 4) ; at the time of the attack by Dounaas tribute would
have been paid to Axom, not to Himvar. Carpentier used the figure in an attempt to estimate
the population of Negran (AA.SS*., Oct. XII (Oct. 27) (1884) 316).
10 A omits the day-number (p. 32 Boissonade).
11 Shah?d, op. cit. 54.
12 AA.SS. torn, cit., [note 6, supra] 724 note f. J. B. Bury, History of the later Roman Empire
(repr. New York 1958), 1. 438.

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44 Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy

In ? 2 (722E) there is a hint as to where the Syriac source of ?? 1-23 inclusive was
written. The land of the Homerites, we are there told, was a journey of twenty-five
mansiones (uova?) in length, oiKOuuevtj koV KaxoiKOV)usvr| Kai TcercXripoou?vri, <o?
87c\ Tc?cracpa (so B). A has KaxoiKOuu?v?] Siktjv poa? (p. 4 Boissonade), and Arab
translators took this to mean that the Homerite land was as fertile as a pomegranate
(p?a or $oia).13 The translator may have worked at Rhosapha (Sergiopolis) in Syria,
where there was a famous monastery; but behind p?a may well lie the place-name
Ruha or Orrho??the name of the country around Edessa, with its fine orchards
and pastures. Thus the Syriac source could have been written at Edessa, not at
Thus far we have argued that the date of the martyrdom in the Greek Martyrium,
24 October 523, comes from the Syriac source. The date fits well the Wednesday in
November 523 given in VI A of the new Letter, but the editor of the new Letter has
argued, nonetheless, in favour of the date in the explicit, Tamm?z of Seleucid year 830
(July 519). Tamm?z 830 would then be the terminus ante quern for the martyrdoms
at Negran, so that the persecution should be placed in November 518 ;15 but it is
admitted that the explicit " is not exactly proof ", and moreover that not all the
combinations of weekdays and month-dates suit 518. In VIII B of the new Letter
it is stated that the noblewoman Ruhayma was crowned with martyrdom on Sunday,
20 November. The combination of weekday and month-date does not fit either 518
or 523, but 522. Since the weekdays given in the new Letter are no more reliable
than those given in the Book of the Himyarites, chronological arguments should not
be founded upon them. Instead we can turn to two other arguments adduced by
the editor in favour of the date 830 in the explicit of the new Letter.
Having described the persecutions in ?af?r an(j Hadramawt, the writer tells how
the Jewish king sent his forces against Negran. The Jews and the pagans captured
by deceit the Christians of the city and then asked to be shown the bones of the
martyrs. The bones were gathered together with those of M?r Paul the bishop,
who had been consecrated the first bishop of Negran " by the holy M?r AKSNY?
<Aksen?y?>, who (is called) FYLWKSNWS <Philoxenos> ? the bishop of
MBBWG <Hierapolis> ". This bishop Paul had been stoned to death by Jews
from Tiberias at ?af?r, the royal city of the Himyarites.
But now they burnt all his bones with fire together with (the holy M?r)
PWLWS <Paul>, (the other) bishop, (III A) who was consecrated the
second < bishop> in the city of Najr?n by the very same M?r AKSNYA
<Aksen?y?>, the bishop of MBBWG < Hierapolis >. And the Jews thus
brought all their (bones) together into the church and heaped them in the
center of the church.16

Then presbyters, deacons, subdeacons, readers (but no bishop) and sons and daughters
" of the covenant ",17 and laity, men and women, about two thousand in all, were
13 Shah?d, op. cit. 202-203, note 3.
14 AA.SS. torn, cit., [note 6, supra] 726 note z, on Sergiopolis. For translation into Greek at
Edessa see J. B. Segal, Edessa, " The Blessed City " (Oxford 1970) 66 and Sebastian Brock, " Greek
into Syriac and Syriac into Greek ", Jnl. of the Syriac Academy (Baghdad) 3 (1977) 1-17, esp. 12-15.
15 Shah?d, op. cit. 235-236, but at pp 241-242 yet another possible date for the persecution,
November 520, is considered.
16 Tr. Shah?d, op. cit. 46.
17 They were Negranites, intermediate between the laity and clergy, but not part of the
diaconate (Shah?d, op. cit. 250-251).

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Huxley?On the Greek Martyrium of the Negranites 45

brought into the church; after that the church was burned down together with all
that was found in it.
According to ? 5 of the Greek Martyrium Dounaas asked Arethas and the
Negranites to show to him their bishop Paul. The nobles replied " with one voice "
that Paul had been dead for two years (724D). In the new Letter (II C to III A) it is
said that Philoxenos of M abbog had successively consecrated two persons called Paul
to be bishops of Negran. As Professor Shah?d argued, both these consecrations are
likely to have happened before 519, because in that year Philoxenos was exiled?
first to Gangra and later to Philippopolis. Paul I and Paul II, who was sent to
Negran after the martyrdom of Paul I at ?af?r, were therefore, the argument con
tinues, consecrated before 519, and Paul I was martyred before 519. But since it is
said in the Martyrium that Paul I had been dead for two years when Dounaas
attacked Negran, the attack cannot have been later than 521 and the persecution
of the Negranites could not have taken place as late as 523.18
The problem in the argument lies in the assumption that in Martyrium ? 5 the
bishop referred to is Paul I. The sequence of events shows that he was Paul II:
1. Philoxenos sent Paul I to Negran as bishop. 2. Paul I was martyred at Zaf?r by
Jews from Tiberias. 3. The bones of Paul I were taken to Negran to be kept there as
relics. 4. Philoxenos sent Paul II to Negran as bishop. 5. Philoxenos was sent into
exile at Gangra (519). 6. Paul II died and was buried at Negran. 7. The bones of
Paul I and Paul II were handed over to Dounaas at Negran two years after the
death of Paul II. 8. About two thousand persons, clerical and lay, male and female
(but no bishop), were burned with the relics in the church in Negran by Dounaas
and his insurgents. The last event happened more than two years after 519, because
the bishop mentioned in Martyrium ? 5 is Paul II, not Paul I. Since Jewish rebels had
killed Paul I some years earlier at ?afar, Dounaas must have known of the killing
before the attack on Negran. It was the replacement for Paul I, Paul II, who was
mistakenly thought by Dounaas to be still alive and living at Negran at the time of
the attack. Paul II was consecrated not later than 519; he exercised authority there
for some time; and he died two years before the massacres in Negran, which
occurred in 523 according to the Martyrium. So he died in 521.
There is a danger of circularity in another argument used by the editor of the new
Letter. According to Martyrium ? 25 there was present at the Conference of Ramla
early in 524 Shilas the Nestorian Catholicus of Persis?E?lac ? ?niaK07to? x?v
Neaxopiavcov ano ITepaiSo?, uex? nX^Qovq (742E). But Shilas was Catholicus at
Seleukeia from Year 816 (505) and is said to have exercised authority there for
eighteen years, before his death in 834 (523).19 If the chronology is correct, Shilas
was dead before the conference at Ramla in January 524. Shah?d infers, accordingly,
that the date of Shilas's death " becomes a valuable chronological indication of an
early date for the persecution "20?earlier, that is, than October 523. The reverse of
the argument was stated baldly by Carpen tier:21 " verum Actis nostris manifestum
est Silam in vivis fuisse mense j anuario anni 524 ". Since Shilas designated his
18 Shah?d, op. cit. 238.
18 AA.SS., torn. cit. [note 6, supra] 744 note 1.
20 Shah?d, op. cit. 240.
21 AA.SS. loc. cit. [note 19, supra]

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46 Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy

son-in-law to be his successor as Catholicus, there may be confusion between the date
of his departure from office and the date of his death. He could even have attended
the conference at Ramla after designating his successor in 523. At present we
cannot be certain that Shilas was dead at the reported time of the Conference of
Ramla, January 524. Nor should a chronological argument be founded on the
explicit of the new Letter when the same letter also records a date for the martyrdoms
at Negran quite consistent with the chronology in the Greek Martyrium. Instead we
can emend 830 to 835 in the explicit.
Another chronological argument has been drawn from the letter of Jacob of
Sar?j addressed to the Christian Himyarites. Jacob wrote to comfort them in their
time of trouble. " We Romans ", said he, " who live quietly under Christian kings,
praise your most glorious life ".22 Since Jacob died on 29 November 521, Shah?d
argues that the persecution of Arethas and of the Himyarites began earlier than
that date. The argument would be more compelling if there were not evidence for a
persecution prior to that in which Arethas and the Negranites died.
There is first of all the testimony of the Martyrium itself (? 2). Here it is said that
Ella Asbeha fEXea?aac) had put down a revolt of the Jewish king Dounaas. The
king fled to the safety of inaccessible mountains, and Ella Asbeha returned to
Ethiopia, having left the Homerite land in charge of a garrison under an army
commander. Later the rebel returned to slaughter the Ethiopian troops and the
Homerite Christians before advancing against Negran. In the Martyrium it is
assumed that the rebellious Jewish king was the same person throughout, but the
new Letter (I) states that the persecution began when the wicked Jew first became
king : this was the persecution in which Arethas and his companions died. Dounaas
may have been responsible for one persecution or for two; in either circumstance
Ella Asbeha had been compelled to intervene against anti-Christian rebels at some
time before the martyrdom of Arethas. The first intervention is also attested in the
fist of contents of the lost beginning to the Book of the Himyarites. Chapter 4
described how Bishop Thomas went to the Abyssinians and informed them that the
Himyarites were persecuting the Christians. Then followed an account of the first
coming of the Abyssinians (ch. 5). The departure of the Abyssinians from the land
of the Himyarites was described in ch. 7, and the attack of Dounaas (here called
Masr?q) on Christians and the Abyssinian garrison at Zafar was treated in ch. 8.
Masr?q's campaign against Negran to the north was related in ch. 9.23 Paul I, the
first of the bishops at Negran of that name to have been consecrated by Philoxenos
of Mabbog, can be supposed to have been stoned to death at ?afar in the uprising
described in ch. 4 of the Book and mentioned in Martyrium ? 2. The ignorance of
Dounaas concerning the death of Paul II, which had befallen two years earlier than
the attack on Negran, is to be explained, as Carpentier saw, by the Jew's long sojourn
in the mountain fastnesses of Hadramawt.24
An indication of the date of the first Ethiopian expedition under Ella Asbeha is
given by Kosmas Indopleustes (or Indikopleustes). In the Christian Topography
22 A. A. Vasiliev, Justin the First (Cambridge, Mass. 1950) 290, quoting R. Schr?ter, art. cit.
[note 6, supra] 388. Compare Shah?d, op. cit. 239-240.
23 Moberg, op. cit. ci-cii.
*4 AA.SS., torn. cit. [note 6 supra} 694F-695A.

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Huxley?On the Greek Martyrium of the Negranites 47

(2.56)25 Kosmas mentions his visit to Adoulis, a city two miles from the Axomite
port (Gabazan) on the coast of the Red Sea (2.54) ,26 He had been there " about
(TcXeov eXaxxov) twenty-five years previously " at the " beginning of the reign of
Justin (I), the Emperor of the Romans, when Ellatzbaas, who was then king of the
Axomites was about to go to war against the Homerites ". 9EM,axC?aac in Kosmas
is a close rendering into Greek of 'Ella 'Asbeha.27
Commenting on the passage, Wolska-Conus has written: "Au livre II, 56 il
mentionne son voyage, datant de vingt-cinq ans environ, ? Adoulis, port ?thiopien
sur la Mer Rouge, et le situe au d?but du r?gne de Justin, ? l'?poque o? les Axoumites
pr?paraient une guerre contre les Himyarites (522-525) ".28 Similarly it has been
remarked: "When Cosmas Indicopleustes visited the kingdom of Axum in c. 525
he found its port of Adulis a flourishing one with close relations with Arabia and
beyond ".29 The difficulty in both of these quotations is that they refer to the middle
of Justin's reign. Kosmas, however, stated that he was at Adoulis at the beginning
of the reign??v xf|i dpxfji xx\q ?aaiXeiac 'Iooax?voo xo? TcDua?ov ?aaiXecoc. Since
Justin I reigned from 9 July 518 until his death on 1 August 527, Kosmas cannot
mean that he was at Adoulis in 524 or even 522. He was there in the second half
of 518 or in 519, and that is the period to which the Ethiopian expedition mentioned
by him as being directed by Ella Asbeha against the Homerites should be assigned.
It is the expedition, several years before the martyrdom of Arethas, said in the Greek
Martyrium (? 2) to have been undertaken previously by Ella Asbeha;30 to the same
expedition the title of ch. 4 of the Book refers. The purpose of the expedition was to
punish persecutors of Christians in the Homerite land; this was the persecution
mentioned in the letter of Jacob of Saruj, who died in 521. We shall not be far in
error if we place the persecution in 518 and the first expedition of Ella Asbeha in 519,
close to the beginning of Justin's reign, in agreement with Kosmas.31
Kosmas wrote that he had been at Adoulis about twenty-five years previous to
the time of writing. Therefore he composed Christian Topography 2.56 about 544,
some time earlier than a passage in Book 6,32 wherein a solar eclipse of 6 February 547

86 Wanda Wolska-Conus, Cosmas Indicopleust?s. Topographie chr?tienne 1 (Paris 1968) 369.

For the visit of Kosmas to Adoulis and its connection with the first Ethiopian (Cushite) expedition
see also N. V. Pegulevskaya, Bizantiya naPutyakh v Indiyu (Moscow and Leningrad 1951) 223; but
she placed the expedition too late, in 522. E. O. Winstedt (The Christian Topography of Cosmas
Indicopleust?s [Cambridge 1909] 3) put it even later, c. 525, towards the end of Justin's reign;
Winstedt thus ignored the clear chronological indication in Kosmas.
26 The topography of the neighbourhood is discussed by L. P. Kirwan in The Geographical
fournal 138 (1972) 166-177 and in P.B.A. 63 (1977) 17 and 30.
27 The name is given as 'EMnaiOeaio? or 'EXXiaiOeaio? (a corruption of 'EA^iai?eaioc,
AA.SS., torn, cit., [note 6, supra] 694) in Procopius (B.P. 1.20); 'EXea?aac in Nonnosos (Photios)
Bibl. 1.5, 3 Henry [Paris 1959]?so M, 'E^ea?aac A) ; 'Etea?oac in Malalas (18, p. 458, 17 Dindorf)
and 'EA^a?aa (genitive) in Theophanes (1.169, 14 de Boor).
28 Wolska-Conus, op. cit., [note 25, supra] 16.
28 W. H. C. Frend, The Rise of the Monophysite Movement (Cambridge 1972) 304.
80 This was seen by Guidi, op. cit., 479. According to the Martyrium Dounaas was defeated
by the first expedition, as well as by the second. He may not have been king at the time of the
first expedition, but he is shown by the new Letter (VI C) to have suffered then : the handmaid of
Arethas says that the Jew was saved when a robber-merchant from H?ra swore that Du-Nu was
was a Christian.
81 The possibility of an expedition at this time was recognised by J. B. Bury, op. cit. [note 12,
supra], 2. 323 note 4 and by E. Stein, Histoire du Bas-Empire 2 (Paris 1949) 265.
**P.G. 88. 321 B.

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48 Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy

(Oppolzer No. 4170) and a lunar eclipse of 17 August 547 (Oppolzer No. 2709) are
Kosmas, then, was at Adoulis about 519. There he copied two Greek inscrip
tions?an official text of Ptolemy Euergetes I34 and the victory-record of an unnamed
Axomite king.35 The work was undertaken by Kosmas and a fellow-trader Menas
for Asbas, governor of Adoulis, who had been asked for copies of the texts by Ella
Asbeha. The Ethiopian Negus had perhaps hoped to use the texts to strengthen his
title to sovereignty in southern Arabia before the first expedition set out: for the
unnamed king claimed to have sent a naval and military expedition against the
Arabitai and Kinaidokolpitai on the other side of the Red Sea; to have made them
tributary; and to have campaigned from the port of Leuke Kome as far as the land
of the Sabaeans. That EUa Asbeha's first expedition was a serious undertaking of
conquest is clear from his having left a governor and garrison behind in Himyar
after the defeat of the insurgents.36
A time-table of events forming the background to the narrative of the Martyrium
for the years 518 to 524 can now be given (italics refer to events mentioned in the
c. 518. Insurgents massacre Christian Homerites and Paul I is killed at Zaf?r.
Jacob of Sar?j sends consolatory letter to surviving Christian Homerites. Philoxenos
of Mabbog ordains Paul II to be bishop of Negran. Bishop Thomas asks for help
from the Ethiopians.
c. 519. Kosmas at Adoulis. First expedition of Ella Asbeha. Ethiopian garrison
established. Insurgents flee to mountains of Himyar or Hadramawt. Relics of Paul I
are taken to Negran. Philoxenos is sent into exile at Gangra.
521. Paul II dies and is buried at Negran. Jacob of Sar?j dies on 29 November.
523. Dounaas leads an attack on the Ethiopian garrison and on Christians in
Himyar (at ?af?r) an(j jn Hadramawt. He advances northwards from ?af?r to Negran.
Negranites are massacred during a period including 24 October and part of November.
524. January. Mundir III, Abramios, Simeon ofB?th-Arsh?m and others (including
perhaps Shilas) at Conference of Ramla. Simeon at H?ra on 19 February. New letter
on martyrs written at al-J?biya in July 524 (IX B explicit,37 but with Seleucid
year 830 emended).
The story of the first Ethiopian expedition and the martyrdoms of Arethas and
the Negranites would have come to the Syrian source of the Greek Martyrium from
Ethiopian informants and from Arab Christian survivors of the persecutions. After
the second Ethiopian expedition had avenged the martyrs of October and November
523, Ella Asbeha appointed a son of Arethas (who had died at a great* age) to be
hegemon and ethnarch of the Negranites.38 The son would have been a prime
authority on the struggle against the rebels and their Jewish leader. For the later

33 See also J. Kroll, S.B. Kais. Akad. Wiss. Wien 1890, phil.-hist. kl. 121, xi, 72 note 1. Wolska
Conus (op. cit. 16 and La Topographie chr?tienne de Cosmas Indicopleust?s [Paris 1962] 28 note
and 160) mistakenly refers to two solar eclipses at P.G. 88.321 B.
34 Discussed by P. M. Fraser, Ptolemaic Alexandria 2 (Oxford 1972) 344 note 106,
35 Chr. top. 2.58-63 [P.G. 88. 104-105].
88 Martyrium ? 2.
87 Tr. Shah?d, op. cit. 63.
88 Martyrium ? 38.

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Huxley?On the Greek Martyrium of the Negranites 49
part of the Martyrium (?? 25-39) several sources are possible. The account of the
conference at Ramla would owe something to Simeon but also to Abramios and other
East Romans present, and the naval operations of Ella Asbeha were witnessed by
Roman mariners who helped to transport his army.
? 24, the praise of Negran, permits a transition from the martyrdoms to the
second part of the Martyrium: the laus could well have formed a conclusion to the
Syriac source. Among the portents with which the first part of the story ends after
the martyrdoms was a heavenly fire seen for forty days from dusk to midnight
(? 23). This could be a reference to an aurora, or, more appropriately to the latitude,
as Carpentier preferred, a description of zodiacal light.39
According to the Martyrium (? 26} Shilas and the Persian Nestorians who were present
at Ramla urged Mundir III ('AXauo6v8apo?) to ally himself with Dounaas against
the Romans. They were vigorously opposed by the Roman and Persian Chalcedonians
present, including Justin's ambassador Abramios the presbyter, who arranged a
peace-treaty with Mundir (? 27). Since Dounaas's violence was in part a response to
persecution of Jews within the Roman Empire, there is reason to accept the statement
in ? 25 that the Homerite Jewish leader had written to the king of the Persians
(Kavad) urging him to persecute Christians in his realm. By " Christians " Chalce
donians and Monophysites, not Nestorians, would be intended. Certain it is that the
diplomatic implications of the fighting in southern Arabia extended far beyond
Himyar, Hadramawt and Negran.
The emperor Justin's response to the news brought from the conference was
prompt: Dounaas posed a threat at once political, economic and religious to the
well-being of the Empire. Justin therefore wrote to the (Monophysite) Alexandrian
patriarch Timotheos (IV) asking him to urge Ella Asbeha to punish the rebels and
their leader (?27). A letter was also sent directly to Ella Asbeha about the murdered
Ethiopian, Roman and Persian Christians ; herein it was stated as a fact?which does
not appear elsewhere in the Martyrium?that Ella Asbeha had appointed Dounaas
king (that is, Ethiopian prorex). That Dounaas ever had Ethiopian support or had
acknowledged Ethiopian sovereignty is not known, and the emperor may have been
mistaken; the error, if error it is, is not a sign that the letter is spurious.40
Roman and Persian clerics were indeed among the martyrs, as the new Letter
shows (IX B and IX C) ; there are mentioned Sergios the Roman presbyter, Abraham
the Persian presbyter, and Ananias the Roman archdeacon.41 Justin's desire for
vengeance must have been increased by the knowledge that Roman subjects (some of
whom may well have been Chalcedonian Orthodox in faith) had suffered at the hands
of Dounaas. The Emperor promised to send troops to Ella Asbeha: they were to
travel across the desert from K op tos beside the Nile to the Red Sea at Beronike,
thence to Ethiopia and the land of the Homerites. But from the silence of the
39 A A. SS., torn, cit. [note 6, supra] 741 note 1.
40 So Carpentier, torn, cit., [note 6, supra] 745, note s. The letter could have been sent by
Timotheos, as Vasiliev supposed (op. cit., 294), not by Justin; A and B do not make the authorship
clear, because fl autou euae?eia could be the emperor or the patriarch. The Metaphrastic version
of the Martyrium (P.G. 115.1280) states that Justin wrote to an Alexandrine patriarch called
Asterios, but Asterios is an invention of someone who could not believe that Justin corresponded
with a Monophysite patriarch. That the correspondence betwen Justin, Timotheos and the Negus is
historical, not a fiction, was also seen by I. Shah?d (Kawar), J.N.E.S. 23 (1964) 129 and note 52.
41 Shah?d, op. cit. [note 3, supra] 64.

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50 Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy

subsequent narrative we may infer that the army was not sent. However, the
mention of Koptos as the point of departure for a journey eastwards across the
desert is apt; traders travelling in the opposite direction brought Indian and Arabian
goods from Myos Hormos on the coast to the Nile at Koptos (Strabo 16.4.24(781)).
No army was sent, but Roman ships came to assist Ella Asbeha in the transport of
troops from Gabazan near Adoulis to the south-western coast of Arabia (? 29 and ? 32).
Timotheos, after receiving the emperor's letter at Alexandria, held a great service
attended by monks from Nitria and Skete in the church of Saint Mark, with a
procession and vigil afterwards. The date is given as April of the third Indiction, 525
(? 28), some fifteen months therefore after the conference at Ramla. Timotheos sent
the eucharist in a silver vessel to Ella Asbeha in the care of a presbyter shortly before
the second expedition of the Negus (nag?shi) set out. Ella Asbeha had not been
ready to campaign in 524, and the winter of the third Indiction (524-5) was spent in
gathering Roman, Ethiopian and even Persian ships, and in building vessels of his
own (? 29). The army of the Negus is said to have numbered one hundred and twenty
From Aeila42 at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba came fifteen ships; from Klysma,
a little to the north of Suez, twenty; from the island of Iotabe,43 at the entrance to
the Gulf of Aqaba, seven ; there were two from Beronike ; seven from the islands of
Pharsan (Faras?n) ; and nine from (Hither) India, east of Hadramawt.44 These sixty
gathered at Gabazan, where they were drawn up on the shore, and to them were
added another ten of " Indie " type?they were perhaps dhows built without the use
of metal, as were the Indie vessels described by Procopius (Bellum Persicum 1.19).
The additional ten ships were built for Ella Asbeha during the winter of 524/5. The
list of places supplying ships shows how intense was Roman maritime activity
throughout the Red Sea in the time of Justin I.45 Some of the mariners in Ella
Asbeha's fleet are said to have been Persians : they may well have manned the ships
from " India ", having sailed from the Persian Gulf. It is noteworthy that Kosmas
Indikopleustes mentions the presence of Greek-speaking Christians in Dioskourides
(Socotra island) and states that their clergy came from Persis.46
To take the Homerite rebels in the rear Ella Asbeha sent overland a force of
fifteen thousand troops, described in the Martyrium as " Ethiopian barbarians ".
This army would have been under orders to march into Barbaria (Somaliland), whence
it would have been necessary to take ship to the coast of Hadramawt in order to
attack the insurgents from the east. Ships, however, are not mentioned; it is simply
stated that after thirty days, and then another seven, of marching, the army was
42 Trade between Aeila or Aila and Adoulis is mentioned by Kosmas (P.G. 88. 101 A with Bury,
op. cit. [note 12, supra] 2.318). Compare Procopius, B.P. 1.19 (1.101 Dindorf)).
43 This had been captured by imperial forces under Romanos the commander in Palestine
from Skenite Arabs, and handed over to Romans trading with " India ", in 498 (Theophanes
1.141, 12-17 de Boor).
44 This India is not precisely identified. John of Ephesos connected an India with the land
of the Himyarites: see AA.SS., torn. cit. 696 [note 6, supra]. It is the south Arabian India minor
mentioned in the 'O?oiTiopta 'ano 'E??u xou Tcapa?staou '?xpv xc?v ' Po?uaic?v (A. Klotz, Rh. Mus.
65 [1910] 609, 41 and 43). For the Leningrad text of the work (State Public Library Gr. 252) see
Pegulevskaya, op. cit. [note 25 supra] 409-410 and her discussion on pp 115 to 128.
46 H. Ahrweiler, Byzance et la Mer (Paris 1966) 8, recognised the historical value of the list:
" texte capital mais peu utilis? ".
?P.G. 88.170 B. See also E. Sachau, Abh. Pr. Akad. Wiss., phil.-hist. kl. 1919, No. 1, 69.

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Huxley?On the Greek Martyrium of the Negranites 51

lost in trackless and waterless wastes. We are not even told whether the force
perished in Arabia or in Barbaria; only that the barbarians neither reached the land
of the Homerites nor returned to Ethiopia. The thirty days may have been passed
in Somalia and the seven after the crossing to Arabia,47 but the Martyrium has
not made the matter clear because the Greek translator has had difficulty in under
standing his source here.
After Pentecost 525 (18 May) Ella Asbeha led a procession to the great church
at Axom; and after uttering a prayer, if the Martyrium is to be trusted (? 30), of
unexceptionable Chalcedonian Orthodoxy, he visited at Sabi a Roman monk from
Aeila. This saintly man, Zonenos by name,48 who had spent forty-five years enclosed
in his cell in a tower?being an egkekleismenos, not a stylite proper?gave a blessing
to the Negus. Ella Asbeha then went down to the coast to Adoulis and Gabazan,
and the second expedition set out.
There is in the Martyrium a long account of the landings. A defensive chain
proved to be a grave obstacle; its ends were weighted so that they would hold firm
on islets and shoals, but the rest of it was held afloat in the channels between the
shoals by timbers. However, wind and waves carried some of the ships over it without
great trouble. The chain would have been set inshore from Perim (the isle of Diodoros)
in the strait of Bab el-Mandeb, or possibly at the entrance to a harbour on the coast
near by, such as the watering-place Okelis.49
Landings were attempted at more than one place on the coast; crews suffered
in the heat and they were angered at the sight of the sunshades of the enemy on the
shore ; monks distinguished themselves in the fighting between the Homerite cavalry
men and the troops aboard the ships in the shallows (?? 34-37). Zaf?r was taken by
Ella Asbeha, while some fighting continued on the coast, and a kinsman of Dounaas,
having been captured, was taken to the city; but when Dounaas was defeated at the
coast, Ella Asbeha put the Jew and seven of his relatives to death50?having, it
seems, made the journey of several days down to the shore again from ?af?r. If the
army of the Negus really numbered one hundred and twenty thousand, the seventy
ships must have made numerous journeys across the strait of Bab el-Mandeb before
the whole force could be deployed against the enemy. Time would also have been
needed to move the army from Gabazan to a point on the Ethiopian coast facing
Okelis and the isle of Diodoros. Moreover, there was difficulty in supplying troops
and crews in the ships with food and water (? 34), but superior numbers in the end
prevailed, and when ?af?r, the royal city of the Homerites,51 had been taken, the
cause of the rebels was lost.

47 See Carpentier in AA.SS., Oct XII (Oct. 27) (1884) 319, ? 93.
48 On Pantaleon (Zonenos) : AA.SS., torn. cit. [note 47, supra]. 331 F and B.H.O. 838. The
Martyrium may follow here an Ethiopie account of the visit; cf. Shah?d, op. cit. 215.
4? Topography described in Periplus Mar. Erythr. (G.G.M. 1. 275-276). Map in C.I. A. Indian
Ocean Atlas (August 1976), p. 29 and inset.
60 tSiai? xcpoiv ave?tev A (p. 58 Boissonade, ed. cit.). According to the Book (ed. cit., [note 4,
supra] ch. xlii) Masr?q (Dounaas) was killed in the water by the shore. A legend in Tabari states
that the Jew spurred his horse into the sea, never to be seen again: Vasiliev, op. cit. 297. A tomb
near San'a is associated, though questionably, in local Arab lore with Dounaas: see'A. Grohmann,
Arabien (Munich 1963) 109 and H. Scott, The Geographical Journal 93 (1939) 139.
61 In Peripl. Mar. Erythr. ?af?r (Taphar) is regarded as the chief seat not only of the Homerites
but of the Sabaeans also (G.G.M. 1.274 (23)).

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52 Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy

The Negus assisted for seven days in the building of a church at ?af?r and arranged
for the installation of clergy and the baptism of Homerites. The Martyrium does not
say how long he stayed away from Ethiopia, but according to the Book he was in
Himyar for seven months. When word of the victory reached Timotheos, a bishop
was sent from Alexandria at the request of the Negus. Justin also received news of
the victory. The bishop (his name is not given in the Martyrium: he is not likely
to have been Gregentios, the supposed bishop of the Homerites, since the very
existence of Gregentios is doubtful)52 accompanied the king to Negran where a new
church was built.
At Negran the son of Arethas was appointed ruler, and five royal properties were
bestowed upon the church, together with three previously given by Arethas from
his royal estate. The place where the martyrs' bodies had been burned and cast
forth became an asylum (a Christian equivalent of an asylum of the pagan Beduin).
These details suggest the use of local Negranite informants in addition to Homerites,
Romans and Ethiopians by the Syriac sources of the Martyrium; as already inferred,
the son of Arethas could have supplied essential facts.
Having returned to ?af?r from Negran, Ella Asbeha appointed a Christian to
be king (as the Ethiopians' prorex) ; the king and the bishop were provided with a
garrison of ten thousand Ethiopians. Since the church at Zaf?r was said to be
" now existing " these details were put into writing not later than the removal of
Arabian Christians to Iraq in the caliphate of 'Umar. But they could have been
recorded before the rise of Islam or even before the Persian domination of Arabia
began in the 570s.
To have accomplished so much at Negran and at Zafar Ella Asbeha must have spent
several months in Arabia, possibly even the seven in the Book. He awaited the arrival
of the bishop from Alexandria; so, since the expedition left Gabazan later than
18 May 525, the Negus may not have returned home to Axom before the early spring
of 526. Having come back to Ethiopia he retired into a life of religion.
The Martyrium (? 38) calls the new prorex installed at Zaf?r 'A?pcuxu, but the
local notable to whom Ella Asbeha in fact entrusted the leadership was Sumyafa*
'Aswa',53 the Esimiphaios of Procopius (Bellum Persicum 1. 20). He was succeeded
by Abraham (in Ethiopie Abreh?), who may well have made himself independent
of Ethiopia. He is of great interest to Muslim historians owing to the mention in
the Koran (Sura 105) of his attack on Mecca in 'am al-fil, the Elephant Year, 570,
about the time of the Prophet's birth.

52 Extracts from the Vita were published by A. A. Vasiliev in V.V. 14 (1907) 23-67 and were
again discussed by him (op. cit., [note 22; supra] 298 note 74). The name of the saint seems to
come from Girgenti-Agrigento in Sicily, an island he is said to have visited on his long travels,
but his early years are alleged to have been passed in the Balkans during an Avaro-Slavonic
invasion. Vasiliev thought the sending of Gregentios to the Homerites " probable ". Bury,
op. cit. 2.327 note 1, was more doubtful. The Laws of the Homerites associated with the Vita of
Gregentios (Boissonade, op. cit. 63-116) are also of doubtful historicity, though R. Dareste took
them seriously: " Lois des Homerites ", Nouvelle revue historique de droit fran?ais et ?tranger 19
(Paris 1905) 157-170. Bury, loe. cit., remarked " the Code of laws bears some internal marks of
genuineness, though we may hope, for the sake of the Himyarites, that it was never enforced ".
H. Gr?goire held the Vita of Gregentios to be a late fabrication, not without reason (" Mahomet
et le Monophysisme ", M?langes Charles Diehl 1.115). The Dialogus (B.H.G. 706-706d) of the
saint with Herbanos the Jew also requires reexamination in connection with the Gregentios
problem (P.G. 86.621-624). A new study of the Vita is promised by Shah?d, op. cit. 230 note 1.
53 A. Dietrich, " Geschichte Arabiens vor dem Islam " in Handbuch der Orientalistik. Oriental
ische Geschichte von Kyros bis Mohammed (Leiden and Cologne 1966) 301-303.

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Huxley?On the Greek Martyrium of the Negranites 53

The rule of Esimiphaios, not mentioned in the Martyrium, falls outside the scop*
of the present study; but we must note, since Abraham his successor is mentionec
by the hagiographer, that the reign of Esimiphaios (Sumyafa' 'A?wa') as prore.
presents chronological problems of great difficulty owing to uncertainty about th
base-date of the Sabaean era, c. 115 B.C.
At Hisn al-Gur?b an inscription (C.I.H. 621) mentioning a chieftain calle
Sumyafa' (who may not be the same person as the Esimiphaios of Procopius) and
number of tribal chieftains records an Abyssinian invasion or uprising subseque:
to the killing of a king of Himyar. The text, which commemorates the fortificati*
of the place called Mwyt by Sumyafa' and his companions, has the year-date 640
the Sabaean era; Mwyt faced the sea and protected the entrance to the port of Qai
on the coast of Hadramawt. There is no proof either that the king who was kill
was Dounaas or that the year 640 corresponds to 525 A.D. Therefore the text shouxv*
not be used to document the installation of Esimiphaios (Sumyafa' 'Aswa') by Ella
Asbeha. The background may, rather, be an Ethiopian invasion resulting from the
overthrow of Esimiphaios by the rebellious Abraham or trouble amongst the Ethiopian
garrison who revolted against Esimiphaios and helped Abraham to seize power.54
Another South Arabian inscription is more illuminating. In Istanbul 7608 bis
Ella Asbeha and several Himyarite chieftains (including Sumyafa' 'Aswa' or Esimi
phaios) subordinate to the Negus are named.55 The date is missing, but Esimiphaios
is stated to be ruler on behalf of the Negus, and it is clear that the text comes from
the period after the defeat of Dounaas and before the uprising of Abreh? or Abraham.
The extant part of the text closes with a Christian, and specifically Trinitarian,56
formula; so it may be that Ella Asbeha was not a Monophysite at the time of the
Ethiopian reconquest of Himyar.
Two other noteworthy inscriptions, dating from March-April and July-September
of Sabaean Year 633, were set up to the north-north-east of Negran (Ry 508 and
Ry 507).57 They show that the lieutenant of Dounaas, one Sarah'il, raided to the
north of Negran, hundreds of miles from their base in Himyar. The texts mention
an attack on the Ethiopians at ?afar and action taken to protect the coast against
a possible naval attack from Ethiopia. Sarah' il is reported to have been sent against
the Christians of Mokha on the coast of the Red Sea, where the inhabitants had come
originally from Pharsan?the islands which contributed'to the naval force of Ella
Asbeha. These operations may well have had some connection with the events
of 523 to 525 (according to the chronology of the Martyrium), and Dounaas could
54 J. Ryckmans, La Pers?cution des Chr?tiens himyarites au sixi?me si?cle (Istanbul and Lei
den 1956) 7-12 and 21 proposes to equate Sabaean Year 640 with 531. Ryckmans argues, against
A. F. L. Beeston (B.S.O.A.S. London 16 (1954) 37-56, at 40), that according to C.I.H. 621 an
Abyssinian invasion followed the killing of the king of Himyar. It is not clear that a fragment
of Ouranios, an author of uncertain date, refers to an Abyssinian garrison in or near Hadramawt?
"uex? xo?>? <?>a?aiouc Xaxpau?Vrai, 'A?aanvoi" [Arabika Book 3 (F.Gr.Hist. 675 F 19)] from
Steph. Byz. s.v. <'A?aar|VoiE0voc> 'Apa?iac,
55 J. Ryckmans, " Une inscription chr?tienne sab?enne aux Mus?es d'Antiquit?s d'Istanbul ",
Le Mus?on 59 (1946) 165-172.
68 References at Axom to Father, Son and Holy Ghost began there as early as the mid-fourth
century: see an inscription of Azana king of the Axomites, Homerites, Reeidan, and Sabaeans
published by F. Anfray, A. Caquot and P. Nautin, " Une nouvelle inscription grecque d'Ezana,
roi d'Axoum ", fnl des Savants 1970, 260-274.
Ryckmans, op. cit. [note 54, supra] 13-17.

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54 Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy

have sent his lieutenant to the north-north-east of Negran with the intention of
encircling the city.58 If so, Sabaean Year 633 would correspond approximately
to 523 A.D. Though the chronology is uncertain, it is remarkable that the two
inscriptions seem to refer to a chain at Bab el-Mandeb (Ry 508, 8; Ry 507, 10).
If Sabaean Year 633 is 523 A.D., then we have confirmation that the Hisn al-Gur?b
inscription of 640 refers to events later than the overthrow of Dounaas. We may,
instead, place the revolt against Esimiphaios the prorex about 530 a.D.
Two years earlier than Ry 508 is Ry 510.59 This mentions the campaign which
the king Ma'adkarib Ya'fur conducted in central Arabia in Sabaean Year 631.
Ma'adkarib may be the same person as the Ma'd?karim, who according to the
Book of the Himyarites was the predecessor of Dounaas on the throne and whom one
of the martyrs of Negran, Ruhayma, had helped with a loan of money.60
Ma'adkarib's central Arabian campaign cannot be fitted into the narrative of the
Martyrium, but he may not have attacked Negran; on the chronology proposed
above for Ry 508 and Ry 507 the campaign of Ma' adkarib would have occurred
c. 521, less than two years after the first expedition of Ella Asbeha. But until
Sabaean chronology is more secure, historical interpretations of the pertinent inscrip
tions must remain hypothetical.
We can now consider briefly the diplomatic and religious background to the
martyrdoms at Negran. An alliance between the Persians and the Jewish, pagan
and anti-Chalcedonian (mainly Nestorian) Christian insurgents in Himyar and
Hadramawt would have presented a grave threat to the stability of Arabia and so
to the Syro-Palestinian frontiers of the Roman Empire, along the soft underbelly
of Justin's realm. Trans-Arabian trade, which hinged on Negran, would suffer,
and there would be danger to Roman shipping in the Red Sea and the possibility
of damage to the economy of Egypt through the loss of the Indian trade. The
diplomacy of the presbyter Abramios61 in his embassy to Mundir at Ramla ensured
that the Lakhmids did not at once > side with Persia, and the attempt of Dounaas
to ally himself with the Persians came to naught, eager though he was to avenge
Jews suffering within the Roman Empire. There were some Nestorians among the
Homerite insurgents, according to the Martyrium;*2, their disaffection added to the
religious threat posed by the rebels to Roman as well as to Axomite power.
Justin therefore sought the help of the Monophysite Patriarch of Alexandria in urging
upon Ella Asbeha the duty to recover his lost sovereignty in south-western Arabia.
Troops were promised, but in the event a fleet of ships was sent instead. Justin had
no desire, and no need, to enquire closely into the orthodoxy of the Negus. A crusade
against Arabian Judaism was proclaimed, a crusade in which Chalcedonians and
Monophysites would willingly unite against a shared danger to their Christianity.

s? Ibid. 14.
6? Ibid. 12.

60 Book 43b-44a ed. Moberg. See also the new Letter VIII B, p. 60, tr. Shah?d.
41 Nonnosos mentioned the embassy of his father Abramios (F.H.G. 4. 179).
2 In the speech of Dounaas to the Negranites (? 6) there are the words " you are no better
than those who are called Nestorians, ot xive? e?oi Tcap' rjutv uexPi toB TiapovTO?, Kat Xsyouaiv
fa?v or? 06OV auiov o'uic ?%o\izv, aXk? TtpoipfiTnv 0soo "

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Huxley?On the Greek Martyrium of the Negranites 55

It is fitting therefore that Ella Asbeha, in the guise of K?l?b the Cushite, is honoured
as a saint of the universal Church.63

I thank my colleague Professor D. W. Gooding for discussing the typescript of
this paper with me.

6? AA.SS., torn. cit. (note 47 supra) 296-337. Ella Asbeha is regularly called K?l?b in the
Axomite kinglists; Caleb was perhaps his baptismal name. The lists are set out by Ch. Conti
Rossini, Jnl Asiatique Ser. X, 14 (1909) 263-320. The struggle between Christians, Jews and
pagans in sixth-century Arabia has a vital connection with the origins of Islam (see e.g. M.
Rodinson, Mohammed, Eng. tr. Harmondsworth 1973, esp. 31-32), but that large subject cannot
be discussed here. On the Hebraic and Messianic background to early Islam cf. now Patricia
Crone arid Michael Cook, Hagarism, The making of the Islamic world (Cambridge 1977).

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Page 42, note 6. For A?o^apayoc read 'A?qxapayoc.

Page 43, note 9. For 'O?eomvoc read 'O?e?uxv?c.
Page 59, line l.For v?\ao read v?\i<p.
Page 93, line 2. Delete regular.
Page 93, line 6. Interchange slave and free.
Page 94, line 17. For life read list.
Page 112, note 12. For molodi read molodoi.
Page 123, note 80. For epitaph read epigraph.
Page 140, line 13 from foot. For December read November.
Page 140, line 4 from foot. For Mezzofante read Mezzofanti.
Page 141, line 9. For tentatis read teneatis.
Page 141, line 21. Insert e Maria after Gesu.
Page 161,line 5. Substitute comma for bracket after U*, V*.

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