Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IX/The Passion of the Scillitan Martyrs/Introduction
The Passion of the Scillitan Martyrs.
The Scillitan Martyrs were condemned and executed at Carthage on the 17th July, a.d. 180. The martyrs belonged to Scili, a place in that part of Numidia which belonged to proconsular Africa. The proconsul at the time, who is said by Tertullian to have been the first to draw the sword against the Christians there, was P. Vigellius Saturninus. The consuls for the year were Præsens II. and Condianus. Marcus Aurelius had died only a few months before.
The exact date of the martyrdom was long under dispute, and the question has recently arisen whether the Acts were originally written in Latin or Greek. Baronius placed the date as late as 202. The text had become corrupt in passing through various Latin and Greek versions and transcriptions, and it was long impossible to recognize the names of the consuls for the year in the first line of the piece. But M. Leon Renier conjectured that the word bis pointed to a consul’s name underlying the word preceding it, and suggested the year 180, when Præsens and Condianus were consuls. This conjecture was confirmed by Usener’s publication in 1881 of a Greek version from a ninth century ms. in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris, though even here the names, though recognizable, were in a corrupt form. Usener believed this version to be a translation from a Latin original, and his theory has been confirmed by Mr. Armitage Robinson’s discovery of a Latin ms. of the ninth century in the British Museum, containing the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs in a form briefer than any of the other versions and believed to be the original. Mr. A. Robinson’s translation which follows, is from the Latin which he discovered, and which is printed in Texts and Studies, vol. i., No. 2.