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Fragments of Polycrates

Polycrates (1), bp. of Ephesus in the last decade of 2nd cent. When Victor of Rome sought to unify the practice of the whole Christian world in the matter of Easter celebration, he first asked for meetings of bishops in different places to report on the practice of their localities. This request was made in the name of his church, as we learn from. the use of the plural in the reply of Polycrates. From every other place, as far as we can learn, the answer was that they celebrated the feast of our Lord's Resurrection on no other day than Sunday; but Polycrates, writing in the name of the bishops of Asia, declared that they had preserved untampered the tradition to celebrate only on the 14th day of the month, the day when the Jewish people put away their leaven. He appeals to the authority of the great luminaries which the Asian church could boast, and whose bodies lay among them, Philip, one of the twelve apostles, and his three daughters, John, who lay on our Lord's breast, a priest who wore the petalon, Polycarp of Smyrna, Thraseas of Eumenia, Sagaris, Papirius, Melito, all of whom had observed the 14th day, according to the Gospel, walking according to the rule of faith. Polycrates himself had followed the traditions of his kindred, seven of whom had been bishops before him, and had been confirmed in his view by his own study of the whole Scripture and by conference with brethren from all the world. Although his letter bore no signature but his own, he claims that it had received the assent of a great number of bishops (Eus. H. E. v. 24). For the sequel see IRENAEUS.


Pomponia Graecina, one of the earliest and most distinguished Roman converts. Tacitus (Annals, xiii. 32) tells us, referring to A.D. 57 or 58, that Pomponia Graecina, a distinguished lady, wife of the Plautius who returned from Britain with an ovation, was accused of some foreign superstition and handed over to her husband's judicial decision. Following ancient precedent, he heard his wife's cause in the presence of kinsfolk, involving, as it did, her legal status and character, and reported that she was innocent. She lived a long life of unbroken melancholy. After the murder of Julia, Drusus's daughter, by Messalina's treachery, for 40 years she wore only the attire of a mourner. For this, during Claudius's reign, she escaped unpunished, and it was afterwards counted a glory to her. This is the only notice of her in ancient literature. She came into prominence through De Rossi's discoveries in the catacomb of Callistus (Roma Sotterranea, ii. 360-364). De Rossi identified her with St. Lucina (of. Aubé, Hist. des perséc. t. i. p 180). Cf. for other notices Brownlow and Northcote's Roma Sott. t. i. pp. 82, 83, 278-282. De Rossi (op. cit. t. i. pp. 306-351) discusses the crypt and family of St. Lucina at great length (cf. also his Bullettino di Archeol. Crist. passim).


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Kirby, Peter. "Historical Jesus Theories." Early Christian Writings. <>.