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Conon


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(3rd century),

martyr. According to his Acts, Conon came from a long-established Greek Christian family of Nazareth. In his old age he settled at Carma (in Phrygia or Pisidia), where he was employed on an imperial estate maintaining the irrigation canals. The prefect was stationed in the town of Magydos (Pamphilia), where he summoned the people by herald to hear the details of the imperial decrees against the Christians. These, however, had all fled from the city and its surrounding lands. An auxiliary soldier went to seek the people but found only Conon, watering one of the imperial gardens. He was summoned to the prefect, who cross-examined him about his name, origin, and religion. ‘If you have recognized Christ’, he said, then recognize our gods too…Simply take a little incense, wine and a branch and say: “Zeus all highest, protect this people.”…Why do you all continue to err, saying that a man, and indeed one who died as a criminal, is God? For I have learnt from the Jews what was his family… and how he died on a cross…So cease this foolishness and be of good cheer with us.”

Conon answered: ‘Most impious of men, I wish that you too could share this foolishness and were not destroying souls that should not be lost, paying heed to lifeless stones that can neither see nor hear and are merely men's handiwork. How can you blaspheme thus against the God of all things when your breath is in his hands? May it be my lot…ever to hymn and praise him who is the God and saviour of all.’ The prefect then threatened tortures, regarding him as a representative of the numerous absent Christians; but Conon remained constant in the profession of his faith.

The prefect ordered spikes to be driven into Conon's feet and made him run ahead of his own chariot. He was driven on by two men with whips until he reached the market-place where he was faint with exhaustion. Soon afterwards he died. Feast: 6 March.

Some details of these Acts may be fictional, but there seems no reason to doubt the substance of the story: see A.C.M., pp. xxxii–xxxiii, 186–93;Propylaeum, pp. 86–7;R. van Doren in D.H.G.E., 13 (1956), 460–1.

Subjects: Christianity.


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