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Clement (Herm. Vis. 2)

Role: Literate Worker

Gender: Male

Date: Late-first to early second century CE

Place: Rome

Language: Greek

Literary Genre: Apocalypse; Revelation Dialogue

Title of Work: Shepherd of Hermas

Reference: Herm. Vis. 2.4.3 (8.3)

Original Text:

γράψεις οὖν δύο βιβλαρίδια καὶ πέμψεις ἓν Κλήμεντι καὶ ἓν Γραπτῇ. πέμψει οὖν Κλήμης εἰς τὰς ἔξω πόλεις, ἐκείνῳ γὰρ ἐπιτέτραπται. Γραπτὴ δὲ νουθετήσει τὰς χήρας καὶ τοὺς ὀρφανούς. σὺ δε ἀναγνώσῃ εἰς ταύτην τὴν πόλιν μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων τῶν προϊσταμένων τῆς ἐκκλησίας.

English Translation:

Therefore, write two little books and send one to Clement and the other to Grapte. Then Clement will send it to the outer cities, since it is entrusted to him. But Grapte will instruct the widows and orphans. And you will read it in the city with the presbyters who preside over the assembly.


Clement is mentioned only once in the Shepherd of Hermas, when a divine figure called the Ekklesia ("Church") commands Hermas to compose textual material that he receives from her (both via copying from a book that she holds and via dictation). Clement is one of two recipients of the Ekklesia’s books, which are distributed by Hermas. 

Given that the Shepherd describes Clement’s role as distribution to other cities—presumably beyond Rome—he is characterized as belonging to wider networks of early Christian figures. Unlike both Hermas and Grapte, Clement is not tasked with reading or interpretation of the text to a particular community, but rather with further dissemination around the Mediterranean.

It is likely that Clement is an enslaved or formerly enslaved person. His name—which means “merciful,” “gentle,” or “compliant”—is common among enslaved persons (e.g., CIL 6 16203; CIL 8 12704; AE 1987, 177a) and highlights the aspiration of enslavers that such an enslaved person would be pliable to their will.

Scholars have long debated whether this Clement mentioned in the Shepherd is Clement of Rome, a bishop in the late first century CE and authorial figure attributed to 1 Clement. The relationship between the Shepherd’s Clement and Clement of Rome are often key data points in determining the date of the Shepherd itself.

Keywords: Apostolic Fathers; Christian; Literate Worker

Related Entries: Hermas; Grapte


Maier, Harry O. “The Social Setting of the Ministry as Reflected in the Writings of Hermas, Clement and Ignatius. Waterloo, Ontario: Laurier University Press, 1991.

Proctor, Travis W. “Books, Scribes, and the Cultures of Reading in the Shepherd of Hermas.” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 73.3 (2022): 461–479.

How to Cite:

Bonar, Chance E. “Clement (Herm.Vis.2).” Ancient Enslaved Christians. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. <URL>



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