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Evaristus (MPol 20)

Role: Literate Worker; Secretary

Gender: Male

Date: mid-late second century CE

Place: Smyrna

Language:  Greek

Literary Genre: Martyrdom Account; Letter

Title of Work: Martyrdom of Polycarp

Reference:  MPol 22

Original Text:

προσαγορεύετε πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους. ὑμᾶς οἱ σὺν ἡμῖν προσαγορεύουσιν καὶ Εὐάρεστος, ὁ γράψας, πανοικεί. (MPol 20)

English Translation:

Those who are with us greet you, as does Evaristus, the one who is writing the letter, with his entire household. (MPol 20)

Text and Translation adapted from Bart D. Ehrman, The Apostolic Fathers (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003)


Evaristus was the secretary or author of the Martyrdom of Polycarp, a letter that recounts the arrest, trial, and execution of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. The letter is framed as a missive from the Church in Smyrna to the Church of Philomelium in Phrygia. The account describes events that took place in the mid-second century and was composed within a century of the martyr’s death. 

The circumstances of composition are somewhat unclear. The letter was either dictated to Evaristus by an otherwise unknown man named Marcion (Ehrman) or Marcion served as a source for Evaristus’s composition (Frend). In the former explanation, Evaristus is positioned as taking dictation (Compare Tertius of Rom. 16:22), in the second he inscribed the memories of an eyewitness (Compare Mark’s relationship to the apostle Peter in Papias).

The fact that Evaristus’s whole household (πανοικεί) greets the church does not necessarily identify Evaristus as a freeborn paterfamilias (head of household) although the term is used that way in Acts 16:34. His name means “well pleasing” or “pleasant” and was used of enslaved and formerly enslaved people (e.g. CIL 5.1089) 

Some manuscripts add “τὴν ἐπιστολὴν” (the letter) after “the one who is writing” and this is reflected in Ehrman’s translation.

Keywords: Apostolic Fathers; Christian; Literate Worker; Martyrdom Account; Polycarp; Secretary; Smyrna

Related Entries: Gaius; Isocrates


Ehrman, Bart D. The Apostolic Fathers. Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Frend, W. H. C. Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church. A Study of A Conflict from the Maccabees to Donatus. Oxford: Blackwell, 1965.

How to Cite:

Moss, Candida R. “Evaristus (MPol 20).” Ancient Enslaved Christians. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. <URL>



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