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Fortunatus (1 Clem 65.1)

Role: Messenger

Gender: Male

Date: 95-96 CE

Place: Rome; Corinth

Language: Greek

Literary Genre: Letter

Title of Work: 1 Clement

Reference: 1 Clem 65.1

Original Text:

Τοὺς δὲ ἀπεσταλμένους ἀφ᾿ ἡμῶν Κλαύδιον Ἔφηβον καὶ Οὐαλέριον Βίτωνα σὺν καὶ Φορτουνάτῳ ἐν εἰρήνῃ μετὰ χαρᾶς ἐν τάχει ἀναπέμψατε πρὸς ἡμᾶς, ὅπως θᾶττον τὴν εὐκταίαν καὶ ἐπιποθήτην ἡμῖν εἰρήνην καὶ ὁμόνοιαν ἀπαγγέλλωσιν, εἰς τὸ τάχιον καὶ ἡμᾶς χαρῆναι περὶ τῆς εὐσταθείας ὑμῶν. (1 Clem. 65.1)

English Translation:

But send back to us quickly our envoy Claudius Ephebus and Valerius Bito, along with Fortunatus, in peace and with joy, that they may inform us without delay about the peace and harmony that we have prayed and desired for you. Then we will rejoice more quickly in your stability. (1 Clem. 65.1)

Text and Translation adapted from Bart D. Ehrman, The Apostolic Fathers (Loeb Classical Library 24; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 150–1.


Fortunatus was one of a group of three messengers dispatched from Rome to Corinth to deliver, read, and perhaps interpret the text now known as 1 Clement. The author of the letter identifies all three as “trustworthy and prudent men.” The role of these messengers—the others are identified as Claudius Ephebus and Valerius Bito—was to ensure that the letter was understood and to report back on how it was received. The situation appears to have been precarious: a fissure had emerged between the groups of Christ followers in Rome and Corinth and, in the eyes of the Roman Christians, Corinth was imperiled. 

Fortunatus, meaning “lucky,” was a common name for enslaved and formerly enslaved workers. See Josephus, JW 18.247-48;  Tacitus, Ann. 16.10; Martial Ep. 2.14;  CIL 6.30882; CIL 6.8645; CIL 8.12597; CIL 15.1343,4. 

In contrast to his fellow-messengers who seem to have been freedmen he possesses only one name, suggesting that he is still enslaved. One scholar has suggested that Fortunatus is an “appendage” to the more senior figures.[1]

As enslaved or formerly enslaved people were regularly deployed as letter carriers and messengers, particularly in situations where the situation was delicate and the message important, it seems likely that Claudius Ephebus was formerly enslaved. 

Keywords: Apostolic Fathers; Christian; Corinth; Literate Worker; Messenger; Rome

Related Entries: Valerius Bito (1 Clem 65.1); Claudius Ephebus (1 Clem 65.1)


Head, Peter M. “‘Witnesses between You and Us’: The Role of the Letter-Carriers in 1 Clement.” Pages 477-93 in Studies on the Text of the New Testament and Early Christianity: Essays in Honour of Michael W. Holmes on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday. Edited by Daniel M. Gurtner, Juan Hernández, and Paul Foster. Leiden: Brill, 2015.

Lightfoot, Joseph Barber. The Apostolic Fathers. Volume 2. London and New York: Macmillan, 1885. (es1:27–29

Lampe, Peter. From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries, trans. Michael Steinhauser. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003. (esp. 184–86)

Mitchell, Margaret M. “New Testament Envoys in the Context of Greco-Roman Diplomatic and Epistolary Conventions: The Example of Timothy and Titus.” JBL 111.4 (1992): 641–662.

How to Cite:

Moss, Candida R. “Fortunatus (1 Clem 65.1).” Ancient Enslaved Christians. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. <URL>.


1 Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus, 185. 



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