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Gaius (MPol 22)

Role: Copyist

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:

ταῦτα μετεγράψατο μὲν Γάϊος ἐκ τῶν Εἰρηναίου, μαθητοῦ τοῦ Πολυκάρπου, ὃς καὶ συνεπολιτεύσατο τῷ Εἰρηναίῳ. ἐγὼ δὲ Σωκρᾴτης ἐν Κορίνθῳ ἐκ τῶν Γαΐου ἀντιγράφων ἔγραψα. ἡ χάρις μετὰ πάντων. (MPol 22.2)

ἐκ τούτων οὖν, ὡς προλέλεκται, τῶν τοῦ Εἰρηναίου συγγραμμάτων Γάϊος μετεγράψατο, ἐκ δὲ τῶν Γαΐου ἀντιγράφων Ἰσοκράτης ἐν Κορίνθῳ. ἐγὼ δὲ πάλιν Πιόνιος ἐκ τῶν Ἰσοκράτους ἀντιγράφων ἔγραψα κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ ἁγίου Πολυκάρπου ζητήσας αὐτά, συναγαγὼν αὐτὰ ἤδη σχεδὸν ἐκ τοῦ χρόνου κεκμηκότα, ἵνα κἀμὲ συναγάγῃ ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς μετὰ τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν ἐπουράνιον αὐτοῦ βασιλείαν· (MPol Epilogue from the Moscow Codex)

English Translation:

Gaius transcribed these things from the papers of Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp; he also lived in the same city as Irenaeus. And I, Socrates, have written these things in Corinth from the copies made by Gaius. May grace be with everyone.  (MPol 22.2)

And so, as was indicated before, Gaius made a transcription from the writings of Irenaeus, as Isocrates did, in Corinth, from the copies of Gaius And then I, Pionius, wrote a copy from those of Isocrates, in accordance with a revelation of the holy Polycarp, after seeking out these writings and gathering them together when they were nearly worn out by age, so that the Lord Jesus Christ may gather me together with his chosen ones into his heavenly kingdom. (MPol 22 Moscow Codex)

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


Gaius is mentioned as a copyist in the concluding appendix to the Martyrdom of Polycarp.

According to MPol 22 and the variant on this text that appears in the later Moscow Codex, Gaius transcribed (that is, copied) the account from the papers of Irenaeus. The somewhat awkwardly phrased language suggests that Irenaeus and Gaius lived in the same city (perhaps Rome?) at the same time. Irenaeus is here presumed to be a disciple of Polycarp and presumably the bishop of Lyon and author of Against the Heresies. The connection between Polycarp and Irenaeus helps to cement the reliability of the copy. 

It is noteworthy that both of the codicils to the account generate a picture of a web of literary relationships between a variety of scribes across time. This network parallels, as Kim Haines-Eitzen has shown, the scribal networks of upper Egypt.

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

Keywords: Apostolic Fathers; Christian; Copyist; Martyrdom Account; Literate Worker; Polycarp

Related Entries: Evaristus; Isocrates


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

How to Cite:

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



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