Christian History Project. This site contains the text of 12 volumes on the history of mankind over the last 2,000 years written from a 'collectively-denominational' Christian perspective.

Potamiana |
She wouldn

Potamiana is drawn from Chapter Seven, beginning on page 213, of Volume Two, A Pinch of Incense of the twelve-volume historical series The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years. If you would like to order this book please visit

So a plucky Christian slave is sent to her death, jeering her executioners, later her admiring Roman guard becomes Christian and he too is killed

Potamiana - She wouldn’t yield to her master’s advances

Potamiana - She wouldn’t yield to her master’s advances

The most celebrated of Origen’s students to suffer martyrdom at Alexandria was a comely and very determined female slave named Potamiaena, who, according to the fourth-century historian Eusebius, was turned in as a Christian by her master because she kept refusing his advances. Just to make sure she was persuaded to submit, her owner bribed the judge, who ordered her tortured into compliance and then returned to him.

But Potamiaena did not comply, reports the historian Palladius, so she was subjected to more tortures, “dreadful and terrible to speak of.” Her mother, Marcella, was charged along with her. Finally the judge threatened to turn Potamiaena over to the gladiators “for bodily abuse” if she did not comply. Palladius describes her response: “After a little consideration, being asked for her decision, she made a reply which was regarded as impious.”

She and her mother were then ordered executed forthwith. However, as she was led to her death, a strange thing happened. As the mob crowded in upon her, jeering and insulting her, the Roman officer escorting her drove them back, expressing his sympathy for her and no doubt his admiration for her astonishing courage. She thanked him for his kind words. His name was Basilides.1 She would speak on his behalf to her Lord, she promised, as soon as this ordeal was over.

It wasn’t over yet. The historian Eusebius describes how they dripped burning pitch on various parts of her body, from the soles of her feet to the crown of her head, then finally lit the fire that consumed her.

“Not long after this,” writes Eusebius, “being asked by his fellow soldiers to swear for a certain reason, Basilides declared that it was not lawful for him to swear at all, for he was a Christian, and he confessed this openly. At first they thought that he was jesting, but when he continued to affirm it, he was led to a judge, and, acknowledging his conviction, was imprisoned.”

Amazed, the Christians visited him in jail. What had caused this? they asked. Three days after her martyrdom, said Basilides, Potamiaena had come to him by night. She had placed a crown on his head “and said that she had besought the Lord for him and had obtained what she asked.” Soon, she said, she would come and take him with her.

The Christians baptized him. “The next day,” concludes Eusebius, “after giving glorious testimony to the Lord, he was beheaded.”

This is the end of the Potamiana category article drawn from Chapter Seven, beginning on page 213, of Volume Two, A Pinch of Incense. To continue reading more about Potamiana from The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years we suggest experiencing the rest of the book, complete with hundreds of magnificent illustrations, by ordering it at