The Gǝʿǝz Version of the Passio of St Cyricus (Gadla Qirqos): A Critical Edition, Translation, and Commentary
Cyricus is a saint and martyr very popular throughout the Christian world, whose devotion appears deeply rooted also in the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Church. According to the narration of his Passio, attested in several versions and languages (Greek, Latin, Coptic, Arabic, Syriac, etc.), Cyricus was almost three years old when he endured the martyrdom at Tarsus (in Asia Minor) together with his mother Julitta. It happened at the beginning of the fourth century CE, during Diocletian’s persecutions against the Christians of the Roman Empire.
In the Ethiopian tradition, the devotion of Cyricus, known here as Qirqos, is very ancient and popular, already attested in the twelfth–thirteenth century. The name of Qirqos is present in a large number of place names, churches and altars dedicated to him since ancient times, and many historical places bear his name, some of them with evidences of pre-Christian settlements and of South Arabian antiquity. Qirqos’ popularity is attested also by the extremely rich Gǝʿǝz hagiographic literature written in his honour, testified by a multitude of manuscripts transmitting translations and original compositions dedicated to him, like his Passio, his posthumous miracles and hymns that praise his holiness.
The Gadla Qirqos is the Ethiopic version of the Passio of the St Qirqos. This is one of the texts found in the manuscripts of the large canonical-liturgical collection of the Gadla samāʿtāt, but also enjoying independent circulation, in a considerable number of manuscript witnesses. The tradition on Qirqos has been largely neglected by research: so far, no published edition or translation of his Ethiopic Passio is available. A new thorough critical edition, taking into account all known witnesses, is an urgent desideratum. The project therefore aims to provide a reliable critical edition of the Gadla Qirqos, using all known witnesses and applying a stemmatological reconstructive (so-called Neo-Lachmannian) method. The project shall also provide the English translation of the text with a detailed philological commentary on some of the more crucial passages.
The project, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG Projektnummer 468455109) for 3 years (March 2022- February 2025) has as its aim the reconstruction of the Gadla Qirqos, which will be of great relevance not only for philologists, but also for scholars of other disciplines of Ethiopian studies. It will help to understand the diffusion and transmission of this text, and more in general the transmission of the Gadla samāʿtāt, in which it is contained, and to give new insights into the study of the veneration of Qirqos in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
This study will be also help to investigate the origin of this text and its circulation within the entire Christian World, and the contacts between the various Churches and literary traditions. In a comparative prospective, it will be thus very important for other fields dealing with hagiographic, apocryphal and religious studies.