Legend of the Last Roman Emperor – The “King of the Greeks” from the Text of Pseudo-Methodius

FROM A TRANSLATION OF THE SYRIAC TEXT OF PSEUDO-METHODIUS FROM COD. VAT. SYR. 58

“(…) Thus also in the time of the punishment of these tyrants, few from many will be left over who are Christians, as Our Savior showed us in the Holy Gospel and said: When the Son of Man cometh, will he find faith on earth? [Luke 18:8]. Behold also, the spirit of those perfected in portents will grieve in those days of punishment and the multitude of the clergy will deny the true faith of the Christians and the Holy Cross and the mysteries of power. (…) In the last times men will abandon the faith and will go after unclean spirits and after the teachings of demons [I Tim. 4:1] and will be tyrants and slanderers and boastful and haters of virtue and traitors and wild. And all those who are false and weak in the faith will be tried and known in that punishment. They will separate themselves from the congregations of the Christians of their own accord, because that time challenges them to go after its uncleanness. (…) They will be servants of that one [Mohammed?] and their false words will find credence. And concerning anything that is said to them they will comply. And true men and clerics and wise men and good men will be held in contempt in their eyes and they will be like dung, for they will be to the punishment of the Ismaelites. And they will be distressed until they abandon hope for their lives. And honor will be lifted from the priests, and the divine liturgy and living sacrifice will cease from the Church. And at that time priests will be like the people, and their corpses will be thrown like mud upon the roads without burial. And throughout those days blows of wrath will be sent upon men, two and three in one day. And a man will go to sleep in the evening and will wake up in the morning and will find outside his door two and three oppressors and they will ask tribute and money. And all thought of things given and of gain will disappear from earth. And at that time men will sell their brasses and their weapons of war. And in that tenth week, when everything ends, they will give their sons and their daughters to the heathens for money. For what reason does God avert his countenance from the aid of the faithful who will endure this distress? So that they be tried and the believers be separated from the unbelievers and the tares and those rejected from the select grains of wheat, because that time is indeed a testing furnace. For God will be patient [grant a respite?] when the worshippers are persecuted who by the punishment will be known as sons, as the apostle proclaimed to us before: Yea, we are without punishment, we are strangers and not sons [Hebr. 12:7]. Also Our Savior ordered and said to us: Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and say about you every wicked word because of me lyingly. Thereupon rejoice and jubilate that your reward is great in heaven, for thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you [Matt. 5:12] and: He who hopes until the end will rest [Matt. 10:22].

And after these calamities and punishments of the sons of Israel, at the completion of that week when men lie prostrate in danger of punishment, are completed and there is no hope that they may be saved from that harsh servitude, when they are persecuted and oppressed and beaten and hungry and thirsty and tortured by the harsh punishment, those fierce tyrants too will delight themselves with food and drink and repose and will glory in their victories, they who slew and destroyed the Persians and Armenians and Cilicians and Isaurians and Cappadocians and Seleucians and Hellenes and the settlers of the land of the Romans and all their islands of the seas. And they will be dressed like bridegrooms and will be adorned like brides. And they [the Ismaelites] will blaspheme and say: There is no deliverer for the Christians.

Then suddenly there will be awakened perdition and calamity as those of a woman in travail, and a king of the Greeks will go forth against them in great wrath, and he will be aroused against them like a man who shakes off his wine, and who plots against them as if they were dead men. He will go forth against them from the sea of the Cushites and will lay desolation and ruin in the desert of Jethrib and in the habitation of their fathers. And the sons [allies?] of the king of Greece will seize the places of the desert and will destroy with the sword the remnant that is left of them in the land of promise. And fear of all those around them will fall upon them. They and their wives and their sons and their leaders and all their camps and the entire land of the desert of their fathers will be given into the hands of the kings of the Greeks, and will be surrendered to desolation and destruction and to captivity and murder. And their servitude will be one hundred times more severe than their yoke . And they will be in harsh distress from hunger and from torture. And they will be slaves, they and their wives and their sons, and will minister as slaves to those that had been ministering to them, and their servitude will be a hundred times more bitter than that of theirs [their former slaves]. And the earth will be at peace, which was desolated of its inhabitants, and the remnant that is left will return, everyone to his land and to the inheritance of his fathers, Cappadocians and Armenians and Cilicians and Isaurians and Africans and Hellenes and Seleucians. And the entire remnant of the captives that remained and which was in servitude because of the captivity will return, every man to his country and to the house of his father. And men will multiply like locusts on the earth which has been devastated. And Egypt will be laid waste and Arabia will be burned and the land of Hebron will be laid waste and the tongue of the sea will be at peace. And all the wrath of the ire of the king of the Greeks will be completed upon those who denied. And there will be peace on earth the like of which had never existed, because it is the last peace of the perfection of the world. And there will be joy upon the entire earth, and men will sit down in great peace and the churches will arise nearby, and cities will be built and priests will be freed from the tax, and priests and men will rest at that time from labor and tiredness and torture, because that is the peace of which He said in His gospel: There will be great peace the like of which never existed, and men will sit down in repose and will eat and drink and rejoice in the joy of their heart, and men will take wives and wives will be given to men [Matt. 24:38]. And they will build edifices and will plant vineyards. And when they eat and drink and rejoice and are merry, there is no wickedness and no thought of wickedness and no fear and tremblin in their hearts. During that peace the Gates of the North will be opened and those hosts of nations will come forth who were imprisoned there, and the earth will shake before them.

And men will be frightened, and they will flee and will hide in mountains and in caves and in tombs, and they will die from fear and from hunger, and there is none to bury them. And they will be devoured before their fathers when they see them because these nations that will come forth from the North eat the flesh of men and drink the blood of animals and eat the creeping things of the earth and mice and snakes and scorpions and all the unclean reptiles that creep on earth and the bodies of unclean animals and the abortions of sheep. And they slaughter children and will give to their mothers and force them to eat the bodies of their sons. And they eat dead dogs and kittens and every uncleanness and they ravage the earth and there is none who can stand before them. And after one week of calamities all of them will assemble in the plain of Joppe because in that place all these nations will assemble, both they and their wives and their sons. And to that place God will send against them one of the captains of the hosts of the angels, and he destroys them in one hour.

And then the king of the Greeks descends and settles in Jerusalem for one week and a half week, in numbers ten years and a half. And then the Son of Perdition will be revealed, the false Christ: He will be conceived in Chorazin and will be born in Saidan and will rule in Capernaum. And Chorazin will glory in him that he was born there, and Bethsaida that he was raised there and Capernaum that he ruled there. And because of this Our Lord pronounced the Woes over the three of them in his gospel when he said: Woe to thee, Chorazin, and woe to thee, Bethsaida, and thou, Capernaum, that hast exalted thyself unto heaven, thou wilt descend to Hell [Matt. 11:20-24]. And immediately when the Son of Perdition is revealed, then the king of the Greeks will go up and will stand on Golgotha and the Holy Cross will be set [laid] in that place in which it [the Cross] was set up when it carried the Christ. And the king of the Greeks will place his diadem on top of the Holy Cross, and will stretch out his two hands to heaven and will hand over the kingship to God the Father. And the Holy Cross on which Christ was crucified will be raised to heaven and the crown of kingship with it, because the Holy Cross on which Christ who was crucified for the salvation of all men who believe in him crucified[?] is a sign which will be seen prior to the coming of Our Lord so that it will put to shame the Jews and there will be fulfilled the saying of the blessed David which he prophesied concerning the end of times and said: Cush will hand over the hand to God [Ps. 68:31], because it is the son of Cusheth, daughter of King PIl of the Cushites, who will hand over the hand to God. And immediately the Holy Cross will be raised to heaven, and the king of the Greeks will give up his soul to his creator. (…)

Byzantine Emperor

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