Ante-nicene fathers

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Nor guileless only: for in the judgment-hall with the wisdom of serpents too

They were heedful of the faith of the house of God.

When a serpent is seized and struck, he guards his head,

But gives up and leaves exposed all his body to his captors:

And, so long as his head is kept from harm, his life abideth in him;

But, if the head be struck, his life is left a prey to destruction.

The head of the soul is men’s faith;

And, if this be preserved unharmed, by it is also preserved their life:3

Even though the whole body be lacerated with blows,

Yet, so long as faith is preserved, the soul is alive;

But, if faith is struck down by unbelief,

Lost is the soul, and life has perished from the man.
Shamuna and Guria of the faith as men4

Were heedful, that it should not be struck down by persecutors:

For they knew that, if faith is preserved,

Both soul and body are preserved from destruction.

And, because of this, touching their faith were they solicitous,

That that should not be struck down in which their very life was hidden.

They gave up their bodies both to blows and to dislocation,5

Yea to every kind of torture, that their faith should not be stricken down;

And, even as the serpent also hides his head from blows,

So hid they their faith within their hearts;

And the body was smitten, and endured stripes, and bore sufferings:

But overthrown was not their faith which was within their hearts.

The mouth betrayeth the soul to death when it speaks,

And with the tongue, as with a sword, worketh slaughter.

And from it spring up both life and death to men:

Denying a man dies, confessing he lives, and the mouth hath power over it.

Denial is death, and in confession is the soul’s life;

And power hath the mouth over them both, like a judge.

The word of the mouth openeth the door for death to enter in;

This, too, calleth for life, and it beameth forth upon the man.

Even the robber by one word of faith

Won him the kingdom, and became heir of paradise,6 all fraught with blessings.

The wicked judges too, from the martyrs, the sons of the right hand,

Demanded that by word of mouth only they should blaspheme;

But, like true men holding fast the faith,

They uttered not a word by which unbelief might be served.

Shamuna, beauty of our faith, who is adequate to tell of thee?

All too narrow is my mouth for thy praise, too mean for thee to be spoken of by it.

Thy truth is thy beauty, thy crown thy suffering, thy wealth thy stripes,

And by reason of thy blows magnificent is the beauty of thy championship.

Proud of thee is our country, as of a treasury which is full of gold:

Since wealth art thou to us, and a coveted store which cannot be stolen from us.

Guria, martyr, staunch hero of our faith,

Who shall suffice thee, to recount thy beauties divine?

Lo! tortures on thy body are set like gems of beryl,

And the sword on thy neck like a chain of choice gold.

Thy blood upon thy form is a robe of glory full of beauty,

And the scourging of thy back a vesture with which the sun may not compare.

Radiant thou art and comely by virtue of these thy sufferings, so abounding;

And resplendent are thy beauties, because of the pains which are so severe upon thee.

Shamuna, our riches, richer art thou than the rich:

For Io! the rich stand at thy door, that thou mayest relieve them.

Small thy village, poor thy country: who, then, gave thee

That lords of villages and cities should court thy favour?

Lo! judges in their robes and vestments

Take dust from thy threshold, as though it were the medicine of life.

The cross is rich, and to its worshippers increaseth riches;

And its poverty despiseth all the riches of the world.

Shamuna and Guria, sons of the poor, lo! at your doors

Bow down the rich, that they may receive from you supplies for their wants.

The Son of God in poverty and want

Showed to the world that all its riches are as nothing,

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