Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 819
Donatist bishops gathered at the Council of Cebarsussi (393 AD) enumerate the wrongdoings of the Donatist bishop of Carthage, Primian; among other things, he is accused of forcing presbyters into the condemnation of some deacons, and using violence and unjust excommunication against other presbyters. Account of Augustine of Hippo, "The Exposition of the Psalms", North Africa, 4th/5th c.
On Psalm 36, Sermon 2
20. [...] Sanctissimis fratribus atque collegis per uniuersam Africam, hoc est per prouinciam proconsularem, Numidiam, Mauritaniam, Byzacenam et Tripolim constitutis; sed et presbyteris et diaconis, uniuersis plebibus, in ueritate euangelii nobiscum militantibus. [...]
Qui recens ordinatus [...] presbyteros supra dictae plebis ad coniurationem impiae conspirationis impellens, hoc ab eis uelut precario iure postulauit, ut ad damnandos quattuor diaconos, uiros egregios, ac singularibus meritis adprobatos, Maximianum scilicet, Rogatianum, Donatum, itemque Salgamium. [...]
Decreuimus omnes sacerdotes Dei, praesente Spiritu Sancto, hunc eumdem Primianum, primo quod super uiuos episcopos alios subrogarit; quod incestos cum sanctorum communione miscuerit; quod presbyteros ad coniurationem ineundam constringere pertentarit; quod Fortunatum presbyterum in cloacam fecerit mitti, cum aegrotantibus baptismo succurrisset; quod communionem Demetrio presbytero pernegarit, ut cogeret filium abdicare; quod idem presbyter obiurgatus sit, quod episcopos hospitio suscepisset; quod supra dictus Primianus multitudinem miserit, quae christianorum domos euerteret; quod obsessi sint episcopi simul et clerici, et postea ab eius satellitibus lapidati; quod in basilica caesi sint seniores, quod indigne ferrent ad communionem Claudianistas admitti; quod innocentes clericos putauerit esse condemnandos. [...]
(ed. Dekkers - Fraipont 1956: 361-364)
On Psalm 36, Sermon 2
20. [...] To our most holy brethren and colleagues throughout the whole of Africa, that is, those dwelling in Africa Proconsularis, Numidia, Mauretania, Byzacena and Tripoli; and to the presbyters and deacons; and to all the peoples who together with us engage in holy warfare for the truth of the gospel. [...]
Shortly after his ordination he [Primian] put pressure on the presbyters of the aforesaid people  to commit themselves by oath to join him in an ungodly conspiracy: with questionable right he demanded of them that they should immediately promise him their consent  to the condemnation of four deacons, outstanding men, of good repute for their excellent qualities, namely Maximian, Rogatian, Donatus and Salgamius. [...]
All of us, God's priests, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, have decreed that because the aforesaid Primian has substituted other bishops for bishops still living; has introduced unchaste persons into the communion of saints; has attempted to force certain presbyters to involve themselves in a conspiracy; has caused the presbyter Fortunatus to be thrown into a sewer for bringing comfort to sick persons by baptizing them; has persistently refused communion with the presbyter Demetrius in order to persuade him to disinherit his son; has rebuked this same presbyter for giving hospitality to bishops; has sent  out a gang to damage Christian homes; has caused the elders to be besieged in the basilica because they objected to Claudianists being admitted to communion; has deemed innocent clerics worthy of condemnation […]
(trans. M. Boulding, slightly altered)


Shaw suggests that Fortunatus was not killed, but his dumping into a sewer "should be interpreted as a symbolic way of marking a bad person (in this case, the heretic as excrement)" (Shaw 2011: 118).

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Cebarsussi

About the source:

Author: Augustine of Hippo
Title: The Exposition of the Psalms, Enarrationes in Psalmos
Origin: Hippo Regius (Latin North Africa)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Augustine preached sermons on the Psalms at different places and moments of his career. The name of "Exposition of Psalms" was given to this collection only by Erasmus of Rotterdam in the 16th c.
E. Dekkers, J. Fraipont eds., Sancti Aurelii Augustini Enarrationes in Psalmos I – L, Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina 38, Turnhout 1956.
Saint Augustine, Exposition of the Psalms 33-50, trans. M. Boulding, New York 2000.
M.A. Gaumer, "The Election of Primian of Carthage: The Beginning of the End of Donatist Christianity?”, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 16 (2012), 292–310.
B.D. Shaw, Sacred Violence: African Christians and Sectarian Hatred in the Age of Augustine, Cambridge 2011.
C. Weidmann, Augustinus und das Maximianistenkonzil von Cebarsussi. Zur historischen und textgeschichtlichen Bedeutung von “Enarratio in Psalmum” 36, 2, 18-23, Wien 1998.


Family life - Offspring
Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Donatist
Former ecclesiastical career - Deacon
    Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
    Ritual activity - Baptism and instructing catechumens
    Economic status and activity - Inheritance
    Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
    Administration of justice - Ecclesiastical
      Administration of justice - Excommunication/Anathema
      Administration of justice - Corporal punishment
      Conflict - Violence
      Pastoral activity - Visiting the sick
      Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER819,