SCILLITAN MARTYRS, a company of early North Afri can Christians who suffered under Marcus Aurelius in A.D. I80, and whose Acta are at once the earliest documents of the Church of Africa and the earliest specimen of Christian Latin. The martyrs take their name from Scilla (or Scillium), a town in Numidia. Their trial and execution took place in Carthage under the Pro consul Vigellius Saturninus, whom Tertullian declares to have been the first persecutor of the Christians in Africa. The date of their martyrdom is the 17th of July A.D. 180. We have in this martyrdom an excellent example of "Acts of Martyrs" properly so called. The document is in brief legal form, beginning with the date and the names of the accused, and giving the actual dialogue between them and their judge. It closes with the sentence, based on "obstinate" persistency in an illicit cult, and with the proclama tion by the herald of the names of the offenders and the penalty. All this may quite well be a transcript of the Acta, or official report of the proceedings.
The Scillitan sufferers were twelve in all—seven men and five women. Two of these bear Punic names, but the rest Latin names.
Six had already been tried : of the remainder, to whom these Acta primarily relate, Speratus is the principal spokesman. He claims for himself and his companions that they have lived a quiet and moral life, paying their dues and doing no wrong to their neigh bours. But when called upon to swear by the genius of the em peror, he replies : "I recognize not the empire of this world ; but rather do I serve that God whom no man bath seen, nor with these eyes can see." BIBLIOGRAPHY.-The historical questions connected with these mar tyrs are treated by Lightfoot, Ignatius (1889, and ed.) , i. 524 ff. The Latin text, together with later recensions and a Greek version, is pub lished in Texts and Studies, i. 2 (Passion of Perpetua, 189o) ; see also Analecta Bollandiana (1889), viii. 5; H. M. Gwatkin, Selections from Early Christian Writers, where, as in Ante-Nicene Fathers, ix. 285, there is an English translation.