On the twenty-second of this month [August], we commemorate the Holy Martyr Agathonikos, and those with him Zotikos, Zeno, Theoprepios, Akindynos and Severian.
The calling of Agathonikos was most truthful,
Whose victory by the sword cries out goodness.
To Zeno, Theoprepios and Akindynos
The three were steadfast in the instrument of violence,
A machine that unbound them from the much-contriving one.
One Martyr was beheaded at the neck by the sword,
Severian is appointed to be beheaded by the sword.
Behold before us is a new Cyrene,
Who is not forced, but voluntarily bears a cross.
On the twenty-second Agathonikos was beheaded by the sword.
The Martyr of Christ Agathonikos flourished during the reign of Maximian (284-305). In the year 298 he was captured by the count Eutolmios, who had been sent by the emperor from Nicomedia to the area of the Black Sea in order to put the Christians found there to death. Boarding a ship, he arrived at the emporium known as Karpes, and there he found Saint Zotikos with his disciples, who confessed Christ. Wherefore he ordered that he die a death by crucifixion. Returning to Nicomedia, he learned that one called Prince came to believe in Christ through one called Agathonikos, who was turning the Greeks away from the idols and offering them to Christ. Therefore, having learned this, he had the two men arrested. Agathonikos was harshly beaten, while Prince with other Christians who were bound together, he took with him to Thrace where the emperor was, in order to receive an imperial decision on their fate.
Arriving at the village known as Potamos, he put to death through the mechanical instrument of the catapult* Saints Zeno, Theoprepios and Akindynos, because the blessed ones were unable to walk, for they had been previously wounded and beaten. As they approached Chalcedon, he put Saint Severian to death by the sword, because he proclaimed Christ with boldness. When he came to Byzantium, he had Agathonikos brought before him, who was previously beaten, together with Prince and those bound with him. He then took the Martyr Agathonikos outside of Byzantium and had him again beaten harshly. Then he was taken to Selybria, to the place called Ammous, where the emperor was, and there the Martyr Agathonikos was beheaded,** together with Prince and the other Christians the count had taken from Nicomedia, and thus they all received the crowns of the contest. Their Synaxis and Feast is celebrated in their Holy Temple in Kainoupolis,*** and in the Temple of Saint Theodora, and in the Monastery of Xerokerkos.
* Probably used as a device to twist and tighten, like a rack.
** The relics of Saint Agathonikos were in Constantinople and were seen in the year 1200 by the Russian pilgrim Anthony. In the fourteenth century Philotheos, the archbishop of Selybria, devoted an encomium to the Martyr Agathonikos. The Skull of Saint Agathonikos is in the Church of the Honorable Forerunner in Kavala. A portion of his relic is in the Monastery of the Great Cave in Kalavryta.
*** This was in the ninth region of Constantinople sloping down towards the Propontis between the Forum Tauri and the Forum of Constantine. The Narratio de S. Sophia attributes the church to Constantine. Procopius says that it was restored by Justinian.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Thou hast raised up a victorious trophy over error, O Agathonikos, and wast found worthy of incorruptible riches. Thou didst emulate the death of the Master, and become a partaker of immortal life. O glorious Martyr, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.
Kontakion in the First Tone
O glorious Agathonikos, thou namesake of goodness, thou art a godly martyr, who didst turn from the shrines of evil men, not fearing their tortures. Wherefore thou didst inherit blessings and worthily receive the crown of incorruption with thy fellow martyrs.