Shipwrecked off the Ethiopian coast while passing through the Red Sea in the fourth centuryAD, an encounter the between the coastal people and the crew of a merchant ship escalated into a fatal conflict in which only two young Syrian Christian brothers survived. After their capture, the brothers, Frumentius and Aedesius, were taken to the Aksumite king’s court and enslaved, but well treated. King Ella Amida took notice of the youths’ Greek education. Aedesius became the king’s cupbearer; Frumentius was made the “master of correspondence and accounts.” Upon his death, the king released the brothers from their enslaved status, but the queen coaxed them into remaining in the kingdom to assist in the administration of the Aksum until her young son, Ezana, reached maturity. Under the direction of Frumentius, Christian merchants were allowed privileges in the kingdom and places to worship were established. Once Ezana reached maturity, Frumentius and Aedesius returned to Roman society.
After their departure from Axum, Aedesius returned to Tyre and Frumentius travelled to Alexandria. Once in Alexandria, Frumentius met with Bishop Athanasius, the Patriarch of Alexandria, where he discussed the Ezana’s allowances for Christianity in Aksum. This presented an ideal opportunity for Athanasius to send a formal mission to Axum with Frumentius as the appointed bishop. Displeased with Athanasius, Constantius II requested that Frumentius return to Alexandria because he was “advanced to his present rank by Athanasius, a man who is guilty of ten thousand crimes.” The traditional legend of Christianity’s spread through the Aksumite Kingdom offers little perspective as to why Ezana converted, but concordant legends suggest the king was ...
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Munro-Hay, Stuart, Catalogue of the Aksumite Coins in the British Museum, London, BMP, 1999. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspxobjectId=1303544&partId=1&searchText=1989,0518.41 (accessed November 28, 2013).
Munro-Hay, Stuart, Catalogue of the Aksumite Coins in the British Museum, London, BMP, 1999. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?searchText=r1874,0715.123&ILINK%7C34484,%7CassetId=597606&objectId=1303543&partId=1(accessed November 28, 2013).
Rose, Mark, and Chester Higgins, Jr. "Of Obelisks and Empire." Archaeology. no. 3 (2009): 26-30. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41781290 (accessed November 24, 2013).
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