1. But while he was lecturing in the school, as he tells us himself, and there was no one at Alexandria to give instruction in the faith, as all were driven away by the threat of persecution, some of the heathen came to him to hear the word of God.
2. The first of them, he says, was Plutarch, who after living well, was honored with divine martyrdom. The second was Heraclas, a brother of Plutarch; who after he too had given with him abundant evidence of a philosophic and ascetic life, was esteemed worthy to succeed Demetrius in the bishopric of Alexandria.
3. He was in his eighteenth year when he took charge of the catechetical school. He was prominent also at this time, during the persecution under Aquila, the governor of Alexandria, when his name became celebrated among the leaders in the faith, through the kindness and goodwill which he manifested toward all the holy martyrs, whether known to him or strangers.
4. For not only was he with them while in bonds, and until their final condemnation, but when the holy martyrs were led to death, he was very bold and went with them into danger. So that as he acted bravely, and with great boldness saluted the martyrs with a kiss, oftentimes the heathen multitude round about them became infuriated, and were on the point of rushing upon him.
5. But through the helping hand of God, he escaped absolutely and marvelously. And this same divine and heavenly power, again and again, it is impossible to say how often, on account of his great zeal and boldness for the words of Christ, guarded him when thus endangered. So great was the enmity of the unbelievers toward him, on account of the multitude that were instructed by him in the sacred faith, that they placed bands of soldiers around the house where he abode.
6. Thus day by day the persecution burned against him, so that the whole city could no longer contain him; but he removed from house to house and was driven in every direction because of the multitude who attended upon the divine instruction which he gave. For his life also exhibited right and admirable conduct according to the practice of genuine philosophy.
7. For they say that his manner of life was as his doctrine, and his doctrine as his life. Therefore, by the divine Power working with him he aroused a great many to his own zeal.
8. But when he saw yet more coming to him for instruction, and the catechetical school had been entrusted to him alone by Demetrius, who presided over the church, he considered the teaching of grammatical science inconsistent with training in divine subjects, and forthwith he gave up his grammatical school as unprofitable and a hindrance to sacred learning.
9. Then, with becoming consideration, that he might not need aid from others, he disposed of whatever valuable books of ancient literature he possessed, being satisfied with receiving from the purchaser four oboli a day. For many years he lived philosophically in this manner, putting away all the incentives of youthful desires. Through the entire day he endured no small amount of discipline; and for the greater part of the night he gave himself to the study of the Divine Scriptures. He restrained himself as much as possible by a most philosophic life; sometimes by the discipline of fasting, again by limited time for sleep. And in his zeal he never lay upon a bed, but upon the ground.
10. Most of all, he thought that the words of the Saviour in the Gospel should be observed, in which he exhorts not to have two coats nor to use shoes nor to occupy oneself with cares for the future.
11. With a zeal beyond his age he continued in cold and nakedness; and, going to the very extreme of poverty, he greatly astonished those about him. And indeed he grieved many of his friends who desired to share their possessions with him, on account of the wearisome toil which they saw him enduring in the teaching of divine things.
12. But he did not relax his perseverance. He is said to have walked for a number of years never wearing a shoe, and, for a great many years, to have abstained from the use of wine, and of all other things beyond his necessary food; so that he was in danger of breaking down and destroying his constitution.
13. By giving such evidences of a philosophic life to those who saw him, he aroused many of his pupils to similar zeal; so that prominent men even of the unbelieving heathen and men that followed learning and philosophy were led to his instruction. Some of them having received from him into the depth of their souls faith in the Divine Word, became prominent in the persecution then prevailing; and some of them were seized and suffered martyrdom.