Telemachus the MonkIn 404 AD, an obscure Turkish monk named Telemachus was so offended by the brutality of the gladiatorial bloodsports in Rome that he leapt into the arena of the Colosseum, stepped between the fighting men and cried out three times, “In the name of Christ, forbear!” The Roman crowd was so enraged by this interference that they stoned him to death. The Christian Emperor Honorius was so impressed by this act of martyrdom that he soon afterwards issued an edict banning gladiatorial contests throughout the Roman Empire.

This account is found in the Ecclesiastical History recorded by Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus in Syria (393-457 AD) – Book V, Chapter XXVI: Of Honorius the Emperor and Telemachus the monk:

Honorius, who inherited the empire of Europe, put a stop to the gladitorial combats which had long been held at Rome. The occasion of his doing so arose from the following circumstance. A certain man of the name of Telemachus had embraced the ascetic life. He had set out from the East and for this reason had repaired to Rome. There, when the abominable spectacle was being exhibited, he went himself into the stadium, and stepping down into the arena, endeavoured to stop the men who were wielding their weapons against one another. The spectators of the slaughter were indignant, and inspired by the triad fury of the demon who delights in those bloody deeds, stoned the peacemaker to death.

When the admirable emperor was informed of this he numbered Telemachus in the number of victorious martyrs, and put an end to that impious spectacle.