This paper shall focus on Theodoretus’ account of the destruction of the temple of Zeus at Apamea by the local bishop Markellos (386 AD). Markellos’ attack would have constituted the earliest example of such violence on pagan monuments by Christian authorities. As far as today, scholars have only referred to the passage as a historical source of temple destruction. The details provided by the Church historian about the building and the implemented technique of destruction have also been used by archaeologists willing to reconstruct what happened to Apamea’s major temple.
In this paper, I will firstly stress the limits of the use of this text for documentary purposes. In my opinion, the story of the destruction should rather be considered as a local aetiological myth aiming at explaining the presence of the ruins of Apamea’s gigantic temple.
Secondly, I will examine the function of this narrative in Theodoretus’ historical and apologetical work. It appears that the author reports the story in order to construct the character of the ideal bishop. Theodoretus’ account of the miraculous acts of Markellos is in line with other hagiographical material and therefore follows a literary topos of the holy man as demolisher of temples and idols. In this context, one understands that Theodoretus integrated in his work the local legend of the fall of Zeus temple since the description of the brutal defeat of the Apamean daemon perfectly fitted his own teleological vision of Church History.