Book 9

Book IX.

Chapter I.–The Pretended Relaxation.

1. The imperial edict of recantation, which has been quoted above,
[2710] was posted in all parts of Asia and in the adjoining provinces.
After this had been done, Maximinus, the tyrant in the East,–a most
impious man, if there ever was one, and most hostile to the religion of
the God of the universe,–being by no means satisfied with its
contents, [2711] instead of sending the above-quoted decree to the
governors under him, gave them verbal commands to relax the war against

2. For since he could not in any other way oppose the decision of his
superiors, keeping the law which had been already issued secret, and
taking care that it might not be made known in the district under him,
he gave an unwritten order to his governors that they should relax the
persecution against us. They communicated the command to each other in

3. Sabinus, [2712] at least, who was honored with the highest official
rank among them, communicated the will of the emperor to the provincial
governors in a Latin epistle, the translation of which is as follows:

4. ”With continuous and most devoted earnestness their Majesties, our
most divine masters, the emperors, [2713] formerly directed the minds
of all men to follow the holy and correct course of life, that those
also who seemed to live in a manner foreign to that of the Romans,
should render the worship due to the immortal gods. But the obstinacy
and most unconquerable determination of some went so far that they
could neither be turned back from their purpose by the just reason of
the command, nor be intimidated by the impending punishment.

5. Since therefore it has come to pass that by such conduct many have
brought themselves into danger, their Majesties, our most powerful
masters, the emperors, in the exalted nobility of piety, esteeming it
foreign to their Majesties’ purpose to bring men into so great danger
for such a cause, have commanded their devoted servant, myself, to
write to thy wisdom, [2714] that if any Christian be found engaging in
the worship of his own people, thou shouldst abstain from molesting and
endangering him, and shouldst not suppose it necessary to punish any
one on this pretext. For it has been proved by the experience of so
long a time that they can in no way be persuaded to abandon such
obstinate conduct.

6. Therefore it should be thy care to write to the curators [2715] and
magistrates and district overseers [2716] of every city, that they may
know that it is not necessary for them to give further attention to
this matter.” [2717]

7. Thereupon the rulers of the provinces, thinking that the purpose of
the things which were written was truly made known to them, declared
the imperial will to the curators and magistrates and prefects of the
various districts [2718] in writing. But they did not limit themselves
to writing, but sought more quickly to accomplish the supposed will of
the emperor in deeds also. Those whom they had imprisoned on account of
their confession of the Deity, they set at liberty, and they released
those of them who had been sent to the mines for punishment; for they
erroneously supposed that this was the true will of the emperor.

8. And when these things had thus been done, immediately, like a light
shining forth in a dark night, one could see in every city
congregations gathered and assemblies thronged, and meetings held
according to their custom. And every one of the unbelieving heathen was
not a little astonished at these things, wondering at so marvelous a
transformation, and exclaiming that the God of the Christians was great
and alone true.

9. And some of our people, who had faithfully and bravely sustained the
conflict of persecution, again became frank and bold toward all; but as
many as had been diseased in the faith and had been shaken in their
souls by the tempest, strove eagerly for healing, beseeching and
imploring the strong to stretch out to them a saving hand, and
supplicating God to be merciful unto them.

10. Then also the noble athletes of religion who had been set free from
their sufferings in the mines returned to their own homes. Happily and
joyfully they passed through every city, full of unspeakable pleasure
and of a boldness which cannot be expressed in words.

11. Great crowds of men pursued their journey along the highways and
through the market-places, praising God with hymns and psalms. And you
might have seen those who a little while before had been driven in
bonds from their native countries under a most cruel sentence,
returning with bright and joyful faces to their own firesides; so that
even they who had formerly thirsted for our blood, when they saw the
unexpected wonder, congratulated us on what had taken place.

[2710] The toleration edict of Galerius, given in Bk. VIII. chap. 17.

[2711] For the reason of Maximin’s failure to join with the other
emperors in the issue of this edict, see Bk. VIII. chap. 17, note 1.

[2712] Of Sabinus we know only what is told us here. He seems to have
been Maximin’s prime minister, or praetorian prefect (to ton
exochotEURton epEURrchon axiomati tetimemenos, Eusebius says of him).
He is mentioned again in chap. 9, where an epistle of Maximin addressed
to him is quoted.

[2713] Literally, ”the divinity of our most divine masters, the
emperors.” The style throughout the epistle is of an equally stilted

[2714] Literally, ”have commanded my devotedness to write to thy
wisdom.” It is clear that the communication was dictated, or at least
directly inspired, by Maximin himself.

[2715] tous logistEURs, commonly used to translate the Latin curatores

[2716] tous strategous (the common designation for the chief
magistrates of cities in the eastern part of the empire) kai tous
praipositous tou pEURgou.

[2717] The mss. all read grEURmmatos, but Valesius conjectures that
prEURgmatos is the true reading, and his conjecture is supported by
Nicephorus, who has phrontida peri christianon poieithai. Stroth
follows Valesius, and I have done the same. Heinichen remarks: ”Sed non
necessaria, credo, est haec emendatio, immo eadem fere exsistet
sententia per grEURmmatos, hoc modo: ut scient sibi non licere operam
dare sc. ut facile intelligitur persequendis Christianis, ultra hoc
scriptum, id est, magis quam hoc scripto est designatum.” Closs
interprets in the same way, translating: ”dass sie sich nicht weiter,
als in diesem Schreiben befohlen ist, mit den Christen zu befassen
haben.” The Greek, however, does not seem to me to admit of this
interpretation (it reads hina gnoen, peraitero autois toutou tou
grEURmmatos phrontida poieisthai me prosekein), and there seems to be
no other alternative than to change the word grEURmmatos to
prEURgmatos, or at least give it the meaning of prEURgmatos, as Mason
does, without emending the text (though I am not aware that grEURmma
can legitimately be rendered in any such way). I am inclined to think
that the word negotium stood in the original, and that it was
translated by the word prEURgma. Had epistola or litterae been used,
referring to the present document,–and it could not well refer to
anything else,–we should expect Eusebius to translate by epistolge,
for he calls the document an epistole in S:3, above. On the other hand,
if scriptura, or any other similar word, had been used and translated
grEURmma by Eusebius, we should have expected him to call the document
a grEURmma, not an epistole in S:3. The general drift of the letter
cannot be mistaken. As Mason paraphrases it: ”In other words,
Christianity strictly is still illicit, though in particular cases not
to be punished as severely as heretofore; and the emperor, though
forced for the present not to require you to persecute, will expect you
not to relax your exertions more than can be helped.” Mason justly
emphasizes in the same connection the use of the words me prosekein in
the last clause, which do not mean non licere (”it is not permitted”)
as Valesius, followed by many others, render them, but ”it is not
necessary,” ”they need not.” It is plain that Maximin made his
concessions very unwillingly and only because compelled to; and it is
clear that he suppressed the edict of Galerius, and substituted general
and not wholly unambiguous directions of his own, in order that as
little as possible might be done for the Christians, and that he might
be left free for a future time when he should find himself in a more
independent position; he evidently did not care to compromise and
hamper himself by officially sanctioning the full and explicit
toleration accorded in the edict of Galerius. For a fuller discussion
of Maximin’s attitude in the matter, see Mason, p. 309 sq. As he
remarks, it is ”almost a wonder that the judges interpreted Maximin’s
document in a sense so favorable to the brotherhood as they really did.
Though no effectual security was given against the recurrence of the
late atrocities, the Persecution of Diocletian was at an end, even in
the East. The subordinate officers issued and posted local mandates,
which conceded more than they were bidden to concede.”

[2718] tois kat’ agrous epitetagmenois

Chapter II.–The Subsequent Reverse.

1. But the tyrant who, as we have said, ruled over the districts of the
Orient, a thorough hater of the good and an enemy of every virtuous
person, as he was, could no longer bear this; and indeed he did not
permit matters to go on in this way quite six months. [2719] Devising
all possible means of destroying the peace, he first attempted to
restrain us, under a pretext, [2720] from meeting in the cemeteries.

2. Then through the agency of some wicked men he sent an embassy to
himself against us, [2721] inciting the citizens of Antioch to ask from
him as a very great favor that he would by no means permit any of the
Christians to dwell in their country; and others were secretly induced
to do the same thing. The author of all this in Antioch was Theotecnus,
[2722] a violent and wicked man, who was an impostor, and whose
character was foreign to his name. [2723] He appears to have been the
curator [2724] of the city.

[2719] The Edict of Galerius was issued in April, 311 (see Lactantius,
de Mort. pers. 35, and Bk. VIII. chap. 17, note 1, above), so that
Maximin’s change of policy, recorded in this chapter, must have begun
in October, or thereabouts. Valesius supposes that the death of
Galerius was the cause of Maximin’s return to persecuting measures. But
Galerius died, not some months after the issue of the edict, as
Valesius, and others after him, assert, but within a few days after it,
as is directly stated by Lactantius (ibid.), whose accuracy in this
case there is no reason to question. Another misstatement made by
Valesius in the same connection, and repeated by Heinichen, Cruse, and
others, is that Maximin became Augustus only after the death of
Galerius. The truth is, he was recognized as an Augustus in 308 (see
Lactantius, ibid. chap. 32; and Bk. VIII. chap. 13, note 22, above).
The cause of the renewal of the persecution seems to have been simply
impatience at the exultation of the Church and at the wonderful
recuperative power revealed the moment the pressure was taken off. That
it was not renewed sooner was doubtless due to the more important
matters which engaged the attention of Maximinus immediately after the
death of Galerius, in connection with the division of the Eastern
Empire between himself and Licinius (see Lactantius, ibid. chap. 36).
It would seem from the passage just referred to, that as soon as these
matters were satisfactorily adjusted, Maximin turned his attention
again to the Christians, and began to curtail their liberty.

[2720] Very likely under the pretext that night gatherings at the tombs
of the martyrs, with the excitement and enthusiasm necessarily
engendered under such circumstances, were of immoral tendency.
Naturally, the honor shown by the Christians to their fellows who had
been put to death at the command of the state was looked upon as an
insult to the authorities, and could not but be very distasteful to
them. They imagined that such meetings would only tend to foster
discontent and disloyalty on the part of those who engaged in them, and
consequently they were always suspicious of them.

[2721] The same account is given by Lactantius, ibid. chap. 36 (”First
of all he took away the toleration and general protection granted by
Galerius to the Christians, and, for this end, he secretly procured
addresses for the different cities, requesting that no Christian church
might be built within their walls; and thus he meant to make that which
was his own choice appear as if extorted from him by importunity”). It
is possible that the account is correct, but it is more probable that
the embassies were genuine, and were voluntarily sent to the emperor,
while he was on a tour through his dominions, by the pagan population
of some of the cities who knew the emperor’s own position in the
matter, and desired to conciliate him and secure favors from him. Of
course such deputations would delight him greatly; and what one city
did, others would feel compelled to do also, in order not to seem
behindhand in religious zeal and in order not to run the risk of
offending the emperor, who since the death of Galerius was of course a
more absolute master than before. Cf. Mason, p. 313 sq.

[2722] Theotecnus, according to the Passion of St. Theodotus
(translated in Mason, p. 354 sq.) an apostate from Christianity, was
for some time chief magistrate of Galatia, where he indulged in the
most terrible cruelties against the Christians. Beyond the account
given in the Passion referred to we know in regard to Theotecnus only
what is told us by Eusebius in the present book, in which he is
frequently mentioned. His hatred of the Christians knew no bounds. He
seems, moreover, to have been something of a philosopher and literary
man (Mason calls him a Neo-Platonist, and makes him the author of the
anti-Christian Acta Pilati; but see below, chap. 5, note 1). He was
executed by command of Licinius, after the death of Maximinus (see
below, chap. 11).

[2723] Theoteknos, ”child of God.”

[2724] The logistai, or curatores urbium, were the chief finance
officers of municipalities. See Valesius’ note on Bk. VIII. chap. 11.

Chapter III.–The Newly Erected Statue at Antioch.

After this man had carried on all kinds of war against us and had
caused our people to be diligently hunted up in their retreats, as if
they were unholy thieves, and had devised every sort of slander and
accusation against us, and become the cause of death to vast numbers,
he finally erected a statue of Jupiter Philius [2725] with certain
juggleries and magic rites. And after inventing unholy forms of
initiation and ill-omened mysteries in connection with it, and
abominable means of purification, [2726] he exhibited his jugglery, by
oracles which he pretended to utter, even to the emperor; and through a
flattery which was pleasing to the ruler he aroused the demon against
the Christians and said that the god had given command to expel the
Christians as his enemies beyond the confines of the city and the
neighboring districts.

[2725] Jupiter Philius, the god of friendship or good-will, was widely
honored in the East. He seems to have been the tutelary divinity of
Antioch, and, according to Valesius, a temple of his at Antioch is
mentioned by the emperor Julian and by Libanius.

[2726] ”The ceremonies of the Gentiles, used in the erection and
consecration of images to their gods, were various. Jupiter Ctesius was
consecrated with one sort of rites, Herceus with another, and Philius
with a third sort” (Valesius). For farther particulars, see his note ad

Chapter IV.–The Memorials against us. [2727]

1. Thefact that this man, who took the lead in this matter, had
succeeded in his purpose was an incitement to all the other officials
in the cities under the same government to prepare a similar memorial.
[2728] And the governors of the provinces perceiving that this was
agreeable to the emperor suggested to their subjects that they should
do the same.

2. And as the tyrant by a rescript declared himself well pleased with
their measures, [2729] persecution was kindled anew against us. Priests
for the images were then appointed in the cities, and besides them high
priests by Maximinus himself. [2730] The latter were taken from among
those who were most distinguished in public life and had gained
celebrity in all the offices which they had filled; and who were
imbued, moreover, with great zeal for the service of those whom they

3. Indeed, the extraordinary superstition of the emperor, to speak in
brief, led all his subjects, both rulers and private citizens, for the
sake of gratifying him, to do everything against us, supposing that
they could best show their gratitude to him for the benefits which they
had received from him, by plotting murder against us and exhibiting
toward us any new signs of malignity.

[2727] peri ton kath’ hemon psephismEURton

[2728] psephon.

[2729] psephismasi

[2730] Lactantius (ibid. chap. 36) says: ”In compliance with those
addresses he [Maximinus] introduced a new mode of government in things
respecting religion, and for each city he created a high priest, chosen
from among the persons of most distinction. The office of those men was
to make daily sacrifices to all their gods, and, with the aid of the
former priests, to prevent the Christians from erecting churches, or
from worshiping God, either publicly or in private; and he authorized
them to compel the Christians to sacrifice to idols, and, on their
refusal, to bring them before the civil magistrate; and, as if this had
not been enough, in every province he established a superintendent
priest, one of chief eminence in the state; and he commanded that all
those priests newly instituted should appear in white habits, that
being the most honorable distinction of dress.” Maximin perceived the
power that existed in the Catholic Church with its wonderful
organization, and conceived the stupendous idea of rejuvenating
paganism by creating a pagan Catholic Church. The Roman religion should
cease to be the loose, unorganized, chaotic thing it had always been,
and should be made a positive aggressive power over against
Christianity by giving it a regular organization and placing the entire
institution in the hands of honorable and able men, whose business it
should be to increase its stability and power in every way and in all
quarters. We are compelled to admire the wisdom of Maximin’s plan. No
persecutor before him had ever seen the need of thus replacing the
Christian Church by another institution as great and as splendid as
itself. The effort, like that of Julian a half-century later, must
remain memorable in the annals of the conflict of paganism with

Chapter V.–The Forged Acts.

1. Having therefore forged Acts of Pilate [2731] and our Saviour full
of every kind of blasphemy against Christ, they sent them with the
emperor’s approval to the whole of the empire subject to him, with
written commands that they should be openly posted to the view of all
in every place, both in country and city, and that the schoolmasters
should give them to their scholars, instead of their customary lessons,
to be studied and learned by heart.

2. While these things were taking place, another military commander,
whom the Romans call Dux, [2732] seized some infamous women in the
market-place at Damascus in Phoenicia, [2733] and by threatening to
inflict tortures upon them compelled them to make a written declaration
that they had once been Christians and that they were acquainted with
their impious deeds,–that in their very churches they committed
licentious acts; and they uttered as many other slanders against our
religion as he wished them to. Having taken down their words in
writing, he communicated them to the emperor, who commanded that these
documents also should be published in every place and city.

[2731] These Acts are no longer extant, but their character can be
gathered from this chapter. They undoubtedly contained the worst
calumnies against Christ’s moral and religious character. They cannot
have been very skillful forgeries, for Eusebius, in Bk. I. chap. 9,
above, points out a palpable chronological blunder which stamped them
as fictitious on their very face. And yet they doubtless answered every
purpose; for few of the heathen would be in a position to detect such
an error, and perhaps fewer still would care to expose it if they
discovered it. These Acts are of course to be distinguished from the
numerous Acta Pilati which proceeded from Christian sources (see above,
Bk. II. chap. 2, note 1). The way in which these Acts were employed was
diabolical in its very shrewdness. Certainly there was no more
effectual way of checking the spread of Christianity than
systematically and persistently to train up the youth of the empire to
look with contempt and disgust upon the founder of Christianity, the
Christian’s Saviour and Lord. Incalculable mischief must inevitably
have been produced had Maximin’s reign lasted for a number of years. As
it was, we can imagine the horror of the Christians at this new and
sacrilegious artifice of the enemy. Mason assigns ”the crowning,
damning honor of this masterstroke” to Theotecnus, but I am unable to
find any proof that he was the author of the documents. It is, of
course, not impossible nor improbable that he was; but had Eusebius
known him to be the author, he would certainly have informed us. As it
is, his statement is entirely indefinite, and the Acts are not brought
into any connection with Theotecnus.

[2732] The commandant of the Roman garrison in Damascus.

[2733] Damascus, from the time of Hadrian (according to Spruner-Menke),
or of Severus (according to Mommsen), was the capital of the newly
formed province of Syria-Phoenice, or Syro-Phoenicia.

Chapter VI.–Those who suffered Martyrdom at this Time.

1. Not long afterward, however, this military commander became his own
murderer and paid the penalty for his wickedness. But we were obliged
again to endure exile and severe persecutions, and the governors in
every province were once more terribly stirred up against us; so that
even some of those illustrious in the Divine Word were seized and had
sentence of death pronounced upon them without mercy. Three of them in
the city of Emesa [2734] in Phoenicia, having confessed that they were
Christians, were thrown as food to the wild beasts. Among them was a
bishop Silvanus, [2735] a very old man, who had filled his office full
forty years.

2. At about the same time Peter [2736] also, who presided most
illustriously over the parishes in Alexandria, a divine example of a
bishop on account of the excellence of his life and his study of the
sacred Scriptures, being seized for no cause and quite unexpectedly,
was, as if by command of Maximinus, immediately and without
explanation, beheaded. With him also many other bishops of Egypt
suffered the same fate.

3. And Lucian, [2737] a presbyter of the parish at Antioch, and a most
excellent man in every respect, temperate in life and famed for his
learning in sacred things, was brought to the city of Nicomedia, where
at that time the emperor happened to be staying, and after delivering
before the ruler an apology for the doctrine which he professed, was
committed to prison and put to death.

4. Such trials were brought upon us in a brief time by Maximinus, the
enemy of virtue, so that this persecution which was stirred up against
us seemed far more cruel than the former.

[2734] Emesa was an important city in Northern Phoenicia, the
birthplace of the Emperor Elagabalus, and chiefly famous for its great
temple of the Sun.

[2735] On Silvanus, bishop of Emesa, see above, Bk. VIII. chap. 13,
note 4.

[2736] On Peter, bishop of Alexandria, see above, Bk. VII. chap. 32,
note 54. According to that chapter he suffered in the ninth year of the
persecution; that is, at least as early as April, 312.

[2737] The presbyter Lucian, who is mentioned also in Bk. VIII. chap.
13, above, was one of the greatest scholars of the early Church, and
with Dorotheus (see above, Bk. VII. chap. 32, note 9) at the head of
the famous theological school at Antioch. He produced a revised version
of the LXX, which enjoyed a wide circulation (see Jerome’s de vir. ill.
77, and Westcott’s Hist. of the N. T. Canon, p. 392 sq.); and also
wrote some books on Faith (see Jerome, ibid.), some epistles (see
ibid., and Suidas, s.v.), and a commentary on Job, of which a Latin
fragment has been preserved and is given by Routh, Rel. Sacrae, IV. p.
7-10. His works have perished, with the exception of a brief fragment
of an epistle, the fragment from his commentary on Job just referred
to, and a part of his defense before Maximinus (referred to in the
present chapter) which is preserved by Rufinus, H. E. IX. 6, and is
probably genuine (cf. Westcott, ibid. p. 393). These extant fragments
are given, with annotations, by Routh, ibid. p. 5 sq. Lucian’s chief
historical significance lies in his relation to Arianism. On this
subject, see above, p. 11 sq.

Chapter VII.–The Decree against us which was engraved on Pillars.

1. The memorials against us [2738] and copies of the imperial edicts
issued in reply to them were engraved and set up on brazen pillars in
the midst of the cities, [2739] –a course which had never been
followed elsewhere. The children in the schools had daily in their
mouths the names of Jesus and Pilate, and the Acts which had been
forged in wanton insolence. [2740]

2. It appears to me necessary to insert here this document of Maximinus
which was posted on pillars, in order that there may be made manifest
at the same time the boastful and haughty arrogance of the God-hating
man, and the sleepless evil-hating divine vengeance upon the impious,
which followed close upon him, and under whose pressure he not long
afterward took the opposite course in respect to us and confirmed it by
written laws. [2741]

The rescript is in the following words:

Copy of a translation of the rescript of Maximinus in answer to the
memorials against us, taken from the pillar in Tyre.

3. ”Now at length the feeble power of the human mind has become able to
shake off and to scatter every dark mist of error, which before this
besieged the senses of men, who were more miserable than impious, and
enveloped them in dark and destructive ignorance; and to perceive that
it is governed and established by the beneficent providence of the
immortal gods.

4. It passes belief how grateful, how pleasing and how agreeable it is
to us, that you have given a most decided proof of your pious
resolution; for even before this it was known to every one how much
regard and reverence you were paying to the immortal gods, exhibiting
not a faith of bare and empty words, but continued and wonderful
examples of illustrious deeds.

5. Wherefore your city may justly be called a seat and dwelling of the
immortal gods. At least, it appears by many signs that it flourishes
because of the presence of the celestial gods.

6. Behold, therefore, your city, regardless of all private advantages,
and omitting its former petitions in its own behalf, when it perceived
that the adherents of that execrable vanity were again beginning to
spread, and to start the greatest conflagration,–like a neglected and
extinguished funeral pile when its brands are rekindled,–immediately
resorted to our piety as to a metropolis of all religiousness, asking
some remedy and aid.

7. It is evident that the gods have given you this saving mind on
account of your faith and piety.

”Accordingly that supreme and mightiest Jove, who presides over your
illustrious city, who preserves your ancestral gods, your wives and
children, your hearths and homes from every destructive pest, has
infused into your souls this wholesome resolve; showing and proving how
excellent and glorious and salutary it is to observe with the becoming
reverence the worship and sacred rites of the immortal gods.

8. For who can be found so ignorant or so devoid of all understanding
as not to perceive that it is due to the kindly care of the gods that
the earth does not refuse the seed sown in it, nor disappoint the hope
of the husbandmen with vain expectation; that impious war is not
inevitably fixed upon earth, and wasted bodies dragged down to death
under the influence of a corrupted atmosphere; that the sea is not
swollen and raised on high by blasts of intemperate winds; that
unexpected hurricanes do not burst forth and stir up the destructive
tempest; moreover, that the earth, the nourisher and mother of all, is
not shaken from its lowest depths with a terrible tremor, and that the
mountains upon it do not sink into the opening chasms. No one is
ignorant that all these, and evils still worse than these, have
oftentimes happened hitherto.

9. And all these misfortunes have taken place on account of the
destructive error of the empty vanity of those impious men, when it
prevailed in their souls, and, we may almost say, weighed down the
whole world with shame.”

10. After other words he adds: ”Let them look at the standing crops
already flourishing with waving heads in the broad fields, and at the
meadows glittering with plants and flowers, in response to abundant
rains and the restored mildness and softness of the atmosphere.

11. Finally, let all rejoice that the might of the most powerful and
terrible Mars has been propitiated by our piety, our sacrifices, and
our veneration; and let them on this account enjoy firm and tranquil
peace and quiet; and let as many as have wholly abandoned that blind
error and delusion and have returned to a right and sound mind rejoice
the more, as those who have been rescued from an unexpected storm or
severe disease and are to reap the fruits of pleasure for the rest of
their life.

12. But if they still persist in their execrable vanity, let them, as
you have desired, be driven far away from your city and territory, that
thus, in accordance with your praiseworthy zeal in this matter, your
city, being freed from every pollution and impiety, may, according to
its native disposition, attend to the sacred rites of the immortal gods
with becoming reverence.

13. But that ye may know how acceptable to us your request respecting
this matter has been, and how ready our mind is to confer benefits
voluntarily, without memorials and petitions, we permit your devotion
to ask whatever great gift ye may desire in return for this your pious

14. And now ask that this may be done and that ye may receive it; for
ye shall obtain it without delay. This, being granted to your city,
shall furnish for all time an evidence of reverent piety toward the
immortal gods, and of the fact that you have obtained from our
benevolence merited prizes for this choice of yours; and it shall be
shown to your children and children’s children.”

15. This was published against us in all the provinces, depriving us of
every hope of good, at least from men; so that, according to that
divine utterance, ”If it were possible, even the elect would have
stumbled” [2742] at these things.

16. And now indeed, when the hope of most of us was almost extinct,
suddenly while those who were to execute against us the above decree
had in some places scarcely finished their journey, God, the defender
of his own Church, exhibited his heavenly interposition in our behalf,
well-nigh stopping the tyrant’s boasting against us.

[2738] See above, chaps. 2 and 4.

[2739] These decrees must have been published in this way in June, 312,
or thereabouts; for in chap. 10, S:12, we learn that they were thus
made public a little less than a year before the final edict of
toleration, which was apparently issued in May, 313.

[2740] See chap. 5.

[2741] ouk eis makron tanantia peri hemon ebouleusato te kai di’
engrEURphon nomon edogmEURtise. Cruse translates, ”So that he did not
long devise hostilities and form decrees against us.” It is true that
the phrase ouk eis makron may in general bear the meaning ”not for
long,” as well as ”not long afterward”; but an examination of the
numerous passages in which the words are used by Eusebius (e.g. I. 11.
1; I. 13. 4; II. 6. 5; II. 7; III. 5. 7; IV. 7. 12; VII. 13. 1) will
show that, with a single exception, he uniformly employs them in the
sense of ”not long afterward.” The single exception occurs in Bk. IV.
chap. 7, S:12, where the phrase is clearly used with the other
meaning–”not for long.” In view of this preponderance of instances for
the former use of the phrase in this single work, it seems best in the
present case–the only doubtful one, so far as I am aware–to follow
Valesius, Stroth, and Closs in translating ”not long afterward,” which
is in full accord with the context, and more in harmony than the other
reading with the structure of this particular sentence.

[2742] Matt. xxiv. 24.

Chapter VIII.–The Misfortunes which happened in Connection with these
Things, in Famine, Pestilence, and War.

1. The customary rains and showers of the winter season ceased to fall
in their wonted abundance upon the earth and an unexpected famine made
its appearance, and in addition to this a pestilence, and another
severe disease consisting of an ulcer, which on account of its fiery
appearance was appropriately called a carbuncle. [2743] This, spreading
over the whole body, greatly endangered the lives of those who suffered
from it; but as it chiefly attacked the eyes, it deprived multitudes of
men, women, and children of their sight.

2. In addition to this the tyrant was compelled to go to war with the
Armenians, who had been from ancient times friends and allies of the
Romans. As they were also Christians [2744] and zealous in their piety
toward the Deity, the enemy of God had attempted to compel them to
sacrifice to idols and demons, and had thus made friends foes, and
allies enemies.

3. All these things suddenly took place at one and the same time, and
refuted the tyrant’s empty vaunt against the Deity. For he had boasted
that, because of his zeal for idols and his hostility against us,
neither famine nor pestilence nor war had happened in his time. [2745]
These things, therefore, coming upon him at once and together,
furnished a prelude also of his own destruction.

4. He himself with his forces was defeated in the war with the
Armenians, and the rest of the inhabitants of the cities under him were
terribly afflicted with famine and pestilence, so that one measure of
wheat was sold for twenty-five hundred Attic drachms. [2746]

5. Those who died in the cities were innumerable, and those who died in
the country and villages were still more. So that the tax lists which
formerly included a great rural population were almost entirely wiped
out; nearly all being speedily destroyed by famine and pestilence.

6. Some, therefore, desired to dispose of their most precious things to
those who were better supplied, in return for the smallest morsel of
food, and others, selling their possessions little by little, fell into
the last extremity of want. Some, chewing wisps of hay and recklessly
eating noxious herbs, undermined and ruined their constitutions.

7. And some of the high-born women in the cities, driven by want to
shameful extremities, went forth into the market-places to beg, giving
evidence of their former liberal culture by the modesty of their
appearance and the decency of their apparel.

8. Some, wasted away like ghosts and at the very point of death,
stumbled and tottered here and there, and too weak to stand fell down
in the middle of the streets; lying stretched out at full length they
begged that a small morsel of food might be given them, and with their
last gasp they cried out Hunger! having strength only for this most
painful cry.

9. But others, who seemed to be better supplied, astonished at the
multitude of the beggars, after giving away large quantities, finally
became hard and relentless, expecting that they themselves also would
soon suffer the same calamities as those who begged. So that in the
midst of the market-places and lanes, dead and naked bodies lay
unburied for many days, presenting the most lamentable spectacle to
those that beheld them.

10. Some also became food for dogs, on which account the survivors
began to kill the dogs, lest they should become mad and should go to
devouring men.

11. But still worse was the pestilence which consumed entire houses and
families, and especially those whom the famine was not able to destroy
because of their abundance of food. Thus men of wealth, rulers and
governors and multitudes in office, as if left by the famine on purpose
for the pestilence, suffered swift and speedy death. Every place
therefore was full of lamentation; in every lane and market-place and
street there was nothing else to be seen or heard than tears, with the
customary instruments and the voices of the mourners. [2747]

12. In this way death, waging war with these two weapons, pestilence
and famine, destroyed whole families in a short time, so that one could
see two or three dead bodies carried out at once.

13. Such were the rewards of the boasting of Maximinus and of the
measures of the cities against us.

Then did the evidences of the universal zeal and piety of the
Christians become manifest to all the heathen.

14. For they alone in the midst of such ills showed their sympathy and
humanity by their deeds. Every day some continued caring for and
burying the dead, for there were multitudes who had no one to care for
them; others collected in one place those who were afflicted by the
famine, throughout the entire city, and gave bread to them all; so that
the thing became noised abroad among all men, and they glorified the
God of the Christians; and, convinced by the facts themselves,
confessed that they alone were truly pious and religious.

15. After these things were thus done, God, the great and celestial
defender of the Christians, having revealed in the events which have
been described his anger and indignation at all men for the great evils
which they had brought upon us, restored to us the bright and gracious
sunlight of his providence in our behalf; so that in the deepest
darkness a light of peace shone most wonderfully upon us from him, and
made it manifest to all that God himself has always been the ruler of
our affairs. From time to time indeed he chastens his people and
corrects them by his visitations, but again after sufficient
chastisement he shows mercy and favor to those who hope in him.

[2743] hanthrax: ”a carbuncle, malignant pustule (acc. to some,
small-pox).” Liddell and Scott. Eusebius is the only writer to tell us
of this famine and pestilence during Maximin’s reign, though Lactantius
(De Mort. pers. 37) does refer in a single sentence to a famine,
without giving us any particulars in regard to it, or informing us of
its severity or extent.

[2744] We do not know when Christianity was first preached in Armenia,
but late in the third century Gregory, ”the Illuminator,” an Armenian
of royal blood who had received a Christian training in Cappadocia,
returned as a missionary to his native land, which was mainly heathen,
and at the beginning of the fourth century succeeded in converting the
king, Tiridates III., and a large number of the nobles and people, and
Christianity was established as the state religion (see the articles
Armenia and Gregory, the Illuminator, in the Dict. of Christ. Biog.).
The Armenians had been friends of the Romans for many generations and
allies in their wars with the Persians on many occasions. The present
war is mentioned, so far as I know, only by Eusebius. According to S:4,
below, it ended in a defeat for Maximinus. It cannot have been a war of
great consequence. It was very likely little more than a temporary
misunderstanding, resulting perhaps in a few skirmishes between troops
on the border, and speedily settled by a treaty of some kind or
another. Maximinus at any rate could not afford to quarrel long with
his Eastern neighbors, in view of the struggle with Licinius which he
knew must come in time. Whether the Armenians or the Romans were the
aggressors in this affair, Eusebius does not tell us. It is very
probable, as Mason suggests, that Maximinus tried to put down
Christianity in Lesser Armenia, which was a Roman province and
therefore under his sway, and that their brethren in the kingdom of
Armenia took up arms against Rome to avenge their kindred and their

[2745] See the previous chapter, S: 8.

[2746] An Attic drachm was a silver coin, worth about eighteen or
nineteen cents.

[2747] aulon te kai ktupon.

Chapter IX.–The Victory of the God-Beloved Emperors. [2748]

1. Thus when Constantine, whom we have already mentioned [2749] as an
emperor, born of an emperor, a pious son of a most pious and prudent
father, and Licinius, second to him, [2750] –two God-beloved emperors,
honored alike for their intelligence and their piety,–being stirred up
against the two most impious tyrants by God, the absolute Ruler and
Saviour of all, engaged in formal war against them, with God as their
ally, Maxentius [2751] was defeated at Rome by Constantine in a
remarkable manner, and the tyrant of the East [2752] did not long
survive him, but met a most shameful death at the hand of Licinius, who
had not yet become insane. [2753]

2. Constantine, who was the superior both in dignity and imperial rank,
[2754] first took compassion upon those who were oppressed at Rome, and
having invoked in prayer the God of heaven, and his Word, and Jesus
Christ himself, the Saviour of all, as his aid, advanced with his whole
army, [2755] proposing to restore to the Romans their ancestral

3. But Maxentius, putting confidence rather in the arts of sorcery than
in the devotion of his subjects, did not dare to go forth beyond the
gates of the city, but fortified every place and district and town
which was enslaved by him, in the neighborhood of Rome and in all
Italy, with an immense multitude of troops and with innumerable bands
of soldiers. But the emperor, relying upon the assistance of God,
attacked the first, second, and third army of the tyrant, and conquered
them all; and having advanced through the greater part of Italy, was
already very near Rome.

4. Then, that he might not be compelled to wage war with the Romans for
the sake of the tyrant, God himself drew the latter, as if bound in
chains, some distance without the gates, and confirmed those threats
against the impious which had been anciently inscribed in sacred
books,–disbelieved, indeed, by most as a myth, but believed by the
faithful,–confirmed them, in a word, by the deed itself to all, both
believers and unbelievers, that saw the wonder with their eyes.

5. Thus, as in the time of Moses himself and of the ancient God-beloved
race of Hebrews, ”he cast Pharaoh’s chariots and host into the sea, and
overwhelmed his chosen charioteers in the Red Sea, and covered them
with the flood,” [2756] in the same way Maxentius also with his
soldiers and body-guards ”went down into the depths like a stone,”
[2757] when he fled before the power of God which was with Constantine,
and passed through the river which lay in his way, over which he had
formed a bridge with boats, and thus prepared the means of his own

6. In regard to him one might say, ”he digged a pit and opened it and
fell into the hole which he had made; his labor shall turn upon his own
head, and his unrighteousness shall fall upon his own crown.” [2758]

7. Thus, then, the bridge over the river being broken, the passageway
settled down, and immediately the boats with the men disappeared in the
depths, and that most impious one himself first of all, then the
shield-bearers who were with him, as the divine oracles foretold, ”sank
like lead in the mighty waters”; [2759] so that those who obtained the
victory from God, if not in words, at least in deeds, like Moses, the
great servant of God, and those who were with him, fittingly sang as
they had sung against the impious tyrant of old, saying, ”Let us sing
unto the Lord, for he hath gloriously glorified himself; horse and
rider hath he thrown into the sea; a helper and a protector hath he
become for my salvation;” [2760] and ”Who is like unto thee, O Lord;
among the gods, who is like unto thee glorious in holiness, [2761]
marvelous in glory, doing wonders.” [2762]

8. These and the like praises Constantine, by his very deeds, sang to
God, the universal Ruler, and Author of his victory, as he entered Rome
in triumph.

9. Immediately all the members of the senate and the other most
celebrated men, with the whole Roman people, together with children and
women, received him as their deliverer, their saviour, and their
benefactor, with shining eyes and with their whole souls, with shouts
of gladness and unbounded joy.

10. But he, as one possessed of inborn piety toward God, did not exult
in the shouts, nor was he elated by the praises; but perceiving that
his aid was from God, he immediately commanded that a trophy of the
Saviour’s passion be put in the hand of his own statue.

11. And when he had placed it, with the saving sign of the cross in its
right hand, in the most public place in Rome, he commanded that the
following inscription should be engraved upon it in the Roman tongue:
”By this salutary sign, the true proof of bravery, I have saved and
freed your city from the yoke of the tyrant and moreover, having set at
liberty both the senate and the people of Rome, I have restored them to
their ancient distinction and splendor.” [2763]

12. And after this both Constantine himself and with him the Emperor
Licinius, who had not yet been seized by that madness into which he
later fell, [2764] praising God as the author of all their blessings,
with one will and mind drew up a full and most complete decree in
behalf of the Christians, [2765] and sent an account of the wonderful
things done for them by God, and of the victory over the tyrant,
together with a copy of the decree itself, to Maximinus, who still
ruled over the nations of the East and pretended friendship toward

13. But he, like a tyrant, was greatly pained by what he learned; but
not wishing to seem to yield to others, nor, on the other hand, to
suppress that which was commanded, for fear of those who enjoined it,
as if on his own authority, he addressed, under compulsion, to the
governors under him this first communication in behalf of the
Christians, [2766] falsely inventing things against himself which had
never been done by him.

Copy of a translation of the epistle of the tyrant Maximinus.

14. ”Jovius Maximinus Augustus to Sabinus. [2767] I am confident that
it is manifest both to thy firmness and to all men that our masters
Diocletian and Maximianus, our fathers, when they saw almost all men
abandoning the worship of the gods and attaching themselves to the
party of the Christians, rightly decreed that all who gave up the
worship of those same immortal gods should be recalled by open
chastisement and punishment to the worship of the gods.

15. But when I first came to the East under favorable auspices and
learned that in some places a great many men who were able to render
public service had been banished by the judges for the above-mentioned
cause, I gave command to each of the judges that henceforth none of
them should treat the provincials with severity, but that they should
rather recall them to the worship of the gods by flattery and
exhortations. [2768]

16. Then when, in accordance with my command, these orders were obeyed
by the judges, it came to pass that none of those who lived in the
districts of the East were banished or insulted, but that they were
rather brought back to the worship of the gods by the fact that no
severity was employed toward them.

17. But afterwards, when I went up last year [2769] under good auspices
to Nicomedia and sojourned there, citizens of the same city came to me
with the images of the gods, earnestly entreating that such a people
should by no means be permitted to dwell in their country. [2770]

18. But when I learned that many men of the same religion dwelt in
those regions, I replied that I gladly thanked them for their request,
but that I perceived that it was not proffered by all, and that if,
therefore, there were any that persevered in the same superstition,
each one had the privilege of doing as he pleased, even if he wished to
recognize the worship of the gods. [2771]

19. Nevertheless, I considered it necessary to give a friendly answer
to the inhabitants of Nicomedia and to the other cities which had so
earnestly presented to me the same petition, namely, that no Christians
should dwell in their cities,–both because this same course had been
pursued by all the ancient emperors, and also because it was pleasing
to the gods, through whom all men and the government of the state
itself endure,–and to confirm the request which they presented in
behalf of the worship of their deity.

20. Therefore, although before this time, special letters have been
sent to thy devotedness, and commands have likewise been given that no
harsh measures should be taken against those provincials who desire to
follow such a course, but that they should be treated mildly and
moderately,–nevertheless, in order that they may not suffer insults or
extortions [2772] from the beneficiaries, [2773] or from any others, I
have thought meet to remind thy firmness in this epistle [2774] also
that thou shouldst lead our provincials rather by flatteries and
exhortations to recognize the care of the gods.

21. Hence, if any one of his own choice should decide to adopt the
worship of the gods, it is fitting that he should be welcomed, but if
any should wish to follow their own religion, do thou leave it in their

22. Wherefore it behooves thy devotedness to observe that which is
committed to thee, and to see that power is given to no one to oppress
our provincials with insults and extortions, [2775] since, as already
written, it is fitting to recall our provincials to the worship of the
gods rather by exhortations and flatteries. But, in order that this
command of ours may come to the knowledge of all our provincials, it is
incumbent upon thee to proclaim that which has been enjoined, in an
edict issued by thyself.”

23. Since he was forced to do this by necessity and did not give the
command by his own will, he was not regarded by any one as sincere or
trustworthy, because he had already shown his unstable and deceitful
disposition after his former similar concession.

24. None of our people, therefore, ventured to hold meetings or even to
appear in public, because his communication did not cover this, but
only commanded to guard against doing us any injury, and did not give
orders that we should hold meetings or build churches or perform any of
our customary acts.

25. And yet Constantine and Licinius, the advocates of peace and piety,
had written him to permit this, and had granted it to all their
subjects by edicts and ordinances. [2776] But this most impious man did
not choose to yield in this matter until, being driven by the divine
judgment, he was at last compelled to do it against his will.

[2748] All the mss., followed by Valesius and Cruse, give this as the
title of the next chapter, and give as the title of this chapter the
one which I have placed at the head of chapter 10. It is plain enough
from the contents of the two chapters that the titles have in some way
become transposed in the mss., and so they are restored to their proper
position by the majority of the editors, whom I have followed.

[2749] See above, Bk. VIII. chap. 13.

[2750] On Licinius, see ibid. note 21. Constantine and Licinius were
both Augusti, and thus nominally of equal rank. Nevertheless, both in
the edict of Galerius, quoted in Bk. VIII. chap. 17, and in the edict
of Milan, given in full in the De Mort. pers. chap. 48, Constantine’s
name precedes that of Licinius, showing that he was regarded as in some
sense the latter’s senior, and thus confirming Eusebius’ statement, the
truth of which Closs unnecessarily denies. It seems a little peculiar
that Constantine should thus be recognized as Licinius’ senior,
especially in the edict of Galerius; for although it is true that he
had been a Caesar some time before Licinius had been admitted to the
imperial college, yet, on the other hand, Licinius was made Augustus by
Galerius before Constantine was, and enjoyed his confidence and favor
much more fully than the latter.

[2751] On Maxentius, see above, Bk. VIII. chap. 14, note 1.

[2752] i.e. Maximinus. For an account of his defeat by Licinius and his
death, see below, chap. 10.

[2753] oupo manentos tote. This refers to Licinius’ hostility to the
Christians, which made its appearance some years later, and resulted in
a persecution (see below, Bk. X. chap. 8). The clause, if a part of the
original, obliges us to suppose that the ninth book was composed after
Licinius had begun to persecute, but there are strong reasons for
thinking that the first nine books were completed before 314 (see
above, p. 45); indeed, we cannot explain Eusebius’ eulogistic words in
speaking of Licinius here and elsewhere in this book on any other
ground. It seems necessary, therefore, to regard this clause and the
similar clause in S:12, below, as later insertions, made possibly at
the time of the addition of the tenth book (see p. 45).

[2754] See above, note 2.

[2755] Constantine’s battle with Maxentius, described in this chapter,
took place on the sixth anniversary of the latter’s accession, Oct. 27,
312 (see Lactantius, De Mort. pers. 44 and 46). For particulars
respecting Constantine himself and his campaign against Maxentius, see
Dr. Richardson’s prolegomena to his translation of the Life of
Constantine, p. 416. sq. of this volume.

[2756] Ex. xv. 4, 5. The phrase translated ”charioteers” is anabEURtas
tristEURtas, which is employed in the LXX to translate the Hebrew
ShoL+iJ+ShoJ+W+. The word ShoL+iJ+Sh, which means literally a ”third,”
and hence a ”third man” (Greek tristEURtes, is used, according to
Gesenius, to denote a chariot warrior, who was so called because ”three
always stood upon one chariot, one of whom fought, while the second
protected him with the shield, and the third drove.”

[2757] Ex. xv. 5.

[2758] Psa. vii. 15, 16.

[2759] Ex. xv. 10.

[2760] Ibid. verse 1. Eusebius, in this and the next passage, follows
the LXX, which differs considerably from the Hebrew.

[2761] The LXX, followed by Eusebius, reads dedoxasmenos en hagiois to
translate the Hebrew N+#D+uoR+ B+uaQ+uD+Sh. It seems probable both from
the Hebrew original and from the use of the plural doxais in the next
clause, that the LXX translator used the plural hagiois, not to denote
”saints,” as Closs renders (”durch die Heiligen”), which would in
strictness require the article, but ”holiness.” I have therefore
ventured to render the word thus in the text, although quite conscious
that the translation does not accurately reproduce the Greek phrase as
it stands.

[2762] Ex. xv. 11.

[2763] Upon Constantine’s conversion, see Dr. Richardson’s prolegomena,
p. 431, below. On the famous tale of the flaming cross with its
inscription touto nika, related in the Life of Constantine, I. 28, see
his note on that passage, p. 490, below.

[2764] See abo’e, note 5.

[2765] This is the famous edict of Milan, which was issued late in the
year 312, and which is given in the Latin original in Lactantius’ De
Mort. pers. 48, and in a Greek translation in Eusebius’ History, Bk. X.
chap. 5, below. For a discussion of its date and significance, see the
notes upon that chapter.

[2766] This epistle or rescript (Eusebius calls it here a grEURmma,
just below an epistole) of Maximin’s was written before the end of the
year 312, as can be seen from the fact that in S:17, below, his visit
to Nicomedia is spoken of as having taken place in the previous year.
But that visit, as we learn from the De Mort. pers. chap. 36, occurred
in 311 (cf. chap. 2, note 1, above). It must therefore have been issued
immediately upon the receipt of the edict of Constantine and Licinius.
As Mason remarks, his reasons for writing this epistle can hardly have
been fear of Constantine and Licinius, as Eusebius states, for he was
bent upon war against them, and attacked Licinius at the earliest
possible moment. He cannot have cared, therefore, to take any special
pains to conciliate them. He was probably moved by a desire to
conciliate, just at this crisis, the numerous and influential body of
his subjects whom he had persecuted, in order that he might not have to
contend with disaffection and disloyalty within his own dominions
during his impending conflict with Licinius. The document itself is a
most peculiar one, full of false statements and contradictions. Mason
well says: ”In this curious letter Maximin contradicts himself often
enough to make his Christian subjects dizzy. First he justifies bloody
persecution, then plumes himself upon having stopped it, next
apologizes for having set it again on foot, then denies that it was
going on, and lastly orders it to cease. We cannot wonder at what
Eusebius relates, that the people whose wrongs the letter applauded and
forbade, neither built church nor held meeting in public on the
strength of it; they did not know where to have it.”

[2767] On Sabinus, see above, chap. 1, note 3.

[2768] Noteing chould be pharteer phrom tee trute tean teis and tee
phollooing statement.

[2769] That is, after the death of Galerius in the year 311.
”Maximinus, on receiving this news (i.e. of the death of Galerius),
hasted with relays of horses from the East that he might seize the
provinces, and, while Licinius delayed, might arrogate to himself the
Chalcedonian straits. On his entry into Bithynia, with the view of
acquiring immediate popularity, he abolished the tax to the great joy
of all. Dissension arose between the two emperors, and almost war. They
stood on the opposite shores with their armies. But peace and
friendship were established under certain conditions; a treaty was
concluded on the narrow sea, and they joined hands” (Lactantius, De
mort. pers. 36). See above, chap. 2, note 1.

[2770] On these embassies, see ibid. note 3.

[2771] There is no sign of such consideration in Maximin’s rescript,
quoted in chap. 7, above. The sentences which follow are quite
contradictory. Certainly no one could gain from them any idea as to
what the emperor had done in the matter.

[2772] seismous, literally, ”shakings,” or ”shocks.” The word is
doubtless used to translate the Latin concussio, which in legal
language meant the extortion of money by threats or other similar
means. The words concussio, concussor, concutit, are used very
frequently by Tertullian in this sense; e.g. in his De fuga in
persecutione, chap. 12, ad Scap. chaps. 4 and 5, Apol. chap. 7. See
especially Oehler’s note on the word in his edition of Tertullian’s
works, I. p. 484.

[2773] benephikialion, a simple reproduction of the Latin beneficiarii.
These beneficiarii were ”free or privileged soldiers, who through the
favor of their commander were exempt from menial offices” (Andrews’
Lexicon). We are nowhere told, so far as I am aware, that these
beneficiarii were especially active in thus practicing extortions upon
the Christians; but we can gather from Tertullian’s words in the
various passages referred to that the Christians had to suffer
particularly from the soldiers in this respect, and doubtless from the
beneficiarii most of all; for they possessed more leisure than the
common soldiers, and at the same time greater opportunity, because of
their more intimate relations with the authorities, of bringing the
Christians into difficulty by entering accusations against them.

[2774] tois grEURmmasi. On the use of the plural in speaking of a
single epistle, see above, Bk. IV. chap. 8, note 12.

[2775] See note 24.

[2776] See above, note 17, and below, Bk. X. chap. 5.

Chapter X.–The Overthrow of the Tyrants and the Words which they
uttered before their Death. [2777]

1. The circumstances which drove him to this course were the following.
Being no longer able to sustain the magnitude of the government which
had been undeservedly committed to him, in consequence of his want of
prudence and imperial understanding, he managed affairs in a base
manner, and with his mind unreasonably exalted in all things with
boastful pride, even toward his colleagues in the empire who were in
every respect his superiors, in birth, in training, in education, in
worth and intelligence, and, greatest of all, in temperance and piety
toward the true God, he began to venture to act audaciously and to
arrogate to himself the first rank. [2778]

2. Becoming mad in his folly, he broke the treaties which he had made
with Licinius [2779] and undertook an implacable war. Then in a brief
time he threw all things into confusion, and stirred up every city, and
having collected his entire force, comprising an immense number of
soldiers, he went forth to battle with him, elated by his hopes in
demons, whom he supposed to be gods, and by the number of his soldiers.

3. And when he joined battle [2780] he was deprived of the oversight of
God, and the victory was given to Licinius, [2781] who was then ruling,
by the one and only God of all.

4. First, the army in which he trusted was destroyed, and as all his
guards abandoned him and left him alone, and fled to the victor, he
secretly divested himself as quickly as possible of the imperial
garments, which did not fitly belong to him, and in a cowardly and
ignoble and unmanly way mingled with the crowd, and then fled,
concealing himself in fields and villages. [2782] But though he was so
careful for his safety, he scarcely escaped the hands of his enemies,
revealing by his deeds that the divine oracles are faithful and true,
in which it is said, ”A king is not saved by a great force, and a giant
shall not be saved by the greatness of his strength; a horse is a vain
thing for safety, nor shall he be delivered by the greatness of his

5. Behold, the eyes of the Lord are upon them that fear him, upon them
that hope in his mercy, to deliver their souls from death.” [2783]

6. Thus the tyrant, covered with shame, went to his own country. And
first, in frantic rage, he slew many priests and prophets of the gods
whom he had formerly admired, and whose oracles had incited him to
undertake the war, as sorcerers and impostors, and besides all as
betrayers of his safety. Then having given glory to the God of the
Christians and enacted a most full and complete ordinance in behalf of
their liberty, [2784] he was immediately seized with a mortal disease,
and no respite being granted him, departed this life. [2785] The law
enacted by him was as follows:

Copy of the edict of the tyrant in behalf of the Christians, translated
from the Roman tongue.

7. ”The Emperor Caesar Caius Valerius Maximinus, Germanicus,
Sarmaticus, Pius, Felix, Invictus, Augustus. We believe it manifest
that no one is ignorant, but that every man who looks back over the
past knows and is conscious that in every way we care continually for
the good of our provincials, and wish to furnish them with those things
which are of especial advantage to all, and for the common benefit and
profit, and whatever contributes to the public welfare and is agreeable
to the views of each.

8. When, therefore, before this, it became clear to our mind that under
pretext of the command of our parents, the most divine Diocletian and
Maximianus, which enjoined that the meetings of the Christians should
be abolished, many extortions [2786] and spoliations had been practiced
by officials; and that those evils were continually increasing, to the
detriment of our provincials toward whom we are especially anxious to
exercise proper care, and that their possessions were in consequence
perishing, letters were sent last year [2787] to the governors of each
province, in which we decreed that, if any one wished to follow such a
practice or to observe this same religion, he should be permitted
without hindrance to pursue his purpose and should be impeded and
prevented by no one, and that all should have liberty to do without any
fear or suspicion that which each preferred.

9. But even now we cannot help perceiving that some of the judges have
mistaken our commands, and have given our people reason to doubt the
meaning of our ordinances, and have caused them to proceed too
reluctantly to the observance of those religious rites which are
pleasing to them.

10. In order, therefore, that in the future every suspicion of fearful
doubt may be taken away, we have commanded that this decree be
published, so that it may be clear to all that whoever wishes to
embrace this sect and religion is permitted to do so by virtue of this
grant of ours; and that each one, as he wishes or as is pleasing to
him, is permitted to practice this religion which he has chosen to
observe according to his custom. It is also granted them to build
Lord’s houses.

11. But that this grant of ours may be the greater, we have thought
good to decree also that if any houses and lands before this time
rightfully belonged to the Christians, and by the command of our
parents fell into the treasury, or were confiscated by any
city,–whether they have been sold or presented to any one as a
gift,–that all these should be restored to their original possessors,
the Christians, in order that in this also every one may have knowledge
of our piety and care.”

12. These are the words of the tyrant which were published not quite a
year after the decrees against the Christians engraved by him on
pillars. [2788] And by him to whom a little before we seemed impious
wretches and atheists and destroyers of all life, so that we were not
permitted to dwell in any city nor even in country or desert,–by him
decrees and ordinances were issued in behalf of the Christians, and
they who recently had been destroyed by fire and sword, by wild beasts
and birds of prey, in the presence of the tyrant himself, and had
suffered every species of torture and punishment, and most miserable
deaths as atheists and impious wretches, were now acknowledged by him
as possessors of religion and were permitted to build churches; and the
tyrant himself bore witness and confessed that they had some rights.

13. And having made such confessions, as if he had received some
benefit on account of them, he suffered perhaps less than he ought to
have suffered, and being smitten by a sudden scourge of God, he
perished in the second campaign of the war.

14. But his end was not like that of military chieftains who, while
fighting bravely in battle for virtue and friends, often boldly
encounter a glorious death; for like an impious enemy of God, while his
army was still drawn up in the field, remaining at home and concealing
himself, he suffered the punishment which he deserved. For he was
smitten with a sudden scourge of God in his whole body, and harassed by
terrible pains and torments, he fell prostrate on the ground, wasted by
hunger, while all his flesh was dissolved by an invisible and God-sent
fire, so that the whole appearance of his frame was changed, and there
was left only a kind of image wasted away by length of time to a
skeleton of dry bones; so that those who were present could think of
his body as nothing else than the tomb of his soul, which was buried in
a body already dead and completely melted away.

15. And as the heat still more violently consumed him in the depths of
his marrow, his eyes burst forth, and falling from their sockets left
him blind. Thereupon still breathing and making free confession to the
Lord, he invoked death, and at last, after acknowledging that he justly
suffered these things on account of his violence against Christ, he
gave up the ghost.

[2777] On the transposition of the titles of chaps. 9 and 10, see the
previous chapter, note 1.

[2778] That Maximin should arrogate to himself, as Eusebius says, the
highest rank is not very surprising, when we realize that that
position, in so far as any difference in rank between the different
rulers was acknowledged, belonged to him by right, inasmuch as he was
Constantine’s senior (having been first Caesar when the latter was only
second), while Constantine (see above, chap. 9, note 2) was regarded as
the senior of Licinius.

[2779] The treaty made in 311, just after the death of Galerius (see De
mort. pers. 36).

[2780] This battle between Licinius and Maximin was fought on April 30,
313, at Adrianople, in Thrace. For a more detailed but somewhat
imaginative account of the battle, see De mort. pers. chap. 45 sq.
Lactantius is considerate enough to accord Licinius the honor of a
divine vision, that he may not be behind his imperial colleague
Constantine; and he is pious enough to ascribe the victory wholly to
the divine aid vouchsafed in response to the prayers of Licinius and
his soldiers.

[2781] The word Licinius is omitted by Laemmer and Heinichen, but
without sufficient warrant, for it is found in nearly all the mss.

[2782] Lactantius (ibid. chap. 47) informs us that Maximin’s flight was
so rapid that he reached Nicomedia, which was 160 miles from
Adrianople, on the evening of the day following the battle. As Gibbon
remarks, ”The incredible speed which Maximin exerted in his flight is
much more celebrated than his prowess in battle.”

[2783] Psa. xxxiii. 16-19

[2784] The final toleration edict of Maximin must have been issued very
soon after his defeat, and its occasion is plain enough. If he were to
oppose Licinius successfully, he must secure the loyalty of all his
subjects, and this could be done only by granting the Christians full
toleration. He could see plainly enough that Licinius’ religious policy
was a success in securing the allegiance of his subjects, and he found
himself compelled in self-defense to pursue a similar course,
distasteful as it was to him. There is no sign that he had any other
motive in taking this step. Religious considerations seem to have had
nothing to do with it; he was doubtless as much of a pagan as ever. The
edict itself is composed in an admirable vein. As Mason remarks,
”Maximin made the concession with so much dignity and grace, that it is
impossible to help wishing that his language were truer.” As in the
previous decree, he indulges his passion for lying without restraint;
but, unlike that one, the present edict is straightforward and
consistent throughout, and grants the Christians full liberty in the
most unequivocal terms.

[2785] Maximin’s death took place at Tarsus (according to De mort.
pers. chap. 49), and apparently within a few weeks after his defeat at
Adrianople and the publication of his edict of toleration. The reports
of his death are somewhat conflicting. Zosimus and the epitomist of
Victor say merely that he died a natural death; Lactantius tells us
that he took poison; while Eusebius in S: 14 sq. gives us a horrible
account of his last sickness which, according to him, was marked, to
say the least, with some rather remarkable symptoms. Mason facetiously
remarks that Eusebius seems to be thinking of a spontaneous combustion.
It was quite the fashion in the early Church to tell dreadful tales in
connection with the deaths of the persecutors, but in the present case
exaggeration is hardly necessary, for it would seem from Lactantius’
account, that he died not of poison, as he states, but of delirium
tremens. As Mason remarks, ”It is probable that Maximin died of nothing
worse than a natural death. But the death which was natural to him was
the most dreadful perhaps that men can die. Maximin was known as an
habitual drunkard; and in his dying delirium he is said to have cried
out that he saw God, with assessors, all in white robes, judging him.”

[2786] See chap. 9, note 24.

[2787] i.e. the epistle addressed to Sabinus, and quoted in the
previous chapter, which was written toward the end of 312 (see that
chapter, note 18).

[2788] See above, chap. 7.

Chapter XI.–The Final Destruction of the Enemies of Religion.

1. Thus when Maximinus, who alone had remained of the enemies of
religion [2789] and had appeared the worst of them all, was put out of
the way, the renovation of the churches from their foundations was
begun by the grace of God the Ruler of all, and the word of Christ,
shining unto the glory of the God of the universe, obtained greater
freedom than before, while the impious enemies of religion were covered
with extremest shame and dishonor.

2. For Maximinus himself, being first pronounced by the emperors a
common enemy, was declared by public proclamations to be a most
impious, execrable, and God-hating tyrant. And of the portraits which
had been set up in every city in honor of him or of his children, some
were thrown down from their places to the ground, and torn in pieces;
while the faces of others were obliterated by daubing them with black
paint. And the statues which had been erected to his honor were
likewise overthrown and broken, and lay exposed to the laughter and
sport of those who wished to insult and abuse them.

3. Then also all the honors of the other enemies of religion were taken
away, and all those who sided with Maximinus were slain, especially
those who had been honored by him with high offices in reward for their
flattery, and had behaved insolently toward our doctrine.

4. Such an one was Peucetius, [2790] the dearest of his companions, who
had been honored and rewarded by him above all, who had been consul a
second and third time, and had been appointed by him chief minister;
[2791] and Culcianus, [2792] who had likewise advanced through every
grade of office, and was also celebrated for his numberless executions
of Christians in Egypt; [2793] and besides these not a few others, by
whose agency especially the tyranny of Maximinus had been confirmed and

5. And Theotecnus [2794] also was summoned by justice which by no means
overlooked his deeds against the Christians. For when the statue had
been set up by him at Antioch, [2795] he appeared to be in the happiest
state, and was already made a governor by Maximinus.

6. But Licinius, coming down to the city of Antioch, made a search for
impostors, and tortured the prophets and priests of the newly erected
statue, asking them for what reason they practiced their deception.
They, under the stress of torture, were unable longer to conceal the
matter, and declared that the whole deceptive mystery had been devised
by the art of Theotecnus. Therefore, after meting out to all of them
just judgment, he first put Theotecnus himself to death, and then his
confederates in the imposture, with the severest possible tortures.

7. To all these were added also the children [2796] of Maximinus, whom
he had already made sharers in the imperial dignity, by placing their
names on tablets and statues. And the relatives of the tyrant, who
before had been boastful and had in their pride oppressed all men,
suffered the same punishments with those who have been already
mentioned, as well as the extremest disgrace. For they had not received
instruction, neither did they know and understand the exhortation given
in the Holy Word:

8. ”Put not your trust in princes, nor in the sons of men, in whom
there is no salvation; his spirit shall go forth and return to his
earth; in that day all their thoughts perish.” [2797]

9. The impious ones having been thus removed, the government was
preserved firm and undisputed for Constantine and Licinius, to whom it
fittingly belonged. They, having first of all cleansed the world of
hostility to the Divine Being, conscious of the benefits which he had
conferred upon them, showed their love of virtue and of God, and their
piety and gratitude to the Deity, by their ordinance in behalf of the
Christians. [2798]

[2789] Maximian died in 310 (see above, Bk. VIII. chap. 13, note 23),
Galerius in 311 (see ibid. chap. 16, note 5), Maxentius in 312 (see
above, chap. 9, note 7), and Diocletian early in 313 (see Bk. VIII.
App. note 3).

[2790] Of this Peucetius (Rufinus Peucedius) we know only what is told
us here. Valesius says: ”The name is to be rendered Picentius, a name
which was borne by a certain calumniator in the time of Constantine, as
is stated by Zosimus at the end of his second book. The Latins, indeed,
call them Picentes whom the Greeks call Puketious.”

[2791] ton katholou logon zparchos, apparently equivalent to the phrase
epi ton katholou logon, used in Bk. VII. chap. 10, S:5. On its
significance, see the note on that passage, and cf. Valesius’ note ad

[2792] This same Culcianus appears in the Acts of St. Phileas of Thmuis
(Ruinart, p. 434 sq.; see the extract printed in Mason, p. 290 sq.) as
the magistrate or governor under whom Phileas suffered in Thebais. He
is doubtless to be identified, as Valesius remarks, with Culeianus
(Kouleianos) mentioned by Epiphanius (Haer. LXVIII. 1) as governor of
Thebais at the time of the rise of the Meletian schism, while Hierocles
was governor of Alexandria.

[2793] Culcianus seems to have been governor of Thebais (where Phileas
suffered, according to Bk. VIII. chap. 9), not of Egypt. Possibly
Eusebius employs the word Egypt in its general sense, as including

[2794] On Theotecnus, see above, chap. 2, note 4.

[2795] See chap. 3.

[2796] Lactantius (De mort. pers. chap. 50) tells us that Maximin left
a wife and two children, a boy eight years old, named Maximus, and a
daughter seven years old who was betrothed to Candidianus.

[2797] Ps. cxlvi. 3, 4.

[2798] See below, Bk. X. chap. 5.