Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, Lake, Loeb, 1926
CONTENTS OF BOOK IX
The Ninth Book of the Ecclesiastical History contains the follorning:
I. On the feigned relaxation.
ΙΙ. οn the change for the worse that ensued.
III. on the new-made idol at Αntiοch.
IV. On the petitions against us.
v. On the forged memoirs.
VI. On Those who were martvred at this time.
VII. On the document against us set up on tablets.
VIII. On the subsequent evcnts, the famine pestilence and wars.
IX. On the of of the tyrants᾿ lives, cxpressions they made use of before the end.
X. On the victory of the God-beloved Εmperors.
XI. On the final οn of the enemies οf godliness.
Ι. THE recantation of the imperial will set forth above 1 was promulgated broadcast throughout Αsia and in the neighbouring provinces. Αfter this had thus been done, Maximin, the tyrant of the Εast, a monster οf imriety if ever there was one, who had been the bitterest enemy οf piety toward the God of the universe, Was by no means pleased with what was written, and instead οf making known the letter set forth above gave verbal commands to the rulers under him to relax the war against us. For since he might not otherwise gainsay the judgement of his superiors, he put in a corner the law set forth above ; and, taking measures how it might never see the light of day in the districts under him, by an οral direction he commanded the rulers under him to relax the persecution against us. Αnd they intimated to each other in writing the terms of the οrder. Sabinus, for instance, whom they had honoured with the rank of most excellent prefect, made known the Εmperοr’s decision to the provincial governors in a latin epistle. The translation of the same runs as follows :
“With a most eamest and devoted Ζeal the DirivInity οf our most divine masters, the Εmperors, has for a long time determined to lead all men’s [*](1 viii. 17.)
whereupon the rulers οf the provinces, having concluded that the purport οf what had been written [*](1 If the Greek here is a correct translation οf the Latin original, the words “that letter” must refer to some previous document ordering the persecution of Chffitians.)
II. This the tyrant could no longer endure, hater as he was of that which is good, and plotter against every virtuous man (he was the ruler, as we said, of the eastern parts) ; nor did he suffer matters thus to be carried on for six entire months. Sumerous, therefore, were his derivlees to overturn the peaee : at first he attempted on some pretext to shut us out from assembling in the cemeteries, 2 then through the medium of certain evil men he sent embassies to himself against us, having urged the citizens of Antioch to ask that they might obtain from him, as a very great boon, that he should in no wise permit any οf the Christians to inhabit their land, and to contrive that others should make the same suggestion. The originator of all this sprang up at Antioch itself in the person of Theotecnus, a clever cheat and an evil man, and quite unlike his name. 3 Ηe was accounted to hold the post of curator 4 in the city.
III. This man, then, many times took the field against us ; and, having been at pains by every method to hunt our people out of hiding-plaeeS as if they were unholy thieves, having employed every [*](1 1. 1. 2 Cf. vii. 11. 10, note. 3 Theotecnus means Child οf God. 4 The chief finance officer οf a municipality.)
IV. This man was the first to act thus of set purpose, and all the other offieials who lived in the cities under the same rule hastened to make a like decision, the provincial governors having seen at a glance that it was pleasing to the Emperor, and having suggested to their subjects to do the very same thing. Αnd when the tyrant had given a most willing assent to their petitions 2 by a reseript, onee more the persecution against us was rekindled.
Marimin himself appointed as priests of the images in each city and, moreover, as high priests, those who were especially distinguished in the public services and had made their mark in the entire course thereof. These persons brought great zeal to bear on the worship of the gods whom they served. Certainly, the outlandish superstition of the ruler was inducing, in a word, all under him, both governors and governed, [*](1 Eusebius here borrows some phrases from Dion. Αlex. (vii. 10. 4 above). 2 We have thus translated ψηφίσματα (“decisions”) and wherever it occurs in this book, inasmuch as these “decisions ” were “ petitions” )
V. Having forged, to be sure, Memoirs of Pilate and our Saviour, full of every kind of blasphemy against Christ, with the approval of their chief they sent them round to every part οf his dominions, with edicts that they should be exhibited openly for everyone to see in every plaee, both town country, and that the primary teachers should give them to the children, instead οf lessons, for study and committal to memory.
While this was thus being carried οut, another person, a commander, whom the Romans style dux, 1 caused certain infamous women to be abducted from the market-place at Damascus in Phoenicia, and, by continually threatening them with the infliction of tortures, compelled them to state in writing that they were once actually Christians, and privy to their unhallowed deeds, and that the Christians practised in the very churches lewdness and everything else that he wished these women to say in defamation of our faith. Ηe also made a memorandum of their words and communicated it to the Emperor, and moreover at his command published this docmnent also in every place and city.
VI. But not long afterwards he, that is to say, the commander, died by his own hand, and thus paid the penalty for his wickedness.
But as for us, banishments and severe persecutions were again renewed, and the rulers in every province
Of these, three in Emesa, a city of Phoenicia, were consigned to wild beasts as food, having declared themselves Christians. Among them was a bishop, Silvanus, exceedingly advanced in age, who had exercised his ministry for forty entire years.
Αt the same time Ρeter also, who presided with the greatest distinction over the communities at Alexandria—a truly divine example of a bishop on account of his virtuous life and his earnest study of the holy Scriptures—was seized for no reason at all quite unexpectedly ; and then immediately and unaccountably beheaded, as if by the command of Maximin. Αnd along with him many others οf the Egyptian bishops endured the same penalty.
Lucian, a most excellent man in every respect, οf temperate life and well versed in sacred learning, a presbyter of the community at Antioch, was brought to the city or Nicomedia, where the Emperor was then staying ; and, having made his defence before the ruler on behalf οf the doctrine which he professed, he was committed to prison and put to death.
so mightily, indeed, did that hater of the good, Maximin, contrive against us in a short space, that this persecution which he had stirred up seemed to us much more severe than the former one.
VII. In fact, in the midst of the cities—a thing that never happened before—petitions presented us by cities, and rescripts containing imperial ordinances
Αt this point I think it necessary to insert this same doeument of Maximin that was set up on tablets, so as to make manifest at once the boastful, overweening arrogance of this hater of God, and the divine Justice that followed close upon his heels with its sleepless hatred of the evil in wicked men. Ιt was this which smote him ; and not long afterwards he reversed his policy with regard to us, and made a decree by laws in writing.
Copy of a Translation of the Rescript of Maximin in answer to Petitions against us, taken from the Tablet at Tyre.
“ Νow at length, the feeble boldness of the human mind has shaken off and dispersed all blinding mists of error, that error which hitherto was attacking the senses of men not so much wicked as wretched, and was wrapping them in the baneful darkness of ignorance; and it has been enabled to recognize that it is governed and established by the benevolent providence of the immortal gods. Ιt passes belief to say how grateful, how exceeding pleasant and agreeable, it has proved to us that you have given a very great proof of your godly disposition ; since even before this none could be ignorant what regard and piety you were displaying towards the immortal gods, in
After other remarks he adds: “Let them behold in the broad plains the crops already ripe with waving ears of corn, the meadows, thanks to opportune rains, brilliant with plants and flowers, and the weather that has been granted us temperate and very mild; further, let all rejoice since through our piety, through the sacrifices and veneration we have rendered, the most powerful and intractable air has been propitiated, and Ιet them take pleasure in that they therefore enjoy the most serene peace securely and in quiet. Αnd let as many as have been wholly rescued from that blind folly and error and returned to a right and goodly frame of mind rejoice indeed the [*](1 The text οf this clause is hopelessly corrupt. )
“Αnd that you may know how pleasing this your request has been to us, and how fully disposed to benevolence our soul is, of its own accord apart from petitioins and entreaties: we permit your Devotedness to ask whatsoever bounty you wish, return for this your godly intent. Αnd now let it be your resolve so to do and receive. For you will obtain your bounty without delay, the granting of which to your city will furnish a testimony for evermore of our godly piety towards the immortal gods, and a proof to your sons and descendants that you have met with the due meed οf reward from our benevolence on account of these your principles of conduct."
This was emblazoned against us in every province, excluding every ray οf hope from our condition, at least as far as human help is concerned; so that, in accordance with the divine oracle itself, if possible
VIII. The customary rains, indeed, and showers οf the then prevailing winter season were withholding their usual downpour upon the earth, and we were visited with an unexpected famine, and on top of this a plague and an outbreak οf another kind of disease. This later was an ulcer, which on account of its fiery character was called an anthrax. 2 Spreading as it did οver the entire body it used to endanger greatly its victims ; but it was the eyes that it marked οut for special attack, and so it was the means of blinding numbers οf men as well as women and children.
In addition to this, the tyrant had the further trouble οf the war against the Armenians, men who from ancient times had been friends and allies of the Romans; but as they were Christians and exceedingly eamest in their piety towards the Deity, this hater of God, by attempting to compel them to sacrifice to idols and demons, made of them foes instead οf friends, and enemies instead οf allies.
The fact that all these things came together all at οnce, at οne and the same time, served to refute utterly the tyrant's insolent boasting against the Deity ; for he used to affirm insolently that, on [*](precious stone of a dark red colour, and hence is also used οf a malignant ulcer of similar appearance.)
Such were the wages received for the proud boasting of Maximin and for the petitions presented by the cities against us; while the proofs of Christians' zeal and piety in every respect were manifest to all the heathen. For example, they alone in such an evil state of affairs gave practical evidence of their sympathy and humanity: all day long some of them would diligently persevere in performing the last offices for the dying and burying them (for there were countless numbers, and no one to look after them); while others would gather together in a single assemblage the multitude of those who all throughout the city were wasted with the famine, and distribute bread to them all, so that their action was on all men's lips, and they glorified the God of the Christians, and, convinced by the deeds themselves, acknowledged that they ere truly pious and God-fearing.
Αfter these things were thus accomplished, God, he great and heavenly Champion of the Christians, hen Ηe had displayed Ηis threatening and wrath gainst all men by the aforesaid means, in return for heir exceeding great attacks against us, once again estored to us the bright and kindly radianee of His rovidential care for us. Most marvellously, as in thick darkness, Ηe caused the light of peace to hine upon us from Himself, and made it manifest o all that God Himself had been watching over our ffairs continually, at times scourging and in due eason correcting Ηis people by means of misfortunes, nd again on the other hand after sufficient chastisement
ΙX. Thus in truth Constantine, who, as aforesaid,1 was Emperor and sprung from an Emperor, pious and sprung from a most pious and in every respect most prudent father, and Licinius, who ranked next to him—both honoured for their and piety—were stirred up by the King of God of the universe and Saviour, two men beloved of God, against the two most impious tyrants; and when war was formally engaged, God proved their ally 2 in the most wonderful manner, and Maxentius fell at Rome at the hands of Constantine; while he 3 of the Εast did not long survive him, for he too perished by a most disgraceful death at the hands of Licinius, 4 who had not yet become mad. 4
But to resume. Constantine, the superior of the Emperors in rank and dignity, vas the first to take pity on those subjected to tyranny at Rome; and, calling in prayer upon God who is in heaven, and His Word, even Jesus Christ the Saviour of all, as his ally, he advanced in full force, seeking to secure for the Romans their ancestral liberty. Maxentius, to be sure, put his trust rather in devices of magic than in the goodwill of his subjects, and in truth did not dare to advance even beyond the ’s gates, but with an innumerable multitude of heavy-armed soldiers and countless bodies of legionaries secured every place and district and city that had been reduced to slavery by him in the environs of Rome and in all [*](shorter text of Eusebius Σ) runs as follows : “Thus in truth Constatine . . . most prudent father, was stirred up by the . . . Saviour, aganist those most impious tyrants . . . God proved his ally. ...” 3 Maximin. 4 This clause is a Ιater addition. )
Thus verily, through the breaking of the bridge οver the river, the passage across collapsed, and down went the boats all at once, men and all, into the deep;
Αnd after this Constantine himself, and with him the emperor Licinius, 1 whose mind was not yet deranged by the madness into Which he afterwards fell, 1 having propitiated God as the Αuthor of all their good fortune, both with one will and purpose drew up a most perfect law2 in the fullest terms on behalf οf the Christans 3; and to Maximin, who was still ruler of the provinces of the East and playing at being their friend, they sent on an account of the marvellous things that God had done for them, as well as of their victory over the tyrant, and the law itself. Αnd he, tyrant that he was, was greatly troubled at the intelligence; but, not wishing to seem to yield to others, nor yet to suppress the command through fear of those who had enjoined it, as if of his own motion he penned perforce this first letter on behalf of the Christians to the governors under him; in which he belies himself, and feigns that he had done things he never had.
Copy of a Translation of the Epistle of the Tyrant
“Jovius Μaximinus Augustus to Sabinus. I am persuaded that it is manifest both to thy Firmness and to all men that our masters Diocletian and Maximian, our fathers, when they perceived that [*](1 This clause is a later addition. 2 The so-called Edict of Milan: see X. 5. 1-14. 3 January 313.)
“ Therefore, although special letters have been written to thy Devotedness before this time, and likewise it has been laid down by ordinances that no harsh measures should be adopted against provincials who have a mind to persevere in such a custom, but that men should deal with them in a long-suffering and adaptable spirti : nevertheless that they may not suffer insults or extortions at the hands of the beneficiarii 3 or any others whatsoever, Ι think it right by this letter also to put thy Firmness in mind that thou shouldest cause our provincials to recognize the attention they owe to the gods rather by persuasive words and exhortations. Wherefore if any should make it his resolve that the worship of the gods should be recognized, it is fitting to welcome sueh persons; but if some desire to follow their own worship, thou shouldest leave it in their own power. [*](1 δι’ οὕς : probably representing per quos in the original. 2 Omitting οὖν, as suggested by Schwartz. 3 This title was given to mibtary officers οf a high rank In this passage it seems to mean officers in the entourage of a provincial governor. )
Since he issued these commands under the compulsion of necessity and not of his own free will, no one any longer regarded him as truthful or even trustworthy, because after a similar concession he had already on a former occasion showed himself to be changeable and false of disposition. Νone of our people therefore dared to convene an assembly or to present himself in public, beeause the letter did not allow him even this. This alone it laid down, that we should be kept from harsh treatment, but it gave no orders about holding meetings or erecting chureh-buildings or practising any of our customary acts. Αnd yet the adnocates of peace and piety, [Constantine had Licinius], had written to him to allow this, and had conceded it to all their subjects by means of edicts and laws. In truth, this monster of iniquity had resolved not to give in as regards this matter ; until he was smitten by the divine Justice, and at the last against his will forced to do so.
X. The following were the circumstance that hemmed him in. Ηe was unable to carry on the vast government with which he had been undeservedly entrusted ; but, lacking a prudent and
But when he joined battle, he found himself bereft of divine Providence, for, by the direction of Ηim who is the one and only God of all, the victory was given to Licinius who was then ruling. First of all, the armed soldiers in whom he had trusted were destroyed ; and when his bodyguard had left him defenceless and wholly deserted, and had gone over to him who was ruling,1 the wretched man himself with all speed of the imperial insignia that ill became him, and in a cowardly, base and unmanly way quietly slipt into the crowd. Then he ran about here and there, hiding himself in the helds and villages ; and for all his courting of safety he escaped with difficulty the hands of his enemies, his deeds themselves proclaiming how very trustworthy and true are the divine oracles, in which it has been said :
Νow the law issued by him was as follows :
Copy of a Translation of the Ordinance of the Tyrant οn behalf of the Christians, made from the Latin tongue into the Greek.
“ The Emperor Caesar Gaius Valerius Maximinus Germanicus, Sarmaticus, Ρius Felix Invictus Augustus. We beheve that no one is ignorant, nay that every man who has recourse to the facts knows and is conscious that it is manifest, that in every way we take unceasing thought for the good of our provincials, and desire to grant them such things as are best calculated to secure the advantage of all, and
“ That, therefore, for the future all suspicion or doubt arising from fear may be removed, we have decreed that this ordinance be published, so that it may be plain to all that those who desire to follow
These are the words of the tyrant that came less than a whole year after the ordinances against the Christians, set up by him on tablets ; and he who a short while previously looked upon us as impious and godless and the pests of society, so that we were not pennirted to dwen in, I will not say, a city, but even a spot in the counrty or a desert — this same person drew up ordinances and legislation on behalf οf the Christians ; and those who shortly before were being destroyed by fire and sword and given to wild beasts and birds for food before his eyes, and were enduring every kind of chastisement and punishment and loss of life in the most pitiable manner, as if they were godless and wicked, these he now allows both to observe their fonn worship and to build churches ; and the tyrant himself confesses that they possess certain rights !
Αnd when he had made these confessions, as if meeting with some kind of reward on this very account—that is, suffering less, to be sure, than behoved him to suffer—he was smitten all at once a stroke of God, and perished in the second οf the war. But the circumstances of his death were not such as fall to the lot of generah on a campaign, who time after time contend bravely on behalf of virtue and friends, and with a good courage meet a glorious end in battle ; but he suffered his due punishment like an impious enemy of God, skulking at home while his army was still stationed in battlearray on the neld. Αll at once he was smitten by a stroke of God over his whole body, with the result that he fell prone under the onslaught of terrible pains and agonies; he was wasted by hunger, and his flesh entirely consumed by an invisible, divinelysent fire; the form which his body once possessed wasted away and there and there remained only a form οf dry bones, like some phantom shape long since reduced to a skeleton, so that those present could not but think that his body become the tomb of his soul, which had been buried in what was now a corpse and completely wasted away. Αnd as the heat consumed him still more foerce;u in the very depths οf his marrow, his eyes projected, and falling from their sockets 1 left him blind. Yet he still breathed in this condition, and making confession to the Lord invoked death. So with his last breath he acknowledged that he suffered thus justly because of his violence against Christ ; and then gave up the ghost.[*](1 In later Greek λῆξις sometimes means ‘place,’ ‘position’ ; Chrysostom (Hom. lvi. in Job. § 2) uses the word, as Eusebius does here, of he place occupied by the eye. )
XI. when Maximin was thus removed — he who as the only οne left οf the enemies of godliness, d showed himself the worst of al — by the grace of Almightly God the renewal of the churches from the foundation was set on foot, and the word of Christ received a due increase upon its fonner freedom, and was clearly heard to the glory of the God of the universe; ; while the impiety οf the enemies of godlness was covered with the most abject shame and dishonour. For Maximin himself was the first to be proclaimed by the rulers as a common enemy οf all, and posted in public edicts on tablets as a most impious, most hateful and God-hating tyrant. As to the portraits which were set up in every city to his honour and that of his children, some were hurled from a height to the ground and smashed to pieces, others had their faces blackened over with darkcoloured paint and so rendered useless ; the statues likewise, as many as had been set up in his honour, were cast down and broken in the same manner, and lay as an object of merriment and sport to those who wished to insult or abuse them.
Next, all the honours of the other enemies of godliness also were taken away, and all who were οf the arty of Maximin were slain, especially those in high government positions who had been honoured by him, and who indulged in violent abuse against our doctrine in order to fawn upon him. such was Peucetius, a man whom he honoured and respected above all, the truest of his friends, consul a second and a third time, and appointed by him general finance minister; such likewise was Culeianus, who had gone through every grade of offiee in the government, the same person who gloried in the murder
So it was that Theotecnus also was summoned by Justice, who in no wise consigned to oblivion what he did against the Christians. For after he had set up the idol 1 at Antioch, he seemed to be prospering, and had actually been deemed worthy of a governorship by Maximin; but when Licinius came to the city οf the Antiochenes, he made a search for charlatans, and plied with tortures the the prophets and priests of the new-made idol, to find out by what contrivance they were practising this deceit. Αnd when the infliction of the tortures made concealment impossible for them, and they revealed that the whole mystery was a deceit manufactured by the art of Theotecnus, he inflicted a just punishment upon them all, putting to death, arter a long series οf tortures, first neotecnus himself, and then also the partners in his charlatanry.
To all these were added the sons οf Maximin, whom he had already caused to share the imperial dignity and to be set up in paintings and pictures.2 Αnd those who formerly boasted kinship with the tyrant and were moved by pride to lord it οver all men underwent the same sufferings, accompanied by the most abject disgrace, as those mentioned above; for they received not correction, nor did they know or understand the exhortatlon in the sacred books which says : “ Ρut not your trust ln princes, in the sons of men, in whom there is no help His breath shall go forth and he shall return to his [*](1 See c. 3. 2 Cf. § 2 above. )