Early Church Fathers
80 i.e. March 5, 310.
81 It was the universal custom in ancient times for a city to have its special tutelary divinity, to which it looked for protection and to which it paid especial honor. The name of the Caesarean deity is unknown to us.
83 "It was a punishment among the Romans that freemen should be condemned to take care of the emperor's horses or camels, and to perform other personal offices of that kind" (Valesius). For fuller particulars, see Valesius' note ad locum. In the Acts of St. Marcellus (who was bishop of Rome) we are told that he was set by Maximian to groom his horses in a church which the emperor had turned into a stable.
84 alogou zwou.
85 Cf. Bk. VIII, chap. 2, §§2 and 3, and the note on that passage.
86 Phil. iv. 8.
87 On Peleus and Nilus, see above, 0Bk. VIII. chap. 13, note 8. Paleus is called Paul in the Syriac version.
88 The name of this man is given as Elias in the Syriac version; but both he and Patermuthius are called laymen.
89 On Silvanus, bishop of Gaza, see above, Bk. VIII. chap. 13, note 6.
1 The toleration edict of Galerius, given in Bk. VIII. chap. 17.
2 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.
3 Of Sabinus we know only what is told us here. He seems to have been Maximin's prime minister or praetorian prefect (tw twn ecoxtatwn eparxwn aciwmati tetimhmenod, Eusebius says of him). He is mentioned again in chap. 9, where an epistle of Maximin addressed to him is quoted.
4 Literally, "the divinity of our most divine masters, the emperors." The style throughout the epistle is of an equally stilted character.
5 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.
6 touj logistaj, commonly used to translate the Latin curatores urbium.
7 touj strathgouj (the common designation for the chief magistrates of cities in the eastern part of the empire) kai touj praipositouj tou pagou.
8 The mss. all read grammatoj, but Valesius conjectures that pragmatoj is the true reading, and his conjecture is supported by Nicephorus,who has frontida peri xristianwn poiesqai. Stroth follows Valesius, and I have done the same. Heinichen remarks: "Sed non necessaria, credo, est haec emendatio, immo eadem fere exsistet sententia per grammatoj, 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 wetter, 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 ina gnwen, peraiterw antoid tonton ton grammatod frontida poiesqai mh proshkein), and there seems to be no other alternative than to change the word grammatoj to pragmatoj, or at least give it the meaning of pragmatoj, as Mason does, without emending the text (though I am not aware that gramma 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 pragma. 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 epistogh, for he calls the document an epitostolh in §3, above. On the other hand, if scriptura, or any other similar word, had been used and translated gramma by Eusebius, we should have expected him to call the document a gramma, not an epistolh in §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 mh proshkein 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."
9 toij kat agrouj epitetagmenoij.
10 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, Crus_, 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.
11 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.
12 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 an 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.
13 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).
14 Qeoteknoj, "child of God."
15 The logistai, or curatores urbium, were the chief finance officers of municipalities. See Valesius' note on Bk. VIII. chap. 11.
16 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.
17 "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 locum.
18 peri twn kaq hmwn yhfismatwn.
21 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 Christianity.
22 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.
23 The commandant of the Roman garrison in Damascus.
24 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 Syna-Phoenice, or Syro-Phoenicia.
25 Emesa was an important city in Northern Phoenicia, the birthplace of the Emperor Elagabalus, and chiefly famous for its great temple of the Sun.
26 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.
27 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 Maximmus (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.
28 See above, chaps. 2 and 4.
29 These decrees must have been published in this way in June, 312, or thereabouts; for in chap. 10, §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.
30 See chap. 5.
31 ouk eij makron tanantia peri hmwn ebouleusato te kai di eggrafwn nomwn edogmatise. Crusè translates, "So that he did not long devise hostilities and form decrees against us." It is true that the phrase ouk eij maxron 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, §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.
32 Matt. xxiv. 24.
33 anqac: "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.
34 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 §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 faith.
35 See the previous chapter, §8.
36 An Attic drachm was a silver coin, worth about eighteen or nineteen cents.
37 aulwn te kai ktupwn.
38 All the mss., followed by Valesius and Crusè, 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.
39 See above, Bk. VIII. chap. 13.
40 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.