« Maximianus, archbp. of Constantinople Maximinus I., Roman emperor Maximinus II., emperor »

Maximinus I., Roman emperor

Maximinus (2) I., Roman emperor, a.d. 235—238. C. Julius Verus Maximinus is conspicuous as the first barbarian who wore the imperial purple, and as one of the emperors whose names are connected with the ten persecutions recorded by ecclesiastical historians. Born in Thrace of a Gothic father and an Alan mother, eight feet high and of gigantic strength, he attracted the notice of Septimius Severus, and rose into favour with Alexander Severus. When that emperor fell into disfavour with his troops, Maximinus seized his opportunity and organized a conspiracy which ended in the murder of Alexander and his mother at Mayence in 235. The praetorian guards elected him emperor, and their choice was confirmed by the senate.

The hostility of Maximinus to his Christian subjects was probably because of the favour they had enjoyed from the eclectic or syncretic sympathies of Alexander Severus. They would appear to him, as to other emperors, a secret, and therefore a dangerous, society, the natural focus of conspiracies and plots. The persecution was limited in its range, and probably was effectual chiefly in removing the restraints which the leanings of Alexander had imposed on the antagonism of the populations and governors of the provinces.

Pontianus, bp. of Rome, was banished with the presbyter Hippolytus to Sardinia, and died there in 235, and, according to Baronius (Ann. 137, 138), his successor Anteros met a like fate in 238. Origen thought it expedient to seek safety with his friend Firmilianus, bp. of the Cappadocian Caesarea. That province was under the government of Serenianus, whom Firmilianus describes (ap. Cyprian, Ep. 75) as "acerbus et dirus persecutor." Frequent earthquakes had roused the panic-stricken population to rage against the Christians as the cause of all disasters (Orig. in Matt. xxiv. 9). This was all the more keenly felt after the comparatively long tranquillity which they had enjoyed under Alexander Severus and his predecessors. >From his retirement Origen 710addressed two treatises On Martyrdom and On Prayer to his disciple Ambrosius, a deacon of the church of Alexandria (Eus. H. E. vi. 28), and Protoctetus, a presbyter of Caesarea, both of whom were taken as prisoners to Germany (Orig. Exhort. ad Mart. 41).

The tyranny of Maximin brought about the revolt in Mauritania, which for three months raised the two GORDIANS to the throne of the Caesars. At Aquileia his troops, suffering from famine and disease, became disaffected. A party of praetorian guards rose, and he, with his son and the chief ministers of his tyranny, were slain in his tent. Their heads were cut off and exhibited on the battlements to the gaze of the citizens.


« Maximianus, archbp. of Constantinople Maximinus I., Roman emperor Maximinus II., emperor »
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