« Maximinus I., Roman emperor Maximinus II., emperor Maximinus, Saint, bp. of Trèves »

Maximinus II., emperor

Maximinus (3) II. (Jovius), emperor, a.d. 305. Galerius Valerius Maximinus, originally called Daza, played a somewhat prominent part in the complications following on the abdication of DIOCLETIAN and MAXIMIANUS I. Those emperors were succeeded as Augusti by GALERIUS and CONSTANTIUS, who appointed as Caesars Daza, under the name of Maximinus, and Severus. On the death of Constantius (a.d. 306) Galerius assigned the provinces beyond the Alps to Constantine, but conferred the vacant title of Augustus on Severus, leaving that of Caesar to Constantine and Maximin. Severus was put to death a.d. 307, and Galerius made Constantine and Licinius Augusti, assigning Illyricum to the latter. Maximin, who was in charge of Syria and Egypt, jealous of this promotion of others to a higher position than his own, assumed, under the convenient plea that his troops compelled him, the title of Augustus, and added to it the epithet Jovius, which had been borne before by Diocletian (Eus. H. E. viii. 13; ix. 9). On the death of Galerius in 311, Maximin received the provinces of Asia Minor in addition to Syria and Egypt, and Licinius those of Eastern Europe. The decisive victory of Constantine at Milvian Bridge in 312, and the betrothal of Constantine's sister to Licinius, alarmed Maximin, who determined on immediate hostilities. At Heraclea he was encountered by the army of Licinius, and utterly routed. In 24 hours he reached Nicomedia, 160 miles from the scene of his defeat, and made his way to Tarsus, where after a few days' despair he poisoned himself. As a final insult to his memory all inscriptions to his honour were destroyed, his statues disfigured and thrown from their pedestals (ix. 11). His character is pre-eminent for brutal licentiousness and ferocious cruelty. The provinces of Asia, Syria, and Egypt groaned for six years under him, and of all the persecutors in that last great struggle between the old and new religions none were so infamous for their cruelties. Though he joined for a time, on the advice of the dying Galerius, with Constantine and Licinius in a decree of toleration in 311, he renewed the persecution with greater vigour within a few months (viii. 17). The sufferings of the Christians in Alexandria drew the hermit Anthony from his desert seclusion to exhort them to steadfastness. Of the martyrs of Palestine, to whom Eusebius dedicates a whole book of his history, most suffered by his orders and many in his presence. Heralds were sent through Caesarea ordering all men to sacrifice to the gods, and on his refusal, Appian, a youth of twenty, was tortured and slain. Ulpian and his brother Aedesius were slain at Tyre, Agapius was thrown into the amphitheatre at Caesarea to fight with a bear and so lacerated that he died the next day. Theodosia, a virgin of Tyre, was drowned, Silvanus tortured, and the confessors of Phaeno in Palestine sent to the mines (Eus. de Mart. Palest. c. 4). Silvanus, the aged bp. of Emesa, was thrown into a den of wild beasts. Peter, bp. of Alexandria, with many other bishops, was beheaded (ib. H. E. ix. 6). The church of Antioch supplied yet more illustrious martyrs. On the application of an embassy from that city, headed by Theotecnos, which he himself had prompted, he forbade the Christians to hold their wonted meetings in its catacombs (ix. 2). Hesychius and Lucian, the latter a presbyter, famous for learning and saintliness, were summoned to the emperor's presence at Nicomedia, half starved to death, and then tempted with a luxurious banquet as the price of their apostasy, and on their refusal to deny their faith were thrown into prison and put to death (ix. 6). Decrees, which Eusebius (ix. 7) copied from a pillar in Tyre, were issued, ascribing the famines, earthquakes, and pestilences to the wrath of the gods at the spread of the creed which was denounced as atheistic, and decreeing, at the alleged request of the Syrians themselves, perpetual banishment against all who adhered to their denial of the state religion. Even the Armenians, though outside the emperor's dominions, and old allies of Rome, were threatened with war, because they were Christians (ix. 8), and this at a time when thousands were dying of starvation from a prolonged famine followed by pestilence. From Nicomedia and the neighbouring cities the Christians were banished by an imperial edict, issued here as elsewhere, as at the request of the citizens themselves (ix. 9). Not till after his defeat by Licinius did the tyrant, in the rage of his despair, turn against the priests, prophets, and soothsayers who had urged him on, and, as a last resource, within less than a year after his edicts of extermination, issue a decree of toleration and order the restitution of property taken from the Christians and brought into the imperial treasury (ix. 10).


« Maximinus I., Roman emperor Maximinus II., emperor Maximinus, Saint, bp. of Trèves »
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