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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:
Lactantius: Chap. XXX

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chap. XXX.

Maximian, having thus forfeited the respect due to an emperor and a father-in-law, grew impatient at his abased condition, and, emboldened by impunity, formed new plots against Constantine. He addressed himself to his daughter Fausta, and, as well by entreaties as by the soothing of flattery, solicited her to betray her husband. He promised to obtain for her a more honourable alliance than that with Constantine; and he requested her to allow the bed-chamber of the emperor to be left open, and to be slightly guarded. Fausta undertook to do whatever he asked, and instantly revealed the whole to her husband. A plan was laid for detecting Maximian in the very execution of his crime. They placed a base eunuch to be murdered instead of the emperor. At the dead of night Maximian arose, and perceived all things to be favourable for his insidious purpose. There were few soldiers on guard, and these too at some distance from the bed-chamber. However, to prevent suspicion, he accosted them, and said that he had had a dream which he wished to communicate to his son-in-law. He went in armed, slew the eunuch, sprung forth exultingly, and avowed the murder. At that moment Constantine showed himself on the opposite side with a band of soldiers; the dead body was brought out of the bed-chamber; the murderer, taken in the fact, all aghast,  

“Stood like a stone, silent and motionless;”

while Constantine upbraided him for his impiety and enormous guilt. At last Maximian obtained leave that the manner of his death should be at his own choice, and he strangled himself.  

Thus that mightiest sovereign of Rome—who ruled so long with exceeding glory, and who celebrated his twentieth anniversary—thus that most haughty man had his neck broken, and ended his detestable life by a death base and ignominious.  


Next: Chap. XXXI

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