Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter XIII
Chapter XIII.—The Bishops of the Church that evinced by their Blood the Genuineness of the Religion which they preached.
1. As for the rulers of the Church that suffered martyrdom in the principal cities, the first martyr of the kingdom of Christ whom we shall mention among the monuments of the pious is Anthimus, 2554 bishop of the city of Nicomedia, who was beheaded.
2. Among the martyrs at Antioch was Lucian, 2555 a presbyter of that parish, whose entire life was most excellent. At Nicomedia, in the presence of the emperor, he proclaimed the heavenly kingdom of Christ, first in an oral defense, and afterwards by deeds as well.
3. Of the martyrs in Phœnicia the most distinguished were those devoted pastors of the spiritual flocks of Christ: Tyrannion, 2556 bishop of the church of Tyre; Zenobius, a presbyter of the church at Sidon; and Silvanus, 2557 bishop of the churches about Emesa.
p. 334 4. The last of these, with others, was made food for wild beasts at Emesa, and was thus received into the ranks of martyrs. The other two glorified the word of God at Antioch through patience unto death. The bishop 2558 was thrown into the depths of the sea. But Zenobius, who was a very skillful physician, died through severe tortures which were applied to his sides.
5. Of the martyrs in Palestine, Silvanus, 2559 bishop of the churches about Gaza, was beheaded with thirty-nine others at the copper mines of Phæno. 2560 There also the Egyptian bishops, Peleus and Nilus, 2561 with others, suffered death by fire.
6. Among these we must mention Pamphilus, a presbyter, who was the great glory of the parish of Cæsarea, and among the men of our time most admirable.
7. The virtue of his manly deeds we have recorded in the proper place. 2562 Of those who suffered death illustriously at Alexandria and throughout Egypt and Thebais, Peter, 2563 bishop of Alexandria, one of the most excellent teachers of the religion of Christ, should first be mentioned; and of the presbyters with him Faustus, 2564 Dius and Ammonius, perfect martyrs of Christ; also Phileas, 2565 Hesychius, 2566 Pachymius and Theodorus, bishops of Egyptian churches, and besides them many other distinguished persons who are commemorated by the parishes of their country and region.
It is not for us to describe the conflicts of those who suffered for the divine religion throughout the entire world, and to relate accurately what happened to each of them. This would be the proper work of those who were eye-witnesses of the events. I will describe for posterity in another work 2567 those which I myself witnessed.
8. But in the present book 2568 I will add to what I have given the revocation issued by our persecutors, and those events that occurred at the beginning of the persecution, which will be most profitable to such as shall read them.
9. What words could sufficiently describe the greatness and abundance of the prosperity of the Roman government before the war against us, while the rulers were friendly and peaceable toward us? Then those who were highest in the government, and had held the position ten or twenty years, passed their time in tranquil peace, in festivals and public games and most joyful pleasures and cheer.
10. While thus their authority was growing uninterruptedly, and increasing day by day, suddenly they changed their peaceful attitude toward us, and began an implacable war. But the second year of this movement was not yet past, when a p. 335 revolution took place in the entire government and overturned all things.
11. For a severe sickness came upon the chief of those of whom we have spoken, by which his understanding was distracted; and with him who was honored with the second rank, he retired into private life. 2569 Scarcely had he done this when the entire empire was divided; a thing which is not recorded as having ever occurred before. 2570
12. Not long after, the Emperor Constantius, who through his entire life was most kindly and favorably disposed toward his subjects, and most friendly to the Divine Word, ended his life in the common course of nature, and left his own son, Constantine, as emperor and Augustus in his stead. 2571 He was the first that was ranked by them among the gods, and received after death every honor which one could pay to an emperor. 2572
13. He was the kindest and mildest of emperors, and the only one of those of our day that passed all the time of his government in a manner worthy of his office. Moreover, he conducted himself toward all most favorably and beneficently. He took not the smallest part in the war against us, but preserved the pious that were under him unharmed and unabused. He neither threw down the church buildings, 2573 nor did he devise anything else against us. The end of his life was honorable and thrice blessed. He alone at death left his empire happily and gloriously to his own son as his successor,—one who was in all respects most prudent and pious.
14. His son Constantine entered on the government at once, being proclaimed supreme emperor and Augustus by the soldiers, and long before by God himself, the King of all. He showed himself an emulator of his fathers piety toward our doctrine. Such an one was he.
But after this, Licinius was declared emperor and Augustus by a common vote of the rulers. 2574
15. These things grieved Maximinus greatly, for until that time he had been entitled by all only Cæsar. He therefore, being exceedingly imperious, seized the dignity for himself, and became Augustus, being made such by himself. 2575 In the mean time he whom we p. 336 have mentioned as having resumed his dignity after his abdication, being detected in conspiring against the life of Constantine, perished by a most shameful death. 2576 He was the first whose decrees and statues and public monuments were destroyed because of his wickedness and impiety. 2577
On Anthimus, see above, chap. 6, note 5.333:2555
On Lucian of Antioch, see below, Bk. IX. chap. 6, note 4.333:2556
Of Tyrannion and Zenobius, we know only what is told us here and in the next paragraph. All of the martyrs of whom Eusebius tells us in this and the following books are commemorated in the Martyrologies, and accounts of the passions of many of them are given in various Acts, usually of doubtful authority. I shall not attempt to mention such documents in my notes, nor to give references to the Martyrologies, unless there be some special reason for it in connection with a case of particular interest. Wherever we have farther information in regard to any of these martyrs, in Eusebius himself or other early Fathers, I shall endeavor to give the needed references, passing other names by unnoticed. Tillemont (H. E. V.) contains accounts of all these men, and all the necessary references to the Martyrologies, the Bollandist Acts, etc. To his work the curious reader is referred.333:2557
Silvanus is mentioned again in Bk. IX. chap. 6, and from that passage we learn that he was a very old man at the time of his death, and that he had been bishop forty years. It is, moreover, directly stated in that passage that Silvanus suffered martyrdom at the same period with Peter of Alexandria, namely, in the year 312 or thereabouts. This being the date also of Lucians martyrdom, mentioned just above, we may assume it as probable that all mentioned in this chapter suffered about the same time.334:2558
Silvanus, bishop of Gaza, is mentioned also in Mart. Pal. chaps. 7 and 13. From the former chapter we learn that he became a confessor at Phæno in the fifth year of the persecution (a.d. 307), while still a presbyter; from the latter, that he suffered martyrdom in the seventh year, at the very close of the persecution in Palestine, and that he had been eminent in his confessions from the beginning of the persecution.334:2560
Phæno was a village of Arabia Petræa, between Petra and Zoar, and contained celebrated copper mines, which were worked by condemned criminals.334:2561
Peleus and Nilus are mentioned in Mart. Pal. chap. 13, from which passage we learn that they, like Silvanus, died in the seventh year of the persecution. An anonymous presbyter and a man named Patermuthius, are named there as perishing with them in the flames.334:2562
On Pamphilus, see above, Bk. VII. chap. 32, note 40. Eusebius refers here to his Life of Pamphilus (see above, p. 28).334:2563
On Peter of Alexandria, see above, Bk. VII. chap. 32, note 54.334:2564
Faustus is probably to be identified with the deacon of the same name, mentioned above in Bk. VI. chap. 40 and in Bk. VII. chap. 11. At any rate, we learn from the latter chapter that the Faustus mentioned there lived to a great age, and died in the persecution of Diocletian, so that nothing stands in the way of identifying the two, though in the absence of all positive testimony, the identification cannot be insisted upon. Of Dius and Ammonius we know nothing.334:2565
On Phileas, see above, chap. 9, note 3.334:2566
A Latin version of an epistle purporting to have been written by these four bishops is still extant (see above, chap. 9, note 3). We know nothing more about the last three named here. It has been customary to identify this Hesychius with the reviser of the text of the LXX and the Gospels which was widely current in Egypt in the time of Jerome, and was known as the Hesychian recension (see Jerome, Præf. in Paralipom., Apol. adv. Ruf. II. 27, Præf in quattuor Evangelia; and cf. Comment. in Isaiam, LVIII. 11). We know little about this text; but Jerome speaks of it slightingly, as does also the Decretal of Gelasius, VI. §15 (according to Westcotts Hist. of the Canon, 5th ed. p. 392, note 5). The identification of the two men is quite possible, for the recension referred to belonged no doubt to this period; but no positive arguments beyond agreement in name and country can be urged in support of it. Fabricius proposed to identify our Hesychius with the author of the famous Greek Lexicon, which is still extant. But this identification is now commonly rejected; and the author of the lexicon is regarded as a pagan, who lived in Alexandria during the latter part of the fourth century. See Smiths Dict. of Greek and Roman Biography and Smith and Waces Dict. of Christ. Biog. s.v.334:2567
Eusebius refers here to his Martyrs of Palestine. See above, p. 29 sq.334:2568
κατὰ τὸν παρόντα λόγον. Eusebius seems to refer here to the eighth book of his History; for he uses λόγος frequently in referring to the separate books of his work, but nowhere else, so far as I am aware, in referring to the work as a whole. This would seem to indicate that he was thinking at this time of writing only eight books, and of bringing his History to an end with the toleration edict of Galerius, which he gives in chap. 17, below. Might it be supposed that the present passage was written immediately after the publication of the edict of Galerius, and before the renewal of the persecution by Maximin? If that were so, we might assume that after the close of that persecution, in consequence of the victory of Constantine and Licinius, the historian felt it necessary to add yet a ninth book to his work, not contemplated at the time he was writing his eighth; as he seems still later, after the victory of Constantine over Licinius, to have found it necessary to add a tenth book, in order that his work might cover the entire period of persecution and include the final triumph of the Church. His motive, indeed, in adding the tenth book seems not to have been to bring the history down to the latest date possible, for he made no additions during his later years, in spite of the interesting and exciting events which took place after 325 a.d., but to bring it down to the final triumph of the Church over her pagan enemies. Had there been another persecution and another toleration edict between 325 and 338, we can hardly doubt that Eusebius would have added an account of it to his History. In view of these considerations, it is possible that some time may have elapsed between the composition of the eighth and ninth books, as well as between the composition of the ninth and tenth.
It must be admitted, however, that a serious objection to this supposition lies in the fact that in chaps. 15 and 16, below, the tenth year of the persecution is spoken of, and in the latter chapter the author is undoubtedly thinking of the Edict of Milan, which was issued in 312, after the renewal of Maximins persecution described in Book IX. I am, nevertheless, inclined to think that Eusebius, when he wrote the present passage, was expecting to close his work with the present book, and that the necessity for another book made itself manifest before he finished the present one. It may be that the words in chaps. 15 and 16 are a later insertion. I do not regard this as probable, but knowing the changes that were made in the ninth book in a second edition of the History, it must be admitted that such changes in the eighth book are not impossible (see above, p. 30 and 45). At the same time I prefer the former alternative, that the necessity for another book became manifest before he finished the present one. A slight confirmation of the theory that the ninth book was a later addition, necessitated by the persecution of Maximins later years, may be found in the appendix to the eighth book which is found in many mss. See below, p. 340, note 1.335:2569
The abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, the two Augusti, took place on May 1, 305, and therefore a little more, not a little less, than two years after the publication of Diocletians First Edict. The causes of the abdication have been given variously by different writers, and our original authorities are themselves in no better agreement. I do not propose to enter here into a discussion of the subject, but am convinced that Burckhardt, Mason, and others are correct in looking upon the abdication, not as the result of a sudden resolve, but as a part of Diocletians great plan, and as such long resolved upon and regarded as one of the fundamental requirements of his system to be regularly observed by his successors, as well as by himself. The abdication of Diocletian and Maximian raised the Cæsars Constantius and Galerius to the rank of Augusti, and two new Cæsars, Maximinus Daza in the East, and Severus in the West, were appointed to succeed them. Diocletian himself retired to Dalmatia, his native province, where he passed the remainder of his life in rural pursuits, until his death in 313.335:2570
Eusebius is correct in saying that the empire had never been divided up to this time. For it had always been ruled as one whole, even when the imperial power was shared by two or more princes. And even the system of Diocletian was not meant to divide the empire into two or more independent parts. The plan was simply to vest the supreme power in two heads, who should be given lieutenants to assist them in the government, but who should jointly represent the unity of the whole while severally administering their respective territories. Imperial acts to be valid had to be joint, not individual acts, and had to bear the name of both Augusti, while the Cæsars were looked upon only as the lieutenants and representatives of their respective superiors. Finally, in the last analysis, there was theoretically but the one supreme head, the first Augustus. While Diocletian was emperor, the theoretical unity was a practical thing. So long as his strong hand was on the helm, Maximian, the other Augustus, did not venture to do anything in opposition to his wishes, and thus the great system worked smoothly. But with Diocletians abdication, everything was changed. Theoretically Constantius was the first Augustus, but Galerius, not Constantius, had had the naming of the Cæsars; and there was no intention on Galerius part to acknowledge in any way his inferiority to Constantius. In fact, being in the East, whence the government had been carried on for twenty years, it was natural that he should be entirely independent of Constantius, and that thus, as Eusebius says, a genuine division of the empire, not theoretical but practical, should be the result. The principle remained the same; but West and East seemed now to stand, not under one great emperor, but under two equal and independent heads.335:2571
Constantius Chlorus died at York, in Britain, July 25, 306. According to the system of Diocletian, the Cæsar Severus should regularly have succeeded to his place, and a new Cæsar should have been appointed to succeed Severus. But Constantine, the oldest son of Constantius, who was with his father at the time of his death, was at once proclaimed his successor, and hailed as Augustus by the army. This was by no means to Galerius taste, for he had far other plans in mind; but he was not in a position to dispute Constantines claims, and so made the best of the situation by recognizing Constantine not as Augustus, but as second Cæsar, while he raised Severus to the rank of Augustus, and made his own Cæsar Maximin first Cæsar. Constantine was thus theoretically subject to Severus, but the subjection was only a fiction, for he was practically independent in his own district from that time on.
Our sources are unanimous in giving Constantius an amiable and pious character, unusually free from bigotry and cruelty. Although he was obliged to show some respect to the persecuting edicts of his superiors, Diocletian and Maximian, he seems to have been averse to persecution, and to have gone no further than was necessary in that direction, destroying some churches, but apparently subjecting none of the Christians to bodily injury. We have no hint, however, that he was a Christian, or that his generous treatment of the Christians was the result in any way of a belief in their religion. It was simply the result of his natural tolerance and humanity, combined, doubtless, with a conviction that there was nothing essentially vicious or dangerous in Christianity.335:2572
Not the first of Roman emperors to be so honored, but the first of the four rulers who were at that time at the head of the empire. It had been the custom from the beginning to decree divine honors to the Roman emperors upon their decease, unless their characters or their reigns had been such as to leave universal hatred behind them, in which case such honors were often denied them, and their memory publicly and officially execrated, and all their public monuments destroyed. The ascription of such honors to Constantius, therefore, does not in itself imply that he was superior to the other three rulers, nor indeed superior to the emperors in general, but only that he was not a monster, as some had been. The last emperor to receive such divine honors was Diocletian himself, with whose death the old pagan regime came finally to an end.335:2573
This is a mistake; for though Constantius seems to have proceeded as mildly as possible, he did destroy churches, as we are directly informed by Lactantius (de Mort. pers. 15), and as we can learn from extant Acts and other sources (see Mason, p. 146 sq.). Eusebius, perhaps, knew nothing about the matter, and simply drew a conclusion from the known character of Constantius and his general tolerance toward the Christians.335:2574
The steps which led to the appointment of Licinius are omitted by Eusebius. Maxentius, son of the old Augustus Maximian, spurred on by the success of Constantines move in Britain, attempted to follow his example in Italy. He won the support of a considerable portion of the army and of the Roman people, and in October of the same year (306) was proclaimed emperor by soldiers and people. Severus, who marched against the usurper, was defeated and slain, and Galerius, who endeavored to revenge his fallen colleague, was obliged to retreat without accomplishing anything. This left Italy and Africa in the hands of an independent ruler, who was recognized by none of the others. Toward the end of the year 307, Licinius, an old friend and comrade-in-arms of Galerius, was appointed Augustus to succeed Severus, whose death had occurred a number of months before, but whose place had not yet been filled. The appointment of Licinius took place at Carnuntum on the Danube, where Galerius, Diocletian, and Maximian met for consultation. Inasmuch as Italy and Africa were still in the hands of Maxentius, Licinius was given the Illyrian provinces with the rank of second Augustus, and was thus nominally ruler of the entire West.335:2575
Early in 308 Maximinus, the first Cæsar, who was naturally incensed at the promotion of a new man, Licinius, to a position above himself, was hailed as Augustus by his troops, and at once notified Galerius of the fact. The latter could not afford to quarrel with Maximinus, and therefore bestowed upon him the full dignity of an Augustus, as upon Constantine also at the same time. There were thus four independent Augusti (to say nothing of the emperor Maxentius), and the system of Diocletian was a thing of the past.336:2576
The reference is to the Augustus Maximian. After his abdication he retired to Lucania, but in the following year was induced by his son, Maxentius, to leave his retirement, and join him in wresting Italy and Africa from Severus. It was due in large measure to his military skill and to the prestige of his name that Severus was vanquished and Galerius repulsed. After his victories Maximian went to Gaul, to see Constantine and form an alliance with him. He bestowed upon him the title of Augustus and the hand of his daughter Fausta, and endeavored to induce him to join him in a campaign against Galerius. This, however, Constantine refused to do; and Maximian finally returned to Rome, where he found his son Maxentius entrenched in the affections of the soldiers and the people, and bent upon ruling for himself. After a bitter quarrel with him, in which he attempted, but failed, to wrest the purple from him, he left the city, attended the congress of Carnuntum, and acquiesced in the appointment of Licinius as second Augustus, which of course involved the formal renunciation of his own claims and those of his son. He then betook himself again to Constantine, but during the latters temporary absence treacherously had himself proclaimed Augustus by some of the troops. He was, however, easily overpowered by Constantine, but was forgiven and granted his liberty again. About two years later, unable to resist the desire to reign, he made an attempt upon Constantines life with the hope of once more securing the power for himself, but was detected and allowed to choose the manner of his own death, and in February, 310, strangled himself. The general facts just stated are well made out, but there is some uncertainty as to the exact order of events, in regard to which our sources are at variance. Compare especially the works of Hunziker, Burckhardt, and Mason, and the respective articles in Smiths Dict. of Greek and Roman Biog.
Eusebius memory plays him false in this passage; for he has not mentioned, as he states, Maximians resumption of the imperial dignity after his abdication. A few important mss., followed by Heinichen, omit the entire clause, “whom we have mentioned as having resumed his dignity after his abdication.” But the words are found in the majority of the mss. and in Rufinus, and are accepted by all the other editors. There can, in fact, be no doubt that Eusebius wrote the words, and that the omission of them in some codices is due to the fact that some scribe or scribes perceived his slip, and consequently omitted the clause.336:2577
Valesius understands by this (as in §12, above), the first of the four emperors. But we find in Lactantius (ibid. chap. 42) the distinct statement that Diocletian (whose statues were thrown down in Rome with those of Maximian, to which they were joined, Janus-fashion) was the first emperor that had ever suffered such an indignity, and there is no hint in the text that Eusebius means any less than that in making his statement, though we know that it is incorrect.
Next: Chapter XIV
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