Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Lactantius: Chap. XXII
And now that cruelty, which he had learned in torturing the Christians, became habitual, and he exercised it against all men indiscriminately. 1982 He was not wont to inflict the slighter sorts of punishment, as to banish, to imprison, or to send criminals to work in the mines; but to burn, to crucify, to expose to wild beasts, were things done daily, and without hesitation. For smaller offences, those of his own household and his stewards were chastised with lances, instead of rods; and, in great offences, to be beheaded was an indulgence shown to very few; and it seemed as a favour, on account of old services, when one was permitted to die in the easiest manner. But these were slight evils in the government of Galerius, when compared with what follows. For eloquence was extinguished, pleaders cut off, and the learned in the laws either exiled or slain. Useful letters came to be viewed in the same light as magical and forbidden arts; and all who possessed them were trampled upon and execrated, as if they had been hostile to government, and public enemies. Law was dissolved, and unbounded licence permitted to judges,—to judges chosen from amongst the soldiery, rude and illiterate men, and let loose upon the provinces, without assessors to guide or control them.
[A course of conduct which, providentially, tended to stop the chronic severity against believers.]
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