1. During the entire ten years 2584 of the persecution, they were constantly plotting and warring against one another. 2585 For the sea could not be navigated, nor could men sail from any port without being exposed to all kinds of outrages; being stretched on the rack and lacerated in their sides, that it might be ascertained through various tortures, whether they came from the enemy; and finally being subjected to punishment by the cross or by fire.
2. And besides these things shields and breastplates were preparing, and darts and spears and other warlike accoutrements were making ready, and galleys and naval armor were collecting in every place. And no one expected anything else than to be attacked by enemies any day. In addition to this, famine and pestilence came upon them, in regard to which we shall relate what is necessary in the proper place. 2586
Diocletians First Edict was issued on Feb. 24, 303; and the persecution was brought to a final end by Constantine and Licinius edict of toleration, which was issued at Milan late in the year 312 (see below, Bk. IX. chap. 9, note 17). The persecution may therefore be said to have lasted altogether ten years; although of course there were many cessations during that period, and in the West it really came to an end with the usurpation of Maxentius in 306, and in the East (except in Maximins dominions) with the edict of Galerius in 311.338:2585
This passage is largely rhetorical. It is true that enough plotting and warring went on after the usurpation of Maxentius in 306, and after the death of Galerius in 311, to justify pretty strong statements. Gibbon, for instance, says: “The abdication of Diocletian and Maximian was succeeded by eighteen years of discord and confusion. The empire was afflicted by five civil wars; and the remainder of the time was not so much a state of tranquillity as a suspension of arms between several hostile monarchs, who, viewing each other with an eye of fear and hatred, strove to increase their respective forces at the expense of their subjects” (chap. xiv.). At the same time, during the four years between 307 and 311, though there was not the harmony which had existed under Diocletian, and though the interests of the West and East were in the main hostile, yet the empire was practically at peace, barring the persecution of the Christians.338:2586