Chapter XIX.—Slaughter of Many Persons by Valens an Account of their Names, in Consequence of a Heathen Prediction. 614
The cruel disposition of the emperor was at this time abused by an execrable demon, who induced certain curious persons to institute an inquiry by means of necromancy as to who should succeed Valens on the throne. To their magical incantations the demon gave responses not distinct and unequivocal, but as the general practice is, full of ambiguity; for displaying the four letters q, e, o, and d, he declared that the name of the successor of Valens began with these; and that it was a compound name. When the emperor was apprised of this oracle, instead of committing to God, who alone can penetrate futurity, the decision of this matter, in contravention of those Christian principles to which he pretended the most zealous adherence, he put to death very many persons of whom he had the suspicion that they aimed at the sovereign power: thus such as were named Theodore, Theodotus, Theodosius, Theodulus, and the like, were sacrificed to the emperors fears; and among the rest was Theodosiolus, a very brave man, descended from a noble family in Spain. Many persons therefore, to avoid the danger to which they were exposed, changed their names, giving up those which they had received from their parents in infancy as dangerous. This will be enough on that subject.