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Headword: *mace/ntios
Adler number: mu,171
Translated headword: Maxentios, Maxentius
Vetting Status: high
Emperor of [the] Romans, who[1] wore heavily upon the Romans with his use of a tyrannical rather than imperial manner towards them. He committed adultery unrestrainedly with the wives of free men, killed many people, and did [other things] in accordance with these [actions]. Constantine the Great[2] learned of this and was eager to save the Romans from the empire[3] under him[4] and immediately began to plan[5] how he could take him out.[6] And so,[7] while involved in such plans, around the middle hours of the day he saw in the heavens a pole made of fire[8] and shaped like a cross, and it was writing[9]: "in this [sign] conquer." And he became a Christian. But Licinius his fellow emperor, breathing[10] Greek ideas,[11] hated Christians and [only] refrained from starting an open persecution through fear of Constantine, while secretly he contrived many [persecutions]. Then he went further and tried[12] openly; and there was a local[13] persecution.[14] But he did not escape the notice of Constantine,[15] for through a law Licinius[16] forbade the bishops to visit each other so that they would have no excuse to augment the affairs[17] of the Christians. Then, cutting loose the bond of their pretended friendship, they turned to [open] hatred.[18] And in the end[19] Licinius was killed by Constantine.
Greek Original:
*mace/ntios, basileu\s *(rwmai/wn, o(\s kakw=s tou\s *(rwmai/ous e)pe/tribe turannikw=| ma=llon h)\ basilikw=| tro/pw| xrw/menos kat' au)tw=n, moixeu/wn a)ne/dhn ta\s tw=n e)leuqe/rwn gunai=kas kai\ pollou\s a)nairw=n kai\ poiw=n tou/tois a)ko/louqa. tou=to gnou\s o( me/gas *kwnstanti=nos r(u/sasqai *(rwmai/ous th=s u(p' au)to\n basilei/as e)spou/dazen eu)qu/s te fronti/da e)ti/qei, ti/na tro/pon kaqe/loi au)to/n. e)n toiau/th| ou)=n fronti/di w)\n peri\ meshmbrina\s h(li/ou w(/ras ei)=den e)n tw=| ou)ranw=| stu=lon puro\s stauroeidh= gra/fonta, e)n tou/tw| ni/ka: kai\ ge/gone *xristiano/s. *liki/nios de\ o( sumbasileu/wn au)tw=|, ta\s *(ellhnika\s yu/xwn do/cas e)mi/sei *xristianou\s kai\ diwgmo\n me\n profanh= fo/bw| *kwnstanti/nou kinei=n u(peste/lleto, lelhqo/tws de\ pollou\s e)skeuwrei=to. proi+w\n de\ kai\ fanerw=s e)pexei/rei: kai\ gi/netai diwgmo\s topiko/s. to\n de\ *kwnstanti=non ou)k e)la/nqane: no/mw| ga\r o( *liki/nios tou\s e)pisko/pous e)ke/leue mh\ foita=n par' a)llh/lous, w(s a)\n mh\ e)/xh| pro/fasin au)/cesqai ta\ *xristianw=n. diakopei/shs de\ th=s plasth=s fili/as, ei)s a)pe/xqeian h)=lqon: kai\ te/los a)nairei=tai u(po\ *kwnstanti/nou o( *liki/nios.
For Maxentius (ruled 306-312 AD) see Michael DiMaio, Jr., DIR entry at web address 1; for Constantine the Great (306-337 AD), Hans Pohlsander at web address 2 (and kappa 2284); for Licinius (308-324 AD), Michael DiMaio, Jr., at web address 3 (and lambda 530).
[1] This entry has been adapted from Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.2-4; line numbers from the Bright edition (see below) are here given for closer citation. Socrates wrote in the 5th century and continued Eusebius' history from 305 to 439.
[2] o( me/gas ("the Great") has been changed from o( basileu\s ("the emperor") in Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.2 (line 25). The change is probably intentional, since the author of the Suda entry would want to distinguish him from the many subsequent Constantines.
[3] th=s ... basilei/as is changed from th=s ... doulei/as in Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.2 (line 25-6). Socrates, therefore, says: " save the Romans from slavery under him." The Suda's alteration is either an unintentional or an unintelligent banalization of Socrates' better phrase.
[4] That is, Maxentius.
[5] There are minor changes in the Suda's text where Socrates' fronti/das (plural) becomes fronti/da (singular) and e)ti/qh becomes e)ti/qei. Socrates has the more powerful kaqe/loi to\n tu/rannon ("could take out the tyrant") where the Suda only has the weak pronoun au)to/n ("him") for the object. Perhaps the entry's author felt the rhetoric of the strong proper noun was out of place here, but it may be an unintentional banalization.
[6] The verb kaqe/loi, which I translate "take...out," can mean "destroy" or "kill" (LSJ II.1) or just "put down" or "depose" (LSJ II.2) or even "overpower" or "seize" (LSJ III).
[7] Here the author of this entry began drastically compressing Socrates, such that this sentence and the next one represent more than ten sentences in the Historia Ecclesiastica from 1.2 (line 27) to 1.3 (line 6).
[8] The word puro\s ("fire") is changed from fwto\s ("light") in Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.2 (line 35).
[9] gra/fonta ("and it was writing") is compressed from e)n w|(= gra/mmata h)=n le/gonta ("on which there were letters which said") in Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.2 (line 36).
[10] Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.3 (line 7) has e)/xwn, "having."
[11] The participle yu/xwn "breathing, blowing, chilling" has been added to replace e)/xwn governing do/cas ("ideas") taken from Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.3 (line 7).
[12] Socrates has fanerw=s au)tou\s bla/ptein e)pexei/rei ("tried openly to harm them"). Apparently the author of this Suda entry unintentionally omitted au)tou\s bla/ptein ("to harm them").
[13] That is, confined to Licinius' territory.
[14] The Suda has omitted the ou(=tos o( which modifies diwgmo\s in Socrates.
[15] The author of this entry has trimmed Socrates' original sentence here and removed a reference to Licinius acting turannikw=s ("tyrannically").
[16] The author of this entry has added Licinius' name here, but the most interesting difference is par' a)llh/lous ("[visit]...each other") instead of Socrates' par' *(/ellhsin ("[visit]...Greeks").
[17] The word "affairs" translates a neuter plural article, which could refer to either "affairs" or "possessions" or both.
[18] This sentence is a compression of Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.4 (line1 to 12), from which the author of this entry took a)pe/xqeian ("hatred") and the choice phrase diakopei/shs de\ th=s plasth=s fili/as ("cutting loose the bond of their pretended friendship") which has been altered from diakopei/shs au)toi=s th=s e)pipla/stou fili/as.
[19] The word te/los ("in the end") marks the extreme compression of Socrates' account which tells of many encounters on land and sea before Licinius' defeat at Chrysopolis in Bithynia, where he surrendered. Constantine then spared him and allowed him to live in peace at Thessalonica, but later, when Licinius gathered a barbarian army to oppose Constantine, the latter found out and ordered him to be killed, as he soon was (Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.4, lines 5-12).
Bright, W. Socrates' Ecclesiastical History, 2nd edn., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3
Keywords: biography; Christianity; dreams; ethics; gender and sexuality; historiography; history; imagery; law; military affairs; politics; religion; women
Translated by: Abram Ring on 3 March 2006@12:54:05.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 5 March 2006@04:16:53.
David Whitehead (another keyword; cosmetics) on 2 May 2013@03:08:11.
Catharine Roth (expanded primary note) on 30 November 2014@23:36:15.
Catharine Roth (betacode cosmeticule) on 8 July 2020@01:08:17.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation and notes) on 8 July 2020@01:22:27.
Catharine Roth on 8 July 2020@01:28:07.


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