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Headword: Μαξέντιος
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, believing[10] the Greek ideas about souls,[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:
Μαξέντιος, βασιλεὺς Ῥωμαίων, ὃς κακῶς τοὺς Ῥωμαίους ἐπέτριβε τυραννικῷ μᾶλλον ἢ βασιλικῷ τρόπῳ χρώμενος κατ' αὐτῶν, μοιχεύων ἀνέδην τὰς τῶν ἐλευθέρων γυναῖκας καὶ πολλοὺς ἀναιρῶν καὶ ποιῶν τούτοις ἀκόλουθα. τοῦτο γνοὺς ὁ μέγας Κωνσταντῖνος ῥύσασθαι Ῥωμαίους τῆς ὑπ' αὐτὸν βασιλείας ἐσπούδαζεν εὐθύς τε φροντίδα ἐτίθει, τίνα τρόπον καθέλοι αὐτόν. ἐν τοιαύτῃ οὖν φροντίδι ὢν περὶ μεσημβρινὰς ἡλίου ὥρας εἶδεν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ στῦλον πυρὸς σταυροειδῆ γράφοντα, ἐν τούτῳ νίκα: καὶ γέγονε Χριστιανός. Λικίνιος δὲ ὁ συμβασιλεύων αὐτῷ, τὰς Ἑλληνικὰς ψύχων δόξας ἐμίσει Χριστιανοὺς καὶ διωγμὸν μὲν προφανῆ φόβῳ Κωνσταντίνου κινεῖν ὑπεστέλλετο, λεληθότως δὲ πολλοὺς ἐσκευωρεῖτο. προϊὼν δὲ καὶ φανερῶς ἐπεχείρει: καὶ γίνεται διωγμὸς τοπικός. τὸν δὲ Κωνσταντῖνον οὐκ ἐλάνθανε: νόμῳ γὰρ ὁ Λικίνιος τοὺς ἐπισκόπους ἐκέλευε μὴ φοιτᾶν παρ' ἀλλήλους, ὡς ἂν μὴ ἔχῃ πρόφασιν αὔξεσθαι τὰ Χριστιανῶν. διακοπείσης δὲ τῆς πλαστῆς φιλίας, εἰς ἀπέχθειαν ἦλθον: καὶ τέλος ἀναιρεῖται ὑπὸ Κωνσταντίνου ὁ Λικίνιος.
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] ὁ μέγας ("the Great") has been changed from ὁ βασιλεὺς ("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] τῆς ... βασιλείας is changed from τῆς ... δουλείας 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' φροντίδας (plural) becomes φροντίδα (singular) and ἐτίθη becomes ἐτίθει . Socrates has the more powerful καθέλοι τὸν τύραννον ("could take out the tyrant") where the Suda only has the weak pronoun αὐτόν ("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 καθέλοι , 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 πυρὸς ("fire") is changed from φωτὸς ("light") in Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.2 (line 35).
[9] γράφοντα ("and it was writing") is compressed from ἐν ᾡ̂ γράμματα ἦν λέγοντα ("on which there were letters which said") in Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.2 (line 36).
[10] There is no word in the Greek text for "believing"; Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.3 (line 7) has ἔχων , "having."
[11] The word ψύχων ("about souls") has apparently been added to clarify δόξας ("ideas") taken from Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 1.3 (line 7).
[12] Socrates has φανερῶς αὐτοὺς βλάπτειν ἐπεχείρει ("tried openly to harm them"). Apparently the author of this Suda entry unintentionally omitted αὐτοὺς βλάπτειν ("to harm them").
[13] That is, confined to Licinius' territory.
[14] The Suda has omitted the οὗτος ὁ which modifies διωγμὸς in Socrates.
[15] The author of this entry has trimmed Socrates' original sentence here and removed a reference to Licinius acting τυραννικῶς ("tyrannically").
[16] The author of this entry has added Licinius' name here, but the most interesting difference is παρ' ἀλλήλους ("[visit]...each other") instead of Socrates' παρ' Ἕλλησιν ("[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 ἀπέχθειαν ("hatred") and the choice phrase διακοπείσης δὲ τῆς πλαστῆς φιλίας ("cutting loose the bond of their pretended friendship") which has been altered from διακοπείσης αὐτοῖh τῆς ἐπιπλάστου φιλίας .
[19] The word τέλος ("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.


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