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Headword: Μαξιμῖνος
Adler number: mu,172
Translated headword: Maximinus
Vetting Status: high
Emperor of [the] Romans.[1] This man, after taking over the imperial rule, made quite a change by employing his power very quickly and with much terror, and he tried to turn everything from a tame empire into the savageness of a tyranny.[2] He was by nature a barbarian in character as well as in race, for his murderous behavior was hereditary. And so without delay he did away with all of Alexander’s[3] friends who accompanied him, and the council had been selected by the senate, since he wanted to be the only one with the army and to have no one with him out of consciousness of nobility.[4] He killed the majority of them through suspicion of plots against him.
Ruling the east,[5] he made excessive displays of his foul and unnatural acts and particularly a cruel and inhuman persecution against the Christians in all the east. In this persecution very many of the glorious were martyred. And he suffered things that were worthy of his impiety and preambles to the coming punishment he would receive — he contracted the most awful sickness, and severe pains racked his whole body. His internal organs wasted away under the most penetrating and powerful burning, and his flesh all melted away like wax. As he was being violently roasted and melted, his very bones were roasted too so that even the very image of his human form disappeared. As he was pitifully rotting away, he exuded such a stench that it was no different from the smell of decayed bodies in tombs. Then, after taking a short breath and letting out a groan, he died.[6]
Greek Original:
Μαξιμῖνος, βασιλεὺς Ῥωμαίων. οὗτος παραλαβὼν τὴν ἀρχὴν πολλὴν τὴν μεταβολὴν ἐποιήσατο, τραχύτατα καὶ μετὰ πολλοῦ φόβου τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ χρώμενος, ἔκ τε ἡμέρου βασιλείας εἰς τυραννίδος ὠμότητα μεταγαγεῖν πάντα ἐπειρᾶτο. φύσει δὲ ἦν τὸ ἦθος ὥσπερ καὶ τὸ γένος βάρβαρος τό τε φονικὸν πάτριον ἔχων. εὐθέως οὖν τούς τε φίλους πάντας, οἳ συνῆσαν τῷ Ἀλεξάνδρῳ, σύνεδροί τε ὑπὸ τῆς συγκλήτου ἐπιλεχθέντες ἀπεσκευάσατο, βουλόμενος μόνος εἶναι ἐν τῷ στρατῷ καὶ μηδένα αὐτῷ παρεῖναι ἐκ συνειδήσεως εὐγενοῦς. πλείστους δὲ αὐτῶν καὶ ἀπέκτεινεν, ἐπιβουλὰς ὑποπτεύων. βασιλεύων δὲ τῆς ἑῴας πολλὰ μιαρὰ καὶ ἄτοπα καθ' ὑπερβολὴν ἐπεδείξατο καὶ πρὸς τούτοις διωγμὸν ἀπηνῆ καὶ ἀπάνθρωπον κατὰ πᾶσαν ἀνατολὴν εἰς τοὺς Χριστιανούς, καθ' ὃν πλεῖστοι τῶν εὐδοκίμων ἐμαρτύρησαν. ἄξια δὲ τῆς δυσσεβείας αὐτοῦ προοίμια τῆς μελλούσης αὐτὸν διαδέχεσθαι κολάσεως εἰκότως πέπονθε: νόσῳ γὰρ δεινοτάτῃ περιπεσόντος, ἀλγηδόνες ἰσχυραὶ τὴν πᾶσαν σάρκα αὐτοῦ διελυμαίνοντο: καὶ τὰ μὲν ἔγκατα διεφθείροντο ὑπὸ τῆς ἐνδομυχούσης σφοδροτάτης πυρώσεως, ἡ δὲ σὰρξ πᾶσα κηροῦ δίκην ἐξετήκετο: λαβροτέρως δὲ φλογιζομένῳ καὶ τηγανιζομένῳ καὶ αὐτὰ συνεφρύγησαν τὰ ὀστᾶ, ὥστε ἐξαφανισθῆναι καὶ τὸν χαρακτῆρα τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης μορφῆς. ἐλεεινῶς δὲ κατασηπόμενος τοσαύτην δυσωδίαν ἐξέπεμπεν, ὡς οὐδὲν τὼν ἐν τάφοις διαλυθέντων διαφέρειν. ὁ δὲ βραχὺ ἐμπνέων καὶ στενάξας ἀπέθανε.
[1] Maximinus Thrax (ruled 235-238), the subject of the first part of this entry (through “ὑποπτεύων ”), is not to be confused with Maximinus Daia (ruled 305-313) to whom the latter part refers. The De Imperatoribus Romanis project provides brief biographies and bibliographies for both Thrax (web address 1) and Daia (web address 2). The compiler who put together this entry has given no indication that the two Maximini are different. See further below, nn. 1 and 5.
[2] The first half of the entry, until 'plots against him', is John of Antioch fr.142 FHG (4.594), now 221 Roberto, which is found at Constantine VII Porphyrogenitius, De Virtutibus et Vitiis 1.194.1-9.
[3] 'Alexander' here means Alexander Severus (ruled 222-235). See alpha 1124 and web address 3. Maximinus’ murder of Alexander’s associates is also mentioned in the Historia Augusta (Life of Maxinus Thrax 9.7).
[4] In the Historia Augusta, he disposes of all those who know the details of his peasant parents and one-time shepherding, even some of his friends (Life of Maximinus Thrax 9.1, cf. 1-2).
[5] From here to the end of the entry, the subject is Maximinus Daia or Daza (ruled 305-313) who along with Galerius was responsible for much persecution of Christians in the eastern empire. This part of the entry is from George the Monk, Chronicon 482.5-21 (= Constantine VII Porphyogenitus, De Virtutibus et Vitiis 1.15 (pp. 146-7)). For Maximinus Daia and the period of the Tetrarchy, Eusebius and Lactantius are two of our key sources (see web addresses 4 & 5), but one must be wary of their Christian bias against Daia and the other pagan emperors.
[6] The story of Daia’s death is no doubt a Christian moralizing invention; compare Lactantius, On the Deaths of the Persecutors ch.33 (web address 5), for a very similar account of the awful disease and his final groan. According to DiMaio (web address 2), Daia actually died at Tarsus after suffering military defeat by Licinius.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3,
Web address 4,
Web address 5
Keywords: biography; Christianity; ethics; geography; historiography; history; imagery; medicine; military affairs; politics; religion
Translated by: Abram Ring on 30 March 2007@22:45:06.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (x-ref; another keyword; cosmetics) on 1 April 2007@04:12:18.
David Whitehead (more keywords; cosmetics) on 2 May 2013@04:43:44.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 8 November 2014@11:34:39.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 29 January 2015@10:54:41.


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