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Orosius, Book 7

      Chapters 1-25 :   1 to 309 A.D.  

Adapted from the translation by I.W. Raymond (1936). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each chapter.   


Book 6  

[1] L   Sufficient evidence has now been gathered, I think, that the following truths may be publicly put forward for the approval of my critics without my making use of any secret known only to a small number of the faithful. The One and true God, whom the Christian religion preaches, made the world and its creatures when He so willed, setting His creation in order through many separate acts, though in many of these acts His agency was not recognised. He established it for one purpose, when He was revealed by one event, and at that time He manifested and proved His power and patience in various ways. 2 In this regard, indeed, I have for some time noticed that people who are narrow-minded and pessimistic resent the fact that great patience is associated with great power. If, indeed, He had the power, they say, to create the world, to establish peace therein, and to make known to it the worship and the knowledge of Himself, what need was there of so great a patience, or, as they themselves regard it, so pernicious a patience, that in the end the sins, disasters, and sufferings of mankind finally brought about conditions which could just as well have been produced in the beginning through the might of the God whom you are preaching? 3 To these persons, indeed, I might truly answer that the human race from the beginning was so created and fashioned that, living according to the precepts of religion, in peace, and without toil, it might gain eternal life as a reward for its obedience. But having abused the goodness of the Creator, who had given it freedom, it turned His gift of liberty into stubborn disobedience and passed from the contempt of God into forgetfulness of God. 4 In view of this, the patience of God is just in either case; for even if He is held in contempt He does not wholly destroy anyone to whom He wishes to be merciful, but by virtue of His power, as long as it is His will, He permits the man who despises Him to suffer trials. Hence it follows that it is always just for Him to guide such people in their ignorance, as He will in time, upon their repentance, mercifully restore to them the riches of their former grace.  

5 These arguments, though advanced with great force and truth, do require, after all, a devout and willing listener. My present audience, however, whether or not they may come to believe at some future time, are certainly unbelievers now. Therefore I shall bring forward rather quickly arguments which, though my opponents may not approve, they certainly cannot disprove. 6 Now, within the limits of our human comprehension, we and our opponents both revere religion and acknowledge and worship a higher power. The difference lies only in the nature of our belief; whereas we acknowledge that all things are from one God and through one God, they think there are as many gods as there are things. 7 If, they say, it was in the power of the God whom you preach to make the Roman Empire so large and exalted, why then did His patience prevent it from reaching that state earlier? I shall answer them in the same vein: If it was in the power of the gods whom you preach to make the Roman Empire so large and exalted, why then did the patience of their gods prevent it from reaching that state earlier? 8 Was it because the gods themselves did not exist? Or because Rome herself did not exist? Were the gods not worshipped at that time? Or did Rome not yet seem ready for power? If the gods were not yet in existence, their argument fails; but why discuss the delay of the gods, when I have not even discovered their nature? If, on the other hand, the gods were in existence, either their power, as my opponents really believe, or their patience was at fault; that is, either they could have acted and failed to do so, or else they wished to act but had not the power to do so. 9 Or, if it seems more plausible to say that there were indeed gods at that time who could have aided the progress of the Romans, but that there were as yet no Romans who could rightly be assisted, I reply that we are looking for a power capable of creating suitable material to work on, not for mere workmanlike skill in shaping material already there. Our concern is with those whom the heathen consider as great gods, not with base artisans whose skill is useless unless their material is at hand. 10 If indeed it was always possible for these gods to foreknow and to ordain - their foreknowledge should rather be assumed, since, in the case of omnipotence, to foreknow and to will concerning its own works are the same - whatever was foreknown and ordained ought not to have been delayed but to have been put into effect. Especially is this so since the pagans say that their Jupiter was accustomed to amuse himself by turning ant-hills into tribes of men. 11 Nor do I think that we need to consider further the performance of rites, inasmuch as in the midst of continual sacrifices there was no end or relief from incessant disasters, except when Christ, the Saviour of the world, appeared. Although I think that it has already been sufficiently shown that the peace of the Roman Empire was prearranged for His coming, nevertheless I will endeavour to add a few more arguments to the previous ones.  

[2] L   At the beginning of the second book I touched briefly upon the period of the founding of Rome and there I consistently noted many points of similarity between the Assyrian city of Babylon, then first among the nations, and Rome, now holding the same position of primacy. 2 I showed that Babylon was the first, Rome the last empire; that Babylon grew weak little by little, while Rome gradually waxed strong; that Babylon lost her last king at the same time that Rome crowned her first; and that Babylon was attacked and captured by Cyrus and fell dying, just as Rome, rising confidently after the expulsion of the kings, began to enjoy the freedom of ruling herself. 3 Moreover, I pointed out that in those very days, when Rome was asserting her independence, the Jewish people, who were slaves of the king of Babylon, regained their liberty, returned to holy Jerusalem, and rebuilt the Temple of the Lord, as the prophets had foretold. 4 Furthermore, I have said that there intervened between the Babylonian Empire which was in the East and the Roman Empire which arose in the West and was nourished by the legacy of the East, the Macedonian and African empires. These empires may be regarded as playing the role of a guardian and trustee for brief intervals in the North and in the South. 5 To my knowledge no one has ever doubted that the Babylonian and the Roman empires are rightly called that of the East and that of the West. That the Macedonian Empire was in the North is obvious both from its geographical position and the altars of Alexander the Great which stand to this day near the Riphaean Mountains. 6 Carthage, on the other hand, ruled over the whole of Africa and extended the boundaries of her empire not only to Sicily, Sardinia, and other adjacent islands but even to Spain, as is shown by the records of history and by the remains of cities. 7 I have also stated that after each city had stood for the same number of years Babylon was sacked by the Medes and Rome stormed by the Goths.  

8 To these arguments, I now add the following proofs to make it clearer that God is the sole ruler of all the ages, kingdoms, and regions. 9 The Carthaginian Empire, from its founding to her overthrow, lasted a little more than seven hundred years; the Macedonian, from Caranus to Perses, a little less than seven hundred. Both, however, came to an end in the number seven, by which all things are decided. 10 Rome herself endured to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with her empire unbroken. Nevertheless she too suffered somewhat when she arrived at that same number. 11 For in the seven hundredth year after the founding of the City a fire of unknown origin consumed fourteen districts. According to Livy, a worse conflagration never visited Rome. So great were its ravages that some years later Caesar Augustus granted a large sum of money from the public treasury for the reconstruction of the burnt areas. 12 If I were not restrained by a consideration of the present state of affairs, I could also show that Babylon had existed for twice that length of time when, more than fourteen hundred years after her founding, she was finally captured by King Cyrus.  

13 I should like, however, to add this. Holy Abraham, to whom the promises were renewed and from whose seed Christ would come, was born in the forty-third year of the reign of Ninus. Ninus was the first of all the Babylonian kings, though there is a doubtful report that his father, Belus, was king before him. 14 Later, Christ was born in the time of Augustus Caesar, who was the first of all the Roman emperors though his father Caesar had preceded him, but more as a surveyor of the Empire than as emperor. Toward the close of the forty-second year of his imperial rule, I say, Christ was born, who had been promised to Abraham in the time of Ninus, the first king. 15 Since, however, He was born on the twenty-fifth of December, when all the increase of the coming year begins, the result is that, whereas Abraham was born in the forty-third year, the nativity of Christ fell at the end of the forty-second, and so, instead of His being born in some part of the third year, the third year was born in Him. 16 The greatness, novelty, and extraordinary character of the blessings in which that year abounded must, I think, surely be well enough known without my repeating them. One peace reigned over the whole earth as a result of the fact that wars had not merely ceased but had been totally abolished. After the causes of war had been wholly removed rather than merely checked, the gates of twin-faced Janus were closed. The first and greatest census was then made. The great nations of the whole world took an oath in the one name of Caesar and were joined into one fellowship through their participation in the census.  

[3] L   In the seven hundred and fifty-second year of the City, Christ was born and brought the religion that gives salvation to the world. He is in truth the rock, placed in the centre of things. Whosoever opposes Him shall be dashed to pieces, and whosoever believes in Him shall be saved. He is in truth the glowing fire which illumines those who follow Him and consumes those who assail Him. 2 He is Christ Himself, the Head of the Christians, the Saviour of the good, the Punisher of the wicked, the Judge of all. He set a pattern in word and in deed for those who were to follow Him and, in order to teach them patience in the persecutions that they would undergo for the sake of eternal life, He began His own sufferings as soon as He was brought into the world by the Virgin's labour. For no sooner had Herod, king of Judaea, learned of His birth than he resolved to slay Him and, while he was seeking out this one infant, had a great many infants put to death. 3 Hence we see the wicked suffer a just punishment for their malicious attacks; and hence we see that, when the course of the world is peaceful, it is so because of those who believe, and when the world is vexed and disturbed, it is due to the punishments of blasphemers. Faithful Christians, however, are safe in any event, since at least they have either the assurance of rest in the life to come or the advantage of peace in this life. I shall show this more clearly by the facts themselves, as I relate them in order.  

4 After the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, had come to earth and had been enrolled in Caesar's census as a Roman citizen, the gates of war were kept closed twelve years, as I have said, in the happy serenity of peace. In the meantime Caesar Augustus sent his grandson Gaius to govern the provinces of Egypt and Syria. 5 As Gaius was passing by the borders of Palestine, on his way from Egypt, he disdained, as Suetonius Tranquillus tells us { Augustus, 93 }, to worship at Jerusalem in the Temple of God, which was at that time venerated and much frequented. When he told Augustus about his conduct, the latter had the poor judgment to praise it as wise. 6 Then so dreadful a famine visited the Romans in the forty-eighth year of Caesar's rule that Caesar ordered the gladiatorial bands, all foreigners, and also great numbers of slaves to be expelled from the City. Physicians and teachers were excepted. Thus, when the princeps sinned against the Holy One of God and the people were seized by famine, the greatness of the offence was shown by the nature of the punishment. 7 Let me next quote the words of Cornelius Tacitus: "Janus was opened in the old age of Augustus and remained so until the rule of Vespasian, while new tribes were sought at the ends of the earth, often with gain and sometimes with loss." So much for Cornelius. 8 After the capture and overthrow of Jerusalem, as the prophets had foretold, and after the total destruction of the Jewish nation, Titus, who had been appointed by the decree of God to avenge the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, celebrated with his father Vespasian his victory by a triumph and closed the Temple of Janus. 9 Now, although the Temple of Janus was opened in the last days of Caesar, nevertheless there were no alarms of war for long periods thereafter, even though the army was ready for battle. 10 Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself also had these facts in mind in the Gospels; for, when the whole world in those days was enjoying great quiet and all nations were united under the shelter of peace, He was asked by His disciples about the end of the coming times and replied in part as follows { Matt. 24.6-9 }:  

11 And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be pestilences, famines, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.  

12 Thus He taught in His divine foresight and not only strengthened the faithful by His warning but also confounded the unbelieving by His prediction.  

[4] L   In the seven hundred and sixty-seventh year of the City, after the death of Augustus Caesar, Tiberius Caesar assumed the sovereignty and held it for twenty-three years {14-37 A.D.}. 2 He waged no wars in person nor did his commanders wage any important wars, except that uprisings of peoples in some localities were anticipated and quickly crushed. 3 To be sure, in the fourth year of his reign, Germanicus, the son of Drusus and father of Caligula, celebrated a triumph over the Germans, against whom he had been sent by Augustus in the latter's old age. 4 Tiberius himself, however, during the greater part of his reign administered the affairs of the state with so deep a sense of responsibility and so great moderation that he wrote to some governors who had advised an increase in the tribute levied upon the provinces to the effect that "it is the duty of a good shepherd to shear his flock and not to flay them."  

5 When the Lord Christ had suffered and risen from the dead and had sent forth His disciples to preach, Pilate, the governor of the province of Palestine, made a report to the emperor Tiberius and to the Senate concerning the passion and resurrection of Christ, and also the subsequent miracles that had been publicly performed by Him or were being done by His disciples in His name. Pilate also stated that a rapidly increasing multitude believed Him to be a god. 6 When Tiberius, amid great approval, proposed to the Senate that Christ should be considered a god, the Senate became indignant because the matter had not been referred to it earlier in accordance with the usual custom, so that it might be the first to pass upon the recognition of a new cult. The Senate therefore refused to deify Christ and issued an edict that the Christians should be banished from the City. There was also the special reason that Sejanus, the prefect of Tiberius, was inflexibly opposed to the recognition of this religion. 7 Nevertheless in an edict Tiberius threatened denouncers of Christians with death.  

Now it came about that the emperor little by little abandoned his most praiseworthy policy of moderation in order to take revenge upon the Senate for its opposition; for he took pleasure in doing whatever he wished and from the mildest of princes he became the most savage of wild beasts. 8 He proscribed a great army of senators and drove them to death. Of the twenty noblemen whom he had selected as his counsellors, he left scarcely two unharmed and destroyed the others on various pretexts. He put to death his prefect Sejanus who was trying to stir up a revolution. 9 There were clear indications that he poisoned both Drusus, his son by birth, and Germanicus, his son by adoption. He also killed his grandchildren, the sons of Germanicus. 10 To recite his deeds one by one would be too horrible and scandalous. Suffice it to say that his lust and cruel rage grew so violent that those who had scorned to be saved under the rule of Christ were punished under the rule of Caesar.  

11 In the twelfth year of Tiberius, a strange and unbelievable disaster occurred at the city of Fidenae. While the people were watching a gladiatorial performance, the seats of the amphitheatre collapsed and killed more than twenty thousand persons. 12 In truth, the ages to come may well heed the lesson of this great catastrophe that befell those who had so eagerly assembled to witness the death of their fellow men. And this at the very time when God had been pleased to become man for the sake of securing man's salvation!  

13 In the seventeenth year of this emperor, the Lord Jesus Christ of His own free will submitted to His passion. Nevertheless, it was through their own impiety that the Jews arrested Him and nailed Him to the cross. At that time a very severe earthquake shook the whole world. The rocks upon the mountains were rent, and many sections of the largest cities were overthrown by its unusual violence. 14 On that day, too, at the sixth hour, the sun was also entirely obscured and a hideous darkness suddenly overshadowed the earth; in the words of the poet,  

  a godless age feared eternal night.  { Vergil, Georgics, i. 468 }  

15 It is, however, perfectly plain that the sun's light was not cut off either by the moon or by clouds. For we are told that the moon, being fourteen days old at the time, was in the opposite quarter of the heavens, farthest from the sun, and that the stars were shining throughout the entire sky at that hour of the daytime or rather in that awful night. These facts are attested not only by the authority of the Holy Gospels but also by several books of the Greeks.  

16 From the time of the passion of our Lord to this day, the Jews, who had persecuted Him to the extent of their power, have complained incessantly of an unbroken succession of disasters, until finally their nation, drained of its lifeblood and scattered abroad, disappeared from history. 17 For Tiberius dispatched the youth of the Jewish nation to provinces having an unhealthful climate, using their military obligation as a pretext. He also forced the remainder of the Jews, as well as those who practiced similar rites, to leave Rome, threatening to make them slaves for life if they failed to obey. 18 When the earthquake mentioned above demolished many cities of Asia, he remitted their tribute and made a donation to them from his own purse as well. The circumstances of the death of Tiberius led to suspicions that he had been poisoned.  

[5] L   In the seven hundred and ninetieth year of the City, Gaius Caligula, the third emperor counting from Augustus, began his reign. He ruled barely four years {37-41 A.D.}. He was more wicked than all his predecessors and seemed well worthy to be an instrument of vengeance upon the blaspheming Romans and the persecuting Jews. 2 Let me show in a word the extent of his savagery by quoting the exclamation that is attributed to him: "Would that the Roman people had but a single neck!"  Furthermore, he often complained bitterly about the state of his times because they had been marked by no public disasters.  

3 O, blessed beginnings of Christianity! So great was your power over the affairs of men that even the cruelty of man could only wish for disaster without finding them. See how hungry savagery loudly complains of the general peace:
   
  Within, impious rage,
  Sitting on savage arms, his hands
  Bound behind his back with a hundred brazen knots, 
  Will send forth horrible roars from bloody lips.  { Vergil, Aen. i. 294-6 }  

4 Up to this time mutinous slaves and runaway gladiators terrified Rome, overturned Italy, ruined Sicily, and were dreaded by mankind throughout almost the whole world. But in the days of salvation, that is, in Christian times, not even a hostile Caesar could break the peace. 5 Caligula, after making almost incredible preparations, set out to find an enemy in order to give his idle troops an opportunity to fight. Traversing Germany and Gaul he stopped on the seacoast opposite Britain. There he received the submission of Minocynobelinus who had been banished by his father, the king of the Britons, and who was now wandering about accompanied by a few followers. Lacking a ground for war, Caligula returned to Rome.  

6 At this time the Jews, already harassed by misfortunes everywhere as a retribution for Christ's passion, were crushed in a riot that had broken out in Alexandria. They were driven from the city. Thereupon they commissioned a certain Philo, unquestionably a scholar of the first rank, to go as their representative to the emperor and set forth their grievances. 7 But Caligula, who hated mankind in general, particularly detested the Jews. He therefore treated Philo's mission with contempt and commanded that all the holy places of the Jews, and especially that famous ancient sanctuary in Jerusalem, should be profaned with heathen sacrifices and filled with statues and images. He also gave orders that he himself should be worshipped there as a god. 8 When Pilate, the governor who had pronounced the death sentence upon Christ and who had been the instigator as well as the object of many riots in Jerusalem, received this order, he was so tormented that he stabbed himself with his own hand and so quickly put an end to his miseries.  

9 In addition to his other acts of lust, Gaius Caligula committed the crime of violating his own sisters. He then condemned them to exile and later ordered their execution and that of all other exiles. He himself, however, was murdered by his bodyguard. 10 Among his private papers there were found two notebooks. One of these he had entitled The Dagger, the other, The Sword. Each contained the names of the most distinguished men of the two orders, senatorial and equestrian, together with marks indicating those who were to be killed. A huge chest of various poisons was also found. Claudius Caesar soon afterward ordered these poisons to be thrown into the sea, whereupon the waters became polluted and killed great numbers of fish, whose dead bodies were cast up by the waves along all the neighbouring shores.  

11 A really strong evidence of God's mercy may be seen in his manifestation of grace toward a people of whom only part were destined to become believers, and from the tempering of His wrath against them at that time when they persisted in their unbelief. How great a multitude of human beings escaped the death that had been prepared for them may be surmised and was indeed clear to all from the numbers of fish that had been poisoned. What havoc so great an amount of poison might have caused in the unfortunate city, if it had been skilfully used, is evident, since even its careless disposal polluted the sea.  

[6] L   During the seven hundred and ninety-fifth year of the City, Tiberius Claudius, the fourth in succession from Augustus, came to the throne. He occupied it for fourteen years {41-54 A.D.}. 2 In the beginning of his reign, Peter, the apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, came to Rome. There he taught by the true word the religion that brings salvation to all believers and attested it by mighty miracles. From that time on there began to be Christians in Rome. 3  Because of its faith, the City felt that a favour had been bestowed on it. The senate and the consuls passed many resolutions after the murder of Caligula , with a view to abolishing the empire, restoring the commonwealth to its former status, and wiping out completely the entire family of the Caesars. 4 As soon as he established his rule, Claudius exercised a clemency previously unknown in Rome. To prevent vengeance from venting its rage, if it should get a start, upon so many of the nobility, he consigned to oblivion the memory of those two days during which those unhappy measures and acts had been passed regarding the form of government, and decreed that all that had been done or said during that period should be pardoned and forever forgotten. 5 This was the renowned and glorious Athenian custom of amnesty, which the Senate, on the advice of Cicero, had tried to introduce at Rome after the death of Julius Caesar, but which at that time had come to naught because of the onslaughts made by Antony and Octavian in their efforts to avenge Caesar's murder. Yet Claudius, without being asked by anyone, assented because of his humanity, though he had serious provocation to execute those who had conspired against him.  

6 Now at this time by the grace of God a great miracle occurred. Furius Camillus Scribonianus, the governor of Dalmatia, had been plotting a civil war and had persuaded many of the strongest legions to break their allegiance. 7 But on the day appointed for their assembling at the side of the new emperor, they found it impossible either to adorn the eagles or to pull up and move the standards. This unique miracle so impressed the soldiers that they gave up their plan, abandoned Scribonianus, killed him four days later, and returned to their former allegiance. 8 Now it is well known that nothing has ever brought more sorrow and destruction upon Rome than civil wars. Of a certainty God repressed this rising tyranny and threatening civil war on account of the coming of the apostle Peter and for the sake of the few Christians, who, like tender shoots springing up here and there, were just beginning to profess the holy faith. If anyone would deny this fact, let him produce a similar instance of the suppression of civil war in past ages.  

9 In the fourth year of his reign Claudius looked about everywhere for an opportunity to engage in a successful war, for he wanted to appear as a prince who was of some service to the state. Accordingly he undertook a campaign in Britain, which was in the throes of an insurrection. This insurrection had apparently arisen because certain deserters had been barred from returning home. He crossed over to the island, which no one before had ventured to approach except Julius Caesar. 10 There, to quote the words of Suetonius Tranquillus { Claudius, 17 }, "within a very few days he reduced the greater part of the island to submission without fighting or bloodshed."  He also added to the Roman Empire the Orcades Islands situated in the Ocean beyond Britain and within six months of the date of his departure he returned to Rome.  

11 Any person of the present day who pleases may make comparisons in regard to this one island, period with period, war with war, Caesar with Caesar. I say nothing of the outcome, since in this case it was the most fortunate of victories, previously the bitterest of disasters. Thus Rome may finally come to see that the God through whose Providence she formerly enjoyed partial success in her undertakings is the God through whose recognition she now enjoys success in all its fullness to the extent that she does not become corrupted through the stumbling block of her blasphemies.  

12 In the same year of this emperor's reign, as the prophets had foretold, there was a terrible famine throughout Syria. The needs of the Christians at Jerusalem, however, were bountifully supplied with grain that Helena, the queen of Adiabene and a convert to the faith of Christ, had imported from Egypt.  

13 In the fifth year of the reign of Claudius, an island, extending over a space of thirty stades, suddenly appeared out of the deep sea between Thera and Therasia.  

14 Two years later, when Cumanus was procurator of Judaea, a commotion broke out in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover. So great was this riot that the people were crushed while stampeding through the gates. Thirty thousand Jews are said to have been trampled to death or suffocated in the congestion.  

15 In the ninth year of his reign, Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome. Both Josephus and Suetonius record this event, but I prefer, however, the account of the latter, who speaks as follows { Claudius, 25 }: "Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome because in their resentment against Christ they were continually creating disturbances."  16 As a matter of fact, however, no one can say whether the emperor ordered the Jews to be restrained and repressed because they were creating disturbances against Christ or whether he wished the Christians to be expelled at the same time on the ground that they were members of an allied religion.  

17 Nevertheless, during the following year there was so great a famine in Rome that the emperor was taunted and insulted by the people in the middle of the forum and shamefully pelted with pieces of bread. He barely managed to escape the fury of the excited mob by fleeing through a private entrance into the Palace.  

18 Not long afterward, Claudius, acting upon the flimsiest pretext, put to death thirty-five senators and three hundred Roman knights at one time. In the matter of his own death, however, there were clear indications that he had been poisoned.  

[7] L   In the eight hundred and eighth year of the City, Nero Caesar, the fifth in succession from Augustus, became princeps. He held the office for almost fourteen years {55-68 A.D.}. In every vice and crime he followed his uncle, Gaius Caligula, and indeed he even surpassed him. There was no form of wickedness that he did not practice - wantonness, lust, extravagance, avarice, and cruelty. In the first place, his wantonness led him to visit nearly all the theatres of Italy and Greece, where he disgraced himself by wearing motley attire. Indeed he often imagined that he carried away the palm symbolizing victory from heralds, musicians, actors, and charioteers. 2 Then the violence of his lusts became so great that he is said to have respected neither his mother's nor his sister's honour nor any blood relationship. Also he took a man to wife and was himself received as a wife by a man. 3 His extravagance was so unbridled that he fished with nets of gold, which were drawn up by cords of purple, and he bathed in hot and cold perfumed waters. It is even said that he never travelled with less than a thousand carriages. 4 He caused Rome to be burned in order to enjoy the spectacle and for six days and seven nights feasted his eyes on the blazing city. 5 The warehouses, built of square stone, and the huge tenements of a bygone day, which the spreading flames could not reach, were demolished by great machines originally designed for use in foreign wars, and these buildings were then set on fire. The unfortunate plebeians were driven for shelter to monuments and tombs. 6 The emperor himself viewed the conflagration from the lofty Tower of Maecenas. And while enjoying the beauty of the flames, it is said that he declaimed the Iliad in a tragic actor's costume. 7 The avarice of Nero was likewise so uncontrolled that, after the burning of the City, which Augustus, according to his boast, had changed from brick into marble, he would not allow anyone to approach the remains of his own property, but himself seized everything that had by any chance escaped the flames. 8 He also ordered the Senate to appropriate ten million sesterces a year for his expenses. He deprived a great many senators of their property without cause, and in one day wiped out the entire wealth of all the merchants and inflicted torture upon them as well. 9 His insane cruelty made him so savage that he killed the greater part of the Senate and almost annihilated the equestrian order. He did not even refrain from murdering members of his own family and without scruple killed his mother, brother, sister, wife, and all the rest of his blood relations and kinsmen.  

10 All this mass of crime was crowned by Nero's daring impiety toward God. He was the first emperor to torture and put to death Christians at Rome and he ordered them to be harassed by a similar persecution throughout all the provinces. In his attempt to root out their very name, he put to death Peter and Paul, the most blessed apostles of Christ, one by the cross and the other by the sword. 11 Soon wretched Rome was engulfed by disasters pressing in upon her from every side. The following autumn so great a plague visited the City that thirty thousand funerals were entered in the register of the goddess Libitina. Britain at once suffered a disaster. Two of the principal towns were sacked and a great number of Roman citizens and their allies were slaughtered and destroyed. 12 In the East, moreover, the important Armenian provinces were lost. Roman legions were forced to pass beneath the Parthian yoke, and Syria was retained only with great difficulty. In Asia an earthquake destroyed three cities, Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colossae. 13 In the meantime, Nero learned that the army in Spain had proclaimed Galba emperor. His courage and his hope utterly collapsed. In the midst of his wicked and unbelievable attempts to ruin and even to destroy the state, the Senate declared him a public enemy. He ignominiously fled and killed himself four miles from the City. With Nero the entire family of the Caesars became extinct.  

[8] L   In the eight hundred and twenty-fourth year of the City, Galba assumed the imperial title in Spain {68 A.D.}. As soon as he learned of Nero's death, he came to Rome. Here he offended everyone by his avarice, cruelty, and indolence. He adopted as his son and successor Piso, a highborn and industrious young man, but both were slain by Otho after a reign of seven months.  

2 Thus Rome atoned for the wrongs done to the Christian religion through the slaughter of her rulers and the breaking out of civil war. When the apostle Peter came to the City, the legionary standards, you will recall, were held fast by the will of Heaven and could not be pulled up by any means whatsoever to set in motion the civil war which Scribonianus had planned. But after Peter had been killed in the City and the Christians had been mangled by every sort of punishment the standards were loosened from the ground throughout the world. 3 Galba now raised the standard of revolt in Spain. Upon his downfall, Otho in Rome, Vitellius in Germany, and Vespasian in Syria, all assumed the imperial title and took up arms at the same time. 4 Here truth compels those who decry the Christian era to acknowledge, even against their own will, both the power and the mercy of God. Let them but consider how suddenly the fires of war flared up and how swiftly they were quenched. Formerly slight causes stirred up great and long-lasting disasters. Now the mighty peals of thunder resounding on all sides from great evils are stilled with but slight difficulty. 5 For in spite of persecution, the Church already existed at Rome; and from there she made supplications to Christ, the Judge of all, even on behalf of her enemies and persecutors.  

6 Otho made his way to the throne amid rioting and bloodshed after the murder of Galba and Piso at Rome. He began a civil war as soon as he learned that the legions of Germany had proclaimed as emperor Vitellius, who was in Gaul. At first Otho won three unimportant victories over the generals of Vitellius, one in the Alps, another near Placentia, and the third near a place called Castores. But when he saw that his troops had been defeated in a fourth battle fought at Bedriacum, he took his own life. This occurred three months after he had begun his reign.  

7 Vitellius, the victor, came to Rome. There, after much cruelty and vileness, he brought disgrace upon humanity by his unbelievable gluttony. As soon as he learned what Vespasian was doing, he tried to abdicate. Later, encouraged by certain persons, he forced the partisans of Vespasian, including the latter's brother Sabinus, who had not suspected any trouble, to take refuge in the Capitol. He set the temple on fire and let the flames and falling walls together envelop all in a common death and a common tomb. 8 Later he was abandoned by his army, which went over to the cause of Vespasian. In his fright at the enemy's approach, he hid himself in a small storeroom near the Palace. From this hiding place he was ignominiously dragged forth and, naked as he was, led along the Sacred Way to the forum, while the bystanders pelted his face with dung. Eight months after he had usurped the throne, he was tortured to death at the Germonian Steps by countless tiny pricks and stabs. He was then dragged away with a hook and flung into the Tiber without even receiving the usual privilege of burial. 9 For a number of days thereafter, amid scenes of general lawlessness, the soldiers of Vespasian vented their fury upon the senate and people of Rome by an indiscriminate massacre.  

[9] L   During the eight hundred and twenty-fifth year of the City, after the passing of violent but brief storms in the form of illegal attempts to seize the throne, peace and calm returned under the rule of Vespasian {69 A.D.}. 2 To go back a little in my story, the Jews, who after Christ's passion first were utterly forsaken by the grace of God and then beset on all sides by every kind of misfortune, were led astray by certain oracular responses given on Mount Carmel. These foretold that leaders would come out of Judaea and seize control of the government. Applying this prediction to themselves, the Jews broke out in rebellion. They massacred the Roman garrisons, put to flight the governor of Syria when he came with reinforcements, captured his standard, and cut his forces to pieces.  

3 Vespasian, whom Nero sent against them, took his elder son Titus with him as one of his lieutenants. He also brought with him to Syria a number of strong legions. After taking many of the towns, he blockaded the Jews in Jerusalem, where they had gathered in large numbers because it was a feast day. On learning of Nero's death, he declared himself emperor. He was strongly urged to take this step by numerous kings and generals but most of all by the words of Josephus, a leader of the Jews. This man, when made prisoner and put in chains, had most confidently declared, as Suetonius tells us { Vespasian, 5 }, that he would be released directly by the same person who had imprisoned him, but that that person would be the emperor. Vespasian, leaving his son Titus in camp to manage the siege of Jerusalem, set out for Rome by way of Alexandria. But when he heard that Vitellius had been killed, he stopped at Alexandria for a short time.  

4 Titus, on his part, wore down the Jews by a long close siege. He finally made a breach in the city walls by using engines and all kinds of military apparatus, though not without the loss of many of his men. But it took more strength and a much longer time to capture the inner fortification of the Temple. A number of the priests and chief men had shut themselves up there and were maintaining its defence. 5 When Titus had finally gained control of it, the construction and antiquity of the Temple aroused his admiration. He was for some time undecided whether he should burn it since its survival would encourage the enemy or whether he should preserve it as a memorial of his victory. But now that the Church of God had already blossomed forth richly throughout the world, it was His will that this building should be removed as an empty shell that had outlasted its usefulness. 6 Therefore, Titus, after being acclaimed imperator by the army, set on fire and destroyed the Temple at Jerusalem, which, from the day of its founding to its final overthrow, had endured for 1102 years. All the walls of the city were levelled to the ground. 7 According to Cornelius { Tacitus, Histories, 5.13 } and Suetonius, six hundred thousand Jews were killed in this war. But Josephus the Jew, who was in command of the war at that time and who later found pardon and favour with Vespasian by predicting his accession, writes that eleven hundred thousand perished by the sword and by famine and that the remainder of the Jews were driven off in various conditions of misfortune and scattered throughout the world. These are said to have numbered about ninety thousand.  

8 The emperors Vespasian and Titus celebrated their victory over the Jews by a magnificent triumphal entry into Rome. Of all the three hundred and twenty triumphs that had been held from the founding of the City until that time, so fair and strange a sight had not been seen by man - father and son riding in the same triumphal chariot after their glorious victory over those who had offended the Father and the Son. 9 Now that all wars and uprisings had been put down at home and abroad, these emperors without delay proclaimed universal peace and decreed that double-faced Janus should be confined by the barring of his gates. This was the sixth time that this had occurred since the founding of the City. It was indeed right that the same honour should be paid to the avenging of the Lord's Passion as had been bestowed upon His Nativity. 10 The Roman state then made great progress without suffering any of the tumults of war. Achaia, Lycia, Rhodes, Byzantium, Samos, Thrace, Cilicia, and Commagene were for the first time reduced to provinces and obeyed the judges and the laws of Rome.  

11 In the ninth year of this emperor's reign, an earthquake destroyed three cities of Cyprus and at Rome there was a great plague. 12 Vespasian died of dysentery at his country place among the Sabines in the ninth year of his principate.  

13 In the eight hundred and twenty-eighth year of the City, Titus, eighth in the succession from Augustus if we exclude Otho and Vitellius from the list of emperors, succeeded Vespasian. He reigned for two years {79-81 A.D.}. His reign was so quiet that it is said that he did not shed the blood of a single person during his administration of the government. 14 At this time, however, a conflagration suddenly broke out at Rome and consumed a great number of public buildings. It is also related that the top of Mount Bebius blew off and poured forth masses of molten lava and that these torrents of fire destroyed the surrounding country with its cities and their inhabitants. 15 Titus succumbed to disease in the same country estate where his father had died. He was deeply mourned by all.  

[10] L   In the eight hundred and thirtieth year of the City, Domitian, the ninth in succession from Augustus, succeeded his brother Titus on the throne. For fifteen years {81-96 A.D.} this ruler progressed through every degree of wickedness. Finally he dared to issue edicts for a general and most cruel persecution to uproot the Christian Church, which was now very firmly established throughout the world. 2 He even fell into such a state of pride that he ordered the people to speak, to write of, and to worship him as Lord and God. Moved by envy and greed, he put to death the noblest men of the senate; some he killed publicly, others he forced into exile and there butchered them. Whatever uncontrolled lust suggested to him he did. In Rome he erected many buildings upon the ruins of the people's property. 3 Equally harmful to the state was the war which his legates waged against the Germans and the Dacians. While the Domitian himself in the City was a scourge to the senate and to the people, his enemies abroad were continually cutting to pieces his badly led armies. 4 I should like to tell in detail of the great battles fought by the Dacian king Diurpaneus against the general Fuscus, as well as of the extent of the Roman losses. But Cornelius Tacitus, who wrote an exhaustive history of these events, has declared that Sallustius Crispus  and very many other authors established the practice of keeping silence about the numbers of the slain, and that he himself preferred to do likewise.  

Domitian, however, who was puffed up by the lowest form of vanity, held a triumph. Nominally this triumph celebrated his victory over the enemy, but in reality it celebrated the loss of his legions. 5 Crazed by his pride, which made him want to be worshipped as a god, he was the first emperor after Nero to order a persecution of the Christians. Also in these days the most blessed apostle John was banished to the island of Patmos. 6 The Jews, too, were subjected to cruel tortures and to the bloodiest of inquisitions for the purpose of searching out and destroying the race of David. The emperor did this because he both hated and yet believed the holy prophets, and thought that One was still to come from the seed of David who would ascend the throne. 7 Domitian soon was cruelly assassinated in his palace by members of his own household. The public corpse bearers carried out his body on a common bier and buried it most dishonourably.  

[11] L   In the eight hundred and forty-sixth year of the City - although Eutropius { 8.1.1 } says that it was the eight hundred and fiftieth - Nerva was proclaimed emperor {96 A.D.}. He was a man advanced in years and was named emperor by the praetorian prefect Petronius and the eunuch Parthenius, the latter the murderer of Domitian. Nerva was the tenth emperor in succession from Augustus. He adopted Trajan as his own successor, revealing by this choice that a divinely inspired foresight had guided him in taking care of the sorely afflicted state. 2 In his first edict, Nerva recalled all the exiles. This general pardon freed the apostle John who then returned to Ephesus. After a reign of one year Nerva succumbed to a disease and died.  

[12] L   In the eight hundred and forty-seventh year of the City, Trajan, a Spaniard by birth, and the eleventh emperor in succession from Augustus, took the helm of state from Nerva. He held it for nineteen years {98-117 A.D.}. 2 Trajan assumed the emblems of the imperial office at Agrippina, a city in Gaul. He at once restored Germany beyond the Rhine; he subdued many tribes beyond the Danube; he formed provinces of the districts beyond the Euphrates and the Tigris; and he took possession of Seleucia, Ctesiphon, and Babylon. 3 Trajan erred in judgment, however, in his persecution of the Christians, the third persecution from that of Nero. He ordered that Christians should be compelled, wherever found, to sacrifice to idols or be put to death if they refused. Great numbers of them were executed.  

Pliny the Younger, who had been appointed prosecutor with other judges, reported that the Christians were doing nothing contrary to the Roman laws apart from their profession of belief in Christ and their inoffensive meetings. Moreover, he said that none of them, sustained by their harmless belief, thought death a matter of grief or of dread. Upon receiving this information, the emperor at once modified his edict by rescripts couched in milder terms. 4 Nevertheless the Golden House at Rome, which Nero had built with a great outlay of both private and public wealth, was suddenly burned to the ground. Thus it was made plain that, though the persecution was set in motion by another, the punishment fell most heavily upon the buildings of that man who first began the persecution and who was the real author of it.  

5 At the same time an earthquake laid low four cities in Asia, Elaea, Myrina, Pitane, and Cyme, and in Greece, the two cities of the Opuntii and the Oriti. This same earthquake demolished three cities of Galatia. Lightning struck and burned the Pantheon at Rome, while at Antioch an earthquake laid almost the entire city in ruins. 6 Then violent rebellions among the Jews broke out simultaneously in various parts of the world. The Jews acted as if turned into mad savages. Throughout Libya they waged pitiless war against the inhabitants and caused great desolation by killing the tillers of the soil. So merciless were they that if the emperor Hadrian had not afterward colonized the country with people from outside, the land would have remained absolutely destitute and entirely without inhabitants. 7 They disturbed all Egypt, Cyrene, and the Thebaid by sedition and bloodshed. In Alexandria, however, the Jews were defeated and crushed in a pitched battle. When they also rebelled in Mesopotamia, the emperor ordered war to be declared against them; many thousands of them were exterminated in a vast carnage. 8 Nevertheless they did destroy Salamis, a city of Cyprus, after they had killed all the inhabitants. Trajan, according to some authors, died of dysentery at Seleucia, a city of Isauria.  

[13] L   In the eight hundred and sixty-seventh year of the City, Hadrian, the nephew of Trajan on his mother's side, became the twelfth emperor in succession from Augustus. He ruled for twenty-one years {117-138 A.D.}. 2 Hadrian underwent instruction and came to know thoroughly the doctrines of the Christian faith through treatises written by Quadratus, a disciple of the Apostles, by Aristides  of Athens, a man full of faith and wisdom, and by Serenus Granius, the legate. He therefore gave orders in a letter to Minicius Fundanus, the proconsul of Asia, that no one should have authority to condemn the Christians without allegation and proof of a crime. 3 In violation of a precedent, Hadrian soon received in the senate the title Father of His Country and his wife the title Augusta. He governed the state very justly and conducted a successful war against the Sauromatae. 4 In one final massacre he subdued the Jews who, excited by the disorders caused by their own crimes, were ravaging the province of Palestine, which had once been their own. In this way he avenged the Christians, whom the Jews, under the leadership of Cochebas, were torturing because they would not join them against the Romans. 5 The emperor gave orders that no Jew should be permitted to enter Jerusalem and that only Christians should be permitted to occupy the city. He restored it to great prosperity by rebuilding the walls and named it Aelia, from his own first name.  

[14] L   In the eight hundred and eighty-eighth year of the City, Antoninus, surnamed Pius, was proclaimed the thirteenth emperor in succession from Augustus. Jointly with his sons Aurelius and Lucius, he governed the state for almost twenty-three years {138-161 A.D.}. So peaceful and so upright was his rule that he was well named the "Pius" and the "Father of His Country." 2 It was in his time that Valentinus, the heresiarch, and Cerdo, the teacher of Marcion, came to Rome. The philosopher Justin, however, submitted to Antoninus his book in defence of the Christian religion and so disposed the emperor kindly toward the Christians. Antoninus was attacked by disease and died at a place twelve miles from the capital.  

[15] L   During the nine hundred and eleventh year of the City, Marcus Antoninus Verus, the fourteenth emperor in succession from Augustus, came to the throne with his brother Aurelius Commodus. They occupied it jointly for nineteen years {161-180 A.D.} and were the first to govern the state on terms of equal authority. 2 They waged war against the Parthians with admirable bravery and success. Vologesus {III}, the king of the Parthians, had invaded Armenia, Cappadocia, and Syria, and was causing frightful devastation. 3 Annius Antoninus Verus proceeded to the battle front and there, after performing great exploits with the aid of his energetic generals, captured Seleucia, an Assyrian city of four hundred thousand inhabitants situated on the Hydaspes River. He and his brother celebrated the victory over the Parthians by a joint triumph. Shortly afterwards, while sitting with his brother in a carriage, Verus choked to death during an attack of a disease that the Greeks call apoplexy.  

4 Upon the demise of Verus, Marcus Antoninus became sole ruler of the state. During the Parthian War, however, persecutions of the Christians arose for the fourth time since Nero's reign. These persecutions were carried on by the emperor's order with great severity in Asia and in Gaul, and many of the saints received the crown of martyrdom. 5 A plague now spread over many provinces, and a great pestilence devastated all Italy. Everywhere country houses, fields, and towns were left without a tiller of the land or an inhabitant, and nothing remained but ruins and forests. 6 It is said that the Roman troops and all the legions stationed far and near in winter quarters were so depleted that the war against the Marcomanni, which broke out immediately, could not be carried on without a new levy of soldiers. At Carnuntium, Marcus Antoninus held the levy continuously for three years.  

7 This war was undoubtedly directed by the Providence of God, as is clearly shown by many proofs and especially by a letter of that very grave and judicious emperor, Antoninus. 8 Numerous barbarous and savage tribes, that is to say, the Marcomanni, the Quadi, the Vandals, the Sarmatians, the Suebi, in fact the tribes from nearly all of Germany, rose in rebellion. The Roman army advanced as far as the territories of the Quadi. There the enemy surrounded it; but on account of the scarcity of water the army was in more immediate danger from thirst than from the enemy. 9 Publicly calling upon the name of Christ, certain of the soldiers with great constancy of faith poured forth their souls in prayer. Immediately there came so heavy a shower that the Romans were abundantly refreshed without suffering harm. The barbarians, however, became terrified by the incessant bolts of lightning, particularly after the lightning had killed many of them, and they took to their heels. 10 Attacking from the rear, the Romans slaughtered them to the last man and thus won a most glorious victory. With a small band of raw recruits but with the all-powerful aid of Christ, they had outdone nearly all the achievements of the past. 11 Several authors also state that a letter of the emperor Antoninus still exists in which he acknowledges that the thirst of the army was relieved and the victory won because the Christian soldiers had invoked the name of Christ.  

12 This emperor associated his son Commodus with him in the government. He remitted the arrears of tribute in all the provinces and ordered all the accusing evidence of indebtedness to the treasury to be piled up and burned in the forum. He also modified the severer laws by new enactments. Finally, while staying in Pannonia, he died of a sudden illness.  

[16] L   In the nine hundred and thirtieth year of the City, Lucius Antoninus Commodus, the fifteenth in succession from Augustus, succeeded his father on the throne. During his reign of thirteen years {180-192 A.D.}, 2 he conducted a successful war against the Germans. However, he became thoroughly depraved as a result of scandalous excesses and obscenities; frequently he fenced in public exhibitions with the weapons of gladiators, and often he encountered wild beasts in the arena. He also put to death a great many of the senators, especially those who, he noticed, were most prominent by reason of birth and ability. 3 The punishment for his crimes was visited upon the City; lightning struck the Capitol and started a fire which, in its devouring course, burned the library that the fathers had founded in their enthusiasm for learning, and also other buildings adjoining it. Another fire, breaking out later in Rome, levelled to the ground the Temple of Vesta, the Palace, and a large part of the city. 4 Adjudged when alive an enemy of the human race, Commodus, who incommoded everyone, was strangled to death, so it is said, in the house of Vestilianus.  

5 After Commodus, the Senate proclaimed the elderly Helvius Pertinax emperor {193 A.D.}. He was the sixteenth ruler in succession from Augustus. Six months after his accession  he was slain in the Palace at the instigation of the jurist Julianus. 6 The latter thereupon seized power; but in the course of a civil war he was soon defeated by Severus at the Mulvian Bridge and killed seven months after he had begun to rule. Thus Pertinax and Julianus between them occupied the throne for only one year.  

[17] L   In the nine hundred and forty-fourth year of the City, Severus, an African from the town of Leptis in Tripolis, gained the vacant throne. He wished to be called Pertinax after the emperor whose murder he had avenged. He was the seventeenth emperor in succession from Augustus and held the throne for eighteen years. 2 A cruel man by nature, he was continually harassed by wars, and he had to struggle hard to maintain his strong rule. At Cyzicus  he defeated and killed Pescennius Niger, who had set himself up as a usurper in Egypt and Syria. 3 When the Jews and the Samaritans tried to rebel, he put them down with the sword. He conquered the Parthians, the Arabians, and the Adiabeni. 4 He harassed the Christians by a severe persecution, the fifth since Nero's reign, and in various provinces many of the saints received the crown of martyrdom. 5 Immediate vengeance from Heaven followed this wicked and presumptuous action of Severus against the Christians and the Church of God. Straightway the emperor was compelled to hasten, or rather was dragged back, from Syria to Gaul for a third civil war. 6 He had already fought one war at Rome against Julianus, and another in Syria against Pescennius, and now a third was stirred up by Clodius Albinus, who had made himself Caesar in Gaul. Albinus had been an accomplice of Julianus in the murder of Pertinax. In this war much Roman blood was shed on both sides. Albinus was overthrown at Lugdunum and lost his life. 7 The victorious Severus was drawn to the British provinces by the revolt of almost all of his allies. Having recovered part of the island after a number of stubbornly contested battles, he determined to shut if off by a wall from the other tribes that remained unsubdued. He therefore constructed a large ditch and a very strong rampart extending from sea to sea, a distance of one hundred and thirty-two miles. These works he fortified at frequent intervals by towers. 8 Severus died of a disease at the town of Eboracum in Britain. Two sons survived him, Bassianus and Geta. Geta was declared a public enemy and put to death; Bassianus, who assumed the name of Antoninus, took possession of the throne.  

[18] L   In the nine hundred and sixty-second year of the City, Aurelius Antoninus Bassianus, also known as Caracalla, the eighteenth emperor in succession from Augustus, obtained the principate. He held it for almost seven years {211-217 A.D.}. 2 In his way of life Caracalla was harsher than his father, and the most uncontrollable of men in his lust, as is evident from his marriage to his stepmother Julia. In the course of a difficult campaign against the Parthians, he was surrounded by the enemy between Edessa and Carrhae and killed.  

3 Following him as the nineteenth emperor in succession from Augustus, Opelius Macrinus, the praetorian prefect, seized the supreme power with the aid of his son Diadumenus. He was slain, however, a year later in a mutiny of the soldiers at Archelais.  

4 In the nine hundred and seventieth year of the City, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, the twentieth emperor in succession from Augustus, obtained the supreme power. He held it for four years {218-222 A.D.}. 5 This emperor, who was priest of the Temple of Heliogabalus, was remembered for nothing but his notorious profligacy, crimes, and utter vileness. He and his mother were killed at Rome during an uprising of the soldiery.  

6 In the nine hundred and seventy-fourth year of the City, Aurelius Alexander, the twenty-first emperor in succession from Augustus, was proclaimed emperor by the will of the Senate and the soldiers. For thirteen years {222-235 A.D.} he ruled with a deserved reputation for fair dealing; 7 incidentally his mother, Mamea, who was Christian, made it her concern to receive instruction from the presbyter Origen. Immediately after his accession Alexander undertook a campaign against the Persians and in a great battle won a decisive victory over Xerxes, their king. 8 He employed Ulpian as his legal adviser and showed the greatest self-restraint in his administration of the state. He was nevertheless killed in a mutiny of the soldiers at Mogontiacum.  

[19] L   In the nine hundred and eighty-seventh year of the City, Maximinus, twenty-second in line from Augustus, became emperor {235 A.D.}. He was elected not by the will of the senate but by the army, after he had waged war successfully against the Germans. He instituted a persecution against the Christians, the sixth since the time of Nero. 2 But soon, that is, in the third year of his reign, he was killed by Pupienus at Aquileia. His death also brought the persecution to an end. His chief reason for instituting a persecution against the priests and clergy, that is, against the teachers of doctrine, was the fact that his predecessor, Alexander, and the family of the latter's mother, Mamea, were Christians; another very important motive was his dislike of the presbyter Origen.  

3 In the nine hundred and ninety-first year of the City, Gordian, the twenty-third emperor in succession from Augustus, was proclaimed emperor. He reigned for six years {238-244 A.D.}. Pupienus, the slayer of Maximinus, and his brother Balbinus, who with him had usurped the supreme power, were shortly afterward murdered in the Palace. 4 According to Eutropius { 9.2.2 }, Gordian, still a mere boy, opened the gates of Janus before setting out for the Parthian War in the East. I do not remember that any writer has stated whether anyone, after the time of Vespasian and Titus, closed them. Cornelius Tacitus, however, does report that they were opened a year later by Vespasian himself. 5 After winning mighty battles against the Parthians, Gordian was treacherously killed by his own men, not far from Circessus on the Euphrates.  

[20] L   In the nine hundred and ninety-seventh year of the City, Philip, the twenty-fourth emperor in succession from Augustus, was proclaimed emperor and shared his throne with his son Philip. He occupied it for seven years {244-249 A.D.}, 2 the first of all the emperors who was a Christian. The third year of his reign was the occasion of the thousandth anniversary of the founding of Rome. This anniversary year, more memorable than any that had gone before, the Christian emperor celebrated with magnificent games. 3 There is no doubt that Philip gave this devout thanksgiving and honour to Christ and to the Church, since no author mentions any procession up to the Capitol nor any sacrifice of victims according to the usual custom. 4 The father and the son died in different places, one in the course of a mutiny of the soldiers, the other as a result of the treachery of Decius.  

[21] L   In the one thousand and fourth year of the City, Decius, who had instigated and quelled a civil war, after the murder of the two Philips seized the supreme power as the twenty-fifth emperor in succession from Augustus. He held it for three years {249-251 A.D.}. 2 His motives for murdering Philip soon became obvious when he published merciless edicts authorizing the persecution and slaughter of Christians. He sent a great many of the saints from their crosses to receive their crowns from Christ. This was the seventh persecution since the time of Nero. 3 This emperor appointed his own son Caesar. Both were not long after killed in the midst of the barbarians.  

4 In the one thousand and seventh year of the City, Gallus Hostilianus, the twenty-sixth emperor in succession from Augustus, came to the throne. He and his son Volusianus together occupied it barely two years {251-253 A.D.}. 5 A plague, which brought in its train unbelievable diseases and extended to all the regions where the edicts of Decius for the destruction of the churches had been promulgated, now avenged the wrong done to Christianity. Hardly a Roman province, city, or house escaped being smitten and desolated by that widespread pestilence. 6 Gallus and Volusianus, whose reign was distinguished by this calamity alone, were killed while they were undertaking a civil war against the pretender Aemilianus. The latter, however, perished in the third month of his usurpation.  

[22] L   In the one thousand and tenth year of the City, the twenty-seventh place in the Augustan succession was filled by two emperors: Valerian, who was hailed as Augustus by the army in Raetia, and Gallienus, who was proclaimed Caesar by the Senate at Rome. Gallienus had an unhappy reign lasting fifteen years {253-268 A.D.}. During this time the human race had little respite from unusually severe and continuous pestilences. Wickedness, easily forgetful, provokes its own punishment; for impiety, though it feels the scourge when beaten, is too callous to perceive the one scourging it. 2 Leaving out of consideration the earlier persecutions of the Christians, the one inflicted by Decius caused the whole Roman Empire to be harassed by a great plague. But injustice, cheated by poor judgment to its own ruin, deceived itself. For the wicked thought that the plague was a matter of ordinary chance and that death resulting from disease was a natural end and not a punishment.  

3 Within a short time, therefore, their wicked actions again so provoked the anger of God that they received a blow which they long were forced to remember. As soon as Valerian had seized the throne, he began the eighth persecution since Nero's time. He ordered that the Christians be forced by torture into idolatry and that they be killed if they should refuse to worship the Roman gods. As a result, the blood of the saints was shed throughout the length and breadth of the Roman Empire. 4 Immediately, Valerian, the author of this abominable edict, was captured by Sapor, king of the Persians. He who had been emperor of the Roman people grew old among the Persians and suffered the supreme humiliation of slavery. For he was condemned for the term of his life to perform the menial service of helping the king mount his horse, not by giving him his hand, but by bending to the ground and offering his back.  

5 Gallienus became terrified by such an unmistakable judgment of God and was alarmed by the wretched fate of his colleague. He therefore made quick amends by restoring peace to the churches. But, when so many thousands of the saints had been tortured, the captivity of one impious man, even though his punishment lasted throughout his life and was of an exceedingly abhorrent kind, could not atone for the wrong nor satisfy vengeance. The blood of the just cried out to God and demanded to be avenged in the same land where it had been shed. 6 Not only did a righteous judgment exact the penalty upon the one who issued the order, but also upon the agents, informers, accusers, spectators, judges, and finally upon all who had favoured the unjust and cruel persecution, even by their silent wish - for God knows all secrets. Most of these men were scattered through the provinces, and the same avenging blow justly smote them all. By God's will the nations stationed on the boundaries of the empire and left there for this purpose were suddenly loosed on every side, and no sooner did the reins of control release them than they invaded all the Roman territories. 7 The Germans made their way through the Alps, Raetia, and the whole of Italy as far west as Ravenna. The Alemanni roamed through the Gallic provinces and even crossed into Italy. An invasion of the Goths ruined Greece, Pontus, and Asia; Dacia beyond the Danube was lost forever. The Quadi and the Sarmatians ravaged the Pannonian provinces. The remote Germans stripped Spain and took possession of it. The Parthians seized Mesopotamia and completely devastated Syria. 8 Throughout the various provinces, there exist today poor and insignificant settlements situated in the ruins of great cities which still bear evidences of their names and tokens of their misfortunes. Our own city Tarraco in Spain is one of these, and we can point to it to console ourselves over our recent misery. 9 Furthermore, lest any part of the Roman body politic should escape being mangled, there were internal conspiracies formed by usurpers. Civil wars arose, and everywhere streams of Roman blood flowed while Romans and barbarians vented their fury. But soon the wrath of God was turned to mercy, and the mere beginning of a punishment rather than an actual penalty was reckoned to be a sufficient satisfaction.  

10 First of all, Genuus, who had assumed the imperial purple, was slain at Mursa. Next Postumus usurped the sovereignty in Gaul, but this usurpation brought good fortune to the state. For in the course of ten years he drove out the enemy and restored the lost provinces to their former condition, conquering by the exercise of great bravery and self-restraint. He was killed, however, in a mutiny of the soldiers. 11 Aemilianus, while attempting a revolution, was overcome at Mogontiacum. After the death of Postumus, Marius seized the supreme power at that city, but he was killed immediately afterward. The Gauls, acting on their own initiative, then proclaimed Victorinus emperor. It was not long before Victorinus was murdered, 12 and Tetricus, who at the time held the office of governor of the province of Aquitania, succeeded him. This ruler had to put up with many mutinies. In the East, in the meantime, a certain Odenathus gathered together a band of Syrian peasants. They defeated and drove back the Persians, defended Syria, recovered Mesopotamia, and as a result of conquest advanced with their leader as far as Ctesiphon. 13 Gallienus abandoned the state to its fate and was slain while indulging his lust at Milan.  

[23] L   In the one thousand and twenty-fifth year of the City, Claudius, the twenty-eighth emperor, assumed the sovereignty by the will of the Senate {268 A.D.}. He at once attacked the Goths, who for fifteen years had been devastating Illyria and Macedonia, and destroyed them with frightful carnage. The Senate voted that a golden shield be placed in the Senate House in his honour, and ordered that a statue, likewise of gold, be placed in the Capitol. But before he had been two full years in power, a disease overtook him and he died at Sirmium.  

2 After the death of Claudius, his brother Quintillus  was chosen emperor by the army. He was a man of singular self-restraint and the only Roman emperor superior to Claudius; he was killed on the seventeenth day of his reign.  

3 During the one thousand and twenty-seventh year of the City, Aurelian, the twenty-ninth emperor, gained the sovereignty which he held for five years and six months {270-275 A.D.}. He was a man of consummate ability in war. 4 In a campaign on the Danube he crushed the Goths in decisive battles and established the Roman rule within its former boundaries. Then he turned to the East against Zenobia, who, after her husband Odenathus had been murdered, was occupying the recently recovered province of Syria. Aurelian brought her under his power more by threat of battle than by actual combat. 5 In Gaul, Aurelian overcame Tetricus, who was altogether unable to control the mutinies of his soldiers, and who even wrote to Aurelian,  

Snatch me, unconquered one, from these woes.   { Vergil, Aen. 6.365 }  

Hence Aurelian won an easy victory over Tetricus who betrayed his own army. Thus, as the reconqueror of the East and of the North, he celebrated a triumph in great glory. Aurelian surrounded the city of Rome with stronger walls. 6 Finally, when he was giving orders for a persecution of the Christians, the ninth in succession from Nero's, a thunderbolt struck in front of him, causing great terror among the bystanders. Shortly afterward he was slain while on a journey.  

[24] L   In the one thousand and thirty-second year of the City, Tacitus, the thirtieth emperor, gained the sovereignty, but he was slain in Pontus within six months. After him Florian suffered a similar fate during his reign; within three months he was killed at Tarsus.  

2 In the one thousand and thirty-third year of the City, Probus, the thirty-first emperor, secured the throne. He held it for six years and four months {276-282 A.D.}. He finally destroyed the enemy in a number of bitterly contested battles and completely freed the Gallic provinces that had so long been occupied by the barbarians. 3 He then waged two very bloody civil wars; one in the East where he overthrew and captured the usurper Saturninus, and the other at Agrippina where he defeated Proculus and Bonosus in a series of great battles and killed them. While in an iron-covered tower at Sirmium, Probus himself was killed by mutinous soldiers.  

4 In the one thousand and thirty-ninth year of the City, Carus of Narbo, the thirty-second emperor, came to the throne. He reigned for two years {282-283 A.D.}. After establishing his sons Carinus and Numerian as co-rulers, Carus made war upon the Parthians and captured two of their most famous cities, Coche and Ctesiphon. Afterward, while in his camp on the Tigris, he was struck by lightning and killed. Numerian, who had accompanied his father, was treacherously killed, as he was retreating, by his father-in-law Aper.  

[25] L   In the one thousand and forty-first year, Diocletian was chosen by the army as the thirty-third emperor. He reigned for twenty years {284-305 A.D.}. Upon assuming full command, he at once killed with his own hand Aper, the murderer of Numerian. He next defeated Carinus in a stubbornly contested battle. This man had been leading a dissolute life in Dalmatia, where Carus had left him as Caesar. 2 Later Amandus and Aelianus in Gaul gathered together a band of farmers, who were called Bacaudae, and stirred up destructive insurrections. Diocletian appointed Maximianus, surnamed Herculius, Caesar and sent him into the Gallic provinces. Here, by his military prowess, he easily put down the inexperienced and disorderly company of peasants.  

3 At this time a certain Carausius, a man of lowly birth to be sure, but quick in thought and action, was in charge of the defence of the coasts of the Ocean, which were infested by the Franks and Saxons. He did more to injure than to help the government, for he did not restore to its true owners any of the booty recovered from the pirates but claimed it for himself alone. In this way he aroused the suspicion that it was his deliberate neglect that had allowed the enemy to make raids. For this reason Maximianus ordered his execution. Carausius at once assumed the purple and seized control of the British provinces.  

4 Thus the thunders of strife suddenly reverberated throughout the territories of the Roman Empire. Carausius was leading a rebellion in Britain, and Achilleus one in Egypt; the Quinquegentiani were attacking Africa, and Narseus, king of the Persians, was waging destructive wars in the East. 5 In view of this dangerous situation, Diocletian advanced Maximianus Herculius from the rank of Caesar to that of Augustus  and appointed Constantius and Galerius Maximianus Caesars. Constantius now married Theodora, the stepdaughter of Herculius Maximianus, and by her had six sons, the brothers of Constantine. 6 Carausius, after laying claim to Britain, held it firmly in his grasp for seven years. Finally, however, he was treacherously killed by his comrade Allectus. The latter held for three years the island that he had taken away from his friend. The praetorian prefect Asclepiodotus then overthrew him and regained Britain, ten years after it had been lost. 7 In Gaul, in the first encounter, the Alemanni routed Constantius Caesar's army. He himself barely managed to escape. In the second battle, however, he won a complete victory. It is said that sixty thousand of the Alemanni were slain in the course of a few hours. 8 Maximianus Augustus subdued the Quinquegentiani in Africa. Then Diocletian besieged Achilleus at Alexandria for eight months. He finally captured and killed him; but, far from showing moderation in his victory, he gave Alexandria over to pillage, and made life in all Egypt hideous with proscriptions and massacres.  

9 Galerius Maximianus fought two battles against Narseus. In a third engagement, which took place somewhere between the cities of Callinicus and Carrhae, Narseus defeated him. After losing his troops, Galerius took refuge with Diocletian, who received him with extreme arrogance. The story goes that though clad in scarlet robes he was forced to run before the emperor's carriage for several miles. 10 Nevertheless Galerius made this insult serve as a whetstone to his valour. Spurred on by this treatment, when the rust of kingly pride was rubbed off, he was able to sharpen his mind to a keen edge. He at once made a general levy of troops throughout Illyricum and Moesia, and hurriedly returning to meet the enemy, he overwhelmed Narseus by skilful strategy and superior forces. 11 After annihilating the Persian army and putting Narseus himself to flight, he seized the latter's camp, made prisoners of his wives, sisters, and children, appropriated an immense amount of Persian treasure, and led away many of the Persian nobles into captivity. On his return to Mesopotamia he was welcomed by Diocletian and given the highest honours. 12 Later these same generals fought vigorously against the Carpi and the Basternae. They then conquered the Sarmatians and distributed a great number of captives from this people among the garrisons of the Roman frontiers.  

13 In the meantime Diocletian in the East and Maximianus Herculius in the West ordered the churches to be destroyed and the Christians persecuted and put to death. This persecution, the tenth in succession from Nero's, was longer and more cruel than any other that had preceded it. For ten years it was carried on without interruption; churches were burned, the innocent were proscribed, and martyrs were slaughtered. 14 Then followed an earthquake in Syria. Thousands of people throughout Tyre and Sidon were crushed by falling buildings. In the second year of the persecution, Diocletian suggested to the unwilling Maximianus that both of them should at the same time lay aside the purple and the imperial power and, after substituting younger men for themselves in the government, pass their declining years in the leisure of private life. Accordingly on the day agreed they laid aside the power and trappings of empire - Diocletian at Nicomedia, and Maximianus at Mediolanum.  

15 The Augusti, Galerius and Constantius, were the first to divide the Roman Empire in two: the former took Illyricum, Asia, and the East; the latter took Italy, Africa, and the Gallic provinces. Constantius, however, who was of an extremely mild disposition, was satisfied with Gaul and Spain alone and permitted Galerius to take the other districts. 16 Galerius chose two Caesars: Maximinus, whom he stationed in the East, and Severus, to whom he entrusted Italy. He himself established his government in Illyricum. Constantius Augustus, a mild-tempered man and one skilled in the conduct of government, died in Britain, leaving Constantine, a son by his concubine Helena, as emperor of the Gallic provinces. 

following chapters (26-43)


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