Maternus Cynegius (died on March 14, 388, in Berytos) was a praetorian prefect of the East and consul at the end of the 4th century, best known for destroying some of the most sacred sites of Hellenic religion.
Cynegius is thought to originate from Spain and was a Christian. Between 381 and 383 he was appointed comes sacrarum largitionum, the imperial treasurer, by Emperor Theodosius I. Later he was appointed quaestor sacri palatii and, in 384, Praetorian prefect of the East. He issued laws that forbade Pagan sacrifices and closed and destroyed non-Christian temples in Egypt and Syria (386). As a deviation from Theodosius' policy, he issued anti-Jewish laws.
On his second visitation - to the East (including Egypt) - he was accompanied by Bishop Marcellus of Apamea. With Marcellus' encouragement, he destroyed, among other things,
- the temple of Edessa
- the Cabeireion of Imbros
- the temple of Zeus Belos in Apamea, which had included a famed oracle, which Septimius Severus, among others, had consulted
- the temple of Apollo in Didyma, which also included a famed oracle (the Didymaion), which was second only to the Delphic Oracle in importance
- all the temples in Palmyra.
In 388 he was appointed Roman consul, though he died that same year.
Maternus has been identified with the high official who received the Missorium of Theodosius I and was probably depicted on it. A country house found by archaeologists near Carranque, in Spain, has been attributed to Maternus.
- Codex Theodosianus, XII.1.97.
- Codex Theodosianus, XII.13.5.
- Zosimus, Historia nea, IV.
- Theodoret, Historia ecclesiastica, V.21.
- Ruth E. Leader-Newby, Silver and Society in Late Antiquity. Functions and Meanings of Silver Plate in the Fourth to the Seventh Centuries, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004, ISBN 0-7546-0728-3, pp. 11-14.
- Jones, Arnold Hugh Martin, John Robert Martindale, John Morris, The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Volume 1, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-07233-6, p. 235-236.
Flavius Valentinianus Iunior Augustus III,
|Consul of the Roman Empire
with Magnus Maximus Augustus II (West)
Flavius Theodosius Augustus II (East)
|Praetorian prefect of the East
Flavius Eutolmius Tatianus