Maximinus II

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Maximinus Daia
Sculpture of Maximinus
Bust of Maximinus Daia
Roman emperor
Augustus310 – May 313 (in the East, in competition with Licinius)
Constantine I
Maxentius (–312)
Caesar1 May 305 – 308 (in the East, under Galerius)
20 November c. 270
near Felix Romuliana (Gamzigrad, Serbia)
DiedAugust 313 (aged 42)
Regnal name
Imperator Caesar Galerius Valerius Maximinus Augustus[1]
MotherSister of Galerius
ReligionRoman paganism

Maximinus Daia or Daza (full name: Galerius Valerius Maximinus; 20 November c. 270 – July or August 313), also Maximinus II, was Roman emperor from 308 to 313. He became embroiled in the Civil wars of the Tetrarchy between rival claimants for control of the empire, in which he was defeated by Licinius. A committed pagan, he engaged in one of the last persecutions of Christians.

Early career[edit]

He was born of peasant stock to the sister of the emperor Galerius near their family lands around Felix Romuliana, in Dacia Ripensis, a rural area then in the former Danubian region of Moesia, now Eastern Serbia.[2] He rose to high distinction after joining the army.

In 305, his maternal uncle Galerius became the eastern Augustus and adopted Maximinus, raising him to the rank of caesar (in effect, the junior eastern Emperor), and granting him the government of Syria and Egypt.

Civil war[edit]

In 308, after the elevation of Licinius to Augustus, Maximinus and Constantine were declared filii Augustorum ("sons of the Augusti"), but Maximinus probably started styling himself as Augustus during a campaign against the Sassanids in 310. On the death of Galerius in 311, Maximinus divided the Eastern Empire between Licinius and himself. When Licinius and Constantine began to make common cause, Maximinus entered into a secret alliance with the usurper Caesar Maxentius, who controlled Italy. He came to an open rupture with Licinius in 313; he summoned an army of 70,000 men but sustained a crushing defeat at the Battle of Tzirallum in the neighbourhood of Heraclea Perinthus on 30 April. He fled, first to Nicomedia and afterwards to Tarsus, where he died the following August.

Persecution of Christians[edit]

Maximinus has a bad name in Christian annals for renewing their persecution after the publication of the Edict of Toleration by Galerius, acting in response to the demands of various urban authorities asking to expel Christians. In one rescript replying to a petition made by the inhabitants of Tyre, transcribed by Eusebius of Caesarea,[3] Maximinus expounds an pagan orthodoxy, explaining that it is through "the kindly care of the gods" that one could hope for good crops, health, and the peaceful sea, and that not being the case, one should blame "the destructive error of the empty vanity of those impious men [that] weighed down the whole world with shame". In one extant inscription (CIL III.12132, from Arycanda) from the cities of Lycia and Pamphylia asking for the interdiction of the Christians, Maximinus replied, in another inscription, by expressing his hope that "may those [...] who, after being freed from [...] those by-ways [...] rejoice [as] snatched from a grave illness".[4]

After the victory of Constantine over Maxentius, however, Maximinus wrote to the Praetorian Prefect Sabinus that it was better to "recall our provincials to the worship of the gods rather by exhortations and flatteries".[5] Eventually, on the eve of his clash with Licinius, he accepted Galerius' edict; after being defeated by Licinius, shortly before his death at Tarsus, he issued an edict of tolerance on his own, granting Christians the rights of assembling, of building churches, and the restoration of their confiscated properties.[6]


Maximinus' death was variously ascribed "to despair, to poison, and to the divine justice".[7]

Based on descriptions of his death given by Eusebius,[8] and Lactantius[9] as well as the appearance of Graves' ophthalmopathy in a Tetrarchic statue bust from Anthribis in Egypt sometimes attributed to Maximinus, endocrinologist Peter D. Papapetrou has advanced a theory that Maximinus may have died from severe thyrotoxicosis due to Graves' disease.[10]

Eusebius on Maximinus[edit]

The Christian writer Eusebius claims that Maximinus was consumed by avarice and superstition. He also allegedly lived a highly dissolute lifestyle:

And he went to such an excess of folly and drunkenness that his mind was deranged and crazed in his carousals; and he gave commands when intoxicated of which he repented afterward when sober. He suffered no one to surpass him in debauchery and profligacy, but made himself an instructor in wickedness to those about him, both rulers and subjects. He urged on the army to live wantonly in every kind of revelry and intemperance, and encouraged the governors and generals to abuse their subjects with rapacity and covetousness, almost as if they were rulers with him.
Why need we relate the licentious, shameless deeds of the man, or enumerate the multitude with whom he committed adultery? For he could not pass through a city without continually corrupting women and ravishing virgins.[11]

According to Eusebius, only Christians resisted him.

For the men endured fire and sword and crucifixion and wild beasts and the depths of the sea, and cutting off of limbs, and burnings, and pricking and digging out of eyes, and mutilations of the entire body, and besides these, hunger and mines and bonds. In all they showed patience in behalf of religion rather than transfer to idols the reverence due to God.

And the women were not less manly than the men in behalf of the teaching of the Divine Word, as they endured conflicts with the men, and bore away equal prizes of virtue. And when they were dragged away for corrupt purposes, they surrendered their lives to death rather than their bodies to impurity.

He refers to one high-born Christian woman who rejected his advances. He exiled her and seized all of her wealth and assets.[12] Eusebius does not give the girl a name, but Tyrannius Rufinus calls her "Dorothea," and writes that she fled to Arabia. This story may have evolved into the legend of Dorothea of Alexandria. Caesar Baronius identified the girl in Eusebius' account with Catherine of Alexandria, but the Bollandists rejected this theory.[12]

See also[edit]


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Maximinus, Galerius Valerius". Encyclopædia Britannica. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 925.
  1. ^
  2. ^ Roman Colosseum, Maximinus Daza
  3. ^ Ecclesiastical History , IX, 8-9 ; Eng. trans. available at [1]. Accessed 2 August 2012
  4. ^ John Granger Cook, The Interpretation of the New Testament in Greco-Roman Paganism. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000, ISBN 3-16-147195-4 , page 304, footnote 175
  5. ^ Ecclesiastical History, IX, 1-10
  6. ^ Ecclesiastical History, X, 7-11
  7. ^ Gibbon, Edward, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire', Chapter 14
  8. ^ Ecclesiastical History, IX, 14-15,
  9. ^ Lactantius, On the Deaths of the Persecutors, Chapter XLIX
  10. ^ Peter D. Papapetrou, Hormones 2013, 12(1):142-145 [2]
  11. ^ Ecclesiastical History, VIII, 14.
  12. ^ a b Enciclopedia dei Santi: Santa Dorotea di Alessandria

External links[edit]

Media related to Maximinus II at Wikimedia Commons

Maximinus II
Born: 20 November 270 Died: July or August 313
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Galerius and Constantine I
Roman emperor
with Galerius, Constantine I and Licinius
Succeeded by
Constantine I and Licinius
Political offices
Preceded by
Constantius Chlorus,
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Maximian,
Constantine I ,
Flavius Valerius Severus,,
Succeeded by
Diocletian ,
Valerius Romulus
Preceded by
Tatius Andronicus ,
Pompeius Probus,
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Galerius ,
Gaius Caeionius Rufius Volusianus,
Aradius Rufinus
Succeeded by
Constantine I ,
Preceded by
Constantine I ,
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Constantine I ,
Succeeded by
Gaius Caeionius Rufius Volusianus,
Petronius Annianus