Posted by: ken98 | November 13, 2009

Civil Wars, Dubious Saints and Men in Black

Day 63 – Ken here
(DEF v.1, ch.14, pp.430-440)

The Goths are like the last siut you'll ever own - they appear again, and again, and again  (Men in Black poster from film).

The Goths are like the last siut you'll ever own - they appear again, and again, and again (Men in Black poster from film).


Still in the violent aftermath of Diocletian’s abdication and death. The next 10 pages puts us in the middle of Constantine’s circuitous stalking of sole imperial power, sees us lose the young, rich, rough emperor Maximin Daia (which brings us down from 3 to 2 emperors), and walks us through Constantine’s Gothic wars (yes, they’re back. Again. Like the last suit you’ll ever where in Men in Black).

The Story

  • With Maxentius dead, and all of Italy, Africa, and the West acknowledging Constantine as co-emperor (in the West), Const. allies himself with Licinius (co-emperor of the Balkans and Greece), against Maximin Daia (young co-emperor of vastly rich Asia and Egypt) (March 313)
  • Licinius and Maximin Daia go to war, Licinius wins many battles
  • Maximin Daia conveniently dies (of poison? of suicide? of divine retribution?), number of emperors = 2 now(313)
  • Licinius kills all surviving relations of Galerius, and Maximin Daia (incl Diocletian’s wife and daughter)
  • Brief sad histories of 2 strong women of Late Antiquity: Prisca (wife of Diocletian), Valeria (daughter of Diocletian, wife of late emperor Galerius)
  • Const. vs. Licinius – 1st civil war against Licinius (315)
  • Battle of Cibalis, Const. attacks, Licinius retreats from Dacia and Thrace, names Valens new caesar for those regions (10-8-315)
  • Battle of Mardia – Const wins, Valens is put to death (reign of a few days) (315)
  • Peace Treaty – Licinius left with Asia, Syria, Egypt – all the rest (+ Balkans, Greece) to Const. (315)
  • Peace Treaty gives Roman empire (and Constantine) 8 years peace, and time to maneuver/re-arm for further conflict (315-323)
  • Brief description of Const. laws – this marks the beginning of regular series of surviving Roman imperial law
  • Crispus (eldest son of Constantine) made caesar, in charge of the Rhine frontier
  • Constantine fights and wins against the Goths in the Balkans (322)
  • Historical Note on Sources, or Why Not to trust Comedians and Priests
    Having survived using the dread Augustan Histories for the first 14 chapters or so of Gibbon (which were about as accurate as a National Lampoon series on Roman History), one would think that more reputable sources might be forthcoming. Unfortunately, as the Augustan Histories cease about the time of Constantine, we start getting more and more christian writers (sometimes writing centuries after the fact), which clouds issues even more.

    It’s not their choice of religion, but their motives and (oftentimes) lack of a classical education that render them less than usable. Christian historians tend to use history as a means to proselytize, preach, encourage brethren in their faith, or muse on the motives and operations of divine justice, rather than attempt to report events. They are also absolutely hostile towards pagans, pagan emperors, and anyone who had ever persecuted the early christian church (see the previous post on the death of Galerius). So the mind-numbingly detailed sifting work – separating fact from emotional personal attacks, continues.

    Valeria (Galeria Valeria) - wife of Galerius, daughter of Diocletian - given in an arranged marriage, she was killed with her mother in a political purge after wandering as fugitives for more than a year

    Valeria (Galeria Valeria) - wife of Galerius, daughter of Diocletian - given in an arranged marriage, she was killed with her mother in a political purge after wandering as fugitives for more than a year

    Powerful Women: Valeria and Prisca
    Gibbon writes for 2+ pages on the these two women and their tragic history (DEF, ch.14, pp.431-433). Diocletian had a daughter by PriscaValeria. (or Galeria Valeria). Valeria was given to Diocletian’s co-emperor Galerius as his wife to cement their relationship (just as Maxentius daughter was forced to be given to Constantius).

    After Galerius died (of the infestation of worms – see previous post), Maximin Daia demanded that Valeria marry him (to further cement his own hold on the throne in the East). Valeria refused, and Maximin confiscated her wealth and imprisoned her and her mother (Prisca) on false charges of adultery. Diocletian petitioned to allow them to live with him in his palace in Split (Salona), but was refused.

    Upon Maximin Daia’s death, Licinius killed all living relatives of Galerius and Maximin Daia, prompting Valeria and Prisca to wander the empire for 15 months, fugitives from the law (the imperial law). They were apprehended in Thessalonica (in Constantine’s territory!) and immediately beheaded and their bodies thrown into the sea. A very sad, but very common story in the later Roman empire.

    This from Wiki on Valeria: “When Galerius died, in 311, Licinius was entrusted with the care of Valeria and her mother Prisca. The two women, however, fled from Licinius to Maximinus Daia, whose daughter was betrothed to Candidianus. After a short time, Valeria refused the marriage proposal of Maximinus, who arrested and confined her in Syria and confiscated her properties. At the death of Maximinus, Licinius ordered the death of both women. Valeria fled, hiding for a year, until she was found in Thessaloniki. She was captured by the mob, beheaded in the central square of the city, and her body thrown in the sea. Canonized as christian saint with her mother.”

    Saint Alexandra of Rome - also known as Prisca, wife of Diocletian  - 19th century painting

    Saint Alexandra of Rome - also known as Prisca, wife of Diocletian - 19th century painting


    Prisca (Diocletian’s wife) as Saint Alexandra of Rome
    I think we can safely say we aren’t in Kansas anymore. The boundaries between faith, history, myth, and literature are blurring rapidly as we enter the Middle Ages.
    This from Wiki:”Saint Alexandra of Rome (Αλεξάνδρα) — christian saint, known from “Martyrdom of Saint George” as Emperor Diocletian’s wife.
    She begged the Emperor to let christians free, but he was outraged by her suggestion, ordering her to the same fate as Saint George.”

    Maximin Daia - a powerful, rough, and doomed young emperor

    Maximin Daia - a powerful, rough, and doomed young emperor

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