The Christian Persecution Myth
Updated: Apr 4
The current understanding within church tradition is that early Christians were persecuted by both Jews and Romans, who were in control of all religious centres in the Roman Empire. We are told that early Christians were systematically persecuted by the Roman Empire, with vast numbers of believers being tortured, burned alive or thrown to lions, and and various local and sporadic persecutions happened in the 300 years after.
A book that attempts to tackle this issue is 'The Myth of Persecution', by New Testament professor, Candida Moss. It presents the argument that the Christian writers made up nearly all of the persecution stories of martyrs dying for their faith. This is not a controversial view, as the long held view of scholars is that many or even most of the later martyr stories were legends with some of the martyrs not existing at all. However, it appears conclusions stating that Emperor Nero did not or could not have persecuted Christians (see The Myth of Neronian Persecution by Brent D. Shaw; The Nero-AntiChrist by Shushma Malik) seem to be somewhat frowned upon, as the current understanding is that Nero's persecutions are well-attested.
However, the individuals who present details regarding Nero's persecution were either very young when it would have happened, or not born at all - Tacitus was six and Suetonius and Dio Cassius (or Cassius Dio) were not even born. Further, it is difficult to believe Nero was despised by the people, considering three men impersonated him. Nero was a victim of imperial propaganda.
Another book, The Darkening Age, a book by Catherine Nixey, a journalist, classicist, published in 2017, draws on what is presented in Moss's book. Nixey's book has had popular success, however, scholars of late antiquity and the middle ages have expressed their criticism. One scholar, Peter Thonemann, a professor of ancient history at the University of Oxford, states:
"Nixey’s arguments do require "nifty footwork":
Nixey vividly evokes the fundamentalist bonfires that 'blazed across the empire as outlawed books went up in flames.' "inconveniently" for her, there is no evidence, for example, of a single poem by Ovid or Catullus ever being "put to the flames: Christian book-burning was always directed at heretical Christian literature or 'magical' writings..." "by denying that anything of value or interest took their place, she ends up condemning the entire civilization of the European Middle Ages as a collective fit of inexplicable narrow-minded idiocy."
He also states that the deliberate destruction of ancient temples by Christians
"seems to have been exceptionally rare in real life"
(Ref - Book Review, The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World by Catherine Nixey, Peter Thonemann, The Sunday Times)
Moss states in her book:
"That in the first three centuries of the Christian era Christians were prosecuted at imperial request for no more than twelve years hardly constitutes sustained and continual persecution. There is scant evidence for Christians actually being targeted or actively sought out by the authorities. The shrill complaints of early Christians who say that the Romans were constantly out to get them were overblown. What do we make of this? What was the reality?" (Page 140)
The question, what was the reality? is an important one. The current understanding also appears to be that primarily two, brief, 'empire wide persecutions' targeted at Christians occurred under Emperor Valerian (257-258 C.E.) and Emperor Diocletian (303-305). We are also told Emperor Decius (249 – 251 C.E.) martyred Christian believers.
'The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World' (2017), supports Moss's work by making the argument that the propaganda was used to justify committing appalling violence against pagans. However I briefly cover that error in understanding in the article 'Constantine and Christianity: It Was Just Politics', where I have referenced the archaeological evidence showing that not to be the case. (Ref -The Archaeology of Late Antique 'Paganism' (Brill, 2011).
As I explain in an article regarding Emperor Constantine's supposed conversion to Christianity here:
Christianity was a minority faith, but in only one sense, that sense is that only some members of the aristocracy wanted to promote it, and some did not. Those who did not were Emperor Diocletian; Galerius; Maximianus I; and Constantius Chlorus - Diocletian was in favour of the traditional Roman religions. The so-called "persecution" in the year 303 C.E. of "Christians" by Diocletian, who reigned 204-305 C.E., and others, was in reality about the suppression of those members of the aristocracy who wanted to promote it, for example, Constantine. However, the "persecutions" would be presented in history as acts of martyrdom, giving the impression that the religion was moral and people were willing to die for it.
Another statement from Candida Moss is as follows:
"Furthermore, it’s surprising that Christians could and did achieve power and status in the government, if—as tradition has us believe—they were being systematically persecuted by that same government. That both Valerian and, as we will see, Diocletian ejected Christians from public office demonstrates that Christians not only lived peacefully among the Romans, they flourished and rose to positions of prominence and power." (The Myth of Persecution, page 195; Cyprian, Letter 80.2)
However, that prominence and power can only mean that the 'Christian' writers were members of the aristocracy - as demonstrated on this site and in my book; further evidence of elite authorship can be found in The Origins of Early Christian Literature and Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine. It is only from the fourth century that, under Diocletian, we are told 'Christians' had to give their scriptures to authorities. The composition of Christian and general historical writings would have required adequate storage of source materials - vell /papyrus, inks and supplies, as well as adequate storage for completed works. Secretaries/scribes would also have been needed for any dictation and duplication. Any building in which this work took place would need to be well protected from the weather and provide adequate light and heat. There would also need to be a means of distribution.
It is always difficult to use an argument based on absence, but it must be noted that we do not have any texts of the supposed first edict of persecution in 303 C.E., not even in the Christian Acts of the Martyrs. (Ref - Cambridge Ancient History, Volume XII, page 665) It is only from the details of the supposed Christian martyrdoms, of course without sufficient proof, that the current understanding of any persecutions has developed:
that churches and houses used for Christian worship were destroyed
Christian gatherings for worship were outlawed
books outlawed and burned
the notion that any upper-class Christians lost their immunity to torture in court proceedings, that all Christians were prohibited from defending their rights in courts.
(Ref - Cambridge Ancient History, Volume XII, page 665)
Scholars are well aware of the exaggerations in the various literary sources available, both 'Christian' and pagan. Pliny the Younger, the early-second-century Roman governor of Bithynia-Pontus (in modern Turkey), is the first account we have of a pagan author to refer to the existence of 'Christians'. In a letter addressed to the Roman emperor Trajan, written in 112 C.E., Pliny discusses the threat posed by 'Christians' to the traditional Roman cults and indicates that he has initiated an official proceeding against them. He tells Emperor Trajan (who he was related to - see here) that the 'Christians' are “many of all ages, every rank, and both sexes."
"The matter seems to me worthy of your consideration, especially as there are so many people involved in the danger. Many persons of all ages, and of both sexes alike, are being brought into peril of their lives by their accusers, and the process will go on. For the contagion of this superstition has spread not only through the free cities, but into the villages and the rural districts, and yet it seems to me that it can be checked and set right." (Ref - Pliny 10.96)
Pliny here makes the above letter to sound serious. The Roman historian, Tacitus, a few years later, would create his Annals of Rome, published around 120 C.E. It presents an account of the empire from the reigns of Emperor Tiberius to Nero. Tacitus, too, mentions 'Christians', he portrays the "cult" as "an immense multitude" (Annals 15). Tacitus's mention is in regards to the great fire of Rome under Nero in 64 C.E. Nero is portrayed as starting the fire and blaming the "Christians", but there are many issues with this. One is the fact that Nero built many great popular buildings and structures before the fire - Macellum Magnum (59 C.E.); a port at Antium (60 C.E.); Thermae Neronis (62 or 64 C.E.). Second is the fact that, in terms of the current understanding of Christian history, Christianity would not have been separated from Judaism in Nero's time. As Brent D. Shaw states:
"The conclusions are simple. There are no sound probative reasons to accept the mirage, however appealing it might be, that Christians were attacked by the Roman state as a special group and were martyred under Nero, and no good evidence, contemporary or even later, that links them with the Great Fire in 64 C.E." (Ref – ‘The Myth of Neronian Persecution’, Journal of Roman Studies 105 (2015), pages 73-100.)
So here we have:
Pliny the Younger stating: "there are so many people involved in the danger. Many persons of all ages, and of both sexes alike..."
Tacitus stating the number of Christians were: "an immense multitude".
However, other Roman writers say nothing, only those known in history as 'Suetonius', Lucian of Samosata, Galen give very brief references. If Christianity did have a large following and was such a threat, why did most Roman authors have little and, more often, nothing to say? The Roman historian, known as Herodian, detailed the careers of the emperors from 180 to 238 C.E. He gave details about the threats they confronted, any threats from "Christians" are not mentioned.
We then have the exaggerated numbers of 'Christians' portrayed in the New Testament. In Acts 1:14, after Jesus's resurrection, the number of Christians presented is eleven, but in the very next verse, the number drastically shoots up to 120 believers. In Acts 2:41, 'Peter' apparently converted three thousand Jews and another five thousand in Acts 4:4. In Acts 5:14, we read:
"And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women."
The supposed Christian author, known to us as 'Tertullian', exaggerates the most. He wrote the Apology approximately a century after Acts (end of the second and beginning of the third century). In it he states:
"The outcry [from pagans] is that the state is filled with Christians-that they are in the fields, in the citadels, in the islands." (Apology 1) He also states that "our numbers are so great-constituting all but the majority in every city." (To Scapula 2)
In Apology 37 we see his most excessive statement:
“We are but of yesterday, and we have filled every place among you—cities, islands, fortresses, towns, market-places, the very camp, tribes, companies, palace, senate, forum—we have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods . . . . For if such multitudes of men were to break away from you, and betake themselves to some remote corner of the world, why, the very loss of so many citizens, whatever sort they were, would cover the empire with shame . . . . Why, you would be horror-struck at the solitude in which you would find yourselves . . . . You would have to seek subjects to govern. You would have more enemies than citizens remaining. For now, it is the immense number of Christians which makes your enemies so few—almost all the inhabitants of your various cities being followers of Christ.”
However, other authors, who presented themselves as 'Christians', knew the exaggerated numbers were just that, exaggerated. Those authors include Minucius Felix, Latin apologist, who, writing years after 'Tertullian', presents the 'Christians' as only being a few. (Octavius 23)
And the man known to us as 'Origen' (first half of the third century), presents the knowledge that the Christian faith was unheard of in the empire. (Commentary on Matthew 24:9)
Based on the above evidence, modern experts reject the numbers claimed by the 'Christian' authors. 'Christian forces' were not destroying Pagan religions in the first and second centuries, and the new 'religion' (law) was not an 'unstoppable force'. British historian, Robin Lane Fox has stated:
"By c. 200, Christians still wrote polemically as if the gods had fallen silent, but they were ignoring the contrary facts at the sites to which they referred." (Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, page 201)
The evidence Fox is referring to is that of stone inscriptions, showing that pagan religions were flourishing in the second and third centuries C.E., as demonstrated by more than three hundred pagan dedications at the temple of Apollo at Claros.
There never was any widespread systematic persecution of 'Christian believers' in the first centuries of the common era, and this article will hopefully efficiently explain why.
The Reason For This Article
The main reason for wanting to write this article is in regards to the evidence pointing to a Roman-Jewish aristocratic creation of Christianity. One of the main arguments given against this being the case concerns the persecutions. The argument goes along the lines of why would the Romans persecute Christians if the Romans created this religion (law)? That is a perfectly logical argument, when evidence regarding who wrote the scriptures, and why, is either not known or simply ignored.
As I have said in other articles, and in my book, the only people that could write histories and Christian material at that time were members of the elite (aristocracy). (Ref - The Origins of Early Christian Literature; Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine) That being the case significantly narrows down just who at the time would have been educated enough, and have been allowed to, write the scriptures and Christian histories. The elite individuals writing at the time created pseudonyms under which they wrote the histories and religious literature, and those pseudonyms were created using a mixture of nomenclature and ancestor worship with words related to the religion they were creating.
We begin our investigation of the supposed tortures and martyrdoms presented in historical documentation with the writings of the individual known as 'Cyprian' (210 – 258 C.E.), or to use this individuals supposed full name 'Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus'. 'Cyprian' wrote treatises and epistles, but for this investigation the epistles are more important as they contain what appear to be the first accounts of extensive martyrdoms. There had been previous accounts of supposed persecutions, but they are presented as sporadic. In the epistles of 'St. Ignatius' (who appears to be Pliny the Younger) 'Ignatius' had gone to his created martyrdom in the arena. 'St. Polycarp' (who appears to be Proculus Piso, a son of Arrius Piso) is described as apparently being executed in the 'Martyrdom of Polycarp', which looks to have been written by Antoninus Pius's brother, Arrian (Lucius Flavius Arrianus) (approximately 86/89 – after 146/160 C.E.)
'Cyprian' appears to have been the first to write about extensive martyrdoms and tortures, later the individual known as 'Eusebius' would follow suit, when he appears to have written about these martyrdoms under the name 'Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria'. Later, 'Eusebius' would also create accounts of martyrdom in Martyrs of Palestine, in his Ecclesiastical History. In 'Cyprian's' epistles we are told of the suffering and martyrdom of average believers. However, because of the previous work investigating the genealogies and literary techniques used by the aristocracy at that time, it can be shown that the names of the martyrs in Cyprian's epistles are alias names of his family, from the time of Arrius Piso (37 C.E. - 119 C.E.) to his own.
There must have been records kept of what alias names family members used in order for later 'Christian' writers to be able to pair past family members with the correct names.
In this article, volume V of the Ante-Nicene Fathers will be cited in regards to Cyprian's epistles, to explain the family relationships along with his creation of martyrdoms.
The first task is to identify the identity of 'Cyprianus'. By process of elimination and through comparison of contemporaries of Cyprian's time, the individual that appears to fit the bill is Fulvius Macrianus, Emperor Valerian's foremost general. When Valerian was captured by the Persians in Persia and held there permanently, his son, Gallienus, became sole emperor, after having jointly ruled with his father in 253-260 C.E. The Historia Augusta calls Valerian and his son The Two Gallieni. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, Volume III, Page 17) The prefect of Valerian, Ballista, and Macrianus, decided that Macrianus and his two sons, Macrianus and Titus Fulvius Junius Quietus, should be emperors. Macrianus complied with Ballista's urging.
"Whereupon Ballista, perceiving that Macrianus, in so speaking, seemed to have in mind his own two sons, answered him as follows: "To your wisdom, then, we entrust the commonwealth. And so give us your sons Macrianus and Quietus, most valiant young men, long since made tribunes by Valerian, for, under the rule of Gallienus, for the very reason that they are good men, they cannot remain unharmed." Then Macrianus, finding out that his thoughts had been understood, replied: "I will yield, and from my own funds I will present to the soldiers a double bounty. Do you but give me your zealous service as prefect and furnish rations in the needful places. I will now do my best that Gallienus, more contemptible than any woman, may come to know his father's generals." And so, with the consent of all the soldiers, Macrianus was made emperor, together with his two sons Macrianus and Quietus, and he immediately proceeded to march against Gallienus, leaving affairs in the East in whatever state he could." (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Thirty Pretenders, XIII.11)
The Two Gallieni, in The Historia Augusta, states:
"Now the reasons why Macrianus and his sons should be chosen to rule were these: First of all, no one of the generals of that time was held to be wiser, and none more suited to govern the state; in the second place, he was the richest, and could by his private fortune make good the public losses. In addition to this, his sons, most valiant young men, rushed with all spirit into the war, ready to serve as an example to the legions in all the duties of soldiers."
(Macrianus and Quietus were recognized as emperors in Egypt in September 260 C.E.)
Following the above statement, we read:
"...So well did he make ready for war that he was a match for all measures which could be devised against him. He also chose Piso, one of the nobles and of the foremost men in the senate, as governor of Achaea, in order that he might crush Valens, who was administering that province with the authority of a proconsul. Valens, however, learning that Piso was marching against him, assumed the imperial power. Piso, therefore, withdrew into Thessaly, and there he, together with many, was slain by the soldiers sent against him by Valens. Now Piso, too, was saluted as emperor with the surname Thessalicus."
We also read, in The Historia Augusta, The Thirty Pretenders, 21.1-7:
"He was a man of the utmost righteousness and during his life-time he was given the name Frugi, and he was said to derive his descent from that family of Pisos with which Cicero had formed an alliance for the purpose of entering the nobility. He was highly esteemed by all the emperors; in fact, Valens himself, who is said to have sent the assassins against him, declared, it is told, that never could he render account to the gods of the lower world for having given an order to put Piso to death, albeit his enemy, for his like the Roman commonwealth did not contain...I propose divine honours for Piso, Conscript Fathers, and I firmly believe that this will be approved by our emperors, Gallienus, Valerian, and Saloninus; for never was there a better man or a braver. After him the others also on being consulted voted Piso a statue among the triumphant generals and also a four-horse chariot."
The Historia Augusta stating Macrianus to be 'wise' is fitting with how Cyprianus was described:
Guide of Orthodoxy, teacher of piety and holiness, luminary of Carthage, God-inspired adornment of confessors, O wise Cyprian, by thy teachings thou has enlightened all, O harp of the Spirit. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved. - Apolytikion of Cyprian of Carthage Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Although Macrianus is described as being wise and prepared for war, he, along with his son of the same name, were defeated in battle in 261 C.E., soon after, so was Quietus. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Thirty Pretenders, Quietus, XIV.1) However, Macrianus must have left descendants, as the Historia Augusta, written in the early 300's C.E., states the family of the Macriani were still extant in its time. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Thirty Pretenders, XIV.3)
From prior examples of data (my book/website) showing that only the same elite family circles could and were allowed to write history and religious writings, it is logical to conjecture that this Macrianus wrote as 'Cyprianus'. For one, the two names end with the same 'ianus' part, and two, the Macrianus name is phonetically close to the name Marcianus (father of Constantius Chlorus under the name 'Eutropius', and son of Ulpian/Origen, using the name Gregory.) But who was Macrianus related to?
It is interesting to note here that The Historia Augusta states that Gordian I (approximately 158 – 238 C.E.) had a portrait showing a multitude of animals which included a hundred Cyprian bulls. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, the Three Gordians, III.7)
Was Macrianus related to Gordian I, and if so, how?
As mentioned earlier, 'Cyprianus's' full name is given as Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus and is stated as being born around 200 C.E. or before. He is said to have received a classical education and was a skilled Latin rhetoric. He was apparently befriended by a church presbyter named Caecilius, who lived in his house and committed his wife and daughter to him after his death, whereby 'Cyprian' took his name, Caecilius. (Ref - Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume II, A.D. 100-325)
We only have information regarding 'Cyprian's' supposed life and The Historia Augusta to turn to, the latter provides the only details of important secular Romans such as Macrianus. However, The Historia Augusta appears to provide enough hints so those in the know can understand the family relationships.
The Historia Augusta states that Gordian I had a son and also a daughter called Maecia Faustina, who apparently married a man named "Junius Balbus". (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Three Gordians, IV.2-3) Was the name 'Junius Balbus' another name used for Macrianus? In the name Maecia we do find the first five letters of the name Macrianus rearranged:
m a [e] c (r) i a (nus). Further, Ulpian and his brother in law, Gordian I, were contemporaries, with them being born approximately 170 C.E. Maecia Faustina then would have been of the right age to marry 'Cyprian'. This being the case informs us of why Macrianus the Younger ('Cyprianus the Younger') is stated as being "of noble birth through his mother", his father only progressing through the ranks of the army.
"...For, though active himself and accompanied by the wisest of fathers (through whose merits he had begun to rule), he was defeated by Domitianus, and despoiled, as I have previously said, of an army of thirty thousand soldiers, being himself of noble birth through his mother, for his father was merely brave and ready for war, and had risen from the lowest rank in the army with exalted distinction to the highest command." (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Thirty Pretenders, XIII.3)
I find it difficult to see it as coincidence that Emperor Gallienus was a strong supporter of the imperial system of sun-god worship, the emperor being his divine living representative, when Macrianus (Cyprianus) desired to overthrow him, costing him his life, and the lives of his sons. The Historia Augusta even states that Gallienus went out in public with the radiate crown.
"...He sprinkled his hair with gold-dust. He went out in public adorned with the radiate crown" (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Two Gallieni, XVI.4)
"...He gave orders to make a statue of himself arrayed as the Sun and greater than the Colossus, but it was destroyed while still unfinished. It was, in fact, begun on so large a scale that it seemed to be double the size of the Colossus." (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Two Gallieni, XVIII.1)
The Historia Augusta states that a great 'pestilence' arose in Rome and the cities of Greece, among other natural disasters, during the reign of Gallienus. It states that 5000 men died of the same disease in one day.
"In the consulship of Gallienus and Fausianus, amid so many calamities of war, there was also a terrible earthquake and a darkness for many days. There was heard, besides, the sound of thunder, not like Jupiter thundering, but as though the earth were roaring. And by the earthquake many structures were swallowed up together with their inhabitants, and many men died of fright. This disaster, indeed, was worst in the cities of Asia; but Rome, too, was shaken and Libya also was shaken. In many places the earth yawned open, and salt water appeared in the fissures. Many cities were even overwhelmed by the sea. Therefore the favour of the gods was sought by consulting the Sibylline Books, and, according to their command, sacrifices were made to Jupiter Salutaris. For so great a pestilence, too, had arisen in both Rome and the cities of Achaea that in one single day five thousand men died of the same disease." (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Two Gallieni, Volume 6, 4.2-5)
The accompanying note to the passage above states : 'Salutaris is included by Cicero (de Finibus, III.66) among the cognomina of Jupiter, and dedicatory inscriptions to Iovi Optimo Maximo Salutari have been found at Rome.'
Based on the time and other precedent examples of rhetoric being used to describe what happened, and the rift that was occurring between Macrianus (Cyprian) and Gallienus, the above passage seems to be implying that Christianity, directed by 'Cyprian' at that particular point, was spreading in Rome and Greece. We see the word 'pestilence' used, which, as well as meaning any widespread infectious, fatal disease, can also mean 'an evil influence or deliverer'. Pestilence is also one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation. We also see the number 5000 used, which is reminiscent of the 5000 men who apparently came to faith in Acts 4.4; there is also the tale of Jesus feeding the 5000 men in Mat. 14:21; Mark 6:44 and 8:19; Luke 9:14 and John 6:10.
The data looks to point to 'Cyprian' being Macrianus, very possibly the son-in-law of Gordian I (Julius Paulus/Sextus Julius Africanus), whose daughter married Macrianus under the name 'Junius Balbus'. Investigating 'Cyprian's' epistles further, written in the 250's C.E., again with the knowledge of the literary and nomenclature techniques being used, various distinguished family members appear, although many were deceased at that point.
On individual who writes to 'Cyprian' is the 'presbyter' Gordius, (Ref - Cyprian, Epistle V. It is interesting to note here that the name 'Gordian' or 'Gordius' is close phonetically, as well as in regards to letter switching, C becomes G and vice versa, to the name 'Cord[i]us', the lost historian. From data already examined, see here, this 'Gordius' individual must be the late Herodian, who would have been a contemporary of Macrianus (Cyprianus). 'Cyprian' then writes to Maximus the presbyter. This must be Marius Maximus, very likely the actual name of Herodian. (Ref - Cyprian, Epistle XV) Another letter is addressed to a 'Caldonius', (Ref - Cyprian, Epistle XI) who Cyprian calls his brother and beloved brother, inferring that this was his actual brother.
'Cyprianus' also sends a letter to an individual called 'Celerinus' (Ref - Cyprian, Epistle XXI) The name Lucian is presented in Epistles XX and XXI, a name used by Marcus Aurelius when criticizing the creators of Christianity (his own ancestors). We read that a more general persecution took place during Marcus Aurelius's reign. Cyprianus writes to Lucian on behalf of 'Statius' and Severianus. (Ref - Cyprian, Epistle XX.4) Severianus was a named used by one of Arrius Piso's sons, Julius, the author of the Book of Revelation and Emperor Hadrian's brother-in-law. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, Hadrian, I.2; Creating Christianity A Weapon Of Ancient Rome, pages 174-242) Emperor Hadrian forced Julius to commit suicide (most likely at Julius's brother Justus's urging).
Publius Papinius Statius (approximately 45 – 96 C.E.) was a first century C.E. poet who is most likely the author of a work called the 'Laus Pisonis', a poem celebrating the public accomplishments and virtues of Gaius Calpurnius Piso, the conspirator of 65 C.E. Harvard Professor, Peter White, stated in his paper 'Amicitia and the Profession of Poetry in Early Imperial Rome' on page 77 that:
"Towards the end of it, the author says enough about himself for us to discern that he wrote in order to secure entry into Piso's immediate society. His purpose is directly stated at lines 218-19, 'dignare tuos aperire Penates,/hoc solum petimus', and in the following lines his phraseology makes plain that he envisions spending his life in Piso's company: iuvat, optime, tecum degere cumque tuis virtutibus omne per aevum carminibus certare meis."
Statius states that Virgil's poems were apparently the reason for his 'conversion to Christianity'. He also states that he kept his Christianity a secret (Purgatorio 22.90) as 'Christians' were being "persecuted" in his time. This would be during the reign of Emperor Domitian (51 – 96 C.E.), a son of Emperor Vespasian and a cousin once removed of Arrius Piso. Domitan exiled Arrius and his family to Pannonia. Under Domitian, 'all philosphers were banished from Rome'; Arrius is recorded as being banished from Rome under the name 'Dio Chrysostom' (Also see: Creating Christianity A Weapon of Ancient Rome, pages 212-214; 220-236; Epictetus, page XVIII)
Epistle XX mentions Lucian's 'brother' Calphurnius (Ref - Cyprian, Epistle XX) As 'Lucian of Samosata' (approximately 125 - 180 C.E.), who ridiculed superstition and religious practices, was most likely Marcus Aurelius, his 'brother', or most likely close relative, would have been Galen/Gaius/Gellius, or Aulus Gellius (approximately 125 - 180 C.E.). Marcus Aurelius was a Calpurnius Piso, so 'Galen' would have been too; Aulus Gellius describes the Stoic doctrine concerning involuntary emotional reactions or “proto-passions” in his The Attic Nights, a concept also found in Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. Aulus Gellius is also recorded as a friend and pupil of Herodes Atticus.
Galen means calm or tranquil, and 'Galen the Physician' is recorded as living from 129 - approximately 216 C.E. and being the physician for Commodus (161 - 192 C.E.) and Emperor Marcus Aurelius. (121 - 180 C.E.) Marcus Aurelius's adoptive father is recorded as Antoninus Pius, or Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Pius, (86 - 161 C.E.) From a comparison of data, 'Galen' looks to be a name used by an individual called Gaius Ummidius Quadratus Annianus Verus , a name given by the late Sir Ronald Syme. This person is recorded as one of the suffect consuls in 146 C.E., recorded in the Fasti Ostienses as Gaius Annianus Verus who is recorded as marrying Marcus Aurelius's sister, Annia Cornifica Faustina in 136 C.E; the name 'Galen' looks to be honouring Antoninus Pius, who appears to have written as 'Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus', 'Tranquillus' meaning the same as 'Galen', quiet, calm; the word/name 'Galen'/galene appears in Mark 4:39; Matt. 8:26 and Luke 8:24.
In Epistle XXI.2, 'Cyprianus' gives praise to those confessors who have supposedly been recently tortured or put to death for their faith. One of the names presented is 'Herennius', which was an alias for Herodian as a jurist and also his son Herennius Dexippus the historian. This epistle also gives the name 'Paulus' who is Julius Paulus, (Gordian I) Herodian's father and Macrianus's (Cyprian's) father-in-law - see link for Herennius.
Epistle XXI also gives the name 'Bassus' as one of the martyrs. This was a name used by Arrius Piso and his father. (Ref - Creating Christianity A Weapon Of Ancient Rome, pages 104-105; Chapter 9) In this epistle, Cyprianus states that 'Bassus' is "in the dungeon of the perjured" or, in other words, guilty of telling lies. Another name given in this epistle is 'Aristo', another name used by Arrius Piso as Titius Aristo the Jurist; Titius is a form of Titus, and Aristo means ‘dinner’, linking to Jesus and the Last Supper. Pliny the Younger uses the name Claudius Ariston, in the index of the Loeb Classical Library edition it is presented (Ti), for Titus, Claudius Ariston. As Claudius Ariston, Arrius was the leading citizen of Ephesus, in Bithynia, where the Pisos governed and is the location of one of the early churches, to which ‘Paul’ wrote a letter.
Regarding the name 'Aristo', I must note here that this word also links to the word 'Nazareth'. Breaking the word Nazareth or Nazaret down, what is revealed are words signifying:
The root or branch, that is, Nazareth or Nazarene is a Greek form of the Hebrew word netzer/netser, meaning ‘branch’, again, that is, the root an branch of messianic lineage.
The word aret, meaning excellence or moral virtue, was used to define the aristocracy, they were seen as exemplary of aret, or, in other words, a model of excellence. Also, the root of the word aret is the same as the word aristo or aristos, which was used pluraly to indicate the nobility. Now, the word Aristo links to the New Testament, for example, in Matthew 26:26 we read "take eat my body", but in Matthew 22:4 we read "behold my dinner", which is aristo. This word also ties in with Apollo, whose son was Aristaios, and Apollo appears in a virgin birth story similar to Jesus’s, where he impregnates a women whose husband is called Ariston, or aristo.
Epistle XXI also gives the name Martial, who was exiled to Spain for criticising the Pisos; a young man called Aurelius is mentioned in epistle XXII.1, which must be the future emperor M. Aurelius Probus (276-282 C.E.) (Ref - The Historia Augusta, Probus, I, note 4) Aurelius Probus was born approximately 232 C.E., therefore, in 250 C.E. he would indeed be a young man.
We read in epistle XXIX.1 and XXX.1 that the supposed presbyters and deacons in Rome addressed Macrianus (Cyprianus) as 'Papa', providing evidence he claimed to be the leader of the church.
"The honourably departed Fabian" is mentioned by 'Cyprianus'. (Ref - Cyprian, Epistles, XX;XXX.5) Fabian was a shorter form of the Latin name Fabianus. Arrius Piso's son, Justus, was "Justin Martyr", as 'Justinus' is a derivative of the name Justus. (Ref - Creating Christianity A Weapon Of Ancient Rome, pages 106; 166; 232) The 'Fabian' or 'Fabianus' 'Cyprianus' mentions seems to be a descendant of Justus Piso (remember, only family members of the same elite circles were in control of the 'church'). The 'Fabian' in Cyprianus's epistles looks to be descended from Justus through 'Fabian's' great-grandmother, Faustina I:
Arrius Piso/Flavius Josephus/'St. Peter'
(born 37 C.E. and died approximately 118/119 C.E.)
was married to several noble women, including Queen Berenice
Arria Fadilla/Claudia Phoebe/Pompeia Plotina (died 129 C.E.)
M. T. Aurelius Fulvus (Rufus) (before marrying Emperor Trajan)
A. Antoninus/Emperor Antoninus Pius/Pope Pius I (born 86 C.E., died 161 C.E.)
M. (Annia Galeria) Faustina I (Daughter of 'Fabius' Justus Calpurnius Piso)
Aurelia Fadilla/Fulvia Pia (died 134 C.E.) (Sister of Annia Galeria Faustina II, the wife of Emperor Marcus Aurelius)
M. Plaut. Aelius Lam. Fund. Silvanus
(Ref - Marcus Aurelius: A Biography, Anthony Birley)
Fabius Papinian (Jurist)/Clement of Alexandria/Serenius Sammonicus I
M. (a royal cousin)
Quintus Serenius Sammonicus II, aka 'Pope Fabian' (236-250)
M. (a royal cousin)
Regarding Quintus Serenius Sammonicus II, he apparently tutored Gordian II and possessed a 62,000 volume library, given to him by his father, Serenius Sammonicus I. When Sammonicus II died, the library was left to Gordian II. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Three Gordians, 18.2; Caracalla, 4.4, cf. Geta 5.5; Alexander, 30.2) In epistle LI.2, Cyprianus tells Antonianus that he has received letters sent by 'Quintus'. This 'Quintus' must be Quietus (H.A., The Thirty Pretenders, XII.12-14) one of Macrianus's (Cyprianus's) sons, as mentioned earlier; 'Serenus' is phonetically the same as 'Soranus', a name belonging to an individual called Quintus Marcius Barea Soranus, senator and friend of Vespasian, and a name which appears in regards to the plot to kill Emperor Nero. Soranus's brother, Quintus Marcius Barea Sura was the maternal grandfather of Emperor Trajan, through Marcia, mother of Trajan.
In epistle XXXI we see the names 'Moyses' and 'Maximus'. By pairing the name Maximus, who looks to be Macrianus's brother-in-law, Herodian, with 'Moyses', it is reasonable to suggest that Macrianus was suggesting 'Herodian' was equal to Moses, considering how these elites viewed themselves.
Epistle XXXVII has the name 'Caldonius' and 'Numidicus'; Midian was north east of Africa, where Cyprianus was supposedly a bishop in Carthage. It would appear then that Macrianus was writing to himself. In epistle XL we see the 'influential Roman presbyter' 'Novation', has sent to 'Cyprianus' 'Maximus' the presbyter (Herodian), among others. These epistles begin by addressing them to 'Bishop Cornelius', his brother, also called his dearest brother, implying that this is Macrianus's (Cyprianus's) actual brother.
However, "Bishop Cornelius of Rome" looks to be a name created by Macrianus; 'Cornelius of Rome' was apparently elected during a break in persecution under Emperor Decius, after the 'papacy' was vacant for more than a year following 'Pope St. Fabian’s' martyrdom. A few points below point to 'Cornelius of Rome' being another name used for/by Macrianus (Cyprianus):
As a leading Roman aristocrat and general, Macrianus would most likely have seen himself as leading the church from Rome, rather than from Carthage in north Africa.
According to church "history," Cyprian and Bishop Cornelius of Rome died on the same day, exactly five years apart. Five years is 60 months - 60 presents the name Calpurnius Piso in Greek, as '6' in the eyes of the aristocracy was a small 60 - Latin did not have a numeral for 0: ΚΑ Λ Π Ο Υ Ρ Ν Ι Ο Σ Π Ι Σ Ω - Κ=2 Α=1 Λ=3 Π=8 Ο=7 Υ=4 Ρ=1 Ν=5 Ι=1 Ο=7 Σ=2 (Ref - Creating Christianity A Weapon Of Ancient Rome, 'The 666 Riddle') Also, the Catholic Church commemorated Cornelius by venerating him, with his Saint's Day on 16 September, which he shares with his 'friend', Cyprianus. As the late scholar and ecumenist Maurice Bévenot stated in his paper 'Cyprian And His Recognition Of Cornelius' (The Journal of Theological Studies, New Series, Vol. 28, No. 2, pages 346-359) 'There are three letters from Cyprian the bishop of Carthage (44, 45, and 48) each of which in its own way explicitly recognizes Cornelius as the new bishop of Rome.' Essentially, Macrianus is writing to himself. Cyprianus was also painted next to Cornelius.
Two additional correspondents of Cyprian--Caldonius and Celerinus--must be additional aliases of his. Caldonius was also, apparently, an African bishop, and, like Cyprianus, was cautious in regards to restoring the 'lapsed' to communion. Caldonius is first mentioned by Cyprianus (Ep. XXIIII) asking the opinion of Cyprianus. In 251 C.E., he was apparently appointed by Cyprianus to visit Carthage. We read that Celerinus was an African martyr, revered for his sufferings while imprisoned by Emperor Trajanus Decius in Rome. He was freed and returned to Carthage, being ordained by 'St. Cyprian'.
The Piso family and the other family members and their successors had used various pseudonyms.
That Macrianus was able to use the name Cornelius, strongly suggests he was the brother of Emperor Tacitus (275 to 276 C.E.), a descendant of the historian Cornelius Tacitus.
We see that name Maximus again (Herodian), along with others writing to Cyprianus. (Ref - Cyprian, Epistle XLIX) Cyprianus calls an Antonianus his brother, or dearest brother, implying his actual brother (brother-in-law?). (Ref- Cyprian, Epistle LI, 1,8) Antonianus looks to be Herodian, as Herodian had the name Antoninus; Antonianus is merely a longer form. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Three Gordians, IV.8) Herodian was Macrianus's brother-in-law, due to Macrianus marrying Herodian's sister, the daughter of Julius Paulus (Gordian I/Julius Africanus). The aristocracy seems to have considered a son-in-law as a son.
"He admired the Antonines marvellously; many say that he himself assumed the name Antoninus or, as more declare, Antonius. And certainly there is no doubt that he embellished his son with the name Antoninus..."
In Epistle LXVI.2, Cyprianus recommends the excommunication of 'Gregory', who was a son of Ulpian called Marcianus, calling him 'forward, haughty and hostile to the church.' This cannot be the case as the data in this article explains. In this same epistle 66 is the number in attendance at a council in which Cyprianus is also present. I see it as no coincidence that 66 presents that name 'Flavius Josephus' (zeros ommitted)
Epistles LXXVII and LXXVIII.1 presents "our beloved Quirinus", this is a letter to Cyprianus, so it is likely Macrianus's son, Quietus. A reply by Cyprianus mentions Herennianus, the 'sub deacon'. From the data here, this must be Herodian's son, Herennius Dexippus the historian, as the epistle was written in 257 C.E., long after the death of Herodian in 238 C.E.) (Ref - LXXVIII.1, note 9)
After the death of Herodian in 238 C.E., Macrianus was effectively the head of the Gordian-Macrianus family. It looks, therefore, as though he views himself as the leader of the church, claiming to be a bishop in Carthage, apparently directing the church from there, referring to himself as 'papa' (pope). At this time, then, it would appear he was competing with Gregory Thaumaturgus (meaning "performer of miracles") a cousin of Herodian, and the late Ulpian's (Origen's) son - see link above regarding Gregory.
No actual organized persecutions of actual Christian believers could have taken place without approval from the emperors. Therefore, by 'Cyprianus' creating his martyrdoms, he looks to have had the confidence to accuse the emperors of these so called persecutions. There must have been some sort of small growth of actual believers, most likely the lower classes, although nowhere near the scale that is currently assumed, for Cyprianus/Macrianus to dare accuse the emperors at the time. Or the reason could be that as the "pestilence", referred to earlier, occurred after Gallienus's father and co-emperor, Valerian was captured by the Persians, in June 260 C.E., leaving Gallienus to rule alone, Macrianus then must have had more confidence to write what he did, as well as revolt with his two sons in an attempt to seize the empire from their relatives who preferred sun-god worship.
The Historia Augusta would include the lives of the above in its biographies. However, it looks as though later church leaders must have removed most of Valerian's biography and the biography of Decius, as no mentions of any persecutions are presented.
Between the attempted usurpation by Avidius Cassius in 175 C.E., and later the success of Diocletian in 284 C.E., leaders of this family circle attempted repeatedly to seize control of the empire. Judging by the data presented in other articles on this site, the attempts to take control of the empire were caused by the persistence of those elite family members who wanted to promote Christianity, those family members were:
Avidius Cassius - 175 C.E.
Septimius Severus - 195 C.E. - succeeded
Papinian - approximately 212 C.E.
'Origen' (Ulpian) - approximately 223 C.E.
The Gordians: Julius Paulus and Herodian - 238 C.E.
'Cyprianus' (Macrianus) and his sons - 260-261 C.E.
Gregory (son of Ulpian) assassinates Emperor Gallienus - 268 C.E. - succeeded
Gregory, recorded under the name 'Longinus', assists Queen Zonobia in the east, but is killed by the forces of Aurelian in Alexandria - 272-273 C.E.
Crinitus, recorded as 'Mnestheus', assassinates Aurelian, most likely for killing his brother Gregory. But then Crinitus is executed. - 275 C.E. - succeeded
Probus overthrows Emperor Florian - 276 C.E. - succeeded
The names in red above were Piso descendants, the rest were of the Ulpii family.
'Eusebius's' Martyrdom Creations
The Ecclesiastical History looks to have been composed for a number of purposes. One is to present the supposed church leadership from the beginning, describing the courage of all the previous saints and church leaders. However, again, the names of these 'church leaders' are pseudonyms of family members, and the accomplishments are fictitious.
The other purpose is to present the martyrdoms. The previous information has shown that 'Cyprianus' (Macrianus) created several fictional martyrdoms, and 'Eusebius', who looks to have been Julius Constantius I (approximately 289 - 337 C.E.), half brother of Emperor Constantine (Flavius Valerius Constantinus - 272 – 337 C.E.) - their father Constantius Chlorus married Helena Brittania and Theodora - looks to have followed 'Cyprianus's' example. The martyrdoms in the Ecclesiastical History , or Church History, presents purported excerpts from the writings of 'Dionysius' (Ulpius Crinitus), the brother of Eusebius's grandfather, Gregory (Eutropius). But these excerpts were not written by 'Dionysius' (Crinitus), they look to be the work of Eusebius, that is, they are fictional. The excerpts appear in the Church History, volume VII.XI.3, Loeb Classical Library edition.
I have briefly written about the martyrdoms in Dionysius work as not actually being written by 'Dionysius' in the Origen article, but an excerpt of that article is as follows:
The 'Christian' writings of Dionysius (Crinitus) would eventually become well known, however, they were not all written by him. The writings of 'Dionysius' would only appear well into the next century, the reason being that 'Eusebius' would combine them with his writings, in his Ecclesiastical History, and they would appear as "excerpts" or "extracts" from the writings of 'Dionysius'.
The most interesting names of martyrs that appear in the excerpts of "Dionysius" are Maximus, Faustus, Eusebius, Chaeremon, and Dionysius himself, apparently being quoted by Eusebius. The five names above are recent family members of Eusebius, and not martyrs of the 250's C.E., as claimed. 'Dionysius' was Ulpian's son Crinitus, examined here. Maximus, based on data, looks to be Marius Maximus, the actual name of Herodian, son of Gordian I (Julius Paulus). The lost history of Marius Maximus must have been written by Herodian, upon further examination of the name, a conclusion can be made:
Marius can be M. Ar(ell)ius, honouring the name of 'Herodian's' distinguished imperial ancestor, Marcus Aurelius. Maximus is the Latin term for "greatest" or "largest".
Faustus was the masculine form of Fausta, whom Constantine married in 307 C.E., which indicates this part was not written until at least 307 C.E. The Eusebius name is 'Eusebius' inserting himself, and the name 'Chaeremon' is very likely Arrius Piso; Piso appears to have been 'Plutarch of Chaeronea' (a future article will be written on Arrius as 'Plutarch'.)
Marcellus must be a pseudonym for Constantine, as Marcellus is the name of one of his ancestors.
The five names appear as under trial before 'Aemilianus' a longer form of the name Amilius, apparently not this individuals original name, who was a writer of the second half of the 3rd century. The word ἀμέλεια (ameleia) means negligence in Greek. In Life of Plotinus it states:
"Amelius preferred to call himself Amerius, changing L for R, because, as he explained, it suited him better to be named from Amereia, Unification, than from Ameleia, Indifference." (Ref - Life of Plotinus, volume 7)
This name may possibly be a pseudonym for Constantius Chlorus's brother, Carterius/Carus (Marcus Aurelius Carus) (approximately 222 – 283 C.E.), another son of Gregory (Eutropius). The Amilius version of the above name can be seen as 'M. A(ur)elius (Carus)', it can also be viewed as Aelius, which looks to have been Emperor Trajan's family name before Hadrian's use; Amilius also means 'to rival' and 'be equal to'. The use of 'Aemilianus' is possibly an attack on Emperor Lucius Domitius Aurelianus, who fought against Queen Zenobia and Carus.
The Life of Plotinus gives information allowing us to decipher that Carus was apparently the brother of Constantius. Constantius was a supporter of sun-god worship, as can be seen from the inscriptions on his coins. The current understanding is that Constantius Chlorus was apparently of humble origins, just as Emperor Vespasian is currently thought to be.
However, George Philip Baker (1879-1951) states in Constantine the Great and the Christian Revolution (1930) that Constantine:
"rested his hopes upon a hereditary monarchy, fixed in a certain family that was almost a single caste in itself." (Cooper Square Press (Rowman& Littlefield Publishing Group) 1992 in paper back, page 211)
In the Life of Plotinus, we see mentioned the supposed author Porphyry's friend and chief assistant in Plotinus' philosophical school. The name presented is 'Aemilius Gentilianus'. This Aemilius has a friend called Carterius. Their closeness seems to indicate that the names were possibly alter egos of each other, as has been the case with other examples. Therefore, we need to decipher the identities of these two fellow pupils of "Porphry"; the word of which is from πορφύρα (porphyra), meaning 'purple', the colour of royalty.
The name Carterius appears to be a disguised longer form of the name Carus. If Aemilius Gentilianus was Carterius's 'alter ego', Gen-tilianus was possibly a name honouring his grandfather, Origen; Gen-Tulianus - Tullianus, Tullus and Tullius are ancestral names of Emperor Trajan. The "Aemilius" portion of the name may come from his father Gregory's (Eutropius's, Marcianus's) marriage to a descendant, possibly a granddaughter, of Aemilius Papinianus, eminent jurist and mentor and predecessor of Origen. However, we also have another name used by Ulpian which was 'Claudius Aelianus' (see Origen article), 'Aelianus' is phonetically the same as 'Aemilianus'.
Carus is presented in the Historia Augusta in regards to the imperial succession upon the death of Emperor Probus in 282 C.E. In the final biography of the Historia Augusta, we are told of the brief reigns of three short-lived emperors: Carus, Numerian, and Carinus. Carus was made guard prefect by Emperor Probus (Ref - The Historia Augusta, Carus, Carinus, Numerian, Volume IV) This level of trust most certainly would only be given if Carus was a close relative. When Probus died, possibly killed by Carus, the latter was chosen by the army to be emperor. This strongly suggests that the succession of Carus was pre-arranged. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, Carus, Carinus, Numerian, Volume VII.1) Then, he would make his sons, Carinus and Numerian caesars.
Carinus attempted to overthrow Emperor Diocletian, but was defeated in battle and killed by Diocletian. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, Carus, Carinus, Numerian, Volume XVIII.2) Diocletian then became the unchallenged emperor in 284 C.E. Plotinus (possibly Emperor Probus), also has another pupil appearing in his Life, the name of the pupil is Castricius Firmus. We also read of an individual called 'Eustochius', who we read stays with Plotinus in his dying months; interestingly we read that Plotinus died at the age of 66, which, again, is 'Flavius Josephus' in Greek 'small numbers', zeros omitted. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, Life of Plotinus, 2.10) The name 'Eustochius' has a similar phonetical sound to the name 'Claudius Eusthenius', secretary to Emperor Diocletian. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, Life of Plotinus, 2.30)
Constantius's parents were called Claudia Aurelia, daughter of Aurelia, who was a descendant of Marcus Aurelius, and her husband 'Eutropius' (Gregory, Marcianus - son of Ulpian). It is valid to make the conjecture here that 'Claudius Eusthenius' may have been 'Eustochius', and may have been the son of 'Eutropius' and Claudia, that is, these are names recorded for Constantius Chlorus, making him the secretary of Emperor Diocletian.
We read of an individual coming in to hear Plotinus, that individuals name is 'Thaumasius', which, again, is similar phonetically to the name 'Thaumaturgus', as in Gregory Thaumaturgus. We also have the name 'Longinus' mentioned in the Life of Plotinus, an important contemporary philosopher. The name Longinus reminds us of 'Cassius Longinus', with Cassius being an ancestral name of Gregory, through Emperor Trajan; Ulpian also used the name 'Dio Cassius'.
With the name 'Castricus', it can be a shortened form of Cassius. In the Origen article and the Emperor Constantine video, the data led to deciphering 'Eutropius' as being a created name for Ulpian's (Origen's) son Tiberius Claudius Marcianus, also recorded in church history as Gregory. The name 'Eutropius' is seen as (U-TRO (Troy) -PIUS), as the Gordian's are linked to Troy, and Pius is from Ulpius/Ulpian. Therefore, in the name 'Castricus' we can see 'Cas-tr(o)-s(i)us', with S and C being interchangeable; (t, c, or s, preceded by the accent, and followed by an i, y, and eu, plus another vowel in the final syllable, can change phonetically. S can change to IPA [ʒ] or [z], C to IPA [ʃ], and T changes into IPA [ʃ], the I or Y is sometimes elided.) John Walker states:
T, S, and C, before ia, ie, ii, io, iu, and eu, preceded by the accent, in Latin words, as in English, change to sh and zh, as Tatian, Statius, [and] Portius ... pronounced Tashean, Stasheus, [and] Porsheus. (Ref - Rules for Pronouncing The Vowels of Greek and Latin Proper Names, rule 10, 4)
This 'Castricus' being a name for Constantius would logically make sense if Constantius's father, Tiberius Claudius Marcianus (Gregory, Eutropius) used the same method for creating his name. Under the name (Cassius) Longinus, Roman history records Gregory's (Marcianus's, Eutropius's) death. Late in life, the philosopher, Longinus, travelled to Queen Zanobia in Palmyria to apparently teach her Greek.
This is where, in 272 C.E., Aurelian overthrew and captured her, and 'Longinus' was killed. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, Deified Aurelian, XXX.3) Gregory/Marcianus/Eutropius is also mentioned elsewhere in the Historia Augusta, with the name 'Firmus', a usurper who is aiding Queen Zenobia against Aurelian, and wealthy enough to install square windows in his house using pitch, the Greek synonym of which is pissa (piso) (Ref - The Historia Augusta, Firmus, Saturninus, Proculus and Bonosus, III.2); a valid observation to note here is that the same word usage as above is found in the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, where we read that that Apollonius was apparently born in a meadow. 'Meadow' is leimon in Greek, but the synonym is pisos πῖσος, meaning "meadow, dell".
After the trial, the defendants are scattered. Some are placed in Libya (Ref - Eusebius, Ecclesiatical History, VII.XI.23), others hide nearby so as to visit the others. Those close by are presbyters Maximus and Dioscorus (possibly Diocletian), Faustinus (a longer form of Faustus/Fausta, and Aquila, which is Arrius Piso, as Aquila means the eagle in Latin. (Ref - Eusebius, Ecclesiatical History, VII.XI.24); Arrius appears as a fictional Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus according to Acts 18.2, and I Corinthians 16:19.
More will be written regarding Constantius Chlorus and Carus being brothers, and also 'Eusebius' (Julius Constantius I) being the half brother of Emperor Constantine.
Diocletian And The Martyrs of Palestine
For now, let us examine the data for Diocletian's supposed persecution, as presented in The Martyrs of Palestine. This work is found in 'Eusebius's' Ecclesiastical History, and it honours further 'martyrs' who we are told suffered persecution under Emperor Diocletian. Diocletian looks to be another family member, of which more will be written, who gained complete control of the empire in 285 C.E. Between the reign of Diocletian and that of Constantine, we read of forty years of changes of emperorship, wars and usurpations. The Ecclesiastical History was completed by 323-325 C.E., by that time Diocletian had been deceased for over ten years.
By the year 324, Diocletian's appointees, direct and indirect, were dead too, and Constantine had complete power, so, it was completely safe to create accounts of persecutions occurring during Diocletian's reign. There are no extensive histories for this period, the two original sources for the events of that time (305 and 314 C.E.) come from Eusebius's Life of Constantine and 'Lactantius's' (Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius - approximately 250 – 325 C.E.) Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died. (Ref - Eusebius, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume I, page 473 ff.; Lactantius, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume VII, page 301 ff.; also see Timothy D. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, pages 277-279, for a chronological table.)
In the Ecclesiastical History, we read of an individual named 'Timotheus'/Timothy, which in Greek means 'honouring God' - Τιμόθεος (Τιμό) honouring and "God" (θεος) who was burned after being tortured. We also see the name 'Agapius', which looks to be a name created by combining 'agatha', meaning 'good', and the word 'pius', a variant form of the name Piso, but also a Latin synonym for the Greek word 'Eusebios'. Also presented in this work is the name 'Thecla', the name of the character associated with the apostle 'Paul', in the apocryphal gospels. (Ref - Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers, Volume I, Chapter III, page 344) The name Ulpianus is also presented as a martryred youth. (Ref - Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers, Volume I, Chapter V, page 347)
A 'Firmilianus' (a form of 'Firmus', a name used by or used for Gregory/Marcianus/Eutropius, father of Constantius Chlorus) is presented as a contemporary and governor of Palestine, torturing 'believers' on behalf of Maximinus. We also see 'Valentina', a feminine form of Valentinian, a heretic of the church fathers. 'Valentina' is presented as a female confessor who is first tortured and then burned to death. (Ref - Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers, Volume I, Chapter VIII, page 349); evidence of this family using feminine forms of names to present their own names can be seen in Romans 16:7, where a ‘Junias’ is mentioned:
“Salute Andronicus and JUNIUS, my kinsmen…”
The current understanding is that 'Junius' was a female, but when the information indicates that Arrius Piso's' sons through one of his wives were called Alexander and Julius Piso, and we realise that letters such as ‘l’ and ‘n’ were interchangeable, in Biblical Hebrew, which is information given by the use of phonetics, you can see the above passage read:
“Salute Andronicus and JULIUS, my kinsmen…”
Further reference for this can be found in Creating Christianity A Weapon Of Ancient Rome, page 106-107.
To continue, a 'Probus' (Promus) is mentioned, which must be Marcus Aurelius Probus, mentioned earlier, who was beheaded. (Ref - Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers, Volume I, Chapter X, page 351)
Lastly, we read of a bishop of the 'Marcionites', which looks to be a fictional heresy named after 'Marcion', who we are told was active approximately 85 – 160 C.E. These dates, along with genealogical data, matches dates given for a son of Arrius Piso, called Justus, who appears as 'Justin Martyr' in the New Testament. Justus Piso as M. Annius Verus II married a woman named Matidia I. She was daughter of Silonius Matidius and Ulpia Marciana. Therefore, Justus would have the right to use the Marcion name.
The name of the heretical 'bishop of the Marcionites' is called 'Asclepius', which looks to be 'Eusebius' himself, playing a heretic. 'Eusebius's' (Julius Constantius's) great-grandfather, Ulpian, had been recorded using the name 'Asclepiodotus' on an inscription in Caria (now central Asiatic Turkey- see Origen article)
Lastly we have the martyrdoms of 'Pamphilus' and 'Eubulus'. Eusebius last name is recorded as Pamphilus and Eusebius describes this Pamphilius (meaning friend of all, kind to everyone, loved by all) as being very dear to him. (Ref - Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers, Volume I, Chapter XI, page 352) Eusebius describing 'Pamphilus' as being dear to him looks to be because this is his father, Constantius Chlorus. Eusebius's (Julius Constantius) paternal half brother was Emperor Constantine, however it is not openly stated that 'Eusebius' was Julius Constantius, nor that his sibling was Constantine.
Julius as Eusebius was apparently only a bishop of Caesarea. Pamphilus was the coastal area of Illyrica (Croatia and Bosnia today). Then it was the presumed area of Constantine's origin.
We are told Eusebius used the 'Pamphilus' name in honour of his teacher, church father Pamphilus. However, as well as Pamphilus, we have another church father supposedly active at this time called 'Pierius'. A fragment of 'Pierius's' writings did not appear until the Bibliotheca of Photius, the patriarch (church leader) of Constantinople in the ninth century. The fragment tells us that Pierius was the teacher of the martyr 'Pamphilus' - the fragment also mentions Pierus's brother, Isodorus. (meaning 'gift of Isis', the patron of nature and magic.) (Ref - Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume VI, page 157)
An earlier fragment of the writings of Pierius presents another link identifying Pierius. In 'Jerome's' second epistle to 'Pammachius', in the early 400s C.E., we read:
"Origen, Dionysius, Pierius, Eusebius of Caesarea" (Ref - Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume VI, page 157
Again, because the data points to the same elite family of different periods writing, the above statement looks to show Ulpian with his two sons- 'Jerome' calls the son 'Origen Jr.' (Ref - Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume VI, page 156) This 'Pierius' must be Gregory, as Ulpian's other son, Crinitus, used the Dionysius name. 'Pierius', then, was a name given to Gregory Thaumaturgus, Ulpian's other son.
'Jerome' placing 'Pierius' immediately after 'Origen' and 'Dionysius', strongly shows, again, based on previous data, that 'Pierius' was indeed another alias name used for Gregory Thaumaturgus. Therefore, 'Jerome' gives information in the early 400s to complete the family link when stating:
"Pierius taught "Pamphilus" - that is, father taught son.
This linked 'Eusebius' to Gregory, and therefore also to Constantine. As Constantius Chlorus was the father of Constantine and his half brother Julius Constantius ('Eusebius'), Gregory was the grandfather. Put simply, 'Pierius' (Gregory/Eutropius/Tiberius Claudius Marcianus) was the father and teacher of 'Pamphilus' (Constantius Chlorus)
Pierius (Gregory/Eutropius) and Dionysius/Isodorus (Crinitus)
Pamphilus (Constantius Chlorus)
Eusebius (Julius Constantius) and Constantine - same father, different mother
'Eubulus', mentioned in Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume XI, page 154, was thrown to wild beasts. This individual appears in II Timothy 4:21 (with Pudens, Linus, Claudia and the other brethren.) This appears to be a name used for Emperor Trajan's father, Frontinus, his companion being Adrianus (Hadrian).
As I have said in previous articles, like his ancestors, Constantine's aim for Christianity was simply a way to control how the slaves thought, so they would think they were doing the work of their God as opposed to following the commands of the emperor.
The Ecclesiatical History was written during the period of Constantine's rise to power. The years 324 - 327 C.E. saw Julius Constantius (Eusebius) have complete literary control. Like 'Cyprianus', seventy years before, the writings of 'Eusebius' contained fictional martyrdoms, which coincided with martyrdoms created by 'Lactantius Firmianus', who appears to be Constantine (more will be written regarding that, but if we remember one of the names recorded for Gregory/Marcianus/Eutropius was 'Firmus'.) The martyr stories of Eusebius would present tales of brave Christians martyred for their 'faith in Palestine' under Emperor Diocletian.
In reality, there appears to be no need for persecutions to obtain compliance with imperial policy. Rome was a police state (see Policing the Roman Empire. Soldiers, Administration, and Public Order. Oxford University Press, 2012) and only the upper classes, the emperor's friends and supporters, had rights. The people essentially had no rights, they did as they were instructed.
The decision regarding how far to expand Christianity could only have been an imperial one, decided by the emperors, assisted by their family. The Terminalia Festival of February 23, 303 C.E., shows that Christianity really did not exist and was not a great threat as is currently thought. This is because a date was supposedly set for the end of Christianity, and, therefore, the notion that the government could think that it could end 'Christianity' by decree shows how submissive the Christian religion would have to have been to the desires of the emperors. (Ref - Cambridge Ancient History, Volume XII, page 657); of note here is an edict in Latin stated as being issued by Emperor Galerius stopping the persecution and granting Christianity full legal status.
The work of Eusebius contains a Greek translation of the Latin text in 'Lactantius'. (Ref - Lactantius Liber de Mortibus Persecutorum, XXXIV ) However, we should ask why the edict was done in Latin, as the persecution, we are told, was happening in the Greek-speaking East?
In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon notes that the Emperor Diocletian supposedly chose the above date in 303 C.E. to launch his great persecution of the Christians. Gibbon writes, the aim was to "set bounds on the progress of Christianity". We are told by 'Lactantius' that Diocletian decided that the stopping of Christianity was to be done without bloodshed (Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum, 11.8), if that were true, it would have meant voluntary apostasy, which, based on the current understanding, surely would not have happened. (Ref - Cambridge Ancient History, Volume XII, page 651)
Further, we are also told that Diocletian sought to remove any Christian soldiery (officers) from the army. If we go, again, for a moment with the notion that this was the case, there could not have been many to remove, as the legions of the state were up-holders of the practice of sun-god worship. Even if this was the case, based on the data, that would be the extent of the "persecution" until 303 C.E.
The only indication we have of members of this family being forced to stop what they were doing can be seen after the death of 'Cyprianus', in 261 C.E. The absence of church literature around this time looks to be the reason for Eusebius producing writings that would appear to be from the 250's C.E., and being attributed to 'Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria'.
The aristocracy in Rome would have known who was creating the church literature in the scriptoria, how could they not, even if not all members had anything to do with the promoting of Christianity. The statement in Acts 26.26 gives us a clue:
"this was not done in a corner."
Constantine could not kill everyone who did not support it, therefore, by 324 C.E., he moved the capital far away away from the gossip in Rome. With the last opponent, Licinius, defeated, Constantine set up his capital in Byzantium, on the Bosphorus, the south-eastern corner of the tiny, modern day, European part of Turkey.
Before its completion, we read that in 325 C.E. he and Eusebius held a great church conference in Nicaea near to where his new capital would soon be. However, several reasons indicate this council did not take place:
Until 314 C.E., the evidence points to the church existing on paper only, with perhaps a small percentage of slaves being believers. The evidence does not support the church in 325 C.E. as actually already having enough bishops for 318 of them to be present at the council, with a further 208 supplying their signatures. (Ref - Liber Pontificalis, page 15, no. 34) - I must note here that 318 + 208 = 526. In I Corinthians 15:6 we are told that Christ appeared to more than 500 people and 26 presents the initials KP, that is, 10 + 16 by the Greek sequence system: Kappa is the 10th letter of the Greek Alphabet, Pi was the 16th. Further, 300 = the cross; 18 = the pythagorean 666, but also 10 = Jesus and 8 = Piso. 200 presents C (Calpurnius), which is 100; P seen as R in Greek is also 100. Therefore we have C+P (Calpurnius Piso)
This council was used by Constantine and 'Eusebius' to apparently send gifts to the 'church'. But until the bishops and churches were established, there could be no actual bishops to gather at the council.
It is stated to be the case that the purpose of the council was to condemn various heretics and their doctrines. This assumes there were independently thinking Christian theologians. But again, that cannot be the case, as the mass of evidence points to the aristocratic creation of Christianity, with it being tightly controlled by the same family circle in Rome. To divert the possible idea that Christianity was controlled from Rome, various distinguished church characters were stated as being in Alexandria, for example 'Arius', the leader of the supposed heresy, 'Arianism', which appears to be a created heresy to legitimize Christianity.
The purpose for the creation of the 'Nicaean council' was to record the giving of wealth to the 'church', as stated in the 'Donation of Constantine' or Constitutum domini Constantini imperatoris (https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/source/donatconst.asp) Essentially, Constantine gave the authorisation that all the emperor's wealth and authority were to go to 'Pope Sylvester' (285 - 335 C.E.; bishop of Rome from 314 - 335 C.E.) and his descendants, forever, including the Lateran Palace.
A question to ask is who was 'Pope Sylvester' who appears from nowhere? The authenticity of the above document has been contested since 1001 C.E. In 1929 C.E., the Church publicly admitted the document was a fake and returned the Papal States to Italy. (Ref - Liber Pontificalis, pages 14-26; Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, page 445) However, because the aristocracy were the only ones able to, and allowed to, write under penalty of death and they controlled the means of production of the books of the time, as well as distribution, there could not have been forgeries, only rewrites, by the same elite.
One argument against the legitimacy of the document is given by priest and scholar Lorenzo Valla in 1439-1440 CE. He states 'that the emperor of Rome had no legal right to cede his power to any pope.' However, Constantine became head of the church, and the data points to 'Sylvester' not being just any pope, but Constantine's brother. (Ref - De Falso Credita et Eminitia Constantini Donatione Declamatio, 1440; The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, pages 1689-1690)
Information given for 'Sylvester' is as follows:
Parents: 'Justa' and 'Rufinus'
A sister of a man called Vulcacius Rufinus, praetorian prefect of Constans, the youngest son of Constantine, married Julius Constantius (289 - 337 C.E.). Rufinus's colleague was Flavius Eusebius, and both were related by marriage to the imperial family. (Ref - PLRE I, 782-783 'Rufinus 25', and 307-308, 'Eusebius 39'; CLRE, 228-229)
The sister of Vulcacius Rufinus was called Neratia Galla/Gallia (fl. about 325) She died before Julius Constantius. Their son, Gallus (meaning the same as Pollio) was then entrusted to the care of 'Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia', i.e. Julius Constantius became the sole parent.
Galla's mother is recorded as 'Justina'(a longer form of 'Justa'), an empress married to Flavius Valentinianus I (321-375 C.E.), whose brother was Emperor Valens
Another ruling elite family were the Valerii gens, which traces its origins to an advisor of the Sabine, Titus Tatius, in a treaty with Romulus. 'Plutarch' states: "the most illustrious family trees of our own day, the Poblicolae, the Messallae and the Valerii, have for six hundred (note: 600 = 'Christ') years ascribed the glory of their noble birth" (Ref- Plutarch, Poblicola I.I (Tatius and Romulus), XII.I (laws), comp. Solon Pobl. I.II (contemporary Valerii)
From the above information we can deduce that 'Justa' and 'Rufinus' were names recorded for Julius Constantius's father and mother in law, through marrying 'Galla'. But why choose the name 'Sylvester'? An examination of the this name reveals that its root is 'silva'. However, ‘Silva’ becomes ‘Salva’ if the vowel ‘i’ is switched with an ‘a’, using the Hebrew language rules, with Salva meaning ‘Saviour’. Arrius looks to have used the name 'Flavius Silva' in his semi-fictional story of the war. Also, Sylvester or Sylvestris, means 'pastoral', which in the Christian Church means the 'giving of spiritual guidance'. Essential, then, we have 'Pope. 'Giving of Spiritual Guidance'.
The faith could not have had far-flung bishops and infa-structure, as its leaders look to only have existed in church literature. Within the literature they travelled about the empire, but they were alias's of family leaders, who were engaged in very different duties in different locations. In actuality, under their true identities, they were serving the emperors as their trusted generals and in other high imperial positions in Rome and elsewhere - as pointed out by Candida Moss above.
Logically, the momentous recorded activities in the church have to be regarded as fictional. The great church fathers of literature of the 200s C.E.- Origen, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Gregory, Dionysius (Crinitus)- who under their Christian names wrote Christian writings for the purpose of influencing people, and/or performed great Christian deeds, have to be considered fictional.
In the first century, the family had created the characters--Jesus, his family, John the Baptist, Paul, the disciples and apostles -all of whom, based on data, must too be considered fictional, that is, alias's of actual people; an example of which is ‘John the Baptist’, a character created to ridicule the Pharisee/Rabbi leader, Yochanan ben Zakai. This famous Jewish leader was ridiculed because he was a leader in the war against the Romans and because he further refused to accept Christianity. We can tell Yochanan ben Zakai was ‘John the Baptist’ because of the name translations:
Yochanan = John
'Zakkai' is translated as 'Zacchaeus' in Greek, but its root is found in the Hebrew word tzedakah, and means 'righteousness'
In the New Testament, 'John' is portrayed as being righteous.
The same would be the case for the 200s C.E. The only change was that until Caracalla, the 'church' leaders were alter egos of the Piso family, whereas starting in 218 C.E. they were aliases of the Ulpii family.
I would make the conclusion that any 'bishops' who from time to time we are told visited small scattered groups of believers must have been family members on their way to and from high governmental posts. We can imagine them exchanging their aristocratic clothing for much less luxurious clothing to present the appearance of 'holy men' visiting to the poor illiterate believers to encourage them keep their faith, despite continuing poverty and adversity.
In regards to names being created by the elite to hide their identity, I will end with an extract made by the late Sir Ronald Syme in his book 'Emperors and Biography: Studies in the Historia Augusta'.
Syme gives 10 ways to decipher fictitious names in a chapter called 'Bogus Names'. He states:
IX. Perverted names. One example is clear. Using Suetonius, the author changed 'Mummia' to 'Memmia' (Alex. 20. 3, cf. above). That is a mere trifle in the devices of the HA. If an author is anxious to be plausible, he may try to convey an impression of novelty (and hence of authenticity) by names that look original because different. Thus 'Avulnius' and 'Murrentius' (Aur. 13. I). One trick is to modify the shape of familiar names. Several instances have been detected. As consul in 258, the HA produces 'Nemmius Fuscus' (or 'Memmius Fuscus'). (page 8)
Regarding the identity of the author of the Historia Augusta, Syme states:
"From time to time the deceiver lowers the mask. For example, when scourging the follies and fraudulence of other biographers (whom he invents), notably 'Adius Junius Cordus'. The prime revelation occurs in the exordium of the Vita Aureliani. The Prefect of the City, after friendly and encouraging discourse on the high themes of history and veracity, tells the author to write as his fancy dictates."All the classical historians were liars, and he can join their company with a clear conscience..." (page 14) – "Well then, write as you will. You will be safe in saying whatever you wish, since you will have as comrades in falsehood those authors whom we admire for the style of their histories."(Aur. 2. 2)