Gaius Quintus Decius, The Roman Emperor In The King

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Gaius Messius Quintus Decius was the Roman Emperor who ruled from 249 AD to 251 AD. Little is known about Decius’s life before becoming a military leader, which ended in his ascension to the throne. However, a few scholars have attempted to piece together what information is known. Geoffrey Nathan is one such author. In his article, "Trajan Decius (249-251 A.D.) and Usurpers during His Reign”, Nathan indicates that Decius was born into an aristocratic senatorial family around 201 AD. According to some sources, Decius served as governor in Moesia during the middle 230’s AD. In consequence, Decius could have also been a member of the senate. Decius married a woman also from a senatorial family named Herennia Cupressenia Etruscilla. Decius had…show more content…
He describes the emperor as “an agent of destiny”. Decius was a ponitfex maximus who was responsible for sacrificial rights. The end goal for emperors was to achieve peace with the gods avoiding their anger in nature and society (Brent 120). According to Novak in his book, “Christianity and the Roman Empire,” Decius’ edict was issued in December of 249 AD. The basic demand of the edict was that all Roman citizens were to give sacrifices to the gods for the safety of both the emperor and empire. The motive behind Decius’ edict is rather unclear and debated to this day (Novak 121). Nathan described the edict as a wide scale attack on the growing Christian religion as a part of is conservatism. Two of the possible motives in Nathan’s understanding was the religions growth or because of a grudge against Philip. Philip was secretly a Christian which may have influenced Decius’ negative feelings toward Christianity. On the other hand, Decius could have been motivated by his values of traditionalism desiring to assert traditional public piety to the traditional pantheon…show more content…
For example, an important Christian thinker, Origen, was arrested and tortured under this edict in 251 AD. It is possible that his death three years later was associated with wounds he had suffered during his persecution (257). The persecutions during this time were documented by correspondents between bishops. The bishop of Alexandria, Dionysius, described some of his church’s struggles in a letter to Fabius, the bishop of Alexandria. Dionysius indicated that there was persecution before the edict but the edict itself turned many believers away from the church. He told Fabius about Christians being forced to sacrifice and some attempting to flee. Those who attempted to flee would be captured, bonded, and imprisoned. If they still refused to sacrifice after their imprisonment, they would most likely be tortured (Novak 122). The bishops of Rome, Jerusalem, and Antioch were all arrested in the early stages of the decree. The bishop of Rome was an early victim of the persecution (Green 144). The edict was lifted after the death of Decius, but the effects on the Christian church last afterwards. For example, divisions in the church occurred over what to do with Christians who did sacrifice or who bribed their way out of the edict while their brothers and sisters paid in suffering for their beliefs (Novak

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