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them.112 The schism in the church of North Africa between the catholics, who were prepared not to provoke the authorities, and their opponents, for whom martyrdom was the highest Christian good, may be said to have started at this point.113

In Palestine, there were forty-seven executions recorded by Eusebius in his Martyrs of Palestine, most for provoking the authorities. The majority of recalcitrant Christians, however, were sent to work in the mines of Egypt. It was there that the worst horrors ofthe persecution, witnessed by Eusebius in 311 in Upper Egypt, took place. After describing a number of horrific tortures meted out to Christians in the Thebaid, Eusebius continues: 'And we ourselves beheld, when we were at these places, many all at once in a single day, some of whom suffered decapitation, others the punishment of fire; so that the murderous axe was dulled, and worn out, and was broken in pieces while the executioners grew utterly weary and took it in turns to succeed one another.' Yet the volunteers for martyrdom never ceased and received 'the final sentence with gladness'.114

Maximin was an energetic ruler. He ordered the reform of the pagan cults in the cities of the east on hierarchical lines. He had anti-Christian propaganda such as the 'Memoirs of Pilate and the Saviour' circulated and, when he took over the provinces of Asia Minor on Galerius' death (5 May 311), he encouraged provincial and city councils to petition him to have the 'atheists' removed from their boundaries. An inscription from Colbasa in Lycia and Pamphylia records the emperor's congratulations to the city for 'having been freed from blind and wandering ways to have returned to a right and goodly frame of mind'.115

But at this point pagan morale was crumbling. Too many people were asking themselves why Christians hated the gods to the extent of giving their lives rather than worship them.116 Persecution in the west had ended upon the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian on 1 May 305. The palinode of Galerius, issued on 30 April 311, admitted the ill success ofthe measures designed to bring the Christians back to the religion of Rome, and now allowed 'that Christians may exist again'.117 This sealed the fate of the gods as no longer the sole protectors of the empire. Constantine took his cue from what he had seen. His

115 See Mitchell, 'Maximinus'. The text of the Aricanda inscription (CIL 3.12132) is given in translation in Stevenson and Frend, New Eusebius, no. 247, p. 281.

117 Lactant. Mort. 34; translation in Stevenson and Frend, New Eusebius, no. 246, pp. 280-1.

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