Was the wife of Diocletian a secret Christian?

gloriaromanorum.blogspot.com | 3/20/2019 | Florentius
idkwatitis (Posted by) Level 3
The only possible surviving portrait of the Empress Prisca from the Palace

of Diocletian at Split. Taken from Avrelia Prisca by Radonic.

Centuries - Name - Diocletian - Persecution - Christians

Through the centuries, the name of Diocletian has become practically synonymous with the persecution of Christians. But is it possible that members of Diocletian’s own family, specifically his wife and daughter, were Christians themselves? The answer to this question is: “Yes.”

Whether they were good Christians or not—that is another question all together.

Acts - Martyrs - Wife - Diocletian - Christian

There are numerous legendary acts of the martyrs which identify the wife of Diocletian as a Christian. These tales, however, are unreliable at best. They identify the consort of Diocletian as "Serena" or "Eleuthera" or "Alexandra". As all of these stories were written long after the events, few scholars consider the details contained therein as facts. These tales do, however, seem to contain a kernel of truth.

There is one contemporary ancient source that mentions the wife of Diocletian by name. This work was lost for most of antiquity, having been rediscovered again only in the 17th century. This singular source is entitled: On the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died and it was written by the early 4th century Christian apologist, Lactantius. As primary sources go, On the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died is outstanding, even though it was clearly not written by an objective observer. Lactantius was prominent in the court of Constantine the Great, to the extent that he was appointed tutor to Constantine’s eldest son, Crispus. But to be fair, Lactantius makes no pretenses to objectivity and presents his work not as a history but as a Christian polemic. On this blog, I have cited from this source at least half-a-dozen times in previous posts on topics such as the destruction of the church in Nicomedia, on the death of Constantius Chlorus, on the...
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