In this unique work, Lactantius created a hybrid of history and apologetics, making an argument for the truth of the Christian religion based on the fates of those emperors who had been the most egregious persecutors of Christians. Based in Diocletian's imperial capital of Nicomedia and later in Gaul at the court of Constantine, Lactantius was perfectly positioned to record these momentous events. As history, On the Deaths of the Persecutors is a key source for Diocletian’s Tetrarchy, the Great Persecution, and the rise of Constantine. It is an invaluable supplement to the broader Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus as well as his panegyrical Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine, taking its place among the most important primary sources for this era of transition, turmoil and consolidation.
This new edition features the classic late 18th century translation of Lord Hailes which was utilized in The Ante-Nicene Fathers series in 1905. Updated for a modern audience, the text of the translation effectively mirrors the erudite and lively prose of Lactantius's compelling and occasionally lurid historical narrative. A new introduction and extensive commentary has been added for this new edition to help make the text more approachable for the student or general reader. An index has also been included along with an updated list of references and suggested further reading.