Roman emperor, A. D. 286-305-310. M. Aurelius
Valerius Maximianus born of humble parents in Pannonia, had acquired such high fame by his services in the army, that when Diocletian carried into effect (A. D. 285) his celebrated scheme for dividing without dismembering the empire [DIOCLETIANUS, p. 1012], he was induced to select this rough soldier for his colleague, as one whose habits and abilities were likely to prove particularly valuable in the actual disturbed state of public affairs, and accordingly created him first Caesar (285), and then Augustus (286), conferring at the same time the honorary appellation of Herculius,
while he himself assumed that of Jovius,
epithets which afforded a copious theme to the panegyrists of that epoch for broad adulation and far-fetched conceits.
The subsequent history of Maximian is so intimately blended with that of his patron and of Constantine, that almost every particular has been fully detailed in former articles. [DIOCLETIANUS; CONSTANTINUS I.; MAXENTIUS.] It will be sufficient, therefore, to direct attention to the leading facts, that after having been most reluctantly persuaded, if not compelled to abdicate, at Milan, on the first of May, A. D. 305, he eagerly obeyed the invitation of his son Maxentius the following year (306), and quitting his retirement in Lucania, was again invested with all the insignia of the imperial station; that having by his bravery and skill, averted the dangers which threatened Italy, having compassed the death of Severus (307), and having repulsed Galerius, he formed a close union with Constantine, on whom he bestowed the title of Augustus and the hand of his daughter Fausta ; that on his return to Rome he was expelled by Maxentius, who, having become impatient of his control and dictation, pretended or believed that he had formed a plot for his dethronement; that having betaken himself to the court of Galerius, and having been there detected in the prosecution of treasonable intrigues, he sought refuge with his son-in-law, and, to disarm all suspicion, once more formally threw off the purple; that having taken advantage of the temporary absence of his protector and treacherously gained possession of the treasures deposited at Aries, by profuse bribery he persuaded a body of soldiers to proclaim him Augustus for the third time; that having been shut up in Marseilles and compelled to surrender, he was stripped of all his dignities, but permitted to retain his life and liberty (308); but that, finally, two years afterwards, having vainly endeavoured to induce his daughter Fausta to destroy her husband, he was ordered to choose the manner of his death, and strangled himself in the month of February, A. D.
The whole history of this stormy period bears testimony to the military talents of Maximianus, and proves with equal certainty that he was totally destitute of all dignity of mind, thoroughly unprincipled, not merely rough and stem, but base and cruel. All authorities agree that he was altogether devoid of cultivation or refinement, and it is said that his features and general aspect were an index of the coarseness and harshness of the mind within. So long as he was guided by the superior genius and commanding intellect of Diocletian, he performed well the work for which he was chosen, but the latter years of his life, when left to the direction of his own judgment, exhibit a melancholy spectacle of weak ambition, turbulence, perfidy, and crime.
Maximianus married Eutropia, a widow of Syrian extraction, by whom he had two children, the emperor Maxentius, and Fausta, wife of Constantine the Great. Eutropia, by her former husband, who is unknown, had a daughter, Flavia Maximiana Theodora, who was united to Constantius Chlorus when he was elevated to the rank of Caesar. [EUTROPIA; FAUSTA; THEODORA.]
Zosim. 2.7, 8, 10, 11; Zonar. 12.31
; Actor. de Mort. Persec.
8, 29, 30; Panegyr. Vet. ii. passim, 3.3, 10, 14, 6.9, 7.14, &c.; Victor, de Caes. Epit.
39, 40; Eutrop. 9.14
. 2; Oros. 7.25
; Gruter. Corp. Inscrip.
cclxxxi. 4; Tillemont, Hist. des Emp.
not. v. xix. in Dioclet.; Eckhel, vol. viii. p. 15.