Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume II/Socrates/Book V/Chapter 14
Chapter XIV.—Overthrow and Death of the Usurper Maximus.
As the emperor marched against the usurper the intelligence of the formidable preparations made by him so alarmed the troops under Maximus, that instead of fighting for him, they delivered him bound to the emperor, who caused him to be put to death, on the twenty-seventh of August, under the same consulate.
Andragathius, who with his own hand had slain Gratian, understanding the fate of Maximus, precipitated himself into the adjacent river, and was drowned. Then the victorious emperors made their public entry into Rome, accompanied by Honorius the son of Theodosius, still a mere boy, whom his father had sent for from Constantinople immediately after Maximus had been vanquished. They continued therefore at Rome celebrating their triumphal festivals: during which time the Emperor Theodosius exhibited a remarkable instance of clemency toward Symmachus, a man who had borne the consular office, and was at the head of the senate at Rome. For this Symmachus was distinguished for his eloquence, and many of his orations are still extant composed in the Latin tongue: but inasmuch as he had written a panegyric on Maximus, and pronounced it before him publicly, he was afterwards impeached for high treason; wherefore to escape capital punishment he took sanctuary in a church.
The emperor’s veneration for religion led him not only to honor
the bishops of his own communion, but to treat with consideration those
of the Novatians also, who embraced the ‘homoousian’ creed:
to gratify therefore Leontius the bishop of the Novatian church at
Rome, who interceded in behalf of Symmachus, he graciously pardoned him
for that crime. Symmachus, after he had obtained his pardon, wrote an
apologetic address to the Emperor Theodosius. Thus the war, which at
its commencement threatened so seriously, was brought to a speedy
- The same account is given in substance by Zosimus, IV. 46, who also confirms the statements of Socrates concerning the end of Andragathius. Valesius, however, relying on Idatius’ Fasti, asserts that Maximus was put to death on the 28th of July, not on the 27th of August.
- The churches were considered recognized places of asylum. Cf. Bingham, Christ. Antiq. VIII. 10 and 11.