THE GIGANTIC EMPEROR
THE new emperor, Maximinus, was of peasant blood, and
was a native of Thrace. He was of uncommon strength
and size, and very ambitious indeed. As he found the
occupation of herdsman too narrow for him, he entered
the Roman army during the reign of Severus, and soon
gained the emperor's attention by his feats of
We are told that he was more than eight feet high, that
his wife's bracelet served him as a thumb ring, and
that he could easily draw a load which a team of oxen
could not move. He could kill a horse with one blow of
his fist, and it is said that he ate forty pounds of
meat every day, and drank six gallons of wine.
A man who was so mighty an eater and so very tall and
strong, was of course afraid of nothing; and you will
not be surprised to hear that he was winner in all
athletic games, and that he quickly won the respect of
the Roman soldiers.
Maximinus was noted for his simplicity, discipline, and
virtue as long as he was in the army; but he no sooner
came to the throne than he became both cruel and
 He persecuted the Christians, who had already suffered
five terrible persecutions under Roman emperors; and he
spent the greater part of his time in camp. He waged
many wars against the revolted barbarians, and we are
told that he fought in person at the head of his army
in every battle.
Christians in the Arena.
The cruelty and tyranny of Maximinus soon caused much
discontent, so his reign lasted only about three years.
At the end of that time, his troops suddenly mutinied,
and murdered him and his son while they were sleeping
at noon in their tent. Their heads were then sent to
Rome, where they were publicly burned on the Field of
Mars, amid the cheers of the crowd.
Three emperors now followed one another on the throne
in quick succession. All that need be said of them is
that they died by violence. But the twenty-ninth
emperor of Rome was named Philip, and during his reign
the Romans celebrated the one thousandth anniversary of
the founding of their beloved city. It had been
customary to greet each hundredth anniversary by great
rejoicings; and a public festival, known as the
Secular Games, had been founded by Augustus.
Philip ordered that these games should be celebrated
with even more pomp than usual, and had coins struck
with his effigy on one side, and the Latin words
meaning "for a new century" on the other. None but
Roman citizens were allowed to take part in this
festival, and the religious ceremonies, public
processions, and general illuminations are said to have
been very grand indeed.
The games were scarcely over, when Philip heard that a
revolt had broken out among the Roman soldiers along
 the Danube River. To put an end to it as quickly as
possible, he sent a Roman senator named Decius with
orders to appease them.
Decius did his best to bring the soldiers back to
obedience, but they were so excited that they would not
listen to any of his speeches in favor of Philip.
Instead of submitting they elected Decius emperor, much
against his will, and forced him, under penalty of
death, to lead them against Philip.
The army commanded by the unhappy Decius met Philip and
defeated him. Philip was killed, and the new emperor
marched on to Rome, where he soon began a fearful
persecution of the Christians. Such was the severity
used during the two years of this persecution, that the
Romans fancied that all the Christians had been killed,
and that their religion would never be heard of again.