Lactantius, Lucius Caelius Firmianus

Lactantius, Lucius Caelius Firmianus lo͞o´shəs sē´lēəs fûrmēā´nəs lăktăn´shəs [key], c.260–AD 340, Christian author and apologist, b. Africa. He taught rhetoric at Diocletian's school in Nicomedia and during the persecutions was converted to Christianity. Later (c.316) he was Latin tutor at Trier to Crispus, Constantine's son. His works, which were influenced by Cicero and Seneca, were sincere, well-written expositions of Christian doctrine, but some of his theological details have been pronounced erroneous. Among his works are The Divine Institutions ( Divinae institutiones ), the Epitome, and On God's Wrath ( De ira Dei ). On the Death of the Persecutors ( De mortibus persecutorum ), telling of the horrible end of such emperors as Nero, Domitian, and Decius, is a chief source for the history of the persecutions. The poem On the Phoenix ( De ave pheoenice ), a source of Cynewulf's Christ, is possibly by Lactantius.

See Excerpts from the Works of Lactantius, tr. by W. Fletcher (1972).

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