« Antonians Antoninus Pius Antoninus, Saint, of Florence »

Antoninus Pius

ANTONINUS, an"to-nai´nus, PIUS: Roman emperor 138-161; b. near Lanuvium (Civita Lavigna, 18 m. s.s.e. of Rome) Sept. 19, 86; d. at Lorium (in southern Etruria, 12 Roman miles from Rome) Mar. 7, 161. He was made consul in 120 and was adopted by Hadrian in 138, after he had distinguished himself by his administration of the province of Asia. On his accession as emperor he took the name Titus Ælius Hadrianus Antoninus Pius, his original one having been Titus Aurelius Fulvius Boionius Arrius Antoninus. Under his just and gentle rule the empire enjoyed almost unbroken peace. In his last years he left the government more and more in the hands of his associate, Marcus Aurelius, with whom he was on terms of the closest friendship. For the Christian Church his reign is marked by the flourishing of Marcion and the Gnostic schools, by the apology of Aristides and the writings of Justin, probably by the Oratio of Tatian, and possibly by the final edition of the Shepherd of Hermas. Within the same period fall the beginning of the Easter controversy, the visit of Polycarp and Hegesippus to Rome, the rise of the monarchical episcopate in that city, and the early stages of the consolidation against Gnosticism of the Roman Church. The civil magistrates observed the same policy of tolerance toward the Church as under Trajan and Hadrian. Practically, however, by forbidding or rendering difficult the delation of the Christians on a charge of atheism by the excited population of Asia Minor, as well as by his edicts addressed “to the people of Larissa, Thessalonica, Athens, and all the Greeks,” Antoninus so far protected them that he was considered by many ecclesiastical writers as a positive friend of the new religion. His prohibition of denunciation by fanatical private citizens, however, can not be taken as equivalent to an official sanction for the practise of Christianity.

(A. Harnack.)

Bibliography: E. E. Bryant, Reign of Antoninus Pius, Cambridge, 1895 (a scholarship-essay); Neander, Christian Church, i. passim; B. Aubé, Histoire des persécutions, pp. 297-341, Paris, 1875; W. W. Capes, The Age of the Antonines, London, 1876; Schaff, Church History, ii. 51-52; also, on the period, C. Merivale, History of the Romans under the Empire, 8 vols., London, 1865.

« Antonians Antoninus Pius Antoninus, Saint, of Florence »
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