Lucius Caecilius Firmianus ( Firmianus, qui et Lactantius, the name in Jerome, De viris illustribus 80; German form of the name usually Lactantius; * 250, † 320 ), short Lactantius, was a native of the Roman province of Africa Latin teacher of rhetoric and Christian apologist. He is counted among the Church Fathers.


Lactantius is one of the most well-known apologists ( = defender) of early Christianity, ie he defended his writings Christianity against the pagan criticism of his environment. The Latin of the company acting as a rhetoric teacher Lactantius was considered so good that it Pico della Mirandola as " Christian Cicero " ( cicero christianus ) designated. However, authors such as Jerome expressed doubt about the contents of his theology, such as to his views on the nature of Jesus. Lactantius was initially appointed by the Roman Emperor Diocletian after Nicomedia, but put 303 at the start of Diocletian's persecution of Christians, his teaching position down. He was appointed to 315 by Constantine the Great to Treves, where he taught his son Crispus. He rejected the pagan literature not from, but used it quite extensively and looked into his stylistic dexterity a good way to teach Christian thought catchy. Theologically represented Lactantius an eschatological and a dualistic worldview.

His most important work, the Institutiones Divinae ( " divine teachings " ), which develop a comprehensive description and critique of ancient philosophy, mythology, etc. from a Christian perspective for apologetic purposes. But was in the Middle Ages unequal known his little treatise De mortibus persecutorum ( "Of the deaths of the persecutors " ), in which he tells the life and above all suffering and death stories of ten Roman emperors who persecuted particularly extensively according to tradition Christians. The plant is considered highly colored propaganda, the respective rule years are presented in worst possible light; nevertheless represents the work of a not unimportant source for the history of Late Antiquity in the time of Diocletian dar. In it is also one of the versions of the Vision of Constantine ( Lact. mp 44, 1-9). A complete manuscript was discovered only in 1678 in the French Abbey of Saint Pierre de Moissac.


Lactantius was one of the few educated people in the period from late antiquity to the Renaissance, which rejected the sphericity of the earth. For him stood the consequent possibility of people lying below the southern hemisphere, the Antipodes, contrary to statements in the Bible ( eg, Rom 10:18 ). The church father Augustine of Hippo joined in rejecting the antipodes, even if he kept the spherical shape of the earth possible. In De genesi ad litteram he exhorted the Christian preacher to face proven statements of the pagan philosophers about the cosmos no nonsense, derived from a literal interpretation of Scripture assumptions.

748 accused Boniface, referring to Lactantius, Virgilius of Salzburg with Pope Zacharias of heresy, as he drew a separate redeemer for the antipodes into consideration. In this letter reminded philosophers such as Blaise Pascal and Descartes, the Church when it rejected the heliocentric system on the basis of biblical passages.


  • De opificio Dei (On the creative work of God )
  • Divinae Institutiones (Divine teachings ). Includes 7 books, these are: de falsa Religione (On the wrong religion)
  • De origine erroris ( On the Origin of mistake)
  • De falsa sapientia ( On the false wisdom )
  • De vera sapientia et religione (On the true wisdom and religion)
  • De justitia ( About the justice )
  • De vero cultu ( from the true worship )
  • De vita beata (On the Blessed Life )

Issues / translations

  • Lucius Caelius Firmianus called Lactantius: Divine teachings in short form. Introduced, translated and explained by Eberhard Heck and Gudrun Schickler. Munich / Leipzig ( KG Saur Verlag ) 2001. ISBN 3-598-73006-3.
  • Lactantius: De mortibus persecutorum - The deaths of the persecutors. Lat. / Dt. , Translated and introduced by Alfons Städele, Turnhout 2003 ( Fontes Christiani 43).
  • Lactantius, De ira Dei liber. Edited and introduced by Heinrich force and Antonie Wlosok. University Press, Darmstadt 1971, ISBN 3-534-06044- X.