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Marcus Valerius Maximianus

Clarissimus knight and legate born in Poetovio that helped to disseminate the cult of Mithras in the African provinces.

  • Plan of the Mithraeum of Lambèse

    Plan of the Mithraeum of Lambèse
    Marcel Le Glay 

of Marcus Valerius Maximianus

TNMP 134

M. Valerius Maximianus, legate procurator, commanded the 3rd Augustan legion from 183 to 185, as L. Leschi has established from an inscription in the Great Baths of Cuicul. A legate of Commodus, he is known from a series of epigraphic texts during his command in Africa. A native of Poetovio in Pannonia, he had a splendid equestrian and senatorial career, as described in a text by Diana Veteranorum (Zana) [...]. During his time at the head of the legion, he managed the consulate. The dedication [that] does not mention this title must date from the time when he was not yet consul.

The legate Valerius Maximianus, a native of Poetovio in Upper Pannonia, dedicated several altars to Mithras such as the one found at Apulum, Dacia, and a couple at Lambaesis, Numidia. He may have helped introduce the cult to the province of Numidia when he was appointed to Africa as legate prefect of Legion III Augustus. The fine career of this knight who became clarissimus by the grace of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus is traced on an inscription found at Diana veteranorum (CIL VIII 4600).

In the Municipium [Septimium Apulense] there were two possible sanctuaries attested, only one of which has been excavated systematically. The great number of the monuments, however, suggests that further buildings could exist in the territory of the canabae, later Municipium Septimium Apulense. The only datable monument dedicated to Mithras from Apulum is the altar or statue base of Marcus Valerius Maximianus. The legatus legionis of the Legion XIII Gemina between AD 181/82 is a great example for the role of networks in local religious appropriation and representative religious individuality.

The son of an important magistrate from Poetovio, he was initiated into Mithraism probably for the first time in his own home town, and, after that, we can attest a loyalty towards this group religion through his long journey from Poetovio to Germania, Apulum and Lambesis. Besides some dedications, which legitimise his homo novus status and fidelity to the imperial family, he is considered to be the first adept of Jupiter Depulsor in Africa, spreading this cult as well.

His personally chosen favourite divinities became popular and persistent in those parts of the Empire where he was stationed for a short period of time. This suggests that the criticised theory of ‘prophets’ within small-group religions is still plausible, but one can replace this Judeo-Christian notion by the charismatic religious entrepreneur model of Weber.

[…] An interesting issue – which is, however, hard to solve – is the role of senators in the interior hierarchy of the Mithraic groups. In any case, the example of Marcus Valerius Maximianus shows the opposite of what we observe in the religious life of the senatorial elite in the conurbation of Apulum: as a Mithras worshipper, he must be an active member of a group, interacting directly and very personally with soldiers or civilians, much ‘lower’ categories of society.

His charisma, fame and power were transformed into a more personalised, intimate power of forming and shaping groups by direct interaction and conviviality, which made him probably the most ‘visible’ senator within the conurbation, the others being characterised by an unattainable and invisible attitude.

—Szabó (2018) Sanctuaires in Roman Dacia.



Altar by Valerius Maximianus from Apulum

TNMM 506

This monument bears an inscription to Mithras by a well-known general of the Roman Empire.

[Soli ? or Deo ?] invicto / Mitrae / M(arcus) Val(erius) Maxi/mianus / leg(atus) Aug(usti) / v(otum) s(olvit).
To Sol invincible Mithras, Marcus Valerius Maximianus, imperial legate, has fulfilled his vow.

Inscriptions of Valerius Maximianus at Lambaesis

TNMM 505

These twin inscriptions found in the Mithraeum of Tazoult were dedicated by the legate Marcus Valerius Maximianus.

Deo in/victo / Mithrae / sac(rum) / M. Val(erius) Maximianus / leg(atus) aug(usti) pr(o)pr(aetore).
Dedicated to Sol invicible god Mitrhas. Marcus Valerius Maximianus, Augustus’s legate prorector.

Mithraeum of Lambaesis

TNMM 101

The Mithraeum of Tazoult / Lambèse is one of the best preserved Mithras’s temples in Africa.



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