Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius (b.c. 260) was a rhetorician from Africa who did not become Christian until the time of persecution (AD 303-313). The little we know about his life comes from a short biography and various brief remarks by Jerome. Lactantius studied under Arnobius, and he was called to serve as a rhetor in the court of Emperor Diocletian in Nicomedia. When Constantine and Licinius became emperors, they agreed to end the Christian persecutions in 313. Sometime after this, Constantine appointed Lactantius to serve as tutor for his oldest son, Crispus, in Trier. It is presumed that Lactantius spent the remainder of his life in Gaul and died around 330.

Jerome cites numerous works attributed to Lactantius, but only a few remain extant. The following table lists Lactantius’ surviving works, including approximate dates and CPL numbers. The links provide more information on each of the documents. Spurious works are indicated by as asterisk.

The Writings of Lactantius



CPL Number

c. 303-305 On God’s Workmanship 87
c. 306-313 Seven Books of Divine Institutes 85
c. 313-316 On the Deaths of the Persecutors 91
c. 314-321 Epitome of the Seven Books of Divine Institutes 86
c. 314-324 On the Wrath of God 88
Fragments of letters 89
On the Phoenix 90
On the Motions of the Soul (fragment) 92
*On the Passion of the Lord


Bryce, Jackson. Bibliography of Lactantius. Northfield, Minnesota, 1999; 3rd edition revised and supplemented, August, 2007.

Loi, V. “Lactantius.” In Encyclopedia of the Early Church. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 469-470.

Von Campenhausen, Hans. The Fathers of the Latin Church. Translated by Manfred Hoffmann. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1964.

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Last updated: 3-6-2012

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