Maximinus Daia (270-313) (yes, the surname rhymes with 'Dire'), Caesar and Augustus of the Roman Empire in the East, flogger and flayer of Christians and a cat kicker (allegedly), misruled his part of the Ancient World before he was cornered in a cave out somewhere in Asia Minor. To prevent being captured alive, Daia suffocated himself by literally eating dirt until he choked to death. Historian Edward Gibbon wrote in Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire it was 'a fittingly disgusting way for this swine to have died'.
Max Daia:Emperor of the Future
Maximinus came from the same rough end of the Roman empire's woods as the nearly all rulers at this time. None were oil paintings, Daia was more like the stuff they wash brushes with so that should be a guide to what he looked like. In fact every surviving statue or coin show a man you would expect to have a criminal record. Perhaps he had one, Maximinus certainly got it when be became emperor.
He had an unexciting life and was probably illiterate like a lot of the rulers at this time. But family connections gave him a huge boost and along the way, his uncle Galerius became first Caesar and then an emperor of Rome. Maximinus followed his uncle around and adopted all of his relatives attitudes including a hatred of cats (some vague Egyptian connection or a dislike of the Cult of Isis). In due course he was married to some unfortunate who gave him a son and daughter.
In 305 Galerius (now emperor) made Maximinus caesar. This was at odds with emperor Diocletian's policy of avoiding avoiding creating a dynastic empire where, in theory, only the best should become the most powerful. But it was a time when blood flowed thicker than fortified wine and within a year, other emperors had let their sons inherit their jobs. In the West Constantine the Great and Maxentius claimed that if it was good enough for Maximinus to become emperor was good enough for them too. Add in Galerius's old friend Licinius too, no less than six men were challenging the right to be recognised as a 'bigger emperor than that other guy.
It was around this time that Maximinus developed a lust for saintly women. There was an official policy of persecution of the Christians at this time. Once convicted, an enemy of Rome could look forward to a gruesome fate. The Roman authorities had never understood what the Christians were really all about but their message of hope and redemption to include even slaves and thieves had struck them as dangerously humanitarian and a sign of moral flabbiness.
So the story goes that whilst enjoying one particular bonfire of the saintly ones, Maximinus fell in love with Catherine of Alexandria-she of the wheels. She was taken out of the death queue and brought to the emperor. He offered her designer clothes and a love villa but Catherine stayed firm. She was for Jesus, no mortal or immoral monster would have her. Maximinus condemned her to a fiery wheel of death and...the trouble with this story is that St.Catherine had already been martyred by Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius and Maxentius. So unless she a zombie or a vampire, this cannot be the same woman.
In 311 Galerius died. Maximinus formed an alliance with Maxentius (The Max Alliance) against Constantine and Licinius. A year later Maxentius was dead and Licinius had chased Maximinus out into the depths of Asia Minor. Deserted by friends, abandoned by his family and driven mad by visions of Catherine to 'eat pay dirt pagan', Maximinus followed her instructions and died with a stomach full of freshly masticated soil.