Maternus Cynegius (died on March 14, 388, in Berytos) was a praetorian prefect of the East and consul at the end of the 4th century, best known for destroying some of the most sacred sites of Hellenic religion during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire in a campaign against the temples of the East.
Cynegius is thought to originate from Spain and was a Christian. Between 381 and 383 he was appointed comes sacrarum largitionum, the imperial treasurer, by Emperor Theodosius I. Later he was appointed quaestor sacri palatii and, in 384, Praetorian prefect of the East. He issued laws that forbade Pagan sacrifices and closed and destroyed non-Christian temples in Egypt and Syria (386). As a deviation from Theodosius' policy, he issued anti-Jewish laws.
On his second visitation - to the East (including Egypt) - he was accompanied by Bishop Marcellus of Apamea. With Marcellus' encouragement, he destroyed, among other things,
- One of the temples in Edessa or one lunar temple in Carrhae;
- the temple of Zeus Belos in Apamea, which had included a famed oracle, which Septimius Severus, among others, had consulted;
- the Temple of Al-Lat in Palmyra.
In 388 he was appointed consul, though he died that same year.
Maternus has been identified with the high official who received the Missorium of Theodosius I and was probably depicted on it. A country house found by archaeologists near Carranque, in Spain, has been attributed to Maternus.
- Trombley, Hellenic Religion and Christianization c. 370-529
- Codex Theodosianus, XII.1.97.
- Codex Theodosianus, XII.13.5.
- Zosimus, Historia nea, IV.
- Olszaniec 2013, p. 104.
- Theodoret, Historia ecclesiastica, V.21.
- Ruth E. Leader-Newby, Silver and Society in Late Antiquity. Functions and Meanings of Silver Plate in the Fourth to the Seventh Centuries, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004, ISBN 0-7546-0728-3, pp. 11-14.
- Jones, Arnold Hugh Martin, John Robert Martindale, John Morris, The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Volume 1, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-07233-6, p. 235-236.
- Olszaniec, Szymon (2013). Prosopographical studies on the court elite in the Roman Empire (4th century A. D.) Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika [S.l.] ISBN 8323131430.
Flavius Valentinianus Iunior Augustus III,
| Consul of the Roman Empire
with Magnus Maximus Augustus II (West)
Flavius Theodosius Augustus II (East)
| Praetorian prefect of the East
Flavius Eutolmius Tatianus