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Constantine the Great

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[[Image:Constantine the Great.jpg|right|frame|St. Constantine]]
Equal to the Apostles Emperor Saint '''Constantine the Great''' ([[February 27]], 272-[[May 22]], 337) was proclaimed Augustus by his troops on [[July 25]], 306 and ruled an ever-growing portion of the Roman Empire to his death. Constantine is famed for his refounding re-founding of [[Byzantium ]] as "New Rome," which was always called "Constantine's City"&mdash;Constantinople. With the [[Edict of Milan]] in 313, Constantine and his co-Emperor removed all onus from Christianity. By taking the personal step of convoking the [[First Ecumenical Council|Council of NicaeaNicea]] (325) Constantine began the Roman Empire's unofficial sponsorship of Christianity, which was a major factor in the faith's spread. His reputation as the "first Christian Emperor" was promulgated by [[Lactantius]] and [[Eusebius of Caesarea|Eusebius]] and gained ground in the succeeding generations. The [[Orthodox Church]] keeps his feast on [[May 21]], along with his mother, Empress Saint [[Helen]], as Holy [[Saint titles|Equals-to-the-Apostles]].<ref>Great Synaxaristes: {{el icon}} ''[ Οἱ Ἅγιοι Κωνσταντίνος καὶ Ἑλένη οἱ Ἱσαπόστολοι].'' 21 Μαΐου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ. </ref>
==Early life==
He was born at Naissus, today's city of Niš in Upper Moesia (modern Serbia and Montenegro), to Constantius I Chlorus and an innkeeper's daughter, [[Helen]]. Constantine was well educated and served at the court of [[Diocletian]] in [[Nicomedia ]] as a kind of hostage after the appointment of his father Constantius, a general, as one of the two Caesars (at that time a junior emperor), in the Tetrarchy in 293. In 305, the Augustus, Maximian, abdicated, and Constantius succeeded to the position. However, he died in 306. Constantine managed to be at his deathbed in Eboracum (York, England), where troops loyal to his father's memory proclaimed him Emperor. For the next 18 years, he fought a series of battles and wars that left him first as emperor of the west, and then as supreme ruler of the Roman Empire.
==Constantine and Christianity==
By the end of the 3rd century, Christian communities and their bishops had become a force to contend with, in urban centers especially. Christians were preferred for high government positions; the Church was granted various special privileges; and churches like the [[Church of the Nativity (Bethlehem)|Church of the Nativity]] in Bethlehem and the [[Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem)|Church of the Holy Sepulchre]] in Jerusalem were constructed. Christian bishops took aggressive public stances that were unknown among other cult leaders, even among the Jews. Proselytism had had to be publicly outlawed, simply to maintain public decorum. In the essential legions, however, Christianity was despised as womanish, and the soldiers followed pagan cults of Mithras and Isis. Since the Roman Emperors ruled by "divine right" and stayed in power through the support of the legions, it was important for them to be seen to support a strong state religion. The contumely of the Christians consisted in their public refusal to participate in official rites that no one deeply believed in, but which were an equivalent of an oath of allegiance. Refusal might easily bring upon all the Roman people the loss of the gods' support; such were the usual justifications for occasional lynchings of Christians by Roman soldiers, the fare of many [[martyrology|martyrologies]].
Constantine and Licinius' Edict of Milan (313) neither made paganism illegal nor made Christianity a state-sponsored religion. What it did was legalize Christianity, return confiscated Church property, and establish [[Sunday]] as a day of worship. Though the church prospered under Constantine's patronage, it also fell into the first of many public schisms. He called the [[First Ecumenical Council]] to settle the problem of [[Arianism]], a dispute about the personhood and Godhood of [[Jesus Christ]]. It produced the [[Nicene Creed]], which favoured favored the position of [[Athanasius of Alexandria|Athanasius]], Arius's opponent, and became official doctrine.
When the Altar of Victory was desecrated and removed from its place of honor in the Senate, the Senate deputized Symmachus to appeal to the emperor for its return. Symmachus publicly characterized the late Emperor Constantine's policy, in a plea for freedom of religion:
:He diminished none of the privileges of the sacred virgins, he filled the priestly offices with nobles, he did not refuse the cost of the Roman ceremonies, and following the rejoicing Senate through all the streets of the eternal city, he contentedly beheld the shrines ''with unmoved countenance'', he read the names of the gods inscribed on the pediments, he enquired about the origin of the temples, and expressed admiration for their builders. Although he himself followed another religion, he maintained its own for the empire, for everyone has his own customs, everyone his own rites. The divine mind has distributed different guardians and different cults to different cities. As souls are separately given to infants as they are born, so to peoples the genius of their destiny. (''Possible Christian insertion in italics.'')
*[ Medieval sourcebook:] The Memorial of Symmachus, prefect of the City. (The Memorial has been emended to address three emperors, [[Valentinian II]] (died 392), [[Theodosius the Great (Emperoremperor)|Theodosius I]], and [[Arcadius]] (began to rule 395), a historical impossibility. Thus there may be other Christian adulterations of the text. The reply of [[Ambrose of Milan|Ambrose]], bishop of Milan is appended, which is highly revealing in the character of his argument in rebuttal.)
===Persian reaction===
[[Image:Constantine.jpg|left|thumb|A mosaic image of Constantine the Great from the [[Hagia Sophia (Constantinople)]].]]
==Other achievements==His victory in 312 AD over [[Maxentius]] at the Battle of Milvian Bridge resulted in his becoming Western Augustus, or ruler of the entire western half of the empire. He gradually consolidated his military superiority over his rivals in the crumbling Tetrarchy until 324, when he defeated the eastern ruler, [[Licinius]], and became sole emperor.  Constantine rebuilt the ancient Greek city of Byzantium, naming it ''Nea Roma'', providing it with a Senate and civic offices similar to the older Rome. After his death it was renamed Constantinople, and gradually became the capital of the empire.  He was succeeded by his three sons, Constantine II, Constantius II and Constans, who secured their hold on the empire with the murder of a number of relatives and supporters of Constantine. The last member of his dynasty was his grandson, [[Julian the Apostate]], who attempted to restore paganism. ==Controversies surrounding Constantine's faith===
The religion of Constantine the Great, while generally assumed to be Christian in view of his pro-Christian policies, is disputed by some secular historians, however the Church from the earliest times has considered him to be a devout Orthodox Christian.
One aspect of Constantine's life that secular historians use to indicate Constantine's incomplete acceptance of Christianity (from a modern view) was his notorious cruelty: he executed his own wife and eldest son in 326. He also had [[Licinius]], the East Roman emperor, strangled after his defeat, something he had publicly promised not to do. It should be noted, however, that Constantine's wife attempted to seduce Constantine's son (her step-son) and when he refused her advances, she accused him of raping her. The penalty for doing this to an Empress was death, as was any act considered to be treason. Later, St. Constantine discovered the truth and had his wife executed. Licinius, in his bitter hatred of Constantine and of Christianity, began to persecute the Church in the Eastern half of the Empire. Constantine eventually could not stand Licinius' cruelty and relieved him of his co-rulership of the Empire.
There is much The controversy surrounding that has surrounded Constantine's [[baptism]] is based upon the legend arising from the discredited documents of the ''[[w:Donation of Constantine|Donation of Constantine]]'', forged documents that date from about the mid eighth century. Secular historians and also some modern Orthodox teachers teach The story in the ''Donation of Constantine'' was built on a legend that arose during the fourth century within the Western Church which thought it inappropriate that St. Constantine received baptism could be baptized on his deathbed death bed by a bishop whose orthodoxy was in question and thus was an act that was a snub to the authority of [[Pope]]. The legend presents a story that earlier in Constantine's career Bishop [[Sylvester I of Rome]] had baptized Constantine after curing him of leprosy. Eusebius of NicomediaCaesarea recorded that the bishops "performed the sacred ceremonies according to custom" <ref>Eusebius, which is inaccurateVita Constantini 4.62. The Orthodox Church teaches that St4. </ref> of baptizing Constantinein May 337 by the [[bishop]] [[Eusebius of Nicomedia]] before Constantine's death on [[May 22]], becoming ill with leprosy337 at age of 65.===Historiography Over the Ages===During his life and those of his sons, received Constantine was presented as a vision paragon of Stsvirtue. Peter Even pagans like [[w:Praxagoras of Athens|Praxagoras of Athens]] and Paul[[w:Libanius|Libanius]] showered him with praise. When the last of his sons died in 361, however, his nephew [[Julian the Apostate]] wrote the satire ''Symposium, who told or the Saturnalia'', which denigrated Constantine, calling him inferior to the great pagan emperors, and given over to seek out Bishop Sylvester of Rome who would cure himluxury and greed. St<ref>Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 272–23. Sylvester instructed </ref> Following Julian, [[w:Eunapius|Eunapius]] began—and [[w:Zosimus|Zosimus]] continued—a historiographic tradition that blamed Constantine in for weakening the Empire through his indulgence to the Orthodox faith Christians.<ref>Barnes, ''Constantine and baptized himEusebius'', 273.</ref> In medieval times, Constantine was presented as an ideal ruler, the standard against which also cured him of his leprosyany king or emperor could be measured.<ref>Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 273; Odahl, 281.</ref>
The Renaissance rediscovery of anti-Constantinian sources prompted a re-evaluation of Constantine died at age 65's career. The German humanist Johann Löwenklau, discoverer of Zosimus' writings, published a Latin translation thereof in Nicomedia1576. In its preface, he argued that Zosimus' picture of Constantine was superior to that offered by Eusebius and the Church historians, and damned Constantine as a tyrant.<ref>Johannes Leunclavius, ''Apologia pro Zosimo adversus Evagrii, Nicephori Callisti et aliorum acerbas criminationes (Defence of Zosimus against the Unjustified Charges of Evagrius, Nicephorus Callistus, and Others'') (Basel, 1576), cited in Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 273, and Odahl, 282. </ref> Cardinal [[w:Caesar Baronius|Caesar Baronius]], a man of the Counter-Reformation, criticized Zosimus, favoring Eusebius' account of the year 337Constantinian era. Baronius' ''Life of Constantine'' (1588) presents Constantine as the model of a Christian prince.<ref>Caesar Baronius, ''[[w:Annales Ecclesiastici|Annales Ecclesiastici]]'' 3 (Antwerp, 1623), cited in Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 274, and Odahl, 282.</ref>
==Other achievements==His victory in 312 AD over For his ''[[w:The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire|History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire]]'' (1776–89), [[Maxentiusw:Edward Gibbon|Edward Gibbon]] at , aiming to unite the Battle two extremes of Milvian Bridge resulted in his becoming Western AugustusConstantinian scholarship, or ruler offered a portrait of Constantine built on the entire western half contrasted narratives of Eusebius and Zosimus.<ref>Edward Gibbon, ''The Decline and Fall of the empireRoman Empire'' Chapter 18, cited in Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 274, and Odahl, 282. See also Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 6–7. He gradually consolidated </ref> In a form that parallels his military superiority over account of the empire's decline, Gibbon presents a noble war hero corrupted by Christian influences, who transforms into an Oriental despot in his rivals in the crumbling Tetrarchy until 324old age: "a hero...degenerating into a cruel and dissolute monarch".<ref>Gibbon, ''Decline and Fall'', 1.256; David P. Jordan, when he defeated "Gibbon's 'Age of Constantine' and the eastern ruler, [[Licinius]]Fall of Rome", ''History and became sole emperorTheory'' 8:1 (1969): 71–96. </ref>
Modern interpretations of Constantine's rule begin with Jacob Burckhardt's ''The Age of Constantine the Great'' (1853, rev. 1880). * [[w:Jacob Burckhardt|Burckhardt]]'s Constantine is a scheming secularist, a politician who manipulates all parties in a quest to secure his own power.<ref>Jacob Burckhardt, ''Die Zeit Constantins des Grossen'' (Basel, 1853; revised edition, Leipzig, 1880), cited in Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 274; Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 7.</ref> * [[w:Henri Grégoire (historian)|Henri Grégoire]], writing in the 1930s, followed Burckhardt's evaluation of Constantine. For Grégoire, Constantine only developed an interest in Christianity after witnessing its political usefulness. Grégoire was skeptical of the authenticity of Eusebius' ''Vita'', and postulated a pseudo-Eusebius to assume responsibility for the vision and conversion narratives of that work.<ref>Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 7.</ref>* [[w:Otto Seeck|Otto Seeck]], in ''Geschichte des Untergangs der antiken Welt'' (1920–23), and André Piganiol, in ''L'empereur Constantin'' (1932), wrote against this historiographic tradition. Seeck presented Constantine rebuilt as a sincere war hero, whose ambiguities were the ancient Greek city product of Byzantiumhis own naïve inconsistency.<ref>Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 7–8.</ref> Piganiol's Constantine is a philosophical monotheist, a child of his era's religious syncretism.<ref>Barnes, naming it Constantine ''Nea Romaand Eusebius'', providing it with 274.</ref>* Related histories by [[w:Arnold Hugh Martin Jones|A.H.M. Jones]] (''Constantine and the Conversion of Europe'' (1949)) and [[w:Ramsay MacMullen|Ramsay MacMullen]] (''Constantine'' (1969)) gave portraits of a Senate less visionary, and civic offices similar more impulsive, Constantine.<ref>Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 8.</ref> These later accounts were more willing to present Constantine as a genuine convert to Christianity.* Beginning with [[w:Norman H. Baynes|Norman H. Baynes]]' ''Constantine the older Great and the Christian Church'' (1929) and reinforced by [[w:Andreas Alföldi|Andreas Alföldi]]'s ''The Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome'' (1948), a historiographic tradition developed which presented Constantine as a committed Christian.* [[w:Timothy Barnes|T. After D. Barnes]]'s seminal ''Constantine and Eusebius'' (1981) represents the culmination of this trend. Barnes' Constantine experienced a radical conversion, which drove him on a personal crusade to convert his death it was renamed Constantinopleempire.<ref>Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 8–9; Odahl, 283.</ref>* Charles Matson Odahl's recent ''Constantine and the Christian Empire'' (2004) takes much the same tack.<ref>Odahl, 283; Mark Humphries, "Constantine," review of ''Constantine and the Christian Empire'', by Charles Odahl, ''Classical Quarterly'' 56:2 (2006), 449.</ref> Barnes' work, arguments over the strength and depth of Constantine's religious conversion continue.<ref>Averil Cameron, "Introduction," in ''Constantine: History, Historiography, and Legend'', ed. Samuel N.C. Lieu and gradually became Dominic Montserrat (New York: Routledge, 1998), 3.</ref>* Certain themes in this school reached new extremes in T.G. Elliott's ''The Christianity of Constantine the Great'' (1996), which presented Constantine as a committed Christian from early childhood.<ref>Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 10.</ref>* A similar view of Constantine is held in [[w:Paul Veyne|Paul Veyne]]'s recent (2007) work, ''Quand notre monde est devenu chrétien'', which does not speculate on the origins of Constantine's Christian motivation, but presents him, in his role as Emperor, as a religious revolutionary who fervently believed himself meant "to play a providential role in the capital millenary economy of the empiresalvation of humanity".<ref>Fabian E. Udoh, review, ''Theological Studies'', June 2008. </ref>
He was succeeded by his three sons, Constantine II, Constantius II and Constans, who secured their hold on the empire with the murder of a number of relatives and supporters of Constantine. The last member of his dynasty was his grandson, [[Julian the Apostate]], who attempted to restore paganism.
[[Troparion]] (Tone 8)
:The weapon of the faithful against their enemies.
:For our sakes, it has been shown to be a great sign, and fearsome in battle.
==See also==
* [[Eusebius of Caesarea]]
* [[Labarum]]
* [[Edict of Milan]]
* [[Elevation of the Holy Cross]]
==Further reading==
* [[w:Timothy Barnes|Barnes]], (Prof.) Timothy David. ''[ Constantine and Eusebius].'' Harvard University Press, 1981. ISBN 9780674165311
* Bruun, Patrick. ''"The Christian Signs on the Coins of Constantine."'' '''Arctos''', Series 2, vol.3 (1962), pp.5-35.
* Elliott, Thomas George. ''[ The Christianity of Constantine the Great].'' University of Scranton Press, 1996. 366pp. ISBN 9780940866591
:''Professor Elliott (University of Toronto) argues that Constantine's "miraculous" conversion (before the final definitive battle in 312 with his rival Maxentius for the senior Augustuship of the Roman Empire) is the stuff of legend; and the reality is that there are many indications that Constantine's Christianity developed earlier and along normal lines. This is more than a scholarly debate over dates. It focuses on the point that this more mature character of Constantine's Christian faith, had an important shaping impact on his imperial policy toward Christianity.''
* Elliott, (Prof.) T.G.. ''"Constantine's Explanation of his Career."'' '''Byzantion''' 62 (1992). 212-234.
* [[Eusebius of Caesarea]]. ''[ Life of Constantine].'' Transl., with a commentary by Averil Cameron and Stuart George Hall. Clarendon Ancient History Series. Oxford University Press, 1999. 395pp. ISBN 9780198149170
* [[w:Arnold Hugh Martin Jones|Jones]], Arnold Hugh Martin. ''[ Constantine and the Conversion of Europe].'' (First published 1948). University of Toronto Press, 1978. 223pp. ISBN 9780802063694
* Leithart, Peter J. (PhD. Cambridge), ''Defending Constantine: the Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christianity.'' IVP Academic, 2010. 373pp. ISBN-10: 0830827226 ISBN-13: 978-0830827220
* [[w:Ramsay MacMullen|MacMullen]], Ramsay. ''[ Constantine].'' (First published 1969). Routledge, 1987. 263pp. ISBN 9780709946854
* Nicholson, Oliver. ''“Constantine's Vision of the Cross.”'' '''Vigiliae Christianae''' 54, no.3 (2000): 309-323.
* Odahl, Charles M.. ''"The Christian Basilicas of Constantinian Rome."'' '''Ancient World''' 26 (1995) 3-28.
* Odahl, Charles M.. ''[ Constantine and the Christian Empire].'' 400pp. Routledge, 2004. ISBN 9780415174855
This article is partially based on *[[wikipediaw:Constantine I (emperor)|Constantine I]].*[[w:Donation_of_Constantine|Donation of Constantine]]*Henry Wace Ed., ''A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D.'', article: ''Silvester, bishop of Rome'', Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.edition (rights: Public Domain) ISBN 1-56563-460-8
== External links ==
'''Wikipedia'''*[[w:Constantine I|Constantine I]]*[[w:Constantine I and Christianity|Constantine I and Christianity]]*[[w:Donation_of_Constantine|Donation of Constantine]]'''Other'''*[ OCA: Equal of the Apostles Emperor Constantine]*[ &lang=EN Ss. Helen, Equal to the Apostles GOARCH: Constantine and & Helen at goarch]* Robert Arakaki. [ Constantine The Great: Roman Emperor, Christian Saint, History's Turning Point]. Antiochian Orthodox Christian *[ Saint Constantine the Great]. Two part article on 33Knots Blog.Archdiocese of North America.* [ Christian Symbolism on bronze coins of Constantine the Great].* [ Constantine the Great] article on'''Icons'''
*[ Icon of St. Constantine]
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