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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}} ''[http://www.synaxarion.gr/gr/sid/3295/sxsaintinfo.aspx 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.'')
*[http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/ambrose-sym.html 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 (emperor)|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=Was =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 Christian?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. The controversy 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. 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 Constantine could be baptized on his 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 Caesarea recorded that the bishops "performed the sacred ceremonies according to custom" <ref>Eusebius, Vita Constantini 4.62.4.</ref> of baptizing Constantine in May 337 by the [[bishop]] [[Eusebius of Nicomedia]] before Constantine's death on [[May 22]], 337 at age of 65.===Historiography Over the Ages===During his life and those of his sons, Constantine was presented as a paragon of virtue. Even pagans like [[w:Praxagoras of Athens|Praxagoras of Athens]] and [[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, or the Saturnalia'', which denigrated Constantine, calling him inferior to the great pagan emperors, and given over to luxury and greed.<ref>Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 272–23.</ref> Following Julian, [[w:Eunapius|Eunapius]] began—and [[w:Zosimus|Zosimus]] continued—a historiographic tradition that blamed Constantine for weakening the Empire through his indulgence to the Christians.<ref>Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 273.</ref> In medieval times, Constantine was presented as an ideal ruler, the standard against which any king or emperor could be measured.<ref>Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 273; Odahl, 281. </ref>
As The Renaissance rediscovery of anti-Constantinian sources prompted a Roman emperorre-evaluation of Constantine's career. The German humanist Johann Löwenklau, discoverer of Zosimus' writings, published a Latin translation thereof in 1576. 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 is not completely unassociated with paganismand Eusebius'', 273, and there is some controversy over Odahl, 282. </ref> Cardinal [[w:Caesar Baronius|Caesar Baronius]], a man of the Counter-Reformation, criticized Zosimus, favoring Eusebius' account of the vision which historical orthodoxy accepted Constantinian era. Baronius' ''Life of Constantine'' (1588) presents Constantine as his conversionthe model of a Christian prince.<ref>Caesar Baronius, demurring that it was pagan ''[[w:Annales Ecclesiastici|Annales Ecclesiastici]]'' 3 (Antwerp, 1623), cited in contentBarnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', not Christian274, and Odahl, 282.</ref>
Another aspect For his ''[[w:The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire|History of Constantine that might indicate an incomplete acceptance the Decline and Fall of Christianity the Roman Empire]]'' (from a modern view1776–89) was his notorious cruelty, [[w: he executed his own wife Edward Gibbon|Edward Gibbon]], aiming to unite the two extremes of Constantinian scholarship, offered a portrait of Constantine built on the contrasted narratives of Eusebius and Zosimus.<ref>Edward Gibbon, ''The Decline and eldest son Fall of the Roman Empire'' Chapter 18, cited in 326 for unknown reasonsBarnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 274, and Odahl, 282. He See also had [[Licinius]]Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 6–7.</ref> In a form that parallels his account of the East Roman emperorempire's decline, Gibbon presents a noble war hero corrupted by Christian influences, strangled after who transforms into an Oriental despot in his defeatold age: "a hero...degenerating into a cruel and dissolute monarch".<ref>Gibbon, ''Decline and Fall'', 1.256; David P. Jordan, something he had publicly promised not to do"Gibbon's 'Age of Constantine' and the Fall of Rome", ''History and Theory'' 8:1 (1969): 71–96.</ref>
Family influence 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 sometimes adduced a scheming secularist, a politician who manipulates all parties in a quest to account 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 a personal adoption the vision and conversion narratives of Christianity: that work.<ref>Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 7.</ref>* [[Helenw:Otto Seeck|Otto Seeck]] , in ''Geschichte des Untergangs der antiken Welt'' (1920–23), and André Piganiol, in ''L'empereur Constantin'' (1932), wrote against this agenda is said to be historiographic tradition. Seeck presented Constantine as a sincere war hero, whose ambiguities were the product of his own naïve inconsistency.<ref>Lenski, "probably born a ChristianIntroduction" though virtually nothing (CC), 7–8.</ref> Piganiol's Constantine is known a philosophical monotheist, a child of her backgroundhis era's religious syncretism.<ref>Barnes, Constantine ''and Eusebius'', save that her mother was 274.</ref>* Related histories by [[w:Arnold Hugh Martin Jones|A.H.M. Jones]] (''Constantine and the daughter Conversion of Europe'' (1949)) and [[w:Ramsay MacMullen|Ramsay MacMullen]] (''Constantine'' (1969)) gave portraits of an innkeeper a less visionary, and her father more impulsive, Constantine.<ref>Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 8.</ref> These later accounts were more willing to present Constantine as a successful soldiergenuine convert to Christianity.* Beginning with [[w:Norman H. Baynes|Norman H. Baynes]]' ''Constantine the Great and the Christian Church'' (1929) and reinforced by [[w:Andreas Alföldi|Andreas Alföldi]]'s ''The Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome'' (1948), a career that excluded overt Christianshistoriographic tradition developed which presented Constantine as a committed Christian. Certainly * [[Helenw:Timothy Barnes|T. D. Barnes]] demonstrated extreme piety '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 empire.<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 Dominic Montserrat (New York: Routledge, 1998), 3.</ref>* Certain themes in her later life this school reached new extremes in her trip to PalestineT.G. Elliott's ''The Christianity of Constantine the Great'' (1996), which presented Constantine as a committed Christian from early childhood.<ref>Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), where she discovered the 10.</ref>* A similar view of Constantine is held in [[True Crossw:Paul Veyne|Paul Veyne]] and established basilicas'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 millenary economy of the salvation of humanity".<ref>Fabian E. Udoh, review, ''Theological Studies'', June 2008.</ref>
As the general custom, Constantine was not ==Hymns==[[baptism|baptizedTroparion]] until close to (Tone 8):Having seen the figure of the Cross in the heavens,:And like Paul not having received his deathcall from men, when his choice fell upon the Arian bishop O [[Eusebius of NicomediaLord]]. However, :Your apostle among rulers, the Emperor Constantine,:Has been set by Your hand as ruler over the [[Church]] teaches that Imperial City:That he preserved in peace for many years,:Through the efficacy prayers of the sacrament is not dependent upon the sanctity Theotokos, O only lover of the celebrantmankind.
[[Kontakion]] (Tone 3):Today Constantine and his mother Helen:Reveal the precious Cross,:The Church considers Constantine weapon of the faithful against their enemies.:For our sakes, it has been shown to be a saintgreat sign, and fearsome in battle.
==Other achievementsSee also==His victory in 312 AD over * [[MaxentiusEusebius of Caesarea]]* [[Labarum]] at the Battle * [[Edict of Milvian Bridge resulted in his becoming Western Augustus, or ruler of the entire western half Milan]]* [[Elevation of the empire. He gradually consolidated his military superiority over his rivals in the crumbling Tetrarchy until 324, when he defeated the eastern ruler, [[LiciniusHoly Cross]], and became sole emperor.
==Further reading==* [[w:Timothy Barnes|Barnes]], (Prof.) Timothy David. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=LGDjJK-JeSwC&source=gbs_navlinks_s Constantine rebuilt and Eusebius].'' Harvard University Press, 1981. ISBN 9780674165311 * Bruun, Patrick. ''"The Christian Signs on the ancient Greek city Coins of ByzantiumConstantine."'' '''Arctos''', naming it Series 2, vol.3 (1962), pp.5-35.* Elliott, Thomas George. ''Nea Roma[http://books.google.ca/books?id=R_bFQgAACAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s The Christianity of Constantine the Great].''University of Scranton Press, providing it 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 Senate 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]]. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=KchhO8KEy3cC&source=gbs_navlinks_s 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. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=Mo77FrgvtDkC&source=gbs_navlinks_s Constantine and civic offices similar to the older RomeConversion of Europe].'' (First published 1948). University of Toronto Press, 1978. 223pp. ISBN 9780802063694* Leithart, Peter J. (PhD. After his death it was renamed ConstantinopleCambridge), ''Defending Constantine: the Twilight of an Empire and gradually became the capital Dawn of Christianity.'' IVP Academic, 2010. 373pp. ISBN-10: 0830827226 ISBN-13: 978-0830827220* [[w:Ramsay MacMullen|MacMullen]], Ramsay. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=_ocOAAAAQAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s 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.. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=PN8TMJPugsIC&source=gbs_navlinks_s Constantine and the empireChristian Empire].'' 400pp. Routledge, 2004. ISBN 9780415174855
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.==Reference==<references/>
==Sources==
This article is partially based on *[[wikipediaw:Constantine I (emperor)|Constantine I]]. == External Links ==*[http[w://wwwDonation_of_Constantine|Donation of Constantine]]*Henry Wace Ed.goarch, ''A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.org/en/chapel/saintsD.asp?contentid=62&lang=EN Ss'', article: ''Silvester, bishop of Rome'', Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. Constantine and Helen at goarch.org]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'''
*[http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsLife.asp?FSID=101452 OCA: Equal of the Apostles Emperor Constantine]
*[http://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints/62 Constantine & Helen, Equal to the Apostles GOARCH: Constantine & Helen]
* Robert Arakaki. [http://www.antiochian.org/1110388342 Constantine The Great: Roman Emperor, Christian Saint, History's Turning Point]. Antiochian Orthodox Christian
*[http://www.prayer-bracelet.com/2012/05/saint-constantine-the-great-part1/ Saint Constantine the Great]. Two part article on 33Knots Blog.
Archdiocese of North America.
* [http://www.constantinethegreatcoins.com/symbols/ Christian Symbolism on bronze coins of Constantine the Great].
* [http://www.servinghistory.com/topics/Constantine_the_Great Constantine the Great] article on ServingHistory.com.
'''Icons'''
*[http://www.comeandseeicons.com/c/phn38.htm Icon of St. Constantine]
*[http://www.comeandseeicons.com/c/phn21.htm Icon of Ss. Constantine and Helen]
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