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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 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 Nicea]] (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>
[[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.
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 Arian [[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>
==Other achievements==The Renaissance rediscovery of anti-Constantinian sources prompted a re-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 and Eusebius'', 273, and Odahl, 282. His victory in 312 AD over </ref> Cardinal [[Maxentiusw:Caesar Baronius|Caesar Baronius]] at , a man of the Battle of Milvian Bridge resulted in his becoming Western AugustusCounter-Reformation, criticized Zosimus, or ruler favoring Eusebius' account of the entire western half Constantinian era. Baronius' ''Life of Constantine'' (1588) presents Constantine as the empiremodel of a Christian prince. He gradually consolidated his military superiority over his rivals in the crumbling Tetrarchy until 324, when he defeated the eastern ruler<ref>Caesar Baronius, ''[[Liciniusw:Annales Ecclesiastici|Annales Ecclesiastici]]'' 3 (Antwerp, 1623), cited in Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 274, and became sole emperorOdahl, 282. </ref>
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), [[w:Edward Gibbon|Edward Gibbon]], aiming to unite the two extremes of Constantinian scholarship, offered a portrait of Constantine rebuilt built on the ancient Greek city contrasted narratives of ByzantiumEusebius and Zosimus.<ref>Edward Gibbon, naming it ''Nea RomaThe Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire''Chapter 18, cited in Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 274, and Odahl, 282. See also Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 6–7.</ref> In a form that parallels his account of the empire's decline, providing it with Gibbon presents a Senate noble war hero corrupted by Christian influences, who transforms into an Oriental despot in his old age: "a hero...degenerating into a cruel and dissolute monarch".<ref>Gibbon, ''Decline and civic offices similar to the older RomeFall'', 1.256; David P. After his death it was renamed ConstantinopleJordan, "Gibbon's 'Age of Constantine' and gradually became the capital Fall of the empireRome", ''History and Theory'' 8:1 (1969): 71–96. </ref>
He 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 succeeded by 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 as a sincere war hero, whose ambiguities were the product of his three sonsown naïve inconsistency.<ref>Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 7–8.</ref> Piganiol's Constantine IIis a philosophical monotheist, Constantius II a child of his era's religious syncretism.<ref>Barnes, Constantine ''and ConstansEusebius'', who secured their hold on 274.</ref>* Related histories by [[w:Arnold Hugh Martin Jones|A.H.M. Jones]] (''Constantine and the empire Conversion of Europe'' (1949)) and [[w:Ramsay MacMullen|Ramsay MacMullen]] (''Constantine'' (1969)) gave portraits of a less visionary, and 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 murder Great and the Christian Church'' (1929) and reinforced by [[w:Andreas Alföldi|Andreas Alföldi]]'s ''The Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome'' (1948), a number historiographic tradition developed which presented Constantine as a committed Christian.* [[w:Timothy Barnes|T. D. Barnes]]'s seminal ''Constantine and Eusebius'' (1981) represents the culmination of relatives 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 supporters the Christian Empire'' (2004) takes much the same tack.<ref>Odahl, 283; Mark Humphries, "Constantine," review of ''Constantineand 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 this school reached new extremes in T.G. Elliott's ''The last member Christianity of his dynasty was his grandsonConstantine 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 [[Julian the Apostatew: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 attempted fervently believed himself meant "to restore paganismplay a providential role in the millenary economy of the salvation of humanity".<ref>Fabian E. Udoh, review, ''Theological Studies'', June 2008.</ref>
: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==
* Borgehammar, Stephan. ''How the Holy Cross Was Found[[w: From Event to Medieval Legend with an Appendix of Texts.'' Volume 47 of Bibliotheca theologiae practicae. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell InternationalTimothy Barnes|Barnes]], 1991(Prof.* Burckhardt, Jacob (1818-97)Timothy David. ''[ Constantine and Eusebius].'' Harvard University Press, 1981. ISBN 9780674165311 * Bruun, Patrick. ''"The Age Christian Signs on the Coins of Constantine the Great]."'' '''Arctos''' , Series 2, vol.3 (1st ed. 1852; 2nd ed. 18801962). University of California Press, 1983pp. 400pp5-35. ISBN 9780520046801
* 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
*[ OCA: Equal of the Apostles Emperor Constantine]
*[ Constantine & Helen, Equal to the Apostles GOARCH: Constantine & Helen]
* 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
*[ Icon of St. Constantine]
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