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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>
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>
* [[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.
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