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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==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=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. Secular historians and also some modern Orthodox teachers teach that St. ]] is based upon the legend arising from the discredited documents of the ''[[w:Donation of Constantine received baptism on his deathbed by Eusebius |Donation of NicomediaConstantine]]'', which is inaccurateforged documents that date from about the mid eighth century. The Orthodox story in the ''Donation of Constantine'' was built on a legend that arose during the fourth century within the Western Church teaches which thought it inappropriate that St. Constantine, becoming ill with leprosy, received could be baptized on his death bed by a vision of Sts. Peter bishop whose orthodoxy was in question and Paul, who told him thus was an act that was a snub to seek out the authority of [[Pope]]. The legend presents a story that earlier in Constantine's career Bishop [[Sylvester I of Rome who would cure ]] had baptized Constantine after curing himof leprosy. StEusebius of Caesarea recorded that the bishops "performed the sacred ceremonies according to custom" <ref>Eusebius, Vita Constantini 4. Sylvester instructed 62.4.</ref> of baptizing Constantine in May 337 by the Orthodox faith 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 baptized 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 himwith praise. When the last of his sons died in 361, however, his nephew [[Julian the Apostate]] wrote the satire ''Symposium, or the Saturnalia'', which also cured denigrated Constantine, calling him of 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 leprosyindulgence to the Christians.<ref>Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 273.</ref>
In medieval times, Constantine died at age 65was presented as an ideal ruler, in Nicomedia, in the year 337standard against which any king or emperor could be measured.<ref>Barnes, ''Constantine and Eusebius'', 273; Odahl, 281.</ref>
==Other achievements==His victory 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 312 AD over 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. </ref> Cardinal [[Maxentiusw:Caesar Baronius|Caesar Baronius]] at the Battle of Milvian Bridge resulted in his becoming Western Augustus, or ruler a man of the entire western half Counter-Reformation, criticized Zosimus, favoring Eusebius' account of the empireConstantinian era. He gradually consolidated his military superiority over his rivals in Baronius' ''Life of Constantine'' (1588) presents Constantine as the crumbling Tetrarchy until 324, when he defeated the eastern rulermodel of a Christian prince.<ref>Caesar Baronius, ''[[Liciniusw:Annales Ecclesiastici|Annales Ecclesiastici]]'' 3 (Antwerp, 1623), cited in Barnes, ''Constantine and became sole emperorEusebius'', 274, and Odahl, 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, providing it with a Senate cited in Barnes, ''Constantine and civic offices similar to the older RomeEusebius'', 274, and Odahl, 282. After See also Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 6–7.</ref> In a form that parallels his death it was renamed Constantinopleaccount of the empire's decline, Gibbon presents a noble war hero corrupted by Christian influences, who transforms into an Oriental despot in his old age: "a hero...degenerating into a cruel and gradually became the capital dissolute monarch".<ref>Gibbon, ''Decline and Fall'', 1.256; David P. Jordan, "Gibbon's 'Age of Constantine' and the empireFall of Rome", ''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>
==SourcesHymns==This article is partially based on [[wikipedia:Constantine I Troparion]] (emperorTone 8):Having seen the figure of the Cross in the heavens,:And like Paul not having received his call from men, O [[Lord]],:Your apostle among rulers, the Emperor Constantine,:Has been set by Your hand as ruler over the Imperial City:That he preserved in peace for many years,:Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O only lover of mankind.
[[Kontakion]] (Tone 3):Today Constantine and his mother Helen:Reveal the precious Cross,:The weapon of the faithful against their enemies.:For our sakes, it has been shown to be a great sign, and fearsome in battle. == External Links See also==*[[Eusebius of Caesarea]]* [[Labarum]]* [[Edict of Milan]]* [[Elevation of the Holy Cross]] ==Further reading==* [[w:Timothy Barnes|Barnes]], (Prof.) Timothy David. ''[http://wwwbooks.goarchgoogle.orgca/enbooks?id=LGDjJK-JeSwC&source=gbs_navlinks_s 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. ''[http:/chapel/saintsbooks.aspgoogle.ca/books?contentidid=R_bFQgAACAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s 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]]. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=KchhO8KEy3cC&langsource=EN Ssgbs_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 Helen at goarchthe Conversion of Europe].org'' (First published 1948). University of Toronto Press, 1978. 223pp. ISBN 9780802063694* [[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 Christian Empire].'' 400pp. Routledge, 2004. ISBN 9780415174855 ==Reference==<references/> ==Sources==*[[w:Constantine I|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'''
*[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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