Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire

Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire

Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire

Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire

Synopsis

Drawing on recent scholarly advances and new evidence, Timothy Barnes offers a fresh and exciting study of Constantine and his life.
  • First study of Constantine to make use of Kevin Wilkinson's re-dating of the poet Palladas to the reign of Constantine, disproving the predominant scholarly belief that Constantine remained tolerant in matters of religion to the end of his reign
  • Clearly sets out the problems associated with depictions of Constantine and answers them with great clarity
  • Includes Barnes' own research into the marriage of Constantine's parents, Constantine's status as a crown prince and his father's legitimate heir, and his dynastic plans
  • Honorable Mention for 2011 Classics & Ancient History PROSE award granted by the Association of American Publishers

Excerpt

In the ‘few bibliographical notes’ (amounting in fact to more than seventy pages) which Norman Baynes added to the published version of the paper on Constantine which he delivered before the British Academy on 12 March 1930 as the Raleigh Lecture on History for 1929, he severely castigated Eduard Schwartz for his second thoughts on Constantine. Baynes contrasted Schwartz’s article in the first volume of Meister der Politik, edited by Erich Marcks and Karl Alexander von Müller (Stuttgart & Berlin, 1922: 171–223) with his earlier book Kaiser Constantin und die christliche Kirche (Leipzig, 1913). In the later essay, Baynes complained, Schwartz not only ‘carries to yet further lengths the views expressed in the book,’ but ‘this harsher restatement reads as a gage of challenge flung down before the critics.’ The present book bears a similar relationship to my Constantine and Eusebius, though its distance in time from a book published in 1981 is much closer to the interval between the two editions of Jacob Burckhardt’s classic Die Zeit Constantin’s des Grossen, which was first published in his native Switzerland in 1853 and issued in a revised edition in Germany twenty-seven years later (Leipzig, 1880). There is, however, a fundamental scholarly difference between my second thoughts and those of both Burckhardt and Schwartz, neither of whom was able to use significant new evidence that had come to light in the intervening period. Since 1981 there have been advances in our understanding of Constantine and the age in which he lived on many fronts, and an unexpected and startling increment in our evidence.

In December 2008 a young Canadian scholar working in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University contacted me out of the blue and asked if I would look at the draft of a monograph on the Late Greek epigrammatist Palladas. Until then, since I had read Palladas’ anti-Christian poems before I ever began to think seriously about Constantine, I had accepted the prevailing view of enlightened Anglo-Saxon scholarship that the anti-Christian epigrams of Palladas preserved in the Greek Anthology were written decades after the death of Constantine, during the reign of the emperor Theodosius (379–395). But as soon as I read what Kevin Wilkinson had sent me and tested his arguments, I saw that he . . .

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