The Emperor Constantine

By Hans A. Pohlsander | Go to book overview

APPENDIX I

The sources for the reign of Constantine

The literary sources for the reign of Constantine are neither as complete nor as unbiased as we might wish. Information on the secular aspects of his reign is particularly inadequate.

Among the literary sources, the writings of Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260-339) are the most important. Eusebius' History of the Church was published in its fourth and final edition c. 325, after the fall of Licinius in 324, but before the death of Crispus in 326. It has rightly been called a massive achievement and earned its author the title "father of church history." On the occasion of Constantine's tricennalia in 336 Eusebius delivered his oration In Praise of Constantine; On Christ's Sepulchre, a description of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, produced in the previous year, is appended to this. The Life of Constantine, written after the emperor's death in 337 and showing signs of being unfinished, is an encomium rather than a true biography. It is now generally recognized as the work of Eusebius.

Eusebius' work is not without its shortcomings: his admiration of Constantine knew no bounds, and he is not above suppressing, distorting or misrepresenting facts to achieve his purpose. But Jacob Burckhardt surely judges him too severely when he calls him "the first thoroughly dishonest historian of antiquity" and "the most disgusting of all eulogists." We should be grateful to him for his practice of quoting, in full, the text of numerous Constantinian documents, such as letters, decrees and speeches.

Rufinus of Aquileia (c. 345-410) translated Eusebius' History of the Church into Latin and added to the original ten books two more of his own, carrying the story to the year 395. In the fifth century Socrates (Scholasticus), Sozomen and Theodoret wrote histories of the church which overlap with and sometimes supplement or correct the final portions of Eusebius' History of the Church and then provide their own account of the years 324-37 (and beyond).

Among the twelve Latin Panegyrics there are five (nos 4-7 and 12 in the editions of Baehrens and Mynors; nos 6-10 in the edition of Galletier) which are addressed to Constantine; these

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The Emperor Constantine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Chronology xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Soldier Emperors and Diocletian 4
  • 3 - Constantine's Rise to Power 13
  • 4 - Constantine's Conversion 22
  • 5 - Constantine as the Sole Ruler of the West 31
  • 6 - The Conflict with Licinius 40
  • 7 - The Arian Controversy, the Council of Nicaea and Its Aftermath 48
  • 8 - The Crisis in the Imperial Family 56
  • 9 - The New Rome 63
  • 10 - Constantine's Government 73
  • 11 - Constantine's Final Years, Death and Burial 80
  • 12 - Constantine's Image in Roman Art 85
  • 13 - An Assessment 90
  • Appendix I 95
  • Appendix II 98
  • Appendix III 102
  • Appendix IV 109
  • Select Bibliography 111
  • Index 117
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