Christianity and Classical Culture: A Study of Thought and Action from Augustus to Augustine

By Charles Norris Cochrane | Go to book overview

PART I
RECONSTRUCTION

I
PAX AUGUSTA: THE RESTORED REPUBLIC

'MAY it be my privilege to establish the republic safe and sound on its foundations, gathering the fruit of my desire to be known as author of the ideal constitution, and taking with me to the grave the hope that the basis which I have laid will be permanent.'1 In these words, which translate into the common language of human hope the formal professions of the Monumentum Ancyranum, the emperor Augustus is said to have expressed the ambition of his life and rested his claim to a place in history. It was his wish to be remembered as a second founder, the man who had restored and consolidated the republic, giving it a constitution adequate to its present and future needs. And so far were his ambitions fulfilled that his successors, one after the other, swore to administer their office ex praescripto Augusti, as they also assumed his name. Thus, if the younger Caesar fell short of greatness in the wider, he fully deserved it in the narrower sense. For he discovered what had eluded earlier statesmen, the formula by which the revolution was concluded and the empire launched upon the course it was to follow for at least two hundred years.

It is not surprising that the principate should have proved to be something of an enigma. Its creation was the personal achievement of a man whose signet-ring bore an image of the Sphinx and whose whole career involved, by his own admission, the deliberate assumption of a role. Originally an intrusion into the machinery of government, it was destined to be transformed, first into the naked military and bureaucratic absolutism of the pseudo-Antonines and later into the theocratic dynasticism of Diocletian and Constantine. It is not unnatural, therefore, to see these elements in the original system of Augustus. From this standpoint the 'destruction of citizenship as a meaningful concept' would coincide more or less definitely with the fall of

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Suetonius, Aug.28: 'ita mihi salvam ac sospitem rem publicam sistere in sua sede liceat atque eius rei fructum percipere quem peto ut optimi status auctor dicar et moriens ut feram mecum spem, mansura in vestigio suo fundamenta rei publicae quae iecero.'

-1-

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Christianity and Classical Culture: A Study of Thought and Action from Augustus to Augustine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Part I- Reconstruction 1
  • II- Romanitas: Empire and Commonwealth 27
  • III- Roma Aeterna: the Apotheosis of Power 74
  • IV- Regnum Caesaris Regnum Diaboli 114
  • Part II 177
  • VI- Quid Athenae Hierosolymis? the Impasse Of Constantinianism 213
  • VIII- State and Church in the New Republic 292
  • Part III- Regeneration 359
  • XII- Divine Necessity and Human History 456
  • Index 517
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