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

By Charles Norris Cochrane | Go to book overview

IV
REGNUM CAESARIS REGNUM DIABOLI

NEEDLESS to say, the claim of the Augustan order to finality was doomed to ultimate frustration. Yet the ideals symbolized in the splendid figure of the divinized emperor were to be implemented in large measure; and almost three centuries were to elapse before they were discarded in favour of those embodied in the likeness of a crucified Jew. During this period we may, perhaps, distinguish three phases of thought and action. The first was one of accommodation to the demands of the Augustan order; the second, the fulfilment of its promise when, as has been said, 'the Romans got their reward'; while the third was marked by various aspects of collapse and reconstruction, culminating in the formal adoption of a radically new principle of social integration, in the name of which the so-called Christian emperors were to undertake a renovation of Romanitas, the nature and scope of which we shall try to indicate in the second part of this work. The phases thus described correspond in general to the three successive centuries of the pagan empire. Accordingly, we may speak of the first century as roughly the century of adjustment, the second as that of fruition, the third as that of disintegration and decay; although it must be remembered that distinctions of this kind are largely arbitrary, since the web of history is seamless.1

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1
For a study of the period, Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. Bury ( 1896), remains indispensable as a basis. The significance of this work is that it embodies such a faithful rendering of the ancient literary tradition. Modern historians have, of course, supplemented and corrected the picture by the aid of fresh sources of information, chiefly epigraphical and numismatic: the former assembled in the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum and subsequent publications; the latter in works such as that of Mattingly- Sydenham, The Roman Imperial Coinage, 5 vols. ( 1923-33). Results of recent critical investigation are reviewed in the Cambridge Ancient History, vols. x and xi, the latter carrying the narrative to A.D. 1 70). For the difficult period which follows, H. M. D. Parker, A History of Rome from A.D. 138 to 337 (Hadrian to Constantine), will be found a clear and trustworthy guide. Specific aspects of the situation are discussed by Rostovtzeff, The Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire; Homo, L'Empire romain and Les Institutions politiques romaines; Chapot, The Roman World, and many other scholars. There are also monographs on a considerable number of individual emperors. Extensive bibliographies are contained in most of the standard works.

The prevailing fashion is to treat the period in a more or less impersonal way; attention no longer being focused, as it was for Gibbon, on the imperial palace and its occupants, but directed to economic and social phenomena which he to some extent overlooked. We may, however, doubt whether the need of the moment is

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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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