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Constantine and His Sons

The period from the accession of Diocletian to the death of Theodosius saw an unprecedented change in Roman government, religion, and cultureit was, in fact, the birth of a new age

Zosimus, New History
Pagan writing in Greek, he is favorable to Diocletian and hostile to Constantine

Lactantius, On the Deaths of the Persecutors

Rabidly Christian, anti-pagan work

Christian prelate wrote Chronicle, Ecclesiastical History, and Life of Constantine

Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae

A successor to Tacitus, and likewise unfortunately incomplete (extant only for A.D. 353378)

Minor Sources
SHA ends with a biography of Diocletian Aurelius Victor, Caesars An example of breviaria, brief historical surveys In this case short biographies from Augustus to Julian Orosius


37. Constantine and His Sons

37. Constantine and His Sons

Tetrarchy after Diocletian

[CONSTANTIUS] CONSTANTINE Severus Caesar Maxentius GALERIUS Maximinus Daia Caesar

See packet, 3233 Constantius and Galerius become Augusti Galerius controls both of the new Caesars
Severus Caesar (in Italy/Pannonia) is Constantius Caesar but Galerius friend Maximinus Daia Caesar (in East) is Galerius nephew

Maxentius, retired Maximians son revolts in Italy, proclaims himself Princeps

Severus attacks Maxentius Maximian comes out of retirement to help his son, Severus defeated

Constantius dies at York

His son, Constantine, is proclaimed Augustus to take his place


37. Constantine and His Sons

Diocletians Intervention
Constantine Caesar
Sol Invictus



Maximinus Daia Caesar

Galerius invades Italy Maximian and Maxentius quarrel

Maximian flees to Constantine (his son-in-law)

Diocletian calls a conference at Carnuntum

Constantine demoted to Caesar Licinius replaces Severus as Western Augustus Maxentius ignored

Galerius and the Christians

Launches vicious persecution Falls gravely ill, attributes it to retribution by the Christian god Issues an edict of tolerance in the East, then dies
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37. Constantine and His Sons

Towards One Man Rule

Sol Invictus

LICINIUS [Maxentius] Maximinus

Licinius replaces Galerius as Augustus in the East Constantine moves against Maxentius Battle of Milvian Bridge, A.D. 312
Constantines dream: Under this sign conquer
The Chi Rho and the Sol Invictus sunburst

Maxentius completely defeated, Constantine supreme in the West Constantine and Licinius meet in Milan in A.D. 313, agree to partition of the Roman world
Edict of Toleration: positive toleration that in some ways favors Christians, but this is far from making Christianity the official religion of the empire

Licinius moves against Maximinus Daia, who dies at Tarsus


37. Constantine and His Sons

Constantine Supreme

Diocletian dies in retirement (A.D. 316), having lived to see the Tetrarchy in shambles A.D. 324, Battle of Adrianople Licinius defeated and banished The empire has a single emperor for the first time in 39 years Constantines new capital Constantinople or Constantines City founded on the site of Greek Byzantium Recognized the greater wealth and security of the East Founded as a Christian city


37. Constantine and His Sons

37. Constantine and His Sons

Constantine and Christianity

His earlier syncretism with Constantines Sol Invictus? Pantheism Helena, his mother, a Christian Saw Christianity as a potentially unifying factor for the empire
But Christianity, when freed from outside pressures, tore itself apart Heresies and Orthodoxy

Council of Nicaea, A.D. 325

Eusebius, Life of Constantine (LR II no. 175, packet 18) Arius, a presbyter (or priest) in Alexandria had claimed that the Son, while divine, was subordinate to the Father and begotten subsequently by him Athanasius claimed that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were co-eternal
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Problems of Fourth Century

Government How to manage a large empire, maintaining unity and avoiding centrifugal tendencies How to avoid usurpers Christianization and the problem of schism Extreme Arians Strict Arians (homoeans) Moderate Nicaeans (homoiousia or alike) Strict Nicaeans (homoousia same) Barbarian Pressures Let them in, hire them, fight them off?


37. Constantine and His Sons

37. Constantine and His Sons

Constantines Sons
Constantine baptized on deathbed, dies (A.D. 337) Empire divided among his legitimate sons Constantine II (head of imperial college): Gaul, Britain, Spain Constans: Africa, Italy, Illyria Constantius II: East Constans defeates Constantine II, rules West alone Growing rift, religion makes it worse Constans: orthodox, ally of pope Constantius II: Arian sympathies Revolt kills Constans


37. Constantine and His Sons

37. Constantine and His Sons