Ancient History & Civilisation


  1 Various sources suggest that Constantius was strongly inclined to monotheism, and perhaps was even sympathetic to Christianity. This could be true, but all the evidence dates after Constantine's conversion and may be part of a manufactured tradition. His father may at least be considered a Christian sympathizer. He had been conspicuously lenient when the persecution edict was issued. When in 313 the dissident Donatist church leaders in North Africa asked Constantine for an adjudication in their dispute with the bishop of Carthage Caecilian, they referred back to this episode: “O Constantine, most excellent emperor, since you come of just stock, and your father (unlike other emperors) did not persecute the Christians, and Gaul was immune from this crime, we beseech you that your piety may command that we be granted judges from Gaul” (Optatus, On the Donatist Schism 1.22).  2 T. D. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius(Harvard, 1981), 266.  3 P. Weiss, “The vision of Constantine,” JRA 16 (2003), 237–59. Sound historical theories have to be rigorous and productive. Weiss's interpretation convinces not simply because it addresses the numerous individual cruxes of the complex tradition, but also because it throws so much light on Constantine's religious outlook and policies later in his reign.  4 For the eschatological significance of the vision, see O. Nicholson, “Constantine's vision of the Cross,” Vigiliae Christianae 53 (2000), 309–23.  5 Weiss's very full and detailed theory has been accepted by some, ignored by many, and sporadically contested, e.g. by O. Nicholson, “Constantine's vision of the Cross,” Vigiliae Christianae 53 (2000), 311 n. 9; D. Potter, The Roman Empire at Bay (London, 2004), 354–9, 666 n. 103, 667 n. 119, but without substantive argument.  6 P. Weiss, JRA 16 (2003), 254–5.  7 There is a reference to a very similar inscription in Eusebius, Life of Constantine I, 40, where the key expression has been changed to “A sign of salvation” referring to the cross; see Hall and Cameron's commentary.  8 T. D. Barnes, “Monotheists all,” Phoenix (2002), 142–62. See also E. D. Digeser, The Making of a Christian Empire. Lactantius and Rome (Cornell, 2000), 6–7, on the widespread acceptance among educated people of a supreme god, albeit they denied the divinity of Jesus. See also E. D. Digeser, “Lactantius, Porphyry and the debate over religious toleration,” JRS 88 (1998), 129–46.  9 S. Mitchell, “The cult of Theos Hypsistos,” in P. Athanassiadi and M. Frede (eds.), Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 1999), 81–148, at 94–5.10 Eusebius VC 4.37–9 for Constantia (formerly Maiuma) near Gaza in Palestine. MAMA 7, 305 for Orcistus in Phrygia. T. C. Skeat “The Codex Sinaiticus the Codex Vaticanus and Constantine,” Journal of Theological Studies 50 (1999), 583–625, has made a strong case that the Codex Sinaiticus, one of the most important Bible manuscripts, was in origin one of the copies commissioned from Eusebius.11 H. Chadwick, The Early Church (London, 1967), 119. R. A. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity(Cambridge, 1990) is the fundamental modern study.12 T. D. Barnes, “Statistics and the conversion of the Roman aristocracy,” JRS 85 (1995), 35–47, contesting the conclusions of R. von Haehling, Die Religionszugehörigkeit der höhen Amsträger des römischen Reiches seit Constantins I. Alleinherrschaft bis zum Ende der Theodosianischen Dynastie (Bonn, 1978); R. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (New Haven, 1997), 22, 58, 174 n. 70. See also D. M. Novak, “Constantine and the senate: An early phase in the Christianization of the Roman aristocracy,” Ancient Society 10 (1979), 271–310; M. R. Salzmann, “How the West was won: The Christianization of the Roman aristocracy in the years after Constantine,” in C. Deroux (ed.), Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History 6 (Brussels, 1992), 451–79; M. R. Salzmann, The Making of a Christian Aristocracy. Social and Religious Change in the Western Roman Empire (Cambridge Mass., 2002).13 Roger Tomlin, “Christianity and the late Roman army,” in S. Lieu and D. Montserrat, Constantine. History, Historiography and Legend (London, 1998), 21–51; R. Haensch, “Le christianisation de l'armée romaine,” in L'Armée romaine de Dioclétien à Valentinien I (Paris, 2004), 525–31. Army: A. Harnack, Militia Christi. The Christian Religion and the Military in the First Three Centuries (trans. Gracie, Philadelphia, 1981); J. Helgeland, “Christians and the Roman army from Marcus Aurelius to Constantine,” Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.23.1, 723–834. An important inscription for a Christian soldier who left the army as a result of the persecution of Diocletian was published with full commentary by T. Drew-Bear, “Les voyages d'Aurelius Gaius, soldat de Dioclétien,” in La Géographie administrative et politique d'Alexandre à Mahomet. Actes du colloque de Strasbourg Juin 1979 (1981), 93–141.14 Julian ep. 60 and 107 (Bidez); Ammianus 22.11.15 E. R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational (Berkeley, 1951), 283–311; Sarah Iles Johnson, “Theurgy,” in G. W. Bowersock et al. (eds.), Late Antiquity (Cambridge Mass., 1999), 725–6.16 R. E. Smith, Julian's Gods: Religion and Philosophy in the Thought of Julian the Apostate (London, 1995); P. Athanassiadi, Julian. An Intellectual Biography (London, 1992; first published as Julian and Hellenism [London, 1981]), P. Athanassiadi-Fowden, “A contribution to Mithraic theology: The emperor Julian's hymn to king Helios,” JTS 28 (1977), 360–71.17 G. W. Bowersock, Julian the Apostate (London, 1978), 61.18 Ep. 89b (Bidez-Cumont), probably to the high priest Theodorus.19 O. Nicholson, “The ‘Pagan Churches’ of Maximin Daia and Julian the Apostate,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 45 (1994) 1–10.20 I accept the arguments of P. van Nuffelen, Vigiliae Christianae 55 (2001), 131–50 that the corresponding letter of Julian to Arsacius, high priest of Galatia, is not authentic but a composition probably dating to the 440s. According to this Julian announced that he would set up xenodocheia, charitable guest houses, in all the cities where strangers, pagans and non-pagans alike, would have their needs attended to. Grain and wine from the imperial annona were to be distributed from these establishments, one-fifth to the poor attendants of the pagan priesthood, the remainder to needy strangers. In this way pagans would be able to match the provisions that both Jews and Christians made for their own communities. However, as Van Nuffelen points out, our actual evidence for Christian xenodocheia only begins with Basil's foundation at Caesarea in the 370s.21 J. Geffcken, The Last Days of Greco-Roman Paganism (trans. S. MacCormack, Oxford, 1978).22 T. D. Barnes, Ammianus (Cornell, 1998), 155–62.23 See R. Lane Fox, “Movers and shakers,” in A. Smith, The Philosopher and Society in Late Antiquity (Swansea, 2005), 19–50 at 25–31.24 E. A. Clark, “Rewriting early Christian history: Augustine's representation of Monica,” in J. Drijvers and J. Watt (eds.), Portraits of Spiritual Authority in Late Antiquity (Leiden, 1999), 3–23.25 W. Frend, “The family of Augustine: A microcosm of religious change in North Africa,” in Frend, Archaeology and History in the Study of Early Christianity (London, 1988), ch. VIII.26 C. Lepelley, Les cités de l'Afrique romaine au bas-empire I (Paris, 1979) and 2 (Paris, 1981); “Les limites de la christianisation de l'État romain sous Constantin et ses successeurs” in Christianisme et pouvoirs politiques (1973), 25–41; “L'aristocratie lettrée paienne. Une menace aux yeux d'Augustin,” in Aspectes de l'Afrique romaine. Les cités, la vie rurale, le christianisme (Bari, 2001), 397–413; D. Riggs, “Paganism between the cities and countryside of late Roman Africa,” in T. S. Burns and J. W. Eadie, Urban Centres and Rural Contexts in Late Antiquity (Michigan, 2001), 285–300.27 R. Lizzi, “Ambrose's contemporaries and the Christianization of northern Italy,” JRS 80 (1990), 156–77.28 S. Lepelley, Les cités de l'Afrique romaine I (Paris, 1979), 371–408.29 See Peter Van Nuffelen and Johann Leemans, “Episcopal elections in late antiquity: structures and perspectives,” in J. Leemans and P. Van Nuffelen, Episcopal Elections in Late Antiquity (Berlin, 2011), 1–20.30 R. MacMullen, Corruption and the Decline of Rome (Yale, 1988), 58–121.31 N. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan (Berkeley, 1994), 170–208.32 Mitchell, Anatolia II (Oxford, 1993), 79–80. N. McLynn, “Imperial churchgoing,” in S. Swain and M. Edwards (eds.), Approaching Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2004), 235–70 discusses both episodes.33 P. Brown, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity (Wisconsin, 1992), 71–158.34 Claudia Rapp, Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity: The Nature of Christian Leadership in an Age of Transition (Berkeley, 2005).35 The latest discussion of Ambrose's earlier career and election is by T. D. Barnes, “The Election of Ambrose of Milan,” in J. Leemans and P. Van Nuffelen, Episcopal Elections in Late Antiquity (Berlin, 2011), 39–59.36 The persecution is recorded, and probably exaggerated, by Victor of Vita, History of the Persecution of the Province of Africa in the Time of Gaiseric and Huneric, Kings of the Vandals, English trans. by J. Moorhead (Liverpool, 1992).37 T. D. Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius (Harvard, 1993), 176–8; H. Chadwick, The Role of the Christian Bishop in Ancient Society (Berkeley, 1980), 1–14; G. W. Bowersock, “From emperor to bishop: The self-conscious transformation of political power in the fourth century AD.” Classical Philology 81 (1986), 298–307.38 J. Hahn, Gewalt und Religiöser Konflikt. Studien zu den Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Christen, Heiden und Juden im Osten des Römischen Reiches (Berlin, 2004), 78–120.39 S. Mitchell, Anatolia II, 73–84.40 W. Liebeschuetz, Barbarians and Bishops (Oxford, 1990), 228–35.41 Priscus fr. 6.1; E. A. Thompson, The Huns (Oxford, 1996), 87–8.42 J. Harries, Sidonius Apollinaris and his Age (Oxford, 1994).43 W. Klingshirn, “Charity and power: Caesarius of Arles and the ransoming of prisoners in sub-Roman Gaul,” JRS 75 (1985), 183–203. The practice was especially prevalent in the areas terrorized by the Huns in the mid-fifth century, and also along the eastern frontier.44 Y. Azèma, Theodoret de Cyr. Correspondance I (Paris, 1982), 46–56. Note especially Theodoret, ep. 79–81.45 W. Liebeschuetz, The Decline and Fall of the Roman City (Oxford, 2001), 148–55.46 R. Lim, “Christian triumph and controversy,” in G. W. Bowersock et al. (eds.), Late Antiquity (Cambridge Mass., 1999), 196–217 at 200–1.47 S. Mitchell, Anatolia II, 96–100.48 S. Mitchell, Anatolia II, 96 n. 372. The Council of Nicaea canon 8 recognized Novatian ordained clergy, but deemed them subordinate to those of the Catholics.49 T. Urbaincsyk, Socrates of Constantinople. Historian of Church and State (Michigan, 1997).50 J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius (London, 1987), 313 no. 272 for translations of the key canons; S. Parvis, “The canons of Ancyra and Caesarea (314): Lebon's thesis revisited,” JTS 52 (2000), 625–36; D. Potter, The Roman Empire at Bay (London, 2004), 412.51 T. D. Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius (Cambridge Mass., 1993), 19–32.52 H. I. Bell, Jews and Christians in Egypt (London, 1924), 53ff.53 Sozomen, HE 2.25.3–8; J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius (London, 1987), 362 no. 302.54 J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius (London, 1987), 363 no. 303, letter of Constantine cited by Athanasius, Apology against the Arians 36; Socrates, HE 1.34; Sozomen, HE, 2.28.55 Socrates, HE 1.35.1–4. For background see M. J. Hollerich, “The Alexandrian bishops and the grain trade: Ecclesiastical commerce in late Roman Egypt,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 25 (1982), 187–207.56 W. H. C. Frend, The Donatist Church: A Movement of Protest in Roman North Africa (3rd edn. Oxford, 1985), “Donatists,” in G. W. Bowersock et al. (eds.), Late Antiquity (Cambridge Mass., 1999), 417–19. M. Edwards, Optatus: Against the Donatists (Liverpool, 1997).57 See the Acts of the Abitinian Martyrs, 20, 881–917, 21, 957–60, in J.-L. Maier, Le dossier de donatisme I (Berlin, 1987), 86–9 (trans. D. Potter, Roman Empire at Bay [London, 2004], 404–5).58 See the letters to the bishops and laity of Africa, in Optatus, On the Schism of the Donatists, app. 10 and 11; trans. J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius (London, 1987), 311–12 no. 270–1.59 P. Brown, Augustine of Hippo (London, 2000), 212–25.60 A. Demandt, “Die Feldzüge des älteren Theodosios,” Hermes 100 (1972), 81–113; J. J. Matthews, “Mauretania in Ammianus and the Notitia,” in R. Goodburn and P. Bartholomew (eds.), Aspects of the Notitia Dignitatum (Oxford, 1976), 157–86.61 Claudian, De bello Gildonico; A. Demandt, Die Spätantike (Berlin, 1989), 141–2.62 I follow the brilliant reconstruction of B. D. Shaw, “African Christianity: Disputes, definitions, Donatists,” in Rulers, Nomads and Christians in Roman North Africa, ch. XI. See also P. Brown, Augustine of Hippo (London, 2000), 330–9.63 S. Lancel, Actes de la Conférence de Carthage en 411, tome 1–111 (Sources chrétiennes 1972–5), and Gesta Collationis Carthagiensis anno 411 (Corpus Christianorum ser. Lat. 149A, 1974).64 See now Brent D. Shaw, Sacred Violence: African Christians and Sectarian Hatred in the Age of Augustine (Cambridge, 2011), summarized and discussed in the helpful review of Clifford Ando, (accessed March 3, 2014).65 R. Williams, Arius. Heresy and Tradition (London, 1987); further bibliography in T. D. Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius (Cambridge Mass., 1993), 244–5 n. 50.66 R. P. C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God. The Arian Controversy 318–381 AD (Edinburgh, 1988) is the fullest recent treatment.67 Sozomen, 1.5.1–6, trans. J. Stevenson A New Eusebius (London, 1987), no. 281; Opitz Urkunden 1.2 (Athanasius).68 Letter of Eusebius, Socrates, HE 1.8, trans. J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius (London, 1987), 344–7 no. 291.69 Socrates, 1.26.2ff., trans. J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius (London, 1987), 353–4 no. 295.70 For a lucid discussion of the main theologians and their arguments from the third to the mid-fifth century, see Frances Young, From Nicaea to Chalcedon (London, 1983, 2nd edn. 2010).71Apologetica Responsa, Patrologia Latina 10, 478–546.72 T. D. Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius. Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (Harvard, 1993); more briefly in “The career of Athanasius,” Studia Patristica 21 (1989), 390–405; W. H. C. Frend, “Athanasius as an Egyptian Christian leader in the fourth century,” in Religion Popular and Unpopular in the Early Christian Centuries (London, 1976), XVI.73 Canons of Serdica 3 c; 3 b 6, trans. J. Stevenson, Creeds, Councils and Controversies. Documents Illustrating the History of the Church AD 337–461 (London, 1989), 14–18 no. 9.74 Socrates, HE 2.22.5 (reduced to the apparatus criticus in the Griechische Christliche Schriftsteller edition of Hansen on the grounds that it was a forgery. Even so it certainly stood in Socrates' text. The letter was cited by other fifth-century church historians, see Barnes, Athanasius, 89.)75 For skepticism about Valens' Arianism, see R. M. Errington, “Christian accounts of the religious legislation of Theodosius I,” Klio 79 (1997), 398–43; in general N. Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century AD (Berkeley, 2002).76 J. F. Matthews, Western Aristocracies and the Imperial Court AD 364–425 (2nd edn. Oxford, 1990), 107–45.77 T. D. Barnes, “The consecration of Ulfila,” JTS 41 (1990), 541–5, argues for 336; P. Heather and J. F. Matthews, The Goths in the Fourth Century (Liverpool, 1991), 142–3, prefer 341. See Auxentius of Durostorum, Letter on the Life and Beliefs of Ulfila (Corpus Christianorum Ecclesiae Latinae 87) (1982), 101–10.78 This is the historical context of the martyrdom of St Sabas, describing Gothic persecution of their Christian fellows; translation in P. Heather and Matthews, The Goths in the Fourth Century (Liverpool, 1991), 111–17; cf. Basil, ep. 155, 164, and 165, which imply that details of the martyrdom were in circulation by 372.79 P. Heather, “The Crossing of the Danube and the Gothic Conversion,” GRBS 27 (1986), 289–318.80 E. A. Thompson, “Christianity and the northern barbarians,” in A. Momigliano (ed.), The Conflict between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 1963), 63ff.81 Ambrose, ep. 75–7, and Sermo contra Auxentium. See N. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan (Berkeley, 1994), 158–219; A Lenox-Cunyngham, “The topography of the basilica conflict of AD 385/6,” Historia 31 (1982), 353–63.82 W. H. C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity (London, 1984), 752–62; F. Millar, A Greek Roman Empire (Berkeley, 2006), 157–67.83 The controversy that ensued is described by Evagrius, HE 3.15–23.84 Evagrius, HE 3.44; Malalas 16.19.85 P. R. L. Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom (2nd edn. Oxford, 2002), 180–9.86 G. Greatrex, “Roman identity in the sixth century,” in S. Mitchell and G. Greatrex, Ethnicity and Culture in Late Antiquity (Wales and London, 2000), 267–92.87 Garth Fowden, Empire to Commonwealth (Princeton, 1993), 100–37.

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