Writings of Eusebius - The Life of Constantine - Introduction and Book I

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Translated by Ernest Cushing Richardson, Ph.d.

librarian and associate professor in hartford theological seminary.

Under the editorial supervision of Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Semimary, New York, and Henry Wace, D.D., Principal of King's College, London

Published in 1890 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

II.--Special Prolegomena.

1. Editions

The Life is found in the editions of Eusebius (compare list in Dr. McGiffert's Prolegomena) of 1544 (p. 117^a-), 1612 (p. 301-), 1659, 1672, 1678, 1720 (p. 583-) and 1822 at least. The edition of Heinichen first published in 1830 (p. 1-332, 333-406, 407-500) and republished in 1869: Eusebius Pamphili Vita Constantini et Panegyricus atque Constantini ad sanctorum Coetum oratio. Recensuit cum annotatione critica atque indicibus denuo edidit...Lipsiæ, Hermann Mendelssohn, 1869. 8^o is the latest and best.

2. Translations

The editions of Latin translations are very numerous. Basil. 1549, Portesius (V.C. 650-698, O.C. 698-715, no L.C.); Basil, 1557, Musculus (V.C. 158-215, O.C. 217-231, no L.C.); Basil, 1559 (V.C. 650-698, O.C. 698-715); Par. 1562, Musculus (V.C. 160-218, O.C. 218-234); Antv. 1568 (?), Christophorson (V.C. 224-306^a, O.C. 306^b-326^a, L.C. 326^b-361); Basil, 1570, Portesius (V.C. 862-914, O.C. 915-932) and Christophorson (L.C. 932-971); Paris, 1571, Christophorson (258-341, 341-362, 362-397); Basil, 1579, Portesius (V.C. 862-914, O.C. 915-932), and Christophorson (L.C. 923-971); Paris, 1581 (V.C. p. 214-297, O.C. 297-317, L.C. 317-355); Colon. 1581, Christophorson (V.C. 195-268, O.C. 269-286, L.C. 287-317); "1591 (Grynæus)"; Basil, 1611 (Grynæus), Christophorson (V.C. 118-170, O.C. 171-184, no L.C.); Paris, 1677, Valesius (V.C. 164-232, O.C. 233-248; L.C. 249-275); Frf. ad M. 1695, Valesius (328-465, 466-497, 498-549); Cambr. 1720 (Reading) Valesius; Cambr. 1746 (Reading) Valesius; 1822 (Zimmermann), Valesius (772-1046, 1047-1117, 1118-1232); Par. 1842 (Cailleau). The editions of 1612, 1659, and 1672 at least also have Latin translations. There is a French translation by J. Morin, Histoire de la délivrance de l'Église, &c., Par. 1630, fol., and another by Cousin, Par. 1675, 4º, and 1686, 4º. There is a German translation by Stroth, Quedlinb. 1799, v. 2, p. 141-468, and one by Molzberger. Kempten, 1880. For English translations, see the following paragraph.

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3. English translations

The first English translation of Eusebius was by Merideth Hanmer (compare Prolegomena of Dr. McGiffert). The first editions of Hanmer did not contain the Life of Constantine. It is a little hard to distinguish the early editions, but there were at least three, and perhaps four, editions (1577 (76), 1585 (84), 1607, 1619?), before there was added in 1637 to the 1636 edition ("fourth edition" not "fifth edition 1650," as Wood, Athenæ Oxon.), a translation by Wye Saltonstall as follows:

BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects
Eusebius | His life of Constantine, | in foure | bookes. | With Constantine's Oration to the Clergie | ... | London. | Printed by Thomas Cotes, for Michael Sparke, and are to be | sold at the blue Bible in greene Arbour | 1637; fol. pp. (2) 1-106 (E), 107-132 (C), 133-163 (4) (L.C.). The dedication by the "translator" is signed Wye Saltonstall. This was reprinted: London. Printed by Abraham Miller, dwelling in Black Friers, 1649. fol., and is probably the same as that quoted often (e.g. Hoffmann) as 1650. The Life occupies p. 1-74. It was again reprinted, London, 1656, fol., it is said, revised and enlarged. The former editions having become exhausted, it was proposed to re-edit and republish Hanmer's (Saltonstall's) version, but the editor found it "a work of far greater labor to bring Dr. Hanmer's Translation to an agreement with the Greek Text of Valesius' Edition, than to make a New One," which latter thing he accordingly did and did well. It was published in 1682, with the following title:

The | Life | of | Constantine | in four books, | Written in Greek, by Eusebius Pamphilus, Bishop of Cæsarea in | Palestine; done into English from that edition set forth by | Valesius, and Printed at Paris in the Year 1659. | Together with | Valesius's Annotations on the said Life, which are made | English, and set at their proper places in the margin. | Hereto is also annext the Emperour Constantine's Oration to the | Convention of the Saints, and Eusebius Pamphilus's Speech concerning the praises of Constantine, | spoken at his tricennalia. | Cambridge, | Printed by John Hayes, Printer to the University, 1682, fol. This was published with the 1683 edition of the History, and so is properly 1683 in spite of title-page. In 1692 this was reprinted with a general title-page, but otherwise identically the same edition with same sub-titles and same paging. In 1709 a new edition was published, also with the History, having substantially the same matter on the title-page but The second edition. London. Printed for N. and J. Churchill, in the Year 1709. In this paging is the same (527-633), but there is preliminary matter added before the History. This version is said by Crusé (compare also Dr. McGiffert's Prolegomena) to be by T. Shorting. Whoever it was by, it was well done and most interesting. In the course of time, however, it became antiquated in form, and there was added in 1845 to the Bagster edition of the ecclesiastical historians an anonymous translation:

The | Life | of | the Blessed Emperor | Constantine, | in four books. | From 306-337 a.d | By | Eusebius Pamphilus | ... | London: | Samuel Bagster and Sons; | ... | MDCCCXLV. 8º p. xx, 380. This translation is in somewhat inflated style, which perhaps represents Eusebius and Constantine better than a simpler one, but which sometimes out-Herods Herod, as, e.g. in the oration of Constantine, p. 279, where it takes fourteen English words to express seven Greek ones, "Far otherwise has it been during the corrupt and lawless period of human life" for "It was not thus in lawless times." A quotation from Matthew (xxvi. 52) on p. 267 takes eight words in the original, twelve in the 1881 Revised Version, sixteen in the phrase of Constantine, and twenty-two in this translation. The translation is made from the edition of Valesius, not the first of Heinichen, as appears from the division of Bk. I, chap. 10, and similar peculiarities. The present edition (1890) is a revision of the translation of 1845 founded on the edition of Heinichen.

4. Author and date

Almost no fact of history is unquestioned; therefore the unquestionable authorship of Eusebius has been questioned. Some have made the author Macarius (compare Vog. Hist. lit. p. 12), evidently on the ground of the letter (3. 52) which the author says was addressed to himself, but which is to Macarius and others, but there is no real doubt of the Eusebian authorship. It was written after the death of Constantine (337), and therefore between 337 and 340, when Eusebius died. The interesting hypothesis of Meyer (p. 28) that it was perhaps written mainly in Constantine's lifetime, at the suggestion and under the direction of Constantine, to defend him against charges brought, or which might be brought, against him, is worth mentioning, although it is more ingenious than probable. The headings of the chapters are by another, though probably not much later, and a competent hand (cf. Lightfoot).

5. Trustworthiness of Eusebius

The value of a writer is determined by (1) His sources of knowledge, (2) His own intellectual and moral ability. Again, the criticism of a given work seeks whether the aim proposed for that work has been truly fulfilled. A man who attempts a treatise on Geometry is not to be criticised because he omits mention of sulphuric acid, or if he proposes a description of Wagner's music, because he does not produce a Helmholtz on Sound. The application of these principles to Eusebius' Life of Constantine requires brief examination of 1. The proposed scope of the work. 2. The character of the sources. 3. The intellectual and moral competency of Eusebius on the premises.

(1) The Scope of the Work. This is quite definitely outlined (i. 11). In contrast with those who have recorded the evil deeds of other emperors and have thus "become to those who by some favor had been kept apart from evil, teachers not of good, but of what should be silenced in oblivion and darkness," he proposes to record the noble actions of this emperor. He proposes, however, to pass over many things,--his wars, personal bravery, victories, and successes, his legislative acts, and many other things, and confine himself to such things as have reference to his religious character. His aim, therefore, is distinctly limited to his religious acts, and it is not stretching his meaning too far to say, expressly limited to his virtuous actions.

(2) Character of the Sources. Respecting this there is endless controversy. The fullness of material is unquestionable, the intellectual competency of Eusebius is almost equally so, and the questionings regard mainly whether the author has made a proper use of material. Opinions are various, but this does not mean that they are equally well grounded and valuable. Some of the latest judgments are the most severe. Crivellucci (Livorno, 1888) calls it an historical novel, and Görres, in a review of Crivellucci, agrees that it is worth less than the Panegyrics of Eumenius and Nazarius, which is certainly milder than Manso's (p. 222) "more shameless and lying" than these. Right or wrong, this is a frequently repeated view. Some (Hely, p. 141) cannot speak too strongly of the "contempt" which he "deserves," and accuse of "pious fraud" or the next thing to it (Kestner, 1816, p. 67). For farther criticisms consult the works cited by Dr. McGiffert under Literature, and the special works on Eusebius cited in the Literature to Constantine above, passim. The criticisms group generally around 1. The suppression of the facts respecting the deaths of Crispus, &c., and various others derogatory to Constantine. 2. The eulogistic tone and coloring of the work, especially the very pietistic saintly sort of flavor given to Constantine.

As to the suppression of facts, note (1) That he gives entire warning of his plan. It would have been artistically and ethically improper, in a work which distinctly sets out with such purpose, to admit that class of facts. It takes more or less from the value of the work, but it does not reflect on the general trustworthiness of what is said. (2) No similar judgment is passed on Eutropius, the Victors, Anonymous Valesianus or Zosimus, for not mentioning his pious acts. (3) A comparison of most biographies of living and dead presidents, kings, and emperors will be greatly to the advantage, even, of this fourth century eulogist over those of our boasted critical age.

As to the eulogistic and exaggerated tone, observe (1) That it was more or less justified. That is, the premises of the criticism which are substantially that Constantine was not saintly or pietistic and was non-committal toward Christianity, are false. His extreme testimony is backed by very general testimony in the election of Constantine to technical saintship. (2) That is compares well with modern eulogists and extremely well with the contemporary Panegyrists of Constantine. (3) That Eusebius takes care frequently to guard his statements by quoting his source, as in the matter of the vision of the cross, or by ascribing to hearsay.

In general, the work stands much on the same level as the biographies of generals in the late civil war, or of presidents, written by admiring members of their staffs or cabinets, incorporating authentic documents, intending to be truthful, and generally succeeding, but yet full of the enthusiasm of admiring friendship and inclined not to see, or to extenuate or even suppress, faults and mistakes. Nevertheless, they are valuable on the positive side as the real testimony to genuinely believed excellency by those in the position to know intimately. Eusebius is, substantially, genuine. Such supreme hypocrisy as would produce this work, without admiring respect and after its subject was dead, is inconceivable in him. All the unconscious turns of phrase show at least a consistent attitude of mind. The work is, in brief, by a competent author, from ample sources and without intentional falsification or misrepresentation. It probably represents the current Christian view of the man as accurately and honestly as any biography of Lincoln or the Emperor William written within a year or two of their deaths has done. As we now think of these two men whom doubtless inquisitive criticism might find to have faults, so the Christians in general and his friend Eusebius in particular thought of the Great Emperor. Compare discussion and literature of the trustworthiness of Eusebius as a historical writer in the Prolegomena of Dr. McGiffert in this volume.

6. Value of the Work

That the work on any basis but the untenable one of out-and-out forgery should be characterized as "worthless" or "a mere romance" or "of less value than the heathen panegyrists" is a curious bit of psychological performance, for it does precisely what it grounds its contempt for Eusebius on,--suppresses and exaggerates. Taking the minimum residuum of the most penetrating criticism, and the work is yet a source of primary value for understanding the man Constantine. This residuum includes (1) The documents which the work contains. These amount at the very least estimate to more than one-fourth of the whole matter, and the appended oration of Constantine is nearly as much more. (2) Many facts and details where there could be no possibility of motive for falsifying. (3) Much which critical care can draw out of the over-statements of eulogy.

§2. Oration of Constantine.

The Editions and Translations of this work are substantially identical with those of the Life. See above, under Life. The Authenticity of the work has been doubted, and its composition ascribed to Eusebius or some other Christian writer, but without sufficient reason. It was appended by Eusebius to his Life of Constantine as specimens of the latter's style (cf. V.C. 4. 32). As such it shows a man of some learning, though learning taken at second hand, it is thought, from Lactantius and others (cf. Wordsworth's Constantine I.). It was composed in Latin, and translated into Greek by the special officials appointed for such work (V.C. 4. 32). It was delivered on Good Friday, but in what year or where is not known. It has been placed before the year 324 (Ceiller, 130), but the mention of events and the character of the work itself suggest a considerably later date.

§3. Oration of Eusebius.

The Editions and Translations of this work are substantially identical with those of the Life, above, but some of the earlier ones do not contain the work. It was delivered in the year 336 (or possibly 335) at Constantinople, in celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of Constantine's accession, Constantine himself being present (cf. V.C. 4. 46 and O.C. 1). It gave the emperor lively satisfaction, from which one may safely infer a peculiar taste for combined panegyric and philosophical theology unless the hypothesis of a double work be true. According to this hypothesis the work consists of two separate orations, spoken perhaps at different times, the first including chapters 1-10, which are panegyrical in character, and the other chapters 11-18, which are theological (compare Lightfoot, Eusebius, p. 343; also McGiffert, Prolegomena, p. 43). It is like the oration of Constantine, a proper part of the Life of Constantine being appended according to his promise in Bk. 4, ch. 46.

The special points relating to these works are treated in the notes.

The Life of the blessed emperor Constantine,


eusebius pamphilus.

Book I.

Chapter I.--Preface.--Of the Death of Constantine.

Already [3049] have all mankind united in celebrating with joyous festivities the completion of the second and third decennial period of this great emperor's reign; already have we ourselves received him as a triumphant conqueror in the assembly of God's ministers, and greeted him with the due meed of praise on the twentieth anniversary of his reign: [3050] and still more recently we have woven, as it were, garlands of words, wherewith we encircled his sacred head in his own palace on his thirtieth anniversary. [3051]

But now, while I desire [3052] to give utterance to some of the customary sentiments, I stand perplexed and doubtful which way to turn, being wholly lost in wonder at the extraordinary spectacle before me. For to whatever quarter I direct my view, whether to the east, or to the west, or over the whole world, or toward heaven itself, everywhere and always I see the blessed one yet administering the self-same empire. On earth I behold his sons, like some new reflectors of his brightness, diffusing everywhere the luster of their father's character, [3053] and himself still living and powerful, and governing all the affairs of men more completely than ever before, being multiplied in the succession of his children. They had indeed had previously the dignity of Cæsars; [3054] but now, being invested with his very self, and graced by his accomplishments, for the excellence of their piety they are proclaimed by the titles of Sovereign, Augustus, Worshipful, and Emperor.


[3049] Literally "recently" or "not long since," and so it is rendered by Tr. 1709, Stroth, Molzberger, Valesius ("nuper"), and Portesius. Christophorson and Cousin avoid the awkwardness by circumlocution or simple omission, while our translator shows his one characteristic excellence of hitting nearly the unliteral meaning in a way which is hard to improve. [3050] The assembly referred to was the Council of Nicæa. Constantine's vicennial celebration was held at Nicomedia during the session of the Council at Nicæa (July 25), according to Hieronymus and others, but celebrated again at Rome the following year. The speech of Eusebius on this occasion is not preserved. Valesius thinks the one spoken of in the V. C. 3. 11, as delivered in the presence of the council, is the one referred to. [3051] This oration is the one appended by Eusebius to this Life of Constantine, and given in this translation (cf. V. C. 4. 46). [3052] [In the text it is ho logos, "my power of speech, or of description, much desires," and so throughout this preface: but this kind of personification seems scarcely suited to the English idiom.--Bag.] This usage of Logos is most interesting. Both he and his friend, the emperor, are fond of dwelling on the circles of philosophical thought which center about the word Logos (cf. the Oration of Constantine, and especially the Vicennial Oration of Eusebius). "My Logos desires" seems to take the place in ancient philosophical slang which "personality" or "self" does in modern. In ancient usage the word includes "both the ratio and the oratio" (Liddell and Scott), both the thought and its expression, both reasoning and saying,--the "internal" and "expressed" of the Stoics, followed by Philo and early Christian theology. He seems to use it in the combined sense, and it makes a pretty good equivalent for "personality," "my personality desires," &c. The idiom is kept up through the chapter. [3053] Constantine II., Constantius, and Constans proved on the whole sorry reflectors of glory. [3054] The first had been Cæsar more than twenty years; the second, ten; and the third, less than five.

Chapter II.--The Preface Continued.

And I am indeed amazed, when I consider that he who was but lately visible and present with us in his mortal body, is still, even after death, when the natural thought disclaims everything superfluous as unsuitable, most marvelously endowed with the same imperial dwellings, and honors, and praises as heretofore. [3055] But farther, when I raise my thoughts even to the arch of heaven, and there contemplate his thrice-blessed soul in communion with God himself, freed from every mortal and earthly vesture, and shining in a refulgent robe of light, and when I perceive that it is no more connected with the fleeting periods and occupations of mortal life, but honored with an ever-blooming crown, and an immortality of endless and blessed existence, I stand as it were without power of speech or thought [3056] and unable to utter a single phrase, but condemning my own weakness, and imposing silence on myself, I resign the task of speaking his praises worthily to one who is better able, even to him who, being the immortal God and veritable Word, alone has power to confirm his own sayings. [3057]


[3055] Referring to special honors paid after death, as mentioned in Bk. 4. [3056] Here there is play on the word Logos. My logos stands voiceless and a-logos, "un-logosed." If the author meant both to refer to expression, the first relates to the sound, and the second to the power of construction or composition. The interchangeableness of the weaving of consecutive thought in the mind, and the weaving it in expressed words, is precisely the question of the "relation of thought and language," so warmly contested by modern philosophers and philologians (cf. Müller, Science of Thought, Shedd's Essays, &c.). The old use of logos for both operations of "binding together" various ideas into one synthetical form has decided advantages. [3057] Here there is again the play on the word Logos. For Eusebius' philosophy of the logos, and of Christ as the Logos or Word, see the second half of his tricennial oration and notes.

Chapter III.--How God honors Pious Princes, but destroys Tyrants.

Having given assurance that those who glorify and honor him will meet with an abundant recompense at his hands, while those who set themselves against him as enemies and adversaries will compass the ruin of their own souls, he has already established the truth of these his own declarations, having shown on the one hand the fearful end of those tyrants who denied and opposed him, [3058] and at the same time having made it manifest that even the death of his servant, as well as his life, is worthy of admiration and praise, and justly claims the memorial, not merely of perishable, but of immortal monuments. Mankind, devising some consolation for the frail and precarious duration of human life, have thought by the erection of monuments to glorify the memories of their ancestors with immortal honors. Some have employed the vivid delineations and colors of painting [3059] ; some have carved statues from lifeless blocks of wood; while others, by engraving their inscriptions deep on tablets [3060] and monuments, have thought to transmit the virtues of those whom they honored to perpetual remembrance. All these indeed are perishable, and consumed by the lapse of time, being representations of the corruptible body, and not expressing the image of the immortal soul. And yet these seemed sufficient to those who had no well-grounded hope of happiness after the termination of this mortal life. But God, that God, I say, who is the common Saviour of all, having treasured up with himself, for those who love godliness, greater blessings than human thought has conceived, gives the earnest and first-fruits of future rewards even here, assuring in some sort immortal hopes to mortal eyes. The ancient oracles of the prophets, delivered to us in the Scripture, declare this; the lives of pious men, who shone in old time with every virtue, bear witness to posterity of the same; and our own days prove it to be true, wherein Constantine, who alone of all that ever wielded the Roman power was the friend of God the Sovereign of all, has appeared to all mankind so clear an example of a godly life.


[3058] Compare Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum, which doubtless the author had in mind. [3059] [Kerochutou graphes, properly encaustic painting, by means of melted wax.--Bag] Compare admirable description of the process in the Century Dictionary, ed. Whitney, N.Y. 1889, v. 2. [3060] Kubeis, at first used of triangular tablets of wood, brass, or stone, but afterwards of any inscribed "pillars or tablets." Cf. Lexicons.

Chapter IV.--That God honored Constantine.

And God himself, whom Constantine worshiped, has confirmed this truth by the clearest manifestations of his will, being present to aid him [3061] at the commencement, during the course, and at the end of his reign, and holding him up to the human race as an instructive example of godliness. Accordingly, by the manifold blessings he has conferred on him, he has distinguished him alone of all the sovereigns of whom we have ever heard as at once a mighty luminary and most clear-voiced herald of genuine piety.


[3061] Whether dexios is read or dexios, with Valesius, "present to aid," covers the idea better than "graciously present" (Molz).

Chapter V.--That he reigned above Thirty Years, and lived above Sixty.

With respect to the duration of his reign, God honored him with three complete periods of ten years, and something more, extending the whole term of his mortal life to twice this number of years. [3062] And being pleased to make him a representative of his own sovereign power, he displayed him as the conqueror of the whole race of tyrants, and the destroyer of those God-defying giants [3063] of the earth who madly raised their impious arms against him, the supreme King of all. They appeared, so to speak, for an instant, and then disappeared: while the one and only true God, when he had enabled his servant, clad in heavenly panoply, to stand singly against many foes, and by his means had relieved mankind from the multitude of the ungodly, constituted him a teacher of his worship to all nations, to testify with a loud voice in the hearing of all that he acknowledged the true God, and turned with abhorrence from the error of them that are no gods.


[3062] Compare discussion of length of reign and life under Life in Prolegomena, p. 411. [3063] 'GigEURnton. The persecuting emperors appear to be meant, of whom there is more mention hereafter.--Bag.] Refers of course to the mythical Gigantes who fought against the gods. It is used in the same sense in which Æschylus uses it of Capaneus (Theb. 424), who defied Zeus in declaring that even his thunderbolts should not keep him out of Thebes.

Chapter VI.--That he was the Servant of God, and the Conqueror of Nations.

Thus, like a faithful and good servant, did he act and testify, openly declaring and confessing himself the obedient minister of the supreme King. And God forthwith rewarded him, by making him ruler and sovereign, and victorious to such a degree that he alone of all rulers pursued a continual course of conquest, unsubdued and invincible, and through his trophies a greater ruler than tradition records ever to have been before. So dear was he to God, and so blessed; so pious and so fortunate in all that he undertook, that with the greatest facility he obtained the authority over more nations than any who had preceded him, [3064] and yet retained his power, undisturbed, to the very close of his life.


[3064] Compare the various wars against Franks, Bructerians, Goths, Sarmatians and others mentioned in Life in Prolegomena. Compare also Chapter 8 of this book.

Chapter VII.--Comparison with Cyrus, King of the Persians, and with Alexander of Macedon.

Ancient history describes Cyrus, king of the Persians, as by far the most illustrious of all kings up to his time. And yet if we regard the end of his days, [3065] we find it but little corresponded with his past prosperity, since he met with an inglorious and dishonorable death at the hands of a woman. [3066] Again, the sons of Greece celebrate Alexander the Macedonian as the conqueror of many and diverse nations; yet we find that he was removed by an early death, before he had reached maturity, being carried off by the effects of revelry and drunkenness. [3067] His whole life embraced but the space of thirty-two years, and his reign extended to no more than a third part of that period. Unsparing as the thunderbolt, he advanced through streams of blood and reduced entire nations and cities, young and old, to utter slavery. But when he had scarcely arrived at the maturity of life, and was lamenting the loss of youthful pleasures, death fell upon him with terrible stroke, and, that he might not longer outrage the human race, cut him off in a foreign and hostile land, childless, without successor, and homeless. His kingdom too was instantly dismembered, each of his officers taking away and appropriating a portion for himself. And yet this man is extolled for such deeds as these. [3068]


[3065] [Such seems to be the probable meaning of this passage, which is manifestly corrupt, and of which various emendations have been proposed.--Bag.] Perhaps better paraphrased, "But since the test of blessedness lies not in this, but in his end, we look and find that this." The key to the idea is found in the remark near the end of Chapter 11. Cf. also note. [3066] This is the account of Diodorus, who says he was taken prisoner and crucified by the queen of the "Scythians" (3. 11, ed. 1531, f. 80^b). Herodotus says that he was slain in battle, but his head cut off afterwards and dipped in a sack of blood by the queen Tomyris, who had rejected his suit, the death of whose son he had caused, and who had sworn to "give him his fill of blood" (Herod. Bk. I, §§205-214). Xenophon says he died quietly in bed (Cyrop. 8. 7). [3067] A malarial fever, but made fatal by drinking at a banquet (cf. Plut. chaps. 75 and 76, Arrian, Bk. 7). [3068] Eusebius' rhetorical purpose makes him unfair to Alexander, who certainly in comparison with others of his time brought relative blessing to the conquered (cf. Smith, Dict. I, p. 122).

Chapter VIII.--That he conquered nearly the Whole World.

But our emperor began his reign at the time of life at which the Macedonian died, yet doubled the length of his life, and trebled the length of his reign. And instructing his army in the mild and sober precepts of godliness, he carried his arms as far as the Britons, and the nations that dwell in the very bosom of the Western ocean. He subdued likewise all Scythia, though situated in the remotest North, and divided into numberless diverse and barbarous tribes. He even pushed his conquests to the Blemmyans and Ethiopians, on the very confines of the South; nor did he think the acquisition of the Eastern nations unworthy his care. In short, diffusing the effulgence of his holy light to the ends of the whole world, even to the most distant Indians, the nations dwelling on the extreme circumference of the inhabited earth, he received the submission of all the rulers, [3069] governors, [3070] and satraps of barbarous nations, who cheerfully welcomed and saluted him, sending embassies and presents, and setting the highest value on his acquaintance and friendship; insomuch that they honored him with pictures and statues in their respective countries, and Constantine alone of all emperors was acknowledged and celebrated by all. Notwithstanding, even among these distant nations, he proclaimed the name of his God in his royal edicts with all boldness.


[3069] Toparchs or prefects. [3070] Ethnarchs.

Chapter IX.--That he was the Son of a Pious Emperor, and bequeathed the Power to Royal Sons.

Nor did he give this testimony in words merely, while exhibiting failure in his own practice, but pursued every path of virtue, and was rich in the varied fruits of godliness. He ensured the affection of his friends by magnificent proofs of liberality; and inasmuch as he governed on principles of humanity, he caused his rule to be but lightly felt and acceptable to all classes of his subjects; until at last, after a long course of years, and when he was wearied by his divine labors, the God whom he honored crowned him with an immortal reward, and translated him from a transitory kingdom to that endless life which he has laid up in store for the souls of his saints, after he had raised him up three sons to succeed him in his power. As then the imperial throne had descended to him from his father, so, by the law of nature, was it reserved for his children and their descendants, and perpetuated, like some paternal inheritance, to endless generations. And indeed God himself, who distinguished this blessed prince with divine honors while yet present with us, and who has adorned his death with choice blessings from his own hand, should be the writer of his actions; since he has recorded his labors and successes on heavenly monuments. [3071]


[3071] "The pillars of heaven."--Molz (?).

Chapter X.--Of the Need for this History, and its Value for Edification.

However, hard as it is to speak worthily of this blessed character, and though silence were the safer and less perilous course, nevertheless it is incumbent on me, if I would escape the charge of negligence and sloth, to trace as it were a verbal portraiture, by way of memorial of the pious prince, in imitation of the delineations of human art. For I should be ashamed of myself were I not to employ my best efforts, feeble though they be and of little value, in praise of one who honored God with such surpassing devotion. I think too that my work will be on other grounds both instructive and necessary, since it will contain a description of those royal and noble actions which are pleasing to God, the Sovereign of all. For would it not be disgraceful that the memory of Nero, and other impious and godless tyrants far worse than he, should meet with diligent writers to embellish the relation of their worthless deeds with elegant language, and record them in voluminous histories, and that I should be silent, to whom God himself has vouchsafed such an emperor as all history records not, and has permitted me to come into his presence, and enjoy his acquaintance and society? [3072] Wherefore, if it is the duty of any one, it certainly is mine, to make an ample proclamation of his virtues to all in whom the example of noble actions is capable of inspiring the love of God. For some who have written the lives of worthless characters, and the history of actions but little tending to the improvement of morals, from private motives, either love or enmity, and possibly in some cases with no better object than the display of their own learning, have exaggerated unduly their description of actions intrinsically base, by a refinement and elegance of diction. [3073] And thus they have become to those who by the Divine favor had been kept apart from evil, teachers not of good, but of what should be silenced in oblivion and darkness. But my narrative, however unequal to the greatness of the deeds it has to describe, will yet derive luster even from the bare relation of noble actions. And surely the record of conduct that has been pleasing to God will afford a far from unprofitable, indeed a most instructive study, to persons of well-disposed minds.


[3072] The Bagster translation, following Valesius, divides the tenth Chapter, making the eleventh begin at this point. [3073] It looks as if there might perhaps be a direct hit at Lactantius here, as having, through "enmity," described actions intrinsically base in peculiarly elegant diction; but Lactantius' descriptions are hardly more realistic than Eusebius' own.

Chapter XI.--That his Present Object is to record only the Pious Actions of Constantine.

It is my intention, therefore, to pass over the greater part of the royal deeds of this thrice-blessed prince; as, for example, his conflicts and engagements in the field, his personal valor, his victories and successes against the enemy, and the many triumphs he obtained: likewise his provisions for the interests of individuals, his legislative enactments for the social advantage of his subjects, and a multitude of other imperial labors which are fresh in the memory of all; the design of my present undertaking being to speak and write of those circumstances only which have reference to his religious character. And since these are themselves of almost infinite variety, I shall select from the facts which have come to my knowledge such as are most suitable, and worthy of lasting record, and endeavor to narrate them as briefly as possible. Henceforward, indeed, there is a full and free opportunity for celebrating in every way the praises of this truly blessed prince, which hitherto we have been unable to do, on the ground that we are forbidden to judge any one blessed before his death, [3074] because of the uncertain vicissitudes of life. Let me implore then the help of God, and may the inspiring aid of the heavenly Word be with me, while I commence my history from the very earliest period of his life.


[3074] [Alluding probably to Ecclesiastes xi. 28, "Judge none blessed before his death; for a man shall be known in his children." Or, possibly, to the well-known opinion of Solon to the same effect. Vide Herod. i. 32; Aristot. Eth. Nicom. i. II.--Bag.] Compare also above, Chapter 7.

Chapter XII.--That like Moses, he was reared in the Palaces of Kings.

Ancient history relates that a cruel race of tyrants oppressed the Hebrew nation; and that God, who graciously regarded them in their affliction, provided that the prophet Moses, who was then an infant, should be brought up in the very palaces and bosoms of the oppressors, and instructed in all the wisdom they possessed. And when in the course of time he had arrived at manhood, and the time was come for Divine justice to avenge the wrongs of the afflicted people, then the prophet of God, in obedience to the will of a more powerful Lord, forsook the royal household, and, estranging himself in word and deed from the tyrants by whom he had been brought up, openly acknowledging his true brethren and kinsfolk. Then God, exalting him to be the leader of the whole nation, delivered the Hebrews from the bondage of their enemies, and inflicted Divine vengeance through his means on the tyrant race. This ancient story, though rejected by most as fabulous, has reached the ears of all. But now the same God has given to us to be eye-witnesses of miracles more wonderful than fables, and, from their recent appearance, more authentic than any report. For the tyrants of our day have ventured to war against the Supreme God, and have sorely afflicted His Church. [3075] And in the midst of these, Constantine, who was shortly to become their destroyer, but at that time of tender age, and blooming with the down of early youth, dwelt, as that other servant of God had done, in the very home of the tyrants, [3076] but young as he was did not share the manner of life of the ungodly: for from that early period his noble nature, under the leading of the Divine Spirit, inclined him to piety and a life acceptable to God. A desire, moreover, to emulate the example of his father had its influence in stimulating the son to a virtuous course of conduct. His father was Constantius [3077] (and we ought to revive his memory at this time), the most illustrious emperor of our age; of whose life it is necessary briefly to relate a few particulars, which tell to the honor of his son.


[3075] The persecuting emperors. Compare Prolegomena, Life. [3076] He was brought up with Diocletian and Galerius. Compare Prolegomena, Life. [3077] Constantius Chlorus, Neo-Platonist and philanthropist. Compare following description.

Chapter XIII.--Of Constantius his Father, who refused to imitate Diocletian, Maximian, and Maxentius, [3078] in their Persecution of the Christians.

At a time when four emperors [3079] shared the administration of the Roman empire, Constantius alone, following a course of conduct different from that pursued by his colleagues, entered into the friendship of the Supreme God. For while they besieged and wasted the churches of God, leveling them to the ground, and obliterating the very foundations of the houses of prayer, [3080] he kept his hands pure from their abominable impiety, and never in any respect resembled them. They polluted their provinces by the indiscriminate slaughter of godly men and women; but he kept his soul free from the stain of this crime. [3081] They, involved in the mazes of impious idolatry, enthralled first themselves, and then all under their authority, in bondage to the errors of evil demons, while he at the same time originated the profoundest peace throughout his dominions, and secured to his subjects the privilege of celebrating without hindrance the worship of God. In short, while his colleagues oppressed all men by the most grievous exactions, and rendered their lives intolerable, and even worse than death, Constantius alone governed his people with a mild and tranquil sway, and exhibited towards them a truly parental and fostering care. Numberless, indeed, are the other virtues of this man, which are the theme of praise to all; of these I will record one or two instances, as specimens of the quality of those which I must pass by in silence, and then I will proceed to the appointed order of my narrative.


[3078] The author of the Chapter heading means of course Galerius. Maxentius was not emperor until after the death of Constantius. [3079] [Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius.--Bag.] [3080] For account of these persecutions, see Church History, Bk. 8, and notes of McGiffert. [3081] Compare the Church History, 8. 13, and Lactantius, De mort. pers. 15. The latter says he allowed buildings to be destroyed, but spared human life.

Chapter XIV.--How Constantius his Father, being reproached with Poverty by Diocletian, filled his Treasury, and afterwards restored the Money to those by whom it had been contributed.

In consequence of the many reports in circulation respecting this prince, describing his kindness and gentleness of character, and the extraordinary elevation of his piety, alleging too, that by reason of his extreme indulgence to his subjects, he had not even a supply of money laid up in his treasury; the emperor who at that time occupied the place of supreme power sent to reprehend his neglect of the public weal, at the same time reproaching him with poverty, and alleging in proof of the charge the empty state of his treasury. On this he desired the messengers of the emperor to remain with him awhile, and, calling together the wealthiest of his subjects of all nations under his dominion, he informed them that he was in want of money, and that this was the time for them all to give a voluntary proof of their affection for their prince. As soon as they heard this (as though they had long been desirous of an opportunity for showing the sincerity of their good will), with zealous alacrity they filled the treasury with gold and silver and other wealth; each eager to surpass the rest in the amount of his contribution: and this they did with cheerful and joyous countenances. And now Constantius desired the messengers of the great emperor [3082] personally to inspect his treasures, and directed them to give a faithful report of what they had seen; adding, that on the present occasion he had taken this money into his own hands, but that it had long been kept for his use in the custody of the owners, as securely as if under the charge of faithful treasurers. The ambassadors were overwhelmed with astonishment at what they had witnessed: and on their departure it is said that the truly generous prince sent for the owners of the property, and, after commending them severally for their obedience and true loyalty, restored it all, and bade them return to their homes. This one circumstance, then, conveys a proof of the generosity of him whose character we are attempting to illustrate: another will contain the clearest testimony to his piety.


[3082] Or the senior Augustus. "Diocletian is thus entitled in the ancient panegyrists and in inscriptions."--Heinichen. It was "towards the end of the second century of the Christian era" that there began to be a plurality of Augusti, but "from this time we find two or even a greater number of Augusti; and though in that and in all similar cases the persons honored with the title were regarded as participators of the imperial power, still the one who received the title first was looked upon as the head of the empire."--Smith, Dict. Gr. and Rom. Ant.

Chapter XV.--Of the Persecution raised by his Colleagues.

By command of the supreme authorities of the empire, the governors of the several provinces had set on foot a general persecution of the godly. Indeed, it was from the imperial courts themselves that the very first of the pious martyrs proceeded, who passed through those conflicts for the faith, and most readily endured both fire and sword, and the depths of the sea; every form of death, in short, so that in a brief time all the royal palaces were bereft of pious men. [3083] The result was, that the authors of this wickedness were entirely deprived of the protecting care of God, since by their persecution of his worshipers they at the same time silenced the prayers that were wont to be made on their own behalf.


[3083] Compare accounts of martyrs in the palaces, in the Church History, 8. 6.

Chapter XVI.--How Constantius, feigning Idolatry, expelled those who consented to offer Sacrifice, but retained in his Palace all who were willing to confess Christ.

On the other hand, Constantius conceived an expedient full of sagacity, and did a thing which sounds paradoxical, but in fact was most admirable. He made a proposal to all the officers of his court, including even those in the highest stations of authority, offering them the following alternative: either that they should offer sacrifice to demons, and thus be permitted to remain with him, and enjoy their usual honors; or, in case of refusal, that they should be shut out from all access to his person, and entirely disqualified from acquaintance and association with him. Accordingly, when they had individually made their choice, some one way and some the other; and the choice of each had been ascertained, then this admirable prince disclosed the secret meaning of his expedient, and condemned the cowardice and selfishness of the one party, while he highly commended the other for their conscientious devotion to God. He declared, too, that those who had been false to their God must be unworthy of the confidence of their prince; for how was it possible that they should preserve their fidelity to him, who had proved themselves faithless to a higher power? He determined, therefore, that such persons should be removed altogether from the imperial court, while, on the other hand, declaring that those men who, in bearing witness for the truth, had proved themselves to be worthy servants of God, would manifest the same fidelity to their king, he entrusted them with the guardianship of his person and empire, saying that he was bound to treat such persons with special regard as his nearest and most valued friends, and to esteem them far more highly than the richest treasures.

Chapter XVII.--Of his Christian Manner of Life.

The father of Constantine, then, is said to have possessed such a character as we have briefly described. And what kind of death was vouchsafed to him in consequence of such devotion to God, and how far he whom he honored made his lot to differ from that of his colleagues in the empire, may be known to any one who will give his attention to the circumstances of the case. For after he had for a long time given many proofs of royal virtue, in acknowledging the Supreme God alone, and condemning the polytheism of the ungodly, and had fortified his household by the prayers of holy men, [3084] he passed the remainder of his life in remarkable repose and tranquillity, in the enjoyment of what is counted blessedness,--neither molesting others nor being molested ourselves. Accordingly, during the whole course of his quiet and peaceful reign, he dedicated his entire household, his children, his wife, and domestic attendants, to the One Supreme God: so that the company assembled within the walls of his palace differed in no respect from a church of God; wherein were also to be found his ministers, who offered continual supplications on behalf of their prince, and this at a time when, with most, [3085] it was not allowable to have any dealings with the worshipers of God, even so far as to exchange a word with them.


[3084] "Is said to have" is added conjecturally here by an earlier editor, but Heinichen omits, as it would seem Eusebius himself did. [3085] Other readings are "with the others," or "with the rest," but in whatever reading it refers to all the other emperors.

Chapter XVIII.--That after the Abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, Constantius became Chief Augustus, and was blessed with a Numerous Offspring.

The immediate consequence of this conduct was a recompense from the hand of God, insomuch that he came into the supreme authority of the empire. For the older emperors, for some unknown reason, resigned their power; and this sudden change took place in the first year after their persecution of the churches. [3086] From that time Constantius alone received the honors of chief Augustus, having been previously, indeed, distinguished by the diadem of the imperial Cæsars, [3087] among whom he held the first rank; but after his worth had been proved in this capacity, he was invested with the highest dignity of the Roman empire, being named chief Augustus of the four who were afterwards elected to that honor. Moreover, he surpassed most of the emperors in regard to the number of his family, having gathered around him a very large circle of children both male and female. And, lastly, when he had attained to a happy old age, and was about to pay the common debt of nature, and exchange this life for another, God once more manifested His power in a special manner on his behalf, by providing that his eldest son Constantine should be present during his last moments, and ready to receive the imperial power from his hands. [3088]


[3086] The persecution was in 303 or 304. Compare discussion of date in Clinton, Fasti Rom. ann. 303-305. The abdication was in 305. [3087] Eusebius uses the terms Augustus, king, autocrat, and Cæsar with a good deal of interchangeableness. It is hard to tell sometimes whether king (basileus) means emperor or Cæsar. In general, Augustus has been transferred in translations, and king and autocrat both rendered emperor, which seems to be his real usage. [3088] Constantine reached him just before his death, though possibly some weeks before. Compare Prolegomena.

Chapter XIX.--Of his Son Constantine, who in his Youth accompanied Diocletian into Palestine.

The latter had been with his father's imperial colleagues, [3089] and had passed his life among them, as we have said, like God's ancient prophet. And even in the very earliest period of his youth he was judged by them to be worthy of the highest honor. An instance of this we have ourselves seen, when he passed through Palestine with the senior emperor, [3090] at whose right hand he stood, and commanded the admiration of all who beheld him by the indications he gave even then of royal greatness. For no one was comparable to him for grace and beauty of person, or height of stature; and he so far surpassed his compeers in personal strength as to be a terror to them. He was, however, even more conspicuous for the excellence of his mental [3091] qualities than for his superior physical endowments; being gifted in the first place with a sound judgment, [3092] and having also reaped the advantages of a liberal education. He was also distinguished in no ordinary degree both by natural intelligence and divinely imparted wisdom.


[3089] Diocletian and Galerius. [3090] Diocletian. He was on his way to Egypt in the famous campaign against Achilleus in 296-297. [3091] Or "psychical," meaning more than intellectual. [3092] Rather, perhaps, "self-control."

Chapter XX.--Flight of Constantine to his Father because of the Plots of Diocletian. [3093]

The emperors then in power, observing his manly and vigorous figure and superior mind, were moved with feelings of jealousy and fear, and thenceforward carefully watched for an opportunity of inflicting some brand of disgrace on his character. But the young man, being aware of their designs, the details of which, through the providence of God, more than once came to him, sought safety in flight; [3094] in this respect again keeping up his resemblance to the great prophet Moses. Indeed, in every sense God was his helper; and he had before ordained that he should be present in readiness to succeed his father.


[3093] Eusebius himself speaks in the plural, and other writers speak of plots by both Diocletian and Galerius. Compare Prolegomena. [3094] Compare detailed account in Lactantius, De M. P. c. 24.

Chapter XXI.--Death of Constantius, who leaves his Son Constantine Emperor. [3095]

Immediately, therefore, on his escape from the plots which had been thus insidiously laid for him, he made his way with all haste to his father, and arrived at length at the very time that he was lying at the point of death. [3096] As soon as Constantius saw his son thus unexpectedly in his presence, he leaped from his couch, embraced him tenderly, and, declaring that the only anxiety which had troubled him in the prospect of death, namely, that caused by the absence of his son, was now removed, he rendered thanks to God, saying that he now thought death better than the longest life, [3097] and at once completed the arrangement of his private affairs. Then, taking a final leave of the circle of sons and daughters by whom he was surrounded, in his own palace, and on the imperial couch, he bequeathed the empire, according to the law of nature, [3098] to his eldest son, and breathed his last.


[3095] Basileus. The writer of the Chapter headings uses this word here and Augustus in the following Chapter, but it does not seem to mean technically "Cæsar," and so the rendering emperor is retained. [3096] This seems to imply that Constantine reached him only after he was sick in bed, i.e. at York in Britain; but other accounts make it probable that he joined him at Boulogne before he sailed on this last expedition to Britain. Compare Prolegomena. [3097] Literally, "than immortality [on earth]." [3098] It will hardly be agreed that imperial succession is a law of nature anyway. Rather, "the succession [where it exists] is established by the express will or the tacit consent of the nation," and the "pretended proprietary right...is a chimera" (Vattell, Law of Nations, Phila., 1867, p. 24, 25). That primogeniture is a natural law has been often urged, but it seems to be simply the law of first come first served. The English custom of primogeniture is said to have risen from the fact that in feudal times the eldest son was the one who, at the time of the father's death, was of an age to meet the duties of feudal tenure (compare Kent, Commentaries, Boston, 1867, v. 4, p. 420, 421). This is precisely the fact respecting Constantine. His several brothers were all too young to be thought of.

Chapter XXII.--How, after the Burial of Constantius, Constantine was Proclaimed Augustus by the Army.

Nor did the imperial throne remain long unoccupied: for Constantine invested himself with his father's purple, and proceeded from his father's palace, presenting to all a renewal, as it were, in his own person, of his father's life and reign. He then conducted the funeral procession in company with his father's friends, some preceding, others following the train, and performed the last offices for the pious deceased with an extraordinary degree of magnificence, and all united in honoring this thrice blessed prince with acclamations and praises, and while with one mind and voice, they glorified the rule of the son as a living again of him who was dead, they hastened at once to hail their new sovereign by the titles of Imperial and Worshipful Augustus, with joyful shouts. [3099] Thus the memory of the deceased emperor received honor from the praises bestowed upon his son, while the latter was pronounced blessed in being the successor of such a father. All the nations also under his dominion were filled with joy and inexpressible gladness at not being even for a moment deprived of the benefits of a well ordered government. In the instance of the Emperor Constantius, God has made manifest to our generation what the end of those is who in their lives have honored and loved him.


[3099] The verdict was not confirmed at once. Galerius refused him the title of emperor, and he contented himself with that of Cæsar for a little. Compare Prolegomena.

Chapter XXIII.--A Brief Notice of the Destruction of the Tyrants.

With respect to the other princes, who made war against the churches of God, I have not thought it fit in the present work to give any account of their downfall, [3100] nor to stain the memory of the good by mentioning them in connection with those of an opposite character. The knowledge of the facts themselves will of itself suffice for the wholesome admonition of those who have witnessed or heard of the evils which severally befell them.


[3100] But he has done this himself in his Church History. Compare also Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum.

Chapter XXIV.--It was by the Will of God that Constantine became possessed of the Empire.

Thus then the God of all, the Supreme Governor of the whole universe, by his own will appointed Constantine, the descendant of so renowned a parent, to be prince and sovereign: so that, while others have been raised to this distinction by the election of their fellow-men, he is the only one to whose elevation no mortal may boast of having contributed.

Chapter XXV.--Victories of Constantine over the Barbarians and the Britons.

As soon then as he was established on the throne, he began to care for the interests of his paternal inheritance, and visited with much considerate kindness all those provinces which had previously been under his father's government. Some tribes of the barbarians who dwelt on the banks of the Rhine, and the shores of the Western ocean, having ventured to revolt, he reduced them all to obedience, and brought them from their savage state to one of gentleness. He contented himself with checking the inroads of others, and drove from his dominions, like untamed and savage beasts, those whom he perceived to be altogether incapable of the settled order of civilized life. [3101] Having disposed of these affairs to his satisfaction, he directed his attention to other quarters of the world, and first passed over to the British nations, [3102] which lie in the very bosom of the ocean. These he reduced to submission, and then proceeded to consider the state of the remaining portions of the empire, that he might be ready to tender his aid wherever circumstances might require it.


[3101] The Franci, Bructeri, &c. [3102] [Eusebius here speaks of a second expedition of Constantine to Britain, which is not mentioned by other ancient writers; or he may have been forgetful or ignorant of the fact that Constantine had received the imperial authority in Britain itself, Constantius having died in his palace at York, a.d. 306. Vide Gibbon's Decline and Fall, chap. 14.--Bag.] It seems to be a part of the confusion about his crossing to Britain in the first place.

Chapter XXVI.--How he resolved to deliver Rome from Maxentius.

While, therefore, he regarded the entire world as one immense body, and perceived that the head of it all, the royal city of the Roman empire, was bowed down by the weight of a tyrannous oppression; at first he had left the task of liberation to those who governed the other divisions of the empire, as being his superiors in point of age. But when none of these proved able to afford relief, and those who had attempted it had experienced a disastrous termination of their enterprise, [3103] he said that life was without enjoyment to him as long as he saw the imperial city thus afflicted, and prepared himself for the overthrowal of the tyranny.


[3103] Referring to the unsuccessful expeditions of Severus and Galerius.

Chapter XXVII.--That after reflecting on the Downfall of those who had worshiped Idols, he made Choice of Christianity.

Being convinced, however, that he needed some more powerful aid than his military forces could afford him, on account of the wicked and magical enchantments which were so diligently practiced by the tyrant, [3104] he sought Divine assistance, deeming the possession of arms and a numerous soldiery of secondary importance, but believing the co-operating power of Deity invincible and not to be shaken. He considered, therefore, on what God he might rely for protection and assistance. While engaged in this enquiry, the thought occurred to him, that, of the many emperors who had preceded him, those who had rested their hopes in a multitude of gods, and served them with sacrifices and offerings, had in the first place been deceived by flattering predictions, and oracles which promised them all prosperity, and at last had met with an unhappy end, while not one of their gods had stood by to warn them of the impending wrath of heaven; while one alone who had pursued an entirely opposite course, who had condemned their error, and honored the one Supreme God during his whole life, had found him to be the Saviour and Protector of his empire, and the Giver of every good thing. Reflecting on this, and well weighing the fact that they who had trusted in many gods had also fallen by manifold forms of death, without leaving behind them either family or offspring, stock, name, or memorial among men: while the God of his father had given to him, on the other hand, manifestations of his power and very many tokens: and considering farther that those who had already taken arms against the tyrant, and had marched to the battle-field under the protection of a multitude of gods, had met with a dishonorable end (for one of them [3105] had shamefully retreated from the contest without a blow, and the other, [3106] being slain in the midst of his own troops, became, as it were, the mere sport of death [3107] ); reviewing, I say, all these considerations, he judged it to be folly indeed to join in the idle worship of those who were no gods, and, after such convincing evidence, to err from the truth; and therefore felt it incumbent on him to honor his father's God alone.


[3104] Compare Chapters 36 and 37; also Lactantius, De M. P. chap. 44. [3105] Galerius. [3106] Severus. [3107] This last phrase has exercised the ingenuity of translators greatly. This translation does well enough, though one might hazard "was easily overcome by death," or "was an easy victim to death."

Chapter XXVIII.--How, while he was praying, God sent him a Vision of a Cross of Light in the Heavens at Mid-day, with an Inscription admonishing him to conquer by that.

Accordingly he called on him with earnest prayer and supplications that he would reveal to him who he was, and stretch forth his right hand to help him in his present difficulties. And while he was thus praying with fervent entreaty, a most marvelous sign appeared to him from heaven, the account of which it might have been hard to believe had it been related by any other person. But since the victorious emperor himself long afterwards declared it to the writer of this history, [3108] when he was honored with his acquaintance and society, and confirmed his statement by an oath, who could hesitate to accredit the relation, especially since the testimony of after-time has established its truth? He said that about noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, Conquer by this. At this sight he himself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle. [3109]


[3108] Note here the care Eusebius takes to throw off the responsibility for the marvelous. It at the same time goes to show the general credibility of Eusebius, and some doubt in his mind of the exact nature and reality of what he records. [3109] This very circumstantial account has met with doubters from the very beginning, commencing with Eusebius himself. There are all sorts of explanations, from that of an actual miracle to that of pure later invention. The fact of some, at least supposed, special divine manifestation at this time can hardly be denied. It is mentioned vaguely by Paneg. 313, and on the triumphal arch shortly after. It is reported as a dream by Lactantius about the same time with the erection of the arch, and alluded to in general, but hardly to be doubted, terms by Nazarius in 321. Moreover, it is witnessed to by the fact of the standard of the cross which was made. As to the real nature of the manifestation, it has been thought to be as recorded by Constantine, and if so, as perhaps some natural phenomenon of the sun, or to have been a simple dream, or an hallucination. It is hardly profitable to discuss the possibilities. The lack of contemporary evidence to details and the description of Lactantius as a dream is fatal to any idea of a miraculous image with inscriptions clearly seen by all. Some cross-like arrangement of the clouds, or a "parahelion," or some sort of a suggestion of a cross, may have been seen by all, but evidently there was no definite, vivid, clear perception, or it would have been in the mouths of all and certainly recorded, or at least it would not have been recorded as something else by Lactantius. It seems probable that the emperor, thinking intensely, with all the weight of his great problem resting on his energetic mind, wondering if the Christian God was perhaps the God who could help, saw in some suggestive shape of the clouds or of sunlight the form of a cross, and there flashed out in his mind in intensest reality the vision of the words, so that for the moment he was living in the intensest reality of such a vision. His mind had just that intense activity to which such a thing is possible or actual. It is like Goethe's famous meeting of his own self. It is that genius power for the realistic representation of ideal things. This is not the same exactly as "hallucination," or even "imagination." The hallucination probably came later when Constantine gradually represented to himself and finally to Eusebius the vivid idea with its slight ground, as an objective reality,--a common phenomenon. When the emperor went to sleep, his brain molecules vibrating to the forms of his late intense thought, he inevitably dreamed, and dreaming naturally confirmed his thought. This does not say that the suggestive form seen, or the idea itself, and the direction of the dream itself, were not providential and the work of the Holy Spirit, for they were, and were special in character, and so miraculous (or why do ideas come?); but it is to be feared that Constantine's own spirit or something else furnished some of the later details. There is a slight difference of authority as to when and where the vision took place. The panegyrist seems to make it before leaving Gaul, and Malalas is inaccurate as usual in having it happen in a war against the barbarians. For farther discussion of the subject see monographs under Literature in the Prolegomena, especially under the names: Baring, Du Voisin, Fabricius, Girault, Heumann, Jacutius Mamachi, Molinet, St. Victor, Suhr, Toderini, Weidener, Wernsdorf, Woltereck. The most concise, clear, and admirable supporter of the account of Eusebius, or rather Constantine, as it stands, is Newman, Miracles (Lond. 1875), 271-286.

Chapter XXIX.--How the Christ of God appeared to him in his Sleep, and commanded him to use in his Wars a Standard made in the Form of the Cross.

He said, moreover, that he doubted within himself what the import of this apparition could be. And while he continued to ponder and reason on its meaning, night suddenly came on; then in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies.

Chapter XXX.--The Making of the Standard of the Cross.

At dawn of day he arose, and communicated the marvel to his friends: and then, calling together the workers in gold and precious stones, he sat in the midst of them, and described to them the figure of the sign he had seen, bidding them represent it in gold and precious stones. And this representation I myself have had an opportunity of seeing.

Chapter XXXI.--A Description of the Standard of the Cross, which the Romans now call the Labarum. [3110]

Now it was made in the following manner. A long spear, overlaid with gold, formed the figure of the cross by means of a transverse bar laid over it. On the top of the whole was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones; and within this, [3111] the symbol of the Saviour's name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of its initial characters, the letter P being intersected by X in its centre: [3112] and these letters the emperor was in the habit of wearing on his helmet at a later period. From the cross-bar of the spear was suspended a cloth, [3113] a royal piece, covered with a profuse embroidery of most brilliant precious stones; and which, being also richly interlaced with gold, presented an indescribable degree of beauty to the beholder. This banner was of a square form, and the upright staff, whose lower section was of great length, [3114] bore a golden half-length portrait [3115] of the pious emperor and his children on its upper part, beneath the trophy of the cross, and immediately above the embroidered banner. The emperor constantly made use of this sign of salvation as a safeguard against every adverse and hostile power, and commanded that others similar to it should be carried at the head of all his armies.


[3110] [From the Bretagnic lab, to raise, or from labarva, which, in the Basque language, still signifies a standard.--Riddle's Lat. Dict. voc. Labarum. Gibbon declares the derivation and meaning of the word to be "totally unknown, in spite of the efforts of the critics, who have ineffectually tortured the Latin, Greek, Spanish, Celtic, Teutonic, Illyric, Armenian, &c., in search of an etymology."--Decline and Fall, chap. 22, note 33.--Bag.] Compare the full article of Venables, in Smith and Cheetham, Dict. 1 (1880), 908-911, with its references and cuts. [3111] Thus rather than "on." Compare cuts in article of Venables. "It [the monogram of Christ] is often set within a crown or palm branch."--Wolcott, Sacred Archæalogy, p. 390. [3112] [Chiazomenou tou rh kata to mesaitaton. The figure ChR would seem to answer to the description in the text. Gibbon gives two specimens, -R and ×R as engraved from ancient monuments. Chap. 20, note 35.--Bag.] The various coins given by Venables all have the usual form of the monogram ×R . Compare also Tyrwhitt, art. Monogram, in Smith and Cheetham; also the art. Monogramme du Christ, in Martigny, Dict. d. ant. (1877), 476-483. [3113] That this was no new invention of Constantine may be seen by comparing the following description of an ordinary Roman standard, "...each cohort had for its own ensign the serpent or dragon, which was woven on a square piece of cloth, elevated on a gilt staff, to which a cross-bar was adapted for the purpose...under the eagle or other emblem was often placed a head of the reigning emperor." Yates, art. Signa militaria, in Smith, Dict. Gr. and Rom. Ant. (1878), 1044-1045. [3114] "Which in its full extent was of great length."--Bag., according to suggestion of Valesius of a possible meaning, but better as above, meaning the part below the cross-bar. So Valesius, Christopherson, 1709, Molzberger. [3115] "Medallions."--Venables.

Chapter XXXII.--How Constantine received Instruction, and read the Sacred Scriptures.

These things were done shortly afterwards. But at the time above specified, being struck with amazement at the extraordinary vision, and resolving to worship no other God save Him who had appeared to him, he sent for those who were acquainted with the mysteries of His doctrines, and enquired who that God was, and what was intended by the sign of the vision he had seen. They affirmed that He was God, the only begotten Son of the one and only God: that the sign which had appeared was the symbol of immortality, [3116] and the trophy of that victory over death which He had gained in time past when sojourning on earth. They taught him also the causes of His advent, and explained to him the true account of His incarnation. Thus he was instructed in these matters, and was impressed with wonder at the divine manifestation which had been presented to his sight. Comparing, therefore, the heavenly vision with the interpretation given, he found his judgment confirmed; and, in the persuasion that the knowledge of these things had been imparted to him by Divine teaching, he determined thenceforth to devote himself to the reading of the Inspired writings. Moreover, he made the priests of God his counselors, and deemed it incumbent on him to honor the God who had appeared to him with all devotion. And after this, being fortified by well-grounded hopes in Him, he hastened to quench the threatening fire of tyranny.


[3116] Both Socrates (5. 17) and Sozomen (7. 15) relate that symbols of the cross found in a temple of Serapis, on its destruction by Theodosius, were explained by the Christians of the time as symbols of immortality. Cf. also Suidas (ed. Gasiford, 2 (1834), 3398), s. v. Stauroi; Valesius on Socrates and Sozomen; Jablonski, Opuscula, 1, p. 156- . The study of the pre-christian use of the cross is most suggestive. It suggests at least that in some way the passion of our Lord was the realization of some world-principle or "natural Law."

Chapter XXXIII.--Of the Adulterous Conduct of Maxentius at Rome. [3117]

For he who had tyrannically possessed himself of the imperial city, [3118] had proceeded to great lengths in impiety and wickedness, so as to venture without hesitation on every vile and impure action. For example: he would separate women from their husbands, and after a time send them back to them again, and these insults he offered not to men of mean or obscure condition, but to those who held the first places in the Roman senate. Moreover, though he shamefully dishonored almost numberless free women, he was unable to satisfy his ungoverned and intemperate desires. But [3119] when he assayed to corrupt Christian women also, he could no longer secure success to his designs, since they chose rather to submit their lives [3120] to death than yield their persons to be defiled by him.


[3117] Compare the Church History, 8. 14. [3118] Maxentius, made emperor by an uprising of the Prætorian Guards in 306. [3119] "For" seems to express the author's real meaning, but both punctuation of editors and renderings of translators insist on "but." [3120] Various readings of text add "lawfully married" women, and send them back again "grievously dishonored," and so Bag., but Heinichen has this reading. Compare note of Heinichen.

Chapter XXXIV.--How the Wife of a Prefect slew herself for Chastity's Sake. [3121]

Now a certain woman, wife of one of the senators who held the authority of prefect, when she understood that those who ministered to the tyrant in such matters were standing before her house (she was a Christian), and knew that her husband through fear had bidden them take her and lead her away, begged a short space of time for arraying herself in her usual dress, and entered her chamber. There, being left alone, she sheathed a sword in her own breast, and immediately expired, leaving indeed her dead body to the procurers, but declaring to all mankind, both to present and future generations, by an act which spoke louder than any words, that the chastity for which Christians are famed is the only thing which is invincible and indestructible. Such was the conduct displayed by this woman.


[3121] This Chapter is found almost word for word in the Church History, 8. 14.

Chapter XXXV.--Massacre of the Roman People by Maxentius.

All men, therefore, both people and magistrates, whether of high or low degree, trembled through fear of him whose daring wickedness was such as I have described, and were oppressed by his grievous tyranny. Nay, though they submitted quietly, and endured this bitter servitude, still there was no escape from the tyrant's sanguinary cruelty. For at one time, on some trifling pretense, he exposed the populace to be slaughtered by his own body-guard; and countless multitudes of the Roman people were slain in the very midst of the city by the lances and weapons, not of Scythians or barbarians, but of their own fellow-citizens. And besides this, it is impossible to calculate the number of senators whose blood was shed with a view to the seizure of their respective estates, for at different times and on various fictitious charges, multitudes of them suffered death.

Chapter XXXVI.--Magic Arts of Maxentius against Constantine; and Famine at Rome.

But the crowning point of the tyrant's wickedness was his having recourse to sorcery: sometimes for magic purposes ripping up women with child, at other times searching into the bowels of new-born infants. He slew lions also, and practiced certain horrid arts for evoking demons, and averting the approaching war, hoping by these means to get the victory. In short, it is impossible to describe the manifold acts of oppression by which this tyrant of Rome enslaved his subjects: so that by this time they were reduced to the most extreme penury and want of necessary food, a scarcity such as our contemporaries do not remember ever before to have existed at Rome. [3122]


[3122] 1709, Molz. &c., add "nor anywhere else," but Bag. is undoubtedly right in translating simply "ever before." The Chapter is found substantially and in part word for word in the Church History, 8. 14.

Chapter XXXVII.--Defeat of Maxentius's Armies in Italy.

Constantine, however, filled with compassion on account of all these miseries, began to arm himself with all warlike preparation against the tyranny. Assuming therefore the Supreme God as his patron, and invoking His Christ to be his preserver and aid, and setting the victorious trophy, the salutary symbol, in front of his soldiers and body-guard, he marched with his whole forces, trying to obtain again for the Romans the freedom they had inherited from their ancestors. And whereas, Maxentius, trusting more in his magic arts than in the affection of his subjects, dared not even advance outside the city gates, [3123] but had guarded every place and district and city subject to his tyranny, with large bodies of soldiers, [3124] the emperor, confiding in the help of God, advanced against the first and second and third divisions of the tyrant's forces, defeated them all with ease at the first assault, [3125] and made his way into the very interior of Italy.


[3123] "Because the soothsayers had foretold that if he went out of it, he should perish." Lact. De M. P. [3124] Bag.adds "and numberless ambuscades," following Valesius and 1709. The word so rendered is the word for "companies of soldiers." The rather awkward "multitude of heavy-armed soldiers and myriads of companies of soldiers" may be rendered as above, although "larger bodies of soldiers and limitless supplies" suggested by the translation is perhaps the real meaning. He had both "men and means." [3125] At Sigusium, Turin, Brescia, and Verona.

Chapter XXXVIII.--Death of Maxentius on the Bridge of the Tiber. [3126]

And already he was approaching very near Rome itself, when, to save him from the necessity of fighting with all the Romans for the tyrant's sake, God himself drew the tyrant, as it were by secret cords, a long way outside the gates. [3127] And now those miracles recorded in Holy Writ, which God of old wrought against the ungodly (discredited by most as fables, yet believed by the faithful), did he in every deed confirm to all alike, believers and unbelievers, who were eye-witnesses of the wonders. For as once in the days of Moses and the Hebrew nation, who were worshipers of God, "Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea and his chosen chariot-captains are drowned in the Red Sea," [3128] --so at this time Maxentius, and the soldiers and guards [3129] with him, "went down into the depths like stone," [3130] when, in his flight before the divinely-aided forces of Constantine, he essayed to cross the river which lay in his way, over which, making a strong bridge of boats, he had framed an engine of destruction, really against himself, but in the hope of ensnaring thereby him who was beloved by God. For his God stood by the one to protect him, while the other, godless, [3131] proved to be the miserable contriver of these secret devices to his own ruin. So that one might well say, "He hath made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violence shall come down upon his own pate." [3132] Thus, in the present instance, under divine direction, the machine erected on the bridge, with the ambuscade concealed therein, giving way unexpectedly before the appointed time, the bridge began to sink, and the boats with the men in them went bodily to the bottom. [3133] And first the wretch himself, then his armed attendants and guards, even as the sacred oracles had before described, "sank as lead in the mighty waters." [3134] So that they who thus obtained victory from God might well, if not in the same words, yet in fact in the same spirit as the people of his great servant Moses, sing and speak as they did concerning the impious tyrant of old: "Let us sing unto the Lord, for he hath been glorified exceedingly: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. He is become my helper and my shield unto salvation." And again, "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, marvelous in praises, doing wonders?" [3135]


[3126] The Milvian, the present Ponte Molle. [3127] The present Ponte Molle is nearly 2½ kilometers (say 1½ miles) from the Porta del Popolo (at the Mons Pincius). The walls at that time were the ones built by Aurelian, and are substantially the same as the present ones. This Pons Milvius was first built 100 years b.c., and "some part of the first bridge is supposed to remain" (Jenkin, p. 329). Compare Jenkin, art. Bridges, in Enc. Brit. 4 (1878), 329, for cut and description. [3128] Ex. xv. 4. This is identically taken from the Septuagint with the change of only one word, where Eusebius gains little in exchanging "swallowed up in" for plunged or drowned in. [3129] "Heavy armed and light armed." [3130] Ex. xv. 5. [3131] "Godless," or if aneuis to be read, "destitute of his aid," as Bag. Much conjecture has been expended on this reading. Heinichen has atheei. [3132] Ps. vii. 15, 16, Septuagint translation. [3133] This matter is discussed in the Prolegomena. [3134] Ex. xv. 10. [3135] Ex. xv. 1, 2, 11, Septuagint version. This whole Chapter with the last paragraph of the preceding are in the Church History, 9. 9.

Chapter XXXIX.--Constantine's Entry into Rome.

Having then at this time sung these and suchlike praises to God, the Ruler of all and the Author of victory, after the example of his great servant Moses, Constantine entered the imperial city in triumph. And here the whole body of the senate, and others of rank and distinction in the city, freed as it were from the restraint of a prison, along with the whole Roman populace, their countenances expressive of the gladness of their hearts, received him with acclamations and abounding joy; men, women, and children, with countless multitudes of servants, greeting him as deliverer, preserver, and benefactor, with incessant shouts. But he, being possessed of inward piety toward God, was neither rendered arrogant by these plaudits, nor uplifted by the praises he heard: [3136] but, being sensible that he had received help from God, he immediately rendered a thanksgiving to him as the Author of his victory.


[3136] Compare Prolegomena under Character, and also for other accounts of the universal joy under Life.

Chapter XL.--Of the Statue of Constantine holding a Cross, and its Inscription.

Moreover, by loud proclamation and monumental inscriptions he made known to all men the salutary symbol, setting up this great trophy of victory over his enemies in the midst of the imperial city, and expressly causing it to be engraven in indelible characters, that the salutary symbol was the safeguard of the Roman government and of the entire empire. Accordingly, he immediately ordered a lofty spear in the figure of a cross to be placed beneath the hand of a statue representing himself, in the most frequented part of Rome, and the following inscription to be engraved on it in the Latin language: by virtue of this salutary sign, which is the true test of valor, I have preserved and liberated your city from the yoke of tyranny. I have also set at liberty the roman senate and people, and restored them to their ancient distinction and splendor. [3137]


[3137] Compare the Church History, 9. 9. If it be true, as Crusè says, that in this inscription there are traces of the Latin original, it gives a strong presumption that Eusebius was quoting a really existing inscription and accordingly that it is genuine. If so, of course the probability of the vision of the cross is greatly increased.

Chapter XLI.--Rejoicings throughout the Provinces; and Constantine's Acts of Grace.

Thus the pious emperor, glorying in the confession of the victorious cross, proclaimed the Son of God to the Romans with great boldness of testimony. And the inhabitants of the city, one and all, senate and people, reviving, as it were, from the pressure of a bitter and tyrannical domination, seemed to enjoy purer rays of light, and to be born again into a fresh and new life. All the nations, too, as far as the limit of the western ocean, being set free from the calamities which had heretofore beset them, and gladdened by joyous festivals, ceased not to praise him as the victorious, the pious, the common benefactor: all, indeed, with one voice and one mouth, declared that Constantine had appeared by the grace of God as a general blessing to mankind. The imperial edict also was everywhere published, whereby those who had been wrongfully deprived of their estates were permitted again to enjoy their own, while those who had unjustly suffered exile were recalled to their homes. Moreover, he freed from imprisonment, and from every kind of danger and fear, those who, by reason of the tyrant's cruelty, had been subject to these sufferings.

Chapter XLII.--The Honors Conferred upon Bishops, and the Building of Churches.

The emperor also personally inviting the society of God's ministers, distinguished them with the highest possible respect and honor, showing them favor in deed and word as persons consecrated to the service of his God. Accordingly, they were admitted to his table, though mean in their attire and outward appearance; yet not so in his estimation, since he thought he saw not the man as seen by the vulgar eye, but the God in him. He made them also his companions in travel, believing that He whose servants they were would thus help him. Besides this, he gave from his own private resources costly benefactions to the churches of God, both enlarging and heightening the sacred edifices, [3138] and embellishing the august sanctuaries [3139] of the church with abundant offerings.


[3138] "Oratories," or chapels. [3139] Variously rendered, but seems to say that the smaller buildings were enlarged and the larger ones enriched. The number of buildings which Constantine is claimed to have erected in Rome alone is prodigious. One meets at every turn in the modern city churches which were, it is said, founded or remodeled by him. For interesting monograph which claims to have established the Constantinian foundation of many of these, see Ciampini in Prolegomena, under Literature.

Chapter XLIII.--Constantine's Liberality to the Poor.

He likewise distributed money largely to those who were in need, and besides these showing himself philanthropist and benefactor even to the heathen, who had no claim on him; [3140] and even for the beggars in the forum, miserable and shiftless, he provided, not with money only, or necessary food, but also decent clothing. But in the case of those who had once been prosperous, and had experienced a reverse of circumstances, his aid was still more lavishly bestowed. On such persons, in a truly royal spirit, he conferred magnificent benefactions; giving grants of land to some, and honoring others with various dignities. Orphans of the unfortunate he cared for as a father, while he relieved the destitution of widows, and cared for them with special solicitude. Nay, he even gave virgins, left unprotected by their parents' death, in marriage to wealthy men with whom he was personally acquainted. But this he did after first bestowing on the brides such portions as it was fitting they should bring to the communion of marriage. [3141] In short, as the sun, when he rises upon the earth, liberally imparts his rays of light to all, so did Constantine, proceeding at early dawn from the imperial palace, and rising as it were with the heavenly luminary, impart the rays of his own beneficence to all who came into his presence. It was scarcely possible to be near him without receiving some benefit, nor did it ever happen that any who had expected to obtain his assistance were disappointed in their hope. [3142]


[3140] So usually rendered literally, "to those who came to him from without," but it might rather mean "foreigners." His generosity included not only the worthy poor citizens, but foreigners and beggars. [3141] The word used is the koinonia, familiar in the doctrine of the "communion" or "fellowship" of the saints. It has the notion of reciprocity and mutual sharing. [3142] The popular proverb that at the end of his life he was a spendthrift, as given by Victor, represents the other side of this liberality. Compare Prolegomena, under Character.

Chapter XLIV.--How he was present at the Synods of Bishops.

Such, then, was his general character towards all. But he exercised a peculiar care over the church of God: and whereas, in the several provinces there were some who differed from each other in judgment, he, like some general bishop constituted by God, convened synods of his ministers. Nor did he disdain to be present and sit with them in their assembly, but bore a share in their deliberations, ministering to all that pertained to the peace of God. He took his seat, too, in the midst of them, as an individual amongst many, dismissing his guards and soldiers, and all whose duty it was to defend his person; but protected by the fear of God, and surrounded by the guardianship of his faithful friends. Those whom he saw inclined to a sound judgment, and exhibiting a calm and conciliatory temper, received his high approbation, for he evidently delighted in a general harmony of sentiment; while he regarded the unyielding wills with aversion. [3143]


[3143] Constantine, like Eusebius himself, would be a distinct "tolerationist" in modern theological controversy. One may imagine that Eusebius entered into favor with Constantine in this way. It commends itself to our feeling; but after all, the unyielding Athanasius was a greater man than Eusebius.

Chapter XLV.--His Forbearance with Unreasonable Men.

Moreover he endured with patience some who were exasperated against himself, directing them in mild and gentle terms to control themselves, and not be turbulent. And some of these respected his admonitions, and desisted; but as to those who proved incapable of sound judgment, he left them entirely at the disposal of God, and never himself desired harsh measures against any one. Hence it naturally happened that the disaffected in Africa reached such a pitch of violence as even to venture on overt acts of audacity; [3144] some evil spirit, as it seems probable, being jealous of the present great prosperity, and impelling these men to atrocious deeds, that he might excite the emperor's anger against them. He gained nothing, however, by this malicious conduct; for the emperor laughed at these proceedings, and declared their origin to be from the evil one; inasmuch as these were not the actions of sober persons, but of lunatics or demoniacs; who should be pitied rather than punished; since to punish madmen is as great folly as to sympathize with their condition is supreme philanthropy. [3145]


[3144] Compare Prolegomena, under Life and Works. [3145] [This passage in the text is defective or corrupt.--Bag.] What is given is substantially the conventional translation of Valesius, Heinichen, Molzberger, and with some variation, 1709 and Bag. It is founded, however, on a conjectural reading, and reluctating against this, a suggestion may be hazarded--"an excessive philanthropy for the folly of the insane, even to the point of sympathy for them."

Chapter XLVI.--Victories over the Barbarians.

Thus the emperor in all his actions honored God, the Controller of all things, and exercised an unwearied [3146] oversight over His churches. And God requited him, by subduing all barbarous nations under his feet, so that he was able everywhere to raise trophies over his enemies: and He proclaimed him as conqueror to all mankind, and made him a terror to his adversaries: not indeed that this was his natural character, since he was rather the meekest, and gentlest, and most benevolent of men.


[3146] Some read "unbroken" or "perfect."

Chapter XLVII.--Death of Maximin, [3147] who had attempted a Conspiracy, and of Others whom Constantine detected by Divine Revelation.

While he was thus engaged, the second of those who had resigned the throne, being detected in a treasonable conspiracy, suffered a most ignominious death. He was the first whose pictures, statues, and all similar marks of honor and distinction were everywhere destroyed, on the ground of his crimes and impiety. After him others also of the same family were discovered in the act of forming secret plots against the emperor; all their intentions being miraculously revealed by God through visions to His servant. For he frequently vouchsafed to him manifestations of himself, the Divine presence appearing to him in a most marvelous manner, and according to him manifold intimations of future events. Indeed, it is impossible to express in words the indescribable wonders of Divine grace which God was pleased to vouchsafe to His servant. Surrounded by these, he passed the rest of his life in security, rejoicing in the affection of his subjects, rejoicing too because he saw all beneath his government leading contented lives; but above all delighted at the flourishing condition of the churches of God.


[3147] There is long discussion of whether Maximian or Maximin is intended. To any one who compares the order of narration in the Church History, 9. 9, 11, the discussion will seem idle, though it is curious that the one most jealous and greedy of power should have been mistaken for one of the abdicators. It seems as if there had been some confusion in the mind of Eusebius himself.

Chapter XLVIII.--Celebration of Constantine's Decennalia.

While he was thus circumstanced, he completed the tenth year of his reign. On this occasion he ordered the celebration of general festivals, and offered prayers of thanksgiving to God, the King of all, as sacrifices without flame or smoke. [3148] And from this employment he derived much pleasure: not so from the tidings he received of the ravages committed in the Eastern provinces.


[3148] Unburnt offerings, meat offerings.

Chapter XLIX.--How Licinius oppressed the East.

For he was informed that in that quarter a certain savage beast was besetting both the church of God and the other inhabitants of the provinces, owing, as it were, to the efforts of the evil spirit to produce effects quite contrary to the deeds of the pious emperor: so that the Roman empire, divided into two parts, seemed to all men to resemble night and day; since darkness overspread the provinces of the East, while the brightest day illumined the inhabitants of the other portion. And whereas the latter were receiving manifold blessings at the hand of God, the sight of these blessings proved intolerable to that envy which hates all good, as well as to the tyrant who afflicted the other division of the empire; and who, notwithstanding that his government was prospering, and he had been honored by a marriage connection [3149] with so great an emperor as Constantine, yet cared not to follow the steps of that pious prince, but strove rather to imitate the evil purposes and practice of the impious; and chose to adopt the course of those whose ignominious end he had seen with his own eyes, rather than to maintain amicable relations with him who was his superior. [3150]


[3149] Licinius married in 313 Constantia, sister of Constantine. [3150] Thus generally following the Church History (10. 8).

Chapter L.--How Licinius attempted a Conspiracy against Constantine.

Accordingly he engaged in an implacable war against his benefactor, altogether regardless of the laws of friendship, the obligation of oaths, the ties of kindred, and already existing treaties. For the most benignant emperor had given him a proof of sincere affection in bestowing on him the hand of his sister, thus granting him the privilege of a place in family relationship and his own ancient imperial descent, and investing him also with the rank and dignity of his colleague in the empire. [3151] But the other took the very opposite course, employing himself in machinations against his superior, and devising various means to repay his benefactor with injuries. At first, pretending friendship, he did all things by guile and treachery, expecting thus to succeed in concealing his designs; but God enabled his servant to detect the schemes thus devised in darkness. Being discovered, however, in his first attempts, he had recourse to fresh frauds; at one time pretending friendship, at another claiming the protection of solemn treaties. Then suddenly violating every engagement, and again beseeching pardon by embassies, yet after all shamefully violating his word, he at last declared open war, and with desperate infatuation resolved thenceforward to carry arms against God himself, whose worshiper he knew the emperor to be.


[3151] This rendering of Bag. is really a gloss from the Church History, 10. 8. Compare rendering of McGiffert. Molzberger renders "and left him in complete possession of the portions of the kingdom which had fallen to his lot."

Chapter LI.--Intrigues of Licinius against the Bishops, and his Prohibition of Synods.

And at first he made secret enquiry respecting the ministers of God subject to his dominion, who had never, indeed, in any respect offended against his government, in order to bring false accusations against them. And when he found no ground of accusation, and had no real ground of objection against them, he next enacted a law, to the effect that the bishops should never on any account hold communication with each other, nor should any one of them absent himself on a visit to a neighboring church; nor, lastly, should the holding of synods, or councils for the consideration of affairs of common interest, [3152] be permitted. Now this was clearly a pretext for displaying his malice against us. For we were compelled either to violate the law, and thus be amenable to punishment, or else, by compliance with its injunctions, to nullify the statutes of the Church; inasmuch as it is impossible to bring important questions to a satisfactory adjustment, except by means of synods. In other cases also this God-hater, being determined to act contrary to the God-loving prince, enacted such things. For whereas the one assembled the priests of God in order to honor them, and to promote peace and unity of judgment; the other, whose object it was to destroy everything that was good, used all his endeavors to destroy the general harmony.


[3152] Perhaps "synods or councils and conferences on economic matters."

Chapter LII.--Banishment of the Christians, and Confiscation of their Property.

And whereas Constantine, the friend of God, had granted to His worshipers freedom of access to the imperial palaces; this enemy of God, in a spirit the very reverse of this, expelled thence all Christians subject to his authority. He banished those who had proved themselves his most faithful and devoted servants, and compelled others, on whom he had himself conferred honor and distinction as a reward for their former eminent services, to the performance of menial offices as slaves to others; and at length, being bent on seizing the property of all as a windfall for himself, he even threatened with death those who professed the Saviour's name. Moreover, being himself of a nature hopelessly debased by sensuality, and degraded by the continual practice of adultery and other shameless vices, he assumed his own worthless character as a specimen of human nature generally, and denied that the virtue of chastity and continence existed among men.

Chapter LIII.--Edict that Women should not meet with the Men in the Churches.

Accordingly he passed a second law, which enjoined that men should not appear in company with women in the houses of prayer, and forbade women to attend the sacred schools of virtue, or to receive instruction from the bishops, directing the appointment of women to be teachers of their own sex. These regulations being received with general ridicule, he devised other means for effecting the ruin of the churches. He ordered that the usual congregations of the people should be held in the open country outside the gates, alleging that the open air without the city was far more suitable for a multitude than the houses of prayer within the walls.

Chapter LIV.--That those who refuse to sacrifice are to be dismissed from Military Service, and those in Prison not to be fed.

Failing, however, to obtain obedience in this respect also, at length he threw off the mask, and gave orders that those who held military commissions in the several cities of the empire should be deprived of their respective commands, in case of their refusal to offer sacrifices to the demons. Accordingly the forces of the authorities in every province suffered the loss of those who worshiped God; and he too who had decreed this order suffered loss, in that he thus deprived himself of the prayers of pious men. And why should I still further mention how he directed that no one should obey the dictates of common humanity by distributing food to those who were pining in prisons, or should even pity the captives who perished with hunger; in short, that no one should perform a virtuous action, and that those whose natural feelings impelled them to sympathize with their fellow-creatures should be prohibited from doing them a single kindness? Truly this was the most utterly shameless and scandalous of all laws, and one which surpassed the worst depravity of human nature: a law which inflicted on those who showed mercy the same penalties as on those who were the objects of their compassion, and visited the exercise of mere humanity with the severest punishments. [3153]


[3153] Compare Church History, 10. 9.

Chapter LV.--The Lawless Conduct and Covetousness of Licinius.

Such were the ordinances of Licinius. But why should I enumerate his innovations respecting marriage, or those concerning the dying, whereby he presumed to abrogate the ancient and wisely established laws of the Romans, and to introduce certain barbarous and cruel institutions in their stead, inventing a thousand pretenses for oppressing his subjects? Hence it was that he devised a new method of measuring land, by which he reckoned the smallest portion at more than its actual dimensions, from an insatiable desire of acquisition. Hence too he registered the names of country residents who were now no more, and had long been numbered with the dead, procuring to himself by this expedient a shameful gain. His meanness was unlimited and his rapacity insatiable. So that when he had filled all his treasuries with gold, and silver, and boundless wealth, he bitterly bewailed his poverty, and suffered as it were the torments of Tantalus. But why should I mention how many innocent persons he punished with exile; how much property he confiscated; how many men of noble birth and estimable character he imprisoned, whose wives he handed over to be basely insulted by his profligate slaves, and to how many married women and virgins he himself offered violence, though already feeling the infirmities of age? I need not enlarge on these subjects, since the enormity of his last actions causes the former to appear trifling and of little moment. [3154]


[3154] Compare Church History, 10. 9, and the same for the following Chapters, in parts or whole.

Chapter LVI.--At length he undertakes to raise a Persecution.

For the final efforts of his fury appeared in his open hostility to the churches, and he directed his attacks against the bishops themselves, whom he regarded as his worst adversaries, bearing special enmity to those men whom the great and pious emperor treated as his friends. Accordingly he spent on us the utmost of his fury, and, being transported beyond the bounds of reason, he paused not to reflect on the example of those who had persecuted the Christians before him, nor of those whom he himself had been raised up to punish and destroy for their impious deeds: nor did he heed the facts of which he had been himself a witness, though he had seen with his own eyes the chief originator of these our calamities (whoever he was), smitten by the stroke of the Divine scourge.

Chapter LVII.--That Maximian, [3155] brought Low by a Fistulous Ulcer with Worms, issued an Edict in Favor of the Christians.

For whereas this man had commenced the attack on the churches, and had been the first to pollute his soul with the blood of just and godly men, a judgment from God overtook him, which at first affected his body, but eventually extended itself to his soul. For suddenly an abscess appeared in the secret parts of his person, followed by a deeply seated fistulous ulcer; and these diseases fastened with incurable virulence on the intestines, which swarmed with a vast multitude of worms, and emitted a pestilential odor. Besides, his entire person had become loaded, through gluttonous excess, with an enormous quantity of fat, and this, being now in a putrescent state, is said to have presented to all who approached him an intolerable and dreadful spectacle. Having, therefore, to struggle against such sufferings, at length, though late, he came to a realization of his past crimes against the Church; and, confessing his sins before God, he put a stop to the persecution of the Christians, and hastened to issue imperial edicts and rescripts for the rebuilding of their churches, at the same time enjoining them to perform their customary worship, and to offer up prayers on his behalf. [3156]


[3155] [Galerius Maximian. The description of his illness and death in the next Chapter is repeated from the author's Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 8, c. 16.--Bag.] Compare translation of McGiffert, p. 338, and note; also Lactantius, De M. P. c. 33. [3156] Compare edict in the Church History, 8. 17.

Chapter LVIII.--That Maximin, who had persecuted the Christians, was compelled to fly, and conceal himself in the Disguise of a Slave.

Such was the punishment which he underwent who had commenced the persecution. He, [3157] however, of whom we are now speaking, who had been a witness of these things, and known them by his own actual experience, all at once banished the remembrance of them from his mind, and reflected neither on the punishment of the first, nor the divine judgment which had been executed on the second persecutor. [3158] The latter had indeed endeavored to outstrip his predecessor in the career of crime, and prided himself on the invention of new tortures for us. Fire nor sword, nor piercing with nails, nor yet wild beasts or the depths of the sea sufficed him. In addition to all these, he discovered a new mode of punishment, and issued an edict directing that their eyesight should be destroyed. So that numbers, not of men only, but of women and children, after being deprived of the sight of their eyes, and the use of the joints of their feet, by mutilation or cauterization, were consigned in this condition to the painful labor of the mines. Hence it was that this tyrant also was overtaken not long after by the righteous judgment of God, at a time when, confiding in the aid of the demons whom he worshiped as gods, and relying on the countless multitudes of his troops, he had ventured to engage in battle. For, feeling himself on that occasion destitute of all hope in God, he threw from him the imperial dress which so ill became him, hid himself with unmanly timidity in the crowd around him, and sought safety in flight. [3159] He afterwards lurked about the fields and villages in the habit of a slave, hoping he should thus be effectually concealed. He had not, however, eluded the mighty and all-searching eye of God: for even while he was expecting to pass the residue of his days in security, he fell prostrate, smitten by God's fiery dart, and his whole body consumed by the stroke of Divine vengeance; so that all trace of the original lineaments of his person was lost, and nothing remained to him but dry bones and a skeleton-like appearance.


[3157] Licinius. [3158] [Maximin, ruler of the Eastern provinces of the empire.--Bag.] [3159] He was defeated by Licinius, who had much inferior forces. Compare Prolegomena, under Life, and references.

Chapter LIX.--That Maximin, blinded by Disease, issued an Edict in Favor of the Christians.

And still the stroke of God continued heavy upon him, so that his eyes protruded and fell from their sockets, leaving him quite blind: and thus he suffered, by a most righteous retribution, the very same punishment which he had been the first to devise for the martyrs of God. At length, however, surviving even these sufferings, he too implored pardon of the God of the Christians, and confessed his impious fighting against God: he too recanted, as the former persecutor had done; and by laws and ordinances explicitly acknowledged his error in worshiping those whom he had accounted gods, declaring that he now knew, by positive experience, that the God of the Christians was the only true God. These were facts which Licinius had not merely received on the testimony of others, but of which he had himself had personal knowledge: and yet, as though his understanding had been obscured by some dark cloud of error, persisted in the same evil course.

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