Early Church Fathers
1 This sketch of the life of Constantine is intended to give the thread of events, and briefly to supplement, especially for the earlier part of his reign, the life by Eusebius, which is distinctly confined to his religious acts and life.
2 "Imperator Caear Augustus Consul Proconsul Pontifex Maximus, Magnus, Maximus, Pius, Felix, Fidelis, Mansuetus, Benificus, Clementissimus, Victor, Invictus, Triumphator, Salus Reip. Beticus, Alemanicus, Gothicus, Sarmarticus, Germanicus, Britannicus, Hunnicus, Gallicanus," is a portion of his title, as gathered from coins, inscriptions, and various documents.
3 Calendarium Rom. in Petavius Uranal. p. 113. The date varies by a year or two, according to way of reckoning, but 274 is the date usually given. (Cf. Burckhardt, Manso, Keim, De Broglie, Wordsworth, etc.) Eutropius and Hieronymus say he died in his sixty-sixth year, Theophanes says he was sixty-five years old, and Socrates and Sozomen say substantially the same, while Victor, Epit. has sixty-three, and Victor, Caes. sixty-two. Eusebius says he lived twice the length of his reign, i.e. 63 +.
Manso chose 274, because it agreed best with the representations of the two Victors as over against the: "later church historians." But the two Victors say, one that he lived sixty-two y0ears and reigned thirty-two, and the other that he lived sixty-three 0and reigned thirty; while Eutropius, secretary to Constantine, gives length of reign correctly, and so establishes a slight presumption in favor of his other statement. Moreover, it is supported by Hieronymus, whose testimony is not of the highest quality, to be sure, and is quite likely taken from Eutropius, and Theophanes, who puts the same fact in another form, and who certainly chose that figure for a reason. The statement of Eusebius is a very elastic generalization, and is the only support of Victor, Epit. Socrates, who, according to Wordsworth, says he was in his sixty-fifth year, uses the idiom "mounting upon" (epibaj) sixty-five years, which at the least must mean nearly sixty-five years old, and unless there, is some well-established usage to the contrary, seems to mean having lived already sixty-five years. In the interpretation of Sozomen (also given in translation "in his sixty-fifth year") he was "about" sixty-five years old. Now if he died in May, his following birthday would not have been as "about," and he must have been a little over sixty-five. This would make a strong consensus against Victor, against whom Eutropius alone would have a presumption of accuracy. On the whole it may be said that in the evidence, so far as cited by Manso, Wordsworth, Clinton, and the run of historians, there is no critical justification for the choice of the later date and the shorter life.
4 Anon. Vales. p. 471. Const. Porphyr. (De themat. 2. 9), Stephanus Byzant. art. Naissoj (ed. 1502, H. iii.), "Firmicus 1. 4." According to some it was Tarsus ("Julius Firmic. 1. 2"), or Drepanum (Niceph. Callist.), or in Britain (the English chroniclers, Voragine, and others, the mistake arising from one of the panegyrists (c. 4) speaking of his taking his origin thence), or Trèves (Voragine). Compare Vogt, who adds Rome ("Pert. de Natalibus"), or Roba ("Eutychius"), or Gaul ("Meursius"). Compare also monographs by Janus and by Schoepflin under Literature.
5 For characterization of Constantius compare V. C. 1. 13 sq.
6 It has been a much discussed question, whether Helena was legitimate wife or not. Some (Zosimus 2. 8; Niceph. Callist. 7. 18) have asserted that Helena was a woman "indifferent honest," and the birth of Constantine illegitimate. This view is simply psychologically impossible regarding a woman of so much and such strength of character. That she stood in the relation of legitimate concubinage (cf. Smith and Cheetham, Dict. 1. 422) is not improbable, since many (Hieron. Orosius, Zosimus 2.8; Chron. Pasch. p. 516, and others) assert this lesser relationship. This would have been not unlike a modern morganatic marriage. The facts are: 1. That she is often spoken of as concubine (cf. above). 2. That she is distinctly called wife, and that by some of the most competent authorities (Eutrop. 10. 2; Anon. Vales. p. 471; Euseb. H.E. 8. 13; Ephraem p. 21, etc.), also in various inscriptions (compare collected inscriptions in Clinton 2. 81). 3. That she was divorced (Anon. Vales. p. 47). The weight of testimony is clearly in favor of the word "wife," though with divorce so easy it seems to have been a name only. The view that she was married in the full legal sense, but only after the birth of Constantine, is plausible enough, and has a support more apparent than real, in the fact that he "first established that natural children should be made legitimate by the subsequent marriage of their parents." (Sandars Inst. Just. (1865) 113; cf. Cod. Just. V. xxvii. 1 and 5 ed. Krueger 2 (1877) 216).
Of course the story of her violation by and subsequent marriage to Constantius (Inc. auct. ed. Heydenreich) is purely legendary, and the same may be said of the somewhat circumstantial account of her relation as concubine, given by Nicephorus Callistus 7, 18. For farther account of Helena, compare the V. C. 3.42 and notes.
7 Helena was born probably at Drepanum, afterwards called Helenopolis, in her honor, by Constantine (Procopius De aedif. V. 2, p. 311, Chron. Pasch. etc.).
8 This appears from the disregard of his father's repeated requests that he be sent back to him (Lact., Anon. Vales. p. 471), and the whole story of his final flight. So also it is said by Anon. Vales. p. 471, and the two Victors (Caes. p. 156, Epit. p. 49). Zonaras (12. 33, ed. Migne 1091), gives both reasons for sending, and is likely right. Nicephorus Callistus (7. 18) suggests that he was sent there for education, since Constantius could not take him himself on account of Theodora.
9 He was with Diocletian still in 305 (cf. Lact. and note, below), and was with his father early in 306.T
10 Eusebius, who saw him on his way to Egypt in 296, gives the impression which he made on him at that time (l.c.). According to some he was also with Galerius in his Persian war, and this is possible (cf. Clinton 1. 338-40). Theophanes describes him as "already eminent in war" (p. 10), Anon. Vales. p. 471, as conducting himself "bravely."
11 This was probably a morganatic marriage or concubinate (Victor, Epit. 41, Zosimus 2. 20; Zonaras 13. 2, &c.). "The improbability that Constantine should have marked out an illegitimate son as his successor" which Ramsay (Smith, Dict. 2. 1090) mentions as the only argument against, is reduced to a minimum in view of Constantine's law for the legitimization of natural children by rescript (Cod. Just. V. xxvii. ed. Krueger 2 (1877), 216-17; cf. notes of Sandars in his Inst. Just. (1865) 113). It would be uncritical, as in the case before mentioned, to lay stress on this as positive evidence, but over against a simple "improbability" it has a certain suggestiveness at least. The panegyrical praises of Constantine's continence hardly justify Clinton's claim that she was lawful wife; for to have a regular concubine would not have been considered in any sense immoral, and it would not have been particularly pertinent in a wedding oration to have introduced even a former wife. For what little is known of Minervina, compare Ramsay, in Smith Dict. 2. 1090, "Tillemont, Hist. Emp. IV. iv. p. 84," and Clinton, Fasti Rom. 2. (1850) 86, note k.
12 Crispus was "already a young man" when made Caesar in 317 (Zos. 2. 30).
13 According to some (e.g. Victor, Caes. p. 156; Victor, Epit. p. 51; Zos. 2. 8) his father was already in Britain.
14 So Eusebius H. E. 8. 13; Lact. c. 25; Julian Orat. 1. p. 13. Eumenius (Paneg. 310, c. 7) says that he was elected "imperator," but in cc. 8-9 speaks of him as having become Caesar. Eutropius (10. 2) also uses the word "imperator." Zosimus, on the other hand (2. 9), and Anonymus Vales. say he was elected "Augustus," but was only confirmed "Caesar" by Galerius (see below). The elevation was in Britain (cf. Eutrop. 10. 2; Eumen. Paneg. (310) c. 9; Soz. 1. 5, &c.).
15 See coins in Eckhel 8, p. 72, under the year. It is also expressly stated by Paneg. (307) c. 5.
16 It is said by many that the quarrel was a feigned one, and that it was wholly for the purpose of getting rid of Constantine in behalf of Maxentius that he betook himself to Gaul. That he went to Gaul with this purpose, at least, is mentioned by many (cf. Lact. c. 29; Oros. c. 28; Eutrop. 10. 2, "on a planned stratagem"). It seems curious, if he had attempted to supersede Maxentius by raising a mutiny (Eutrop. 10. 3), that he should now be working for him and planning to rejoin him (Eutrop. 10. 2), but it is no inconsistency in this man, who was consistent only in his unceasing effort to destroy others for his own advantage.
17 Compare on all this Lact. c. 29; Eumen. Paneg c. 14.
18 Socrates (1. 2) with many others (e.g. Zos. 2. 11) says he died at Tarsus, confusing him thus with Maximinus.
19 Notably at Autun. The city had been almost destroyed. Eumenius, whose oration of thanks in behalf of the people of Autun is extant, praises Constantine as the restorer, almost the founder. The work had been undertaken by Constantius, indeed, but was carried on by his son. Constantine's work of internal improvement was in many ways distinctly a continuation of the work begun by Constantius. Compare Eumen. Paneg. (especially c. 13, 22, &c.) and Grat. act.
20 "Raging against the nobles with every kind of destruction," Eutrop. 10. 4.
21 Edict of toleration was April 30; Constantine's anniversary, July 24.
22 This edict was signed by Constantine and Licinius as well as by Galerius. The Latin text is found in Lactantius, de mort. pers. c. 24, and the Greek translation in Eusebius, H. E. 8. 17.
23 Eusebius represents the occasion of Constantine's movement as a philanthropic compassion for the people of Rome (V. C. 1. 56; H. E. 9.9).
Praxagoras (ed. Müller, p. 1) says distinctly that it was to avenge those who suffered under the tyrannical rule of Maxentius and Nazarius (Paneg. c. 19), that it was "for liberating Italy." So, too, Nazarius (Paneg.  c. 27), Zonaras (13. 1), Cedrenus, and Ephraem (p. 22) speak of a legation of the Romans petitioning him to go.
Undoubtedly he did pity them, and as to the legation, every Roman who found his way to Trèves must have been an informal ambassador asking help. The fact seems to be that he had long suspected Maxentius (Zos. 2. 15), and now, learning of his preparations for war, saw that his suspicions were well grounded. Whatever underlying motive of personal ambition there may have been, it is probable that the philanthropic motive was his justification and pretext to his own conscience for the attempt to rid himself of this suspected and dangerous neighbor. Zosimus being Zosimus, it is probable that Maxentius was the aggressor if he says so.
24 Constantine numbered, according to Zosimus, 90,000 foot, 8,000 horse; and Maxentius, 170,000 foot, and 18,000 horse. According to Panegyr. (313) c. 3, he left the major part of his army to guard the Rhine and went to meet a force of 100,000 men with less than 40,000 (c. 5).
25 See note on Bk. I. c. 28.
26 That "on the same day the enemy of the Romans should perish" (Lact. c. 44.).
27 The circumstance pronounced by Wordsworth "almost incredible" is witnessed to by Eusebius (V. C. 1. 38), Zosimus (2. 15), Praxagoras (ed. Müller, p. 1). The bridge certainly broke as mentioned by Lactantius (c. 44) and as represented on the triumphal arch, but whether the "plot" was an ex post facto notion or not is unclear.
28 "Senate and people rejoiced with incredible rejoicing" (Vict. Caes. p. 159). Cf. Euseb. V. C. 1. 39; Paneg.  c. 19; Naz. Paneg. c. 30; Chron. Pasch. p. 521, &c.
29 It is said he put to death Romulus, son of Maxentius, but it lacks evidence, and the fact that Romulus was consul for two years (208-9) with Maxentius, and then Maxentius appears alone, seems to indicate that he died in 209 or 210 (cf. Clinton, under the years 208 and 209).
30 For the churches he is said to have founded, compare note on Bk. I. ch. 42.
The curious patchwork triumphal arch which still stands in a state of respectable dilapidation near the Coliseum at Rome, was erected in honor of this victory. It is to be hoped that it was erected after Constantine had gone, and that his aesthetic character is not to be charged with this crime. It was an arch to Trajan made over for the occasion,-by itself and piecemeal of great interest. Apart from the mutilation made for the glory of Constantine, it is a noble piece of work. The changes made were artistic disfigurements; but art's loss is science's gain, and for the historian it is most interesting. The phrase "instinctu divinitatis" has its value in the "Hoc signo" discussion (cf. notes to the V. C.); and the sculptures are most suggestive.
31 It has been maintained that there were three edicts of Constantine up to this time: 1. Galerius, Constantine, and Licinius in 311; 2. Constantine and Licinius in 312 (lost); 3. Constantine and Licinius in 313 (cf. Keim, p. 16 and 81-84; Zahn, p. 33). So Gass in Herzog, p. 201, Wordsworth (Ch. Hist.), and others. But, like most certain things, it seems to have been disproved. The "harder edict" seems to have been a product of Eusebius' rather slovenly historical method, and to refer to the first, or Galerian edict.
32 The appeal of the Donatists to Constantine was first met by the appointment of a "court of enquiry," held at Rome, Oct. 2, 313. The result was unsatisfactory, and Constantine ordered an examination on the spot, which took place at Carthage, Feb. 15, 314 (Phillott). The Donatists still urging, the Council of Arles was called, Aug. 1, 314, and some progress seemed to be made, but progress more satisfactory to the orthodox than to the schismatics, who urged again that Constantine hear the matter himself, as he finally did, November, 316 (Wordsworth; cf. Augustine, Ep. 43, ¶20). He confirmed the previous findings, and took vigorous but ineffective measures to suppress the Donatists, measures which he saw afterwards could not be carried out, and perhaps saw to be unjust. Compare Augustine, Ep. 43, ch. 2, and elsewhere, also various documents from Augustine, Lactantius, Eusebius, Optatus, &c., collected in Migne, Patrol. Lat. 8 (1844), 673-784. Compare also Fuller, Donatism, Phillott, Felix,-articles in Smith and W. Dict. &c.; and for general sources and literature, cf. Donatist Schism, Hartranft, in Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 4 (1887), 369-72; Völter, Ursprung des Donatismus, 1883; and Seeck in Brieger's Zeitschrift f. Kirchengeschichte, 10 (1889), 505-508.
33 According to Lactantius (c. 49), an attempt at suicide by poison was followed by a wretched disease, bringing to a lingering and most painful death.
34 Bassianus, who had married Anastasia, sister of Constantine, was incited by his brother, who was an adherent of Licinius, to revolt against Constantine. The attempt was nipped in the bud, and Constantine demanded from Licinius the author of the plot. His refusal, together with the throwing down of the statues of Constantine, was the direct occasion of the war (Anon. Vales. p. 473). Compare Eusebius, V. C. 1. 50-51, and Socr. 1. 3, where Licinius is charged with repeated treachery, perjury, and hypocrisy. Zosimus, on the other hand (2. 18), distinctly says that Licinius was not to blame, but that Constantine, with characteristic faithlessness to their agreement, tried to alienate some of Licinius' provinces. Here, however, notice that Zosimus would not count any movement in behalf of Christians as a proper motive, and sympathy for them was undoubtedly one of the underlying reasons.
35 Constantine at Cibalis had 20,000 Licinius 35,000 (Anon. Vales. p. 473).
36 Zos. 2. 18; "by a sudden attack" (Eutrop. 10. 4); "by night" (Vict. Epit. p. 50). Cf. Orosius, c. 28.
37 After the battle of Cibalis the Greeks and the Macedonians, the inhabitants of the banks of the Danube, of Achaia, and the whole nation of Illyrica became subject to Constantine (Soz. 1. 6; cf. Anon. Vales. p. 474; Zos. 2. 20; Oros. c. 28, &c.).
38 Perhaps earlier and perhaps later. It is generally placed in 317 (cf. Clinton, p. 370).
39 Zos. 2. 21. An exhaustive discussion of this is that by Bessell, Gothen, in Ersch u. Gruber, Encykl. I. 75 (Leipz. 1862), 132-33.The same article (p. 133-35) discusses various relations of Goths and Sarmatians with Constantine.
40 According to Sozomen, Licinius withdrew his favor from Christians and persecuted them, because "He was deeply incensed against the Christians on account of his disagreement with Constantine, and thought to wound him by their sufferings; and, besides, he suspected that they earnestly desired that Constantine should enjoy the sovereign rule" (1. 7). In this view of the case, it is easy to see how and why affairs marched as they did. Eusebius (H. E. 10. 9) makes this, like the war against Maxentius, a real crusade in behalf of the persecuted Christians.
41 According to Zos. 2. 27, the final siege and surrender was at Nicomedia.
42 Compare note on Bk. II. ch. 18.
43 For his presence at Rome at this time, compare authorities above, and also law dated July, 326, given in Clinton (p. 380).
44 Crispus was alive and in power March 1, 326, as appears from coins (cf. Eckhel, 8, p. 101-2). Whether he was put to death before the Vicennalia does not appear, but that he was is not probable. For death of Crispus and its date, compare Zos. 2. 29; Vict. Caes.; Soz. 1. 5; Vict. Epit. p. 50; Chron. Pasch.; Eutrop. 10. 6, &c., and discussion under Character.
45 The same year according to Greg. Tur. (1. 34). Cf. Eutrop. and Sidon. 327, and even 328, is the date given by some (cf. Clinton, v. 1, p. 382, and Wordsworth).
46 Disputed, but generally allowed. On this series of deaths, compare the somewhat opposite views of Görres and Seeck in the articles mentioned under Literature for latest views.
47 The date of the beginning of the work is curiously uncertain. Socrates (1. 6) puts it directly after the Council of Nicaea, and Philostorgius in 334, white there is almost equal variety among the modern historians. Burckhardt says Nov. 4, 326; De Broglie, 358 or 329; Wordsworth as early as 325. It is possible that the strangeness which he felt in visiting Rome in 326, and the hostility with which he was met there (Zos. 2. 29, 30), may have been a moving cause in the foundation of this "New Rome," and that it was begun soon after his visit there. He first began to build his capital near the site of Ilium (Soz. 2. 3; Zos. 2. 30), but "led by the hand of God" (Soz.), he changed his plan to that city whose site he so much admired (Soz.).
48 For accounts of the founding of Constantinople, see Soz. 2. 3; Philostorgius, 2. 9; Malalas, 13. 5; Glycas, p. 462-64; Cedrenus, p. 495-98; Theoph. 41-42. Compare Zosimus, 2. 30; Anon. Vales. p. 475-76; Socrates, 1. 16; Orosius, c. 28; Praxagoras, Zononas, Codinus, Nicephoras Callistus, &c.
49 The events and dates of these later periods have to do mainly with theological matters,-the "religious" activity of Constantine, to which Eusebius devotes his attention so fully,-and are treated in the V. C.