Early Church Fathers
35 Compare accounts of martyrs in the palaces, in the Church History, 8. 6.
36 "Is said to have" is added conjecturally here by an earlier editor, but Heinichen omits, as it would seem Eusebius himself did.
37 Other readings are "with the others," or "with the rest," but in whatever reading it refers to all the other emperors.
38 The persecution was in 303 or 304. Compare discussion of date in Clinton, Fasti Rom. ann. 303-305. The abdication was in 305.
39 Eusebius uses the terms Augustus, king, autocrat, and Caesar with a good deal of interchangeableness. It is hard to tell sometimes whether king (basileuj) means emperor or Caesar. In general, Augustus has been transferred in translations, and king and autocrat both rendered emperor, which seems to be his real usage.
40 Constantine reached him just before his death, though possibly some weeks before. Compare Prolegomena.
41 Diocletian and Galerius.
42 Diocletian. He was on his way to Egypt in the famous campaign against Achilleus in 296-297.
43 Or "psychical," meaning more than intellectual.
44 Rather, perhaps, "self-control."
45 Eusebius himself speaks in the plural, and other writers speak of plots by both Diocletian and Galerius. Compare Prolegomena.
46 Compare detailed account in Lactantius, De M. P. c. 24.
47 Basileuj. The writer of the chapter headings uses this word here and Augustus in the following chapter, but it does not seem to mean technically "Caesar," and so the rendering emperor is retained.
48 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.
49 Literally, "than immortality [on earth]."
50 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.
51 The verdict was not confirmed at once. Galerius refused him the title of emperor, and he contented himself with that of Caesar for a little. Compare Prolegomena.
52 But he has done this himself in his Church History. Compare also Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum.
53 The Franci, Bructeri, &c.
54 [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.
55 Referring to the unsuccessful expeditions of Severus and Galerius.
56 Compare chapters 36 and 37; also Lactantius, De M. P. chap. 44.
59 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."
60 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.
61 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.
62 [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.
63 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 Archaealogy, p. 390.
64 [Xiazomenou tou r kata to mesaitaton. The figure would seem to answer to the description in the text. Gibbon gives two specimens, and as engraved from ancient monuments. Chap. 20, note 35.-Bag.] The various coins given by Venables all have the usual form of the monogram . Compare also Tyrwhitt, art. Monogram, in Smith and Cheetham; also the art. Monogramme du Chris't, in Martigny, Dict. d. ant. (1877), 476-483].
65 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.
66 "Which in its fill 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, 1700. Molzberger.
68 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."
69 Compare the Church History, 8. 14.
70 Maxentius, made emperor by an uprising of the Praetorian Guards in 306.
71 "For" seems to express the author's real meaning, but both punctuation of editors and renderings of translators insist on "but."