An Alternate Theory of
the History of Christianity

Histories of constantine:
An Imperial Mafia Thug, and Inventor of Christianity

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"[Constantine] was a mocker rather than a flatterer.

From this he was called after Trachala in the folktale,
for ten years a most excellent man, [ Ed: the decade 306-315]

for the following second ten a brigand, [ Ed: the decade 316-325]
for the last, on account of his unrestrained prodigality,
a ward irresponsible for his own actions."
[ Ed: the period 326-337]

--- Sextus Aurelius Victor


History of Sextus Aurelius Victor

1. With all these men out of the way, 
the rights of imperium fell to Constantine and Licinius. 

2. Constantine, son of imperator Constantius and Helena, ruled thirty years. 
While a young man being held as a hostage by Galerius in the city of Rome 
on the pretence of his religion, he took flight and, for the purpose 
of frustrating his pursuers, wherever his journey had brought him, 
he destroyed the public transports, and reached his father in Britain; 
and by chance, in those very days in the same place, 
ultimate destiny was pressing on his parent, Constantius. 

3. With him dead, as all who were present -- 
but especially Crocus, King of the Alamanni, 
who had accompanied Constantius for the sake of support -- 
were urging him on, he took imperium. 

4. To Licinius, who was summoned to Mediolanum, 
he wed his own sister Constantia; and his own son, 
Crispus by name, born by Minervina, a concubine, 
and likewise Constantinus, born in those same days 
at the city Arlate, and Licinianus, son of Licinius, 
about twenty months old, he made Caesars. 

5. But, indeed, as imperia preserve concord with difficulty, 
a rift arose between Licinius and Constantine; 
and first, near Cibalae, beside a lake named Hiulca, 
when Constantine burst into Licinus' camps by night, 
Licinius sought escape and, by a swift flight, reached Byzantium. 

6. There Martinianus, Master of Offices, he made a Caesar. 

7. Then Constantine, stronger in battle in Bithynia, 
pledged through the wife to confer regal garb upon Licinius, 
his safety having been guaranteed. Then, after he had been sent 
to Thessalonica, a little later he ordered him and Martinianus slaughtered. 

8. Licinius died after about fourteen years of dominatio, 
and near the sixtieth year of his life: 
through a love of avarice he was the worst of all men 
and not a stranger to sexual debauchery, 
harsh indeed, immoderately impatient, hostile toward literature, 
which, as a result of his boundless [167] ignorance, 
he used to call a poison and a public pestilence, 
especially forensic endeavor. 

9. Obviously he was sufficiently salutary to farmers and country folk, 
because he had sprung from and had been raised from that group, 
and a most strict guardian of the military 
according to the institutes of our forefathers. 

10. He was a vehement suppressor of all eunuchs and courtiers, 
calling them worms and vermin of the palace. 

11. But Constantine, when mastery of the entire Roman empire 
had been obtained through the wondrous good fortune of his wars, 
with his wife, Fausta, inciting him, so men think, 
ordered his son Crispus put to death. 

12. Then, when his mother, Helena, as a result 
of excessive grief for her grandson, chastised him, 
he killed his own wife, Fausta, who was thrown into hot baths. 

13. He was, to be sure, too desirous of praise, as is able to be ascertained. 
On account of the legends inscribed on many structures, 
he was accustomed to call Trajan "Wall Plant." 
He built a bridge over the Danube. 

14. The royal garb he adorned with gems, and his head, 
at all times, with a diadem. 
Nevertheless, he was most agreeable in many matters: 
by means of laws most severe he checked malicious prosecutions; 
he nurtured the fine arts, especially studies of literature; 
he himself read, wrote, reflected, and listened to legations 
and the complaints of the provinces. 

15. And when, with his children and his brother's son, Delmatius, 
confirmed as Caesars, he had lived sixty-three years, 
half of which thus, so that thirteen he alone ruled, 
he was consumed by disease. 

16. He was a mocker rather than a flatterer. 
From this he was called after Trachala in the folktale, 
for ten years a most excellent man, 
for the following second ten a brigand, 
for the last, on account of his unrestrained prodigality, 
a ward irresponsible for his own actions. 

17. His body was buried in Byzantium, called Constantinople. 

18. With him dead, Delmatius was put to death 
    by the violence of the troops.


History of Sozimus

Affairs being all regulated and the barbarians quiet, since the Romans had been so successful against them, Constantine, who was the son of Constantius by a concubine, and had previously an ambition of being emperor (but was more inflamed with that desire, since Severus and Maximinus had acquired the name and honour of Caesars), was now resolved to leave the place where he had resided, and to go to his father Constantius, who was beyond the Alps, and generally in Britain. But being apprehensive of seizure by the way, many persons being well acquainted of his anxiety for dominion, he maimed all the horses that were kept for public service, whenever he came to any stable where they were kept, except what he took for his own use. He continued to do this throughout his journey, by which means he prevented those that pursued him from going further, while he himself proceeded toward the country where his father was.

It happened that Constantius died at that time; the guards, therefore, who thought none of his legitimate children to be fit for the imperial dignity, considered that Constantine was a person capable of sustaining it, and conferred the honour upon him, in hopes of being remunerated with handsome presents. When his effigy according to custom was exhibited at Rome, Maxentius, the son of Maximianus Herculius, could not endure the sight of Constantine's good fortune, who was the son of a harlot, while himself, who was the son of so great an emperor, remained at home in indolence, and his father's empire was enjoyed by others. He therefore associated with himself in the enterprise Marcellianus and Marcellus, two military tribunes, and Lucianus, who distributed the swine's flesh, with which the people of Rome were provided by the treasury, and the court-guards called Praetoriani. By them he was promoted to the imperial throne, having promised liberally to reward all that assisted him in it. For this purpose they first murdered Abellius, because he, being prefect of the city, opposed their enterprise.

Maximianus Gallerius, when he had learned this, sent Severus Caesar against Maxentius with an army. But while he advanced from Milan with several legions of Moors, Maxentius corrupted his troops with money, and even the prefect of the court, Anullinus, and thereby conquered him with great case. On which Severus fled to Ravenna, which is a strong and populous city, provided with necessaries sufficient for himself and soldiers. When Maximianus Herculius knew this, he was doubtless greatly concerned for his son Maxentius, and therefore, leaving Lucania where he then was, he went to Ravenna. Finding that Severus could not by any means be forced out of this city, it being well fortified, and stored with provisions, he deluded him with false oaths, and persuaded him to go to Rome. But on his way thither, coming to a place called the Three Tabernae, he was taken by a stratagem of Maxentius and immediately executed. Maximianus Gallerius could not patiently endure these injuries done to Severus, and therefore resolved to go from the east to Rome, and to punish, Maxentius as he deserved. On his arrival in Italy, he found the soldiers about him so treacherous, that he returned into the east without fighting a battle.

At this period Maximianus Herculius, who lamented the tumults which disturbed the public peace, came to Dioclesian who then lived at Carnutum, a town of Gallia Celtica, and endeavoured to persuade him to resume the empire, and not to suffer the government which they had preserved so long and with so much difficulty to be exposed to the madness and folly of those who had possessed themselves of it, and who had already brought it near to ruin. But Dioclesian refused to listen to him; for he wisely preferred his own quiet, and perhaps foresaw the troubles that would ensue, being a man well versed in matters of religion. Herculius therefore, perceiving that he could not prevail with him, came to Ravenna, and so returned to the Alps to meet Constantine, who lay there. And being naturally a busy faithless man, he promised his daughter Fausta to Constantine, which he performed, but persuaded him to pursue Maximianus Gallerius, who was then leaving Italy, and to lay wait for Maxentius. To all which Constantine agreed. He then left him, designing if possible to recover the empire, as he hoped to create a quarrel between Constantine and his son Maxentius. But while he attempted these things, Maximianus Gallerius assumed Licinius, as his colleague in the empire, with whose assistance he hoped to cope with Maxentius. But while Gallerius deliberated on these affairs, he died of an incurable wound, and Licinius then also claimed the sole dominion. Maximianus Herculius endeavoured, as I have said, to recover the empire by alienating the soldiers from Maxentius. For which purpose, by gifts and insinuating addresses, having brought them over to him, he endeavoured to form a conspiracy against Constantine, in which his soldiers were to join. But Fausta revealed it to Constantine, and Herculius, who was now overborne by so many disappointments, died of a distemper at Tarsus.

Maxentius, having escaped this danger, and being of opinion that he was now well enough established in the empire, sent persons into Africa, and in particular to Carthage, to carry his image about that country. But the soldiers in that country forbade it, out of regard to Maximianus Gallerius, and the respect they had for his memory, until they heard that Maxentius was coming to make war on them on the plea of an insurrection. They then went to Alexandria, but meeting with a great army with which they were not able to contend, they returned to Carthage. Maxentius, being disturbed at this, resolved to sail for Africa, and to punish the authors of the commotion. But the soothsayers having sacrificed and given him ill omens, he was afraid to go, not only because the entrails had that appearance, but also lest Alexander, who was prefect of the court in Africa, should be his enemy. To secure his passage thither from all doubt, he sent to Alexander, desiring him to send his son as an hostage. But he, suspecting that Maxentius did not desire his son for the mere purpose of an hostage, but to deceive him, denied the request. After this, Maxentius sending other agents to him to take him off by treachery and stratagem, the plot was discovered ; and the soldiers, having then got a favourable opportunity to rebel, conferred the purple robe on Alexander, though he was by birth not only a Phrygian, but a timid cowardly man, and unlit for any difficult undertaking, and was, moreover, of an advanced age.

At that time a fire happened at Rome ; whether it came out of the air or earth is uncertain. It broke out in the temple of Fortune; and while the people ran to extinguish it, a soldier, speaking blasphemy against the goddess, was killed by the mob out of zeal, by which a mutiny was occasioned among the soldiers. They would have destroyed the whole city, had not Maxentius soon appeased their rage. Maxentius after this sought every occasion to make war on Constantine, and pretending grief for his father's death, of which Constantine was the cause, he designed to go towards Rhaetia, which is contiguous both to Gaul and Illyricum. For he imagined that he should subdue Dalmatia and Illyricum, by the assistance of the generals in those parts, and of the army of Licinius. But thinking it better first to arrange affairs in Africa, he raised an army, bestowing the command of it on Rufius Volusianus, prefect of the court, and sent them into Africa. He sent Zeno also along with Rufius, who was a person not only expert in military affairs, but esteemed for his courtesy and affability. On the first charge, Alexander's troops retired on a body of men in the rear, nor was the other party left unconquered by the enemy. Alexander himself was taken and strangled.

The war being thus at an end, a good opportunity was afforded to sycophants and informers of impeaching all the persons in Africa, who had good estates, as friends to Alexander: nor were any of the accused spared, but some of them put to death, and others deprived of all their possessions. After this he triumphed at Rome for the mischief done at Carthage. Such was the state of the affairs of Maxentius, who conducted himself with cruelty and licentiousness towards all the inhabitants of Italy, and even to Rome itself. Meantime Constantine, who had long been jealous of him, was then much more disposed to contention. Having therefore raised an army amongst the Barbarians, Germans, and Celts, whom he had conquered, and likewise drawn a force out of Britain, amounting in the whole to ninety thousand foot and eight thousand horse, he marched from the Alps into Italy, passing those towns that surrendered without doing them any damage, but taking by storm those which resisted. While he wns making this progress, Maxentius had collected a much stronger army ; consisting of eighty thousand Romans and Italians, all the Tuscans on the sea coast, forty thousand men from Carthage, besides what the Sicilians sent him ; his whole force amounting to a hundred and seventy thousand foot and eighteen thousand horse.

Both being thus prepared, Maxentius threw a bridge over the Tiber, which was not of one entire piece, but divided into two parts, the centre of the bridge being made to fasten with irons, which might be drawn out upon occasion. He gave orders to the workmen, that as soon as they saw the army of Constantine upon the juncture of the bridge, they should draw out the iron fastenings, that the enemy who stood upon it might fall into the river.

Constantine, advancing with his. army to Rome, encamped in a field before the city, which was broad and therefore convenient for cavalry. Maxentius in the mean time shut himself up within the walls, and sacrificed to the gods, and, moreover, consulted the Sibylline oracles concerning the event of the war. Finding a prediction, that whoever designed any harm to the Romans should die a miserable death, he applied it to himself, because he withstood those that came against Rome, and wished to take it. His application indeed proved just. For when Maxentius drew out his army before the city, and was marching over the bridge that he himself had constructed, an infinite number of owls flew down and covered the wall. When Constantine saw this, he ordered his men to stand to their arms. And the two armies being drawn up opposite to each other, Constantine sent his cavalry against that of the enemy, whom they charged with such impetuosity that they threw them into disorder. The signal being given to the infantry, they likewise marched in good order towards the enemy. A furious battle having commenced, the Romans themselves, and their foreign allies, were unwilling to risk their lives, as they wished for deliverance from the bitter tyranny with which they were burdened; though the other troops were slain in great numbers, being either trod to death by the horse, or killed by the foot.

As long as the cavalry kept their ground, Maxentius retained some hopes, but when they gave way, he tied with the rest over the bridge into the city. The beams not being strong enough to bear so great a weight, they broke; and Maxentius, with the others, was carried with the stream down the river.

When the news of this victory was reported in the city, none dared to shew any joy for what had happened, because many thought it was an unfounded report. But when the head of Maxentius was brought upon a spear, their fear and dejection were changed to joy and pleasure. On this occasion Constantine punished very few, and they were only some few of the nearest friends of Maxentius; but he abolished the praetorian troops, and destroyed the fortresses in which they used to reside. At length, having arranged all things in the city, he went towards Gallia Celtica ; and on his way sent for Licinius to Milan, and gave him in marriage his sister Constantia, whom he had formerly promised him, when he wished him to unite with himself against Maxentius. That solemnity over, Constantine proceeded towards the Celtae. It was not long before a civil war broke out between Licinius and Maximianus, who had a severe engagement, in which Licinius at first appeared to have the disadvantage, but he presently rallied and put Maximianus to flight. This emperor, travelling through the east into Egypt, in hopes of raising a force to renew the war, died at Tarsus.

The empire being thus devolved on Constantine and Licinius, they soon quarrelled. Not because Licinius gave any cause for it, but that Constantine, in his usual manner, was unfaithful to his agreement, by endeavouring to alienate from Licinius some nations that belonged to his dominions. By this means an open rupture ensued, and both prepared for war. Licinius took up his head-quarters at Cibalis, a city of Pannonia, which stands on a hill; the road to which is rugged and narrow. The greatest part of this road is through a deep morass, and the remainder up a mountain, on which stands the city. Below it extends a spacious plain, which entertains the view with a boundless prospect. On this Licinius fixed his camp, and extended the body of his army under the hill, that his flanks might be protected from the enemy. Constantine in the meantime drew up his men near the mountain, placing the horse in front, thinking that to be the best disposition lest the enemy should fall upon the foot, who moved but slowly, and hinder their advance. Having done this, he immediately gave the charge, and attacked the enemy. This engagement was one of the most furious that was ever fought; for when each side had expended their darts, they fought a long time with spears and javelins; and after the action had continued from morning to night, the right wing, where Constantine himself commanded, began to prevail. The enemy being routed, Licinius's troops, seeing him mounted and ready to fly, dared not stay to eat their portions, but left behind them all their cattle and provisions, taking only as much food as would suffice for one night, and marched with great precipitation along with Licinius to Sirmium, a city of Pannonia, by which runs a river which discharges itself into the Ister. In passing this town he broke down the bridge over the river, and marched on with an intention to levy troops in Thrace.

Constantine, having taken Cibalis, and Sirmium, and all the towns that Licinius had abandoned, sent five thousand men in pursuit of him. But as these were ignorant of the course he had taken, they could not overtake him. Constantine however, having rebuilt the bridge over the Saus, which Licinius had broken down, was with his army almost at his heels. Having entered Thrace, he arrived at the plain where Licinius lay encamped. On the night of his arrival there he marshalled his army, and gave orders for his soldiers to be ready for battle by day-break. As soon as it was light, Licinius, perceiving Constantine with his army, drew up his forces also, having been joined by Valens, whom he styled Caesar, after the battle of Cibalis. When the armies engaged, they first fought with bows at a distance ; but when their arrows were spent, they began to use their javelins, and poignards. Thus the battle continued very obstinately for a considerable time, until those whom Constantine had sent in pursuit of Licinius descended from an eminence upon the armies while they were engaged. These wheeled round the hill before they arrived at them, deeming it best to join their own party from the higher ground, and to encompass the enemy. The troops of Licinius, being aware of them, courageously withstood against them all, so that many thousands were slain on both sides, and the advantage was equal, till the signal was given for both to retire. Next day they agreed on a truce, and entered into an alliance with each other, on condition that Constantine should possess Illyricum and all the nations westward, and that Licinius should have Thrace and the east; but that Valens, whom Licinius had made Caesar, should be put to death, because be was said to be the author of all the mischief which had happened. Having done this, and sworn on both sides to observe the conditions, Constantine conferred the rank and title of Caesar on Crispus, his son by a concubine called Minervina, who was as yet but a youth, and on Constantine, who was born but a few days before at Arelatum. At the same time Licinianus, the son of Licinius, who was twenty years of age, was declared Caesar, Thus ended the second war.

Constantine hearing that the Sauromatae, who dwelt near the Palus Maeotis, had passed the Ister in boats, and pillaged his territories, led his army against them, and was met by the barbarians, under their king Rausimodus. The Sauromatae attacked a town which was sufficiently garrisoned, but its wall was built in the lower part of stone, and in the upper part of wood. They therefore thought that they might easily take the town by burning all the wooden part of the wall; and with that view set it on fire, and in the mean time shot at those who stood on the walls. The defenders threw down darts and stones upon the barbarians, and killed many of them ; and Constantine then coming up and falling on them from a higher ground, slew a great number, took wore alive, and put the rest to flight. Rausimodus, having lost the greater part of his army, took shipping and crossed the Ister, with an intention of once more plundering the Roman dominions. Constantine, hearing of his design, followed them over the Ister, and attacked them in a thick wood upon a hill, to which they had fled, where he killed many of them, amongst whom was Rausimodus. He also took many of them prisoners, giving quarter to those that would submit; and returned to his head-quarters with an immense number of captives. These he distributed into the different cities, and then came to Thessalonica, where having constructed a harbour (this city not possessing one before), he made new preparations for war against Licinius. For this purpose, he fitted out two hundred galleys of war; each with thirty oars, besides two thousand transport vessels, and raised a force of a hundred and twenty thousand foot, and ten thousand horsemen and sailors. Licinius, hearing of the great preparations of Constantine, sent messengers to every nation, commanding them to prepare a sufficient number of men for the navy, besides horse and foot soldiers. The Egyptians therefore sent out eighty galleys, the Phoenicians an equal number, the Ionians and Dorians of Asia sixty, the Cyprians thirty, the Carians twenty, the Bithynians thirty, and the Africans fifty. His foot-soldiers amounted to nearly a hundred and fifty thousand, but his horse only to fifteen thousand, which were sent to him from Phrygia and Cappadocia. Constantine's navy lay at Piraeus, that of Licinius in the Hellespont. When they had thus established their naval and military forces, Licinius encamped at Adrianople in Thrace, whilst Constantine sent for his navy from Piraeus, which was built and manned chiefly in. Greece. Advancing with his infantry from Thessalonica, he encamped on the bank of the river Hebrus, which runs to the left of Adrianople. At the same time, Licinius drew up his army in order of battle, extending from a mountain which is above the town two hundred stadia, as far as the junction of another river with the Hebrus; thus the armies continued opposite to each other for several days. Constantine. observing where the river was least broad, concerted this plan. He ordered his men to bring trees from the mountain, and to tie ropes around them, as if he intended to throw a bridge over the river for the passage of his army. By this stratagem he deluded the enemy, and, ascending a hill on which were thick woods sufficient to conceal any that were in them, he planted there five thousand archers and eight hundred horse. Having done this, he crossed the Hebrus at the narrowest place, and so surprised the enemy that many fled with all their speed, while others, who were amazed at his unexpected approach, were struck with wonder at his coming over so suddenly. In the meantime, the rest of his army crossed the river in security, and a great slaughter commenced. Nearly thirty thousand fell; and about sunset Constantine took their camp, while Licinius, with all the forces he could muster, hastened through Thrace to his ships.

As soon as day appeared, the whole army of Licinius, or as many of them us had fled to the neighbouring mountains and vallies, together with those that Licinius through haste had left behind him, surrendered themselves to Constantine. Licinius being arrived at Byzantium, Constantine followed and besieged him in that city. His navy, as before related, had now left Piraeus and lay at Macedon. He therefore sent orders to his admirals to bring the ships into the Hellespont. This being effected according to the command of Constantine, the officers of his navy thought it not prudent to engage with more than eighty of their best sailing vessels, which were gallies of thirty oars each, because the place was too narrow for the reception of a greater number. Upon which Abantus, the admiral of Licinius, making use of two hundred ships, despised the smallness of the enemy's fleet, which he thought he could easily surround. But the signals on both sides being given, and the vessels meeting stern to stern, the seamen of Constantine managed their ships so as to engage in good order; but the ships of Abantus, sailing against the enemy without any order, and being confined by the narrowness of the place, became exposed to the enemy, who sunk and otherwise destroyed them. Many were thrown overboard ; till at length night put an end to the engagement. The fleets then separated and put in at different places, the one at Eleus in Thrace, and the other at the Aeantian harbour. The following day, the wind blowing hard from the north, Abantus put out from the Aeantian port and prepared for action. But the galleys of fifty oars being come to Eleus by order of the admirals, Abantus was alarmed at the number of vessels, and hesitated whether to sail against the enemy. About noon the north wind subsided; the south wind then blew with such violence, that the ships of Licinius, which lay on the Asiatic coast, were some driven on shore, others broken ngainst the rocks, and others foundered with all on board. In this affair five thousand men perished, together with a hundred and thirty ships filled with men, whom Licinius had sent out of Thrace to Asia accompanied by a part of his army; Byzantium being too small to contain all that were besieged with Licinius. The sea-fight being thus concluded, Abantus effected his escape with only four ships into Asia. The navy of Constantine, having arrived in the Hellespont laden with abundance of provisions and stores for his troops, weighed anchor in order to join in the siege of Byzantium, and to blockade the city by sea. The foot-soldiers of Licinius, being alarmed at the sight of such a navy, procured ships in which they sailed to Eleus.

Meantime Constantine continued intent upon the siege, and raised a mound of equal height, with the wall, on which he placed wooden towers that overlooked the wall, from which his soldiers shot: those who defended it, in order that he might with greater security bring battering ranis and other engines of war near it. By these means he thought himself sure to take the city. At which Licinius, being terrified, and not knowing how to act, resolved to leave Byzantium, and the weaker part of his army therein, and to take with him only such men as were fit for active service, and had given proofs of their attachment to himself, and to hasten without delay to Chalcedon in Bithynia. He flattered himself that another army might be raised in Asia, which would enable him again to contend with his adversary. Arriving therefore at Chalcedon, and, having appointed Martinianus to the command of the court guards, whom the Romans call Magister officiorum, his associate in this dangerous enterprize, he declared him Caesar, and sent him with an army to Lampsacus, to hinder the passage of the enemy from Thrace into the Hellespont. He posted his own men on the hills and passes about Chalcedon.

While Licinius was thus occupied, Constantine, who had a great number of transports as well as warlike vessels, and was desirous to make use of them in crossing over and possessing himself of the opposite shore, fearing that the Bithynian coast might be inaccessible to ships of burden, immediately constructed some small vessels, with which he sailed to the sacred promontory, which lies at the entrance of the Pontus, two hundred stadia from Chalcedon. He there landed his army, which, having done, he drew them up upon some adjacent hills. Licinius, though he then saw that Bithynia was already in the hands of his enemy, was rendered so desperate by danger, that he sent for Martinianus from Lampsacus, and in order to encourage his men to fight, told them that he himself would lead them. Having said what he thought necessary to encourage them, he drew them up in order of battle, and marching out of the city, met the enemy, who were prepared for him. A sharp engagement taking place between Chalcedon and the sacred promontory, Constantine had the superiority; for he fell on the enemy with such resolution, that of a hundred and thirty thousand men, scarcely thirty thousand escaped. When the Byzantines heard of this, they immediately threw open their gates to Constantine, as did the Chalcedonians also. Licinius after this defeat went to Nicomedia with what horse were left him, and a few thousands of foot.

At this time a Persian named Hormisdas, of the royal family, came over to Constantine for refuge, under these circumstances. His father had been king of Persia. He was once celebrating his own birth-day after the Persian manner, when Hormisdas entered the palace, bringing with him a large quantity of venison. But as the guests at the table did not rise, and pay him the respect and honour due to him, he became enraged, and told them he would punish them with the death of Marsyas. This saying most of them did not understand, because it related to a foreign story; but one of them, who had lived in Phrygia, and had heard the story of Marsyas, explained to them the meaning of Hormisdas's menace, while they sat at table. It was therefore so treasured up in their recollection, that when his father died, they remembered his threat, and chose his younger brother king, though according to law the elder should be preferred above the other children. Not contented with that, they put Hormisdas in chains, and confined him on a hill which lies before their city. But after some time had elapsed, his wife effected his escape in this manner. She procured a large fish, and put a file in its belly, and, sewing it up again, delivered it to the most trusty of her eunuchs, charging him to tell Hormisdas, that he must eat the fish when no one was present, and use what he should find in its belly for his escape. When she had formed this contrivance, she sent several camels loaded with wine, and abundance of meat, to entertain her husband's keepers. While they were enjoying the feast she gave them, Honnisdas cut open the fish, and found the file; having with that filed off the shackles from his legs, he put on the robe of the eunuch, and passed through the midst of his keepers, who were by that time perfectly intoxicated. Taking one of the eunuchs along with him, he fled to the king of Armenia, who was his particular friend. By these means he got safe to Constantine, who shewed him all possible kindness and respect.

But Licinius being besieged by Constantine at Nicomedia also, knew not what to do, being sensible that he had not an army equal to engage. Going, therefore, out of the city, he submitted himself to Constantine, and brought him the purple robe, proclaiming him his emperor and lord, and intreating pardon for what was past. He presumed that he certainly should escape with life, because Constantine had sworn to his wife that he would spare him. But Constantine delivered Martinianus to the guards that they might put him to death, and sent Licinius to Thessalonica, as if he were to live there in security. However, he afterwards broke his oath, 1 which was usual with Constantine, and caused him to be executed.

Now that the whole empire had fallen into the hands of Constantine, he no longer concealed his evil disposition and vicious inclinations, but acted as he pleased, without controul. He indeed used the ancient worship of his country 2 ; though not so much out of honour or veneration as of necessity. Therefore he believed the soothsayers, who were expert in their art, as men who predicted the truth concerning all the great actions which he ever performed. But when he came to Rome, he was filled with pride and arrogance. He resolved to begin his impious actions at home. For he put to death his son Crispus, stiled (as I mentioned) Caesar, on suspicion of debauching his mother-in-law Fausta, without any regard to the ties of nature. And when his own mother Helena expressed much sorrow for this atrocity, lamenting the young man's death with great bitterness, Constantine under pretence of comforting her, applied a remedy worse than the disease. For causing a bath to be heated to an extraordinary degree, he shut up Fausta in it, and a short time after took her out dead. Of which his conscience accusing him, as also of violating his oath, he went to the priests to be purified from his crimes. But they told him, that there was no kind of lustration that was sufficient to clear him of such enormities. A Spaniard, named Aegyptius, very familiar with the court-ladies, being at Rome, happened to fall into converse with Constantine, and assured him, that the Christian doctrine would teach him how to cleanse himself from all his offences, and that they who received it were immediately absolved from all their sins. Constantine had no sooner heard this than he easily believed what was told him, and forsaking the rites of his country, received those which Aegyptius offered him ; and for the first instance of his impiety, suspected the truth of divination. For since many fortunate occurrences had been thereby predicted to him, and really had happened according to such prediction, he was afraid that others might be told something which should fall out to his misfortune ; and for that reason applied himself to the abolishing of the practice. And on a particular festival, when the army was to go up to the Capitol, he very indecently reproached the solemnity, and treading the holy ceremonies, as it were, under his feet, incurred the hatred of the senate and people.

Being unable to endure the curses of almost the whole city, he sought for another city as large as Rome, where he might build himself a palace. Having, therefore, discovered a convenient scite between Troas and old Ilium, he there accordingly laid a foundation, and built part of a wall to a considerable height, which may still be seen by any that sail towards the Hellespont. Afterwards changing his purpose, he left his work unfinished, and went to Byzantium, where he admired the situation of the place, and therefore resolved, when he had considerably enlarged it, to make it a residence worthy of an emperor. The city stands on a rising ground, which is part of the isthmus inclosed on each side by the Ceras and Propontis, two arms of the sea. It had formerly a gate, at the end of the porticos, which the emperor Sevtrus built after he was reconciled to the Byzantines, who had provoked his resentment by admiting his enemy Niger into their city. At that time the wall reached down from the west side of the hill at the temple of Venus to the sea side, opposite to Chrysopolis. On the north side of the hill it reached to the dock, and beyond that to the shore, which lies opposite the passage into the Euxine sea. This narrow neck of land, between there and the Pontus, is nearly three hundred stadia in length. This was the extent of the old city. Constantine built a circular market-place where the old gate had stood, and surrounded it with double roofed porticos, erecting two great arches of Praeconnesian marble against each other, through which was a passage into the porticos of Severus, and out of the old city. Intending to increase the magnitude of the city, he surrounded it. with a wall which was fifteen stadia beyond the former, and inclosed all the isthmus from sea to sea. Having thus enlarged the city, he built a palace little inferior to that of Rome, and very much embellished the hippodrome, or horse-course, taking into it the temple of Castor and Pollux, whose statues are still standing in the porticos of the hippodrome. He placed on one side of it the tripod that belonged to the Delphian Apollo, on which stood an image of the deity. As there was at Byzantium a very large market-place, consisting of four porticos, at the end of one of them, to which a numerous flight of steps ascends, he erected two temples; in one of which was placed the statue of Rhea, the mother of the gods, which Jason's companions had formerly fixed on Mount Dindymus, which is near the city of Cyzicus. It is said, that through his contempt of religion he impaired this statue by taking away the lions that were on each side, and, changing the position of the hands. For it formerly rested each hand on a lion, but was now altered into a supplicating posture, looking towards the city, and seeming to observe what the people were doing. In the other temple he placed the statue of the Fortune of Rome. He afterwards built convenient dwellings for the senators who followed him from Rome. He engaged in no more wars ; and even when the Thaifalians, a Scythian tribe, made an incursion into his dominions, he not only neglected to lead his army against them, but after he had lost most of his troops, and saw the enemy plundering all before them, even to his very intrenchments, was contented to save himself by flight.

When he was delivered from the distractions of war, he yielded himself to voluptuousness, and distributed to the people of Byzantium a present of corn, which is continued to this day. As he expended the public treasure in unnecessary and unprofitable buildings, he likewise built some which in a short time were taken down again, because being erected hastily they could not stand long. He likewise made a great change in the ancient magistracy. Till that time there had been only two prefects of the court, whose authority was equal ; not only were the court soldiers under their controul, but those also which guarded the city, and who were stationed in its neighbourhood. The person who had the office of prefect of the court, which was esteemed the next post of honour to that of emperor, distributed the gifts of corn, and punished all offences against military discipline, as he thought convenient. Constantine altered this good institution, and of one office or magistracy formed four. To one of those prefects he committed all Egypt and Pentapolis in Libya, and all the east as far as Mesopotamia, with Cilicia, Cappadocia, Armenia, and all the coast from Pamphylia to Trapezus and the castles near Phasis; to the same person was given all Thrace and Moesia, as far as the mountains Haemus and Rhodope, and the town of Doberus. He likewise added Cyprus and all the Cyclades, except Lemnos, Imbrus, and Samothracia. To another he assigned Macedon, Thessaly, Crete, and Greece, with the adjacent islands, both the Epiruses, the Illyrians, the Dacians, the Triballi, and the Pannonians as far as Valeria, besides the upper Moesia. To the third prefect he entrusted Italy and Sicily, with the neighbouring islands, and Sardinia and Corsica, together with all Africa westward of the Syrtes. To the fourth he committed all beyond the Alps, Gaul, Spain, and Britain. Having thus divided the power of these prefects, he invented other methods likewise of diminishing their influence. For as there used to be in all places, centurions, tribunes, and generals, he appointed officers called Magistri militum, some over the horse and others over the foot, to whom he gave authority to discipline the soldiers, and punish those that had offended, by which the power of the prefects was diminished. That this innovation was productive of great injury to public affairs both in peace and war I will immediately prove 4. The prefects had hitherto collected the tribute in all places by their officers, and disposed of it in war expences, the soldiers at the same time being subject to their authority, whose offences they punished at discretion. Under these circumstances, the soldiers, considering that the same person who gave them their pay had the infliction of punishments whenever they offended, did not dare to act contrary to their duty, for fear of their stipend being withheld, and of being duly punished. But now since one person is paymaster and another inspector of discipline, they act according to their own inclination.

Constantine likewise adopted another measure, which gave the Barbarians free access into the Roman dominions. For the Roman empire, as I have related, was, by the care of Dioclesian, protected on its remote frontiers by towns and fortresses, in which soldiers were placed; it. was consequently impossible for the Barbarians to pass them, there being always a sufficient force to oppose their inroads. But Constantine destroyed that security by removing the greater part of the soldiers from those barriers of the frontiers, and placing them in towns that had no need of defenders; thus depriving those who were exposed to the Barbarians of all defence, and oppressing the towns that were quiet with so great a multitude of soldiers, that many of them were totally forsaken by the inhabitants. He likewise rendered his soldiers effeminate by accustoming them to public spectacles and pleasures. To speak in plain terms, he was the first cause of the affairs of the empire declining to their present miserable state.

However, I must not omit to relate, that having given to his three sons, Constantine, Constantius, and Constans, the title of Caesars, he so greatly enlarged the city of Constantinople, that many of the succeeding emperors, who made it their residence, drew to it too great a number of inhabitants, who flocked there from all parts, as soldiers, merchants, and in other occupations. On this account, its walls were rendered more capacious than those which Constantine built, and the buildings were permitted to be placed so near to each other, that the inhabitants are exposed to much inconvenience and danger both in their houses and in the streets. Besides this a considerable portion of the sea was added to the land by driving down piles, thus forming dry ground, on which was built a sufficient number of houses to form of themselves a considerable city.

I have, indeed, often wondered, since the city of Byzantium is become so great that no other is equal to it either in felicity or magnitude, that our ancestors had not any prophecy concerning its good fortune. Having directed my thoughts some time to this enquiry, I consulted many historians and collections of oracles, and at length, after much difficulty and taking great pains to interpret them, discovered an oracle, which is attributed to Sibylla Erythraea, or Phaello of Epirus. Nicomedes the son of Prusias relying upon this, and interpreting it to his own advantage, by the counsel of Attalus made war upon his father. The oracle I speak of is this :

This oracle, in an obscure manner, points out all the particular evils that were to befal Bythynia through the heavy impositions laid upon it; and that the government was to devolve on those to whom the Byzantines were then subject, in this distich:

And though the events foretold did not occur until many ages afterwards, no one can suppose that the prophecy related to any other place; for all time is short in respect of the deity, who exists through all ages. This conjecture I have formed both from the words of the prophecy and from the event. Should any believe that this prophecy has a different import, they have liberty to enjoy their own opinion.

Constantine, having done this, not only continued to waste the revenue of the empire in useless expences, and in presents to mean and worthless persons, but oppressed those who paid the tributes, and enriched those that were useless to the state. For he mistook prodigality for magnificence 5. He also laid a tax of gold and silver on all merchants and tradesmen, even to the lowest classes, nor did he even spare the poorest prostitute 6. Thus, on the return of every fourth year, when the tax was to be paid, nothing could be heard through the whole city but lamentations and complaints. When the time arrived nothing but whips and tortures, provided for those who on account of their extreme poverty could not pay the money. Mothers were even forced to part with their children, and fathers to prostitute their daughters, for money to satisfy the collectors of this exaction. Wishing likewise to invent some trouble for the rich, he summoned them all and made them praetors, for which dignity he demanded a sum of money. Upon this account when they who had the management of this affair arrived in any city the people fled into other countries, in the fear of gaining this honour with the loss of all they possessed. He had the schedules of all the best estates, and imposed a tribute on each of them, which he called a purse. With these exactions he exhausted all the towns; for they continued in force so long even after the time of Constantine, that the cities were completely drained of money, and many of them forsaken by their inhabitants.

After Constantine had oppressed and tormented the people in these various modes, he died of a disease, and was succeeded by his three sons, who were not born of Fausta the daughter of Maximianus Herculius, but of another woman, whom he had put to death for adultery.

INDEX | Constantine: Imperial THUG | Letters of Constantine | Authors of Antiquity | Mountain Man Graphics