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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Life of Constantine with Orations of Constantine and Eusebius.: Section 7

Early Church Fathers  Index     

§7. Fifth Five Years.

The beginning of this period was the beginning of the series of acts which have taken most from the reputation of Constantine. Sometime in 326, perhaps while at Rome, he ordered the death of his son Crispus. 3034 The same year (Hieron. Chron.) the Cæsar Licinius, his sister’s son, was put to death (Eutrop. 10. 6; Hieron.; Prosper.), and shortly after 3035 his wife Fausta died or was put to death. 3036 But apart from this shadow, the period was hardly less brilliant, in its way, than preceding ones. It was a time of gigantic and, as some said, extravagant internal improvements. Among various enterprises was the refounding, in 327, of Drepanum, his mother’s city, as Helenopolis (Hieron. An. 2343; Chron. Pasch. p. 283(?); Socr. H. E. 1. 18; Soz. 2. 2; Theoph. p. 41), and greatest of all, the transformation of the insignificant Byzantium into the magnificent Constantinople, 3037 which was dedicated in 330 (Idatius; Chron. Pasch. p. 285; Hesych. §42; Hieron.; cf. Clinton). 3038 It was probably during this period, too, that the work of improvement in Jerusalem was undertaken, and Helena made her famous visit thither (Euseb. V. C. 3. 42; Soz. 21; Socr. 1. 17; Ephraem. p. 24: Theoph. 37–8, &c.).



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. Cæs.; Soz. 1. 5; Vict. Epit. p. 50; Chron. Pasch.; Eutrop. 10. 6, &c., and discussion under Character.


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).


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.


The date of the beginning of the work is curiously uncertain. Socrates (1. 6) puts it directly after the Council of Nicæa, and Philostorgius in 334, while there is almost equal variety among the modern historians. Burckhardt says Nov. 4, 326; De Broglie, 328 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.).


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.

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