Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Life of Constantine with Orations of Constantine and Eusebius.: Chapter I
blessed emperor constantine,
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 emperors reign; already have we ourselves received him as a triumphant conqueror in the assembly of Gods 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 fathers 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.
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.481:3050
The assembly referred to was the Council of Nicæa. Constantines 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.481:3051
This oration is the one appended by Eusebius to this Life of Constantine, and given in this translation (cf. V. C. 4. 46).481:3052
[In the text it is ὁ λόγος, “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.481:3053
Constantine II., Constantius, and Constans proved on the whole sorry reflectors of glory.481:3054
The first had been Cæsar more than twenty years; the second, ten; and the third, less than five.
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