Constantine Essay

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"Constantine the Great (sole emperor 324-337) has been for centuries a figure of major importance and major disagreement among historians" (Lieu & Montserrat, 1998). He is generally understood to be the first Christian emperor of the Roman world, attributed with contributing to the end of persecution and much of the flourishing of the religion of Christianity in the western world. However, there has been much speculation and argument as to the nature of his actions. Many believe that he was a truly converted Christian, while others solely believed it to be an act of selfishness in hopes and anticipation of personal gain. "The Christian writers Lactantius and Eusebius saw in Constantine a divinely appointed benefactor of mankind. Julian the Apostate, on the other hand, accused him of greed and waste, and the pagan historian Zosimus held him responsible for the collapse of the (Western) Empire" (Pohlsander, 2004). Part of understanding Constantine’s views and outlook on the Christian faith, along with his impact on it comes with understanding his background. Constantine was born to future emperor Constantius I, who later became known as Chlorus, and a woman named Helena in the town of Naissus. It has been widely accepted that he was born on February twenty-seventh. However, his year of birth has not been able to be pinned down quite as conclusively. His year of birth has been reported to have been somewhere between 271 and sometime in the 280’s. Helena was from very humble beginnings. She was of “low social class” and it is said that she was a stabularia at an inn reportedly owned and belonging to her parents. Stabularia was the term used for a maid in a tavern or inn (Pohlsander, 2004). Because of her social stature in comparison to his, many have come to believe that there was no legal marriage between Helena and Constantius. In fact, there is still

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