Version classiqueVersion mobile

Reconsidering Roman power

 | 
Katell Berthelot

The dynamics of power

Apollo, Christ, and Mithras: Constantine in Gallia Belgica

Elizabeth DePalma Digeser

Résumé

Since the advent of history as a formal discipline, we have struggled to explain how Constantine I (r. 306-37) could reconcile devotion to the sun god with the veneration of Christ, especially during the first decade of his reign in Britain and Gaul. Rather than trying to reconcile disparate accounts to construct an image of an emperor who fits our categories of "Christian" or "pagan", however, I propose that we should not use these accounts as windows into the emperor’s soul. Instead, we should understand them as appealing to differing constituencies within the emperor’s domain. Overall, the provinces of Britain and Gaul – a de facto separate state in the third century – remained loyal to Constantine for the rest of his reign, even after he left the region for good in 316. His success testifies to the power of these seemingly contradictory portrayals, which continued to circulate in the region well into the Middle Ages and beyond. I argue that the principal pagan and Christian accounts share a vision of the emperor as the divine warrior who slays the beast of darkness – an image also compatible with the cult of Mithras, widely popular in this area. People across the variegated religious topography of the region found this image compelling because it spoke to different traditions in different ways. The deep and wide resonance of this image contributed not only to consolidating Constantine’s position, but also to sustaining its own remarkably long life as the archetype of the "good sovereign".

Texte intégral

1We have long struggled to explain how Constantine I (r. 306-37) could reconcile devotion to the sun god with venerating Christ. Rather than trying to collate disparate accounts to imagine an emperor who fits our ideas of "Christian" or "pagan", however, my paper proposes that we should not use these accounts as windows into the emperor’s soul. Instead, we should understand them as appealing to differing constituencies within the emperor’s domain. Although the provinces of Galliae, Viennensis and Britanniae (together with Hispaniae) had been a de facto separate state in the third century, once Constantine’s father, Constantius, defeated the usurpers Carausius and Allectus, this region remained loyal to Constantine’s family long after the emperor himself left the area in 316. This stability testifies to the power of these seemingly contradictory portrayals, which continued to circulate in the region long after the Empire fell. I argue that the principal pagan and Christian accounts share a vision of the emperor as a divine warrior who slays the beast of darkness. People across the variegated religious topography of the region found this image compelling because it spoke to different traditions in different ways. The deep and wide resonance of this image contributed not only to consolidating Constantine’s position, but also to sustaining its own remarkably long life as the archetype of the "good sovereign".

  • 1 Cited in Beck 2006, p. 2.
  • 2 Geertz 1973, p. 90, in Beck 2006, p. 4. According to Geertz, "a religion is (1) a system of symbol (...)

2It is important to note from the start that I am more interested in what Plutarch (Isis & Osiris 27) once called "patterns of piety".1 Rather than trying to map different systems of beliefs and look for points where they agree, I am more interested in exploring how one system of symbols and associations might resonate with another. As such, my methodology is inspired more by the symbolist anthropology of Clifford Geertz who argued that religion was a "cultural system" than the conservative positivism of Leopold von Ranke.2

  • 3 For the Trier basilica as the likely stage for the delivery of panegyrics, see Potter 2013, p. 51- (...)
  • 4 This city, with Milan, "surpassed all other imperial residences in the West, as also home to the p (...)

3This paper puts into conversation two very different sources. One is a panegyric by an anonymous orator from Autun. The other is an apocalyptic narrative by L. Caelius Firmianus Lactantius, a professor of rhetoric and tutor to Constantine’s son, Crispus. These texts give a sense of the problem because they were addressed to him five years into his reign in the same place. Their authors presented each of them most likely at the basilica in Trier in the second half of 310,3 when Constantine was a tetrarch ruling from that city.4

  • 5 For a discussion of the manuscript, see Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 3-5.
  • 6 See Galletier 1949 for the textual transmission.

4The panegyric survived in a manuscript5 along with seven others, concerning events in the late third and early fourth century, by professors from the rhetorical school at Autun. The collection implies their use as a handbook for writing imperial speeches.6 They were all (save one) given at the imperial court in Trier, and Autun and its school received financial help in return. So the texts would have a significance and resonance for their readers decades after and well beyond their deft use of Latin.

  • 7 Caes. BG 7.63; 1.33.2; Pan. Lat 8(5).2. Maguinness 1952, p. 97. Livy (Epit. 61) preserves an even (...)
  • 8 Tac. Ann. 9.25.2. Maguinness 1952, p. 97.
  • 9 Blanchard-Lemée 1993.
  • 10 This is what I surmise from its revolting upon Postumus' death in 268 after he had held power sinc (...)
  • 11 Hostein, 2006, p. 227; in 270 by Tetricus (Maguinness 1952, p. 98, says Victorinus); La Bua 2010, (...)
  • 12 Sánchez 2003, p. 226 notes that Autun's penury may have been due to more than the Goths: possibly (...)
  • 13 Pan. Lat. VIII (5).14; Hostein 2006.
  • 14 La Bua 2010, 313. An ancient map cut on marble was found and recorded before the 19th century. "It (...)
  • 15 Its bishop Reticius participated in a meeting that Constantine called at Rome in 313 (Berry and Sa (...)

5Our speech, thus, survives in a collection that conveys pride in Autun, its educational heritage and its centuries-long connection with the Roman emperors. Autun's inhabitants traced their ancestry back to the Aedui, among Julius Caesar's strongest allies.7 In gratitude, Augustus patronized the town whose Roman name was Augustodunum. Early in the first century CE, the city already had famous rhetorical schools,8 which in turn nurtured a cultured population capable of appreciating not just Latin oratory but also Greek literature.9 In the third century, Autun's sympathies lay with Rome's central government, not the breakaway provincial leadership.10 As a result the town was sacked, despite its appeal to Claudius II.11 Just over a decade later, with the empire reunited, Autun’s professors appealed to Constantius I for help rebuilding their school and town.12 The inhabitants were so grateful for his support that they named their city Flavia Aeduorum, joining his family name with their tribal name.13 The school's contribution to empire was overtly symbolized by "maps depicting the entire known world posted on the porticoes of the building".14 By the time of Constantine, the city also had at least a small Christian population:15 its bishop, Reticius, participated in a meeting that Constantine called at Rome in 313, and by 317 one of the city’s poets had dedicated the poem, "Laudes Domini" to the emperor.

  • 16 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 34.
  • 17 See the apt criticism of Weiss in Paschoud 2013, p. 378.

6Although they owe their survival to their use as rhetorical exemplars, these orations reflect the "ephemeral outlook of the day".16 They are centered on local affairs, and they reflect a complex relationship between what the emperor might want the orator to say, the court’s advice, and the speaker's own agenda.17

  • 18 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 219-220 nn. 5, 6. Several inscriptions do imply that Claudius was Constan (...)

7Clues in one speech reveal why an orator, otherwise unknown, spoke before Constantine in the second half of 310. Ostensibly he seeks to mark the emperor's five-year anniversary and to celebrate the anniversary of Trier, the capital where he speaks (6.1.1). He has had little advance notice, and lots of advice (6.1.1-4). He gestures toward the other emperors, but concentrates on Constantine (6.1.4-5). Another reason for his speech, he says, is to celebrate the emperor by describing the "divinity" of his family, informing his audience "most of whom are unaware" that the deified Claudius II is Constantine’s ancestor through his father (6.2.2, 6.4.2). Since Constantine’s father had ruled from Trier for 13 years, we suspect that this information is "new" because it is, shall we say, "fake news".18 The reasons for the new ancestor emerge when the speaker alludes to the "seditious intrigues" of Constantine’s father-in-law (6.14.1), Maximian, who tried to resume power after retirement (Lact. Mort. 29) by bribing Constantine's troops (6.14.2). In this period, family ties reinforced the legitimacy, relationships and hierarchies of the emperors. With Constantine’s father-in-law recently executed, the orator thus emphasizes Constantine’s biological family and his resemblance to his father, strengthening his dynastic imperial lineage in the process and setting him "on the highest rung", implicitly above the other emperors (6.2.4-6.4.6).

  • 19 6.13.5: "your sudden arrival illuminated the fleet"; "you seemed...to have flown in some divine ch (...)
  • 20 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 250, n. 92; Potter 2014, p. 128.
  • 21 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 250 n. 93. In Vergil they are addressed to Lucina, who is Apollo’s sister (...)
  • 22 Bardill 2012, p. 88, 128. See also Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 250 n. 93 and Potter 2013, p. 127. Rod (...)
  • 23 A remark that adds weight to the claim that Constantine has seen himself in the likeness of Apollo

8We also learn that after suppressing Maximian’s coup, on his way back to Trier, Constantine saw his "Apollo" with Victory "offering laurel wreaths, each of which carried a portent of 30 years" (6.21.4). Moreover, he "saw and recognized [him]self in Apollo’s likeness", the god "to whom poets foretold rule over the whole world" (6.21.6). Throughout the oration, the speaker has prepared us for this association by casting Constantine as a source of light, and "invincible", an epithet associated with the sun.19 So our orator has not only defied the existing imperial hierarchy and relationships by claiming Constantine more royal and of higher rank, but he also suggests that he will soon rule the empire alone (which might actually have been a dangerous thing to say).20 In addition, this section alludes to the Augustan age by referencing Virgil's fourth Eclogue (10).21 In this poem, the Cumaean Sibyl foretold that with the birth of a child, the worldwide Golden Age of Saturn would return when Apollo reigned through this child.22 The orator closes with a wish that Constantine will visit "the seat of his divinity" at Autun's temple to Apollo (6.22).23

  • 24 Weiss 2003 and 1993.
  • 25 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 249 n. 92 with Müller-Rettig 1990. See also Toom 2014, p. 104, Girardet 2 (...)
  • 26 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 248, n. 91. See also Jullian 1926, vol. 7: p. 107 n. 2 and Müller-Rettig (...)
  • 27 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 248 n.91.
  • 28 Ibid. and Burnand 1982.

9Although many have thought that the orator described a celestial event, witnessed by the whole army,24 his language rather conveys a private personal experience.25 Moreover, "the most beautiful temple in the world" where this occurred is likely to have been the sanctuary of Apollo at Grand,26 site of incubation,27 and a locale that linked Roman with Celtic deities.28

  • 29 After defeating Caesar’s assassins, Augustus had also adopted Apollo as his protective god and beg (...)
  • 30 Westall 2013, p. 7.
  • 31 Szidat 2014, p. 124-127. See also Hoffmann 1969 and Elton 1996.
  • 32 Hostein 2006, p. 227. See also Lenski 2016, p. 138; Potter 2013, p. 114.
  • 33 For example, Gallic inscriptions highlight Constantine’s descent from Constantius and relationship (...)
  • 34 Potter 2013, p. 128.
  • 35 Altheim 1966, p. 120-21 in García 2012, p. 392. See also Green 1991, p. 86-106 for important solar (...)
  • 36 For example, Pan. Lat. 4.4.2 says that the tetrarchs are the four horses of Helios’ chariot, an im (...)
  • 37 If the Historia Augusta (Aur. 25.4-6) can be believed, a battlefield miracle helped Aurelian’s arm (...)
  • 38 Mastrocinque 2014.
  • 39 Mastrocinque 2014, p. 223 citing Serv. Buc. 4.10: significari adfirmant ipsumque Augustum Apolline (...)
  • 40 Paschoud 2013, p. 378; Bardill 2012, p. 326: Malachi 4:2 (unto you shall the sun of righteousness (...)
  • 41 Greeks and Romans equated Apollo with Horus; the ankh, adopted by Egyptian Christians before 340, (...)

10In this speech, the orator strives to connect Constantine to local values, past and present. In linking Constantine with Augustus, through the Vergilian allusions, the speaker connects the emperor with the town's founder and original namesake.29 In alleging Constantine’s family connection with Claudius II, he links the emperor with the sovereign to whom the town appealed to save it from destruction.30 Moreover, Claudius’ signal victory over the Goths helps the orator intimate Constantine’s own potential for military prowess, an important consideration for a province home to a large part of the army because of Gaul’s overriding interest in protection from barbarian attack.31 In emphasizing the divinity of Constantine’s father, the orator taps into the gratitude that Autun felt in return for his largesse. Moreover, he expresses confidence in Constantine’s reign, for Autun had been loyal to Claudius II and to Constantius.32 It is not unusual either for these Gallic orators to downplay the relationship of the emperor in Trier to the rest of the college.33 And in discussing Constantine’s dream at Grand and asking him to visit his "seat" at Apollo’s temple in Autun, near the very school itself, the orator connects his legitimacy not just to his family and imperial lineage, but also sanctions it through the intercession and real presence of regional and local deities and rituals,34 all connected with the Sun. Indeed, solar traditions ran strong in Gaul. According to the Notitia Dignitatum, a number of northern European towns marched with Aurelian, the emperor who reintegrated Gaul, under their own solar symbols.35 And even before Constantine, other panegyrics from Autun emphasized imperial solar connections.36 Constantine’s father may have reinforced these connections as a result of his service under Aurelian.37 As Paschoud reminds us, many people venerated Apollo/Sol, and he had long been a key part of the imperial cult – not only under Aurelian, but also under Augustus.38 Indeed, later in the fourth century, Servius’ commentary on Vergil’s Fourth Eclogue claimed that Augustus was a manifestation of Apollo who reigned in heaven while he reigned on earth.39 There were even important solar aspects to Christianity,40 which we know had reached Autun, and in Egyptian religion – which, as an astrological tablet shows, had penetrated as far as Apollo's temple in Grand.41

  • 42 Roselaar 2014, p. 183. Even Christians such as Hegemonius (Acta Archelai) conceded that they worsh (...)

11The provinces that the emperor governed from Trier in the early fourth century were also home to the greatest extant concentration of mithraea in the Roman Empire (see fig. 1), testimony to the prominence of the henotheistic Mithraic mysteries in the late third and early fourth century.42

Fig. 1 – Mithraea in the Northern Roman Empire (Roy 2013). The starred sites were also home to solar cults.

Fig. 1 – Mithraea in the Northern Roman Empire (Roy 2013). The starred sites were also home to solar cults.
  • 43 Vermaseren 1698; see note 33. Roselaar 2014, p. 203 n. 62, however, notes that not every inscripti (...)
  • 44 Though, admittedly, Sol Invictus is not as prominent in his mints as for Aurelian. Nevertheless, co (...)

12Although it is difficult to say much for certain about the beliefs or ritual practices among the devotees of Mithras, his frequent association with Apollo, with Sol Invictus, and with the imperial cult mean that we should at least try to imagine how the symbolic language our orator invoked might have resonated among the community who frequented these sites. For starters, the tetrarchy in 307/8 reaffirmed its commitment to one another at Carnuntum (site of a mithraeum), under the auspices of "Deus Sol Invictus Mithras",43 a declaration identifying Mithras with the Sol Invictus who was so often a feature of imperial coinage after Aurelian – including the mints of the emperor Claudius II.44 Accordingly, the orator’s calling Constantine "invictus" would have had special resonance for people with Mithraic affiliations.

  • 45 Westall 2013, p. 9; Barnes 2011, p. 177-178; Lenski 2016, p. 37 n. 66; Bardill 2012, p. 136. See a (...)
  • 46 Digeser 1994. Although this argument has been widely accepted (see Shelton 2011-12; Bardill 2012, (...)

13Also in 310 CE,45 Lactantius, the Christian, African professor of Latin rhetoric began reading his Divine Institutes to an audience in Trier.46 If Potter is correct that the basilica was the site of important public oratory, then he spoke in the same place as our panegyrist. He had recently dedicated this work to Constantine. "Greatest emperor (imperator maxime)", Lactantius says, "you were the first of Roman emperors to repudiate falsehood and first to honor the greatness of the one true God". Because you restored justice, he says, "God will grant you happiness, virtue and long life". You will "hand on the guardianship in the name of Rome to your children as you received it from your father" (Inst. 1.1.13). Note the subtle, but compelling parallels with the Gallic oration. Lactantius flatters Constantine as the greatest emperor, just as the panegyric set him on the highest rung. Here too is the dynastic claim, completely ignoring the complex family relationships that existed with the eastern rulers. And there is the notion that divine providence destined the emperor for an exceptionally long reign. Lactantius adds something that the panegyric does not mention, that Constantine "restored justice". If we read this against his later narrative, De mortibus persecutorum, we might conclude that he is alluding to Constantine’s refusal upon his succession to enforce the edicts of persecution that Diocletian has issued in 303. But it may also be a reference to Vergil’s Fourth Eclogue.

  • 47 Barnes 1981, p. 24. Constantine mentions seeing fire in the palace in 303 in OrSC 25.
  • 48 We know that he served as tutor to Constantine’s son, Crispus. Jerome, Vir. Ill. ; Digeser 1994.

14Some years earlier, Lactantius had resided in Nicomedia, where Diocletian had summoned him from Africa to teach rhetoric, probably around 299 (Lact. Inst. 5.2.2). He had remained there through the persecution’s first two years, from 303-305 (5.11.15). For most of this period, Constantine had also resided at the Nicomedian court.47 As Lactantius joined Constantine’s court in Trier in 310 to tutor the emperor’s son,48 it is fair to assume that the two men had known each other in Nicomedia.

  • 49 Maximian was the first in July 310 (Barnes 1981a, p. 34; Pan. lat. 6 (7).14.3; Heck 1972, p. 144; (...)
  • 50 See n. 54.
  • 51 Those without dedications include the oldest (5th century) at Bologna and Saint Gall. Of the remai (...)

15In the interim, Lactantius wrote The Divine Institutes, i.e., between 303 and 310, during the persecution.49 The work survives in two editions, however, one tradition of which bears lengthy dedications to Constantine in books 1 and 7. Allusions in the first dedication date it to 310; the second to 313. The three-year difference between the dedications suggests that Lactantius read this work aloud to the court.50 Indicating the popularity of this text, over 200 copies survive throughout Europe, with most of the oldest copies in France.51

  • 52 Digeser 2000. This argument undergirds Bardill 2012 as well.
  • 53 Apart from people who have edited it and provided line-by-line commentaries, Nicholson 2000, p. 31 (...)
  • 54 Digeser 2014. The term "divine warrior" comes from Thomas 2008, p. 6.
  • 55 Dan 12:7; Rev 11:1-6, 13:3-5. See also Porphyry in Jerome, Commentary on Daniel for Dan 12:7.
  • 56 Diocletian’s imperial official, Hierocles, argued that Scripture could not support Christian claim (...)
  • 57 Porphyry’s critique survives in Jerome’s argument against it. See Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel Pr (...)

16My first book argued that allusions throughout the Divine Institutes allowed us to read it as a manifesto for sole monarchy and the worship of One God, in order to bring on the Golden Age where Roman law would be inspired by divine law, i.e., the teachings of Christ.52 More recently, I have argued that Lactantius’ weirdly apocalyptic Book 7 presents Constantine as the divine warrior,53 Christ, the heavenly king incarnate.54 The argument hinges on a famous interval in Jewish apocalyptic literature, the 42 months that separated the rule of the antichrist from the advent of divine rule on earth.55 It just so happens that 42 months – as the Romans counted – separated the first edicts of persecution (February 23, 303) from Constantine’s accession (July 25, 306). Just before the persecution,56 the prominent philosopher, Porphyry, had attacked the Christian claim that the Book of Daniel predicted Christ’s second coming 42 months after the rise of the anti-Christ.57 Lactantius, at the Nicomedian court, knew the dates of Diocletian’s edicts and Constantine's accession. He was also intimately familiar with Porphyry’s arguments. Given his familiarity with the case made against the Christians, how could he not have seen the 42 months between the outbreak of persecution and Constantine’s accession as transcendentally significant, heralding the dawn of a new Christian age, imagining Constantine as the heavenly king incarnate? In short, Lactantius deduced that the new emperor must be the avenging warrior come to deliver the persecuted from their oppressor. Buoyed by this inspiration and distraught by the criticisms levied against Christianity before the persecution Lactantius wrote the seven volume Divine Institutes in response.

  • 58 Digeser 2014.
  • 59 Loi 1970, p. 248 in Nicholson 2000, p. 319. Pagels 2012, p. 6.

17It is beyond the scope of this paper to demonstrate this claim here.58 Nevertheless, it is important to grasp that, before he spoke at the Trier court in 310, Lactantius had written this treatise presenting Constantine as God's "deliverer" (7.19.2). "At darkest midnight, heaven’s center will open, so that the light of God descending is visible throughout the world like lightning. […] on that night he regained life after his passion, and on that night he will regain his kingship of the earth".59

Before he descends […] a sword will fall from the sky, […] the host will be killed from the third hour till evening, and blood will flow in torrents. When all his forces have been destroyed, only the impious one will escape […] When he is beaten, he will flee […] until in the fourth war [a passage in none of the other apocalypses…] he will pay the penalty for his wickedness. Then the other princes and tyrants who have devastated the world will be imprisoned, and brought before the king who […] will condemn them and deliver them to be punished (7.18.2-7).

  • 60 Bardill 2012, p. 327; Collins 1976.
  • 61 Noting that "not one of the events of the apocalyptic conflict as it is described by other prophet (...)

18While the entire chapter echoes Revelation 19:11-21, especially the heavens opening, the heavenly legions, the advent of a sword, and the bloody battles against the beast and kings, it also draws substantially on Matthew 24:27 where Jesus describes the second coming, and Luke’s Gospel in which Christ brings the Golden Age.60 Lactantius is thus predicting that the heavenly king will in the future defeat the four remaining persecuting emperors.61 In sum, we have the picture of Constantine as Christ the Crusader.

19The existence of complete manuscripts without any dedications indicates that the work was finished before Lactantius took to the podium at Trier’s basilica. In 310, it is likely that he read only the dedication that I cited above and the first book (on the Origin of Error). The dedications indicate that he did not publicly present book 7 until 313. Nevertheless, Lactantius had already imagined Constantine as Christ the Crusader when the orator from Autun presented his panegyric. Thus the two men had conceived diametrically different portraits of exactly the same man at the same time.

20Lactantius was a cosmopolitan man. Born in North Africa, he spent five or six years in Nicomedia before moving to Gaul. Not coincidentally, the Divine Institutes’ apocalyptic book 7 uses not just Jewish and Christian Scripture, but also a host of Mediterranean prophets to herald the advent of the savior king: from Apollo’s priestess the Sibyl, to the Egyptian divine sage Hermes Trismegistus. The number of French manuscript copies of this text is some testimony to its positive reception at the court and in the province. And this makes sense. Not only were there Christian communities in the cities surrounding Trier: Autun, Metz, and Köln (fig. 2).

Fig. 2 – Churches in northeast Gaul, ca. 300 CE.

Fig. 2 – Churches in northeast Gaul, ca. 300 CE.
  • 62 Pagels 2012, p. 91, 111.

21But also as early as the second century, Irenaeus of Lyon had acclaimed the genuine prophetic character of the Book of Revelation.62 As his writing had circulated as far as Egypt and Palestine, it is reasonable to think that the Christian leadership in the cities north east of Lyon were familiar with them as well. The environment around Trier, then, was home to people familiar with Christian and Jewish apocalyptic.

  • 63 Beck 2006, p. 214.

22The region also fostered astrological forecasting, especially involving the sun. Not only did Apollo’s temple in Grand intertwine its opportunities for incubation with the Egyptian astrological forecasting attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. But it is worth noting that Constantine’s accession, occurring on 25 July (at least according to Lactantius), put his birth as emperor in the constellation Leo, which Roger Beck argues represented the sun at the height of its power, as illustrated in the tauroctonous Mithras,63 a circumstance that would certainly resonate with Lactantius’ portrayal of the emperor as God’s light incarnate. And whether or not Beck is correct to associate Mithras’ iconic killing of the bull with the sun’s eclipse of the moon, the idea of the sword of the god of light slaying the beast of darkness is common to Lactantius and to Mithras’ followers.

  • 64 Quoted in García 2012, p. 392.
  • 65 Serm. 27, quoted in García 2012, p. 393. In the third century, the African author Tertullian compl (...)
  • 66 RIC VII.19 in García 2012, p. 395. See also the Greek Magical Papyrus (IV.985-1035) that imagines (...)

23Indeed late antique Gaul was a region in which Christian ideas mingled freely with solar symbolism. According to the late fourth-century bishop, Filastrius of Brescia, Gaul was home to a Christian heresy "propagated by Hermes Trismegistus among the Celts". These people, he says, adored the sun as the sole god and creator (10). If there is a layer of truth to Filastrius’ account, such people would have been particularly receptive to Lactantius’ message.64 A century later, Leo, bishop of Rome, lamented that people in the west confused Christ with the Sun, a natural interpretation of the Book of Acts where Paul sees Jesus in blazing light.65 These Christian images build on an older substrate, for Apollo/Helios is famous for killing the Python, and Egyptian literature identified the sun god Horus as the slayer of the dragon, Seth. Many Biblical scholars thus take it for granted that the Book of Revelation adapted these narratives to convey Christ’s victory over evil. This is clearly the context for early Gallic images of Revelation and the coin of Constantine representing his standard skewering a snake (fig. 3).66

Fig. 3 – RIC VII.19.

Fig. 3 – RIC VII.19.

24Literature and epigraphy has allowed us to be long aware of the diverse religious life of Gaul in the early fourth century. Mapping the cult sites discussed in this article, however, allows us better to understand this region’s religious topography.

Fig. 4 – Mithraea, solar temples, and churches in Gaul.

Fig. 4 – Mithraea, solar temples, and churches in Gaul.

25Although in Figure 4 solar temples, churches and Mithraea all plotted together appear like so many scattered pieces of a ruined mosaic, it is important to note that they frequently occur in the same places. If we plot the flow of traffic into and out from Trier, the extent to which all of these sites are intimately connected to the capital city of the northwestern tetrarchy is immediately evident (fig. 5).

Fig. 5 – A flow diagram depicting the religious sites from Figure 4 together with the traffic into and out from the capital city of Trier. Presented with the help of the ORBIS website (The Stanford Geospatial Model of the Roman World, orbis.stanford.edu).

Fig. 5 – A flow diagram depicting the religious sites from Figure 4 together with the traffic into and out from the capital city of Trier. Presented with the help of the ORBIS website (The Stanford Geospatial Model of the Roman World, orbis.stanford.edu).

26We know that Constantine’s messages were effective, in that he reigned successfully without challenge for decades. Perhaps mapping his seemingly ambiguous messages against the diverse religious communities of his territory brings us one step closer to understanding why.

  • 67 Van Dam 2007, p. 10.
  • 68 al-Azmeh 2000.

27Rather than sleuthing out the Real Constantine, I am more interested in understanding the relationship between his success and the way in which the earliest accounts of him spoke effectively to local concerns. In the future, I hope also to track the ambivalent and troubling character of Constantine’s legacy across time, as people constructed and re-constructed his image and those representations continued to shape ideas of Crusader kings. The disparate sources portraying him, not only were the means through which most of his subjects engaged with their emperor, but they also continued to be read and absorbed long after he died. Each age used them to envision its own Constantine,67 adding to the store. And so imperceptibly to us now, but lying just under the surface, these constructions shaped what it meant to be Christian, to be a ruler, and to be a man. The residue of this multivalent legacy continues to structure thoughts about religion and power, not only in Europe and her former colonies. But this is also true of global imperial Islam. For the first caliphate, in planting itself in the soil of the old Roman world, drew deeply on its institutions and traditions.68

Bibliographie

Al-Azmeh 2000 = A. al-Azmeh, Muslim Kingship: Power and the Sacred in Muslim, Christian and Pagan Polities, London, 2000.

Altheim 1966 = F. Altheim, El Dios Invictos, Buenos Aires, 1966.

Bardill 2012 = J. Bardill, Constantine: Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Age, Cambridge, 2012.

Barnes 1981 = T.D. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, Cambridge, 1981.

Barnes 1981a = T.D. Barnes, The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine, Cambridge, 1981.

Barnes 2011 = T.D. Barnes, Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire, Chichester, 2011.

Beck 2006 = R. Beck, The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire, Oxford, 2006.

Berry – Sapin 1987 = W. Berry, C. Sapin, Aspects de la céramique paléo-chrétienne dans l’Autunois, in Revue archéologique de l'est et du centre-est, 38, 1987, p. 101-106.

Blanchard-Lemée 1993 = M. Blanchard-Lemée, Épicure dans une anthologie sur mosaïque à Autun, in Comptes-rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres, 137-4, 1993, p. 969-984.

Bonamente 2013 = G. Bonamente, Per una cronologia della conversione di Costantino, in A. Melloni, et al., ed., Costantino, I, Enciclopedia costantiniana. Sulla figura e l’immagine del cosidetto editto di Milano, 313-2013, Milan, 2013, p. 89-111.

Brent 1999 = A. Brent, The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order, Leiden, 1999.

Burnand 1982 = Y. Burnand, Informations archéologiques, in Gallia, 40, 1982, p. 342-345.

Cicatello 2005-6 = Rosaria Cicatello, Le dediche di Lattanzio a Costantino: problema di cronologia, in Seia, 10-11, 2005-6, p. 89-104.

Collins 1976 = A.Y. Collins, The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation, Missoula, MT, 1976.

Corcoran 2013 = S. Corcoran, Grappling with the Hydra: Co-ordination and Conflict in the Management of Tetrarchic Succession, in A. Melloni et al. (ed.), Costantino I: Enciclopedia costantiniana. Sulla figura e l’immagine del cosidetto editto di Milano, 313 – 2013, Milan, 2013, p. 3-15.

Digeser 1994 = E.D. Digeser, Lactantius and Constantine’s Letter to Arles, in Journal of Early Christian Studies, 2, 1994, p. 33-52.

Digeser 1999 = E.D. Digeser, Casinensis 595, Parisinus Lat. 1664, Palatino-Vaticanus 16 and the Divine Institutes’ Second Edition, in Hermes, 127, 1999, p. 75-98.

Digeser 2000 = E.D. Digeser, The Making of a Christian Empire: Lactantius and Rome, Ithaca, 2000.

Digeser 2014 = E.D. Digeser, Persecution and the Art of Writing between the Lines: De vita beata, Lactantius, and the Great Persecution, in Revue Belge, 92, 2014, p. 167-185.

Elton 1996 = H. Elton, Frontiers of the Roman Empire, London, 1996.

Fontenrose 1959 = J.E. Fontenrose, Python. A Study of Delphic Myth and its Origins, Berkeley, 1959.

Freund 2009 = S. Freund, trans., Laktanz, Divinae Institutiones: Buch 7: De Vita Beata, Berlin, 2009.

Galletier 1949 = E. Galletier, Panégyriques latins, Paris, 1949.

García 2012 = S.I. García, Sol/Helios en los Panegíricos latinos constantinos, in Antisteria, 1, 2012, p. 391-400.

Geertz 1973 = C. Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays, New York, 1973.

Girardet 2006 = K. Girardet, Die konstantinische Wende, Darmstadt, 2006.

Gosling 1986 = A. Gosling, Brutus and Augustus: A Note, in American Journal of Philology, 107, 1986, p.  586-589.

Goyon 1993 = J.-C. Goyon, L’origine égyptienne des tablettes décanales de Grand (Vosges), in J.-H. Abry (ed.), Les tablettes astrologiques de Grand (Vosges) et l’astrologie en Gaule romaine, Paris, 1993, p. 63-76.

Green 1991 = M. Green, The Sun-Gods of Ancient Europe, London, 1991.

Grünewald 1990 = T. Grünewald, Constantinus Maximus Augustus. Herrschaftspropaganda in der zeitgenössischen Uberlieferung, Stuttgart, 1990.

Gurval 1995 = R. Gurval, Actium and Augustus: The Politics and Emotions of Civil War, Ann Arbor, 1995.

Heck 1972 = E. Heck, Die dualistischen Zusätze und die Kaiseranreden bei Lactantius, Heidelberg, 1972.

Heck 2009 = E. Heck, Constantin und Lactanz in Trier, in Historia, 58, 2009, p. 118-130.

Hoffmann 1969 = D. Hoffmann, Das spätrömische Bewegungsheer und die Notitia dignitatium, Köln, 1969.

Hostein 2006 = A. Hostein, Lacrimae principis: Les larmes du prince devant la cité affligée, in M.-H. Quet (ed.), La « crise » de l’Empire romain de Marc Aurèle à Constantin: mutations, continuités, ruptures, Paris, 2006, p. 211-234.

Jullian 1926 = C. Jullian, Histoire de la Gaule, Paris, 1926, repr. Brussels, 1964.

La Bua 2010 = G. La Bua, Patronage and Education in Third-Century Gaul: Eumenius’ Panegyric for the Restoration of the Schools, in Journal of Late Antiquity, 3, 2010, p.  300-315.

Lenski 2016 = N. Lenski, Constantine and the Cities: Imperial Authority and Civic Politics, Philadelphia, 2016.

Loi 1970 = V. Loi, Lattanzio, Zurich, 1970.

Maguinness 1952 = W.S. Maguinness, Eumenius of Autun, in Greece & Rome, 21, 1952, p. 97-103.

Mahé 1993 = J.-P. Mahé, Le rôle de l’élément astrologique dans les écrits philosophiques d'Hermès Trismégiste, in J.-H. Abry (ed.), Les tablettes astrologiques de Grand (Vosges) et l’astrologie en Gaule romaine, Paris, 1993, p. 161-167.

Mastrocinque 2014 = A. Mastrocinque, I sacerdoti di Apollo e il culto imperiale, in G. Urso (ed.), Sacerdos: figure del sacro nella società romana, Atti del convegno internazionale Cividale del Friuli, 26-28 settembre, Pisa, 2014, p. 223-238.

Millin 1807 = A.L. Millin, Voyage dans les départements du midi de la France, vol. 1, Paris, 1807.

Müller-Rettig 1990 = B. Müller-Rettig, Der Panegyricus des Jahres 310 auf Konstantin den Großen, Stuttgart, 1990.

Nicholson 2000 = O. Nicholson, Constantine’s Vision of the Cross, in Vigiliae christianae, 54, 2000, p. 309-323.

Nixon – Rodgers 1994 = C.E.V. Nixon, B.S. Rodgers (ed.), In Praise of Later Roman Emperors, Berkeley, 1994.

Odahl 2005 = C.M. Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, London, 2005.

Pachoumi 2015 = E. Pachoumi, The Religious and Philosophical Assimilations of Helios in the Greek Magical Papyri, in Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, 55, 2015, p. 391-413.

Pagels 2012 = E. Pagels, Revelations, New York, 2012.

Paschoud 2013 = F. Paschoud, Richiamo di una verità offuscata. Il secondo libro dei Maccabei quale modello del De mortibus persecutorum di Lattenzio, in G. Bonamente, N. Lenski, R. Lizzi Testa (ed.), Costantino prima e dopo Costantino / Constantine before and after Constantine, Bari, 2012, p. 373-380.

Pohlsander 1984 = H.A. Pohlsander, Crispus: Brilliant Career and Tragic End, in Historia, 33, 1984, p. 79-106.

Pollini 1990 = J. Pollini, Man or God: Divine Assimilation and Imitation in the Late Republic and Early Principate, in K.A. Raaflaub, M. Toher (ed.), Between Republic and Empire: Interpretations of Augustus and his Principate, Berkeley, 1990, p. 334-363.

Potter 2013 = David Potter, Constantine the Emperor, Oxford, 2013.

Rodgers 1980 = B. S. Rodgers, Constantine’s Pagan Vision, in Byzantion, 50, 1980, p. 259-278.

Roy 2013 = P. Roy, Mithra et l’Apollon celtique en Gaule, in SMSR, 79, 2013, p. 360-378.

Roselaar 2014 = S. Roselaar, The Cult of Mithras in Early Christian Literature. An Inventory and Interpretation, in Klio, 96, 2014, p. 183-217.

Sánchez 2003 = D. Pérez Sánchez, Panegírico y ciudad: Tradición y control ideológico en la antigüedad tardía, in Studia historica: Historia antigua, 21, 2003, p. 223-245.

Schott 2008 = J. M. Schott, Christianity, Empire and the Making of Religion in Late Antiquity, Philadelphia, 2008.

Shelton 2011-12 = W. Brian Shelton, Review of E. Digeser, The Making of a Christian Empire: Lactantius and Rome, in Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, 2011-12, p. 164-167.

Sickle 1934 = C. E. van Sickle, Eumenius and the Schools of Autun, in American Journal of Philology, 55, 1934, p. 236-243.

Smith 1997 = M. D. Smith, The Religion of Constantius I, in Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, 38-2, 1997, p. 187-208.

Stein 2014 = D. Stein, Chasing the Sun: Coinage and Solar Worship in the Roman Empire of the Third and Fourth Centuries CE, in Records of the Canterbury Museum, 28, 2014, p. 31-47.

Syme 1974 = R. Syme, The Ancestry of Constantine, in Bonner Historia-Augusta Colloquium 1971, Bonn, 1974, p. 237-253.

Szidat 2014 = J. Szidat, Contested Monarchy: Integrating the Roman Empire in the Fourth Century AD, Oxford, 2014.

Thomas 2008 = D. Andrew Thomas, Revelation 19 in Historical and Mythological Context, New York, 2008.

Toom 2014 = T. Toom, Constantine’s summus deus and the Nicene unus deus: Imperial agenda and ecclesiastical conviction, in Vox patrum, 34, 2014, p. 103-122.

Van Dam 2007 = R. Van Dam, The Roman Revolution of Constantine, Cambridge, 2007.

Weiss 1993 = P. Weiss, Die Vision Konstantins, in J. Bleicken (ed.), Colloquium aus Anlass des 80. Geburtstages von Alfred Heuss, Kalmünz, 1993, p. 143-169.

Weiss 2003 = P. Weiss, The Vision of Constantine, in Journal of Roman Archaeology, 15, 2003, p. 237-259.

Westall 2013 = R. Westall, Geneaologie costantiniane, in A. Melloni et al. (ed.), Costantino I: Enciclopedia costantiniana. Sulla figura e l’immagine del cosidetto editto di Milano, 313 – 2013, Milan, 2013, p. 1-17.

Notes

1 Cited in Beck 2006, p. 2.

2 Geertz 1973, p. 90, in Beck 2006, p. 4. According to Geertz, "a religion is (1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive and long-lasting motivations in men [sic] by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic".

3 For the Trier basilica as the likely stage for the delivery of panegyrics, see Potter 2013, p. 51-52, 127.

4 This city, with Milan, "surpassed all other imperial residences in the West, as also home to the praetorian prefect after 300": Szidat 2014, p. 123-124.

5 For a discussion of the manuscript, see Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 3-5.

6 See Galletier 1949 for the textual transmission.

7 Caes. BG 7.63; 1.33.2; Pan. Lat 8(5).2. Maguinness 1952, p. 97. Livy (Epit. 61) preserves an even earlier treaty between Rome and the Aedui from 121 BCE.

8 Tac. Ann. 9.25.2. Maguinness 1952, p. 97.

9 Blanchard-Lemée 1993.

10 This is what I surmise from its revolting upon Postumus' death in 268 after he had held power since 259. Maguinness 1952, p. 98; Sickle 1934, p. 236.

11 Hostein, 2006, p. 227; in 270 by Tetricus (Maguinness 1952, p. 98, says Victorinus); La Bua 2010, p. 300. For the exploits of Claudius II, see Zosimus 1.42-46; Zonar. 12.26; Amm. Marc. 31.5.15-17; Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 221 n. 7. Aurelian reached Gaul in 274: Maguinness 1952, p. 98.

12 Sánchez 2003, p. 226 notes that Autun's penury may have been due to more than the Goths: possibly the redirection of the local nobility toward imperial service.

13 Pan. Lat. VIII (5).14; Hostein 2006.

14 La Bua 2010, 313. An ancient map cut on marble was found and recorded before the 19th century. "It was a square block of marble with a map on each side and indications of several Italian towns […] and the distances between them marked in the same way as the Peutinger itinerary […] It was presumably in the scholae". Millin 1807, p. 340 in Maguinness 1952, p. 103.

15 Its bishop Reticius participated in a meeting that Constantine called at Rome in 313 (Berry and Sapin 1987, p. 101). Between 317 and 323, a Christian author from Autun dedicated his poem, "Laudes Domini", to Constantine (Lenski 2016, p. 138).

16 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 34.

17 See the apt criticism of Weiss in Paschoud 2013, p. 378.

18 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 219-220 nn. 5, 6. Several inscriptions do imply that Claudius was Constantius' father (ILS 699, 723, 725, 730, 732), but Syme 1974, p. 244f is skeptical.

19 6.13.5: "your sudden arrival illuminated the fleet"; "you seemed...to have flown in some divine chariot"; 6.13.4: "You are even said, invincible Emperor..."; 6.17.1: your "eyes flash" and your "majesty dazzles us". See Lenski 2016, p. 49.

20 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 250, n. 92; Potter 2014, p. 128.

21 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 250 n. 93. In Vergil they are addressed to Lucina, who is Apollo’s sister, otherwise known as Diana (Bardill 2012, p. 88).

22 Bardill 2012, p. 88, 128. See also Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 250 n. 93 and Potter 2013, p. 127. Rodgers 1980 thinks that Constantine saw himself in the likeness of Augustus rather than Apollo. But the poem may have been written for the marriage of Antony and Octavia (Brent 1999, p. 57), not Augustus. My guess is that the orator is suggesting that Vergil was prophesying Constantine, and that the real Golden Age is to come. Propaganda written about Claudius II later in the fourth century also connects him to an earlier time. See Westall 2013, p. 9 regarding Aur. Vict. Caes. 34.2-5 and the family of the Decii.

23 A remark that adds weight to the claim that Constantine has seen himself in the likeness of Apollo.

24 Weiss 2003 and 1993.

25 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 249 n. 92 with Müller-Rettig 1990. See also Toom 2014, p. 104, Girardet 2006 and Lenski 2016, p. 69 inc. n.10. Potter 2013, p. 127: "there can be little doubt that the source of information about this epiphany was the sole witness to the event, Constantine himself".

26 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 248, n. 91. See also Jullian 1926, vol. 7: p. 107 n. 2 and Müller-Rettig 1990, p. 50; Toom 2014, p. 104; Lenski 2016, p. 49; Potter 2013, p. 126; Bonamente 2013, p. 96; Paschoud 2013, p. 378; Bardill 2012, p. 88.

27 Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 248 n.91.

28 Ibid. and Burnand 1982.

29 After defeating Caesar’s assassins, Augustus had also adopted Apollo as his protective god and began wearing laurel wreaths (from Apollo’s tree) and used a sphinx seal, the symbol of the kingdom of Apollo that the Sybil had foretold (Plin. Nat. 37.10). In his case too, "the association […] with Apollo verged on identification with the god" (Bardill 2012, p. 44; see also Gosling 1986; Pollini, 1990 and Gurval 1995, p. 94-98). Van Dam 2007, p. 5 emphasizes that emperors were aware of Augustus’ reputation, with Constantine referencing his legislation in CTh 8.16.1.

30 Westall 2013, p. 7.

31 Szidat 2014, p. 124-127. See also Hoffmann 1969 and Elton 1996.

32 Hostein 2006, p. 227. See also Lenski 2016, p. 138; Potter 2013, p. 114.

33 For example, Gallic inscriptions highlight Constantine’s descent from Constantius and relationship to his father-in-law Maximian, but there is no hint of the Herculian family connection devised by Diocletian in the east. See Grünewald 1990, n.40 in Westall 2013, p. 6: "The difference in tone betwen these inscriptions in territory subject to Constantine and those in other regions is noteworthy. The same trend is observable on coinage minted in regions subject to Constantine. It is also worth noting that the agreement that the emperors had reached at Carnuntum in 308 established their families under the auspices of Sol Invictus Mithras, although Constantine refused to accept the title filius augustorum that their “agreement” had determined. Ils 659 = CIL III.4415: D(eo) S(oli) I(nvicto) M(ithrae) fautori imperii sui Jovii et Herculii religiossissimi Augusti et Caesares sacrarium restituerunt". See also Lenski 2016, p. 31 and Corcoran 2012, p. 11: "From 307 on, in his own territory at least, Constantine regarded himself as a full Augustus".

34 Potter 2013, p. 128.

35 Altheim 1966, p. 120-21 in García 2012, p. 392. See also Green 1991, p. 86-106 for important solar traditions flourishing in Celtic areas.

36 For example, Pan. Lat. 4.4.2 says that the tetrarchs are the four horses of Helios’ chariot, an image that subordinates them all to Sol (García 2012, p. 306).

37 If the Historia Augusta (Aur. 25.4-6) can be believed, a battlefield miracle helped Aurelian’s army against Zenobia of Palmyra. Entering Emesa, the emperor recognized the god who had helped him as Sol Invictus, for whom he then built a temple in Rome. See Potter 2013, p. 21.

38 Mastrocinque 2014.

39 Mastrocinque 2014, p. 223 citing Serv. Buc. 4.10: significari adfirmant ipsumque Augustum Apollinem. "tuus iam regnat Apollo" ultimum saeculum ostendit quod Sibylla Solis esse memoravit. Et tangit Augustum, cui simulacrum factum est cum Apollinis cunctis insignibus.

40 Paschoud 2013, p. 378; Bardill 2012, p. 326: Malachi 4:2 (unto you shall the sun of righteousness arise, and healing is in his wings); Zacharias 6:12 (announces the appearance of the one named "rising"); John 8:12 (I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life). See also Matt. 27:28; Mark 15:17; John 19:2.

41 Greeks and Romans equated Apollo with Horus; the ankh, adopted by Egyptian Christians before 340, is a hieroglyph meaning life which the pharaoh Akhenaten received from the Aten. Bardill 2012, p. 144, 168, 181 with Fontenrose 1959, p. 90-91, 189-190, 193, 391; Goyon 1993. See also Mahé 1993.

42 Roselaar 2014, p. 183. Even Christians such as Hegemonius (Acta Archelai) conceded that they worshipped "only the Sun, Mithras" (Roselaar 2014, p. 203).

43 Vermaseren 1698; see note 33. Roselaar 2014, p. 203 n. 62, however, notes that not every inscription to Sol Invictus "can be considered as a reference to Mithras". Beck 2006, p. 5 is less conservative and argues that this is Mithras’ cult title.

44 Though, admittedly, Sol Invictus is not as prominent in his mints as for Aurelian. Nevertheless, coins to Sol are still the majority of the mints for this short-reigning emperor (Smith 1997, p. 187. See also Stein 2014).

45 Westall 2013, p. 9; Barnes 2011, p. 177-178; Lenski 2016, p. 37 n. 66; Bardill 2012, p. 136. See also Barnes 1981, p. 13-14; Pohlsander 1984, p. 82-83; Digeser 1994, p. 33-35; Odahl 2005, p. 125-126; Schott 2008, p. 79-80.

46 Digeser 1994. Although this argument has been widely accepted (see Shelton 2011-12; Bardill 2012, p. 140, and Girardet 2006, p. 41-155), Cicatello 2005-6 and Heck 2009 have argued against it. The evidence for the first dedication’s date of 310 comes from the striking similarities between it and Pan. Lat. 6 [7] of the same year. Cicatello downplays the significance of the dynastic parallels in the first dedication and their connection to the 310 panegyric. In her view, the panegyric’s assertion of a new kind of dynastic legitimacy for Constantine reflects local, not court, politics – despite a long history of scholarship to the contrary (see Nixon – Rodgers 1994, p. 212-217). Heck argues that Lactantius cannot have been in Trier before 313 because he believes that the author of De mortibus persecutorum has a Nicomedian point of view – which means that he must have resided in that city from the time he arrived ca. 300 through 313, the terminus post quem for the historical tract. Even if Lactantius wrote De mortibus persecutorum in the East (which I very much doubt), nothing prevents him from having been earlier in the west. Lenski 2016, drawing on Grünewald, doubts that Lactantius could call Constantine imperator maxime before 312, but as we have already seen, people in Gaul did not feel particularly bound to observe their emperor's technically subordinate position to those in the east.

47 Barnes 1981, p. 24. Constantine mentions seeing fire in the palace in 303 in OrSC 25.

48 We know that he served as tutor to Constantine’s son, Crispus. Jerome, Vir. Ill. ; Digeser 1994.

49 Maximian was the first in July 310 (Barnes 1981a, p. 34; Pan. lat. 6 (7).14.3; Heck 1972, p. 144; Digeser 1994; and most recently Freud 2009, p. 5).

50 See n. 54.

51 Those without dedications include the oldest (5th century) at Bologna and Saint Gall. Of the remaining oldest undedicated copies, all are in France (Montpelier, Paris and Valence), save one at the Vatican. The copies with dedications are somewhat more recent. Two are in Paris (ninth- and tweltfh century), one is at Monte Cassino (11C) and one is in Gotha (14-15C). Digeser 1999, p. 77.

52 Digeser 2000. This argument undergirds Bardill 2012 as well.

53 Apart from people who have edited it and provided line-by-line commentaries, Nicholson 2000, p. 318-319 is the only author I am aware of who has tried to figure out what it means.

54 Digeser 2014. The term "divine warrior" comes from Thomas 2008, p. 6.

55 Dan 12:7; Rev 11:1-6, 13:3-5. See also Porphyry in Jerome, Commentary on Daniel for Dan 12:7.

56 Diocletian’s imperial official, Hierocles, argued that Scripture could not support Christian claims to Christ's divinity (Lact. Inst. 5.2.12-3.9). Moreover, the philosopher Porphyry’s trenchant criticisms of Christian Scriptural reading also circulated before the persecution.

57 Porphyry’s critique survives in Jerome’s argument against it. See Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel Prol., 7, 9, and 11.

58 Digeser 2014.

59 Loi 1970, p. 248 in Nicholson 2000, p. 319. Pagels 2012, p. 6.

60 Bardill 2012, p. 327; Collins 1976.

61 Noting that "not one of the events of the apocalyptic conflict as it is described by other prophets" mentions the defeat of the evil leader in the fourth battle, Oliver Nicholson suggested a decade ago that Lactantius’ text alludes to the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, the fourth battle of the war between Constantine and Maxentius (Nicholson 2000, p. 318-319). I think that there is a connection between Lactantius’ account of the battle and the apocalyptic text here, but it is more likely – given the date when book 7 was written – that the influence goes the other way.

62 Pagels 2012, p. 91, 111.

63 Beck 2006, p. 214.

64 Quoted in García 2012, p. 392.

65 Serm. 27, quoted in García 2012, p. 393. In the third century, the African author Tertullian complains that "ignorant people" took the Christian God to be the sun (Ad. Nat. 1.13). Even mainstream Christian authors developed this association. For example, Ambrose of Milan called Christ the "true Sun (verus[que] sol)" in his hymn, Splender paternae gloriae. And Scripture itself is replete with solar metaphors (Isa 60:20; Mal 4:2; Mt 17:2; Rev 10:1). Toom 2014, n.22-23. Pagels 2012, p. 85.

66 RIC VII.19 in García 2012, p. 395. See also the Greek Magical Papyrus (IV.985-1035) that imagines Helios restraining the serpent. Pachoumi 2015; Bardill 2012, p. 127, 144; Fontenrose 1959, p. 90-91, 189-190, 193, 391; Collins 1976.

67 Van Dam 2007, p. 10.

68 al-Azmeh 2000.

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1 – Mithraea in the Northern Roman Empire (Roy 2013). The starred sites were also home to solar cults.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efr/docannexe/image/5652/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 732k
Titre Fig. 2 – Churches in northeast Gaul, ca. 300 CE.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efr/docannexe/image/5652/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 674k
Titre Fig. 3 – RIC VII.19.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efr/docannexe/image/5652/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 3,7M
Titre Fig. 4 – Mithraea, solar temples, and churches in Gaul.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efr/docannexe/image/5652/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 731k
Titre Fig. 5 – A flow diagram depicting the religious sites from Figure 4 together with the traffic into and out from the capital city of Trier. Presented with the help of the ORBIS website (The Stanford Geospatial Model of the Roman World, orbis.stanford.edu).
URL http://books.openedition.org/efr/docannexe/image/5652/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 717k

Auteur

University of California, Santa Barbara, edepalma@history.ucsb.edu

© Publications de l’École française de Rome, 2020

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Acheter

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search