Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, reigning from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective and controversial leaders in human history; the reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana. The Roman world was free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and the year-long civil war known as the "Year of the Four Emperors" over the imperial succession. Augustus was born Gaius Octavius Thurinus into an old and wealthy equestrian branch of the plebeian gens Octavia, his maternal great-uncle Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, Octavius was named in Caesar's will as his adopted son and heir. Along with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus, he formed the Second Triumvirate to defeat the assassins of Caesar. Following their victory at the Battle of Philippi, the Triumvirate divided the Roman Republic among themselves and ruled as military dictators.
The Triumvirate was torn apart by the competing ambitions of its members. Lepidus was driven into exile and stripped of his position, Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Actium by Octavian in 31 BC. After the demise of the Second Triumvirate, Augustus restored the outward façade of the free Republic, with governmental power vested in the Roman Senate, the executive magistrates, the legislative assemblies. In reality, however, he retained his autocratic power over the Republic as a military dictator. By law, Augustus held a collection of powers granted to him for life by the Senate, including supreme military command, those of tribune and censor, it took several years for Augustus to develop the framework within which a formally republican state could be led under his sole rule. He rejected monarchical titles, instead called himself Princeps Civitatis; the resulting constitutional framework became known as the Principate, the first phase of the Roman Empire. Augustus enlarged the Empire, annexing Egypt, Pannonia and Raetia, expanding possessions in Africa, completing the conquest of Hispania, but suffered a major setback in Germania.
Beyond the frontiers, he secured the Empire with a buffer region of client states and made peace with the Parthian Empire through diplomacy. He reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed networks of roads with an official courier system, established a standing army, established the Praetorian Guard, created official police and fire-fighting services for Rome, rebuilt much of the city during his reign. Augustus died in AD 14 at the age of 75 from natural causes. However, there were unconfirmed rumors, he was succeeded as emperor by his adopted son Tiberius. As a consequence of Roman customs and personal preference, Augustus was known by many names throughout his life: Gaius Octavius Thurinus: He received his birth name, after his biological father, in 63 BC. "Gaius" was his praenomen, "Octavius" was his nomen, "Thurinus" was his cognomen. His rival Mark Antony used the name "Thurinus" as an insult, to which Augustus replied, surprised that "using his old name was thought to be an insult".
Gaius Julius Caesar: After he was adopted by Julius Caesar, he adopted Caesar's name in accordance with Roman naming conventions. While he dropped all references to the gens Octavia, people colloquially added the epithet Octavianus to his legal name, either to differentiate him from his adoptive father or to highlight his more modest origins. Modern historians refer to him using the anglicized form "Octavian" between 44 BC and 27 BC. Gaius Julius Caesar Divi Filius: Two years after his adoption, he founded the Temple of Caesar additionally adding the title Divi Filius to his name in attempt to strengthen his political ties to Caesar's former soldiers, following the deification of Caesar. Imperator Caesar Divi Filius: From 38 BC, Octavian opted to use Imperator, the title by which troops hailed their leader after military success, his name is translated as "Commander Caesar, Son of the Divine". Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus: Following his 31 BC defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra on his own insistence, the Roman Senate granted him the additional name, "Augustus", which he added to his previous names thereafter.
Historians use this name to refer to him from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. While his paternal family was from the town of Velletri 40 kilometres from Rome, Augustus was born in the city of Rome on 23 September 63 BC, he was born at Ox Head, a small property on the Palatine Hill close to the Roman Forum. He was given the name Gaius Octavius Thurinus, his cognomen commemorating his father's victory at Thurii over a rebellious band of slaves. Suetonius wrote: "There are many indications that the Octavian family was in days of old a distinguished one at Velitrae; this man was leader in a war with a neighbouring town..." Due to the crowded nature of Rome at the time, Octavius was taken to his father's home village at Velletri to be raised. Octavius mentions his father's equestrian family only in his memoirs, his paternal great-grandfather Gaius Octavius was a military tribune in Sicily during the Second Punic War. His grandfather had served in several lo
Marcus Antonius known in English as Mark Antony or Anthony, was a Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic from an oligarchy into the autocratic Roman Empire. Antony was a supporter of Julius Caesar, served as one of his generals during the conquest of Gaul and the Civil War. Antony was appointed administrator of Italy while Caesar eliminated political opponents in Greece, North Africa, Spain. After Caesar's death in 44 BC, Antony joined forces with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, another of Caesar's generals, Octavian, Caesar's great-nephew and adopted son, forming a three-man dictatorship known to historians as the Second Triumvirate; the Triumvirs defeated Caesar's murderers, the Liberatores, at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC, divided the government of the Republic between themselves. Antony was assigned Rome's eastern provinces, including the client kingdom of Egypt ruled by Cleopatra VII Philopator, was given the command in Rome's war against Parthia.
Relations among the triumvirs were strained. Civil war between Antony and Octavian was averted in 40 BC, when Antony married Octavian's sister, Octavia. Despite this marriage, Antony carried on a love affair with Cleopatra, who bore him three children, further straining Antony's relations with Octavian. Lepidus was expelled from the association in 36 BC, in 33 BC disagreements between Antony and Octavian caused a split between the remaining Triumvirs, their ongoing hostility erupted into civil war in 31 BC, as the Roman Senate, at Octavian's direction, declared war on Cleopatra and proclaimed Antony a traitor. That year, Antony was defeated by Octavian's forces at the Battle of Actium. Antony and Cleopatra fled to Egypt. With Antony dead, Octavian became the undisputed master of the Roman world. In 27 BC, Octavian was granted the title of Augustus, marking the final stage in the transformation of the Roman Republic into an empire, with himself as the first Roman emperor. A member of the plebeian Antonia gens, Antony was born in Rome on 14 January 83 BC.
His father and namesake was Marcus Antonius Creticus, son of the noted orator by the same name, murdered during the Marian Terror of the winter of 87–86 BC. His mother was a distant cousin of Julius Caesar. Antony was an infant at the time of Lucius Cornelius Sulla's march on Rome in 82 BC. According to the Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero, Antony's father was incompetent and corrupt, was only given power because he was incapable of using or abusing it effectively. In 74 BC he was given military command to defeat the pirates of the Mediterranean, but he died in Crete in 71 BC without making any significant progress; the elder Antony's death left Antony and his brothers and Gaius, in the care of their mother, who married Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura, an eminent member of the old Patrician nobility. Lentulus, despite exploiting his political success for financial gain, was in debt due to the extravagance of his lifestyle, he was a major figure in the Second Catilinarian Conspiracy and was summarily executed on the orders of the Consul Cicero in 63 BC for his involvement.
Antony's early life was characterized by a lack of proper parental guidance. According to the historian Plutarch, he spent his teenage years wandering through Rome with his brothers and friends gambling and becoming involved in scandalous love affairs. Antony's contemporary and enemy, claimed he had a homosexual relationship with Gaius Scribonius Curio. There is little reliable information on his political activity as a young man, although it is known that he was an associate of Publius Clodius Pulcher and his street gang, he may have been involved in the Lupercal cult as he was referred to as a priest of this order in life. By age twenty, Antony had amassed an enormous debt. Hoping to escape his creditors, Antony fled to Greece in 58 BC, where he studied philosophy and rhetoric at Athens. In 57 BC, Antony joined the military staff of Aulus Gabinius, the Proconsul of Syria, as chief of the cavalry; this appointment marks the beginning of his military career. As Consul the previous year, Gabinius had consented to the exile of Cicero by Antony's mentor, Publius Clodius Pulcher.
Hyrcanus II, the Roman-supported Hasmonean High Priest of Judea, fled Jerusalem to Gabinius to seek protection against his rival and son-in-law Alexander. Years earlier in 63 BC, the Roman general Pompey had captured him and his father, King Aristobulus II, during his war against the remnant of the Seleucid Empire. Pompey had deposed Aristobulus and installed Hyrcanus as Rome's client ruler over Judea. Antony achieved his first military distinctions after securing important victories at Alexandrium and Machaerus. With the rebellion defeated by 56 BC, Gabinius restored Hyrcanus to his position as High Priest in Judea; the following year, in 55 BC, Gabinius intervened in the political affairs of Ptolemaic Egypt. Pharaoh Ptolemy XII Auletes had been deposed in a rebellion led by his daughter Berenice IV in 58 BC, forcing him to seek asylum in Rome. During Pompey's conquests years earlier, Ptolemy had received the support of Pompey, who named him an ally of Rome. Gabinius' invasion sought to restore Ptolemy to his throne.
This was done against the orders of the Senate but with the approval of Pompey Rome's leading politician, only after the deposed king provided a 10,000 talent bribe. The Greek historian Plutarch records it was Antony who convinced Gabinius to act. After defeating the frontier forces of the Egyptian kingdom, Gabinius's army proceeded to attack the palace guards but they surrendered before a battle commenced
The Pyrrhic War was a war fought by Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus. Pyrrhus was asked by the people of the Greek city of Tarentum in southern Italy to help them in their war with the Roman Republic. A skilled commander, with a strong army fortified by war elephants, Pyrrhus enjoyed initial success against the Roman legions, but suffered heavy losses in these victories. Plutarch wrote that Pyrrhus said after the second battle of the war, "If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined." He could not call up more men from home and his allies in Italy were becoming indifferent. The Romans, by contrast, had a large pool of military manpower and could replenish their legions if their forces were depleted in many battles; this has led to the expression Pyrrhic victory, a term for a victory that inflicts losses the victor cannot afford in the long term. Worn down by the battles against Rome, Pyrrhus moved his army to Sicily to war against the Carthaginians instead. After several years of campaigning there, he returned to Italy in 275 BC, where the last battle of the war was fought, ending in Roman victory.
Following this, Pyrrhus returned to Epirus. Three years in 272 BC, the Romans captured Tarentum; the Pyrrhic War was the first time that Rome confronted the professional mercenary armies of the Hellenistic states of the eastern Mediterranean. Rome's victory drew the attention of these states to the emerging power of Rome. Ptolemy II, the king of Egypt, established diplomatic relations with Rome. After the war, Rome asserted its hegemony over southern Italy. By 290 BC, at the end of the three Samnite Wars, Rome had established her hegemony over parts of central and southern Italy, cemented through alliances with various Italic peoples in central Italy. To the south of the Roman sphere of influence in Italy there were a number of city-states founded by Greek settlers from the 8th to the 6th century BC. Tarentum was the largest and most powerful Greek city in Italy; the Tarentines attacked a Roman fleet off their coast, sinking some of their ships and capturing some prisoners. As a result, Rome declared war.
There are different versions of the events. Appian, Cassius Dio and Zonaras appear to have been intent on blaming the war on the Tarentines; the part of the text of Dionysius of Halicarnassus which deals with the events in the run-up to the declaration of war has been lost and Plutarch did mention them. In Appian's version, in 282 BC ten Roman ships appeared close to Tarentum, in the north-eastern part of the Gulf of Taranto. According to Appian, Publius Cornelius Dolabella was sailing along the coast of Magna Graecia, sight-seeing. A demagogue reminded the townsfolk about an old treaty in which Romans had bound themselves not to sail beyond the promontory of Lacinium, near Croton, on the opposite side of the gulf, he persuaded them to attack the ships: four were sunk and one was captured "with all on board". This would have happened in 282 BC, the year after Dolabella's consulship, because that year Dolabella was fighting in central Italy. Appian did not explain. Neither Cassius Dio nor Zonaras mentioned any treaties between the Tarentines.
Zonaras, whose version was based on those of Cassius Dio, wrote that the Tarentines had associated with the Etruscans, Gauls and that the Romans defeated these peoples in various battles over a number of years. However, the Tarentines had not participated in these battles. In the account of Zonaras, Lucius Valerius, whom he described as ‘the admiral’, was sailing to a place he had been sent to, he wanted thinking that it was friendly. Out of a sense of guilt for their past actions, the Tarentines thought that Lucius Valerius had come against them and attacked him, he had not expected hostilities. They sank his ship and other ships and captured the crews, killing some of and imprisoning the others. Zonaras did not specify where Lucius Valerius had been sent to or why he wanted to set anchor off Tarentum. In a fragment of the text of Cassius Dio, this admiral, Lucius Valerius, was sent on some errand; the Tarentines were intoxicated by wine. When they saw his ships, they suspected that Lucius Valerius was sailing against them and, they set sail and attacked his ships "without any show force on his part or the slightest suspicion of any hostile act..."
The Romans were angry about this ``. However, they despatched envoys, in order not to appear to have passed over the affair in silence and in that way render them more arrogant." The Tarentines insulted them. As a result, the Romans declared war. In another fragment, Cassius Dio wrote that the Romans had learned that Tarentum was preparing for war against them and sent Gaius Fabricius Luscinus as an envoy to the cities allied with Rome to prevent a rebellion there. However, "these peoples" arrested him and sent men to the Etruscans and Gauls; this caused several of them to secede. He wrote that the Tarentines had started the war but felt safe because the Romans though they knew what the Tarentines were up to, pretended to be unaware of it because of their "temporary embarrassments." The Tarentines thought that they were not observed. They "behaved still more insolently and forced the Romans against their will to make war upon them."Cass
Theodosius I known as Theodosius the Great, was a Roman Emperor from 379 to 395, the last emperor to rule over both the Eastern and the Western halves of the Roman Empire. On accepting his elevation, he campaigned against Goths and other barbarians who had invaded the Empire, his resources were not sufficient to destroy them or drive them out, Roman policy for centuries in dealing with invaders. By treaty, which followed his indecisive victory at the end of the Gothic War, they were established as foederati, autonomous allies of the Empire, south of the Danube, in Illyricum, within the Empire's borders, they were given lands and allowed to remain under their own leaders, a grave departure from Roman hegemonic ways. This turn away from traditional policies was accommodationist and had grave consequences for the Western Empire from the beginning of the century, as the Romans found themselves with the impossible task of defending the borders and deal with unruly federates within. Theodosius I was obliged to fight two destructive civil wars, successively defeating the usurpers Magnus Maximus in 387-388 and Eugenius in 394, though not without material cost to the power of the Empire.
He issued decrees that made Nicene Christianity the official state church of the Roman Empire. He neither prevented nor punished the destruction of prominent Hellenistic temples of classical antiquity, including the Temple of Apollo in Delphi and the Serapeum in Alexandria, he dissolved the Order of the Vestal Virgins in Rome. In 393, he banned the pagan rituals of the Olympics in Ancient Greece. After his death, Theodosius's young sons Arcadius and Honorius inherited the east and west halves of the empire and the Roman Empire was never again re-united, though Eastern Roman emperors after Zeno would claim the united title after Julius Nepos's death in 480. Theodosius is considered a saint by the Armenian Apostolic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church, his feast day is on January 19. Flavius Theodosius was born in Cauca, Hispania or in Italica, Hispania, to a senior military officer, Theodosius the Elder. Theodosius learned his military lessons by campaigning with his father's staff in Britannia where he went to help quell the Great Conspiracy in 368.
In about 373, he became governor of Upper Moesia and oversaw hostilities against the Sarmatians and thereafter against the Alemanni. He was military commander of Moesia, a Roman province on the lower Danube, in 374, when the empire faced a formidable eruption of the Quadi and Sarmatians, the neighboring province of Illyricum being in fact overrun. Theodosius is reported to have defended his province with marked success. However, shortly thereafter, at about the same time as the sudden disgrace and execution of his father, Theodosius retired to Hispania; the reason for his retirement, the relationship between it and his father's death is uncertain, though probable. The death of Valentinian I in 375 created political pandemonium. Fearing further persecution on account of his family ties, Theodosius abruptly retired to his family estates in the province of Gallaecia where he adopted the life of a provincial aristocrat. From 364 to 375, the Roman Empire was governed by two co-emperors, the brothers Valentinian I and Valens.
In 378, after the disastrous Battle of Adrianople where Valens was killed, Gratian invited Theodosius to take command of the Illyrian army. As Valens had no successor, Gratian's appointment of Theodosius amounted to a de facto invitation for Theodosius to become co-Augustus of the eastern half of the Empire. After Gratian was killed in a rebellion in 383, Theodosius appointed his own elder son, Arcadius, to be his co-ruler in the East. After the death in 392 of Valentinian II, whom Theodosius had supported against a variety of usurpations, Theodosius ruled as sole Emperor, appointing his younger son Honorius Augustus as his co-ruler of the West and by defeating the usurper Eugenius on 6 September 394, at the Battle of the Frigidus he restored peace. By his first wife, the Spanish Aelia Flaccilla Augusta, he had two sons and Honorius, a daughter, Aelia Pulcheria. Both Aelia Flaccilla and Pulcheria died in 385, his second wife was Galla, daughter of the emperor Valentinian I and his second wife Justina.
Theodosius and Galla had a son, born in 388 and who died young, a daughter, Aelia Galla Placidia. Placidia was the only child who survived to adulthood and became an Empress; the Goths and their allies entrenched in the provinces of Dacia and eastern Pannonia Inferior consumed Theodosius's attention. The Gothic crisis was so dire that his co-Emperor Gratian relinquished control of the Illyrian provinces and retired to Trier in Gaul to let Theodosius operate without hindrance. A major weakness in the Roman position after the defeat at Adrianople was the recruiting of barbarians to fight against other barbarians. In order to reconstruct the Roman Army of the West, Theodosius needed to find able bodied soldiers and so he turned to the most capable men at hand: the barbarians settled in the Empire; this caused many difficulties in the battle against barbarians since the newly recruited fighters had little or no loya
In ancient Greek religion, Nike was a goddess who personified victory. Her Roman equivalent was Victoria; the word νίκη nikē is of uncertain etymology. R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin. Others have connected it to Proto-Indo-European *neik-, making it cognate with Greek νεῖκος and Lithuanian ap-ni̇̀kti. Nike was variously described as the daughter of the Titan Pallas and the goddess Styx, the sister of Kratos and Zelus, and Styx the daughter of Ocean was joined to Pallas and bore Zelus and trim-ankled Nike in the house. She brought forth Cratos and Bia, wonderful children. In other sources, Nike was described as the daughter of the god of war. Ares... O defender of Olympos, father of warlike Nike. Nike and her siblings were close companions of the dominant deity of the Greek pantheon. According to classical myth, Styx brought them to Zeus when the god was assembling allies for the Titanomachy against the older deities. Nike assumed the role of the divine charioteer, a role in which she is portrayed in Classical Greek art.
Nike flew around battlefields rewarding the victors with glory and fame, symbolized by a wreath of laurel leaves. Nike is seen with wings in most statues and paintings, with one of the most famous being the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Most other winged deities in the Greek pantheon had shed their wings by Classical times. Nike is the goddess of strength and victory. Nike was a close acquaintance of Athena, is thought to have stood in Athena's outstretched hand in the statue of Athena located in the Parthenon. Nike is one of the most portrayed figures on Greek coins. After victory at the Battle of Marathon, Athenians erected the Nike of Callimachus. Names stemming from Nike include among others: Nikolaos, Nicola, Nicolai, Niccolò, Nicolae, Klaas, Ike, Nikita, Nika, Naike, Nikki and Veronica; the sports equipment company Nike, Inc. is named after the Greek goddess Nike. Project Nike, an American anti-aircraft missile system is named after the goddess Nike. Since Giuseppe Cassioli's design for the 1928 Summer Olympics, the obverse face of every Olympic medal bears Nike's figure holding a palm frond in her right hand and a winner's laurel crown in her left.
The Honda motorcycle company's logo is inspired by the goddess Nike. Winged Victory of Samothrace Altar of Victory Nike of Paeonius Ángel de la Independencia Smith, William. William Smith, LLD. William Wayte. G. E. Marindin. Albemarle Street, London. John Murray. 1890. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Media related to Nike at Wikimedia Commons The dictionary definition of Nike at Wiktionary Goddess Nike
Constantius II was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. His reign saw constant warfare on the borders against the Sasanian Empire and Germanic peoples, while internally the Roman Empire went through repeated civil wars and usurpations, culminating in Constantius' overthrow as emperor by his cousin Julian, his religious policies inflamed domestic conflicts. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, Constantius was made Caesar by his father in 324, he led the Roman army in war against the Sasanian Empire in 336. A year Constantine I died, Constantius became Augustus with his brothers Constantine II and Constans, he promptly oversaw the massacre of eight of his relatives. The brothers divided the empire with Constantius receiving the eastern provinces. In 340, his brothers Constantine and Constans clashed over the western provinces of the empire; the resulting conflict Constans as ruler of the west. The war against the Sasanians continued, with Constantius losing a major battle at Singara in 344. In 350, Constans was assassinated in 350 by the usurper Magnentius.
Unwilling to accept Magnentius as co-ruler, Constantius waged a civil war against the usurper, defeating him at the battles of Mursa Major in 351 and Mons Seleucus in 353. Magnentius committed suicide after the latter battle, leaving Constantius as sole ruler of the empire. In 351, Constantius elevated his cousin Constantius Gallus to the subordinate rank of Caesar to rule in the east, but had him executed three years after receiving scathing reports of his violent and corrupt nature. Shortly thereafter, in 355, Constantius promoted his last surviving cousin, Gallus' younger half-brother Julian, to the rank of Caesar; as emperor, Constantius promoted Arian Christianity, persecuted pagans by banning sacrifices and closing pagan temples and issued laws discriminating against Jews. His military campaigns against Germanic tribes were successful: he defeated the Alamanni in 354 and campaigned across the Danube against the Quadi and Sarmatians in 357; the war against the Sasanians, in a lull since 350, erupted with renewed intensity in 359 and Constantius traveled to the east in 360 to restore stability after the loss of several border fortresses to the Sasanians.
However, Julian claimed the rank of Augustus in 360, leading to war between the two after Constantius' attempts to convince Julian to back down failed. No battle was fought, as Constantius became ill and died of fever on 3 November 361 in Mopsuestia, naming Julian as his rightful successor before his death. Constantius was born in 317 at Pannonia, he was the third son of Constantine the Great, second by his second wife Fausta, the daughter of Maximian. Constantius was made Caesar by his father on 13 November 324. In 336, religious unrest in Armenia and tense relations between Constantine and king Shapur II caused war to break out between Rome and Sassanid Persia. Though he made initial preparations for the war, Constantine fell ill and sent Constantius east to take command of the eastern frontier. Before Constantius arrived, the Persian general Narses, the king's brother, overran Mesopotamia and captured Amida. Constantius promptly attacked Narses, after suffering minor setbacks defeated and killed Narses at the Battle of Narasara.
Constantius captured Amida and initiated a major refortification of the city, enhancing the city's circuit walls and constructing large towers. He built a new stronghold in the hinterland nearby, naming it Antinopolis. In early 337, Constantius hurried to Constantinople after receiving news that his father was near death. After Constantine died, Constantius buried him with lavish ceremony in the Church of the Holy Apostles. Soon after his father's death Constantius ordered a massacre of his relatives descended from the second marriage of his paternal grandfather Constantius Chlorus, though the details are unclear. Eutropius, writing between 350 and 370, states that Constantius sanctioned “the act, rather than commanding it”; the massacre killed two of Constantius' uncles and six of his cousins, including Hannibalianus and Dalmatius, rulers of Pontus and Moesia respectively. The massacre left Constantius, his older brother Constantine II, his younger brother Constans, three cousins Gallus and Nepotianus as the only surviving male relatives of Constantine the Great.
Soon after, Constantius met his brothers in Pannonia at Sirmium to formalize the partition of the empire. Constantius received the eastern provinces, including Constantinople, Asia Minor, Syria and Cyrenaica. Constantius hurried east to Antioch to resume the war with Persia. While Constantius was away from the eastern frontier in early 337, King Shapur II assembled a large army, which included war elephants, launched an attack on Roman territory, laying waste to Mesopotamia and putting the city of Nisibis under siege. Despite initial success, Shapur lifted his siege after his army missed an opportunity to exploit a collapsed wall; when Constantius learned of Shapur's withdrawal from Roman territory, he prepared his army for a counter-attack. Constantius defended the eastern border against invasions by the aggressive Sassanid Empire under Shapur; these conflicts were limited to Sassanid sieges of the major fortresses of Roman Mesopotamia, including Nisibis and Amida. Although Shapur seems to have been vict
Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great known as Constantine I, was a Roman Emperor who ruled between 306 and 337 AD. Born in Naissus, in Dacia Ripensis, town now known as Niš, he was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman Army officer, his mother was Empress Helena. His father became Caesar, the deputy emperor in the west, in 293 AD. Constantine was sent east, where he rose through the ranks to become a military tribune under Emperors Diocletian and Galerius. In 305, Constantius was raised to the rank of Augustus, senior western emperor, Constantine was recalled west to campaign under his father in Britannia. Constantine was acclaimed as emperor by the army at Eboracum after his father's death in 306 AD, he emerged victorious in a series of civil wars against Emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become sole ruler of both west and east by 324 AD. As emperor, Constantine enacted administrative, financial and military reforms to strengthen the empire, he restructured the government, separating military authorities.
To combat inflation he introduced the solidus, a new gold coin that became the standard for Byzantine and European currencies for more than a thousand years. The Roman army was reorganised to consist of mobile field units and garrison soldiers capable of countering internal threats and barbarian invasions. Constantine pursued successful campaigns against the tribes on the Roman frontiers—the Franks, the Alamanni, the Goths, the Sarmatians—even resettling territories abandoned by his predecessors during the Crisis of the Third Century. Constantine was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Although he lived much of his life as a pagan, as a catechumen, he joined the Christian faith on his deathbed, being baptised by Eusebius of Nicomedia, he played an influential role in the proclamation of the Edict of Milan in 313, which declared religious tolerance for Christianity in the Roman empire. He called the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which produced the statement of Christian belief known as the Nicene Creed.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on his orders at the purported site of Jesus' tomb in Jerusalem and became the holiest place in Christendom. The Papal claim to temporal power in the High Middle Ages was based on the forged Donation of Constantine, he has been referred to as the "First Christian Emperor", he did promote the Christian Church. Some modern scholars, debate his beliefs and his comprehension of the Christian faith itself; the age of Constantine marked a distinct epoch in the history of the Roman Empire. He renamed the city Constantinople after himself, it became the capital of the Empire for more than a thousand years, with the eastern Roman Empire now being referred to as the Byzantine Empire by historians. His more immediate political legacy was that he replaced Diocletian's tetrarchy with the principle of dynastic succession by leaving the empire to his sons, his reputation for centuries after his reign. The medieval church upheld him as a paragon of virtue, while secular rulers invoked him as a prototype, a point of reference, the symbol of imperial legitimacy and identity.
Beginning with the Renaissance, there were more critical appraisals of his reign, due to the rediscovery of anti-Constantinian sources. Trends in modern and recent scholarship have attempted to balance the extremes of previous scholarship. Constantine was a ruler of major importance, he has always been a controversial figure; the fluctuations in his reputation reflect the nature of the ancient sources for his reign. These are abundant and detailed, but they have been influenced by the official propaganda of the period and are one-sided; the nearest replacement is Eusebius's Vita Constantini—a mixture of eulogy and hagiography written between 335 AD and circa 339 AD—that extols Constantine's moral and religious virtues. The Vita creates a contentiously positive image of Constantine, modern historians have challenged its reliability; the fullest secular life of Constantine is the anonymous Origo Constantini, a work of uncertain date, which focuses on military and political events to the neglect of cultural and religious matters.
Lactantius' De Mortibus Persecutorum, a political Christian pamphlet on the reigns of Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, provides valuable but tendentious detail on Constantine's predecessors and early life. The ecclesiastical histories of Socrates and Theodoret describe the ecclesiastic disputes of Constantine's reign. Written during the reign of Theodosius II, a century after Constantine's reign, these ecclesiastic historians obscure the events and theologies of the Constantinian period through misdirection, misrepresentation, deliberate obscurity; the contemporary writings of the orthodox Christian Athanasius and the ecclesiastical history of the Arian Philostorgius survive, though their biases are no less firm. The epitomes of Aurelius Victor, Eutropius and the anonymous author of the Epitome de Caesaribus offer compressed secular political and military histories of the period. Although not Christian, the epitomes paint a favourable image of Constantine but omit reference to Constantine's religious policies.
The Panegyrici Latini, a collection of panegyrics