Constantine And Christianity

Colossal head of Constantine. The head along with a single hand and other fragments, survives from huge marble statue. Its solemn, abstracted air reflects the new concept of the emperor as a remote, god-like being.
Colossal head of Constantine. The head along with a single hand and other fragments, survives from huge marble statue. Its solemn, abstracted air reflects the new concept of the emperor as a remote, god-like being.

In 306 Constantius I Chlorus, formerly a caesar, was co-emperor ruling the West. He and his son Constantine crossed to Britain and drove back an invasion by the untamed tribes north of Hadrian’s Wall. When Constantius died suddenly at York, Constantine was hailed as emperor by his troops and became a caesar, controlling Gaul and Britain, in a reconstituted Tetrarchy. Six years of military and political intrigues followed until in 312 Constantine was strong enough to invade Italy, defeat his rival Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge, and became emperor the West. Before the battle he is said to have looked at the sky and seen a cross and the legend in hoc signo vinces : In this sign, conquer. Whether or not this actually happened, Constantine favoured Christianity from at least this time, by contrast with earlier emperors who had looked to the old Roman religion to restore the old Roman virtues. By the edict of Milan 313, Constantine and the emperor in the East, Licinius, proclaimed general toleration and the restoration of confiscated Christian property. Later Licinius began to persecute Christians, perhaps because the new faith had become politically indentified with Constantine. War broke out, Licinius was defeated and by 324 Constantine was master of re-united Roman world.

Christians were far more numerous in the East, and Constantine could now safely lavish patronage on the church. Having long made way against imperial indifference or active hostility, Christianity flourished throughout Constantine’s reign, no doubt gaining strenght as doubters realized that it did not involve un-Roman weaknesses such as pacifism. One of Constantine’s earliest actions as a ruler of the Roman world was to convene an ecumenical council at Nicaea in Bithynia 325, which attempted to resolve the conflict between those who believed Jesus and God were of one subtance and those who believed they were separate. The Arian heresy, as the victors later called it, despite the orthodox victory at Nicaea, Arianism was to play an important part in the later history of the Empire. By the end of Constantine’s reign Christianity was effectively the state religion, althought it was not as yet persecuting its rivals.

Constantine’s greatest material legacy was a new capital, begun in 326 and dedicated in 330 on the site of the old Greek city of Byzantium. New Rome, which was soon to become known as Constantinople, “the city of Constantine” was planned as a Christian capital althought pagan as well as Christian ceremonies were discreetly allowed at its foundation, no pagan temples were built within its walls. The site was superbly chosen. The end of a small peninsula on the European coast of the Bosporus where it joins the Sea of Marmara. Surrounded on three sides by the sea, it became near-impregnable when immenselystrong walls were built across the peninsula: indedtations in the coastline provided good harbours, and a long inlet, the Golden Horn, was large enough to shelter a navy but narrow enough for for defenders to keep out enemy ships by stringing chains across the entrance. The city controlled the natural land route from Europe to Asia and the sea route from the Mediterranean into the Black sea, and it served as a well-placed headquarters for an Empire apparently most strongly menaced from across the Danube and the Tigris. Constatine’s choise, not so very far from Nicomedia, confirmed Diolectian’s wisdom in making the East the new heart of the Empire, and Constantinople would be a Christian imperial city for the next eleven hundred years.

In many other respects Constantine furthered Diolectian’s work. The imperial bureaucracy grew still larger and was equipped with everwider powers and duties, the separation between civil and military powers became complete, the admission of barbarians as army recruits continued. Taxation remained onerous, and measures were taken to prevent peasants from leaving the land and the wealthy from evading municipal office. The attempt to create a rigid but stable society had some success for althought the value of the old silver denarius continued to depreciate there was at least a partial economic recovery, mainly thanks to the introduction of a new coin, the gold solidus. And by favouring the new Christian faith Constantine promoted an ideology that was to prove effective in increasing sosial cohesion and would long outlive the Empire and the world of late antiquity.

The walls of Constantinople built in the early 5th century by Theodosius II. Founded by Constantine and named after him, Constantinople remained the greatest city in the western world until the 15th century.
The walls of Constantinople built in the early 5th century by Theodosius II. Founded by Constantine and named after him, Constantinople remained the greatest city in the western world until the 15th century.

Source : Nathaniel Harris : History of Ancient Rome, 2000

Aspendos

Aspendos, Turkey

Aspendos or Aspendus (Greek Άσπενδος) was an ancient Greco-Roman city in Antalya province of Turkey. It is located 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) northeast of central Serik.

History

Aspendus was an ancient city in Pamphylia, Asia Minor, located about 40 km east of  the modern city of Antalya, Turkey. It was situated on the Eurymedon River about 16 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea; it shared a border with, and was hostile to, Side. According to later tradition, the (originally non-Greek) city was founded around 1000 BC by Greeks who may have come from Argos. The wide range of its coinage throughout the ancient world indicates that, in the 5th century BC, Aspendus had become the most important city in Pamphylia. At that time the Eurymedon River was navigable as far as Aspendus, and the city derived great wealth from a trade in salt, oil, and wool.

Aspendos did not play an important role in antiquity as a political force. Its political history during the colonization period corresponded to the currents of the Pamphylian region. Within this trend, after the colonial period, it remained for a time under Lycian hegemony. In 546 B.C. it came under Persian domination. The face that the city continued to mint coins in its own name, however, indicates that it had a great deal of freedom even under the Persians.

In 467 B.C. the statesman and military commander Cimon, and his fleet of 200 ships, destroyed the Persian navy based at the mouth of the river Eurymedon in a surprise attack. In order to crush to Persian land forces, he tricked the Persians by sending his best fighters to shore wearing the garments of the hostages he had seized earlier. When they saw these men, the Persians thought that they were compatriots freed by the enemy and arranged festivities in celebration. Taking advantage of this, Cimon landed and annihilated the Persians. Aspendos then became a member of the Attic-Delos Maritime league.

The Persians captured the city again in 411 B.C. and used it as a base. In 389 B.C. the commander of Athens, in an effort to regain some of the prestige that city had lost in the Peloponnesian Wars, anchored off the coast of Aspendos in an effort to secure its surrender. Hoping to avoid a new war, the people of Aspendos collected money among themselves and gave it to the commander, entreating him to retreat without causing any damage. Even though he took the money, he had his men trample all the crops in the fields. Enraged, the Aspendians stabbed and killed the Athenian commander in his tent.

When Alexander the Great marched into Aspendos in 333 B.C. after capturing Perge, the citizens sent envoys to him to request that he would not establish that he be given the taxes and horses that they had formerly paid as tribute to the Persian king. After reaching this agreement. Alexander went to Side, leaving a garrison there on the city’s surrender. Going back through Sillyon, he learned that the Aspendians had failed to ratify the agreement their envoys had proposed and were preparing to defend themselves. Alexander marched to the city immediately. When they saw Alexander returning with his troops, the Aspendians, who had retreated to their acropolis, again sent envoys to sue for peace. This time, however, they had to agree to very harsh terms; a Macedonian garrison would remain in the city and 100 gold talents as well as 4.000 horses would be given in tax annually.

In 190 BC the city surrendered to the Romans, who later pillaged it of its artistic treasures.Toward the end of the Roman period the city began a decline that continued throughout Byzantine times.

Roman structures

The Roman theatre in Aspendos.

Aspendos is known for having the best-preserved theatre of antiquity. With a diametre of 96 metres (315 ft), the theatre provided seating for 7,000.

The theatre was built in 155 by the Greek architect Zenon, a native of the city, during the rule of Marcus Aurelius. It was periodically repaired by the Seljuqs, who used it as a caravansary, and in the 13th century the stage building was converted into a palace by the Seljuqs of Rum.

In order to keep with Hellenistic traditions, a small part of the theatre was built so that it leaned against the hill where the Citadel (Acropolis) stood, while the remainder was built on vaulted arches. The high stage served to seemingly isolate the audience from the rest of the world. The scaenae frons or backdrop, has remained intact. The 8.1 metre (27 ft) sloping reflective wooden ceiling over the stage has been lost over time. Post holes for 58 masts are found in the upper level of the theatre. These masts supported a velarium or awning that could be pulled over the audience to provide shade.

Until recently the theatre was still in use for concerts, festivals and events. Due to some damage caused by fitting modern theatrical equipment during these events the Turkish authorities have suspended further shows. A new modern facility known as Aspendos Arena has been constructed nearby to continue the tradition of open air theatre in Aspendos.

Nearby stand the remains of a basilica, agora, nymphaeum and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) of a Roman aqueduct. The Roman Eurymedon Bridge, reconstructed in the 13th century, is also in the vicinity.

The Basilica.

Coinage

Aspendos was one of the earliest cities to mint coins. It began issuing coinage around 500 BC, first staters and later drachmas; “the hoplite on the obverse represents the soldiery for which Aspendus was famous in antiquity,” the reverse frequently depicts a triskelion. The legend appears on early coins as the abbreviation ΕΣ or ΕΣΤϜΕ; later coinage has ΕΣΤϜΕΔΙΙΥΣ, the adjective from ΕΣΤϜΕΔΥΣ (Estwedus), which was the name of the city in the local Pamphylian language. The city’s numismatic history extends from archaic Greek to late Roman times.

Source: Wikipedia

The Map of The Ancient Roman Empire

Brief Explanation of The Map

The map above may be unclear. However, basically, the whole territory includes the whole Mediterranean sea, from Mesopotamia to Britania at that time, covering a space of 6.5million km2 The largest territory was reached during the Pax Romana period under the leadership of the famous Augustus Caeser, ruled from 27BC to 14AC. After the Pax Romana period, the empire broke down and started to lose the territory to both threats from within and without. Finally, the empire was broken in Western and Eastern Empire and slowly led to the diminish of the entire Roman Empire out of the world map.