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The present article is devoted to the cult of Constantine the Great (306–337) in the reign of his sons, in particular Constantius II (337–361), whose tenure in power exceeded the duration of his brothers reign. Constantine’s sons came to power after their father’s sudden death; they were quite young – Constans, the youngest of the brothers, was hardly 17 (or even 14 according another source) years old, – and the Constantine’s authority was the only sound of their domination. In accordance with an old (but pagan) tradition Constantine, who was baptized on his deathbed, was deifi ed and became «Divus Constantinus», i.e. public deity of the Roman state pantheon. Veneration of Constantine is documented not only by narrative tradition, but also by numismatic evidences. After Constantine’s death, his sons struck new coin issues, which praised Constantine as the father and protector of young emperors.

Constantius II, whom one narrative source calls «the Constantine’s beloved son», faced with a number of problems in his domestic and foreign policy – the public consensus and the stability on the borders, maintained by Constantine, began to disintegrate. Both his brothers were killed during the civil wars. The phenomenon of provincial and military usurpation, suppressed by Constatine the Great and his predecessors, emerged newly: this circumstance indicates a decline of authority of the central government and Constantius II in particular. The borders – both Eastern and Nothern froniers – claimed Emperor’s attention: Constantius II should repulse attacks by Persians and Germanic tribes. That’s why under Constantius II the image of his father, who was remembered as the most successful emperor of the recent years, acquired a profoundly sacred signifi cance. The narrative tradition indicates that Constantius in his decisions resorted to an ecstatic experience in the form of dreams, during which he allegedly received advice from the late Constantine. This detail is interesting to characterize not only the ideology of the imperial power in this period of Roman history, but of the emperor Constance himself, whose person and time of administration attracted little attention of researchers.


Roman Empire, Dominate, imperial ideology, Constantine the Great, the Constantinian dynasty, Constantius II

Ivan A. Mirolyubov

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

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