Constantine the Emperor by David Potter, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Constantine the Emperor

Constantine the Emperor

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by David Potter
     
 

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No Roman emperor had a greater impact on the modern world than did Constantine. The reason is not simply that he converted to Christianity, but that he did so in a way that brought his subjects along after him. Indeed, this major new biography argues that Constantine's conversion is but one feature of a unique administrative style that enabled him to take control

Overview

No Roman emperor had a greater impact on the modern world than did Constantine. The reason is not simply that he converted to Christianity, but that he did so in a way that brought his subjects along after him. Indeed, this major new biography argues that Constantine's conversion is but one feature of a unique administrative style that enabled him to take control of an empire beset by internal rebellions and external threats by Persians and Goths. The vast record of Constantine's administration reveals a government careful in its exercise of power but capable of ruthless, even savage, actions. Constantine executed (or drove to suicide) his father-in-law, two brothers-in-law, his eldest son, and his once beloved wife. An unparalleled general throughout his life, planning a major assault on the Sassanian Empire in Persia even on his deathbed. Alongside the visionary who believed that his success came from the direct intervention of his God resided an aggressive warrior, a sometimes cruel partner, and an immensely shrewd ruler. These characteristics combined together in a long and remarkable career, which restored the Roman Empire to its former glory.

Beginning with his first biographer Eusebius, Constantine's image has been subject to distortion. More recent revisions include John Carroll's view of him as the intellectual ancestor of the Holocaust (Constantine's Sword) and Dan Brown's presentation of him as the man who oversaw the reshaping of Christian history (The Da Vinci Code). In Constantine the Emperor, David Potter confronts each of these skewed and partial accounts to provide the most comprehensive, authoritative, and readable account of Constantine's extraordinary life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A vividly detailed and energetically told biography." —Publishers Weekly

"The interested reader could find no better starting point for exploring the man and the era than David Potter's Constantine the Emperor." —The Wall Street Journal

Kirkus Reviews
Scholarly biography of the legendary Roman emperor "best known as the [man] who converted to Christianity and in so doing made it possible for Christianity to become a world religion." With Diocletian's abdication in A.D. 305, Constantine's troops acclaimed him as caesar. He preserved the idea of territorial caesars who spoke and acted in his name, but only he was supreme emperor. Here, halfway into the book, Potter (Greek and Roman History/Univ. of Michigan; The Victor's Crown: A History of Ancient Sport from Homer to Byzantium, 2011, etc.) finally begins the history of the man and his great governing successes. Constantine protected Romans in their concerns for fairness, marriage stability and personal standing, and he promoted efficiency throughout the empire. He had no use for patronage and abuse of the poor by the wealthy, and his decision to move the capital to Byzantium was as much a military decision as it was a reflection of his desire to establish his own eponymous shrine. It's unclear when Constantine converted from Roman deities to one God, but it's certain he ruled as a Christian emperor even though he was not baptized until he was on his deathbed. His First Council of bishops at Nicea cleverly united Christians through an administrative, not theological, process. That council's accomplishments are still felt today; it addressed the controversy over consubstantiation, defined the date for Easter and provided the Nicene Creed, which is still in use today. A good fit for academics and students of Roman history. General readers will need to work to keep the players and locations straight and patiently wait for the main attraction.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780190231620
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
08/01/2015
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
357,856
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

David Potter is Francis W. Kelsey Collegiate Professor of Greek and Roman History and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Greek and Latin at the University of Michigan. His books include Theodora, The Victor's Crown, Emperors of Rome, and Ancient Rome: A New History.

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