Michael Grant (19142004) read classics at Trinity College, Cambridge and was Professor of Humanity at Edinburgh University. He was awarded the OBE in 1946, the CBE in 1958, and was vice-chancellor of the Queen’s University of Belfast and University of Khartoum. Among his many books about the ancient world are Saint Peter, The Ancient Historians, and A Social History of Greece and Rome.
Constantine the Great: The Man and His Times (Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series)by Michael Grant
In Constantine the Great, Michael Grant delves into the reasons why the reign of this Roman emperor, which lasted from 306 to 337 A.D., marked a watershed in the history of civilization, albeit one charged with irony. Founding his capital at Constantinople, Constantine revitalized the Eastern half of the empire, enabling it to survive and to flourish /b>/i>
In Constantine the Great, Michael Grant delves into the reasons why the reign of this Roman emperor, which lasted from 306 to 337 A.D., marked a watershed in the history of civilization, albeit one charged with irony. Founding his capital at Constantinople, Constantine revitalized the Eastern half of the empire, enabling it to survive and to flourish (as the Byzantine Empire) for another thousand years. Yet, as Grant shows, this shift of power to the east would prove fatal to the Western empire and have profound consequences for Europe as a whole.
Constantine’s most far-reaching decision, however, was the legalization of Christianity and his conversion to the faith. Without this dramatic change, Christianity might have remained a suppressed, minority religionor worse. Grant points out the irony behind this watershed too: For Constantine, the Christian God represented not peace but power, not humanity but success in warfare.
Whatever the emperor’s motives, Christian writers of that periodand aftergreatly admired Constantine. Grant draws on their writings judiciously, while noting, for example, that Eusebius fails to mention Constantine’s murder of his own son and his empress. Grant deftly explores the many questions surrounding these killingsHad the son plotted revolution? Had his stepmother, the empress, fallen in love with him? Had the emperor allowed a charge of rape (possibly false) brought by the empress against her stepson, to stand?and goes further than any historian before him in finding answers.
In examining Constantine as soldier, administrator, Christian, father, and husband, Michael Grant produces a rich composite picture of a gifted but profoundly flawed man.
Praise for Constantine the Great:
“Michael Grant is justly recognized as an expert and civilized guide to the ancient world.” The Economist
“Michael Grant was one of the few classical historians to win respect from academics and a lay readership.” The Times, London
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