Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Constantine the Complex

Rome's long and enigmatic chain of emperors was rife with complex personalities, few the match of Constantine (282-337). In his new Constantine the Emperor, biographer David Potter makes a case for this emperor's historical prominence.
"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.” 
"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, are those that restored the Roman Empire to its former glory."
Potter, a professor of Greek and Roman history at the University of Michigan, actually offers this major hunk of history in a surprisingly readable and compelling manner. His description is excellent of Constantine's complicated world with its spreading Christian influence, altogether as good a story as the sordid family strife surrounding this emperor.

Potter's book ~ published by Oxford University Press ~ is available from Please see the link at the top of the "Ancient Tides Books" column at the left of this page.

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