The Christian Founders Constantine and Helena

Diliana N. Angelova

in Sacred Founders

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2015 | ISBN: 9780520284012
Published online January 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780520959682 | DOI:
The Christian Founders Constantine and Helena

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)


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This chapter examines how Constantine transformed the discourse of imperial founders that Augustus had bequeathed to later emperors—first, by breaking with ancestral myths and religion and, second, by empowering Helena. It argues that Constantine’s founding of Constantinople interrupted the symbolic line of sacred founders that stretched back to Romulus and elevated instead Constantine as the head of a new, Christian, line of founders. In his new capital, the emperor signaled these ruptures of tradition with his mausoleum and with urban development. Constantine pioneered another innovation by granting his mother, the Augusta Helena, unprecedented authority. Over the course of the 400s and the 500s, Helena’s legacy of energetic actions, urban development, and travel steered the discourse of imperial founding in novel ways, ones that prompted imperial women to act.

Keywords: Constantine; divination; arch of Constantine; battle of the Milvian Bridge; Apollo; Constantiniana Dafne coins; Holy Apostles; Eusebius; Helena; Sessorian Palace; Helenopolis

Chapter.  12924 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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