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Eusebius of Caesarea, Life of Constantine 1.19

   https://caesarea-maritima.org/testimonia/130

Context

In this passage from his biography of Constantine the Great, Eusebius describes the physical and spritual virtues of the adolescent. The historian refers to seeing Constantine himself, presumably at Caesarea, during the young man’s visit to Palestine in the company of the senior emperor Diocletian in 301/2 C.E.

Text

Συνῆν μὲν γὰρ οὑτος τοῖς τῆς βασιλείας κοινωνοῖς, καὶ μέσοις αὐτοῖς, ὡς εἵρηται, κατ’ αὐτὸν ἐκεῖνον τὸν παλαιὸν τοῦ θεοῦ προφήτην τὰς διατριβὰς ἐποιεῖτο. ἤδη δ’ ἐκ τοῦ παιδὸς ἐπὶ τὸν νεανίαν τιμῆς τῆς πρώτης παρ’ αὐτοῖς ἠξιοῦτο. Οἷον αὐτὸν καὶ ἡμεῖς ἔγνωμεν τὸ Παλαιστινῶν διερχόμενον ἔθνος σὺν τῷ πρεσβυτέρῳ τῶν βασιλέων, οὗ καὶ ἐπὶ δεξιὰ παρεστὼς περιφανέστατος ἦν τοῖς ὁρᾶν θέλουσιν, οἷός τε βασιλικοῦ φρονήματος ἐξ ἐκείνου τεκμήρια παρέχων. σώματος μὲν γὰρ εἰς κάλλους ὥραν μέγεθός τε ἡλικίας οὐδ’ ἦν αὐτῷ παραβαλεῖν ἔτερον, ῥώμῃ δ’ ἱσχύος τοσοῦτον ἐπλεονέκτει τοὺς ὁμήλικας ὡς καὶ φοβερὸν αὐτοῖς εἶναι, ταῖς δὲ κατὰ ψυχὴν ἀρεταῖς μᾶλλον ἢ τοῖς κατὰ τὸ σῶμα πλεονεκτήμασιν ἐνηβρύνετο, σωφροσύνῃ πρώτιστα τὴν ψυχὴν κοσμούμενος πάντων, κἄπειτα παιδεύσει λόγων φρονήσει τ’ ἐμφύτῳ καὶ τῇ θεοσδότῳ σοφίᾳ διαφερόντως ἐκπρέπων.1

Textual Note

Ed. Winkelmann 1991

Translation

TThis son (sc. Constantine) was with his imperial colleagues (sc. the tetrarchs); and in their midst, as has been said, he conducted himself in the same way as the ancient prophet of God. Now that he had passed from childhood to youth, he was granted highest honor among them. As such we knew him ourselves as he travelled through the land of Palestine in the company of the senior Emperor (sc. Diocletian), at whose right he stood, a noble sight for those with eyes to see, able already to display an Imperial quality of mind. In handsome physique and bodily height no other could bear comparison with him; in physical strength he so exceeded his contemporaries as even to put them in fear; he took pride in moral qualities rather than physical superiority, ennobling his soul first and foremost with self-control, and thereafter distinguishing himself by the excellence of his rhetorical education, his instinctive shrewdness and his God-given wisdom.2

Translation Note

Rev. Cameron and Hill 1999

Discussion Note

“as has been said, he conducted himself in the same way as the ancient prophet of God”: the simile compares Constantine among the tetrarchs to Moses among the Egyptians.

Works Cited

  • 1 Eusebius of Caesarea, Eusebius Werke I.1: Über das Leben des Kaisers Constantins, ed. Friedhelm Winkelmann, Repr. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 2008, Die grieschischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte n.F. 7 (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1991), section: 1.19.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 2 Eusebius of Caesarea, Life of Constantine, trans. Averil Cameron and Stuart G. Hill, Clarendon Ancient History Series (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), p: 77, 197-198.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

 

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How to Cite This Entry

Eliana Yonan et al., “Eusebius of Caesarea, Life of Constantine 1.19,” in Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, entry published January 20, 2023, https://caesarea-maritima.org/testimonia/130.

Bibliography:

Eliana Yonan et al., “Eusebius of Caesarea, Life of Constantine 1.19.” In Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, edited by Joseph L. Rife, Phillip I. Lieberman and David A. Michelson., edited by Joseph L. Rife et al.. Caesarea City and Port Exploration Project, 2023. Entry published January 20, 2023. https://caesarea-maritima.org/testimonia/130.

About this Entry

Entry Title: Eusebius of Caesarea, Life of Constantine 1.19

Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

  • Joseph L. Rife, general editor, Vanderbilt University
  • Joseph L. Rife, Phillip I. Lieberman, and David A. Michelson, editors, Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia
  • David A. Michelson, Daniel L. Schwartz, and William L. Potter, technical editors, “Eusebius of Caesarea, Life of Constantine 1.19
  • Eliana Yonan and Joseph L. Rife, entry contributors, “Eusebius of Caesarea, Life of Constantine 1.19

Additional Credit:

  • TEI encoding by William L. Potter
  • Electronic text added by Eliana Yonan
  • Testimonia identified by Joseph L. Rife
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