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Even with these disadvantages, Constantine was convinced that the invasion of Italy was necessary. Despite the strength of his defenses, Maxentius was politically weak in Rome, and any delay would give Maxentius a chance to recover. There was also the chance that, if Constantine did not attack Rome, Licinius would - Maxentius had stationed troops at Verona, perhaps for this very contingency. Constantine had to attack in order to remove Maxentius and take one step closer to his ultimate goal.17

In perspective, Constantine's actions during his invasion of Italy--such as marching down the Italian peninsula in a direct assault on Rome--might not seem sensible, especially since two attacks on Rome had recently failed. However, these actions were reasonable if Constantine thought that he had some promise of divine aid.18

This is an argument that Baynes also posits. Baynes' argument, that Constantine acted as though he was confident of divine aid, rests upon an understanding of the people of the third and fourth centuries CE.19 In a search for a parallel character, we need look no further than Maxentius. It seems ironic that in our discussion it is Maxentius, Constantine's opponent at the Milvian Bridge, who serves as an example of one who had been promised victory from some divine source. As previously stated, Maxentius' Rome would be able to withstand a considerable siege, and Maxentius himself had planned to wait within the walls of Aurelian. However, when Constantine's forces arrived, Maxentius rode out from Rome and faced his adversary on the battlefield. The reason for this sudden change was that Maxentius believed he had the aid of the gods. The Sibylline books promised the defeat of the enemy of Rome on that


17. Ibid., 41.
18. See Baynes, 7.
19. Ibid., 6.

 

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