Janus' Home

9

 

Still, one must wonder about the validity of the story of the vision. According to Eusebius, the vision was seen by Constantine's entire army; however, the army was conspicuously silent about the experience.25 Perhaps Constantine simply made up the story in order to legitimize his attack, his victory, or his ultimate rule. But this explanation does not account for Constantine's decision to march down Italy and confront the numerically superior forces of Maxentius, protected within the Aurelian walls of Rome.

Baynes raises another interesting point, and it is with him that I must ultimately agree. He states that Constantine's vision occurred, either subjectively or objectively; as historians, we can not definitively know the exact nature of those experiences, but such knowledge would not truly change the discussion at hand.26 Two things are important for this point. First, Constantine related this experience to Eusebius, and he even swore to it.27 In addition, in A.D. 350, the usurper Vetrano attempted to legitimize himself by issuing a coin which depicted himself holding a labarum beneath the words HOC SIGNO VICTOR ERIS, which translates as "by this sign you will be the victor"--a close parallel to the Constantine's vision.28 Thus, in Constantine's memory and opinion, the vision did occur. Whether or not it actually happened--the modern reader might be skeptical of such explicit visions--is not specifically important in understanding the result.

After the dream, Constantine questioned the Christians in his court, including Ossius, who interpreted the dream and instructed him about Christ. The precise action


25. Grant, 138.
26. Baynes, 7.
27. Grant, 138.
28. Ibid., 138

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18