Johnson, Aaron, and Jeremy Schott, eds. 2013. Eusebius of Caesarea: Tradition and Innovations. Hellenic Studies Series 60. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_JohnsonA_SchottJ_eds.Eusebius_of_Caesarea.2013.
6. Propaganda Against Propaganda: Revisiting Eusebius’ Use of the Figure of Moses in the Life of Constantine
Moses in Constantine’s own Political Propaganda
Though Constantine does not explicitly cast himself as a new Moses, he seems to imply this when, later in the oration, he claims that everything has also turned out “according to my prayers—acts of courage, victories, trophies over my enemies” (Oration to the Saints 22, my emphasis) and finally concludes:
Constantine could of course hardly claim to have won by conquest without having “shot arrows or launched javelins,” but he might have hoped that his audience would catch the parallel to Moses when he piously claims that his palm of victory was similarly based on prayers and God’s co-operation. Also the fact that Constantine does not dwell on priestly or visionary aspects of the Moses figure, but rather turns the figure into a military and political leader suggests that Constantine constructed Moses as his own model: 
As Michael Williams has recently suggested, “It is difficult to read this as anything other than a kind of idealised portrait of the first Christian emperor—that is, as a portrait of Constantine himself.”  Williams’ suggestion is, I believe, right on target. There are, however, some rather important political motives for Constantine’s use of Moses that Williams does not examine, probably because he regards the speech as a conventional defense of Christianity.  For if Constantine should be seen as a new Moses, how should Christian subjects then catch the spirit of their own part? An audience acquainted with Paul’s use of the Israelites as negative examples in 1 Corinthians 10 (where the wayward followers of Moses were destroyed in the wilderness)  would probably not be slow to hear Constantine’s reference to the Moses narratives as a dire warning to themselves concerning internal discord. Thus, Constantine continues his panegyric of his predecessor by describing how the Israelites “became superhumanly boastful” though Moses was their sovereign. If Constantine had only referred to Moses in order to legitimize his own rule, he would probably not have touched on the Israelites’ acts of disobedience in the wilderness. Like Paul, Constantine seems, by contrast, to exploit the Moses narratives in order to control his Christian audience. Thus, when he reminds his audience that “no people would ever or could ever have been more blessed than that one [the Israelites], had they not voluntarily cut off their souls from the Holy Spirit” (Oration to the Saints 17), he makes a convenient agreement between the Holy Spirit and Moses, since it was of course Moses who had set their souls in order in the first place. By appending the Oration to the Saints to his Life of Constantine, Eusebius provides us with a fascinating glimpse of Constantine skilfully making use of the example of Moses in order to advance his own political agenda, namely to control the bishops.
Playing Constantine’s Game
Revisiting the Use of Moses in the Life of Constantine
The agreement between this passage and the introduction to the Life of Constantine is rather significant. At the beginning of the work, Eusebius provided the reader with the basic threads of the work, namely the contrast between Constantine and his rivals and the likeness between the life of Constantine and the lives of the God-beloved men as recorded in Scripture—in particular, the life of Moses. Here Constantine is claimed to be a present “example to all mankind of the life of godliness” (VC 1.3.4) and “a lesson in the pattern of godliness to the human race” (VC 1.4.1). By claiming agreement between how Constantine had presented himself to his sons and the way Eusebius now presents him to “all mankind,” Eusebius probably hoped to oblige the Augusti to comply with his picture of their father. For if they would choose another line of action than suggested in Eusebius’ portrait of Constantine, they would find themselves in conflict with the way they had purportedly been instructed by their own father. From the biblical narratives, Eusebius would know that succession through descent was a difficult undertaking. However, by reusing Constantine’s comparison with Moses, Eusebius was able to stress that good kingship was not based on descent, but on godliness. Ironically, Eusebius pays Constantine back in his own coin, so to speak. For just as Constantine used Moses to control the bishops, so Eusebius uses the same figure to promote his own view of how Constantine’s sons should rule.
Constructing a Christian Dynasty
Similarly, Eusebius later claims that Constantine’s decrees were not only full of philanthropy: they were also a token of his piety towards God (VC 2.20.1). In sum, philanthropy is said to have been Constantine’s most conspicuous quality (VC 4.54.1).
Eusebius and Philo also both employ topoi typical of philanthropy, for instance the sparing of the lives of prisoners of war (Life of Constantine 2.10.1, 13.1–2, Life of Moses 1.249).  In addition, like Philo, Eusebius adds to the classical definition of philanthropy the idea of the king’s kindness toward widows and orphans.  Eusebius’ repeated references to Constantine’s gifts to the poor, widows, and orphans thus resemble Philo’s emphasis on the benefit of Moses’ philanthropic legislation for the needy and unfortunate. For both authors, such generosity is equated with piety and philanthropy (On the Virtues 90–95, Life of Constantine 1.43.1–3; 2.20.1). 
Compared with the Greeks, the barbarians and even the ancient Romans, Constantine was, so Eusebius flatteringly asserts, without peer; and yet, the message of the Life of Constantine is that Constantine was only second to none, because he actually followed in the footsteps of a figure equal to himself, namely Moses.