Eusebius of Caesarea: Tradition and Innovations

  Johnson, Aaron, and Jeremy Schott, eds. 2013. Eusebius of Caesarea: Tradition and Innovations. Hellenic Studies Series 60. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

7. The Life of Constantine: The Image of an Image

Peter Van Nuffelen

In her 1991 classic, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire, Averil Cameron commented that Eusebius’ Life of Constantine (also referred to as the VC) is “a work over-criticized on historical grounds and understudied as a literary text.” [1] This statement still holds true. To cite but one example, Cameron’s own brief but stimulating discussion of the importance of signs and images in the Life has not been followed up, not even by herself in the 1999 translation and commentary that she co-authored with S.G. Hall. [2] The complaint has been echoed since, [3] but apart from persistent attempts to pin down the genre of what is usually called a “hybrid” text [4] and to define the role played by Moses as a point of comparison for Constantine, [5] little work has been done to remedy this deficiency. The purpose of this chapter is to take a first step into that direction by returning to the issue of the omnipresence of images in the Life. As noticed by Cameron, images are ubiquitous in the Life of Constantine and take many forms, ranging from divine visions shown to Constantine, over ecphraseis of statues, paintings, and coins, to earthly signs of the divine. Many of them can be seen as drawn from the stock imagery of late antique panegyric, or can be related to Christian, indeed ancient, beliefs about the role played by divine signs in human action. Tracing the use of images back to specific sources and traditions does not, however, suffice as an explanation for their striking presence in the Life of Constantine, nor may such an approach do justice to the implicit, yet complex and dense, reflection on the nature of images that is developed by Eusebius.

“Logos stands agape”

A paradox is only an apparent contradiction. In order to show that the preface does not profess a total rejection of the power of visual images, we must take a closer look at the various roles images play in the preface and confront these with those used later in the Life. In fact, three different but interrelated kinds of images can be detected in the work, and to a greater or lesser degree, also in the preface. As any good preface, that of the Life can thus be said to introduce the themes of the work.

A Cascade of Images

The density of such image-relationships in the first five chapters suggests that it is legitimate to connect them all, thus generating a series of images that cascades down from God: Constantine is an image of divine rule, his sons are images of Constantine, and we should try to become images of Constantine. Through Constantine, we are thus connected to God. Unavoidably, in such a presentation, the question arises as to the status of the text that presents us with this series of images. Unsurprisingly in the light of the preceding analysis, Eusebius presents the Life of Constantine also as an image at the very end of the preface: “Even if saying something appropriate about the blessedness of this man is virtually impossible and staying silent safe and without danger, I must set up an image in words (tēn dia logōn eikona) in commemoration of the Godbeloved man, in imitation of human painting, so as to acquit myself of the charge of sluggishness and laziness” (VC 1.10.1). The Life is thus an image in words of Constantine, and the last chain in a series of images that connects God, through Constantine and his biography by Eusebius, to us.

The Power of Images

The presence of a cascade of images and the suggestion that we should imitate the image that is presented to us may seem to conflict with the confession of speech’s inability to create true images in the first chapters of the preface and thus to exacerbate the paradox with which we started this essay. It may, however, repay to take a closer look at what Eusebius is saying there. As we have seen, human logos can see Constantine in heaven, but not translate that vision into words: only the divine logos can do so (VC 1.2.3). This statement rests on two assumptions that are rendered explicit elsewhere in the preface.

First, images created by humans are always imperfect and cannot be substitutes for reality. If this is true as a general proposition, this deficiency becomes most evident in the case discussed in the preface, namely the sight of the divine, which is perfect and transcends human logos—that is, speech and understanding. By stating that only the divine logos is capable of grasping and expressing divine sights, Eusebius points to a fundamental dividing line. The images humans can make (be they in words or in visual arts) are properly human: they are imperfect and perishable, and thus at best approximations. The point is driven home in chapter 3, where Eusebius contrasts human memorials to the everlasting memorial that is the soul: “For the nature of the mortals, finding a consolation for a mortal and perishable end, supposed to glorify the memories of the ancestors with immortal honors through the dedication of images (eikonōn anathēmasi),” such as encaustic painting, statues, and inscriptions. “But all of this was mortal and destroyed by the passage of time, inasmuch that they were appearances of perishable bodies and not from an impression of the eternal soul” (VC 1.3.2). The Platonic tone of that last expression (athanatou psychēs apotypounta ideas) cannot be ignored, [19] enhancing the emphasis on the true reality that constitutes the divine level of being. Eusebius echoes here a common concern that indeed can be traced back to Plato, namely that an image always represents a loss in reality: it never can be identical to what it depicts. As the preface suggests, this problem is most acutely felt in cases where one tries to translate the divine into an image, be it in art or in words. More radically, the ephemeral quality of every human image must also include the Life of Constantine itself: conceived “in imitation of mortal painting” (VC 1.10.1), it logically will undergo the same fate as painting and perish with the course of time. What reads at first sight as the habitual topos of modesty, namely that Eusebius is unable to say anything worthy of his subject (VC 1.10.1), [20] is thus philosophically underpinned by the fundamental distance that separates image and archetype.

Yet the awareness of the deficiency of images in relation to their archetype does not lead to a wholesale rejection of images, as the omnipresence of images in the preface and the rest of the Life shows. Indeed, the depiction of the ascent of human logos to heaven also illustrates the power of sight in contrast with that of speech. Human logos can perceive Constantine in heaven, but cannot express that vision. Sight therefore is more potent than speech. The power of the visual was recognized in rhetorical theory and most explicitly conceptualized in the mode of enargeia. For its most explicit theorist, Quintilian, enargeia is an enhancement of an essential feature of narrative, perspicuity (perspicuitas): “Instead of being merely transparent [as the latter], [the former] somehow shows itself off.” [21] As such, it increases the quality of the narrative, for “it is a great virtue to express our subject clearly and in such a way that it seems to be actually seen.” [22] The task of the orator is therefore to conjure up in the minds of his audience a truthful image of what has happened. “The result will be enargeia, what Cicero calls inlustratio and evidentia, a quality which makes us seem not so much to be talking about something as exhibiting it.” [23] True enargeia is speech that transcends the limitations of speech and creates the illusion that one is an eyewitness. In making absent things present, it thus creates truthful images. As it was expressed elegantly by Ruth Webb: “L’enargeia verbale est, bien sûr, une forme de mimêsis, mais qui—à la différence des arts du théâtre et de la peinture, auxquels elle est souvent comparée—fonctionne en imitant la perception même. Plutôt que faire voir une illusion, elle crée l’illusion de voir.” [24] Rhetorically trained, Eusebius was obviously aware of the qualities of enargeia. It can even be argued that he explicitly alludes to it in the preface. In 1.3.4, Constantine is said to have given “a clear example to all mankind of the pious life (enarges . . . paradeigma)” (VC 1.3.4). The term enarges is immediately echoed in the next sentence when Eusebius states that God himself has guaranteed that Constantine is a paradigm for all “with clear support (enargesi psēphois)” (VC 1.4.1). [25] The term enarges (visible) refers in the first instance to the visibility and clarity of Constantine as an example, but it is hard not to attribute a wider meaning to it and see it as an allusion to the rhetorical mode that creates almost real images in the minds of the readers: Constantine is as good an image as one can get of the pious life. Indeed, it is striking that Eusebius repeatedly takes as a model for his own writing the art forms that chapter 1.3 seems to depreciate. [26] This again shows the recognition of the power of the visual and underscores that their depreciation in the first chapter of the preface was based on the contrast with divine images. Human images cannot render the divine perfectly, but that does not mean that images cannot be extremely powerful in the human realm.


The end of the Life therefore consciously concludes on a reminder of the numerous portraits of Constantine and his sons that were set up all over the empire, and in particular the consecration coins, depicting Constantine’s ascent to heaven (4.72–73). It recapitulates the major themes of the preface: the continued presence in absence of Constantine and the fact that the omnipresence of such signs indicates Constantine’s unique and enduring—and God-willed—success. So much is spelled out explicitly by Eusebius: God has “shown these things (tauth’) to us and our very eyes in the case of Constantine, who, alone among all his predecessors, clearly exhibited himself as a Christian” (4.74). Indeed, says Eusebius, the catastrophic death of persecuting emperors is sufficient and clear proof (enargē elenchon) of this. As we have seen, the term enargēs was also used in the preface to qualify Constantine as an example for all of us and its use here may be meant to recall in the reader’s mind the suggestion there that the Life is a clear proof of Constantine’s Christianity and his divinely supported success. Indeed, the initial tauta (“these things”) refer primarily to the preceding section that refers to the portraits and the coins. But, capable of extension to everything said in the Life, it is also an apt conclusion to the work, which is as much an inventory of the signs that demonstrate Constantine’s Christian success as a sign of this itself.

The contrast between Constantine and his idol-worshipping predecessors points to a third, and final, aspect of Eusebius’ attitude towards images. Any Judeo-Christian discussion of images is valued, in that only images that entertain a relationship with a true object are acceptable. If ordinary human images are deficient because an image is never identical to its archetype, idols are simply false as they depict non-existent beings. Throughout the Life, Eusebius defines paganism as idol worship and underlines, as he does in the final chapters we have just discussed, their ineffectiveness. [30] Christian signs, such as the labarum, are powerful because they are true: they point to the real God who supports those who march behind it. [31] Eusebius can be taken to suggest that the church provides the criteria for determining which images are true and which are not. As we have seen, Constantine’s vision of the cross leads to his conversion and the acceptance of the God who has disclosed himself to the emperor, but the vision is also crucially confirmed and explained by priests, who set out the true teachings of the Church to the emperor. [32] In Eusebius’ presentation, Constantine understands the crucial distinction between true and false images and Eusebius has him forbid the display of his portraits in pagan temples, “so that he would not be polluted, even in an image, by the error of what is forbidden” (VC 4.16). Constantine’s picture of himself trampling a dragon, explained by Eusebius as an allegory based on Isaiah 27.1, is, in turn, a “true representation in painting” (alēthōs entitheis mimēmata tēi skiagraphia, VC 3.3.3).

The Holy Sepulchre

For Eusebius, the world is full of images that have a powerful impact on mankind. Some of these are connected to the truth, that is, via a cascade of images to God. As images are man-made, they always represent that truth imperfectly, but at least they have a connection with the truth, in contrast with idols that are false and dangerous: representing nonexistent beings, they exploit the power of an image to delude its viewers. As I have shown, the various strands of Eusebius’ understanding of images recur repeatedly in the Life. In this final section, I wish to focus on one crucial passage in which they appear all interwoven: the discovery of the Holy Sepulchre.

Eusebius’ account of how the grave of Christ was found is based on the opposition between true and false images. In graphic language, he describes how the impious had sought to give over the sign of Christ’s immortality “to darkness and forgetfulness” (VC 3.26.1). Just as light shone over the grave when the angel turned the stone aside to liberate Jesus, so Constantine’s cleansing of the place does away with the darkness that had reigned over it. The pagans consciously erected a sanctuary of Aphrodite on the spot, but their dark designs were overcome by the divine light of Christ: Constantine ordered his people to do away with the idols, as well as all the earth that had been soiled by pagan sacrifice. The disposal of the idol led to the discovery of the grave, “the sign of the resurrection of the Savior.” In that way, “the most holy cave became a resembling image of the return to life of the Savior (homoian . . . eikona)” (VC 3.28). The substitution of idols by a true sign of Christ is highly significative, symbolizing the transition of the empire as a whole to Christianity. It is also the substitution of a false by a true image: the pleonastic expression “resembling image” emphasizes that in the holy Sepulchre we are faced with an image that connects us with the truth of God. That image now presents itself as a “clear” proof (enargē, VC 3.28) to those that visit the place, “testifying by facts louder than any voice to the resurrection of the Savior.” [36] The cave, as an image, is thus a strong proof for the truth of what is written in the Bible. The role of the cave as a true sign of Christ and of the truth of Christianity is enhanced by the fact that the discovery is presented, one can argue, as an epiphany. Eusebius twice emphasizes that Constantine’s desire to make the site of Christ’s burial known to all (prophanē, VC 3.25) happened under divine inspiration. [37] Indeed, it was not even Constantine’s intention to find the cave. The finding of the Holy Sepulchre is thus at once a highly symbolic and an eminently tangible fact: in its materiality and because it is the image of the resurrection, the cave is proof of the truth of Christianity. [38] This interweaving of the material and the spiritual is predicated on the importance Eusebius ascribed to true images, that is, those that entertain a relationship with the truth.


Averil Cameron has remarked that the use of images and signs in the Life of Constantine demands further study, as their omnipresence seemed paradoxical. [39] Indeed, Eusebius rejected the production of images of Christ in his letter to Constantia, a document that unsurprisingly resurfaced during the iconoclast controversy. Given its late first attestation and the apparent contrast in attitude with Eusebius’ extensive use of images elsewhere in his writings, its authenticity has been questioned. [40] Nevertheless, it is now generally accepted that the letter is a genuine piece by Eusebius. [41] Extensive discussion of this issue cannot be attempted here. Rather, I wish to argue that, even if the letter were authentic, the position it takes on images is not very different from the one I have detected in the Life of Constantine. In fact, the circumspect reflection on images we have recovered from the Life of Constantine squares rather well with the position found in the letter to Constantia. Indeed, it would be misleading to state that the letter rejects all kinds of images and that the Life embraces all of them. Even in the Life of Constantine, the use of images is limited on theological grounds in two ways. On the one hand, images are assigned to the human realm. As a consequence, they are imperfect and incapable of fully and truly reflecting the divine. [42] At best, they are imperfect approximations of higher truths. [43] This position is well illustrated by the idea we encountered in the preface that the human logos can ascend to heaven and view divine splendor but not express it. On the other hand, images are for Eusebius not fictions and only admissible on condition that they stand in a relation of truth to their model: if that condition is not fulfilled, as is the case with idols, false images are generated. This position is paralleled in Eusebius’ Praeparatio Evangelica where he attacks Porphyry’s On images, for stating that Zeus stands for the mind of the world. [44] The critique picks up the same two elements. It is impossible to depict accurately the divine mind of the world in a statue of Zeus, as it transcends our human capacity of understanding: “what likeness can a human body have to the mind of God?” Pagan statues hence have to be fictions and thus idols. [45] The letter to Constantia makes a similar point, but now in relation to images of Christ. Eusebius asks Constantia what kind of image she had in mind: “the true and unchangeable image which bears by nature the likeness of Christ, or rather the one which he took on for us when he clothed himself with the form of a servant?” [46] Eusebius rejects both: the first one is impossible since one cannot depict the divine with human craft; the second one is undesirable because of the elevated nature of the incarnated Christ: “that what is mortal has been swallowed by life.” Hence, it is impossible to produce an accurate image even of the human form of Christ. Moreover, even the incarnated Christ is God, and thus falls under the prohibition of images of God expressed in the Ten Commandments (Deut 5.8). [47] Christ’s incarnation is obviously a crux in Eusebius’ thought about images, as it is the point where the human and the divine meet. Ultimately, however, it is Eusebius’ emphasis on the divinity of Christ that rules out the possibility of representing him in a true fashion. Indeed, making a painting of Christ would reduce him to his human form and is hence highly undesirable.

Works Cited

Barnes, T.D. 1989. “Panegyric, History and Hagiography in Eusebius’ Life of Constantine.” In The Making of Orthodoxy. Essays in Honour of Henry Chadwick, ed. R. Williams, 94–123. Cambridge.

———. 1994. “The Two Drafts of Eusebius’ Vita Constantini.” In From Eusebius to Augustine. Aldershot.

———. 2010. “Notes on the Letter of Eusebius to Constantia (CPG 3503).” Studia Patristica 46:313–317.

Bleckmann, B. and H. Schneider. 2007. Eusebius von Caesarea. De Vita Constantini. Über das leben Konstantins. Fontes christiani 83. Turnhout.

Cameron, A. 1991. Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire. Berkeley.

———. 1997. “Eusebius’ Vita Constantini and the Construction of Constantine.” In Portraits. Biographical Representation in the Greek and Latin Literature of the Roman Empire, ed. M.J. Edwards and S. Swain, 145–174. Oxford.

———. 2000. “Form and Meaning. The Vita Constantini and the Vita Antonii.” In Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity, ed. P. Rousseau and T. Hägg, 72–88. Berkeley and Los Angeles.

Cameron, A. and S.G. Hall. 1999. Eusebius. Life of Constantine. Clarendon Ancient History Series. Oxford.

Dräger, P. 2007. Eusebius. De vita Constantini. Über das Leben des glückseligen Kaisers Konstantin. Oberhaid.

Elsner, J. 1998. Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph: The Art of the Roman Empire AD 100–450. Oxford History of Art. Oxford.

———. 2007. Roman Eyes: Visuality and Subjectivity in Art and Text. Princeton.

Francis, J. 2003. “Living Icons: Tracing a Motif in Verbal and Visual Representation from the Second to Fourth Centuries C.E.” In American Journal of Philology 124:575–600.

Gero, S. 1981. “The true image of Christ: Eusebius’ letter to Constantia reconsidered.” In Journal of Theological Studies 32:460–470.

Gwynn, D. M. 2007. “From Iconoclasm to Arianism: the Construction of Christian Tradition in the Iconoclast Controversy.” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 47:225–251.

Hollerich, M.J. 1989. “The Comparison of Moses and Constantine in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Life of Constantine.” Studia Patristica 10:80–85.

Johnson, A. 2004. “Ancestors as Icons: The Lives of Hebrew Saints in Eusebius’ Praeparatio Evangelica.” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 44:245–64.

Maraval, P. 2001. Eusèbe de Césarée. La théologie politique de l’Empire chrétien. Louanges de Constantin (Triakontaétérikos). Paris.

Morlet, S. 2006. “L’Ecriture, image des vertus: la transformation d’un thème philonien dans l’apologétique d’Eusèbe de Césarée.” Studia Patristica 42:187–192.

Murray, S.C. 1977. “Art and the Early Church.” Journal of Theological Studies 28:303–345.

O’Meara, D. 2003. Platonopolis: Platonic Political Philosophy in Late Antiquity. Oxford.

Rapp, C. 1998. “Imperial Ideology in the Making: Eusebius of Caesarea on Constantine as ‘Bishop.’” Journal of Theological Studies 49:685–695.

Ricoeur, P. 2000. L’histoire, la mémoire, l’oubli. Paris.

Schäferdiek, K. 1980. “Zu Verfasserschaft und Situation der epistula ad Constantiam de imagine Christi.” Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 91:177–186.

Schönborn, H. von. 1994. God’s Human Face. The Christ-Icon. San Francisco. (English translation of 1984. Die Christus-Ikone. Theologische Hinführung. Schaffhausen).

Sode, C. and P. Speck. 2004. “Ikonoklasmus vor der Zeit? Der Brief des Eusebius von Kaisareia an Kaiserin Konstantia.” Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 54:113–134.

Stockhausen, A. von. 2000. “Einige Anmerkungen zur Epistula ad Constantiam des  Euseb von Caesarea.” Die  ikonoklastische Synode von Hiereia 754, ed. T. Krannich, C. Schubert, C. Sode, 92–112. Tübingen.

Tantillo, I. 2003a. “Attributi solari della figura imperiale in Eusebio di Cesarea.” Mediterraneo Antico 6:41–59.

———. 2003b. “L’impero della luce: riflessioni su Costantino e il sole.” Mémoires et études de l’école française de Rome: Antiquité 115:985–1048.

Tartaglia, L. 2003. “La forma letteraria della Vita Constantini di Eusebio di Cesarea.” Forme letterarie nella produzione latina di IV–V secolo, ed. F.E. Consolino, 7–17. Rome.

Thümmel, H.G. 1984. “Eusebius’ Brief an Kaiserin Konstantia.” Klio 66:210–222.

Van Nuffelen, P. 2008. Review of Bleckmann and Schneider 2007, Bryn Mawr Classical Review (2008.02.14).

———. 2011. Rethinking the Gods. Philosophical Readings of Religion in the Post-Hellenistic Period. Cambridge.

Webb, R. 1997. “Mémoire et imagination: les limites de l’ ‘enargeia’ dans la théorie rhétorique grecque.” Dire l’évidence. Philosophie et rhétorique antiques, ed. C. Lévy and L. Pernot, 225–248. Paris and Montréal.

———. 2009. Ekphrasis, imagination and persuasion in ancient rhetorical theory and practice. Aldershot.

Williams, M.S. 2008. Authorised Lives in Early Christian Biography. Between Eusebius and Augustine. Cambridge.

Williams, R.L. 2007. “Eusebius on Porphyry’s ‘Polytheistic Error.’” Reading Religions in the Ancient World. Novum Testamentum Supplements 125, ed. D. E. Aune and R. D. Young, 273–288. Leiden.

Wilson, A. 1998. “Biographical Models. The Constantinian Period and Beyond.” In Constantine: History, Historiography and Legend, ed. S. Lieu et al., 107–135. London.

Winkelmann, F. 1962. “Zur Geschichte des Authentizitätsproblem der Vita Constantini.” Klio 42:187–243.


[ back ] 1. Cameron 1991:53.

[ back ] 2. Cameron 1991:61–64. A few more comments can be found in Cameron 1997:162.

[ back ] 3. Dräger 2007:380 (“der üblichen, Einzelstellen auf ‘historische Steinbrüche’ reduzierenden partikularistischen Betrachtungsweise eines letzlich ‘poetischen’ Textes.”).

[ back ] 4. This debate, which picks up the older one about the authenticity of the Life of Constantine (Winkelmann 1962), was spurred anew by Barnes 1989 and 1994. See Cameron and Hall 1999:27–34; Cameron 2000; Tartaglia 2003; Bleckmann and Schneider 2007:27–38; Dräger 2007:384–385.

[ back ] 5. Hollerich 1989; Wilson 1998; Rapp 1998; Cameron and Hall 1999:35–39; Williams 2008:25–57.

[ back ] 6. Cameron 2000.

[ back ] 7. Augustine, De diversis quaestionibus LXXXIII 74.

[ back ] 8. Translations are my own except when indicated as drawn from Cameron and Hall 1999. For some corrections to that translation, see Dräger 2007 and Van Nuffelen 2008.

[ back ] 9. VC 1.1.2: opse ō s, emblepseien, the ō rei; 1.1.3: sunorai; 1.2.1: hor ō menon, the ō menos.

[ back ] 10. Trans. Cameron and Hall 2008:68.

[ back ] 11. Cameron and Hall 1999.

[ back ] 12. For the Platonic idea of an image as an absent presence, see Ricoeur 2000.

[ back ] 13. Bleckmann and Schneider 2007:36.

[ back ] 14. For eik ō n I prefer “image” to “model,” as Cameron and Hall 1999:69 have it. See also VC 3.5.2, 4.74.

[ back ] 15. Dio Chrysostom, Oration 1.44–46 and 3.50; Plutarch, To an uneducated ruler 3–5. These and other texts are discussed in Van Nuffelen 2011 with further references.

[ back ] 16. O’Meara 2003:40–49.

[ back ] 17. See Maraval 2001.

[ back ] 18. Plutarch, Life of Alexander 1.2–3, Life of Pericles 1. Johnson 2004:255 plausibly suggests Plutarch as the direct model for Eusebius. Morlet 2006 points to parallels with Philo of Alexandria.

[ back ] 19. Plato, Theaetetus 191D, Timaeus 39E.

[ back ] 20. This topos is repeated often in the VC: 3.10.4, 3.15.2, 3.20.3, 3.30.1–2, 3.40, 3.64.3, 4.35.1–3.

[ back ] 21. Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 8.3.61: illud patet, hoc se quodam modo ostendit. Trans. Bailey.

[ back ] 22. Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 8.3.62: magna virtus res de quibus loquimur clare atque ut cerni videantur enuntiare.

[ back ] 23. Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 6.2.32: insequetur enargeia, quae a Cicerone inlustratio et evidentia nominatur, quae tam non dicere videtur quam ostendere. Webb 2009 shows that ecphraseis are just one form of enargeia.

[ back ] 24. Webb 1997:248. See also Webb 2009:105. “Enargeia is therefore more than a figure of speech, or a purely linguistic phenomenon. It is a quality of language that derives from something beyond words: the capacity to visualize a scene. And its effect also goes beyond words in that it sparks a corresponding image, with corresponding emotional associations, in the mind of the listener.”

[ back ] 25. See also VC 3.5.2, 3.15, where Constantine appears as an image of God.

[ back ] 26. See VC 1.10, 3.16, 4.7.2.

[ back ] 27. Life of Constantine 1.30–1, 3.2–3, 3.35–40, 4.7.2, 4.15, 4.69, 4.72–73. [ back ] See also 3.7.2 on the council of Nicea as “a replica of the apostolic assembly” (Trans. Cameron and Hall 1999:124).

[ back ] 28. VC 1.28–32. See also a later vision in 2.12.

[ back ] 29. See the references in note 26.

[ back ] 30. VC 2.16, 3.26, 3.48, 54, 58, 4.15, 4.72. Similarly, pagan predictions of the future are dismissed as false in 2.4.3.

[ back ] 31. VC 1.29, cf. 2.6–9, 2.16.

[ back ] 32. VC 1.32.

[ back ] 33. Tantillo 2003a: 48–54 and 2003b. A similar idea can be found in the Praise of Constantine 3.4.

[ back ] 34. VC 1.5, 2.16, 2.19, 1.8.4, 1.41.1, 3.10.3, 3.26.4, 4.22.2, 4.41.1, 4.58.

[ back ] 35. VC 4.64.

[ back ] 36. Cameron and Hall 1999:133.

[ back ] 37. VC 3.25, 3.26.6.

[ back ] 38. It used to be believed that Eusebius distanced himself from the material world and only attributed importance to the spiritual. Such positions are reviewed by Cameron and Hall 1999:275 and conclusively refuted by them.

[ back ] 39. Cameron 1991:64. The paradox is also noted by Johnson 2004:260–261.

[ back ] 40. Murray 1977; Schäferdiek 1980; Sode and Speck 2004.

[ back ] 41. Gero 1981; Thümmel 1984; Stockhausen 2000; Gwynn 2007:227n5 and 6. Barnes 2010 argues that the letter is genuine but retouched after Eusebius’ death.

[ back ] 42. VC 1.43, 47, 49, 58.4.

[ back ] 43. In a letter, Constantine states that one cannot speak worthily about divine mysteries (Life of Constantine 4.35.1).

[ back ] 44. PE 3.10.14–19

[ back ] 45. See Stockhausen 2000: 94–96; Williams 2007.

[ back ] 46. Eusebius, Letter to Constantia Frg. 7 (Stockhausen 2000:100). Trans. Schönborn 1994:59, slightly modified.

[ back ] 47. Eusebius, Letter to Constantia Frg. 8–12 (Stockhausen 2000:108–109)

[ back ] 48. In contrast with the classical biographical tradition, Eusebius states that his subject are Constantine’s actions (praxeis), and not his character (VC 1.11.1).

[ back ] 49. Elsner 1998 and 2007.

[ back ] 50. Francis 2003.