Page 0975

975 ROMECONSTANTINE AND HIS SUCCESSORS.

Maximus; and when the triumphal arch was reared

commemorative of his victory, he was careful

to place thereon the statues of the old gods as

well as the emblems of the new faith.

After the alliance of Constantine and Licinius had been strengthened by a second

marriage, which made each of the two Augusti both the father-in-law and son-in-law of

the other, they attempted in vain to gain the

countenance of the aged Diocletian, still living

at Salona. Soon afterwards, in A. D. 313,

Licinius conducted a campaign against Maximian, whom he defeated in three battles, and

drove to suicide. The edict in favor of Christianity was posted on the walls of Nicomedia,

and the anti-pagan party throughout all Asia

Minor went over to the support of the Emperors of the West.

The wary and watchful Constantine was

touched with jealousy at the successes of Licinius. Affecting to believe that the latter

was fomenting a treasonable conspiracy against

himself, he came down out of Gaul with a select division of troops, and attempted to capture Licinius by a coup de main. When this

failed the two friends again pledged their

faith, which, strange to say, remained unbroken for the space of nine years.

To this epoch belong the great activities

of Constantine. He was indefatigable in promoting what he deemed to be the reforms demanded by the times. The bottom questions

which he had to confront were essentially religious. His great principle of action looked

to the union in one body of the Christian and

the pagan populations of the Empire.. In this

work he was soon confronted by what seemed

to be insuperable obstacles. Not only did the

Christians refuse to tolerate the doctrines of

paganism, but they themselves divided, into

sects and refused to be reconciled. The bishops who headed the various parties in the new

religion appealed to Constantine to settle their

disputes. The latter, in A. D. 314, convened

a council at Rome, and afterwards at Arles,

to which bodies were referred the conflicting

doctrines and disputed discipline of the church.

A decision was rendered against the sect of

the Donatists, and they, having refused to accept the judgment which had been rendered,

were visited with the arm of secular power.

A persecution broke out, in which one body

of the Christians became the persecutors of

the other. The bloody bitterness of paganism

was paralleled by the intolerance born of fanaticism among the believers.

In matters of legislation, the reign of Constantine appears to a better advantage. So

many constitutional reforms were enacted as to

constitute an epoch in the history of Roman jurisprudence. At the same time the reformatory

movement was carried out in the army. This

dangerous and hitherto all-powerful body was

once more brought into subordination to civil

authority. The military forces of the Empire

were broken up into small divisions. The

legion was reduced to fifteen hundred men.

Slaves were accepted as recruits; and the

policy was adopted of officering the regiments

as far as practicable with barbarian commandersthis for the double purpose of securing

valor and discouraging political ambition in

the army.

As yet there was little appearance of any

definite religious convictions on the part of

Constantine. The legislation of the Emperor

shows in some of its parts the impress of the

Christian doctrine. In the year 321 a statute

was enacted forbidding ail secular employment

and civil procedures on Sunday, and to this

law was appended the notable exception that

the manumission of .a slave should be held

valid though performed on the first day of the

week. 'On that day, moreover, soldiers were

:permitted to leave the ranks to join the body

of worshipers. All these concessions, however,

to the principles and practices of Christianity

were granted by the Emperor rather with a

view to securing the religious solidarity of the

Empire than from any positive preference on

his part for the doctrines of the new faith.

Meanwhile Licinius in the East looked with

alarm and jealousy on the proceedings of his

colleague. Himself more of a pagan than a

Christian, and disliking the whole tendency

of consolidation which Constantine had so diligently fostered, he sought to undo the political and religious fabric which his colleague

was rearing around himself in the West. War

broke out between the rival Emperors in A. D.