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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The empire from Constantine the Great to Justinian

Constantius (337-361)


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In spite of the harsh measures directed against paganism, it not only continued to exist side by side with Christianity, but at times it even found some protection from the government. Thus Constantius did not disperse the vestals and priests in Rome, and in one of his edicts he even ordered the election of a priest (sacerdos) for Africa. Until the end of his life Constantius bore the title of Pontifex Maximus. On the whole, however, paganism experienced a number of setbacks during his reign, while Christianity in its Arian interpretation advanced. St. Athanasius the Great

The persistent Arian policy of Constantius led to serious friction between him and the Nicaeans. Particularly persistent was he in his struggle with the famous leader of the Nicaeans, Athanasius of Alexandria. Constantius died in 361, and neither the Nicaeans nor the pagans could sincerely mourn the death of their emperor.

The pagans rejoiced because the throne was to be occupied by Julian, an open adherent of paganism. The feelings of the Christian party in the matter of Constantius death was expressed in the words of St. Jerome: Our Lord awakes, he commands the tempest; the beast dies and tranquillity is restored. Constantius died during the Persian campaign in Cilicia, but his body was transported to Constantinople. His pompous funeral took place in the presence of the new Emperor Julian in the Church of the Apostles, supposedly erected by Constantine the Great. The Senate enrolled the deceased emperor among the gods

Cf. Ancient Greece and Christianity (text in Greek only) ||| Byzantium : heir to the Graeco-roman antiquity 

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