The Emperor Constantine


Posted by parhad on July 12, 2001 at 14:43:13:


This man is one of my all time favorite characters. Besides being what he had to be to wrest control of the Roman Empire...starting a fresh outlet in Byzantium which gave another lease on life to the Old Empire...he very astutely adopted and adapted Christianity, putting it to work as the moral underpinning for an exhausted state religion...making it the "new and improved" state religion with himself still at the in the old days of the Roman Emperor/Pontifex Maximus.


His mother, Helena, earned sainthood by finding the True cross, nails and thorny crown AND the graves and bodies of the Three Kings in Judea. Had there been much else worth finding, I'm sure she would have stumbled upon it. For this and various charities, some would say ploys, she was made a saint, something her son could not achieve without doing damage to the whole idea of "saintiliness" as he killed a few wives and a son or so himslef.


But Constantine certainly was the single reason Christianity survived at all. It's interesting to review the defining moment for this Emperor...the moment when the skies parted and he "saw" Christ. It came about as he was preparing to meet a larger force in a crucial battle which would determine his own fate and that of the new empire he hoped to found. It happened at the battle at Milvan Bridge that Constantine had an apparition the night before...he saw Christ in the clouds carrying the banner which the Pope still flaunts, I believe. This banner carried the entwined initials of JC with the word "Sotor", Greek for Savior. In addition were the words "Conquer in His name".


Well wouldn't you know it...Constantine had his soldiers write these words on their long-johns and the net result was that they butchered thousands of sons, fathers and husbands...creating more thousands of widows and orphans who'd harmed no one. And they went on to spread this "Good News" to various other lands, ruling with the same iron fist and debauched pricks they'd been doing business with at the old stand.


Now why, one may wish to ask, would Jesus be involved in this kind of fable at all? Why wouldn't one expect to see this apparition when struggling to teach a class of unruly Roman kids algebra? Why would Jesus bless a slaughter? Why would the "Prince of Peace" lend his hard won status as one who scorns worldly things for those of the spirit...come to the rescue of a cruel and debauched old warrior/murderer as a Roman Emperor. Some might say it just proves how forgiving Christ could be, after all it was another Emperor who put him to by helping this one, Jesus was merely proving his point. But what of all those thousands, and the thousands more, who would be killed by this victorious Warrior who got this important "boost" at Milvan bridge? Whose side is Jesus supposed to be on? Moreover, why doesn't the church acknowledge the bizarre nature of this "vision"...making Christ into a partizan of Rome?


Constantine's coup in recruiting Christianity to cheer on his flagging empire really deserves some recognition, but sainthood is hardly enough. It was on the roads built by the Empire for its conquering armies that Christianty reached out to what was essentially the people suffering the domination of that same Empire, the one that first robbed and raped them, then came offering salvation, at a price of course. Not much has changed.


Only those people ground under the Roma heel and subjected to Roman domination could be expected to heed the call of this Roman Christianity for it had the stamp of approval of the very people who had frist brought Roman misery into their lives. People "liked" to believe that Rome had "learned a lesson", that Christ had tempered, or better yet "besten", soothed their pains and wounds to belive that the lowly figure of Christ had "won out", for maybe it meant they too might harbor such hopes.


Of course no such thing was the ultimate triumph for Rome that she changed "armies" and tactics...sending out a handful of priests, where whole legions had been needed before. And these "legions" of priests and missionaries came at the task in an entirely new way. They did not stride into villages and proclaim them forfeit to the Emperor, demanding their moveable wealth and conscripting their young into Roman least not directly.


In the end though, that's exactly what they achieved. Rome still got the gold, it's armies were still made up of a variety of conquered peoples who now had the "glory of god" on their side, as well as plunder and rape...that WAS an improvement for now all this mayhem was committed in the name of, and dedicated, to the "greater glory of our lord".


It was the Germans who finally put an end, militarily, to the Western Roman Empire centered in Rome and Italy. They'd had enough of Roman tribute and meddling.  Oddly enough it was the Germans again 1000 years later, led by Martin Luther, who mounted another attack, this time a religious one, but whose motives and outcome reflect the age old war between the those two foes...the "cold" northerner verses the "hot" Southerner.


The battle lines were drawn ostensibly over Church abuses, indulgences, simony and the like. But it had that old flavor to it, that same hostility...the old resentment that, although the Roman Empire had been strangled finally, it had sprung back revitalized by Christianity, so that it was STILL siphoning off gold (Peter's pence) and lands and monastaries...all tax exempt,,,all revenues flowing once again to Rome.


Martin Luther would have gotten Christ wouldn't have, without the political and military backing of some very "un-Christian" princes and lords...people jealous of their own power base and resentful at the outflow of cash from their own coffers to those of the Pope at Rome.


The battlelines were drawn again, and again the Germans "won". The Protestant reformation split the Church and lost much wealth and prestige for the Pope and his followers. That the "north" finally won, can be seen in the line-up for the Second World War. By then, German, Protestant, sensibility became dominant, while Italian Catholicism and bogus Facist propaganda about a rebirth of the Old Roman virtues crumbled and had to be rescued as Mussolini was by Hitler late in the war.


You've got to hand it to Constantine...more than Peter or Christ, he made Christianity what it became by shrewdly enlisting the doctrine of meekness and heavenly rewards, in proportion to sufferings endured without complaint..and putting it to work for the Roman Empire. It is in those lands, where the Emperors held sway for centuries, that this "kick-ass' version of Christianity has been dominant. it straight from the slaughtered lambs own mouth...we got the "get-kicked" version, the one Constantine tried to suppress for he knew it led to nowhere BUT the cross.


It should be comforting to know that we have indeed followed in the footsteps of Jesus...may the Jews be thanked for doing to us what few people were able to do...destroy us by getting us to turn our swords into our own bowels and the hearts of our children. Their victory is almost complete...think "sanctions" and the slow strangulation and out and out robbery of what remains of us in this world.


As lowly Christians, we are indeed "saved" and 'safe" here in the West. As Assyrians, however, we are just about gone.