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Headword: Kônstantinos
Adler number: kappa,2284
Translated headword: Constantine the Great, Constantine I
Vetting Status: high
This man was born out of obscure [stock][1] to the emperor Constantius, but he became notable[2] to his father through some notable habits of character. By some chance he decided to leave the place where he was staying and to set out to his father Constantius who was living abroad among the races that dwelt beyond the Alps and near Britain.[3] After his father had seen him in action,[4] he appointed him as [his successor as] emperor and disregarded his children by Theodora because he saw that Constantine was healthy in body. It was 362 years after the rule of Augustus Caesar, when Constantine established "New Rome."[5]
Greek Original:
Kônstantinos ho megas: houtos ex aphanôn tiktetai tôi basilei Kônstantiôi, gnôristheis de tôi patri kata tinas gnôrimous tropous: hos kata tina tuchên egnô tous topous katalipein, en hois dietriben, exormêsai de pros ton patera Kônstantion, en tois huper tas Alpeis ethnesin onta kai Brettaniai sunechesteron endêmounta. theasamenos de auton ho patêr cheirotonei basilea tous ek tês Theodôras huieis katalipôn, idôn auton eu echonta sômatos. duo de kai x# kai t# apo tês Augoustou Kaisaros monarchias dielêluthotôn eniautôn, Kônstantinos tên nean Rhômên anistêsi.
Constantine I, the Great (again kappa 2285); ruled 306-337 CE. For bibliography and discussion of his reign see Hans A. Pohlsander's DIR article at web address 1, the Catholic Encyclopedia article at web address 2, and the Wikipedia article at web address 3.
[1] Constantine's mother was a woman named Helena, of obscure social standing; there is reason to think that she was Constantius' concubine. At any rate Constantius put her aside in order to marry Theodora, daughter of Maximian, as part of the arrangement of the Tetrarchy.
[2] The Greek gnwrisqei/s ("became notable" or "became known") is rhetorically echoed in the adjective gnwri/mous ("notable") later in this clause. Since this entry involves the change in Constantine's status from second-class or bastard child into primary heir, the wordplay here may be based on an almost technical sense of the adjective gnw/rimos, which sometimes like Latin nobilis has a socially marked meaning; LSJ (s.v. gnw/rimos II) translates oi( gnw/rimoi as "the notables or wealthy class" in this sense. If this is the case, we might translate: "Then he was recognized as noble by his father on account of some noble habits of character."
[3] Constantius spent several years dealing with affairs in Gaul and Germany before moving to Britain (see Michael DiMaio's DIR entry at web address 4). Constantine, after serving with distinction under Galerius in order to ensure his father's good conduct, managed to return to Constantius' side in Britain and serve under him until his death at York on July 25, 306.
[4] Although there is nothing corresponding to "in action" in the Greek, the participle qeasa/menos (here translated "when...had seen") indicates that Constantius was an observer or spectator of Constantine; in fact, the verb qea/omai can be used of watching a play or other performance (LSJ s.v. A.3).
[5] "New Rome" is Constantinople, inaugurated on May 11, 330. The 362 years here are apparently the span of time between the battle of Actium (31 BCE), which is often considered the beginning of Augustus' principate, and the founding of Constantinople.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3,
Web address 4
Keywords: biography; children; chronology; ethics; geography; historiography; history; politics; women
Translated by: Abram Ring on 25 April 2006@11:10:32.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (added x-ref and more keywords; cosmetics) on 26 April 2006@03:13:58.
David Whitehead (tweaking) on 15 March 2013@07:51:38.
Aaron Baker (Changed translation of e)/gnw from "knew" to "decided.") on 14 July 2014@13:53:26.
Aaron Baker (Changed "physically well endowed" to "healthy in body.") on 28 July 2014@22:57:56.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 29 July 2014@09:06:57.
Catharine Roth (re-ordered links, other cosmetics) on 28 November 2014@23:49:32.


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