Constantine the Great: The Man and His Times

Michael Grant, Author Scribner Book Company $27.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-19520-9
Constantine I founded Constantinople on the site of Byzantium and converted the Roman Empire to Christianity, yet this first Christian emperor ``would hardly be recognized as Christian at all today,'' asserts renowned classicist Grant in a compelling reassessment. A ruthless despot who strove to be a world-conqueror like Alexander the Great, Constantine (280?-337) murdered his second wife and his son, assassinated friends and advisers and extended the death penalty to minor crimes. While cultivating a reputation for almsgiving, the emperor crushed common people with oppressive taxes to finance his reckless wars, extravagant pomp and vast, corrupt bureaucracy. The Christian God whom Constantine revered was a god of power who presumably enabled him to destroy foes, and as Grant makes clear, the emperor's belief that he was constantly in touch with God made him difficult and dangerous. Illustrated. History Book Club main selection. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
Genre: Nonfiction
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