tells this as a conversion experience, although Eusebius claims that Constantine now had to inquire from clergy what the sign meant, and even which divinity his father had honoured.29
Maxentius and his army were driven into the river Tiber and drowned with their horses and armour, enabling an apt comparison with the chariots of Pharaoh.30 But the test of Constantine's religious conviction came only in the actions which followed. These included the meeting with Licinius in Milan and announcement of toleration, but Constantine had already decided to favour Christians by offering the same immunity from civic requirements that pagan priests enjoyed, a well-meaning act which immediately gave rise to trouble. In an empire in which Christians were a small minority,31 a full identification of the emperor with Christianity emerged only slowly, but from now on Constantine never deviated from this decision to support the church, even if it took time before even the emperor himself came to see its full implications. In 315 he celebrated the tenth anniversary of his accession in Rome without the usual sacrifices.32 Soon after becoming sole emperor in 324 he issued edicts regulating religious affairs: God, he said, had directed his own rise to power and given him victory, and the persecutors had met deserved ends; Christians who had suffered were to be reinstated and receive back confiscated property; even the imperial treasury was to be compelled to make restitution where it was due. Moreover, while no one was to be coerced, polytheists should recognise the error of their ways and cease to put their trust in oracles.33 As late as the 330s he allowed the erection of a temple for the imperial cult in Umbria, but only in a sanitised form.34 Yet the weight of tradition bore hard on him, and there were few unambiguous symbols of Christianity on his coins.35 Equally, the inauguration ceremonies for Constantinople in 324 and 330 seem to have incorporated elements of ancient Roman tradition, even though Eusebius claims that the new city named after the emperor was Christian through and through.36 The reality was more complex than Eusebius acknowledges: Constantine's 'New Rome' developed on the site of an older and non-Christian city, and it seems to have been planned as much as a seat of imperial power as a Christian capital. Yet later the emperor prepared a mausoleum for himself
31 Several recent estimates put the Christian population at 10 per cent ofthe total, but this may well be too high; see pt iv, ch. 16, above.
35 Bruun, 'Christian signs on the coins of Constantine'.
36 Euseb. V.C. 3.48; cf.Zos. Hist. 2.31, who claims that Constantine built new temples there.
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