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Eusebius' combative words reinforce the view that Christians seized the opportunity afforded by Constantine's conversion to carry out a long-cherished agenda to be the sole religion of the empire, aided and abetted by a compliant emperor whose one consistent aim was, in Norman Baynes' famous phrase, 'the triumph of Christianity and the union of the Roman state with the Christian Church'.38 Conversely, the absence of such an agenda from Agapetus' strictures would mean that by Justinian's time the continued existence of those religions was no longer an issue. Such a conclusion, unfortunately, does not correspond to what is known of the policies of those two emperors.

Shortly after the victory in 3i2 that traditionally prompted his change of faith, Constantine met in Milan with his Eastern colleague, Licinius, whose report to the governor of the province of Bithynia on the decisions reached at that conference has come to be known as the 'Edict of Milan'.39 In their meeting, the imperial colleagues sought to lay to rest a crisis that had been provoked by their predecessor Diocletian's decision to force Christians to conform to the practices of the traditional state religion. Christian resistance to this 'Great Persecution' had put the empire in turmoil for a good ten years, and Constantine and Licinius wished to make it clear that they would adhere to a different policy. Henceforward, Christians had a 'free and absolute permission' to worship their own deity, and immediate restitution would be made of property seized during the persecution, with the cost to be borne by the imperial fisc.

Because of such provisions, the document has usually been depicted as a charter of Christian liberty, which it certainly was. But its other provisions were much more sweeping. Repeatedly, the emperors assert that their intent was for all their subjects to be free 'to follow whatever religion each one wished'. With scrupulous neutrality, the emperors confine themselves to the most general terminology for deity, speaking only of a 'supreme Divinity' (summa divinitas) and exhibiting openness to diversity in such phrases as 'whatever divinity there is in the seat of heaven' (quicquid [est] divinitatis in sede caelesti) that stand in refreshing contrast to the dogmatism of their predecessors. Scholars are not in agreement on this point, but a case can be made that - with one exception to

38 N. H. Baynes, Constantine the Great and the Christian church, 83 n. 57.

39 Lactantius, De mort. pers. 48.2-12 reproduces the edict. It also survives in a Greek translation included by Eusebius, H.E. 8.17. Translations are from J. L. Creed, Lactantius. De mortibus persecutorum. Creed compares the two versions on p. 123. On the significance of this document, see H. Dorries, Constantine and religious liberty; F. Kolb, 'Der Bussakt von Mailand: Zum Verhaltnis von Staat und Kirche in der Spatantike'.

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