of Oriens (from the Taurus Mountains to Egypt) and Egypt respectively. By implication, the bishop of Constantinople had priority in the other Eastern dioceses that included Greece and almost all of Asia Minor. By taking the structure of the imperial administration as its guide, this council had promoted the prestige of the upstart bishops of Constantinople and limited the authority of the bishops of Alexandria and Antioch.15

The bishops of Alexandria were sore losers. In fact, shortly before the Council of Constantinople Bishop Peter of Alexandria had tried to install his own candidate as bishop at the capital. In the early fifth century, Theophilus of Alexandria would mobilise opposition to John Chrysostom of Constantinople both at the imperial court and among bishops in western Asia Minor. John was soon sent into exile. At the Council of Ephesus in 431, Cyril of Alexandria opposed Nestorius of Constantinople and his theology. Nestorius was soon sent into exile. At the Council of Ephesus in 449, Dioscorus of Alexandria connived at the deposition of Flavianus of Constantinople. The Council of Chalcedon finally deposed Dioscorus. Many sighed with relief at this demotion of Alexandria and its bishop. One wag suggested that a huge boulder be placed on Cyril's grave to prevent him and his meddling spawn from ever returning.16

Looming over all these cities was Rome. As a political centre Rome was in decline already by the reigns of Diocletian and Constantine. Its population was shrinking, its monuments were often in need of repair, and emperors rarely resided there, or even visited. Although the old capital had celebrated the millennium anniversary of its founding in 248 with vast games and shows, it hardly celebrated its next centennial in 348: 'to such an extent has concern for the city of Rome dwindled day by day', sighed one historian. If, as with Constantinople, its importance in the civil administration was to determine its ecclesiastical reputation, then Rome seemingly had a limited future.17

Instead, its significance in the ecclesiastical hierarchy was on the rise. The Council of Nicaea had in fact cited Rome as the model for the primacy of Alexandria in Egypt. Constantine set an example for subsequent emperors by founding churches and bestowing lavish gifts and endowments. With these extensive resources at their disposal the bishops of Rome had customarily asserted metropolitan rights over the provinces in southern Italy. In addition, they usurped a more universal primacy by presenting themselves as successors

15 New Rome: Council of Constantinople, canon 3.

16 Boulder: [Theodoret of Cyrrhus,] Epistula ad lohannem Antiochenum cum mortuus esset Cyrillus (ACO iv.i: 135-6).

17 Dwindling concern: Aurelius Victor, De Caesaribus 28.2.

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