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More recent revisions include John Carroll's view of him as the intellectual ancestor of the Holocaust (Constantine's Sword) and Dan Brown's presentation of him as the man who oversaw the reshaping of Christian history (The Da Vinci Code). In Constantine the Emperor, David Potter confronts each of these skewed and partial accounts to provide the most comprehensive, authoritative, and readable account of Constantine's extraordinary life.
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By Darwin8u on 06-11-18
In this sign thou shalt conquer!
"As with every modern version of Constantine, the urge to draw reductive conclusions is a strong one, and the religious question in a world where religious affiliation is a strong one, and the religious question in a world where religious affiliation is still for so many a crucial aspect of their identity makes this both a reasonable and perhaps inevitable choice."
- David Potter, Constantine the Emperor
A nice survey of Constantine's life, utilizing primarily first hand documents to separate the man from the myth. Porter's biography of Constantine essentially paints Constantine as a pragmatic emperor and religious leader. Where he felt he could change things through battle, he would (and did). Where he felt like he could strengthen the empire through compromise and moderation he would (and did). His conversion to Christianity allowed him to weave parts of the empire together, and unify them under a divine "Mens Divina". He used Christianity as much as Christianity "used" him. Both were legitimized and strengthened by the other. That doesn't mean he wasn't a true believer, but mostly that his conversion (as told by Christian historians) might not have been as immediate. Perhaps, it was line upon line as Constantine became more confident in his new God.
It really is hard to imagine what place Christianity would hold globally without Constantine, or what exactly it would look like. Probably after Christ and Paul, Constantine might be considered the most influential Christian. He unified (mostly) the Church, gave it a safe place to grow, and sheltered it under the Aegis of the Roman empire. Potter does a good job of pointing out the complexities of Constantine and the limits of what we actually DO know about this influential ruler, Christian, and man.
That said, the biography sometimes gets lost in the weeds. I could have probably done without as much detailed exposition on details such as the Arch of Constantine. Sometimes, these expansions throw the reader off the narrative thread a bit. For the most part, however, it was a good biography. I walked away with a more complex and complicated idea of not just Constantine, but his father (Constantius), Diocletian, Galerius, and Maximian.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Nick on 05-16-16
Really dull, avoid
I love history and I've powered through many a dry narrative over the last few decades. However, 'Constantine' takes the cake. The only way the book could have been made worse was with a terribly dry narrator. And that's just what this audiobook has, alas. Avoid.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful