Front Matter The First Settlers Escape from the Burning City The Clever Trick The Boards Are Eaten The Wolf and the Twins Romulus Builds Rome The Maidens Carried Off Union of Sabines and Romans Death of Romulus Strange Signs of the Romans The Quarrel with Alba The Horatii and Curiatii Tarquin and the Eagle The Roman Youths The King Outwitted The Murder of Tarquin The Ungrateful Children The Mysterious Books Tarquin's Poppies The Oracle of Delphi The Death of Lucretia The Stern Father A Roman Triumph A Roman Triumph (Cont.) Defense of the Bridge The Burnt Hand The Twin Gods The Wrongs of the Poor Fable of the Stomach The Story of Coriolanus The Farmer Hero The New Laws Death of Virginia Plans of a Traitor A School-Teacher Punished Invasion of the Gauls The Sacred Geese Two Heroes of Rome Disaster at Caudine Forks Pyrrhus and His Elephants The Elephants Routed Ancient Ships Regulus and the Snake Hannibal Crosses the Alps The Romans Defeated The Inventor Archimedes The Roman Conquests Destruction of Carthage Roman Amusements The Jewels of Cornelia Death of Tiberius Gracchus Caius Gracchus Jugurtha, King of Numidia The Barbarians The Social War The Flight of Marius The Proscription Lists Sertorius and His Doe Revolt of the Slaves Pompey's Conquests Conspiracy of Catiline Caesar's Conquests Crossing of the Rubicon Battle of Pharsalia The Death of Caesar The Second Triumvirate The Vision of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra The Poisonous Snake The Augustan Age Death of Augustus Varus Avenged Death of Germanicus Tiberius Smothered The Wild Caligula Wicked Wives of Claudius Nero's First Crimes Christians Persecuted Nero's Cruelty Two Short Reigns The Siege of Jerusalem The Buried Cities The Terrible Banquet The Emperor's Tablets The Good Trajan Trajan's Column The Great Wall Hadrian's Death Antoninus Pius The Model Pagan Another Cruel Emperor An Unnatural Son The Senate of Women The Gigantic Emperor Invasion of the Goths Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra A Prophecy Fulfulled First Christian Emperor Roman Empire Divided An Emperor's Penance Sieges of Rome End of the Western Empire

Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

The First Christian Emperor

The vow which Constantine had made was duly kept, to the great satisfaction of his mother Helena, who was a very devout Christian. Constantine ordered that the Christians should have full liberty to worship as they pleased; and after a time he himself was baptized. He also forbade that criminals should be put to death on a cross, as it had been sanctified by Christ; and he put an end to all gladiatorial shows.

Constantine at first shared the power with Licinius, but he and his colleague quarreled on matters of religion. They soon came to arms, and we are told that when they stood opposed to each other they loudly called upon their gods.

As Constantine won the victory, he declared that his God was the most worthy of honor; and he established the Christian Church so securely that nothing has ever been able to overthrow it since then. By his order, all the learned Christians came together at Nicæa to talk about their religion, and to find out exactly what people should believe and teach. Here they said that Arius, a religious teacher, had been preaching heresy; and they banished him and his followers to a remote part of the empire.

Constantine soon changed the seat of the government to Byzantium, which was rebuilt by his order, and received the name of Constantinople, or city of Constantine. Because he accomplished so much during his reign, this emperor has been surnamed the Great, although he was not a very good man.

During the latter part of his reign, there were sundry invasions of the barbarians; and Constantine, who was a brave warrior, is said to have driven them back and treated them with much cruelty. He died of ague at Nicomedia, leaving his empire to his three sons; and his remains were carried to Constantinople, so that he might rest in the city which bore his name.

Soon after the death of Constantine, who is known in Roman history as the first Christian emperor, his three sons began to quarrel among themselves. The result was a long series of civil wars, in which two of the brothers were killed, leaving the whole empire to the third—Constantius II.

The new emperor, needing help, gave his cousin Julian the title of Cæsar, and placed him in charge of Gaul. As Julian belonged to the family of Constantine, he was of course a Christian. He was a very clever youth, and had been sent to Athens to study philosophy.

While there, he learned to admire the Greek philosophers so much that he gave up Christianity, and became a pagan. On account of this change in religion, he is generally known by the surname of the Apostate. We are told, also, that he spent much time in studying magic and alchemy, a science which was supposed to teach people how to change all metals into gold.

Julian the Apostate gave up his studies with regret, to share the cares of government. While in Gaul, he learned to be an excellent general, and drove back the barbarians several times. He lived for a while in Lutetia, the present city of Paris, and here he built Roman baths whose ruins can still be seen.