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Event Details

Constantine and God: An Imperial Agent for the Christian Divinity

Dr. Charles Odahl

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

From his Christian conversion under the influence of revelatory experiences outside Rome in AD 312 until his Christian burial as the 'equal of the Apostles' at Constantinople in 337, Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor of the Roman world, initiated the role of and set the model for Christian imperial theocracy.   Through his relationship with the Christian Divinity, his study of Christian literature with leading Catholic intellectuals, and his assessments of divine interventions in imperial history, the emperor came to feel that he had been placed in power by the Almighty God of Christianity, that he had been chosen as a special servant of that Deity, and that he had been entrusted with a mission to protect the Catholic Church in the empire and to propagate the Christian faith throughout the world.   This presentation surveys the reign of the first Christian emperor and examines how he developed the role of the Christian imperial theocrat in his public pronouncements and imperial actions, how Lactantius in the west and Eusebius in the east codified that role in their writings to and about Constantine, and how he served as a model Christian ruler for Byzantine emperors in the Greek east and for European kings in the Latin west over the next millennium.    Geographic sites, monuments, coins, and art from and about the Constantinian period will be used throughout to illustrate the history and concepts in the presentation.


Charles Matson Odahl earned BA and MA degrees in History and Classical Languages from the California State University system, and a Ph. D degree in Greek, Roman and Medieval History from the University of California, San Diego.    He served as Professor of Ancient & Medieval History and Classical & Patristic Latin at Boise State University in Idaho for over thirty years; and has also taught Ancient Roman History at the University of Avignon in France, at Bath College of Higher Education in Britain, and at Oregon State University in Oregon.    His main research interests are Cicero and the late Roman Republic, early Christianity, and Constantine and the early Byzantine Empire.    He has traveled, lived, studies, and taught across Europe and around the Mediterranean Basin, and examined all of the historical sites and artifacts and monuments of the Ciceronian and Constantinian Eras.    He has published nearly fifty articles and reviews in scholarly journals, and books on Early Christian Latin Literature (Chicago: Ares, 1993); Cicero and the Catilinarin Conspiracy (New York & London:  Routledge, 2010 Hb & 2011 Pb),  and his magnum opus on Constantine and the Christian Empire (London & New York: Routledge, 1st ed. 2004 Hb & 2006 Pb; 2nd ed. 2010 Hb & 2012 Pb) – the latter is one of the best sellers in its field, and is also available as an e-book, and in Romanian and Serbian translations.


Milam Auditorium (campus map)
Robert Peckyno
robert.peckyno at oregonstate.edu
School of History, Philosophy, and Religion
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