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Chapter XXV.—Prohibition of Sacrifices, of Mystic Rites, Combats of Gladiators, also the Licentious Worship of the Nile.

Consistently with this zeal he issued successive laws and ordinances, forbidding any to offer sacrifice to idols, to consult diviners, to erect images, or to pollute the cities with the sanguinary combats of gladiators. 3325 And inasmuch as the Egyptians, especially those of Alexandria, had been accustomed to honor their river through a priesthood composed of effeminate men, a further law was passed commanding the extermination of the whole class as vicious, that no one might thenceforward be found tainted with the like impurity. And whereas the superstitious inhabitants apprehended that the river would in consequence withhold its customary flood, God himself showed his approval of the emperor’s law by ordering all things in a manner quite contrary to their expectation. For those who had defiled the cities by their vicious conduct were indeed seen no more; but the river, as if the country through which it flowed had been purified to receive it, rose higher than ever before, and completely overflowed the country with its fertilizing streams: thus effectually admonishing the deluded people to turn from impure men, and ascribe their prosperity to him alone who is the Giver of all good.



The most accessible reference for getting a glimpse of the legislation of Constantine in these and similar regards is the section, The alteration in general and penal legislation in Wordsworth’s Constantinus I., in Smith and Wace, Dict. 1 (1877). This section is on p. 636–7. Compare also the laws themselves as gathered in Migne, Patrol. lat. vol. 8. Compare also Prolegomena for general statement of the value of his legislation and his reputation as legislator.

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