Key to Umbria

Divus Constantius (306-10 AD)


                 Constantine for DIVO CONSTANTIO AUG:        Constantine for DIVO CONSTANTIO PIO:

                                         CONSECRATIO                                                       MEMORIA FELIX

                                        RIC VI Lyon 202                                                       RIC VI Trier 789

As set out in my page on the Accession of Constantine (306 AD), Constantine unilaterally deified his father, divus Constantius immediately after his death in July 306 AD, in order to:

  1. demonstrate his filial piety to Constantius’ army (upon which he now depended); and

  2. legitimise his status as Constantius’ successor, in the face of the opposition of Galerius (who now became the senior Augustus).

The coins that Constantine issued for divus Constantius at this time (two of which are illustrated aboveare described in the page on Consecrated Tetrarchs (306-11 AD).



RIC VI Ticinum 97 (ca. 307 AD)

The site of Constantius’ burial is unknownConstantius is unknown.  Given the Tetrarchic precedents, it seems likely that he had built a mausoleum near one of his residences, presumably that at Trier, albeit that no record of it survives.  If so, Constantine would surely have placed his father’s remains in this mausoleum.  The coin above, which was minted by Maxentius at a time when he and his father, Maximian, were in alliance with Constantine, that might support this hypothesis, as discussed in my page on Consecrated Tetrarchs: Mausoleum Coins.



RIC VI Lyon 269: Sear 16428

The reverse designs of two of Constantines MEMORIA FELIX coins for divus Constantius (which were both minted at Lyon) depictan eagle standing in a temple.  David Sear (referenced below) cataloged them as:

  1. 16427 (not catalogued in RIC), in which the temple had only two columns; and

  2. 16428 (RIC VI Lugdunum 269, illustrated above), which depicted a tetrastyle temple.

These hark back to the coin (RIC III Antoninus Pius 343) that  Antoninus Pius had minted for his wife, Faustina, which had a very similar design that represented the six-columned  temple identified as “AED DIV FAVSTINAE” (later the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina in the Forum Romanum).  However, in this earlier case, the clearly-identified temple contained a cult statue of the seated Faustina.  It is possible that the temples in the divus Constantius coins similarly represented one or more actual cult sites.  However, the presence of the standing eagle possibly suggests a more generic interpretation, with:

  1. the temples symbolising the earthly cult of divus Constantius; and

  2. the eagle symbolising his apotheosis.

Victory at the Milvian Bridge (312 AD)


After his victory over Maxentius in 312 AD, Constantine quickly made use of his newly-acquired mint at Rome to mint for himself and his colleagues, Maximinus and Licinius.  These early Roman coins also included reverse legends for deities that had presumably helped him to victory:

  1. Jove (RIC VI Rome 282);

  2. Mars (RIC VI Rome: 283 and 305-11);

  3. Victoria (RIC VI Rome 285-6) one of which include the coin illustrated above, and RIC VI Rome 353-4);

  4. Hercules (RIC VI 298-300);

  5. Roma, on coins with reverse legends that proclaimed him as liberator or restorer of his city (RIC VI 303-4 and 312); and

  6. Sol Invictus (RIC VI 313-44), who was represented on the great majority of these issues, seconded into Constantine’s court as a comes.  

An inscription(CIL VI 31564; EDR 121962) found in Via Nazionale in Rome in 1881 has Constantine defined in terms of his divine ancestry.  It records his renovation of the ‘Aqua Virgo’, one of the most important of the city’s aqueducts.  Specifically, Constantine had financed the restoration of the ruined aqueduct, which had been executed by the curator Centullus Valerianus and which had returned the structure to the use of the Roman people.  This inscription described Constantine as:

Imperat[o]r Caesar/ Fl(avius) Constanti[n]us Maximus

Pius Felix In[v]ictus Aug(ustus)

filius divi C[o]nstanti; nepos/ divi Cl[a]udi ...

Although this inscription cannot be securely dated, it can reasonably be assumed that the project formed part of Constantine’s programme of public works  soon after his victory over Maxentius in 312 AD.

Rome’s “Shrine and Basilica” (312 AD)

Aurelius Victor reported that, in the aftermath of Constantine’s victory at the Milvian Bridge:

  1. “[The Senate dedicated all] the monuments that [Maxentius] had built in a magnificent manner - the urbis fanum atque basilicam (city’s shrine and basilica) - to Flavius [Constantine] ...” (De Caesaribus40:26).

The identities of these two related structures (the city’s shrine and basilica) are not entirely clear, as discussed below.

Urbis Fanum

As discussed in my page on Maxentius' Rotunda on the Sacra Via, Luigi Canina (referenced below), who was writing in 1848, suggested that this rotunda met Aurelius Victor’s description of the urbis fanum:
  1. it could have functioned as a shrine or temple;

  2. Maxentius had probably built it (and arguably in a magnificent manner”); and

  3. an inscription indicated that someone, quite possibly the Senate, had subsequently dedicated it to Constantine.  

The inscription in question is known from a drawing (16th century) by the artist Pirro Ligorio of part of the rotunda’s façade that was annotated with a transcription of it (presumably because it had been found nearby).  Although Ligorio’s ‘completion’ of it had been subsequently called into question, an apparently more authentic version, which accompanied a similar drawing by his colleague Onofrio Panvinio, had been accepted into the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (as CIL VI 1147):

.... Constantin[o // ] maximo [...]me....

Pierre Dufraigne (referenced below) was of this opinion: in his translation of De Caesaribus’ into French, he identified the urbis fanum (in note 36) as follows:

  1. “...the ‘temple of Romulus’, built by Maxentius for his son ... later dedicated to Constantine.” (my translation).

Modern scholars generally prefer to identify Aurelius Victor’s urbis fanum as the Temple of Venus and Roma, which Maxentius had effectively rebuilt in 307 AD.  Thus, for example, Gregor Kalas (referenced below, at p73:

  1. “Aurelius Victor specifically identified the ‘temple of the city’ (urbis fanum) as one of the structures that the senate rededicated to Constantine after his triumph.”

Elisha Ann Dumser  (referenced below, table at p 197) included the ‘urbis fanum’ of Aurelius Victor in her list of early names given to this temple.  It is certainly true that other surviving sources in her list refer to it as the ‘urbis templum’, ‘templum urbis’, ‘urbis Venerisqu templa’ or ‘templum urbis Romae’.  However, none of the other sources in this comprehensive table designated this temple as a ‘fanum (shrine)’.  In my view:

  1. I do not think that Aurelius Victor would have applied the term ‘fanum’ to a temple as large as that of Venus and Roma; and

  2. I cannot imagine what would have been meant by the dedication to Constantine of a temple already dedicated to Venus and Roma.

As Elizabeth Marlowe (referenced below, at pp. 213-4) argued in relation to the inscription above:

  1. “Such an inscription, if genuine, would thus have given a clear ideological charge to Constantine’s architectural appropriation of this Maxentian monument.”

I disagree with her deduction that Constantine had rebuilt the façade of the rotunda, but I very much agree with here that the inscription (if genuine) commemorated Constantine’s appropriation of the building.  It thus seems to me thatthe ‘urbis fanum’ of Aurelius Victor more probably referred to Maxentius’ rotunda.

Aurelius Victor’s Basilica

There is a very good case for the hypothesis that Aurelius Victor’s basilica might be identified as the huge basilica to the right of Maxentius’ rotunda in the Via Sacra:
  1. Maxentius certainly built it in a magnificent manner; and

  2. it was often known subsequently as the ‘basilica Constantiana’ (see, for example Elisha Ann Dumser, referenced below, table at p. 66). 

However, if this is accepted, we have to wonder why Maxentius’ rotunda was also rededicated to Constantine (as I argued above that it was): as discussed in my page on Maxentius' Rotunda on the Sacra Via, the architectural function of this rotunda was simply to form a (very impressive) vestibule to the apsed hall behind it (which had originally formed part of Vespasian’s Templum Pacis complex).  It seems to me that, if Aurelius Victor’s ‘urbis fanum’ was  Maxentius’ rotunda, then Aurelius Victor’s ‘urbis fanum atque basilicam’ was  Maxentius’ rotunda complex (as shown digramatically above.)

New Function of the Complex


Rotunda Complex

                 Original  flat facade (my suggestion)                            Final concave facade


                                  IMP MAXENTIUS,                                                       DIVO  MAXIMIANO,   

                         DIVO MAXIMIANO PATRI/                                   PATRI MAXENTIUS AUGUSTUS/

              AETERNAE MEMORIAE  (hexastyle reverse)           AETERNAE MEMORIAE (tetrastyle reverse)  

                                    RIC VI Rome 251                                                             RIC VI Rome 244       

I argued in my page on Maxentius' Rotunda on the Sacra Via that, after the death of Galerius (in April/May of 311 AD) the apsed space behind the rotunda was called into service for the veneration of Maxentius’  deified relations, and that it was represented (in its two successive architectural forms) on Maxentius’ important series of consecration coins.  These commemorated:

  1. divus Maximianus, his father;

  2. divus Galerius, his father-in-law;

  3. divus Constantius, his brother by adoption; and

  4. divus Romulus, his son.

It was probably the fact that Maxentius had consecrated Maximian after he had betrayed Constantine and paid for this with his life that had prompted Constantine to retaliate to the insult by damning Maximian’s memory.

Constantine could hardly have ignored the existence of this complex.  However, he could hardly demolish it, since his father was venerated here.  I think that its dedication was changed not to Constantine alone but to his gens Flavia.  This hypothesis is supported by the fact that we know of a pontifex flavialis, L. Aradius Valerius Proculus, who, as discussed below, probably held this priesthood in Rome.  One might imagine that the cult statue here of divus Constantius remained while the others were disposed of, and that it was possibly joined by a similar cult statue of divus Claudius II.

Statue of Constantine (314 -5 AD)

Caius Ceionius Rufius Volusianus, who was Constantine’s Urban Prefect in 313-5 AD and Consul of 314 AD erected a statue of Constantine in the Forum of Trajan. .  Both the statue and its base are now lost, but a transcription of its inscription (CIL VI 1707, LSA-837)  survives.  The LSA database translates it as follows:

  1. To our lord, restorer of the human race, extender of the Roman empire and dominion, founder of eternal security, Flavius Valerius Constantinus, fortunate, greatest, pious, forever Augustus, son of the deified Constantius forever and everywhere venerable. Caius Ceionius Rufius Volusianus, of clarissimus rank, consul, urban prefect, judge in place of the emperor, dedicated to his divine spirit and majesty.

This statue was surely erected ahead of Constantine’e arrival in Rome in July 315 AD for the celebration of his decennalia.   Volusianus proclaims himself to be dedicated to “the divine spirit and majesty” of Constantine, the son of divus Constantinus.

Cult of the Gens Flavia in Africa

According to Aurelius Victor, after Constantine’s victory over Maxentius at Rome in October 312 AD:

  1. “... , per Africam (in or throughout Africa), a college of priests was decreed to the gens Flavia: and the city of Cirta [in the African province of Numidia], which had been ruined by the siege of Domitius Alexander, was rebuilt, embellished, and re-named Constantina” (‘De Caesaribus’ 40:28).

The next paragraph of this account allows slightly more precision in dating these events:

  1. “While these events were taking place in Italy, in the east, Maximinus ... was routed by Licinius and perished at Tarsus” (“De Caesaribus” 41:1).

Since Maximinus probably died in July 313 AD, we can reasonably assume that the new imperial cult was established ‘per Africam’ and Cirta was renamed in Constantine’ honour in the first half of that year. 

It is not difficult to see why the provinces of Africa would have embraced Constantine’s imperial cult at this time.  The particular suffering at Cirta in 309-10 AD is discussed below.  More generally, in Panegyric XII (translated into English in Nixon and Rodgers, referenced below), which was delivered at Constantine’s court at Trier shortly after his victory, the panegyrist recorded that:

  1. “... all of Africa, which he [Maxentius] had decided to destroy, had been exhausted .... [as] he had amassed provisions for an unlimited length of time, [in 312 AD, in anticipation of a siege of Rome by Constantine or Licinius]” (16:1). 

Another panegyrist, Nazarius (in Panegyric IV, also translated into English in Nixon and Rodgers, referenced, which was delivered a few years later, probably at Rome) remembered that:

  1. “[After Constantine’s victory], the head of the tyrant [Maxentius] was sent to appease Africa, so that, after [his death, Maxentius] might give satisfaction to that place which he had afflicted while he lived” (32:6). 

Neither is it difficult to see why Constantine might have readily agreed to the establishment of the cult per Africam (in or throughout Africa): he needed a strong virtual presence here to avert the possibility that a new usurper might follow the example of Domitius Alexander (see below).

However, the precise geographical location of the cult is not entirely clear.  The following sections survey the evidence for Africa Proconsularis and Numidia, but the existence of the cult elsewhere in the diocese of Africa cannot be ruled out.

Africa Proconsularis 

Noel Lenski (referenced below, at p. 141) suggested that, byper Africam:

  1. “... Aurelius Victor apparently means Africa Proconsularis ... With its strong connections to senatorial Rome, Proconsularis had an extremely conservative population of prosperous taxpayers.  Constantine was surely eager to cultivate their allegiance by permitting this cult.”

Mustapha Khanoussi and Attilio Mastino (referenced below) published two inscriptions that illuminate the imperial cult as it had existed in Africa Proconsularis under Diocletian:

  1. An inscription (AE 2003: 2010) records the dedication of a temple at Thibaris (modern Thibar, in Tunisia) to the “gens Valeria aeterna”, represented by the Tetrarchs:

  2. the Augusti:

  3. Caius Valerius Diocletianus; and

  4. Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus; and

  5. -the Caesars,

  6. Flavius Valerius Constantius; and

  7. Galerius Valerius  Maximianus.

  8. The temple had apparently been started by the municipality before the appointment of Lucius Aelius Helvius Dionysius as proconsul of Africa.  He consecrated and dedicated it during his term of office (296-300 AD).  (His name was subsequently erased from this and other inscriptions that recorded his tenure as proconsul).

  9. A slightly later inscription (CIL VIII 14910) from Aïn Tounga (Thignica, now an archeological site in modern Tunisia) probably (according to Khanoussi and Mastino) commemorated the ‘Geniis diis immortalibus’ (immortal souls ??) of the Tetrarchs.  Anna Leone (referenced below, in Table 2:1, pp 36-7) listed this inscription as evidence of a temple of the imperial cult.  It had apparently been dedicated by Caius Annius Anullinus, who was widely documented as Proconsul of Africa in 303-5 AD during the persecution of Christians under Maximian.

These two Proconsuls of Africa went on went on to have prominent public careers in Rome itself:

  1. Aelius Helvius Dionysius became Urban Prefect in 301-2 AD; and

  2. Annius Anullinus (or perhaps another  member of his family of the same name) became Urban Prefect in 306 AD.  He held this post at the time of Maxentius’ coup in October of that year, and Maxentus retained his services until the following August.  Maxentius re-appointed him in place of Aradius Rufinus on October 27th 312 AD, a day before the canonical date, and on the eve of Constantine’s invasion of Rome.  After he took the city, Constantine retainedAnullinus’ services for about a month.

Mustapha Khanoussi and Attilio Mastino (as above) published another inscription (AE 2003: 2014; LSA-92) that was found during excavations in 2000 at Thugga (another archeological site in what is now Tunisia), which commemorated Constantine and which was probably from the base of a statue of him.  Ulrich Gehn (in the LSA link above) translated it as follows:

To the emperor of divine virtue

extinguisher of the faction of the tyrant [Maxentius ?] and v[ictor ?]

defender of his provinces and of the cities

our lord Flavius Valerius Constantinus, pious, fortunate, forever Augustus

Caius Annius Ceionius Anullinas, of clarissimus rank, legate of Numidia  [set this up]

always devoted to [Constantine’s] divine spirit and majesty

According to Khanoussi and Mastino:

  1. the use of the phrase ‘numini maiestatique’ (the divine spirit and majesty of Constantine) suggested a link to the imperial cult (although this phrase was by no means uncommon in African inscriptions); while

  2. the fact that the statue was found near a temple that commemorated Caracalla’s Germanic victory suggested that it may have been associated with:

  3. “... a monument dedicated to the celebrate Constantine after the victory over Maxentius.” (my translation).

Ulrich Gehn (as above) suggested that this Caius Annius Ceionius Anullinas perhaps acted as legate to Numidia for his father, whom Eusebius referred to as:

  1. “... Anulinus, the most illustrious proconsul of Africa ...” (‘Church History’, 10:5:18).

This man, whom we might conveniently refer to as ‘Eusebius’ Anulinus’, held this post from November 312 AD until April 313 AD.  Michele Salzman (referenced below, at p. 15, note 16) suggested that he was the son of the Urban Prefect of October-November 312 AD.   Eusebius reproduced a letter from Constantine to Bishop Caecilianus of Carthage in which he [Constantine] recorded that:

  1. “... it is our pleasure that something should be granted in all the provinces of Africa and Numidia and Mauritania to certain ministers of the legitimate and most holy catholic religion to defray their expenses ... And ... I gave command to Anulinus, the proconsul, and also to Patricius, the vicar of the prefects, when they were present, that they should give proper attention ... to this ...” (‘Church History’, 10:6:1-4)

This implies that Constantine had met with ‘Eusebius’ Anulinus’, quite probably in Rome, when he appointed him as Proconsul of Africa.  


There is epigraphic evidence for the imperial cult in Numidia in the period immediately prior to the rule of Diocletian.  This relates to two temples associated with the Praeses (provincial governor) of Numidia, Marcus Aurelius Decimus, that were probably dedicated to divus Carus (died 283 AD) during the joint rule of his sons Carinus and Numerian (as described in my page History: Carus, Carinus and Numerian (282-5 AD)):

  1. An inscription (CIL VIII 4221) on an inscribed slab found on the north side of the necropolis at Markouna, the ancient Verecunda, came from a temple dedicated to divus Carus, which Lavin and Mulryan (referenced below) described as:

  2. “... was one of very few new temples built in the provinces of Africa in the late 3rd century.”

  3. A similar inscription (CIL VIII 2717) survives from Lambaesis (an archeological site in modern Algeria, to the southwest of Verecunda).


                          IMP ALEXANDER P F AVG                                       CONSTANTINVS P F AVG

                         S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI                                      S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI

                                   RIC Carthage 72                                                          RIC Trier 815

The historical context given by Aurelius Victor for the re-naming of Cirta can be summarised as follows: Domitius Alexander, who had been Vicar of the Diocese of Africa under Maxentius, had rebelled against him in ca. 308 AD, seized control of the African provinces and cut off the supply of wheat to Rome.  His revolt had ended about a year later with a successful siege of the naturally fortified city of Cirta, after which Maxentius had extracted terrible reprisals.  There is evidence that Constantine was involved in Domitius Alexander’s revolt (as discussed in more detail in my page on Maxentius in Rome (308-11 AD):

  1. An inscription (CIL VIII 22183; EDCS-27600228) from Sidi Hamza in the the Province of Africa Proconsularis, commemorated:

  2. L(ucio) Domitio Alexandro et Fl(avio) Constantino, Augg”.

  3. The coins illustrated above, which were minted (respectively) by Domitius Alexander and Constantine at about this time, suggest that their respective designs on Rome were linked in some way.

If so, Constantine would have had a particular reason to re-found and rename the city, as discussed in my page on Constantine's Re-naming of Cities.

Tangental evidence for the imperial cult at Cirta at this time exists in the form of a significant number of statues of Constantine that were erected in the rebuilt city by officials who were, like Caius Annius Ceionius Anullinas (above), devoted to the divine spirit and majesty of Constantine:

  1. CIL VIII 7006, LSA 2229, dedicated by Valerius Paulus, who was the first governor of Numidia after the merger of Numidia Militiana and Numidia Cirtensis in 314 AD;

  2. CIL VIII 7007, LSA-2230, dedicated by an unknown rationalis (financial officer) of Numidia and the Mauretanias, with an otherwise identical content to the inscription above;

  3. two dedicated by Vettius Florentinus, another rationalis of Numidia and the Mauretanias (CIL VIII 7008, LSA-2232; and CIL VIII 7009, LSA-2233);

  4. CIL VIII 7005, LSA 2231, dedicated by Iallius Antiochus, governor of Numidia in 314/6 AD; and

  5. CIL VIII 7010, LSA 2228, dedicated by Julius Juvenalis, yet another rationalis of Numidia and the Mauretanias.

The opening lines of all of these inscriptions attest to the elation and gratitude felt in the city that Constantine had rebuilt. 

The inscriptions above do not prove the presence of the cult of the gens Flavia at Cirta, but they arguably point in that direction.  Thus, it is tempting to think that Cirta (like Hispellum, towards the end of Constantine’s reign - see below), had requested the honour of a new name and a new temple dedicated to Constantine’s gens Flavia.  Raymond van Dam (referenced below, at p. 33) was of this opinion:

  1. “At Cirta in north Africa, even though a priesthood in honour of the Flavian dynasty had already been founded, ...”


There is no firm evidence for the location of any temple dedicated to the gens Flavia in the African provinces, but such temples must have existed.   I suggested above that one precedent for this cult could have been Maxentius’ cult for his deified relatives, which (I argued) had been located in the rotunda complex on the Via Sacra in Rome.  Another could have been the temple at Thibaris (above) to Diocletian’s (living) “gens Valeria aeterna”.

Constantine himself seems to have been much more involved in the affairs of the Christians of Africa: one imagines that he delegated matters relating to the new imperial cult to his officials, men like Annius Anullinus, Proconsul of Africa in 313 AD and, perhaps, Aradius Rufinus, the Urban Prefect of that year.

Domus Divina (317-24 AD)


RIC VII Siscia 26 (317 AD)


Johannes Wienand (referenced below, at p. 225) pointed out that :

  1. “[Constantine] decided surprisingly late to share power with members of his own family.  Not until 1st March 317 AD, almost 11 years into his reign, did [he] elevate his two oldest sons ... to the rank of Caesar.”

They were:

  1. -Crispus, who was probably about 20 years old; and

  2. -Constantinus junior, who was only a baby, although he was portrayed as a young man on the coinage of the period.

Wienand (at p. 226) touched on the likely reason for Constantine’s delay :

  1. “[Earlier in his reign], Constantine [had] focused primarily on asserting his own status amid the internal wrangling of the declining Tetrarchy, and on realising his own insistent claims of supremacy ... Not until [he had] come within striking distance of seizing sole power [by his first defeat of Licinius in 317 AD] did he begin systematically to construct a new dynastic college clearly tailored to himself.  With the Treaty of Serdica on 1st March 317 AD [after an inconclusive battle in which Constantine had considerably strengthened his position], Constantine and Licinius raised their sons Crispus, Licinius junior, and [Constantine junior] to the rank of Caesar.”

Constantine probably had a second reason for waiting until 317 AD in order to elevate his sons: he seems to have been suspicious of the ambitions of Crispus, his son from his first marriage to Minervina (as later events would testify).  However, he now had a long-awaited son, Constantine junior, from his second marriage to Fausta (the daughter of Maximian), who had been born in the previous year, and could thus raise the two of them together.

Within the new imperial college, Constantine remained primi nominis, but he now additionally out-gunned Licinius in terms of the number of Caesars who were his direct descendants.  He produced numerous issues for the new Caesars.  In addition, as Johannes Wienand (referenced below, at p. 239) observed:

  1. “After the peace treaty of Serdica, Constantine apparently mobilised all available dynastic arguments to express his privileged status over Licinius.  He unabashedly pointed [in his coinage] to three generations of extraordinarily famous ancestors: Claudius Gothicus, Maximian, and Constantius I.” 

The presence in this context of of Claudius Gothicus and Constantius I is unsurprising.  However, Maximian, whose memory Constantine had damned in 311 AD, now appeared in Constantine’s coinage as divus Maximianus.  Before discussing this group of coins, it will be useful to look again at the chain of events that led to this change in Maximian’s  posthumous status.

Divus Maximianus Seniore

After the death of Maximian in 310 AD, Constantine was initially  inclined to be charitable towards his memory,  Thus, in a panegyric (Panegyric VI, translated into English in Nixon and Rodgers, referenced below) that was delivered at Constantine’s  court at Trier shortly thereafter, the panegyrist, with Constantine’s permission, had attempted minimise Maximian’s culpability:

  1. “What shall I do then to touch such deep wounds with a light hand?  Indeed, I shall employ those customary defences of all crimes ..., that no man commits a sin unless he is fated to, and that those crimes of mortals are acts of Fortune ...” (14:3) . 

He had also suggested that Constantine would have allowed Maximian to live, but:

  1. “... you cannot accomplish everything: the gods avenge you, even against your will” (20:4).

Earlier in the speech, he had asserted that:

  1. “[Maximian] encountered a fate that could not be evaded, one that would bring an unjust end to many men and, finally, a voluntary death to himself” (14:5).

The suggestion seems to have been that Maximian had committed suicide.  

However, Constantine’s attitude seems to have hardened when Maxentius consecrated Maximian in Rome in 311 AD (as discussed in my page Maxentius' Consecration Coins (311 AD): this action seems to have stimulated Constantine to damn Maximian’s memory.  According to Lactantius, the only source for this action:

  1. “At this time, by command of Constantine, the statues of Maximian Herculius were thrown down and his portraits were removed; and, since the two old emperors [Diocletian and Maximian] were generally delineated in one piece, the portraits of both were removed at the same time.  Thus Diocletian lived to see a disgrace which no former emperor had ever seen ....” (‘De Mortibus Persecutorum’, 42:1-2).   

Constantine’s hardened attitude probably gave rise to the revised account of Maximian’s death that appeared in the work of Lactantius:

  1. “[After his capture at Marseille], the rebel emperor [Maximian] ... was dragged into the presence of Constantine, to hear a recital made of his crimes.  He was divested of his imperial robe and, after this reprimand, obtained his life.  Maximian [however] ... grew impatient at his abased condition and ... formed new plots against Constantine.  He addressed himself to his daughter Fausta and ... solicited her to betray her husband.  ... Fausta undertook to do whatever he asked, but instantly revealed the whole to her husband.  A plan was laid for detecting Maximian in the very execution of his crime.  They placed a base eunuch to be murdered instead of  [Constantine].  At the dead of night, Maximian ... went in armed [to Constantine’s bedroom], killed the eunuch, sprang forth exultingly and avowed the murder.  At that moment Constantine showed himself on the opposite side [of the room] with a band of soldiers ... [and] upbraided him for his impiety and enormous guilt.  At last Maximian obtained leave that the manner of his death should be of his own choice, and he strangled himself.  Thus  ... that most haughty man had his neck broken, and ended his detestable life by a death [that was] base and ignominious” (‘De Mortibus Persecutorum’, 29:8 - 30:6).

Constantine’s rehabilitation of Maximian’s memory began soon after his victory over Maxentius in 312 AD, with the obvious fiction that he had not, in fact, been the father of the hated Maxentius.  Thus, in a panegyric (Panegyric XII, translated into English in Nixon and Rodgers, referenced below)) that was delivered at Constantine’s court at Trier shortly after the victory, the panegyrist;

  1. -remembered that:

  2. “...he who was believed to have been [Maxentius’] father [i.e. Maximian], attempting to tear the purple from [Maxentius’] shoulders [in April 308 AD, had] perceived that his own destiny had passed over to that abomination” (3:4); and

  3. -observed (in a passage comparing Maxentius to Constantine) that:

  4. “... he [Maxentius] was Maximian’s changeling; you [Constantine, were] Constantius Pius’ son; [Constantine] were attended by respect for your father; but he, not to begrudge him his false paternity, [was attended] by disrespect; ...” (4: 3-4).

The allegation was taken up by later sources:

  1. “When [Maxentius’] mother was questioned about his parentage [shortly after his death], she admitted that he was the son of a Syrian” (‘Origo Constantini Imperatoris’, 4: 12).

  2. “But Maxentius, they say, was substituted by the womanly wile of [his mother, who was] labouring to control [Maximian’s] affection by means of ... a most felicitous fecundity that commenced with a boy” (‘Epitome De Caesaribus’, 40:13).

The consecration coins discussed below provide evidence that, not only did Constantine reverse the damnation of Maximian’s memory, but he also arranged a second consecration in Rome.  In this context, Timothy Barnes (referenced below, 1982, at p. 35) drew attention to the following remark by Athanasius:

  1. “... it is not long since (even if it be not still the case that) the Roman senate [would] vote to those emperors who have ever ruled them from the beginning, either all of them or such as they wish and decide, a place among the gods, and decree them to be worshipped” (‘Contra Gentes’: 9:50-3).

As Barnes observed:

  1. “The only emperors whom the Roman senate consecrated as divi in 284-337 AD were:

  2. -Constantius in 306 AD [although, as set out in my page Maxentius' Consecration Coins (311 AD),  I place this in 311 AD];

  3. -Maximian and Galerius in 311 AD; and

  4. -Maximian again at some date after [Constantine’s victory over Maxentius], if the [consecration] under Maxentius was regarded as null and void.

  5. It can be demonstrated, on philosophical grounds, that Athanasius wrote the ‘Contra Gentes’ some years before 324 AD.  Hence, an allusion [here] to reports of the consecration of Maximian in ca. 317 AD seems probable”.

In 392 AD, Ambrose, Bishop of Milan wrote to Theodosius to express his grief at the death of Theodosius’ imperial colleague, Valentinian II, and to consult him on the preparations made for his burial.  Ambrose’ letter mentioned a porphyry sarcophagus that had, he asserted, held the remains of Maximian:

  1. “We have here a most beautiful porphyry vessel, and well adapted for the purpose; for Maximian, the colleague of Diocletian, was so buried.  There are also very precious tablets of porphyry, to encase the covering in which the royal remains are enclosed.” (‘St  Ambrose of Milan, Letters’, 53:4).

Mark Johnson (referenced below, at p. 74) was surely correct when he asserted that:

  1. “This strongly suggests that [Maximian] had been buried in Milan, the city that had served as his capital during [much of] his reign.  The mausoleum of San Vittore [there] ... has been accepted as his mausoleum by many scholars.”

Bill Leadbetter (referenced below, 2010, at p 5) was one such scholar:

  1. “Milan was a city richly adorned and embellished by Maximian during his residence there. Most importantly, an imperial palace was constructed adjacent to a circus while, outside the walls, a mausoleum was constructed to house Maximian’s mortal remains.  The octagonal mausoleum was extant until the late 16th century, when it was incorporated into a renovation of the neighbouring church of San Vittore al Corpo.”

Since Constantine would have had custody of Maximian’s body since his death, we might reasonably assume that it was he who organised its interment in Milan. It is possible that Maximian owed this rehabilitation to the fact that he was the grandfather of Constantine’s newly born son, Constantine junior.  If so, then we might imagine that a cult statue of divus Maximianus returned to the putative shrine to the gens Flavia on the Via Sacra (discussed above).

Consecration Coins (317 AD)


                            DIVO CLAUDIO OPT IMP                                 DIVO MAXIMIANO SEN FORT  IMP

MEMORIAE AETERNAE                                              MEMORIAE AETERNAE

RIC VII Rome 125                                                             RIC VII Rome 110



RIC VII Rome 105

A series of consecration coins was minted only at Rome, for all three subjects, with the reverse legend MEMORIAE AETERNAE.  (Maximianus was sometimes identified as DIVO MAXIMIANO SEN IMP or DIVO MAXIMIANO SEN FORT IMP, presumably in order to make sure that no-one thought that Constantine was minting for divus Galerius.)  The reverse designs of this series  depicted:

  1. a lion:

  2. divus Claudius II: RIC VII Rome, 122, 125 (illustrated above) and 128;

  3. divus Maximianus: RIC VII Rome, 120, 123 and 126; and

  4. divus Constantius: RIC VII Rome, , 121, 124 and 127; or

  5. an eagle:

  6. divus Claudius II: RIC VII Rome, 112, 115, 116 and 119;

  7. divus Maximianus: RIC VII Rome, 110 (illustrated above), 113 and 117; and

  8. divus Constantius: RIC VII Rome, 111, 114 and 118.

Alfred Frazer (referenced below, at p 391) observed, that:

  1. “The obverses and the legend ‘MEMORIAE AETERNAE’ obviously repeat the pattern of the Maxentian commemoratives [which he used for the first time in 309 AD, as described in my on Maxentius' Coins for Divus Romulus (309 AD)].   However, the reverse designs  depict the Herculean lion ... or the eagle of consecration.  The heroön [domed shrine] reverse [of the Maxentian commemoratives] was signally avoided [by Constantine], and one is led to conclude that its meaning was specifically Maxentian.”

I argued above that this ‘heroön’ had represented Maxentius’ rotunda complex on the Via Sacra, and that Constantine had probably had it adapted for the veneration of his own deified relatives.  Nevertheless, it was probably still too closely associated with the consecration coins of Maxentius for Constantine’s  liking.  The reverse designs that he chose instead are interesting:

  1. The eagle reverses was entirely traditional and had, for example, featured on some of his earlier coins for divus Constantius (above). 

  2. However, the lion on the other reverses was (as far as I know) an innovation in the context of consecration.  I suggest that, although it was used for all three subjects,  it drew attention to a second consecration in Rome at this time of one of them, the ‘Herculian’ Maximian (as discussed above). 

A second series was minted, again for all three subjects, at six of the 9 mints that Constantine now controlled: Rome; Arles; Trier; Aquileia; Siscia; and Thessalonica, with the legend REQUIES OPTIMORUM MERITORUM (often abbreviated) and a reverse design depicting the deified subject seated on a curule chair.  These coins are catalogued as follows:

  1. divus Claudius II: RIC VII: Aquileia, 23 and 26; Arles, 173; Rome, 106 and 109; Siscia 43 and 45; Thessalonica, 26; and Trier, 203 and 207.

  2. divus Maximianus: RIC VII: Aquileia, 21 and 24; Arles, 174 and 177; Rome, 104 and 107; Siscia 42 and 46; Thessalonica, 25; and Trier, 200, 204 and 205

  3. divus Constantius: RIC VII: Aquileia, 22 and 25; Arles, 175 and 178; Rome, 105 (illustrated above) and 108; Siscia 41; Thessalonica, 24; and Trier, 201, 202 and 206.

As far as I know,this reverse legends ‘REQUIES OPTIMORUM MERITORUM’ (for the rest or repose of [those of] the highest merits) were completely new (and I am at a loss to understand their significance). 

Johannes Wienand (referenced below, at p. 238 and note 34) dated both series to 318/9 AD.  However, Patrick Bruun (referenced below) suggested that:

  1. -the first series (at Rome), which was of a higher weight standard than the second, was probably minted during (or just before) Constantine’s was with Licinius in 316 AD (see p. 197-8); and

  2. -the second series was probably minted in or shortly after 317 AD, when Constantine gained control of the mints of Siscia and Thessalonica for the first time (see p. 195). 

He further suggested (at p. 197) that Constantine chose to mint the coins of this second series at his main centres (Rome, Trier and Arles) and at the three other mints that were in or near the newly-conquered territory (Aquileia, Siscia and Thesalonica).  The mints that were not used were: London (too small and peripheral); Lugdunum (which seems to have been closed for about three years after early 317 AD); and Ticinum

Coins for Divus Claudius II: RIC V, Series III (317 AD ?)


RIC V Claudius Gothicus 298

RIC V includes three series of coins minted for divus Caludius II: the first two were minted soon after his death but the third (catalogued at pp. 236-7) was minted by Constantine.  Each of these Series III coins had one of the following reverse legends:

  1. REQVIES OPTIMORVM MERITORVM (variously abbreviated), matched by a reverse design of the seated divus Claudius (RIC V Claudius Gothicus: 297-9, minted at Aquileia, Rome, Siscia and Trier); and

  2. MEMORIAE AETERNAE, matched by a reverse design of:

  3. an eagle (RIC V Claudius Gothicus: 292 and 294-6, minted at Aquileia and Rome); or

  4. a lion (RIC V Claudius Gothicus 293, minted at Lugdunum and Rome).

These issues are not precisely dated by RIC, but it is noteworthy that one of them (RIC V Claudius Gothicus 299) was minted at Rome (a mint that fell to Constantine in 312 AD) and  at Siscia (a mint that fell to Constantine after his victory over Licinius in 317 AD). 

The coins in this series are catalogued quite separately from those that Constantine minted for divus Claudius II in a series of issues of 317-8 AD (above), albeit that they too were characterised by reverse legends REQVIES OPTIMORVM MERITORVM and MEMORIAE AETERNAE.  

I think these are double entries for the coins in RIV VII, above.

Domus Divina (324-33 AD)


FL IVL CONSTANTIVS NOB C                     


RIC VII Nicomedia 76 (ca. 324 AD)

After his final defeat of Licinius in 324 AD, Constantine continued to develop his dynastic imperial college by appointing his third son, the seven year old Constantius as Caesar and by designating Fausta as Augusta. 

However, Flavius Crispus was executed in 326 AD.  Fausta died soon after, in circumstances that are unclear (as discussed in my page Constantine as Sole Augustus). 

Two surviving inscriptions throw light on the imperial cult in this period.


Architrave at Arles: from  Marc Heijmans (referenced below)

There is evidence that a temple in the forum of Arles was built or at least re-dedicated to honour Constantine’s Flavian dynasty in the period 324-6 AD.  This evidence is in the form of an inscription (CIL XII 0668) that is known from a photograph of the imprint left on an architrave from the forum of Arles.  Rita Lizzi Testa (referenced below, at p. 105) suggested that this inscribed architrave

  1. “... is surely part of a structure dedicated to the worship of the emperor.”

The inscription is in the form of a dedication to Constantine and members of his family that was  made by Iulius Athenaeus, whose “perfectissimus” rank implies an important position in the imperial administration.   Marc Heijmans (referenced below) has recently published an updated version of it, which reads:

[DDDD(ominis) nnnn(ostris)

Fl(avio) Val(erio) Constantino Max(imo) Vict(ori) semper Aug(usto)

d]ivi Constanti filio, divi Claudi nepoti/

[bono rei publicae nato

et Fl(avio) Iulio Crispo

et Fl(avio) Claud]io Constantino

et Fl(avio) Constanti[o]

[nobbb(ilissimis) Caesss(aribus) et piissimae ac venerabili Aug(ustae)

Flaviae Max]imae Faustae

Augusti Caesarumque / [uxori matrique ... e]xo[r]natamque

Arelatensium civitatem / [... dedic]avit cur(ante)

Iul(io) Atheneo v(iro) p(erfectissimo)

This inscription commemorates:

  1. Constantine, who is described as the son of divus Constantius and a descendant of divus Claudius II, but with no mention of his relationship to divus Maximianus;

  2. three sons of Constantine, who each held the rank of Caesar:

  3. -Crispus, whom Constantine was to execute in 326 AD;

  4. -Constantine junior; and

  5. -Constantius junior,

  6. but not Constans (who was not born until ca. 323 AD); and

  7. Fausta, who is described as the wife of Constantine and mother of the Caesars, with her title Augusta.

The dedication must have been made in 324-6 AD, after the elevations of the young Constantius and Fausta but before the deaths of Crispus and Fausta.  (‘Arelatensium civitatem’ was to be renamed in honour of Constantine junior in 328 AD, as described in my page on Constantine's Re-naming of Cities


An inscription (CIL XI 0009; LSA-1611) from the base of a statue dedicated to Constantine was later embedded in the wall of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo at Ravenna:

Propagatori Roma/ni imperii, f[u]ndato[ri] / quietis publicae

d(omino) [n(ostro)] / Fl(avio) Constantino / maximo, victori / semper Aug(usto)

divi / Claudi nepoti, divi / Constanti filio

Sertorius Silanus, / v(ir) p(erfectissimus), praepositus / fabricae

devotus / n(umini) m(aiestati)q(ue) e(ius)

To the expander of the Roman empire, founder of public tranquillity

our lord Flavius Constantinus the greatest, victor, forever Augustus

grandson of the deified Claudius, son of the deified Constantius

Sertorius Silanus, of perfectissimus rank, supervisor of the imperial factory

devoted to his divine spirit and majesty  [set this up]

The commentary in the entry in ‘Last Statues of Antiquity’ (see the link above) suggested that the use of the title ‘victor’ rather than ‘invictus’ for Constantine suggests that the inscription post-dated his victory over Licinius in 324 AD.  Once again, there is no mention of divus Maximianus.

Domus Divina (333-7 AD)


                           FL CONSTANS NOB CAES                                                  L DELMATIVS NOB CAES

                           CONSTANS NOB CAESAR                                                       DELMATIVS CAESAR

              RIC VII (Constantinople) 97 (ca. 333AD)                         RIC VII (Constantinople) 98 (ca. 335AD)

Constantine appointed his third surviving son, the ten year old Constans, as Caesar in 333 AD.  The dream articulated for Constantine in Panegyric IV (translated into English in Nixon and Rodgers, referenced below) some two decades earlier comes to mind here:

  1. “... the future will truly be blessed if, when you have installed your sons at the helm of the world, you are the greatest Emperor of all” (26:5)

In 335 AD, Constantine designated his nephew, Flavius Dalmatius (or Delmatius) as the fourth Caesar, perhaps in active preparation for his own demise (which occurred at Nicomedia on 22nd May 337 AD)  

The respective territories of the four  Caesars immediately after Constantine’s death are illustrated in this map (part of a brilliant on-line resource published by Ian Mladjov, University of Michigan).

Rescript of Constantine at Hispellum

This marble inscription (CIL XI 5265, EDR136860), which records the content of a decree (rescript) issued by Constantine and his sons:
  1. Flavius Constantinus [i.e. Constantine junior];

  2. Flavius Julius Constantius [i.e. Constantius junior]; and

  3. Flavius Constans;

was found in 1733 near the Roman sanctuary at Hispellum and is now  in the Palazzo Comunale Vecchio there,

In the Rescript (or more precisely, in the version of the Rescript that is reproduced in the inscription), Constantine replied, broadly in the affirmative, to three requests from Hispellum:

  1. Two of these requests apparently related to Hispellum itself:

  2. that Constantine should give a name derived from his cognomen to the city; and

  3. that a temple of his Flavian family should be built there.

  4. The third request seems to have been made on behalf of the Umbrians:

  5. The supplicants recorded that they had previously selected a priest to represent them (alongside a similar priest selected by the Etruscans) at an annual festival involving theatrical shows and gladiatorial games that had been held at Volsinii, a city of Tuscia (Etruria).

  6. They requested that, in future, this Umbrian priest should preside over a version of the festival at Hispellum, while the traditional practice would continue, otherwise unchanged, at Volsinii. 

The detail of the inscription is set out in my page Spello: Rescript of Constantine.

There has been a great deal of argument as to the precise date of issue, which is complicated by the fact that none of Constantine’s sons is identified as Caesar. In the link above, I argue in favour of the proposal of Raymond van Dam (referenced below, pp.  53-4), who suggested that their common designation as Caesar had simply been omitted in the inscription, although presumably not in the Rescript itself.  Thus, he suggested that the Rescript had been issued after the accession of Constans but before that of Dalmatius: i.e. in the period December 333 AD - September 335 AD.  More specifically, he suggested that the the requests from the Hispellates had been submitted in 333 AD, soon after Constans’ elevation, in the hope that Constantine (and, presumably, his newly-elevated son) would visit the city en route for Rome, where it was hoped (as it turned out forlornly) that Constantine would celebrate the 30th anniversary of his accession. Whatever their detailed differences, most scholars now accept that the Rescript was issued towards the end of Constantine’s life or soon thereafter.  This was the time at which his plans for the dynastic succession were about to be put to the test.  Nowhere was this issue more delicate than in the provinces of Italy and Africa, where his power was to pass to the young and untried Constans.  

Caius Matrinius Aurelius Antoninus

An inscription (CIL XI 5283; EDR 123166; LSA-1638) on the base of a statue that was found in 1581 near the amphitheatre of the Roman sanctuary commemorates Caius Matrinius Aurelius Antoninus.  Although Antoninus had reached the highest post in the civic administration of Hispellum, his cursus gives pride of place to his religious offices:
  1. as coronatus (crowned priest) of the province of Tuscia et Umbria; and

  2. as pontifex gentis Flaviae, a priesthood related to the recently instituted cult of the gens Flavia at Hispellum.

I discuss this inscription in more detail in my page Caius Matrinius Aurelius Antoninus.

According to the inscription: 

  1. “the people of Flavia Constans [set up this statue] to a most worthy patron”. 

Since Flavia Constans was now in existence, this inscription must post-date the Rescript, albeit probably by only a short period of time.  Given the proximity of the two find spots, we can reasonably assume that Caius Matrinius Aurelius Antoninus officiated at the temple that the Rescript permitted, the Templum Flaviae Gentis, in his capacity of pontifex gentis Flaviae.

The inscription also described Antonius as the:

  1. “... sponsor of the most abundant spectacles and of extraordinary rejoicing in the theatre...”

It seems likely that these spectacles took place in the theatre (and, quite possibly, in the amphitheatre) of the Roman sanctuary, and it is tempting to suggest that Antonius presided over at least some of them in his capacity  of pontifex gentis Flaviae.  Thus, Noel Lenski (referenced below, at p. 128), in his account of the inscription for Caius Matrinius Aurelius Antoninus, characterised it as:

  1. “... our lone piece of evidence for the [transferred] festival in action at Hispellum, [which] shows that it involved:

  2. -a priest of Constantine’s family cult;

  3. -celebrating in Constantine’s family temple;

  4. -at a city now named for Constantine’s son;

  5. according to prescriptions laid down by Constantine himself.”

In my page in my page Spello: Rescript of Constantine, I similarly argue that we should treat the Rescript as the (largely affirmative) answer to a single request: that a cult site for the gens Flavia should be established at Hispellum and reflected in its new name, Urbs Flavia Constans.

Templum Flaviae Gentis


                                          San Fedele (18th century)                        Plan: Templum Flaviae Gentis

                                              On foundations of                                    With the kind permission of

                                        Templum Flaviae Gentis                                  dott. Pietro Tamburini

Dorica Manconi (in Manconi et al., referenced below, 1996, pp 387-8) reported that examination of  the small church of San Fedele, which stands on the site of the Roman sanctuary, revealed the remains of:

  1. “... a structure that we can confidently date to the late Imperial period on the basis of the use of the [construction] technique of opera mixta, ....  We are dealing here with an element pertinent to a late phase of the sanctuary (3rd - 4th century AD), probably the phase recorded in the Rescript of Constantine” (my translation).  

The plan of this structure (at Figure 17 of Manconi’s paper) reveals an elongated hall with an apse (as in the illustration above), which later used as the foundations of the church.  Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 2001, at p. 46) considered that:

  1. “The dating attributed to [the foundations of San Fedele] ... and the presence of an apse (which is typical of edifices of the imperial cult) allows us to identify it, without any doubt, as the temple of the gens Flavia mentioned in the Rescript, which was thus originally placed in front of [the temple that it had permitted] ...”

While I am unable to comment on Coarelli’s assertion that this basilical form was typical of edifices of the imperial cult at this time, I would like to point out that this was the architectural form of the main component of the Maxentian complex on the Via Sacra, which I suggested (above) became the Templum Flaviae Gentis at Rome.

In the Rescript, Constantine insisted that the new temple at Hispellum could be built only  on condition that it would not be:

  1. “... defiled by the deceits of any contagious superstition.” 

John Curran (referenced below, p 181) pointed out that the superstition in question was probably animal sacrifice, since:

  1. “... [as] one of the most objectionable acts which the pagans practiced, Constantine could not sanction it in connection with the imperial cult.”

This scrap of information throws considerable light on how the imperial cult was adapted to reconcile the religious practices of the ancient State religion to the religious sensibilities of the first Christian emperor.

This temple at Hispellum is the only securely documented temple of the cult of Constantine’s gens Flavia.  The earlier inscriptions from Arles and Ravenna (above) suggest that it was probably devoted to Constantine’s two deified ancestors:

  1. divus Constantius; and

  2. divus Claudius II.

We might reasonably assume that, after the death of Constantine in 337 AD, the cult here expanded to include divus Constantinus.



L. Aradius Valerius Proculus

Lucius Aradius Valerius Proculus signo Populonius is one of only two men known to have served as pontifex Flavialis (as discussed further below).  He was probably the son of Aradius Rufinus (see below).   His own career up to 340 AD is known from the inscriptions (CIL VI 1690, LSA-1396; and CIL VI 1691, LSA-1397) on two statue bases that were discovered in the 16th century in the gardens of San Stefano Rotondo on the Caelian Hill.

The find-spot was the site of the house of a branch of the ancient gens Valeria, which was Proculus’ family home.  Avianius Symmachus (died 376 AD) commemorated his Valerian ancestry:

  1. Among leading men whom their ancestors’ glory did not burden,we place Proculus,

  2. a man by grace in life and manners in no way unworthy of the great Publicolae

  3. [the consul of 509 BC, who had celebrated the first triumph of the Roman Republic].

  4. He had love of truth and constancy; he was sincere in the worship of the heavenly gods. 

  5. You could not scorn him,and though he was entitled to respect, you would not fear him.

(Ep. 1:2:4, from the translation by Robert Chenault, referenced below, at p. 142).

According to John Matthews (referenced below), the house on the Caelian Hill had passed by marriage to the Aradii family:

  1. “... a new family of the Empire, who perhaps came from Africa”.  

This suggests that Aradius Rufinus (who did not use the name Valerius) had married into the gens Valeria, thereby accounting for the impressive lineage of his son.

The identical inscriptions mentioned above give a detailed description of Proculus’ career, which included:

  1. three traditional Roman  priesthoods:

  2. augur;

  3. pontifex maior; and

  4. membership of a college of priests, the quindecemviro sacris faciundis;

  5. the new post of pontifex Flavialis;

  6. a number of posts in provincial government:

  7. tutelary praetor;

  8. legate for the praetor of the province of Numidia;

  9. governor (praeses) of the province of Byzacena [ca. 321-4, following his brother, Quintus Aradius Valerius Proculus, in 321 AD];

  10. governor (consularis) of the province of Europa et Thracia;

  11. governor (consularis) of the province of Sicily;

  12. governor (proconsul) of the province of Africa [in 332-3 AD] and judge representing the emperor;

  13. Praetorian Prefect (probably of Africa, during his term as proconsul);

  14. a number of court appointments (count of the second order; count of the first order; count of the first order inside the palace [at Constantinople] for the second time [in 333-7 AD]; and

  15. in Rome:

  16. Urban Prefect (in 337-8 AD); and

  17. Consul Ordinarius (in 340 AD).

His impressive career attests to high esteem in the eyes of Constantine, which is confirmed by an imperial letter (ca. 336-7 AD) recorded in an inscription (CIL VI 40776, LSA-2685) in the Forum of Trajan, in which Constantine commended him to the Senate.  The key part of this letter is translated in the link above as follows:

  1. “Recalling the distinguished nobility of the ancestry of Proculus, of clarissimus rank, and the virtues acknowledged in the private and public performance of his services, conscript fathers, it is easy to value just how much glory Proculus, of clarissimus rank, … received from his ancestors ...”

Constantine, who was also impressed by Proculus’ ancestry, appointed him as Urban Prefect shortly after this letter. Proculus completed his term of office after Constantine died.  It was under the Emperor Constans that he received the honour of a Consular appointment.

Proculus and the Imperial Cult

Enrico Zuddas (in Roscini and Zuddas, referenced below, at p 249-50) asserted that Proculus held the post of pontifex Flaviales in Rome.  His reasons are not explicitly stated, but:

  1. this is suggested by the fact that, in the cursus above, this priesthood follows three that were definitely held in Rome, and no other location is offered for the fourth; and

  2. it is consistent with Dottore Zuddas’ conviction that, outside Rome, the function of Pontifex:

  3. “... did not belong to the provincial but rather to the municipal level” (my translation);

  4. and a municipal priesthood would not be consistent with the rest of Proculus’ career. 

If it is correct that Proculus held his neo-Flavian priesthood in Rome, then the cult site could have been established at the “Temple of Romulus”, which (as noted above) had probably been built by Maxentius and subsequently dedicated to Constantine.  I speculated above that Maxentius might have adapted this structure as a cult site for deified members of his Valerian dynasty: Constantius; Maximian; Galerius and Romulus.  All Constantine had to do was to replace the last two with a dedication to divus Claudius II and he would have created a cult site at the heart of ancient Rome that was dedicated to his neo-Flavian dynasty.  While this is by no means certain, it is an attractive possibility.

The attraction to Constantine of a neo-Flavian cult site in Rome is clear: it would have formed a major part of his new relationship with the city, which he hoped would ensure that no future “usurper” could adapt Maxentius’ strategy of turning the city against an absent emperor.  It is tempting to see the hand of Aradius Rufinus, Constantine’s first Urban Prefect, in this strategy.  As a member (albeit by marriage) of the gens Valeria, he might well have helped Maxentius to fashion his Valerian cult in Rome and then helped Constantine to reshape it in honour of his own dynasty.  Thus, he would have “skillfully applied the spur [to Constantine], and to the tyrants [Maxentius], the bit” (as in the passage from Avianius Symmachu, above).  If this is correct, he might well have suggested that his son Lucius Aradius Valerius Proculus would make an excellent Pontifex Flavialis.

Unfortunately, there is no clear indication as to when Proculus became pontifex Flavialis, except that it was before 332-3 AD: an inscription (CIL VIII 24521: EDCS-24800795) from the temple of Cybele and Attis in Carthage, which records that Proculus had restored its portico, essentially reproduces the cursus above (probably including all four priesthoods, although that of pontifex Flaviales and the post of praetori tutelari are assumed by the editors to fill a void in the surviving record), up to the post of proconsul of Africa and praetorian prefect for all the African provinces.

It seems to me that we might reasonably assume that Proculus’ three priesthoods: pontifex maior, membership of the college of the quindecimviri sacris faciundis, pontifex flavialis; were in reverse chronological order, and that he held the last of these relatively early in his career.  Indeed, it might have been his first public office, perhaps secured by his father, Aradius Rufinus, who held the post of Urban Prefect under both Maxentius (in 311-2 AD) and Constantine (in 312-3 AD), and who might well have been the architect of their respective imperial cults in Rome.

There are two other facts that need to be considered in this context:

  1. As noted above, the first post that Proculus held in provincial government was as legate for the praetor of the province of Numidia.  He might therefore have been instrumental in establishing the new cult to the gens Flavia in Numidia in ca. 312 AD.

  2. There is no denying the close links that Proculus and his family had with Africa.  Another link between the family and the imperial cult there is provided by the fact that Proculus’ brother Quintus, whom he succeeded as  governor of province of Byzacena in 321 AD, had been a patron of a college of ten flamen Augusti perpetuus, priests of the municipal imperial cult in Zama Regia there.  However, none of this necessarily implies that “our” Proculus held his neo-Flavian priesthood in Africa. 

Proculus’ possibly owed his appointment father, Aradius Rufinus, who held the post of Urban Prefect under both Maxentius (in 311-2 AD) and Constantine (in 312-3 AD).   It is tempting to see the hand of Aradius Rufinus in the political strategy associated with the complex that included the “Temple of Romulus” and with the imperial cult:

  1. As a member (albeit by marriage) of the gens Valeria, he might well have helped Maxentius to fashion the cult devoted to deified members of his gens Valeria in Rome in 311 AD.

  2. After his defection to Constantine (as evidenced by his rapid reappointment as Urban Prefect), he might equally well have reshaped the strategy on Constantine’s behalf in relation to Constantine’s gens Flavia. 

  3. We know from Aurelius Victor that, shortly after Constantine’s victory of 312 AD: 

  4. “ Africa, a college of priests was decreed to the gens Flavia: ...”,  (‘De Caesaribus’ 40:28);

  5. and this too might well have been the work of Aradius Rufinus.

Such adept positioning might have been typical of his diplomatic skills, as recorded by his contemporary, Avianius Symmachus, who eulogised that he was:

  1. “Loved by all, protector of the fearful:

  2. to the good leaders of [his] time [i.e. Constantine], [he] skilfully applied the spur; and

  3. to the tyrants [like Maxentius], the bit” (Epigram 1.2.3: 5-6, from the translation by Robert Chenault, referenced below, at p. 141).

There is an interesting postscript to the Proculus’ impressive career: he seems to have retired after his consulship of 340 AD, but he later demonstrated the “adaptability” of his father: When Magentius seized power from the Emperor Constans  in 350 AD, Proculus came out of retirement and acted as Urban Prefect for a second time under the usurper.  Magentius possibly calculated that he was just the man to convince Constans’ brother, the Emperor Constantius II, to accept him in Constans’ place, as co-Emperor.  If so, the calculation failed and Magentius was defeated.  Proculus’ fate thereafter is unknown

Aradius Rufunus probably persuaded Constantine to allow the apsed space behind the rotunda to be used thereafter for the veneration of the deified members of his (Constantine’s) gens Flavia.  Aradius’ son, L. Aradius Valerius Proculus, probably became the first (and possibly the last) pontifex flavialis in Rome.

As mentioned above, Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 2012, at p. 109) believed that the rotunda had been devoted to the veneration of divus Romulus alone.  Nevertheless, his next point retains its relevance for any scenario in which, under Maxentius, the space was devoted to the imperial cult:

  1. “It is unimaginable that, after Maxentius’ death [in the battle in which Constantine took Rome from him in 312 AD], it had maintained the same function”. 

Coarelli assumed that Constantine dedicated it as the aedes Iovis Statoris.  However, since his own father (divus Constantius) and father-in-law (divus Maximianus) were already venerated here, he only had to replace divus Galerius and divus Romulus by his third deified (alleged) ancestor, divus Claudius II in order to create a temple to his own gens Flavia.  There is supporting circumstantial evidence for this:

  1. We know from Aurelius Victor that, shortly after Constantine’s victory of 312 AD: 

  2. “ Africa, a college of priests was decreed to the gens Flavia: ...”,  (‘De Caesaribus’ 40:28).

  3. There is evidence for this cult in Rome in the form of two inscribed bases (CIL VI 1690, LSA-1396; CIL VI 1691, LSA-1397) of statues of Lucius Aradius Valerius Proculus, signo Populonius, whose Roman priesthoods included that of pontifex Flavialis

  4. The only other known example of a priesthood of this cult is that of pontifex gentis Flavia, held by Caius Matrinius Aurelius Antoninus (evidenced by an inscription CIL XI 5283; EDR 123166; LSA-1638), who presided over the Templum Flaviae Gentis at Hispellum (mentioned above).   One might reasonably assume that L. Aradius Valerius Proculus presided over an earlier Templum Flaviae Gentis at Rome.

L. Aradius Valerius Proculus enjoyed a hugely successful career under Constantine, as evidenced by an inscription (CIL VI 40776, LSA-2685) that reproduced a letter from Constantine of ca. 336 AD in which he commended Proculus to the Senate in glowing terms.  Constantine appointed him as Urban Prefect in the following year, just before his (Constantine’s) death.  The inscriptions above, which recorded his priesthoods, also recorded his Consulship under the Emperor Constans in 340 AD.  We might reasonably assume that his three priesthoods: pontifex maior, membership of the college of the quindecimviri sacris faciundis, pontifex flavialis; were in reverse chronological order, and that he held the last of these relatively early in his career.  Indeed, it might have been his first public office, perhaps secured by his father, Aradius Rufinus, who held the post of Urban Prefect under both Maxentius (in 311-2 AD) and Constantine (in 312-3 AD), and who might well have been the architect of their respective imperial cults in Rome.

According to Timothy Barnes (referenced below, 1982, p. 120):

  1. “Proculus probably retired after his Consulate, but emerged from retirement to be [Urban Prefect] for a second time under [the usurper] Magentius [in 351-2 AD].”

Constans was killed in this revolt, but his brother, Constantius II defeated Magentius.  Proculus then disappeared from history, certainly out of favour and possibly dead.  One wonders how much vibrancy remained in the imperial cult in Rome.  We know from inscriptions (eg. CIL III 3705; CIL II 4844; and AE 1980, 576, the last of which dates to his 7th Consulship in 354 AD) that he was still sometimes officially described in terms of his deified forebears (son of divus Constantinus, grandson of the divi Maximianus and Constantius, great grandson of divus Claudius II).  Nevertheless, now that  this Christian Emperor was secure in his position, it is possible that he attached little importance to the putative Templum Flaviae Gentis on the Sacra Via, and that, if it still functioned at all, it was in decline.  It is possible that it did not appear in the ‘Notitia’ and its successors because it was now regarded simply as an undistinguished part of the Templum Pacis complex.  However, an alternative possibility is discussed below.

By the time that preparations were underway for the visit of Constantius II to Rome in 354 AD, the pagan imperial cult was probably in decline, if not defunct.  However, the rotunda retained its dedication as the aedes Iovis Statoris (and was probably associated in public perception with the fanum of Romulus).  The aedes Iovis Statoris and the basilica Constantiani duly appeared in the ‘Notitia’, although (for whatever reason) in the wrong order.

Imperial Cult under Constantius II

One wonders how much vibrancy remained in the imperial cult in Rome.  We know from inscriptions (eg. CIL III 3705; CIL II 4844; and AE 1980, 576, the last of which dates to his 7th Consulship in 354 AD) that Constantius II was still sometimes officially described in terms of his deified forebears (son of divus Constantinus, grandson of the divi Maximianus and Constantius, great grandson of divus Claudius II).  We also know that festivals were celebrated in Rome in 354 AD under Constantius II for members of the imperial dynasty.  As Michele Renee Salzman (referenced below, at pp 139-40) recorded, the so-called ‘Chronography of 354 AD’ listed nine such celebrations were held each year, each of which involved a two-day festival with games, to mark important anniversaries:

  1. 7th August and 8th November - respectively the natalis imperatum (birthday) and natalis imperii  (anniversary of accession) of Constantius II himself;

  2. six festivals for divus Constantinus:

  3. 27th February -his natalis imperatum (birthday);

  4. 18th and 21st July - two ceremonial entrances into Rome that were presumably associated with his decennalia and vicennalia (in 315 and 326 AD respectively);

  5. 26th July - his natalis imperii  (anniversary of accession);

  6. 27th September - a ceremonial departure from Rome, presumably associated with his decennalia and/or vicennalia (in 315 and 326 AD respectively); and

  7. 29th October - his entry into Rome after his defeat of Maxentius; and

  8. 31st March - the natalis imperatum (birthday) of divus Constantius I.

The birthdays of a number of earlier deified Emperors were still celebrated, including that of  of divus Claudius II (10th May).  However, he was not given a two-day festival and is thus treated as all of the other deified Emperors whose birthday celebrations were listed in the calendar.  No commemorative celebrations were held for:

  1. divus Maximianus, whom Constantine I had included in the series of dynastic coins that he minted in ca. 317 AD;

  2. or Constantine II (died 340 AD) and Constans (died 350 AD), Constantius’ brothers and erstwhile fellow-Augusti.

Nevertheless, now that  this Christian Emperor was secure in his position, it is possible that he attached little importance to the putative Templum Flaviae Gentis on the Sacra Via, and that, if it still functioned at all, it was in decline.  It is possible that it did not appear in the ‘Notitia’ and its successors because it was now regarded simply as an undistinguished part of the Templum Pacis complex. 

Read more:

RIC V(1) - see P. Webb, below

N. Lenski, “Constantine and the Cities: Imperial Authority and Civic Politics”, (2016) Philadelphia

M. Salzman, “Constantine and the Roman Senate: Conflict, Cooperation, and Concealed Resistance” in:

  1. M. Salzman et al. (Eds), “Pagans and Christians in Late Antique Rome: Conflict, Competition, and Coexistence in the 4th Century”, (2016) New York

G. Kalas, “The Restoration of the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity: Transforming Public Space”, (2015) Texas 

A. Leone, “The End of the Pagan City: Religion, Economy, and Urbanism in Late Antique North Africa”, (2013) Oxford

L. Lavin and M. Mulryan, “Archaeology of Late Antique 'Paganism'”, (2011) Leiden

R. Lizzi Testa, “Tolerance for the Gentiles, Intolerance of Heretics: The First Interventions of Constantine in the Life of the Catholic church and the Pagan Priests”, in:

  1. V. Vachkova and D. Dimitrov (Eds), “Serdica Edict (311 AD): Concepts and Realizations of Idea of Religious Toleration”, (20o4) Sofia

J. Wienand, “The Making of an Imperial Dynasty: Optatian's ‘Carmina Figurata’ and the Development of the Constantinian Domus Divina (317-326 AD)”, Giornale Italiano di Filologia, 3 (2012) 225-65

E. Marlowe, “Liberator Urbis Suae: Constantine and the Ghost of Maxentius”, in

  1. B. C. Ewald and C. F. Noreňa (eds.) “The Emperor and Rome: Space, Representation and Ritual’ (2010) Yale 

M. Johnson, “The Roman Imperial Mausoleum in Late Antiquity”, (2009) Cambridge

W. Leadbetter, “Galerius and the Will of Diocletian”, (2009) London

M. Heijmans, “Constantina Urbs: Arles durant le IVe Siècle: Une Autre Résidence Impériale ?”, extract from "Konstantin des Grosse: Geschichte; Archäologie ; Rezeption”, (2007) Trier

M. Khanoussi and A. Mastino, “Il Culto Imperiale a Thibaris ed a Thugga tra Diocleziano e Costantino”, in

  1. M. G. Angeli Bertinelli and A. Donati (Eds), “Epigrafia di Confine dell’ Epigrafia: Atti del Colloquio AIEGL Borghesi,”, (2003) Faenza, 411–36

W. Leadbetter, “Galerius and the Will of Diocletian”, (2009) London 

R. van Dam, “Roman Revolution of Constantine”, (2007) Cambridge

C. E. V. Nixon and B. S. Rodgers, “In Praise of Later Roman Emperors: The Panegyrici Latini”, (1994) Berkeley

R. Syme, “The Ancestry of Constantine”, originally published in 1974, but reprinted in

“Historia Augusta Papers”, (1983) Oxford, pp 237-53

T. Barnes, “New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine”, (1982) Harvard

T. Barnes, “Constantine and Eusebius”, (1981) Harvard

S. MacCormack, “Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity”, (1981) Berkeley

P. Dufraigne, “Aurelius Victor: Livre de Cesars”, (1975) Paris

A. Frazer,  “The Iconography of the Emperor Maxentius' Buildings in Via Appia”, Art Bulletin 48: 3/4 (1966) 385-92

P. Bruun, “Some Dynastic Bronze Coins of Constantine the Great”, Eranos 53 (1955) 193-8 

  1. P.Webb, “Roman Imperial Coinage, (V:1)”, (1927) London

L. Canina, “Gli Edifici di Roma Antica e sua Campagna” (1848) Rome

Constantine: Constantine as Primi Nominis   Constantine as Sole Augustus

Constantine and Rome     Constantine's Re-naming of Cities    

Constantine's Imperial Cult       Divus Constantinus

Literary Sources: Diocletian to Constantine (285-337 AD)

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