Key to Umbria

Deification of Constantine

The contemporary historian Eutropius records that Constantine was formally deified:

  1. “Constantine’s death was foretold by a star with a tail, which shone for a long time, of extraordinary size, and which the Greeks call a ‘comet’.  He was deservedly enrolled among the gods” (‘Breviarium historiae Romanae’ 10:8).

The so-called ‘Calendar of Philocalus’ in the ‘Chronograph of 354 AD’ recorded two festivals (each followed by ludi votivi) in the sole reign of Constantius II (i.e. after 350 AD) that commemorated divus Constantinus and involved 24 chariot races:


  1. on 27th February, Constantine’s dies natalis; and

  2. on 25th July, his dies imperii.

Constantine II and Constantius II both issued consecration coins for their father, although Constans did not, despite the fact that he controlled the mint at Rome (as discussed below).  However, all the surviving inscriptions commemorating divus Constantinus came from Constans’ territory (again, as discussed below). 

This raises the question of whether the Senate in Rome ratified the consecration of Constantine.  In their commentary on Eusebius’ ‘Life of Constantine’, Averil Cameron and Stuart Hall (referenced below, at pp. 345-6) commented:

  1. “Rome would have been the normal setting for the ceremony of consecration, conferred by the Roman Senate  The picture Eusebius describes [at IV:69, quoted above] are the imagines commemorating such an event.  But, on this occasion, there was no body and no pyre [from which an eagle could emerge to convey Constantine’s apotheosis], and the Emperor was laid to rest in his Christian mausoleum at Constantinople. ... Eusebius’ smooth phraseology makes it hard to know how much, if any, of the traditional Roman ceremonial took place: he may be discretely passing over an actual pagan ceremony or suggesting that the traditional forms were on this occasion refused.”

Coins Minted for Divus Constantinus

  1. DV CONSTANTINVS PT AVGG (RIC VIII Constantinople 37)

Constantine and Constantius minted coins for divus Constantinus in their respective territories.  Ian Sellars (referenced below) summarised these issues as follows:

  1. “All of Constantine II’s mints [i.e. the Gallic mints at Trier, Lugdunum and Arles] took part in this coinage, albeit only in nummi.  Two types were struck by Constantine II:

  2. one with a reverse showing Constantine standing, and a reverse legend ‘AETERNA PIETAS’ [RIC VIII: Trier 37; Lyon 1-3; Arles 17, 32, 40 and 41]; and

  3. the other  with an anepigraphic reverse showing Constantine ascending to Heaven in a quadriga, with the hand of God reaching down to receive him [RIC VIII: Trier. 44 and 68; Lyon 12; Arles 42];

  4. The obverse legends invariably use ‘DIV’ or ‘DIVO’ in the traditional manner” (pp. 529-30).  It should be added that the full obverse legends were ‘DIV[O] CONSTANTINO P’, where the ‘P’ commemorated divus Constantinus as the father of Constantine II.

  5. “Constantius II took part in the in the consecration issues for the deified Constantine I from all the mints under his direct control [i.e. RIC VIII: Alexandria 4 and 12; Antioch 37, 39 and 64; ; Constantinople 37, 39 and 52; Cyzicus 4, 19, 25 and 30; Heraclea 13 and 14; and Nicomedia 4, 18 and 25].  These comprised almost exclusively of nummi, although a unique solidus is attested from Constantinople.  They continued to be issued right down to the [currency reform of 348 ASD]” (p. 559).  All of these consecration coins of Constantius II, except RIC VIII 64, had anepigraphic reverses showing Constantine ascending to Heaven in a quadriga, with the hand of God reaching down to receive him.  Their obverse legends were of the type ‘DV CONSTANTINVS PT AVGG’, where the ‘PT’ commemorated divus Constantinus as the father of all the Augusti.

Eusebius described the quadriga reverse design:

  1. “A  coin was also struck which bore the following device.

  2. On one side appeared the figure of our blessed prince, with the head closely veiled:

  3. the reverse exhibited him sitting as a charioteer, drawn by four horses, with a hand stretched downward from above to receive him up to Heaven” (‘Life of Constantine’, IV: 73).

The two main elements of this iconography:

  1. Constantine’s ascent to Heaven in a chariot; and

  2. his reception by the hand of God;

had been used respectively in two panegyrics (translated by Nixon and Rodgers, referenced below) that had been delivered at Constantine’s court some three decades earlier, in passages that both related to his father, divus Constantius I:

  1. “Divine Constantius, ... you whom the sun himself took up on a chariot almost visible, to carry you to Heaven ... ” (Panegyric VII (307 AD), 14:3).

  2. “... immediately [after Constantius’ death,] the temples of the Gods were opened for him: he was received by the divine conclave and Jupiter himself extended his right hand to him” (Panegyric VI (310 AD), 7: 3).

Eusebius evaded the questions of:

  1. whose chariot conveyed Constantine to Heaven; and

  2. whose hand reached down to receive him. 

Thus, Simon Price (referenced below, at p. 101) asserted that:

  1. “Surely, the imagery is neatly ambiguous, designed to be read in different ways by the pagan and Christian subjects of the Empire.”

It seems that Constans objected to consecration coins, however ambiguous was their iconography.  Ian Sellars (referenced below, at p. 536) commented on:

  1. “The total absence of consecration issues for the deified Constantine I from the mints  within Constans’ jurisdiction [ie. Aquileia; Rome, Siscia and Thessalonica] ... Posthumous coins for Constantine I were issued [by Constans]: however, they were only produced at a single mint, Rome, and did not refer to [Constantine’s] divinity.  Instead, they maintained the type in use prior to his death[ i.e.  CONSTANTINVS MAX AVG/ GLORIA EXERCITVS’; RIC VII Rome 400 and RIC VII Rome 401] ... albeit using mintmarks that clearly placed them in the reign of Constans.  When Constans took control of [the Gallic mints] after the death of Constantine II [in 340 AD], the consecration issues of those mints also abruptly ceased.”

Simon Price (referenced below, at pp. 101-2) suggested that Constans did not mint for divus Constantinus because he wanted to:

  1. “...avoid antagonising the Senate that had hoped to bury Constantine in Rome.” 

However, the fact that Constans did not mint for divus Constantinus in any of his mints suggests that his objections were more fundamental.

Inscriptions for Divus Constantinus

Apart from two inscription on milestones from Numidia (CIL VIII 21934/5) and a late inscription at Ravenna (CIL XI 276c), all of the inscriptions featuring divus Constantinus collected by Angela Amici (referenced below) can be placed on the route:

  1. from Ostia/Portus on the estuary of the Tibur to Rome; and

  2. then on along via Flaminia to Fano on the Adriatic coast.

Lucius Crepereius Madalianus, at Rome, Portus and Ostia

An inscription (CIL VI 1151, LSA 273) on the base of a statue that was found on the late antique level of the Forum Boarium in Rome (now in the courtyard of Palazzo dei Conservatori, Musei Capitolini) reads:

Divo ac venerabili / principi Constantino / patri principum / maximorum

Fl(avius) Crepereius Madalianus v(ir) c(larissimus)

praef(ectus) ann(onae) cum iure glad(ii)

This can be translated:

  1. To the deified and venerable Emperor Constantine, father of the most excellent princes, [set up] by Flavius [Lucius] Crepereius Madalianus, of clarissimus rank, Prefect of the Annona with jurisdiction over capital sentences.

As Angela Amici (referenced below, at p. 192)  pointed out, the fact that Constantine’s sons are referred to as “princes” suggests that the inscription dates to the interregnum of May - September 337 AD, when their status was undefined. 

Two other commemorations of divus Constantinus can probably be associated with Lucius Crepereius Madalianus and/or Portus/Ostia:

  1. A fragmentary inscription (CIL XIV 4406, LSA 1656) from nearby Ostia reads:

  2. ... d]ivo Cons[tanti]no [---]/ [---] max[---]/ [---]o〚[---]〛

  3. which has been reconstructed (on the basis of the inscription above from Crepereius’ statue in Rome):

  4. ... divo Constantino/ patri principum/ maximorum ...

  5. An inscription (CIL VI 1152, LSA 1274) from Trastevere reads:

  6. Divo / Constantino / Augusto / corpus / salariorum / posuerunt.

  7. To the deified Constantine: the corporation of salt traders [set this up]

  8. The association of this inscription with the others from Portus and Ostia arises from the fact that this was the location of the salt fields of Rome.

We can reconstruct the career of Crepereius as follows: 

  1. The inscription (CIL XIV 4449, LSA 1660)  base of a statue from Portus, near Ostia can be translated:

  2. To a man disciplined by faith, powerful in excellence, Lucius Crepereius Madalianus, of clarissimus rank:

  3. -Prefect of the Annona, with jurisdiction over capital sentences (as above);

  4. -comiti Flaviali  (member of the imperial court);

  5. -Corrector (governor) of the Province of Flaminia et Picenum;

  6. -legate representing the praetor of the province of Asia;

  7. -legate of the province of Africa;

  8. -supervisor of sacred buildings;

  9. -supervisor of the lighthouse and of the maintenance of the port;

  10. -quaestor, praetor, suffect consul. 

  11. On account of the many proofs of his affection for it, the council (ordo) and people of Flavia Constantiniana Portuensis decreed that a statue be set up with its own funds.

  12. By 341 AD, Crepereius had become Vicarius of Italy (and recipient of a letter from the Emperor Constans that insisted on the punishment of anyone offending against the law prohibiting sacrifice that his father had enacted.  

  13. This position is recorded in a third inscription (CIL VIII 17490, LSA 2408), this time from Calama in Proconsular Africa, which must therefore postdate 341 AD.  It can be translated:

  14. To a man of admirable justice and unparalleled moderation, Lucius Crepereius Madalianus, of clarissimus rank,

  15. -Proconsul (governor) of the Province of Africa and judge representing the emperor;

  16. -comiti ordinis primi (count of the first order);

  17. -vicarius of Italy;

  18. -Prefect of the Annona of Rome;

  19. -Consularis  (governor) of of the Province of Pontus et Bithynia;

  20. -Corrector  (governor) of the Province of Flaminia et Picenum;

  21. -comiti ordinis secundi (count of the second order) ...

From this we can establish that Crepereius:

  1. -was Corrector (governor) of the Province of Flaminia et Picenum before 341 AD, and thus a predecessor in this post of  Lucius Turcius Secundus Apronianus, signo Asterius (below); and

  2. -went on to become  Proconsul (governor) of the Province of Africa.


This inscribed cippus (AE 1977, 246) was discovered in 1976 under the church of Santa Maria di Plestia (modern Colfiorito, near Foligno), on the site of the forum of Roman Plestia.  It reads:

Di[vo]/ Flavio/ Valerio/ Constan/tino Aug(usto)

ordo/ Ples(tinorum)

It records that the council of Plestia had dedicated something to the deified Emperor Constantine.  Angela Amici (referenced below, at p. 199) suggested that the presence of Constantine’s full name here probably indicates that the inscription slightly pre-dates his death, with the epithet divus applied later.  Other inscriptions found nearby suggest that the cippus had been housed in a temple here that was dedicated to the municipal imperial cult.

Giorgio Bonamente (referenced below, search on ‘Spello’) observed:

  1. “[This inscription] has a markedly public nature, since it was promoted by the ordo Plestinorum.  [It was found] ... near the town of Spello, where a temple for the worship of the gens Flavia had been established, with the permission of Constantine [in the Rescript  known from the inscription CIL XI 5265, EDR136860].  When they [apparently] implemented the decree of the Senate which proclaimed the consecration of Constantine, the people of Plestia were certainly aware of the close connection that existed  between the site and the annual celebrations  in Spello ..., which was the most important political event throughout Umbria at this time” (my translation).

This temple at Spello must have become the  main locus for veneration of divus Constantinus in the area after 337 AD, although its relationship to the cult site at Plestia is unclear. 

[Could the cippus originally have been been set up in the temple at Hispellum by the Ordo of Plestia, and subsequently returned, perhaps when the temple at Hispellum became a Christian church ??]


An inscription (CIL XI 6219) on the Arch of Augustus in Fano (below an inscription  commemorating the Emperor Augustus) reads:

Divo Augusto Pio Constantino patri Dominorum

Curante L(ucio) Turcio Secundo Aproniani praef(ecti) urb(i) fil(io), Asterio 

v(iro) c(larissimo), corr(ectore) Flam(iniae) et Piceni

It was commissioned by Lucius Turcius Secundus Apronianus, signo Asterius, who was  corrector Flaminiae et Piceni in the 340s AD.  He was:

  1. the son of  Lucius Turcius Apronianus, the Urban Prefect of 339 AD; and

  2. probably also the brother of Lucius Turcius Apronianus, the corrector of Tuscia et Umbria in 342 AD.

This inscription must postdate 339 AD (since it records the tenure of Lucius Turcius Apronianus as Urban Prefect).  It most  probably dates to the 340s, when Asterius was the governor of the province of Flaminia et Picenum.  (He was thus a successor in this posirion of Lucius Crepereius Madalianus, who, as discussed above, had held it before 341 AD.)

This inscription is also discussed in my page Constantine's Re-naming of Cities, in connection with the renaming of the Colonia Julia Fanestris (Fano) as as Flavia Fanestri, which occurred at an unknown date prior to 365 AD.

Read more:

G. Bonamente, “Costantino fra Divinizzazione e Santificazione.: Una Sepoltura Contestata”, Enciclopedia Costantiniana (2013)

I. Sellars, “The Monetary System of the Romans: A Description of the Roman Coinage from Early Times to the Reform of Anastasius”, (2013) Google Books

R. W. Burgess, "The Summer of Blood: The 'Great Massacre' of the 337 and the Promotion of the Sons of Constantine", Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 62 (2008) 5-51

A. Amici, “Divus Constantinus: le Testimonianze Epigrafiche”, Rivista Storica dell' Antichità, 30 (2000) 187–216 

A. Cameron and S. Hall, “Eusebius' Life of Constantine: Introduction, Translation and Commentary”, (1999) Oxford

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

S. Price, “Funerals to Divine Cult: The Consecration of Roman Emperors', in

  1. D. Cannadine and S. Price (eds.), “Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Societies” (1987/1992) Cambridge pp. 56-105

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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