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The Life Of The Blessed Emperor Constantine -Eusebius Pamphilus

AND when he was now ready to engage, he desired the most approved of his body-guard and his most valued friends, to meet him in one of the places which they consider sacred. It was a well watered and shady grove, and in it were several marble statues of those whom he accounted to be gods. After lighting tapers and performing the usual sacrifices in honour of these, he is said to have delivered the following speech:—

“Friends and fellow-soldiers! These are our country’s gods, and these we honour with a worship derived from our remotest ancestors. But he who leads the army now opposed to us has proved false to the religion of his forefathers, and adopted the sentiments of those who deny the existence of the gods. And yet he is so infatuated as to honour some strange and unheard-of Deity, with whose despicable standard he now disgraces his army, and confiding in whose aid he has taken up arms, and is now advancing, not so much against us as against those very gods whom he has despised. However, the present occasion shall prove which of us is mistaken in his judgment, and shall decide between our gods and those whom our adversaries profess to honour. For either it will declare the victory to be ours, and so most justly evince that our gods are the true saviours and assistants; or else, if this God of Constantine’s, who comes we know not whence, shall prove superior to our many deities (for at least ours have the advantage in point of numbers), let no one henceforth doubt which god he ought to worship, but attach himself at once to the superior power, and ascribe to him the honours of the victory. Suppose then this strange God, whom we now regard with contempt, should really prove victorious; then indeed we must acknowledge and give him honour, and so bid a long farewell to those for whom we light our tapers in vain. But if our own gods triumph (and of this there can be no real doubt), then, as soon as we have secured the present victory, let us prosecute the war without delay against these despisers of the gods.”

Such were the words he addressed to those then present, as reported not long after to the writer of this history by some who heard them spoken. And as soon as he had concluded his speech, he gave orders to his forces to commence the attack.



Image or Constantine is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license. Attribution: I, Jean-Christophe Benoist





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