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Constantine and Ardashir (slightly OT)

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  • Jgibson
    I have just come across a claim on another website I read that Constantine s inspiration to bind together the Roman Empire into a centralised [sic]
    Message 1 of 12 , May 29, 2013
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      I have just come across a claim on another website I read that
      Constantine's inspiration "to bind together" the Roman Empire into a
      centralised [sic] monotheistic state" via the promotion of Christianity
      was what went on in the Sassanid Empire under Ardashir" via his
      promotion of Zoroastrianism, with Eusebius taking the role in
      Constantine's program that the priest Tanzar had under Ardashir.

      Now it seems to me that the claimant is working from three questionable
      assumptions: First, that Constantine was intent to (and did) establish
      a centralized monotheistic state, and second, that Ardashir was not only
      also intent to do the same thing, but was successful in doing so, and
      that Constantine he knew what went on in Sassanid Persian regime under
      Ardashir.

      Would anyone care to comment upon the validity of this claim and/or the
      assumptions behind it?

      Jeffrey

      --
      ---
      Jeffrey B. Gibson D.Phil. Oxon.
      1500 W. Pratt Blvd
      Chicago, IL
      jgibson000@...
    • richfaussette
      ... Constantine s program that the priest Tanzar had under Ardashir. Dear Jeffrey, Edward Gibbon is enamored of Zoroastrianism and devotes considerable text to
      Message 2 of 12 , May 29, 2013
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        --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Jgibson <jgibson000@...> wrote:
        >
        > I have just come across a claim on another website I read that
        > Constantine's inspiration "to bind together" the Roman Empire into a centralised [sic] monotheistic state" via the promotion of Christianity was what went on in the Sassanid Empire under Ardashir" via his promotion of Zoroastrianism, with Eusebius taking the role in
        Constantine's program that the priest Tanzar had under Ardashir.

        Dear Jeffrey,
        Edward Gibbon is enamored of Zoroastrianism and devotes considerable text to its re-establishment under Artaxerxes I.

        It's a very enjoyable read...

        The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1,
        chapter VIII: Of the State of Persia after the Restoration of the Monarchy by Artaxerxes



        Jeffrey wrote:
        Now it seems to me that the claimant is working from three questionable assumptions: First, that Constantine was intent to (and did) establish a centralized monotheistic state, and second, that Ardashir was not only also intent to do the same thing, but was successful in doing so, and that Constantine he knew what went on in Sassanid Persian regime under Ardashir.

        Would anyone care to comment upon the validity of this claim and/or the assumptions behind it?

        Jeffrey


        Rich responds:

        The claim that Constantine consciously established Christianity is worthy of consideration.

        It is the process of 'establishing a national religion' that must have been known to Constantine.

        Zoroaster established his religion, declaring monotheism and aniconism. Once he acquired a national patron, he established his sons as head of the army and head of the priesthood and declared war on the daevas (national gods).

        In biblical Law monotheism and aniconism are declared while foreign gods (daevas) are condemned.

        The compilation of Biblical Law and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem are examples of spiritual and temporal centralization financed by Zoroastrian emperors.

        Ardashir, the first Sassanid emperor, summons the finest of the magi until he identifies the most learned one and has him verify a single Zoroastrian religious text. He has re-established and recentralized the priesthood and the text.

        Constantine acquires and finances an Oriental religion which is also monotheistic, aniconic (in theory) and also idol (daeva/foreign god)destroying. A centralized hierarchy is appointed.

        Armenia, a Roman ally in the East establishes the world's oldest national church (301 A.D.) trying to shed Oriental rule but Zoroastrianism persists in Armenia for centuries after Christianity is adopted.

        Jeffrey wrote about:

        "Constantine's inspiration "to bind together""

        Rich responds:
        The establishment of a proselytizing Christianity with a central church and priesthood and standard texts offers diverse communities integration and cohesion, their rulers; centralization of propaganda and control; the same goal as in the other establishments of religion.

        Jeffrey wrote:
        'First, that Constantine was intent to (and did) establish a centralized monotheistic state, and second, that Ardashir was not only also intent to do the same thing, but was successful in doing so...'


        Rich responds:
        The establishment of a national religion seems to have been accomplished a few times beginning with Zoroaster and Moses.

        Constantine could have benefited from these establishments that preceded him. I've made the same suggestion your web site makes. I don't call it valid, just probable as you can see from the series of 'establishments' that precededed Constantine.

        Enjoy the Gibbons' text on the re-establishment of Zoroastrianism.

        Regards,
        Rich Faussette
        NYC
      • George Athas
        Constantine definite did NOT establish a monotheistic state. He simply declared Christianity legal. Theodosius at the end of the 4th century was the one who
        Message 3 of 12 , May 29, 2013
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          Constantine definite did NOT establish a monotheistic state. He simply declared Christianity legal. Theodosius at the end of the 4th century was the one who turned the Roman Empire into a Christian state officially. So on that particular front, the claim is false.


          GEORGE ATHAS
          Dean of Research,
          Moore Theological College (moore.edu.au)
          Sydney, Australia

          From: Jgibson <jgibson000@...<mailto:jgibson000@...>>
          Reply-To: ANE-2 <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>>
          Date: Thursday, 30 May 2013 4:55 AM
          To: ANE-2 <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>>
          Subject: [ANE-2] Constantine and Ardashir (slightly OT)



          I have just come across a claim on another website I read that
          Constantine's inspiration "to bind together" the Roman Empire into a
          centralised [sic] monotheistic state" via the promotion of Christianity
          was what went on in the Sassanid Empire under Ardashir" via his
          promotion of Zoroastrianism, with Eusebius taking the role in
          Constantine's program that the priest Tanzar had under Ardashir.

          Now it seems to me that the claimant is working from three questionable
          assumptions: First, that Constantine was intent to (and did) establish
          a centralized monotheistic state, and second, that Ardashir was not only
          also intent to do the same thing, but was successful in doing so, and
          that Constantine he knew what went on in Sassanid Persian regime under
          Ardashir.

          Would anyone care to comment upon the validity of this claim and/or the
          assumptions behind it?

          Jeffrey

          --
          ---
          Jeffrey B. Gibson D.Phil. Oxon.
          1500 W. Pratt Blvd
          Chicago, IL
          jgibson000@...<mailto:jgibson000%40comcast.net>





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • MarcC
          Interesting issue. I haven t studied the material in a long time, but there was a consensus that Diocletian and Constantine borrowed aspects of Persian court
          Message 4 of 12 , May 30, 2013
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            Interesting issue. I haven't studied the material in a long time, but there was a consensus that Diocletian and Constantine borrowed aspects of Persian court ritual, so borrowing the idea of a state religion doesn't seem impossible, just not very convincing. As I understand it, Aurelian tried to introduce a state religion based on the cult of Sol Invictus. Diocletian apparently accepted Sol Invictus as one of the gods of a reinvigorated polytheistic state religion. Diocletian also tried to suppress Manichaeism and Christianity because they taught intolerance of polytheism. Since Diocletian failed to eradicate either religion, Constantine's patronage of Christianity may have been essentially a return to Aurelian's policy of constructing a new state religion, based on a single god, with the emperor at its head. In this reading of history, the development of a Roman monotheistic state religion derives from internal developments within Rome rather than from borrowing external ideas. What is the latest?

            Marc Cooper
            Missouri State University

            --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Jgibson <jgibson000@...> wrote:
            >
            > I have just come across a claim on another website I read that
            > Constantine's inspiration "to bind together" the Roman Empire into a
            > centralised [sic] monotheistic state" via the promotion of Christianity
            > was what went on in the Sassanid Empire under Ardashir" via his
            > promotion of Zoroastrianism, with Eusebius taking the role in
            > Constantine's program that the priest Tanzar had under Ardashir.
            >
            > Now it seems to me that the claimant is working from three questionable
            > assumptions: First, that Constantine was intent to (and did) establish
            > a centralized monotheistic state, and second, that Ardashir was not only
            > also intent to do the same thing, but was successful in doing so, and
            > that Constantine he knew what went on in Sassanid Persian regime under
            > Ardashir.
            >
            > Would anyone care to comment upon the validity of this claim and/or the
            > assumptions behind it?
            >
            > Jeffrey
            >
            > --
            > ---
            > Jeffrey B. Gibson D.Phil. Oxon.
            > 1500 W. Pratt Blvd
            > Chicago, IL
            > jgibson000@...
            >
          • richfaussette
            ... Dear George, Is it sufficient to say that Constantine merely declared Christianity legal? Constantine engaged with the Arian controversy calling the
            Message 5 of 12 , May 30, 2013
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              --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, George Athas <george.athas@...> wrote:
              >
              > Constantine definite did NOT establish a monotheistic state. He simply declared Christianity legal. Theodosius at the end of the 4th century was the one who turned the Roman Empire into a Christian state officially. So on that particular front, the claim is false.
              >
              >
              > GEORGE ATHAS
              > Dean of Research,
              > Moore Theological College (moore.edu.au)
              > Sydney, Australia



              Dear George,

              Is it sufficient to say that Constantine merely declared Christianity legal?

              Constantine engaged with the Arian controversy calling the Council of Nicea to resolve the issue of the very nature of Christianity's monotheistic God. His goal was not to become a theologian but to resolve an issue that would cause individual religious sects to arise from Christianity. Gibbon wrote that there were 70 Zoroastrian sects extant when Ardashir set out to centralize and re-establish Zoroastrianism. Constantine's concern was Ardashir's concern.

              Constantine's interest was political. He is in fact establishing the structure of the religion in the empire, building its churches and appointing its hierarchy. He is centralizing the religion so he cannot tolerate theological dissension. Zoroaster would not tolerate the icon worshipping daevas, as Judaism and Christianity would not tolerate idol worship.

              Theodosius, in his turn, made what was already established the only acceptable form of worship in the empire.

              Regards,
              Rich Faussette
              NYC
            • George Athas
              Rich, Constantine certainly contributed to the formation of a monotheistic state in a significant way, but it was not a reality in his day. While he himself
              Message 6 of 12 , May 31, 2013
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                Rich,

                Constantine certainly contributed to the formation of a monotheistic state in a significant way, but it was not a reality in his day. While he himself became a patron of Christianity, the Roman Empire was still legally multitheistic (I think I just invented a new term). When Theodosius decreed Christianity the sole religion of the Empire, it was not simply rubber stamping the situation that had come about by his time. He still had to do some key things to shut 'paganism' down. But over the course of the fourth century, Christianity came to dominate the empire, and Constantine played a significant role in that.


                GEORGE ATHAS
                Dean of Research,
                Moore Theological College (moore.edu.au)
                Sydney, Australia



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Trudy Kawami
                I would say that the second assumption is pretty iffy from the Iranian point of view. Our sources are uneven at best & royal statements (i.e., propaganda)
                Message 7 of 12 , May 31, 2013
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                  I would say that the second assumption is pretty iffy from the Iranian point of view. Our sources are uneven at best & royal statements (i.e., propaganda) cannot be taken literally. Of course Ardashir wanted to consolidate his control and of course he probably used every tool he could find. But the claim that Sasanian Iran was a “centralized monotheistic state” breaks down pretty quickly when the substantial Christian population of Iran is considered. Sasanian support for the Nestorian Christians as a counter-balance to the Monophysite Byzantine vassals should also be taken into account. I would think that Turaj Daryaee’s Sasanian Iran (224-651 CE): Portrait of a Late Antique Empire (Mazda Publishers, 2008) would be helpful.

                  Our understanding of Zoroastrianism, or more properly Mazda-worship, in Iran before the Sasanian period is even more uncertain. I would refer anyone interested to the useful essay of Shahrokh Razmjou in Forgotten Empire: the World of Ancient Persia (British Museum, 2005), pp. 150-154 especially. Once you see how few contemporaneous documents we have – from any period before Islam - , you realize how uncertain our understanding is.

                  Trudy S. Kawami
                  Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
                  New York, NY 10022

                  From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jgibson
                  Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 2:55 PM
                  To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: [ANE-2] Constantine and Ardashir (slightly OT)



                  I have just come across a claim on another website I read that
                  Constantine's inspiration "to bind together" the Roman Empire into a
                  centralised [sic] monotheistic state" via the promotion of Christianity
                  was what went on in the Sassanid Empire under Ardashir" via his
                  promotion of Zoroastrianism, with Eusebius taking the role in
                  Constantine's program that the priest Tanzar had under Ardashir.

                  Now it seems to me that the claimant is working from three questionable
                  assumptions: First, that Constantine was intent to (and did) establish
                  a centralized monotheistic state, and second, that Ardashir was not only
                  also intent to do the same thing, but was successful in doing so, and
                  that Constantine he knew what went on in Sassanid Persian regime under
                  Ardashir.

                  Would anyone care to comment upon the validity of this claim and/or the
                  assumptions behind it?

                  Jeffrey

                  --
                  ---
                  Jeffrey B. Gibson D.Phil. Oxon.
                  1500 W. Pratt Blvd
                  Chicago, IL
                  jgibson000@...<mailto:jgibson000%40comcast.net>



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • richfaussette
                  ... Dear George, I agree. In the context of Jeffrey s query regarding Ardashir who centralized the Magian priesthood and the Zoroastrian text, I thought it
                  Message 8 of 12 , May 31, 2013
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                    --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, George Athas <george.athas@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Rich,
                    >
                    > Constantine certainly contributed to the formation of a monotheistic state in a significant way, but it was not a reality in his day. While he himself became a patron of Christianity, the Roman Empire was still legally multitheistic (I think I just invented a new term). When Theodosius decreed Christianity the sole religion of the Empire, it was not simply rubber stamping the situation that had come about by his time. He still had to do some key things to shut 'paganism' down. But over the course of the fourth century, Christianity came to dominate the empire, and Constantine played a significant role in that.
                    >
                    >
                    > GEORGE ATHAS
                    > Dean of Research,
                    > Moore Theological College (moore.edu.au)
                    > Sydney, Australia

                    Dear George,

                    I agree. In the context of Jeffrey's query regarding Ardashir who centralized the Magian priesthood and the Zoroastrian text, I thought it important to note that Constantine did the same things and that previous Persian emperors had also centralized Judaism in Jerusalem and authorized a single legitimate text.

                    Constantine engaged with the Christian leaders, financed the building of their churches, made the churches diocese in the civil administration and prevented theological dissension regarding the nature of Christianity's monotheistic God from splitting them into a conglameration like the 70 sects of Zoroastrianism Ardashir had decided to reform into one cohesive operation.

                    Theodosius does not participate in this establishment activity. He brings what Constantine had begun to its logical, almost inescapable conclusion given the groundwork laid by Constantine.

                    Regards,
                    Rich Faussette
                    NYC
                  • Clark Whelton
                    Who was the last Roman emperor buried in Rome? Clark Whelton New York [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    Message 9 of 12 , May 31, 2013
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                      Who was the last Roman emperor buried in Rome?


                      Clark Whelton
                      New York


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • MarcC
                      This is really beyond the scope of ANE-2, but I ll bite. I think that it may have been Valentinian III. A usurper had him murdered while in Rome, and then the
                      Message 10 of 12 , Jun 3, 2013
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                        This is really beyond the scope of ANE-2, but I'll bite. I think that it may have been Valentinian III. A usurper had him murdered while in Rome, and then the usurper suffered the same fate a few weeks later.

                        Marc Cooper
                        Missouri State

                        --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, "Clark Whelton" <cwhelton@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Who was the last Roman emperor buried in Rome?
                        >
                        >
                        > Clark Whelton
                        > New York
                        >
                        >
                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        >
                      • Yigal Levin
                        Valentinian III was murdered in 455. My guess would be Anicius Olybrius, who reigned for a few months in 472 and then died of a disease in Rome itself. His
                        Message 11 of 12 , Jun 3, 2013
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                          Valentinian III was murdered in 455. My guess would be Anicius Olybrius, who
                          reigned for a few months in 472 and then died of a disease in Rome itself.
                          His successors all seem to have been exiled from Rome, and were presumably
                          buried where they died. See http://www.roman-emperors.org/olybrius.htm.



                          Best,





                          Yigal Levin



                          Bar-Ilan University



                          From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
                          MarcC
                          Sent: Monday, June 03, 2013 11:43 PM
                          To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: [ANE-2] Re: Late Rome





                          This is really beyond the scope of ANE-2, but I'll bite. I think that it may
                          have been Valentinian III. A usurper had him murdered while in Rome, and
                          then the usurper suffered the same fate a few weeks later.

                          Marc Cooper
                          Missouri State

                          --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com> , "Clark
                          Whelton" <cwhelton@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Who was the last Roman emperor buried in Rome?
                          >
                          >
                          > Clark Whelton
                          > New York
                          >
                          >
                          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          >





                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Mark Watson
                          This book (which I don t have): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roman-Imperial-Mausoleum-Late-Antiquity/dp/0521513715 … has the following appendix, which may provide
                          Message 12 of 12 , Jun 4, 2013
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                            This book (which I don't have):

                            http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roman-Imperial-Mausoleum-Late-Antiquity/dp/0521513715

                            � has the following appendix, which may provide a more definitive answer.

                            �Ubi sepulti sunt�: The Burial Places of Roman Emperors and Members of Their Families from Caracalla (217) to Anastasius (518)"

                            In the absence of that:

                            Valentinian III is traditionally associated with the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, though the tombs there seem to be of later provenance. Olybrius seems a decent bet as, apart from dying in Rome, his daughter went on to found churches there. Honorius (d. 423) and Theodosius II (d. 450) were, according to Prosper of Aquitaine, buried in the mausoleum of Santa Petronilla, near St. Peters.

                            --
                            Mark Watson
                            London, UK
                            On Tuesday, 4 June 2013 at 06:29, Yigal Levin wrote:

                            > Valentinian III was murdered in 455. My guess would be Anicius Olybrius, who
                            > reigned for a few months in 472 and then died of a disease in Rome itself.
                            > His successors all seem to have been exiled from Rome, and were presumably
                            > buried where they died. See http://www.roman-emperors.org/olybrius.htm.
                            >
                            >
                            > Best,
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > Yigal Levin
                            >
                            >
                            > Bar-Ilan University
                            >
                            >
                            > From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
                            > MarcC
                            > Sent: Monday, June 03, 2013 11:43 PM
                            > To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                            > Subject: [ANE-2] Re: Late Rome
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > This is really beyond the scope of ANE-2, but I'll bite. I think that it may
                            > have been Valentinian III. A usurper had him murdered while in Rome, and
                            > then the usurper suffered the same fate a few weeks later.
                            >
                            > Marc Cooper
                            > Missouri State
                            >
                            > --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com> , "Clark
                            > Whelton" <cwhelton@...> wrote:
                            >>
                            >> Who was the last Roman emperor buried in Rome?
                            >>
                            >>
                            >> Clark Whelton
                            >> New York
                            >>
                            >>
                            >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > ------------------------------------
                            >
                            > Yahoo! Groups Links
                            >
                            >
                            >


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