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Constantine the Emperor by David Potter
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Constantine the Emperor (original 2012; edition 2012)

by David Potter

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8029150,606 (3.57)14
Member:AnnShirley
Title:Constantine the Emperor
Authors:David Potter
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (2012), Hardcover, 368 pages
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Constantine the Emperor by David Potter (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love history books that unspool in seemingly endless detail past eras and disputes. This is not to everyone's taste, but what I have often found is that a deeper understanding emerges from this detail. Only when one is immersed in the contradictions, arguments and irrationalities of a period can one induce a pattern in the behavior.

This is exactly the sort of book that attempts to do just that, through detailed discussion of the legal and bureaucratic machinery that allowed Constantine (and many of his predecessors and co-rulers) to rule a vast and stable empire over decades, we come to understand how Constantine helped create the foundations of Christianity and along with it eighteen centuries of western civilization. He was building for the future, but not for our future. He was concerned with his legacy and his religion but in a far more immediate and instrumental way than we have tended to think of him. He created a structure to ensure Christianity could work in the Roman system and as a result created a system that allowed it to exist after the Roman system came apart.

Overall a valuable book and although the writing is was not always scintillating (as one would expect in dealing with property law rulings in Roman Asia Minor or the like)it is well worth the effort it requires.
1 vote benpass4 | Sep 23, 2013 |
This is a must have book for any history junky or as a companion book for any classical history major. Written by Professor of Greek and Roman History, David Potter, aka Francis W. Kelsey, he meticulously lays out the superior reign of one of history’s most notable emperors as he not only converted to Christianity and willingly got his subjects to follow as well, but he single-handedly seized control of a vast empire while being raged against by the Goths and Persians.
“Whatever people saw when they witnessed an emperor’s coming, it was also important that those who could not see him be given a clear image so they could imagine how he looked.”
Read FULL review here http://www.musingwithcrayolakym.com/3/post/2013/09/constantine-the-emperor.html ( )
  crayolakym | Sep 2, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This biography is a serious work for readers who seek to learn of the life of Constantine in great detail. This should come as no surprise, as it is published by Oxford University Press.

Given that biographies are so often written with political or private agendas, I was very concerned from the book's introduction that the author wrote it to promote his particular religion. (Potter dedicates his book to two colleagues "for the greater glory of the Holy Cross"). Such concerns appear to me to be unjustified. In fact, the author puts no stock in the popular myth that Constantine saw a cross in the sky that inspired him in battle and led him to make Christianity the state religion.

I would recommend this work to readers of a scholarly bent and others with avid interests in the time period; others may find it rather dry. In fact, the ideal reader should already know something of the subject, since the author alludes to controversies that will be unfamiliar to the uninitiated.
3 vote rybie2 | Jun 27, 2013 |
This book is the Emperor Constantine for the twenty-first century. If you think about our modern era, we are technocratic giants: scientists can tell us exactly how much of each chemical constituent it takes to make a human being. Unfortunately, we seem to be getting further away from understanding that spark which transforms a few Euros worth of chemicals into a living, sentient person.

Writing the biography of a long dead person does, of course,have many challenges - there is no film footage of Constantine in battle; his relatives, friends and work colleagues have all been placed in the earth many moons ago; the only sources left are literary. Constantine's most notable biographer was Eusebius, but he would go on about the Emperor seeing crosses in the clouds; and that is not good enough in our rational era. Professor Potter uses more obscure references to Constantine to build a believable picture of life in the fourth century Roman Empire. This book has many, many facts that I did not know about both Constantine and life in those times, and is an interesting read: it is just a pity that the author manages to calculate the constituents of Constantine to within millionths of a gramme, but never captures the spark. ( )
  the.ken.petersen | May 16, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love reading historical biographies. If you do too, this could be the book for you. However, WORD OF WARNING: This is a very difficult read. It was very wordy and tough to get through. You may also want a general knowledge of the Byzantine Empire before you begin. If you are a history buff and have the commitment, go right ahead. If you want something light, look elsewhere.
  HildebrandFamily | Feb 7, 2013 |
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PREFACE
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It is a pleasure to thank those who have played a role in making this book possible.
INTRODUCTION
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The Roman Emperor Constantine changed the world. For many millions of people across this planet, an institution that he introduced and promoted has become a central part of their lives; they use or hear words that he approved.
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With a critical eye aimed at earlier accounts of Constantine's life, the author aims to provide the most comprehensive, authoritative and readable account of the Roman emperor's extraordinary life.

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