Did Constantine keep crucifying?

Constantine abolished Crucifixion. The century after him said so …

He regarded the cross with peculiar reverence, on account both of the power which it conveyed to him in the battles against his enemies, and also of the divine manner in which the symbol had appeared to him. He took away by law the crucifixion customary among the Romans, from the usage of the courts.

The only reference close to his reign is …

Finally, Constantine received all his enemies with honour and protected them by allowing them to retain their properties, and was so conscious of his obligations that he was also the first to abolish the long-established and utterly frightful punishment of the forked gibbet and the breaking of legs.

which praises clemency rather than piety towards Christianity.

Gibbon repeats Sozomen …

The piety rather than the humanity of Constantine soon abolished in his dominions the punishment which the Saviour of mankind had condescended to suffer

But his footnote references Victor and reflects surprise that such great action was such a footnote …

See Aurelius Victor, who considers this law as one of the examples of Constantine’s piety. An edict so honourable to Christianity deserved a place in the Theodosian Code, instead of the indirect mention of it, which seems to result from the comparison of the vth and xviiith titles of the ixth book.

So did Constantine abolish Crucifixion? In his Life of Constantine, Eusebius praises some of Constantine’s legislation as Christian but doesn’t mention such a demise and written in the last decade of the emperor, Firmicus Maternus¬†is still describing astrological signs that predict death by crucifixion …

But if Saturn is found in conjunction with these, it shows us a deadly fate. For those who are detected in such crimes are punished with a severe sentence, fastened to the stake and crucified.

The new convert changed all. Wishful thinking becomes fact?

5 Responses to “Did Constantine keep crucifying?”

  1. Edward Miessner Says:

    “…fastened to the stake AND crucified”??? Aren’t they supposed to be one in the same? Is there a mistranslation here, or does the original Latin have the same verbiage? If so, then we moderns have crucifixion all wrong!

    Crucified = nailed to a cross. That’s our modern definition handed down by the Christian churches.

  2. Edward Miessner Says:

    Forgot - some Latin writers, Christan and non-Christian, called what we call a cross a stake. Example: Anthologia Latina 415.23-24: “Noxius infami districtus stipite membra / Sperat et a fixa posse redire cruce.” (The criminal, limbs outstretched on the infamous stake / and having been fixed in place, hopes to be able to return from the crux) I used the word crux in the translation because I don’t know if the writer intended “cruce” to be the same as “stipite” or a distinct part of the whole structure.

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