Panegyric VIII

< Panegyric of an unknown orator spoken in honour of Constantine Augustus ·>

1. Most Worshipful Emperor, many have suggested that I should draw the opening of this speech from the very occasion we celebrate today, given that your majesty has graciously assigned me the honour of commemorating such a splendid day in this city. Yet, I find myself restrained by two considerations: the belief that a person of my age should not presume to showcase a talent for spontaneous speech, and the conviction that only thoughts which have been long pondered and meticulously rehearsed are worthy of presentation before such a sublime deity.

To attempt extemporaneous speaking before the emperor of the Roman people is to underestimate the magnitude of the empire. Moreover, there exists a considerable number who anticipate that my address will be overly lengthy, judging not by any personal skill, which is modest, but by the vastness of your accolades. Contrary to my desires, I shall curtail their expectations through the conciseness of my remarks. Despite having prepared more to say, I prefer my speech to be brief rather than to risk its dismissal.

Therefore, I shall begin with brevity, respecting all of you, most invincible Emperors, with the reverence you duly command, yet I dedicate this humble oration specifically to you, Divine Constantine. Just as we, in our spiritual practices, collectively venerate the immortal gods yet individually honour each within his sacred precinct, so too do I feel it proper to hold all emperors in dutiful esteem, but to extol with praise the one who is present among us.

2. To begin, I will speak of the divine lineage from which you, Emperor Constantine, descend, a fact perhaps unknown to many but well recognized by those who hold you dear. Within your veins flows the blood of your ancestor, the divine Claudius, who first revitalized the discipline of the Roman empire at a time when it had been left weakened and in disarray. He vanquished the ferocious bands of Goths who surged from the Black Sea’s channel and the Danube’s mouth, both by land and sea. How we wish he could have prolonged his restorative service to humanity instead of joining the pantheon of gods so prematurely.

Although the joyous day we recently celebrated with fervour is marked as the anniversary of your ascension, it is clear that your imperial fate was inherited from the founder of your lineage. This ancient prerogative of your imperial house also elevated your father, setting the stage for you to assume this paramount position, becoming the third emperor after your family had already given the empire two sovereigns.

Among all those who partake in your glory, you, Constantine, stand unique in that you were born to rule as emperor. Such is the distinction of your heritage that imperial power has not enhanced your stature; rather, it is your inherent nobility that defines you. Fortune itself cannot dispute your divine right, a status you hold innately, without need for bribery or election.

3. Your rise to emperor was not the result of a mere coincidence of human agreement or a sudden wave of public sentiment; you were destined for imperial power by virtue of your birth. To me, this appears as the foremost and most splendid boon bestowed by the immortal gods: to be born into fortune and to inherit as one’s patrimony those achievements that others strive a lifetime to secure through arduous effort.

Although it is indeed a remarkable feat of fortune to climb to the apex of greatness by progressing through the ranks of a military career, strengthening one’s position through sheer personal virtue to secure such steadfast authority—a path you also embarked upon as much as your youth allowed. Despite Fortune elevating you above the usual hurdles in the pursuit of glory, you chose to earn distinction through military service, facing the perils of war. By engaging the enemy in combat, even under extraordinary circumstances, you enhanced your renown among nations, though your nobility could rise no higher. It is commendable to attain great honours through one’s efforts;

Yet, it is entirely another matter to traverse rugged terrain to summit the peaks from the plains below, and it is something else altogether to inherit the pinnacle of fortune by the sheer magnificence of one’s lineage, not merely aspiring to supremacy but possessing it from birth.

4. You entered this sacred palace not as a contender for the throne but as the predestined emperor, and the household deities of your father instantly recognized you as the rightful heir. There was never any question that the inheritance would fall to the one whom fate had appointed as the firstborn of the emperor. Indeed, it was you whom that illustrious figure—esteemed as an emperor on earth and deified in the heavens—fathered in the vigour of his youth, at a time when his strength was at its peak throughout his being, accompanied by a vigour and bravery that numerous battles, especially those on the plains of Vindonissa, bore witness to.

Furthermore, such a striking resemblance in appearance has been passed from him to you that it appears Nature herself has etched his image onto you with a chisel. In you, we observe once again that revered countenance, the same gravitas in the brow, the same serenity in the eyes and voice. In your demeanor, a blush reveals modesty, while your words uphold justice.

Hear, Emperor, this dual acknowledgment of our sentiments: we mourn the departure of Constantius, yet in gazing upon you, we are persuaded he has not truly left us. But why do I speak of his departure as if he has vanished? For his immortal achievements endure, continually celebrated on the tongues and in the eyes of all.

5. Who, indeed, does not remember—or rather, who does not still perceive in some manner—the extent to which he enhanced and honoured the state? Upon his ascension to power, right after his investiture, he contained the Ocean, then teeming with the enemy’s countless ships. He encircled that army, both by land and sea, which had fortified itself on the shores of Boulogne, by arresting the tidal waters through the construction of dikes amidst the waves. This resulted in the people of Boulogne, whose city gates were once kissed by the sea, losing their direct access to it.

When this very army was subdued by his bravery and spared by his mercy, as plans for reclaiming Britain were being made and fleets constructed, he purged Batavia of every foe. This land had been previously held by various Frankish tribes under the leadership of a native. Not satisfied with mere conquest, he settled those very peoples among Roman communities, compelling them not only to forsake war but also their barbaric customs.

But what more can be said about the retaking of Britain? His voyage to the island was met with such tranquil seas that the Ocean itself, in awe of such a distinguished voyager, seemed to cease its own motion. His crossing was so auspicious that victory did not appear to have accompanied him, but rather to have awaited his arrival.

6. What can be said about the compassion he showed in sparing the defeated? Or the justice he exercised in returning possessions to those who had been robbed? How about the wisdom he demonstrated in judgment, fostering alliances in such a way that the regaining of freedom was a joy for those who had suffered under tyranny, and amnesty induced repentance in those aware of their guilt?

And what of the peoples in the deepest parts of Francia, not uprooted from lands the Romans had once conquered, but from their ancestral homes and the farthest reaches of the barbarian world? They were resettled in the deserted territories of Gaul, contributing to the peace of the Roman Empire by their presence and to its defence through recruitment. Why should I revisit the victory over the Lingones, notable also because of the emperor’s personal injury?

Why mention the plains of Vindonissa, littered with the enemy’s dead and still strewn with their bones? Or the vast assembly of various Germanic tribes, lured by the Rhine when it was bridged by ice, daring to cross on foot to the island encircled by two arms of the same river, only to be trapped by the sudden thaw and besieged by swiftly dispatched ships? Forced to capitulate, they had to decide by lot—a daunting task—whom among them to surrender to captivity while the rest returned with the ignominious news of their betrayal.

7. My speech would extend beyond the day should I attempt to catalogue even briefly all the deeds of your father. Moreover, his final expedition was not solely for victories in Britain, as commonly thought, but he was nearing the deepest sanctum of the earth as the gods summoned him. This man, after accomplishing so many grand feats, deemed it beneath him to conquer not just the forests and marshes of the Caledonians and other Picts, but also nearby Ireland, distant Thule, and perhaps even the Isles of the Blessed. Although he kept these ambitions to himself, at the brink of joining the gods, he envisioned Oceanus, the father of the gods who replenishes the sky’s luminous stars, so that he might soon bask in the perpetual light and witness the almost endless daylight there.

Indeed, the heavenly realms opened for him, and he was greeted into the divine assembly, with Jupiter himself extending a welcoming hand. When immediately asked whom he would designate as his empire’s successor, his response was fitting of Constantius Pius—clearly, you, Emperor, were chosen by your father’s will.

What truth compels me to articulate also aligns perfectly with your filial reverence. Yet, why should this praise cater solely to your personal sentiment when it was a sentiment shared by all the gods, ratified long ago through their consensus, though only then officially confirmed by their unanimous council?

Even at that moment, as your father set off for Britain, you were being called upon to rescue the state under divine endorsement. Your unexpected arrival at the fleet, just as it was about to embark, shone so brightly it appeared not as if you had travelled by conventional means, but as though you had been carried by some divine chariot.

8. No arrows from Persians or Cydonians have ever hit their mark with the precision with which you arrived, a timely presence, at your father’s side as he prepared to depart this world. Your comforting presence alleviated all concerns he silently and prophetically harboured. Blessed gods, what immense favour you granted Constantius Pius, even in his final moments! The emperor, on the brink of transitioning to the heavens, beheld the one he was to leave as his successor. Immediately after his departure from this earthly realm, the entire army endorsed you, with the collective gaze and consensus pinpointing you as the chosen one. Despite consulting the senior emperors regarding this critical decision of public interest, the army’s fervent anticipation pre-empted their formal approval.

During your initial appearance, the soldiers, prioritizing the common weal over your personal sentiments, hastily draped you in purple as you wept, signifying that it was no longer appropriate to mourn an emperor who had ascended to divinity. It’s even recounted, O Unconquerable Emperor, that in your attempts to temper the army’s zeal as they proclaimed you, you spurred your horse onward—an action later deemed a youthful misjudgment.

What mythical steed, like Cyllarus or Arion, could whisk you away from the embrace of an empire that sought you so ardently? For the majesty conferred upon you, as decreed by Jupiter, did not require Iris’s swift messaging but was assured by Victory’s wings, settling upon you as naturally as divine edicts traverse from the heavens to earth. Thus, your hesitation to embrace authority highlighted your humility and filial devotion, yet the state’s destiny ultimately triumphed.

9. Oh Britain, how fortunate you were and now even more so, blessed above all lands, for you were the first to behold Constantine as Caesar! Nature has truly favoured you with all her bounties, granting a climate where neither the chill of winter bites too fiercely nor the heat of summer oppresses. Your soil is so generous that it yields the abundance of both Ceres and Liber, offering up crops and wine in plenty. Your woods are free from fearsome beasts, your fields from venomous serpents, replaced instead by countless tranquil herds, their udders brimming with milk, and sheep heavy with wool.

Indeed, for these reasons, life is cherished here; the days stretch long, and the nights, never wholly dark, hint at perpetual light. This is because the farthest expanse of your shores casts no shadows, allowing an unobstructed view of the heavens and stars beyond the night’s boundary. Thus, the sun, which to us seems to dip below the horizon, merely travels across the sky.

Blessed gods, why is it that deities from distant corners of the universe continually descend to be revered by all the world? Thus, Mercury emerged from the Nile, a river mysterious in its origins; thus, Liber ventured from the Indians, close to where the sun greets its first audience, presenting themselves as divinities to the peoples.

Regions that lie close to heaven are indeed more favoured than those encircled by the land, and it is easier for the gods to dispatch an emperor to a place where the earth’s expanse concludes.

10. As the son of an emperor, and such a formidable one at that, you embarked on your reign with a swift demonstration of how you intended to protect the state. Indeed, you dealt harshly with a contemptible group of barbarians who dared to challenge the onset of your auspicious reign with their sudden assault and brazen theft. Without hesitation, you inflicted the severest of punishments on the Francian kings themselves, who had breached the peace in your father’s absence, showing no fear of the enduring hatred or unyielding wrath of their people.

But why should an emperor fret over any resentment towards justified severity, when he is capable of justifying his actions? That mercy which spares enemies, not so much out of forgiveness but from a standpoint of self-interest, is indeed prudent. As for you, Constantine, let your enemies bear their animosity, as long as they remain in fear. The essence of true power lies not in being liked but in being unequivocally subdued. While there may be caution in keeping foes at bay through favours, there is greater valour in dominating them outright.

Emperor, you have revived the Roman empire’s age-old assurance, which once saw enemy leaders condemned to death upon their capture. The spectacle of captive kings adorning the triumphal chariots, paraded from the city gates to the forum until the moment the victor turned his chariot towards the Capitol, only to be then led away to prison and execution, has been reignited by your actions. Perses was the sole exception, spared only at Paulus’s request after his surrender, but all others, confined and deprived of light in prison, served as a stark warning to other monarchs: it is preferable to seek the Romans’ friendship than to provoke their sense of justice.

Thus, the punishment meted out to adversaries ensures not only that foes refrain from hostility but also that allies are more inclined to maintain their respect.

11. Emperor, you have bestowed upon us a peace that transcends the mere physical defences of geography. We no longer rely on the turbulent flows of the Rhine for protection; instead, it is the dread your name incites that guards us. Regardless of whether the Rhine recedes under the scorching sun or lies still in the grip of frost, no enemy dares to use it as a passage, not because of its natural state but due to the fear you have instilled.

No natural barrier is so formidable that audacity cannot breach it, as long as a sliver of hope for success remains. But truly unassailable is the defence erected by a reputation for valour. The Franks are well aware they could cross the Rhine, yet they understand that doing so, under your watch, would only lead to their undoing. Their hesitation stems not from a lack of capability but from the absence of any prospect for victory or clemency. They infer their likely fate from the tortures inflicted upon their kings, preferring despair at the bridge’s construction over the peril of crossing.

Where now is your savagery? Where is your infamous unpredictability that once proved so treacherous? You no longer even dare to approach the Rhine, and you quench your thirst from your inland streams with a pervasive sense of dread. In contrast, the forts dotting our borders serve more as symbols of our sovereignty than as necessary defences. The farmer sows his fields along those once-dreaded banks, and our livestock roam freely by the river’s bifurcation.

This is your enduring triumph, Constantine, born from the chastisement of Ascaricus and Merogaisus—a victory that should be esteemed above all your prior conquests. On the battlefield, victory is singular, but its lessons endure eternally. The common folk may not grasp the extent of their defeat, no matter the casualties; truly, the most effective means of subduing one’s foes lies in first eliminating their leaders.

12. Moreover, O Unconquerable Emperor, your decisive action against the Bructeri has ensured that the ferocity of the barbarians is quelled on all fronts, making them lament not just the suffering of their kings. A pivotal strategy in your campaign was the element of surprise, deploying your forces across the river unexpectedly. This was not out of a lack of confidence in open battle—given your inclination for direct confrontation—but to prevent a people skilled in evading combat by retreating into forests and marshes from escaping.

The outcome was devastating for them: countless were slain, many were captured; livestock was either appropriated or destroyed; all their settlements were demolished. The adults captured, deemed too treacherous for military use or too savage for servitude, were condemned to perish in public spectacles, overwhelming the ferocious beasts by their sheer numbers.

This, Emperor, is the mark of true confidence in one’s strength and destiny. It signifies not a peace brokered through leniency, but a victory secured through daring.

13. Furthermore, by constructing a bridge at Cologne, you underscore your dominance over the remnants of the defeated tribes, ensuring they remain in a perpetual state of fear and submission, forever extending pleading hands. Yet, this act serves more to exalt your empire and beautify its boundaries than to facilitate frequent crossings into hostile lands. The entire length of the Rhine is patrolled by armed vessels, and your soldiers, positioned along its banks all the way to the Ocean, stand ready to intimidate.

To you, it is a splendid achievement (and indeed, it is) not only to tame the Rhine in its upper reaches, where it is broad and shallow or narrow near its source, but also to dominate it where it is most formidable. By constructing a new bridge over this mighty river, which has absorbed numerous tributaries including the barbarous Neckar and the Main, where, already furious with its rapid flow and constrained within a single channel, it yearns to divide into its branches, you have showcased your might.

Even nature herself submits to your will, O Constantine, for in those swirling depths, foundations of immense strength are being laid down, promising enduring stability. Though the great Persian king once spanned the Hellespont with a temporary bridge of ships, and the second Caesar after Augustus similarly bridged the Gulf of Baiae for a fleeting amusement, your endeavour is not just challenging to achieve but also designed for perpetual utility.

Indeed, the construction of the bridge has already compelled your enemies into submission, as they come forward as supplicants seeking peace and offering hostages of significant rank. This early compliance leaves no room for doubt regarding their future conduct once the bridge is completed, for they already demonstrate obedience at its inception.

14. While you were focused on initiatives for the utility and honour of the state, the renewed disturbances caused by the man who should have been most supportive of your achievements diverted your attention towards him. Regarding this individual, I have been uncertain how to speak until now, waiting for a signal from your divine wisdom.

Though he rightly faces criticism for failing to reciprocate your filial loyalty, we must still temper our words, particularly out of respect for you. This restraint is due even when feelings run high, especially given his ingratitude after receiving significant favours from you and your family.

So, how should I approach such profound grievances delicately? I might resort to the often-used justification for all faults, one even philosophers embrace: that no one sins but by fate, that human misdeeds are merely the workings of fortune, while virtues are divine gifts.

Be grateful, Constantine, for your disposition and your essence, for Constantius Pius brought you into this world as you are, and the celestial decrees shaped you such that cruelty is foreign to your nature.

But regarding that man (referring to Maximian), as he was about to enter this life, presumably having some say in the path he would tread, I cannot accept that an inescapable destiny was assigned to him—one that would lead to wrongful deaths of many and ultimately to his own voluntary demise.

To overlook the rest, was it not predestined that he should betray your kindness in such a manner? You, who had welcomed him into your provinces amidst your soldiers and into your palace, after he was expelled from Rome, ousted from Italy, and dismissed from Illyricum.

15. What more could he possibly have desired for himself? What further gains did he seek beyond the bounty already bestowed upon him by you? You had lavished upon him the grandest and most varied of gifts: the leisure of private life coupled with the riches of royalty, and upon his departure, the mules and carriages of the court; your services were commanded even more diligently for his benefit than for your own, and you showed such deference to his every directive that while the symbols of imperial power were held by you, their essence seemed to reside with him.

Let us ponder, not the immense craving for power—for what was beyond his reach while you reigned?—but rather the judgment lapse of an elder, whose mind had begun to wane, embarking on the burdensome endeavours of civil strife. Indeed, those insatiable by fortune’s offerings, whose desires are unbounded by reason, miss the essence of joy. Always chasing the next hope, bereft of present blessings, they forfeit today’s riches for tomorrow’s mirages.

Yet that divine figure, the first to share and then to divest himself of the empire, harbours no regret for his actions or decisions, not deeming lost what was freely relinquished; content and truly fortunate is he, honoured in his private capacity by such august emperors as yourselves. He is not only sustained by the empire’s diverse leadership but delights in the protection you afford. Aware that his legacy is your foundation, he rightfully attributes your triumphs to himself.

16. This oath, this pledge made in the most sacred depths of the Palatine sanctuary, underscored a calculated and deliberate betrayal. Without haste but undoubtedly filled with plans of conflict, he completed his journey, eliminated the trail of supplies to deter any pursuit, and then, cloaked in purple behind fortifications, he usurped power for the third time after having relinquished it twice. He dispatched letters seeking the allegiance of the armies, tempted the soldiers’ fidelity with promises of rewards, evidently believing he could reliably command an army he had conditioned to be mercenary.

This man’s miscalculation revealed the profound loyalty your soldiers harbour for you, preferring you over any bribe or honour he could offer. That noble quality of self-restraint, often taught by a select few philosophers yet seldom observed, has become widespread because of you, Constantine. In your light, not only have those nurtured by intellect, scholarship, and a tranquil existence rejected personal gain, but even those driven by martial fervour have done the same.

Other armies may match yours in vigour and might, yet yours alone is distinguished by wisdom. In the past, some commanders, lacking in strong forces, resorted to bribery for fleeting acclaim, but such popularity was fragile, and their imitators quickly outshone them. The true, enduring protector of the state is he who is adored for his own sake, not for flattery that is sought or purchased, but for genuine and heartfelt allegiance.

Your favours, Constantine, undoubtedly delight your soldiers, yet they are all the more cherished because they come from you. Anything you offer is valued more highly simply because it is bestowed by your hand. In this pursuit of affection, no one can rival you. The greatest form of generosity is when the leader himself is the reward for his soldiers.

Thus, you provide your armies with more than they wish for, yet you are further esteemed for your name, your command stemming from your father’s legacy, your youthful vigour, and indeed, your commanding presence, all of which command respect.

Thus, that man (referring to Maximian), who had been accepted as a brother by him (Diocletian), felt disgraced to emulate his example, lamenting his oath in the temple of Jupiter Capitoline. It is no surprise, then, that he would also betray his son-in-law.

17. Immortal gods, behold such a radiant and celestial marvel: a young emperor whose valour, already unparalleled, continues to ascend. His eyes gleam with a brilliance, his bearing commands both respect and delight, overwhelming and captivating all who look upon him. This, I envision, was the likeness of the great king (referring to Alexander) and the Thessalian hero (Achilles), celebrated not just for their indomitable bravery but also their striking beauty.

It is no idle claim by the learned that Nature herself appoints the vessels fit for grand souls, and that from one’s visage and the grace of their form, the magnitude of the divine spirit housed within is revealed. Thus, at the dawn of your rule, your soldiers gaze upon you, marvel, and cherish you. They follow you not just with their eyes but with their hearts, picturing you in their thoughts, convinced they serve a deity, whose beauty is as palpable as his divinity is certain.

18. Upon hearing about that egregious crime, your soldiers, driven by their own volition, implored you for the command to advance. While you were busy arranging their provisions for the journey, they insisted that this preparation itself was a delay, claiming they had already received ample supplies thanks to your benevolence.

Then, arming themselves, they hastened to the gates, completing the distance from the Rhine to the Saône in as many days as it took, without pause. Their bodies, tireless; their spirits, ignited; their thirst for retribution, intensifying with each step closer to their objective.

Emperor, your thoughtful provision of boats at the port of Chalons, intended to refresh their strength, nearly failed to appease their urgency. The Saône, usually languid and unhurried, appeared to them more sluggish than ever; as the boats glided silently and the banks gently passed by, they felt as if they were at a standstill, not progressing.

Driven to emulate on water the pace they maintained on land, they took to the oars, forcefully overcoming the river’s sluggishness. Finally surmounting the Saône’s delays, they found even the swift Rhône too slow for their liking, deeming its flow towards Arles insufficiently rapid.

What more can be said? You must concede, Emperor, that even with your formidable physical vigour and spirited zeal, there were moments when you found it challenging to keep pace with the army you led.

Such was their fervour that upon learning he had fled Arles for Marseille, they leapt from the ships and dashed forth, outpacing not just the Rhône’s flow but, in a sense, even the wind itself. Their devotion to you had kindled such a flame within them that, despite anticipating the siege of a heavily fortified city, they were satisfied merely to arrive at their destination.

19. Marseille, as I’ve come to understand, extends into profoundly deep waters, boasting a harbour well-shielded by nature, where bay waters enter from the south through a slender passage. The city connects to the mainland via a narrow strip, just fifteen hundred paces wide, guarded by a robust wall dotted with numerous towers. Indeed, the locale itself once schooled both Greek and Italian settlers in the art of warfare, particularly in fortifying the section most vulnerable to assault, as nature had spared no need for defences on its other fronts.

A protracted siege previously laid this city open under less fortunate circumstances when it chose to close its doors to Caesar, favouring an elderly leader. War machines were deployed by land and sea, ramparts erected, and naval skirmishes ensued more frequently than mere threats, for modest Greek officials managed not only to fend off Caesar himself but also his commanders and their forces, relying more on their fortifications than their might.

However, Emperor, from the instant of your arrival and the initial onslaught by your forces, the formidable walls of Marseille, its towers in abundance, and the terrain itself posed no hindrance to your seizing not just the harbour but the city itself at once, should you have desired. The soldiers assaulted the entire perimeter with such assurance that they would have scaled the barriers immediately, had not the actual heights misled their judgment in preparing the ladders.

Nevertheless, many, thwarted by the insufficient length of the ladders, attempted to surmount the remaining height by extending their bodies, lifted on the shoulders of comrades below. Equipped with hooks in their hands, they managed to reach the gaps between the battlements. So consumed were they by the thirst for retribution that the peril of scaling a wall felt to them as if they were engaging in combat on flat terrain.

20. What a remarkable sense of duty you possess, Constantine, always mindful of your obligations, even amidst the chaos of battle! You signalled for a retreat and deferred victory, opting for the chance to extend mercy to all, wary that the fervour of battle might prompt actions beyond the generous scope of your clemency. Through the foresight of a ruler as commendable as yourself, you ensured those who had erred were given a chance to seek repentance and to plead for mercy willingly. Yet, those of us who witness the depth of your benevolence, for nothing shines as brightly as the kindness within your heart, recognize that you spared even him who would have surely met the sword had the initial assault succeeded.

Thus, in a display of filial compassion, Emperor, you safeguarded both him and all those he had rallied to his cause. Let the one who failed to embrace your magnanimity blame only himself, not recognizing his own worthiness of life when you offered him survival. Your conscience rests easy, having spared even the undeserving.

However, it must be noted, albeit with respect, that your power is not without limits. The gods themselves, perhaps even contrary to your intentions, exact vengeance on your behalf.

21. What we must always hope for is that your successes surpass even what you’ve envisioned for yourself; our aspirations and safety are cradled in your sovereignty. We yearn for your omnipresence, as unattainable as that may seem. Consider the tumult that unfurled during your brief departure from the borders: the barbarians’ audacity soared with treachery, pondering over your movements—when would you arrive, conquer, or return with your forces worn from battle? Yet, their schemes crumbled, utterly disoriented by the news of your return, ensuring that concern for the state’s welfare briefly stirred your peace.

The day after receiving that message, as you hastened your march, you found the uproar quelled, the tranquillity you left behind restored. It was as though Fortune herself had orchestrated your endeavours there, prompting you to fulfil your vows to the divine, leading you to the most splendid temple in the world, to a deity manifest before you.

Indeed, Constantine, it seemed you beheld Apollo himself, alongside Victory, extending laurels to you, each promising a reign of thirty years—a tenure surpassing even Nestor’s age, promised to you, beyond mere mortal spans.

Why should I say “I believe”? You saw him, recognizing in the visage of that god a reflection of yourself, to whom the sacred verses have long foretold dominion over all the earth.

It appears that prophecy has finally manifested, for you share his youth, joy, benevolence, and striking beauty, Emperor. Thus, you lavished such magnificent tributes upon those grand temples that they no longer yearn for ancient offerings. Now, all sanctuaries seem to beckon you, particularly that of our Apollo, near whose steamy waters falsehoods are chastised—a vice you, above all, detest.

22. Immortal gods, we eagerly await the day when this sovereign deity, having ushered in universal peace, will grace the hallowed groves of Apollo, his sanctified temples, and the steaming springs that mark his domain. These bubbling waters, wafting gentle warmth, seem eager to catch the gaze of Constantine, almost desiring to grace your lips. You will surely marvel at the dwelling of your divinity and waters warm without the earth’s blaze beneath them. Their taste and vapor carry no bitterness, mirroring the freshness of cool springs.

There, too, you will make your offerings, establish honours, and inspired by such devotion, rejuvenate my ancestral city. This city, once proud of its alliance with the Roman people, awaits the benevolence of your majesty, hoping for the rejuvenation of its public spaces and magnificent temples through your largesse. I witness how this most fortunate city, whose anniversary we commemorate with your piety, flourishes anew within its walls, as if celebrating its past desolation, now rendered grander through your magnanimity.

I envision a grand circus rivalling Rome’s, basilicas, a forum—royal endeavours all, and a courthouse soaring so high, it almost touches the stars, akin to heaven itself. Undoubtedly, all these marvels spring forth in the wake of your presence. In these lands frequently blessed by your divinity, everything flourishes—populations, cities, grace—surpassing even the bounties of Jupiter and Juno’s repose, with new cities and temples blossoming wherever you tread, Constantine.

Therefore, it fulfils my deepest hopes that you, guided by your care, should visit my mother-city, for her restoration is assured by your mere arrival. Whether this fortunate event will grace my life remains to be seen, yet the anticipation of such a blessing is a joy in itself.

23. As I stand before you, having achieved the pinnacle of my aspirations—to address you with my humble voice, which serves various duties in both private life and the palace—I extend my deepest gratitude to your divinity. Moreover, I entrust to your care my children, particularly the one engaged in significant legal affairs for the treasury. My affection is deeply intertwined with his career, which, thanks to his commendable service, aligns perfectly with the demands of your reign, should you take notice of him.

My ambition for all my children, Emperor, may seem lofty. Beyond the five sons I have sired, I count as my own those whom I have guided to prominence, whether in the forum or through palace duties. From me, numerous significant figures have emerged; many of my proteges now oversee your provinces. Their successes bring me joy, and I consider their honours my own. Should my speech today fall short of expectations, I hope my role in their accomplishments will find favour in your eyes.

If, moreover, your divinity would grant that from this speech I might gather evidence—not of eloquence, for that would be presumptuous—but of some modest ability and a spirit devoted to you, then let my trivial concerns dissolve. My eternal subject in discourse shall be the one who has bestowed upon me his favour, the Emperor.