LIBERATORI/RESTITVTORI VRBIS SVAE or the entrance of the city of Rome in the orbit of Constantine. 2nd Part.

February 1, 2017

Anyway, for huge relief of the residents of the Eternal City, Constantine did not trigger any repression against them, stating in his appearance before the Senate on the same day of its entry into Rome, its intention both to be lenient with those who supported Maxentius as to respect the authority of such a prestigious and ancient camera. Indeed, far from wanting to repeat the massacre of senators led by Septimius Severus, his predecessor in the list of Roman emperors who conquered the city in the context of a civil war, Constantine wanted to shore up his power in the western half of the Empire (still in question because to the eastern August Galerius eyes, Constantine was still only Caesar) turning the hostile city of Rome in an ally. The best procedure for it was to continue, somehow, the work of Maxentius with the difference of permuting the prominence of him by Constantine own. This implied the need not only to show clemency but also needed both neutralize the power could subtract the losing side as yet beyond, suppress from awareness of the Romans the idea of Maxentius as benefactor and replace it for an image of tyrant.


The first of these objectives was amply fulfilled ordering to dissolve the Praetorian Guard, by far the mainstay of Maxentius from the military point of view, and sending all their members to an uncomfortable destination in the cold and remote frontiers of German limes. Since the Senate harbored a deep resentment towards the Praetorian Guard - not for nothing it had been used too often as a tool of coercion and punishment of the ancient camera - this Constantine decision was especially held between Senators and won him many converts to their cause. On the second goal, theoretically more elusive in so far as it was not enough with forcing but needed to convince, Constantine immediately set to work, using all the means available to the highly developed Roman propaganda machine. Thus, his proclamations raised a variety of charges over Maxentius, calling for example perverter of the wives of senators, some of which, dishonored in his honor, hadn’t found another outlet that suicide. Also was said Maxentius had made kill several senators in order to seize their properties, being as rapacious in their greed to accumulate possessions, including food, which had caused the famine in the city. This was not true since, while it is true that there were situations of serious famine in Rome, Maxentius was not to blame for them but the rebellion of Domitius Alexander in Proconsular Africa: the province where  was grown the wheat used to feed the huge city of Rome. So inflamed harangues seek to sharp to the height point the tyrannical character of the late emperor, reminding to the plebs the forcefulness with which the Praetorian Guard put down citizen revolts arose in response to the famine caused by the rebellion of Domitius Alexander. It was estimated at 6,000 the persons died under the praetorian steel, undoubtedly a reason more than enough to change the nickname "Protector of HIS CITY" -Conservator VRBIS SVAE--, as the liking of Maxentius, by other much worse: "Murderer of his city ".


Photo 2.- Virtual reconstruction of the Basilica of Maxentius (IVth century a.C.)