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On the Practice of Wearing the Diadem by Constantine the Great
Abstract.The present article is devoted to the issue of Constantine the Great's practice of wearing a diadem during his reign (306-337). This emperor is a key figure in Roman history with which scholars associate the final transition from the Principate to autarchy (the Dominate), a new socio-political structure of the Roman state that also changed the role of the emperor: from "the first among equals" he gragually transitioned into an absolutist monarch. The figure of the emperor is now surrounded by unprecedented veneration and his imperial vestiments had also changed, notably with the appearance of the diadem. Written sources, supported by imperial iconography, ascribed the practice of wearing a diadem to Constantine the Great, but modern researchers link the appearance of this insignia with the absolutization of imperial power at the turn of the 3rd - 4th centuries, leaving aside the specific circumstance (conditions and date) of its adoption by Constatntine. Meanwhile, the clarification of these points, defined as the subject of this study, could not only help to better understand the very ideology of the imperial power of Constantine and, more broadly, the Dominant, but also to trace it in its dynamics by taking into account the external factors that had an influence on it. In his study, the author analyzes the narrative and visual sources, as well as the data of the iconography on coins, comparing them with the chronology of the life and reign of emperor Constantine. Thus, at the heart of working with sources is the complex principle of their analysis. The author in general relies on the historical-genetic method, aiming to examine a specific phenomenon (the adoption of the diadem) in its dynamics in order to determine its causes, to reveal the properties and functions of this insignia and to link them with the specific political and ideological needs of Constantine the Great. The scientific relevance of this article lies in that the author makes an attempt to examine the adoption of the diadem not as the factor that ascertains the absolutization of the imperial power, but in the broader context of the specific political and ideological aims of Constantine the Great. Researchers have paid little attention to the adoption of the diadem by Constantine, for the most part limiting themselves to the simple constatation of the fact of its existence or even attributing the initiative of introducing the diadem to the predecessor of Constantine, emperor Diocletian (284-305), whose figure is associated with the beginning of the transition to the Dominant. According to the results of this research, the author comes to the conclusion that the real adoption of the diadem by Constantine, based on the information from narrative tradition, should be dated somewhat later than the appearance of the diadem on imperial images (from 324) and should be synchronized with the founding of the new capital, the city of Constantinople (330). According to the results of the presented research, Constantine can rightly be considered the creator of the vestment standard of the Roman emperors worn in the age of the Dominate and which had a strong influence on the later traditions of monastic vestments.
Keywords: Constantine the Great, Diocletian, John Malalas, Eusebius of Caesarea, Roman Empire, Tetrarchy, Dominate, iconography of Roman emperors, regalia of Roman emperors, narrative tradition
Article was received:03-08-2017
This article written in Russian. You can find full text of article in Russian here .