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date: 11 December 2018

Constantina, daughter of Constantine, wife of Gallus Caesar, and patron of St. Agnes at Rome

Summary and Keywords

Constantina, born in c. 320, was the eldest daughter of Constantine I. She was married twice, first in 335 to her cousin Hannibalianus, whose death in 337 left her widowed, and second in 351 to another cousin, Gallus Caesar. Between her marriages, she resided in Rome, founding the church of St. Agnes on the Via Nomentana, where she would be buried in an adjacent mausoleum after her death in 354. Constantina was an active political player in the early 350s. In 350, she intervened against the usurpation of Magnentius through proclaiming the magister militum Vetranio Caesar to her brother Constantius, and she exerted influence on her husband Gallus when the couple resided in Antioch from 351 to 354. Constantina was venerated as a saint in Rome in the 7th century.

Keywords: Ammianus Marcellinus, Antioch, Constantine I, Constantius II, Constans, empress, family, Fausta Augusta, Gallus Caesar, Hannibalianus, Helena Augusta, Helena, wife of Julian, Lateran, Magnentius, Philostorgius, Rome, St. Agnes, Vetranio


Flavia Constantina’s name is recorded with this variant of her cognomen on two inscriptions erected during her lifetime in Rome (CIL VI 40790; ILCV 1768 = ICUR VIII 20752; for the full texts see below, Residence in Rome).1 This version of her cognomen, also transmitted later in the 4th century by Ammianus Marcellinus and the Epitome de Caesaribus as well as by the Passio Artemii (written, at the earliest, in the late 4th century), should therefore be preferred over the also attested versions Constantia and Constantiana.2 Nonetheless, confusion about her name, already found in Ammianus Marcellinus, which on occasion has led to modern confusions of her identity with other women of the Constantinian dynasty, can be traced back to only a few decades after her death.


A marble head now in the Museo dell’Alto Medioevo in Rome may represent Constantina, and she has also been identified as one of the human figures in the 4th-century mosaic decoration at the mausoleum of St. Costanza in Rome.3 A 5th-century fresco, possibly showing two imperial women crowned by Christ, found between 1959 and 1964 in a late antique Christian chapel under the Antico Ospedale dell’Angelo, near the Lateran in Rome, has recently been interpreted as a posthumous portrait (on the left) of Constantina, although other scholars identify this figure as Valentinian III.4 There do not seem to have been any imperial coins issued with the portrait of Constantina.


Philostorgius (wrote between 425 and 433) reports that Constantina was awarded the title augusta during Constantine’s lifetime (and therefore, potentially, during the time of her first marriage to Hannibalianus); he also claims Constantine crowned her with a “diadem” (diadh/mati/) on the same occasion.5 Some modern commentators take this information as an anachronistic interpretation, inspired by the ubiquity of the augusta title for imperial women, and their crowning, in Philostorgius’ lifetime, also because Constantina is not called augusta in the inscriptions from Rome, both dated to after 337, and because of the lack of coinage in her name.6


The impression of Constantina that arises from the sources is one of a versatile imperial woman. She is recorded as a celibate retiree and patron of a saint’s cult in Rome after the end of her first marriage and, subsequently, as a scheming political activist. This potentially contradicting image may be due to the different types of sources that record these respective activities, Christian epigraphy, hagiography, and archaeological remains in the first instance, late antique historiography operating with conventional gender stereotypes and in general hostile to her brother, Constantius II, in the second. In that sense, Constantina’s representation in late antique sources is both backward-looking, putting her into continuity with interfering imperial women of the early empire and omitting information on her life that does not illuminate the actions of imperial men, and ahead of its time, celebrating her as an icon of Christian piety, a cultural space to be occupied by imperial women from the late 4th century on.7 However, contrary to other women of the Constantinian dynasty, such as Helena and Constantia, Constantina has left little trace in the writings of the 5th-century Church historians despite their keen interest in illustrating the roles of 5th-century imperial women with Constantinian examples, with the exception of the heterodox Church historian Philostorgius. This may be because her religious activity had focussed on the city of Rome and did apparently not involve episcopal intervention, so may have been of less interest to these Eastern Church historians.8 Conversely, it had a significant impact on the construction of Christian memory in Rome.

Birth, Marriage to Hannibalianus

Constantina is first recorded when she married her cousin Hannibalianus, the son of Constantine’s half-brother Dalmatius, in 335.9 It must be assumed that, at this point, Constantina was over twelve years of age, the customary age at which elite Roman girls started to get married.10 She was therefore born before 323. Philostorgius (in Photius’s summary) reports that she was Constans and Constantius II’s “oldest” sister (presbuta/th), which may be taken either in relation to them, suggesting she had been born even before 317, or to her sister Helena, who was born before their mother Fausta’s death in or after 326. Philostorgius’ (or Photius’) use of the superlative also suggests that Constantine had more than two daughters, with the third one possibly called Constantia, which would explain some of the confusions of names in the sources described above.11 Constantina’s marriage to Hannibalianus was a dynastic move for Constantine, who had made Hannibalianus’ brother Dalmatius Caesar alongside his own sons in 335. Constantine’s endeavours in these years, to incorporate his half-brothers and their offspring into the imperial project, were given additional strength through strategic marriages. Constantina’s sister Helena may have married Dalmatius Caesar on the same occasion.12

Residence in Rome

Constantina’s marriage to Hannibalianus was brief. In June 337, shortly after Constantine had died, he fell victim to a massacre in Constantinople instigated or at least not prevented by Constantine’s sons, which killed Constantine’s half-brothers and their adult male offspring.13 It is believed that Constantina spent the next fourteen years, until her marriage to Gallus, in Rome.14 Her presence in Rome can be inferred from epigraphical evidence, her building activity, and the hagiography developing from these. In Rome, Constantina may have acted as the imperial representative of her brother Constans in the city, whose territory included Italy, perhaps following her grandmother Helena’s example in the late 320s.15 It should also be noted that Constantina’s mother Fausta had owned property in Rome, which, as bona materna, could well have come into Constantina’s ownership.16 Furthermore, Eutropia and possibly Anastasia, her paternal half-aunts, who, due to the complicated Constantinian marriage strategies, were also her maternal cousins, were living in Rome as wives of prominent senators.17 Constantina may have gravitated towards these relatives after the events in 337 and away from her brothers, who after all were responsible for her husband’s death.

The two inscriptions commemorating Constantina in Rome connect her with two separate geographical areas and cultural spheres of the city, the civic sphere of the imperial bureaucracy and the religious sphere of the emerging Christian cult of saints. Flavianus Gavianus, an otherwise unattested praepositus rerum privatarum of equestrian rank, an official associated with the administration of imperial domains, erected a now lost bronze statue of Constantina, together with an extant honorary inscription, somewhere in the Lateran area (CIL VI 40790; see LSA Database, University of Oxford, LSA-1563).

The inscription reads: “To a woman begotten from the divine race deriving from the founder of the Roman empire, daughter of the deified Constantine, pious, the greatest, and sister of our lords Constans and Constantius, perpetual Augusti, our lady Flavia Constantina, noble and venerable. Flavius Gavianus, of perfectissimus rank, supervisor of the imperial treasury (praepositus rerum privatarum) forever of hers.”18

The inscription initially also mentioned Constantina’s brother Constantine, but was modified after his death in 340. It can therefore be dated to between 337 and 340, so to the earlier period of Constantina’s sojourn in Rome. It was recovered during excavations under the Ospedale S. Giovanni, about one hundred metres west of the Lateran baptistery, just north of where a residential complex attributed to Constantina’s mother, the so-called domus Faustae in Laterano, has been located by modern scholars (note that the attribution is contested).19 This area was one of storage, service, and administration space connected with the imperial res privatae. A small, two-roomed Christian cult place existed here already in the early 4th century. In the 5th century, it was expanded into a more formal Christian chapel with a third room featuring the possible fresco portrait of Constantina mentioned in Portraits. Constantina’s inscribed statue base, together with one dedicated to the 5th-century empress Eudoxia, wife of Valentinian III, were found built into the southern wall of this space. Both statues may have originally stood in a spacious adjacent courtyard serviced by a waterpipe inscribed to the statio patrimoni Augustorum nostrorum.20 Already Helena, Constantina’s grandmother, had been honoured with a statue commissioned by an equestrian praepositus rerum privatarum in c. 325–330, found on the eastern side of the Lateran complex.21 The epigraphical and archaeological evidence points to sustained customs of honouring imperial women within the context of the imperial bureaucracy operating in this southeastern area of Rome, perhaps when these women took up residence here.

The second inscription commemorating Constantina in Rome is a dedicatory epigram displayed on a marble slab on the southern wall of the basilica of the Roman virgin martyr Agnes.22 The marble slab is now lost, and the inscription only known through manuscript transmission. The church was a massive, 100-meter long circus-form basilica built close to, although not above, the tomb of St. Agnes in the catacombs along the western side of the Via Nomentana in the northwestern suburbium, about two miles from the city. It was a so-called cemeterial basilica whose primary function was to provide Christian burial space (figures 1 and 2).23

Constantina, daughter of Constantine, wife of Gallus Caesar, and patron of St. Agnes at RomeClick to view larger

Figure 1. Detail of Sarcophagus of Constantina in the Mausoleum of St. Costanza in Rome. Photo courtesy of Giuseppe Granata.

Constantina, daughter of Constantine, wife of Gallus Caesar, and patron of St. Agnes at RomeClick to view larger

Figure 2. The mid-4th century complex of St. Agnes: panoramic view from the south over the remains of the Ambulatory Basilica (on the left) and the Mausoleum of Constantina (now St. Costanza). Photo courtesy of, Creative Commons License (CC BY-SA 2.0).

The Liber pontificalis, in the edition compiled from earlier sources in the mid-6th century, reports that it was Constantine who had founded this basilica on his daughter’s request (ex rogatu filiae). The daughter is not named, but is likely meant to be Constantina.24 The passage may point to a formal legal process of imperial permission to build on public or imperial property on which the tomb of Agnes was located.25 While the archaeological remains date the church to after Constantine’s death, Constantina could have requested permission to build on imperial land on the Via Nomentana from her brothers, an event of which the author of the Liber pontificalis may have had only a distorted recollection. On the same occasion, the Liber pontificalis asserts that Constantine’s sister Constantia was baptised at St. Agnes, which also seems chronologically impossible (Constantia probably died in the early 330s) and may be due to a grammatical error in the author’s source material, the Passio Gallicani.26 The basilica’s dedicatory inscription mentions Constantina as the only founder, so it is also possible that the church was built on her own property. It is clear it was built with her own money (omnibus impensis paratis).

While Gavianus’ honorary inscription was erected in the vicinity of Christian space, but lacks any reference to the honorand’s Christianity, Constantina’s religious disposition was a central topic of this inscribed epigram. This inscription reads:

I, Constantina, venerating God and dedicated to Christ, having provided all the expenses with a devoted mind, at divine bidding and with the great help of Christ, consecrated this templum of Agnes, victorious virgin, because she has prevailed over the temples of all earthly works, [here] where the loftiest roofs gleam with gold.27

This poem, which is at the same time classicizing and mirroring the language of contemporary imperial victory monuments, has been termed a self-advertisement of a confident and authoritative woman, intent on displaying her literary education, her considerable philanthropy, and her Christian piety.28 It should be noted, however, that there is uncertainty over whether the epigram describes the act of church foundation in the first or the third person singular. Manuscripts transmit the key verb in line 4 as both sacravi (I consecrated) and sacravit (she consecrated), and a first person singular verb would not align well with the plural possessive pronoun nostris in line 13.29 Modern translations that emphasise the first person singular may therefore overstate its unusual auto-biographical and brazen tone. It has also been suggested that it was not Constantina who had commissioned the epigram, but the Roman bishop Damasus (366–384).30 Nonetheless, it is remarkable that the epigram’s focus on Constantina, whose name frames it as an acrostic, almost overshadows the commemoration of Agnes. We learn nothing about Agnes’ life or death from the text, except that she was a virgin and a martyr.

Constantina is described as “dedicated to Christ” (Christo dicata) in line 1 of the poem. This phrase, which has a hint of formal consecration, may be surprising, as Constantina, at the time that the inscription is believed to have been erected, was, of course, a widow (although, given her possible youth and short marriage, she may still have been a virgin) and she was also due to marry again. It should be noted that the dating of the inscription relies on the dating of the basilica’s archaeological remains and the assumption that Constantina was in Rome in the 340s, not on internal clues. Yet, even if we can date it to the period between Constantina’s two marriages, one should be cautious about assigning too much weight to its opening phrase, given the fluidity of the ascetic movement in this early period.31 Constantina’s alignment with the virgin saint certainly testifies (if the epigram is hers) to her interest in celibacy and perhaps also, as has been suggested, her rising awareness of female empowerment through Christian virginity, or at least the patronage thereof.32 It may be helpful to view Constantina’s action against the larger context of dissemination of ascetic ideas in Roman aristocratic circles in the 340s, which according to Jerome came as a consequence of Athanasius of Alexandria’s residence in the city from c. 339 to 343, during his second exile from his see. It was Constantina’s aunt Eutropia who hosted Athanasius in Rome. This allows us to at least speculate about direct contact.33

The Vetranio Affair

Constantina, by now c. 30 years of age, reappears in the narrative sources in the context of the turbulent political events marking the year 350. On March 1 of that year, after the usurpation of the comes rei militaris Magnentius and the subsequent murder of her brother and Western emperor Constans in Gaul, Constantina proclaimed as Caesar Vetranio, the magister militum of Illyricum, while her remaining brother Constantius was still on campaign in Mesopotamia. When she informed him by letter, Constantius accepted this decision, later in the summer even conferring on Vetranio the title of augustus.34 In the meantime, Magnentius asked for Constantina’s hand in marriage (offering his own daughter to Constantius in return), but this Constantius refused.35 By December, Constantius had deprived Vetranio of the imperial purple again and consigned him to retirement in Bithynia. It has been argued that Constantina had promoted Vetranio and planned to marry him due to ambitious plans to co-rule with him, rather than just assisting her brother in minimising the military danger of Magnentius’ usurpation.36 If this was true, it would be astonishing that Constantius did not seem to have reproved his sister.37 Philostorgius (or Photius) records that Constantina felt she had the power (du/nasqai) to make Vetranio Caesar. He felt the need to explain this agency with her (possibly unauthentic) title of augusta and the imperial authority flowing from this. This shows how unusual he perceived her actions to be for an imperial woman.38 The Vetranio affair demonstrates that Constantina’s attested contacts with the imperial bureaucracy in Rome and her possible contacts with Roman aristocratic circles described had extended her network of contacts and sphere of influence. One of the key Roman aristocrats involved in the events was the Praefectus Praetorio of Illyricum, Vulcacius Rufinus, who was also Constantius’ ambassador to Magnentius. At the same time, he was Constantina’s (and Constantius’) kinsman, through his sister Galla’s marriage to Constantine’s half-brother Iulius Constantius.39 Once again, Constantina is seen in proximity to this still powerful branch of the Constantinian family resident in the city of Rome, also her likely dwelling place in the preceding period.

Marriage to Gallus

Early in 351, before Constantius went on campaign against Magnentius, Constantina married her cousin Constantius Gallus, son of Iulius Constantius and some years her junior, who had survived the massacre of 337 together with his younger half-brother Julian and so far had lived in a form of banishment away from court. The wedding took place at Sirmium, which may mean that Constantina had been present in Illyricum already during the events of the previous year.40 The couple then relocated to Antioch, where Constantina gave birth to a daughter between 352 and 354.41 The girl’s name and fate are not mentioned in any source, but she has been put in relation with a woman called Anastasia, who financed decoration of St. Peter at the Vatican at the time of bishop Damasus (d. 384), and whose potential son Gallus may have done the same later in the 4th century.42

Gallus, who Constantius made Caesar on the occasion of his marriage, was also the nephew of the Praefectus Praetorio Vulcacius Rufinus. It has therefore been suggested that his sudden promotion and marriage to Constantina was a concession to Rufinus, as a reward for having helped Constantius against Vetranio and Magnentius.43 As with Hannibalianus, Constantina certainly served Constantius to strengthen inner-familial ties and perhaps confer prestige onto her husband, as did his other sister Helena, who was married to Julian in 355. The 5th-century Church historian Sozomen, who reported on Julian’s marriage, confused Helena with Constantina (here called Constantia), which shows that this author at least remembered the two women purely for their dynastic function.44 It also shows, however, that, of the two, Constantina left a deeper mark in collective memory.

The sources providing information on the relationship between Constantina and Gallus agree that she was the leading figure in the marriage and complicit, to a varying degree, in his conduct as Constantius’ co-emperor. If we are to believe Ammianus Marcellinus, a bloodthirsty and greedy Constantina, like an arsonist (inflammatrix), continuously incited her husband to ever crueller acts, drawing on a large circle of informers, to concoct false charges (calumniae) against innocent men.45 Even acts that in other empresses may have been seen as praiseworthy, such as her discovery of a plot against Gallus’ life, or the patronage of women, Constantina subverted into attempts to elicit even more false accusations.46 Constantina’s behaviour culminated in the outrageous advance into the sphere of dispensing justice itself: not content with being seated behind a curtain in the courtroom in which Gallus was holding trial, she repeatedly put her head through it, instigating him to inflict the death penalty on helpless defendants. Ammianus presents her, stereotypically, as a woman with instincts unnatural to her sex—she provoked Gallus’ brutality, where she should have mitigated it—and his account is laced with cultural references to other demonic women from imperial history (Agrippina the Younger), legend (Alexander the Great’s mother Olympias), and mythology (the Erynis Megaera).47 Philostorgius and Zonaras also record Constantina’s physical interference with imperial justice, although only once. When the Quaestor Montius told Gallus that he did not have the authority to inflict the death penalty on the Praetorian Prefect Domitian, who Constantius had sent to investigate Gallus, Constantina became so excited that she seized Montius with her own hands and handed over both him and Domitian to a humiliating execution.48

It is difficult to understand to what extent these authors give us insight into Constantina’s character or even real actions, as they used her as a foil to make judgements about the men in her life, her husband and her brother. Ammianus’ aim was to show up the weakness of both Gallus and Constantius, who twice failed to put a stop to Gallus’ terror regime, through their willingness to let themselves be ruled by a woman.49 Philostorgius, who saw Gallus as a victim of Constantius’ jealousy and his insolent officials, used Constantina to deflect blame away from Gallus regarding Domitian and Montius’ illicit execution.50 The Passio Artemii, which also records the story of their scandalous end, does not mention Constantina at all on this occasion. This casts doubt over her leading role.51 Nonetheless, the frequency of Constantina’s appearance in a variety of stories surrounding Gallus’ incompetent judicial activity in Antioch suggests that her actions and the brutal nature of her and Gallus’ very regime may have been, at least to some extent, factual.52 Both Ammianus and Philostorgius mention that Constantina felt confident and entitled, either due to her kinship with Constantius or, once again, her (possibly anachronistic) status of augusta. In light of the confidence that her dedicatory inscription for the basilica of St. Agnes also exudes, we may therefore suppose that Constantina was, worryingly for some ancient commentators, a woman not afraid of crossing conventional boundaries of female imperial behaviour.

In 354, Constantius eventually acted against Gallus. Once again, there are different accounts of Constantina’s role in this affair: Ammianus asserts that Constantius invited his sister on a pretext to visit him in Italy, in the hope that Gallus would then follow without suspicion. Philostorgius, the Passio Artemii, and Zonaras claim that Gallus was summoned to court, but that Constantina decided to travel ahead of him to intervene with her brother, which would have meant fulfilling the fairly conventional female duty of intra-familial peace-making. In the event, Constantina never reached her brother. She died on the way of a sudden fever attack, at Caeni Gallicani, a post station in Bithynia, probably being in her early thirties.53 Both Ammianus and Philostorgius record that her death increased Gallus’ fears, indicating that he had drawn a considerable sense of security from his marriage.

Burial and Commemoration in Rome

At some point, between 354 and 361, Constantina’s body was brought to Rome and interred in the suburbium on the Via Nomentana (in suburbano Viae Nomentanae), where, according to Ammianus Marcellinus, her sister Helena, Julian’s wife, would also be buried in 361.54 This is usually seen as a reference to the “double-shell” rotunda at the southeastern corner of the 4th-century basilica of St. Agnes, today the church of St. Costanza, whose masonry dates it to the mid-4th century (featuring a central area, a circle of columns, and an ambulatory outer area and, originally, also a vestibule opening to the basilica’s narthex and an outer columned porticus; see figures 3 and 4 for views of the interior).55

Constantina, daughter of Constantine, wife of Gallus Caesar, and patron of St. Agnes at RomeClick to view larger

Figure 3. The walls of the Constantinian Basilica, St. Agnes, Rome. Photo by José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro, Creative Commons License (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Constantina, daughter of Constantine, wife of Gallus Caesar, and patron of St. Agnes at RomeClick to view larger

Figure 4. View of the interior of the Church of St. Costanza. Photo courtesy of Giuseppe Granata.

The ambulatory’s walls, apses, and ceilings, as well as the central dome, were richly decorated in mosaics with biblical, but also classical motifs, some of which are extant (displaying, among others, geometrical patterns, fruits, birds, and vintage). The rotunda housed two porphyry sarcophagi, moved to the Vatican in 1606 and in the 18th c., respectively, the larger of which, displaying vintaging putti, is usually believed to have been Constantina’s (and the smaller one Helena’s) (figures 5 and 6). It had possibly been situated in the main apse opposite the entrance.56

Constantina, daughter of Constantine, wife of Gallus Caesar, and patron of St. Agnes at RomeClick to view larger

Figure 5. View of the interior of the Church of St. Costanza. Photo courtesy of Giuseppe Granata.

Constantina, daughter of Constantine, wife of Gallus Caesar, and patron of St. Agnes at RomeClick to view larger

Figure 6. The so-called Sarcophagus of Constantina, from St. Costanza, now in the Museo Pio-Clementino at the Vatican. Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont, Creative Commons License (CC BY-SA 3.0).

The rotunda, being towards the side of the basilica rather than opposite, was, compared with the mausoleum of Helena the Elder on the Via Labicana, in a less monumental position (see also figure 1). This may mean (if the rotunda was a mausoleum) that the entire complex was more focussed on the cult of Agnes rather than on imperial commemoration.57 Whether Constantina herself was responsible for the construction of the mausoleum and its decoration remains unclear. Constantius and Julian (mainly because of the “pagan” imagery) have also been suggested as its builders.58

In the 6th century, when the second and extant edition of the Liber pontificalis was composed, Constantina’s commemoration in Rome gave rise to an anachronistic story: in the Life of Liberius, the anonymous author relates how this bishop, on return from banishment inflicted on him by Constantius, “lived at the cemetery of Saint Agnes with the sister of Constantius augustus” (habitauit in cymiterio sanctae Agnae apud germanam Constanti Augusti), later in the text identified as “Constantia.” The same story is also transmitted in the roughly contemporary Passio Felicis.59 Other sources date Liberius’ return to Rome to 357–358, when Constantina had been long dead.60 That the author of the Liber pontificalis chose to identify Liberius’ host wrongly as Constanti(n)a is certainly due to the ambiguity of her name, which led to easy confusion. It also demonstrates, however, that for later Roman authors, Constantina was intrinsically connected to the city and its Christianisation.

The substantial impact Constantina’s memory had on Christian devotion in the city is also demonstrated by the fact that by the 7th century Constantina was venerated as a saint in Rome. Alongside her own Passio Constantiae, Constantina appears as a character in a number of further early medieval martyr narratives from the city of Rome (with the name Constantia, and at times the title augusta).61 The epilogue to the Passio Agnetis claims the virgin Constantia was cured of leprosy at the tomb of Agnes, which led her to convert from paganism and ask her father and brothers for permission to build church and mausoleum, which in turn became the site of miraculous cures and female conversion to asceticism. In the Passio Gallicani, she refused marriage to her father’s pagan general Gallicanus, being a dedicated virgin. As a cunning and ultimately successful plan to convert Gallicanus, she sent two of her eunuchs, the praepositus John and the primicerius Paul, with him on campaign, at the same time looking after and converting his daughters, Attica and Artemia, in her palace in Rome. John and Paul, in turn, used the fortune Constantia left them after her death to look after the poor of Rome on the Caelian Hill, which led to their persecution by Julian, described in the Passio Iohannis et Pauli.62 These interconnected stories certainly took inspiration from Constantina’s patronage of the basilica of Agnes and its dedicatory epigram’s celebration of virginity. With their focus on palace affairs and related personnel in the southeastern part of the city, they also testify to a memory of the physical presence of Constantina’s household in the city, substantiated, perhaps, by the above mentioned inscription found near the Lateran by a historical praepositus and potentially fuelled by continued presence of her descendants in Rome.

Epigraphic Database Clauss/Slaby.

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Krautheimer, Richard. Corpus Basilicarum Christinarum Romae, vol. 1. Vatican City: Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana, 1937.Find this resource:

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Mackie, Gillian. “A New Look at the Patronage of Santa Costanza, Rome.” Byzantion 67 (1997): 383–406.Find this resource:

L’Orange, Hans Peter. Das spätantike Herrscherbild von Diokletian bis zu den Konstantin-Söhnen, 284–361 n. Chr. Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1984.Find this resource:

Rasch, Jürgen, and Achim Arbeiter. Das Mausoleum der Constantina in Rom. Mainz, Germany: Philipp von Zabern, 2007.Find this resource:

Scrinari, Valnea Santa Maria. “Contributo all’urbanistica tardo antica sul campo laterano.” Actes du XIe congrès international d’archéologie chrétienne, 2201–2220. Rome: École Française de Rome, 1989.Find this resource:

Stanley, David J. “New Discoveries at Santa Costanza.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 48 (1994): 257–261.Find this resource:

Trout, Dennis. “‘Being Female’: Verse Commemoration at the Coemeterium S. Agnetis (Via Nomentana).” In Being Christian in Late Antiquity. A Festschrift for Gillian Clark. Edited by Carol Harrison, Caroline Humfress, and Isabella Sandwell, 215–234. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Washington, Belinda. The Roles of Imperial Women in the Later Roman Empire (AD 306–455). PhD diss., University of Edinburgh, 2016.Find this resource:

Wieber-Scariot, Anja. Zwischen Polemik und Panegyrik. Frauen des Kaiserhauses und Herrscherinnen des Ostens in den Res gestae des Ammianus Marcellinus. Regesta Imperii, Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag 1999.Find this resource:


(1.) CIL VI 40790 (calling her Fl(avia) Constantina); and ILCV 1768 = ICUR VIII 20752.

(2.) Ammianus Marcellinus, 14.11.22, 21.1.5; Epit. de Caes. 42.1; Passio S. Artemii 14. Constantia: Ammianus Marcellinus, 14.7.4; Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 3.22 and 28, 4.1; Sozom. Hist. eccl. 5.2.20; Chron. Pasch. s. a. 350; Zos. 2.45.1; Liber pontificalis 37.4; Petrus Patricius, frg. 16; Zonar. 13.8; and Constantiana: Anon. Val. 6.35.

(3.) Hans Peter L’Orange, Das spätantike Herrscherbild von Diokletian bis zu den Konstantin-Söhnen, 284–361 n. Chr. (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1984), 155, with critique of these interpretations.

(4.) Paolo Liverani, “L’area lateranense in età tardoantica e le origini del Patriarchio.” Mélanges de l’École française de Rome. Antiquité 116 (2004): 17–49; and Valnea Santa Maria Scrinari. “Contributo all’urbanistica tardo antica sul campo laterano,” Actes du XIe congrès international d’archéologie chrétienne (Rome: École Française de Rome, 1989), 2215, for the attribution to Valentinian.

(5.) Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 3.22 and 28.

(6.) Kenneth G. Holum, Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982); Anja Busch, Die Frauen der theodosianischen Dynastie: Macht und Repräsentation kaiserlicher Frauen im 5. Jahrhundert (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2013), 31; but see for a positive assessment of Constantina’s augusta title Bruno Bleckmann, “Constantina, Vetranio and Gallus Caesar,” Chiron 24 (1994): 36–37, John F. Drinkwater, “The Revolt and Ethnic Origin of the Usurper Magnentius (350–353) and the Rebellion of Vetranio.” Chiron 30 (2000): 153; and Anja Wieber-Scariot, Zwischen Polemik und Panegyrik. Frauen des Kaiserhauses und Herrscherinnen des Ostens in den Res gestae des Ammianus Marcellinus (Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 1999): 187–188.

(7.) Holum, Theodosian Empresses.

(8.) Michaela Dirschlmayer, Kirchenstiftungen römischer Kaiserinnen vom 4. bis zum 6. Jahrhundert. Die Erschließung neuer Handlungsspielräume (Münster: Aschendorff, 2015), 67.

(9.) Amm. Marc., 14.1.2; Anon. Val. 6.35; and Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 3.22.

(10.) Antti Arjava, Women and Law in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 32–33.

(11.) François Chausson, Stemmata aurea. Constantine, Justine, Théodose. Revendications généalogiques et idéologie impériale au IV s. ap. J.C. (Rome: “L’Erma” di Bretschneider, 2007), 115–116. For critique of this suggestion and dating of Constantina’s birth see Barnes, Constantine, 152.

(12.) Timothy Barnes, Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014), 165.

(13.) For background see Jill Harries, Imperial Rome AD 284 to 363. The New Empire (Edinburgh University Press, 2012), 186–189.

(14.) Dirschlmayer, Kirchenstiftungen, 54.

(15.) Jill Harries, “The Empresses’ Tale, AD 300–360,” in Being Christian in Late Antiquity. A Festschrift for Gillian Clark, eds. Carol Harrison, Caroline Humfress, and Isabella Sandwell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 212.

(16.) Opt. Milev., De schism. Donat. 1.23. On bona materna see Arjava, Women, 100–101.

(17.) PLRE I, Eutropia 2, 316; Anastasia 1. On Anastasia and Rome see also Walter Nikolaus Schumacher, “Das Baptisterium von Alt-St. Peter und seine Probleme,” Studien zur spätantiken und byzantinischen Kunst: Friedrich Wilhelm Deichmann gewidmet (Bonn: Habelt, 1986), 226.

(18.) CIL VI 40790: Divina prosapia ab/auctore Rom[ani]/imperii procrea[tae],/filiae divi Consta[ntini],/(5) pii, maximi, sororiqu[e]/`dominor(um) nostrorum´/Constanti et Constantis,/perpetuorum Auggg(ustorum),/d(ominae) n(ostrae) Fl(aviae) Constantinae, nob(ili)/(10) ac venerabili./Fl(avius) Gavianus, v(ir) p(erfectissimus), p(rae)p(ositus) rer(um)/privatar(um), semper vester, Transl. Carlos Machado, Last Statues of Antiquity Project.

(19.) Susan McFadden, “A Constantinian Image Program in Rome Rediscovered: The Late Antique Megalographia from the so-called Domus Faustae,” Memoirs of the American Academy Rome 58 (2013): 83–114.

(20.) Scrinari, “Contributo all’urbanistica,” 2213; and Dirschlmayer, Kirchenstiftungen, 63–64.

(21.) CIL VI 1135, see Jan Willem Drijvers, Helena Augusta. The Mother of Constantine the Great and the Legend of Her Finding the True Cross (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1992), 46–47.

(22.) ICUR VIII 20752 = ILCV 1768.

(23.) Richard Krautheimer, Corpus Basilicarum Christinarum Romae, vol. 1 (Vatican City: Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana, 1937), 14–39.

(24.) Liber pontificalis I, 180.

(25.) Gillian Mackie, “A New Look at the Patronage of Santa Costanza, Rome,” Byzantion 67 (1997): 390–391; and Dirschlmayer, Kirchenstiftungen, 58–59.

(26.) Stefan Diefenbach, Römische Erinnerungsräume. Heiligenmemoria und kollektive Identitäten in Rom des 3. bis 5. Jahrhundert n. Chr. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2007), 107.

(27.) ILCV 1768 = ICUR VIII 20752: Constantina d(eu)m venerans Christoq(ue) dicata/omnibus i<m=N>pensis devota mente paratis/numine divino multum Christoq(ue) iuvante/sacravit templum victricis virginis Agnes/templorum quod vincit opus terrenaq(ue) cuncta/aurea quae rutilant summi fastigia tecti/nomen enim Christi celebratur sedibus istis/tartaream solus potuit qui vincere mortem/invectus caelo solusq(ue) inferre triumphum/nomen Adae referens et corpus et omnia membra/a mortis tenebris et caeca nocte levata/dignum igitur munus martyr devotaq(ue) Christo/ex opibus nostris per s(a)ecula longa tenebris/o felix virgo memorandi nominis Agnes//Constantina deo. Transl. J. Curran. Pagan City and Christian Capital. Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford University Press, 2000), 128.

(28.) Dennis Trout, “‘Being Female’: Verse Commemoration at the Coemeterium S. Agnetis (Via Nomentana),” in Being Christian in Late Antiquity. A Festschrift for Gillian Clark, eds. Carol Harrison, Caroline Humfress, and Isabella Sandwell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 221–223.

(29.) ICUR VIII 20752 has sacravit; and ILCV 1768 has sacravi.

(30.) W. Eugene Kleinbauer, “Antioch, Jerusalem, and Rome: The Patronage of Emperor Constantius II and Architectural Invention,” Gesta 45 (2006): 132.

(31.) Hannah Jones, “Agnes and Constantia: Domesticity and Cult Patronage in the Passion of Agnes,” in Religion, Dynasty and Patronage in Early Christian Rome, 300–900, eds. Kate Cooper and Julia Hillner (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 118.

(32.) Harries, “Empresses’ Tale,” 211.

(33.) Jerome, Ep. 127.5; Athanasius, Apologia ad Const. 6. See also Julia Hillner, “A Woman’s Place: Imperial Women in Late Antique Rome,” Antiquité Tardive 25 (2017): 85–88.

(34.) Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 3.22; Passio S. Artemii 11 (Constantina writes a letter); Petrus Patricius frg. 16; and Chronicon Paschale s.a. 350.

(35.) Petrus Patricius frg. 16. Chausson, Stemmata aurea, 115–116 argues, because Peter the Patrician calls this woman Constantia, that this does not refer to Constantina, but to Constantius’ alleged 3rd sister, Constantia.

(36.) Bleckmann, “Constantina.”

(37.) Drinkwater, “The Revolt.”

(38.) For their uniqueness in comparison with other imperial women’s political activity see Belinda Washington, The Roles of Imperial Women in the Later Roman Empire (AD 306455), PhD diss., University of Edinburgh, 2016, 68.

(39.) PLRE I Rufinus 25, 782–783.

(40.) Epit. de Caes. 42.1; Zos. 2.45.1; Passio S. Artemii 12; and Zonar. 13.8.

(41.) Julian, Ep. ad Athen. 272 D.

(42.) ICUR II 4122; 4097. Chausson, Stemmata aurea, 138–141.

(43.) Bleckmann, “Constantina.”

(44.) Sozom, Hist. eccl. 5.2.20.

(45.) Amm. Marc., 7.4, 9.3, 11.22.

(46.) The same plot (without Constantina’s interference and instigated by Constantius) is also mentioned in Zonar. 13.8.

(47.) Tac. Ann. 13.5 reports on Agrippina sitting behind a curtain to overhear a senate assembly.

(48.) Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 3.28; and Zonar. 13.9.

(49.) Wieber-Scariot, Zwischen Polemik, 74–195.

(50.) Dirschlmayer, Kirchenstiftungen, 56.

(51.) Passio S. Artemii 13.

(52.) Hartmut Leppin, “Das Bild des Gallus bei Philostorg. Überlegungen zur Traditionsgeschichte,” Philostorge et l’historiographie de l’Antiquité tardive, ed. D. Meyer (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2011), 185–202.

(53.) Amm. Marc 14.11.6; Passio S. Artemii 14 (who both name the place); and Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 4.1, Zonar. 13.9.

(54.) Amm. Marc. 21.1.5.

(55.) For a different interpretation, see David J. Stanley, “New Discoveries at Santa Costanza,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 48 (1994): 257–261.

(56.) Mark Johnson, The Roman Imperial Mausoleum in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 139–156. For overall interpretation of the complex, see Jürgen Rasch and Achim Arbeiter, Das Mausoleum der Constantina in Rom (Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 2007).

(57.) Diefenbach, Erinnerungsräume, 174.

(58.) Constantius: Kleinbauer, “Antioch”; and Julian: Gillian Mackie,“A New Look at the Patronage of Santa Costanza, Rome,” Byzantion 67 (1997): 383–406.

(59.) Liber Pontificalis I: 207; and Passio Felicis (BHL 2857).

(60.) For the chronology of Liberius’ exile, see Rita Lizzi Testa, Senatori, Popolo, Papi: Il governo di Roma al tempo dei Valentiniani (Bari: Edipuglia, 2004), 166–167.

(61.) Passio Constantiae (BHL 1927).

(62.) Passio S. Agnetis 16 (BHL 156); Passio S. Gallicani 1–6 (BHL 3236-3237); Passio SS. Iohannis et Pauli 1 (BHL 3242). For comment, see Jones, “Agnes and Constantia.”

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