Sunday, 7 January 2018

Constantine the Great (EIE): Personality Type Analysis

Constantine the Great, his official name Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus, also known as Saint Constantine, was the 57th Emperor of the Western Roman Empire from 306 to 324 and from 324 to 337 as ruler of the whole empire. Constantine is famed for uniting the western and eastern halves of the Roman Empire, presiding over the first ecumenical council of the Christian Church, founding Constantinople on the ancient trading colony of Byzantium and formally ending the persecution of Christians following the defeat of Licinius in 324. 

Constantine was born in Naissus, a military settlement where at the time of his birth, the current emperor Claudius II Gothicus died of a severe illness (likely smallpox). Constantine's mother Helena, was tolerant of Christianity and even converted before Constantine did, while his father never converted to Christianity, he was tolerant to Christians and ignored orders from his superiors to behave otherwise. However, the time when exactly Constantine became a Christian isn't clear to most historians, but the following facts are well established by the written history of Socrates Scholasticus and Sozomen. One of the reasons Constantine embraced Christianity was to guarantee his success on the battlefield by praying to God. It brought him honor and pride to fashion himself with Christian symbols that represented divine power, such as the labarum and the chi-rho (the first two Greek letters of Jesus Christ's name). He uniquely desired to be venerated as a "demi-god" after his victories in battle and sought to restore the glory of the Roman Empire's past. 

What little is known about Constantine's youth is that he was in a position of moderate political influence as his father Constantius Chlorus (LSE) who served as imperial bodyguard to Aurelian (SLE) at the time. At around the age of thirty, Constantine was already an experienced solider who fought against the Sarmatians and Persians in the 290s and was a member of Diocletian's inner circle, where he had received a formal education at his palace. In the year 303, preparations were being made to celebrate the successes of the Tetrarchy and all four emperors were required to attend this celebration. Diocletian (LSI) said that he would abdicate the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire, which in turn, would make it all the more easier for Maximian of the Western Roman Empire to retire. Maximian was enraged by this proposal and instead let the promotion of both emperors from Caesars to Augusti to proceed. The date of the abdication was rescheduled to next year and the emperor's sons were to be associates of Galerius (SLE) rather than immediately assume the position of Caesar in their respective empires. A conversation between Diocletian and Galerius concerning their sons was reported by a Christian author a decade later:

Diocletian: "What shall we do then?" 
Galerius: "Maxentius is not worthy of it... If he has shown such contempt for me as a private citizen, what will he do as an emperor?" 
Diocletian: "But Constantine is popular and will rule in such a way that he will be judged better and more merciful than his father." 
Galerius: "But in that case I shall not be able to do what I want. We must appoint men who will be in my power, who will fear me and do nothing but what I command." 

Now, Galerius may have claimed the position of Augusti, thus assuming that Constantine had lost the possibility of becoming Caesari, but this was far from the truth. Constantine's father Constantius had claimed the position of Augusti as well, meaning that Constantine would succeed him as emperor upon his passing. The situation quickly undid itself in 305, when Constantius requested to Galerius to have his son come with him to fight against the Picts beyond Hadrian's Wall. Galerius denied the request at first, thinking it would be too dangerous for Constantius to put his life at risk when the Tetrarchy had already been arranged in his favor, but he eventually agreed after a night of drinking and when he woke up the next morning, Constantius and his son had already fled to the campaign. However, Constantius was gravely ill during the time of his reign in 306, he arrived at the battle much later than the energetic Constantine did and right before he died, Constantius wished for his son to be promoted to the full rank of Augustus (essentially saying that his son were to replace him). 

Constantine was quick to actualize his accession upon recognition as Caesar in 306, he struck coins identifying himself as the "Prince of Youth" (princeps iuventutis). While Constantine was busy crafting his image, Maxentius seized the title of Augustus and gained the support of the army and senate to resist Galerius' harsh plans for the Praetorian Guard (Galerius planned to disband the remaining cohorts of Praetorians and transfer them to the frontier garrisons on lower wages). Galerius was overwhelmed with having to fight back the Sarmatians, so he had to dispatch Severus to take care of Maxentius' usurpation. Upon marching to Rome, Severus didn't anticipate that his own troops would change sides, forcing him to withdraw and was subsequently captured. Constantine took note that since Galerius was left with little option but to accept defeat, he saw the opportunity to advance join Maximian (SLE) at Trier and assume the title of Augustus like his father originally promised.

During the early years of his reign, the Civil Wars of the Tetrarchy had decimated all those who had previously been in power before Constantine. By 310, Maximian was sick of Constantine's apparent luck and rebelled against him during a campaign against the Franks. Constantine captured him, but he still retained his imperial titles. A few months later, Maximian was reported to have hanged himself on Constantine's orders. With Maximian dead, the tensions grew with more people claiming the title of Western Roman emperor and the only remaining "valid" claimants were Maxentius and Constantine. The night before the Battle of Milvian Bridge, a battle that would determine who would be the next Roman Emperor and end the civil wars - Constantine was advised in a dream to mark the shields of his soldiers with the heavenly sign of god (the Chi-Rho) and then engage in battle. Maxentius sat anxiously in Rome, growing more tense upon hearing the news of Constantine's victories in northern Italy. When Verona fell, Maxentius marched out of the city to battle him to avoid the possibility of Rome's siege. Afraid that Constantine had actually been blessed with divine support, he consulted the Sibylline Books and found solace upon hearing that the time was right for Rome to be liberated from a tyrant. The outcome of the battle only demonstrated that he was the tyrant. (The italicized portion is actual propaganda from Constantius to make the public believe that Maxentius was addicted to superstition).

His early reign shows more than it tells about Constantius, it portrays a guy who was greatly skilled in matters of diplomacy, i.e. his natural disposition to win people over to his side through charisma. It also shows his sheer sense of courage and determination when rising through the ranks in the army, it is clear that having to climb a social ladder or hierarchy of sorts to achieve an end goal is in his values. He made deep alliances of connection and support to those who were loyal to him and short strategic ones (like with Maximian) as a means to an end. All of that points to, stronger E than R, visible T, valued F and Beta values.

Characterizing the latter part of his reign, i.e. after the Tetrarchy ended and the Edict of Milan was put into place, will be shorter, but evident in confirming the typing of EIE

In 330, Constantine had chosen the Greek settlement of Byzantium as a victory city because of its proximity to the battlefield of Chrysopolis, but secondarily to revive the previously profitable trade colony that had been active in the seventh century BC. This strategic thinking was hardly unique to Constantine, but his sweeping monetary reforms had secured the restoration of the city as a center of trade five centuries later. Constantine assumed the role of a city-planner reluctantly, only working with P when he had to.

Upon the construction of Constantinople, it soon became the second metropolis of the Roman empire, it's strategic placement to the east meant that diplomatic envoys from other "barbaric" civilizations could reach the emperor faster and more efficiently. When Constantine wasn't amusing himself with the souvenirs from other empires, he surrounded himself with intellectuals - members of his coterie - who offered their latest philosophical and historical insights. For instance, Sopater was an orator and Neoplatonist philosopher who became a member of his court, he swiftly became a court favorite of Constantine and his patronage of the philosophical tradition hardly went unnoticed, pointing to weaker valued L and strong I in the "free-thinking" sense of the function.

Furthermore, the emperor in his personal life was a bit different from his benevolence that is venerated in Christianity. He was of choleric temperament, stubborn, short-tempered and vain about his appearance. In fact, there were even rumors surrounding that he was sensitive about his hair and his balding in old age. He would ignore the physical complaints of his body that came with aging or long periods of time, believing that his aging would bring him closer to death and subsequent salvation. On his deathbed, he cast aside his robes of purple and crimson, wearing only pure white robes so that he might "die and live forever". This alone places S at the lowest value.

Constantine the Great is a model EIE, everything fits from E1, T2, P3, S4, L5, F6, R7 to I8.

1 comment:

  1. From a historical perspective, I would add the following about Constantine.

    First, his “conversion” to Christianity wasn’t a clear-cut thing. It seems that he first became convinced that he was especially favored by, and connected to, “the Deity”, or God in a general manner, and then decided it was the Christians who most closely shared his views. But his own beliefs were personal and even heretic: there is evidence to suggest that he came to see himself as identical or equivalent to Jesus Christ.

    On his revamping of Byzantium into Constantinople. There were many reasons, all intermingled. Uniquely among the emperors of the Tetrarchy period, Constantine was familiar with both its eastern and western halves: he first served with Diocletian and Galerius in the East, then with his father in the West.

    So while his original military and political power base lay in the western armies and provinces, he knew that the East was more important economically, as a source of tax revenue. His focus in 324 had to be to consolidate his power and presence in the East, he could take support in the West for granted. That would be one major reason for Constantinople.

    When analysing Constantine’s decisions and policies, I think it is more useful to see him first as a warlord and politician focusing on preserving and increasing his power, rather than a statesman with deep strategic insight .