Key to Umbria
 
    

                             IMP C MAXENTIVS P F AVG                            IMP C CONSTANTINVS P F AVG

                                   CONSERV VRB SVAE                                        LIBERATORI VRBIS SVAE

                             RIC VI Rome 202a (307-8 AD)                            RIC VI Rome 304 (312-3 AD)

Having taken Rome, Constantine had no intention of residing there.  However, having disposed of Maxentius, he could not afford to allow another ‘usurper’ to take the city.  In particular,  he had to take account of Maxentius’ achievements in Rome because, as Elizabeth Marlowe (referenced below, at p. 216) observed:

  1. “Maxentius’ lingering ‘ghost’ was the knowledge that the city of Rome presented a tangible threat to [his] hold on power”.

He would therefore need to do a much better job than the original Tetrarchs had done in establishing a strong virtual presence in the city.  He soon issued coins from his newly acquired mint at Rome that repudiated Maxentius’ claims to be its ‘conservator’ (in coins that included RIC VI Rome 202a, illustrated above) and instead proclaimed him as liberator or restorer of his city (RIC VI 303-4 and 312).

Urban Prefects

Crucial to this objective was the appointed a series of Urban Prefects on whom he could rely.  In the period following his victory, he chose men who had previously prospered under Maxentius (as set out in my page on History: Maxentius in Rome (311-2AD): at least some of these men had probably participated in the betrayal of Maxentius described in my page on History: Battle  of the Milvian Bridge.

Annius Anullinus (27th October - 29th November 312 AD)

As discussed in my page on Maxentius in Rome (308-11 AD),  Annius Anullinus (the Proconsul of Africa of 303-5 AD) first became Urban Prefect in March 306 AD.  He had presumably been appointed by Constantius, and he had retained his post under Severus when Constantius died in July of that year.  He seems to have been away from the city at the time of Maxentius’ coup in the following October.  Maxentius retained his services until August 307 AD, replacing him just before Galerius’ invasion of Italy.

If this had occurred because of doubts about his loyalty, he had clearly been rehabilitated, because Maxentius appointed him in place of Aradius Rufinus on October 27th 312 AD, a day before the canonical date, and on the eve of Constantine’s invasion of Rome.  The fact that Constantine briefly retained his services suggests that any earlier doubts about his loyalty might have been well-founded.

Aradius Rufinus (November 312 - December 313 AD)

Aradius Rufinus had probably served as consul(with Rufius Volusianus) under Maxentius in the last four months of 311 AD, just prior to his appointment as Maxentius’ Urban Prefect. As noted above, he was relieved of this latter post immediately before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, and had quite possibly been imprisoned at this point on suspicion of treason.  The fact that Constantine recalled him so quickly makes this likely.  The poet Avianius Symmachus, asserted that Aradius was:

  1. “Loved by all, protector of the fearful:

  2. -to the good leaders of [his] time [like Constantine, he] skillfully applied the spur, and

  3. -to the tyrants [like Maxentius], the bit” ((Ep. 1:2:3).

The distinction made here between the bit and the spur is surely diplomatic hindsight: Aradius clearly enjoyed a position of trust and influence with both Maxentius and Constantine.  

‘Our’ Aradius Rufinus had married into the noble gens Valeria.  His (probably oldest) son, Lucius Aradius Valerius Proculus went on to have a brilliant career under Constantine.  It is possible that

  1. Aradius Rufinus’ services to Maxentius included advice on how to develop the cult of the Valerian emperors in Rome (as described in my page on History: Maxentius and the Gens Valeria); and

  2. he and his son delivered a similar service to Constantine (as described in my page on Constantine’s Imperial Cult (312-24 AD)).

Caius Ceionius Rufius Volusianus (December 313 - August 315 AD)

Rufius Volusianus had held the post of Proconsul of Africa in 305-6 AD.   Pierfrancesco Porena ( referenced below, at p 263) suggested that he had still held this post at the time of Maxentius’ coup, and that he had welcomed it:

  1. “The loyalty of the noble Volusianus to Maxentius is evidenced, without a shadow of a doubt, by the prestigious appointments that he received during the reign of the usurper ....” (my translation).

In fact, he held three important posts under Maxentius:

  1. As Praetorian Prefect, he was instrumental in putting down the African revolt in 310 AD. 

  2. Maxentius then conferred on him the considerable honour of appointment as Urban Prefect for the year of his quinquennalia (beginning on 28th October 310 AD). 

  3. He still held this post when he was appointed as Consul for the last four months of 311 AD.

A later inscription (CIL  VI 2153) identified Rufius Volusianus as a member of the quindecimviri sacris faciundis, a prestigious college of 15 priests that guarded the Sibylline Books in Rome.  According to Noel Lenski (referenced below, at p 211, note 29)

  1. “The inscription dates to ca. 320 AD, but the quindecimvirate was a lifetime office and Rufius Volusianus, who was born in the late 240s, would probably already have held this priesthood by 312 AD, when he would have been in his sixties.”

Rufius Volusianus’ later career is known from two inscriptions from Rome (CIL VI 1707, LSA-1415; and CIL VI 41319 7, LSA-1573), both of which date to his later period of office under Constantine and therefore omit his known offices under Maxentius.  They record the following posts under Constantine:

  1. iudex sacrarum cognitionum (judge in the imperial court of appeal), a position that had probably been created by Constantine on his departure from Rome after his victory over Maxentius;

  2. Urban Prefect (313-5 AD); and

  3. consul (314 AD). 

Volusianus was still in office when Constantine returned to Rome to celebrate the beginning of his 10th year in power on July 25, 315 AD.  He probably had a role in supervising the construction and dedication of the new triumphal Arch of Constantine (discussed below), which was formally bestowed by the Senate and people of Rome.  At about this time, Volusianus dedicated a statue to Constantine in the Forum of Trajan.  The inscription (CIL VI 1707, LSA-837) reads:

D(omino) n(ostro) restitutori humani generis,

propagatori imperii dicionisq(ue) Romanae,

fundatori etiam securitatis aeternae

Fl(avio) Val(erio) Constantino Felici

Maximo Pio semper Augusto, filio divi

Constanti semper et ubique venerabilis,

C(aius) Caeionius Rufius Volusianus, v(ir) c(larissimus),

consul ordinarius, praef(ectus) urbi vice sacra iudicans,

numini maiestatiq(ue) eius dicatissimus

  1. To our lord, restorer of the human race, extender of the Roman empire and dominion, founder of eternal security, Flavius Valerius Constantinus, fortunate, greatest, pious, forever Augustus, son of the deified Constantius forever and everywhere venerable. Caius Ceionius Rufius Volusianus, of clarissimus rank, consul , urban prefect, judge in place of the emperor, dedicated to his divine spirit and majesty.

Before Constantine left Rome on 27th  September 315 AD, he replaced Volusianus as Urban Prefect (see below).  According to Timothy Barnes (referenced below, 1975, at p. 47), Volusianus was exiled shortly after his dismissal, apparently by his enemies in the Senate (possibly while Constantine was still in Rome), and never emerged from this disgrace.

Caius Vettius Cossinius Rufinus

Under Maxentius, Vettius Cossinius Rufinus served as:

  1. Proconsul of the Province of Achaia;

  2. Governor of Venetia;

  3. Governor of and Tuscia et Umbria; and

  4. Governor of Campania (in ca. 312 AD).  The inscription (CIL X 5061; LSA-1978) on the base of a statue to him recorded that the councillors and people of Atina there, “during his governorship ... , which took place during the ferocious tyranny [i.e. under Maxentius], [their city] did not suffer any harm.”

The inscription above also recorded Vettius Rufinus’ priesthoods.  Noel Lenski (referenced below, at pp 212-3) expanded:

  1. “Vettius Rufinus was a committed pagan, a devotee of the sun god in his capacity as pontifex dei solis in addition to serving in the college of augurs and as salius palatinus [a priest of a cult devoted to Mars].  This combination of priestly offices, and especially the augurate, make it likely, although not certain, that Vettius Rufinus also numbered among those Senators who advised Maxentius on strategy in October 312 AD.  Even so, Constantine saw fit to retain him as Urban Prefect for nearly a year (20th August 315—4th August 316 AD), to promote him to comes Augusti, and to appoint him consul for 316 AD.”

Public Works

Arch of Constantine

The Arch of Constantine, which the Senate commissioned to celebrate Constantine’s victory over Maxentius,was dedicated in Constantine’s presence in 315 AD.  By this time, Maximinus was dead and the Empire was in the hands of only two rulers, Constantine in the west and Licinius in the east.  Amanda Claridge (referenced below, at p 308) has translated the dedicatory inscription (CIL VI 1139; EDR103881) on the arch, which Noel Lenski (referenced below, at p. 219) translated as follows as follows:

  1. “To the emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus ..., the Senate and People of Rome dedicated this arch, distinguished by his victories, because, by instinctu divinitatis mentis magnitudine (divine instigation and greatness of mind), with his army, he avenged the state with righteous arms against both the tyrant [Maxentius] and all of his faction at one and the same time”.

By naming Constantine as ‘Flavius Constantinus’ (i.e. without any reference to his tetrarchic, Valerian credentials), the Senate seems to have conceded that imperial power, at least in the west, now belonged to Constantine’s Flavian dynasty. 

The Senate dedicated the arch in 315 AD, when Constantine returned to Rome to celebrate the beginning of his 10th year in power.  Volusianus was still in office at this time, and he had probably had a role in supervising the construction the new triumphal arch (still known as the Arch of Constantine), which was also dedicated at this time.  He was exiled shortly thereafter, apparently by his enemies in the Senate, and replaced by Caius Vettius Cossinius Rufinus (above).

City’s Shrine and Basilica

See imperial cult.

Other Roman Monuments Associated with Constantine

Aurelius’ account above continued:

  1. “[Constantine] also afterwards completed the decorations [initiated by Maxentius] on the Circus Maximus ... and built a bathing establishment that was not very different from the others” (40:27).

The baths here were presumably the so-called Baths of Constantine on the Quirinal Hill, which Elizabeth Marlowe (referenced below) suggests had also been started by Maxentius. 

Aurelius Victor then described how Constantine had completed Maxentius’ decorative programme at the Circus Maximus and the public baths on the Quirinal Hill.  The Senate dedicated the new baths in 315 AD, when Constantine returned to Rome to celebrate the beginning of his 10th year in power.  Volusianus was still in office at this time, and he had probably had a role in supervising the construction the new triumphal arch (still known as the Arch of Constantine), which was also dedicated at this time.  He was exiled shortly thereafter, apparently by his enemies in the Senate, and replaced by Caius Vettius Cossinius Rufinus (above).

The Senate dedicated the new baths in 315 AD, when Constantine returned to Rome to celebrate the beginning of his 10th year in power.

Constantine’s restoration of theAqua Virgo”, which was recorded in an inscription (CIL VI 31564; EDR 121962) in Rome, was probably associated with the Baths of Constantine and/or with Constantine’s restoration of the Baths of Agrippa.  The inscription relating to his restoration of the aqueduct recites his dynastic credentials by citing two of his deified ancestors, Claudius II and Constantius:

Imperat[o]r Caesar/ Fl(avius) Constanti[n]us Maximus

Pius Felix In[v]ictus Aug(ustus)

filius divi C[o]nstanti

nepos/ divi Cl[a]udi

It cannot be securely dated but, since it does not mention Crispus and Constantine junior, it probably pre-dates their elevation to the rank of Caesar in 317 AD. 

San Giovani Laterano

[In construction]


Read more:

E. Marlowe, “Liberator Urbis Suae: Constantine and the Ghost of Maxentius” in

  1. B. C. Ewald and C. F. Noreňa (eds.) “The Emperor and Rome: Space, Representation and Ritual’ (2010) Yale 

N. Lenski, “Evoking the Pagan Past: Instinctu Divinitatis and Constantine’s Capture of Rome”, Journal of Late Antiquity, 1:2 (2008) 204-57 

P. Porena, “Le Origini della Prefettura del Pretorio Tardoantica”, (2003) Rome   

G. Boersema, “The Constantinian Commemorative Issues of 317-8” (undated but after 2001)

D. Kleiner, “Roman Sculpture”, (1992) Yale

M. Salzman, “On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity”, (1990) Berkeley

T. Barnes, “New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine”, (1982) Harvard

J. Matthews, “Continuity in a Roman Family: The Rufii Festi of Volsinii”, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 16:4 (September 1967) 484-509

T. Barnes, “Two Senators under Constantine”, Journal of Roman Studies, 65 (1975) 40-9

A. Chastagnol, “Les Fastes de la Préfecture de Rome au Bas-Empire”, (1962) Paris

P. Bruun, “Some Dynastic Bronze Coins of Constantine the Great” Eranos 53 (1955) 193-8 


Constantine: Constantine as Primi Nominis   Constantine as Sole Augustus

Constantine and Rome     Constantine's Re-naming of Cities    

Constantine's Imperial Cult       Divus Constantinus

Literary Sources: Diocletian to Constantine (285-337 AD)


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