Bridging the Gap: Marking the 1700th Anniversary of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge

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Professors commemorate the Battle of the Milvian Bridge

Professors commemorate the Battle of the Milvian Bridge

Check out the video (in Italian) that appeared on TG 3 on May 24th! (Courtesy of Data Stampa)

Read the article by Fabio Isman (in Italian) that appeared on the front page of Il Messaggero newspaper on May 23th!

October 28, 312 AD marks a monumental turning in the course of human history. 1700 years ago Constantine defeated rival emperor Maxentius near the Milvian Bridge, bringing him one step closer to being the sole ruler of the Roman Empire (this would occur in AD 324). JCU’s Classical Studies program commemorated this event on May 24-25, 2012 in the form of a conference and guided tours of important Constantinian sites.

Prof. Erik Walters organized this event with Profs. De Sena, Govero and Hansen serving as the scientific committee. On May 24, the Aula Magna hosted a conference involving 13 papers by scholars from 8 countries (USA, Italy, UK, Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, Serbia and Israel). The subjects ranged from an analysis of 4th c. AD imperial portraits to the damnatio memoriae of Tetrarch Maximian; from urbanistic developments in Carthage in the 4th c. AD to trade relations between Romans and barbarians; from early Christians in Thrace to an analysis of the city of Naissus, the birthplace of Constantine. The participants received a surprise in the form of a lecture on Arian Christianity in the 4th c. AD by the Honorable Rocco Buttiglione, former Minister of Cultural Affairs and current president of the Unione dei Democratici Cristiani party.

On May 25, JCU professors led conference participants on a tour of important sites in Rome relevant to the subject of the conference. In the morning, we met at Ponte Milvio where Prof. Carolyn Smyth led a fascinating discussion of the history of the Bridge from the time it was first built in stone in 109 BC to the restorations in the 19th century; even Charlemagne symbolically crossed the Milvian Bridge in 799 AD. In the early afternoon, Prof. Walters led the very privileged group beneath St. Peter’s basilica to explore the ancient Roman necropolis and Constantine’s 4th century basilica. The spectacular Roman tombs dating primarily to the 2nd and 3rd c. AD bear beautiful frescos, mosaics, and sarcophagi; one of the tombs, located directly beneath the grand altar in St. Peter’s, is believed to contain the re-deposited remains of St. Peter, himself. Later in the afternoon, Prof. De Sena led a small triumphal procession from the Forum Boarium, through the Circus Maximus, to the Arch of Constantine (photo above).

The organizers thank many people at JCU, in particular Chief of Staff Kathryne Fedele, and staff members Ryan Taylor, Kathy Quinn and Jacqueline Maggi. This was a monumental way to help celebrate JCU’s 40th anniversary.