Constantius II, Roman Emperor
CONSTANTIUS II, ROMAN EMPEROR
Reigned 337 to 361; son of Constantine I, and coemperor with his brothers Constantine II and Constans. Weak and suspicious, he was probably responsible for the murder of rival members of the Flavian dynasty in 337. He governed the East until 350, and thereafter all the Empire, with his nephews Gallus and Julian as Caesars. Although unbaptized until his deathbed, he pursued a vigorous religious policy as an Arian. He attacked paganism, decreeing in 356 that "temples shall be closed at once everywhere" and prescribing capital punishment for the offering of sacrifices. He gave free reign to Arian bishops of the East, and after 350 strove to force the heresy on the West. In 345 he reinstated athanasius at Constans' insistence, but in 355 exiled him, along with Pope liberius, hilary of poitiers, and Hosius of Córdoba. He convoked many of the synods of the period. Faced with Julian's rebellion, he died leaving Arianism triumphant everywhere.
Bibliography: j. r. palanque, et al., The Church in the Christian Roman Empire, tr. e. c. messenger, 2 v. in 1 (New York 1953). h. lietzmann, History of the Early Church, tr. b. l. woolf, 4 v. (New York 1949–52). a. piganiol, L'Empire chrétien, 325–395 (Paris 1947).
[r. h. schmandt]