Most readers of history are familiar with the Emperor Constantine's reported vision of the Cross before his victory at the Milvian Bridge and his deathbed baptism to Christianity, yet few probably know about the emperor's first biographer, Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (260-339 C.E.). University of Toronto Professor Timothy D. Barnes devotes this scholarly volume to the two men. With copious footnoting, the first third of the book details the era from Diocletian's reforms to Constantine's consolidation of power as sole emperor of a united Roman Empire. In introducing Eusebius, Barnes backtracks to Third century Caesarea, a cosmopolitan seaport in Roman Palestine, and the Christian scholar Origen. Origen's interest in the relationship of God with humankind led him to a synthesis of Platonism and Christianity, believing that God had revealed himself - imperfectly - through Holy Scripture, and on three levels of understanding that encompassed body, soul and spirit. Eusebius was influenced by Origen, but interpreted the Bible from a historical perspective, with the Holy Spirit as the ultimate author. As scholar-historian, Eusebius compiled Chronicle, a guide to biblical place names, with a chronology that dated Moses and the Hebrew prophets in relation to Christ's Incarnation. Eusebius met Constantine in 325, at Nicea, during a council of some 300 bishops, which the emperor called primarily to settle the heresy of Arianism. A bishop by then, Eusebius was under suspicion and presented a formal creed of orthodoxy to refute reports of his Arian sympathies. In 330, when Constantine dedicated New Rome on the site of ancient Byzantium, Eusebius was asked to provide 50 bibles for churches in the new capital. The bishop was there again in 336 for the emperor's 30th anniversary, and read his Panegyric to Constantine, a poem of praise that likened the emperor to Christ. Eusebius then began a 4-book Life of Constantine, another panegyric that he transformed into a biography. In the final chapter Barnes discusses the historical value of the Life and provides a summary of the book's contents. Although Eusebius only met Constantine 4 times and received 6 letters, which reflect respect but not intimacy, he had access to documents after 324, yet glosses over the bloody succession to power by Constantine's 3 sons. An Epilogue treats of the criticism of Constantine by Julian II, Zosimus and others, and the renewed interest in the emperor during the Renaissance and Counter- Reformation. Barnes's conclusion, "Constantine... was neither a saint nor a tyrant. He was more humane some of his immediate predecessors, but still capable of ruthlessness and prone to irrational anger.... After 312 Constantine considered that his main duty as emperor was to inculcate virtue in his subjects and to persuade them to worship God. Constantine's character is not wholly enigmatic; with all his faults and despite an intense ambition for personal power, he nevertheless believed sincerely that God had given him a special mission to convert the Roman Empire to Christianity." Albert Noyer M.A. Author: The Saint's Day Deaths.