Helena Augusta

The mother of Constantine the Great and the legend of her finding of the true cross


This study on Flavia Julia Helena Augusta, mother of Constantine the Great, is divided into two parts. The purpose of the first part is to ascertain the facts of Helena's life on the basis of reliable historical sources. The second part deals with the legends concerning the discovery of the True Cross in Jerusalem by Helena. Fact and fiction, which are so often confused in the secondary literature, are carefully distinguished.
The first part deals with subjects like Helena's life before the reign of Constantine, her residences in Trier and Rome, her conversion, her position at the court of Constantine, and her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The second part investigates the origin, development and function of the legends of the discovery of the True Cross, which were developed in the 4th and 5th centuries: the Helena legend, the (Syriac) Protonike legend and the Judas Cyriacus legend. An appendix deals with the portraits of Helena.
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Biographical Note

Jan Willem Drijvers is Lecturer in Ancient History, University of Groningen.


All those interested in intellectual history, the history of Late Antiquity, the history of legend, the history of the Church, as well as classical philologists, theologians.


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