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Constantine's Edict of Milan legalized Christianity, and before his death in 337 CE, he became the first Christian

emperor. By the end of the fourth century, pe rhaps ninety percent of the population was Christian. In addition, he founded a New Rome on the site of the ancient Greek polis of Byzantium. Renamed Constantin ople, it became and remained the greatest city in Europe and Christendom for the next thousand years. Dante's Divine Comedy, with its journey through hell and the quest for paradise, exemplifies the Medieval Age of faith. However, the poem also exhibits qualitie s of the Renaissance in that it contains numerous references to the classical wo rd, with the Roman poet Virgil being one of the key figures, and that Dante wrot e the Divine Comedy in an Italian dialect rather than Latin. Geography and climate often influence a society's outlook towards this life and religious beliefs and practices. The relatively stable and predictable Nile Rive r gave ancient Egyptians an optimistic outlook on life, while the unpredictable Tigris and Euphrates and the harsh environment of lower Mesopotamia made the anc ient Mesopotamians more pessimistic and their gods more threatening. At the height of the Assyrian empire in the eighth century, a king whose power w as absolute ruled the vast kingdom. The priests of Ashur were under royal contro l; there were no independent governors or representative institutions under the control of Assyria's landed aristocracy. As Rome expanded, there developed a need for provincial administrators. In the R oman Republic, consuls were the chief administrators and led the armies in war. Praetors were responsible for justice and the law. Ex-consuls and ex-praetors we re appointed proconsuls and proprietors, which were similar positions in Rome's imperial provinces. Quaestors were financial officers, and caesar later became s ynonymous with emperor. Roman historians, including Livy, used history to teach the values which ostensi bly made Rome great and which they believed must always be maintained Roman hist ories frequently tell the stories of great historical figures, such as Cincinnat us, and the essential Roman values they embodied. The Spanish reconquista, or the Christian crusades against the Moors in Spain, b egan in the tenth century, and by the thirteenth century, most of the Iberian Pe ninsula was again under Christian control. It was only in 1492, during the reign s of Ferdinand and Isabella, that the last Muslim state, Granada, collapsed, end ing the political power of Islam in Spain. The monarchs, however, continued to p ersecute Jews and Muslims, forcing the two religious minorities to convert to Ch ristianity or leave Spain. Greeks had colonized much of southern Italy in the seventh and sixth centuries B CE. As the influence of Rome spread into the south, conflict arose between Roman s and Greeks. Lacking standing armies, the Greeks hired mercenaries, notably Pyr rhus of Epirus in Greece, to defend them against the Romans. Pyrrhus defeated tw o Roman armies, but each victory was so costly to Pyrrhus that he withdrew back to Greece, thus the expression Pyrrhic victory. Barrel vaults and massive pillars and walls were characteristic of Romanesque ar

chitecture of the eleventh and early twelfth centuries. The later Gothic churche s used ribbed vaults and pointed arches, allowing the churches to be built highe r and giving the impression of upward movement. Flying buttresses on the outside distributed the weight outward and downward, thus eliminating the heavy walls o f the Romanesque architectur The first Gothic church was the Abbey church of Sai nt-Denis outside of Paris, constructed 1150. The Sumerians of Mesopotamia were the world's first civilized peoples, establish ing an urban society with written records and monumental architectural and engin eering projects in the fourth millennium BCE. There were approximately twenty Su merian city-states, often at war with one another, thus politically and militari ly similar to the Greek city-states three thousand years later. Greek culture of the Archaic Age ( seventh century) is exemplified by the lyric poetry of Sappho, whose verse focuses upon personal emotions and the power of lo v Hesiod's Works and Days is also a product of the Archaic Age, but, as a farmer , he distrusted the aristocrats and their values of pride and war. Homer's works represent the earlier heroic era, and the symposium and Plato were of the later fifth and fourth centuries.