Iam mota inter eos fuerant arma civilia. et quamvis se Maxentius Romae contineret, quod responsum acceperat periturum esse, si extra portas urbis exisset, tamen bellum per idoneos duces gerebatur. plus virium Maxentio erat, quod et patris sui exercitum receperat a Severo et suum proprium de Mauris atque Gaetulis nuper extraxerat. dimicatum, et Maxentiani milites praevalebant, donec postea confirmato animo Constantinus et ad utrumque paratus copias omnes ad urbem propius admovit et a regione pontis Mulvii consedit. imminebat dies quo Maxentius imperium ceperat, qui est a.d. sextum Kalendas Novembres, et quinquennalia terminabantur. commonitus est in quiete Constantinus, ut caeleste signum dei notaret in scutis atque ita proelium committeret. facit ut iussus est et transversa X littera, summo capite circumflexo, Christum in scutis notat. quo signo armatus exercitus capit ferrum. procedit hostis obviam sine imperatore pontemque transgreditur, acies pari fronte concurrunt, summa vi utrimque pugnatur: neque his fuga nota neque illis.
(Lactantius, Mort. Pers. 44.1-6)

And now a civil war broke out between Constantine and Maxentius. Although Maxentius kept himself within Rome, because the soothsayers had foretold that if he went out of it he should perish, yet he conducted the military operations by able generals. In forces he exceeded his adversary; for he had not only his father’s army, which deserted from Severus, but also his own, which he had lately drawn together out of Mauritania and Italy. They fought, and the troops of Maxentius prevailed. At length Constantine, with steady courage and a mind prepared for every event, led his whole forces to the neighbourhood of Rome, and encamped them opposite to the Milvian bridge. The anniversary of the reign of Maxentius approached, that is, the sixth of the kalends of November [i.e. the 27th of October], and the fifth year of his reign was drawing to an end. Constantine was directed in a dream to cause the heavenly sign to be delineated on the shields of his soldiers, and so to proceed to battle. He did as he had been commanded, and he marked on their shields the letter Χ, with a perpendicular line drawn through it and turned round thus at the top, being the cipher of Christ. Having this sign (☧), his troops stood to arms. The enemies advanced, but without their emperor, and they crossed the bridge. The armies met, and fought with the utmost exertions of valour, and firmly maintained their ground. (tr. Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson)


Itaque cum simul proposita sint homini bona et mala, considerare unumquemque secum decet, quanto satius sit, perpetuis bonis mala brevia pensare, quam pro brevibus et caducis bonis mala perpetua sustinere. nam sicut in hoc saeculo, cum est propositum cum hoste certamen, prius laborandum est, ut sis postmodum in otio; esuriendum, sitiendum, aestus, frigora perferenda, humi quiescendum, vigilandum, periclitandum est ut, salvis pignoribus et domo et re familiari, et omnibus pacis ad victoriae bonis perfrui possis: sin autem praesens otium malueris quam laborem, malum tibi maximum facias necesse est; praeoccupabit enim adversarius non resistentem; vastabuntur agri, diripietur domus, in praedam uxor ac liberi venient, et tu ipse interficiere aut capiere: quae omnia ne accidant, praesens commodum differendum est, ut maius longiusque pariatur.
(Lactantius, Divinae Institutiones 6.4)

Since, therefore, good and evil things are set before man at the same time, it is befitting that every one should consider with himself how much better it is to compensate evils of short duration by perpetual goods, than to endure perpetual evils for short and perishable goods. For as, in this life, when a contest with an enemy is set before you, you must first labour that you may afterwards enjoy repose, you must suffer hunger and thirst, you must endure heat and cold, you must rest on the ground, must watch and undergo dangers, that your children, and house, and property being preserved, you may be able to enjoy all the blessings of peace and victory; but if you should choose present ease in preference to labour, you must do yourself the greatest injury: for the enemy will surprise you offering no resistance, your lands will be laid waste, your house plundered, your wife and children become a prey, you yourself will be slain or taken prisoner; to prevent the occurrence of these things, present advantage must be put aside, that a greater and more lasting advantage may be gained. (tr. William Fletcher)