“You do not reflect, it seems, O Emperor, on the guilt you have incurred by that great massacre; but now that your fury is appeased, do you not perceive the enormity of your crime? You must not be dazzled by the splendor of the purple you wear, and be led to forget the weakness of the body which it clothes. Your subjects, O Emperor, are of the same nature as yourself, and not only so, but are likewise your fellow servants; for there is one Lord and Ruler of all, and He is the maker of all creatures, whether princes or people. How would you look upon the temple of the one Lord of all? How could you lift up in prayer hands steeped in the blood of so unjust a massacre? Depart then, and do not by a second crime add to the guilt of the first.” –from Theodoret, Ecclesiastical History

The priest shutting the gates of the holy temple to the prince himself for a deed he could do on account of his power. This was never seen before in human history. We have here an institution that not only explicitely claimed that all power is not arbitrary but subject to the higher divine law; but it also acted out upon this claim with authority. In this sense, the legalization of Christianity by the Edict of Milan in 313 brought the ancient recognition already expressed by Antigone back to the core of political power, and pushed it further. It is clear that the vast power that the emperors had acquired under the Dominate could not remain unaffected by this new authority. But what is perhaps more surprising and significant is that huaman laws, too, were transformed to agree with this divine authority. Ambrose forced the emperor to sign a law that forbade him to enact the death penalty before a 30 day-period had elapsed and the judgment had been brought again for reconsideration, “for your [the emperor] resentment will then be calmed and you can justly decide the issue.”