At the end of his Remembering Constantine at the Milvian Bridge, Raymond van Dam suggests that Constantine’s opponent, Maxentius, had his own inspiration before the battle: “During his reign Maxentius had represented himself as the defender of Rome, ‘his city.’ Perhaps it is possible to imagine that at the moment of crisis he had looked for inspiration to the legends about the foundation of the city and the establishment of the Republic. Because he and Constantine were brothers-in-law, their imminent confrontation would be a replay of the quarrel between the brothers Romulus and Remus over the foundation of Rome. By defeating Constantine, Maxentius would confirm his reputation as the new founder of the city. In the process, he could in addition become the new savior of the Republic. He would be the new Horatius defending another bridge” (258).
In an ironic twist on Santayana’s dictum, van Dam suggests that “Remembering history may have contributed to Maxentius’s defeat at the battle of Milvian Bridge.”