Emperors and Usurpers in the Later Roman Empire: Civil War, Panegyric, and the Construction of Legitimacy 0198824823, 9780198824824

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Emperors and Usurpers in the Later Roman Empire: Civil War, Panegyric, and the Construction of Legitimacy
 0198824823, 9780198824824

Table of contents :
Cover
Emperors and Usurpers in the Later Roman Empire: Civil War, Panegyric, and the Construction of Legitimacy
Copyright
Dedication
Preface: sine ira et studio
Contents
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
PRIMARY MATERIAL
SECONDARY MATERIAL
Typographical Note
Part I
I: Usurpation, Legitimacy, and the Roman Empire
WHY USURPATION?: THE PROBLEM OF THE IMPERIAL SUCCESSION
‘THIS LITANY OF MANIFEST USURPERS AND REBELLIOUS GENERALS’ : WHY HAD THE IMPERIAL SUCCESSION BECOME SO UNSTABLE BY THE THIRD CENTURY?
‘THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TYRANT AND A KING IS ONE OF DEEDS, NOT OF NAME’: HOW WAS USURPATION UNDERSTOOD IN THE LATE ROMAN EMPIRE?
‘LET THESE THINGS GO UNSPOKEN’: USURPATION AND MODERN RESEARCH
II: Usurpation, Legitimacy, and Panegyric
KNOWN UNKNOWNS, AND UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS: HOW TO USE PANEGYRIC AS A SOURCE
‘IN WHICH I WOULD TELL MANY LIES’: WHO DICTATED THE CONTENT OF PANEGYRIC?
‘AND WOULD BE VIEWED WITH FAVOUR BY THOSE WHO KNEW THEM TO BE SUCH’: PANEGYRIC, AUDIENCE, AND INFLUENCE
PROPAGANDA AND POWER
Part II
III: A House Divided Against Itself
IV: ‘At last Roman, at last restored to the true light of Empire: ’Diarchy, Tetrarchy, and the Fall of the British Empire of Carausius
BIRTHING THE LATE ROMAN STATE:DIARCHS, TETRARCHS, AND A NEWLANGUAGE OF POWER
EMPERORS AND BANDITS: THE BRITISH EMPIRE UNDER CARAUSIUS AND ALLECTUS
V: Tyranny and Betrayal: Constantine, Maximian, Maxentius, and Licinius
CONSTANTINE’S USURPATION: CONSTANTINE, GALERIUS, AND MAXIMIAN
THE TYRANNUS: MAXENTIUS AND THE REWARDS OF CIVIL WAR
NOTABLE BY HIS ABSENCE: LICINIUS AND THE RISE OF THE CONSTANTINIAN DYNASTY
VI: Tyranny and Blood: Constantius, Constans, Magnentius, and Vetranio
SMILING FOR THE CAMERAS: THE SONS OF CONSTANTINE, 337–50
THE SON OF THE FATHER: CONSTANTIUS THE TYRANT-SLAYER
VII: Usurper, Propaganda, History: The Emperor Julian
THE VOICE OF A USURPER: JULIAN’S RISE TO POWER
BLEACHING THE STAINS: JULIAN’S SOLE RULE
VIII: Panegyric and Apology: The Accession of Jovian and the Usurpation of Procopius
THE NEED FOR VICTORY: JOVIAN AND THE DEMANDS OF IMPERIAL RHETORIC
THE ENEMY INSIDE: VALENTINIAN, VALENS, AND PROCOPIUS
‘HE WHO SOUGHT RULE FOR HIMSELF BEHIND THE CLOAK OF A LITTLE BOY’: THE USURPATION OF VALENTINIAN II
IX: Dismembering the House of Valentinian: The Usurpation of Theodosius and the War with Magnus Maximus
‘AND NOBLY HE MADE THE VOTE HIS OWN’: THE USURPATION OF THEODOSIUS
DIVIDED LOYALTIES: THE USURPATION OF MAGNUS MAXIMUS
X: Crisis and Transformation: Imperial Power in the Fifth Century
Conclusion: Those Made Tyrants by the Victory of Others
APPENDIX I: The Panegyrics
Translations
Separate editions
APPENDIX II: Quantifying Usurpation
Notes to Accompany Figure I.2
Bibliography
Index

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OXFORD STUDIES IN BYZANTIUM Editorial Board JAŚ ELSNER

J A M E S H O W A R D - J O H N S TO N

E L I Z A BE T H J E F F RE Y S M A R C L A UX T E R M A N N

HUGH KENNEDY P A U L M A G DA L I N O

HENRY MAGUIRE

C Y R I L MA N G O

MARLIA MANGO

C L A U DI A R A P P

JEAN-PIERRE SODINI

JONATHAN SHEPARD

M A RK W H I T T O W

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OXFORD STUDIES IN BYZANTIUM Oxford Studies in Byzantium consists of scholarly monographs and editions on the history, literature, thought, and material culture of the Byzantine world. The Universal History of Stepʻanos Tarōnecʻi Introduction, Translation, and Commentary Tim Greenwood The Letters of Psellos Cultural Networks and Historical Realities Edited by Michael Jeffreys and Marc D. Lauxtermann Holy Sites Encircled The Early Byzantine Concentric Churches of Jerusalem Vered Shalev-Hurvitz Law, Power, and Imperial Ideology in the Iconoclast Era c.680–850 M. T. G. Humphreys Byzantium and the Turks in the Thirteenth Century Dimitri Korobeinikov Writing and Reading Byzantine Secular Poetry, 1025–1081 Floris Bernard The Byzantine–Islamic Transition in Palestine An Archaeological Approach Gideon Avni Shaping a Muslim State The World of a Mid-Eighth-Century Egyptian Official Petra M. Sijpesteijn Niketas Choniates A Historiographical Study Alicia Simpson Byzantines, Latins, and Turks in the Eastern Mediterranean World after 1150 Edited by Jonathan Harris, Catherine Holmes, and Eugenia Russell Debating the Saints’ Cults in the Age of Gregory the Great Matthew Dal Santo The Embodied Icon Liturgical Vestments and Sacramental Power in Byzantium Warren T. Woodfin

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Emperors and Usurpers in the Later Roman Empire Civil War, Panegyric, and the Construction of Legitimacy

ADRASTOS OMISSI

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Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP, United Kingdom Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries © Adrastos Omissi 2018 The moral rights of the author have been asserted First Edition published in 2018 Impression: 1 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by licence or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States of America British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Data available Library of Congress Control Number: 2017959060 ISBN 978–0–19–882482–4 Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY Links to third party websites are provided by Oxford in good faith and for information only. Oxford disclaims any responsibility for the materials contained in any third party website referenced in this work.

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‘Daddy, it’s quite boring for me for you to work.’ To Chloé, to Leo, to Milo, to Rafe

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Preface sine ira et studio Virtue consisted in winning: it consisted in being bigger, stronger, handsomer, richer, more popular, more elegant, more unscrupulous than other people—in dominating them, bullying them, making them suffer pain, making them look foolish, getting the better of them in every way. Life was hierarchical and whatever happened was right. There were the strong, who deserved to win and always did win, and there were the weak, who deserved to lose and always did lose, everlastingly. I did not question the prevailing standards, because so far as I could see there were no others. How could the rich, the strong, the elegant, the fashionable, the powerful, be in the wrong? It was their world, and the rules they made for it must be the right ones. George Orwell, ‘Such, Such Were the Joys’¹

This book was born of a simple observation, that very little had been written on the history of usurpation in the later Roman Empire. It seemed to me strange that, in an age so dominated by civil war, historians had not seen fit to subject usurpation to detailed scrutiny. The obvious thing to do, therefore, seemed to be to write the absent book myself. In its conception, it was a monograph upon civil war and usurpation from the end of the crisis of the third century to the fall of the Empire in the West and the emergence of the new, Constantinopolitan Empire in the East. The book was to consider why usurpations occurred, how they were undertaken, and in what ways they played themselves out. Above all, it was to shine some much-needed light upon the shadowy regimes of the late Empire’s great usurpers, men like Carausius, Maxentius, Magnentius, Magnus Maximus, and Constantine III. As is often the case at the beginning of a new project, perhaps the first lesson that my research had to teach was that there was a very good reason that this book had not already been written. Historians, whatever their subject and period, are at the mercy of their sources. Although we can approach them creatively or innovatively, reimagine them or augment them with new discoveries, we can ultimately only see our periods through the prism of their sources. And in this instance the sources clung jealously to their secrets. Usurpers are elusive figures, their biographies usually no more than a few ¹ From It is What I Think by George Orwell. Published by Secker. Reprinted by permission of The Random House Group Limited. ©1999. In P. Davison (ed.), The Complete Works of George Orwell, vol. XIX: It Is What I Think (Rev. edn. London, 2002), 378–9.

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clipped phrases, their policies unknown, their adherents anonymous but for the occasional name that falls accidentally, like loose change, from this or that source. What I might build from the sum of these disjointed parts, I began to see, would be a Frankenstein’s monster which might bear the semblance of a connected historical account but would in fact be little more than a series of rumours and invectives strung together in order. This tight-lipped refusal of the sources to yield the details I desired of them pushed me to new questions. Why was it (other, perhaps, than naive expectations) that I was unable to find the details that I was searching for? What processes had served to destroy them? Perhaps most importantly of all, what might I learn from looking at the sources not with an eye for what they could tell me, but for what it was their authors were trying not to tell me? Not only is the book richer because of this shift in attitude, but the process has also been a personally transformative one, and helped to move me from the comforting but immature position of one who views the past as an independent reality, accessed more or less directly through sources more or less thickly populated with facts, to that of one who understands, at least vaguely, that the past is text. The hope to find a past independent of the text is as vain as the hope to find a thought independent of a thinker. Tacitus, at the opening of his Annales, made a profession of that virtue which all ambitious historians claim and which all sensible historians know to be an impossibility, to report the past sine ira et studio, without bitterness and without partiality. Yet to view the world— through text, through monuments, or even through the windows of the eyes and the ears—is to view it studio: with partiality, with intention, with agenda. There is no history without partiality. The book is divided into nine chapters. Chapter I provides the reader with some context by way of an account of the history of imperial power between its inception and the outbreak of the third-century crisis. It attempts to provide some explanation for the deeply chaotic nature of the imperial succession and the near imponderability of such questions as ‘what is usurpation?’ Chapter II is perhaps the most important chapter in the whole work, a justification of the value of the project and—I hope—a convincing demonstration not only of how we can use panegyric to understand civil war but also of the fact that panegyric constituted one of the most important primary sources available to Roman historians and that, therefore, panegyric underpins all primary material relating to imperial history that we possess from the period. Chapters III–IX then set about the body of the project, examining how the panegyrics present individual usurpations and working chronologically through the span of the period as defined by the textual corpus of the surviving prose panegyrics. Each chapter attempts to describe how the panegyrics of the period constructed the narrative of inter-imperial conflict, to use those narratives to understand the behaviour of the emperors and courts that they praised, and to demonstrate the way in which the panegyrics have shaped

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subsequent historical source material. Chapter X then provides something of a postscript, examining from a historical rather than a textual point of view why it is that the book has the upper chronological boundary (the death of Theodosius) that it has and offering some very general remarks on how the office of emperor changed in both East and West during the fifth century. I conclude, as one ought, by telling my reader the things they ought to think after having read the preceding pages, in case I have failed to make them think them. This book is not, in and of itself, either a history of usurpation or a political history of the period in question. It assumes a certain familiarity with late Roman history and as such—lamentably—will constitute a poor introduction to the topic. Nevertheless, I hope that it will be of use to students as well as to researchers and I have made an effort to make it as accessible as the material allows. In particular, I have tried to make sure that quotations from original sources and from modern scholarship in languages other than English are provided in translation (at least when quoted in the main text) and that technical terms in Latin and Greek have been translated or glossed. The debts of gratitude that I have accrued in the long course of this work, which began life as a doctoral project undertaken in 2009 at St John’s College, Oxford, are too many to comprehensively acknowledge, though certain names cannot go unmentioned. Thanks first is owed to my doctoral supervisor, Neil McLynn, who helped above all to redirect an obsession with swords, horses, and armour into an attempt to write history. Neil’s guidance helped to bring this project to life and without him it would not exist in any recognizable form. I am also deeply indebted to the patient teachers who took a monoglot Masters’ student and gave him the tools to work with his sources, in particular to Mary Whitby, to Juliane Kerkhecker, and to Ida Toth. To Ida I also owe a great debt for the confidence she has placed in me as a teacher over the years, and the opportunities that this trust has afforded me. I would also like to express my gratitude to those kind friends who have read drafts of parts or all of this work, and whose comments have greatly enriched it, in particular to Lydia Matthews, Alan Ross, Michael Hanaghan, and to my brother, Cesare Omissi, who pored over the whole manuscript with a humbling diligence. Many are the gaffes and blunders from which they all have saved me, and such as remain are solely my responsibility. My thanks also to Enrico Emanuele Prodi, who helped to make up for rare failings in the Bodleian Library. To Oriel College, Oxford, I also owe a great debt of thanks for having provided me with a Junior Research Fellowship from 2014–17, during which years the writing of this book was undertaken. Finally, it must be stressed that none of this work would have been possible without generous funding from the States of Jersey, from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and from the British Academy, all of whom have, at various stages, awarded me grants that have thereby made it possible for me to devote myself to study and research.

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My thanks goes also to various seminar series and conferences at which I have been able to air some of the ideas contained within the book and to receive feedback from peers and senior colleagues; in particular: the Institute of Classical Studies Graduate WIP seminar in London, the Oxford University Byzantine Society Graduate Conference 2012 and 2013, the conference ‘Use of Antiquity’, held in Vienna in 2012, the History Research Seminar at Hull, the Late Roman and the Late Antique and Byzantine Studies research seminars at Oxford, the Leeds International Medieval Congress 2013 and 2015, the conference ‘Medial (re)presentations’. held in Göttingen in February 2015, and to the 9th biennial Celtic Conference in Classics, held in Dublin in 2016. Similarly, I am deeply indebted to the board of OUP’s ‘Oxford Studies in Byzantium’ series for taking this work on, in particular to Elizabeth Jeffreys, who was a champion of this book when it needed one, and to James HowardJohnston, as mild-tempered and supportive an editor as one could hope to work with. I would also like to thank the team at OUP—in particular Charlotte Loveridge, Georgina Leighton—and my copy editor, Ben Harris, whose diligence and helpfulness made the business of preparing the manuscript an easy and a pleasant one. I must also offer my thanks to Mark Humphries and to Mark Whittow, who examined the DPhil thesis on which this work was based and whose encouragement and support gave me the confidence to believe that it might make a book worth reading. Both have since proven great mentors, and have made the baffling road of academic life an easier one to tread. It is with a heavy heart, and still with a sense of disbelief, that I must add to these thanks the tragic coda that Mark Whittow will never be able to read them. I owed to Mark and impossible debt of gratitude for his help over the years, for the belief he always seemed to place in me, and for his infectious energy and positivity. I shall miss him dearly. Finally, for their love, support, and, above all, patience, I want to say thank you to my family, to Chloé, to Leo, to Milo, and to Rafe. Without you all busily working away at giving me a life filled with love and fun and little daily adventures, there is no way that I would have ever had the heart to finish this project. Like it or not, this book is dedicated to you.

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Contents xiii xv xix

List of Figures List of Abbreviations Typographical Note

PART I I. Usurpation, Legitimacy, and the Roman Empire Why usurpation?: the problem of the imperial succession ‘This litany of manifest usurpers and rebellious generals’: why had the imperial succession become so unstable by the third century? ‘The difference between a tyrant and a king is one of deeds, not of name’: how was usurpation understood in the late Roman Empire? ‘Let these things go unspoken’: usurpation and modern research

II. Usurpation, Legitimacy, and Panegyric Known unknowns, and unknown unknowns: how to use panegyric as a source ‘In which I would tell many lies’: who dictated the content of panegyric? ‘And would be viewed with favour by those who knew them to be such’: panegyric, audience, and influence Propaganda and power

3 3 12 21 34 41 47 54 59 66

PART II III. A House Divided Against Itself

71

IV. ‘At last Roman, at last restored to the true light of Empire’: Diarchy, Tetrarchy, and the Fall of the British Empire of Carausius

75

Birthing the late Roman state: diarchs, tetrarchs, and a new language of power Emperors and bandits: the British Empire under Carausius and Allectus

V. Tyranny and Betrayal: Constantine, Maximian, Maxentius, and Licinius Constantine’s usurpation: Constantine, Galerius, and Maximian The tyrannus: Maxentius and the rewards of civil war Notable by his absence: Licinius and the rise of the Constantinian dynasty

76 80 103 103 116 142

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Contents

VI. Tyranny and Blood: Constantius, Constans, Magnentius, and Vetranio Smiling for the cameras: the sons of Constantine, 337–50 The son of the father: Constantius the tyrant-slayer

VII. Usurper, Propaganda, History: The Emperor Julian The voice of a usurper: Julian’s rise to power Bleaching the stains: Julian’s sole rule

VIII. Panegyric and Apology: The Accession of Jovian and the Usurpation of Procopius The need for victory: Jovian and the demands of imperial rhetoric The enemy inside: Valentinian, Valens, and Procopius ‘He who sought rule for himself behind the cloak of a little boy’: the usurpation of Valentinian II

IX. Dismembering the House of Valentinian: The Usurpation of Theodosius and the War with Magnus Maximus ‘And nobly he made the vote his own’: the usurpation of Theodosius Divided loyalties: the usurpation of Magnus Maximus

X. Crisis and Transformation: Imperial Power in the Fifth Century

153 154 163 193 193 208 223 223 228 250 255 255 263 291

Conclusion: Those Made Tyrants by the Victory of Others

301

Appendix I: The Panegyrics

307

Appendix II: Quantifying Usurpation: Notes to Accompany Figure I.2

313

Bibliography Index

317 339

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List of Figures I.1. The Roman Empire in AD 271.

11

Image by Michael Athanson.

I.2. Usurpations in the Roman Empire, 27 BC–AD 455. V.1. The battle of the Milvian Bridge as depicted on the south face of the Arch of Constantine.

20 136

THE ARCH OF CONSTANTINE (https://open.conted.ox.ac.uk/resources /images/arch-constantine), © Steve Kershaw, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

VI.1. Consular issue for the year 346, minted at Antioch and depicting upon its reverse the imperial brothers, nimbate, each holding a sceptre and globe and dressed in their consular robes.

163

Numismatica Ars Classica NAC AG, Auction 31, lot 157.

VIII.1. Coins of a) Procopius, b) Julian, and c) Valens, showing the resemblance between the images of Procopius and Julian.

232

a) Photo courtesy of 51 Gallery—iBelgica; b) Photo courtesy of Triskeles Auctions; c) © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.

IX.1. The relief from the Column of Theodosius, showing a group of supplicant figures whose attire, in particular the Chi Rho shield, show them to be the members of an imperial bodyguard. Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Istanbul negative no. D-DAI-IST-R1186. Photographer: W. Schile.

288

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List of Abbreviations PRIMARY MATERIAL

* Unless otherwise stated, abbreviations for primary sources follow guidelines set out in the Oxford Classical Dictionary Ambr., de ob. Theod. Ambr., Ep. Ambr., Ep. extra coll. Amm. Ath., Apol. ad Const. Ath., Apol. contra Ar. Art. Pass. Aur. Vict., Epit. Claud., de bello Gild. Claud., Man. Theod. cons. Chron. 354 Coll. Av. Cons. Const. CTh Cyr. Jer., Ep. ad Const. Eph., Hym. cont. Iul. Eunap., V. Soph. Euseb., HE Euseb., VC Greg. Tur., Hist. HA Joh. Ant. fr. Jul., Ep. ad Ath. Jul., Caes. Jul., Or. Lact., de Mort. Orat. ad sanct. Origo Philost., HE Prisc., de Laud. Ps. Ruf., HE Soc., HE Soz., HE Sulp. Sev., Chron.

Ambrose, de obitu Theodosii Ambrose, Epistulae Ambrose, Epistulae extra collectionem Ammianus Marcellinus Athanasius, Apologia ad Constantium Athanasius, Apologia contra Arianos Passio Artemii pseudo-Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus Claudian, de Bello Gildonico Claudian, Panegyricus dictus Manlio Theodoro consuli Chronographus anni CCCLIIII Collectio Avellana Consularia Constantinopolitana Codex Theodosianus Cyril of Jerusalem, Epistula ad Constantium Ephraem, Hymni contra Iulianum Eunapius, Vitae Sophistarum Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica Eusebius, Vita Constantini Gregory of Tours, Decem Libri Historiarum Historiae Augustae Joannis Antiocheni Fragmenta (K. O. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, vol. IV (Paris, 1851)) Julian, Epistula ad Athenienses Julian, Caesares Julian, Orationes Lactantius, de Mortibus Persecutorum Oratio ad sanctos Origo Constantini Imperatoris Philostorgius, Historia Ecclesiastica Priscian, de Laude Anastasii imperatoris Psalms Rufinus, Historia Ecclesiastica Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica Sozomen, Historia Ecclesiastica Sulpicius Severus, Chronica

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xvi Sulp. Sev., Dial. Sulp. Sev., V. Mart. Symm, Or. Symm., Rel. Syn., de Reg. Theodor., HE Theoph. Zon.

List of Abbreviations Sulpicius Severus, Dialogi Sulpicius Severus, Vita Sancti Martini Symmachus, Orationes Symmachus, Relationes Synesius, de Regno Theodoret, Historia Ecclesiastica Theophanes, Chronographia Zonaras, Epitome Historiarum

SECONDARY MATERIAL AC AE AJP AncSoc ANRW AW Barnes, Constantine BZ CAH CISA CIL CLRE CP CQ CW DNP DOP Galletier GOTR GRBS Heather-Moncur

Historia HSCP ICUR ICUR n. s. ILS IstMitt

Acta Classica L’Année Épigraphique American Journal of Philology Ancient Society Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt Ancient World T. D. Barnes, Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire (Malden, 2011) Byzantinische Zeitschrift Cambridge Ancient History Contributi dell’Istituto di Storia Antica Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum Bagnall, R. S., Cameron, A., Schwartz, S. R., and Worp, K. A., Consuls of the Later Roman Empire (Atlanta, 1987) Classical Philology Classical Quarterly The Classical World Der Neue Pauly Dumbarton Oaks Papers Galletier, E. (ed. and tr.), Panégyriques Latins: texte établi et traduit par Édouard Galletier (3 vols. Paris, 1949–55) Greek Orthodox Theological Review Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies P. J. Heather and D. Moncur (trs), Politics, Philosophy, and Empire in the Fourth Century: Select Orations of Themistius (Translated Texts for Historians 36. Liverpool, 2001) Historia: Zeitschrift für alte Geschichte Harvard Studies in Classical Philology Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae nova series Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae Istanbuler Mitteilungen

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List of Abbreviations JLA JTS JRA JRS LSA MAAR NC Nixon-Rodgers

PLRE RE REA REAnc RhM RIC RIDA RSdA YCS

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Journal of Late Antiquity The Journal of Theological Studies Journal of Roman Archaeology Journal of Roman Studies The Last Statues of Antiquity Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome The Numismatic Chronicle Nixon, C. E. V., and Rodgers, B. S. (eds and trs), In Praise of Later Roman Emperors: the Panegyrici Latini (Berkeley, 1994) Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft Revue des Études Augustiniennes Revue des Études Anciennes Rheinisches Museum Roman Imperial Coinage Revue Internationale des Droits de l’Antiquité Revista Storica dell’Antichita Yale Classical Studies

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Typographical Note Throughout this text, ‘West’ and ‘East’ (capitalized) have been used as shorthand for ‘the Western Roman Empire’ and ‘the Eastern Roman Empire’. It ought to be noted that no official and formalized separation existed between the Empire’s two halves at any point during this period, but the terms are nevertheless a useful shorthand for an empire in which emperors frequently operated with a division of responsibility portioned on a west/east axis. Likewise, I have capitalized the adjectives ‘Western’ and ‘Eastern’ as if they were proper adjectives (as ‘English’, ‘French’) when they refer to these territories. Where ‘west’, ‘western’, ‘east’, and ‘eastern’ appear without capitalization, they are being employed in their more usual sense.

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Part I

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I Usurpation, Legitimacy, and the Roman Empire Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason. John Harington, Epigrams IV.5

Roman imperial government proved to be one of the most enduring political institutions ever established in human history. From 27 BC until AD 1453, a period of very nearly fifteen centuries, a virtually unbroken line of men claiming the title of Emperor of the Romans ruled over a Mediterranean territory that outlasted the rise and fall of countless would-be rivals, successors, and conquerors. Across five centuries in the West, and fifteen centuries in the East, the legitimacy of Roman imperial government was virtually never called into question. Romans took it for granted that theirs was a divinely appointed order, even one that mirrored the divine order itself. Yet if imperial government itself was never truly challenged, the same cannot be said for individual emperors, who faced an unending struggle to gain the acceptance of their subjects, a struggle whose symptoms were treason trials, usurpation, and the near perpetual civil wars that characterized the Roman polity. What follows is an attempt to consider the imperial office over its history, to look at how emperors were created, and to understand why imperial power and usurpation were so intertwined.

WHY USURPATION?: THE PROBLEM OF THE I MP E RI AL SU CCES S I ON Roman imperial power can only properly be understood in the context of usurpation. From the death of Commodus in AD 192 to the accession of the child emperor Valentinian III in the West in 423, no decade was without civil war and conflict over the imperial succession, and virtually no emperor

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reigned who did not have to face military challenge to his rule. In western Europe and North Africa, only the disappearance of imperial power brought an end to this perpetual cycle. In the East, the creation of a new imperial court centred once more upon a single capital city only served to change the nature of usurpation and civil war, not to halt its progress. To understand imperial power, one must understand usurpation. To understand usurpation, we must understand how imperial power came into being. From the moment of its creation, Roman imperial power was power usurped. The Roman Republic had been governed by an aristocracy whose members competed with one another for power and prestige within a political system the express function of which was to limit the concentration of power in individual hands. But during the first century BC, as the spoils of conquest poured into Roman coffers, the regulations that governed the Republic began to break down and powerful men fought with one another to rule a Roman state that now spanned the Mediterranean. Twice, in 88 and 49 BC, Rome itself was invaded by Roman armies. In 44, the man who had declared himself perpetual dictator of the Roman state, Julius Caesar, was cut down upon the senate floor.¹ Chaos reigned, and the man who brought order did so at sword point, presiding over a restored Republic that was a monarchy in all but name. Born Gaius Octavius, he died Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus. He brought a final end to the civil wars of the Republic by defeating Antony and Cleopatra, first at Actium (2 September 31) and then at Alexandria (1 August 30).² When Octavian returned to Rome from Egypt, he made a great show of laying down his powers and restoring authority to the senate. But the actuality was different. Octavian was the wealthiest man in the Roman world, he commanded the loyalty of the armies, and, in the course of fourteen years of fighting had built an enormous patronage network among the Roman elite. In January 29 he took up his fifth consulship. He was to hold the office every year until 23, and twice more after that. In 27, in order to pacify provinces still in a chaotic condition, the senate voted to him control of a provincia that was composed of Spain, Gaul, Egypt, and Syria, handing over to his direct administration not only an enormous territory, but the majority of the Roman army (twenty of twenty-six legions).³ At the same time the senate declared him

¹ Both Caesar and Rome’s other famous would-be sovereign, Sulla, had engineered dictatorships for themselves not bounded by time constraints, as the office had traditionally been in the early Republic (its last occupant before Sulla being Gaius Servilius Geminus in 202 BC): J. F. Gardner, ‘The Dictator’, in M. Griffin (ed.), A Companion to Julius Caesar (Oxford, 2009), 57–60. ² R. Syme, The Roman Revolution (Reissue first paperback edn. Oxford, 2002), 294–300; C. Pelling, ‘The triumviral period’, CAH X (2nd edn. Cambridge, 1996), 54–65. ³ J. A Crook, ‘Political History, 30 B.C. to A.D. 14’, CAH X, 78–9; Syme, Roman Revolution, 326.

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princeps, ‘first citizen’, and awarded him the cognomen Augustus.⁴ In 23, he was granted consular imperium which gave him the right not only to govern his own extensive provincial holdings, but to interfere in other provinces when he deemed it necessary.⁵ At the same time he acquired tribunicia potestas, the right to call the senate, to sit on the consuls’ platform, to speak first when the senate was in session, to veto legislation, and to administer the grain supply that kept the city alive. These powers were set with fixed terms, but Augustus so controlled the operation of Roman government that their renewal was a formality, a formality enacted in 18, in 13, in 8, and in 3 BC, and in AD 13.⁶ Sacral authority was also devolved to him in 12 BC, when he was made pontifex maximus, high priest of the Roman state.⁷ Coupled with his military and executive authority, Augustus thus had concentrated in his hands a diversity of powers which the Republic had expressly existed to prevent being controlled by a single individual. Augustus had thus created for himself a packet of powers each of which, individually, was grounded in Republican principles but which, taken together, ensured him a dominance over the Roman state that was a monarchy in all but name. To ensure the continuation of his novel position, Augustus had ensured that his successor, Tiberius, was invested with many of these powers while he was still alive. Upon Augustus’ death (19 August 14), the senate voted to Tiberius the few remaining powers that he lacked and, in so doing, the principate became an institution.⁸ Tiberius was acclaimed as Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti Filius Augustus by the senate and by Augustus’ praetorian guard, but it was not they who had given Tiberius his powers; Augustus had.⁹ These powers were passed on to his grandson, Gaius (known to us as Caligula). As Augustus had done with him, so Tiberius marked Caligula out during his own lifetime as his intended successor, heaping honour and responsibility onto him.¹⁰ And as Tiberius had done, Caligula ensured

⁴ This name is difficult to translate, but perhaps can be rendered as ‘the majestic one’ (with its Greek equivalent Σεβαστός). It was inherited by Augustus’ successors, however, and quickly became, with Caesar, less a name than an imperial title (cf. D. Kienast, Römische Kaisertabelle: Grundzüge einer römischen Kaiserchronogie (Darmstadt, 1996), 24–6). ⁵ J.-L. Ferrary, ‘The Powers of Augustus’, in J. Edmondson (ed.), Augustus (tr. J. Edmondson. Edinburgh Readings in the Ancient World. Edinburgh, 2009), 90–136, esp. 110–17. Ferrary argues against the general consensus that this power amounted to imperium proconsulare, which he sees as a later term. ⁶ Crook, ‘Political History’, 70–112. ⁷ Res gestae 10; Kienast, Kaisertabelle, 27. ⁸ J. Rich, ‘Making the Emergency Permanent: Auctoritas, potestas and the evolution of the principate of Augustus’, in Y. Rivière (ed.), Des reformes augustéennes (Rome, 2012), 80–1. ⁹ The senate’s vote was clearly considered an important formality for this transition, yet the fact that Augustus’ powers would pass to another individual had been made very clear by Augustus, and Tiberius had, after the death of Augustus’ grandsons, long been lined up for the role. Augustus formally bequeathed his powers to Tiberius in his will: Syme, Roman Revolution, 338–9; J. Wiedemann, ‘Tiberius to Nero’, CAH X, 202–7. ¹⁰ A story, however, not without its complications: A. Barrett, Caligula: The corruption of power (London, 1989), 27–41, 50–9.

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his own smooth adoption of his predecessor’s powers through his control of the praetorians, the only military force in Italy, stationed within the imposing walls of the Castra Praetoria, overlooking the city and the senators, ensuring their good behaviour.¹¹ That was on 16 March 37, when Tiberius died. But by January 41, Caligula had lost the support of the praetorians; they murdered him in a palace corridor while he made his way to the baths.¹² Caligula’s assassination revealed the institutional strength of the principate. While the individual emperor had been found wanting, the idea of imperial power stood firm and the hope entertained by certain members of the senate that the Republic could be restored were dashed within a few hours of Caligula’s death. The question was not whether someone would succeed Caligula, but who. While the senate debated this question in the curia, however, the praetorian guard had already chosen a candidate and acclaimed him Augustus. With the only serious military force in the city backing him unanimously, Claudius’ assumption of power could not seriously be challenged.¹³ The senate had no choice but to consent to the decision of the soldiers. Claudius’ successor, the infamous Nero, took power on 13 October 54, after Claudius died from poisoning. The stepson of Claudius, through his wife Agrippina, and the emperor’s adoptive heir, Nero came to the throne shortly before his eighteenth birthday. His thirteen-year reign was marked by escalating violence against the senatorial class, a deeply unpopular taste for public performances in the theatre and the circus, and, following the fire of AD 64, a monumental building programme in Rome, the scale of which drained his treasury sufficiently to interrupt grain distribution and military pay in the city. As open rebellions broke out in the provinces and Nero’s support dwindled, he was finally forced to suicide on 9 June 68.¹⁴ Nero’s sudden death brought imperial power to its first major crisis. For the first century of its existence, the imperial office had been controlled by a single family, the so-called Julio-Claudians, who had carefully managed the succession of the domus Caesaris as a familial possession. But what happened when the pater familias of the domus Caesaris died intestate? In 41, the swift action of the praetorians in promoting the dead emperor’s uncle, Claudius, within hours of Caligula’s death had silenced debate before it could truly begin and had affirmed the primacy of the Julio-Claudian line. But by 68, one hundred

¹¹ S. Bingham, The Praetorian Guard: A History of Rome’s Elite Special Forces (London, 2013), 15–33. ¹² Joseph., AJ XIX.1–2; Suet., Calig. 58; Dio Cass., LIX.29.5–7. The conspirators also murdered his wife and infant daughter, dashing the little girl’s head against a wall. ¹³ Dio Cass., LIX.29–LX.1; Joseph., AJ XIX.2–3; B. Levick, Claudius (London, 1990), 29–40; J. Osgood, Claudius Caesar: Image and power in the early Roman empire (Cambridge, 2010), 29–32. ¹⁴ M. T. Griffin, Nero: The End of a Dynasty (2nd edn. London, 1984), 164–82; J. Malitz, Nero (Oxford, 2005), 99–108.

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years of paranoid treason trials had so effectively extirpated the imperial family that there existed no obvious successor. The Empire now faced a question that had been effectively sidestepped for as much as a century: who could be emperor, and by whose authority were emperors to be created? The Republican clothing in which the imperial office had been garbed allowed the senate to flatter itself with the notion that the power to select and to create an emperor lay with it alone. As a body, they wrote to Servius Sulpicius Galba, governor of the Spanish province of Hispania Tarraconensis, to announce that they had declared him the new emperor. But the events of the following year were to demonstrate yet again that it was not senators but soldiers that made emperors. On 15 January 69, Marcus Salvius Otho was declared emperor by the praetorians and Galba was murdered in the Forum. The armies on the Rhine, however, had already refused to offer Galba their allegiance and had declared their general, Vitellius, emperor on 1 January 69. They were marching on Rome. Nor did the defeat of Otho by the Rhine legions in the spring bring the conflict to an end. On 1 July 69, Vespasian, the general who had been charged with suppressing the Jewish rebellion that had begun in 66, was also declared emperor by the armies gathered at Alexandria in Egypt. Vespasian’s forces likewise marched into Italy, invaded the capital, and murdered Vitellius. Vespasian was recognized as emperor by the senate in December 69, and the so called ‘Year of the Four Emperors’ was at an end.¹⁵ It is a simplification, but not necessarily a misleading one, to say that the accession of Galba in 68 marked the beginning of a steady broadening of the criteria which qualified an individual for imperial power. Formerly, descent from the first emperor, Augustus, had been an important precondition. Galba, through his wife, was distantly connected to the family, but Vespasian was, at least in relative terms, a new man, he, his brother, and his uncle being the first men of senatorial rank in his family.¹⁶ More important, however, for the future of the imperial office was the fact that, in the words of Tacitus, ‘the secret of the Empire had been uncovered: that an emperor could be made elsewhere than Rome.’¹⁷ The year 69 proved conclusively that provincial armies possessed the power, de facto, to create emperors, and from 69 onwards they possessed it de jure as well. Vespasian dated the beginning of his reign not from 21 December 69, when the senate had confirmed him as Augustus, but from 1 July, when his soldiers had hailed him by this title in Alexandria.¹⁸ An emperor began at his acclamation. ¹⁵ For the events of 68–69, see K. Wellesley, The Year of the Four Emperors (3rd edn. London, 2000); B. Levick, Vespasian (London, 1999), 43–64; E. Flaig, Den Kaiser herausfordern: die Usurpationen im Römischen Reich (Frankfurt, 1992), 240–416. ¹⁶ Levick, Vespasian, 4–13. ¹⁷ Tac., Hist. I.4: evulgato imperii arcano posse principem alibi quam Romae fieri. ¹⁸ Wellesley, Year of the Four Emperors, 120; A. Pabst, Comitia imperii: Ideelle Grundlagen des römischen Kaisertums (Darmstadt, 1997), 169.

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When Vespasian’s dynasty collapsed, in September 96, with the murder of his second son Domitian, power eventually passed, after the brief reign of Nerva, to Trajan. Like Vespasian, Trajan belonged to a powerful Italian family, but Trajan was Spanish-born, making him the first non-Italian emperor.¹⁹ His successor, Hadrian, was likewise a Spaniard. Not only did Hadrian bring to a final halt the process of expansion which, in theory and in practice, had characterized Roman foreign policy for some five centuries; he also spent more than half of his twenty-one-year reign outside Italy.²⁰ The period 96–180, that is from the accession of Nerva to the death of Marcus Aurelius, is often remembered as a golden age of the Empire. Edward Gibbon declared, in the opening paragraph of his Decline and Fall, that ‘During a happy period of more than fourscore years, the public administration was conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines [Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius]’ and modern scholars have frequently been happy to acquiesce in this assessment.²¹ Happy it may have been, but Gibbon’s count of five emperors simplifies the growing complexities of imperial power, for it is all too often forgotten that the number of men who held imperial power was in fact seven. First, at the death of Antoninus Pius in 161, two emperors, Antoninus’ adoptive sons Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, were created joint Augusti with equal powers over the Roman state, an unprecedented move but one that was to become increasingly common and to have profound effects on the conception of imperial power.²² Verus died in 169, but this experiment in power-sharing was to be repeated, and eventually to become a virtually permanent feature of imperial government. Eight years later, in 177, three years before he was himself to die, Marcus Aurelius created his son, Commodus, as Augustus, an innovation that was likewise to become a norm.²³

¹⁹ J. Bennett, Trajan: Optimus Princeps (2nd edn. London, 2005), 1–3. ²⁰ H. Halfmann, Itinera Principum: Geschichte und Typologie der Kaiserreisen im Römischen Reich (Stuttgart, 1986), esp. 184–5; A. R. Birley, Hadrian: The restless emperor (London, 1997), 1. ²¹ E. Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (ed. J. B. Bury. 7 vols. London, 1896–1900), I 1. ²² HA M. Antoninus 7.5–6; HA Verus 3.8–41; Dio Cass., LXXI.1; Eutr., VIII.9. The equality of their status is variously affirmed and denied in the sources, and an unofficial seniority of Marcus appears to have been recognized: cf. A. R. Birley, Marcus Aurelius (Rev. edn. London, 2000), 116–17. ²³ O. Hekster, Commodus: An Emperor at the Crossroads (Dutch monographs on ancient history and archaeology 23. Leiden, 2002), 38–9. On the custom of emperors promoting their children, see H. Börm, ‘Born to be Emperor: The Principle of Succession and the Roman Monarchy’ in J. Wienand (ed.), Contested Monarchy: Integrating the Roman Empire in the Fourth Century AD (Oxford Studies in Late Antiquity. Oxford, 2015), 239–64, esp. 239–43. Manoeuvring of imperial children had in fact been going on from the earliest days of the Empire. Augustus, who had no male heirs, had clearly been preparing his grandsons for the succession (B. Parsi, Désignation et investiture de l’empereur romain: 1er et 2e siècles après J.-C. (Université de Paris, 1963), 9).

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Marcus died in 180, and Commodus ruled alone for twelve years. He had, so his critics maintained, little interest in the business of government and engendered the disgust of the senatorial class with his love of appearing in gladiatorial bouts in the Colosseum. On the final day of 192, he was murdered.²⁴ With no designated heir, the Empire again descended into warfare.²⁵ In many ways, the events of 69 may be said to have replayed themselves. In the immediate aftermath of Commodus’ murder, Pertinax was proclaimed emperor in Rome, but he ruled for only three months before being murdered by the praetorians, who sold the title to the highest bidder.²⁶ Meanwhile, provincial armies elevated their commanders: Lucius Septimius Severus was declared on the Danube and Gaius Pescennius Niger in Syria.²⁷ Septimius Severus, the eventual victor in this civil war, was not only the first non-European to take the purple (he had been born to a family of mixed Italian-Punic descent in Leptis Magna), but his accession, like Claudius’s and Vespasian’s, demonstrated just how little power the senate possessed as an agent in the imperial succession.²⁸ After his acclamation in May 193 by the troops at Carnuntum, on the Danube, the senate had declared him a public enemy. By June 193 Severus had invaded the city, and the senate was forced to declare him Augustus, a title he held until his natural death in February 211.²⁹ Severus made his children, Caracalla and Geta, Augusti while he was still living, in 197 and 209 respectively. Their joint rule after Severus’ death lasted only ten months; Caracalla murdered his brother in their mother’s arms and ruled alone until his own murder in April 217.³⁰ He was succeeded by a man named Macrinus who, as well as probably having been involved in Caracalla’s death, was the first man to claim imperial power who did not hail from a senatorial family.³¹ His position as praetorian prefect, commander of the emperor’s bodyguard, placed him in an important ²⁴ Hekster, Commodus, 77–83. ²⁵ D. S. Potter, The Roman Empire at Bay AD 180–395 (Routledge History of the Ancient World. 2nd edn. London, 2014), 85ff. ²⁶ Potter, Roman Empire at Bay, 95–9 (note that Potter has serious doubts about the accusation of auctioning off imperial power). ²⁷ Herod., II.8–9; A. R. Birley, ‘The Coups d’Etat of the Year 193’, Bonner Jahrbücher 169 (1969), 247–80, and Septimius Severus: the African Emperor (Rev. edn. London, 1999), 97ff.; J. Osgood, ‘Ending Civil War at Rome: Rhetoric and Reality, 88 B.C.E.–197 C.E.’, The American Historical Review 120:5 (2015), 1694. ²⁸ Later commentators claimed that Severus never lost his African accent (HA Sept. Sev. 19.9). ²⁹ Dio Cass., LXXIV.14–LXXV.2; Herod., II.10–14. Birley, Septimius Severus, 97ff. ³⁰ Dio Cass., LXXVIII.1–LXXIX.6; Herod., IV.1–12. Potter, Roman Empire at Bay, 122–46. ³¹ It is occasionally stated that he was the first man who took imperial power who was not himself a senator (e.g. M. Grant, The Severans: The changed Roman Empire (London; 1996), 23); this is not strictly true, since Claudius, by virtue of his illness, had been excluded from the senatorial cursus honorum and so, despite being member of an aristocratic family, had not himself formally entered the senate prior to his accession. On Macrinus’ accession and the rise of the equestrian class, see M. Kulikowski, ‘Regional Dynasties and Imperial Court’, in Wienand (ed.), Contested Monarchy, 135–48, esp. 135–9. Also: I. Mennen, Power and Status in the Roman

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position at the moment of transition from one emperor to another, despite his own low status.³² Eighteen years later, in the early spring of 235, the first commoner in imperial history was created emperor. Julius Maximinus (later known as Maximinus Thrax, ‘Maximin the Thracian’) was a first-generation Roman, the son of barbarian parents, and had joined the army as a mere private soldier, rising through the ranks to a military prefecture under Severus Alexander (r. 222–35). When Severus’ soldiers mutinied and murdered their emperor, it was to Thrax that they turned, and they ‘hailed him as emperor’.³³ This date is generally taken to mark the start of the so-called third-century crisis, a fifty-year period in which more than eighty men may have claimed imperial power (historical records from this time are so poor that it is difficult to separate the real emperors from the fictional) in a string of short, invariably violent reigns that frequently saw numerous rivals simultaneously claiming supreme power.³⁴ The crisis was a nadir in the imperial order and a regular succession all but collapsed. In 260, a separatist empire, ‘the Empire of the Gauls’, was proclaimed under Postumus, with its headquarters at Trier. The Gallic Empire was, until its collapse in 274, ruled as a state completely independent from the rest of the Empire and with its own (unruly) imperial succession.³⁵ In the East, it was mirrored by the Palmyrene Empire under Zenobia and her children, 270–3 (see Fig. I.1).³⁶ It took a series of ruthless, reforming emperors who had risen up through the military (Claudius Gothicus, 268–70; Aurelian, 270–5; Probus, 276–82; Diocletian, 284–305), the easing of Persian aggression in the East, and a total restructuring of the Empire’s army and administration to bring this crisis to an end. But though the chaos of the third century was not to be repeated, the imperial succession was now to be forever dominated by the spectre of usurpation. Under the principate,

Empire, AD. 193–284 (Impact of Empire 12. Leiden, 2011), 193–246; Potter, Roman Empire at Bay, 225–8. ³² Despite the importance of the guard, Macrinus was the first prefect to personally take imperial power (barring the ill-fated usurpation attempt of Nymphidius Sabinus in 68: W. Eck, ‘Nymphidius 2,’ DNP VIII, 1072). ³³ HA Maximini Duo 7. Potter, Roman Empire at Bay, 167–71. ³⁴ G. Alföldy, ‘The Crisis of the Third Century as Seen by Contemporaries’, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 15 (1974), 89–111; F. Hartmann, Herrscherwechsel un Reichskrise: Untersuchungen zu den Ursachen und Konsequenzen der Herrscherwechsel im Imperium Romanum der Soldatenkaiserzeit (3. Jahrhundert n. Chr.) (Europäische Hochschulschriften, Reihe III, Geschichte und ihre Hilfswissenschaften 149. Frankfurt am Main, 1982); S. Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery (London, 1985), 15–23; C. Ando, Imperial Rome AD 193–284: The Critical Century (Edinburgh, 2012), 146–223; Potter, Roman Empire at Bay, 215–80. ³⁵ I. König, Die gallischen Usurpatoren von Postumus bis Tetricus (München, 1981); J. F. Drinkwater, The Gallic Empire: Separatism and Continuity in the North-Western Provinces of the Roman Empire A.D. 260–274 (Stuttgart, 1987). ³⁶ R. Stoneman, Palmyra and Its Empire: Zenobia’s Revolt Against Rome (Ann Arbor, 2004), esp. 111–27 (though to be treated with caution!); A. Watson, Aurelian and the Third Century (London: 2004), 57–88; P. Southern, Empress Zenobia: Palmyra’s Rebel Queen (London, 2008).

Eboracum Londinium Augusta Treverorum (Trier) Durocortorum Carnuntum Burdigala

Lugdunum

Rome

Nicomedia

Thessalonica

Tarraco Emerita Augusta

Nicopolis

Corduba Tingi

Ancyra

Nisibis

Edessa

Ephesus

Antioch

Corinth Carthage

Syracuse

Palmyra Caesarea

Cyrene

Alexandria

Separatist Empires The Gallic Empire The Palmyrene Empire

Fig. I.1. The Roman Empire in AD 271. Image by Michael Athanson.

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Ravenna

Narbo

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emperors had executed senators and family members on an industrial scale in order to prevent conspiracies arising in the palace; by the third century, usurpers could arise at any military outpost and the war for allegiance had become a perpetual one.

‘ THIS LITANY OF MANIFEST USURPERS AND REBELLIOUS GENERALS’ : WHY HAD THE I MPERIAL SUCCESSION BECOME SO UNSTABLE BY THE THIRD CENTURY? The apparent collapse of the imperial succession into chaos during the third century was by no means purely the result of changes in the nature of the imperial office. Economic and social factors as well as the emergence of powerful new enemies on the Empire’s European and Near Eastern borders placed strain upon the Empire that stretched it to breaking point. Changes to the imperial succession should be seen in coordination with these broader historical developments. Yet these factors alone are insufficient to explain the state of near constant civil war that the Empire found itself in between the end of the second and the middle of the fifth centuries. Why was the imperial succession so chaotic? As the preceding survey has attempted to show, one of the greatest barriers to a stable succession was the superfluity of potential candidates for the role. Under the Julio-Claudians, the succession had been limited to those who, by blood or by adoption, could claim membership of the divine family of Augustus. AD 69 had shown that such concerns no longer mattered. No slave ever became an emperor, nor did a barbarian, a eunuch, or a woman.³⁷ Beyond this, however, the field was an open one, insofar as any man capable of commanding military support could be acclaimed emperor by his soldiers, with an increasing professionalization of the military through the third century hugely increasing the potential for strong men to rise.³⁸ But the supply of ³⁷ Eunuchs were so universally detested that their exercise of power always depended upon the support of a patron or patrons (K. Hopkins, Conquerors and Slaves (Cambridge, 1978), 172–96). Many emperors were claimed to be the sons of freedmen (e.g. Pertinax, Diocletian), but the stigma associated to slavery itself was too great to ever allow a slave to take power (H. Mouristen, The Freedman in the Roman World (Cambridge, 2011)). Emperors were made whom it would seem probable were the children of barbarian parents (e.g. Maximinus Thrax, Magnentius, Silvanus), but no one born upon the far side of Rome’s borders ever took power for themselves. Women could, on occasion, exercise considerable power through male relatives (e.g. Julia Maesa through her grandsons Elagabalus and Severus Alexander, Justina through her son Valentinian II). Perhaps the only woman ever to rule Roman territory in her right was the Palmyran queen Zenobia, who created the Palmyrene Empire (see above, n. 36). ³⁸ J. B, Campbell, War and Society in Imperial Rome, 31 BC–AD 284 (London, 2002), 113–19.

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imperial armies was such that, in moments of crisis, competing claims were almost inevitable. AD 69 was the Year of the Four Emperors, 193 was the Year of the Five Emperors, and 238 the Year of the Six Emperors. In part, this change had occurred because of the waning influence of the senate in the management of the Empire. Early emperors had sought to present themselves as members of the senate and to cast themselves merely as the princeps, the first citizen.³⁹ Yet while this presentation may have helped to palliate the imposition of autocracy on a polity as proudly Republican as the Roman, it did little to change the realities of the emperor’s near absolute power.⁴⁰ The lex de imperio Vespasiani, for instance, a document recording the senate’s confirmation of Vespasian’s authority in 69, couched his rule very much in terms of government through the senate. At the same time, however, it made abundantly clear that any decision Vespasian presented to that body was to be accepted without challenge.⁴¹ Furthermore, as the second century wound on, emperors were increasingly required to be away from Rome, supervising campaigns, and when the emperor moved, the executive and judicial functions of the state moved with him, and the increasing physical distance between the emperor and the senate only reinforced that body’s powerlessness.⁴² The growing power and influence of provincial elites increasingly competed with the senate’s traditional cursus honorum, and membership of that ancient but restricted body was no longer the defining marker of power and influence.⁴³ This might have been good news for social and political mobility within the Empire, but for the imperial succession it had the effect of bringing more cooks to the broth. Acclamation by the senate had also formerly given to the imperial office the illusion that the senate was its elective body. But numerous conflicts between soldiers and the senate (Claudius, Vespasian, Septimius Severus, Maximinus Thrax) in which, in every instance, the senate was forced to yield to the soldiers, demonstrated that this was nothing but a polite fiction, generated by Augustus’ own propagandistic insistence that his position was held in

³⁹ A. Wallace-Hadrill, ‘Civilis Princeps: Between Citizen and King’, JRS 72 (1982), 32–48. ⁴⁰ Occasionally, the mask of senatorial accountability might slip. Tiberius made a great show of reluctance to shoulder all of Augustus’ responsibilities but said that he would take any individual office the senators assigned him. Asinius Gallus took this show of modesty at face value and asked Tiberius what he would like to be assigned, which met with a frosty reply from the emperor in waiting, who merely repeated that he would not reject anything assigned to him. Asinius Gallus fell instantly to backtracking: cf. Tac., Ann. I.11–12. ⁴¹ CIL VI.930; Brunt, ‘Lex de Imperio Vespasiani’, 95–116. ⁴² This was already true in the time of Augustus. When Augustus was not in Rome foreign embassies travelled to him rather than to the senate (Crook, ‘Political History’, 82). cf. Herodian’s ‘Rome is where the emperor is’ (I.6.5); C. Kelly, Ruling the Later Roman Empire (Cambridge MA, 2004), 114–37. ⁴³ J. Weisweiler, ‘Domesticating the Senatorial Elite: Universal Monarchy and Transregional Aristocracy in the Fourth Century AD’, in Wienand (ed.), Contested Monarchy, 17–41.

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obedience to the Republican customs and the democratic will of the Roman people.⁴⁴ The senate confirmed—and so helped to legitimate—emperors, but it could neither oppose an imperial proclamation, nor could it topple an emperor without the direct support of the military.⁴⁵ Senators could still become emperor, of course, as numerous third-century examples demonstrate (Pupienus and Balbinus, Decius, Valerian), and the power of individual senators could still be prodigious, but the senate as a body was set into terminal decline by the creation of the office of emperor and, by the third century, it had disappeared into total insignificance, its acclamation of a new emperor nothing more than a rubber stamp. Hand in hand with the waning influence of the senate upon the succession came the gradual eclipse of Rome as a meaningful political centre for the Empire. This again had profound effects upon the stability of the imperial succession. Military changes in the Empire had forced emperors increasingly to vacate the city for the frontiers, and in so doing the Empire had been stripped of a centre of power for which all parties competed. As noted above, Tacitus observed, of 68, that a terrible secret had been uncovered when the soldiers found they could make emperors outside Rome. But in both 69 and 193, even though emperors had been made outside the city, control of Rome was still their ultimate goal. By the end of the third century, however, Rome had lost anything but ideological significance. Numerous cities nearer to strategic frontiers—Mainz, Trier, Milan, Sirmium, Nicomedia, Emessa, Antioch, and others—began to acquire importance. These cities were increasingly ornamented with the trapping of rule—palaces, barracks, hippodromes—that permitted the normal exercise of imperial power far from Rome.⁴⁶ Emperors like Macrinus and Maximinus Thrax might conduct the entirety of their reign outside the city, being made emperors in the field by soldiers and dying in the field at the hands of soldiers. This drew criticism, but it didn’t change the realities of power.⁴⁷

⁴⁴ Perhaps the only counterexample to this trend in imperial history was the election of Nerva in 96: J. D. Grainger, Nerva and the Roman Succession Crisis of AD 96–99 (London, 2003), 1–3. ⁴⁵ This contradiction (and its violent consequences) is brought out in A. Winterling, Politics and Society in Imperial Rome (tr. K. Lüddecke. Chichester, 2009), 110–11. ⁴⁶ T. Brown, Emperors and Imperial Cities, AD 284–423 (DPhil. Oxford, 2002); F. Millar, The Emperor in The Roman World (31 B.C.–A.D. 337) (London, 1977), 40–53; E. Mayer, Rom ist dort, wo der Kaiser ist: Untersuchungen zu den Staatsdenkmälern des dezentralisierten Reiches von Diocletian bis zu Theodosius II (Monographien 53. Mainz, 2002); B. Ward-Perkins, ‘A Most Unusual Empire: Rome in the Fourth Century’, in C. Rapp and H. A. Drake (eds), The City in the Classical and Post-Classical World: Changing contexts of power and identity (Cambridge, 2014), 109–29. ⁴⁷ Potter, Roman Empire at Bay, 232–7 argues that the intense efforts on the part of Philip the Arab to commemorate the Roman millennium were an attempt to ‘heed the examples of both Macrinus and Maximus, which showed what happened to men with local support who failed to solidify their positions at Rome with sufficient alacrity’ (quote at 233).

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So pronounced was this centrifugal tendency that entirely independent imperial hierarchies could spring up outside of Italy, as did the Gallic Empire, from 260–74, or the Palmyrene Empire from 270–3. Though ultimately these territories were recaptured under Aurelian, nevertheless what is striking about them is that they coexisted with one another for so long, a thing that would have been unthinkable in the first century AD. As the Empire had grown increasingly Romanized, the ability of regional factions to control power without reference to Rome destabilized the political order. In the fourth century, rival courts might watch each other warily across the open expanse of the Mediterranean for years, as did Constantine and Licinius between 313 and 324, or Magnus Maximus and Theodosius between 383 and 388.⁴⁸ Controlling the succession was also so difficult because the Empire was so big. It stretched from Cumbria to Upper Egypt, from Morocco’s Atlantic coast to the fringes of Georgia and Armenia, surrounding the Mediterranean basin and encompassing a territory, at its height, of nearly two million square miles, today occupied by more than fifty independent nations on three continents.⁴⁹ This territory was defended by an army that, by the fourth century, was composed of half a million men.⁵⁰ As Augustine lamented in his de Civitate Dei, ‘the very breadth of the Empire has brought forth wars of a worse sort – social or rather civil wars.’⁵¹ In moments of crisis, a pattern endlessly replayed was that regional armies were pitted against one another and could be united only through conflict, a tendency made worse by the loss of Rome as a recognized centre. This was also a product of the highly centralized nature of the imperial system. Even the most powerful provincial governor or regional general lacked the recognized authority to undertake certain activities reserved to the emperor: to appoint men to high office or to demote them from it; to raise soldiers at his own discretion; to mint coins; to alter laws; and so on. When crisis struck a region, the emperor might be 3,000 miles away, he might be incompetent, or he might simply be too busy to react. During the third century, the Danube in particular was almost constantly rocked by usurpation as the legions stationed there attempted to secure an emperor near at hand to manage their pay and to defend this vulnerable frontier.⁵² In 248, Decius, the

⁴⁸ On regionalization, see Kulikoski, ‘Regional Dynasties’, 135–48. ⁴⁹ R. Taagepera, ‘Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D.,’ Social Science History 3:4 (1979), 118 and 125ff. ⁵⁰ A. H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284–602: A social, economic and administrative survey (3 vols. Oxford, 1964) II, 679–86 for various estimates of imperial military manpower; W. Treadgold, Byzantium and Its Army, 284–1081 (Stanford, 1995), 43–59; R. Rees, Diocletian and the Tetrarchy (Edinburgh, 2004), 17–18. ⁵¹ August., de Civ. D. XIX.7. ⁵² German scholars have called this ‘Bedürfnis nach Kaisernähe’: Hartmann, Herrscherwechsel un Reichskrise, 140–8; A. Demandt, Der Fall Roms: Die Auflösung des römischen Reiches im Urteil der Nachwelt (München, 1984), 48.

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general sent to put down one such rebellion under Pacatianus, had no sooner arrived in the region than he was himself proclaimed emperor.⁵³ Rebellion and usurpation also flourished because there was no institutional means by which to control or regulate the behaviour of emperors. The emperor’s will had the force of law and there was no court of appeal from decisions made by him.⁵⁴ He was unimpeachable and unquestionable and the only way to oppose an emperor, therefore, was to kill him. It is because of this that the third century saw so many of its emperors murdered by their subjects as a corrective on their behaviour, emperors like Caracalla, Elagabalus, Maximinus Thrax, Gallienus, and more besides. Rebellion, increasingly synonymous with usurpation, was the only way to challenge an emperor.⁵⁵ Furthermore, the emperor’s enmity was essentially a death sentence, and a man with an army who had fallen from imperial favour would thus often choose usurpation rather than face the certain death of submission. In April 175, Avidius Cassius seized imperial power in Egypt, having heard a false report of Marcus Aurelius’ death. He soon learned that this information was incorrect and Marcus was in fact alive, but having undertaken an act of supreme disloyalty (despite perfectly loyal intentions) he was thus forced to prosecute a war against the emperor whose legacy he had usurped power in order to defend.⁵⁶ In 286, the naval commander Carausius was accused of stealing from the provincials of Gaul and Britain, and was sentenced to death by the emperor Maximian. Faced with a choice between submission and certain death or rebellion and the hope of survival, Carausius chose rebellion.⁵⁷ It was not simply the Empire and the challenges it presented, however, that helped to ensure a cycle of instability; the office of emperor itself encouraged challenge and competition in three important ways, all of which, ultimately, stemmed from the fact that the imperial office had arisen as an improvised de jure justification of a de facto reality under Augustus. The first of these was the fiction of the emperor’s meritocratic position. Despite ample evidence to the contrary, Romans continued to pretend, throughout the history of the Empire, that theirs was a polity ruled by the best man, a fiction given some weight by the fact that in the first two centuries of imperial rule, only two emperors, Vespasian and Marcus Aurelius, were succeeded by their natural sons.⁵⁸

⁵³ Zon. XII.19; Zos. I.21–22; cf. Potter, Roman Empire at Bay, 236–7. ⁵⁴ Ulpian, the great third-century legal commentator, had declared both that ‘the princeps is unbound by the law’ (Dig. I.3.31) and that ‘what pleases the princeps has the force of law’ (Dig. I.4.1); Millar, Emperor in The Roman World, 507–27. ⁵⁵ This association was complete enough in the mind of late Roman authors that it is often difficult to distinguish rebellion from usurpation in the sources: cf. J. Szidat, Usurpator tanti nominis: Kaiser und Usurpator in der Spätantike, 337–476 n. Chr. (Wiesbaden, 2010), 28–9. ⁵⁶ Dio Cass., LXXII.17–31. ⁵⁷ On Carausius, see Chapter IV, p. 81. ⁵⁸ Two out these three natural sons—Domitian and Commodus—were ultimately murdered by their subjects.

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Fictive though it might have been, the concept of rule by the best and the notion of an elective office meant that the political climate of the Roman world was favourable to the deposition of monarchs deemed unsuitable.⁵⁹ The proportion of Roman emperors murdered by their subjects is, accordingly, enormous. On the final page of his weighty The Emperor in the Roman World, Fergus Millar provides a list of emperors who ruled between 27 BC and AD 337, a total of sixty names.⁶⁰ Of these sixty, an astounding forty-one were either murdered by their soldiers, by a court conspiracy, by a rival emperor, or else killed themselves in the wake of an unsalvageable political defeat. Between the death of Septimius Severus in 211 and the accession of Diocletian in 284, only four emperors did not die at Roman hands: Decius, who died in battle against the Goths; Valerian, who died in Persian captivity; Claudius, who died of plague; and Carus, who died of natural causes or of a battle wound while campaigning against the Persians. For the Romans, regicide was the expected end for a ruler, not an occasional aberration. The second feature of the imperial office that ensured its instability was the absence of objective criteria by which one accession might be marked out from another. Emperors had no required place of coronation, as Rheims was for French kings.⁶¹ As we have seen, Rome had begun to lose this title by 68, and had lost it utterly by the third century. There was no recognized elective body whose vote, once given, could not legally be challenged, as were the Great Council of Venice or the Cardinals of the Catholic Church.⁶² As we have seen, the senate had only ever held this role in name, and by the third century even that had faded into insignificance. The Empire had no sacred objects, the possession of which confirmed the right to rule, as the Three Sacred Treasures were for Japanese emperors.⁶³ Emperors were expected to wear purple and purple was supposedly reserved only for members of the imperial family, but as frequent legislation on the subject shows, the colour was regularly used to adorn the clothes of non-imperial persons, and in a moment of need a purple garment could usually either be found or be improvised; Ammianus tells us that the usurper Silvanus (355) made an imperial garment for himself

⁵⁹ A. E. Wardman, ‘Usurpers and Internal Conflicts in the 4th Century A.D.’, Historia 33:2 (1984), 227–8. ⁶⁰ Millar, Emperor in The Roman World, 657. Millar’s list is far from a comprehensive roster of everyone who claimed the imperial title during that period, omitting (not unreasonably) the majority of the usurpers and separatist emperors of the third century, but it provides a convenient list of the most important names. ⁶¹ R. E. Giesey, ‘Inaugural Aspects of French Royal Ceremonials’, in J. M. Bak (ed.), Coronations: Medieval and Early Modern Monarchic Ritual (Berkeley, 1990), 35–45. ⁶² Great Council: J. J. Norwich, A History of Venice (London, 2003), 166–7. Cardinals: F. J. Baumgartner, Behind Locked Doors: A History of the Papal Elections (Basingstoke, 2003). ⁶³ D. C. Holtom, The Japanese Enthronement Ceremonies: With an account of the Imperial regalia (2nd edn. Tokyo, 1972), 1–44.

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from the purple decorations on his soldiers’ standards.⁶⁴ Numerous emperors attempted to look to religion to help underscore their position, but since each emperor claimed to be the highest religious authority in the state, as pontifex maximus, appeals to the religious sphere had little independent force as a vehicle for distinguishing emperors from one another.⁶⁵ Perhaps the sole objective criterion that provided some exclusive benefit to those who could claim it was dynastic connection, whether real or adoptive, to a previous emperor. The biological accident that prevented a clear patrilineal succession in the Empire’s first two centuries should not blind us to the fact that imperial power was, from the time of Tiberius, treated as a possession of the emperor and handed on in his will. Clear designation of an intended heir was a policy that began under Augustus and which provided the best available guarantee of an orderly succession.⁶⁶ Dynastic considerations could have powerful results; when Macrinus became emperor after the assassination of Caracalla, he sent Caracalla’s family into exile in Syria. But when Julia Maesa, Septimius Severus’ sister-in-law, began to circulate the rumour that her grandson, Elagabalus, was Caracalla’s illegitimate son, it was sufficient incentive (along with the promise of rich donatives) to encourage soldiers based at Emesa to declare him emperor.⁶⁷ Indeed, the potential legitimating force of a familial relationship to a former emperor was powerful enough that emperors even began to fabricate their dynastic relationships, writing back connections with respected emperors of the past in order to bolster their claim to power. Septimius Severus declared himself the adoptive son of Marcus Aurelius and the brother of Commodus.⁶⁸ Constantine, in an effort to help distinguish himself from the other tetrarchs, claimed descent from Claudius Gothicus.⁶⁹ Theodosius claimed descent from Trajan.⁷⁰

⁶⁴ Amm., XV.5.16; cf. XXVI.6.15. W. T. Avery, ‘The “Adoratio Purpurae” and the Importance of the Imperial Purple in the Fourth Century of the Christian Era’, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 17 (1940), 66; M. Reinhold, ‘Usurpation of Status and Status Symbols in the Late Roman Empire’, Historia 20:2 (1971), 283–4. ⁶⁵ A. Pabst, Comitia imperii: Ideelle Grundlagen des römischen Kaisertums (Darmstadt, 1997), 18–19. ⁶⁶ Augustus worked exceptionally hard to designate a clear heir during his lifetime, though was repeatedly frustrated by accidents of mortality. Others took great interest in this designation, as it was widely recognized that this heir would inherit not merely Augustus’ (enormous) private wealth, but his public status: B. Severy, Augustus and the Family at the Birth of the Roman Empire (London, 2003), 68–78. ⁶⁷ Potter, The Roman Empire at Bay, 149–51. ⁶⁸ O. Hekster, Emperors and Ancestors: Roman rulers and the constraints of tradition (Oxford, 2014), 205–21. ⁶⁹ Pan. Lat. VI.2 and V.2.5, 4.2; Jul., Or. I.6d–7a. On the fictitious nature of this association, see R. Syme, Historia Augusta Papers (Oxford, 1983), 63–79; Hekster, Emperors and Ancestors, 225–33. ⁷⁰ C. Kelly, ‘Pliny and Pacatus: Past and Present in Imperial Panegyric,’ in Wienand (ed.), Contested Monarchy, 236–8.

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As powerful and natural as dynastic principles might have been, however, they proved a very poor legitimating tool. Of the three sons of emperors who ruled between 27 BC and AD 192 (Titus, Domitian, and Commodus) two were murdered by their subjects. Indeed, other than Titus, no son of an emperor who ruled after his father died a natural death until Constantine in 337. Under the late Empire, the same problem continued; dynastic ties were generally sufficient to ensure a son came to power, but could do little to protect him if his rule proved unacceptable to his most powerful subjects (in particular, the high command of his military). Constans and Valentinian II were two such, sons of emperors brought down by their inability to manage their militaries.⁷¹ Dynastic connection was clearly a strong bargaining chip in the contest to be acclaimed emperor, and it seems to have held particular appeal for soldiers who, throughout the Empire’s history, showed themselves willing to proclaim distinctly unmilitary usurpers by virtue of descent (Claudius, Elagabalus, Gordian III, Valentinian II). But dynasty proved poor armour in defending an emperor once on the throne. Excepting the Julio-Claudians, whose succession was maintained through adoption, no imperial dynasty managed to establish itself into the third generation until 337, with the sons of Constantine, and no dynasty managed to reach its fourth generation until the accession of Constantine IV in 654.⁷² Like any other criterion we might point to by which an accession might be measured as legitimate, dynastic ties might help bring a man to the throne but they were a poor tool to help him keep it. The third and final feature of the imperial office that tended towards endemic usurpation was that it became increasingly acceptable that emperors would not—again in contrast to medieval kings—rule alone. Joint rule had theoretical precursors, not least the old Republican principle that the state was ruled by two equal magistrates, the consuls. From the very earliest days of the Empire, emperors had associated their prospective heirs with themselves via imperial titles.⁷³ Though resisted under the earliest emperors, true joint rule first occurred in March 161, under Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.⁷⁴ After Aurelius and Verus, joint rule was never truly abandoned, and various regimes turned to diarchies, triarchies, and even tetrarchies to address their political problems. But the concept of collegiate government likewise admitted the potential for usurpation; it created the possibility, albeit an infrequently

⁷¹ See Chapter VI, p. 163, and Chapter IX, pp. 289–90. ⁷² W. E. Kaegi, Byzantine Military Unrest, 471–843: An interpretation (Amsterdam, 1981), 166–9. Constantine IV passed power on to his son, Justinian II, in 685 so the dynasty continued to break records by entering a fifth generation: J. F. Haldon, Byzantium in the Seventh Century: the transformation of a culture (Cambridge, 1990), 41–78. ⁷³ E.g. Kienast, Kaisertabelle, 24–7. The imperial titles Caesar and Augustus began as family names, but soon became formal titles. ⁷⁴ HA M. Antoninus 7.5–6; HA Verus 3.8–41; Dio Cass., LXXI.1; Eutr., VIII.9.

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realized one, that a usurper need not be in conflict with the reigning emperor, but might be welcomed by him into joint rule.⁷⁵ By the end of the second century, therefore, there existed within the imperial system a number of factors which, under best conditions, could prove to be incredible strengths: imperial power was open to a wide variety of candidates, encouraging excellence; it was not dependent upon the decisions of a distant centre but could be created organically in response to crises; it allowed the possibility for innovation and flexibility within its own (unwritten) constitution; it was (theoretically) not dependent on the accidents of biology which, in hereditary monarchies, allow utterly incapable rulers to take the throne. But under the difficult conditions of the third century a trident of regional dissent, military defeat, and financial collapse brought the imperial system into crisis, and the cracks opened dangerously wide. Usurpation became so common as to be plausibly described as a fundamental feature of Roman imperial government. The result of all this was a chaotic and unregulated succession. Displayed graphically (see Fig. I.2), the scale of this problem is striking.⁷⁶ The graph represents every year from 27 BC, when Octavian was declared Augustus, until AD 455, when Valentinian III died and the idea of a united Empire and of Western imperial power can safely be said to have vanished in all but name. 6

5

Usurpations

4

3

2

1

0 25

1

25

50

75 100 125 150 175 200 225 250 275 300 325 350 375 400 425 450 Year

Fig. I.2. Usurpations in the Roman Empire, 27 BC–AD 455. ⁷⁵ This was something that actually happened in the case of Constantine, of Theodosius I, and—briefly—of Magnus Maximus (see Chapter V, p. 105, and Chapter IX, pp. 266–7). ⁷⁶ On the composition of this graph, see Appendix II.

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A clear period of calm runs from 27 BC until around the end of the second century AD, punctuated only by isolated crises. After this, there is an explosion: there were more usurpations in the three decades from 192–222 than in the preceding 220 years. All told, this graph shows 103 usurpations, an average of slightly fewer than one every four and a half years. If we begin our count from 192, that average rises to almost one usurpation every two and a half years. Usurpation had come to define Roman imperial power.

‘ THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TYRANT AND A KING IS ONE OF DEEDS, NOT OF NAME’ : HOW W AS USURPATION UNDERSTOOD IN THE L ATE RO MAN E MPIRE? A graph like Figure I.2 invites an important question: how are we to define usurpation in a system as confused as the Roman?⁷⁷ This question may be roughly broken into two, namely: how did the Romans define usurpation, and how is it defined in this volume? That the answers to these two questions will be different from one another may initially strike readers as undesirable. If our definition of usurpation is to be historically meaningful, ought it not to marry with the definition that the Romans themselves used? Despite the obvious appeal of this logic, to follow a Roman definition proves to be impossible because the Romans did not define usurpation in any constitutionally meaningful way. Contemporaries did not provide objective definition as to what marked a ruler legitimate or illegitimate. Rather, they defined just rule in contrast to tyranny, and did so in explicitly moral, rather than constitutional, terms. When looking back into history, Roman historians and orators were happy to denounce individuals as illegal or unjust claimants to power, but political necessity ensured that the emperor under whom they lived and wrote was always legitimate, just, and a model of virtue. Perhaps the defining statement for the establishment of the imperial office is the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, ‘The Deeds of the Divine Augustus’, a political autobiography composed (or at least brought into its final form) shortly before Augustus’ death in AD 14. The text was included, along with Augustus’ will, in the documents officially delivered to the senate on his death and it was published widely, being inscribed in both Latin and Greek in many cities across the Empire, including upon a pair of bronze pillars in front of Augustus’ ⁷⁷ ‘Wie die Usurpationen in der Spätantike wahrgenommen und nach welchen Kriterien sie bewertet wurden, wäre Thema eines eigenen Buches’ (Szidat, Usurpator tanti nominis, 25). Szidat’s assessment stands and the following is little more than a brief survey, highlighting key themes.

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gargantuan mausoleum in Rome.⁷⁸ In the text, Augustus explicitly drew attention to the fact that he had refused the dictatorship, and that he had taken up no power that was contrary to mos maiorum, ‘ancestral custom’. He governed, he claimed, through legally appointed powers, given ‘by decree of the senate’ (senatus consulto). He was at pains, too, to stress that his position was not one that had been taken but one that had been given and, furthermore, that had been laid down when the crisis that occasioned it was ended. Importantly, Augustus claimed that he ruled the entire Republic ‘by the consent of all’ (per consensum universorum), a claim given credibility by the fact that before Actium he had ordered the entire population of the territories he administered in the western Mediterranean to swear personal allegiance to him in an oath that mirrored that sworn by soldiers to their commander.⁷⁹ It is in this tension between military dictatorship and a Republican ideology in which the emperor ruled though the sovereign power of the people, exercised with their full consent, that the distinctive character of Roman imperial power is to be found. The right of soldiers to create emperors was so fundamental to the Romans as to have been an axiom that needed virtually no explanation.⁸⁰ As I showed in the previous section, if there had ever been any doubt as to the reality of this situation, the accession of Vespasian firmly laid this to rest. Vespasian dated his reign from the day when the soldiers stationed in Alexandria swore the oath of allegiance to him. Tacitus, in his Histories, puts the following statement in the mouth of Mucianus, the governor of Syria, who declared to Vespasian, ‘Moreover you have proof in the case of Vitellius himself that an army can make an emperor.’⁸¹ One of the emperor’s formal titles, and the word frequently used in Latin to refer to an emperor, was imperator, which simply meant ‘commander’. Although, after the first century AD this word was used exclusively to refer to Roman emperors, it nevertheless reinforces the fact that the emperor’s position was thus fundamentally grounded in his relationship with the military.⁸² This was more than a simple manifestation of the idea that might was right. The soldiers did not only provide the emperor with the requisite force to ensure that his will was obeyed; they were, for the Romans, the theoretical underpinning of imperial power. The emperor, through the ⁷⁸ A. E. Cooley (ed. and tr.), Res Gestae Divi Augusti: Text, Translation, and Commentary (Cambridge, 2009), 3–22. ⁷⁹ Res Gestae 25.2; Syme, Roman Revolution, 284–5. ⁸⁰ Jer., Ep. 146.1: ‘ . . . the presbyters always elect one of their own number, calling him to a higher station, and name him bishop, just as an army makes an emperor . . . ’; J. Weisweiler, ‘Domesticating the Senatorial Elite’, 37. ⁸¹ Tac., Hist. II.76. ⁸² Q. Iunius Blaesus, in AD 22, was the last Roman commander not of the imperial family to be hailed imperator (Tac. Ann. III.74), after which time the titled passed solely into the use of, initially, the imperial family, and then solely emperors themselves (L. de Libero, ‘Imperator’, DNP VI, 954–5).

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soldiers, drew his authority from the people. Through its acclamation, when an army thus hailed someone as imperator, it communicated the assent of the entire Roman population.⁸³ The Historia Augusta—a corpus of imperial biographies spanning from Hadrian to Carinus, purportedly composed by six different authors during the reigns of Diocletian and Constantine and of dubious value as faithful witnesses to the events they describe—nevertheless provides fruitful grounds for enquiry into fourth-century attitudes towards the imperial proclamation.⁸⁴ Perhaps the most useful section to examine is the part of the work known as the Tyranni Triginta (Thirty Tyrants), the biographies of (slightly confusingly) thirty-two usurpers who arose during the time of the emperor Gallienus. Many of these men may never have existed, or may never have claimed imperial power, but here the importance is not the accuracy of what is being described, but the author’s attitude to it. Thirty-two accessions are described, all of them for men whom the book expressly declares to be tyranni. Yet the accessions themselves often receive no more comment than the laconic ‘he was made emperor’ (factus est), ‘he was declared emperor’ (vocatus est or dictus est), or ‘he took up imperial power’ (sumpsit).⁸⁵ Some, admittedly, are accused of ‘usurping’ power (usurpare, a word which had, by the fourth century, acquired many of its modern, negative connotations), but even these are often praised as being worthy of rule (on which more below).⁸⁶ A detail thus apparent in the Historia Augusta is that it was considered sufficient to have been made emperor ‘by the witness of the soldiers’.⁸⁷ The impression thus garnered is one of extreme pragmatism; soldiers made emperors and that was that. ⁸³ Dig. I.4.1: Quod principi placuit, legis habet vigorem: utpote cum lege regia, quae de imperio eius lata est, populus ei et in eum omne suum imperium et potestatem conferat. On the power of acclamation, see C. Ando, Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire (Berkeley, 2000), 199–205; U. Wiemer, ‘Akklamationen im spätrömischen Reich: Zur Typologie und Funktion eines Kommunikationsritual,’ Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 86 (2004), 27–73. ⁸⁴ The classic study is H. Dessau, ‘Über Zeit und Persönkichkeit der Scriptores Historiae Augustae,’ Hermes 24 (1889), 337–92; see also R. Syme, Emperors and Biography: Studies in the Historia Augusta (Oxford, 1971); R. Baker, A Study of a Late Antique Corpus of Biographies [Historia Augusta] (DPhil. Oxford, 2014). ⁸⁵ Factus: (10.1, 12.2, 14.1, 33.2); vocatus/dictus: (2.3, 6.1, 9.1); sumpsit (11.1, 15.1, 18.3, 19.3, 21.1, 22.1, 23.2). Also acceptus/accepit (3.4, 16.1); imperare (18.1, 20.2, 30.2, 32.1); appellari/ appellare (24.2, 25.1, 29.1). The Loeb translation of the Tyranni Tringinta frequently (though not consistently) translates sumpsit (and, at 20.2 and 32.1, imperare) as ‘he seized’, which carries connotations of force not found in the Latin. ⁸⁶ Usurpare (12.2, 15.4, 27.1); Postumus, who launched a ‘rebellion’ (rebellio), was, along with the other Gallic emperors, ‘a protector of the Roman name’ (5.5); Regalianus was always suspected by Gallienus because he dignus videretur imperio (10.8); Claudius, Macrianus, Ingenuus, Postumus, and Aureolus all died while holding power, cum mererentur imperium (10.14); were it not for Odaenathus taking imperial power, ‘the entire East would have been lost’ (15.1); Piso is a vir summae sanctitatis (21.1). ⁸⁷ Militum testimonio (HA tyr. trig. 10.15; cf. 3.4).

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The Tyranni Triginta is a convenient text, despite the problems of its historicity, because it provides us with so many accessions of emperors explicitly denounced as tyranni. But the observations that can be drawn from it hold true when we examine other sources. Emperors were ‘elected’, were ‘created’, were ‘made’, and were ‘declared’.⁸⁸ The decision of the soldiers was sovereign and any body of soldiers was deemed sufficient to place someone in power. Perhaps the starkest illustration of this is the usurpation of Eugenius. In 303, Eugenius was serving as the commander of a unit of 500 men who had been tasked with deepening the harbour mouth at Seleucia, the port city of Antioch. So back-breaking was the work that the soldiers revolted, and they declared Eugenius emperor, wrapping him in a purple robe taken from a statue. At the head of his soldiers, Eugenius marched inland to Antioch while his subjects pillaged the surrounding farms, getting very drunk in the process. When they entered the city at nightfall they made for the palace. When the citizens of Antioch realized what was happening, however, they rose up and murdered Eugenius and his soldiers in the streets. This story is intriguing not only because it shows us that even so insignificant body of soldiers felt capable of making an emperor, but because the reaction of the emperor then reigning, Diocletian, demonstrates that he treated this occurrence with the utmost seriousness, ordering wide-ranging executions of the leading men in Antioch.⁸⁹ None of this, of course, aims to suggest that the imperial succession was condemned to be a perpetually disorderly affair, determined at every change of power by the shouting of an assembled army. Save in dire crisis, decisions concerning the succession were made by generals, state officials, and emperors themselves. These decisions, however, had to be communicated to and ratified by the soldiers in order to have any force. Ammianus Marcellinus, the great historian of the later Empire, describes a total of nine imperial accessions in his Res gestae: that of Silvanus (355), those of Julian as Caesar (355) and Augustus (360), that of Jovian (363), those of Valentinian and Valens (364), that of Procopius (365), that of Gratian (367), and that of Valentinian II (375).⁹⁰ Of these, three are certainly to be considered usurpations (Silvanus, Julian’s acclamation as Augustus, and Procopius) and two more may plausibly be argued as such (Jovian and Valentinian II). All nine of these acclamations took place before assembled armies, from the enormous praesental forces that hailed Valentinian I and Valens to the small assemblage of soldiers that hailed Procopius in Constantinople. In moments of interregnum, the soldiers, as a collective mass, suddenly became an enormously dangerous and unwieldy

⁸⁸ For a summary of the terminology of the sources, see Pabst, Comitia imperii, 37–45. ⁸⁹ Lib., Or. I.3, 125, II.10–11, XI.158–62, XIX.45–6, XX.18–20, and ep. 1154/125. ⁹⁰ Amm., XV.5; XV.8; XX.4; XXV.5; XXVI.2; XXVI.4; XXIV.6; XXVII.6; XXX.10.

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body. At the time of Julian’s death, if Ammianus is to believed, while a council of senior generals and bureaucrats met to try and agree on a successor, a chant had already spread through the army that acclaimed the head of the imperial bodyguard, Jovian, as the new Augustus.⁹¹ When the armies acclaimed the emperor Valentinian I at Nicaea they were able to extract from him the promise that he would appoint a co-emperor (though they were excluded from the decision of who that co-emperor would be).⁹² Perhaps most interesting of all, however, is the accession of Valentinian II in 375. After the sudden and unexpected death of Valentinian I from apoplexy, a comitia of the leading generals and officials in the immediate vicinity was hastily summoned to decide what to do. The secrecy with which the generals moved shows their enormous concern to keep the news of Valentinian’s death from spreading and to keep control of the armies that had been attendant on the dead emperor, for fear they would promote a candidate of their own. For all the seniority of the men who made up the comitia, they knew that if a man not of their choosing was acclaimed by the soldiers then they would either have to fight him or to submit to him.⁹³ But if all emperors were created equal, how were contemporaries to decide which were more equal than others? As we saw in the preceding section of this introduction and as we have already discussed in this section, in the Roman political imagination there were no objective criteria, beyond the acclamation by the soldiers, that marked an accession or rise to power as legitimate or otherwise.⁹⁴ Certain traits were, admittedly, greeted with universal approbation—the overeager desire for power or the employment of bribery, for instance. Even these, however, were ultimately subjective; recusatio, the refusal of power that was believed to be decorous for any legitimate ruler, was largely a matter of etiquette, and the formalization of the accession donative meant that all emperors were expected to give rewards to the soldiers

⁹¹ Ammianus claims that the chant spread because of the similarity of the names Iovianus and Iulianus, with many soldiers chanting Julian’s name and believing their emperor was still alive (Amm., XXV.5.6). ⁹² Amm., XXVI.1–2, 4. ⁹³ That Ammianus declares Valentinian had been ‘lawfully made emperor’ has been cited as evidence that the Romans did indeed have a clear constitutional sense of entitlement to imperial power (J. Szidat, ‘Imperator legitime declaratus (Ammian 30,10,5)’ in M. Piérart, O. Curty, and T. Zawadzki (eds), Historia testis: Mélanges d’épigraphie, d’histoire ancienne et de philologie offerts à Tadeusz Zawadzki (Fribourg, 1989), 175–88; F. Kolb, Herrscherideologie in der Spätantike (Studienbücher Geschichte und Kultur der Alten Welt. Berlin, 2001), 93). But the very next sentence in the passage blows this idea out of the water, for despite the apparently ‘lawful’ nature of this proclamation, its chief instigators waited nervously to see how Gratian, emperor of the West, would react to it. Were Gratian (or Valens, in the East) to reject this proclamation, Valentinian would have at once become a tyrannus. ⁹⁴ C. M. Roueché, ‘Acclamations in the Roman Empire: New evidence from Aphrodisias’, JRS 74 (1984), 181–99.

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that acclaimed them (one man’s bribe was another’s donative).⁹⁵ Indeed, when we look for anything like a developed political programme of legitimacy, we find that we are sorely disappointed. Of the texts from the imperial period that most directly engage with issues of political legitimacy, most are dedicated to a ruling emperor and avoid clear pronouncements on emperors’ individual positions.⁹⁶ Where we look for legalistic language, we find moral language. Thus the philosopher Seneca in his On Mercy, written in 55/6 for the benefit of the young Nero, poses the question of how emperor and tyrant may be distinguished: What difference is there between a tyrant and a king (for they are alike in the mere outward show of fortune and extent of power), except that tyrants are cruel to serve their pleasure, kings only for a reason and by necessity? ‘What then?’ you say, ‘do not kings also often kill?’ Yes, but only when they are induced to do so for the good of the state. Tyrants take delight in cruelty. But the difference between a tyrant and a king is one of deeds, not of name.⁹⁷

This passage is indicative of the tenor of Roman political thought, at least insofar as it survives to us. Romans saw a moral divide existing between rulers who deserved to rule because of their innate virtues, and rulers who lost that right because of their innate vices. But we search in vain for an articulate distinction that is framed in any constitutional fashion. Some Romans even noted just how difficult it was to tell the two apart; in the first of four orations entitled On Kingship and delivered to the emperor Trajan, Dio Crysostom describes a mountain that, from its base, seems like a single edifice, but in fact is made of two separate peaks, ‘Peak Kingly’ and ‘Peak Tyrannous’. Their differences might not be visible to the incautious viewer, but one was ruled by a goodly goddess, attended by virtues, the other by a leering monster, clinging to gold and ornamentation and attended by Cruelty, Violence, Lawlessness, Sedition, and Flattery.⁹⁸ ⁹⁵ On the recusatio and its utter universality: J. Béranger, Recherches sur l’aspect idéologique du principat (Schweizerische Beiträge zur Altertumswissenschaft 6. Basel, 1953), 137–69; WallaceHadrill, ‘Civilis Princeps’, 32–48, esp. 36–7; U. Huttner, Recusatio imperii: ein politisches Ritual zwischen Ethik und Taktik (Hildesheim, 2004), esp. 160–295, 406–72. Huttner notes: ‘Es läßt sich kaum ein Kaiser nennen, bei dem man mit Sicherheit davon ausgehen kann, daß seine Regierungszeit nicht durch Rekusationsgesten eingeleitet wurde’ (151). A key sign of a ‘genuine’ recusatio, that is an earnest refusal to take power, was that the individual in question did not subsequently become emperor, as was the case with the praetorian prefect Saturninius Secundus Salutius, who refused imperial power when it was offered to him after the death of Julian in 363 (Amm., XXV.5.3). On accession donatives, see Jones, Later Roman Empire, II 624. ⁹⁶ E.g. Seneca’s de Clementia (dedicated to Nero), Pliny’s Panegyricus (to Trajan), Dio Chrysostom’s four orations On Kingship (to Trajan), and Aelius Aristides’ Roman Oration (to Antoninus Pius). ⁹⁷ Sen., de Clem. I.11.4–12.1. ⁹⁸ Dio Crys., de Regno I.66–84, delivered during the reign of Trajan (C. P. Jones, The Roman World of Dio Chrysostom (Cambridge MA, 1978), 114–23). Other passages of interest are II.67–78; III.38–44, 116–18; IV.55–139.

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This problem appears to persist throughout the Imperial period, until long after the crises of the fifth century that reshaped the Empire. Not until the sixth century do we find any evidence of active enquiry—and this deeply antiquarian—into matters constitutional, coming in the fragmentary and anonymous dialogue entitled περί Πολιτικής Επιστήμης (On political science); perhaps six hundred years separate this text from the last extant Roman work on political theory, Cicero’s de Republica.⁹⁹ It was as a result of the absence of secure criteria by which to measure emperors against one another or of constitutional checks upon imperial behaviour that contemporaries often looked to seemingly trivial features of their rulers’ public and private behaviour in order to measure them. As Peter Brown has put it: Those who looked on the public bearing of Macrinus, Julian, and Theodosius II knew that they looked on the only effective constitution the Roman empire possessed. They scanned the faces and the gestures of each ruler, anxiously concerned to gauge the extent to which the man who wielded such awesome power would allow himself to be held in check by the silken web of a code of deportment that was supposed to bind him to his upper-class subjects.¹⁰⁰

To recognize this fact need not be accounted an omission of defeat on the part of the historian. Rather, it is the recognition of a complex reality of Roman imperial politics. Contemporaries looked to the bearing of their rulers because it gave them a way in which to measure something which was otherwise unmeasurable; the suitability of their ruler for the throne. Surprisingly trivial grounds might be thus adduced for the fall of an emperor. Among the charges levelled by contemporary sources against the emperor Constans was a fondness for hunting and an interest in slave boys.¹⁰¹ Zosimus tells us that, in 383, the emperor Gratian alienated his subjects because he had shown undue favour to a group of Alan bodyguards.¹⁰² Among the unspeakable tyrannies that Suetonius reports of Nero—rapes, incests, ruinous building projects, the neglect of the Empire, and the groundless execution of any to whom he took askance—the young emperor’s fondness for performing in the theatre featured ⁹⁹ The text is available in both English and Italian translation: P. Bell, Three Political Voices from the Age of Justinian: Agapetus, ‘Advice to the emperor’; ‘Dialogue on political science’; Paul the Silentiary, ‘Description of Hagia Sophia’ (Translated Texts for Historians 52. Liverpool, 2009); C. M. Mazzucchi (ed. and tr.), Menae patricii cum Thoma referendario de scientia politica dialogus: quae exstant in codice Vaticano palimpsesto (Scienze filologiche e letteratura 23. Milano, 1982). Av. Cameron, ‘Old and New Rome: Roman Studies in Sixth-Century Constantinople,’ in P. Rousseau and M. Papoutsakis (eds), Transformations of late Antiquity: essays for Peter Brown (Farnham, 2009), 29ff.; G. Dagron, Emperor and Priest: The Imperial Office in Byzantium (Past and Present Publications. Cambridge, 2003), 15ff. discusses this apparent blindness of the Romans to constitutional writing. ¹⁰⁰ P. Brown, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity: Towards a Christian Empire (Madison MI, 1992), 59. ¹⁰¹ Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.23–25, Epit. 41.22; Zon., XIII.5; Zos., II.42.1. ¹⁰² Zos., IV.35.2–6; cf. Aur. Vict., Epit. 47.6.

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prominently, and, according to both Dio and Herodian, it was Commodus’ decision to begin performing as a gladiator that finally led to his murder.¹⁰³ In the service of rulers of absolute authority, whose power was not bounded by constitutional checks, subordinates looked to such seeming trifles of manner and bearing as important indicators of the character of their rulers; an emperor too doting on his bodyguard could not be trusted to provide important offices to his most important dependants; an emperor overly fond of hunting was an emperor distracted from the serious business of governing; an emperor who sang in the theatre did not understand the importance of rank and station, and sought to build support outside the power networks of elite relations.¹⁰⁴ When we look in our sources for something like a clearly elucidated constitutional theory of legitimacy, we fail to find it. That we fail, however, is the result of the fact that we are asking the wrong questions. Roman imperial power was constitutionally undefined not because Roman thinkers lacked the wit to define it, but because its nature imposed opacity upon its subjects.¹⁰⁵ No Roman writer could declare his own emperor illegitimate or question his right to rule. No writer could declare his emperor’s enemies legitimate or suggest theirs was anything other than the cause of tyranny. This explains why Roman authors were so interested in the intangible question of whether a man ought to be judged dignus imperii, ‘worthy of Empire’. The term—or similar formulae—forms a recurrent theme in contemporary discourse.¹⁰⁶ We saw above that the writer of the Tyranni Triginta declared many of his subjects digni imperii.¹⁰⁷ Orosius said, of Magnus Maximus, that he was ‘a man vigorous and honest and worthy of Augustan power (Augusto dignus) if only he had not gone against the bonds of trust and arisen in tyranny, [and] was, almost against his will, created emperor in Britain by the army’.¹⁰⁸ The bearing and character of the emperor were therefore not of mere passing interest; they were, as Brown argues, the Roman constitution, the only limiting force other than death that could be brought to bear upon the absolute power of the emperor. Yet to declare someone dignus imperii was an assessment which could only properly be made by looking back at a whole reign. It was therefore a process whereby legitimacy could be determined in a historical fashion, by looking back at past emperors, but never in a predictive fashion, providing

¹⁰³ Suet., Ner. 11–12, 20–5. Dio Cass., LXXIII.17–22; Herod., I.15–17. ¹⁰⁴ J. Matthews, The Roman Empire of Ammianus (London, 1989), 231–52; M. Gleason, ‘Identity Theft: Doubles and Masquerades in Cassius Dio’s Contemporary History’, Classical Antiquity 30:1 (2011), 33–86. ¹⁰⁵ Late Romans, just like their forebears, were in fact obsessed with the grading of rank, privilege, and title, cf. J. N. Dillon, ‘The Inflation of Rank and Privilege: Regulating Precedence in the Fourth Century AD’, in Wienand, (ed.)Contested Monarchy, 42–66. ¹⁰⁶ In addition to examples cited below, see Amm., XXV.8.18; Tac., Hist. I.49; Zon., XII.19. ¹⁰⁷ See above, n. 86. ¹⁰⁸ Oros., VII.34.9.

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clear rules for the future. As the Historia Augusta points out, in the biography of Pescennius Niger: ‘It is an unusual thing, and a difficult one, to set fairly in writing the deeds of those made tyrants by the victory of others.’¹⁰⁹ This phrase is a deeply telling one; the anonymous author of the biography knew that there was little to decide between Septimius Severus and Niger. Only the war they fought made Niger a tyrannus and Severus an imperator. When Roman writers looked back into the past, they portioned imperial history up into a series of individual reigns and divided emperors into tyrants and emperors. But in doing so they provided no developed theory of legitimacy, only a tally of winners and losers.¹¹⁰ That the assessment of emperors was always ultimately backward-looking was a necessary part of imperial power, particularly in times of crisis. To return again to the lex de imperio Vespasiani, this virtually unique example of a document delineating the emperor’s role detailed the long list of privileges, rights, and legal exemptions which Vespasian claimed for himself at the end of 69. Significantly, the final clause of the ‘law’ states: ‘And that whatever has been enacted, completed, decreed, or ordered by the emperor Caesar Vespasian Augustus or by anyone under his order or mandate before the time this law was enacted, in the same way these shall be legal and valid as if they had been enacted by order of the senate or the people.’¹¹¹ Vespasian’s law thus wrote back onto the whole course of his life the sacrosanct position of the emperor. Nor was this kind of retroactive legislation applied only to victorious emperors; it was also directed against their enemies. In 324, after his final defeat of Licinius, Constantine wrote to his praetorian prefect, Constantius, in order to declare that the constitutions ‘of the tyrant Licinius’ were to be repealed.¹¹² In naming him ‘the tyrant Licinius’, Constantine thus wrote back onto Licinius’ reign an implicit story of illegitimacy. Certainly, Licinius was no usurper; he had been made emperor at a conference of emperors in 308 and had, indeed, been there named Constantine’s superior. Licinius had been allotted the Western Empire, a territory which Constantine promptly conquered for himself in 312. What then were the causes of Licinius’ tyranny? Constantine may have claimed that Licinius was mistreating Christians within ¹⁰⁹ HA Pesc. Nig. 1.1–2 (my emphasis). ¹¹⁰ This was not necessarily the logical aberration it appears to be, for, to the Romans, victory was not simply an act, it was an ideology. Theirs was a political culture that ranked felicitas—a word which we may translate as ‘happiness’, ‘felicity’, or even ‘luck’—as one of its primary virtues. Among their titles, Roman emperors declared themselves both pius, ‘pious’, and felix, ‘fortunate’: cf. A. Wallace-Hadrill, ‘The Emperor and his Virtues’, Historia 30 (1981), 298–323. Victory, likewise, was the confirmation of divine favour par excellence. ¹¹¹ CIL VI.930; Brunt, ‘Lex de Imperio Vespasiani’, 95–116. ¹¹² CTh. XV.14.1; cf. XV.14.2–14. This Constantius is not to be confused with Iulius Constantius, Constantine’s half-brother, though may be the same individual who served as an envoy from Constantine to Licinius in 315/6 (cf. PLRE I, ‘Constantius 1’, ‘Constantius 5’, and ‘Constantius 7’).

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his Empire, but the immediate cause of their final war against one another in 324 appears to have been a border dispute which Constantine himself had provoked by marching his armies into Licinius’ territory, and its underlying cause Constantine’s unstoppable ambition for supreme power and the security of his dynasty.¹¹³ Ultimately, Licinius was a tyrannus because he was a loser. The circularity of the logic is impressive; Licinius had to be overthrown because he was a tyrant; we know he was a tyrant because he had been overthrown. The word tyrannus came, in the course of the fourth century, to be the most common word applied to usurpers; so much so, in fact, that it has been argued that tyrannus came to be virtually synonymous with ‘usurper’ in the period.¹¹⁴ But as we saw with the example above, the word could be (and was) applied to emperors who could by no measure be described as having usurped power. In fact, what took place during the period was that the word tyrannus, with all its implications of unregulated despotism and licentious misrule, came to mean, in the most pragmatic assessment, something like ‘an emperor defeated by another and whose memory was not later rehabilitated by a successor’. Ammianus described the ill-fated rebellion of Silvanus as a ‘tyranny’ (tyrannis), despite portraying Silvanus as a distinctly sympathetic (even pathetic) character.¹¹⁵ Orosius, as we have seen, says that Magnus Maximus, otherwise a good man, shamed himself by becoming a tyrannus.¹¹⁶ By 460, when Paulinus of Pella wrote his Eucharisticos, so tragic and powerless a character as Priscus Attalus, who was twice made a puppet-emperor by successive Gothic leaders in order to further their own agenda, could be termed a tyrannus.¹¹⁷ The moral connotations of the word thus became blurred with the more matter-of-fact assessment of the fate of a claimant to imperial power. This was, however, in keeping with imperial ideology. Fallen emperors had to be wicked. Romans rarely used the noun usurpator and its verb usurpare when describing imperial politics.¹¹⁸ They were much more comfortable with the moral language of tyranny, despotism, and slavery because, in a system without constitutional ¹¹³ On the religious character of this conflict, see T. G. Elliott, ‘Constantine’s Explanation of his Career’, Byzantion 62 (1992), 212–34. For a more firmly secular take, see Barnes, Constantine, 100–6. ¹¹⁴ T. D. Barnes, ‘Oppressor, Persecutor, Usurper: The Meaning of “tyrannus” in the Fourth Century’, in G. Bonamente and M. Mayer (eds), Historia Augustae Colloquium Barcinonense (Historiae Augustuae Colloquia, n. s. 4; Bari, 1996), 55–65; V. Neri, ‘Usurpatore come tiranno nel lessico politico della tarda antichità’ in F. Paschoud and J. Szidat (eds), Usurpationen in der Spätantike; Akten des Kolloquiums ‘Staatsstreich und Staatlichkeit,’ 6.–10. März 1996 (Historia Einzelschriften 111. Stuttgart, 1997), 71–86; cf. Szidat, Usurpator tanti nominis, 27–9 and S. Elbern, Usurpationen im Spätrömischen Reich (Habelts Dissertationsdrucke: Reihe Alte Geschichte 18. Bonn, 1984), 4 n. 13. ¹¹⁵ Amm., XV.5.24. ¹¹⁶ Oros., VII.34.9. ¹¹⁷ Paul. Pel., Euch. 293ff. ¹¹⁸ Rarely, though not never, e.g. Symm., Or. I.22; CTh. XV.14.8; Pan. Lat. VI.16.1, etc. For a more comprehensive list and some discussion of these words, see Szidat, Usurpator tanti nominis, 29.

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regulation, such language was actually clearer. It allowed a view upon the entirety of an individual’s reign—accession to death—that invited no complication. Ammianus Marcellinus very famously brought his history to its conclusion in 378. Writing in the early 390s, he provides a coded but clear reason for his choice: ‘As for the rest (reliqua), let it be written by better men, in the flower of their youth and their learning. I would warn such men, however, if it please them, to advance in this task by forging their language to the higher style (ad maiores . . . stilos).’¹¹⁹ The historian Eutropius, author of a Breviarium, a summary of Roman history from the founding of the city until the beginning of the reign of Valens (364), closed his narrative in near identical fashion: ‘Since, however, we have come to the time of our illustrious and venerable princes, we will fix a limit to our work. For the rest (reliqua) must be pronounced in the higher style (stilo maiore). These things I do not so much omit as reserve for more diligent composition.’¹²⁰ The Historia Augusta’s Quadrigae Tyrannorum ends in virtually identical language, Festus’ Breviarium communicates the same notion with slightly different phrasing, and Jerome’s Chronicle duplicitously disavows the task of recording the reigns of Gratian, ‘not that I am afraid of the living or unwilling to write truthfully—for the fear of God drives out fear of man—but rather because, while the barbarians rage through our lands, everything is in doubt.’¹²¹ Roman historians were very nervous about bringing their narratives into the present time because to treat the reign of a living emperor with the critical impartiality that it was believed was required of the historian was impossible.¹²² Historians who did so fell back on the techniques of panegyric, of which we will learn more in the remainder of this book.¹²³ ¹¹⁹ Amm., XXXI.16.9: scribant reliqua potiores, aetate doctrinisque florentes. quos id, si libuerit, adgressuros, procudere linguas ad maiores moneo stilos. ¹²⁰ Eutr., X.18: Quia autem ad inclitos principes venerandosque perventum est, interim operi modum dabimus. Nam reliqua stilo maiore dicenda sunt. Quae nunc non tam praetermittimus, quam ad maiorem scribendi diligentiam reservamus. ¹²¹ HA Quad. Tyr.15.10: supersunt mihi Carus, Carinus et Numerianus, nam Diocletianus et qui sequuntur stilo maiore dicendi sunt. Fest., 30: quam magno deinceps ore tua, o princeps invicte, facta inclita sunt personanda? quibus me licet imparem dicendi nisu, et aevo graviorem, parabo. Jer., Chron. praef.: non quo de viventibus timuerim libera et vere scriber—timor enim Dei hominum timorem expellit—sed quoniam, debacchantibus adhuc in terra nostra Barbaris, incerta sunt omnia. ¹²² This principle appears to have been long observed. Tacitus, writing under Hadrian, brought his Historiae to an end with the reign of Domitian (cf. Tac., Hist. I.1, where he tactfully justifies this decision), Suetonius did likewise with his Lives of the Caesars, and Herodian appears to have brought his history to a close with the accession of Gordian III in order to avoid speaking of living emperors (A. M. Kemezis, Greek Narratives of the Roman Empire under the Severans: Cassius Dio, Philostratus and Herodian (Cambridge, 2014), 300–4). Cassius Dio appears to have been unusual in approaching contemporary history with a surprising equanimity (Kemezis, Greek Narratives, 2014), 90–149. ¹²³ Aurelius Victor, who wrote under the emperor Constantius and brought his account of events up to the year 360, likewise slips into the register of panegyric as he enters his emperor’s reign, for example: ‘He is calm and moderate in his duties, skilled with letters to the point of eloquence, pleasant and beguiling in his manner of speaking. Tolerant of labour and wonderfully

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The Empire was not a political body conducive to detailed internal scrutiny, at least insofar as its head of state was concerned. Though the Empire possessed remarkably sophisticated mechanisms to allow subordinates to interact with, criticize, and even to impeach their superiors, to criticize the emperor was an utter impossibility. The mere suggestion of criticism could be enough to insight treason charges, as could any enquiry into the imperial succession.¹²⁴ When individuals wished to propose reforms to imperial government, they had to be presented as descriptions of best practice for the entertainment of an emperor already engaged in them.¹²⁵ If we turn back to Constantine and Licinius, we can see therefore that Constantine’s subjects were forced to declare Licinius a tyrant because Constantine had so declared him. So long as Constantine—or an emperor adhering to his programme regarding the past—was in power, then Licinius was a tyrant. Just as this process might take place with emperors later denounced as illegitimate or as usurpers, so too it might take place with usurpers who later legitimized themselves as emperors. Debate has raged for more than thirty years over whether Constantine ought properly to be called a usurper or a legitimate emperor (and this is a debate to which this book will make some contribution). But the reason that this debate can rage at all, aside from all the issues already delineated that make it so difficult to assess whether any emperor was legitimate or illegitimate, is because Constantine’s power became absolute across the Empire. If we see Constantine as a usurper—which I will argue that he was—it would nevertheless be impossible that sources composed in his reign would declare him as such. Constantine’s position as emperor from 306 and sole Augustus from 324–37 insured that everyone who wrote about him treated him as a legitimate emperor. That he then handed power on swift with a bow, he has conquered his appetite, every lust, and all greed.’ (Aur. Vict., Caes. 42.23; cf. valuable commentary in H. W. Bird (tr.), Liber de Caesaribus of Sextus Aurelius Victor (Translated Texts for Historians 17. Liverpool, 1994), 205–6 n. 18). Cf. T. Urbainczyk, ‘Vice and Advice in Socrates and Sozomen’, in M. Whitby (ed.), The Propaganda of Power: The Role of Panegyric in Late Antiquity (Leiden, 1998), 302–6. ¹²⁴ Seneca, in his de Ira, records the advice of an old man who, when asked how he had been able to live long in the courts of kings, replied that it had been achieved ‘by accepting injury and giving thanks (iniurias . . . accipiendo et gratias agendo: II.33.2). During the wide-ranging treason trials undertaken by Valens in the winter 371/2, a man named Theodorus was condemned to death simply because a group of conspirators, quite without Theodorus’ knowledge, had divined that the name of the next emperor would begin with the letters θ-ε-ο(in some accounts θ-ε-ο-δ): Amm., XXIX.1; Aur. Vict., Epit. 48.3–4; Soc., HE IV.19; Zos. IV.13.3–4. Matthews, Roman Empire of Ammianus, 219–26; F. J. Wiebe, Kaiser Valens und die heidnische Opposition (Antiquitas, Reihe 1, Abhandlungen zur alten Geschichte 44. Bonn, 1995), 86–168 for Theodorus and 169–286 for Valens’ trials more generally; N. Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D. (Berkeley, 2002), 218–34. ¹²⁵ E.g. de Re militaris I.praef; Vegetius, de Rebus bellicis I.praef. One of the things that made bishops such a new and unusual influence, from the fourth century on, is the extent to which they, unlike any other imperial subject, were able to criticize emperors: R. Flower, Emperors and Bishops in Late Roman Invective (Cambridge, 2013).

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to his sons, who had a deeply vested interest in defending their father’s legitimacy (as it was from this that their own legitimacy stemmed) only served to further embed this position within the intellectual tradition. This means that between Constantine’s accession in 306 and the death of his last remaining son, Constantius, in 361, there were fifty-five years in which it was impossible for any historian, desirous to escape (as most historians are) charges of high treason, to declare that Constantine was a usurper. This challenging picture helps to explain why the question of legitimacy and lawful imperial rule in the Roman era has presented such a problem to modern historians, inviting a diversity of answers. Theodore Mommsen, in his great three-volume enquiry into the Roman constitution, declared that ‘There has probably never been a regime in which the notion of legitimacy is as absent as that of the Augustan principate.’¹²⁶ He argued that, with every emperor, the principate itself died and had to be rebuilt by his successor. This slightly torturous assertion allowed Mommsen to dodge the question of legitimacy by asserting that there was no such thing as a fixed institution that constituted the imperial office, rather a succession of individuals who built power around their own person. Mommsen thus sought to avoid the whole question of legitimacy, and on this score has been rightly challenged. Johannes Straub has argued that legitimacy was derived from the acclamation by the soldiers; as we have seen, this raises as many problems as it solves.¹²⁷ Egon Flaig has argued that we ought to establish a clear boundary between acceptance and legitimacy. The imperial office itself, he claims, was legitimate in every sense of the word; what was necessary was for individual emperors to gain the acceptance of the soldiers, the senate, and the plebs urbana.¹²⁸ Alan Wardman, perhaps following the dictum of Ambrose of Milan, that ‘A usurper excites war, but an emperor defends his rights,’ provides a simple rule: ‘A usurper in one sense is merely one who seeks to set himself up as an emperor when there is a ruler already established.’¹²⁹ This same definition is advanced by Joachim Szidat.¹³⁰ Less empirically, but perhaps more accurately, Hagith Sivan has said that ‘on the one hand, usurpers were failed rulers, while, on the other, many emperors were successful usurpers.’¹³¹ In recognition of the fact that ancient and modern definitions differ, and in an attempt to be responsive to this chaotic polity, I have attempted to cast the ¹²⁶ T. Mommsen, Römisches Staatsrecht (3 vols. Leipzig, 1871–88), II.2, 814: ‘Es hat wohl nie ein Regiment gegeben, dem der Begriff der Legitimität so völlig abhanden gekommen wäre wie dem augustischen Principat.’ ¹²⁷ J. Straub, ‘Dignatio Caesaris’, in Legio VII Gemina (León, 1970), 170–9. ¹²⁸ E. Flaig ‘Für eine Konzeptionalisierung der Usurpation im Spätrömischen Reich,’ in-Szidat (eds), Usurpationen in der Spätantike, 15–34. ¹²⁹ Amb., Ep. 30.10. Wardman, ‘Usurpers’, 226. ¹³⁰ Szidat, Usurpator tanti nominis, 26. ¹³¹ H. Sivan, ‘Was Theodosius I a Usurper?’, Klio 78:1 (1996), 201.

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net widely but at the same time to present a definition that is both elegant and simple. In a limited way, I agree with Mommsen that legitimacy—that is, a classical concept of constitutional legitimacy—was irrelevant as concerned Roman imperial power. A Roman emperor was legitimate insofar as he was able to gain the acceptance of the Empire. Thus we make speak of an emperor ‘legitimating himself ’, which is to say concreting his hold over territory and gaining acceptance of his rule. I have, therefore, only two criteria that mark an emperor out as a usurper: the first is that of Ambrose, Wardman, and Szidat, that an emperor ought to be considered a usurper if he is declared while another emperor is still ruling without the express consent of that ruler; the second is that someone ought to be considered a usurper if they take power in the wake of an imperial assassination and can be demonstrated to have been involved in that assassination—to kill an emperor and take power is to be a usurper. It is important, however, to understand that this definition of usurpation functions in constitutional terms and is black and white and unchangeable. According to this definition, Roman emperors are either emperors or they are usurpers. The moral conduct of their rule, their relationship to their subjects, and their ultimate fate are thus immaterial, and this definition operates solely upon the imperial accession. In what follows, however, it must continually be borne in mind that this definition, as I have tried to show in this section, is not the Roman one. For the Romans, the difference between a tyrant and an emperor was a fluid one. Rulers could lose legitimacy and they could gain it. Throughout this book, therefore, these two ideas will be in constant tension. On the one hand, imperial accessions will be assessed in accordance with my objective, constitutional criteria, but on the other we will explore, in depth, how it was that emperors managed their reputation and their relationship with their subjects (and, indeed, with other emperors) in order to defend their legitimacy and to undermine that of their opponents.

‘ LET THESE THIN GS GO UNSPOKEN ’ : US URP ATI ON AND MODERN RESEARCH Usurpation in the late Empire is slowly emerging as a distinct field of study. The subject has—at least until recently—received markedly greater attention in the period of the early Empire, with the fundamental study being Egon Flaig’s 1992 Den Kaiser herausfordern, perhaps the first serious thematic treatment of usurpation in the Roman world. Flaig rightly asserted that viewing individual usurpations in isolation cannot provide us with an understanding of the wider process, and ultimately drew the conclusion that the Principate was an Akzeptanzsystem, with the right to rule based on consent from three main parties: army, senate, and plebs urbana, foremost among

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which was the army.¹³² For years, the only dedicated works on the question of usurpation in the later Roman world in English was a short article published by Alan Wardman in 1984.¹³³ It was supplemented in the same year by the publication of a German doctoral thesis undertaken at the Freie Universität Berlin, Stephan Elbern’s 1984 Usurpationen in Spätromischen Reich.¹³⁴ Elbern’s work broke important ground on the question though with indifferent results; while an impressive assemblage of material relating to usurpation between 285 and 455, the work took a fundamentally positivist approach to the sources and was concerned largely with a straightforward reporting of their contents, an approach which, as I will argue below, is a deeply flawed in the case of usurpation. More recently, however, the field has begun to widen. In 1996, a conference on the subject of usurpation in the late Roman period was held in Solothurn and Bern in Switzerland, and its proceedings published a year later.¹³⁵ Containing a range of papers in German, French, and Italian, the volume provides a valuable insight into various aspects of usurpation and legitimacy in the period 284–395, including a reformulation by Egon Flaig of the views he had advanced in Den Kaiser herausfordern so as to make them more relevant to the later Empire. One of the conveners of this conference and contributors to it, Joachim Szidat, has since crowned a career of study into the inter-imperial politics of the late Empire with the publication of his Usurpator tanti nominis.¹³⁶ Szidat’s book is a detailed study of the phenomenon in the period between the death of Constantine and the death of Romulus Augutulus, that is 337–478, and constitutes a valuable resource as an exploration of how and why usurpation occurred, how a usurpatory regime sought to concrete itself, and the ways in which usurpers might succeed or fail in their aim to establish their power. Yet Szidat, like Flaig, is ultimately concerned with usurpation’s ‘hows’; insufficient space, in my view, has been afforded to attempting to engage with the way in which contemporaries thought about usurpation and

¹³² Flaig, Den Kaiser herausfordern. Given what we have already said about changes to the imperial system, it should be evident that two out of three of Flaig’s ‘maßgeblichen Sektoren’ were already heading towards irrelevance by 200, if not long before. ¹³³ Wardman, ‘Usurpers’, 220–37. ¹³⁴ Elbern, Usurpationen im Spätrömischen Reich. ¹³⁵ Paschoud- Szidat (eds), Usurpationen in der Spätantike. ¹³⁶ Szidat, Usurpator tanti nominis. See also ‘Usurpationen in der römischen Kaiserzeit: Bedeutung, Gründe, Gegenmassnahmen,’ in H. E. Herzig und R. Frei-Stolba (eds), Labor omnibus unus: Gerold Walser zum 70. Geburtstag dargebracht von Freunden, Kollegen und Schülern (Historia Einzelschriften 60. Stuttgart, 1989), 232–43; ‘Die Usurpation Iulians: Ein Sonderfall?’ in Paschoud- Szidat (eds), Usurpationen in der Spätantike, 63–70; ‘Die Herrschaft der Söhne Konstantins und die Usurpation des comes rei militaris Magnentius: Ein Überblick über die Geschichte der Jahre 337–53,’ in M. A. Guggisberg (ed.), Der spätrömische Silberschatz von Kaiseraugst: Die neuen Funde (Augst, 2003), 203–14.

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the ways in which historical sources talk about—or do not talk about—this controversial subject.¹³⁷ From this brief survey, it will be clear that English scholarship has lagged behind continental—and particularly German—scholarship, at least in terms of volume. English scholars have not been blind to the preponderance of usurpation and civil war in the Empire after the third century, but systematic studies have not been forthcoming. This is doubtless at least in part the result of a general trend in scholarship of the late Empire, which has tended to see publications confined to chronological foci dictated by individual emperors or dynasties.¹³⁸ Within such foci, certainly, individual usurpations and moments of crisis have increasingly come under scrutiny.¹³⁹ The questions of usurpation, civil war, and legitimacy were also central subjects of discussion at a conference held in 2009 in Konstans, Germany, the proceedings of which have now been published in a 2014 volume, aptly titled Contested Monarchy, and which constitutes perhaps the first attempt in English to look in a wideranging way at such questions in the late Empire.¹⁴⁰ Yet a greater barrier to enquiry is presented by a general awareness that any study of usurpation must also make itself a study of the process known in modern literature as damnatio memoriae (literally ‘damnation of memory’). Damnatio memoriae is a beguiling term, its Latinity suggesting an ancient origin. It was, in fact, coined by a German dissertation of 1689.¹⁴¹ It is used to refer to a variety of practices in the Roman world that were targeted at the memory and commemoration of enemies of the state, among whom usurpers occupied the first rank. The procedures of damnatio memoriae (which are ¹³⁷ Insufficient, though importantly not none: Szidat, Usurpator tanti nominis, 25–42. ¹³⁸ Cf. Wienand (ed.), Contested Monarchy, viii. ¹³⁹ N. J. E. Austin, ‘A Usurper’s Claim to Legitimacy: Procopius in A.D. 365/6’, Rivista Storica dell’ Antichita 2 (1972), 187–94; P. Bastien, Le monnayage de Magnence (350–353) (2nd edn. Numismatique romaine 1. Wetteren, 1983); T. Grünewald, Constantinus Maximus Augustus: Herrschaftspropaganda in der zeitgenössischen Überlieferung (Historia Enzelschriften 64. Stuttgart, 1990), 63–73; T. D. Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius: theology and politics in the Constantinian Empire (Cambridge MA, 1993), 101–8; M. Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae: Studies in the Politics and Propaganda of the Emperor Maxentius (Skrifter utgivna av Svenska Intitutet Rom, 8°, 20; Stockholm, 1994); P. J. Casey, Carausius and Allectus: The British Usurpers (London, 1994); Sivan, ‘Was Theodosius I a Usurper?’, 198–211; Lenski, Failure of Empire; M. Humphries, ‘From Usurper to Emperor: the politics of legitimation in the age of Constantine,’ JLA 1:1 (2008), 82–100; S. LunnRockliffe, ‘Commemorating the Usurper Magnus Maximus: Ekphrasis, Poetry, and History in Pacatus’ Panegyric of Theodosius’, Journal of Late Antiquity 3:2 (2010), 316–36. ¹⁴⁰ Wienand (ed.), Contested Monarchy. ¹⁴¹ C. Schreiter and J. H. Gerlach, Dissertationem juridicam de damnatione memoriae: praescitu superiorum, in florentissima Philurea (Leipzig, 1689). See commentary in G. Schwedler, ‘Damnatio memoriae - oblio culturale: concetti e teorie del non ricordo,’ in A. Rigon and I. L. Sanfilippo (eds), Condannare all’oblio. Pratiche della damnatio memoriae nel Medioevo. Atti del Convengo del XX Premio Internazionale ‘Cocco D’Ascoli’ (Ascoli Piceno, 2010), 3–17. On near-equivalent terms used by Roman writers, see F. Vittinghoff, Der Staatsfeind in der römischen Kaiserzeit: Untersuchungen zur ‘damnatio memoriae’ (Neue deutsche Forschungen. Abteilung alte Geschichte 2. Berlin: Junker und Dünnhaupt, 1936), 64–74.

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often conceived of as a single process) included erasing the name of the condemned from inscriptions, mutilation of statues of the condemned, mutilating the body of the condemned, forbidding the use of the condemned’s name, executing family members of the condemned, and so forth. The imposition of these processes has a self-evidently deleterious effect on our ability as historians to make enquiry into the lives and reigns of men who suffered such sanctions. As the Historia Augusta puts it: ‘It is an unusual thing, and a difficult one, to set fairly in writing the deeds of those made tyrants by the victory of others (rarum atque difficile est ut, quos tyrannos aliorum victoria fecerit, bene mittantur in litteras), and thus few things concerning them are kept in the records and histories. For in the first place, the great deeds that did them honour are perverted by authors; secondly other things are suppressed; lastly no great care is taken in researching their ancestry and life, since it seems enough to mention their effrontery, the battle in which they were conquered, and their punishment.’¹⁴²

The effect of memory sanctions on our ability to examine usurpation is very poorly understood, not least because the sanctions themselves (despite the wanton abandon with which the term damnatio memoriae is thrown about) are themselves very poorly understood. No work exists that deals satisfactorily with the late Roman world.¹⁴³ The best study is Harriet Flower’s The Art of Forgetting, which ranges across a broad sweep of the ancient world, from Greece through the Republic and into the Principate, but sadly concluding with the reign of Hadrian.¹⁴⁴ Flower’s great contribution is to demonstrate first the enormous range of memory sanctions available to political actors, secondly the adaptability in the application of this corpus of sanctions, and thirdly the ultimately creative aims of the process. Flower also eschews the term damnatio in favour of the more neutral ‘memory sanctions’, a practice which I too will adopt in the rest of this work.¹⁴⁵ In some senses, our poor understanding of the influence of memory sanctions in Late Antiquity is actually compounded by the existence of a number of excellent studies on the visual elements of memory sanctions, most specifically ¹⁴² HA Pesc. Nig. 1.1–2. ¹⁴³ The only major study on the subject for the later period is Charles Hedrick’s History and Silence: Purge and Rehabilitation of Memory in Late Antiquity, whose title promises more than is truly delivered, for what promises to be a consideration of memory sanctions in the fourth century proves to be nothing of the sort; despite engaging with a range of memory sanctions and not being blinkered by a more traditional focus on statues and inscriptions, Hedrick’s discussion of damnatio memoriae (pp. 89–130) draws his evidence almost exclusively from Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cicero, making conclusions about both the theory and practice of the processes he describes virtually devoid, at times, of reference to the late Roman world. Further, though he acknowledges that the language of silence and oblivion in the rhetoric of damnatio is broadly empty, he offers little by way of explanation as to the constructive and creative role of the processes he describes. ¹⁴⁴ H. Flower, The Art of the Forgetting: Disgrace & Oblivion in Roman Political Culture (Chapel Hill, 2006). ¹⁴⁵ Flower, Art of the Forgetting, xix.

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the destruction of statues.¹⁴⁶ This has had the effect that damnatio memoriae is generally conceived of largely as a process of smashing statues and defacing inscriptions.¹⁴⁷ In the first place, this approach actually greatly underestimates the insidious and violent character of memory sanctions, which, in their most extreme expressions, amounted to a purge of friends and family, of political allies and of historical sources, the excising of laws and cancellation of major acts, ritual violence against the body of the condemned, and the savage persecution of such supporters as survived the condemned. Secondly, focus on statues and inscriptions at the expense of all else reinforces the idea that memory sanctions were a solely destructive process. Nothing could be further from the truth, for these processes involved not just the destruction of memorials and testaments to the condemned, but their replacement by a new narrative; the buildings they had constructed were rededicated, the laws and schemes they had enacted, as well as being annulled, were twisted and recast to create a new story, the anniversaries of their deaths were commemorated, their characters evoked through preconceived ideas of tyranny and barbarity, and—above all—their defeat and death were played out again and again by orators, both before the emperors and in provincial cities, upon holidays and imperial anniversaries.¹⁴⁸ While, therefore, it is widely acknowledged that usurpers could expect to be the victims of memory sanctions, there is only a very generalized consensus on what this might actually entail. A number of shorter works do exist which engage incisively with the issues presented by memory sanctions and the way in which they interact, in particular, with our literary record but, more generally, with the totality of our received source material.¹⁴⁹ A work on memory sanctions in Late ¹⁴⁶ T. Pekáry, Das römische Kaiserbildnis in Staat, Kult und Gesellschaft, dargestellt anhand der Schriftquellen (Berlin, 1985), 135–42; R. R. R. Smith, ‘The Public Image of Licinius I: Sculptured portraits and imperial ideology in the early fourth century,’ JRS 97 (1997), 170–202; P. Stewart, ‘The Destruction of Statues in Late Antiquity’, in R. Miles (ed.), Constructing Identity in Late Antiquity (London, 1999), 159–89; E. R. Varner, ‘Tyranny and Transformation of the Roman Visual Landscape’, in R. Miles (ed.), From Caligula to Constantine: Tyranny & transformation in Roman portraiture (Atlanta, 2000), 9–26; R. Delmaire, ‘La damnatio memoriae au Bas-Empire à travers les textes, la législation et les inscriptions’, Cahiers du Centre Gustave Glotz 14:1 (2003), 299–310; J. Elsner, ‘Iconoclasm and the Preservation of Memory’, in R. Nelson and M. Olin (eds) Monuments and Memory: Made and Unmade (Chicago, 2003), 209–31; E. R. Varner, Mutilation and Transformation: Damnatio memoriae and Roman Imperial Portraiture (Monumenta Graeca et Romana 10. Leiden, 2004); and various articles in S. Benoist and A. Daguet-Gagey (eds), Mémoire et histoire: Les procédures de condamnation dans l’Antiquité romaine (Publications du Centre régional universitaire lorrain d’histoire, Site de Metz 31. Metz, 2007) and Un discours en images de la condamnation de mémoire (Publications du Centre régional universitaire lorrain d’histoire, Site de Metz 34. Metz, 2008). ¹⁴⁷ A. Omissi ‘Damnatio memoriae or creatio memoriae?: Memory Sanctions as Creative Processes in the Fourth Century AD’, Cambridge Classical Journal 62 (2016), 171–5. ¹⁴⁸ Omissi ‘Damnatio memoriae or creatio memoriae?’, 175–96. ¹⁴⁹ E.g. S. Corcoran, ‘Hidden from History: the legislation of Licinius’, in J. Harries and I. Wood (eds), The Theodosian Code: Studies in the Imperial Law of Late Antiquity (London, 1993), 95–119; Lunn-Rockliffe, ‘Commemorating the Usurper Magnus Maximus’, 316–36.

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Antiquity, however, on the scale of that which Flower has produced for the Republican and High Imperial period, is still waiting to be produced. Failure to appreciate the influence of memory sanctions encourages a simplistic overview of the civil conflicts of the later Empire. There is a sense in much secondary scholarship, for example, that the chaotic state of the imperial succession during the third century was brought to an end by Diocletian and that usurpation thus ceased to be a major problem for the Empire. Stephan Elbern writes of the fourth century that ‘In contrast to the third century it is, in the late Roman period, hardly debateable whether an emperor was legitimate or illegitimate.’¹⁵⁰ Thomas Grünewald, in his study of rebellion under the Empire, writes of Maxentius and Magnus Maximus: ‘Unfavourable political circumstances led to both usurpers being tolerated for several years in the positions that they had arrogated to themselves and they were in effect emperors in the provinces over which they ruled.’¹⁵¹ If the fourth century appears to provide a neat and clear dividing line between legitimate emperors on the one hand and illegitimate usurpers on the other, that clarity is derived not from fundamental realities of the political system, but the enormous efforts of successive courts to establish their own legitimacy and to deconstruct that of their enemies. As this chapter has attempted to demonstrate, the third century in fact opened cracks in the imperial system that could never properly be closed. The story of the fourth century, of its increasingly centralized and authoritarian forms of government, of its increasingly elaborate court ritual and methods of public display, is the story of a series of emperors fighting to establish themselves as legitimate rulers in a system weighted towards disorder. This book will not and cannot rectify either the gap in scholarship on usurpation or that on memory sanctions. What is truly needed is a work taking usurpation and legitimation as its themes and charting their evolution across a period beginning with Augustus, or perhaps even with earlier potentates of the later Republic, and concluding no earlier than the seventh century and the rise of Islam. Such a work would far exceed the limits upon content imposed by a single volume and would require a command of little-known and elusive source material ranging across a period of some seven centuries. Furthermore, it would be forced to grapple, through an ever-changing cultural milieu, with the exceedingly complex historiographical problems created by memory sanctions. It is with this latter problem that this book, in a chronological window defined by a textual corpus, takes up the fight.

¹⁵⁰ Elbern, Usurpationen im Spätrömischen Reich, 4: ‘Im Gegensatz zum 3. Jahrhundert ist in der Spätantike kaum je umstritten, ob ein Kaiser legitim oder illegitim war.’ ¹⁵¹ T. Grünewald, Bandits in the Roman Empire: Myth and Reality (tr. J. F. Drinkwater. London, 2004), 83 (my emphasis).

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II Usurpation, Legitimacy, and Panegyric Everything, conscript fathers, which I am saying or have said concerning other princes, is designed to show how our father reforms and corrects customs corrupted and perverted by long habit. Nothing, indeed, is so suited to praise as comparison and the first duty of devoted citizens towards the best of emperors is to attack those who are dissimilar to him; for he loves not a good prince who does not detest a bad one. Pliny, from the Panegyricus to Trajan, September 100¹

Imperial panegyric might, at first glance, seem to be the last place to begin a study of usurpation. The third-century grammarian, Menander, advised those wishing to compose an imperial address that: ‘The imperial oration is an encomium [panegyric] of the emperor. It will thus embrace a generally agreed amplification of the good things attaching to the emperor, but allows no ambivalent or disputed features, because of the extreme splendour of the person concerned.’ Menander further adds that, ‘if it is possible to invent, and to do this convincingly, do not hesitate.’² To this already underwhelming endorsement of panegyric as a historical source, we might also observe that, though Menander did advise his readers to speak about the emperor’s deeds in war wherever possible, it seems clear that these wars were conceived of as waged against external enemies (hence he talked about the personification of resisting countries), and that beyond the suggestion that the emperor may be (favourably) compared to a hypothetical tyrant, there is no mention anywhere of the need to discuss conflicts with, or even the existence of, usurping emperors.³ As a genre, panegyric’s sole aim was the abject flattery ¹ Pan. Lat. I.53.1–2. ² Men. Rhet., II.368, 371. See D. A. Russell and N. G. Wilson (eds and trs), Menander Rhetor (Oxford, 1981), 77, 83. See also Quint., Inst. III.7.25. For a more general introduction to handbooks of rhetoric, see the introduction to Russell and Wilson (eds and trs), Menander Rhetor; D. A. Russell, ‘The Panegyrists and their Teachers’, in M. Whitby (ed.), The Propaganda of Power: The Role of Panegyric in Late Antiquity (Leiden, 1998), 17–49; M. Heath, Menander: A Rhetor in Context (Oxford, 2004); R. N. Gaines, ‘Roman Rhetorical Handbooks’, in W. Dominik and J. Hall (eds), A Companion to Roman Rhetoric (Oxford, 2007), 163–80. ³ Russell and Wilson (eds and trs), Menander Rhetor, 87, 91.

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which St Augustine recalls with such distaste: ‘How wretched I was, and how you dealt with me that I might know my own wretchedness, on the day when I was preparing to recite a panegyric to the emperor, in which I would tell many lies and would be viewed with favour by those who knew them to be such.’⁴ Augustine’s moral condemnation of panegyric ought not, however, to translate into a historical condemnation of the genre. To historians of previous generations, particularly those of a more empiricist bent, panegyric has certainly been a source of frustration and contempt. Alan Cameron voiced his exasperation in his 1970 Claudian when he remarked: So conventional (not to say trite), and so divorced from anything so mundane as mere facts are most of the themes of most such panegyrics that it is hard to believe that they could have had much influence on the conduct or beliefs of either the Emperor or his subjects. What mattered more than the content was the form and the execution. The panegyrist was applauded and rewarded not, in general, for what he said, but for how he said it.⁵

Trite they may have been, but the tide of scholarly opinion appears to have turned firmly against any suggestion of their irrelevance either as documentary evidence or as an active part of the world of late Roman high politics.⁶ More than thirty years ago, C. E. V. Nixon wrote that ‘the place of panegyric in a book on historiography needs no elaborate justification.’⁷ The choice to write

⁴ August., Conf. VI.6; for the circumstances of this panegyric, S. Lancel, Saint Augustine (tr. A. Nevill. London, 2002), 63–4. ⁵ A. Cameron, Claudian: Poetry and propaganda at the court of Honorius (Oxford, 1970). One might also cite, in a similar spirit: Jones, The Later Roman Empire, II 1008; J. Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, AD 364–425 (Rev. edn. Oxford, 1990), 228; R. MacMullen, Corruption and the Decline of Rome (New Haven, 1988), 113. ⁶ In the early twentieth century, the work of R. Pichon, Études sur l’histoire de la littérature latine dans les Gaules: les derniers écrivains profanes: les panégyristes, Ausone, le Querolus Rutilius Namatianus (Paris, 1906), A. Klotz, ‘Studien zu den Panegyrici Latini’, Rheinisches Museum 66 (1911), 513–72, and J. Straub, ‘Konstantins Verzicht auf den Gang zum Kapitol’, Historia 4:3 (1955), 297–313 helped to establish the field. Widely recognized as still the foundational text for modern understanding of how to approach the genre is S. MacCormack, Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, 1981), based on her own earlier article S. MacCormack, ‘Latin Prose Panegyrics: Tradition and discontinuity in the later Roman Empire’, REA 22 (1976), 29–77. ⁷ C. E. V. Nixon, ‘Latin Panegyrics of the Tetrarchic and Constantinian Period’, in B. Croke and E. M. Emmett (eds), History and Historians in Late Antiquity (New York, 1983), 88. Since MacCormack wrote, study of the panegyrics has blossomed, and I quote only a few of the most notable authors and works: Nixon, ‘Latin Panegyrics’, 88–99; M.-C. L’Huillier, L’Empire des Mots: Orateurs gaulois et empereurs romains, 3e et 4e siècles (Centre de Recherches d’Histoire Ancienne 114. Paris, 1992); M. Mause, Die Darstellung des Kaisers in der lateinischen Panegyrik (Palingenesia: Monographien und Texte zur klassischen Alterumswissenschaft 50. Stuttgart, 1994); M. Whitby (ed.), The Propaganda of Power: The Role of Panegyric in Late Antiquity (Leiden, 1998); R. Rees, Layers of Loyalty in Latin Panegyric, AD 289–307 (Oxford, 2002); and R. Rees, Latin Panegyric (Oxford Readings in Classical Studies. Oxford, 2012).

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a history of usurpation through these texts, however, given that it is somewhat more novel, deserves a few pages. By the end of the third century, if not long before, panegyric had become one of the most important features of formal interactions between an emperor and his subjects.⁸ The corpus of late imperial panegyric constitutes an impressive and unprecedented survival.⁹ All told, a total of forty-eight secular—or perhaps more properly, non-Christian—prose panegyrics survive which were composed by various authors and for various occasions in both the Greek East and Latin West between the years 289 and 389 (see Appendix I).¹⁰ For the most part, these are the products of the most important rhetors and politicians of the day and survive as part of their collected works. The Greek speeches belong to three authors: Julian, Themistius, and Libanius. Themistius composed eighteen extant imperial panegyrics, delivered to five emperors (Constantius I, Jovian, ⁸ MacCormack, Art and Ceremony, 4–14; Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 6–19. The genitor of the genre is generally agreed to be Isocrates, whose Evagoras of 365 BC was (so its author claimed) the first formalized eulogy in prose dedicated to a contemporary individual, the recently deceased Cyprian king Evagoras (S. M. Braund, ‘Praise and Protreptic in Early Imperial Panegyric: Cicero, Seneca, Pliny’, in Whitby (ed.), The Propaganda of Power, 53–76). The word panegyric itself appears also to trace its roots back to Isocrates, who wrote his Panegyrikos (πανήγυρις, ‘public festival or assembly’ + λόγος; cf. K. Ziegler, ‘Panegyrikos’, RE 18.3 (1949), 559–81) for the Olympic festival in 380 (Nixon-Rodgers, 1). Roman panegyrical traditions appear to have grown out of the practice of delivering public funerary speeches, the so-called laudatio funebris. Such speeches became occasions for talented men to make a name for themselves, as did Caesar at the funeral of his aunt Julia (MacCormack, ‘Latin Prose Panegyrics’, 33–4). Republican politics, particularly in its later years, also provided an environment in which the praise of individuals in a political setting became more common. ⁹ Examples of texts that might be termed panegyrics from the first three centuries of the Empire are rare. The most obvious and well-known example is Pliny’s Panegyricus (see various articles in Rees, Latin Panegyric). To these we may add three sets of speeches on kingship: Seneca’s de Clementia, written for Nero in AD 55–56, Dio Chrysostom’s four orations On Kingship (Or. I–IV), written during the reign of Trajan (Jones, Roman World of Dio Chrysostom, 114–23), and Aelius Aristides’ Roman Oration, delivered to Antoninus Pius in 155. Certain of the Silvae of Statius and of Martial’s Epigrams may be considered examples of panegyrical style in verse (K. M. Coleman (ed. and tr.), Martial: Liber Spectaculorum (Oxford, 2006), lxxix–lxxxi; Rees, Latin Panegyric, 11). The paucity of earlier evidence ought not, I think convince us that panegyric was somehow a unique preoccupation of the later Empire. This appears to have been the view of earlier scholarship. Born, for instance, remarked on the ‘almost spontaneous growth of this genre’, for which ‘the Zeitgeist is alone responsible’ (‘The Perfect Prince according to the Latin Panegyrists’, AJP 55:1 (1934), 34–5). For studies on panegyric before the third century, see Russell, ‘The Panegyrists and their Teachers’, 45, and Braund, ‘Praise and Protreptic in Early Imperial Panegyric’, 53–101. ¹⁰ The decision to confine this study to secular prose panegyric was taken in consciousness that it excluded a number of texts that might otherwise have been included. Christian material, including the Constantinian orations of Eusebius of Caesarea and the funerary orations of Ambrose of Milan, has been given only the most passing consideration, because the differences in genre are so significant that to include them would have necessitated additional sections devoted solely to this topic. Epic verse panegyric has likewise been excluded both for reasons of genre and of periodization, as has Synesius’ de Regno, a work which treads a fine line between panegyric and invective and which was certainly never publicly delivered to its ‘honorand’ (both are briefly treated in Chapter X).

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Valens, Gratian, and Theodosius I) across a period ranging from the delivery of Or. I in either 347 or 350 to his Or. XIX, dating to 386.¹¹ Libanius delivered a staggering range of public speeches over his long career, of which perhaps thirteen can be said to be imperial in terms of their honorand or their central subject; most concern Julian, a few are addressed to Theodosius, and one is addressed to Constantius II and Constans.¹² Julian, as Caesar, wrote two panegyrics which he addressed to Constantius during the 350s.¹³ Of the Latin panegyrics, two of the responsible authors are likewise independently famous and would be known to us irrespective of the survival of their speeches.¹⁴ Three fragmentary speeches (Or. I–III) of Symmachus, delivered to Valentinian I and Gratian early in Symmachus’ political career, have been preserved.¹⁵ The poet Ausonius also delivered a gratiarum actio to Gratian in thanksgiving for his consulship of 379.¹⁶ In addition to these, we have the intriguing collection of the Panegyrici Latini (henceforth Pan. Lat.), comprising eleven Latin speeches dating from 289–389, all delivered either in Gaul or by Gallic orators, and organized under a Silver Latin exemplum in the form of Pliny’s famous Panegyricus (Pan. Lat. I). These last are the only panegyrics that survive which were written by men about whose careers we are not well informed and as such they provide a valuable control to range against the unusually bright lights of Themistius, Libanius, Julian, Symmachus, and Ausonius.¹⁷ Some of the authors are named, other speeches are anonymous, and it has been a subject of some debate how many individual panegyrists actually contributed work to this collection, which was very likely put together by Pacatus, the author of Pan. Lat. II.¹⁸ The panegyrics are ¹¹ Nineteen orations are actually attributed to him, but Or. XII, ad Valentem de religionibus, is widely agreed to be a later forgery (cf. H. Schenkl (ed.), Themistii Orationes quae supersunt (Leipzig, 1965–74), III, 137). On the date of Or. I, see Chapter VI, n. 67. ¹² Constantius II and Constans: Or. LIX; Julian: Or. XII–XVIII, XXIV; Theodosius: Or. XIX, XX, XLV, XLIX. ¹³ These are his Or. I and II. Throughout I use the numbering for Julian’s speeches to be found in the Loeb edition, that is Or. I = Panegyric in Honour of Constantius; Or. II = The Heroic Deeds of Constantius. ¹⁴ Indeed, the Orationes of Symmachus were only discovered, and then quite by accident, in the early part of the nineteenth century on a palimpsest of a Latin translation of the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon (C. Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus: A Political Biography (Ann Arbor, 2006), 1–2). ¹⁵ Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 1–31. In addition to these are a further five speeches that Symmachus gave in the Roman senate (Or. IV–VIII). Though all deal with issues relevant to imperial politics to a varying degree, they were none of them intended as panegyrics (though they often address the—absent—emperor Gratian directly) and, furthermore, their fragmentary nature make their contents variously difficult to determine. ¹⁶ H. Sivan, Ausonius of Bordeaux: Genesis of a Gallic Aristocracy (London, 1993), 119–23. ¹⁷ On the collection, see especially Galletier; Nixon-Rodgers; L’Huillier, L’Empire des Mots; Rees, Latin Panegyric, 223–386. ¹⁸ On Pacatus as compiler of the Pan. Lat. collection, see Pichon, Études sur l’histoire de la littérature latine dans les Gaules, 285–91; Galletier, I xv–xvi; Nixon-Rodgers, 6–7; Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 20–2.

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addressed to a total of five emperors: Maximian, Constantius I, Constantine, Julian, and Theodosius I.¹⁹ In relative terms, when compared with the literally thousands if not tens of thousands of such speeches which must have been delivered in this hundredyear period, this body of texts cannot constitute more than one per cent of the total number of speeches delivered to emperors between 289 and 389, if not considerably less.²⁰ In absolute terms, however, this corpus constitutes an astonishing resource. At an average rate of just less than one panegyric every two years, these forty-eight speeches were delivered by an unknown number of authors (ranging from a hypothetical minimum of ten to a hypothetical maximum of sixteen),²¹ to no fewer than eleven emperors,²² across a period of one hundred years, in both the Empire’s official languages, and in many of the great cities across the Empire (with Trier, Rome, Constantinople, and Antioch claiming the lion’s share). We could hardly dare hope for better. It is rarely pointed out the subject of usurpation appears to have been of abiding interest to the authors—and therefore to the recipients—of imperial panegyric. Of the forty-eight speeches delivered within the period of this study, eighteen—more than one third—speak openly and explicitly about recent civil wars and perhaps half of the remainder may be said to bear upon the subject indirectly.²³ Only one of the speeches in the collection can be said with certainty to completely ignore a usurpation of which we might expect it to have spoken.²⁴ This striking predilection for a supposedly taboo subject is not simply remarkable when we compare panegyric to other written ¹⁹ For a summary of the panegyrics discussed here and for translations, editions, and secondary literature relating to them, see Appendix I. ²⁰ Evidence abounds for speeches that were delivered but that no longer survive. Libanius (Ep. 818.3) and Socrates (HE IV.32) mention panegyrics delivered by Themistius to Julian and Valens respectively, which we do not possess. Libanius himself delivered a panegyric to Gallus (Or. I.97) and to Valens (Or. I.144), which are mentioned in his autobiography but are not among his preserved works. He was also accused of having delivered a panegyric to the usurper Procopius (Or. I.163–5). Symmachus famously delivered both a panegyric to the usurper Magnus Maximus and an apology for having done so (in the form of a panegyric) to Theodosius (Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 228–31; Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 68–78). Augustine’s panegyric is perhaps one of the most famous from the late Roman world despite the fact that the text is now lost (Conf. VI.6). The panegyrist of 297 mentions that his career at the court had begun with a speech to Maximian (Pan. Lat. VIII.1.5–6). Ammianus makes reference to the panegyrics that Constantius received following Julian’s victory as Strasbourg (Amm., XVI.12.68). Paulinus of Nola also clearly composed a panegyric on Theodosius’ defeat of the usurper Eugenius (MacCormack, ‘Latin Prose Panegyrics’, 65–6). ²¹ Nixon-Rodgers, 3–10. ²² Maximian, Constantius I, Constantine, Constantius II, Constans, Julian, Jovian, Valentinian, Valens, Gratian, and Theodosius I. ²³ Panegyrics which openly discuss usurpation and civil war are, in chronological order: Pan. Lat. X, VIII, VI, XII, IV, Lib., Or. LIX, Jul., Or. I, Them., Or. II, IV, III, Jul., Or. II, Pan. Lat. III, Lib., Or. XIII, XII, Them., Or. VII, Symm., Or. I, Them., Or. VIII, Pan. Lat. II. ²⁴ Pan. Lat. XI; a very plausible interpretation for this is given in Nixon-Rodgers, 79, 107. See also my comments on Magnentius in Them., Or. I (see Chapter VI, p. 167).

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evidence, but looks curious even by the internal criteria of the genre. In the first place, when faced with awkward detail, the standard technique of the panegyrist was simply to ignore it. Most—though not always all—elephants in the room could be negotiated via this method.²⁵ Perhaps more importantly, however, focus upon usurpers and usurpation appears to be at variance with the normal narrative principles of panegyric. The norm of panegyrical discourse was that, while the emperor would be praised as an individual, and his actions and feelings described in detail, all other actors in the drama would be rendered as shadowy figures and would generally only act as united groups, be they the emperor’s soldiers or subjects, enemy armies or tribes, citizens who came to greet the emperor, or others besides.²⁶ Rarely do individual persons appear in the speeches and, even when they do, they are usually either gods, figures from history, or members of the emperor’s immediate family. Usurpers, however, are not merely present within the corpus but run rampant through it in garish caricatures. Usurpers are ‘pirates’, they are ‘tyrants’, they are ‘barbarians’.²⁷ They rape, plunder, murder, torture.²⁸ They fester like a disease, they conduct themselves with madness, they rage and fury like animals, or they lose themselves in drunken frenzy.²⁹ The custom in scholarly literature on the topic has been, in general, either to dismiss or to ignore this somewhat curious feature of imperial panegyric.³⁰ ²⁵ Menander advises precisely this strategy (Men. Rhet., II.370–1). ²⁶ E.g. Jul., Or. I.8a–b, 22a–d, 27a–d; Lib., Or. XII.61, 63–4; Pan. Lat. VIII.14.5, 19.1–5; Pan. Lat. II.4.1, 22.1–5, 32.4–5; Symm., Or. II.10–13; Them., Or. V.66a–c, XIV.181d–182a; etc. ²⁷ Pirate: Pan. Lat. X.12.1, VIII.6.1, 7.3, 12. Tyrant: Jul., Or. I.1, 26b–c, 27a, 30d, 47c–d; Them., Or. II.38b, IV.55d–56b, 62b–c; Pan. Lat. II.2.3, 23.1–2, 31.2, 42.2–3. Barbarian: Jul., Or. I.33c–35d, 42a, II.56c–57b, 97c–d; Them., Or. III.43a–c, IV.56d–57a. ²⁸ E.g. Pan. Lat. VIII.19.2, XII.3.5–7, 19.3, II.28.5; Them., Or. IV.56c–57a; Jul., Or. II.56c–57a; etc. ²⁹ Disease: Pan. Lat. VIII.17.3–18.2, IV.27.5, 33.7, II.23.4, 24.4; Them., Or. VII.92c–d. Madness: Pan. Lat. VIII.15.6, 16.2, IV.12.1. Drunkenness: Them., Or. II.36a, III.43a–c.; Jul., Or. II.56c–57a. ³⁰ Work on usurpation tends to disregard panegyric. Elbern, aside from the occasional citation, largely omits use of the panegyrics as evidence in his work on usurpation. Cullhed, though he does not shy from drawing evidence from the panegyrics, draws nearly twice as many citations from the rest of the Pan. Lat. collection as he does from Pan. Lat. XII and IV, the speeches which bear directly on Maxentius (cf. Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 9, 61, 66, 69, 70, 86, 88, 93). Scholars of panegyric seem likewise reluctant to explore usurpation. Heather and Moncur, for instance, in their Select Orations of Themistius, choose not to translate Oratio VII, delivered in the wake of the usurpation of Procopius and concerned solely with this event. Orationes II, IV, XVIII, and XIX are likewise not translated; the first two contain important references to the usurpation of Magnentius, the latter two to the usurpation of Magnus Maximus. Nixon observes that Pan. Lat. XII is all but devoid of mention of Constantine’s victories over the Franks (the celebration of which was the occasion for the panegyric’s delivery), instead focusing almost entirely on Maxentius, but passes virtually no comment on this: C. E. V. Nixon, ‘Constantinus Oriens Imperator: Propaganda and Panegyric: On Reading Panegyric 7 (307)’, Historia 42 (1993), 232–3. Mause’s work on the presentation of the emperor in Latin panegyric has little indeed to say about usurpers and usurpation: Mause, Darstellung des Kaisers. In his section ‘Der Kaiser in Kriegzeiten’ (183–204), for example, Mause has much to say on the emperor’s relationship with his soldiers and with war in general (used to reflect the triumphal nature of

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Panegyrics are, it is true, very interested in usurpers and in usurpation, but the picture that they present of them is so obviously a sycophantic pantomime designed solely to aggrandize their honorand that little attention has been devoted to them. What, the thinking goes, are we to learn from the gloating and calumniating of servile orators over the memories of the emperor’s enemies? Yet when the rhetoric of memory sanctions tells us to expect silence, we cannot help but observe the dissonance. Merely establishing that the usurpers of the panegyrics are monstrous caricatures gets us not very far at all. Indeed, it actually lures us into creating a very dangerous binary distinction as regards our sources, between ‘forensic’, ‘empirical’ sources on the one hand, and those that are mere ‘propaganda’ or ‘nonsense’. All, in fact, are representations of the world, not reproductions of it; all are driven by agenda and by principles of selection which—sometimes visible, sometimes not—shape our texts as compositional artefacts. If panegyric, more so than any other source in the late Roman world, was interested in talking about usurpers, then we ought to be interested as to why.

KNOWN UNKNOWNS, AND UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS: HOW TO USE PANEGYRIC AS A SOURCE The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius was, in many ways—its conception as an institutional history, its use of documents, and its totalizing framework of Christian history—one of the most influential texts to come out of the late Empire.³¹ For the purposes of this study, however, perhaps the most interesting thing about it was that, unusually for a historical text, the Ecclesiastical History exists in multiple editions, each slightly emended to bring its narrative up to date with current affairs at the time of its completion. Three Greek editions of the text exist, which Eusebius published (approximately) in AD 313/4, 315/6, his rule), but the opportunity to engage with specific issues of usurpation or how the presentation of a usurper reflected on the emperor is not taken. In the main, the only direct scholarly consideration of the topic is to be found in D. Lassandro, ‘La demonizzazione del nemico politico nei Panegyrici Latini’, CISA 7 (1981), 237–49 and Grünewald, Bandits in the Roman Empire, 80–6. ³¹ T. C. Ferguson, The Past is Prologue: The Revolution of Nicene Historiography (Leiden, 2005), 15–56; W. Adler, ‘Early Christian Historian and Historiography’, in S. Ashbrook Harvey and D. G. Hunter (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies (Oxford, 2008), 589–98. For all his originality, Eusebius has not been without his critics. The church historian Socrates opened his own Ecclesiastical History with the observation that Eusebius was more concerned with flattering emperors than with recording history (Soc., HE I.1.). Modern opinion has increasingly turned towards the idea that Eusebius placed ideological aims before accuracy (e.g. H. A. Drake, Constantine and the Bishops: The policy of intolerance (Baltimore, 2002), 355–92).

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and 324/5, in addition to a Syriac translation which appears to have been made from a further version, lightly edited by Eusebius after 326.³² Differences between the texts of these versions are a highly instructive—and highly sobering—insight into the source problems that will hound us at every turn as we attempt to understand usurpation. The 315/6 edition, which brought its account of affairs to the end of Licinius’ war with Maximin Daia in 313 and the peace between Licinius and Constantine, included numerous favourable references to the emperor Licinius, whom Eusebius repeatedly presented as operating in consort with Constantine both as a defender of Christianity and as a partner in a joint war against ‘the two most impious tyrants’, Maxentius and Maximin Daia. The 324/5 edition, however, written after the downfall of Licinius, not only contains additional material at the end of book X regarding the final war between Constantine and Licinius, but systematically excises favourable mentions of Licinius from its account of the events of the 310s.³³ The Syriac translation, clearly made after 326, likewise removes all reference to Constantine’s oldest son, Crispus, who was executed in this year and whom Eusebius had called, in the 325 version, both ‘a most beneficent prince’ and ‘a most God-beloved prince’. These deletions were likely made by Eusebius himself, who routinely omitted all mention of Crispus after 326.³⁴ Panegyric, unlike history, was a self-consciously ephemeral genre. Speeches were written in order to be performed and, though they might go on to enjoy a circulation that post-dated the moment of their delivery, their primary goal was to provide a script for an orator at a particular moment in time. This is why so few of them survive. Those few examples that we possess have endured into the modern world because they were included within the collected works of some of the most famous statesmen of the day, or else through the chance survival of a single Gallic style manual. These speeches were preserved, were published, and were copied for their rhetorical style, not their political content, and this proves to be one of their greatest strengths as a historical source. Ordinary historical texts, published as a unified whole, had to accommodate themselves to the world of their publication, as the example of Eusebius shows. Panegyrics, by contrast, were highly contemporary documents, and a panegyrical collection thus constitutes a series of historical snapshots, the ideas

³² T. D. Barnes, ‘The Editions of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History’, GRBS 21:2 (1980), 196–201, with important qualifications by A. Louth, ‘The Date of Eusebius “Historia Ecclesiastica” ’, JTS, n.s. 41:1 (1990), 111–23 and R. W. Burgess ‘The Dates and Editions of Eusebius’ “Chronici Canones and Historia Ecclesiastica” ’, JTS n. s. 48:2 (1997), 471–504, esp. 483–6. ³³ Barnes, ‘Editions of Eusebius’, 196–201. ³⁴ The quotations are from Euseb., HE X.9.4 and 6; Barnes, ‘Editions of Eusebius’, 197–8. On Crispus’ non-existence, see e.g. Euseb., VC IV.40.1, 51–2. On Crispus’ execution, see Amm., XIV.11.20; Eutr., X.6.3; Aur. Vict., Epit. 41.11–12; Zos., II.29.2; Zon. XIII.2.38–41; cf. Barnes, Constantine, 144–50.

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and ideology of a given moment which have not been made to conform to a later reality.³⁵ The proof of this may be seen in the way in which individual speeches within given collections, speeches placed side by side within their manuscripts, will often directly contradict one another. The orator of Pan. Lat. VII, delivered to Maximian and Constantine in 307 on the occasion of Constantine’s marriage to Maximian’s daughter, Fausta, and his elevation to the rank of Augustus by his new father-in-law, hailed Maximian as ‘perpetual Augustus, whether you will or not’, a man able to make a gift of imperial power, but not able to shed it, whose resignation in 305 was ‘the one deed, in which you, emperor eternal, earned the complaints of the Republic’ and was, notably, rejected by Jupiter, who indignantly reminded Maximus that imperium was not something he had given as a loan, but in perpetuity.³⁶ Yet Pan. Lat. VI, which directly precedes VII in the manuscript and which was delivered three years later in the immediate aftermath of Maximian’s ignominious execution, has a rather different story. Here, the orator declares his distaste for a man who had ‘usurped for a third time a power twice laid down’.³⁷ In the 340s, when he delivered his Or. LIX at Nicomedia, Libanius may have sung the praises of Constantius, but he castigated him as a monster in every speech he delivered under Julian and after.³⁸ Themistius lauded Valens for his time as a private citizen when he spoke before him, but criticized him for his inexperience after he was dead.³⁹ Panegyrics thus provide an authentic contemporary voice (even if that voice is authentic only in its abject flattery of the emperor). In a world of Eusebianstyle backwriting, where awkward information too often hit the cutting-room floor, contemporaneity is something worth looking for. Time corrupted the ³⁵ Nixon, ‘Latin Panegyrics’, 90; his observations on the Pan. Lat. collection hold true for the other authors as well. As an example of the way these snapshots may be deployed, see B. S. Rodgers, ‘The Metamorphosis of Constantine’, CQ 39:1 (1989), 233–46 and Humphries, ‘From Usurper to Emperor’, 82–100. This is not, of course, to say that a judicious editorial hand was never at work. Certainly, writers worked hard to cover up their own panegyrical gaffes, particularly when those gaffes could constitute treason. We know that Libanius delivered a panegyric to the ‘Caesar’ Gallus in 354 (Lib., Or. I.97) and that Symmachus likewise praised the ‘tyrant’ Magnus Maximus in late 387 or early 388 (Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, 228–31; Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 68–78), and we should hardly be surprised that neither of these speeches has survived. ³⁶ Pan. Lat. VII.1.1: velis nolis semper Auguste; 7.6: ita tu potes imperium, Maximiane, donare, non potes non habere; 8.9: [factum est] enim, imperator aeterne, in quo uno querelam rei publicae paene meruisti; 12.6: quid enim putas tibi, Maximiane, Iovem ipsum respondisse, cum tu ingenti animo diceres: ‘Recipe, Iuppiter, quod commodasti?’ Hoc profecto respondit: ‘Non mutuum istud tibi tradidi sed aeternum; non recipio sed servo.’ Maximian is hailed as ‘emperor eternal’ no fewer than six times in the speech (1.1, 2.5, 8.9, 11.5, 12.1, 13.3). ³⁷ Pan. Lat. VI.16.1: et bis depositum tertio usurparet imperium. ³⁸ E.g. Lib., Or. XII.39, 43, 58, 68, Or. XVIII.26–27, 31, 33–7, 67, 90, 107, 147, 152. ³⁹ Them., Or. VIII.112d–113c; Or. XV.196–197a and Or. XVI.205d–206c. Cf. HeatherMoncur, 24–8.

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historical legacy of few men so completely as it did the tyrannus.⁴⁰ Even the unusually detailed (and superficially even-handed) accounts of the usurpations of Silvanus, Julian, and Procopius to be found in the pages of Ammianus were written at a remove of some thirty-five, thirty, and twentyfive years (approximately).⁴¹ Panegyrics, by contrast, were a highly contemporary medium, recording events that had happened within a few years or even months of their own delivery. Aside from some of Libanius’ more backward-looking orations on Julian, the greatest delay we find in the panegyrics between delivery and the usurpations with which they deal is the (estimated) nine years that separated the rise of Magnentius and Julian’s Oration II and the eight and a half years that divided Nazarius and Pan. Lat. IV from the battle of the Milvian Bridge.⁴² Each speech was a carefully crafted unity designed to suit the needs of its own moment, but the panegyrics as collections have not been edited to suit the moment of their publication; a corpus of panegyrics thus presents the viewpoints of as many time periods as it contains speeches. Simple proximity to events, of course, is not of itself a historical virtue. Panegyrists might have had personal experience of the world they were describing, but they had no interest in objectivity or accuracy. Yet we need to be careful in how we understand this. Despite Augustine’s conscientious declaration that it was the job of the panegyrist to ‘lie’ (mentiri), panegyric only rarely indulges in outright falsehood—that is, conscious statements of untruth on points of fact.⁴³ The awareness that they were speaking about recent history to an audience entirely (or at least mostly) composed of individuals who were cognizant of, even participant in, the events of which they spoke, meant that orators could rarely afford simply to make things up, because an outright lie would risk bringing disrepute upon the emperor, which

⁴⁰ See Chapter I, pp. 46–7. Tacitus explains that he composed his Agricola specifically to fight this cloaking power of the past: ‘For forgetfulness will engulf many of the ancients, as if they were unknown and of ignoble stock’ (nam multos veterum velut inglorios et ignobiles oblivio obruet; Agr. 46.4). ⁴¹ O. J. Mänchen-Helfen, ‘The Date of Ammianus Marcellinus’ Last Books’, AJP 76:4 (1955), 384–99, following O. Seeck, Die Briefe des Libanius (Leipzig, 1906), 202, argued that Ammianus’ history must post-date 392 but was unlikely to have been written much later than 393. J. Matthews believes that it was probably published in 390 or 391 (Roman Empire of Ammianus, 17–27). I would follow the later dating and, with T. D. Barnes, Ammianus Marcellinus and the Representation of Historical Reality (Ithaca NY, 1998), 184 n. 79, would stress that Ammianus’ attitude to Valentinian II’s proclamation (Amm., XXX.10) can only be explained if the young emperor, who died on 15 May 292, were still alive. As we will discuss in more detail (Chapter II, pp. 65–6), Ammianus could not have failed to consume much of the propagandistic output of successive courts in the intervening period, and these have played a role in shaping his narrative. ⁴² On the dating of Julian’s Or. II, see Chapter VI, n. 91. For the date of Pan. Lat. IV, see Nixon-Rodgers , 338. ⁴³ August., Conf. VI.6.

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was inimical to the panegyrist’s function.⁴⁴ Panegyrists, of course, indulged in the most fantastically perverse interpretations of fact, because it was their job to shape the emperor’s past in order to make it conform to an idealized picture of him.⁴⁵ We may remember that Menander Rhetor, though he openly urges orators to invent detail, is at pains to stress that such invention should only be engaged in where the final result would be plausible to its audience.⁴⁶ Again, this works to our advantage, since orators will not try to slide something past us that they could not also slide past their audience. The proximity of both author and audience to the events that they recounted can yield surprising fruit. On occasion, orators seem at pains to talk about things that seem strikingly at variance with the role of the orator to praise and, as Menander puts it, to allow ‘no ambivalent or disputed features’.⁴⁷ The orator of AD 310 (Pan. Lat. VI), whom we have already had cause to mention, was aware of treading on difficult ground as he began to describe the ‘rebellion’ of Maximian against Constantine.⁴⁸ In just three years, Maximian had gone from being Constantine’s father-in-law, auctor imperii, and senior emperor to being a treasonous madman who could not stay in the retirement in which he quite rightly belonged. The orator managed this dissonance smoothly, largely by ignoring it.⁴⁹ One particular detail in his account of Constantine’s assault on Maximian’s stronghold at Marseilles, however, juts glaringly from his prose: But o what singular piety, Constantine, ever guarding you in your duty even on the field of battle! You gave the signal for retreat and you put off your victory so that you might be permitted to pardon all and so that an angry soldier might not act with more violence than your natural clemency would suffer. It must be granted in this that with the solicitude of a most excellent emperor you took care to ensure that soldiers led into delusion would be given time for repentance and might of their own volition beg for pardon . . .⁵⁰

The assault, we thus learn, was a failure, and Constantine was forced to negotiate with—and perhaps even to bribe—the soldiers within the city in order to secure the capture and subsequent execution of his wife’s father. The rhetorical convolutions in which the orator indulges in order to smooth the embarrassment that this retreat clearly caused beggar belief. Yet it is not ⁴⁴ Rees discusses this difference between the ‘cognitive’ and ‘performative’ aspects of panegyric in ‘The form and function of narrative in panegyric’, in D. H. Berry and A. Erskine (eds), Form and Function in Roman Oratory (Cambridge, 2010), 105–21, esp. 108–18. ⁴⁵ This explains why Constantius’ orators, could, after 357, claim that it was to Constantius’ ‘favourable auspices’ that the victory at Strasbourg was owed (something which clearly boiled the blood of Ammianus and Julian) but they could not simply invent a victory where none had taken place (cf. Amm., XVI.12.68; Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 279d). In a similar vein, see Pan. Lat. X.11.5. ⁴⁶ Men. Rhet., II.371 (tr. Russell and Wilson, Menander Rhetor, 83). ⁴⁷ Men. Rhet., II.368 (tr. Russell and Wilson, Menander Rhetor, 77). ⁴⁸ Pan. Lat. VI.14.1. ⁴⁹ See Chapter V, pp. 110–12. ⁵⁰ Pan. Lat. XI.20.1–2.

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the jaw-droppingly perverse interpretation of this event so much as its actual inclusion that is so interesting. For the orator to mention something as potentially embarrassing as the retreat of imperial soldiers in battle—a retreat, indeed, sounded by the emperor himself—can only be explained by the fact that the orator felt he could not avoid talking about it; it had to be explained (and explained away). Some elephants were simply too big—or some rooms too small—for omission to be an effective strategy. Speaking in the wake of events, to witnesses of those events, orators often had to engage in damage control. Why is it that the orator of 297 was so determined to talk about Allectus tearing off his imperial insignia during the battle that saw his army defeated?⁵¹ Why did Julian admit that Constantius had been sending soldiers to Vetranio during 350?⁵² Why did Pacatus spend so long talking about a blood relationship between Theodosius and Magnus Maximus that he urged his audience to see was utterly fictional?⁵³ These awkward moments of candour are very valuable, but they are rare. Orators rarely lied, but faced with uncomfortable detail their go-to strategy was simply to ignore it. Libanius speaks quite openly about this in his Or. LIX, the joint panegyric to Constantius and Constans that he delivered at Nicomedia at some time during the period 344–9: ‘It is the duty of the composer of a history to go through all the accomplishments in sequence, but of the man trying to deliver an encomium to omit no form of eulogy, rather than to recount each detail throughout.’⁵⁴ Panegyrists would, wherever possible, select only such detail as would reflect positively upon their emperor and would purge all else. On occasion, this could lead to glaring silences. On 1 March 321 the orator Nazarius stood up to address the Roman senate on the occasion of the joint quinquennalia of the young Caesars Crispus, Constantine II, and Licinius II.⁵⁵ Yet in a speech of more than 550 lines, Nazarius never so much as mentioned the existence of either the young Caesar Licinius or his father, Licinius Augustus. On the evidence of the speech alone, one could be forgiven for assuming that Constantine was sole Augustus of the Roman world. Such silences, however, can be made to work for, rather than against, our understanding—at least when we can detect them. Read properly, the silences speak loudly. A historian who remains silent on a topic of obvious importance tells us only that he wished to ignore it, or even that he was ignorant of it. When a panegyrist maintains silence, however, it tells us that his emperor wished it ignored. Nazarius’ failure to talk about Licinius tells a story, as do others like it.⁵⁶ In 291, the panegyrist who addressed Maximian as part of the celebrations for his birthday said nothing about the British Empire to the ⁵¹ See Chapter IV, pp. 95–6. ⁵² See Chapter VI, p. 183. ⁵³ See Chapter IX, pp. 283–6. ⁵⁴ Lib., Or. LIX.57 (tr. M. H. Dodgeon in S. N. C. Lieu and D. Montserrat (eds), From Constantine to Julian: Pagan and Byzantine Views: A Source History (London, 1996), 175). ⁵⁵ Galletier, II 149–50; Nixon-Rodgers, 338. ⁵⁶ See Chapter V, pp. 142–52.

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north.⁵⁷ There was a reason for this. In 307, the author of Pan. Lat. VII, speaking before Maximian and the newly wed Constantine and Fausta, did not mention the emperor Maxentius, who was son, brother-in-law, and brother to the honorands of that speech.⁵⁸ There was a reason for this. In 379, Ausonius delivered a gratiarum actio for his consulship of that year in which he described to the emperor Gratian the pacification of the Balkans, calling to mind Gratian’s father, Valentinian I, his half-brother, Valentinian II, his uncle, Valens, but never once thinking to mention the emperor that Gratian had notionally installed in the East to manage precisely this restoration of the Balkans.⁵⁹ There was a reason for this. In the final assessment, however, perhaps the most important thing to recognize about the panegyrics is that, although they treat usurpers with the most rabid and pantomime polemic, the assaults they launch against them are not directionless or undifferentiated. To give a single example here, two panegyrics of Julian (Or. I and II) and three of Themistius (Or. II, III, and IV), delivered to Constantius during the 350s, speak about the latter’s defeat of the emperors Magnentius and Vetranio in the early part of the decade.⁶⁰ The two authors wrote for very different audiences and occasions, and came to the business of praise with exceptionally different motivations (even between Julian’s individual speeches, the thought processes at work are clearly distinct). Despite this, however, there is, across all five speeches, a unity of presentation that is striking. Magnentius is consistently characterized as a barbarian— drunken, violent, and irrational—and his rebellion as a savage assault upon an ordered world which was quickly destroyed by the force of Constantius’ arms.⁶¹ Vetranio, however, is characterized as a foolish old man, his rebellion more pitiable than reprehensible, and its conclusion brought about by the power of Constantius’ oratory.⁶² This consistency of presentation is not an accident and it points us to something very important about the panegyrics, that they reflect for us a clearly articulated programme, the ultimate origins of which can only be the court itself. Panegyric shows us how widely disseminated these programmes were, for when men stood up to address the emperor, they clearly knew what to say. Handled with sensitivity, therefore, panegyric can act as a versatile source and the fixation of these speeches on the recurrent civil wars of the fourth century recommend them to precisely this type of enquiry. We have already seen the difficulty in attempting to glean any hard information about usurpers. The panegyrics are the key to understanding this problem, the sharp end of a wedge that destroyed the reputation of the usurper and created a monster in its place. In considering panegyric, therefore, we are not trying somehow to ⁵⁷ ⁵⁹ ⁶⁰ ⁶²

See Chapter IV, pp. 87–90. ⁵⁸ See Chapter V, p. 109. Auson., Grat. act. ii.6–9; see Chapter IX, pp. 257–60. See Chapter VI, pp. 169–70. ⁶¹ See Chapter VI, pp. 171–6. See Chapter VI, pp. 182–5.

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overcome the bias of our sources, to peel it away like a skin in order to get at the pulp of facts beneath; this is impossible for us—if, indeed, it is possible in any history. Rather, the aim is to understand the bias itself, to uncover the ways in which late Roman orators contributed to the efforts made by the court—as embodied by the particular reigning emperor—to complete a process of obfuscation against its enemies that aimed at a combined process of destroying historical traces of their existence and ensuring that what little remained behind was dictated by the needs of the court.

‘I N W H ICH I W O U L D TE L L MA N Y L I E S’: WHO DICTATED THE CONTENT OF P ANEGYRIC? To suggest that the panegyrics allow us to view political and ideological ‘programmes’ is to invite the question of how it was that panegyrics were composed. Panegyric manifestly was not a direct output of the court in the way that, for example, coinage was. Orators were not provided with a script nor is there evidence that their speeches were vetted in advance. Yet the seemingly straightforward requirement to praise and to flatter hid behind it a world of complexity. It was not simply enough to say that the emperor was a very good fellow, a very pious fellow, or a very brave fellow; such things had to be demonstrated, and demonstrated through interpretation of the biography of the emperor and of the recent events of his reign. This interpretation had to be done right, that is to say in a way that was broadly in keeping with the emperor’s own self-presentation. Anything else was to risk offending the emperor, and to offend the emperor was a thing to be avoided at all costs. The process that led this or that individual to the orator’s platform is not understood in detail, but it seems that there was no one specific route or selection procedure. Certain officials, in particular consuls, would be expected—assuming that they possessed the ability to do so—to deliver a gratiarum actio in thanks for their office, while other positions, most notably professorships, appear to have likewise carried with them an expectation that the occupier would deliver panegyrics to emperors resident in their cities.⁶³ When emperors were on the move, and particularly when they arrived in a new city (the adventus) they would likewise expect to receive official panegyric from their hosts. The decision ⁶³ Such were the panegyrics of Ausonius (Grat. act.) for his consulship of 379 and of Mamertinus for his consulship of 362 (Pan. Lat. III). Augustine’s panegyric to Valentinian II was commissioned as a result of his tenure of a professorship in Milan (August., Conf. VI.6). Libanius, likewise, wrote orations for most of the Eastern emperors who ruled during the course of his lifetime, all occasioned by his professorships in first Nicomedia and then Antioch (see above, n. 12).

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as regards who might speak was, on these occasions, presumably a local one, and could be an opportunity for a young man of talent to make his debut, as did Themistius at Ancyra with his Or. I.⁶⁴ The emperor would also at all times, and particularly after major military victories or at significant anniversaries, receive a constant stream of delegations from the cities of his Empire, and these would be routinely headed by men clutching panegyrics.⁶⁵ Communities would make a careful selection of their orator, looking for men who might meet with imperial favour.⁶⁶ This might be a man new to the imperial stage, as was Symmachus in 368 when he went to speak before Valentinian on the occasion of the latter’s quinquennalia.⁶⁷ Equally, they might be figures of established authority, as was Themistius in 357 when he headed the Constantinopolitan delegation to Rome on the occasion of Constantius’ vicennalia.⁶⁸ What everyone who praised an emperor clearly had in common, however, was an education of the very highest calibre. The educational attainment required to manipulate the topoi of the genre, to deploy relevant examples from the cannon of Graeco-Roman literature and history, and to clothe the whole in a language elevated enough to meet with the grandeur of the imperial person was considerable.⁶⁹ Virtually all the authors of the surviving corpus had at some point been professional rhetoricians, grammarians, or philosophers. Ausonius, Themistius, and Libanius had all had professional teaching careers.⁷⁰ Symmachus and Julian, while not themselves teachers, had nevertheless received the very finest schooling and were men of considerable erudition.⁷¹ Of the authors of the Panegyrici Latini collection, four of eleven

⁶⁴ J. Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court: Oratory, Civic Duty, and Paideia from Constantius to Theodosius (Ann Arbor, 1995), 48–9; Heather-Moncur , 69–77. ⁶⁵ A. Omissi, ‘Rhetoric and Power: How imperial panegyric allowed civilian elites to access power in the fourth century’, in E. Manders and D. Slootjes (eds), Leadership, Ideology, and Crowds in the Roman Empire of the Fourth Century (forthcoming). ⁶⁶ Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 3–5. ⁶⁷ Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 2–12. ⁶⁸ Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 101–13; Heather-Moncur, 114–25. ⁶⁹ On the education of orators, see Brown, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity, 41–7; Russell, ‘The Panegyrists and their Teachers’. ⁷⁰ For their teaching careers: Libanius: A. F. Norman (ed. and tr.), Libanius: Autobiography and Selected Letters (Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge MA, 1992); J. Wintjes, Das Leben des Libanius (Rahden, 2005), R. Cribiore, The School of Rhetoric in Late Antique Antioch (Princeton, 2007), and R. Cribiore, Libanius the Sophist: Rhetoric, Reality, and Religion in the Fourth Century (Cornell Studies in Classical Philology. Ithaca NY, 2013); Ausonius: Sivan, Ausonius of Bordeaux, esp. 76–9; Themistius: Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 42–9, and HeatherMoncur, 1–3. ⁷¹ Julian: G. W. Bowersock, Julian the Apostate (London, 1978), 21–32; P. Athanassiadi, Julian: An Intellectual Biography (2nd edn. London, 1992), 13–51; S. Tougher, Julian the Apostate (Debates and Documents in Ancient History. Edinburgh, 2007), 12–21. Symmachus: Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, 86; P. J. Heather, The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians (London, 2005), 16ff.

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explicitly mention in their speeches that they were, or had been, professional teachers, and the close association of the collection to the schools of Gaul would suggest that they all were.⁷² The very possession of this degree of education and the high status professorships for which it qualified individuals presupposed that orators belonged to a sufficiently elevated sociopolitical class that they would have been in frequent contact with high politics. Both Themistius and Symmachus appear to have made their debuts on the imperial stage with a panegyric, but after that they became close associates to a succession of emperors.⁷³ Of the eleven speeches in the Panegyrici Latini collection, five explicitly mention that their authors had had some contact with the court and had delivered a speech to the emperor before.⁷⁴ Libanius’ career brought him into personal contact with at least five of the emperors of his age, Julian was himself an emperor, and Ausonius the tutor of one.⁷⁵ Though the processes of survival will have biased the preservation of speeches by men close to the court, nevertheless it is clear that the emperor was not being praised by total outsiders but by men who were familiar with the public and, on occasion, private face of the imperial person.⁷⁶ It would not have been necessary for such men to be ‘fed’ what to say in order to reflect the emperor’s self-image back at him; they were gifted and informed individuals capable of making intelligent responses to messages with which they were already familiar.⁷⁷ The imperial court communicated ad nauseam with its subjects through law, through coinage, and perhaps most importantly through written communications sent out to the cities of the Empire.⁷⁸ Occasionally, accidents of survival allow us to view this process of ⁷² The four are Pan. Lat. VIII (1.2), IX (1.1, 2.2–5, 6.2), VI (23.2), and V (1.2). The author of Pan. Lat. IV is known to have been a rhetor from extratextual references (Auson., Prof. Burd. 14; Jer., Chon. s.a. 324); cf. Nixon, ‘Latin Panegyrics’. ⁷³ Omissi, ‘Rhetoric and Power’. On Symmachus’ career, see Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus. On Themistius’ career, see Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court. ⁷⁴ Five of the speeches mention explicitly that their authors had previously delivered panegyrics or had some familiarity with the emperor: XI, VIII, VI, III, IX (though, in this last example, while Eumenius clearly knew the emperor, having served as magister memoriae, he claims he has not delivered a panegyric before: 1.1, 3.1); cf. Omissi, ‘Rhetoric and Power’. ⁷⁵ Libanius: Constantius II, Gallus, Julian, Valens, and Theodosius. For Ausonius’ tutoring of Gratian, see Sivan, Ausonius of Bordeaux, 104–5, 108–9; A. Coşkun, Die gens Ausoniana an der Macht: Untersuchungen zu Decimus Magnus Ausonius un seiner Familie (Prosopographica et Genealogica 8. Oxford, 2002), 37–43. ⁷⁶ As Roger Rees has noted: ‘Most [panegyrics], one would guess, were the insipid rehearsals of textbook formulae, trotted out by hack orators and deserving of the immediate oblivion which was their fate’ (Layers of Loyalty, 19). ⁷⁷ Nixon, ‘Constantinus Oriens Imperator’, 229–46; Mause, Die Darstellung des Kaisers, 43ff. Orators were at pains to establish their credentials as an independent voice: M. Whitby, ‘Images of Constantius’, in J. W. Drijvers and D. Hunt (eds), The Late Roman World and its Historian: Interpreting Ammianus Marcellinus (London, 1999), 77–88; Rees, ‘Form and function’, 105–6. ⁷⁸ Little of this sort of material, thanks to its highly ephemeral nature, survives into the modern world, though reference to the communication of news through letters is frequent and such letters clearly underpinned the operation of imperial government: Rees, Diocletian and the

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consumption and reflection directly. Pan. Lat. VIII, the anonymous speech celebrating the reconquest of Britain by Constantius I, declared that the people of Britain were ‘at last restored to the true light of Empire’ (tandem vera imperii luce recreati).⁷⁹ This phrase consciously recalls the legend of the so-called Arras medallion, issued by the mint of Trier to celebrate the victory, which declared Constantius ‘the restorer of eternal light’ (redditor lucis aeternae).⁸⁰ Indeed, the panegyrist’s description of the scene, with a triumphal crowd pouring forth to meet Constantius as he disembarked from his ship, would seem to be directly inspired by the obverse of this same medallion, which shows a mounted Constantius disembarking from a Roman galley and advancing towards a city, identified by its legend as London, outside which the city’s female personification kneels in supplication and surrender.⁸¹ This high-value medal, struck at a weight of ten aurei, will have been distributed to Constantius’ most senior supporters as part of a celebratory donative following the victory. The orator of Pan. Lat. VIII, who had served in a senior administrative post under Constantius as recently as 293, may well have been the recipient of one and will certainly have known people who were.⁸² Moments like this hint at the ways in which orators set themselves to creatively repackaging the imperial image, making it their own, and reflecting it back. Despite a general willingness to trust orators with the business of what to say and how to say it, it is also important to recognize that occasionally we see information or ideas within individual speeches that can only be explained as the result of some imperial chamberlain, or even the emperor himself, having whispered them in the orator’s ear. The same orator of 310, whom we have twice had cause to mention already, who was an intimate of the court and whose son was in imperial employ, was tasked with dropping the considerable bombshell that Constantine was in fact a direct descendant of the emperor

Tetrarchy, 30–3. A rare surviving example of such an imperial missive is Julian’s Letter to the Senate and People of Athens which, as we will see (Chapter VII, pp. 197–207), can be shown to have had an enormous influence on subsequent public opinion. In tumultuous times, emperors might suppress, rather than advertise, news communicated via letter, as Maxentius was accused of doing in 312 (Pan. Lat. XII.15.1). When individuals or communities considered such communications sufficiently important, they would be inscribed upon stone: Ando, Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty, 109–17. ⁷⁹ Pan. Lat. VIII.19.2. ⁸⁰ P. J. Casey, ‘LIBERALITAS AVGVSTI: Imperial Military Donatives and the Arras Hoard’, in G. Alföldy, B. Dobson, and W. Eck (eds), Kaiser, Heer und Gesellschaft in der römischen Kaiserzeit. Gedenkschrift für Eric Birley (Stuttgart, 2000), 449; P. Bastien and C. Metzger, Le Trésor de Beaurains (dit d’Arras) (Numismatique Romaine 10. Wetteren, 1977), 94. ⁸¹ Nixon-Rodgers, 140, n. 71. ⁸² On the orator’s relation to Constantius, see Pan. Lat. VIII.1.1–3.1; Galletier, I 71–2; NixonRodgers , 104–5; Omissi, ‘Rhetoric and Power’. The owner of the Arras Hoard, to which the medal belongs, seems to have been a protector—that is, a member of the officer corps surrounding the emperor—by the name of Vitalianus, although it is unclear whether he was also the original recipient of the medal: Casey, ‘LIBERALITAS AVGVSTI’, 453–4.

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Claudius Gothicus, a fabrication so transparent and taken up so widely in later sources that it can only have been advanced with official backing.⁸³ Libanius, after a winter spent in company with the emperor Julian, delivered a panegyric before that emperor that described his usurpation in Paris in a narrative that Julian might as well have written himself.⁸⁴ Themistius, whose Or. VIII was delivered in the spring of 368, can be seen carefully extricating Valens from a Gothic war to which he was publicly still very much committed.⁸⁵ The stakes of the panegyric game were also high enough that orators had a vested interest in getting the thing right. Fear doubtless played its part, for when the emperor said jump, the orator asked how high.⁸⁶ For the most part, however, the chance to speak appears to have been an opportunity rather than a burden. Orators whose speeches were pleasing to the emperor could expect to secure potentially enormous rewards either for themselves or for the communities on whose behalf they were speaking (or even for both).⁸⁷ The emperor was a distant and normally unreachable figure. When an orator delivered a panegyric, that distant emperor’s attention was focused solely on him.⁸⁸ It was worth saying something he would want to hear. Panegyric, therefore, was not empty rhetoric. Rhetoric it certainly was: endlessly repetitious and no doubt deeply tedious. But empty it was not. The emperors of the late third and fourth centuries were not—as emperors in the West increasingly became during the fifth century—figureheads at the centre of a court apparatus precariously separated from the business of actual government. Men like Diocletian, Constantine, and Theodosius were active generals, legislators, and politicians, men of enormous personal courage and enormous personal savagery. They were, to use a well-worn phrase, men who got things done. At a personal level, of course, they may quickly have grown ⁸³ For the orator’s career, see Pan. Lat. VI.23 with Nixon-Rodgers , 211–12. For the announcement, see Pan. Lat. VI.2. For more on this, see Chapter V, pp. 114–15. ⁸⁴ Libanius commented on the fact that fear was often a motivation ‘to praise people far worse than ourselves’ (Ep. 656.2). ⁸⁵ P. Heather and J. Matthews, The Goths in the Fourth Century (Translated Texts for Historians 11. Liverpool, 1991), 12–23. ⁸⁶ The theme of emperors coercing praise from orators was a familiar one, though an accusation only ever directed at emperors safely dead (e.g. Plin., Pan. 73.3–4; Pan. Lat. II.2.3). ⁸⁷ The orator of Pan. Lat. VI begged Constantine to visit his native city of Autun, something the emperor did the following year, remitting 7,000 capita in taxation: Nixon-Rodgers, 256. Pacatus, the author of Pan. Lat. II, appears to have had no contact with the imperial court prior to his panegyric in 289, but after this he served both as proconsul of Africa (CTh. IX.2.4) and as comes rei privatae, the official in charge of administering the private estates of the emperor (CTh. IX.42.13): cf. Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 86. Cf. Omissi, ‘Rhetoric and Power’. ⁸⁸ The delivery of a panegyric would have required half an hour at the very least; the very longest speeches we possess might easily have taken three. These estimates are based on my own reading of Pan. Lat. VII, one of the shortest orations, which took me thirty-two minutes to read aloud. Libanius recounts that a panegyric he delivered in late 371 to the emperor Valens, extolling the achievements of his Gothic wars, had to be cut short halfway through its delivery because of its length (Lib., Or. I.144).

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bored of sitting (or even standing) through such an endlessly tedious cycle of sycophancy, particularly when it was couched in an elevated style that might be well beyond their own educational attainments.⁸⁹ Yet that such men sat for endless hours and gave up what must have been a measurable portion of their official lives to listening to these speeches day after day, week after week, ought to inform us that their contents and the performances of which they were a part should be taken very seriously.

‘AND WOULD BE VIEWED WITH FAVOUR BY THOSE W HO KNE W TH EM TO BE S UCH’ : P ANE GYRI C, AUDIEN CE, AND INFLUENCE In the preceding pages I have attempted to show that panegyrics are far more versatile sources than initial contact with their turgid prose may suggest. They contained a rich variety of ideas and messages which can be seen as reflecting and even, on occasion, announcing the ideology of the emperor whom they praised. These ideas and messages might often be deeply encoded but we can find them if we know how to look (and if we can find them then we may be certain that contemporaries could as well). In the remaining section of this chapter, I would like to discuss who it was that consumed the messages of panegyrics and what effects we might expect that consumption to produce. To do this, we need to reflect upon the panegyrics both as performance and as text, and to consider how it was that their messages were distributed. The delivery of an imperial panegyric was largely dictated by the rhythms of the imperial court, although it appears that virtually any occasion was considered sufficient justification for such speeches. These occasions included but were not limited to: the birthday of the emperor or a member of his family; the dies imperii of the emperor (particularly the important anniversaries of this date at five, ten, twenty, and even thirty years—that is, the quinquennalia, decennalia, vicennalia, and tricennalia); the celebration of an important victory or the anniversary of such; the celebration of the birthday of the city of Rome or, if in the provinces, of other local cities of importance; the adventus of the emperor in a new city; the assumption by the emperor of the consulship or else a gratiarum actio for a consulship awarded; the marriage of the emperor;

⁸⁹ The suggestion that the emperor may have stood during panegyric is derived from Pan. Lat. VIII.4.4. Whether we should believe that emperors would ordinarily stand during the panegyrics is anyone’s guess, though it would seem apparent that Constantius did so in 297. Themistius admits, in his first oration to Valens, that the elevated Greek in which he composed his panegyrics was difficult for the emperor, a native Latin speaker, to follow (Or. VI.71c).

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and the coming of age of one of his children.⁹⁰ Panegyrics could be delivered in groups of speeches, on occasion by the same orator, and as part of official celebrations that could last for days or even weeks.⁹¹ Wherever they turned, emperors found panegyric waiting to greet them, and the number of speeches being delivered in any given imperial reign must have been accordingly vast. Emperors did not receive panegyric in private but rather in company with the late Empire’s enormous court apparatus. The court itself was a formidable organism, made up of the emperor, his senior generals and administrators (along with their respective staffs), his bodyguards, his much feared agentes in rebus, and the corps of the domestici et protectores. All told, several thousand people travelled with the emperor.⁹² While not all of these men would attend the ceremonies at which the emperor would hear panegyrics (most were soldiers, functionaries, or ink-stained notaries), nevertheless such gatherings would have commanded impressive audiences.⁹³ Imperial architecture attests to this; the basilica that Constantine built at Trier, for instance, at 29m by 58m, is large enough for an audience of several thousand people.⁹⁴ Every city in the ⁹⁰ For the occasions on which the surviving panegyrics were delivered, see Appendix I. ⁹¹ The orator of 313 makes reference to the multitude of speeches that the emperor has received, both in Rome and in Trier (Pan. Lat. XII.1.1–5). Constantius’ visit to Rome in 357 lasted for fifty-six days, from 3 March to 28 April, and was itself the culmination of four years of thanksgiving for his liberation of the West from the usurper Magnentius (P. Maraval, Les Fils de Constantin (Paris, 2013), 141–9; M. Humphries, ‘Emperors, Usurpers, and the City of Rome: Performing Power from Diocletian to Theodosius’, in Wienand (ed.), Contested Monarchy, 158–60). Theodosius’ visit to Rome in 389, with its attendant celebrations, was similarly extended, lasting from 13 June to 1 September 389 (Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 227–31; Humphries, ‘Emperors, Usurpers, and the City of Rome’, 160–1). Julian made reference in his first speech to Constantius to the sheer mass of panegyrics that the emperor received (Or. I.2d–3b). ⁹² Jones, Later Roman Empire, I 49–50, 366–73, II 566–86; R. Smith, ‘The imperial court of the later Roman empire’, in A. J. S. Spawforth (ed.) The Court and Court Society in Ancient Monarchies (Cambridge, 2007), 196–209. ⁹³ The majesty of the emperor was a routine depiction in late Roman art. See for instance depictions of the emperor seated in the senate from the Arch of Constantine (H. Brandt, Geschichte der römischen Kaiserzeit: Von Diokletian und Konstantin bis zum Ende der konstantinischen Dynastie (284–363) (Studienbücher Geschichte und Kultur der Alten Welt. Berlin, 1998), 65 fig. 5), presiding over the games from the kathisma on the Obelisk of Theodosius, (B. Kiilerich, Late Fourth Century Classicism in the Plastic Arts: Studies in the so-called Theodosian renaissance (Odense, 1993), 31–49 with figs. 5–12), or enthroned as on the Missorium of Theodosius (Kiilerich, Late Fourth Century Classicism in the Plastic Arts, 19–26; M. AlmagroGorbea, J. M. Álvarez Martínez, J. M. Blázquez Martínez, and S. Rovira (eds), El Disco de Teodosio (Madrid, 2000)). ⁹⁴ Brown, Emperors and Imperial Cities, AD 284–423; Millar, Emperor and The Roman World, 40–53; J. B. Ward-Perkins, Roman Imperial Architecture (2nd integrated edn. Harmondsworth, 1981), 442–5; N. Duval, ‘Les résidences impériales: leur rapport avec les problèmes de légitimité, les partages de l’Empire et la chronologie des combinaisons dynastiques,’ in Paschoud- Szidat (eds), Usurpationen in der Spätantike, 127–53; Mayer, Rom ist dort, wo der Kaiser ist. For imperial residences in general, see Smith, ‘The imperial court of the later Roman empire’, 187–96. The estimate of capacity is based upon a calculation of the basilica’s area (1682m²). Even by the conservative, safety-conscious guidelines of the modern UK Events Guide (cf. G. K. Still, Introduction to Crowd Science (Boca Raton, 2013), 34–5), which states that standing

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Empire that the emperor regularly visited boasted a basilica of comparable size (and, when in Rome or Constantinople, imperial audiences would also take place in the respective senate houses). In company with the senior dignitaries of the court, imperial audience chambers would also play host to visiting delegations, both of Romans representing the Empire’s myriad cities, come to petition the emperor for this and that, and of foreign embassies from beyond the Rhine and Danube, from the Persian world, and even from the distant kingdoms of Africa and India.⁹⁵ The moment of delivery was as public a platform as could be sought within the Empire.⁹⁶ Given the probable number of panegyrics that would be delivered, any individual travelling with the court would doubtless hear central themes endlessly repeated, day after day, week after week, month after month. Repetition was not something of which late Roman political culture held any particular fear, and continual repetition will have helped to burn ‘the party line’ onto the minds of the emperor’s immediate subordinates.⁹⁷ Panegyric was also a ritual in which emperor, orator, and audience were all participant and, at its most authoritarian, panegyric can be interpreted as a recurrent and ritualized act of submission on the part of orator and audience.⁹⁸ Bound both by the conventions of their genre and by the emperor’s coercive powers, orators were forced to take to the platform and publicly proclaim the most subservient rubbish while their audiences were forced to listen and approve. No one ever dared suggest this might be the case of a living emperor, but Pacatus was happy to employ it as part of the barrage of abuse he directed against the dead Magnus Maximus: ‘wretched men we were; we were forbidden to show our wretchedness but rather were compelled to feign joy and, when at home and in private we had confided our secret anguish to our wives and children only, we then proceeded in public with our faces showing nothing of our fortune.’⁹⁹ The audience, both courtiers and delegates, expressed their total subservience by standing to listen, by attending closely to this calculated flattery, and by treating it with the utmost seriousness. In our

crowd density should not exceed two people per square metre, and even allowing that any event would include a great deal of empty space around the emperor himself, a capacity of 2,500 people in the Trier basilica is perfectly plausible, and I would imagine that major imperial occasions saw much bigger crowds than this. ⁹⁵ Jones, Later Roman Empire, I 339–40; Millar, Emperor and the Roman World, 375–85; Smith, ‘The imperial court of the later Roman empire’, 198. ⁹⁶ Indeed, the author of Pan. Lat. V makes clear that he had actually delayed speaking on an earlier occasion in order to wait for a larger crowd to be present to hear him speak (Pan. Lat. V.1.5). Cf. MacCormack, ‘Latin Prose Panegyrics’, 45–6. ⁹⁷ Repetition frequently took the form of formalized acclamations, which would be shouted by crowds to express their approval of the emperor (Roueché, ‘Acclamations in the Roman Empire’, 181–99). ⁹⁸ Cf. M. Bloch, Political Language and Oratory in Traditional Society (London, 1975), 1–28. ⁹⁹ Pan. Lat. II.25.2. Pliny says similar about the time of Domitian at Pan. 2.1–3, 54.3–4.

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own age, George Orwell remarked that the power of the Nazi goose-step was not so much in the commanding display of military discipline it encompassed, but rather in the fact that the civilians watching it were unable to laugh.¹⁰⁰ Perhaps we can think of panegyric likewise; the most powerful men in the Roman world were forced, on a daily basis, to attend to the outrageous rhetorical manipulations of imperial panegyric, and were unable to laugh. Yet the ritual aspect of panegyric also admits less totalitarian interpretations, as an act of unity in which both orator and audience were fully engaged. Panegyric created a community, a community bound together by a vision of its leader that was intentionally constructed by both author and audience, who in their repetitive consumption of the propaganda messages found within the speeches thereby identified themselves with those messages, an in-group of order and harmony beneath the god-like emperor formed against an outgroup, real or imagined, of tyranny, of barbarism, of chaos. As a ritual, panegyric thus expressed that most vital of political fictions in the Roman Empire, that the emperor governed through the consensus omnium, ‘the consent of all’, and by dedicating themselves to an active participation in this fiction both orator and audience united themselves to a political order in the glory and strength and security of which they wished to share.¹⁰¹ It is also important to recognize that the men surrounding the emperor one day would go out into the world the next. For members of ambassadorial parties this was obviously true, and the representatives of a city or a foreign nation who attended to a panegyric would then carry those messages back to their places of origin. More importantly, however, only rarely would a member of the emperor’s actual court circle remain in the imperial presence for extended periods of time. High-level bureaucrats would go into comfortable retirements in their native lands as rich and influential landowners or be sent out as governors of provinces and trusted administrators in regions beyond the emperor’s immediate influence. Powerful generals would move to take command of equally powerful field armies and of military forces that could rival the emperor’s own. The continued loyalty of these men to the court’s messages—whatever these messages might be—was a matter the importance of which cannot be understated. Emperors needed the men who stood beside them listening to endless panegyrics one year to be the men out in the provinces repeating the central tenets of those panegyrics to their subordinates the next.¹⁰² In this regard, the fixation of panegyric on the miserable fate of usurpers was also a warning: take note of the price of disloyalty. ¹⁰⁰ G. Orwell, ‘The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius’, in S. Orwell and I. Angus (eds), The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell (4 vols. London, 1968), II 61–2. ¹⁰¹ On this notion, see Flaig, Den Kaiser herausfordern, 196–201. The senate enjoyed a similar role under the early Empire: Ando, Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty, 160–8. ¹⁰² Cf. MacMullen, ‘How to Revolt in the Roman Empire’, 200–1.

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Just as emperors could expect embassies and courtiers to distribute messages out, they could also expect them to distribute them down. Soldiers and administrators, after all, talk to one another. The courtiers that surrounded the emperor all had beneath them extensive staffs, whose jobs and even lives might depend on maintaining an up-to-date understanding of the tenor of imperial propaganda. Via informal interactions between courtiers and their subordinates, therefore, we may expect that the messages of the court would trickle down so that panegyric was part of the process of ensuring that any imperial notary or officer would have at least a basic understanding about what he was or was not supposed to think about a given event in the public life of the Empire.¹⁰³ Perhaps the loudest megaphone through which the messages of panegyric might sound beyond the moment of their actual delivery, however, was the orators themselves. Literate men in Late Antiquity were perpetually anxious to acquire models of good writing with which to enrich their own work and, as a result, were in the business of sharing literary compositions among friends and colleagues, often over very wide distances.¹⁰⁴ Since it would seem that the vast majority of panegyrists were teachers of some sort, they quite likely widened the audience still further by using particular speeches, received from friends and colleagues, as part of their own teaching.¹⁰⁵ The direct audience of individual speeches, therefore, was potentially large, even if confined to a political and educational elite.¹⁰⁶ The pupils thus exposed to panegyrical material were the sons of powerful men across the Empire, and would themselves go on to be the politicians and bureaucrats of the successive generation. In the course of their schooling, therefore, the politics of their day was being seeded in their minds. ¹⁰³ Panegyrists were very alert to the importance of care in selecting an audience and ensured the controversial topics only reached trusted ears. When Libanius pronounced a funeral oration for his uncle, Phasganius, the latter part was delivered behind closed doors, with instructions to the audience not to make any noise that might draw a crowd, for fear that criticisms of the late Gallus to be found within the speech might make their way to the ears of the emperor Julian: Lib, Ep. 283.2; cf. Brown, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity, 61–2. ¹⁰⁴ Hedrick, History and Silence, 171–97; R. Cribiore, ‘Vying with Aristides in the Fourth Century: Libanius and his friends’, in W. V. Harris and B. Holmes (eds), Aelius Aristides Between Greece, Rome, and the Gods (Leiden, 2008), 263–78; L. van Hoof and P. van Nuffelen, ‘The Social Role and Place of Literature in Fourth Century AD,’ in L. van Hoof and P. van Nuffelen (eds), Literature and Society in the Fourth Century AD: Performing paideia, Constructing the Present, Presenting the Self (Leiden, 2015), 1–15. Roman writers’ perpetual search for works of quality is given wonderful (negative) expression in Martial’s Epigrams (VII.3): cur non mitto meos tibi, Pontiliane, libellos? / ne mihi tu mittas, Pontiliane, tuos (‘Why don’t I send you my little books, Pontilianus? For fear, Pontilianus, that you will send me yours’). ¹⁰⁵ The effort of collecting together the Pan. Lat. collection, believed to have been undertaken by Pacatus, was probably the result of precisely such motives: see Pichon, Études sur l’histoire de la littérature latine dans les Gaules, 285–91; Galletier , I xv–xvi; Nixon-Rodgers, 6–7; Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 20–2. ¹⁰⁶ Mause, Darstellung des Kaisers, 60.

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Panegyric thus reached deeply into the collective consciousness of a present that it sought to shape. What influence might it have on the future? I had cause, in the preceding chapter, to describe the fact that historians writing under the Roman Empire did not bring their histories into the reign of a living emperor and that, if they did, they shifted register into quasi-panegyric.¹⁰⁷ This presents us with the alarming realization that, until the moment of an emperor’s death, the only narrative accounts of his reign that were set in writing were panegyric.¹⁰⁸ If that emperor was succeeded by men who had an interest in protecting his legacy (usually children), then this embargo period could be extended considerably longer. Panegyrists were not blind to this. The most explicit statement to this effect, and the most famous, comes at the conclusion of Pacatus’ panegyric to Theodosius. Tumbling over himself in his own glee, he declares: O my happy journey! O labours well undertaken, well completed! What joys I am experiencing, what pleasures given to me! What wonders I will share when I have returned to the cities of Gaul! What crowds of astounded people, how great an audience will surround me when I say: ‘I have seen Rome, I have seen Theodosius, I have seen both together; I have seen the father of the ruler, the avenger of the ruler, the restorer of the ruler!’ Distant cities will flock to me; every pen will receive from me the story of your deeds in order; from me poetry will get its themes; from me history will derive its credibility. Although I may have said nothing about you that is worth reading, I will make good this injury to you, emperor, if I shall give instruction to those who will be read (instruam qui legantur).¹⁰⁹

The temptation, of course, is to dismiss this as empty rhetoric, a self-important flourish by an orator who had got rather too pleased with himself. Yet Pacatus’ prediction has proved strikingly prescient: his panegyric constitutes the most detailed and most complete account of the war of 388 and no modern historian, even one derogatory of the value of panegyric, would consider writing on the subject without employing Pacatus as a source.¹¹⁰ Pacatus was at pains to stress that the communicative aspect of his panegyric began with the conclusion of his speech, far from ending with it. His imagined role ¹⁰⁷ See Chapter I, n. 123. ¹⁰⁸ A. Ross, ‘Libanius the Historian? Praise and the Presentation of the Past in Or. 59’, GRBS 56 (2016), 295–9. As François Paschoud has pointed out (‘Biographie und Panegyricus: Wie spricht man vom lebenden Kaiser?’ in K. Vössing (ed.), Biographie und Prosopographie (Stuttgart, 2005), 103–18), the distinction between the historical biographies of dead emperors and the panegyrical biographies of living ones is far finer that we would care to admit. See also Rees, Latin Panegyric, 5–6. ¹⁰⁹ Pan. Lat. II.47.6. ¹¹⁰ C. E. V. Nixon, Panegyric to the Emperor Theodosius (Translated Texts for Historians 2. Liverpool, 1987), 10. Even John Matthews, no fan of the panegyrical genre (‘expressing stylized and calculated flattery, repetitiously asserting loyalty, and (one regretfully concludes) delighting their audiences’) employed Pacatus’ text in his account of the war between Maximus and Theodosius (Western Aristocracies, 224–5, with quotation at 228).

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was exactly that which I have already described, disseminating information and ideas through personal interactions. Pacatus consciously situated himself as a primary source in the late Roman historiographical tradition. That historians did employ panegyric, consciously or unconsciously, is difficult but not impossible to demonstrate directly. Even the historian of the age to whom we tend to accord the greatest respect for accuracy and for forensic method was clearly using panegyric as a primary source. More than forty years ago, Sabine MacCormack pointed out that we can demonstrate direct literary echoes of Mamertinus’ Pan. Lat. III in the text of Ammianus’ Res gestae.¹¹¹ Mamertinus described Julian’s journey down the Danube as like the legendary journey of Triptolemus, who drove a chariot pulled by winged dragons, exactly the metaphor that Ammianus selected for this same journey.¹¹² Ammianus’ very next sentence described people pouring forth to see Julian as if he were someone fallen from heaven, again echoing precisely an image that Mamertinus offered to his audience.¹¹³ These borrowings indicate that Mamertinus’ panegyric was among the sources that Ammianus had before him when composing his history. Nor are these examples the only ones that might be adduced. Once based in Rome, Ammianus seems to have taken the opportunity to consult the panegyrics of Symmachus, which then informed his writing on Valentinian, and chapters within this volume will examine more widely the influence of Julianic and Themistian panegyric within Ammianus’ pages.¹¹⁴ Given that the modern panegyrical corpus constitutes a miniscule proportion of the volume of speeches that would once have been in circulation, and given that the opportunity to see such borrowings can occur only when we happen to have the specific panegyric with which a historian was working, such alignments of primary and secondary sources are likely to be rare. Yet our ability, on occasion, to detect them directly ought to warn us that many more are passing undetected, and that messages, images, and ideas communicated through the genre of panegyric filtered into the bedrock of collective imagination, so that when historians came to set pen to paper these influences would come to exert themselves. Historians, then as now, were not—or at least were not usually—unthinking stooges who blindly copied down everything ¹¹¹ MacCormack, ‘Latin Prose Panegyrics’, 40 n. 56. ¹¹² Pan. Lat. III.8.2; Amm., XXII.2.3. MacCormack cites chapter 8.4 in Mamertinus, but this would appear to be an error. For Triptolemus and his dragons, see Ov., Met. V.642ff. ¹¹³ Pan. Lat. III.6.3; Amm., XXII.2.4. ¹¹⁴ For Symmachus, see G. Sabbah, La méthode d’Ammien Marcellin: recherches sur la construction du discours historique dans les Res Gestae (Paris, 1978), 332–46 and M. Humphries ‘Nec metu nec adulandi foeditate constricta: The image of Valentinian I from Symmachus to Ammianus’, in J. W. Drijvers and D. Hunt (eds) The Late Roman World and its Historian: Interpreting Ammianus Marcellinus (London, 1999), 117–26. For Julian and Themistius, see Chapter VII, pp. 205–8, and Chapter VIII, pp. 243–4. On the influence of Themistius, see also Lenski, Failure of Empire, 71–4.

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that they encountered in the primary sources that were available to them.¹¹⁵ They were thinking individuals committed, more or less earnestly, to principles of empiricism and honesty. Yet when we find Eusebius loyally snipping clauses from his Ecclesiastical History, when we find a raft of historians dutifully reproducing as fact the nonsense that Constantine was descended from the emperor Claudius, when we find even Ammianus, Gibbon’s ‘accurate and faithful guide’, describing events with imagery borrowed from the description of those same events in a panegyric that the historian must have known, we ought to count ourselves alarmed.

PROPAGANDA AND P OWER In the late Roman world, emperors found themselves caught in perpetual struggle. At root, the question at issue was legitimacy. How could emperors achieve that most ephemeral of states, in which their personal rule was acknowledged by their subjects not simply as a fact, but as the right and proper order of things? What I hope to show is that the presentation of usurpation in imperial panegyric is intimately bound up in this ongoing process; the obsession of the panegyrics with defeated usurpers demonstrates the extent to which legitimacy could never be taken for granted and the degree to which each individual emperor had to argue his legitimacy and to demonstrate it to his subjects, always in the face of challenge. Defeated usurpers provided the simplest and clearest vehicle with which to do this, bringing with them the confirmation of status that victory gave to emperors in the Roman world and a vindication of the emperor’s claims to sufficiency as ruler of the world by the repeated denunciation of the discredited alternative. The panegyrics, then, are political fallacy; they are a core of grossly distorted praise, about which is twisted a rabid polemic, in which the character of the usurper is forever lost. But by understanding the speeches as they are (works with an important political purpose, inexorably bound to the office of the emperor), we find answers to the question of why usurpers have been so thoroughly buried in the mire of the past, so ‘hidden from history’, as Simon Corcoran has it.¹¹⁶ Furthermore, this realization provides us with a tantalizing glimpse of an Empire divided not between emperors and tyrants, but between men of broadly equal status, all vying for supremacy and attempting to rise to the top of a struggle, the prize of which was the voice of history, the ultimate arbiter of their legitimacy. ¹¹⁵ Ammianus was by no means an uncritical reader of Symmachus on Valentinian, for instance: Humphries ‘Nec metu nec adulandi foeditate constricta’, 117–26. ¹¹⁶ Cf. Corcoran, ‘Hidden from History’.

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We find ourselves, therefore, at a unique moment. By the 280s, the political chaos of the preceding decades was beginning to calm. But the developments of three centuries of imperial history, outlined in the first section of this introduction, could not, without time and great difficulty, be undone. As the third century marched onwards towards the fourth, the new imperial regimes that came to power had to contend with the fact that they could never count their position secure, that every powerful subordinate with an army at his command was a potential emperor, and that the legitimacy of their own power was something which needed constant reassertion. In the panegyrics, we have a unique body of sources, a witness to the historical processes that made one man an emperor and another a tyrant.

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Part II

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III A House Divided Against Itself It is proper that the Romans ought to battle with the barbarians until the very last; but when Roman fights Roman the goal ought only to be correction. If someone, although a cure through medicine is possible, prefers amputation, he does not heal the whole body, but enfeebles it through loss. The same can be said for the Roman Empire, which forms a unit like a city: harm affects all alike… Themistius, Oratio VII.94c

The recovery of the late third and fourth centuries was a remarkable one. In the mid third century, it looked as if imperial government might totally collapse, or the Empire might permanently split into competing political entities, as the West did in the fifth century. Instead, central control was re-established through a sweeping series of reforms that gave birth to the very distinct Empire of the fourth century. The story of the military establishment in the fourth century, however, tends to be told as a story of the Empire against the barbarians. Research in this area abounds.¹ But the story of the wars of the fourth century is not a story of battles against the barbarians. It is a story of the wars between Romans. For every Strasbourg or Adrianople, every Amida or Samarra, we can find battles fought between Roman armies which occasioned far greater losses of life than virtually any conflict fought against Rome’s external enemies: the Margus (285);

¹ E. N. Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century A.D. to the Third (Baltimore, 1976); B. Isaac, The Limits of Empire: The Roman Army in the East (Rev. edn. Oxford, 1992); Treadgold, Byzantium and Its Army; M. J. Nicasie, Twilight of Empire: The Roman Army from the Reign of Diocletian until the Battle of Adrianople (Amsterdam, 1998); P. Sabin, H. van Wees, and M. Whitby (eds), The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare: Vol. II, Rome from the Late Republic to the Late Empire (Cambridge, 2007). Passing consideration of the topic is given in H. Elton, Warfare in Roman Europe AD 350–425 (Oxford, 1996), 193–8 and A. D. Lee, War in Late Antiquity: A Social History (Ancient World at War. Oxford, 2007), 66–73, as well as in the article N. Christie, ‘Wars Within the Frontiers: Archaeologies of Rebellion, Revolt and Civil War’, in A. Sarantis and N. Christie (eds) War and Warfare in Late Antiquity (Late Antique Archaeology, 8.1–2. Leiden, 2013), I 927–68, but it remains largely an incidental consideration in a story of Empire against outsider.

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Boulogne (293); the Milvian Bridge (312); Tzirallum (313); Cibilae (316); Adrianople (324); Mursa (351); the Sava (388); the Frigidus (394). Constantine apparently led 40,000 men into Italy against Magnentius.² Licinius may have lost as many as 20,000 men at Cibilae.³ The historian Zonaras claims that 116,000 men clashed at Mursa, of whom almost half were killed.⁴ This list could go on. Such figures dwarf even the worst Roman defeats at the hands of external enemies, at least in terms of the number of casualties; even at Adrianople in 378, widely recognized as the greatest military disaster the Empire suffered in the fourth century, only an estimated 20–27,000 Romans died.⁵ The raison d’être of the Roman army may have been the protection of Roman territory from the incursions of the barbari, buts its sternest trials and deepest wounds were always self-inflicted. What follows is an account of imperial politics in the period roughly bounded by the accession of Diocletian and the death of Theodosius. This account will take, as its sole object of focus, the relationship between rival imperial courts. Wars with external enemies, the intersection of imperial and ecclesiastical politics, the self-presentation of the court through coinage, law, and public building, and the relationship of the emperor to his subjects, his administration, and his army, are all given consideration only at such moments as these issues intersect with inter-imperial relations. Valuable studies have already been written that take these and other subjects as their main objects of focus and it will never be claimed that the narrative which follows can give anything like a comprehensive overview of imperial politics in the period. My account is a partial one, tailored to a very specific goal and mediated through a very specific body of sources. But its partiality may be justified by the fact that, while inter-imperial relations were not the sole object of an emperor’s focus, they were nevertheless deeply important, and an account of the political history of the late Empire as a series of civil wars has never been written. The sections that follow have been divided chronologically, with a chapter for each of the major ruling emperors or colleges of emperors that fall within this period: the First Tetrarchy (in the main Maximian and Constantius); ² Pan. Lat. XII.5.1–3 states that Constantine’s army was less than the 40,000 that Alexander considered a maximum, and this has generally been taken as a guide to the army’s size: R. MacMullen, Constantine (London, 1970), 70–8; T. D. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius (Cambridge MA, 1981), 41–3; C. M. Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire (London, 2004), 100. It should be noted, however, that Zos., II.15.1–2 gives Constantine’s forces as 90,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry, and Maxentius’ armies as 170,000 infantry and 18,000 cavalry. ³ Origo v.16. ⁴ Zon., XIII.8. ⁵ D. Hoffmann, Das Spätrömische Bewegungsheer und die Notitia Dignitatum (2 vols. Düsseldorf, 1969–70), I 444–58. This number is also, it should be noted, an upper estimate, and much lower figures have been suggested, e.g. P. J. Heather, Goths and Romans, 332–489 (Oxford, 1991), 146–7, for instance, proposes a figure of 10–12,000 (following N. J. E. Austin, ‘Ammianus’ Account of the Adrianople Campaign: Some Strategic Observations’, AC 15 (1972), 82).

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Constantine; Constantine’s sons (in the main Constantius II); Julian; Valentinian and Valens (in the main Valens, with a short preface on Jovian); Gratian and Theodosius (in the main Theodosius). The final chapter acts as a postscript, looking at the Roman world after the death of Theodosius. Critics will argue that this division reproduces exactly the post eventum prejudices of the sources that I am trying to root out, because it implicitly presents this period as a succession of legitimate rulers against whom are ranged illegitimate usurpers. It is my hope that any reader will see that this parallel is only skin-deep and that division by emperor has been chosen simply for the ease of the modern reader. The matter of each chapter will demonstrate that I view, and will encourage my reader to view, the legitimacy of many if not most of the emperors that head my chapters as open to considerable question. Indeed, it is one of the central aims of this book to demonstrate that easy answers concerning imperial legitimacy have been encouraged by the considerable effort that a succession of usurping emperors put into legitimating their own usurpations. Diocletian, Constantine, and Theodosius, all founders of long-lasting dynasties and all remembered as powerful and successful rulers, came to the throne while another emperor ruled and did so without the consent of that ruler; these are usurpations.

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IV ‘At last Roman, at last restored to the true light of Empire’ Diarchy, Tetrarchy, and the Fall of the British Empire of Carausius

To those in the Roman world who had lived through the violent and regicidal years of the mid third century, who had survived foreign invasion and civil war, and who had learned to cope in a world of high politics in which instability was the watchword, the year 284 would have seemed an unremarkable one. At the beginning of the year, two Augusti ruled—Carinus and Numerian—who had themselves served as Caesars under their usurper father, Carus, a regime that was perhaps only ten months old at the time of Carus’ death. By the end of the year, Numerian was dead—with assassination the rumour—and a bloody spectacle had put the commander of his bodyguard (the son of a former slave, so the gossipmongers had it) on the throne.¹ By the middle of the following year, Carinus was also dead, murdered by his own soldiers as battle turned against him, and Diocletian, the freedman’s son with purple blood all over his hands, was ruler of the whole Empire.² It was a story that had been played out dozens of times over the past fifty years. The victory against Carinus was won in Moesia and the summer of 285 found Diocletian in Italy.³ The West was not in good order, however; an uprising in Gaul, under a group that our sources call the bagaudae, was underway beneath its leaders Amandus and Aelianus, Germanic tribes had clearly penetrated the

¹ Diocletian’s early life is exceedingly obscure. Various authors comment on his low birth: Eutr., IX.19.2; Zon., XII.31; Jer., Chron. s.a. 286; Aur. Vict., Epit. 39.1. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 4; Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 22–3; A. K. Bowman, ‘Diocletian and the First Tetrarchy’, CAH XII (2nd edn.Cambridge, 2005), 68. On the assassination of Carus, the murder of Aper, and Diocletian’s dramatic accession, see Aur. Vict., Epit. 39.1, Caes. 39.1; HA V. Cari 12–13; Eutr. IX.19–20; Jer., Chron. s.a. 286; Oros., VII.25.1; Joh. Ant., fr. 163; Zon. XII.30–1. ² Aur. Vict., Epit. 38.8, Caes. 39.11; HA V. Cari 10, 18; Eutr. IX.20.2; Jer., Chron. s.a. 285. ³ T. D. Barnes, The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine (Cambridge MA, 1982), 50.

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Rhine frontier, and Africa was suffering from the incursions of a Berber group called the Quinquegentiani, led by a man named Julianus.⁴ Yet Diocletian was needed in the East; tribes on the Danube appear to have been in a state of unrest and the Persian front remained precarious.⁵ Diocletian therefore decided to create a colleague to manage the West and allow him to look eastwards. Having no obvious relations, he chose his comrade-in-arms and fellow Illyrian, Maximian, whom he created Caesar on 21 July 285. Maximian’s considerable successes in the West saw him quickly promoted to the rank of Augustus on 1 April 286.⁶ Two new emperors, Constantius and Galerius, were created on 1 March 293, respectively the subordinate Caesars of Maximian and Diocletian, and thus the tetrarchy was born.⁷ This relationship, celebrated so grandly with Diocletian and Maximian’s great vicennalia celebrations in Rome in 303, endured until 305, when the two senior Augusti retired.⁸

BIRTHING THE LATE ROMAN S TATE: DIARCHS, TETRARCHS, AND A NEW LANGUAGE OF POWER The reign of the tetrarchs effected enormous change within the Roman world. These changes were, often, a continuation of efforts undertaken by the tetrarchs’ predecessors and brought to fruition under the united empire of Constantine, but

⁴ Bagaudae: Aur. Vict., Caes. 39.17; Eutr., IX.20.3; Amandus and Aelianus are often mistakenly identified as usurpers in modern literature (e.g. Barnes, New Empire, 10; Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 46; B. Leadbetter, Galerius and The Will of Diocletian (London, 2009), 53), despite no evidence to this effect in the written sources. This identification hinges on a handful of coins whose authenticity is highly debatable (Minor, ‘Reclassifying the Bacaudae: Some Reasons for Caution’, AW 28:2 (1997), 171–81), and so, despite my own predilection for unusual usurpers, I am inclined to treat them as non-imperial rebels. Germans: T. D. Barnes, ‘Imperial Campaigns, A.D. 285–311’, Phoenix 30:2 (1976), 176–8. Quinquegentiani: Aur. Vict., Caes. 39.22, Eutr., IX.23; Oros. VII.25.4, 8. ⁵ Barnes, New Empire, 50–1. ⁶ For this date, see Barnes, New Empire, 4 n. 5 and 6. These dates are highly disputed and their exact chronology can only be inferentially established. F. Kolb, Diocletian und die erste Tetrarchie: Improvisation oder Experiment in der Organisation monarchischer Herrshaft? (Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und Geschichte 27; Berlin, 1987), 24–5 gives a summary of the range of dates offered by scholars. ⁷ It seems probable that Constantius and Galerius had been bound to their respective Augusti by ties of marriage as long ago as 288: B. Leadbetter, ‘The Illegitimacy of Constantine and the Birth of the Tetrarchy’, in S. N. C. Lieu and D. Monserrat (eds), Constantine: History, historiography and legend (London, 1998), 74–85. A later panegyric also suggests that this included some kind of adoption (Pan. Lat. VII.3.3), making the tetrarchy look a great deal more ‘familial’ than is generally suggested. ⁸ On this event, see Chapter V, p. 104.

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they were nevertheless significant.⁹ The number of provinces was roughly doubled (their size roughly halved) and they were reorganized under a new provincial administration that was operated by an increasingly large and increasingly professional bureaucracy attached to the court and administering the provinces.¹⁰ This professionalization was in part effected by a growing formalization of the split between the civilian and military hierarchies, which also served to recognize and provide for a class of officers and generals drawn from the Empire’s recruiting grounds and its barbarian auxiliaries, not from its aristocracy.¹¹ The army itself was reformed to place an increasing emphasis on cavalry and more flexible infantry formations, ending the reliance upon the traditional heavy-armed foot soldier with scutum, pilum, and gladius.¹² Its purpose was reimagined, its supply guaranteed by enormous state-run granaries and factories, and its size as much as doubled.¹³ The new administration effected and was supported by a comprehensive reform of the taxation system that sought to regularize the supply of money to the fisc (Italy, at last, would pay tax as the provinces did), to unify the Empire into a single fiscal system, and to overhaul the flagging coinage of the third century.¹⁴ The gods were also courted; Diocletian and Maximian took for themselves the honorific names of Jupiter and Hercules, affirming their bond to and their support from the traditional gods of Rome.¹⁵ This traditionalism can be seen, in part, as reaction to the encroachment of Eastern cults, not least that of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, and of Mithras, whose support had

⁹ The tendency to treat Diocletian’s reign as a watershed is valuably criticized in Kulikoswsky, ‘Regional Dynasties and Imperial Court’, 135–6. Diocletian’s reforms, where possible, should be understood in relation to developments in the preceding decades (E. Lo Cascio, ‘The age of the Severans’ and ‘The government and administration of the empire in the central decades of the third century’, in CAH XII, 137–55, 156–69; Potter, Roman Empire at Bay, 263–98). The idea that Diocletian’s world separated a distinct ‘before’ and ‘after’, however, is not utterly new, and fourth-century Romans frequently regarded the reign of the tetrarchs as marking both an end to the chaos of the preceding fifty years and the beginning of a series of new and distinct forms of government: Amm., XV.5.18; Aur. Vict., Caes. 39.1–8; Eutr., IX.26–28; cf. S. Corcoran, ‘Before Constantine’, in N. Lenski (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine (Cambridge, 2006), 35–58. ¹⁰ Barnes, New Empire, 201–8; Rees, Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, 26–7. ¹¹ Corcoran, ‘Before Constantine’, 47; Mennen, Power and Status in the Roman Empire, 193–246. ¹² Nicasie, Twilight of Empire, 13–81; H. Elton, ‘Military Forces’, in P. Sabin, H. van Wees, and M. Whitby (eds), The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare: Vol. II, Rome from the Late Republic to the Late Empire (Cambridge, 2007), 278–81. ¹³ On the new ‘grand strategy’, see Luttwak, Grand Strategy; Rees, Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, 21–3. On the fabricae, see Rees, Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, 18. On the size of the late Roman army and the chronology of its expansion, see Jones, Later Roman Empire, II 679–86; Treadgold, Byzantium and Its Army, 43–59; Rees, Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, 17–18. ¹⁴ Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 170–85; Rees, Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, 28–9, 126–39. ¹⁵ Nixon-Rodgers, 48–50.

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been growing throughout the third century.¹⁶ The primacy of the imperial cult was likewise affirmed and sacrifice demanded from all subjects, a measure which seems to have been directed particularly at rooting out members of two further Eastern mystery cults, Manicheanism and Christianity, against whom violent persecutions were launched.¹⁷ Unity was the recurrent message of the tetrarchs: the unity of the Roman world in sacrifice to the gods and the emperors, the unity of a universal government, the unity of the emperors with one another. The courts of the tetrarchs were peripatetic and Rome was at last totally abandoned as anything more than the Empire’s ceremonial and religious heartland, a place of pilgrimage but not of government. The tetrarchs moved about their Empire with a ceaselessness and rapidity that is genuinely awe-inspiring.¹⁸ During their reigns, emperors were seen both sat in state and leading armies in Britain, in Gaul, in Italy, in Africa, in the provinces of the Balkans, in the East, and in Egypt.¹⁹ Unity was expressed through formal meetings between the rulers: Diocletian and Maximian met together in Raetia in 288, at Milan in the winter of 290/1, and at Rome in 303; both Augusti were personally present at the investitures of their Caesars in 293 (at Milan and Sirmium); Diocletian and Galerius met at Antioch in 299; and Maximian and Galerius may also have met in 304/5.²⁰ To those provincials who could not see them, the unity of the tetrarchs was communicated through imperial edicts headed in the names of the entire imperial college, who existed as a divine ‘family’ under Diocletian Jupiter and Maximian Hercules, who shared honours and titles, and who spoke with one divine will.²¹ It was communicated through the marriage alliances that bound the tetrarchs in a complex web of interconnections.²² It was communicated through a recurrent visual iconography in statues and

¹⁶ Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 153–62. ¹⁷ Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 170–85; Rees, Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, 58–66. The persecution was only undertaken with zeal in the Eastern Empire: M. Humphries, ‘The mind of the persecutors: “By the gracious favour of the gods” ’, in D. V. Twomey and M. Humphries (eds), The Great Persecution: The Proceedings of the Fifth Patristic Conference, Maynooth, 2003 (Dublin, 2009), 11–32. ¹⁸ Roger Rees has famously calculated that, in the year 290, the emperor Diocletian must have travelled at least 3,500 miles across the Empire, an average of some ten miles per day (Layers of Loyalty, 1). ¹⁹ Peter Brown called the fourth and fifth centuries the ‘apogee’ of empire, at least as far as its ability to ‘make itself present to its subjects’ and ‘induce particular habits of mind and behaviour’ was concerned. (‘The world of late antiquity revisited: a report’, Symbolae Osloenses 72 (1997), 24). ²⁰ On tetrarchic movements, see Barnes, New Empire, 49–64; Rees, Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, 27–8. ²¹ S. Corcoran, The Empire of the Tetrarchs, Imperial Pronouncements and Government AD 284–324 (Rev. edn. Oxford, 2000), 123–203, esp. 170–1. ²² Leadbetter, ‘The Illegitimacy of Constantine’, 74–85.

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reliefs that placed the tetrarchs together in a quartet and homogenized their portraits into a single imperial face.²³ Diocletian and his tetrarchy faced four major civil wars during their tenure of office. The first of these was the war with Carinus in 285 that gave Diocletian control of the West. The second, difficult to date but possibly lasting from the 280s to as late as 297, was the revolt in Africa under Julianus.²⁴ The third was the protracted civil war against the so-called British Empire under Carausius (286–93) and his successor Allectus (293–6). Fourthly and finally there was a usurpation in Egypt under L. Domitius Domitianus and Aurelius Achilleus, which appears to have lasted from 297 to 298.²⁵ Smaller rebellions also sprang up in both halves of the Empire and the bagaudae had to be put down in the West.²⁶ All these regimes and the wars that they engendered share in common the fact that very little detail concerning them can be reconstructed. Yet among this shadowy group, the British Empire stands out just a little clearer. Three panegyrics (Pan. Lat. X, XI, and VIII) survive that were delivered in the West during the period of the British Empire’s existence. Using them, we may gain an insight as to how words were used as weapons in the civil wars of the Roman Empire, as to how intimately bound up usurpers were in the presentation of any ‘legitimate’ emperor, and as to how the usurper Carausius helped to create the tetrarchy and its ideology.

²³ E. Kitzinger, Byzantine Art in the Making: Main lines of stylistic development in Mediterranean art, 3rd–7th century (Cambridge MA, 1995), 9–12; Rees, Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, 49–50. ²⁴ Aur. Vict., Caes. 39.22, Eutr., IX.22–3; Oros. VII.25.4, 8. Aur. Vict., Caes. 39.22 mentions the revolt in the context of the usurpation of Carausius and so it may have already been ongoing by this point (although Victor is exceptionally poor on matters of relative chronology). The disruptions were serious enough that Maximian himself ultimately went there in person in 297 (Pan. Lat. VIII.8.7; Barnes, New Empire, 59; Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 75). ²⁵ Eutr., IX.22–3; Jer., Chron. s.a. 298; Oros. VII.25.4, 8; A. E. R. Boak and H. C. Youtie (eds), The archive of Aurelius Isidorus in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and the University of Michigan (P. Cair. Isidor.) (Ann Arbor, 1960), 17–20; T. C. Skeat (ed.), Papyri from Panopolis in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (Dublin, 1964), x–xiii; J. Schwartz, L. Domitius Domitianus: étude numismatique et papyrologique (Brussels, 1975); Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 17. The identity of the leader of this revolt is unclear; numismatic and papyrological evidence attribute the revolt to Domitianus but literary evidence attributes it to Achilleus. One solution to this problem may be that, as with Carausius and Allectus, the usurpation was headed by both in succession. In either case, the revolt was put down by Diocletian after a protracted siege of Alexandria. ²⁶ Small usurpations: in 303 a usurper called Eugenius briefly took control of Antioch and Eusebius also mentions other, unnamed usurpers in the context of the persecution: Lib., Or. I.3, 125, II.10–11, XI.158–62, XIX.45–6, XX.18–20, and ep. 1154/125; Euseb., HE VIII.6.8. In the West, a man named Sabinius Julianus (who appears to be distinct from the Julianus that led the Quinquegentiani) was apparently put down by Maximus in Italy (Aur. Vict., Epit. 39.3–4), although it is equally possible that this individual was in fact the Julianus put down by Carinus (cf. PLRE M. Aur. Sabinus Iulianus 24 and Sabinus Julianus 38; multiple individuals are posited here, though a confused source tradition regarding a single individual seems to me more probable). Bagaudae: see above, n. 4.

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EMPERORS AND BANDITS: THE BRITISH EMPIRE UNDER CARAUSIUS AND ALLECTUS Carausius and Allectus’ British Empire lasted for ten years, from Carausius’ usurpation in 286 until the death of Allectus and the recapture of Britain in 296.²⁷ An initial successful offensive against it appears to have ended in shocking naval defeat in 289 or 290, allowing Carausius to enjoy several years of uneasy ceasefire. Then, in 293, the newly created Caesar Constantius marched against him and drove him from Boulogne, his last continental stronghold, leading to Carausius’ assassination and replacement by Allectus. For three years, Constantius then prepared an invasion fleet, which launched in 296 and effected a successful landing, defeated Allectus’ army, and reclaimed Britain for the tetrarchs. The panegyrics that discussed this rebellion are unique among the panegyrical corpus in that two (Pan. Lat. X and XI) were delivered while the rebellion was still in progress, the third (Pan. Lat. VIII) after its conclusion.²⁸ We are thus privy to an evolving propaganda programme directed against the British Empire. This chapter will examine these speeches in chronological order, using them to understand the rebellion as it unfolded and how first dyarchy then tetrarchy developed in reaction to it and integrated the challenge that it presented into their own ideological programme. Maximus came to Gaul as Caesar in the summer of 285, while Diocletian returned to the East.²⁹ Here he quickly subjugated the rebellious bagaudae and turned back a Germanic invasion over the Rhine. By the following spring he had been raised to Augustus and had set his base of operations at Trier, in the south of Gaul, from where he campaigned against the Alemanni and the Franks on both sides of the Rhine for the next five years.³⁰ The north of the region and the island of Britain, however, were also suffering from barbarian incursions, with Franks and Saxons raiding not only over the Rhine but also engaged in piracy in the Channel along the stretch of coast fittingly called the Saxon shore.³¹ This raiding in the Channel and along the rivers that fed into it was leading to significant destruction of inland sites and predation upon merchant shipping in the open waters between Britain and Gaul.³² Confined

²⁷ Casey, Carausius and Allectus, 33–4. ²⁸ There are other panegyrics that fall into this category, but, as we shall see, none of them tackle the usurpations with which they deal as directly as Pan. Lat. X. and XI. In Them., Or. I, which it will be argued was given in 350 after the death of Constans and the usurpations of Magnentius and Vetranio, and his Orationes XVII, XVIII, XIX, which were given after Magnus Maximus had taken power but before his final suppression, it is the avoidance of the theme of usurpation that is striking, not its consideration (see Chapter VI, p. 167, and Chapter IX, pp. 266–7). ²⁹ Barnes, New Empire, 50–1, 57. ³⁰ Barnes, New Empire, 57–8. ³¹ Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 25. ³² Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 46–7; Casey, Carausius and Allectus, 46–52.

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to the south, Maximus therefore appointed as his commander in the region one Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Carausius.³³ Aurelius Victor states that Carausius was a native of Menapia, a region lying in the south of modern Belgium, between the Meuse and Scheldt rivers on the Roman side of the Rhine.³⁴ Eutropius confirms Carausius’ military reputation, earned despite humble origins.³⁵ He had distinguished himself under Maximus in 285–6 and had, moreover, been a pilot as a younger man, making him a natural choice as commander of the Channel fleet. Carausius began building ships and operating in the Channel. Accusations soon reached Maximian, however, that Carausius was using his position to plunder the very provincials whom he had been sent to protect, allowing Frankish and Saxon pirates to enter Roman waters and conduct their raids and only intercepting them as they returned for home, keeping the booty thus reclaimed for himself. Maximian ordered Carausius’ death and so he, taking the step that so many had taken before him, had himself proclaimed Augustus sometime in 286.³⁶ His territory appears to have included both Britain and much of northern Gaul, since the mint at Rouen issued coins in his name.³⁷ Armies on both sides of the Channel declared for him. This was a serious crisis for the new diarchy. Perhaps as little as twelve months had passed since Carinus’ defeat and it appeared that already the enduring pattern of the third century was repeating itself. Carausius’ territory and his forces were relatively small, but his support might easily grow. Maximian, furthermore, was still bound to the Rhine frontier and seems to have campaigned upon the German side during 287, allowing Carausius valuable breathing space.³⁸ It was not until 288, therefore, that Maximian was able to launch an offensive against him, attacking him in Gaul and driving him from the continent.³⁹ Without a fleet of his own at his disposal, however, Maximian ³³ For Carausius’ name, see Casey, Carausius and Allectus, 37. ³⁴ Aur. Vict., Caes. 39.20. On the Menapii, see F. Schön, ‘Menapii’, in DNP VII, 1222–3. ³⁵ Eutr., IX.21. Low beginnings no longer provided a barrier for a successful military career; the violence of the third century had created a world in which talented soldiers would rise to the highest positions (Diocletian and Maximian were both just such: Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 25). ³⁶ On the date, see Barnes, New Empire, 11. Evidence for the date of these events can be variously cited for the years 286 and 287; Casey, Carausius and Allectus, 39–45 suggests a solution for this problem which sees Carausius taking power in Gaul in mid 286 but the revolt not spreading more widely (in particular, to include Britain) until 287. See also Leadbetter, Galerius and The Will of Diocletian, 59. ³⁷ RIC V.ii, 516–23. ³⁸ Barnes, ‘Imperial Campaigns’, 178. For Maximian to have preferenced a foreign campaign over a civil conflict is unusual and speaks to the seriousness of the Germanic threat. To advance north against Carausius while there was still risk of major Germanic invasion to the south would be to risk trapping himself between two enemies and would close lines of withdrawal if the campaign against Carausius went poorly. ³⁹ Pan. Lat. X.11.7. The events of Pan. Lat. VIII.6–7 make clear that Carausius held Boulogne when Constantius made his attack upon the city in 293, and so it would appear that, after Maximian’s

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could go no further, and so he was forced to halt his advance and undertake the construction of ships upon the rivers of Gaul that fed into the Channel and to await the opportunity to launch a further attack.⁴⁰ It was in this context, on the crest of first victory against Carausius and the expectation of further victories to come, that Pan. Lat. X was delivered. The authorship of the speech has been a subject of much dispute in modern literature. Perhaps the best manuscript of the Pan. Lat. collection suggests that both X and XI were composed by the same individual, one Mamertinus.⁴¹ The weight of evidence against this conclusion, however, seems sufficient to reject both the idea of shared authorship and the name of the author(s), and I will, therefore, err on the side of caution in assuming that the two speeches have different authors and that both ought to be thought of as anonymous.⁴² Beyond this, the author of Pan. Lat. X tells us little about himself, though it seems clear he was a Gaul.⁴³ Assigning a date to the speech is also problematic, though less so. The occasion for the delivery was the birthday of the city of Rome (Pan. Lat. X.1.4), which was traditionally assigned to the 21st of April and, by inference, we may establish the year as 289.⁴⁴ The location again must be inferred, but it was clearly a city on the Rhine, which, coupled with it playing host to a consular inauguration and with our knowledge of Maximus’ residence there in this period, make Trier the most obvious choice.⁴⁵ subsequent failed assault on Britain, Carausius was able to regain the city: Casey, Carausius and Allectus, 89–114; A. R. Birley, The Roman Government of Britain (Oxford, 2005), 375. ⁴⁰ Pan. Lat. X.12ff; Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 55–6. ⁴¹ The rubric to Pan. Lat. XI in H reads: ‘A birthday address to Maximian Augustus by the same master Mamertinus’ (eiusdem magistri Mamertim [for Mamertini] Genethliacus Maximiani Augusti), which would seem to suggest a shared authorship for Pan. Lat. XI and its preceding speech, Pan. Lat. X (see Nixon-Rodgers, 8–10, 41–2) and this was formerly assumed (e.g. Galletier, I xviii–xix). The weight of scholarly opinion and of the evidence, however, would seem, if not to categorically rule out this option, then certainly to weigh against it: Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 193–204. ⁴² In practice this decision has little bearing on the arguments presented here and I ultimately leave it to the reader to weigh the evidence themselves and draw their own conclusions. ⁴³ Nixon-Rodgers, 42. ⁴⁴ The orator speaks of a barbarian invasion interrupting Maximian’s inauguration as consul (6.2), which must be a reference to his consulship of 287, 288, or 290. Since the consulship was held in ille annus (7.1), i.e. at least one year previously, the consulship of 290 may be discounted as the speech cannot possibly have been given in 291, since there are too many vitally important historical developments that took place in 290 of which the author appears ignorant, namely Diocletian’s Sarmatian campaign and the meeting between Maximian and Diocletian in Milan. The consulship of 287 is also highly improbable, since this chronology would require us to believe that in the less than sixteen months between his consular inauguration on 1 January 287 and the delivery of the speech on 21 April 288, Maximian had invaded Germany (7.1), met with Diocletian in Raetia (9.1–2), campaigned to install the Frankish client king Gennobaudes (10.3–5), and conducted a year of shipbuilding following his first campaign against Carausius and in anticipation of the second (12.3–8). The consulship must thus surely be that of 288 and the speech therefore dated to 289. Cf. Galletier, I 8–9; Nixon-Rodgers, 42–3. ⁴⁵ On the city’s position and the consular inauguration, see Pan. Lat. X.6–7. For Maximian’s residence, see E. M. Wightman, Roman Trier and the Treveri (London, 1970), 58.

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The speech opens with an introduction uniting the themes of the emperor and the birthday of Rome through the claim that Maximian and Diocletian were, in a sense, founders of the Empire thanks to their restoration of its glory (1).⁴⁶ There follows a brief account of Maximian’s heritage, both as a Pannonian soldier and as the divine Hercules, and of his shouldering the burden of rule (2–3). The labours of the emperor are then enumerated, cast against the backdrop of Hercules aiding Jupiter: first the suppression of the bagaudae in Gaul, then the defeat of Germanic tribes ravaging the region, then a crossing of the Rhine into German territory (4–8).⁴⁷ There then comes mention of Diocletian’s crossing of the Danube, allowing the orator to declare the symmetry of the emperors and to describe in glowing terms their unity at the meeting in Raetia of 288 (9–11). This section is rounded off with a dire warning to ‘that pirate’, Carausius, of the fate that awaits him. Having mentioned a victory on the shores of the Ocean, the orator describes the construction of a great fleet, aided by the elements (of which the divine emperor is master), and predicts the fall of the pirate (12). His conclusion reunites the themes of Rome’s greatness and the harmony of the emperors, looking forward to the days of peace to come and to the return of the emperors to Rome (13–14). Though the occasion for the speech was the birthday of Rome, the orator uses this only as a launching point for a paean on the military victories of the emperors. The orator spoke against a backdrop of great military successes for both emperors, but also the looming shadow of a British Empire as yet unconquered and whose existence challenged both their authority and their legitimacy. His response to this was a direct and bullish assertion of the totality of dyarchic victory and of their twinned unity. The speech was an unashamedly triumphal celebration of the military supremacy of Maximian and Diocletian and the fraternal harmony that existed between them. The orator explains his purpose in his opening chapter: ‘In truth, most sacred emperor, one might justly call you and your brother founders of the Roman Empire: for you are, which is nearly the same thing, its restorers (restitutores) and, though it is the birthday of that city, which marks the origin of the Roman people, the first days of your rule (vestrum imperium) mark the origin of its salvation.’⁴⁸ The victories of the emperors have, in a manner of speaking, refounded the Empire. This glorification of the power of imperial arms is not merely a reflection of the military careers of Maximian and Diocletian, but a self-confident statement of victory in the face of Carausius’ empire.

⁴⁶ revera enim, sacratissime imperator, merito quiuis te tuumque fratrem Romani imperii dixerit conditores: estis enim, quod est proximum, restitutores et, sit licet hic illi urbi natalis dies, quod pertineat ad originem populi Romani, vestri imperii primi dies sunt principes ad salutem (1.5). ⁴⁷ For the German campaigns, see Barnes, ‘Imperial Campaigns’, 178. ⁴⁸ Pan. Lat. X.1.5.

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The orator does not risk allowing his audience to miss this point, and as he transitions from his opening remarks into discussion of Maximus’ campaigns, he declares that Maximian is not simply a god and a conqueror, but, ‘now, at this very moment, suppressing in that same western region, not the disfigured three-headed shepherd, but a far more terrible monster’.⁴⁹ This curious reference to a three-headed shepherd recalls the monster Geryon, whom Hercules, in his tenth labour, defeated and killed upon Erytheia, the island of the setting sun, situated in the far distant West.⁵⁰ This parallel with Maximian’s eponymous Hercules and Maximian’s labours against his own Geryon was ingenious, and one the orator would also pick up in his conclusion.⁵¹ The orator did not dwell on Carausius in his opening words, but rather used his confident prediction of victory on the western island to yield smoothly to the enumeration of the victories of Maximian and Diocletian, won against the tribes of the Rhine and Danube. These occupy the central portion of his speech and bring us to its heart, the theme of dyarchic unity, expressed in their conference in Raetia: ‘With what candour and friendly feeling did you report to his divinity all that you had done on behalf of these lands, when, coming together from opposite ends of the globe, you clasped unconquered hands! How trusting and fraternal was that conference!’⁵² The orator runs with this theme for a full three chapters, expounding a vision of a world in which a harmony was created out of the symmetry of the divine, united emperors. Nor is the language deployed as mere rhetorical flourish, for Diocletian really had come from the ends of the world. In 287 he had been on the Eastern frontier, strengthening the series of defensive fortifications that was to be his legacy there and negotiating with the Persians.⁵³ Something important was clearly afoot, important enough that Diocletian would travel 2,000 miles to wage a Danubian campaign on Maximian’s doorstop, and in the orator’s rhetoric we may find clues as to what. He opens his concluding thoughts on the unity of the emperors as follows: Your harmony (vestra concordia), all-conquering emperors, brings it about that even Fortune responds to you with such a symmetry of successes. You rule the Republic with one mind; nor does so great a separation of space stop you from governing, as it were, with your right hands joined. Thus, though you increase your royal majesty with your twinned divinity (geminatum numen), by your harmony (consentiendo) you retain the advantage of a single empire.⁵⁴

Two considerations follow immediately from this pronouncement. The first is that Maximian is so committed to the ideology of unity that he has ‘bound

⁴⁹ Pan. Lat. X.2.1: non pastorem trino capite deformem, sed prodigium multo taetrius opprimens. Note the self-confident present participle in opprimens. ⁵⁰ Apoll., Bib. II.5.10. ⁵¹ Pan. Lat. X.13.4–5. ⁵² Pan. Lat. X.9.1.2. ⁵³ Barnes, New Empire, 51. ⁵⁴ Pan. Lat. X.11.1–2.

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with ties of kinship and marriage those about you who perform the highest office’.⁵⁵ The glory of such close association with his subordinates then lifts the orator’s attention back to ‘that same western quarter’ that he had cause to mention at the commencement of his speech. Recalling how Hercules extended his victories right up to the most westerly portions of the earth, the orator remarks that ‘your soldiers have reached as far as the Ocean, and already the receding waves have drunk up the blood of enemies slain upon that shore.’⁵⁶ The orator thus associates two important outcomes with the meeting in Raetia: first, a wedding between a relative of Maximian and one of his most senior officers; secondly, resolution regarding the conduct of the final campaign against Carausius. Carausius’ uprising not only sounded a challenge to Maximian and Diocletian’s new order, but it also raised the spectre of Maximian’s death. It seems reasonable to infer, therefore, that the dyarchs had come together to lay in plans for the future, and to provide for Maximian a son-in-law who might keep stability in the West if the worst should happen. The marriage referred to must surely be that between Maximian’s stepdaughter Theodora and the future Caesar Constantius.⁵⁷ Its undertaking set the orator to consideration of how the achievements of Maximian’s subordinates nevertheless brought glory to Maximian, and led the orator ineluctably back to the theme of victory and the promise of the ultimate victory against the pirate, the first part of which passage is worth quoting in full: In what mind is that pirate (ille pirata) now, when he sees your armies have almost entered that narrow sea which has thus far delayed his death and, forgetful of their ships, have pursued the retreating sea where it falls before them? What more remote island, what other Ocean can he now hope to find for himself? By what bargain can he escape the punishment he owes the Republic, unless he is swallowed into the earth or cast by a whirlwind onto some remote rock?⁵⁸

Both diminutive and contemptuous, the orator’s language is almost comical in its presentation of the cornered emperor trapped at the edge of the world and looking for somewhere further to flee to. Notably, the orator makes no recognition at all of the fact that Carausius was, in fact, an Augustus, and his language brims over with such naked hostility that it can leave us no doubt that Maximian’s court had made very clear its intention to utterly destroy the British Empire. The choice to refer to Carausius as a pirata is also striking. As a term of abuse against an enemy in a civil war, the word had some antiquity, having been employed by Cicero in his Philippics against Mark Antony.⁵⁹ More importantly, it plays upon what we know—or feel we ⁵⁵ Pan. Lat. X.11.4. ⁵⁶ Pan. Lat. X.11.7: . . . iam caesorum in illo litore hostium sanguinem reciproci fluctus sorbuerunt. ⁵⁷ Leadbetter, ‘The Illegitimacy of Constantine’, 74–85. ⁵⁸ Pan. Lat. X.12.1–2. ⁵⁹ Cic., Phil. XIII.18: hoc archipirata (quid enim dicam tyranno?) haec subsellia ab Ityraeis occupabantur.

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know—of Carausius from our historical sources. Carausius was born on the very fringes of the Empire and had made a career as a sailor prior to that which he had enjoyed as a soldier. His power in Britain and Gaul was based, ultimately, on his possession of the Channel fleet, a fleet which was, at the time the orator spoke before Maximian, preventing the emperor’s final victory. To paint Carausius as a pirate was thus at once to evoke that naval strength and to situate it firmly in a context of banditry and criminality, robbing it of its imperial pretensions. If the panegyrical and later written sources speak to one another in this way, however, it raises the uncomfortable problem of how we are to understand the story of Carausius’ rebellion as we have it reported in our historical narratives. Both Aurelius Victor and Eutropius are clear on the fact that Carausius was stealing from the provincials whom he had been sent to protect, an action that was unquestionably piratical. But why did these two historians think this? The use of the term ‘pirate’ to refer to Carausius was not a mere whim of the author of Pan. Lat. X, for precisely the same term would be used, eight years later, by the author of Pan. Lat. VIII. This points to a consistent policy on the part of Maximian’s court. Does the historical narrative of the later epitomes remember Carausius’ piracy, therefore, because that was what had happened, or because Maximian had made sure that that was the story that was publicly put about? Aurelius Victor and Eutropius (and the later accounts dependent upon them) present Maximian in a very favourable light, attempting to control corrupt generals and acting as patron to his provincials. Yet other reasons for Carausius’ rebellion could easily be conjectured.⁶⁰ The language of piracy also has a place within the story of the evolving diarchic/tetrarchic ideology. Throughout the speech, the emperors were presented time and again as a firmly united pairing, Jupiter and Hercules.⁶¹ The emperors had been defined as brothers, a unified pairing capable of ruling the world with a united mind. There existed no place in this world for a third emperor, an emperor lacking divine patronage and not sharing in the fraternity of Diocletian and Maximian. Indeed, Carausius was not an emperor. He was merely a petty criminal, ‘that pirate’, and the war against him nothing more than a simple ‘maritime affair’.⁶² The orator fails even to acknowledge that the enemy had made claim to imperial title, or that he was in possession of Roman territory. Though he can look forward to the moment when ‘the security of the whole world has been re-established,’ there is no sense of any ⁶⁰ Obvious suggestions would be that Carausius was being undersupplied (as, for example, seems to have been the case for the short-lived usurper Eugenius, who reigned for a day in 303), was having manpower withdrawn from him (as was the catalyst for the usurpation of Julian: see Chapter VII, pp. 196–7), or was the victim of intrigues at his emperor’s distant court (as appears to have been the case with Silvanus: see Chapter VI, p. 169). It ought to be stressed, however, that these are nothing more than speculation. ⁶¹ E.g. Pan. Lat. X.1.5, 2.1–4.2, 9.1–2, 13.1–14.5. ⁶² Pan. Lat. X.12.1, 8.

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impending threat from Carausius.⁶³ Indeed, with ships already being made ready for the final expedition, the orator’s bravado can allow his audience to feel that the campaign is already as good as accomplished.⁶⁴ Yet the brash self-confidence of these words was soon to be dashed and, in either 289 or 290, the ships that Pan. Lat. X pictured sailing to the Ocean via rivers put in flood by the gods were clearly defeated, a defeat which must have amounted to either their total annihilation or total capture, since Carausius was able to reclaim a bridgehead on the continent at Boulogne and no further military manoeuvres were mounted against him until 293.⁶⁵ Even then, another three years were needed before a crossing could be made to Britain. As a result, some kind of truce or ceasefire appears to have been agreed. Carausius publicly articulated this truce as a lasting peace, for he very famously issued a coin bearing the heads of all three emperors and the inscription CARAVSIVS ET FRATRES SVI (‘Carausius and his brothers’), which advertised to all who cared to look that Carausius, Maximian, and Diocletian were now a three-part college.⁶⁶ That Carausius was not alone in interpreting the truce in this way can perhaps be seen in the statement by Aurelius Victor that ‘to Carausius was given imperium over the island [of Britain], after having been judged very capable for the command and defence of the inhabitants against warlike peoples.’⁶⁷ Yet however Carausius wished to present it, this was no happy meeting of minds and the tetrarchs were clearly stinging from this defeat. No evidence can be seen of their extending like gestures of collegiality to Carausius, but the pair clearly reached out to one another in order to make yet another show of unity and to plan again the undertaking of a dangerous war that was beginning to turn sour. For the second time in two years, Diocletian, who had spent 289 ⁶³ Pan. Lat. X.14.4. ⁶⁴ Carausius clearly lacks the favour of the gods. Across the winter of 288/9, when Maximian was building the fleets that he would use to assail Carausius’ position, a strikingly mild winter allowed construction crews to work throughout the cold season, but when spring came, and it was time to set the ships on water, the depleted rivers were suddenly replenished by a great rush of heavy rains, so that the ships hardly needed any impetus at all to move along the swollen waters. The natural order itself was stacked against Carausius (Pan. Lat. X.12.5–8). ⁶⁵ Direct evidence of this defeat is nowhere to be found, but the total silence of Pan. Lat. XI (below) concerning the expedition can be taken as confirmation of its failure: Nixon-Rodgers, 79; Casey, Carausius and Allectus, 52–3. Some have read in Pan. Lat. VIII.12.2 a reference to Maximian’s fleet being destroyed in a storm, either accepting this at face value (Galletier, I 43, 92 n. 1; Seston, Dioclétien et la tétrarchie (Paris, 1946), 78–9) or rejecting it as a tetrarchic coverup for military defeat (S. Frere, Britannia: A History of Roman Britain (3rd edn. London, 1987), 327; S. Johnson, Roman Forts of the Saxon Shore (London, 1981), 29). The context of this remark, however, since it follows the description of the recapture of Bolougne, fits more correctly with the circumstances of 293 (cf. N. Shiel, The Episode of Carausius and Allectus: the Literary and Numismatic Evidence (British Archaeological Reports 40. Oxford, 1977), 9–10; Nixon-Rodgers, 130 n. 46). ⁶⁶ For this and other issues by Carausius, see Rees, Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, 82. ⁶⁷ Aur. Vict., Caes. 39.39; cf. Eutr., IX.22.

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and 290 darting back and forth between the lower Danube and the Eastern front, made the colossal journey to the West (a journey he would not make again for another thirteen years), this time for a conference at Milan. At Milan, the tetrarchs gave another great show of their unity and they strategized as to how next to conduct their campaign.⁶⁸ The sting of the Carausian defeat can still be seen searing in the panegyric delivered to Maximian at Trier for his birthday celebrations in the summer of 291.⁶⁹ The author begins (in one of the stranger prooemia in the panegyric corpus) with his disappointment that he had been unable to deliver a speech on the occasion of Maximian’s quinquennalia but that he will, in time, give it at his decennalia (1). He then addresses the theme of perpetual motion; Diocletian and Maximian move tirelessly through the Empire and, in both a real and in a figurative sense, are present everywhere (3–4). Though their victories are given in brief summary (5), the theme of this speech would not be military success. Rather, we are given an extended discourse on the virtues of the emperors, first pietas (6–12) and then felicitas (13–18). The conclusion reminds us that the pietas and felicitas of the emperors will preserve their empire (19). The orator’s choice of theme speaks volumes when contrasted with the bellicose self-confidence of Pan. Lat. X. He specifically and explicitly opts to exclude from his speech the numerous achievements of the tetrarchs in war. ‘Many men of the highest eloquence’ have, he argues, spoken of Maximian’s ‘victories and deeds in war’; the orator himself even had the honour of doing so at one point. But on this day, he continues, he will speak of only two things most appropriate to the occasion, and begs forgiveness for silence on the rest.⁷⁰ Like any good panegyrist, he has his cake and eats it, and there follows a short summary of the military successes under the diarchs, but even so he returns to his original assertion: ‘I will show that there are other, greater things (alia maiora) among your praises.’⁷¹ The suppression of military virtue in favour of more pacific qualities, however, was little more than an orator’s trope, shorthand for an awareness of some embarrassment or failure in the recent past.⁷² The theme of military success was no longer a safe topic in light of the obvious failure of the campaign against Carausius’ British territories and a speech that

⁶⁸ Barnes, New Empire, 51–2. ⁶⁹ On the date and occasion: Galletier, I 8–12; C. E. V. Nixon, ‘The “Epiphany” of the Tetrarchs? An Examination of Mamertinus’ Panegyric of 291’, Transactions of the American Philological Association 111 (1981), 157–66; Nixon-Rodgers 76–9. Nixon-Rodgers, 81 n. 2 also suggest an emendation to the Latin text following MS H, substituting genuinus for geminus at 1.1, 2.2, 19.1, and 19.3, arguing that this gives a much easier reading for the idea of a birthday. The consensus on this date is not universal, however. Barnes, for instance, (‘Imperial Campaigns’, 177) dates the panegyric to Diocletian’s birthday on 22 December. On the authorship, see above, n. 41. ⁷⁰ Pan. Lat. XI.5.1–2; the duae res are pietas and felicitas (6.1). ⁷¹ Pan. Lat. XI.5.3–4. ⁷² E.g. Them., Or. X.130d ff.

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had dwelt upon the military glories of the diarchs would have been forced either to attempt to explain an embarrassing defeat, or else to leave an equally embarrassing blank in the narrative of his rulers’ campaigns. Neither of these was a viable option. Carausius is a clanging silence in this speech.⁷³ Indeed, the whole tone of Pan. Lat. XI is one of consolation, of buoyed-up enthusiasm for the system in the face of setback. The author apologizes for choosing to pass quickly over the emperors’ victories, thereby avoiding drawing attention to that which was not only unaccomplished, but had been tried and failed. Rather, he makes his focus the supreme and indivisible unity of the emperors, their joint divinity, and the people’s love for them. Unable to pronounce victory over the British Empire, the orator instead proceeds to describe a world order in which the rebels have no place, to remind his audience of the proper state of things. If we look at what the orator did choose to speak about and name as his alia maiora, we can see clearly the weight of that embarrassment. The virtues of the speech are grouped under two headings, pietas and felicitas.⁷⁴ But while these headings may give the orator his structure, the entire speech may be seen as one long plea for the harmony, the indivisibility, and the permanence of these two emperors. Beneath the banner of both felicitas and pietas, the orator concentrates his efforts upon the divinity, the omnipresence, and, above all, the abiding personal harmony of the two emperors.⁷⁵ This rhetoric of harmony culminates in the visit to Milan itself: What a thing that was, good gods! What a spectacle your piety gave, when you both were seen by those who had been admitted to the Milanese palace, who came to adore your sacred visages, and your twined godhead suddenly threw into confusion the custom of a single veneration! No one observed the usual hierarchy of divinities; all stopped, delayed in adoration, defiantly engaged in their double duty of piety.⁷⁶

And: But meanwhile, while I think on your daily talks, your right hands joined in every conversation, light-hearted or serious, the banquets passing with mutual gazes, this thought steals in on me, with what greatness of spirit you departed [Milan] in order to return to your armies and conquered your piety for the sake of the Republic! What then did you feel? How did you set your faces? How incapable were you of concealing the evidence of disturbance from your eyes? To be certain, you looked back often; this is no empty tale made up about you. You gave such signs because you will soon return to see each other.⁷⁷ ⁷³ Suggestive and highly cursory references are possibly detectable at Pan. Lat. XI.7.2 and 16.2. ⁷⁴ On these virtues, see W.-A. Maharam, ‘Pietas’, DNP IX, 1009 and B. Schaffner, ‘Felicitas’, DNP IV, 463. ⁷⁵ Esp. Pan. Lat. XI.4, 8.3, 9.1–5, 10.1–5, 11.4, 13.5, 14.4. ⁷⁶ Pan. Lat. XI.11.1–2. ⁷⁷ Pan. Lat. XI.12.3–5; likewise, 7.6–7.

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The orator creates a scene in which those admitted into the imperial presence were so bowled over by the dual emperors that they stood stupefied and a description of their parting that is almost romantic, the pain that each one felt a sign of their commitment to empire. A renewed and deepened commitment to this language of unity is evident between this speech and its predecessor. Pan. Lat. X sees the use of the second person singular personal pronoun, tu (and its variants), and the possessive adjective, tuus, a total of fifty-three times, while Pan. Lat. XI sees them used only eight. By contrast, Pan. Lat. X uses the plural forms, vos and vester, some forty-two times, while Pan. Lat. XI uses them on a staggering 120 occasions (fifteen times more than their singular equivalents).⁷⁸ Given that both of these panegyrics were delivered to a single emperor and both described a great deal of collective action, the preponderance of the plural in Pan. Lat. XI showed the emperors drawing together, presenting a united front in a partnership of such closeness that no interloping third emperor could ever hope to come between them. As a message in the wake of a pre-291 defeat, this must have had a strong resonance. While unity and divinity had certainly played their part in the speech of 289, they had played second fiddle to victory and military power. Now the roles were reversed and the oneness of the two emperors was stressed. In the face of Carausius’ claims to a shared rule with the dyarchs, Pan. Lat. XI provided a clear rebuttal. There was no place in the world which the speech described for an emperor in Britain. The explicit discussion of a twin godhead allowed no possibility for the truce, which now existed between the diarchs and the British Empire, to become a permanent arrangement. What had the diarchs talked about in that great Milanese encounter? Maximian had been defeated by Carausius, and years of effort in shipbuilding had been squandered in the failed attempt to penetrate his island fortress. Defeat was a dangerous thing for an Augustus, and Maximian had already failed once against Carausius. He could not afford to do so again. At Milan, the last meeting between Diocletian and Maximian that would take place for thirteen years, the emperors must have conferred together about the future of their college and have created the plan for their revolutionary new tetrarchy, which they would ultimately deploy at the same moment on opposite sides of the Empire. Maximian would raise his son-in-law, Constantius, to the imperial rank while Diocletian would do likewise in the East with his own son-in-law, Galerius. The new emperors would be junior partners, Caesars. Maximian’s Caesar would lead the next assault on Britain, sealing this arrangement with ⁷⁸ For tu/tuus: Pan. Lat. X.1.1, 1.3–4, 2.1–7, 3.3, 4.1–3, 5.1–6.2, 6.4, 7.2, 7.6, 8.2–3, 8.6, 9.2–3, 10.4, 10.6, 11.4, 11.6, 12.6, 13.1–2, 13.5, 14.3–5; XI.1.1, 1.3, 3.6, 4.2, 5.1, 7.7, 15.1, 19.1. For vos/ vester: X.1.1–2, 1.4–5, 2.4, 3.2–3, 4.2, 7.4–5, 9.2–10.1, 10.3, 11.1, 11.3–5, 11.7–12.1, 13.4, 14.1–2, 14.4; XI.1.1–2, 2.1–4, 3.2–3, 3.8, 4.1, 4.3–5, 6.1–7, 7.3–8.1, 8.3–5, 9.2, 9.5–10.1, 10.4, 11.1, 11.3–12.1, 12.3–14.3, 15.1, 15.3, 16.1, 17.4, 18.3–4, 19.3–4, 19.6. Repeat uses within single passages are not indicated.

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victory if he were successful and shielding Maximian from the stigma of defeat if he were not.⁷⁹ Careful preparations were put in place, and the diarchs waited until sufficient forces had been prepared to launch another assault against Carausius at Boulogne. Then, in twin ceremonies held upon 1 March 293 in both West and East, Constantius and Galerius were raised to power by their respective auctores imperii and their assembled armies.⁸⁰ Constantius must have stepped straight from the podium on which he was acclaimed and into the saddle, for by the end of the spring Boulogne had fallen to his armies in a siege which saw the mouth of the city’s harbour blockaded with piles.⁸¹ Carausius was driven back from the continent in a defeat which appears also to have provoked a conspiracy within his own ranks, for he was not long after murdered by one of his own adherents, often identified as Allectus, the man who succeeded him.⁸² With Boulogne reclaimed, Constantius set immediately about the construction of a new fleet which set sail in the spring of 296, apparently in two main detachments.⁸³ The detachment under Constantius departed from Boulogne while another, under the command of the praetorian prefect Julius Asclepiodotus, followed from the mouth of the Seine some 100 miles west and south. Constantius’ force appears to have been a decoy, designed to lure Allectus into gathering his armies in anticipation of an invasion in Kent.⁸⁴ Meanwhile, heavy mists around the Isle of Wight allowed Asclepiodotus’ fleet to bypass a waiting ambush. They landed unopposed upon the south coast and marched towards London. Allectus realized too late that the southern force was the main one and appears to have doubled back to face it. His army was caught out of position and routed, he himself dying in the battle. Constantius marched on London and massacred the garrison there. After ten years, the war against the British Empire was won.⁸⁵ It was to a triumphant Constantius that the final panegyric of this chapter was addressed. An anonymous text, Pan. Lat. VIII nevertheless gives us a considerable insight into its author’s career. He was clearly a one-time professor of rhetoric before he gained employment in the imperial government ⁷⁹ Diocletian may have used Galerius likewise as a shield against military disaster when he forced his Caesar to walk before his chariot as a penance for the military defeat he suffered against the Persians in 296 (Amm., XIV.11.10; Eutr., IX.24), although the historical veracity of this event has been challenged (e.g. Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 80). ⁸⁰ Kolb, Diocletian, 10–87; Leadbetter, ‘The Illegitimacy of Constantine’, 74–8; Rees, Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, 72–80. ⁸¹ Pan. Lat. VIII.6.2. ⁸² Casey, Carausius and Allectus, 42. ⁸³ For the dating of the final campaign, see Nixon-Rodgers, 105–6 with notes. ⁸⁴ Pan. Lat. VIII.15.5–6; Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 73. Casey, Carausius and Allectus, 137–8 is less forgiving, and sees Constantius as having simply failed to make a successful landing. ⁸⁵ Pan. Lat. VIII.14.3–17.4. Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 72–4; Casey, Carausius and Allectus, 127–39.

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and makes reference to a speech that he delivered to Maximian in the years before Constantius’ elevation as Caesar.⁸⁶ This speech, ‘which first led me into the light’, appears to have been the result of an already established connection with Constantius, and likewise seems to have launched his career in the Western court. He clearly accompanied Constantius on a German campaign (or campaigns?) across the Rhine, prior to the latter’s elevation.⁸⁷ The immediate context of this panegyric would seem to be Constantius’ quinquennalia (1 March 297), which would once again make Trier the likely location for this speech.⁸⁸ The two panegyrists that we have met so far had before them a very delicate task: to negotiate the complexities of the relationship between their emperor and a living usurper. When the anonymous author of Pan. Lat. VIII spoke, however, his task was an eminently pleasant one, for the British Empire had finally been unmade and Britain was once again subject to the control of the dyarchs, their ranks now swollen to a tetrarchy by the addition of their junior Caesars. If Carausius had been a looming presence behind the rhetoric of Pan. Lat. X and XI and the formation of the ideology of the dyarchic college, then his successor Allectus was certainly the star of Pan. Lat. VIII, thrust to a central position within a speech which delighted in his destruction and the final submission of the world to the divine rule of the emperors. The speech begins with an introduction steeped in the confident tone of victory (1). After apologizing for passing over important campaigns of Constantius, prior to his election as Caesar, the panegyrist evokes the shared birthday of the emperors, presumably the dies imperii of Constantius and Galerius, and summarizes the triumphs of the four emperors (2–5). The following chapters then describe the coming of Constantius to Gaul and his assault upon Gesoriacum (Boulogne), the continental stronghold of Carausius (6–7). Despite his activities against the usurper, however, Constantius continued to prosecute war against the Germans, capturing many prisoners, repopulating the deserted regions of the Roman lower Rhine and filling the towns of Gaul with slaves for sale (8–9). There then follow historical digressions on the chaos under Gallienus’ reign and on Britain (10–11). This brings the orator roughly to the halfway point of his speech, the rest of which is occupied by the gleeful narrative of the war against Britain, essentially the ⁸⁶ Pan Lat. VIII.1.1–5: cum in cotidiana illa instituendae iuventutis exercitatione versarer; sed [et] cum et me[o] illo vetere curriculo aut inter adyta Palatii vestri alia quaedam sermonis arcani ratio demoverit . . . ⁸⁷ Pan. Lat. VIII.2.1; this invasion may have been Maximian’s campaign of 289 (cf. Galletier, I 72; Nixon-Rodgers, 110 n. 6). ⁸⁸ The date of the 1st of March (kalendae Martiae) is given explicitly by the panegyric (3.1). The year may be concluded from the fact that Allectus’ defeat is discussed as only recently concluded, and therefore the speech must be in the spring following the 296 campaigning season (Galletier, I 73; Nixon-Rodgers, 105–6).

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entire second half of the speech (12–21). The outbreak of the rebellion and Carausius’ death (12), the preparation for and invasion of Britain (13–17), and the happy condition of both Britain and the Empire, at last united, are elucidated (18–20). Finally, the speech itself is concluded with the reminder that the deserted lands of the Empire have been repopulated through the numerous victories of the emperors across the Empire (21). The presentation of Carausius, Allectus, and the British rebellion in general, developed upon the themes that had already been expounded before Maximian in 289 (and, we may assume, in countless other speeches like it), describing the revolt in terms of piracy and now adding to it the stain of barbarity. Both placed the rebels beyond the boundaries of romanitas and urbanitas, indeed beyond the whole civilized order (and thus firmly beyond the imperial college). For the audience, these devices marked the rebels as distinctly alien, as separate from themselves by a gulf over which the emperors stood as guardians and warders. The panegyrist followed the trend that had clearly been set in the preceding years by calling Carausius a pirata and even archipirata (‘archpirate’).⁸⁹ He established the context of Constantius’ 293 campaign as follows: But truly, by that nefarious act of brigandage (istud nefarium latrocinium), first a fleet, which had once protected the Gauls, was abducted by the pirate as he fled (a fugiente pirata), next a great many ships were constructed after our fashion (in nostrum modum), a Roman legion was captured (occupata legione Romana), some detachments of foreign soldiers were intercepted, Gallic merchants were brought together for a levy, not insignificant forces of the barbarians were attracted by the spoils of the provinces themselves, and all these were trained for military service under the oversight of the authors of that outrage (flagitii illius auctorum magisterio); your army, though unconquered in courage, nevertheless were novices in maritime affairs, and we heard that a great and wicked war had grown from this most shameful act of brigandage (ex indignissimo latrocinio), although we were confident of the outcome. For, in addition, long impunity for the crime (diuturna sceleris impunitas) had enflamed the audacity of these desperate men, so that they put it about that that inclemency of the sea, which, by some necessity of fate, had delayed your victory, was instead fear of them, and they believed that the war had not been interrupted by a deliberate decision, but abandoned in despair, to such a degree that, fear of a common punishment having been set aside, one of the accomplices of the archpirate killed him, thinking imperial power to be recompense for such a crime (archipiratam satelles occideret et illud auctoramentum tanti discrimins putaret imperium).⁹⁰

⁸⁹ Pan. Lat. VIII.7.3, 12.1; archipirata: 12.2; the choice of archipirata is particularly striking, and it reinforces what we have already suggested about the purpose of this language as a way of disdaining Carausius and diminishing his importance (cf. Cic. Phil. XIII.18: hoc archipirata— quid enim dicam tyranno?). ⁹⁰ Pan. Lat. VIII.12.

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The theme of Carausius as a pirate continues to prevail. The panegyrist, early in the speech, had already referred to the ‘piratical faction’ (piratica factio) trapped within Boulogne in their ‘unhappy error’ (error miser).⁹¹ The classification of Carausius as a pirata, however, was far more than simply a convenient moniker designed to avoid mention of his name, but rather forms the basis of a characterization of his entire regime.⁹² Far from being a usurpation, Carausius’ seizure of power was ‘that nefarious act of brigandage’ and ‘this most shameful act of brigandage’, as well as being a ‘crime’. Every single move he made was an act of theft. The four military resources which ‘the pirate’ found at his disposal (ships, soldiers, foreign detachments, and barbarian federates) were all stolen. The ships, ‘which had once protected the Gauls’, were abducted (abducere), reminding the audience that this act of theft was undertaken at the expense of the provincials whom they had been deployed to defend. The foreign detachments that served him were ‘intercepted’ (intercludere; clearly implying they had been destined for Maximian’s armies), while the barbarian federates were enticed with promises of spoil, perhaps from those very provincials whom Carausius had stripped of their maritime protection. The most striking phrase, however, is that ‘a Roman legion was captured.’ From his coins we know that Carausius commanded vexillations from no fewer than nine legions.⁹³ Doubtless this was not the extent of his regular army, particularly when it is considered that the fleets he held must have had a large number of marines. The idea that Carausius somehow ‘seized’ or ‘captured’ these legions is highly implausible. No one could be made emperor without at least the passive consent of the soldiers and officers under him (witness the fate of the usurper Procopius, who lacked deep and resilient support within the military establishment).⁹⁴ Furthermore, the image given to the audience in the verb occupare is a patently ridiculous one. Carausius could not possibly have held the troops under him against their will, not even with the full support of their officers. But the image is a powerful one, of Roman forces tricked and corralled into unwillingly supporting a rebellion of which they wanted no part. Allectus, when he came to meet Constantius’ army in battle, came dragging (trahebat) his forces behind him.⁹⁵ One can almost picture them digging their heels into the ground as their general pulled them along after him. The characterization of Carausius as a pirata, as we have seen, was an enduring one and one that is present in our narrative sources. What can be seen here, in Pan. Lat. VIII, was an expansion of this idea to become a totality; it was no longer simply a slur used to insult him, but had come to characterize

⁹¹ Pan. Lat. VIII.6.1. ⁹² To avoid naming usurpers was standard practice for orators: Grünewald, Bandits in the Roman Empire, 82. ⁹³ Shiel, Episode of Carausius and Allectus, 189–90; Casey, Carausius and Allectus, 92–3. ⁹⁴ See Chapter VIII, p. 233. ⁹⁵ Pan. Lat. VIII.16.2.

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the entire nature of his rebellion.⁹⁶ Carausius had lived by theft and treachery, preying on the Romans to reward his own followers. He was, as the orator himself pointed out, the kind of parasite that men like Pompey had so famously put down in the days of the Republic.⁹⁷ Yet though both Carausius and his regime were characterized in this fashion, the orator is careful never to use this vocabulary of Allectus, whom he makes an effort to describe and to distinguish from Carausius with a distinctive vocabulary. He is first introduced as a satelles, which, neutrally cast, would be ‘an attendant’ or ‘a follower’ but here probably has the sense of ‘an accomplice’ or ‘an abettor’.⁹⁸ Throughout the rest of the text, though he is often merely ‘that man’ (ille) or an impersonal third person embedded within the verb, he is also twice referred to by the striking appellation ‘that same standard-bearer of the nefarious faction’ (ipse ille signifer nefariae factionis) and ‘that standard-bearer of the brigandage’ (ipse vexillarius latrocinii).⁹⁹ He is thus imagined as the chief of a small and perverse conspiratorial clique, made all the more despicable because they were traitors both against their legitimate emperors, the tetrarchs, and against their own master, Carausius. Finally, the orator makes it known that he was ultimately a ‘madman’ (demens) for believing that there was anywhere he could go where the divine power of Constantius would not find him. This was no mere figure of speech, and its consequences could be seen in the way in which Allectus deployed his forces ‘in demented array’ (in modum amentis) during the final battle against Constantius.¹⁰⁰ The determination to present Allectus as consumed by madness worked naturally with a desire to place him beyond the tetrarchy and was likewise in keeping with traditional invective against traitors and those who opposed the political order.¹⁰¹ Yet it also yielded interesting rhetorical fruit for the orator in his description of the final battle between Allectus and Constantius’ forces. In it, the orator showed himself curiously concerned with the recovery of Allectus’ body, and imagined a scene in which the desperate usurper cast away all his imperial regalia in a final act of defiant depravity: and among them [the bodies of Allectus’ army] [lay] the standard-bearer of the brigandage. Having, of his own accord, discarded that finery which he had so

⁹⁶ For instance, Pan. Lat. VIII.18.3. ⁹⁷ Reference is made to the pirate wars of the Republic at Pan. Lat. VIII.11.3. ⁹⁸ As, for example, Cic., Prov. Cons., 3.5.: iis praeposuit, quos putavit fore deligentissimos satellites scelerum, ministros cupiditatum suarum. ⁹⁹ Ille: Pan. Lat. VIII.13.1, 16.1. Impersonal: Pan. Lat. VIII.15.6, 16.2. Standard-bearer: Pan. Lat. VIII.15.5, 16.4; these are ambiguous terms, and could be taken more literally to mean an actual standard-bearer. In both cases, however, the fate of this signifer/vexillarius is so intimately bound up with the fate of the rebellion as a whole, and his decisions seen to be so clearly driving the enemy, that only Allectus can be meant. ¹⁰⁰ Pan. Lat. VIII.15.6; 16.2. ¹⁰¹ Grünewald, Bandits in the Roman Empire, 73–6, 80–2.

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violated while alive he was recognized by hardly a single item of clothing. Indeed truly, it having been appointed to him that death was near, he wished that his body not be recognized.¹⁰²

A macabre interest in the humiliation of a human cadaver is not necessarily unexpected in a moment like this. As we will see throughout this volume, the corpse of a fallen usurper was a prized display ground for the triumphant emperor, a thing to be mocked and, importantly, a concrete signal that his rebellion was at an end.¹⁰³ The orator’s admission, therefore, that the body recovered from the battlefield was ‘recognized by hardly a single item of clothing’, would seem to be an express counter to rumours concerning the identity of that body. Any suggestion that Allectus’ body had not been recovered from the battlefield might open the possibility that he was still alive and would, in any case, highly compromise the completeness of Constantius’ victory.¹⁰⁴ This issue was clearly important enough that the orator worked it into his account, dismissing it even as he addressed it through his caricature of the crazed Allectus. The rebel party itself is twice referred to by the orator as a factio.¹⁰⁵ This noun carried a heavy political significance to Latin speakers (far stronger and more pejorative than its English cognate, ‘faction’), and was synonymous with divisiveness, with criminality, and with despotic rule.¹⁰⁶ It was an uncomfortable truth that a significant portion of the Empire had, for ten years, been ruled by emperors whom the tetrarchs did not recognize as legitimate. The sense of a hostile party, a small group of conspirators, is reinforced by certain phrases which appear in the second half of the speech. The military forces gathered in Britain, for example, were trained in naval combat by ‘the authors of that outrage’ (flagitii illius auctores); they were ‘desperate men’ (desperati).¹⁰⁷ Likewise, when Allectus hastily rushed into battle, he did so, as well as with his barbarian mercenaries, accompanied by ‘the old authors of that conspiracy’ (veteres illius coniurationis auctores).¹⁰⁸ Likewise, the entire rebellion was ‘the conspiracy of that crime’ (coniuratio illius sceleris).¹⁰⁹ Coniuratio, like factio, implied the worst and most base kind of political scheming. Most importantly, it divided the British Empire; rather than a united front against the Empire ¹⁰² Pan. Lat. VIII.16.4–5. Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 74 appears to take this statement at face value. ¹⁰³ See Chapter V, pp. 137–9, and Chapter IX, pp. 283–4. A. Omissi, ‘Caput Imperii, Caput Imperatoris: the display and mutilation of the bodies of emperors, in Rome and beyond; 296-416’, in C. Franchi, M. Lau, and M. Di Rodi (eds), Landscapes of Power: Selected Papers from the XV Oxford University Byzantine Society International Graduate Conference (Oxford, 2014), 17–30. ¹⁰⁴ Omissi, ‘Caput Imperii, Caput Imperatoris’, 23–4. ¹⁰⁵ Pan. Lat. VIII.6.1, 15.5. It is worth remembering that, thanks to the silences of contemporaries, we cannot name a single member of this factio. ¹⁰⁶ Cic., Rep. III.23, 44; Sall., Iug., 31.15. For discussion of the significance of factio, see L. R. Ross, Party Politics in the Age of Caesar (Berkeley, 1949), 9ff. ¹⁰⁷ Pan. Lat. VIII.12.2. ¹⁰⁸ Pan. Lat. VIII.16.2. ¹⁰⁹ Pan. Lat. VIII.17.2.

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of the tetrarchs, the rebellion became the brainchild of a small group of conspirators who kept the rest of the men serving beneath them in line with threats and lies. All of Britain and Gaul had not rebelled against the emperors, but merely a small group of political outcasts. If the orator presented the mind of the rebellion as a factio and a coniuratio, however, he presented its muscle as not merely un-Roman but actually barbarian, sheering it utterly of its pretensions to Romanity and to imperial dignity.¹¹⁰ The first hint of this occurs in the section of the speech in which the panegyrist compares the contemporary rebellion to the dark days of Gallienus, when the Empire was utterly riven by usurpations.¹¹¹ ‘The defection of these provinces from the light of Rome,’ he claims, ‘although distressing, was less shameful under the rule of Gallienus.’¹¹² The theme of ‘Roman light’, indeed, occurs again in the speech, when the orator describes the triumphant reception of Constantius in Britain. A cheering throng poured out to meet the emperor: ‘Nor is it any wonder that they were borne away by such joy after so many years of miserable captivity, after the violation of their wives, after the shameful enslavement of their children, they were at last free and at last Roman, at last restored by the true light of Empire’ (tandem liberi tandemque Romani, tandem vera imperii luce recreati).¹¹³ The rebellion had somehow removed the territories within its grip from ‘Roman-ness’. But the orator did not stop with these subtle intimations, for throughout his description of the campaign he proceeded to deliberately blur the distinction between rebel and barbarian, ultimately going so far as to accuse the rebels of adopting barbarian mores. To begin with, the passage describing the outbreak of the rebellion: after the fleet, ‘which had once protected the Gauls’, was stolen, ‘next a great many ships were constructed after our fashion’, (aedificatisque praeterea plurimis in nostrum modum navibus) and ‘a Roman legion was captured’ (occupata ¹¹⁰ For general comments on the presentation of barbarians in the panegyrics, see J. Burian, ‘Der Gegensatz zwischen Rom und den Barbaren in der Historia Augusta’, Eirene 15 (1977), 91–6. ¹¹¹ We may also be tempted to see an implicit connection between the suppression of the rebels at Boulogne and the campaigns undertaken by Constantius in Batavia; not only do these sections follow on one from the other without any obvious distinction (there is nothing in the text itself to let us know that the hostes of 7.4 are not the same as those against whom Constantius had fought at Boulogne), but the better informed in the audience would have known that Batavia was Carausius’ native land. ¹¹² Pan. Lat. VIII.10.1. ¹¹³ Pan. Lat. VIII.19.2; it has been remarked (Nixon-Rodgers, 140 n. 71) that both this and the preceding seem to consciously echo the court’s own propaganda, exemplified in the beautiful Arras Medallion, which depicts a supplicatory London, on her knees, receiving with open arms a mounted Constantius, all beneath the legend REDDITOR LUCIS AETERNAE. The medallion, struck at a weight of ten aurei (52.88g), is an impressive piece, given as part of a donative, apparently to one Vitalianus Protectoris (Bastien and Metzger, Le Trésor de Beaurains, 200ff.). The value of the metal alone is in the environs of £1,750 (based on the price of gold in mid September 2016). Such a piece would have had a huge value both to giver and receiver and the message marked upon the medallion may be considered to be something that the court was keen to have its subjects understand.

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legione Romana).¹¹⁴ We have already discussed the ways in which these ideas drove a characterization of the rebellion as a latrocinium, a ‘brigandage’, but it is also clear that the orator was seeking to demonstrate the un-Roman-ness of the rebels. In the first place, it is not claimed that ships were constructed, but ships ‘in our fashion’. Carausius’ ships were copies of ‘our’ style; in other words, Carausius was not a Roman commander building Roman ships to supply his fleet, but rather an outsider, with no claim upon ‘our style’, merely copying it. Likewise, the addition of the adjective Romanus in the phrase occupata legione Romana serves to create a division between Romans, those loyal to the tetrarchs, and the rebels, who were in some sense non-Roman. If this distinction was not intended, then occupata legione would have sufficed. While the legion may have been Roman, those who stole it were not (remember, also, that the other two elements of Carausius’ force were intercepted foreign soldiers and barbarians attracted by the promise of plunder from the provinces). As the speech progresses the distinction between rebel and barbarian becomes finer and finer until, stopping just short of actually calling them barbarians, the orator presents us with a conspiratorial party who have all but abandoned Roman ways. Approaching Britain, Carausius’ ships are the ‘enemy fleet’ (inimica classis) and simply ‘the enemy’ (hostes), notably the same noun used of the Batavians.¹¹⁵ As Allectus fell back from Constantius’ advance and into the waiting jaws of Asclepiodotus’ force, ‘stricken with madness he so hurried toward death that he neither deployed his battle line nor drew up all the forces that he was dragging behind him, but, forgetful of this vast apparatus, dashed headlong with the old authors of that conspiracy and detachments of barbarian mercenaries’ (cum veteribus illius coniurationis auctoribus et mercennariis cuneis barbarorum). Events could hardly have turned out better for, thanks to this (which the orator attributes firmly to the felicitas of Constantius), ‘hardly a single Roman died in this victory of the Roman Empire’ (nemo fere Romanus occiderit imperio vincente Romano). He continues: For, as I hear, none but the scattered corpses of our foulest enemies covered those hills and plains. The corpses of barbarians and those who had formerly imitated the barbarians in their manner of dress and their long, reddened hair (imitatione barbariae olim cultu vestis et prolixo crine rutilantia), now lay befouled with dust and gore and scattered in various postures as a result of the pain of their wounds . . .¹¹⁶

Some have been tempted to see in this some kind of acculturation between the Roman soldiers and their barbarian allies.¹¹⁷ To do so, however, is to become beguiled by the orator’s strategy. It may be that Allectus and his generals wore barbarian clothes and their hair long, but on the strength of the panegyric ¹¹⁴ Pan. Lat. VIII.12.1. ¹¹⁶ Pan. Lat. VIII.16.2–4.

¹¹⁵ See above, n. 111. ¹¹⁷ Nixon-Rodgers, 137 n. 62.

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alone there is no good cause to think this.¹¹⁸ There was an important and aggressive rhetorical purpose to this language, to remind the audience that this man was a sub-Roman, relying on barbarians and falling back upon their customs. We should no more readily believe that Allectus’ Roman officers had adopted barbarian fashions than we should believe that Allectus was a madman or that, in his last moments, he cast off his imperial regalia in recognition of his coming death. The orator’s purpose is clear; throughout the speech, he has built the impression of a small and criminal factio driving this rebellion and relying on barbarian manpower to enforce their rule. Now he ties the two threads together, showing us that this group of renegades had fallen so far from the Roman order that they had come to look to barbarian civilization, rather than Roman, as their most important cultural touchstone. The point is further reinforced through what remains of the speech, for the victory over Allectus becomes synonymous with a victory over barbarian power: ‘O manifold victory of innumerable triumphs, by which the Britons have been recovered, by which the power of the Franks has been utterly destroyed, by which, besides, the necessity of surrender has been imposed upon the many peoples caught up in the conspiracy of the crime, by which, finally, the seas have been swept clean and made perpetually quiet.’¹¹⁹ The war against Frankish pirates, undertaken in 285/6 by Carausius, had, under the orator’s telling, finally been brought to a close by the suppression of the British Empire under Carausius’ successor, Allectus; Frank and usurper had become identical.¹²⁰ Little wonder, then, that the Britons were so enthusiastic in their greeting Constantius, if such were their masters. This rhetoric was powerful but we should be reluctant to take it at face value.¹²¹ Much like the theme of piracy, the theme of barbarity was an easy one ¹¹⁸ The images that we have of Allectus from his coins show him as heavily bearded (though less so than Julian) and appearing with both laureate and radiate crowns on a head of short Roman hair (for example, Shiel, The Episode of Carausius and Allectus, Plates C–D and U). ¹¹⁹ Pan. Lat. VIII.17.2; likewise, in explaining that the subjugation of Britain has ended an episode that threatened to upset the entire Western world, the orator chooses the example of a group of Frankish pirates in the time of the emperor Probus (perhaps the events of HA Probus 18.2–3 and Zos. I.71.2). The choice of this example was obviously calculated to resonate with the earlier pronouncement concerning Francorum vires penitus excisae. ¹²⁰ The success of this political programme can be aptly demonstrated by the fact that, a little more than a dozen years later, the author of Pan. Lat. VI could speak to Constantine of this rebellion, so bravely put down by his father, as if it were a purely Frankish invasion of Britain, mentioning Carausius merely as ‘a former native of [Batavia]’ (quondam alumnus suus; VI.5.1–3). ¹²¹ The technique certainly had the stamp of antiquity: Cic. Phil. XIII.22. E. Mayer, ‘Civil War and Public Dissent: The State Monuments of the Decentralised Roman Empire’, in W. Bowden, A. Gutteridge, and C. Machado (eds), Social and Political Life in Late Antiquity (Late Antique Archaeology 3.i. Leiden, 2006), 146–7 claims that this was the default method of portraying a civil war, but given the lack of consistent evidence (the Cicero quote above is separated from Pan. Lat. VIII by just less than 340 years) and given the innovative methods of portrayal by the tetrarchy more generally, this seems to me a very risky conclusion to draw.

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to exploit in the context of the rebellion’s original association with Frankish raiders in the Channel. Of the fact that both Carausius and Allectus employed barbarian federates within their armies, as the panegyrist claims, we may be certain.¹²² Barbarian federates had, by the third century, become a mainstay of Roman armies.¹²³ Indeed, the orator of Pan. Lat. VIII even has the gall to praise Constantius for the very same thing.¹²⁴ Yet there is no reason on the strength of this testimony to suggest that the British Empire had been somehow ‘barbarized’ or that it should be thought of as in anyway less ‘Roman’ than the Empire that destroyed it. The rhetoric of these passages has a simple invective purpose, to delegitimate the British usurpers by presenting them as sub-Roman degenerates and as utterly repellent to a cultured Roman audience. The tetrarchs bore the true light of Rome, and those who opposed them stood in darkness. The factio of the rebels thus stood in stark contrast to the familia of the tetrarchs. These contrasts ran deep. While Carausius was murdered by a satelles, we see Constantius working in absolute harmony with his pater, Maximian.¹²⁵ Likewise, while it was necessary for the usurpers to exercise force upon their soldiers and subjects, Constantius (and so the entire tetrarchy) were the recipients of spontaneous and united demonstrations of the consensus omnium. Allectus dragged his army behind him, but Constantius’ men, looking out at the stormy Ocean, cried, ‘Why are we hesitating? Why do we delay? . . . What is there to fear? We are following Caesar.’¹²⁶ The liberated people of Britain could not contain their joy, after the horrors of Allectus’ rule, on seeing Constantius: ‘As they gazed on you and distinguished each of [your virtues], they cried out together with shouts of joy; they pledged themselves to you, they pledged their children, to your children they pledged all the descendants of their race.’¹²⁷ Victory in Britain was portrayed as the final chapter in a story of mounting and inevitable success. The narrative of the British campaign was merely the last triumph of the emperors; indeed, Britain was specifically declared to be the last conquest required to put the Empire wholly back in order.¹²⁸ Constantius’ victories in Gaul and Britain fit neatly into the back catalogue of victories won by the tetrarchs, and into the story of the reclamation of the Roman world.¹²⁹ The orator concluded, ‘Thus, by this victory of yours, not only has Britain been liberated from slavery, but security has been returned to all nations which, in their employment of the sea, acquire as much danger in time or war as they acquire benefits in peace.’¹³⁰ The suppression of ‘that mighty force of naval ¹²² Casey, Carausius and Allectus, 95–8. ¹²³ For the impact of barbarians, see Campbell, ‘The Army’, in CAH XII, 112–13. Constantius undoubtedly used barbarian soldiers as well—Pan. Lat. VIII actually boasts about this very thing (9.4)! ¹²⁴ Pan. Lat. VIII.9.3–4. ¹²⁵ Pan. Lat. VIII.13.2–4 (see also 1.3). ¹²⁶ Pan. Lat. VIII.14.5. ¹²⁷ Pan. Lat. VIII.19.4. ¹²⁸ Pan. Lat. VIII.10.4. ¹²⁹ Pan. Lat. VIII.21.1. ¹³⁰ Pan. Lat. VIII.18.4.

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rebellion’ (illa vis nauticae rebellionis) had brought a final peace.¹³¹ With this victory, the tetrarchs had finally demonstrated the reach of their felicitas. Nowhere upon the entire world was there an opponent, foreign or domestic, who had stood up to them and had not been conquered. Pan. Lat. VIII is the first speech of its kind in the Pan. Lat. collection, a speech whose main topic was the defeat and suppression of a usurper.¹³² The praise of Constantius, of his co-emperors, and of the political order they had established was cast against the backdrop of the victory in Britain. Indeed, the panegyrist hints at what has already been suspected by modern historians, that the military situation in Britain was one of the prime motivating factors behind the creation of the Caesars, for in explaining the need for four rulers he claims, following a list of the provinces restored to the Empire, that, ‘ . . . since the emancipation of Batavia and Britain had been resolved upon, the Republic, enlarged and about to be further enlarged, sought greater government and those, who had carried forward the boundaries of Roman power, were bound by piety to give imperial power to their sons.’¹³³ Constantius, the tetrarchy, and the fall of the British Empire were all inexorably bound up together. But, more importantly, the failure of the British Empire, and the success of the imperial college of the tetrarchs, had become linked propositions. The tetrarchy was not just the best option, it was the Roman option; it was the only option. As the tetrarchs were omnipresent throughout their Empire, so true rule could only be exercised within that Empire under the auspices of the tetrarchic college. The defeat of Allectus, the subjection of Britain, and the celebrations that followed were, to the panegyrist, the confirmation of the virtue of the tetrarchs’ world order.

¹³¹ Pan. Lat. VIII.17.1–18.7 (quotes at 18.4 and 6). The pronunciation of universal peace ignored ongoing unrest in Africa (see above, n. 24). It also proved somewhat premature, since the usurpation in Egypt of Domitius Domitianus and Aurellieus Achilleus was to begin in the same year that this panegyric was pronounced (Barnes, New Empire, 11–12). ¹³² At both 5.4 and 9.5–6 the orator makes clear that he is hurrying over other material in order to focus on the war with the British Empire. ¹³³ Pan. Lat. VIII.3.3; one might read this, as Nixon-Rodgers do: ‘ . . . were bound to give imperial power to a son’ (113). The Latin reads filio, the singular, but the general context, which discusses all four rulers, and the plural verbs, would suggest that this is certainly talking about both Constantius and Galerius. The singular filio can communicate this in Latin, but it sounds odd in English.

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V Tyranny and Betrayal Constantine, Maximian, Maxentius, and Licinius

The story of Constantine is inevitably told as a story of triumph. His near thirtyone-year reign was the longest tenure of the imperial office since Augustus. His dynasty stretched from the accession of his father in 293 to the death of Julian in 363. His conversion irrevocably changed the religious history not only of the Empire, but of the entire Mediterranean world. His city, Constantinople, eventually grew to become an imperial capital that rivalled and then surpassed Rome. Yet this story became a story of an emperor’s inexorable rise only in hindsight, and notes of triumph may tell us much about how it ended but little about how it began, or the winding paths it took. In the panegyrics, we are given opportunity to see it as it unfolded, a series of contingencies in which Constantine and his subjects navigated their way uncertainly through chaotic circumstances and a rapidly changing political landscape. It is a story ordinarily told as a series of battles, but we see it here played out in a series of audience chambers. Here, we see the members of the political class grappling desperately to produce a narrative that made sense of the bafflingly swift undulations of power during a period in which more emperors held power than at any other point in imperial history and in which alliances were formed and broken in dizzying succession. During the eighteen years that separated Constantine’s usurpation in York from the final overthrow of his last rival, Licinius, Constantine was merely one player in this unfolding drama. Through the panegyrics we see how his court and the men with whom it interacted attempted to rationalize this rise, to legitimize it, and to slowly weave a coherent story of triumph out of chaos, violence, and betrayal, both Constantine’s and others.

CONSTANTINE ’ S USURPATION: CONSTANTINE, GALERIUS, AND MAXIMIAN The story of Constantine’s usurpation is well known to virtually any student of the later Roman period; it is one of the dramatic vignettes of late Roman

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history, as ubiquitous as St Augustine and the stolen pears. It appears in virtually every contemporary narrative account and may be summarized as follows. In May 305, the first and only ever uncompelled imperial retirement in the history of the Empire took place at Nicomedia, in Bithynia in Asia Minor.¹ After an astoundingly successful twenty years of rule, Diocletian laid down the imperial title and induced his co-Augustus, Maximian, to do the same. The Caesars, Galerius and Constantius, were then promoted to the rank of Augustus and two new Caesars created to serve under them, Maximin Daia and Severus. Contemporaries detected the hand of Galerius in this transfer of power, and we have no reason to question this assessment; Daia was Galerius’ nephew and Severus appears likewise to have been an adherent of his.² Following this settlement, Constantius returned to the West, crossing into Britain in the summer of 305 and campaigning against the Picts.³ Constantine, his eldest son by his first marriage to the lowborn Helena, remained in the East, where he had already been serving for many years in Diocletian’s household guard. This service was now transferred to Galerius. Galerius must have had use for an officer as militarily gifted as Constantine clearly was, but it was also important for him to keep the son of Constantius close at hand, for Constantius and Galerius do not seem to have been friends.⁴ Constantius refused to pursue the persecution of Christians in which Galerius so gleefully engaged, on and off, in the years 303 and 311 and, unlike the Caesars, he owed no particular loyalty to Galerius.⁵ The second tetrarchy was a daring experiment in the organization of imperial power, and it depended upon the cooperation of the emperors and their subordination to their leader. Constantine was thus the guarantor of his father’s good behaviour. The delicate balance of the imperial college was to be quickly upset in the summer of 306, however. Learning that his father’s health was failing, Constantine escaped from the court of Galerius, apparently killing or maiming the horses of the imperial post as he travelled in order to frustrate pursuit.⁶ He reached York as his father lay dying. Constantius died on 25 July 306, his son ¹ Cf. Eutr., IX.28. ² Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 25; Nixon-Rodgers, 188–90; C. S. Mackay, ‘Lactantius and the Succession to Diocletian’, CP 94:2 (1999), 198–209; Rees, Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, 76–80; Leadbetter, Galerius and the Will of Diocletian, 134–46; Potter, Roman Empire at Bay, 333. On Severus, see the (admittedly circumspect) Lact., de Mort. 18.12–13 and Origo iv.9. ³ He was styling himself Britannicus maximus II by 7 January 306: AE 1961.240. ⁴ For primary sources relating to this shadowy period in Constantine’s life, see Pan. Lat. VII.5.3, VI.3.3; Origo ii.2–3; Orat. ad sanctos 16.2 and 25; Zon., XII.33; Lact. de Mort 18.10; Euseb., VC I.19. Barnes, Constantine 51–6. Constantine’s first wife, Minervina, appears to have had no connection to the tetrarchs, which would also suggest that no one intended Constantine to succeed: Leadbetter, Galerius and the Will of Diocletian, 134–46; Potter, Roman Empire at Bay, 333. ⁵ G. Clarke, ‘Third-Century Christianity’, CAH XII, 650–3. ⁶ Aur. Vict., Caes. 40.2–3, Epit. 41.2; Lact., de Mort. 24.8; Euseb., VC I.21; Origo. ii.4; Zos., II.8.1–9.2.

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at his side. The imperial armies, without waiting to learn the will of Galerius, instantly acclaimed Constantine as their Augustus. Usurpation had thus taken hold in the second tetrarchy.⁷ Constantine’s behaviour was an open breach of the tetrarchic settlement and it might have caused a war. Galerius, however, seems to have swallowed his anger and been contented to acknowledge Constantine as legitimate, albeit with certain provisos. Constantine was demoted from the rank of Augustus and made Caesar, subordinate to Severus, who was now promoted to Augustus of the Western provinces.⁸ Constantine consented to this arrangement, perhaps relieved to avoid immediate conflict. His ambition, however, exceeded the role he had been assigned, and in the years to come he was repeatedly to break the terms of settlements designed to balance the various claimants to imperial power within a tetrarchic system. The first such break came almost immediately. If Galerius thought his new arrangement, what we might term the third tetrarchy, would maintain a balance in the imperial college, he was sorely mistaken. Maximian had laid down Augustan power unwillingly, urged by Diocletian and Galerius.⁹ Maxentius, the son of Maximian and the son-in-law of Galerius, had, like Constantine, been excluded from power at Nicomedia and had gone off to retirement in a villa outside Rome.¹⁰ Galerius’ compromise may therefore have suited Constantine, but for these two men, who had swallowed the bitter pill of subordination only to watch the settlement of 305 overturned by Constantius’ upstart son, it was unacceptable. Importantly, this personal bitterness was kindled at just the right moment to light a fire in Italy. In continuance of the sweeping programme of military and civil reforms that had taken place under the first tetrarchy, Galerius had recently made clear his intention to bring Italy, ⁷ Aur. Vict., Caes. 40.1–4, Epit. 41.3; Lact., de Mort. 24.8–9; Euseb., HE VIII.13.12–14, VC I.21; Oros., VII.26.1; Origo ii.4; Zos., II.9.1. This contra Barnes (most recently in Constantine 47–66) who has argued that Constantine was with his father from mid 305. This interpretation relies upon the statement in a pair of sources (Origo ii.4; Pan. Lat. VI.7.5–8.1) that Constantine joined his father in Gaul rather than in Britain. Neither of these sources is deserving of preferential treatment. The Origo’s chronology is woefully confused, often reversing the order of events, describing as coterminous events that took place months or years apart, or simply getting factual information wrong. The panegyric will be discussed below, but it likewise presents little grounds for confidence in its chronological framework. ⁸ This rather surprising fact is attested in a number of sources, including a panegyric delivered to Constantine that would have no reason to include such a potentially humiliating detail were it not true: Pan. Lat. VII.5.3. Pan. Lat. VI.9.1, of 310, dodges the issue by simply claiming that Constantine was proclaimed Caesar in Britain; it would seem that this was a strategy of Constantine’s later propaganda and it is also reported in some of the narrative histories (e.g. Origo ii.4 and Zos. II.9). Nevertheless, the speech refers, at 8.2, to a process of negotiation with Galerius. ⁹ Aur. Vict., Caes. 39.48; Eutr., IX.27, X.2. ¹⁰ Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 14–31. For Maxentius’ residence, see Aur. Vict., Epit. 40.2; Eutr., X.2.3.; also ILS 666–7 from the Via Labinica, generally dated to 305 or 306. Maxentius’ succession to his father had once been confidently predicted: Pan. Lat. X.14.1.

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including Rome herself, into the new taxation scheme, thereby removing ageold tax exemptions from the city and the peninsula, and to redeploy the troublesome praetorian guard along the frontiers, away from their privileged barracks and pay scales in the old capital.¹¹ Maxentius thus had access to a former emperor, a body of soldiers, and a city of a million disgruntled people, not to mention the chip on his shoulder. On 28 October 306, therefore, just over three months after Constantine’s acclamation in York, Maxentius took power in Rome. Once the north Italian winter loosened, Severus marched against Maxentius. Although Maxentius’ army must have been small compared to that which Severus could deploy, Severus had underestimated the effect of the resources of the greatest city in the Roman world and the weight of the loyalty which the soldiers felt to their old Augustus, Maximian, whom Maxentius had called to join him in Italy and who was clearly styling himself Augustus by the end of 306.¹² Maxentius was thus able to bring the majority of Severus’ soldiers over to his side. Severus fled but was taken captive by Maximian at Ravenna. He resigned imperial power and was executed (or committed forced suicide), dying sometime in mid to late 307.¹³ Maxentius and Maximian had thus established control of Italy by early in 307. They must have known, however, that Galerius would invade the peninsula. In order to prevent a war on two fronts, Maximian thus went north, and courted Constantine in Gaul, while Maxentius prepared for Galerius’ ultimately unsuccessful invasion in the autumn of 307.¹⁴ In return for peace, and thus open breach with Galerius, Maximian offered Constantine two things: first, he would marry his daughter Fausta to Constantine; secondly, and perhaps more importantly, he would declare Constantine Augustus, thus legitimating him in the title that he had been forced to abandon the previous year. These twin incentives were clearly sufficient inducement to Constantine. The marriage and the promotion appear to have taken place at the same time, probably in the early autumn of 307 and almost certainly at Trier.¹⁵ As part of the celebrations this entailed, a panegyric was delivered to Maximian and Constantine, which survives as Pan. Lat. VII. ¹¹ Lact., de Mort. 26.3; Aur. Vict., Caes. 39.47. ¹² Lact., de Mort. 26.5–7; Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 42. ¹³ Sources state variously that this took place near Rome (Jer., Chron. s.a. 307; Aur. Vict., Caes. 40.7; Eutr. X.2) or at Ravenna (Aur. Vict., Epit. 40.3; Chron. 354 XVI; Zos. II.10.1–2). ¹⁴ Galerius advanced on Rome but, like Severus, appears to have underestimated the sheer size of the city and found himself unable to surround it properly. This claim is the polemic of hostile sources keen to mock an uncultured Pannonian (e.g. Lact., de Mort. 27.2). Nevertheless it probably reflects the very real difficulty of putting the largest city in the world to siege. As desertions to Maxentius’ camp began, he withdrew, allowing his troops to plunder Italy as they returned to the Balkans (Lact., de Mort. 27.4–8). ¹⁵ Barnes, New Empire, 69; Nixon-Rodgers, 179–85. Grünewald, Constantinus Maximus Augustus, 36–8 suggests that the location ought to be Arles.

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The speech itself is the work of an unknown orator.¹⁶ It is short and follows a fairly simple structure. The orator begins by expressing his delight at the unity of the emperors on the double occasion of a marriage and an imperial promotion (1‒2). He then offers praise of the life and achievements of the two emperors, first of Constantine (3‒6) and then (marking his transition with renewed praise of the union (7)), of Maximian (9‒12), before closing with further praise for the united virtues of the two emperors (13‒14). Despite the apparent parity that this short summary suggests the two emperors are given with the speech, it is important to see that Constantine is very much the junior figure within the orator’s estimation. Ostensibly so unremarkable, the speech crackles with tensions attendant on its delivery. Like many of the speeches within the corpus of the panegyrics, what makes it so intriguing is not what it says, but what it does not say. First, what it does say. The orator deals head on with the question of Maximian’s return to power; he has no choice. The entire message of his speech is grounded upon the assumption that Maximian has every right both to hold imperial power for himself and to grant it to Constantine. The orator thus makes clear that Maximian is to be considered ‘the highest emperor’, implicitly superior, that is, to the emperors against whom he was now in rebellion.¹⁷ Indeed, the speech starts with a declaration that sets the tone of the entire piece, hailing the recipients of his oration as ‘Maximian, forever Augustus, whether you will or not, and Constantine, rising emperor . . . ’.¹⁸ Whatever pretence of retirement there had occurred in 305, therefore, Maximian could ultimately never truly set down power.¹⁹ Indeed, by the orator’s reckoning, the pretence of so doing had brought the Empire low; Rome herself commanded Maximian to return to the helm of the state.²⁰ The orator recounts Maximian’s deeds as emperor and declares that without him the state has begun to totter. This, indeed, was Maximian’s speech, and he emerges from it as a father to the Empire, a restorer of order, and founder of a new dynasty. On Constantine, the speech is considerably more reserved. The orator heaps praise upon him, as is to be expected, but he is careful to repeatedly subordinate Constantine to Maximian. Often, this is done explicitly: ‘And indeed I feel that you, senior Augustus, take precedence in majesty, and that you follow, junior emperor.’²¹ On the troubled circumstances of his 306 accession, the speech remains almost totally silent, though it is notable that the emphasis of this accession is centred almost entirely on the idea of a familial inheritance

¹⁶ Galletier , II 9–13; Nixon-Rodgers, 185. ¹⁷ Pan. Lat. VII.5.3. ¹⁸ Pan. Lat. VII.1.1. ¹⁹ Pan. Lat. VII.7.7. Naturally, no attempt is made to engage with the question of whether the orator’s comments also applied to Diocletian. ²⁰ Pan. Lat. VII.10–12. ²¹ Pa. Lat. VII.3.2.

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from Constantius.²² Indeed, it might be truer to say that the speech has little to say about not only Constantine’s accession, but about Constantine himself. Of the four chapters that the orator devotes to the new Augustus, the first two and a half dwell solely on Constantius and his achievements, and the last one is occupied entirely with describing a painting housed in the imperial palace at Aquileia that the orator has heard described in which Fausta makes a present to Constantine of a rather handsome helmet.²³ Here, then, we come to the first of many of the speech’s notable silences. Of Constantine’s own achievements, the orator says merely: ‘And although you were doing many things bravely and many things wisely, when, during your most important tribunates, you were completing your first tours of duty, it is necessary that you see that these were but portents of great fortune.’²⁴ These references to Constantine’s service as a tribune—that is, as a military commander—can only be to his time of service under Diocletian and Galerius. This topic, despite the fact that Constantine’s early military record was clearly a glowing one, was unsafe territory for the orator, for to recall them would be to summon up the spectre of Galerius, as unwelcome a guest at this feast as any Banquo. Throughout the speech, Galerius was the elephant in the room. On the subject of the emperor in the East the orator maintains a studied silence. Even where the events described—Constantine’s military apprenticeship, his accession, or the war in Italy—would seem to demand at least some nod to the Eastern Augustus, none is forthcoming.²⁵ This was not merely the cautious hedging of bets of a man keen to avoid uncomfortable subjects, however, but rather a clear reaction to Constantine and Maximian’s politics. Maximian, as we have seen, was in open breach with Galerius, both through his return to power and his part in the war against Severus. By allying himself to Maximian, Constantine was now a participant in this conflict, and Galerius clearly ceased to recognize Constantine during this period.²⁶ The orator may have refrained from speaking about Galerius, but he allowed his audience to entertain no doubts about what the future of the Empire would hold: We give, therefore, our most fulsome praises to you, eternal princes, for in raising children and in hoping for grandchildren you provide for all ages of the future by prolonging the succession of your family so that the Roman state, once battered by the diverse manners and fates of its rulers, may at last be nourished by the perpetual roots of your house, and its Empire may be as immortal as the shoots of its emperors are everlasting.²⁷

²² Pan. Lat. VII.5.3. ²³ Pan. Lat. VII.3.3–5.2 on Constantius and VII.6 on the painting. ²⁴ Pan. Lat. VII.5.3. ²⁵ E.g. at Pan. Lat. VII.1.4, 5.3, 10–11. ²⁶ S. Corocoran, ‘Galerius, Maximinus and the Titulature of the Third Tetrarchy’, Bulletin of the Instititute of Classical Studies 49 (2006), 231–40; Humphries, ‘From Usurper to Emperor’, 90–1. ²⁷ Pan. Lat. VII.2.2.

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This passage all but declares that the tetrarchy and the new house of Maximian are now locked in a life-or-death struggle. That he did not declare this openly (despite the tenor of his assertions being highly aggressive) would suggest that neither Constantine nor Maximian had declared themselves devoted to the eradication of the Eastern emperors; both were surely bent on establishing themselves in a strong and independent position, but the goal was not all-out war. That neither Constantine nor Maximian appear to have made any effort to start such a war in the years that followed would seem to confirm this. Interestingly, the orator also maintains a tight-lipped silence on Maxentius. This has important implications for our understanding of the relationship between Maxentius, Maximian, and Constantine in the year 307‒8.²⁸ Given this, and given that the wedding which the panegyric celebrated was not only the wedding of Constantine to an emperor’s daughter but likewise to an emperor’s sister, Maxentius’ absence is striking and speaks of very frosty relations indeed. Likewise, the orator describes the tumultuous situation in Italy and its restoration by Maximian without mention of Maxentius.²⁹ Pan. Lat. VII was, then, a speech of silence, delivered at a tense and uncertain moment. It was designed to naturalize the events of 306‒7, and to make the accessions of both Constantine and Maximian, and of Maximian’s promotion of Constantine, seem both so natural and so necessary as to make irrelevant the question of how these events positioned the pair in relation to the preexisting tetrarchy. At the point of the speech’s delivery, five emperors ruled an Empire notionally governed by a tetrarchy. A sixth had died in captivity. Before another year had passed, an emperor would be sent into retirement and two further Augusti would be proclaimed. Galerius’ invasion of Italy, as has been mentioned, was not a success and he was forced to withdraw before the end of 307.³⁰ For the moment, Constantine was managing to have his cake and eat it; Maximian had given him the title he craved, but he had not yet taken concrete action against Galerius.³¹ Perhaps he hoped to let the war play itself out and to side with its victor. Meanwhile Maxentius, who had relied on his father and the weight that Maximian’s name carried to repel the invasion of Severus in early 307, seems to have been able to turn back the invasion of Galerius in the latter part of the year without help. Having secured their northern border with Constantine and perhaps nervous of this new-found independence in his son, Maximian returned to Italy in 308; whatever took place between him and his son, relations quickly soured and in April Maximian apparently tried to publicly strip his son of the purple. ²⁸ Maxentius was styling himself Augustus by the spring of 307 (Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 41–4), and see below, n. 69. ²⁹ Pan. Lat. VII.10–11. ³⁰ Lact., de Mort. 27.2–8; Zos., II.10.3. Barnes, New Empire, 64. ³¹ Campaigns against Germanic tribes upon the Rhine were keeping Constantine’s forces in the north: Barnes, ‘Imperial Campaigns’, 191–3.

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Maxentius, however, had clearly forged closer links with the Italian armies than Maximian had credited, for his attempt was a failure and he was forced to flee Rome and return to Constantine with his tail between his legs.³² Worse was yet to come for the emperor. In November 308, a conference was called at Carnuntum, the military city at which Septimius Severus had been hailed Augustus by his soldiers in 193. Among its attendees were Maximian, Diocletian, and Galerius, and the subject under discussion appears to have been how to stabilize the Empire. The following settlement was reached: Constantine would again be demoted to Caesar, now under a senior Augustus, Licinius, who would be created to restore Italy and rule as senior emperor in the West.³³ Maximian was again demoted to private status, giving him the dubious honour of being the only man in Roman history to retire twice from imperial power (and to hold it three times).³⁴ He soon proved no more willing to accept his second demotion than he had been to accept his first. Maximian had gone into retirement within the territory of Constantine, near Arles. In 310, Constantine, based at Cologne, was engaged in campaigns against the Franks.³⁵ Maximian used this opportunity to again seize power, apparently telling the soldiers at Arles that Constantine had died on the Rhine frontier. Hailing Maximian as Augustus, this force then moved eastwards to Marseilles with their emperor. It was here that Constantine found them. Laying siege to the city, he received Maximian’s surrender.³⁶ Extraordinarily, Constantine appears not to have ordered his father-in-law’s death. This apparent display of clemency, however, was short-lived, and Maximian was soon either forced to commit suicide or was executed.³⁷ These events are poorly understood, and their treatment in historical accounts is accordingly attenuated; in the main, we rely for our understanding of events on the narrative of Lactantius who, working under Constantinian ³² Eutr., X.3.1; Lact., de Mort. 28.2–4; Pan. Lat. XII.3.4; Soc., HE I.2; Zos., II.11; Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 43–4. ³³ Aur. Vict., Caes. 40.8; Eutr., X.4.1–2; Lact., de Mort. 29.1–2; Zos., II.10.4–7. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 32–3; Potter, Constantine the Emperor, 120–1. Licinius was, like Daia and the now deceased Severus, a close adherent of Galerius’ (Aur. Vict., Caes. 40.8; Eutr. X.4.1; Lact., de Mort. 20.3; Zos., II.11). ³⁴ Cf. Lact., de Mort. 29.3; Pan. Lat. VI.16.1. ³⁵ Pan. Lat. VI.11.3, 13.1. ³⁶ Constantine’s initial attack upon the fortification was obviously repelled (Pan. Lat. VI.19–20). Based on the panegyrists coded remarks on what followed (20.2: ‘you took care to ensure that soldiers led into delusion would be given time for repentance and might of their own volition beg for pardon . . . ’), it seems probable that Constantine was unable to take the city by force and so subdued it either by open negotiation or by treachery. ³⁷ Aur. Vict., Caes. 21.2; Eutr., X.3; Lact., de Mort. 30.6; Zos., II.11. On two separate occasions, the panegyrist of 310 also alludes to Maximian’s death, which he stresses was not Constantine’s responsibility (Pan. Lat. VI.14.5, 20.3–4); it may be, of course, that the panegyrist doth protest too much. For modern accounts of Maximian’s fall, see W. Huss, ‘Das Ende des Maximianus’, Latomus 37 (1978), 719–25; Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 34–5; Potter, Constantine the Emperor, 124–5.

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supervision and in awe of the first Christian empire, is a famously dangerous witness.³⁸ Our only other contemporary window onto this tangled and broken relationship is the panegyrical corpus. At some point in 310, perhaps on 1 August, a panegyric was delivered to the emperor Constantine at Trier on the occasion of the anniversary of the city’s founding.³⁹ The speech’s orator is anonymous, though the speech itself reveals him to be a former member of the imperial administration and a native of Autun, come to offer official praise on behalf of his city.⁴⁰ With the defeat of Constantine’s father-in-law and onetime auctor imperii only newly accomplished, the panegyrist had before him a delicate task. Clearly feeling unable to pass the matter in silence, he addressed it head on. The fall of Maximian is fundamentally woven into the structure of the panegyric. After an introduction, in which the orator explains that his work, despite being occasioned by the birthday of the city, would focus on Constantine (1), he launches into a long consideration of the emperor’s hereditary right to rule (2‒7), which then leads into a description of Constantine’s accession (8‒9). Constantine’s campaigns against the Germans are discussed (10‒13) before the orator turns, with vocal discomfort, to the usurpation and suppression of Maximian (14‒20). He closes with prayers for the long reign of the emperor and with a request both that the emperor will visit the speaker’s native Autun and will consider his children for employment in the imperial administration (21‒3). Maximian thus looms large in the speech, occupying nearly one third of its length. The orator opens his consideration of the fallen emperor with a disarming frankness: ‘Though you were intent upon the restoration of the safety and dignity of the Roman state, you were distracted from this work by the disturbances of that man who ought to have been most delighted by your victories. Of this man, I still hesitate as to how to speak, and look for you to counsel me by the nod of your divinity.’⁴¹ There is obviously something of the rhetorical flourish about this; for the orator would not have dared to say anything to Constantine that he genuinely thought might cause offense. Yet the admission of hesitance served a real purpose, to draw attention to the betrayal involved in Constantine and Maximian’s relationship from 307‒10, an uncomfortable fact known by all his audience. He used the tension thus generated as a weapon against Maximian. Acknowledging what everyone surely felt, that Maximian was a sore point best left alone, he presented this ³⁸ Lact., de Mort. 29–30; cf. Eutr., X.3; Zos. II.11; Zon., XII.33. On Lactantius’ unreliability, see for example Mackay, ‘Lactantius and the Succession to Diocletian’, 198–209; Kolb, Diocletian, 131–9. Lactantius is not without his defenders, however: T. D. Barnes, ‘Lactantius and Constantine’, JRS 63 (1973), 29–46. ³⁹ Galletier , II 34–35; B. Müller-Rettig, Der Panegyricus des Jahres 310 auf Konstantin den Grossen (Palingenesia 31. Stuttgart, 1990), 10–11; Nixon-Rodgers, 212–14. ⁴⁰ Pan. Lat. VI.21.7–23.3. ⁴¹ Pan. Lat. VI.14.1.

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as the result of universal confusion at the fact that a man (Maximian) would so turn on his benefactor (Constantine): ‘For although the complaints of your piety are truly just, nevertheless a private voice ought to moderate itself, since contemplation of you compels respect, even if we are angry with him who has shown himself ungrateful for the many benefits and favours you have given him.’⁴² At a stroke, the orator therefore reverses the dynamics of the relationship as they had originally existed, casting Constantine as Maximian’s protector and patron. This notwithstanding, the orator allowed little doubt to be formed about how Maximian should be imagined. ‘What is this great—not desire for power, for what can he not do with you as emperor—but error of witless old age,’ the orator asks, that, ‘having lived so many years, he took up a most weighty undertaking and a civil war?’⁴³ In posing this question, the orator indicates the technique that he will direct against Maximian, a feigned bemusement that this doddery old man (Maximian was perhaps sixty years old in 310) would seek to again insert himself into a political world that had long ago left him behind.⁴⁴ It was, too, an act of supreme faithlessness: This is his loyalty . . . to suddenly hunker down within the walls [of Arles] robed in the purple and usurp, for the third time, an empire twice laid down, to send letters to the armies in order to solicit them, to try to undermine the loyalty of the soldiers with a display of gifts, and to aim thoughtlessly to make use of an army that he had taught to sell their services.⁴⁵

Yet for all this, the panegyrist makes clear, the vast majority of Constantine’s armies were not to be so tricked. As soon as they had heard of ‘that foul crime’ (foedum illud facinus), they raced through Roman territory so fast that it was all Constantine could do to keep up.⁴⁶ This passage, comparatively mild in terms of the invective levelled against usurpers, finds its force most clearly when contrasted with the way in which Maximian was talked about in Pan. Lat. VII, delivered less than three years earlier and eulogizing Maximian as ‘forever Augustus, whether you will or not’.⁴⁷ In this contrast we see the great strength and the great weakness of the panegyrics as historical sources. They capture, in freeze-frame, a single historical moment in all its hypocrisy. It ought to come as little surprise that this latter speech also takes a very different line on Constantine’s rise to imperial power from that struck in 307. ⁴² Pan. Lat. VI.14.2. ⁴³ Pan. Lat. VI.15.2. ⁴⁴ On Maximian’s age, see Barnes, New Empire, 32. ⁴⁵ Pan. Lat. VI.16.1. Note that the orator—allowing himself considerable licence—describes Maximian as having usurped imperial power three times, a statement which even Maximian’s sternest critics would be hard-pressed to endorse. ⁴⁶ Pan. Lat. VI.18. ⁴⁷ Pan. Lat. VII.1.1. One wonders if Fausta were in the audience when this speech was delivered. If so, simple human decency may have helped to soften the panegyrist’s tongue, given that he was speaking of the young girl’s dead father.

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There are similarities, but the differences are clear. In the first place, no suggestion whatsoever is made that Constantine ever received an imperial title from Maximian or ever existed in subordination to him.⁴⁸ Secondly, Constantine’s 306 accession is retold, but now imagined in subtly different ways from its telling in Pan. Lat. VII. Like the earlier speech, the orator explains the accession largely in terms of Constantine’s father, Constantius: ‘You entered that, your palace, not as a candidate but as an emperor designate, and the gods of your father’s household at once recognized you as a legitimate successor.’⁴⁹ As had been the tactic in 307, this speech moves from praise of Constantius to discussion of Constantine’s rise to power, but this time, with Galerius increasingly fading into the background, the issue is tackled more directly. The orator has fascinating games to play with the story. Imagining the last days of Constantine’s father, Constantius, he declared: Indeed he was at once asked his opinion as to whom he would pick for command, and he spoke as was fitting for Constantius Pius: for manifestly you, emperor, were chosen by the decree of your father (manifeste enim sententia patris electus es, imperator). And, indeed, though truth bids me say it, it is also, as I see, pleasing to your piety. But why should I flatter your private feelings only, since that was the opinion of all the gods and, indeed, it has long since been recorded by their authority, although it was confirmed, at that time, by a full council?⁵⁰ For you were called that moment by these heavenly voters, in order to save the Republic, at the moment when your father was crossing to Britain, your sudden arrival illuminating the fleet even as it made sail, as if you had not been carried by the public post, but seemed rather to have flown on some divine chariot. For no Persian or Cydonian darts ever hit their targets with such sure blows as you, a most timely companion, when you came to your father as he was departing the earth and relaxed, by the security of your presence, all those cares of his which troubled his silent and foreboding mind. Good gods, what felicity did you give to Constantius Pius in his death! The emperor, about to make his journey into heaven, saw he who was his heir (heres). For, the moment he had been taken from the earth, the entire army agreed upon you, and the minds and eyes of all marked you, and although you referred to the senior rulers (ad seniores principes) over what they deemed best for the Republic, the soldiers anticipated, in their zeal, what those rulers soon confirmed by their judgement.⁵¹ ⁴⁸ The closest to any such admission occurs when the orator reminds his audience that Constantine was Maximian’s son-in-law (15.1). ⁴⁹ Pan. Lat. VI.4.1. ⁵⁰ The phrase quamvis tunc pleno sit firmata consilio seems, again, to be deliberately ambiguous. The consilium in question, based on the context of the passage, would presumably be the assembled body of the gods. But it also allows the interpretation that this means Constantius’ officers and officials, again implying without saying so that Constantine’s election was done with Constantius’ full consent. Nixon-Rodgers, 228 translate simply as ‘the full conclave’, while Galletier, II 60 adds a possessive adjective, to remove the ambiguity, with ‘leur assemblée plénière’. ⁵¹ Pan. Lat. VI.7.3–8.2. Note, too, the telling reference to the public post (7.5), perhaps something of a smoking gun.

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Keen both to gloss over Constantine’s status as a hostage at Galerius’ court (as well as any suggestion of a breach with the sketchily defined ‘senior rulers’) and to emphasize the connection between Constantius, the orator concertinas a period of more than a year into a single and moving vignette, so that Constantine reaches his father’s fleet as it is sailing and yet likewise comes to his father upon his deathbed.⁵² The attentive and informed listener would know that the chronology proposed here would mean that not only did Constantius spend as much as fourteen months upon his deathbed, but he fought a successful campaign against the Picts from it. Yet the desired effect of this passage is clear. In Pan. Lat. VI, we saw the orator pulling focus from Constantine’s embarrassing 306 accession in order to focus on the (then) more congenial events of Constantine’s 307 accession. Here the pattern is reversed. The orator of 310 could not afford to discuss Constantine’s promotion to Augustus by Maximian, so instead he turned his attention back to the accession of 306, reimagining it by fusing that accession firmly to Constantius. In an attempt to further normalize events, he declares that Britain was the first to see Constantine Caesar, thus avoiding the issue of Constantine’s declaration as Augustus and then demotion by Galerius.⁵³ Later, in 311, another panegyrist would reduce this still further: Constantine, he asserted, was created emperor ‘by the immortal gods’, all talk of human agency having been removed.⁵⁴ The panegyrist of 310 was engaged, therefore, in an aggressive reimagining of the past in which dynasty was wielded as one of the primary weapons. The story of Constantine’s accession was being imbued with an almost hagiographical quality, firmly rooted in the succession from his father. Yet Constantine was clearly not content with a dynastic succession proceeding from a single generation, for the orator of 310 had opened his speech with an astounding claim: Therefore, I will make my beginning at the outset with the divine root of your house, because many are still, as yet, unaware of them, but which those who love you know. Blood relation links you to the divine Claudius, who first restored the lost and scattered discipline of the Roman Empire . . . Although that most blessed day we have celebrated with great reverence is considered the anniversary of your accession, since it first adorned you in the trappings of imperial power, ⁵² The only other source that suggests that Constantine joined Constantius in Gaul (that is, in 305) is the Origo (at ii.4), a source whose grasp of chronology and indeed of basic fact is often decidedly wanting. This would not be an isolated instance of the Origo adopting as historical fact ideas first expressed in panegyric; at iv.12 the text asserts that Maxentius was the bastard child of an unknown Syrian, a claim first asserted by the panegyrist of 313 (Pan. Lat. XII.4.3–5). ⁵³ Pan. Lat. VI.9.1. Notably, the panegyric largely avoids the use of the titles Caesar and Augustus, thereby sidestepping the question of Constantine’s subordination to other emperors. The orator explicitly states in his introduction that he will not talk about the other emperors, though he pays lip service to their harmony (1.4). Augustus and Caesar are otherwise used only to refer to the historical figures whose names created these titles (13.4, 19.3). ⁵⁴ Pan. Lat. V.13.1.

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nevertheless imperial fortune descended upon you from that founder of your family . . . Among all who are participants in your majesty, I declare, you have this, Constantine, that you were born an emperor and such is the nobility of your heritage that empire added nothing to your honour, nor is Fortune able to claim anything of this, which is yours without ambition or striving. Neither the casual agreement of men nor some sudden bestowal of favour made you emperor; you earned empire by your birth.⁵⁵

The revolutionary character of this claim is difficult to underestimate. In fabricating this familial connection—and we can be certain that it was indeed fabricated—Constantine was attempting to forge for himself a dynastic claim to imperial power that was both superior to and independent from any other emperor then living.⁵⁶ His ancestry from his father, Constantius, helped to mark him out. But Constantius was a tetrarch, his legitimacy ultimately derived from Diocletian’s divine familia in much the same way as was Galerius’ or Licinius. Furthermore, an imperial father was, in 310, no great boast, for Maxentius, the emperor in Italy, was likewise descended from an emperor: Maximian, whose life had so recently reached its ignominious end.⁵⁷ The announcement of the heretofore unknown decent from the much-respected emperor Claudius Gothicus was designed to remove not only Constantine’s accession from the context of tetrarchic ideology, but that of his father Constantius as well, providing both father and son a claim to imperial power that was not only independent of the legitimating ideology of Galerius and the other tetrarchs, but predated them in time as well.⁵⁸ That this claim must have come from Constantine’s court itself is beyond question; no orator would have dared to create so gross a fabrication without total certainty it would meet with the favour of the emperor. Constantine had, in the years preceding 310, experimented with imperial power. He was now cultivating an independence and self-confident ideology that would eventually carry him to the East and to the total domination of the Roman world. ⁵⁵ Pan. Lat. VI.2.1–3.1. ⁵⁶ On the fictitious nature of this association, see Syme, Historia Augusta Papers, 63–79; Hekster, Emperors and Ancestors, 225–33. It is likewise mentioned at Pan. Lat. V.2.5 and was clearly an enduring myth, for Julian repeated it in his panegyrics to Constantius (Jul., Or. I.6d, II.51c‒d). If Julian knew the story was a fabrication, he made no attempt to jettison it after he came to sole power (Caes. 313d), and this despite his own ambivalent attitude to his family. ⁵⁷ Note, too, that the orator’s phrase inter omnes, inquam, participes maiestatis tuae hoc habes, Constantine, praecipuum constitutes an explicit denial of the imperial authority of Maxentius who, like Constantine, was the son of an imperial father. ⁵⁸ The orator’s admission that his announcement may have taken many in his audience by surprise further makes clear that, in 310, this was still fresh news (it is also a symptom of this orator’s pleasingly direct style: 1.1–3, 14.1, 23.1–3). That the news was fresh in 310 is, of itself, enough to prove that the claim was untrue. If Constantius really had been descended from Claudius, then it stretches credulity to breaking point that this would never have been mentioned before, particularly when we have a panegyric (Pan. Lat. VIII) that was delivered to Constantius himself.

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That spirit of independence is visible in the last of the panegyrics that dates from this period, Pan. Lat. V, which was delivered to Constantine at Trier in 311. In this speech, not so much as a hint is made of the fact that Constantine ruled as only one in a (supposed) college of emperors. Maxentius, ruling in Italy, is ignored as, more tellingly, is Licinius, who was notionally Constantine’s superior.⁵⁹ Nor are these simple sins of omission; the orator hails Constantine as ‘emperor of the entire world’, a confident prediction, perhaps, from one already aware that Constantine was now casting a covetous eye over the Alps to Italy, where Maxentius ruled and where Licinius claimed authority.⁶⁰ It is to the wars between Constantine and Maxentius that we now turn. To do so, we will first wind the clock back to 306 and consider the Italian usurper’s reign, in such detail as can be gleaned about it. We will then look at the conflict with Constantine that led to his overthrow and then ask the important question: what did Maxentius do for Constantine?

THE TYRANNUS : MAXE NTI US AND THE REWARDS OF CIVIL WAR In 306, it is hardly surprising that a second usurpation followed hard on the heels of Constantine’s. Maxentius, living in Rome since the negotiations at Nicomedia, found a number of circumstances amenable to a bid for power.⁶¹ In the first place he was able to count on the support of his father, who had clearly retired from imperial office with great reluctance. He could also exploit growing discontent among the praetorian guard, whose status had already been compromised under Diocletian and who were now set for final redeployment along the frontiers, away from their privileged barracks and pay scales in Rome.⁶² Lastly, Rome was in want of a protector, for the privileged status of the city, and of Italy more generally, was under assault. Tax exemptions in the peninsula were steadily cancelled during the tetrarchy and Galerius had recently made clear his intention to bring southern Italy, including Rome herself, into the new taxation scheme.⁶³ Thus, on 28 October 306, just over ⁵⁹ Constantine appears never to have formally acknowledged either Licinius’ superiority or his return to the status of Caesar (Barnes, Constantine, 70). The orator of 311 calls Constantine ‘August emperor’ (Pan. Lat. V.14.3). ⁶⁰ Pan. Lat. V.9.3. ⁶¹ For Maxentius’ residence, see Aur. Vict., Epit. 40.2; Eutr., X.2.3; also ILS 666–7 from the Via Labinica, generally dated to 305 or 306. ⁶² Lact., de Mort. 26.3; Aur. Vict., Caes. 39.47; Bingham, Praetorian Guard, 50. ⁶³ For the removal of tax privileges, see Lact., de Mort. 26.1–3. Cf. Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery, 117–25.

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three months after Constantine’s acclamation in York, Maxentius took power in Rome.⁶⁴ As we have seen, through 306‒7 he turned back the invasions of first Severus and then Galerius. For Severus, this ultimately proved fatal. From the outset, Maxentius stood outside the tetrarchy. He seems to have recognized this relatively early on. Possibly at the instigation of his father, Maxentius appointed two consuls, Galerius (VII) and Maximin Daia, a pairing doubtless designed as an overture to the emperors of the East, perhaps in the hope that Galerius would grant to Maxentius the same recognition he had granted to Constantine.⁶⁵ If so, this hope was frustrated, and Maxentius’ consuls were recognized nowhere else in the Empire. By 1 April the consuls’ name were replaced, in Maxentius’ territory, with the phrase post sextum consulatum (‘after [Galerius’] sixth consulship’), repudiating the previous selections, and Maxentius never again made overtures to any other emperor in his consular appointments.⁶⁶ It is presumably around this time that Severus met his end and that Maximian made his way north to secure an alliance with Constantine. Under what terms the latter departure was made, it is difficult to say. It seems probable that the relationship was initially conceived of, at least by Maximian, as a three-way partnership, allying the Western emperors into a bloc against the Eastern.⁶⁷ Maximian would thus place himself at the head of a new college, with two juniors beneath him tied by bonds of blood and marriage. Yet, as we have seen, by the time of Constantine and Fausta’s wedding, that is by December 307 at the very latest, this relationship had cooled to, at best, no more than a nominal one and, at worst, open hostility.⁶⁸ By the spring of 307, Maxentius had abandoned the rather unusual title by which he styled himself, princeps invictus, and was calling himself Augustus.⁶⁹ In 308, Maximian appears to have returned to Italy to find that his son and the Italian armies were no longer welcoming to him and, by some accounts, he was lucky to escape the peninsula again with his life.⁷⁰ ⁶⁴ Aur. Vict., Caes. 40.5; Eutr., X.2.3; Lact., de Mort. 26.1–3; Zon., XII.32; Zos., II.9. One of his first actions was to execute Abellius, the vicarius Urbis Romae, because he refused to support the uprising (Zos., II.9). ⁶⁵ Though see the note of caution in Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 35–6. ⁶⁶ E.g. ICUR n. s. IV 9549, ICUR I 29. Galerius’ consuls were Severus and Maximinus. Constantine’s were Galerius VII and himself, which at once marked a break with Galerius, in not accepting the Eastern consuls, and at the same time looked to him for approval. Galerius was replaced by Maximian IX in September. For a general account for the consuls from 306–12, see CLRE, 146–59 and RIC IV, 27–36. ⁶⁷ Barnes, Constantine, 69; Humphries, ‘From Usurper to Emperor’, 90–1. ⁶⁸ See above, pp. 109–10. ⁶⁹ Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 33–4, 41–4. The argument for a lack of evidence of diplomacy between Gaul and Italy in this period is, it must be admitted, a tricky one, as arguments from silence are dangerous where usurpers are concerned. ⁷⁰ Eutr., X.3.1; Lact., de Mort. 28.2–4; Pan. Lat. XII.3.4; Soc., HE I.2; Zos., II.11; Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 43–4.

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Maxentius, both in his self-presentation and in his actions, sought to show himself as a patron of the Roman people. He embarked on an extensive building programme within the city itself, involving major repairs and renovations to the temple of Romulus, the temple of Venus and Roma, baths on the Palatine and Quirinal as well as restoration of baths on the Campus Martius, the building or rebuilding of the Lateran palace, repairs to the city walls, the construction of the enormous basilica of Maxentius, as well as a number of other miscellaneous buildings. He also engaged in construction projects beyond the city’s limits, not least an enormous hippodrome, palace, and museum complex constructed on the Via Appia.⁷¹ Maxentius’ coinage advertised his special relationship to Rome, most famously through his use of the legend CONSERVATOR VRBIS SVAE (‘guardian of his city’) and through reverse images that depicted Dea Roma, the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, and the Dioscuri, all of which placed the city at the heart of Maxentius’ message.⁷² Maxentius was at pains to present himself as a revolution, in the most literal sense of the term; a return to a world where the emperor made Rome not merely the ideological but the also the political capital of his Empire. As a defender of its tax status, Maxentius had grounds to portray himself as the patron of the Italian peninsula and of Rome in particular. Yet the reality of his rule may have been less halcyon then the archaeological and numismatic record would have us believe. At some point in 308, perhaps as a reaction to the break between Maxentius and his father, the vicar of Africa, Lucius Domitius Alexander, declared himself emperor. Alexander held Africa against Maxentius until his rebellion was put down in either 309 or 310.⁷³ The loss of Rome’s breadbasket for such a considerable period had predictable effects upon the city; there was, according to the Calendar of 354, a famine in Rome that led to a Moesian soldier being hanged by the people; in the resultant massacre 6,000 people were killed.⁷⁴ There are also suggestions in various sources that Maxentius imposed onerous taxes upon the populace.⁷⁵ Both of these claims, if true, would sit ill with Maxentius’ self-proclaimed position as ⁷¹ Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 49–60; Mayer, Rom ist dort, wo der Kaiser ist, 183–5; W. Oenbrink, ‘Maxentius als conservator urbis suae: ein antitetrarchisches Herrerrschafts konzept tetrarchischer Zeit’, in D. Boschung and W. Eck (eds), Die Tetrarchie: ein neues Regierungssystem und seine mediale Präsentation (Wiesbaden, 2006), 169–204; E. Marlowe, ‘Liberator Urbis Suae: Constantine and the Ghost of Maxentius’, in B. C. Ewald, and C. F. Noreña (eds) The Emperor and Rome: Space, Representation, and Ritual (Yale Classical Studies 35. Cambridge, 2010), 202–5. ⁷² Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 46–8; cf. RIC VI, 277, 294–6, 307–8, 325–6, 340, 343–7, 340, 367, 369, 372, 374–5, 377–8, 382–5, 395, 400. ⁷³ Aur. Vict., Caes. 40.17–18, Epit. 40.6; Zos., II.12–14; P. Salama, ‘À propos de l’usurpateur africain L. Domitius Alexander’, Bulletin van de Vereeniging tot Bevordering der Kennis van der Antieke 29 (1954), 67–74; Barnes, New Empire, 14–15. ⁷⁴ Chron. 354 XVI. It ought also to be noted that other evidence suggests that it was Maxentius who was responsible for calming this riot once it had broken out (Zos., II.13). ⁷⁵ Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 72.

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the defender of Rome. Both certainly became tenets of Constantine’s narrative of the liberation of Rome from Maxentius’ tyranny. As with Carausius and his piracy, the uncomfortable question therefore arises as to whether the negative evidence that can be extracted from the sources is better thought of as a description of actual events, or an indication that later sources were influenced by the panegyrical consensus.⁷⁶ Maxentius appears to have built strong links with the senatorial aristocracy, to have granted religious toleration within Rome, and to have restored Christian property taken in the persecutions, details which could be mustered to suggest a mild and popular ruler.⁷⁷ Ultimately, so little is known about Maxentius’ six-year reign that it is difficult to make much but the most general comments with any certainty.⁷⁸ Whatever Maxentius’ position in relation to his subjects, his position relative to the other emperors then ruling was anything but ambiguous. Between 306 and 308 he had found himself in an isolated position. After Carnuntum, he faced a new tetrarchic college which, with Licinius as the nominal Western Augustus, had been constituted for the express purpose of removing him from power. Licinius had been created Augustus by Galerius and was intended to act as senior Augustus over Constantine, now demoted again to Caesar, a technicality that Constantine appears to have utterly ignored.⁷⁹ Licinius’ first task, therefore, would be to oust Maxentius from Italy and to re-establish tetrarchic authority there. This he appears to have attempted at the first available opportunity, campaigning in Italy, evidently to little success, in 309 or 310, or possibly in both.⁸⁰ If the settlement of Carnuntum was designed to unwind the ambitions of Maxentius, its results were little better for Constantine. Two years of manoeuvring ⁷⁶ For Carausius, see Chapter IV, p. 86. Some unfounded claims of the panegyrics certainly made their way into historical texts (see below, pp. 141–2). Such sources took their cue from the same contemporary themes that informed the panegyrics we will consider below (cf. Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 71–2); for modern writers who have essentially followed the Constantinian judgements on Maxentius, see for example E. Groag, ‘Maxentius’, RE 14.2 (1930), 2470–4; M. T. W. Arnheim, The Senatorial Aristocracy in the Later Roman Empire (Oxford, 1972), 49; Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius (Cambridge MA, 1981), 37 (softened significantly in Barnes, Constantine, 82); Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, 93. ⁷⁷ Senators: M. R. Salzman, ‘Constantine and the Roman Senate: Conflict, Cooperation, and Concealed Resistance’, in M. R. Salzman, M. Sághy, and R. Testa (eds), Pagans and Christians in Late Antique Rome: Conflict, competition, and coexistence in the fourth century (Cambridge, 2015), 35–6. Christians: J. Ziegler, Zur religiösen Haltung der Gegenkaiser im 4. Jahrhundert n. Chr. (Kallmünz, 1970), 35–53; Bardill, Constantine, 92 with n. 420. ⁷⁸ Cullhead, Conservator Urbis Suae, 71. ⁷⁹ Barnes, Constantine, 70. ⁸⁰ Such is the paucity of literary evidence relating to both Licinius and Maxentius that these campaigns can only be conjectured through reconstruction of numismatic and epigraphic evidence. Certainly, there must have been some sort of military action between the two emperors, for by the end of 310 Licinius was in control of Istria on the Adriatic coast: Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 33; Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 71; Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, 91–3; Barnes, Constantine, 71.

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and shifting allegiances found him, at the end of 308, back where he had started: a junior Caesar confined to Gaul under the jurisdiction of an Augustus whose loyalties lay in the East with Galerius. To add insult to injury, Constantine’s new ‘senior’ was in fact more than two years his imperial ‘junior’.⁸¹ The revolt of Maximian in 310 may, therefore, have been an important lesson in the operation of imperial politics, a lesson that became a virtual axiom of his later approach to inter-imperial relations. While Maximian was alive, Constantine had to give to the senior emperor his due as both father-in-law and his auctor imperii. As a dead rebel, Maximian’s reputation was Constantine’s for the forging; Maximian the rebel served Constantine better than Maximian the emperor ever could have. By the end of 310, with Galerius’ health failing, the Empire descending into chaos, and with six men claiming Augustan power, Constantine thus unveiled his fictitious descent from Claudius and began, like Caesar thirty-six decades before him, to prepare armies bound to him by long war in Gaul for a march into Italy.⁸² War thus came in 312. That summer, Constantine’s forces suddenly crossed the Alps, captured an Italian bridgehead in the city of Segusio, capital of the province of Alpes Cottiae, and met Maxentius’ forces in battle outside Turin, defeating them there and receiving the surrender of all Italian cities of the upper Po valley. Constantine entered Milan in triumph. He then advanced on Verona, where he engaged the mainstay of Maxentius’ forces under the praetorian prefect, Ruricius Pompeianus. Pompeianus died in battle and Constantine took first Verona and then Aquileia, which latter, according to Pan. Lat. XII, surrendered without a fight (though Nazarius implies that the other cities of the north had to be forcefully subdued).⁸³ This appears to have marked the conclusion of fighting north of the Apennines and left Constantine the undisputed possessor of northern Italy. As Constantine advanced south, Maxentius marched out from Rome to meet him. With Africa only recently regained from Domitius Alexander, it may be that grain reserves within the city were still too low for Maxentius to risk a siege and to use the walls of Rome to turn back the invader, as he had done against Severus and Galerius in 306‒7.⁸⁴ Thus, on 28 October 312, ⁸¹ Cf. Humphries, ‘From Usurper to Emperor,’ 91–2. ⁸² The six were Maximian, Galerius, Constantine, Maxentius, L. Domitius Alexander, Licinius, and Maximin Daia (whose soldiers declared him Augustus on 1 May 310). For the brief period between Daia’s proclamation and the final downfall of Maximian, the Empire had actually reached a historically unprecedented seven simultaneous Augusti. On Constantine’s campaigns in Gaul, see Nixon-Rodgers, 213–14. ⁸³ Pan. Lat. XII.5–11.2; IV.21–27.2; Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, 100–5. Concerning the prefect, note that Pan. Lat. XII calls him Pompeianus, while Pan. Lat. IV calls him Ruricius. It is always assumed, perfectly reasonably, that these must be the same man (i.e. Ruricius Pompeianus; cf. PLRE I, Ruricius Pompeianus 8). ⁸⁴ The implication of a naval element to Constantine’s invasion (Pan. Lat. XII.25.2: tu et Alpes gradu et classibus portus Italicos occupasti) may suggest that Constantine was actively working to threaten further famine against Rome.

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Constantine and Maxentius’ forces met in the vicinity of the Milvian Bridge, a crossing of the Tiber less than two miles north of the walls of the city, in a battle that was ultimately to acquire as a great a legendary status as any Actium or Adrianople. Maxentius’ force was broken and, in the ensuing rout, Maxentius was drowned along with a great many of his soldiers.⁸⁵ Constantine entered Rome in triumph on 29 October, and the war was over. Two panegyrics deal with the events of Constantine’s war with Maxentius. The first is Pan. Lat. XII, delivered at a Gallic city (presumably Trier) in the late summer of 313 and apparently occasioned by a victory over the Franks that the emperor had won in that year.⁸⁶ Its author was clearly a Gaul, a man in his seventh or eighth decade who was familiar both with public speaking and with an imperial audience.⁸⁷ The second is Pan. Lat. IV, the work of a certain Nazarius, of whom we know little for certain other than his name, though it seems reasonable to infer he was a Gallic orator of considerable fame.⁸⁸ Nazarius’ speech is separated from Pan. Lat. XII by a little under eight years, having been delivered upon 1 March 321, the commencement of the quinquennial year of the young emperors Crispus and Constantine II.⁸⁹ It was delivered at Rome before the senate.⁹⁰ Occasioned by strikingly different circumstances and delivered in cities more than 600 miles apart before very different audiences, what immediately strikes the reader of these speeches is their uniformity. Both speeches, though neither was ostensibly delivered to mark the end of the war with Maxentius, made the events of 312 their central object of focus. Both launched an assault upon the memory of Maxentius that denounced him as a vicious tyrant who had filled the Empire’s ancient heartlands with slaughter and lamentation. A brief summary of each speech will serve to demonstrate the extent to which the war with Maxentius provided the orators with their dominant

⁸⁵ Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, 105–8; Barnes, Constantine, 82–3. ⁸⁶ Trier is assumed both because Constantine had been to the city before (1.1) and because he held a triumph and games there (23.1–3). The victory against the Franks post-dates the suppression of Maxentius at the end of October 312 which cannot, therefore, be earlier than the beginning of 313, but the speech must predate Constantine’s visit to Britain in the autumn of 313: Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 65; see also Galletier, II 105–6 and Nixon-Rodgers, 288–90. ⁸⁷ His Gallic heritage is made clear by a number of passages which show Gaul to be his point of reference (2.5–6, 7.7, 14.2). As to his age, he refers to a battle near Verona which occurred media aetate nostra (8.1), which must be the battle between Carinus and the usurper M. Aurelius Julianus in 285 (Galletier, II 129 n. 2; Nixon-Rodgers, 288). ⁸⁸ Jerome mentions him as a famous orator (Jer., Chron. s.a. 324, cf. 336) and he is plausibly the Nazarius mentioned by Ausonius in his Commemoratio professorum Burdigalensium: Galletier, II 149 (commenting on Auson., Prof. Burd. 14). Cf. A. D. Booth, ‘Notes on Ausonius’ Professores’, Phoenix 32:3 (1978), 243–4. ⁸⁹ Notionally, these celebrations would also have been for Licinius II, who is never mentioned. More on this below, pp. 146‒52. ⁹⁰ W. Kroll, ‘Nazarius 2’, RE 16 (1935), 2098 seems to be the only dissent from this viewpoint.

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theme. Pan. Lat. XII may properly be said to be a speech utterly dominated by the theme of this war, the events that actually occasioned the oration having been all but ignored by the orator. The orator begins with the usual rhetorical protestations of inadequacy; nonetheless he must raise his voice in praise of Constantine’s restoration of the state (1). This restoration is then taken as a theme and described in a level of detail unparalleled by anything that survives for us from the tetrarchic panegyrics. The description of the war with Maxentius consumes virtually the entirety of the speech (2‒21). The orator first praises Constantine’s force of will for undertaking the war when all others had hesitated, and compares Constantine’s greatness to Maxentius’ ignominious character (2‒4). Constantine’s campaign in northern Italy is then described, with the adornment of a number of historical comparisons (5‒11). A dreary excursus on iron and the sword as vehicles of violence and on Constantine’s virtue in using such tools for protection rather than destruction (12‒13) marks a divide, after which the orator recounts the final assault upon Rome (14‒17), Constantine’s triumphal entry into the city (18‒19), and his merciful behaviour in the wake of the victory (20‒1). Finally, he briefly recounts the campaign of Constantine’s against the Franks and the utter defeat of this nation (22‒3). He notes that Constantine has defeated powerful foes and already surpasses his great father (24), that Constantius looks down from heaven on the honours of his son (25), and closes with a prayer for Constantine and his progeny (26). Nazarius’ later offering, though it pursues the subject with a less singular determination, nevertheless grants the war with Maxentius a position of primacy. From the outset it is made clear that, though this panegyric is delivered as part of the quinquennial celebrations for the young Caesars Crispus and Constantine II, its object will be the praise of Constantine himself (1). The confident hope of an endless reign for the princes is then advanced (2). Nazarius shows the ways in which his sons mirror, or else will come to mirror, their father (3‒5). There follow several chapters which deal with the motivations for the war with Maxentius (6‒15), broken by a short digression on a war fought against Frankish invaders (16‒18). The narrative of the Italian campaign is then taken up and, with its aftermath, lasts for virtually the remainder of the speech (19‒38): victories in the north of Italy (19‒26), the battle of Milvian Bridge (27‒30), Constantine’s triumph and clemency (31‒5). Finally, Nazarius closes with a wish for the health and continued prosperity to the sons of Constantine (36‒7), and rejoices in the happiness of the times (38). The programme of the Constantinian defeat of tyranny was thus a powerful one, significant enough that it would eclipse not only the celebration of a major victory against Rome’s external enemies, but, almost a decade after the death of Maxentius, the celebration of an imperial anniversary. This programme turned an unauthorized war of conquest into the founding myth of a dynasty that would not finally abandon imperial power for another five decades. Every aspect of that programme was directed towards a single goal, to

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demonstrate beyond doubt the tyranny, madness, and despotism of Maxentius. Both orators thus laid the blame for the commencement of the war squarely at the feet of Maxentius. Pan. Lat. XII, at its opening, praises Constantine for being the first to undertake a war ‘stirred up (conflatum) with such vast resources, such a conspiracy of greed, such a contagion of crimes, such a despair of pardon’, remarking on the fearfulness and inaction of both Constantine’s imperial comrades and his companions and generals.⁹¹ The suggestion is thus that it was Maxentius who stirred up war and that it was only Constantine who had sufficient fortitude to answer this challenge, an implication that re-emerges at several points throughout the speech. In recounting Constantine’s initial victory at Segusio, the orator describes Maxentius’ soldiers as ‘rebels’ (rebelles), a term which implies their wrongdoing while ignoring the fact that Maxentius’ soldiers had never rebelled against Constantine (and, indeed, had been in one-time alliance with him).⁹² The orator held each ‘miserable soldier’ (miles infelix) at Turin squarely responsible for their own death: ‘What else could you have hoped for yourself, devoted, as you were, to that most loathsome monster (turpissimo illi tunc devote prodigio)? . . . You compelled Constantine (to whom, because you did not allow him to preserve you, the victory itself was almost distasteful) to shed so much blood.’⁹³ Nazarius, in Pan. Lat. IV, is more direct. He echoes Pan. Lat. XII’s general assertions that Constantine had been forced into a war he did not desire: ‘you waged a war, greatest of emperors, which the honour of the city imposed upon you (tibi . . . imposuit) no less than the plight of this same city persuaded you.’⁹⁴ A moment later, he urges his audience not to even think of the conflict as a war (since ‘wavering Mars’ did not once shift his favour from Constantine), but merely a ‘punishment demanded of the impious’ (impiorum poenas expetitas).⁹⁵ Like the orator of 313, therefore, he stressed the extent to which war had been forced upon Constantine. Unlike the earlier panegyric, however, he went to great lengths to justify this claim and, across four chapters spanning some one hundred lines (more than a ninth of the total length of the speech), he expounded the grounds on which the war was undertaken. In the first place, he explained that Constantine had attempted to broker a peace between himself and Maxentius, a peace of which Pan. Lat. XII makes no mention.⁹⁶ The impossibility of any kind of lasting peace, however, is then declared: ‘But ⁹¹ Pan. Lat. XII.2.3–4. ⁹² Pan. Lat. XII.5.6. ⁹³ Pan. Lat. XII.7.1–2. ⁹⁴ Pan. Lat. IV.6.4. ⁹⁵ Pan. Lat. IV.7.1. ⁹⁶ Pan. Lat. IV.9. Nazarius urges us to see the reality of this peace offer: ‘Indeed, you wrest from your soul both a determination for harmony and a desire for concord, if indeed it is lawful to call it concord rather than pardon, when you who are able to conquer instead seek to pardon’ (9.3). But the peace is totally absent from other sources and, indeed, conflicts with information we have concerning inter-imperial relations in this period (Lact., de Mort. 43; Nixon-Rodgers, 353 n. 45).

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surely no force can hold together things which are at variance because of an innate separation, nor is there any bond so sure that it can hold, by its ties, things that move in opposition to one another . . . Virtue no longer has power to remain neutral; for to wage war in spirit while disdaining arms is not regard for concord, but faint-hearted dissent.’⁹⁷ Thus, even if (and Nazarius still leaves this unspoken) Constantine was the first to take military action against Maxentius, and not the other way around, it was not merely justifiable but necessary. Maxentius not only refused an offer of peace (as good as a declaration of war), but the conduct of his own rule made peace impossible. Maxentius’ schemes and wiles come to nothing, until eventually, ‘he advanced so far in madness that he provoked one whom he ought to have courted.’⁹⁸ Nazarius then describes, with florid hyperbole, how Maxentius overthrew Constantine’s statues and erased his images.⁹⁹ Here, at last, we are given a concrete detail, and if Nazarius is correct that Maxentius did indeed have Constantine’s images cast down then this would indeed constitute an act of war on the part of the Italian emperor, for the imperial image was sacrosanct, and for one emperor to show disrespect to the images of another was, and could only ever be, a clear and deliberate act of war.¹⁰⁰ Constantine could thus be reasonably shown by Nazarius to have fought ‘under compulsion’ (coactus).¹⁰¹ Yet Nazarius is alone in reporting this detail, a detail notably omitted not only from Pan. Lat. XII but from other pro-Constantinian accounts of the war. Indeed, Nazarius’ account fits far more comfortably into the war between Constantine and Licinius in 316 than into an account of 312.¹⁰² It seems as if Nazarius has here invented something to provide some factual corroboration to his general assertions that to Maxentius and not to Constantine is owed the blame for the war, a detail made all the more appealing by its being utterly unfalsifiable by 321. Pan. Lat. XII, much closer to events than was Nazarius and thus perhaps more firmly bounded by its audience’s known realities, notably muddies the water with much talk of displaced responsibility, but never overtly accuses Maxentius of aggression against Constantine per se. The orators, then, wanted to make clear to their audience that Maxentius was to be considered the author of a conflict into which Constantine had been unwillingly drawn in defence of liberty and which he would rather have avoided but for a courage that forbade him to shirk it. It also is abundantly clear that many later sources were keen to communicate this version of events. The two most immediate contemporary historians, Eusebius and Lactantius, give different accounts of the outbreak of the war, but with a single aim. ⁹⁷ Pan. Lat. IV.10.1, 3–4. ⁹⁸ Pan. Lat. IV.12.1. ⁹⁹ Pan. Lat. IV.12.2: ‘Behold, what misery! Words may hardly equal it, the bitter casting down of your worshipful statues and the degrading erasure of your divine face.’ ¹⁰⁰ P. Stewart, ‘The Destruction of Statues in Late Antiquity’, 159–62 gives a good introduction to the significance of the imperial image. ¹⁰¹ Pan. Lat. IV.12–13. ¹⁰² On which, see below, pp. 146–52.

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Lactantius states explicitly that it was Maxentius who had declared war, doing so under false pretences, ‘as if he were going to avenge the death of his father’.¹⁰³ Eusebius, by contrast, admits that it was Constantine who undertook the war, but goes to some length to demonstrate the necessity of this measure; Constantine had seen that the ‘royal city of the Roman Empire was bowed down by the weight of tyrannous oppression’ and had hoped, to no avail, that other emperors might overthrow Maxentius, a position in which later Eastern sources largely acquiesce.¹⁰⁴ Aurelius Victor, likewise, presents Constantine’s intervention in Italy as a reluctant response to the defeats of Severus and Galerius, ignoring that the former were separated from the latter by five years.¹⁰⁵ The epitomator Eutropius declared that ‘in the fifth year of his reign, Constantine waged civil war upon Maxentius,’ a declaration that, when he reproduced it, the pious Orosius notably shifted into an impersonal passive: ‘then civil war arose between Constantine and Maxentius.’¹⁰⁶ Those sources, in other words, that are the most reliably unreliable where Constantine is concerned, show themselves keen to stress that he was not the aggressor in the war. Yet the events themselves mitigate against the panegyrical account. Constantine, we must remember, invaded Maxentius’ territory, not the other way around. Indeed, as far as we can be aware, Maxentius had never threatened Constantine militarily. Furthermore, the route of Constantine’s invasion would suggest that his attack took Maxentius completely by surprise. Constantine entered northern Italy from the west, moving his army from southern Gaul through the Cottian Alps. Yet Maxentius’ forces were clearly concentrated to the east, at Verona, presumably in expectation of further assaults from Licinius.¹⁰⁷ Constantine was clearly able to move with remarkable speed through northern Italy, taking cities which, if they had been heavily garrisoned, could doubtless have long withstood sieges. Maxentius’ forces, right up until their final engagement with Constantine, appear to have been reacting to an enemy in total possession of the initiative. The conclusion, therefore, must surely be, as most historians have tended to believe, that Constantine declared war on Maxentius, and not the other way round.¹⁰⁸ Even among contemporary historians, however, few seem to have been truly convinced that Constantine ought not to be considered the aggressor

¹⁰³ Lact., de Mort. 43.4. Zosimus, whom we would expect to relish a chance to attack the Christian emperor, essentially reproduces the Lactantian story: Zos., II.14.1. ¹⁰⁴ Euseb., VC I.26. cf. Zos., II.12.3–15.4; Zon., XIII.1. For a more complete summary of the sources, though with a typically uncritical reading, see Groag, ‘Maxentius’, 2470–4. ¹⁰⁵ Aur. Vict., Caes. 40.16. ¹⁰⁶ Eutr., X.4: quinto tamen Constantinus imperii sui anno bellum adversum Maxentium civile commovit. Oros., VII.28.16: deinde inter Constantinum et Maxentium bellum civile exortum est. ¹⁰⁷ Pan. Lat. XII.5–11.2; IV.21–27.2. ¹⁰⁸ E.g. MacMullen, Constantine, 70; Grünewald, Constantinus Maximus Augustus, 60–1; Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 86; Barnes, Constantine, 80–1.

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in this war, though his aggression was usually seen as justified. Given all this, however, it is interesting to note the extent to which the panegyrists clearly felt it important to absolve Constantine from responsibility, suggesting that this was something that both speakers were worried about. This concern would hardly have been unjustified; Constantine was technically in Licinius’ territory and, though the treaty made at Milan in 313 had redefined the division of the Empire, legitimizing Constantine’s conquest, nevertheless the point clearly needed careful and continual restatement. For this reason, it was important that the character of the war be carefully defined as a liberation movement aimed at the freedom of Rome, in order to remove any suggestion that Constantine was fighting for personal gain. Both authors thus described the war not, primarily, as a contest between two emperors, but rather as a necessary undertaking fought for the sake of Rome herself. Though on a number of occasions the war was described as a bellum (‘war’), with near equal frequency verbal forms derived from liberare (‘to liberate’) and the idea of libertas (‘freedom’) for the people in Maxentius’ territory were employed.¹⁰⁹ Hand in hand with the idea of liberator, Constantine was also invoked as a fundator (‘founder’) of Rome, as contrasted with Maxentius, who sought to destroy the city: ‘Rome has been founded and established forever, since all who attempted to weaken her have been destroyed down to the very root.’¹¹⁰ The city of Rome was, of course, central to this narrative. By the fourth century, Rome may have lost much of its political significance, but it retained the distinction of being the cultural and ideological heartland of the Empire. Maxentius had made the city a central pillar of his propaganda, and his possession of it (and of Italy) through six years of rule lent great credibility to his regime. Both orators, therefore, sought to turn it into a stick to beat him with. The orator of Pan. Lat. XII makes this point very forcefully. He begins, in among the false modesty of his proemium, by declaring his theme: ‘ . . . I am unable to keep silent from trying to say something about the recovery of the city and the restitution of Roman power after a long-lasting upheaval’ (ex diuturna convulsione).¹¹¹ Within the following forty-four lines he restates the point twice over, making reference to the ‘city in need of liberation’ (liberanda urbs).¹¹² Once northern Italy had been recovered, we are told that (and the passage is worth quoting in full):

¹⁰⁹ For bellum: Pan. Lat. XII.2.3, 2.6, 3.2, 5.2, 7.4, 7.6, 9.6, 15.2, 15.4, 21.2, 21.3, 21.5, 22.2, 24.3; IV.6.4, 7.1, 10.4, 17.3, 19.3, 25.7, 26.3, 26.4, 28.3, 37.2. For forms from libero: XII.2.4, 3.2, 19.4; IV.19.3, 33.3. For libertas and liber: XII.2.2, 3.6, 24.1, 26.5; IV.2.6, 3.7, 4.1, 26.1, 31.5, 32.8, 36.2. ¹¹⁰ Pan. Lat. IV.6.6. Though the notion of the emperor as fundator was not an appellation unique to Constantine (Diocletian, LSA 2643; Constantius I, LSA 1259 (=CIL VI.1132); Licinius, LSA 2069 (=CIL X.7284); Valentinian and Valens, LSA 2155, 2156, 2562, 2563), it seems to have been particularly associated with him. The juxtaposition of founder and tyrant is an old trope (cf. Quintillian, Declamatio 274f.). ¹¹¹ Pan. Lat. XII.1.3. ¹¹² Pan. Lat. XII.2.4, 3.2.

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When all of Italy this side of the Po¹¹³ had been regained, Rome herself now reached out her supplicant hands to you; Rome, where that monster (portentum illud) had sat, never daring to do anything in response to the news of so many defeats for his men. Indeed, the very idleness of that most vile man (vilissimus homo) besieged him, and, as it is said, fear revealed the spirit of an unworthy man (degeneris . . . animi); that foolish and licentious creature (stultum et nusquam animal) never dared to go beyond his own walls, for he was warned either by omens or the forebodings of his fear. What shame, an emperor within the protection of his walls!¹¹⁴ Not for him exertion on the training ground, not for him training in arms, not for him sufferance of dust; indeed, he was clever in this, lest those who saw him strolling the marbled pavements of the palace should hold him in contempt if he attempted a man’s duties; for to go to the Salustian Gardens was considered a great journey and a military expedition. And these pleasures covered this most shameful fear for the whole time that he enclosed (obsederat) the city and shut himself in. He wanted to appear not unwarlike but blessed, not idle but secure. Daily he called his soldiers to parade and would boast that he ruled alone with them, and that others fought on the frontier on his behalf.¹¹⁵ ‘Enjoy!’ he would say. ‘Squander! Consume!’ This is the fated felicity of wretched men.¹¹⁶

Maxentius’ occupation of Rome was thus turned into a weapon to be used against him rather than the basis of his own propaganda. His residency in the city was taken not as return to an older and nobler form of government, but was described as an obsidio, a siege, and the result of fearful idleness. The suggestion of his collusion with a corrupt and idle military establishment would have resonated strongly with the audience of the speech—the hardened generals present with the court at Trier, familiar with campaigns both foreign and domestic, would have had little time for the praetorian guard, who had enjoyed a privileged position in Rome for centuries. The assertion that Maxentius met with his soldiers to make boastful claims about the other emperors fighting on his behalf was also delightfully sharp. In the first place, it ignored the fact that Maxentius’ armies had been involved in a number of campaigns, against Severus, Galerius, and Domitius Alexander. Secondly, and more importantly, it engaged with and subverted Maxentius’ own propaganda and diplomacy regarding the other emperors, from whom he had notably stood aloof and with whom he had made little attempt at a formal alliance.¹¹⁷ As the best lies contain in ¹¹³ cis Padum here refers to the land north of the Po (the oration being delivered in Trier). ¹¹⁴ pro pudor, intra parietum custodias imperator! This is an interesting phrase, inasmuch as we should not expect the appellation imperator to ever be applied to a usurper in a panegyric. The explanation, however, seems relatively self-evident; given the tenor of the passage, there is clearly a degree of irony. Maxentius’ behaviour demonstrates how very unworthy of the title imperator he in fact was. ¹¹⁵ Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 76 argues that, while clearly a fabrication of the orator’s, it represented Maxentius’ actual position. But this is unfair; the orator damned Maxentius as an enemy of the tetrarchy while covering for the fact that Constantine was well on his way to burying this institution for good. ¹¹⁶ Pan. Lat. XII.14.2–6. ¹¹⁷ Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 32–44.

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them some grain of truth, the fictional scene the orator calls to mind must have had an alluring plausibility. As for the command fruimini . . . dissipate, prodigite, this was the upside-down morality of the worst kind of tyrant, pure and simple.¹¹⁸ Nazarius, likewise, takes the theme up early. As he moves from his introductory remarks into the main body of the speech, he remarks on Constantine’s outstanding virtue, employing the tired trope that Constantine’s deeds are such that no praise can equal them. But Nazarius continues that ‘your divine virtue and its companion mercy and its adjunct victory’ need to be especially singled out, since they saved Rome from a disaster towards which she was crashing headlong.¹¹⁹ Uniting with their extended protestations of Constantine’s innocence regarding the responsibility for the war, therefore, the orators both stressed that the competition of 312 was fought for nothing less than the salvation of Rome. The character of Maxentius and his regime was intimately involved in this portrayal. Both panegyrics, notably, speak of his rule almost exclusively as the rule of the city of Rome, a device which occurs at the expense of any real discussion of the other territories in Maxentius’ power.¹²⁰ This was clearly a direct response to Maxentius’ own propaganda, which had focused so closely on Rome, and to the historical reality of the fact that Maxentius, unlike any other emperor of this generation, had spent the entirety of his reign within the city. By focusing on Rome the orators were able to construct an image of Maxentius steeped in the tropes of classical tyranny, a fitting monster for Constantine to overthrow. Pan. Lat. XII sets out with this programme almost from the outset. Maxentius was pictured as a criminal tyrant who had, as tyrants are wont to do, set up about himself a band of the very worst kinds of men, intent on using their master’s rule as a licence for their own advancement and the indulgence of vice. The orator writes: That monster heaped upon bands of men, hired for civil brigandage, the wealth gathered from the whole world over 1,600 years. To this end, he bound traitors (parracidae) to him unto death by making gifts to them of the wives of other men and the heads of the innocent, along with all their worldly goods; all who plotted against him or who openly attempted something for the sake of their freedom he afflicted with punishments and oppressed with arms. And while he enjoyed the majesty of that city, which he had taken, he filled the whole of Italy with

¹¹⁸ For instance, divitiarum et pecuniae fructum non alium putabat quam profusionem, sordidos ac deparcos esse quibus impensarum ratio constaret, praelautos vereque magnificos qui abuterentur ac perderent (Suet., Ner. 30.1). ¹¹⁹ Pan. Lat. IV.3.3. The last two clauses (in cuius laudibus id maximum non est quod in terrarium orbe primarium est?) caused me considerable confusion and I give Nixon and Rodgers’ translation here; they also express doubt over this: ‘Nazarius’ fulsomeness is the reader’s undoing’ (Nixon-Rodgers, 346 n. 15). ¹²⁰ Africa receives only a very brief mention (Pan. Lat. XII.16.1; IV.32.6–9). Italy is mentioned only to allow both orators to narrate Constantine’s campaign in the north of the peninsula.

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henchmen gathered in order to conduct every manner of crime (conducti ad omne facinus satellites).¹²¹

Both orators treat Maxentius as a vicious and destructive ruler, whose tyrannical reign in Rome brought considerable grief upon the city. Nazarius described the city as having been ‘once overwhelmed by the crimes of an impious tyrant’ (demersa quondam tyrannidis impiae malis).¹²² Likewise, the anonymous author of XII argued that ‘the majesty of the city had abandoned him because of his crimes’ (flagitia).¹²³ In perhaps the most visceral metaphor of the entire panegyrical corpus, Nazarius likens Maxentius to a disease or a parasite, feeding upon the city: ‘Thus, Italy having been recovered, this was the first step towards liberating the city and an easy step towards victory, that the force of the divinity shook out from his accustomed hiding place he who had clung to the bowels of the city in order to devour them’ (quod illum semper exedendae urbis visceribus inhaerentem ex adsuetis latebris vis divinitatis excussit).¹²⁴ This imagery, and the extended and repeated diatribes in which both authors, but particularly the author of Pan. Lat. XII, indulged, is striking; a barrage of abuse is levelled at Maxentius which commands the imagination as much by its creativity as by its bitterness. In addition to many other names, quoted throughout this chapter, Pan. Lat. XII calls Maxentius ‘that abomination’ (illud dedecus), ‘the little slave, purpled for so many years’ (tot annorum vernula purpuratus), ‘the accursed man’ (nefarius homo), ‘the false Romulus’ (falsus Romulus), ‘the city’s murderer’ (parricida urbis), and others besides.¹²⁵ Nazarius denounces him, throughout, as a ‘tyrant’ (tyrannus).¹²⁶ Perhaps the most extended and sustained attack, however, comes in the oration of 313, when, in his consideration of the causes of the war, the orator explains that Constantine must have known that he had justice on his side: For, omitting those things which it is not suitable to compare, that he was Maximian’s counterfeit, you Constantius Pius’ son; he a most contemptible stature, his limbs distorted and enfeebled, his very name mutilated by mistaken attribution, you (it suffices to say) of such a size and form as you are; to omit these things, I say that you, Constantine, were attended by paternal piety, he, not to grudge him his false heritage, impiety; you by clemency, he by cruelty; you by modesty dedicated to a single spouse, he by lust contaminated by every defilement; you by divine precepts, he by superstitious sorceries; finally he by the sin of despoiled temples, the butchered senate, the plebs killed off by hunger, you by the thanksgiving of the abolition of false accusations, the prohibition of informers, and the avoidance of shedding even murderers’ blood. Considering such different

¹²¹ ¹²³ ¹²⁴ ¹²⁵

Pan. Lat. XII.3.5–7. ¹²² Pan. Lat. IV.6.2; see also 6.4 and 11.2. Pan. Lat. XII.15.1. Pan. Lat. IV.27.5; Nazarius also refers to the rebellion as a plague (labes; IV.33.7). Pan. Lat. XII.3.4, 16.3, 16.2, 18.1. ¹²⁶ See below, pp. 131–2.

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causes you, by divine counsel—that is, by your own counsel—counted not on the number of your soldiers but on the merits of each party.¹²⁷

Though at first glance this appears little more than a catalogue of undifferentiated abuse, these insults were in fact carefully calculated to legitimate the image that Constantine had been slowly building for himself, while at the same time assaulting the pillars of Maxentius’ self-presentation. The list of vices given in this passage—impiety (impietas), cruelty (crudelitas), lust (libido), the practice of sorceries (maleficia), and a host of loosely defined sins (piacula) against the senate, gods, and people—constitutes a virtual roll call of tyrannical excesses.¹²⁸ Maxentius’ vices, furthermore, are matched toe to toe with Constantine’s virtues, underscoring the fact that Constantinian light had chased out Maxentian darkness. Perhaps most striking of all, however, is that this diatribe against Maxentius begins by directly assaulting one of Maxentius’ most important and—for Constantine—most dangerous claims to power: his parentage from Maximian.¹²⁹ Though their relationship was a complicated one, for Constantine, Maximian was an important figure, and there was clearly some sort of rehabilitation of the older emperor after 312.¹³⁰ The palpable fiction of Maxentius’ bastardy was thus clearly an assertion put about by Constantine’s court (it found its way into at least two historical accounts), designed to remove any Maxentian taints from this important pillar of Constantine’s rule.¹³¹ The difference in tone between passages such as these and the invective levelled against Carausius and Allectus in the 280s and 90s should be immediately apparent. The latter usurpers had been cast as rebels and quasibarbarian criminals and the illegitimacy of their rule defined in terms of their relationship to the college and to more vaguely formed ideas of romanitas.¹³² Maxentius, however, was shown to be illegitimate because of his relationship to his people.¹³³ This is in keeping with everything that we have seen about Constantine so far. He had come to power through a usurpation. His individuality and his stress upon dynastic legitimacy made collegiate language useless to him, if not actively dangerous. The presentation ¹²⁷ Pan. Lat. XII.4.3–5. ¹²⁸ J. R. Dunkle, ‘The Rhetorical Tyrant in Roman Historiography: Sallust, Livy and Tacitus’, CW 65:1 (1971), 12–20. ¹²⁹ Nor is this the only occasion in the speech at which the orator denies Maxentius’ legitimacy: Pan. Lat. XII.3.4. ¹³⁰ Bardill, Constantine, 92–3. ¹³¹ Aur. Vict., Epit. 40.13; Origo iv.12. J. Wienand, ‘O tandem felix civili, Roma, victoria! CivilWar Triumphs from Honorius to Constantine and Back’, in Wienand (ed.), Contested Monarchy, 178–9. ¹³² Only once in these two speeches is there anything even comparable to the de-Romanizing invective of the tetrarchic panegyrics (Pan. Lat. XII.5.3: ‘ . . . soldiers (what impious shame!) who were shortly before Romans’). ¹³³ Only one example of this kind of language exists in the tetrarchic panegyrics, at Pan. Lat. VIII.19.2.

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of Constantine’s enemies, therefore, required a radical reassessment. Dismissing Maxentius as a pirata or a latro was no good. Maxentius had held Rome for six years; he was the son of one of the greatest emperors in living memory; he had presented himself in a deeply traditional—indeed anachronistically so— model of imperial power. Nor could he be made an outsider, as Carausius had been. Constantine was the outsider, proclaimed in one of the Empire’s frontier cities, on the ‘remote island’ of Pan. Lat. X.¹³⁴ Maxentius, therefore, had to become Constantine’s equal and opposite. Constantine ruled because of his dynastic claims to power and, above all, because of his divine mission. Constantine was a general, an individual, and a charismatic ruler imbued with divine sanction. Maxentius had likewise to be an individual; but a coward, a despot, and a thing cursed by god. It was, therefore, to the image of the classical tyrant that the orators turned. Constantine himself drew upon classical models in his self-image—for instance in his evocation of Augustus, Trajan, and Alexander—and the model of Maxentius that was constructed in his reign was likewise conceived within traditional models of despotic tyranny that the Romans had inherited from the Greeks and applied to their own Republican and imperial history.¹³⁵ It evoked the crimes against the Roman people committed by the worst of Rome’s despotic emperors. Rome, and the Roman people, over whom Maxentius was conceived as exercising tyrannical government, became the ultimate justifiers of Constantine’s position. The development of the idea of Maxentius as a tyrannical despot led to an important development in the vocabulary of the Latin language. We have, throughout this chapter, spoken of the presentation of Maxentius as a tyrant. Pan. Lat. XII eschewed the Latin equivalent, tyrannus. It seems first to have been directed as a term of abuse against Maxentius in 315, in the inscription upon the Arch of Constantine (on which more below).¹³⁶ Clearly, it was taken up by Nazarius, who is the first extant Latin panegyrist to employ this word against a usurper. Indeed, the emergence of tyrannus as synonymous with ‘usurper’ has been confidently dated to precisely this period and the downfall of Maxentius.¹³⁷

¹³⁴ Pan. Lat. X.12.2. ¹³⁵ On Constantine’s classicizing presentation, see Bardill, Constantine, 11–24. For tyrannical models, see Grünewald, Constantinus Maximus Augustus, 64–71; Neri, ‘L’usurpatore come tiranno’, 71–86; Dunkle, ‘The Rhetorical Tyrant in Roman Historiography’, 12–20. ¹³⁶ CIL VI.1139. ¹³⁷ Grünewald, Constantinus Maximus Augustus, 66–7. Grünewald quotes a German doctoral thesis which deals with this question at length: Springer, Tyrannus: Untersuchungen zur politischen Ideologie der Römer (Diss., Köln, 1952). See also T. D. Barnes, ‘Oppressor, Persecutor, Usurper’, 55–65; Neri, ‘Usurpatore come tiranno’, 71–86; cf. J. Szidat, Usurpator tanti nominis, 27–9 and Elbern, Usurpationen im Spätrömischen Reich, 4 n. 13. Humphries, ‘From Usurper to Emperor’, 85–7 rejects the idea of tyrannus as meaning ‘usurper’ because it could be applied to individuals who had demonstrably not usurped power (i.e. Licinius). This, surely, was part of the term’s appeal, however, for it implied usurpation for emperors whose accessions had been perfectly legitimate.

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Tyrannus, previously reserved as a technical designation for a specific kind of (usually Greek) ruler, or, more rarely, as an invective term levelled against figures from Roman history who exercised power violently and arbitrarily, was now applied to a recently deceased usurper. The word may have appealed, in part, because it provided a convenient shorthand. Pan. Lat. XII employed a wide array of monster and animal language which certainly invoked the idea of tyranny, but stopped short of an explicit declaration of such. Nazarius’ palate of terms was much more limited; he referred to Maxentius as a tyrannus from the very first (Rome, we are told, was once overwhelmed by the crimes of an impious tyrant— demersa quondam tyrannidis impiae malis),¹³⁸ and employed the term no fewer than seven times to refer to Maxentius throughout the speech, more than any other single noun or adjective, or indeed their sum combined.¹³⁹ In this, he seems to have been part of setting something of a trend, for the Constantinian period effected a new dominance of the Latin vocabulary for the word.¹⁴⁰ The city’s suffering under Maxentius was thus made a palpable presence. When Constantine entered the city in triumph, in Pan. Lat. XII, the masses that surged to see him found themselves amazed that, after six years of slaughter (post illam sexennii cladem), so many men remained in the city.¹⁴¹ As it continued into its next section, this idea developed with examples from the bad old days of the Republican wars of the first century BC. ‘O Rome, fortunate at last in a civil victory!’ the orator exclaimed. The civil wars of the past had only brought greater bloodshed and suffering upon the city; he names Cinna, Marius, and Sulla for his audience. These canonical tyrants left in their wake, as all Romans would know, a city filled with blood and a butchered senate; these were examples of what Rome ‘had now suffered for six years past’.¹⁴² After praising Constantine’s conduct in the triumph and remarking on the enormous crowds that turned out to see him, the orator of XII asks, ‘For

¹³⁸ Pan. Lat. IV.6.2. ¹³⁹ Pan. Lat. IV.6.2, 30.1, 31.4, 32.3, 6, 34.4. Otherwise, he is called simply homo (8.2, 9.1), ille (9.1, 27.5), or the oppressor (31.5). There are a number of instances in which Maxentius appears simply as a third person embedded within the verb or as a neutral personal pronoun (is). His rule was also called a dominatio and ‘that monstrous plague’ (illa monstrosa labes; 33.6, 7). ¹⁴⁰ In 386 Ambrose of Milan was accused of being a tyrannus during the controversy of the basilicas (N. B. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital (Berkley, 1994), 194). Orosius, writing in the second decade of the fifth century, says that Magnus Maximus, otherwise a good man, shamed himself by becoming a tyrannus (Oros., VII.34.9). By 460, when Paulinus of Pella wrote his Eucharisticos, so tragic and powerless a character as Priscus Attalus could be termed a tyrannus (293ff.). ¹⁴¹ Pan. Lat. XII.19.3. ¹⁴² Pan. Lat. XII.20.3. On these stock figures, M. Lovano, The Age of Cinna: Crucible of the Late Republican Period (Historia Einzelschriften 158; Stuttgart, 2002), 19ff. and 105ff; see also J. Osgood, ‘Ending Civil War at Rome: Rhetoric and Reality, 88 B.C.E.–197 C.E.’, The American Historical Review 120:5 (2015), 1684–7. If we may consider the violence of this period exaggerated, we ought to remember that it was to fourth-century Romans as well (i.e. Senec., de Clem. I. xi.4–xii.2).

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why should I speak of your decisions and acts in the curia, by which you restored the former authority of the senate, did not boast of the salvation which the senate had received through you, and promised that its memory would remain in your heart eternally?’¹⁴³ The orator suggests that Constantine had restored rights and privileges to the senate which were their due (pristina) and which had been denied them until now. Solid evidence for Maxentius having made attacks upon the senate, however, is virtually non-existent, while a strong case can be made for his good relations with this body.¹⁴⁴ Constantine, however, made enormous changes to the body, increasing its size, and thus opened the senate to both equestrians and provincial men. A hostile orator would have been quick to pounce on this as the admixture of unworthy individuals in the senate.¹⁴⁵ Though Constantine oversaw a reintegration of the senatorial aristocracy into the higher positions of the Empire’s administration, a number of Constantine’s senatorial appointees had held equally important positions under Maxentius, and though Constantine never allowed senators to hold military positions, Maxentius had on at least one occasion.¹⁴⁶ What little material we can find for Maxentius’ policies, therefore, would suggest that he had been defensive of traditional senatorial rights and authority, but that Constantine, by contrast, was something of an innovator. Yet liberators needed people to liberate, and when a tyrant ruled Rome historical precedent dictated that the senate must be a body oppressed (particularly if that tyrant had sought to portray himself as the defender of traditional Roman government). Nazarius likewise juxtaposed Constantine and Maxentius as rulers of the city, and though the exact target of his invective-praise was slightly different, the effect was identical. After he likewise noted the wounds of a six-year slaughter, claiming that they had been healed by Constantine’s presence in Rome for a bare two months, he explains to the audience, with a typical rhetorical flourish, that ‘I pass over the restoration of inheritances to all those private individuals whom that monstrous plague (illa monstrosa labes) made exiles from their own homes.’¹⁴⁷ After devoting a few lines to this subject

¹⁴³ Pan. Lat. XII.20.1. ¹⁴⁴ Earlier authors tended to suggest that Maxentius was unpopular with the senate (e.g. Groag, ‘Maxentius’, 2454–5), but this is generally on the basis of evidence drawn from the panegyrics and Aurelius Victor (Caes. 40.24), whose judgements on this score are of little value. ¹⁴⁵ As would his nephew, some fifty years later: Amm., XXI.10.8. ¹⁴⁶ Arnheim, Senatorial Aristocracy, 71; Rufius Volusianus, who would serve Constantine as prefect of Rome from 8 December 313 to 20 August 315, had not only served Maxentius in the same role, 310–11, but had, unusually for a senator, been appointed praetorian prefect, in which role he had led the suppression of Alexander in Africa (perhaps the last ever praetorian prefect to command a military operation). As a result of the latter he had been awarded the consulship for 311 by Maxentius (cf. PLRE I C. Ceionius Rufius Volusianus 4; A. Chastagnol, Le Sénat Romain à l’Époque Impériale: Recherches sur la composition de l’Assemblée et le statut de ses membres (Paris, 1992), 236). ¹⁴⁷ Pan. Lat. IV.33.6–7.

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that he has chosen to pass over, he then embarks again, now choosing the theme of lustfulness and chastity: ‘Now, I hardly dare to relate the following concerning such a ruler, that no married woman possessed of beauty felt sorrow on this account, since under temperate rulers a splendid countenance is not an incitement to lust, but an ornament of modesty.’¹⁴⁸ If his audience were at all slow to grasp the point, Nazarius made sure to spell it out for them as he drew this section to a close: ‘Everyone was so bound by wonder over these things not because they had borne that tyrant for so long (illum tyrannum ita diu tulerant), but because they had enjoyed such a ruler so late.’¹⁴⁹ The goodness of Constantine reminded a people, who had been blinded by tyranny, what it was to have a gracious ruler. The orators of the panegyrics were not fashioning these remarks in an ideological vacuum. These attacks upon Maxentius’ tyranny and the glorification of Constantine as a restorer of Roman liberty were wound through Constantinian panegyric in all media. Inscriptions to Constantine across Italy hailed him as ‘the liberator of the City’ (liberator Urbis) and ‘the liberator of the Roman state’ (liberator rei Romanae) while statue bases in the city declared him ‘the founder of eternal freedom’ (fundator securitatis aeternae) and ‘the founder of peace and restorer of public liberty’ (fundator pacis et restitutor publicae libertatis).¹⁵⁰ Maxentius’ statues, by contrast, were cast down, and their dedications mutilated by the removal of his name.¹⁵¹ Eusebius tells us that Constantine had erected a statue of himself in ‘the most frequented spot in Rome’ whose inscriptions declared ‘in the tongue of the Romans’: ‘By this saving sign, by this true proof of courage, I have delivered your city, which I have saved from the yoke of the tyrant (ἀπὸ ζυγοῦ τοῦ τυράννου), and I have, moreover, liberated the senate and the Roman people, whom I have restored to their ancient distinction and splendour.’¹⁵² Inscriptions dedicated to Maxentius were defaced, and Constantine claimed for himself all of Maxentius’ building works within the city, dedicating them in his name. The great basilica that Maxentius had built, an architectural masterpiece whose central apse spanned 25 metres and whose ceiling soared 35 metres above the floor, became the Basilica of Constantine.¹⁵³ In its apse, thereafter, sat enthroned a colossal statue of Constantine as Jupiter, the head of which bears all the

¹⁴⁸ Pan. Lat. IV.34.1. ¹⁴⁹ Pan. Lat. IV.34.4. ¹⁵⁰ Grünewald, Constantinus Maximus Augustus, 63 n.1; CIL VI.1140, 1145. ¹⁵¹ G. Kalas, The Restoration of the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity: Transforming public space (Austin, 2015), 60–2. ¹⁵² Euseb., HE IX.9.11; VC I.40. ¹⁵³ C. Giavarini (ed.), The Basilica of Maxentius: The monument, its materials, construction, and stability (Roma, 2005); Kalas, Restoration of the Roman Forum, 68–72. Only a chance mention in Aurelius Victor, of all people (Caes. 40.26), allows us to know that the basilica was originally constructed by Maxentius and not Constantine (cf. Marlowe, ‘Liberator Urbis Suae’, 202–5).

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hallmarks of having been recarved from an earlier image of Maxentius.¹⁵⁴ Other statues in the city likewise had the face of Maxentius cut away, and the serene face of the city’s conqueror cut in its stead.¹⁵⁵ The tyranny and its destruction were even written into the city’s year, for the anniversary of Maxentius’ death on 28 October was afterwards celebrated as the holiday of evictio tyranni, ‘the eviction of the tyrant’.¹⁵⁶ Unquestionably the most striking monument to the downfall of Maxentius and the part it came to play in the story of Constantine’s glory, however, was the triumphal arch raised to the emperor by the senate in 315, in celebration of his decennalia and his visit to the city in that year, the Arch of Constantine.¹⁵⁷ Standing at the north-west foot of the Palatine, in the shadow both of Maxentius’ great basilica and the Colosseum, the arch is a colossal, triplebayed construction that spans the Via Triumphalis, and is perhaps the most famous monument constructed in the late Roman world. A hodgepodge of friezework, cannibalized from nearby monuments, and of genuine fourthcentury relief, the arch is the first ever monument know in the Roman world in which warfare between Romans was depicted in stone.¹⁵⁸ On its south face, two panels show the siege of a city (probably Verona) and the famous battle of the Milvian Bridge itself. The latter shows figures in Roman dress tumbling into the churning Tiber or else raising their hands in supplication while other Roman soldiers drive them mercilessly to their doom (Fig. V.1). Beneath the arch’s central span, Constantine was declared fundator quietis, ‘the founder of peace’. Its central inscription, etched upon both its northern and southern faces, proudly proclaimed the monument as the commemoration of a victory of tyranny: The Senate and the People of Rome have dedicated this arch to the triumphs of the Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantine, Greatest, Pius, Felix, and Augustus, who, inspired by the divinity and in the greatness of his mind, with his army and through his just arms, delivered the Republic at one time both from a tyrant and from all of his faction (tam de tyranno quam de omni eius factione . . . republicam ultus est).¹⁵⁹

No monument, either in Rome or in the provinces, had ever been so explicitly created to commemorate a civil war.¹⁶⁰ There was thus a unity of expression in

¹⁵⁴ J. R. Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 2000), 80–2; Varner, Mutilation and Transformation, 217–18. ¹⁵⁵ Varner, Mutilation and Transformation, 218–19. ¹⁵⁶ M. R. Salzman, On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Transformation of the Classical Heritage 17. Berkeley, 1990), 141. ¹⁵⁷ Mayer, Rom ist dort, wo der Kaiser ist, 185–93; Wienand, ‘O tandem felix civili, Roma, victoria!’, 184–6. ¹⁵⁸ Mayer, ‘Civil War and Public Dissent’, 146–7. ¹⁵⁹ CIL VI.1139. ¹⁶⁰ Nor is it the only such monument, for Constantine had constructed an enormous quadrifrons arch a few miles north of the city on the Via Flaminia, probably marking the spot at which his army had camped before the battle of the Milvian Bridge: S. de Maria, Gli archi onorari di Roma e dell’Italia romana (Rome, 1988), 243–4 (no. 22), pl. 24.

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Fig. V.1. The battle of the Milvian Bridge as depicted on the south face of the Arch of Constantine. THE ARCH OF CONSTANTINE (https://open.conted.ox.ac.uk/resources/images/arch-constantine), © Steve Kershaw, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

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all public media relating to Constantine and to his conquest of Rome. Constantine was a liberator or a founder, drawn into a war not of his own making. This war was fought, under divine auspices, to liberate the city of Rome from a tyrant who was slowly destroying the city and its people. The war was a necessary one, fought to ensure the survival of the Empire’s heartland. It was never asked in any medium whether the means were justified by their end; with such a victory, how could they not? It was Constantine’s visit to Rome in 315 that occasioned the arch, but the events that it commemorated were themselves crowned by Constantine’s triumphal entry into the city on 29 October 312. This triumph has been seen as a turning point in imperial history and, thanks to the testament of the panegyrics, we know that it became an instant legend.¹⁶¹ The entry was clearly intended as a triumph, and both panegyrists describe it in some detail. In particular, this extended paragraph from Pan. Lat. IV shows how the theme of the triumph was not only explicitly engaged with, but utilized to great rhetorical effect: Defeated generals were not driven before the chariot, but the nobles marched along, freed at last. Barbarians were not thrown into prison, but consuls led from it. Foreign captives did not adorn that entrance, but Rome now free . . . It certainly seemed to all that a line of the vices, which had grievously besieged the City, were led now in subjection: crime was mastered, treachery conquered, and audacity, mistrustful of itself, placed in chains with insolence; fettered fury and bloody cruelty gnashed their teeth, devoid now of terror; pride and conceit were vanquished; luxury was constrained and lust held tight with iron bonds. The most foul head of the tyrant himself (tyranni ipsius taeterrimum caput) followed this court; but, if the reports can be believed, savagery still lingered upon it, and death itself had not conquered the menacing omen of his dreadful face. Insulting words were hurled by the crowd, for it delighted them to inaugurate their freedom with mockery of their oppressor (ludibriis oppressoris) and with wonderful pleasure the terror inspired by his life was crushed in the mockery of his death.¹⁶²

The notion that a triumph could follow a civil war was an uncomfortable one to Romans. Ammianus, in the 390s, felt he could still score rhetorical points against Constantius (and, by proxy, Theodosius) with his disgust at the idea of a triumph ex sanguine Romano, ‘from Roman blood’.¹⁶³ Ammianus lived in a society that had had some three generations longer than Constantine’s to grow accustomed to this idea. Yet Nazarius in no way shied away from the topic, addressing head-on the potential concern—or perhaps distaste—over

¹⁶¹ M. McCormick, Eternal Victory: Triumphal Rulership in Late Antiquity, Byzantium, and the Early Medieval West (Cambridge, 1986), 84–91; Wienand, ‘O tandem felix civili, Roma, victoria!’, 176–87. ¹⁶² Pan. Lat. IV.31.1–5. ¹⁶³ Amm., XVI.10.1; cf. Wienand, ‘O tandem felix civili, Roma, victoria!’, 169–97.

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the triumph. By acknowledging the reality of a triumphal procession, but inverting its norms, Nazarius skilfully negotiated treacherous waters, for it was vice, not any Roman individual, that was being triumphed over. As this passage makes clear, an important participant in the 312 triumph was the severed head of the drowned Maxentius. Both Nazarius and the author of Pan. Lat. XII made a point of noting—and, indeed, describing in some detail—that Maxentius’ disfigured head was torn from his body, and used to lead the triumphal procession that accompanied Constantine on his entry into the city. The desecration and disfigurement of the bodies of dead criminals had a long history in Rome, and unpopular emperors were particularly liable to suffer this act of ultimate disgrace.¹⁶⁴ In 313, the audience at Trier was treated to a description of how Maxentius’ corpse had been ‘cut up’ by a rejoicing Roman people, after which ‘that sinful head’ (caput illud piaculare) was mounted on a pike, was disfigured, was jeered at, and was paraded in triumph.¹⁶⁵ We saw that Nazarius, likewise, recalled a crowd jeering at the decapitated trophy, rejoicing in their freedom by mocking the severed head.¹⁶⁶ Maxentius’ death in the river was a rhetorical gift to the orators who sought to denigrate his memory, for the Tiber had strong religious associations as a resting place for the bodies of criminals whose crimes were sufficient to mark them as impure (noxii), the river acting as a purifier of the unclean.¹⁶⁷ The orator of 313 tells us that Sacred Tiber (sanctus Thybris) swallowed up the ‘impious ones’ (this presumably being a general reference to Maxentius’ soldiers) and Maxentius himself.¹⁶⁸ The body hauled from the river and used to furnish Constantine’s triumph was a subject that animated both orators considerably and they were at pains to make explicit that the corpse found in the water was Maxentius’. Ostensibly evoking to his audience Maxentius’ cowardice, the orator of 313 wished to stress that he was drowned in a rout while trying to flee ‘with his horse and his conspicuous arms’ (cum equo et armis insignibus), thereby stressing to his audience that Maxentius’ body was an easy one to identify.¹⁶⁹ Furthermore, though the Tiber bore away the bodies ¹⁶⁴ D. G. Kyle, Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome (London, 1998), passim; Omissi, ‘Caput Imperii, Caput Imperatoris’, 17–30. For an ancient example of refused burial, see Petronius, Satyricon 110.6–113.4. See also Dig. XLVIII 24.1, a law forbidding the return of the bodies of those convicted of maiestas. For dead emperors, see for example Vitellius (Suet., Vit. 17–18, Dio, LXIV 20); Elagabalus (HA Heliog. 17.1–3); corpse abuse was demanded, though not given, for Tiberius (Suet., Tib. 75.1). ¹⁶⁵ Pan. Lat. XII.18.3. ¹⁶⁶ Pan. Lat. IV.31.4. ¹⁶⁷ Cf. Suet., Tib. 75.1: ‘Tiberium in Tiberim!’ clamitarent. For a general discussion on the Tiber as purifier, see Kyle, Spectacles of Death, 213–25. ¹⁶⁸ Pan. Lat. XII.17–18. For Nazarius’ on Maxentius as impius, see Pan. Lat. IV.12.3: ‘O impious hands! O savage eyes!’ (o manus impiae! o truces oculi!). One might also be tempted to hold this up against his description of Constantine’s own visage at Pan. Lat. IV.18.4. For Christian interpretations of Maxentius’ death in the Tiber, see M. S. Williams, Authorised Lives in Early Christian Biography: Between Eusebius and Augustine (Cambridge, 2008), 38–40. ¹⁶⁹ Pan. Lat. XII.17.2.

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of others of the dead, ‘that man, however, the river held in the place where it had killed him, in order that the Roman people would not longer doubt whether he, whose death they longed to confirm, had somehow escaped.’¹⁷⁰ Nazarius likewise imagines a populace eager to gain sight of the body. Constantine, he tells us, wanted no one to be denied sight of the tyrant’s corpse (tyrannici funus), and he stresses that, following the triumph in which it served as a grim ornament, Maxentius’ head (tyranni caput) was sent to Africa to give satisfaction to a province that he had abused while alive.¹⁷¹ Both orators wanted it to be clearly known that there could be no doubt: Maxentius was dead, his body had been recovered, and it had been displayed in triumph. The Milvian Bridge had thus ended his rebellion.¹⁷² Triumph was, according to the ideology of traditional Roman religion, a deeply sacred event, and ought properly to end with sacrifice in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. Debate has ranged about whether Constantine undertook these sacrifices (and, therefore, whether the procession may be considered a ‘true’ triumph).¹⁷³ What is clear, however, is that the contest was imbued with a religious significance from its very outset. The catalogue of Maxentius’ crimes meant that things divine, as well as things human, united against him. Roma, the patron goddess of the city, had been clearly shown to have passed her allegiance over to Constantine. It was ‘the divine intellect and the eternal majesty of this self-same city’, which robbed ‘the accursed man’ (nefarius homo), Maxentius, of his reason and sent him suddenly rushing from behind the walls of Rome to fight Constantine, while the Tiber, likewise acting for Constantine as a personal agent, destroyed the ‘false Romulus’ and the city’s murderer (parricida urbis).¹⁷⁴ What could it be, the orator asked, besides divinity (divinum numen) that counselled Constantine to leave such ample protection on the Rhine and thus denude his own army of men, placing him at such a disadvantage in numbers against Maxentius?¹⁷⁵ Nazarius was even more explicit on this score. Like the author of XII, Nazarius claims that a divine force lay behind Maxentius’ sally from Rome to engage Constantine

¹⁷⁰ Pan. Lat. XII.17.3. ¹⁷¹ Pan. Lat. IV.32.6ff. ¹⁷² Omissi, ‘Caput Imperii, Caput Imperatoris’, 22. ¹⁷³ E.g. Curran, Pagan City Christian Capital, 73–5; McCormick, Eternal Victory, 80–3. ¹⁷⁴ Pan. Lat. XII.16.2, 18.1. falsus Romulus presents a considerable problem; on the one hand, as Nixon-Rodgers, 321 n. 113 points out, the language of the piece would seem to suggest that Valerius Romulus, Maxentius’ son who died in infancy, is meant here (they point out that nec diu vivere would fit better with a child, which seems reasonable, and that the correlative nec . . . nec . . . implies a change of objects, which seems less so). I would, however, be tempted to say that this fails an Okham’s razor test: why would the panegyric, in such an oblique manner, make reference to a young boy who had died several years before? Galletier (‘Notes complémentaires’, to 2: 138 (n. 2)) also assumes this to refer to Maxentius. ¹⁷⁵ Pan. Lat. XII.4.1; numen occurs again at 5.5 when the orator says that the soldiers at Segustio ought to have yielded ‘not only to the presence of your numen but to the announcement of your name’ (non solum praesenti numini tuo, verum etiam nuntiato nomini).

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north of the Tiber, though he gives the credit simply to a ‘hostile god and the imminence of his death’ (infestior deus et pereundi maturitas).¹⁷⁶ Nazarius also claims the aid of a divine force, here described as something like a neoPlatonic/Christian divine One, aided Constantine’s ‘invisible army’.¹⁷⁷ Unlike XII, however, Nazarius—again perhaps afforded licence by greater distance from events—goes into some detail about the form of divine aid which Constantine received: ‘It is the talk of all the Gauls that armies were seen which let it be known that they had been divinely sent’ (divinitus missi). Though, Nazarius conceded, ‘divine things are not accustomed to come before the eyes of men,’ nevertheless the appearance of these soldiers showed that they were celestial. They cried out, ‘We seek Constantine, we go to help Constantine.’ Though the armies were from heaven, nevertheless they bragged because they were serving under Constantine. Most importantly, they were led by Constantius, Constantine’s father.¹⁷⁸ Later, Nazarius laments that he does not have time to ask where Constantine deployed his heavenly army (caelestis exercitus) at the battle of the Milvian Bridge.¹⁷⁹ The religious and sacred significance with which the panegyrists imbued this victory was to be one of its longest-lasting legacies. Theirs was a pagan vision, perhaps drawing its inspiration from the solar coinages that Constantine circulated during the 310s, which celebrated his relationship to his divine patron, Sol. In this respect, the panegyrics were on the wrong side of history, for Constantine’s god was the God of the Christians. But what their accounts make clear is that Constantine’s subjects—whether pagan or Christian—were in no doubt that divine protection had won Constantine the West. In its Christian orientation, the story that emerged was one of triumph both for Constantine and for the long-persecuted true religion. Its earliest witness was Lactantius, who tells that Constantine was instructed in a dream to paint the Christogram upon his soldiers’ shields and so was protected by the hand of God.¹⁸⁰ Eusebius’ Church History argued, in a general way, that Constantine had triumphed with God’s aid.¹⁸¹ By the time of his Life of Constantine, however, after he had, apparently, had the opportunity to get the story straight from the imperial horse’s mouth, Eusebius was able to report that in fact ¹⁷⁶ Pan. Lat. IV.28.1; see also 27.5 which attributes the sally to a hazily defined vis divinitatis. ¹⁷⁷ Pan. Lat. IV.7.4. ¹⁷⁸ Pan. Lat. IV.14. This clearly has its roots in a renewed emphasis on dynasty. Constantius’ achievements are recounted in XII (at 25). Constantine’s children are given but the barest mention in the closing prayer of the speech (26.5). Pan. Lat. IV, however, was delivered in Rome on the dies imperii of both Crispus, now a young man, and his brother Constantine II. The occasion for the delivery was the commencement of the two boys’ quinquennial year as Caesars. The speech has a great deal more to say about the dynastic element of Constantine’s position. The virtues of the young Caesars are discussed, at first in passing (3.4–5), and then in greater detail (36–8). The focus on Constantius as an active contributor to Constantine’s victory (14.5–6) is therefore in keeping with the heightened focus on the family of the emperor. ¹⁷⁹ Pan. Lat. IV.29.1. ¹⁸⁰ Lact., de Mort. 44.5–9. ¹⁸¹ Euseb., HE IX.9.

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Constantine had seen a glowing cross illuminating the sky in daytime, adorned with the inscription ‘by this, conquer’ (ἐν τούτῳ νίκα), a story which went on to gain greater and greater solidity as a historical fact with each retelling through Late Antiquity and the medieval period.¹⁸² Yet the lasting impact of this story of triumph was to reach well beyond the pages of church historians. The political programme of tyrant against liberator was one that took hold and was widely reproduced in sources concerned with the period. Julius Firmicus Maternus Junior produced a handbook of astrology in 337, which included a passage on Constantine and neatly reproduced the rhetoric of the court.¹⁸³ Aurelius Victor, ever the champion of the forebears of his emperor, Constantius II, Constantine’s son, reproduced in detail the claims of the panegyrics in his account of Maxentius’ reign. To cite them in the order they appear, he was accused of devastating Africa because he was savage and inhuman (ferus inhumanusque) and because he had been made more foul by his lust (libidine multa tetrior); he was an unwarlike coward (pavidus et imbellis), hiding in Rome while Constantine took northern Italy; the senate and people exalted at his death for he had massacred them; and lastly, he twisted the law to steal from senators and farmers alike.¹⁸⁴ Eutropius distilled the chaotic events of 306‒12 into a clipped, clear narrative that saw Constantine triumphant against the self-defeating machinations of both Maximian and Maxentius.¹⁸⁵ The Epitome of pseudo-Aurelius Victor and the Origo Constantini imperatoris likewise render a clear narrative of victory over tyranny and even repeat the preposterous claim that Maxentius was not Maximian’s son.¹⁸⁶ Even Zosimus, ever Constantine’s critic, found nothing to redeem Maxentius, and portrayed him as a destructive enemy of the Roman people.¹⁸⁷ The long reach of this narrative may be most easily explained by its perpetuation under the sons of Constantine. In later panegyrics, the story of the suppression of the two tyrants, Maxentius and then Licinius, expanded to become equivalent to an epitoma of his rule. In the 340s, Libanius would remember Constantine to an audience at Nicomedia almost solely as a suppressor of tyrants.¹⁸⁸ In the 350s, Julian’s eulogistic summaries of his uncle’s reign were likewise told as a suppression of tyranny (admittedly with additional digressions on Constantine’s patronage of Athens).¹⁸⁹ The programme that Constantine had created to justify his unprecedented expansion of power became his legacy, and more than forty-five years after his death was still being ¹⁸² Euseb., VC I.26–38, vision at 28; B. M. Litfin, ‘Eusebius on Constantine: Truth and Hagiography at the Milvian Bridge’, Journal of the Evangelical Theology Society 55:4 (2012), 775. ¹⁸³ The relevant passage is translated by Barnes, Constantine, 168–9. ¹⁸⁴ Aur. Vict., Caes. 40.19–24. ¹⁸⁵ Eutr., X.3–4. ¹⁸⁶ Aur. Vic., Epit. 40.13; Origo iii.5–iv.12 (at 12). ¹⁸⁷ Zos., II.11–14. ¹⁸⁸ Lib., Or. LIX.19–21. ¹⁸⁹ Jul., Or. I.7a–8d; II.52a‒b. Even when Julian chose to satirize his uncle’s reign (i.e. Caes. 328d–329d), the two tyrants still featured heavily.

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proclaimed. This programme is so ubiquitous in our sources that modern historians have often succumbed to it, and seen Maxentius’ reign as a bloody tyranny.¹⁹⁰ The long line of contemporary witnesses willing to damn Maxentius as a plague upon Rome and to praise Constantine for defeating him is disconcerting in its uniformity, for when an emperor as long-lived as Constantine, who passed power onto children keen to protect his legacy, clearly had so much to gain in the deconstruction of Maxentius, consensus begins to look like conspiracy. The real Maxentius long ago disappeared behind the mask that the Constantinians created for him.

NOTABLE BY HIS ABSENCE: L ICINIUS AND THE RISE OF THE CONSTANTINIAN DYNASTY The speeches that were examined in the previous section, Pan. Lat. XII and IV, were delivered, respectively, in the late summer of 313 and on 1 March 321. Their object of praise was Constantine, their central subject his war with the emperor Maxentius. Yet for all this, during the period in which Constantine received these speeches, he did not rule the Empire alone. Between 313 and 324 he stood in formal alliance with his one-time senior Augustus, Licinius, an alliance sealed by marriage and an alliance once praised by the bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, in his Church History, as ‘two God-beloved emperors, alike for their justice and piety’.¹⁹¹ It was a new dyarchy, supposedly ushering in a golden age of peace and of religious toleration. The tetrarchy had established a language of collegiality that was something genuinely new in the Roman world. Tetrarchic ideology held that all emperors were universally present throughout the Empire, and that each emperor, in a more particular way, carried the presence of the others about with him. That a given speech was delivered in the presence of only one emperor did not prevent it being addressed, in parts, to other members in the college (often directly, in the vocative case).¹⁹² Though never invoked quite so strongly again, the idea of imperial collegiality continued to be employed by orators throughout the remainder of the fourth century; Libanius delighted in the (entirely fictional) unity of Constantius and Constans; Themistius made passing reference to Julian in the speeches he delivered to Constantius during Julian’s period as Caesar; Symmachus and Themistius, at opposite ends of the world, both praised Valentinian and Valens for their harmony; and Themistius went on to roll out this trope (while Gratian was still alive) when addressing his ¹⁹⁰ See above, n. 76. Yet note Cullhed, Conservator Urbis Suae, 89–95. ¹⁹¹ Euseb., HE IX.9.1. ¹⁹² E.g. Pan. Lat. X.8.6–10.7, XI passim, VIII.21.1.

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new master, Theodosius.¹⁹³ It was the principle of panegyric that, under such conditions of collegiate rule, speeches delivered before one emperor would also make reference to and offer praise for the other(s). Yet of Licinius, across the more than eleven hundred lines that make up the combined totality of these two panegyrics, not so much as a whisper is to be heard. To understand the significance of this, it is first necessary to give a brief account of imperial politics after 312. After the defeat of Maxentius at Rome, Constantine appears to have wintered for a time in the city before going north, to Milan, where, in February 313, he met with Licinius.¹⁹⁴ This was an important meeting, for Constantine was now an invader in territory that technically belonged to Licinius. Licinius had been, it must be remembered, Constantine’s notional superior.¹⁹⁵ Here a treaty was struck between the two emperors in which Licinius would take charge of the Eastern Empire and Constantine would hold the West. Constantine was thus confirmed in his new acquisitions and Licinius was freed to prosecute without fear of harassment the war that was now brewing in the East between him and Maximin Daia.¹⁹⁶ During this conference, the emperors also agreed to a formal end to the persecution of the Christian Church, as evidenced by the so-called Edict of Milan.¹⁹⁷ To help secure this arrangement, Constantine married his sister, Constantia, to Licinius, a marriage that would produce, within two years, a son for the Eastern emperor, Licinius iunior.¹⁹⁸ Imperial children are a mixed blessing, and Constantine seems to have been none too pleased to have acquired a nephew. In 315 he named as Caesar his brother-in-law, Bassianus, with responsibility in Italy. That same year, however, Fausta became pregnant, a pregnancy that would result, in February 316, with the birth of Constantine II, the first son to be born of the imperial union Constantine had secured in 307.¹⁹⁹ In 316, Bassianus was accused of treason

¹⁹³ Libanius: see Chapter VI, pp. 249–9; Themistius on Julian: see Chapter IV, p. 180; Symmachus and Themistius on Valentinian and Valens: Symm., Or. I.11–13; Them–3istius on Gratian: see Chapter IX, pp. 261–3. ¹⁹⁴ For the dating of this conference, see Barnes, New Empire, 71, 81. ¹⁹⁵ With the subservience it customarily displayed to invaders of the city, the Roman senate had, after Maxentius’ death, declared Constantine to be the Empire’s senior Augustus (Lact., de Mort. 44.11). ¹⁹⁶ As Patrick Bruun, ‘Portrait of a Conspirator: Constantine’s break with the Tetrarchy’, Arctos 10 (1976), 22 points out, were it not for Maximin on Licinius’ flank, Constantine, the liberator Urbis, might have found his territory being invaded by the man who had every reason to claim that he was Italy’s rightful emperor. ¹⁹⁷ Barnes, Constantine, 90–7; Potter, Constantine the Emperor, 145–9. Historians can rarely resist pointing out that the Edict of Milan was not an edict and not issued at Milan; we have it in Lactantius (de Mort. 48) and in Greek translation from Eusebius (HE X.5.4–14). The document we possess is a letter issued publicly by Licinius at Nicomedia on 13 June 313. ¹⁹⁸ For Constantia, see H. A. Pohlsander, ‘Constantia’, AncSoc 24 (1993), 151–67. On Licinius iunior, see Aur. Vict., Epit. 41.4; Zos., II.20.2. ¹⁹⁹ Aur. Vict., Epit. 41.4.

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and was executed, on what charge it is unclear. Constantine then demanded that Bassianus’ brother, one Senicio, a senior figure at Licinius’ court, be handed over to him as an accessory to the alleged plot. Licinius refused and marched west, while Constantine marched east. At Emona, on the eastern fringes of the Julian Alps, Licinius is said to have cast down Constantine’s images, a final act of open aggression that preceded their engagement at Cibalae on 8 October 316. An exceptionally bloody battle ensued, in which Licinius is said to have lost 20,000 men.²⁰⁰ Licinius retreated to Thrace, appointed a co-Augustus, Valerius Valens, and met Constantine again in battle, this time at Adrianople. He was again defeated but was able to outmanoeuvre Constantine sufficiently that peace was concluded. This peace was unfavourable to Licinius, but did not constitute a total defeat. Licinius ceded much of his Balkan territory to Constantine and agreed to execute Valens. On 1 March 317, three new Caesars were then proclaimed: Crispus, Constantine’s teenage son by his first marriage, and the infants Constantine II and Licinius II.²⁰¹ It was not to last. Midway through 321, Constantine ceased to recognize Licinius’ consuls. In the following years, he would carry victories against the Sarmatians (and possibly the Goths) into Licinius’ territory, a seemingly intentional provocation of his brother-in-law.²⁰² As Licinius began again to persecute Christians in the East, the increasingly devout and divinely sponsored Constantine was granted casus belli.²⁰³ War finally came in 324; Licinius was defeated, captured, and deposed. Two years later, he was quietly executed.²⁰⁴ Given this story of alliance and treachery, the absence of Licinius from both of these speeches is complex and intriguing. Pan. Lat. XII was delivered in the year 313, and the sequence of events makes it all but impossible that the speech was given before the winter conference at Milan.²⁰⁵ Given this, and given the momentous nature of the treaty agreed between the two emperors, the fact that the events of Milan receive no mention—not even the hint of a mention— in Pan. Lat. XII masks somewhat the truth of the situation. Recall the delight with which the panegyrists of the tetrarchic period expounded the meetings of ²⁰⁰ Origo v.14–16; Zos., II.18. Barnes, Constantine, 100–3; Potter, Constantine the Emperor, 169–71. ²⁰¹ Grünewald, Constantinus Maximus Augustus, 119–20; Barnes, Constantine 104; Potter, Constantine the Emperor, 171. ²⁰² Licinius refused to circulate the gold coinage that Constantine minted to celebrate his Sarmatian victory, instead having it melted down: Petr. Pat. 14.1. Barnes, Constantine, 100–6; P. Kovács, ‘Constantine, the Sarmatians, the Goths and Pannonia’, in P. Fodor, G. Mayer, M. Monostori, K. Szovák, and L. Takács (eds), More modoque: die Wurzeln der europäischen Kultur und deren Rezeption im Orient und Okzident: Festschrift für Miklós Maróth zum siebzigsten Geburtstag (Budapest, 2013), 195–203. ²⁰³ Elliott, ‘Constantine’s Explanation of his Career’, 212–34. ²⁰⁴ Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.8–9, Epit. 41.7–8; Eutr., X.6.1; Origo v.28–9; Zos., II.24–8. ²⁰⁵ For general observations on the date: Nixon-Rodgers, 289–91; Galletier, II 106. The meeting at Milan must have taken place as Constantine travelled north from Rome to the Rhine, where he would battle the Franks in mid 313, and so must have predated Pan. Lat. XII.

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their emperors: ‘Do you see Diocletian? Do you see Maximian? They are both here, they are both together! How close they sit! How amicably they speak to one another! How swiftly they go by!’²⁰⁶ What, then, are we to make of this silence? The motives for reticence on the orator’s part do not have to be sinister. In the limited time afforded to an imperial panegyrist, only so many things can be said, and the exclusion of Licinius may simply have been part of the painful process that any writer knows too well: the cutting of detail for the sake of the whole. Yet Milan was no incidental detail that failed to serve a wider story. If the peace between Constantine and Licinius was a genuine one that Constantine himself was keen to heavily promote, Milan ought properly to be seen as the consummation of the Italian war, the alliance which finally cemented the peace that Constantine had won at such cost. The only possible inference from the orator’s silence, therefore, is that Milan must have been widely recognized as little more than a ceasefire, a moment of pause in which Constantine could consolidate his hold upon his new territories. His hostility toward Licinius must have been sufficiently common knowledge that, despite the important ceremonies at Milan, despite the joining of the house of Constantine to the house of Licinius and the (ostensibly) happy promise of future offspring from the marriage to Constantia, the orator chose silence as his best course. Rather than risk Constantine’s displeasure by dwelling on his hated brother-in-law, the orator chose subjects far safer: the defeat of Maxentius (a victory made solely Constantine’s), and to a lesser extent the recent campaigns in Germany. The orator purposely compressed the chronology of the period 312‒13, claiming that Constantine at once (statim) brought war from the Tiber to the Rhine, with no suggestion of the important stopover at Milan.²⁰⁷ It is evident that the orator considered that this silence ought to be total, for Licinius was omitted from the speech not simply by taciturnity concerning the meeting at Milan. In his preamble on the war with Maxentius, the orator discussed the fact that other emperors had failed to bring him to heel and that Constantine took up the war only because his imperial counterparts were inactive and holding back.²⁰⁸ Unusually for a panegyric, the orator goes on to name specific names: Severus had led a great army and, having been deserted because of treachery, had armed his enemy; Galerius²⁰⁹ brought on greater forces and it seems that he was fortunate, shorn by desertions, to make his escape. Finally, he who was believed to

²⁰⁶ Pan. Lat. XI.11.4; see Chapter IV, pp. 84–5 and 89–90. ²⁰⁷ Pan. Lat. XII.21.4–5. ²⁰⁸ Pan. Lat. XII.2.3: ‘ . . . when all your imperial colleagues were hesitating in neutrality . . . ’ ²⁰⁹ The actual name in the Latin text is Maximianus, but this clearly means Galerius, whose full name was C. Galerius Valerius Maximianus. Even if the historical context of this remark did not make this clear, the fact that reference to Maxentius’ father (i.e. Maximian) then follows, and is clearly a reference to a different person, confirms it.

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be his father, having tried to rip the riven purple from [Maxentius’] shoulders, perceived, in that shameful act, that he had handed over his destiny.²¹⁰

Licinius gets no mention despite the fact that, as we have already seen, the evidence is good that he campaigned in Italy in 309 and 310. It is certainly not that the orator was unaware of these campaigns, for one may plausibly detect, later in the speech, a coded reference to them. Constantine’s victories against the Franks were, the orator affirmed, all the more impressive were it remembered that ‘it is easy to conquer timid and unwarlike men, such as the pleasant regions of Greece and luxuries of the East produce, who can hardly stand a light garment and a silken covering to keep the sun from them, and who, if they ever come into danger, become forgetful of freedom and beg to be made slaves.’²¹¹ Plausibly a reference to the effeminate Persians, there was also a sting in the tail in that Licinius and his armies of unwarlike Easterners had actually tried and failed to take Italy. Whatever he would achieve in the East must always be thrown against the backdrop of what he had failed to achieve in the West.²¹² Finally, the orator closed his speech with a declaration that Constantine was the chosen of God, that he was the greatest emperor ever given to the human race, and that the future would be ‘truly blessed’ once Constantine had installed his sons ‘at the helm of the world’.²¹³ For nephews, he made no room. Nazarius, in Pan. Lat. IV, had an even more interesting tale to tell, both because the situation between the two emperors had developed so significantly between 313 and 321, and because, as a corollary of this, the absence of Licinius from the speech was an even sharper slight to the Eastern colleague. Pan. Lat. IV, remember, was delivered on 1 March 321 before the Roman senate as part of the official celebrations of the quinquennial anniversary of the declaration as Caesars of Crispus, Constantine II, and Licinius II in 317. Under circumstances of easy peace, this ought to have been an opportunity for Nazarius to remark upon the unity of the two households, bound in a single celebration for their imperial offspring. Yet the peace was not easy. In March 317, the same month that Nazarius spoke before the senate, Constantine was to openly reject the consuls for that year, Licinius senior (VI) and iunior (II) and instead nominated his own children, Crispus and Constantine (both II). The two halves of the Empire were to continue to recognize different consular pairings every year until Licinius’ suppression in 324.²¹⁴ Since 317, Constantine’s court had been almost permanently resident in the Balkans where campaigns upon the Danube provided the justification for military preparations that included the construction of fleets upon the Aegean and Adriatic and the ²¹⁰ Pan. Lat. XII.3.4. ²¹¹ Pan. Lat. XII.24.1 (cf. Nixon-Rodgers, 330 n. 148). ²¹² Given that Maximin Daia died in the summer of 313, the orator of this speech may have known that Licinius himself had won a civil war in the Balkans. ²¹³ Pan. Lat. XII.26. ²¹⁴ Zos. II.22.1. CLRE 176–83; Barnes, Constantine, 104–5.

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strengthening of the eastward-facing port of Thessalonica.²¹⁵ Such activities could only possibly be understood as preparations for a further civil war. Constantine’s Sarmatian campaigns, with their provocative violations of Licinius’ territory, would ultimately lead to the final conflict between the two emperors. Nazarius thus delivered his speech in world that was already tipping again slowly towards civil war. That context is writ large upon the speech. Like Pan. Lat. XII, Licinius was utterly absent from Nazarius’ speech, an absence all the more jarring because the anniversary that Nazarius’ speech celebrated was also an anniversary for the house of Licinius. Nowhere did he so much as hint that Crispus and Constantine II had a young colleague in the East, also celebrating the commencement of his fifth year as Caesar. Indeed, nowhere did he even suggest that Licinius and his son even existed; they were never mentioned or referred to, and a listener in the Roman senate, who had somehow managed to find himself totally oblivious to the wider political world, would have come away from Nazarius’ speech with the impression that Constantine ruled as the sole Augustus, with his two eldest sons as Caesars beneath him. Constantine is hailed throughout in the singular, as the greatest Augustus.²¹⁶ Crispus and Constantine II are always dealt with as a pair.²¹⁷ Despite the fact that it was the quinquennalia which had provided Nazarius the opportunity to speak, we have already seen that he made the war with Maxentius his primary subject. This choice of theme was significant. A great deal had happened in the eight and a half years that separated Nazarius’ speech from Constantine’s victory in Rome. It would be virtually impossible to establish this fact from the speech itself, however. Indeed, one would hardly think that any time had passed at all, for, though Nazarius gave his account slightly different shape and emphasis, he discussed virtually nothing pertaining to Constantine that had not already been discussed in Pan. Lat. XII.²¹⁸ The only genuinely new material he provided related to the Caesars themselves.²¹⁹ In part, this choice was forced upon him. Squatting centre stage upon the narrative of the period 312‒21 was the war between Constantine and Licinius, a war which, by the treaty that ended it and restored fraternal harmony, could not really have happened. Nazarius could thus attempt to

²¹⁵ On Constantine’s residences, see Barnes, New Empire, 73–6. On the fortification of port cities, see Zos., II.22.1. ²¹⁶ maximus princeps, 2.2; imperator optimus, 4.5, 16.4; Constantinus maximus, 6.2, 29.1.37.4, 38.3; imperator maxime, 6.4, 16.1; imperator, 13.4, 18.2, 23.2, 26.1, 28.3, 32.2; imperator prudentissimus, 24.1; praestantissimus imperator, 27.6. ²¹⁷ E.g. Pan. Lat. IV.3.5–5.8, 36.3–5. ²¹⁸ Incidental details, such as Frankish raiding on the Spanish coast (IV.17.1), do crop up, but generally speaking these speeches are remarkable for their similarities, not their differences. ²¹⁹ Pan. Lat. IV.3.4–5.8, 36.3–38.2; in 313 Crispus had been a private individual who had lived—perhaps—only some eight years (cf. H. A. Pohlsander, ‘Crispus: Brilliant Career and Tragic End’, Historia 33 (1984), 81–3). Constantine II was not to be born for another three years.

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produce an up-to-the-moment account of his emperor’s career that carefully ignored the most significant military engagement of recent years, or he could choose to have his account focus on the safe territory of the more distant past. He chose the latter option. Nazarius was not blind to the political climate in which he spoke, however, and the reiteration of the story of the war with Maxentius was more than simply a reminder of Constantine’s most glorious exploit to date; it was a strong statement of confidence and, one might say, intent. Nazarius recalled for the Roman senate (and I see no reason not to imagine other orators around the Roman world adopting similar strategies) that Constantine had already overthrown a tyrant and freed a people from bondage. By looking back, he implicitly looked forward. In the first place, Nazarius evidenced a renewed emphasis on Constantine’s divine mission. Although the orator of Pan. Lat. XII had not been utterly blind to divine influence, when compared with the speeches that had gone before he maintained what Barnes has referred to as ‘an extremely eloquent silence on the religious plane’.²²⁰ Nazarius, however, shows a renewed enthusiasm for Constantine’s special relationship with the divine. That the god that he described was a monotheistic one has been repeatedly noted.²²¹ That one god was also united with the one ruler; it was by the direct influence of a divine power directly interested in human affairs that Constantine was able to defeat Maxentius: ‘Thus that force—that majesty which discerns right and wrong, which weighs, balances, and examines every circumstance of deserving men—that force defended your piety, it shattered the madness of that tyrant, it aided your army.’²²² Nazarius urged his audience to recognize that Constantine was aided by heavenly armies, led by his father, that helped him fight his way from Gaul to Rome.²²³ Lastly, of course, it was the ‘force of the divinity’ (vis divinitas) that drove Maxentius from within the walls of Rome.²²⁴ The significance of this renewed emphasis on Constantine’s divine mission should be clear. Notwithstanding the pious fictions of Lactantius and Eusebius concerning Constantine’s 312 conversion, there seems no reason to doubt that, by the time he entered Rome in October of that year, Constantine was already committed in some way to the Christian faith.²²⁵ This was a commitment that would only grow during the 310s, as he increasingly began to legislate publicly in favour of the Church and to more consciously and

²²⁰ Barnes, Constantine, 98. What few explicitly religious comments he makes are generally passing and involve little detail (e.g. 22.1, 26.1). ²²¹ Nixon-Rodgers, 360–1 n. 68; B. S. Rodgers, ‘Divine Insinuation in the Panegyrici Latini’, in R. Rees (ed.) Latin Panegyric (Oxford Readings in Classical Studies. Oxford, 2012), 314–15. ²²² Pan. Lat. IV.7.3–4 (quotation at 4). ²²³ Pan. Lat. IV.14–16.2. ²²⁴ Pan. Lat. IV.27.5. ²²⁵ M. R. Salzman, ‘Constantine and the Roman Senate’, 17–19.

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explicitly align his regime with the Christian cause.²²⁶ As Constantine’s commitment to this position strengthened, however, so Licinius’ weakened, and the resolution of toleration that they concluded at Milan appears to have increasingly become an ideological battleground for the emperors. Maxentius and Constantine appear to have seen eye to eye on religious policy, and in 313 there was therefore little cause to emphasize a religious aspect to their conflict.²²⁷ As Christians came under first suspicion and then open persecution in the East, however, Constantine’s religious mission gained new power as a weapon in his diplomatic relationship with Licinius.²²⁸ His decision, on 5 May 321, to allow Donatist bishops to return from exile has been seen in this light, a direct result of Constantine’s desire to appear a patron of Christianity in contrast to Licinius, its persecutor.²²⁹ It was in this spirit, therefore, that Nazarius’ interpretation of the war of 312 gained a newly aggressive religious aspect. Through recollection of the divine mission that he saw in 312, Nazarius turned his audience’s mind to that divine conflict that was, even as he spoke, slowly brewing in the Balkans. It is also noteworthy that Nazarius evidences a renewed interest in Constantine’s father, Constantius. Constantius had appeared in the panegyric of 313, but only in passing, as a passive figure and a paternal standard against which Constantine could be measured.²³⁰ Again, this emphasis tells us as much about the conflict between Licinius and Constantine as it does about the conflict between Constantine and Maxentius. The occasion for Nazarius’ speech was a dynastic one, and so a harkening back to Constantine’s imperial father had, within the stated context of the speech, a certain internal logic. Yet Constantius’ role as the leader of his son’s ‘heavenly army’ (caelestis exercitus) point us to the aggressive role that Constantine’s noble heritage was playing here.²³¹ Nazarius’ insertion of Constantius into this speech, actively fighting beside his son in his battle against tyranny, provided a reminder for the audience (albeit an implicit one) that, while Constantine was the son of an emperor, Licinius was nothing more than a soldier raised high.²³² Yet perhaps the more pertinent feature of Nazarius’ oration is the curiously extended discussion he provides of the reasons for which Constantine undertook the war against Maxentius in the first place. This lengthy justification occupies all of chapters 6‒15, comprising fully one quarter of the speech’s total length. Indeed, at a remove of more than eight years, Nazarius seems far more concerned with establishing the justice of Constantine’s cause in prosecuting ²²⁶ A. Alföldi, The Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome (tr. H. Mattingly. Oxford, 1948), 36–81; H. Drake, ‘The Impact of Constantine on Christianity’, in N. Lenski (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine (Cambridge, 2006), 111–36. ²²⁷ J. Ziegler, Zur religiösen Haltung der Gegenkaiser (Kallmünz, 1970), 35–53. ²²⁸ Elliott, ‘Constantine’s Explanation of his Career’, 212–34; Corcoran, ‘Hidden from History’, 98. ²²⁹ Barnes, Constantine, 105. ²³⁰ Pan. Lat. XII.4.3, 25.1–3. ²³¹ Pan. Lat. IV.29.1. ²³² Humphries, ‘From Usurper to Emperor’, 98.

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this war than was the orator of 313, who spoke when its wounds were still fresh. What is more, the passage is peppered with details that appear nowhere else in our sources concerning the conflict, and which were, importantly, not offered by the orator of Pan. Lat. XII. These curious features of the speech are again best explained by the fact that it was upon Licinius, not Maxentius, that Nazarius actually had his eye. He was not trying to justify a war long over, he was looking to justify a war to come. A number of details appear in Nazarius’ account that have raised commentators’ eyebrows. Perhaps the most important of these is the repeated suggestion that Constantine had attempted to come to terms with Maxentius and secure a treaty. Nazarius praised Constantine’s endurance and patience, for ‘nevertheless, you endured him at play among such evils.’ Constantine was hoping to find a peaceful solution, to heal rather than to amputate, and so he attempted to extend to Maxentius an olive branch: ‘But you drew forth from your spirit the desire for a meeting and the wish for concord, if it is right to call it concord and not pardon, when he who could conquer chooses to forgive.’²³³ Yet his advances were met with resistance, Nazarius declares, for ‘surely no force can hold together things which are at variance because of an innate separation, nor is there any bond so sure that it can hold, by its ties, things that move in opposition to one another . . . you call him to fellowship: he refuses your advance, he opposes you, he bristles in fear, he reckons that there is nothing in common between himself and you because there is no resemblance.’ Only after this does Constantine finally acknowledge that peace is no longer an option.²³⁴ Finally, Nazarius recounts the ultimate act of provocation from one who ought to have courted Constantine, rather than needled him; Maxentius cast down Constantine’s statutes and erased his images.²³⁵ All told, therefore, Nazarius devoted some seventy-seven lines (9‒12) to the narration of attempts by Constantine to secure peace with Maxentius and of repeatedly frustrated attempts that met only with obstinacy and provocation. This account fits very poorly with the situation as we know it between Constantine and Maxentius the years 310‒12. Constantine and Maxentius had, perhaps, very briefly acknowledged some sort of mutual relationship in 307, but even this seems doubtful, and the detail of Maxentius casting down Constantine’s statues is both utterly unique to Nazarius and hard to make sense of as a genuine historical occurrence.²³⁶ This whole passage has appeared confusing to commentators. On Nazarius’ ‘you call him to fellowship’, Nixon and Rodgers can only declare ‘again, this is very strange,’ and dismiss

²³³ Pan. Lat. IV.9.1–3. ²³⁴ Pan. Lat. IV.10.1, 3–4. ²³⁵ Pan. Lat. IV.12.1. ²³⁶ If Maxentius had ever displayed official portraits and statues of Constantine (and there is no reason to believe he ever had) he would very likely have taken them down no later than his own open break with his father in 308, and certainly by the time of Maximian’s execution in 310 (see above, pp. 109–10).

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this claim as ‘nothing more than a display of moralising’. More generally, they declare that ‘this whole rather embarrassing passage sounds like an apology, as if Nazarius felt compelled to counter a recent accusation that Constantine had turned on the man with whom he had recently entered into an alliance.’²³⁷ Their suggestion is absolutely correct, except they have failed to see that the man in question was Licinius, not Maxentius. If treated as a description not of 310‒12, but of the events of 315‒16 that led to war between Licinius and Constantine, the passage suddenly makes perfect sense. There, a treaty had been concluded, in 313. The bonds (copula), to which Nazarius makes reference, were the bonds of that treaty and the marriage pact between Constantia and Licinius which had sealed it. The presentation of Constantine attempting to seek peace but ultimately being forced into war is also in much better keeping with 316 than with 312. While in 312 Constantine descended upon Maxentius in a surprise attack as soon as he was able to free his forces from the Rhine frontier, in 315‒16 he carefully manipulated the political situation through his cipher Bassianus so as to provoke Licinius into giving him a clear pretext for a war he had probably been looking for at least since the birth of Licinius’ son.²³⁸ Likewise, the otherwise unattested claim that Maxentius overthrew Constantine’s statues takes us by surprise in reference to 312, particularly as Constantine and Maxentius were not in alliance with one another and so it would be odd that Maxentius had been displaying Constantine’s statues at all. In 316, however, it would make perfect sense that Constantine’s statues were being displayed in Licinius’ territory and that Licinius would publicly topple them as a precursor to war. Indeed, the Origo Constantini imperatoris claims that he did precisely this at Emona, shortly before the battle of Cibalae.²³⁹ It may even be that Nazarius’ description of the engagement with Maxentius’ heavy cavalry outside Turin, which differs so greatly from the engagement described in Pan. Lat. XII, ought more properly to be thought of as a description of Cibalae, at which cavalry are known to have played an exceedingly important role.²⁴⁰ ²³⁷ Nixon-Rodgers, 354 n. 48 and 353 n. 45. ²³⁸ Barnes, Constantine, 100–3. ²³⁹ Origo v.15. ²⁴⁰ Pan. Lat. IV.22.3–24.7. Nazarius’ description differs from that of Pan. Lat. XII to the extent that it could almost be describing a different battle. It thus catches the eye immediately. The seemingly disproportionate level of detail into which he goes in describing the clibanarii, their armour, and the methods by which they were defeated is striking. Clibinarii were a feature of Eastern armies to a far greater extent than Western: Notitia Dignitatum lists fifteen Eastern units with the designation clibanarii or catafractarii and three clibinaria, factories for the production of cataphract armour, while for the West there are only two units of clibinarii (both of which appear to be mounted archers), one of catafractarii, and only one clibinaria. Julian similarly describes the cataphracts of Constantius’ army when he waged war against a Western usurper (Jul., Or. I.37c–38a and II.57b‒c). Ammianus notes them as a feature of the Persian royal armies (e.g. Amm., XXV.1.12–13). See also J. W. Eadie, ‘The Development of Roman Mailed Cavalry’, JRS 57:1 (1967), 161–73, esp. 168–72 (who notably takes Nazarius at face value).

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Perhaps most interesting of all, the emergence of the word tyrannus to mean a contemporary usurper—which, as we showed in the previous section, can be dated to this period—may have something to do with the fact that Licinius was emperor of the East. Given that the word had associations with Greek kings, its rise in the 310s may have owed a great deal to the breakdown of East‒West relations.²⁴¹ Certainly, it was as a tyrannus that Licinius was ultimately to be portrayed.²⁴² Was Nazarius’ audience conscious of what was taking place in this speech? Perhaps not, unless they were very well versed in the politics of the last ten years. In point of fact, the orator himself may not have been aware of what he was doing; anachronisms can be purposeful insertions but, as often as not, they are the accidental by-product of approaching past events with an understanding of contemporary ones. As he wove the story of Constantine’s last great destruction of a tyrant, it is perfectly reasonable to believe that he drew in material from Constantine’s next great destruction of a tyrant, which was playing out its middle phase even as he spoke. This may not have been a conscious choice.²⁴³ But whether it was or it wasn’t, we see in this speech a reflection of the subtle invective that must have been beginning to be levelled at Licinius during this period. In 321, Constantine’s subjects were aware that the world was heading slowly towards another civil war. Nazarius’ panegyric is therefore a witness to the last phase of civil war that brought Constantine to sole domination of the Empire. In its text, we can see the early stages of the process by which Licinius was ‘de-legitimized’. Pan. Lat. XII and IV are strikingly similar speeches. Both focus, in the main, on the same event. But within the subtle shifts in emphasis that are evidenced in Nazarius’ telling of this tale lie keys to understanding the political climate of 321, as Constantine’s court, and the orators who fawned upon it, prepared the ground for the final push against Licinius.

²⁴¹ Tyrant was a term associated with the Greeks (e.g. Cic., Rep. I.47) and so particularly appropriate for a Western emperor looking East. The earliest appearance of tyrannus in the public discourse surrounding Constantine, on the Arch of Constantine, came in 315 when relations with Licinius were beginning to break down. ²⁴² Cf. CTh. XV.15.1–4; Lib., Or. LIX.21; Jul., Or. I.8a‒b. ²⁴³ Something similar took place in the minds of British historians who, during the heyday of the British Empire, found in the Anglo-Saxons a confident and socially advanced nation expanding naturally in the face of a backward Celtic people (B. Ward-Perkins, ‘Why did the Anglo-Saxons not become more British?’ EHR 115 (2000), 513–33).

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VI Tyranny and Blood Constantius, Constans, Magnentius, and Vetranio

Constantine died in an imperial villa on the outskirts of Nicomedia on 22 May 337. He had set out from Constantinople shortly after Easter of that year to launch his great campaign against Persia but had fallen ill, sought baptism, and died still wearing the white baptismal robes.¹ He was perhaps sixty-five years old, no great age, but his reign, falling just a few months short of thirtyone years, had been the longest of any emperor in Rome’s history barring the Empire’s founder, Augustus. Constantine had begun his reign as a usurper on the edges of the Empire and had risen to the position of sole Augustus on the back of first his father-in-law and then two brothers-in-law, a total of three Augusti who had fallen to the emperor and who became part of a narrative of the salvation of the state from tyranny and of the true religion from persecution. This bloody achievement yielded a period of internal peace the like of which the Empire had not seen since the second century. Between 324 and 337, we know of only one usurpation, the tiny uprising on Cyprus of the general Calocaerus in 333 or 334.² Yet Constantine had not cured the Empire’s endemic tendency to civil war; his reign, after all, was the product of it. After his death, fractures within the imperial college that succeeded him would almost immediately begin to open. This chapter examines first how the sons of Constantine attempted to clothe their rule in a rhetoric of fraternal harmony that disguised inter-imperial violence which was sometimes brooding, sometimes expressed in open conflict. It will then consider how it was that ¹ On Constantine’s refusal to don imperial garb after his baptism, see Euseb., VC IV.62. For the date, see Cons. Const. s.a. 337. For other sources, see Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.16; Eutr., X.8.2; Origo vi.35; Oros., VII.28.31; Ruf., HE X.12; Soc., HE I.39; Soz., HE II.34. ² Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.11–12; Anon. Val. vi.35; Jer., Chron. s.a. 334; Oros., VII.28.30; Theoph., A.M. 5825. W. Kroll, ‘Kalokairos’, RE 10.2 (1919), 1757; Barnes New Empire, 15–16; Elbern, Usurpationen im Spätrömischen Reich, 18; I. König, Origo Constantini, Anonymus Valesianus Teil 1: Text und Kommentar von Ingemar König (Trierer historische Forschungen 11. Trier, 1987), 179–81.

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Constantius, the last surviving successor to Constantine, emerged from the period of civil war that lasted from 350‒5.

SMILING F OR THE CAMERAS: THE SONS OF CO NSTA NTINE, 337– 5 0 Few periods better exemplify the way in which oratory was employed in service of narratives designed to sanitize the uncomfortable realities of interimperial conflict than the years between the death of Constantine and the death of Constans, that is from 337 to 350. During these years, the sons of Constantine waged bitter campaigns against their wider family and against one another. Yet the assessment of the period given by the orators of its day was one of harmony and peace. The accession of the sons of Constantine in 337 was secured through considerable bloodshed. Crispus, their oldest brother (the son of Constantine’s first wife, Minervina), had already long ago been executed for treason (in 326) and the history books are accordingly mute on his life and achievements.³ More immediately, however, Constantine had, in the last years of his reign, begun to place the descendants of Theodora (the second wife of his father, Constantius I) in positions of power. His half-brothers and their children were given honorific titles and roles within his government, most notably through the creation of Dalmatius, a grandson of Constantius I’s and therefore a cousin to Constantine II, Constantius II, and Constans, as Caesar in 335.⁴ It seems that Constantine may have envisaged a new tetrarchy under Constantine II and Constantius, with Constans and Dalmatius as Caesars and a further cousin, Hannibalianus, ruling as a regent over the Persian Empire that Constantine had been intending to conquer when he died in 337. If so, however, the great emperor never made this intention public, so that when he died there was no agreed plan for the succession.⁵ In moments such as these, power struggles that might spill into civil war could easily ensue. ³ CIL II 4107; CIL III 7172; CIL V 8030; CIL IX 6386a; CIL X 517 = ILS 708; CIL X 678 = ILS 710; Varner, Mutilation and Transformation, 221; Barnes, Constantine, 144–50. ⁴ Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.15; Eutr., X.9; Oros., VII.28.30. ⁵ The suggestion of Chantraine (Die Nachfolgeordnung Constantins des Grossen (Abhandlungen der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse 7. Stuttgart, 1992)) that Constantine envisaged a new tetrarchy, with Constantine II as Augustus of the West and Constans as his Caesar, and Constantius II as Augustus of the East, with Dalmatius as his Caesar, has tended to find favour (e.g. R. Burgess, ‘The Summer of Blood: The “Great Massacre” of 337 and the Promotion of the Sons of Constantine’, DOP 62 (2008), 8–9; Barnes, Constantine, 165). S. Calderone, ‘Teologia politica, successione dinastica e consecration in éta costantiniana’, in W. den Boer and E. J. Bickerman (eds), Le culte des souverains dans l’Empire romain: sept exposés suivis de discussions (Entretiens sur l’Antiquité classique 19. Geneva, 1972), 215–69, esp. 255–6, proposed the rather improbable idea

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Constantius II, who was the only one of Constantine’s remaining sons to be in the East at the time of their father’s death, appears to have acted swiftly to curtail this possibility. In June 337, an uprising took place in Constantinople that later historians would blame upon an unruly military and that the panegyrists of Constantius’ reign would pass over in carefully coded silence.⁶ Its orchestrator was the ruthless Constantius, who behind the cloak of an insurrection directed a surgically precise purge against all competition for the imperial throne.⁷ In one strike, at least nine members of the imperial family were summarily executed at Constantinople: the Caesar Dalmatius and his brother Hannibalianus, Constantine’s putative ‘king of kings and of the Pontic Peoples’; their father, Flavius Dalmatius, who had been consul in 333, had suppressed Calocaerus in Cyprus, and bore the ancient title of censor; his brother, Julius Constantius, who was the father of Julian and Gallus, a patricius, and had been consul for the year 335; an unnamed son of Julius Constantius’ and four further unnamed cousins of Julian’s, as well as numerous other senior officials, many of whom may have likewise been descendants of Theodora.⁸ It amounted to one of the most violent purges of the imperial family ever to accompany the succession, an event made all the more visceral to us by the fact that one of its few survivors was the future emperor Julian, who bore the resentment of it for the rest of his life. We can hardly blame him—virtually every male member of his family was slaughtered in what Libanius, writing from the safe distance of the year 365, would call ‘the great massacre’.⁹ that Constantine had formed a plan whereby his sons would remain Caesars under his divine, postmortem guidance! ⁶ In both his 335 Tricennalian Oration (Laus Constantini) and his later Life of Constantine (Vita Constantini), unfinished at the time of his death in 339, Eusebius allotted the appointment of a Caesar to every decade of Constantine’s reign. In the earlier speech (Laus Con. 3.2), he reckoned four decades (the speech was part of the celebrations for Constantine’s thirtieth year, so this was technically correct) and four Caesars. The later Life, however, produced the same argument but with three decades and three Caesars (VC IV.40; cf. 51 and 68), Dalmatius having been quietly forgotten. For Libanius and Julian’s panegyrics, see below, pp. 159–60 and 177–8. The only other account of any length is that in Zos., II.40. For the uniformly terse accounts of later historians, see Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.22; Eutr., X.9; Oros., VII.29.1; Soz., HE V.2; Soc., HE III.1; with M. Di Maio and W.-H. Arnold, ‘Per Vim, Per Caedem, Per Bellum: A Study of Murder and Ecclesiastical Politics in the Year 337 A.D.’, Byzantion, 62 (1992), 161–75. ⁷ Constantius’ culpability cannot be definitively proven (J. W. Leedom, ‘Constantius II: Three Revisions’, Byzantion 48 (1978), 133–6), though it has recently been very persuasively argued for (Burgess, ‘Summer of Blood’, 5–51). Ammianus certainly thought him to blame (Amm., XXI.16.8) and when Julian wrote his Letter to the Athenians in 361, the pagan emperor appears to have felt no need to justify his claim that Constantius was the instigator of the massacre and, indeed, his passing references to Constantius’ contrition suggest an audience that was expected to already believe Constantius had been responsible for the events of 337 (Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 270d–271a). The burden of proof, I feel, must lie with those who wish to prove Constantius’ innocence. A summary of views on 337, both ancient and modern, can be found in X. Lucien-Brun, ‘Constance II et le massacre de princes’, Bulletin de l’Association Guillaume Budé 32:4 (1973), 591–9. ⁸ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 270c‒d; Burgess, ‘Summer of Blood’, 10. ⁹ Lib., Or. XVIII.10. On Julian’s reaction to the massacre, see Chapter VII, pp. 198–9.

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Constantine’s sons met together in Pannonia on 9 September 337, three and a half months after their illustrious father’s death, and were there hailed Augusti by the assembled armies.¹⁰ Yet if the Constantinopolitan bloodletting was intended to ensure that peace reigned within the imperial house, its aims were almost immediately frustrated. Constantine II, the oldest of the three brothers, was assigned Britain, Gaul, and Spain as his territory, but appears almost immediately to have begun attempting to assert a position of dominance over the entire Empire. He imposed coin types upon his brothers commemorating their grandmothers, Helena and Theodora.¹¹ More importantly, he appears to have attempted to exert direct influence in the territories of both Constantius (Thrace and the East) and of Constans (Italy, Illyricum, and North Africa). Even before taking Augustan power he had ordered, on 17 June, that the exiled bishop Athanasius was to be returned to his see of Alexandria in Constantius’ Egypt.¹² As Augustus, he appears to have been attempting to portray himself as guardian over his younger brother Constans, still a teenager in 337.¹³ When these attempts were resisted, he took direct action, and in 340 he invaded Constans’ Italy. He had, however, underestimated his younger brother, whose forces drew Constantine into an ambush in which he was killed and much of his army destroyed.¹⁴ Ties of blood spared him no ill feeling from Constans, who launched a purge against Constantine’s supporters and wrote to the praetorian prefect Marcellinus in April 340, when Constantine’s body can barely have been cold, cancelling tax exemptions granted by ‘the public enemy and our own’.¹⁵ This would appear to constitute the imposition of memory sanctions, in which Constantius apparently followed suit, for Constantine’s name was chiselled away from inscriptions and even coins in the East.¹⁶ Constans took over Constantine’s territory, and, after only three years of triarchy, the sons of Constantine became a diarchy.¹⁷

¹⁰ For the date, see Cos. Const. s.a. 337. ¹¹ Burgess, ‘Summer of Blood’, 22–4. ¹² Ath., Apol. contra Ar. 87; Soz., HE III.2. ¹³ CTh. XII.1.27 demonstrates that Constantine was addressing laws to officials within Constans’ empire (the law is in the name of both Constantine and Constans, but it was given at Trier and so must have come from Constantine). ¹⁴ Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.22, Epit. 41.21; Eutr., X.9.2; Oros., VII.29.5; Philost., HE III.1; Soz., HE III.2; Zos., II.41; Zon., XIII.5.7–16; cf. Amm., XXI.6.2; M. Di Maio, ‘Smoke in the Wind: Zonaras’ Use of Philostorgius, Zosimus, John of Antioch, and John of Rhodes in his Narrative on the NeoFlavian Emperors’, Byzantion 58 (1988), 240–2. ¹⁵ Evidence for a purge of supporters comes only indirectly, in the fact that Ambrose of Milan’s father, who had been Constantine’s praetorian prefect in Gaul, died an early death in 340, suggesting (though not proving) that he was executed by the incoming emperor; see S. Mazzarino, Storia sociale del vescovo Abrogio (Rome, 1989), 75–82; Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 51 n. 15. For Constans’ law, see CTh. XI.12.1. ¹⁶ CIL V.8030, VIII.12272; AE 1935, 4; Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 51–2. ¹⁷ Constans even appears to have annulled his brother’s laws, a suggestion that memory sanctions may have been imposed on Constantine: cf. CTh XI.12.1. In a striking irony, Constans’ own name appears also to have been erased from this law, but since it dates from April 340 and

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If relations between the remaining two brothers were more peaceful, it was only by virtue of geographical distance and disturbances on the Rhine and Persian frontiers that kept their attentions focussd outwards.¹⁸ A conflict for power and dominance that was not fought with soldiers, however, continued to be waged with bishops and with doctrine. Constantius was an Arian, Constans a Catholic, and their religious difference saw a cold war between the Empire’s two halves which was exacerbated by the (roughly) East/West division between the two ecclesiastical parties, the main Catholic support bases lying in the West, the main Arian ones in the East.¹⁹ Constantius was attempting to promote, at least in the East, an officially sponsored Arianism spearheaded by the bishop of Constantinople, Eusebius, the man who had baptised the late Constantine.²⁰ Eusebius was made bishop of Constantinople after a synod deposed Paul, the city’s current Nicaean incumbent, probably in 337.²¹ Less than two years after Constantine II had browbeaten Constantius into taking Athanasius back, the tenacious bishop was again expelled from his see of Alexandria, which he left on 16 April 339.²² Athanasius and other Eastern exiles appealed to the West and were present in Rome for a synod called by Julius, bishop of the city, which, in 340 or 341, publicly declared their orthodoxy and their restoration to their sees. The Nicaean bishops then prevailed upon Constans to call a council of both Eastern and Western bishops at Serdica in 342 or 343.²³ Serdica quickly split into two rival councils, one of Eastern and another of Western bishops, with the Western bishops again confirming the return of Athanasius and others to their sees and the Easterners remaining obdurate.²⁴ Following the council, Constans wrote to his brother and openly threatened war if Paul and Athanasius were not

was addressed to Marcellinus, the praetorian prefect in the West, it must surely have come from Constans. ¹⁸ B. Dignas and E. Winter, Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity: Neighbours and Rivals (Cambridge, 2007), 88–90; J. F. Drinkwater, The Alamanni and Rome 213–496 (Caracalla to Clovis) (Oxford, 2007), 199–200. ¹⁹ J. W. Leedom, ‘Constantius II: Three Revisions’, Byzantion 48 (1978), 136–41. ²⁰ Cf. S. Elm, Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome (Berkeley, 2012), 32–42. Elm gives considerable credit to Constantius as attempting to negotiate a compromise with his recalcitrant brothers. ²¹ Soc., HE II.6–7, 13; Soz., III.3–4. Paul’s deposition caused rioting in the city: Lib., Or. I.44, LIX.94–97. For Paul’s career, including defence of the 337 date, see Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 212–17. ²² Soc., HE II.9; Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 34–46. ²³ The dating of this council is uncertain: J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds (3rd edn. London, 1972), 274. T. G. Elliott, ‘The date of the Council of Serdica’, The Ancient History Bulletin 2 (1988), 65–72 dates it to 342, and argues that this ‘will eventually be accepted’ (72), but Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 71 argues for 343. ²⁴ Kelly, Early Christian Creeds, 274–83; Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 71–81; H. Hess, The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica (Oxford, 2002), 98ff.

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restored.²⁵ By 346 Constans was even refusing to acknowledge his brother’s choice of consuls (amusingly, Constans was one of them), a widely recognized and open declaration of hostility.²⁶ A foreign war on the Eastern frontier was brewing (Nisibis was besieged in 346) and the death of Gregory, the Arian bishop who had replaced Athanasius in Alexandria, gave Constantius the opportunity to back down, however unwillingly. Athanasius returned to his city on 21 October 346.²⁷ The immediate crisis was thus resolved, but relations between East and West were now poised on the brink of open violence. The main contemporary witness to this period of bloodshed, warfare, threat-making, and recrimination comes in the form of the oration delivered by the sophist Libanius, whose Or. LIX, entitled ‘Encomium on Constantius and Constans’, was delivered in Nicomedia at some point during Libanius’ time as a professor of rhetoric within the city, that is between 344 and 349.²⁸ Though addressed to both emperors, it is impossible that the speech was delivered in the presence of Constans and highly unlikely that it was delivered in the presence of Constantius either.²⁹ It may well be the oration referred to by Libanius in his autobiography, which he pronounced before Pompeianus, the governor of Bithynia.³⁰ The speech is a joint panegyric, addressing the virtues of Constantius and Constans through the theme of their perpetual victory and their enduring harmony. Its form is quasi-historical, moving chronologically through the lives of its two subjects.³¹ Libanius keeps loosely to the schema set out by Menander in the Basilikos Logos. He opens with a general introduction on the virtue of his subjects followed by an exposition of their heritage (1‒9; 10‒31). Next he speaks of their education and of their early years as junior rulers under Constantine (32‒58). He recounts their deeds in war, treating them each separately, Constantius first and then Constans (59‒122; 123‒49). Finally, he addresses their deeds in peace, focusing on their

²⁵ Soc., HE II.22.5; cf. Philost., HE III.12; Soz., HE III.20.1; Theodor., HE II.9; Theoph., 5849. Athanasius, years after Constans’ death, was still having to defend himself before Constantius on charges of having turned the younger brother against the elder: Ath., Apol. ad Const. 2–5. ²⁶ H. R. Baldus, ‘Constantius et Constans Augusti: Darstellungen des kaiserlichen Brüderpaares auf Prägungen der Jahre 340-350 n. Chr.’, Jahrbuch fur Numismatik und Geldgeschichte 34 (1984), 99–101; Maraval, Fils de Constantin, 51; J. Wienand, ‘The Empire’s Golden Shade: Icons of Sovereignty in an Age of Transition’, in Wienand (ed.), Contested Monarchy, 439–44. ²⁷ Greg. Naz., Or. XXI.27–9. Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 92. ²⁸ R.-L. Malosse (ed. and tr.), Libanios: Discours (Paris, 2003), IV 7–8; date: J. P. Callu, ‘Un Miroir des princes: le “Basilikos” libanien 348’, Geryon 5 (1987), 135–6 declines particular comment, merely sketching the boundaries; W. Portmann, ‘Der 59. Rede des Libanius und das Datum der Schlacht von Singara’, BZ 82 (1989), 1–18 is an excellent survey of opinion on the topic. ²⁹ Though Burgess, ‘Summer of Blood’, 12 believes Constantius was present. ³⁰ Lib., Or. I 70–4. ³¹ Libanius notes the differences between his oration and a true historical account, but nonetheless maintains that he is providing a relatively systematic biography (Or. LIX 56–7). On Libanius’ historical aims, see Ross, ‘Libanius the Historian?’, 293–320.

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harmony with one another, their preservation of order, and their attention to justice (150‒68). He closes with a general eulogy on the world, united under a single empire (169‒73). From the summary alone it should be obvious that Libanius did not merely glide over the internal feuding within the house of Constantine but utterly obliterated it. His treatment of the events of 337, such as it was, amounted to a total whitewash of what had taken place. Libanius devotes perhaps twenty-five lines to the period in which the Caesars acceded to Augustan power. His consideration opens with the coded ‘I especially rejoice with the emperor for these two reasons: that they received the government from their father and that they proved superior to the ensuing disorder’ (ταραχή). Libanius deems it a mark of his emperors’ virtue that they received the Empire justly from their father, but also that they claimed it bravely after ‘the crisis’.³² Libanius does not expand further on these remarks, but instead moves into a series of historical exempla (the Persian rulers Darius and Cyrus, and Alexander the Great) designed to demonstrate that while many of the great rulers of history took power by force, Constantius and Constans came to it with the consent of all.³³ He therefore works carefully to say—without explicitly acknowledging that it ever took place—that the massacre of 337 was nothing to do with the emperors themselves; that the emperors (or more specifically, Constantius) had weathered a storm rather than created one. Libanius’ repeated stress upon the fact that the Caesars had not seized power but had been given it may be seen as indication that his speech was working to explain away the unspoken violence of 337. His coded remarks on that troubled summer, however, were part of the wider scheme of dynastic legitimacy that the speech advanced. Constantius and Constans’ claim to the throne was ultimately founded upon their familial inheritance, an inheritance reaching back more than five decades, to Constantius’ accession as Caesar in 293. Accordingly, Libanius devoted considerable space at the commencement of the speech to recounting the deeds of both Constantius I and of Constantine (whose reign, notably, was described by the rhetor largely in terms of the suppression of tyranny in the form of Maxentius and Licinius).³⁴ Libanius

³² Lib., Or. LIX.49. ³³ Lib., Or. LIX.50–5. Greek historical orthodoxy held that Persian king Cyrus II (d. 530 BC) had survived his attempted infanticide by his grandfather, the Median king Astyages, and, when he reached adulthood, had incited the Persians to throw off Median domination, killing his grandfather and founding the Persian Achaemenid Empire (cf. Hdt. I.107ff.; J. E. van der Veen, The Significant and the Insignificant: Five Studies in Herodotus’ View of History (Amsterdam Studies in Classical Philology 6. Amsterdam, 1996), 23–52). Darius, (d. 486 BC) had been chosen as king of the Persians by the whinnying of a horse (Hdt., III.84–7). Alexander, of course, was famous as one who built an empire through conquest. ³⁴ Lib., Or. LIX.14–21.

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preceded his consideration of the two imperial forebears with an explicit declaration that the Empire was a familial possession that had now passed, rightly, to its legal heirs: For they did not enter into another’s inheritance after having expelled the possessors, nor again did they buy their position, like something for sale in the market, by fawning on the crowd, but, just as individuals come into the inheritance of their father’s and grandfather’s property, because they are authorized by law, so the Empire belongs to them divinely out of three generations.³⁵

This idea was of paramount importance, and ultimately informed the following sections of the speech, in which Libanius extolled the virtues of first Constantius and then Constantine. Libanius was not only praising the idea of a hereditary succession, he was presenting a framework in which inheritance by blood was the only condition in which the throne might pass legally from one emperor to another. Without explicitly doing so, he likewise turned his audience’s minds to the bloody summer of 337. Libanius’ logic turned the sons and grandsons of Theodora from ousted participants in government into greedy relatives attempting to crowd in upon the patrimony of deserving heirs. The theme of dynastic legitimacy was a natural one for Libanius to invoke. With an imperial father, an imperial princess for a mother, and two imperial grandfathers, no emperors in Roman history had ever possessed blood as purple as that of the sons of Constantine. Yet there were also notable absences from this story of dynastic inheritance. Unsurprisingly, though they lurk in the background of Libanius’ remarks upon ‘the crisis’, the descendants of Theodora are not mentioned at all in the speech, bar Libanius’ assertion that Constantius wished his imperial inheritance to pass to Helena’s sons alone.³⁶ A more glaring omission, however, was Constantine’s older children. Crispus, executed perhaps twenty years before Libanius spoke, would hardly be expected to be mentioned.³⁷ Constantine, however, was an intimate part of Constantius and Constans’ story. He, like them, had come to the Empire ‘divinely out of three generations’. He like them ‘came forth into the light, worthy of [his] father’s nature’.³⁸ Yet the war between Constans and Constantine II was a great embarrassment, a blemish in the pristine story of the Constantinian inheritance, and it had no place in Libanius’ narrative. Unsurprisingly, it passes unmentioned in the account that Libanius tenders of Constans’ military achievements, which the orator limits to his campaigns against the Franks in 341‒2 and the emperor’s suppression of a rebellion in Britain in 343.³⁹

³⁵ Lib., Or. LIX.13. ³⁶ Lib., Or. LIX.17. ³⁷ P.-L. Malosse, ‘Libanius on Constantine Again’, CQ 47:2 (1997), 521–2. ³⁸ Lib., Or. LIX.30. ³⁹ Jer., Chron. s.a. 341, 342; Soc., HE II.13.4; Maraval, Fils de Constantin, 46–9. Ammianus clearly described Constans’ campaigns in Britain in a lost book (cf. XX.1.1).

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Libanius’ silence goes further, however. Throughout the length of the speech, there is no suggestion that Constantine ever had more than two sons. This effect was not achieved merely by framing the narrative so as to avoid any mention of Constantine II. On several occasions, Libanius explicitly declared that there were only ever two sons. Constantine’s succession plan was imagined as always having been a dyarchy, ‘one to guard the East, the other the West’.⁴⁰ Constantius was the one of Constantine’s ‘two sons’ appointed to watch the Persian frontier.⁴¹ When he went to Pannonia to receive the title of Augustus, he met with ‘his brother’ (singular) and Libanius makes clear that ‘it was an act of God to ordain equal government for each brother.’⁴² As we have seen, both Constans and Constantius appear to have enacted memory sanctions, in some form, against their fallen brother. Libanius took his cue from this and took the astounding but necessary step of pretending that Constantine II had never existed. Silence regarding Constantine II helped Libanius to frame the rhetorical conclusion of his speech. Having dealt separately, in the central part of his panegyric, with the deeds in war of first Constantius and then Constans, he again united his subjects in a lengthy paean on the harmony that existed between the brothers. The reuniting of his subjects was more than just a structural feature of the speech; Libanius made unity his concluding focus. He began by musing on the past: ‘For previously envy had fixed to all dominion; the masters of smaller kingdoms plotted against the holders of larger ones, those of the larger against those who possessed small domains, and they were jealous of their inferiors.’⁴³ That this would seem to be a perfect summary of what had taken place between Constantine II and Constans does not appear to have troubled Libanius, who moved to the moral of this comparison in the contemplation of the state of the Empire under Constantius and Constans: But now all that has passed is inferior, all ill feeling thanks to envy is banished, an unbreakable link of friendship unites the souls of the emperors. The Empire is divided in space, but united by their love, and the fame of their closeness is confirmed by their actions. For, far from suffering from each other’s successes, each gives the other the first place. Daily, horses and quadrigae, increasing their speed thanks to relays, carry the will of each to the other. And their envoys each come to the realm of the other with equal authority. The region in which the borders of the emperors’ realms meet is not watched by a continuous deployment of army camps, but by the immovable strength of a guileless trust.⁴⁴

Libanius concluded by observing that, while past ages were rife with usurpation, since subjects feared their masters (even when their masters were ⁴⁰ Lib., Or. LIX.43. ⁴³ Lib., Or. LIX 151.

⁴¹ Lib., Or. LIX.72. ⁴⁴ Lib., Or. LIX 152.

⁴² Lib., Or. LIX.75, 125.

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handing out gifts) the age of Constantius and Constans was one of peace, untroubled by the emergence of pretenders to the throne.⁴⁵ Harmony, Libanius argued, defined this fraternal partnership. As we have seen, this tale could hardly have been further from the truth. Yet in crafting this highly artificial image for the imperial brothers, Libanius was surely responding to the self-presentation of the emperors in various media. However flimsy the screen of brotherly love had become, neither court could afford to abandon it, for their familial succession was the fundamental pillar of their rule, the ultimate justification of their possession of power. Medallions, like that minted to celebrate Constantius’ victory at Nisibis in 346 or the joint consulship of Constantius and Constans in that same year (the consulship Constans initially refused to acknowledge), displayed the two emperors standing together as equals (Fig. VI.1).⁴⁶ Their harmony was axiomatic, a political fact uncoupled from the reality of anything as mundane as actual events. As a senior academic in one of the most important cities of the East, a city in which Constantius was frequently resident during Libanius’ tenure of the Nicomedian professorship, Libanius can hardly have been unaware of the 337 massacre (on which he would write with feeling later in his life), of the death and damnatio of Constantine II, and of the perilously poor state of the relationship between the two surviving brothers. As an orator called upon to deliver a panegyric, however, his business was not to shine a critical spotlight on current affairs, but to mould them in obedience to the way in which his emperor, Constantius, wished his regime to be portrayed.⁴⁷ Evidently, it was important to Constantius that the relationship between himself and Constans be portrayed in the warmest possible terms, as the perfect inheritance from the divine Constantine. Constantine fathered four sons. By the time of his death, the eldest had been dead and damned for eleven years. Within another three years, his second son was to fall in a civil war in the north of Italy. His killer, the youngest of those purple boys, was to enjoy ten years of unchallenged government in the West before an internal conspiracy brought him down and he was, in keeping with family tradition, handed over to a Roman executioner. These events would transform the last survivor, Constantius, into a triumphant destroyer of

⁴⁵ Lib., Or. LIX 154–6. ⁴⁶ Baldus, ‘Constantius et Constans Augusti’, 83–5; Wienand, ‘The Empire’s Golden Shade’, 439–44. ⁴⁷ Libanius was clearly held in high regard by Constantius, who awarded him, during his tenure of the professorship in Nicomedia, the revenue of a number of large estates (Lib., Or. I.80). F. Curta, ‘Atticism, Homer, Neoplatonism, and Fürstenspiegel: Julian’s Second Panegyric on Constantius’, GRBS 36:2 (1995), 191 wrongly connects this directly to Or. LIX, which the evidence does not permit. Nevertheless, it shows Libanius was making a successful career in the city, and it is likely that his panegyric was in part responsible.

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Fig. VI.1. Consular issue for the year 346, minted at Antioch and depicting upon its reverse the imperial brothers, nimbate, each holding a sceptre and globe and dressed in their consular robes. Numismatica Ars Classica NAC AG, Auction 31, lot 157.

tyrants on the model of his illustrious father, the last man in history ever to rule as sole Augustus an empire that stretched from Britain to Syria.

T H E SO N O F T H E F A T H E R : C O N S T A N T I U S THE TYRANT-SLAYER At the beginning of 350, Constans fell victim to a coup within his senior staff. The sources are laconic and conflicting on what motivated this change of power, but the recurrent themes are that he indulged in ‘vices’ (some sources explicitly linking this to homosexual behaviour), that his physical health was increasingly failing, and that he was showing favouritism to certain subordinates.⁴⁸ What such charges imply—if indeed they imply anything consistent—is that Constans had alienated himself from vested interests within his own Empire, with charges of favouritism perhaps suggesting that powerful men were being passed over for important positions. Accusations of exorbitant taxation introduced by his successor may also suggest that Constans had mismanaged imperial finances, a suggestion borne out by the fact that one of the primary instigators of the revolt, Marcellinus, was the overseer of the imperial estates.⁴⁹ ⁴⁸ Art. pass. 10; Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.23–5, Epit. 41.22; Eutr., X.9; Oros., VII.29.7; Zon., XIII.5, 6; Zos., II.42.1.; Soc., HE. II.25; Soz., HE IV.1, and Chron. Pasch. s.a. 350 report his death without offering any explanation for it. Philost., HE III.22 suggests it was as a result of the emperor’s over-zealous support for the bishop Athanasius. ⁴⁹ On these accusations, see Jul., Or. I.34a‒b, which mentions a fifty-per-cent property tax. Marcellinus was comes rerum privatarum. The assessment of Camille Jullian probably still holds good, that Constans was not a bad ruler, but was guilty of two critical errors: first, that he allowed

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At any rate, on 18 January 350, while Constans was absent on a hunting trip, this same Marcellinus organized a party at his home in Autun. One of the guests was Magnentius, who was at that time commander of the crack legions of the Jovii and Herculianii.⁵⁰ Magnentius was a second generation Roman, the child of parents born beyond the Rhine, who had joined the army and flourished under Constantine, serving as a protector and then comes rei militaris in the years before 350.⁵¹ During the course of Marcellinus’ party, Magnentius excused himself only to return dressed in the imperial regalia. He was hailed as emperor by the assembled guests who, we may assume, included many of Constans’ senior officials. Constans, on receiving the news, fled south towards Spain but was apprehended at Helena (modern Elne) in the Gallic foothills of the Pyrenees, where he was summarily executed.⁵² Magnentius wasted no time in securing his rule and set about consolidating his power, travelling first to Trier and then crossing into Italy.⁵³ He was in control of Rome no later than 27 February, the date at which his adherent, Fabius Titianus, took up his term as urban prefect there.⁵⁴ Magnentius himself, however, travelled from Milan to Aquileia, which he had reached no later than the end of February.⁵⁵ Magnentius was clearly seeking to take control of the entirety of Constans’ empire, which extended into the Balkans. From there he may even have hoped to invade the territory of Constantius in the East. He was, however, frustrated in this ambition by a military revolt in the region, which, on 1 March 350, propelled the magister peditum in Illyricum, one Vetranio, to imperial power.⁵⁶ Of Vetranio, we know nothing but the short biographies that too much power to be devolved to civil functionaries, allowing them to become ‘merciless judges’, and secondly that he made no attempt to hide his indifference to the Germanic officer corps that he had inherited from his father and that made up the senior military establishment in his empire (C. Jullian, Histoire de la Gaule (8 vols. Paris, 1908–26), VII 151–2). For a discussion of Constans’ reign, see Maraval, Fils de Constantin, 42–61. On Constans’ coinage, P. Brunn, ‘Constans Maximus Augustus’, in H. Huvelin, M. Christol, and G. Gautier (eds), Mélanges de numismatique offerts à Pierre Bastien à l’occasion de son 75e anniversaire (Wetteren, 1987), 187–99. ⁵⁰ Zos., II.42.2. ⁵¹ Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.25, Epit. 42.7; Zos., II.46.3, 54.1; Zon., XIII.6. On this polemical use of Magnentius’ barbarian descent, see below, pp. 171–6. ⁵² In the wake of Constans’ death, Magnentius expanded his zone of control to encompass Africa: Bastien, Monnayage de Magnence, 11; J. Šašel, ‘The Struggle between Magnentius and Constantius II for Italy and Illyricum’, Živa Antika 21 (1971), 205–6; P. Salama, ‘L’empereur Magnence et les Provinces Africaines’, in Huvelin-Christol- Gautier (eds), Mélanges de numismatique, 203–4. ⁵³ A. Jeločnik, ‘Les multiples d’or de Magnence découverts à Émona’, Revue Numismatique 9:6 (1967), 215–16; Bastien, Monnayage de Magnence, 9–11. ⁵⁴ This was actually Titianus’ second term in this office, his previous having been from October 339–February 341: A. Chastagnol, Les fastes de la Préfecture de Rome au Bas-Empire (Paris, 1962), 107–11 and 131. ⁵⁵ Jeločnik, ‘Les multiples d’or de Magnence’, 216; Bastien, Monnayage de Magnence, 11. ⁵⁶ For the date of the 1st of March, see Chron. Pasch. s.a. 349 and 350, in both of which years it is listed. Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.26, Epit. 41.25; Eutr., X.10.2; Jer., Chron. s.a. 350; Philost., HE III.22; Soc., HE II.25; Soz., HE IV.1.1; Zos., II.43.1; Joh. Ant. fr. 173; Theoph. 5849; Zon., XIII.7. There is

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contemporary and near-contemporary historians attached to their accounts of his usurpation, which report him—variously with censure or with sympathy— as a man of advanced age and lacking even the rudiments of an education. Given his senior position, this suggests that Vetranio was a career soldier who had started low and had risen high by dint of talent and long service.⁵⁷ These same historians universally treated Vetranio’s accession as a military insurrection in the vacuum that followed Constans’ death, an attempt by the Illyrian armies to promote their own agenda by creating an emperor (as had happened so frequently during the third century). The trend of much modern scholarship appears to be to defer to the authority of these sources and to view Vetranio as an opportunist seeking to go it alone in the wake of his emperor’s death.⁵⁸ Close attention to the panegyrics, however, will demonstrate to us the impossibility of this position, and Vetranio’s usurpation must be understood as a loyalist uprising designed to defend the last remaining son of Constantine, the emperor Constantius. Vetranio’s usurpation halted Magnentius’ advance, and so he set about consolidating his rule within the territories that had fallen to him—Britain, Gaul, Spain, Italy, and North Africa. Memory sanctions were enacted against the fallen Constans, whose name was chiselled away from inscriptions within Magnentius’ territory and, in some cases, even recarved with Magnentius’ own.⁵⁹ Constans’ deposition was clearly portrayed by Magnentius as a tyrannicide, for inscriptions dedicated to Magnentius advertised him as liberator orbis Romani, restitutor libertatis et rei publicae, conservator militum et provincialium (‘the liberator of the Roman world, restorer of liberty and of the Republic, [and] the defender of the soldiers and the provincials’).⁶⁰ Magnentius, himself very probably a Christian, was willing to grant greater toleration to pagans within his territory than had Constans, a gesture doubtless designed both to underscore the oppressive nature of Constans’ government and to draw in supporters from the pagan aristocracy.⁶¹ With his eyes on the future, Magnentius clearly extended feelers into Constantius’ territory. In the mid 350s, the bishop Athanasius composed his disagreement among these texts regarding the place of elevation, with Sirmium, Naissus, and Mursa all named by various texts. Chronicon Paschale, amusingly, has the elevation on 1 March 349 at Sirmium and 1 March 350 at Naissus (in the latter instance, also declaring this to be a city in Italy!). ⁵⁷ Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.26, Epit. 41.25; Eutr., X.10; Oros., VII.29.9; Zos., II.43.1. ⁵⁸ E.g. B. Bleckmann, ‘Constantina, Vetranio und Gallus Cäsar’, Chiron 24 (1994), 29–68; J. F. Drinkwater, ‘The Revolt and Ethnic Origin of the Usurper Magnentius (350‒353) and the Rebellion of Vetranio (350)’, Chiron 30 (2000), 149–59. ⁵⁹ For instance, ILS 729; CIL VIII.7012, 7013. For recarvings, see CIL VIII.22552, 22558 (a pair of African milestones where Constans’ name has been removed and replaced with Magnentius’). ⁶⁰ E.g. CIL V.8066, IX.5937, 5940, 5951. ⁶¹ Ziegler, Religiösen Haltung, 53–73; Z. Rubin, ‘Pagan propaganda under Magnentius’, Scripta Classica Israelica 17 (1998), 124–41.

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Defence before Constantius, a document designed to answer a variety of religious and political allegations levelled against the bishop by the work’s eponymous emperor. Among these was the charge that Athanasius had corresponded with Magnentius in the period after Constans’ death; true or not, these accusations suggest that Magnentius was known to have been attempting to recruit sympathetic individuals within Constantius’ territory.⁶² Yet Magnentius’ goal was peace rather than war. He allowed the summer to pass without making any open move against either Constantius or Vetranio. Indeed, with the latter he clearly entered into some kind of alliance, and they were in talks with one another throughout the summer, preparing a joint embassy which they would eventually send to Constantius. Magnentius’ primary concern here was to secure for himself as a wife Constantia, Constantius’ sister and the eldest daughter of Constantine.⁶³ Constantia was, at that time, in Illyricum with Vetranio and, as we shall see, was an integral player in the power games of 350. Constantius, for his part, had certainly been in contact with Vetranio, for letters passed between their courts.⁶⁴ Constantius may even have sent the Illyrian emperor a diadem.⁶⁵ Magnentius may therefore have hoped that, through alliance with Vetranio, and given Constantius’ antipathy towards the deceased Constans, a peace treaty could be concluded that would create a new triarchy. Nor did this aim conflict with his desire to portray Constans as a tyrant; if Magnentius could secure a marriage into the house of Constantine and an alliance with Constantine’s last living son, it would only make it easier to denounce Constans as an aberrant member of an otherwise glorious dynasty, a dynasty under which Magnentius had built his military career. What Magnentius did not realize, however, was that he was being played by Vetranio. Constantius clearly made no public declaration of intent during the summer of 350. He had received the news of his brother’s death while he was at Edessa, preparing to command the defence of Roman territory against an enormous invasion by the Persian shah, Shapur II. While Shapur was in the field, Constantius was bound to the Eastern frontier and so there he remained through the summer. Shapur’s goal was the city of Nisibis, at which he threw his strength in a siege lasting many months.⁶⁶ The siege was a failure, but only in the autumn was Constantius able to conclude a hasty peace and make his

⁶² Ath., Apol. ad Const. 6–13. For a proposed chronology of the composition of this text, see Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 196–7. ⁶³ Petr. Pat., fr. 16. ⁶⁴ Jul., Or. I.26c‒d; cf. Zon., XIII.7. ⁶⁵ Diadem: Philost., HE III.22; Art. Pass. 10–11. ⁶⁶ Statements concerning the length of the siege vary: seventy days (Theodor., HE II.30.4); one hundred days (Chr. Pasc. s.a. 350); four months (Jul., Or. I.28d, II.62d); cf. C. S. Lightfoot, ‘Facts and Fiction: The Third Siege of Nisibis (A.D. 350)’, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 37:1 (1988), 114. For other sources on the siege, see C. S. Lightfoot, ‘Facts and Fiction: The Third Siege of Nisibis (A.D. 350)’, Historia 37:1 (1988), 111–12.

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way towards Europe. The uncertainty of these times is visible in a speech that Constantius received while en route through Asia Minor. During the autumn he passed through the city of Ancyra, and there received a panegyric from the orator Themistius, then still an unknown young teacher with no experience of politics.⁶⁷ The speech, his Or. I, is an unremarkable one, an off-the-shelf offering under the title of ‘On the love of mankind, or Constantius’, which Themistius himself appears later to have declared was the work of a young man not fully at ease with the demands of public rhetoric.⁶⁸ The speech repeatedly invokes comparisons between Constantius and an archetypal tyrant but falls short of suggesting that such a tyrant may now exist.⁶⁹ Indeed, the speech lacks almost any historical reference to a specific event or to any policy of the emperor’s, barring a passing reference to a recent Roman victory over the Persians and to Constantius’ easing of certain strict laws relating to capital punishment.⁷⁰ Themistius’ shying away from describing the politics of his day may in part be a feature of the orator’s youth and inexperience, but it may also reflect the extent to which, to all but those in Constantius’ most immediate circle, the policy that the emperor would take either of war or peace with the European usurpers was an unknown one. The uncertainty was soon to melt, however. Reaching Constantinople towards the end of the autumn, Constantius advanced westwards along the Via Militaris, and at Heraclea, on the European coast of the Sea of Marmara, he was met by the joint embassy that Magnentius and Vetranio had been preparing.⁷¹ After hearing the official petition presented by the two usurpers, Constantius promptly arrested Magnentius’ entire delegation. Vetranio’s delegation, headed by the praetorian prefect of Illyricum, Vulcacius Rufinus, was left unmolested and, we may assume, travelled with Constantius as he made his way to the border of his and Vetranio’s empire.⁷² There, probably in the vicinity of Serdica, the two emperors met, the first imperial meeting since the sons of Constantine divided the Empire between themselves in Pannonia in 337. They travelled together to Naissus where, on 25 December 350, the ⁶⁷ That the speech was delivered at Ancyra is attested by the MS tradition itself: see Schenkl (ed.), Themistii Orationes, I 4. This heading also confirms that Constantius was present at the speech’s delivery (ὅτε πρῶπον συνέτυχε τῴ βασιλεῖ, ‘at the time of first meeting the emperor’). The date, however, is by no means certain. It has been placed variously in the autumn of 350, as here (Seeck, Briefe des Libanius, 293–4; Schenkl (ed.), Themistii Orationes, I 4), but also in 347 (Heather-Moncur, 67–71; Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 73–7). Perhaps the only reference made to dateable events within the speech is discussion of recent victory against the Persians, which would fit with either 347 or 350, as would Constantius’ presence in Ancyra. W. Portmann, ‘Zum Datum der ersten Rede des Themistius’, Klio 74 (1992), 411–21 has even argued that the speech belongs in 351, claiming that the heading of the oration should not be considered to contain genuine information. ⁶⁸ Heather-Moncur, 76. ⁶⁹ Them., Or. I.3b, 6a, 8c, 10d–11c, 13a‒b. ⁷⁰ Them., Or. I.12a‒c and 14a–16a respectively. ⁷¹ Petr. Pat., fr. 16; Zon., XIII.7. ⁷² Rufinus was appointed to a senior administrative post, see below, p. 189.

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accession anniversary of the deceased Constans, they took to a shared platform to address their assembled armies on the need to unite against Magnentius. In a carefully staged performance, Constantius spoke first, so moved the assembled armies in his demand for their loyalty, and so roused them against not only Magnentius but also Vetranio that they unanimously declared they would follow only Constantius. Vetranio, thus ostensibly abandoned, was forced to throw himself at Constantius’ feet and beg for mercy. Constantius, a man ruthless in the treatment of his enemies but likewise loyal to those who showed themselves his friends, made great show of a magnanimous forgiveness, dined with him, called him father, and sent him off to a salaried retirement in Asia Minor, where he lived out his remaining years, dying a natural death six years later.⁷³ Many contemporary histories attempted to portray Vetranio as Constantius’ enemy and his deposition as a genuine conquest.⁷⁴ Yet what took place in the Balkans during December was surely part of a long-worked-out plan between Vetranio and Constantius. Constantius passed the winter in the Balkans and, on 15 March 351, raised his cousin Gallus to the rank of Caesar. Gallus was married to Constantia and the pair were sent off to rule the East in Constantius’ name from Antioch.⁷⁵ Constantius, meanwhile, prepared his forces, now augmented by those of Vetranio, for the assault upon Magnentius’ position in Italy. Attempts to force a passage through the Alps were repulsed by Magnentius’ forces and Magnentius then advanced to occupy Siscia. The two emperors brought their armies together for a pitched battle on 28 September 351 at Mursa, on the river Drava in modern Croatia, a battle which was, if the testimony of Zonaras may be believed, the greatest single loss of Roman military strength ever to occur in the late Empire: 54,000 soldiers fell.⁷⁶ Among the dead was Marcellinus, Magnentius’ co-conspirator.⁷⁷ Constantius emerged the victor from this bloody struggle, helped in great part by the defection to his side of a major body of cavalry under the leadership of their general Silvanus.⁷⁸ Magnentius passed the winter of 351/2 at Aquileia, Constantius at Sirmium. In the spring, Constantius again assaulted Magnentius’ Italian position and

⁷³ Eutr., X.11; Them., Or. II.38a; Jer., Chron. s.a. 351; Zon., XIII.7; Zos., II.44.4. ⁷⁴ E.g. Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.1–2; Eutr., X.11. ⁷⁵ Chron. Pasch. s.a. 351; R. C. Blockley, ‘Constantius Gallus and Julian as Caesars’, Latomus 31 (1972), 433. ⁷⁶ Zon., XIII.8. For the date, see Cons. Const. s.a. 351; cf. Šašel, ‘The Struggle between Magnentius and Constantius II’, 213–14; Bastien, Monnayage de Magnence, 18–20. ⁷⁷ Jul., Or. II.58c–59b. ⁷⁸ The defection of Silvanus’ forces may have been orchestrated by Constantius’ praetorian prefect Phillipus, who travelled to Magnentius’ camp prior to Mursa on the pretence of attempting to negotiate a ceasefire (Zos., II.46–7).

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this time drove him back. He had recaptured the peninsula by the autumn, for Vulcacius Rufinus’ brother, Naeratius Cerealis, took up the prefecture of Rome on 26 September as Constantius’ appointee and Constantius himself issued a law from Milan on 3 November cancelling all decisions made ‘by the tyrant and his judges contrary to the law’ and restoring to their property anyone who had been dispossessed by Magnentius.⁷⁹ In the following year, Magnentius’ power at last unwound. Constantius’ drove his forces from the Cottian Alps and defeated him in battle at Mons Seleucus in southern Gaul.⁸⁰ Further north, Trier closed its gates to his Caesar, Decentius.⁸¹ At Lugdunum, on 10 August 353, Magnentius committed suicide. Eight days later, at Sens, Decentius followed suit and Constantius found himself master of the entire Empire.⁸² This story of violence and bloodshed contains a final, tragic postscript. As a reward for his defection, the general Silvanus was placed in charge of the Gallic armies and charged with restoring the Rhine frontier, which had collapsed to Germanic invaders during the civil war.⁸³ For all that his defection had done for Constantius, however, Silvanus appears to have been a man with enemies in high places. Letters were forged implicating Silvanus in treason and men close to him were arrested and subjected to judicial torture. Though Constantius was sceptical of these accusations, the arrests sent Silvanus into a panic and, on 11 August 355, he had his soldiers declare him emperor at Trier.⁸⁴ Constantius then sent the general Ursicinus to diffuse the situation. Ursicinus met with Silvanus and attempted to mollify him. Finally, in a seeming panic, Ursicinus took the simple step of bribing some of Silvanus’ soldiers. On 7 September these soldiers stormed Silvanus’ quarters and dragged him from a private chapel where he had sought refuge, murdering him and thus ending his reign after only twenty-eight days.⁸⁵ The fall of Magnentius engendered a period of celebrations in the West that began with the tricennalia (thirtieth anniversary) of Constantius’ proclamation as Caesar, which Constantius celebrated at Arles in November 353, and culminated in his triumphant entry into the city of Rome on 28 April 357,

⁷⁹ CTh. XV.14.5. For Cerealis’ prefecture, see Chron. 354 10. ⁸⁰ Soc., II.32; Soz., HE IV.7; Zos., II.53. ⁸¹ Amm., XV.6.4; J. P. C. Kent, ‘The Revolt of Trier against Magnentius’, NC 19 (1959), 105–8. ⁸² Aur. Vict., Caes. 42.10, Epit. 42.6, 8; Eutr., X.12.2; Philost., HE III.26; Soc., HE II.32; Soz., HE IV.7.3; Zos., II.53.3, 54.2; Joh. Ant., fr. 174; Zon., XIII.9. ⁸³ This may have been a punishment disguised as a reward; Ammianus claims that Silvanus’ commission was engineered by Arbitio, who wished to see the general placed in danger (XV.5.2). ⁸⁴ Amm., XV.5.15–16; Aur. Vict., Caes. 42.15–16, Epit. 42.10–11; Eutr., X.13; Oros., VII.29.14; Zon., XIII.9. W. den Boer, ‘The Emperor Silvanus and his Army’, AC 3 (1960), 105–9 suggests that Silvanus was forced into usurpation by the soldiers, but this argument is refuted both by common sense and by the comments made in D. C. Nutt, ‘Silvanus and the Emperor Constantius II’, Antichthon 7 (1973), 80–9. ⁸⁵ Amm., XV.5.17–30.

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where he celebrated his vicennalia as Augustus, a visit which lasted until 29 May of that same year.⁸⁶ During this period, five panegyrics were composed for the emperor by two different orators. The first of these, Themistius’ Or. II, was delivered in November 355 before the senate of Constantinople by the philosopher as a thanksgiving for his promotion to membership of that same body.⁸⁷ The second, Julian’s Or. I, was composed by the Caesar at some point early in his career in Gaul, and was doubtless intended as a show of loyalty to Constantius in those early, uncertain days of his power. The year is unclear, but 356 seems likely (though not certain).⁸⁸ Then, in the year 357, the year of Constantius’ great vicennalia, Themistius delivered two speeches in honour of his emperor. The first was given at Constantinople on the first day of the year in celebration of Constantius’ ninth consulship.⁸⁹ For the second, however, Themistius travelled to Rome at the head of a senatorial embassy from Constantinople bearing crown gold to the Augustus on the occasion of his triumph in the ancient capital.⁹⁰ Finally, Julian composed his Or. II, a challenging speech which is generally believed to have been written late in the younger emperor’s career as Caesar, when open cracks were beginning to appear in his relationship with Constantius. A plausible inference—though only an inference—would be to place it in 359.⁹¹ These speeches all dealt, in differing ways, with the usurpations of the 350s. Each was a unique composition with its own aims and structure. Yet through all five of them, we can detect a coherent—indeed, a strikingly uniform— picture of the way in which these wars were described in contemporary discourse. A clear programme emerges from these sources which was unquestionably responding to the tenor of central propaganda. This programme was, in many senses, a continuation of that which had been undertaken by Libanius, to reinforce the supreme and unchallengeable right of the dynasty of Constantine and to make smooth the rough edges of the story whereby that

⁸⁶ Tricennalia: Amm., XIV.5.1; Ammianus states that this took place in October but this has been presumed an error, since Constantius was proclaimed Caesar on 8 November 324 (Barnes, New Empire, 8 n. 31). O. Seeck, Regesten der Kaiser und Päpste für die Jahre 311 bis 476 n. Chr.: Vorarbeit zu einer Prosopographie der Christlichen Kaiserzeit (Stuttgart, 1919), 200 accepted Ammianus’ text as correct. Vicennalia: Maraval, Fils de Constantin, 141–9; Humphries, ‘Emperors, Usurpers, and the City of Rome’, 158–60. ⁸⁷ Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 91–4. ⁸⁸ Bowersock, Julian, 37. ⁸⁹ Constantius shared the consulship of that year with Julian, who was consul for the second time (CLRE, 248–9). ⁹⁰ Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 100–4; Heather-Moncur, 114–25. ⁹¹ Curta, ‘Atticism, Homer, Neoplatonism, and Fürstenspiegel’, 195–6. Bowersock, Julian, 43 argues that the speech must post-date the Batavian expedition of 358 (based on 56b), but wrongly states that 359 is impossible because of the references to peace with the Persians; this latter point, however, only demonstrates that the composition post-dates Julian’s learning of the hostilities in the East, which probably will not have taken place until the summer of 359.

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power had transitioned.⁹² The murder of Constans, a civil war of perhaps incomparable bloodshed, and finally the execution of one of the heroes of that war had made those edges all the rougher. Yet the story so easily became one of triumph, one that moulded Constantius not only as the sole true successor to his father, but as a great destroyer of tyranny consciously painted as the very image of the dead Constantine. The unity of this programme can be demonstrated with reference to other media and, more importantly, it created a historical consensus the impact of which upon later historical writing was such that later historians often did little more than reproduce the panegyrical account. At the heart of this story was the war of 350‒3, and this period accordingly occupies a significant place in all five panegyrics. In particular, this is true of both Julian’s Or. I and Themistius’ Or. III, approximately one third of each being given over to the narration of this war. In these accounts, though the two usurpers are in some sense presented as a pairing, the clear focus of their invective is Magnentius.⁹³ Magnentius was, in Themistius and Julian’s assessment, a twofold evil: he was a barbarian—wild, savage, and irresolute—but he was also a tyrant—driven by vice, a torment to his people. The blending of these two themes allowed both orators to oscillate between portraying Magnentius’ tenure of imperial power as a foreign invasion or revolt, on the one hand, and as a Neronian-style tyranny, on the other, meaning both Julian and Themistius could at once flatly deny Magnentius’ imperial pretensions while at the same time excoriate him for the worst vices associated with the abuse of that office. In his Roman oration, Themistius moves, after eulogizing upon the harmony of Rome and Constantinople, to describe Magnentius’ usurpation, and his description of it could almost—but for the telltale detail of singling out an individual leader—be mistaken for a foreign invasion: When that barbarian revolt (ἡ βαπβαρική ἐκείνη ἐπαναστάσεως) broke out and the Roman Empire was thrown as if upon a perilous wave and growing storm and the succession of Constantine was threatened with ruin by a vengeful and murderous barbarian…it is because of our founder [Constantius] that the Germans and the Jazygi do not make free with the fruits of the labour of the ancient Romans and that the reverend and mighty name of Rome has not been defiled or erased, nor passed to bastard and counterfeit successors, but has returned to the legitimate and unsullied bloodline of the emperors and is now guarded for us, inviolate and unblemished. It was from that city [Constantinople] and from his ⁹² Julian may actually have been familiar with Libanius’ Or. LIX. Certainly, Libanius was an enormous stylistic influence on the young emperor: S. Tougher, ‘Reading between the lines: Julian’s First Panegyric on Constantius II’, in N. Baker-Brian and S. Tougher (eds) Emperor and Author: The Writings of Julian the Apostate (Swansea, 2012), 22–3. ⁹³ Both name the two usurpers as ‘tyrants’ (τύραννοι: Jul., Or. I.1, 26b‒c, 27a, 30d, 47c‒d; Them., Or. II.38b, IV.55d–56b, 62b‒c) and Julian also calls them ‘an alliance of faithless men’ (ἀπίστων ἀνδρῶν ξυμμαχία: Jul., Or. I.30d).

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father’s tomb in our midst that this noble man set out and inflicted a deserved punishment on the man who had raged drunkenly against this people, who had hacked at the senate and filled Tiber’s waters with slaughterings and pollution.⁹⁴

This passage is a tight ball of carefully interwoven themes. Magnentius’ imperial status was not merely challenged or subverted but utterly denied and his rebellion portrayed as a foreign revolt. Only someone cognizant of events (as, of course, all his audience would be) could know that the man being described had been a Roman emperor. Nor is the choice of peoples whom Themistius mentions—Germans and Jazygi—an arbitrary one. Throughout the period 353‒9, Constantius was campaigning on the Upper Rhine and Danube (often on the enemy side) against both Germanic and Sarmatian tribes.⁹⁵ Themistius was thus consciously blending the events of the civil war with those of the subsequent campaigning against Germanic peoples in which Constantius was engaged throughout his eight-year séjour in Europe. By implication, the great civil war was therefore nothing more than part of Constantius’ attempts to subdue tumultuous peoples on the borders of the Empire. The interweaving of civil war and foreign war, of course, was not an utterly fictional conceit. The campaigns on the Rhine and Danube in which Constantius and (later) Julian engaged were fought to restore Roman territory that had been overrun largely as a result of the insecurity caused by three years of Roman infighting. Indeed, hostile sources would later even suggest that Constantius himself had incited German tribes to invade the West in order to harry Magnentius.⁹⁶ Yet such complexities were merely grist to the mill of a talented orator like Themistius. In his speech, Magnentius and German insurrection, in whatever form, became synonymous. Themistius’ language goes beyond mere denunciations of barbarity, however, for in the oppression of the senate and the people and the pollution of the sacred waters of the Tiber, Themistius evokes themes typical to Roman tyranny.⁹⁷ Magnentius’ crimes were deep wounds against the state, and Themistius, targeting his speech at his Roman audience but also, I suspect, attempting to turn Magnentius’ control of Rome into a stick with which to beat him, imagines these wounds as most particularly inflicted against the

⁹⁴ Them., Or. III.43a‒c. ⁹⁵ For a summary of Constantius’ movements, see Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 221–3. The Jazygi or Iazygi were a Sarmatian tribe occupying the lands that bordered Pannonia: DNP V, 878. Themistius likewise employed this strategy of conflating Constantius’ civil conflicts with his foreign wars at IV.56d–57a. ⁹⁶ Jul., Ep ad Ath. 287a; Lib., Or. XVIII.33; Soc., HE III.1.25–8; Soz., HE V.2.20; Zos., II.53.3; Drinkwater, Alamanni and Rome, 165, 176, 201–3. See also Amm., XXI.3.4–4.7, Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 286a‒b, Lib., Or. XIII.35, XVIII.107, and Pan. Lat. III.6.1 for accusations that Constantius employed the Germans against Julian. ⁹⁷ Grünewald, Constantinus Maximus Augustus, 64–71; Neri, ‘L’usurpatore come tiranno’, 71–86; Dunkle, ‘The Rhetorical Tyrant in Roman Historiography’, 12–20.

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ancient capital itself. Here lies both Magnentius’ most despicable crime and, at the same time, the ultimate justification for the hideous and bloody war into which Constantius plunged the Empire: ‘When you had a chance to live quietly and in peace after doubling the portion of your dominion,’ Themistius states, ‘you neither ignored nor neglected the freedom of the city nor allowed it to pass away, but held your invincible hand over it.’⁹⁸ This wild and destructive nature, typical of both barbarian and tyrant as slave to their vices and passions, was also evoked in the consular speech delivered at the beginning of 357, when Themistius painted an image of the terrified city of Constantinople: ‘When she learned that the murderer and blood-stained one (ὁ αὐθέντης και παλαμναῖος) was raising his hand in rebellion against the purifying emperor, and that he was full of wrath, and also that the sinner threatened the city with plundering, slavery, and exile.’⁹⁹ Similarly, in 355, he had been ‘a wicked and insane man (κακεργάτις τε και ἔμπληκτος)…[who], like Typhon, threw everything into disorder’.¹⁰⁰ Tyranny and barbarity were, in Magnentius, rolled into a single, terrifying package. Julian, in speeches composed in the years either side of Constantius’ 357 visit to Rome and Themistius’ Or. III, produced an assessment of Magnentius that was in perfect accord with that found in Themistius. For Julian, Magnentius’ barbarism was an axiom of his rule. Julian claims in both of his speeches that Magnentius was a slave taken from across the Rhine (thereby both significantly enhancing his ‘barbarousness’ and adding, for good measure, the taint of servile status).¹⁰¹ Because of this, Julian, like Themistius, refused to treat the conflict as a civil war, and he did so explicitly: ‘Civil war one could not call it, for its leader was a barbarian who had proclaimed himself emperor and elected himself general.’¹⁰² Not only, therefore, was the usurpation treated as a revolt but Magnentius’ career of service was thereby also ignored. Evoking the fact that Magnentius had been proclaimed emperor at a party, Julian stressed that his Roman followers (and here again, he drew a distinction between imagined bands of barbarian supporters brought in to run a foreign takeover and a downtrodden Roman people) followed Magnentius only reluctantly as ‘a barbarian and a stranger (βαρβάρος καὶ ξένος) who conceived the idea of ruling and embarked on the enterprise at the time of a drunken debauch’, a fact which led him to rely not ‘on the energy of his soul or on his physical strength but on the number of his barbarian followers’, to whom he promised rich plunder from the Romans.¹⁰³ ⁹⁸ Them., Or. III.43c‒d. The reference to doubling his dominion refers to the acquisition of Vetranio’s territory. ⁹⁹ Them., Or. IV.56c‒d. ¹⁰⁰ Them., Or. II.33d–34a. ¹⁰¹ Jul., Or. I.33c–34a, II.97cvd. ¹⁰² Jul., Or. I.42a. ¹⁰³ Jul., Or. II.56c–57a; cf. 34d–35a and II.56b‒d. Themistius had likewise mocked Magnentius’ entire reign as a kind of drunken mistake, declaring that ‘at the feast, in drunkenness and gluttony, men choose not him [the philosopher king], but artlessly pick a “dessert king”

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The greater space that Julian’s longer speeches provided him allowed the young emperor to draw this character in far greater detail, and to refract the events of 350‒3 through its prism. Constantius’ victory at Mursa was clearly won after a shaky start to the campaigning season, which had seen Magnentius score victories against Constantius that had allowed him to advance from his strongholds in the Alps. Julian turns these early victories against Magnentius, however, arguing that Magnentius showed his typical barbarian character, was buoyed up by small successes won from his mountain stronghold, and so rushed to his own downfall on the open plains.¹⁰⁴ Drawing on a GraecoRoman philosophical tradition of considerable antiquity, of which any contemporary would be cognizant, he also evoked the idea that Magnentius, as a barbarian, had a nature as much animal as it was human.¹⁰⁵ He names him a ‘wild usurper’ (ἄγριος τύραννος) and claims that, when he withdrew to northern Italy he ‘hid his army away there in the mountains, wild-beast fashion, (καθάπερ θηρίον) and never even dared to carry on the war beneath the open heavens’.¹⁰⁶ In Oratio II he added that he rushed out to battle at Mursa and, ‘thus he was taken unawares, like a bird or fish in a net’ (καθάπερ ὄρνιθες καὶ ἰχθύες δικτύοις).¹⁰⁷ Magnentius’ actions were thus located within a selfconfirming explanatory framework, his barbarism explaining his demise as much as his demise underscored his barbarism. The rhetoric of Magnentius’ barbarism was not without its influence. Unsurprisingly, we find that Aurelius Victor apes the rhetoric of the panegyrics, declaring: ‘For everything was driven to ruin by the fearful and savage character of Magnentius, as is the nature of barbarian kind, and at the same time by what happened after, so that the people rightly wished for that rule [i.e. Constans’].’¹⁰⁸ More interestingly, the Consularia Constantinopolitana states of the period that ‘there was a great war between the Romans and Magnentius,’ internalizing the notion of Magnentius as nothing more than the leader of a barbarian uprising.¹⁰⁹ What is perhaps the most troubling realization in this, however, is the uncomfortable truth that we have no way of knowing with certainty whether the claims of Magnentius’ ethnicity are true or not, and his (ἐπίδειπνος ὁ βασιλεύς), though it is lamented soon after with the hangover, as in the Kronia’ (Or. II 36a). The Kronia was an Athenian festival characterized by heavy drinking and the relaxation of social mores: M. Nilsson, ‘Kronien’, RE 11 (1922), 1975–6. ¹⁰⁴ Jul., Or. I.35c‒d, II.57a‒b. ¹⁰⁵ R. W. Matthisen, ‘Violent Behaviour and the Construction of Barbarian Identity in Late Antiquity’, in H. A Drake (ed.), Violence in Late Antiquity: Perceptions and Practices (Aldershot, 2006), 30–1. Describing barbarians using animal language was a technique frequently employed by Ammianus (cf. T. E. J. Wiedemann, ‘Between men and beasts: Barbarians in Ammianus Marcellinus’, in I. Moxon, J. D. Smart, and A. J. Woodman (eds), Past Perspectives: Studies in Greek and Roman Historical Writing (Cambridge, 1986), 189–201; Barnes, Ammianus Marcellinus, 109–10). ¹⁰⁶ Jul., Or. I.31b; Jul., Or. I.38c. ¹⁰⁷ Jul., Or. II.57b. ¹⁰⁸ Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.25. ¹⁰⁹ Cons. Const. s. a. 350.

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barbarian heritage is one of those insuperable challenges that the panegyrics throw up. Outside the panegyrical texts, we rely for a concrete statement concerning his heritage on the de Caesaribus of Aurelius Victor and the Epitome of pseudo-Aurelius Victor, texts whose reproductions of Constantinian propaganda are legion, and to later Eastern sources such as Zosimus and Zonaras.¹¹⁰ The doubtful testimony of these sources has led some modern scholars to question this assessment and to assert a fully Roman pedigree for Magnentius, if one lacking an illustrious history.¹¹¹ Such attempts are, I feel, mistaken. As we have seen time and again, the panegyrics rarely simply invent material and it would be odd, therefore, for such a consistent tradition to have emerged without some basis in reality. Nor would the rise to power and to military usurpation of a second-generation Roman be unheard of in the annals of Roman history.¹¹² The burden of proof, I feel, lies with those who wish to argue a Roman heritage for Magnentius, and the case has not yet been conclusively made. Yet the existence of a debate at all reminds us of the perpetual challenge we face in attempting to read the tangled web of calumny and half-truth that makes up the Roman discourse on civil war. Was Magnentius the child of barbarian parents? We will never be able to say with certainty. We can say, however, that it was important for Constantius that he be recognized as such. Like Themistius, Julian also painted Magnentius as a tyrant of the worst sort. He named him, ‘the most execrable of mankind, the common enemy of all who care for peace and cherish harmony above all things, and more particularly your enemy for personal reasons’.¹¹³ He listed Magnentius’ perceived crimes in Oratio I: he assassinated his own master (no mention of who that master was), he imprisoned and killed generals, treated the soldiers with servility and thus enervated them, imposed a fifty-per-cent property tax, allowed slaves to inform against their masters, forced people to purchase imperial property, and used an army collected to defend the Rhine frontier against the Romans; on account of these, Constantius waged a ‘holy war’ (πόλεμος ἱερός) against the man who had slaughtered so many citizens.¹¹⁴ In Gaul, Magnentius amused himself by devising new and more brutal methods of punishment and torture which he inflicted upon honest citizens for his own amusement.¹¹⁵ Like Themistius, Julian explicitly used the image of the wild Magnentius as an explanatory tool and justification for the bloodshed ¹¹⁰ Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.25, Epit. 42.7; Zon., XIII.6; Zos., II.54.1. ¹¹¹ Drinkwater, ‘The Revolt and Ethnic Origin of the Usurper Magnentius (350‒353) and the Rebellion of Vetranio (350),’ 138–45 (with acceptance in D. Woods, ‘The Constantinian origin of Justina (Themistius, Or.3.43b)’, CQ 54:1 (2004), 325–7). ¹¹² Maximin Thrax was one such, see Chapter I, p. 10. ¹¹³ Jul., Or. I.30c‒d. ¹¹⁴ Jul., Or. I.33c–35b; cf. II.58c–59a, on Marcellinus. ¹¹⁵ Jul., Or. I.39d–40a.

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of the 350s and for Constantius’ conquest by arms of the Western Empire, for Constantius ‘thought it your duty to endure anything rather than see a barbarian ruling over Roman citizens, making himself master of the laws and constitution and offering public prayers for the common weal, guilty as he was of so many impious crimes and murders’.¹¹⁶ In this regard, we cannot help but notice the way in which the rhetoric of Constantius’ great civil war mirrored that of his father’s war with Maxentius. This can hardly have been an accident, for both Themistius and Julian were, throughout their speeches, at pains to draw parallels between Constantine and Constantius and, on occasion, to make explicit this comparison between their wars against tyranny. Julian’s characterization of the war as a holy one was not unique to the panegyrics, and Constantius himself clearly sought to portray his victory as a victory of true religion. Thanks to a law of Constantius’ repealing the judgement, we know that Magnentius had reached out to pagans in the city of Rome by allowing night-time sacrifices.¹¹⁷ Perhaps more strikingly, and playing heavily upon the oft-repeated theme of Constantius as successor to his father’s greatness, either shortly before or shortly after his victory at Mursa, Constantius began minting coins marked with the legend HOC SIGNO VICTOR ERIS, ‘by this sign you will conquer,’ the words that had accompanied Constantine’s vision of the shining cross before the battle of the Milvian Bridge.¹¹⁸ These coins self-consciously evoked Constantius’ father’s war against a ‘tyrant’ who held the city of Rome in its grasp. Such parallels were doubtless, too, on the mind of Cyril of Jerusalem when he wrote to Constantius in March 351, as the emperor was preparing for the season of campaigning that would lead to the battle of Mursa, to tell him of a vision he had seen of a great burning cross in the sky above Jerusalem. This, he told the emperor, would allow him to ‘face your enemies with greater heart when you understand how the miracle which has occurred in your time gives concrete proof that your reign is the object of God’.¹¹⁹ It may also be the case that efforts were made to present Magnentius—whose Chi-Rho coins were the first-ever Roman coins to employ explicitly Christian imagery in their design—as an inveterate pagan, if the embroideries in which later authors indulged may be taken as evidence.¹²⁰ Philostorgius inflated Cyril of Jerusalem’s cross to such an extent that it was,

¹¹⁶ Jul., Or. I.42b‒c. ¹¹⁷ CTh XVI.10.5: idem a. ad Cerealem praefectum Urbi. aboleantur sacrificia nocturna magnentio auctore permissa et nefaria deinceps licentia repellatur. et cetera. dat. VIIII kal. dec. Constantio a. VI et caes. II conss. ¹¹⁸ RIC VIII, 344–5, 368 (Siscia), 386 (Sirmium), 399, 416 (Thessalonica). ¹¹⁹ Cyr. Jer., Ep. ad Const. 2; cf. A. Cameron, The Last Pagans of Rome (Oxford, 2011), 95–6. ¹²⁰ Philost., HE III.26. Athanasius declared that Magnentius had committed blasphemy and consulted with sorcerers (Apol. ad Const. 7). Despite these claims, however, it seems abundantly clear that Magnentius was a Christian: Ziegler, Religiösen Haltung, 53–73; contra Rubin, ‘Pagan propaganda under Magnentius’, 124–41.

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he claimed, visible to the soldiers at Mursa, thereby strengthening the obvious Constantinian connection.¹²¹ Connection between father and son was hardly lost on the panegyrists. Like Libanius before him, Julian evoked the image of Constantine as a tyrant-slayer in his speeches, and even drew a direct comparison between Constantine and Constantius in this regard (noting the superiority of Constantius’ victory over Magnentius to his father’s over Licinius).¹²² Themistius’ Oratio III, essentially an extended discourse on the relationship between Rome and Constantinople and the way in which Constantine and Constantius, each having a special relationship with the two cities, echoed one another, provided the perfect context for the philosopher to make this theme explicit: ‘The father first freed this city [i.e. Rome] from a tyranny that was similar and all but identical in name [i.e. Maxentius], and then progressed to the foundation of the Fair City, the son first furnished that city [i.e. Constantinople] with what it needed, and in this way has bestowed freedom upon this one [i.e. Rome], both men completing a single cycle of benefaction upon them.’¹²³ These direct messages make it plain that Constantius, who founded his legitimacy on the legacy he had inherited from his father, wished to be seen as the very image of the great Constantine. The forging of a single story that united the lives of Constantine and Constantius was not done merely in reference to Mursa itself, however, but appears to have become a central tenet of Constantius’ reign. We have already seen, in the panegyric of Libanius, how important the theme of succession from the great Constantine and from Constantius Pius was to the sons of Constantine. Blemishes upon that story—Crispus, the massacre of 337, Constantine II—were carefully filed away. With the loss of Constans, this story grew even more streamlined. Given that Constantius’ war in the West had, ultimately, been fought as a result of the deposition and murder of Constans, one might imagine that this regicide would have been employed as one of the firmest sticks with which to beat Magnentius. Instead, Constans is allowed by both orators to disappear almost without a trace. Themistius, speaking in 355 before the Constantinopolitan senate, recalled the moment at which power passed from Constantine to his sons: It seemed—indeed in a sense it was—that either our emperor, if he would accept events, must enter into merely a tiny fraction of his father’s empire or that, if he would claim it all, he must raise arms and strife against his kin. See now the wisdom of the divinity!…For he rendered no injustice to his brothers, quite the

¹²¹ Philost., HE III.26. See also Art. pass. 11. Religious association between father and son did not always work to Constantius’ favour: M. Humphries, ‘In nomine patris: Constantine the Great and Constantius II in Christological Polemic’, Historia 46 (1997), 448–64. ¹²² Jul., Or. I.8a‒b, 37b, II.52a‒b. ¹²³ Them., Or. III.44a‒b. See also. III.43a–44b, 46d–48d; cf. IV.53a–58d (esp. 58a‒d).

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opposite, for he came to his sole paternal succession without injustice, indeed having wept for one brother and wept very greatly for the other because of his deep fraternal affection.¹²⁴

This passage is coded but clear and the message a powerful refutation of the former language of the fraternal college. Constantius had been cheated by the succession of 337, but a sense of justice and of brotherly affection had kept him from attempting to expand his share of the Empire. He had watched with sadness the folly of his brothers and their successive and violent deaths, and in this way the divine guidance of events had brought him to the command of the entire Empire that had always been his right. Magnentius and his regicide became a divine tool to move the only true son of Constantine into his birthright! In Rome, before a Western audience, Themistius moderated this message somewhat, but only somewhat. He described the outbreak of Magnentius’ usurpation without mention of Constans: ‘When that barbarian revolt broke out and the Roman Empire hung in the balance.’¹²⁵ Later in the speech he evoked the idea of vengeance, but only to draw the moral of Constantius’ superiority to his brothers.¹²⁶ And he brought his speech to a close with what he argued was the most clear proof that divine providence watched over the Empire: ‘You alone of all your brothers…have inherited the Empire.’¹²⁷ Julian’s longer speeches gave him more time to expand upon events, and Constantius’ brothers were not quite so invisible within his narrative (the officially forgotten Crispus even received the briefest of mentions). Nevertheless, his emphasis, throughout, was on their unsuitability.¹²⁸ Though Constantine and Constans had their merits, ‘yet in the whole tale of their felicity one could pay them no greater compliment than merely to name their sires and grandsires.’¹²⁹ Constantius’ relationship with his father was a unique one, and, like Themistius, Julian had no doubt that the usurpation and the war were in accord with the proper order of things, for, ‘Fortune offered you the opportunity to claim as your right the empire of the world.’¹³⁰ Similarly, he made little effort to connect Constans’ murder with the outbreak of Magnentius’ rebellion. Although, in his Or. I, Julian made an early link between the usurper and the murder,¹³¹ his later mentions were first ambiguous,¹³² and then utterly ignored Constans’ involvement, listing Magnentius’ crimes without any reference whatsoever to the murder.¹³³ By 359 and Oratio II, Constans’ murder had virtually disappeared from the picture and, though Magnentius might have been ‘a rash and traitorous man [who] tried to grasp at power to which he had no right, and assassinated the emperor’s brother and partner in empire’,¹³⁴ ¹²⁴ ¹²⁷ ¹²⁸ ¹²⁹ ¹³²

Them., Or. II.38c–39a. ¹²⁵ Them., Or. III.43a. ¹²⁶ Them., Or. III.45b. Them., Or. III.48c‒d. Jul., Or. I.9d–10a, 18c–20a, II.52b, 94c‒d; Crispus appears at I.9d. Jul., Or. I.10a. ¹³⁰ Jul., Or. I.41d. ¹³¹ Jul., Or. I.26b‒c. Jul., Or. I.34a. ¹³³ Jul., Or. I.41d–42d. ¹³⁴ Jul., Or. II.57d.

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nonetheless the episode was used merely to demonstrate Constantius’ superiority to his brother.¹³⁵ Ultimately, Magnentius’ crimes were ‘the wrongs done to Constantius’ and not to his brother.¹³⁶ In this interpretation of events, the panegyrists were clearly taking their cue from the court’s own self-presentation (as I have consistently argued was the case), for we can see it represented in other media. Three identical statue bases (once supporting, one assumes, identical statues of Constantius) were raised in the Roman forum in 357 by the urban prefect, Memmius Vitrasius Orfitus, to celebrate Constantius’ vicennalia and his triumphal visit to the city. These statues were dedicated ‘To the expander of the Roman Empire, our lord Flavius Iulius Constantius, greatest, victor over the whole world, triumphator, forever Augustus.’¹³⁷ This pan-global domination surely signified (or at least included) the victories won in the West, which had again united the world under a single ruler. An earlier equestrian statue, also in the forum, and raised by a previous urban prefect, Neratius Cerealis (352‒3), was more explicit in connecting its erection with the death of Magnentius. It dedication was ‘To the restorer of the city of Rome and of the world and to the destroyer of foul tyranny, our lord Flavius Iulius Constantius, victor and triumphator, forever Augustus.’¹³⁸ These dedications made much of Constantius the conqueror but did not, notably, make any attempt to declare him ultor, ‘avenger’. Constantius’ war had been fought in defence of the Empire, not in retribution for a brother now rapidly fading into forgetfulness. Indeed, the historian Orosius, writing nearly seven decades after the events, is a seemingly lone voice in declaring that Constantius ‘was preparing war against Magnentius because he burned to avenge his brother’.¹³⁹ This desire to neaten the story of Constantius’ past is also evident in relation to other imperial partners with whom Constantius was associated. Between 351 and 355, Constantius had created two Caesars, both members of his immediate family and both married to one of his sisters. Of Gallus, not ¹³⁵ Jul., Or. II.95a. ¹³⁶ Jul., Or. II.95c. ¹³⁷ CIL VI.1161, 1162, and 31395; M. Humphries, ‘Roman senators and absent emperors in Late Antiquity’, Acta ad Acheologiam et Artium Historiam Pertinentia, (n.s. 3) 17 (2003), 39–40. Also CIL VI.31397. Kalas, Restoration of the Roman Forum, 81–4. Orfitus had clearly led a Roman senatorial embassy to Constantius in 352, formally declaring allegiance to the emperor on behalf of that body after Constantius captured Italy (though Orfitus himself appears to have served Constantius throughout the war: cf. J. Matthews, ‘The Poetess Proba’, in M. Christol, S. Demogin, Y. Duval, C. Lepelley, and L. Pietri (eds), Institutions, société et vie politique dans l’empire romain au IVe siècle ap. J.-C.: actes de la table ronde autour de l’œuvre d’André Chastagnol (Paris, 20–21 Janvier 1989) (Collection de l’École française de Rome 159. Rome, 1992), 296–7). ¹³⁸ CIL VI.1158: Restitutori urbis Romae adque orb[is],/et extinctori pestiferae tyrannidis,/ d(omino) n(ostro) Fl(avio) Iul(io) Constantio, victori ac triumfatori,/semper Augusto./Neratius Cere[a]lis, v(ir) c(larissimus), praefectus urbi,/vice sacra iudicans, d(evotus) n(umini) m(aiestati) que eius. Kalas, Restoration of the Roman Forum, 81–4. ¹³⁹ Oros., VII.29.10.

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unsurprisingly, we hear nothing at all.¹⁴⁰ What it is more important to note is that Julian, even in his own panegyrics to Constantius, is relegated very much to a background figure. Themistius, certainly, in both his adlection speech (Or. II) and his consular speech (Or. IV), spares a moment to delight that the emperor has appointed a philosopher as his Caesar.¹⁴¹ The praises here, however, are still directed very much to Constantius, and Julian is as minor a note in the speech on his joint consulship with Constantius as would be any private individual in the same position; Themistius mentions him only to heap further praise on Constantius. Even in Julian’s own speeches, the young Caesar is detectable largely by inference.¹⁴² The picture thus created reinforces the impression, garnered both from Ammianus and from Julian’s own later writings, that Julian’s junior status within the college was very publicly articulated. This may have rankled with Julian and his supporters, but here we can see that it served a clear purpose. The story of the 350s was—and needed to be—the story of Constantius. The comparative streamlining of the Constantian story, however, was by no means limited to Constantius’ allies. The usurpation of Silvanus was an inglorious coda to the narrative of Constantius’ war of liberation and its narration provided a logistical challenge; how to tell this story without wounding what had preceded? Julian included some—brief—remarks on Silvanus at the end of both of his panegyrics; the tenor of this in both speeches appears to have been much the same.¹⁴³ Silvanus was used to demonstrate the loyalty of the emperor’s soldiers (presumably evoking Silvanus’ murder by his own men) and Constantius’ clemency. Speaking of Silvanus directly, Julian was sparing, mocking the general for having donned a purple dress because no imperial robe could be found.¹⁴⁴ In the more extended invective levelled at the general in Or. II, he calls him ‘wicked and despicable and wilder than a beast’ and, referencing Homer, names him ‘more treacherous than lions, for whom there are no faithful pacts with men’.¹⁴⁵ Julian also disguised Silvanus within his narrative through a highly artificed double presentation of the general as two distinct individuals who, on the basis of the text alone, could never be connected with one another. When discussing the battle of Mursa, Julian makes mention that ‘a division of chosen cavalry, together with their standards and their leader, preferred to share danger with this man [Constantius] ¹⁴⁰ Amm., XIV.1, 7, 9, 11; cf. Blockley, ‘Constantius Gallus and Julian as Caesars’, 433–68; Matthews, Roman Empire of Ammianus, 34–6, 406–8; Maraval, Fils de Constantin, 122–30. ¹⁴¹ Them, Or. II.39d–40b, Or. IV.58d–59b. ¹⁴² E.g. Jul., Or. I.44d–45b. ¹⁴³ ‘Appears’ because the conclusion of Or. I is lost and so the speech breaks off during the passage concerning Silvanus. ¹⁴⁴ Jul., Or. I.48c, II.98d–99a; Ammianus reports a similar story, that Silvanus could find no purple clothing and so tore the purple banners from the military standards (XV.5.16). ¹⁴⁵ Jul., Or. II 98c‒d; Hom., Il. 22.262.

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than good fortune with that one [Magnentius].’¹⁴⁶ This, of course, is Silvanus, but Julian’s speech makes no connection between this ‘general’ and the dresswearing beast to whom we are introduced just a few lines later.¹⁴⁷ Themistius, however, took a much simpler and more direct approach to this problem; he simply ignored Silvanus.¹⁴⁸ His Roman set piece on the triumphant conquest of the West, Or. III, makes no mention of the Gallic usurper whatsoever. Passing mentions to him can plausibly be detected in both Or. II and IV, but amount to nothing more than this.¹⁴⁹ In this instance, and particularly as one approaching a minor Gallic usurper from an eastern context, Themistius clearly felt that silence was the best answer to this untidy postscript. Yet of all the relationships that these panegyrics describe, perhaps the most intriguing, and the one that the panegyrics have been most successful in shaping across the wider span of our historical sources, is that which existed between Constantius and Vetranio. Indeed, such is the ambiguity in contemporary sources concerning Vetranio’s intentions and role in the events of 350 that there is still considerable debate in modern literature as to whether Vetranio was a Constantinian loyalist, an ambitious man seeking power, or a tool of the Illyrian army. What is more, opinion appears now to be moving back in the direction of viewing Vetranio as acting on his own and attempting to establish an independent Balkan empire.¹⁵⁰ As we will see, this cannot be the case, and it is the panegyrics that provide the key to unlocking this contradictory presentation. Ironically, it is their own contradictory pictures that provide us with the means.

¹⁴⁶ Jul., Or. II.97c; Nutt very rightly points out that this passage reduces Silvanus’ agency in this action (‘Silvanus and Constantius’, 83). He likewise mentions the defection of ‘a body of cavalry’ before Mursa in Or. I (48b), this time with no mention of a general. ¹⁴⁷ Any audience, of course, would be cognizant of what was going on here, and would know that cavalry commander and the usurper were the same, but this kind of ‘double presentation’ was clearly a familiar panegyrical technique: see the double presentation of Gratian, Chapter IX, pp. 270–2. ¹⁴⁸ Themistius’ speeches, notably, are a fraction the length of Julian’s, which are among the longest panegyrics surviving from Late Antiquity, running to 1,440 and 1,594 lines respectively according to the Bidez edition: J. Bidez (ed. and tr.), L’Empereur Julien: Oeuvres Complètes (2 vols. Paris, 1932–64). Shorter speeches would lend themselves more easily to the excision of unwanted material. ¹⁴⁹ Them., Or. II.34b and IV.62b‒c. So indirect is the former that it cannot even be said with certainty to concern Silvanus. R. Maisano (ed. and tr.), Discorsi di Temistio (Classici greci Autori della tarda antichità e dell’età bizantina. Turin, 1995), 192 n. 64 deems it a ‘riferimento probabilmente al magister peditum Silvano’, but Leppin and Portmann, in their translation of this text, point out—rightly, I think—that the individual referred to may be either Silvanus or Nepotianus (ὁ μηδ’ αἰσθανόμενος; cf. H. Leppin and W. Portmann (trs), Staatsreden: Themistios, Übersetzung, Einführung und Erläuterungen (Bibliothek der griechischen Literatur: Abteilung Klassische Philologie 46. Stuttgart, 1998), 59 n. 54). ¹⁵⁰ Drinkwater, ‘The Revolt and Ethnic Origin of the Usurper Magnentius (350‒353) and the Rebellion of Vetranio (350)’, 138–59; Bleckmann, ‘Constantina, Vetranio und Gallus Cäsar’, 42–59.

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The treatment of Vetranio in the panegyrics merits close scrutiny, for in it we find some important clues as to Vetranio’s true intentions. Both Julian and Themistius subject Vetranio to considerable abuse and, in the shorter orations of Themistius, we never really go beyond this. Both orators were willing to refer to Magnentius and Vetranio collectively as ‘tyrants’ (τύραννοι).¹⁵¹ Both likewise treated his reign as a tragic pantomime: to Themistius he was one ‘who had made a mockery of the Empire’, while Julian had him as ‘he who was masquerading as emperor’.¹⁵² In his consular address, Themistius imagined Vetranio as he yielded up the purple as a snake shedding its old skin.¹⁵³ Both orators referred to Vetranio with the relatively neutral appellation ‘the old man’ (ὁ πρεσβύτης), but both likewise contrasted his age with his immaturity in attempting to seize power.¹⁵⁴ Julian denounced him as ‘traitorous’ (ἄπιστος).¹⁵⁵ For all this, however, neither ever quite worked up the same moral fervour against Vetranio as that which they directed against Magnentius. The barrage of negative adjectives and of evocative metaphors that we saw Themistius loose upon Magnentius in his Or. III is never matched with like treatment for Vetranio, who appears in the speech to no greater censure than ‘he who insanely grasped for the purple’.¹⁵⁶ More importantly, certain details in Julian’s speeches stand out as distinctly unusual in the presentation of any imperial enemy, for they admit a gradation of feeling that seems alien to the business of invective. Like Themistius, Julian fails to offer either a list of crimes or a torrent of colourful abuse as he had for Magnentius. About as close as he comes is to describe him as ‘your enemy, if not in his deeds then in his intention’.¹⁵⁷ It is hardly excoriating. On occasion, praise and invective come mixed up together in one and the same instant. In the very same sentence in which Julian calls Vetranio honourable and prudent he also declares him one ‘who used to change his opinions more easily than any child, and, though he begged for them, forgot all your favours as soon as the need had passed’.¹⁵⁸ Even more confusingly, at times Julian’s description of Vetranio even verges on panegyrical. Constantius had won a great victory against Vetranio by stripping of his power ‘one who had won distinction in many campaigns, who was full of years,¹⁵⁹ one known to have long experience and for a long time to have been in command of the soldiers gathered there’.¹⁶⁰ Such language is strikingly out of place. Julian also makes a number of admissions

¹⁵¹ Jul., Or. I.1, 26b‒c, 27a, 30d, 47c‒d; Them., Or. II.38b, IV.55d–56b, 62b‒c. ¹⁵² Them., Or. II.37b; Jul., Or. II.77c. ¹⁵³ Them., Or. II.56b. ¹⁵⁴ ὁ πρεσβύτης: Jul., Or. I.30b, Them., Or. III.45b; πρεσβύτης ἀνὴρ: Jul., Or. II.76c. See also Jul., Or. I.26d and Them., Or. II.38a. ¹⁵⁵ Jul., Or. I.26d, I.30d. ¹⁵⁶ Them., Or. III.45c. ¹⁵⁷ Jul., Or. I.32a; cf. I.33c. ¹⁵⁸ Jul., Or. I.31a. ¹⁵⁹ The word here, notably, is πρεσβύτης, which Julian is obviously using here in a complimentary fashion, reminding us against that this word was hardly an indisputably pejorative term. ¹⁶⁰ Jul., Or.I.33a.

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within the course of his account which, by the very casual manner in which they are introduced, suggest that they were common knowledge. He mentions that Constantius was in contact with Vetranio, who was requesting soldiers and money, requests that it would appear were granted. In this context, Julian explicitly states that Vetranio had declared that ‘he would do his duty, that for his part he had no pretensions to the throne, but would faithfully guard and protect it for you.’¹⁶¹ Julian asserts that, because of his negotiations with Magnentius, Vetranio was ‘faithless’ (ἄπιστος) in these claims, yet just a few lines later we find Vetranio named the man who ‘for the moment was your colleague in empire’.¹⁶² Indeed, at times, Vetranio hardly seems an enemy at all, merely an ill-fated subordinate of Constantius’ in need of rescuing from a situation well beyond his control. Yet, even as this impression builds, moments later we find ourselves in the idiom of warfare and enmity.¹⁶³ This ambivalence is unique to the entire corpus of Roman panegyric. Even Maximian, balanced finely on the knife edge between traitor and auctor imperii, had not been so treated.¹⁶⁴ Furthermore, panegyrists, as we saw with Pan. Lat. XII on the relationship between Maxentius and Constantine and as we will see with Pan. Lat. II on the relationship between Theodosius and Magnus Maximus, would go to great lengths to distance their emperors from any suggestion of former alliance with one whom they later overthrew.¹⁶⁵ In their curiously ambivalent presentations these panegyrics, particularly those of Julian, thus point us to the fact that Vetranio had formerly been Constantius’ ally and that his uprising had been a loyalist one. This must have been sufficiently common knowledge that neither panegyrist felt that they either could or should attempt to refute or deny this fact. Yet if this was the case, then why the invective? Why the emphasis on his foolishness, his faithlessness? Why was he so often lumped in with Magnentius as a τύρρανος? The answer is to be found in the manner of Vetranio’s deposition. As presented in the panegyrics (and in later historical material, which appears to have been heavily influence by them), it was claimed that Vetranio had been a one-time enemy of Constantius’, that he had, by his inability to manage his own power, found himself falling on the mercies of Constantius, and that finally a putative alliance had turned to ashes when Vetranio’s soldiers found themselves unable to resist the oratorical power of Constantius and their fundamental loyalty to his house. Both Themistius and Julian heap praise upon praise in their desire to represent Constantius’ victory over Vetranio as a stunning and unprecedented marvel. In his first speech on the topic, Themistius actually has considerably more to say on the victory over Vetranio than he does on that over Magnentius; he remarked, ‘But I know not ¹⁶¹ Jul., Or. I.26c‒d with 30b‒c. ¹⁶² Jul., Or. I.26d with 31c; cf. II.76d–77a. ¹⁶³ E.g. Jul., Or. I.31a, 32a‒d. ¹⁶⁴ See Chapter V, pp. 111–13. ¹⁶⁵ See Chapter V, pp. 122–3, and Chapter IX, pp. 248–6.

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what victory may be considered holier, purer, and more fitting for a philosopher than that here in my speech.’¹⁶⁶ Constantius eschewed arms and won victory alone, upon the tribunal, under the protection of Philosophy.¹⁶⁷ In Rome in 357, Themistius again declared the victory a confirmation that Constantius was Plato’s true Philosopher King, winning a great victory without armies and soldiers but alone and with words, a point he had already made in the consular address that he forwarded to the emperor from Constantinople when he declared: ‘for he [Vetranio] was not taken at the point of a spear, but enslaved by a speech.’¹⁶⁸ Julian was likewise astounded by such a marvel: ‘Orator, general, virtuous emperor, distinguished soldier, though men give you all these titles, how can any praise of yours be adequate?’¹⁶⁹ This was a victory unlike any other the Roman Empire had ever seen, an enemy divested of power without bloodshed.¹⁷⁰ Constantius, in other words, clearly needed Vetranio to be an enemy; as a loyal subordinate who played his part long enough to allow Constantius to reach Europe and who then bowed out into retirement, Vetranio might risk becoming a hero in his own right, and any credit due as a result of Constantius’ ‘victory’ would be utterly dissipated. As an enemy, tangled up with the great Western tyrant, Magnentius, however, Vetranio became a conquest unlike anything the world had ever seen. The fragility of this fabricated narrative is demonstrable in a number of ways. First, if we examine the way that Vetranio is treated in other ancient sources, we see that cracks immediately begin to appear and the influence of the official narrative reveals itself.¹⁷¹ The first individual to level the gaze of history upon the events of 350 was Aurelius Victor, whose deeply proConstantinian bias we have already explored.¹⁷² Victor clearly drew material from his history from panegyrical sources and from ‘official’ versions of events, at least as far as the Constantinian dynasty was concerned, and it ought also to be noted that he had made his career under Constantius II, composed his history while the latter emperor was still alive, and actually dedicated the work to him.¹⁷³ It is little surprise, therefore, to discover that his version of events largely confirms that of the panegyrics. Victor declares that: Vetranio, a man utterly free of any education in letters, dull by nature and worse still on account of his peasant’s ignorance, shamefully seized power through his control of the soldiers of Illyricum as magister peditum, though he hailed from the

¹⁶⁶ Them., Or. II.37d. ¹⁶⁷ Them., Or. II.36d–37b. ¹⁶⁸ Them., Or. III.45b, IV.56b. ¹⁶⁹ Jul., Or. I.32b; cf. II.71d 76d‒b. ¹⁷⁰ Both writers made much of the fact that Vetranio had been sent away into retirement, proof of Constantius’ great clemency: Them., Or. II.38a, IV.56b; Jul., Or. I.32a, II.77c. ¹⁷¹ Cf. A. Dearn, ‘The Coinage of Vetranio: Imperial Representation and the Memory of Constantine the Great’, NC 163 (2003), 170–4. ¹⁷² See Chapter V, p. 141. ¹⁷³ Dufraigne (ed. and tr.), Aurelius Victor: Livre des Césars (Paris, 1975), xv–xvii; Dufraigne (tr.), Liber de Caesaribus of Sextus Aurelius Victor, vii–xiv.

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squalid mountain places of Moesia. Within ten months, Constantius removed this man from imperial power by the force of his eloquence and sent him into retirement as a private citizen. Constantius alone, since the birth of the Empire, achieved such glory through eloquence and clemency.¹⁷⁴

The passage could have been taken directly from a panegyric to Constantius (indeed, in effect it was one). The epitomator Eutropius, writing a decade later, was less obligated by the need to damn and curse Vetranio—and so praised his morals and popularity—but nevertheless declared likewise that Vetranio was pitifully ignorant, that he was promoted by the soldiers on his own initiative, and that he was defeated by Constantius ‘in a strange an unprecedented fashion’ (novo inusitatoque more).¹⁷⁵ Later writers, for the most part, reduce this account to its bald detail, though fail either to indulge in invective against Vetranio or to show any particular enthusiasm for Constantius’ incredible (and I use this word advisedly here) deposition of his rival.¹⁷⁶ Significantly, however, a group of sources of Eastern origin preserve a tradition that explicitly showed Constantius and Vetranio in open alliance. The historian Philostorgius reported that Vetranio was made emperor at the instigation of Constantia in order to prevent the spread of Magnentius’ power, and that Constantius accordingly sent Vetranio a diadem.¹⁷⁷ The ninth-century Artemii Passio, which appears to have employed Philostorgius as a source, supports this assertion.¹⁷⁸ Likewise, the twelfth-century historian Zonaras, whose account of the Neo-Flavians is now recognized as providing a valuable source for the fourth century, states that Vetranio had made contact with Constantius’ court and shows the two emperors enjoying an affectionate relationship with one another.¹⁷⁹ Taken collectively, these sources would seem to suggest that those closest to Constantius had a vested interest in presenting Vetranio as an enemy and thereby glorifying that ‘strange and unprecedented’ moment which had seen a usurper brought down by nothing more than the eloquence ¹⁷⁴ Aur. Vict., Caes. 41.26–42.2. ¹⁷⁵ Eutr., X.10–11. ¹⁷⁶ Soc., HE II.25 and 28 present Vetranio’s deposition as a positively cordial affair. Soz., HE IV.1 and 4 dashes quickly over the events with the somewhat unconvincing ‘The soldiers who had proclaimed him emperor suddenly changed their mind.’ Zos., II.43–4 likewise presents the uprising as a somewhat vacillating attempt by Vetranio to go it alone, ultimately brought down by his unwisely making peace with Constantius and allowing him to address the Illyrian armies. Cf. Oros.,VII.29.9–10; Cos. Const s.a. 351; Jer., Chron. s.a. 351. ¹⁷⁷ Philost., HE III.22. ¹⁷⁸ Art. Pass. 10–11; cf. S. N. C. Lieu (tr.), The Emperor Julian: Panegyric and Polemic (Translated Texts for Historians 2. Liverpool, 1989) 81–3; S. N. C. Lieu and D. Montserrat (eds), From Constantine to Julian: Pagan and Byzantine Views: A Source History (London, 1996), 217–23. ¹⁷⁹ Zon., XIII.7. On Zonaras’ sources and their quality, see M. Di Maio, ‘The Antiochene connection: Zonaras, Ammianus Marcellinus, and John of Antioch on the reigns of the emperors Constantius II and Julian’, Byzantion 50 (1980), 158–85; T. Banchich and E N. Lane (eds and trs), The History of Zonaras: From Alexander Severus to the death of Theodosius the Great (London, 2009), 1–2 (8–11 also add valuable commentary to Di Maio).

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of Constantius, that most later sources appear to have found the whole episode slightly bemusing but to have followed, at least tacitly, the interpretation of earlier accounts, and most significantly that there existed an Eastern tradition which saw Vetranio’s rebellion as a carefully orchestrated ploy brought off by Constantius and Constantia. If the smoking gun of these rather troublesome presentations is not sufficient, however, to convince the reader that Vetranio’s ‘rebellion’ and subsequent ‘defeat’ were more artistry than uprising, when we examine the details and chronology of how Vetranio’s nine months reign unfolded, some very serious questions emerge. These questions are exceptionally difficult to answer if we wish to see Vetranio as a man seeking to go it alone in the face of both Magnentius and Constantius, but very simple to answer if we wish to see him as a Constantian loyalist. The first of these is the question of the gap between Magnentius’ proclamation and Vetranio’s own. Magnentius, we know, took power at Autun on 18 January and Constans was dead by the end of that month. From Autun to Sirmium via the main military highways was a distance of perhaps 1,100 miles for a rider who wished to skirt the Alps, the passes of which would be treacherous in winter. Daunting though this distance may seem, in the Roman world important news could move staggeringly quickly via the postal system, with speeds of 150 miles per day and greater being perfectly usual.¹⁸⁰ Given that Magnentius would unquestionably have sought to contact all Constans’ senior generals as quickly as possible in order to bring them ‘on side’, Vetranio will have heard of Magnentius’ proclamation before the end of January and of Constans’ death not much later.¹⁸¹ Yet it was not until Magnentius was at Aquileia and his forces were entering the Alps, preparing to cross into the Balkans, that Vetranio finally declared himself emperor, on 1 March.¹⁸² Why then, and not a month earlier?¹⁸³ This looks less ¹⁸⁰ Burgess, ‘Summer of Blood’, 49–51. ¹⁸¹ The speed with which news could travel, indeed, was sufficient that it is even plausible that Vetranio and Constantius had arranged Vetranio’s proclamation together. Constantius was at Edessa when he received the news of Constans’ death (Philost., HE III.22; cf. Chron. Pasc. s.a. 350, Theoph., 43.32–44.2, 4–5). A ship with a good wind behind it could get from Gaul to the East in as little as two weeks (Sulpicius Severus, for instance, records a journey made from Narbo to Alexandria in two stages of five and seven days, with some dallying due to the weather in between: Sulp. Sev., Dial. I.3–5). Overland, the distance was a little over 2,200 miles, likewise accomplishable by a rider in two weeks. Either way, Constantius could potentially have heard of Magnentius’ usurpation by the end of January. ¹⁸² After reaching Aquileia, Magnentius’ forces advanced into the Alps and appear to have met their first military resistance when the comes Actus (or Acacius) tried and failed to hold the passes against him (Amm., XXXI.11.3). The important line of Alpine fortifications, the ‘Locks’ of the Julian Alps, thus fell to Magnentius and a military garrison was installed at Emona (modern Ljubljana): Jeločnik, ‘Les multiples d’or de Magnence’, 226–7; P. Kos, ‘The construction of the Claustra Alpium Iuliarum defence system in light of the numismatic material’, Arheološki Vestnik 63 (2012), 278. ¹⁸³ Moments of crisis demand rapid action. Drinkwater, ‘The Revolt and Ethnic Origin of the Usurper Magnentius (350‒353) and the Rebellion of Vetranio (350),’ 149–50 explains this delay

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like an opportunistic power grab than a last-minute attempt (successful, we might add) to prevent Magnentius, already in possession of the bridgehead at Emona, from moving his forces over the Alps and entering the Balkans, from where the march to Constantinople and to Constantius’ exposed flank would have been a simple one.¹⁸⁴ Negotiations between Magnentius and Vetranio during the summer have been seen as a sign that Vetranio was seeking to bolster his own position at the expense of Constantius.¹⁸⁵ It was these negotiations that allowed Julian to declare Vetranio ‘faithless’ and to name him and Magnentius ‘an alliance of faithless men’.¹⁸⁶ Nevertheless, the negotiations appear to have ended all hostilities, and the opening skirmishes of a conflict between Vetranio and Magnentius never grew into anything bigger.¹⁸⁷ Vetranio’s negotiations thus bought time, time Constantius needed. That the eventual embassy which resulted from these negotiations saw Magnentius’ ambassadors in jail but not Vetranio’s likewise points to the idea that this was a pre-arranged plan. Yet the feature of Vetranio’s short reign that most beggars belief is its conclusion. All sources agree that, in the late autumn/early winter of 350, Constantius and Vetranio met on the border of their territories, in Thrace, travelled together for a considerable distance, and then addressed their assembled armies, at which point the force of Constantius’ oratory brought the recalcitrant Illyrian armies around. While the idea that an army might be won with a speech is not utterly beyond belief (Arbitio would play a similar role against Procopius’ soldiers fifteen years later),¹⁸⁸ the idea that two emperors notionally in more-or-less open conflict with one another might meet is simply unthinkable. Unless in firm alliance, emperors ventured close to one another only to do battle. Later in the century, Valentinian II would—wisely, considering the fate of his elder brother—refuse any entreaty that he cross the Alps and meet with Magnus Maximus.¹⁸⁹ Maximus himself had sat in tense stalemate with Gratian for five days in the summer of 383, their two armies watching each other but refusing to engage in battle, and only when desertions had begun from Gratian’s camp was this stalemate broken.¹⁹⁰

as occurring because Vetranio was unwillingly proclaimed after (eventually) capitulating to antiFlavian feeling among his soldiers. ¹⁸⁴ Them., Or. IV.55d–56a dwells on the terror felt in the capital during this period. ¹⁸⁵ O. Seeck, Geschichte des Untergangs der antiken Welt (6 vols. Berlin, 1897–1920), IV 100–2; W. Ensslin, ‘Magnentius’, RE 14, 448. ¹⁸⁶ Jul., Or. I.26d, 30d, 31c. ¹⁸⁷ Šašel, ‘The Struggle between Magnentius and Constantius’, 208. ¹⁸⁸ See Chapter IX, p. 233. ¹⁸⁹ Amb, Ep. 30.7; Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 176–81; McLynn, Ambrose of Milan, 158–63, 217–18. ¹⁹⁰ Aur. Vict., Epit. 47.7; Oros., VII.34.9–10; Soc., HE V.11; Soz., HE VII.13; Zos., IV.35.4–6.

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Furthermore, the scene as it is described is palpably fictitious. To demonstrate this, we need only try and imagine it. Constantius, we are told, stood up in front of an armed crowd, fully half of whom were potentially his enemies. He then launched into a tirade against Vetranio, who was not only standing near at hand but who will have been accompanied by his bodyguard. What if either the bodyguard or Vetranio’s army had reacted with anger when they saw their commander being betrayed? What if Vetranio saw a net being closed about him and reacted with violence, driving a sword into Constantius as Diocletian had done to Aper when still a private citizen?¹⁹¹ What if chaos had erupted and the entire scene had devolved into a melee in which both Constantius and Vetranio were killed? The course of events described by the sources would have been an extraordinary risk for the usually cautious Constantius. Eutropius was right to call it ‘strange and unprecedented’; it hadn’t happened before 350, but it didn’t happen in 350 either. That Constantius was willing to trust Vetranio sufficiently to spend considerable time in his company and to voluntarily stand before his soldiers demonstrates—to my mind, beyond doubt—that Vetranio and Constantius were and always had been close allies and that the loyalty of Vetranio to the house of Constantine was, at least in Constantius’ calculating mind, a thing beyond question. If the reader is still in doubt on this score, we need only look for final confirmation to the fate of the three named individuals involved in Vetranio’s proclamation, all three of whom were rewarded rather than punished for their supposed disloyalty. Vetranio himself, as we have seen, was not executed but was, rather, sent into retirement in Asia Minor, where he lived for another six years and died a natural death. For an emperor to survive deposition by another was virtually unheard of in imperial history.¹⁹² Twice in living memory, an emperor had fallen against an enemy but had survived: Maximian in 310 and Licinius in 324. In both instances, the emperors in question had been related by marriage to the emperor who defeated them: Maximian was Constantine’s father-in-law, Licinius his brother-in-law. Importantly, though both emperors were spared an immediate execution, they were nevertheless soon dead, Licinius executed and Maximian through a (possibly forced) suicide. Vetranio was neither a relation by marriage, nor was he quietly bumped off at a later date. This fact alone ought to suggest that his retirement was a reward and not a punishment.

¹⁹¹ Aur. Vict., Epit. 39.1, Caes. 39.1; HA V. Cari 12–13; Eutr. IX.19–20; Jer., Chron. s.a. 286; Oros., VII.25.1; Joh. Ant., fr. 163; Zon. XII.30–1. ¹⁹² In only one instance prior to the fourth century does it appear that an emperor was allowed to go into a peaceful retirement, when Tetricus, the last of the Gallic emperors, was defeated by Aurelian in 274 and, though paraded in triumph at Rome, was nevertheless allowed to live and may even have held a minor governorship: Aur. Vict., Caes. 35.5; Eutr., IX.13.2; Drinkwater, Gallic Empire, 41–3, 90–1.

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The second individual was Constantia, Constantius sister, who had been a prominent supporter of Vetranio’s and had even, by one account, actually crowned him emperor.¹⁹³ Though it would have been surprising to see Constantius execute his sister, nevertheless, if she had been responsible for supporting a military usurpation against him, one would expect her to have been put somewhere she would no longer have access to such power. Instead, however, she was almost immediately married to Gallus and sent with him to Antioch in order to manage the East for Constantius while he went to war with Magnentius. Constantia was not the only imperial daughter who could have been given to the new emperor, for Helena would later be married to the emperor Julian, and this choice of role for her implies that Constantius felt confident to place a great deal of trust in her, odd behaviour towards a traitor but perfectly fitting towards someone who had helped organize a loyalist uprising that had covered Constantius’ flank for nine months. Thirdly and finally, there was the praetorian prefect in Illyricum, Vulcacius Rufinus. Rufinus, a maternal uncle of Gallus, had, as we have seen, acted as Vetranio’s representative in the joint embassy from Vetranio and Magnentius to Constantius in the autumn of 350. Tellingly, while Magnentius’ embassy had all been placed under arrest, Rufinus retained his freedom. Not only this, but he retained his position, serving Constantius first as praetorian prefect in Illyricum and then, after the fall of Magnentius, as praetorian prefect in Gaul.¹⁹⁴ As with Constantia, this meant that Rufinus was not only awarded a senior position, but was placed in control of territory beyond Constantius’ immediate purview, implying great trust. All three of the named individuals involved in this supposed ‘rebellion’, therefore, were immediately awarded positions that would look very odd as punishments, but make fairly convincing rewards. The confusing contradictions within both the panegyrics and subsequent histories, the seemingly implausible details of Constantius and Vetranio’s interactions, and the subsequent treatment by Constantius of all major players associated with the ‘revolt’ therefore all point to the simple explanation that Vetranio had always been operating in concert with Constantius. The panegyrists knew this. Yet at the same time, they knew that the story of Vetranio’s ‘defeat’ was an important chapter in the story of Constantius’ victory. They therefore treaded a fine line. On the one hand, they did not lose themselves in unrestrained invective against a man (and, therefore, the subordinates of a man) to whom was owed much credit for having secured Constantius’ victory. ¹⁹³ Art. Pass. 10–11; Philost., HE III.22. The idea that Constantia crowned Vetranio is found in Philostorgius and is probably an anachronistic detail inserted by a fifth-century Constantinopolitan author used to seeing imperial princesses as key players in coronation rituals. Nevertheless, it indicates a general recognition that Constantia and Vetranio were intimately bound up with one another. ¹⁹⁴ PLRE I Vulcacius Rufinus 25.

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Yet, on the other, it was very important for both orators to put an official distance between Constantius and Vetranio, to stress Vetranio’s disloyalty and folly and, thereby, to glorify the astounding and bloodless victory that Constantius had ‘won’ over him. The pageantry and theatrics that therefore surround Vetranio’s demise were extensive, and a part of the great story of victory that Constantius built around himself throughout the 350s. The celebrations attendant on these victories were enormous. The themes of dynasty and conquest over tyranny, as we have seen, made their way into multiple media. These doubtless informed the content of the—sadly now lost—poem The War of Constantius against Magnentius (Constantini [sic] bellum adversus Magnentium) written by the poetess Faltonia Betitia Proba.¹⁹⁵ More than anything, however, it was the visit to Rome itself that was designed to unite the memory of Constantius with that of his father. Like Constantine before him, Constantius travelled to the Eternal City to celebrate his vicennalia, twenty years as Augustus. Like his father, that celebration had been made possible through the deposition of three rivals.¹⁹⁶ Like his father, his rise to power in the first place had been marked by political manoeuvring and politicking that, today, is difficult to untangle from the sources. Like his father, Constantius would leave a monument within the city to the victory that had brought him control of it, the obelisk that he had raised in the hippodrome.¹⁹⁷ This gargantuan pillar of granite had once stood in the temple of Karnak at Luxor in Upper Egypt. It had (along with another obelisk that was later likewise pressed into service as a memorial to a civil war) been brought to Alexandria by Constantine in order to adorn Constantinople, but the seemingly insurmountable task of moving it across the sea had left it languishing in Egypt’s great Mediterranean city.¹⁹⁸ Constantius, however, was able to ship this behemoth across the 1,200 miles of open water that separated Rome from Alexandria. In the Circus Maximus, less than a third of a mile away from his father’s great Roman monuments, the Basilica Nova and the Arch of Constantine, Constantius had the thirty-two metre obelisk raised upon a base that declared its origins and the story of the victory that it celebrated.

¹⁹⁵ Matthews, ‘The Poetess Proba’, 291–5. Proba was the wife of Clodius Celsinus Adelphius, who had served Magnentius as urban prefect in 351 (Chron. 354 10), and so the poem may have been written as an apologetic, in the manner of Symmachus’ later defensio panegyrici (see Chapter IX, pp. 277–8). ¹⁹⁶ Indeed, it may be the first time an emperor had visited Rome since Constantine was there in 326, although it is possible that Constans had visited the city in the period after 337 (perhaps in 349): T. D. Barnes, ‘Constans and Gratian in Rome’, HSCP, 79 (1975), 327–8. ¹⁹⁷ J. H. Humphrey, Roman Circuses: Arenas for chariot racing (London, 1986), 287–9; H. Wrede, ‘Zur Errichtung des Theodosiusobelisken in Istanbul’, IstMitt 16 (1966), 180; Amm., XVII.4. ¹⁹⁸ Amm., XVII.4.13–14.

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Having recovered the entire world, Constantius Augustus dedicated to you, Rome, the work of his father and his own tribute, and has founded this, which no land has borne nor age has seen… … Meanwhile, with a foul tyrant laying Rome to waste (Romam taetro vastante tyranno), the gift of the Augustus, and the zeal for putting it up, lay idle, not from the contempt of a thing neglected, but because no one believed that the work of such a mass might rise into the high heaven. Now again, this thing torn away leaps out in red and metallic hues and beats upon the heavens. This glory, having been long kept for its author, returned with the fall of the tyrant (cum caede tyranni redditur), and with access to Rome found once more through virtue, the victor, rejoicing and favouring the City, founds this exalted trophy and the tribute of a prince and adorns it with triumphs.¹⁹⁹

Not only had Constantius left a lasting monument to his victory on the single largest stage anywhere in the ancient world (the capacity of the Circus Maximus is estimated to have been in the order of 150,000 people, nearly a quarter of the entire population of the late antique metropolis), but in doing so he had also made Rome the first city in the ancient world to be graced by two Egyptian obelisks, thereby serving to promote the city’s ongoing claims to unrivalled status as the world’s first city.²⁰⁰ Ammianus might have derided it, but that derision tells us more about his attitude to Constantius than the achievement this monument constituted.²⁰¹ At thirty-two metres high, and that despite damage that has shortened it, it remains the tallest Egyptian obelisk standing anywhere in the world. The period between the death of the emperor Constantine and the final subjugation of the Roman Empire under his son Constantius was a tumultuous one, troubled by intrigues, murders, and civil wars. Much of what took place during this time can only be established inferentially and by approaching our sources with caution and a great distrust of anything that seems too obviously an ‘official version’. The panegyrics, counter-intuitively, are the key to understanding this, for in these texts we can most easily establish

¹⁹⁹ CIL VI.1163, lines 1–4 and 15–24. ²⁰⁰ Capacity: Pliny the Elder (HN XXXVI.102) had estimated the circus’ capacity at 250,000 but modern estimates have suggested that this was a considerable exaggeration: Humphrey, Roman Circuses, 75–6. Rome’s population in the fourth century is estimated to have been c.800,000. Constantinople was later to gain a second obelisk: Omissi, ‘Damnatio memoriae or creatio memoriae?’, 15–17. Constantius may also have raised an obelisk in the circus at Arles to mark his tricennalia there: N. Henck, ‘Constantius ὁ Φιλοκτίστης?’, DOP 55 (2001), 300; note, however, that A. Charron and M. Heijmans, ‘L’obélisk du cirque d’Arles’, JRA 14 (2001), 373–80 make the case for the Arles obelisk being Constantinian. ²⁰¹ Amm., XVII.4. One might also point out that, for all Ammianus’ derision of this monument, the Forum of Trajan that the historian so admired and which he mocked Constantius for gawping at (XVI.10.15–16) is now a tumbled ruin, but Constantius’ obelisk still stands in the city of Rome.

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what victorious emperors wanted their subjects to believe about what had taken place in moments of crisis. By the end of Constantius’ reign, a triumphal narrative had emerged that saw the emperor progressing by stages to a position of dominance over the whole world that was his destiny by birth. Constantius the tyrant slayer was his father’s son, a man who gave peace to a tumultuous world. Like his father, shadowy beginnings were carefully shrouded in mystery. Like his father, two great imperial rivals became part of the ideology of his reign. And ironically, one of the individuals who helped to shape this story would soon become its most vocal critic.

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VII Usurper, Propaganda, History The Emperor Julian

Constantius’ reign as Augustus had been marked by a series of power struggles: against his extended family in 337; against his brothers from then until 350; against Magnentius in 350‒3; and finally against first his cousin, the Caesar Gallus, and then his magister equituum Silvanus in 354‒5. Constantius responded to these conflicts with a determined ruthlessness that allowed no space for dissent or disloyalty. He was an effective, if sometimes merciless ruler, well adapted both to military command (at the macro level) and to statecraft. These were qualities that were to be tested yet again in the years that followed 355, thanks largely to a young emperor who self-consciously modelled himself as a raging Yang to Constantius’ cool and cautious Yin.

THE VOICE OF A USURPER: J ULIAN’ S RI SE TO PO WE R Usurpers are, for the most part, mute. Those who fall disappear, to be blackened by their enemies. Those who rise set the apparatus of their court and all its ambitious hangers-on either to sanitizing or to silencing the story of their seizure of power.¹ It is very difficult, therefore, to see usurpation in motion and to ask how emperors in the midst of seizing power addressed those who wavered between one side and the other. Julian, who in the late winter of 360 was created Augustus by his soldiers against the wishes of the senior emperor, his cousin Constantius, provides a unique exception to this rule.²

¹ I quote again from the Epigrams of John Harington, with which I began this book: ‘Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason? / For if it prosper, none dare call it treason’ (IV.5). ² The only other exception to the rule of mute usurpers within this period are the two letters of Magnus Maximus found in the Collectio Avellana (see Chapter IX, pp. 265 and 281).

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Julian’s Epistula ad Athenienses—or, to give it its name in the manuscripts, Letter to the Senate and People of Athens—is the only surviving example of the host of letters that Julian sent out during the closing months of the year 361, letters which gave an account of his career as emperor, described the tumultuous events of his proclamation at Paris, and justified his conduct in going to war against his cousin and auctor imperii, Constantius.³ The Letter was thus a carefully crafted political statement intended for a neutral audience in a conflict as yet undecided. Though certainly the product of Julian’s own rather idiosyncratic self-presentation, within it we can nevertheless find hints of how it was that usurpers sought to win hearts, minds, and swords to their cause. The Letter allows us to see a usurpation in motion and to look at how a usurper might reach out to neutral parties, letting us hear him talking explicitly about his own usurpation. What is perhaps most striking of all, however, is that the Letter allows us a glimpse at how the processes of image formation that went on in the wake of an emperor’s fall were set in motion. The panegyrics of Mamertinus and Libanius that were delivered to Julian in the eighteen months after Constantius’ death, the historical account of Ammianus written some thirty years later, the now fragmentary works of Eunapius, and the fifth-century history of the Constantinopolitan Zosimus all demonstrably reproduce an account of the years 355‒61 that is indebted to Julian himself and the image of his career that he actively sought to cultivate during his usurpation.⁴ The Letter is therefore a rare opportunity to watch at work the propaganda of the imperial court as it shaped the past, creating an interpretation of events that served a demanding present. The central event of the Letter, its raison d’être, is of course the usurpation of Julian, which occurred at Paris in January or February 360. To understand this usurpation, what was at stake, and how it had come about, we need to look back and consider Julian’s career as Caesar. Piercing the web of a source tradition demonstrably derived at least in part from Julian is no mean feat, but a basic skeleton of facts is relatively easy to tease out. Julian had lived his young life in the shadow of the massacre of 337, his movements carefully controlled throughout his childhood and adolescence.⁵ The shadow of that massacre lengthened still further in 354 when Julian’s brother Gallus, after a brief career as Caesar of the East, was executed.⁶ Damned by association, ³ M. Humphries, ‘The Tyrant’s Mask? Images of Good and Bad Rule in Julian’s Letter to the Athenians’, in N. Baker-Brian and S. Tougher (eds), Emperor and Author: The Writings of Julian the Apostate (Swansea, 2012), 77. ⁴ On the interdependence of the historians and their dependence on Julian, see Bowersock, Julian, 6–9. Zosimus is explicit about the fact that Julian’s own accounts of the period formed one of his mains sources of information (Zos., III.2.4). ⁵ Bowersock, Julian, 21–8; Athanassiadi, Julian, 13–45; Tougher, Julian, 14–16. ⁶ Amm., XIV.1, 7, 9, 11; Blockley, ‘Constantius Gallus and Julian as Caesars’, 433–68; Matthews, Roman Empire of Ammianus, 34–6, 406–8; Maraval, Fils de Constantin, 122–30.

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Julian was summoned to Milan and there kept under house arrest for half a year. Briefly released to return to his studies, Julian was again recalled to the north Italian capital after the fall of Silvanus and—perhaps surprisingly, given that Gallus had been dead only a year—was invested with imperial authority. He was made Caesar in November 355 and sent north over the Alps so that there could be an emperor in Gaul.⁷ Constantius’ willingness to acclaim a man who had every reason to wish him dead shows the emperor’s personal commitment to the ideology of his dynasty; better a member of the house of Constantine on the throne, however questionable his loyalty, than an outsider. In creating an emperor for the West, Constantius was seeking to anchor his own imperial presence (also a reason to pick a family member) in anticipation of his inevitable return to the Persian front, which he had been forced to abandon in order to prosecute the war against Magnentius.⁸ This same war was the cause of much of Gaul’s troubles. Magnentius had denuded Gaul of the better part of its military manpower to fight Constantius, opening the borders to barbarian incursion. If Constantius’ critics may be believed, the Eastern emperor had even encouraged Alemannic attacks upon the Rhine in order to weaken his enemy.⁹ In either case, the Rhine frontier had collapsed and Frankish and Alemannic tribal groups were moving freely on the western banks.¹⁰ Julian was a newcomer to Gaul, to politics, and to military command. Perhaps not surprisingly, therefore, he was initially given very limited authority in Gaul. Nevertheless, he threw himself into his new role with the total determination of a man with nothing to lose, training with the soldiers on the parade ground and, to the delight of modern historians (who knew all along that there was a point to reading the classics!), studying Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum in order to learn the art of generalship.¹¹ As it transpired, soldiering ⁷ Amm., XV.8; Aur. Vict., Caes. 42.17, Epit., 42.12–13; Eutr., X.14; Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 277a– 278a; Oros., VII.29.15; Soc., II.34.5. Bowersock, Julian, 31–6; Athanassiadi, Julian, 52–4. ⁸ Lightfoot, ‘Facts and Fiction’, 113. Lightfoot notes that Constantius had not simply walked away from the Persian war, but nevertheless the East was in need of both reinforcement and imperial presence. ⁹ Jul., Ep ad Ath. 287a; Lib., Or. XVIII.33, 107; Zos., II.53.3; Soc., HE III.1.25–8; Soz., HE V.2.20. Although this statement is to be found in the mouths of Constantius’ enemies, it is nevertheless a highly plausible scenario; emperors routinely used barbarians in their civil wars and routinely sacrificed provincials to their own strategic needs. ¹⁰ It has been suggested that Julian’s own estimation of the scale of German incursions into Gaul was something of an exaggeration (J. F. Drinkwater, ‘ “The Germanic threat on the Rhine frontier”: a Romano-Gallic artefact?’, in R. W. Mathisen and H. S. Sivan (eds), Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity: Papers from the First Interdisciplinary Conferences on Late Antiquity, the University of Kansas, March, 1995 (Aldershot, 1996), 20–30; Hunt, ‘Julian’, CAH XIII (Cambridge, 1997), 49–50). However, merely by examining the regions in which Julian was fighting, we can see that there had certainly been significant and very serious penetrations. In 356, Julian was engaged in military operations against the Alemanni, among others, at Autun, Troyes, and Sens, cities deep within the interior of northern and central Gaul (Bowersock, Julian, 37–9). ¹¹ Amm., XVI.5.10; Jul., Or. III.123d–124d; Bowersock, Julian, 36.

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suited Julian. He combined an utterly reckless courage with an appreciation of the element of surprise, an understanding of how to exploit enemy weaknesses, and a considerable helping of that great imperial virtue, felicitas (‘fortune’). He appears to have been actively commanding the Gallic armies from the summer of 356 (astounding, given his inexperience) and in this year won a series of victories along the Rhine, culminating in his liberation of the city of Cologne from Frankish control.¹² The following year saw his famous victory at Strasbourg, at which battle, apparently without the aid of the Italian army under Barbatio that ought to have reinforced him, Julian destroyed an enormous Alemannic confederation and captured the king Chnodomar. Julian then made the first of many vicious raids over the Rhine, ravaging Alemannic territory and receiving the surrender of three further kings.¹³ By 358, Julian was firmly on the offensive; he was able to build an enormous fleet upon the Rhine, crossing the river twice more to bring punitive devastation deep into Germanic territory and receive the surrender of further Germanic kings.¹⁴ Restoration of order within Gaul also allowed Julian to undertake a number of administrative reforms, chief among which was lessening the tax burden on the provincials. If Ammianus is to be believed, this amounted to a reduction of the pro capitibus contribution of the Gauls from twenty-five to just seven solidi.¹⁵ Thus by 360, the year of his usurpation, Julian had built for himself an enormous reputation in Gaul as the saviour of the province, and this in stark contrast with the distant figure of Constantius, who had himself visited the region only briefly during his reign (and then had confined himself to the south).¹⁶ Constantius had left Italy for the Danube provinces in the spring of 357 and was, by 360, back in the East supervising the Persian front.¹⁷ There the story was not so rosy; Persian forces were on the offensive in Mesopotamia and the important stronghold of Amida had been lost at great cost to the Romans in 359.¹⁸ Thus, in the winter of 360, Constantius sent orders to Gaul requisitioning Julian’s auxiliary units (the Aeruli, Batavi, Celts, and Petulantes) and 300 men from each of Julian’s remaining regiments.¹⁹ This, it has been estimated, would have constituted something in the region of one third of Julian’s total available forces.²⁰ Unsurprisingly, this order caused alarm among the Gallic armies, and pro-Julianic sources were unquestioning in their assertion

¹² Amm., XVI.2–3. ¹³ Amm., XVI.12–XVII.1; Eutr., X.14; Zos., III.4–7. ¹⁴ Amm., XXVII.8–10. ¹⁵ Amm., XVI.5.14. Matthews, Roman Empire of Ammianus, 89–90. ¹⁶ Seeck, Regesten, 200. ¹⁷ Seeck, Regesten, 204–8. ¹⁸ Dodgeon and Lieu, Roman Eastern Frontier, 212–14. ¹⁹ Amm., XX.4.1–2. ²⁰ J. Szidat, Historischer Kommentar zu Ammianus Marcellinus Buch XX–XXI: Die Erhebung Iulians (Historia Einzelschriften 31. Wiesbaden, 1977), I 141.

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that Constantius took this step solely to undermine his Caesar.²¹ This troop movement was supposed to have been supervised by the general Lupicinus, but Julian had that winter sent Lupicinus to Britain to put down raids from the north by the Scots and Picts. The designated units therefore assembled at Paris, Julian’s winter headquarters since 358, in preparation for the march east. Here, their dissatisfaction turned to open mutiny and they proclaimed Julian Augustus (so he claims) quite against his will and in order not to abandon the province they had spent four bloody years restoring to peace.²² Tied up with the war upon the Eastern front, Constantius was unable in 360 to react directly to Julian’s proclamation. He refused to acknowledge his cousin’s new title and ordered that he return himself to the position of Caesar and yield up the troops that had been demanded. This Julian steadfastly refused to do, and in November 360 he celebrated his quinquennalia at Vienne wearing a diadem, the crown only an Augustus could wear.²³ The following year he departed from Gaul (notably, taking with him the army that had just months before so mutinously refused to abandon the province) and marched east against Constantius, who likewise concluded yet another hasty peace upon the Persian front and marched west. Julian’s advance, in continuation of the tactics that had brought him such success again the Franks and the Alemanni, constituted a rapid penetration of enemy territory (so rapid, indeed, that he risked opening up a war on two fronts).²⁴ By the late summer of 361, Julian had established himself at Naissus and had secured the Succi pass, the route of the major east‒west highway, the Via Militaris.²⁵ At Naissus, he prepared himself to wait out the winter of 361/2 in anticipation of the second major war between East and West that the Empire had seen in a little over a decade. It is as a direct result of these events that the Letter was produced. From Naissus, Julian sent out a host of letters addressed to the great cities of the Balkan peninsula (and perhaps also to those of Italy). Of these, only the Letter to the Athenians survives, but we know for certain that letters were also sent to Sparta, to Corinth, and to Rome, and—it seems safe to presume—to many more besides.²⁶ The Letter is relatively long, its text running to a little over 700

²¹ Amm., XX.4.1–2; Lib., Or. XVIII.90–3; Zos., III.8.3. ²² Bowersock, Julian, 46–54; J. F. Drinkwater, ‘The “Pagan Underground”, Constantius II’s “Secret Service”, and the Survival, and the Usurpation of Julian the Apostate’, in C. Deroux (ed.), Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History (Brussels, 1983), III 378–83; Matthews, Roman Empire of Ammianus, 93–100. ²³ Amm., XXI.1.4. ²⁴ A second front came dangerously close to opening up behind him when Aquileia was seized by Balkan legions that had initially gone over to Julian: Amm., XXI.11–12. ²⁵ Amm., XXI.10; Zos., III.11. ²⁶ Bowersock, Julian, 60; Pan. Lat. III.9.4; Lib., Or. XII.64; Amm., XXI.10.7–8; Zos., III.10.4.

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lines in the Loeb edition, but its structure is straightforward. Julian begins with an address to the Athenians, praising them for their peerlessness in their respect for justice (268a‒270c). He then recounts his familial connection with Constantius, denouncing him as the murderer of his family, recalling the exile of his childhood, and declaring his disgust at Gallus’ execution without trial (270c‒273b). Following this, Julian describes his career as Caesar (273c‒280d), his loyalty to Constantius despite the latter having surrounded Julian with useless and disobedient subordinates, the way in which these subordinates begin to turn on him as his successes grew, and Constantius’ demand that Julian surrender up his armies (280d‒282d). Finally, he reports the mutiny of the Gallic armies, his unwilling proclamation, his enduring loyalty to Constantius, and his reasons for marching against him (282d‒287d). Julian’s preoccupations are writ large upon this text, and what purports to be a miniature biography is in fact an extended justification of Julian’s seizure of power.²⁷ The usurpation at Paris forms the conclusion of the narrative and it is solely in order to justify this incident that the text was composed. The presentation of the usurpation itself is instructive of what it was that Julian was attempting to do in the letter. As to its causes, Julian makes clear that his time in Gaul and his successes there had made him deeply unpopular. He names numerous of Constantius’ subordinates with whom he was forced to work while in the province; all (he claims), with only a single exception, actively worked to sabotage him or else contented themselves with stirring up Constantius against his Caesar.²⁸ Julian is also, however, at pains to show that Constantius is a man happy to be so manipulated, driven by his petty and paranoid jealousies. At the beginning of Julian’s reign as Caesar, Constantius had, so Julian claims, instructed the Gallic generals ‘to watch me as vigilantly as they did the enemy’.²⁹ Constantius’ conduct throughout Julian’s tenure as Caesar, so the Letter argues, saw Julian being continually undermined by Constantius, who favoured the servile but worthless flatterers he had installed in Gaul. It was largely at the instigation of these officers that, in 360, Constantius had demanded that reinforcements be sent to the East in order to denude Julian of military support: ‘And he wrote letters full of insults directed against me and threatening ruin to the Gauls.’³⁰ Julian reminds his audience

²⁷ Julian claims that he writes because ‘I wish to report my conduct to you . . . and through you to the rest of the Greeks.’ (Ep. ad Ath. 270b‒c; tr. Wright). ²⁸ Julian names Dynamius (273d), Marcellus (278b‒c), Florentius (280a‒b, 282c), Lupicinus (281a‒b), Pentadius (282b, 283c), Paul and Gaudentius (282b‒c; Gaudentius is also referred to at 273c), Sallust (281d), Lucilianus (282c), Gintonius (282c), Nebridius and Decentius (283c), and the Gallic bishop Epictetus (286c). He also makes clear reference to the eunuch Eusebius, though never names him (272d, 274a). In this long roster of Constantius’ officers, only Sallust receives a favourable opinion from Julian. ²⁹ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 277d. ³⁰ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 282c‒d.

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that Constantius’ loyalty to unworthy subordinates made mockery of Julian’s own loyalty to the man who had murdered his father, his brothers, and his cousins.³¹ This image of Constantius as a suspicious ruler actively working to undermine Julian at the expense of Gaul has proven an enduring one. The paranoid and jealous Constantius whom we find in the pages of Ammianus, brought to publication in Rome in the early 390s, is already clearly visible in the text of the Letter.³² Julian urges the Athenians to entertain no doubt, therefore, that the request from Constantius for soldiers was motivated entirely by the jealous desire to destroy him, even if that came at the price of the lives of the Gallic provincials. Julian makes no mention whatsoever of the Eastern frontier, of the fall of the city of Amida to the Persians in 359, or of Constantius’ potentially legitimate need for soldiers, nor of the fact that if his campaigns in Gaul had been as bloodily successful as he himself claims, it would be many years before the Alemanni and the Franks were ready to mount significant offensives against the Romans.³³ Julian’s description of the usurpation itself is a textbook example of what is meant when we speak about the Roman virtue of recusatio, the refusal of power. Julian makes clear that the activities of Constantius and his subordinates had long been seen as harming Gaul but that the order to transfer armies to the East caused these resentments to boil over into open hostility. Julian had resolved, he tells us, ‘to divest myself of all imperial splendour and remain in peace, taking no part whatever in affairs’.³⁴ His resolution, he claims, was to wait for the return of Lupicinus from Britain and to take no part in the troop movements, just as he had been instructed. An anonymous letter, however, was sent to Paris addressed to the crack units of the Celts and Petulantes, a letter which Julian is keen to note was ‘full of bitter invectives against Constantius and his betrayal of the Gauls’.³⁵ In his description of the subsequent course of events, Julian took every opportunity imaginable to distance himself from any active part in the proclamation. Julian makes, for instance, the highly improbable claim that the only reason the soldiers passed through Paris on their way east at all was because Nebridius, Pentadius, and Decentius, the men

³¹ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 281b‒c. ³² Mänchen-Helfen, ‘Date of Ammianus Marcellinus’ Last Books’, 384–99, following Seeck, Briefe des Libanius, 202, argued that Ammianus’ history must post-date 392 but was unlikely to have been written much later than 393. Matthews believes that it was probably published in 390 or 391 (Roman Empire of Ammianus, 17–27). I would follow the later dating and, with Barnes, Ammianus, 184 n. 79, would stress that Ammianus’ attitude to Valentinian II’s proclamation (Amm., XXX.10) can only be explained if the young emperor, who died 15 May 392, were still alive. ³³ Modern historians have not been blind to the possibility that Julian may well have talked up the extent of the damage that had been done to Gaul by the Germans in order to enhance his prestige: Drinkwater, ‘ “The Germanic threat on the Rhine frontier” ’, 20–30; Hunt, ‘Julian’, CAH XIII, 49–50. ³⁴ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 283a. ³⁵ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 283b.

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sent by Constantius with the order for redeployment, had insisted that they should, a decision they took in order to confound Julian, who argued that they should not.³⁶ Thus a number of mutinous regiments converged upon Paris, quite against Julian’s wishes, but though he met with them on their arrival he knew nothing of their intentions until he suddenly found them surrounding the palace at sunset and hailing him Augustus. Julian prayed to Zeus, utterly unwilling to take any part in this action, but was given a sign that he ought to go out and yield to them.³⁷ Perhaps the most telling detail, in part because it is so trivial, is Julian’s claim that ‘some soldier or other’ crowned him with a necklace.³⁸ Julian’s failure to recall this man’s identity is nothing but the studied forgetfulness of one keen to appear disinterested; the man’s name was Maurus and Julian made him a comes in recognition of his actions.³⁹ What Julian was doing in this presentation was not so much explaining a usurpation as denying the very idea of a usurpation altogether. To usurp was to seize, but Julian had seized nothing; his power had been given to him by the soldiers and, above all, by the gods. This position allowed (or, perhaps, forced) Julian to place mutually contradictory ideas within but a few lines of each other; he argues, for instance, that he had continued to address himself to Constantius as Caesar and to show deference to him, feeling a deep shame at the notion that he may have appeared disloyal; and yet almost in the very same thought he lists the fact that Constantius’ letters address him as ‘Caesar’ among his grounds for war and declares that Constantius has promised not to take his life if he gives himself up, ‘but about my honour (τιμή) he says not a word . . . my honour I will not give up.’⁴⁰ In one and the same thought, therefore, Julian disavowed the title of Augustus while at the same time holding it up as the justification for his actions. This, above all, was the language of Roman usurpation; a deep and far-reaching doublethink that admitted no shades of grey into its world of black and white. If this account causes the reader some concern, this is well and good, since the assertion either of Julian’s ignorance or of his innocence in the events described requires an alarming degree of credulity. Evidence even from within the Letter itself can be mustered to suggest that Julian could hardly have failed to anticipate—and indeed that he had actively encouraged—the revolt at Paris. Julian claims, for instance, that it was his intention to keep himself utterly removed from Constantius’ request for soldiers in 360.⁴¹ Yet he himself admits that he met with the units when they arrived in Paris, and from Ammianus we know that this meeting involved inviting the officers of these units to dinner

³⁶ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 283d–284a. ³⁷ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 284b–285a. ³⁸ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 284d. ³⁹ Amm., XX.4.18. ⁴⁰ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 285a–286d (tr. Wright). The word Julian uses here, τιμή, which is translated as ‘honour’, also means ‘rank’ or ‘office’ and clearly refers to Julian’s imperial title. ⁴¹ See above, n. 34.

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and encouraging them to share their concerns with him.⁴² One can almost hear his offers of consolation to them: ‘yes, it really is terrible what Constantius is doing, but there is simply nothing we can do, an Augustus must be obeyed.’ Given that letters calling the soldiers to open rebellion had been openly circulating among the army camps, Julian can hardly have been unaware of what was happening. Lupicinus’ absence in Britain may likewise owe much to the fact that Julian wanted the magister equitum, a loyal Constantian, out of his way so that he was free to operate on his own initiative.⁴³ Yet perhaps the most searing inconsistency of all to be found in this account is Julian’s insistence that his troops were tipped to the point of mutiny by Constantius’ request that they leave Gaul, thus leaving the province unprotected. It would be churlish to suggest that such concerns played no part in the events of Julian’s proclamation, but it is hardly credible to argue that this action was anything other than a peripheral concern; if we are to believe that the thought of abandoning Gaul was enough to drive the Gallic armies to open mutiny, we are hard-pressed to explain their apparent willingness to do precisely this mere months later in order to help Julian fight his civil war with his cousin. The Celts and the Petulantes, the very units whose pamphleteering was so conspicuous in the days prior to Julian’s accession, who first hailed the emperor as Augustus, and from whose ranks came the standard-bearer who crowned Julian with his necklace when no diadem could be found for him, units whom Julian’s account would have us believe could not bear to abandon the newly pacified Rhine frontier, were to be found, just two years later, drinking themselves into insensibility in the public temples of Antioch.⁴⁴ Other of his own writings also give the lie to the notion that his ambitions or intentions reached no further than his allotted position as Caesar. In the previous chapter, we examined the two panegyrics that Julian composed for the emperor Constantius to celebrate, among other things, Constantius’ victories over Vetranio, Silvanus, and, above all, Magnentius. What is just as striking, however, about these two speeches is the way in which they represent the ideals of Roman imperial power. The first panegyric, composed early in Julian’s imperial career when he was newly installed as Caesar and isolated from the world he had known, resident in a Gaul whose last emperor had been murdered in church by his soldiers just months before, views the ideal emperor in distinctly uncontroversial terms; he is skilled in war, he is clement, ⁴² Amm., XX.4.12–13. ⁴³ Drinkwater, ‘The “Pagan Underground” ’, 378–9; Hunt, ‘Julian’, CAH XIII, 57. ⁴⁴ On the role of the Celts and Petulantes in Julian’s accession, see Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 282d–285d and Amm., XX.4. For their behaviour in Antioch, see Amm., XXII.12.6. These units presumably joined Julian on campaign (e.g. R. Tomlin, ‘Seniores-Iuniores in the Late-Roman Field Army’, AJP 93:2 (1972), 275). David Woods has argued that the Maurus whom Ammianus mentions on the Persian campaign (XXV.1.5) is the same Maurus, standard-bearer of the Petulantes, who crowned Julian in 361: ‘Maurus, Mavia, and Ammianus’, Mnemosyne 51:3 (1998), 325–36.

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he is fortunate. Indeed, so formulaic is Julian’s praise and so rigidly does he adhere to the structure of the Basilikos Logos advised by Menander Rhetor that some modern authors have seen in this speech a conscious and coded insincerity.⁴⁵ More probable, however, is that Or. I shows us a young man steadfastly adhering to the conventions of his genre in mortal fear of putting a foot wrong. Not so the second panegyric, however. Like the first, it dwelt on the details of Constantius’ life, on his family, on his Persian wars, and on the defeat of tyrants in the West. Unlike the first panegyric, however, this speech indulges in frequent and lengthy digressions on virtue and kingship, in which Julian sketches an image of the ideal emperor that is strikingly discordant with the character of Constantius but a dead ringer for Julian himself.⁴⁶ Constantius is absent from whole sections of the speech, being mentioned—for example— only four times between line 265 (58b) and line 721 (73b), a section comprising very nearly a third of the speech’s 1,600 lines.⁴⁷ Considerable emphasis is placed through the panegyric on the religious duties of the emperor towards the gods and Julian avers that the emperor can only hope to succeed by due reverence to the gods through the proper rituals (i.e. sacrifice). The true ruler did not depend on hereditary claims, but drew his authority from a relationship with the divine, whom Julian associates directly with the sun. Ultimately, the true king understands god because of kinship with him (διὰ συγγένειαν), something no Christian king could claim.⁴⁸ Indeed, when read carefully and when it is remembered that the second panegyric was ostensibly the loyal sentiments of Constantius’ Christian subordinate, the text begins to stand out as a statement of Julian’s intention so bold that it borders upon an open declaration of disloyalty.⁴⁹ The suggestion that we find throughout our sources that Constantius was growing increasingly suspicious of Julian as the 350s ⁴⁵ Athanassiadi, Julian, 61. I would stress that I see no reason to follow this interpretation. Julian was, in 356, an inexperienced politician in an insecure situation and would have had every reason to stick carefully to proscribed formulae, particularly when Libanius’ Or. LIX, which Julian clearly used as a model (Bidez, L’Empereur Julien, I 5), did the same. Pan. Lat. X likewise adheres closely to Menander’s schema (Nixon-Rodgers, 11–12) and there is no reason to see in it any insincerity. Tougher, ‘Reading between the lines’, 24–30 provides qualification on the relationship between Julian and Menander. ⁴⁶ Curta, ‘Atticism, Homer, Neoplatonism, and Fürstenspiegel’, 177–211. ⁴⁷ Jul., Or. II.58b–73a (mentioned at 66b, 67a, 72b, 72d). Note that the main English translation (W. C. Wright (ed. and tr.), The Works of the Emperor Julian (3 vols. Loeb classical library. Cambridge MA, 1913–23)) misrepresents this, adding direct mentions at 62b and 62c, which are at best implied within the Greek. Lengths are taken from Bidez’s edition. ⁴⁸ Jul., Or. II.70c. Julian, of course, does not say this explicitly, but how could a Christian king claim ‘kinship’ with God, particularly an Arian Christian like Constantius who denied συγγένεια with God even to Christ? ⁴⁹ Curta, ‘Atticism, Homer, Neoplatonism, and Fürstenspiegel’, 209: ‘His second encomium for Constantius is therefore a genuine political manifesto veiled in rhetoric.’ It ought to be stated that this viewpoint has not achieved universal acceptance: see Whitby, ‘Images of Constantius’, 87 n. 46.

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wound on seems utterly reasonable when we read the speech that the now repeatedly victorious Caesar sent to Constantius as a present!⁵⁰ The events of 360, as presented in the Letter, utterly sanitize Julian—at least to the credulous reader—from any stigma which might be associated either with the improper desire for power or with disobedience to his cousin and superior, Constantius. The account of the usurpation, however, ought not to be seen in a vacuum, but rather placed in the context of the preceding two thirds of the letter. Here, the process of image construction is perhaps more subtle, since the objectives are less obviously apparent. He recalls being summoned against his will to the title of Caesar, yielding only when he received direct guidance so to do from Athene.⁵¹ He declares: The slavery that ensued and the fear for my life that hung over me every day, Heracles how great it was, and how terrible! My doors locked, warders to guard them, the hands of my servants searched less one of them should convey to me the most trifling letter from my friends, strange servants to wait on me.⁵²

Sent to Gaul with a mere handful of soldiers, for months on end he was given no actual authority but expected only to parade the image of Constantius. Without command of the soldiers, his own person was placed in terrible danger in a Gaul ravaged by raiding and he was actually besieged in Sens.⁵³ The following year he was granted military authority and at a flash the transformation of Gaul was begun; victories were won at Cologne and at Strasbourg. Julian, though the triumph of Strasbourg had been won while Constantius was swanning about in the territory of the Sarmatians and Quadi on the Danube (not fighting but merely talking with their kings), nevertheless sent the captured king Chnodomar to Constantius, who exhibited him in triumph.⁵⁴ In three years, Julian restored Roman cities, built fleets, crossed the Rhine many times, extracted treaties from foreign kings, and sent Constantius many levies of Germanic recruits, at all turns undoing the corruption and the cowardice that had prevailed in the Roman high command until his arrival.⁵⁵ The whole course of this account is designed to paint a clear picture of Julian as friendless in Gaul, beset upon all sides by Constantius’ openly hostile subordinates, hounded by an incompetent emperor who refused to support him, and yet nevertheless single-handedly achieving enormous victories ⁵⁰ Whether the speech was ever sent, it ought to be stated, remains an open question. Wright believed it was not, Bidez believed it was (cf. Curta, ‘Atticism, Homer, Neoplatonism, and Fürstenspiegel’, 210 n. 112). The objection to the idea that it could have been sent on appears to be that it was too inflammatory for Julian possibly to have shared it. Hal Drake reminds us that this position is grounded firmly in knowledge of what Julian did next, knowledge not available to contemporaries: ‘ “But I digress . . . ”: Rhetoric and propaganda in Julian’s second oration to Constantius’, in Baker-Brian and Tougher (eds), Emperor and Author, 39–40. ⁵¹ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 274b–277b. ⁵² Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 277a‒b (tr. Wright). ⁵³ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 277d–278d. ⁵⁴ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 278d–279d. ⁵⁵ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 279d–280d.

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against all odds. Yet many if not most of the details that Julian musters in defence of this interpretation may be challenged. In order to emphasize the extent to which he was sent, to use his own language, merely in order to convey Constantius’ image to the Gauls, he explains that, though he was permitted to join the Gallic army around midsummer 356, he was watched as vigilantly as the enemy and permitted no independent action or command.⁵⁶ Yet we know that Julian was already commanding the army in that same year and that it was at this time that he took Cologne back from the Franks, an event which Julian’s account purposefully shifts into 357.⁵⁷ His account of the events of that winter and the siege of his own winter quarters at Sens (which the Letter obviously places before the recapture of Cologne) is similarly distorted. Julian reports his own encirclement and the subsequent dismissal of Marcellus, the magister equitum et peditum in Gaul, who, Julian claims, ‘fell under the suspicions of Constantius and was deprived by him of his command’.⁵⁸ Marcellus, we know from Ammianus, had failed to break the siege around Sens despite being stationed nearby with a large force, for which failure of duty Constantius had dismissed him instantly from his command.⁵⁹ That Julian chose not to mention that the senior general in Gaul had placed his life in danger through inaction seems odd, given the harsh invective throughout the rest of the Letter against other of Constantius’ officials in Gaul. Julian omitted this detail, however, because he was keen to avoid pointing out that Constantius had acted swiftly and decisively to demonstrate his total support for Julian in the face of insubordination from the Gallic high command, a strong message of Constantius’ confidence in his new Caesar.⁶⁰ Nor was this the only instance in which Constantius immediately took Julian’s side when the Caesar came into conflict with his generals or civil administrators. Though Ammianus reports that Constantius cautioned Julian not to embarrass the praetorian prefect Florentius over reforms to the tax system in Gaul, it is clear that the Augustus allowed his Caesar’s will to prevail in the matter.⁶¹ Likewise, when Julian and Florentius disagreed over whether the barbarians neighbouring the Rhine ought to be paid off to allow the Romans to cross the river, Constantius clearly gave Julian authority to decide in the matter, placing his trust in Julian’s judgement.⁶² Julian complains that he longed for clear, written instructions from Constantius, but Ammianus tells ⁵⁶ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 277d–278a. ⁵⁷ Ammianus’ narrative (Amm., XVI.3) clearly situates the recapture of Cologne in 356 and Julian himself makes clear (Ep. ad Ath. 279b) that the Franks had been in control of Cologne for ten months when he reclaimed it which, given that Ammianus states that the city had fallen before Julian came to Gaul late in 355 (Amm., XV.8.19), again demonstrates that this took place in 356: Bowersock, Julian, 36; Tougher, Julian, 32. ⁵⁸ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 278a‒d (tr. Wright). ⁵⁹ Amm., XVI.4.3 and 7.1. ⁶⁰ Bowersock, Julian, 39–40; Tougher, Julian, 32. ⁶¹ Amm., XVII.3. ⁶² Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 280a‒b.

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us that he had been sent to Gaul not merely with instructions, but instructions written in the emperor’s own hand.⁶³ We can hardly credit these with being errors or omissions; Julian was actively distorting the past in order to create the conditions necessary to make his own seizure of power seem necessary and proportionate. That Julian’s own account of his rise to power, written on the eve of all-out war with his cousin, is a highly circumspect retelling of the Western Empire’s political past is hardly surprising. What is, however, deeply alarming is the extent to which the interpretation of events presented in Julian’s Letter to the Athenians has penetrated into every major written source that deals with the events of 355‒61. For our understanding of this period, we depend primarily upon the narrative of Ammianus, supplemented by Zosimus, what fragments of Eunapius remain to us, and the panegyrics of Mamertinus and Libanius. All of these sources are not only self-evidently pro-Julianic in their interpretation, but their writers can be actively demonstrated to have had access to and to have utilized sources composed by Julian himself, the Letter to the Athenians (perhaps) among them.⁶⁴ Unsurprisingly, therefore, we find that these accounts all present a more or less unified picture. Much of Ammianus’ account of the usurpation, for instance, confirms many of Julian’s most dubious assertions; to name but a few examples, Ammianus confirms the notion that Nebridius, Pentadius, and Decentius, men who were on their guard against a possible revolt by an openly mutinous army, overruled Julian and insisted that the soldiers march via Paris, where Julian was stationed, rather than taking another route that would not bring them into contact with the emperor.⁶⁵ He follows Julian in placing the blame for the events at Paris squarely at Constantius’ door and arguing that it was a desire to remain in Gaul on the part of the soldiers that prompted the uprising, without ⁶³ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 282a‒b; Amm., XVI.5.3. Ammianus makes much of the fact that this booklet apparently contained instructions for what was to be served at Julian’s table, but his insistence that Julian ‘constantly’ read this text makes clear that it contained much more than suggestions for dinner. ⁶⁴ Ammianus is distinctly reticent on the question of his Julianic sources though it is clear that he had a collection of his works (cf. XVI.5.7) and he so clearly apes Julian’s own rhetoric (for which, see my own arguments in the following pages) that he must have been working from Julianic material (his summary of the Letter to the Senate of Rome is sufficiently detailed, for instance, as to suggest that Ammianus had read it himself: XXI.10.7–8). Both Libanius and Mamertinus knew Julian personally and were close enough with the emperor that textual sources do not need to be posited, though they can still occasionally be demonstrated, as when Libanius quoted from Julian’s Letter to the Corinthians: Or. XIV.29–30. Libanius, on occasion, also makes clear that his understanding of events was informed by Julian’s own writings (e.g. Lib., Or. XIII.25); cf. R. Scholl, Historische Beiträge zu den julianischen Reden des Libanios (Monographien und Texte zur klassischen Altertumswissenschaft 48. Stuttgart, 1994), 11–19. Zosimus names three specific cities (Athens, Sparta, and Corinth: III.10.4) as the recipients of letters from Julian and this would imply that either Zosimus himself, or his source, Eunapius, had actually read these documents. ⁶⁵ Amm., XX.4.11; Ammianus stresses that this was the decision of Decentius.

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addressing the apparent contradiction this entails.⁶⁶ Ammianus and Zosimus follow Julian in largely dismissing Constantius’ own role in the two-pronged assault upon the Germanic invaders of Roman territory.⁶⁷ Constantius, we know, was operating on the Upper Rhine and Danube throughout the period 353‒9, his campaigns against the Germanic tribes there being made in coordination with those of his Caesar.⁶⁸ Julian dismissed these campaigns utterly, and the authors who followed him have treated them little better; yet if we read carefully the sparse details we can reconstruct a picture of these campaigns as every bit as glorious as those that Julian was waging in Gaul.⁶⁹ We must work hard so to do, however; most modern histories of the period grant these campaigns the same scant attention as the ancient sources, and in so doing we continue to tell the story that Julian told us to tell.⁷⁰ What is more alarming, however, is that such dependencies can in many cases be only hypothetically posited. On rare occasions, such as when a detail has been lifted wholesale from the Letter to the Athenians, or when an author openly quotes from another lost source (as Libanius does from the Letter to the Corinthians), we are able to detect Julian’s own hand at work.⁷¹ Only rarely, however, are these dependencies so obvious and so explicit. How then are we to penetrate this monolithic source tradition? It will be noted, for instance, that in the instances above where I have made attempts to correct or to challenge the assertions of Julian’s Letter, recourse has been made to evidence derived primarily from Ammianus, but also from Zosimus. Yet given what we know about the partisan nature of these sources regarding Julian and Constantius, this is in fact exceptionally dangerous. Ultimately, we are reduced to ⁶⁶ Amm., XX.4.1–2, 10. ⁶⁷ Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 279d: ‘So it came about that, though I had done all the fighting and he had only travelled [in the lands of the Quadi and Sarmatians] and held friendly intercourse with the tribes who dwell on the borders of the Danube, it was not I but he who triumphed.’ Compare this with Amm., XVI–XVII, which passes in silence over Constantius’ own campaigning in 356 to instead focus on the intriguing against Julian that was going on at the court and Constantius’ visit to Rome (of which Ammianus was famously critical). He mentions what appears to be a stunning victory on the part of Barbatio in a few lines (calling Barbatio ignavus sed verbis effusior and attributing the victory mostly to his having talked the soldiers up into a frenzy: XVII.6) but does, it is true, give a detailed account of Constantius against the Sarmatians and Limigantes (XVII.12–13). Zos. III.3.1 states in passing that Constantius campaigned against the Sarmatians and Quadi on his way back to the East but is otherwise silent about his European activities. ⁶⁸ For Constantius’ movements during this period, see Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 221–3. On the coordination of activity between the emperors, see Bowersock, Julian, 38–9; Tougher, Julian, 35. ⁶⁹ Maraval, Fils de Constantin, 121–2, 130–1, 138–9, 149–54. ⁷⁰ Athanassiadi, Julian, 54–71 gives an account of Julian’s campaigns from which Constantius is utterly absent, except as an occasional maleficent force, meddling in events from a distance. The account of D. Hunt (‘The Successors of Constantine’ and ‘Julian’, CAH XIII, 1–43, 44–77), makes only the most passing references to Constantius’ involvement in the campaign—a short paragraph on the 354 campaign at 24, a sentence containing incidental mention of campaigns on the Danube at 35, and a note on Barbatio’s 357 involvement at 50–1. ⁷¹ Lib., Or. XIV.29–30.

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operating based upon prejudices and hunches. The Julianic narrative is so obviously suspect, so obviously crafted in order to accommodate a later political reality, that most writers feel compelled to attempt to subvert it. Yet when we attempt to do so, we find a void of corroborative source material; it simply does not exist. All that is left to us, therefore, is to approach our suspect sources with enormous scepticism which, at its worst, becomes little more than an exercise in contrarianism. It may help to examine a concrete example. In 357, the magister peditum Barbatio crossed the Alps with 25,000 men as one half of a pincer upon the Alemanni in southern Gaul, of which Julian’s army formed the other half. Ammianus tells us that incursions by the Laeti prevented these forces from meeting up. Barbatio’s reaction to this appears to have been to hunker down in his camp, diverting supplies intended for Julian; Ammianus comments: ‘whether he did this because he was a vain fool or because he confidently undertook this wicked action at the emperor [Constantius’] bidding still remains unknown.’ Eventually a force of Germans drove him back across the Alps, his army having achieved nothing, and Barbatio made for the court of Constantius ‘to frame charges against the Caesar, as was his custom’.⁷² Yet ought we to believe this reading of affairs? Ammianus makes very clear that the incursions of the Laeti diverted Julian from a predetermined plan, the actions perhaps of either an inexperienced general or one knowingly putting his own immediate aims over cooperative strategic goals. Furthermore, Julian had every reason to hate Barbatio, since the general had been intimately involved in Gallus’ downfall and summary execution.⁷³ Ammianus clearly shared this antipathy and took pleasure in recounting the general’s later death at the hands of Constantius.⁷⁴ Should we, therefore, believe the story of Barbatio’s incompetence and cowardice in 357, or is it possible that the story may have been misrepresented? It has been argued, for instance, that Julian’s own actions may have caused Barbatio to fall back, that the two armies were supposed to have rendezvoused but that Julian diverted from this plan in order, at the same stroke, to secure further victories for himself and to make Barbatio look like a fool.⁷⁵ Our decisions on such matters will ultimately depend to an alarming degree on personal inclination and a measure of gut feeling; do we accept or reject the testimony of source that had every reason to falsify its account, but for which we have no direct evidence (in this instance) of falsification? Whatever our decision, in attempting to correct Julian by reference to Ammianus, Zosimus, and the like, we are attempting to clean a muddy painting with a dirty cloth. ⁷² Amm., XVI.11 (quotes at 12 and 14). The episode is also found in Lib., Or. XVIII.49–51. ⁷³ Amm., XIV.11.19–24. ⁷⁴ Amm., XVIII.3. ⁷⁵ Matthews, Roman Empire of Ammianus, 299–300; Hunt, ‘The Successors of Constantine’, CAH XIII, 50–1.

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What the period of Julian’s rise demonstrates to us, above all, is the difficulty that we face as ancient historians in attempting to read our sources. So often, we bemoan their paucity, looking enviously to colleagues working on more modern periods. If only we had better records of Diocletian’s career before he became emperor! If only we knew more about the discussions that led to the proclamation of Severus and Maximin (not Constantine and Maxentius) in 305! If only we knew more about who Vetranio was and what he wanted! Then we might finally know what ‘really’ happened. Yet the story of Julian’s rise is a sobering reminder that the past is always so much more complicated than that. The multiplication of sources is not always a key with which we can unlock some imagined empirical truth, not when our sources were weapons in a war in which political fortunes were won and lost and in which the past was always called to serve in the front line. Julian’s usurpation is one of the better documented in the fourth century and all the more opaque because of it. Is Julian’s example representative, or unique? Certainly, the evident devotion of two writers who have gone on to be so deeply influential upon our understanding of the later Roman Empire, Libanius and Ammianus, is unusual. But it is not the last time that we will be able to draw clear examples of such influences. We have seen with Aurelius Victor that the most outlandish claims of panegyric might insinuate their way into serious history.⁷⁶ In the following chapter, we will detect the influence of Themistian polemic in Ammianus’ supposedly sacrosanct pages. Such examples draw our attention largely because they are plain to see. Had time not destroyed so much panegyric and so much history, how many more such connections might begin to emerge? Such, sadly, is impossible to say, but in what follows we will continue to examine the development of the Julianic narrative in the conditions of Julian’s sole rule.

BLEAC HING THE STAINS: J ULIAN’ S S OL E RUL E What happened next is well known, and was for Julian perhaps one of the greatest strokes of luck in a life marked by narrow escapes. As he prepared to meet in battle his cousin, who brought with him an Eastern army that had already once been victorious over a Western usurper, Constantius’ health suddenly worsened and, on 3 November 361, he died. On his deathbed, he named Julian his successor, the last act of a ruthless realist who ought to be remembered as one of the great emperors of his age.⁷⁷ Julian thus returned in ⁷⁶ See Chapter V, p. 141.

⁷⁷ Amm., XXI.15.2.

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triumph to Constantinople, the city of his birth, the city that had played host to the massacre of his family, the city he had not seen for as much as a decade.⁷⁸ He passed beneath the vault of its walls the sole Augustus of the Roman world. Into this extraordinary atmosphere stepped a panegyrist. On 1 January 362, in the senate house in Constantinople, one of the incoming consuls for the year, Claudius Mamertinus, delivered to Julian a speech that has survived within the Gallic corpus, the speech we today call Pan. Lat. III. The speech is a rare one within the Panegyricus Latinus corpus in that we can speak with certainty about the date of its delivery, the place, and about the career of its author. Both the date and the location of the speech can be derived on purely internal criteria. Mamertinus makes clear that he was speaking on the first day of the new year and that he was addressing the Constantinopolitan senate.⁷⁹ Of Mamertinus himself, we know him as an adherent of Julian’s, under whom he enjoyed considerable success. The young emperor had made Mamertinus his Count of the Sacred Largess in early 360, as he prepared himself for the march eastward against Constantius.⁸⁰ In the following year he was acting as praetorian prefect in Illyricum and then in the same office with authority over Italy and Africa as well.⁸¹ He was made consul for the year 362, for which he delivered Pan. Lat. III as a speech of thanks. Mamertinus survived Julian’s death, though not by long. He continued to serve as praetorian prefect until 365, when he was accused of embezzlement and removed from his post, to be replaced Vulcacius Rufinus, who had held this same post in the 340s and 50s.⁸² On the evidence of the speech itself we can conclude that Mamertinus was already advanced in age at the time of its delivery.⁸³ Mamertinus’ audience was no assemblage of quiescent toadies. The Constantinopolitan senate had every reason to resent Mamertinus and his patron. Even if we give Julian the credit of believing his self-portrait of a man thrust unwillingly to power by fate and by a tumultuous Gallic army, nevertheless the new emperor was a usurper who had risen up in arms against his auctor imperii. Antiochene pagans in love with the charismatic Julian, men like Ammianus and Libanius, might deride Constantius, but in the city that Constantius’ father had built and that Constantius had spent the better part

⁷⁸ For Julian’s birth, see Jul., ep. ad Alex. 443b; Amm., XXII.9.2, XXV.3.23. On his years before being made emperor, see Bowersock, Julian, 21–8; Athanassiadi, Julian, 13–45; Tougher, Julian, 14–16. ⁷⁹ Galletier, III 6; Nixon-Rodgers, 389. ⁸⁰ Amm., XXI.8.1 (cf. Pan. Lat. III.1.4). ⁸¹ PLRE I Claudius Mamertinus 2; Cf. Amm., XXI.12.25 (cf. Pan. Lat. III.1.5). Mamertinus concertinas these honours into a single year at Pan. Lat. III.22.2. ⁸² Amm., XXVII.7.1. This was the same Rufinus who had worked with Vetranio and been sent by the usurper to Constantius as an ambassador (see Chapter VI, p. 167). ⁸³ Pan. Lat. III.17.2.

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of his imperial career promoting to a pre-eminent status, such sentiments would surely have been deeply unwelcome. The Constantinopolitan senate was packed with men whom Constantius and his father had placed there, raising them high.⁸⁴ It was presided over by the urban prefect, an office that Constantius himself had created to rival the only other such office within the Empire, the ancient praefectus urbi at Rome.⁸⁵ It was Constantius’ body. Both Mamertinus and his colleague in the consulship, Nevitta, were Julian’s men, loyal adherents brought with him out of the West. We may assume, therefore, that their appointment had come at the expense of two consuls designate whom Constantius had been preparing to take office.⁸⁶ More damningly, however, Mamertinus and Nevitta had been appointed by Julian as judges at the Chalcedon trials, which took place through the winter of 361/2 and were still ongoing when Mamertinus addressed the senate in January. These trials amounted to a purge of Constantian loyalists, including many of those named in the Letter as well as the consuls of the previous year, Taurus and Florentius.⁸⁷ As delighted with his new-found status as Mamertinus surely was, therefore, he stood before the senate with an unenviable task, one that would require considerable delicacy. He rose admirably to the challenge. Mamertinus constructs an image of Julian and of his reign that is in perfect keeping with Julian’s own self-presentation. In so doing, he also frames the relationship between Constantius and Julian in service of the legitimating needs of Julian’s court, creating what was to become the agreed narrative of the events of the years 354‒61. The speech all but refuses to acknowledge that the Empire had been in the opening stages of a civil war. Mamertinus thus at once distances Julian from Constantius while at the same time smoothing their relationship, thus showing as natural the transition of rule from the one to the other and rejecting the adversarial rhetoric of the Letter. The speech begins with typical protestations of modesty and the claim that both the magnificence of the emperor and of the city demanded that Mamertinus deliver a panegyric ⁸⁴ G. Dagron, Naissance d’une Capitale: Constantinople et ses institutions de 330 à 451 (Bibliothèque Byzantine 7. Paris, 1974), 119–46; P. J. Heather, ‘New Men for New Constantines? Creating an Imperial Elite in the Eastern Mediterranean’, in P. Magdalino (ed.), New Constantine: The Rhythm of Imperial Renewal in Byzantium, 4th–13th Centuries (Society from the Promotion of Byzantine Studies Publications 2. Aldershot, 1994), 11–33; A. Skinner, ‘The early development of the senate of Constantinople’, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 32:2 (2008), 128–48. ⁸⁵ The present occupant of this office was Honoratus, the first prefect of Constantinople, promoted to that role by Constantius in 359 (Soc., HE II.41.1; Soz., HE IV.23.3). He had served as praetorian prefect in Gaul while Julian had been there as Caesar, but of their relationship we are frustrated to learn nothing. Intolerant of heresy (Soz., HE IV.23.3), he had clashed with Gallus while serving as Count of the East (Amm., XIV.7.2). ⁸⁶ Ammianus makes clear that the consulships were given while Constantius was still alive, and further rails against the error of promoting Nevitta, a barbarian, to this rank, particularly as Julian criticized Constantine for this very behaviour (Amm., XXI.10.8, 12.25). ⁸⁷ Bowersock, Julian, 66–70; Tougher, Julian, 45–6.

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(1‒2). Mamertinus then briefly describes Julian’s time in Gaul (3‒5) before moving on to consider Julian’s advance into the Balkans in a passage which an uninformed listener would be forgiven for failing to recognize as the description of a civil war (6‒14). The remainder of the speech is then devoted to a consideration of Mamertinus’ promotion to the consulship, gradually transitioning into declarations on Julian’s excellent character and the quality of his rule (15‒30). He concludes by asserting that he will strive to be worthy of the consulship and will devote himself to honouring Julian (31‒2). For our purposes it is the first half of the speech that provides the most useful material. Mamertinus begins with Gaul. His summary is blunt and to the point: Barbarians were occupying the most ancient and once most prosperous cities; the famous nobility of Gaul had either fallen by the sword or had been bound or enslaved to harsh masters (aut ferro occiderat aut immitibus addicta dominis serviebat). Other cities, which distance had protected from barbarian devastation, were being held by nefarious bandits who called themselves judges (iudicum nomine a nefariis latronibus obtinebantur). The bodies of freeborn men were given over to shameful tortures; no one was free from injury, no one untouched by abuse, unless he softens the cruelty of his plunderer with a payment, with the result that men came to desire the barbarians and the fate of captives was the envy of wretched men. Having found the Gauls in this condition, our emperor had the least trouble and danger against the enemy: in one engagement all Germany was destroyed, in one battle the war was ended. But the emendation of morals and the reform of the law courts were a difficult struggle and a business full of danger. . . . [Julian] spends his summers in the camps, his winters on the tribunal; the periods of his year are so divided that he either subdues the barbarians or restores rights to the citizens, since he has proclaimed a never-ending struggle, be it against the enemy or against vice (aut contra hostem aut contra vitia).⁸⁸

That this narrative elides a great deal of important historical detail should be obvious.⁸⁹ Yet Mamertinus’ aim is not to set out the historical details of the Gallic campaigns, details with which his audience would likely already be familiar. His aim, rather, is to provide his audience with the correct interpretative framework with which to understand Julian’s time in Gaul. His interpretation is straightforward. The Gallic provinces were suffering in equal parts from foreign invaders and from corrupt governors. Throughout, these two enemies are juxtaposed, picking up a pairing that Mamertinus had already alerted his audience to in his introduction.⁹⁰ Energy and self-sacrifice from Julian met both of these challenges head-on, restoring Gaul for the benefit of ⁸⁸ Pan. Lat. III.4.1–3, 6. ⁸⁹ Nixon-Rodgers, 396 n. 18 observe that ‘On the topic of Julian’s military campaigns Mamertinus supplies fewer details than an epitomator.’ ⁹⁰ Pan. Lat. III.1.4. See also 27.2: ‘A little while ago, abandoned in the wounded provinces of Gaul, he was attacked by the open arms and hidden treacheries of mortal enemies; within a few months he is, by divine gift, ruler of Libya, Europe, and Asia.’

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both provincials and citizens. The character of the victory in Gaul was made wholly personal, the result of Julian’s sole action. His victories against foreign enemies were treated as the result of a single, decisive battle.⁹¹ That he was also engaged in a conflict with a corrupt domestic faction is also established, without directly criticizing Constantius. The distance between Constantius and the events that are reported is consistently stressed. Mamertinus urges his audience, from the commencement of his speech, to see that the enmity that arose between Julian and Constantius was a result of Julian’s successes. Julian’s Gallic victories, Mamertinus declares, ‘have been celebrated in this part of the Roman Empire with the most glorious praise and renown, so much so that they merited the envy of your imperial brother’.⁹² Since Julian’s habits and the character of his rule were beyond reproach, his detractors came upon ‘a crafty method of doing harm’, whereby they lauded Julian to the skies in order to inflame Constantius.⁹³ This line of argument serves, first, to place a distance between Constantius and the machinations that Julian believed were deployed against him and that were so central to justifying many of the actions that he took in Gaul, his usurpation most of all. Secondly, by stressing the distance between Constantius and Julian, Mamertinus was able utterly to elide the circumstances of Julian’s own proclamation to imperial power. Mamertinus’ speech gives no indication of the fact that Julian had been made Caesar in Gaul by Constantius, that he had undertaken all his activities in this region under the auspices of this (junior) title, or that his promotion to Augustus in 360 was unequivocally a usurpation. Mamertinus refers directly to Constantius on a number of occasions throughout the speech and accords him respect in the titles he grants him, calling him ‘the Augustus’ and ‘the divine Constantius’.⁹⁴ The most frequent designation for Constantius within the speech, however, is as Julian’s ‘brother’, or ‘imperial brother’.⁹⁵ This appears to have been the official designation for Constantius under Julian’s sole rule, but it is a significant title.⁹⁶ As both Julian’s auctor imperii and his superior in imperial rank, Constantius might more appropriately be designated as Julian’s father. Such a designation, however, would have demonstrated a clear subordination of the one to the other and this would allow for

⁹¹ Clearly the battle of Strasbourg. ⁹² Pan. Lat. III.3.1. ⁹³ Pan. Lat. III.4.5ff. ⁹⁴ For direct reference to Constantius, see Pan. Lat. III.3.1–3, 5.2, and 27.5. Note also numerous indirect references, variously transparent, at 11.1–4, 19.3–20.4, 26.2, and 30.3. The latter title was the official designation for any deceased emperor not subject to sanctions upon his memory: S. Price, ‘From noble funerals to divine cult: the consecration of Roman Emperors’, in D. Cannadine and S. R. F. Price (eds), Rituals of Royalty: Power and ceremonial in traditional societies (Cambridge, 1987), 56–105. ⁹⁵ Pan. Lat. III.3.1, 5.2, and 27.5. ⁹⁶ Jul., Ep. 13 (cf. Nixon-Rodgers, 396 n. 19).

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the interpretation that Julian’s behaviour in Gaul was disobedience.⁹⁷ By recasting the relationship between the two as one of equality (of status, if not of character), the political rift between them was much more easily presented as the friction naturally emerging between virtuous and self-serving modes of government rather than a usurpation of status. No direct reference, of course, is made to Julian’s usurpation. After dark but non-specific hints about the machinations deployed against Julian, Mamertinus glides over the winter of 360 at a stroke: ‘I omit mention of the whole barbarian race roused to arms against the defender of Roman liberty or the peoples recently conquered and wilfully resisting the unfavourable yoke lately placed upon their untrustworthy necks, stirred up into renewed fury by wicked incitements. These all at last overcame the firm and steadfast patience of the greatest of princes.’⁹⁸ Here, Mamertinus reproduces Julian’s own position, that he was moved unwillingly to usurpation by the combination of machinations against him and the desire to defend the Gallic provinces from renewed attack. Mamertinus makes clear reference to the notion that Constantius himself had roused the barbarians across the frontiers to renewed attack on Julian, but he does not pause to dwell on it, nor does he allow this reference to become explicit.⁹⁹ Rather, he then declares that Julian suppressed a rebellious Alemannia before launching a rapid march into Illyricum. What follows is an astounding 154 lines that describe Julian’s military manoeuvres of the year 360‒1 solely as if they were those of an emperor undertaking a peaceful tour of his own provinces.¹⁰⁰ ‘So as at one and the same time to order the condition of the most faithful provinces and to overpower all the barbarian world by his terror brought close, it pleased him to make a lengthy voyage down the Danube.’¹⁰¹ No direct military activity is recounted; rather, Mamertinus urges us to see Julian advancing down the Danube receiving, on the one bank, supplicant German embassies begging for peace, while on the other, ⁹⁷ E.g. Pan. Lat. VIII.1.3–5, 13.2–4 for the relationship between Maximian and Constantius, with Nixon-Rodgers, 45 on the fact that a father‒son relationship implies the subordinating relationship of Augustus and Caesar. In similar fashion, we may observe the discomfort that Themistius found in using the language of paternity for the relationship between Gratian and Theodosius (see Chapter IX, pp. 261–2). The only moment in the entire speech at which Mamertinus allows any suggestion of Constantius’ superiority is in his description of Julian as his heres (27.5), inserted in order to allow Mamertinus to be utterly explicit on the point of Julian’s legitimate rulership of the Empire. ⁹⁸ Pan. Lat. III.6.1. ⁹⁹ Cf. Amm., XXI.3.4–4.7, Jul., Ep. ad Ath. 286a‒b, Lib., Or. XIII.35, XVIII.107; R. C. Blockley, ‘The Panegyric of Claudius Mamertinus on the Emperor Julian’, AJP 93:3 (1972), 441–2. ¹⁰⁰ Pan. Lat., III.6–9. ¹⁰¹ Pan. Lat. III.7.2. The phrase longissimo cursu Histrum placuit navigari is slightly difficult. I have followed Nixon-Rodgers in assuming this refers to the ancient city of Histria at the mouth of the Danube, and therefore implies, with deliberate nebulousness, a journey down the length of that river.

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embassies from Roman cities seeking from him the same kind of restoration that he had worked in Gaul. Both, we learn, were granted by the magnanimous emperor. Julian was not, of course, conducting a peaceful grand tour of his own provinces, but making a rapid march into the territory of Constantius in preparation for the civil war that would, but for Constantius’ death, have taken place in 362. An uninformed listener would be forgiven for failing to have gleaned this from the speech itself. At only two points in the entire speech does Mamertinus concede that a civil war had been unfolding. The first is a relatively oblique reference to allowing grain ships destined for Constantinople to slip by unmolested (an anecdote used to prove that Julian already possessed divine knowledge that he would reach that city unharmed).¹⁰² The second is more direct. Coming towards the conclusion of the speech, in the midst of a eulogy on Julian’s divine felicity, Mamertinus asks: To whom was his untroubled mind not made manifest during that time in which the Republic was liberated from the fear of a terrible war (horrendum bellum) and we all were raised up by passionate joy? But the emperor, though he saw that the welfare of the state had been increased by divine power, he nevertheless lamented at man’s condition and, granting pardon for the offences done him, assumed the role of a brother and honoured the death of him whom he knew had assailed his life with arms and afterwards himself gave funeral rites. Wonderful both in remembering and forgetting, he forgot that he was his enemy but remembered that he was his heir (heres).¹⁰³

Here, Mamertinus positively wallows in the victor’s prerogative to write history. This passage constitutes the only direct reference within the speech to a civil war (though notably avoiding the term bellum civile in favour of a more congenial horrendum bellum), Mamertinus dwells upon Julian’s magnanimity in forgiving Constantius and honouring him, thereby implicitly reversing the account and suggesting that it was Constantius who had somehow exceeded the bounds of a pre-agreed arrangement. Julian is given all the credit for forgiving Constantius his transgression, when in fact many in Mamertinus’ audience deserved credit for forgetting Julian’s. Though Constantius had assailed him, Julian showed great virtue in letting this slight pass! Mamertinus’ audience knew, of course, that Julian had usurped power, however justified some might have considered that usurpation to be. Mamertinus knew that they knew. He inserted, therefore, in his closing remarks about the civil war that he doesn’t mention, a digression on the fates of those overly desirous of power, ‘those who, raging against their own possessions, paid the

¹⁰² Pan. Lat. III.14.5–6. ¹⁰³ Pan. Lat. III.27.4–5. On the funeral of Constantius, see also Lib., Or. XVIII.120 and Greg. Naz., Contra Iul. II.17.

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penalty of those that grasp at power’.¹⁰⁴ Omitting mention of ancient examples, Mamertinus urges his audience to recall that: Our age indeed has seen not a few of this sort, men frenzied by rage who, on account of a blind lust for power, rushed headlong to the blades [that were their end].¹⁰⁵ If they were for a short time returned to life, God might speak with them: ‘Ho, Nepotianus” (for example) “and Silvanus, through hostile swords and imminent death you sought imperial power!’¹⁰⁶

Mamertinus then describes the terms on which power is given spontaneously to men, describing the ceaseless labour of Julian’s reign. ‘Their delicate ears unable to bear even the difficulty of [hearing] these words’, Mamertinus confidently predicts, these men would return to some low reach of hell rather than commit to the power they so strived for. Without ever recognizing, therefore, that Julian had usurped imperial power, Mamertinus provided explicit comparison between Julian and other usurping emperors, drawing the clear moral that Julian’s character and the completeness of his victory both mark him out as a true ruler. Mamertinus’ choice of exempla, and his decision to explicitly name the two emperors, is striking enough to merit careful consideration. First, why was it that Mamertinus chose these two men to single out? Recent history abounded with usurpers from whom to pick. In addition to Nepotianus and Silvanus, the names of Magnentius and Vetranio would also have been known to Mamertinus’ audience.¹⁰⁷ Far more controversially, there was also Constantius Gallus, Julian’s older brother, who had served for three years as Constantius’ Caesar before being executed sometime in the closing months of 354.¹⁰⁸ Mamertinus’ unwillingness to employ Gallus as an example ought to require no explanation. Nixon and Rodgers suggest that he may have wished to avoid Magnentius for not dissimilar reasons; Julian had actively courted Magnentius’ former supporters and it would be a needless slight to call their former master to mind in such a fashion.¹⁰⁹ Since Mamertinus’ aim was to demonstrate that power hungry emperors rushed to their deaths, Vetranio was a poor example, since he had not been killed at the conclusion of his reign. Silvanus and Nepotianus may also have recommended themselves because their short reigns lent themselves so neatly to the point that Mamertinus was making.¹¹⁰ ¹⁰⁴ Pan. Lat. III.13.1. ¹⁰⁵ The Latin here is in ferrum ruerunt. ¹⁰⁶ Pan. Lat. III.13.2–3. For my discussion of Silvanus, see Chapter VI, pp. 169 and 180–1. ¹⁰⁷ See Chapter VI, pp. 163–9. ¹⁰⁸ Blockley, ‘Constantius Gallus and Julian as Caesars’, 433–68; Maraval, Fils de Constantin, 122–30. ¹⁰⁹ Nixon-Rodgers, 412 n. 85; Magnentius was included by Julian among the roster of emperors who provided characters for his satirical Caesares, and so it would appear that Magnentius’ name was not such a blackened one in Julian’s eyes, despite the young emperor’s own work in making Magnentius into a barbarous tyrant. ¹¹⁰ Both emperors ruled for only twenty-eight days each. The decision to name the pair is perhaps more perplexing, since usurpers were, with only one exception, never named within the

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Mamertinus thus presented his audience in Constantinople with an account of Julian’s rise to power whose main features may by summarized as follows: first, that Julian restored Gaul against both its internal and external enemies; secondly, that in so doing he aroused the jealousy of Constantius, who was troubled by his successes; thirdly, that this jealousy was fuelled by Constantius’ sycophants, who wished to create enmity between the two emperors; fourthly, that Julian was motivated to advance into the Balkans in protection of the interests of Gallic provincials, in order to subjugate hostile barbarians along the Danube, and to restore Roman cities in the region; fifthly and finally, the usurpation and the emerging civil war between the two emperors were utterly downplayed, creating a sense of ordered succession after Constantius’ death. The omissions from this account are as significant as its details. No mention is made of Julian’s proclamation as Caesar, nor of his place within a wider strategy for the restoration of Gaul. His arrival in the Gallic provinces is described as if undertaken of his own free will. This, as we have seen, disguises the fact that Julian was there as Constantius’ agent and not as an independent emperor. In so doing, Mamertinus also distanced Constantius from the restoration of Gaul, so important because it was the defence of the Gallic provinces that was the ultimate justification for Julian’s rebellion. Julian’s transition of status, from Caesar to Augustus, is also utterly ignored, despite its justifications being implicit within the text. Finally, Julian’s membership of the House of Constantine is also passed over in silence. Julian’s family was a source of discomfort because they had met such untimely ends. Yet it is also clear that Julian had made a conscious decision to break with the rhetoric of his cousin, which sought continual justification for the possession of power through dynastic claims. Constantius’ panegyrics had, again and again, looked to Constantine for legitimacy.¹¹¹ Themistius would do likewise, before Jovian and before Valens.¹¹² Yet this line was not pursued either by Mamertinus or by Libanius after him. To those who had read the Letter to the Athenians or one of its cousins, the framework of this account would hardly have been surprising. Yet it is far from being the only interpretation of events and we should have no corpus of the panegyrics that we have surviving (Magnus Maximus, see Chapter IX, pp. 282–3). Why, then, does Mamertinus choose to break this clear convention of the panegyrics? The answer lies, most probably, in the delicacies mentioned above. Mamertinus would want it to be absolutely clear to his audience, and to Julian in particular, that he was not asking them to think of Magnentius and particularly not of Gallus. To allude to the usurpers would leave the issue open for misinterpretation; Gallus would certainly have been a far more familiar figure to a Constantinopolitan audience than would Nepotianus or Silvanus. Gallus, like Julian, was a native of Constantinople and had presided over chariot races in the city in 354 as he marched west, much to Constantius’ ire (Amm., XIV.11.12). Mamertinus could hardly risk it being thought that he was mocking his emperor’s dead brother; tact, therefore, necessitated that he be explicit, even if this meant flouting rhetorical convention. ¹¹¹ Blockley, ‘The Panegyric of Claudius Mamertinus’, 445. ¹¹² See Chapter VIII, pp. 227 and 241–2.

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doubt that, to the senate of Constantinople, this interpretation of Julian’s Gallic years would have stood in stark contrast to the official accounts and the panegyrics to Constantius that they would have heard in previous years. Those Eastern senators who were familiar with the Julianic account would have encountered it as the rival claim of an upstart usurper. Now, however, Mamertinus presented this story to Constantinople as the narrative. Though his is the only such surviving speech from this period, we may be certain it was not the only one delivered. How Mamertinus’ audience reacted to this is hard to say. It is important to realize that Mamertinus worked hard to ease this interpretation onto an Eastern audience and he was at pains throughout to mitigate any direct criticism of Constantius. Though his shaping of the narrative cast Julian in the strongest possible light and highlighted the influence of corrupt officials in Julian’s journey to power, Mamertinus was careful to show that, if Constantius was at fault, it was for allowing himself to be dominated by evil men, far less than being evil himself. If Constantius was roused to envy of Julian, it was in a large part the work of those dishonest men who stirred up enmity between the emperors as the only recourse for defending themselves from prosecution for their wrongdoing in Gaul.¹¹³ Mamertinus was, of course, willing to criticize Constantius for the luxury of his court, a favourite of Julianic rhetoric.¹¹⁴ But for the most part, Mamertinus attempted to draw his audience into lamenting with him the state to which the Empire had fallen. As he began his long catalogue of the virtues that Julian would bring to the administration of the East, he urged his audience to join him in reflecting on the recent past: Let us recall how public office was sought but a little time before. Hardly a few were conferred for reason of virtue, and even with these the rewards of industry and probity were slow to come. But others were given to the worst men from among the emperor’s household. When someone seemed acceptable to the emperor through most distasteful wiles, office was won through incessant servility and grasped through gifts. Offices used to orbit not only men but women; not only women but eunuchs . . .¹¹⁵ Thus the ancient names of antiquity made obeisance to whomever was most shameful of the imperial cohort. These men, when they had been let loose in the provinces, they plundered what was sacred and what was profane building a road for themselves to the consulship with money.¹¹⁶ ¹¹³ Pan. Lat. III.4.2–6. ¹¹⁴ ‘Hitherto, this was thought to be the sole fruit of empire, that the emperor be distinguished from other citizens not by the courage of his deeds nor by the splendour of his renown but by the magnitude of his expenses’ (Pan. Lat. III.11.1ff ). See also 10–11, 30.1. ¹¹⁵ This is a difficult passage; I have read honores as the implied noun qualifying the adjectives pauci and ceteri, as the noun referred to by the pronoun eum, and as the subject of the verb exambibant. This contrasts with Nixons-Rodgers, which I am loath to do on a point of language. Nevertheless, the sense of the passage is the same in both readings, and is clear. ¹¹⁶ Pan. Lat. III.19.3–5. These sentiments are echoed at 25.2.

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This last reference would seem to point to the consuls of the preceding year, Flavius Taurus and Flavius Florentius who had been the praetorian prefects of Italy and Africa and of Gaul (respectively). They had fled Rome at the news of Julian’s usurpation and both were condemned by the tribunal on which Mamertinus was serving at Chalcedon.¹¹⁷ The criticism of eunuchs and of the influence of women at Constantius’ court is commonplace and calls to mind, first and foremost, the eunuch Eusebius, who was sentenced to death at Chalcedon.¹¹⁸ Mamertinus continues in painting a sharp picture of the Eastern elite broken by fawning upon Constantian sycophants. But he also promises that the future will be different, that men who look for power will not need ‘to seek money, lawfully and unlawfully, or act the cheap client and demean his own liberty’.¹¹⁹ Though undeniably directing criticism against the previous regime, therefore, Mamertinus was careful to formulate it in such a way that both Constantius and the Constantinopolitan senate were absolved of most of the blame.¹²⁰ He chides them for not speaking out against the regime they lived under, and cannot resist expressing his delight that the erudite men of the city may look askance on Julian’s compatriots (‘rough, lacking elegance, and rustic’).¹²¹ But, as we will see elsewhere, this tactic created a widely drawn ‘us’, ranged against an imagined ‘them’ who bore the responsibility for the wrongs of the previous era and who were already being held to account.¹²² He offered his audience a new way of looking at their shared political past, a viewpoint, needless to say, with which they would be wise to align themselves. That Mamertinus now stood in judgement over the old elite would have been known to all, and must have given his words a sinister undercurrent. Yet Mamertinus was not excluding his audience. In the opening of the speech he was as happy to flatter them alongside his emperor: ‘Add to this that this city herself and this most august sanctuary of public counsel demand the performance of this oration.’ He goes on to remind the audience that Julian was born there and to call the audience ‘these your fellow citizens and countrymen’.¹²³ He was careful also not to offend a largely Christian audience by assaulting them with pagan triumphalism, but took a measured ambiguity in identifying Julian’s deity.¹²⁴ ¹¹⁷ Bowersock, Julian, 21–8; Athanassiadi, Julian, 68–9; Tougher, Julian, 45–6. ¹¹⁸ Amm., XXII.3.12; Art. Pass. 21; Philost., HE IV.1; Soc., HE III.1.49; Soz., HE V.5.8; Zon. XIII.12. ¹¹⁹ Pan. Lat. III.20.4–21.1. ¹²⁰ Nixon-Rodgers state that ‘Mamertinus is so intent on praising his own success with the new emperor that he does nothing to help the distinguished members of his audience feel individually immune from these wholesale accusations of the senatorial class’ (421 n. 122), but I am inclined to disagree. ¹²¹ Pan. Lat. III.3.2 and 21.2. ¹²² Themistius used this same technique in his Or. VII after the fall of Procopius (see Chapter VIII, pp. 235–47), as did Pacatus after the fall of Magnus Maximus (see Chapter IX, pp. 275–6). ¹²³ Pan. Lat. III.2.3–4. ¹²⁴ Pan. Lat. III.15.2.

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Pan. Lat. III thus presents an interestingly mixed bag. On the one hand, Mamertinus was at pains to provide a picture of the past that united, rather than divided. On the other, he was keen to castigate Constantius and the court that had wronged his emperor. This was certainly a speech designed, above all, to please its honorand. Where this could be done while at the same time accommodating the wider audience, Mamertinus did so. Yet such digressions as Mamertinus observes on the subject of Constantius and in referring to the government of that emperor, a government of which many in his audience would have taken an active role, was merely in keeping with the tone on such matters that we know Julian himself had set. Mamertinus could have chosen to praise his emperor without castigating the faults of a previous age, if he had seen fit to do so. That he did not, indeed that at times he chose to strike acerbically against Constantius and his government, shows his confidence in his own position. At Chalcedon, he stood in judgement over senior civil servants of the former regime.¹²⁵ His was the tone of a victor, indulgent of his own victory and confident that he would meet with praise from those whom he (softly) admonished. Prudence would bring them to his way of seeing things and joining the Julianic interpretation of the past. Pan. Lat. III is thus a fascinating speech, because it was delivered in the wake of a usurpation, yet a usurpation that never reached the moment of crisis that was open warfare. Its tone therefore wavers uneasily between outright assault upon Constantius and uneasy compromise. Unsurprisingly, we find the circumstances of the usurpation itself elided and reformulated beyond all recognition and carefully airbrushed into a new narrative, the emphasis of which was upon victory and virtue. Julian did not long remain at Constantinople. In the spring of 362 he crossed into Asia Minor and made his way east.¹²⁶ In July he arrived at Antioch, which was to be, in the long term, the centre of his putative restoration of paganism and civic culture and, in the short term, the base from which he would launch his invasion of Persia.¹²⁷ Both projects were doomed to disaster, yet in the summer of 362 a spirit of unbridled hopefulness was electrifying a certain class of the Empire’s conservative elite as the tide of centralization and Christianization appeared suddenly to have been halted (and even to have begun to roll back from the shore). Chief among this hopeful class was the orator and sophist Libanius, who first met Julian when he arrived in Antioch. An instant affection developed between the two and at their first meeting Julian requested that Libanius honour him with an oration, ¹²⁵ Blockley, ‘The Panegyric of Claudius Mamertinus’, 448–50. ¹²⁶ He left Constantinople sometime after 12 May (on which date he issued CTh XIII.3.4) and travelled east, stopping at various cities and shrines en route (Amm., XXII.9.2–14). ¹²⁷ For Julian’s intentions in Antioch, see G. Downey, A History of Antioch in Syria: From Seleucus to the Arab Conquests (Princeton, 1961), 381ff; Bowersock, Julian, 94–105.

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a request which was duly honoured with Libanius’ Oratio XIII, the first of many speeches the Antiochene would write in Julian’s honour.¹²⁸ Libanius’ speech is short, running to a little over 300 lines in the Loeb edition. It takes a chronological approach to its subject, describing Julian’s life before he became emperor, his zeal for learning and for true religion (5‒19), his accession and his time in Gaul (20‒32), his declaration as Augustus and the civil war that wasn’t (33‒41), and finally his reformation of the Empire’s laws and morals (47‒52). Its tone regarding the delicate events of Julian’s rise to power follows that of Mamertinus, a careful and conciliatory whitewash that alludes only in the vaguest terms to what had gone on, touching upon events only in so far as was necessary to allow Julian to be praised for them. Only cautiously does he hint at the fractured relationship between Julian and Constantius. In several places he alludes to the difficulties of Julian’s early years but allows no specific charge to crystallize.¹²⁹ His account of Julian’s time in Gaul was suitably timid, displaying Julian as restorer of both frontier and of civic justice, but without casting blame for the wrongs that Julian was correcting or intimation that his efforts were being undermined from within.¹³⁰ No mention is made of Constantius’ request for soldiers, and Julian’s proclamation as Augustus is merely the reaction of a body of soldiers who could not bear to see Julian’s great victories go unrewarded.¹³¹ Indeed, Constantius is barely mentioned in this account, occurring in Libanius’ narrative merely as ‘the senior [emperor]’.¹³² Libanius dares to drop a passing hint of barbarian tribes marshalled against Julian with bribes, but this he quickly skates over in order to rejoice that ‘the all-seeing, all-hearing Sun’ allowed no war to come between kinsmen: ‘and so your empire was born unsullied by blood and honour was given to the dead man for his former achievements.’¹³³ Libanius thus engages, as had Mamertinus, in a delicate dance. Less familiar with his subject than was Mamertinus, Libanius’ oration is even more tentative, risking no controversial statement, utterly sanitizing Julian’s troubled past, and falling conservatively in step with what Libanius must have understood as the tone which Julian wished to be struck for his new regime. Julian spent the rest of 362 in Antioch and his relationship with Libanius quickly grew into one of considerable intimacy.¹³⁴ It was therefore natural that, on 1 January 363, as Julian entered his fourth and—as fate would have it—final consulship, Julian would ask Libanius to deliver for him a consular address, Libanius’ Oratio XII. Perhaps twice the length of his previous panegyric, the shift in Libanius’ rhetoric is marked and much of the tact of Or. XIII has been jettisoned in favour of explicit attacks upon the departed Constantius ¹²⁸ ¹²⁹ ¹³¹ ¹³³

L. van Hoof, Libanius: A Critical Introduction (Cambridge, 2014), 203–5. E.g. Lib., Or. XIII.5–8, 16–17. ¹³⁰ Lib., Or. XIII.20–32. Lib., Or. XIII.33–4. ¹³² Lib., Or. XIII.32. Lib., Or. XIII.35–6. ¹³⁴ Lib., Or. I.119–31.

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and a much more sharply drawn battle against the odds (but with divine aid) for Julian. Many passages from this speech ape the rhetoric of Julian’s Letter, whether it be his tears at the summons to Milan, eased only by a sign from heaven, the tiny body of soldiers sent to escort him to Gaul, or the hesitant and distraught Julian, yielding only reluctantly to the acclamation of his soldiers and the will of the gods.¹³⁵ From the outset of his account of Julian’s period as Caesar, Libanius declared that Constantius was Julian’s foe (ὁ ἐχθρός).¹³⁶ Constantius’ acted without reason, providing Julian with subordinates who were expressly intended to prevent Julian from achieving any notable successes.¹³⁷ He claims that Constantius first stripped Julian of friends, then of a part of his forces, then finally (poetic licence indeed!) of his entire army.¹³⁸ Perhaps the most stinging insult of all, however, is saved until last. In the summer of 362, Libanius had declared vaguely that Helios had saved the Empire from civil war; now, Libanius’ gods menacingly declare to Julian as he is brought to the brink of war, ‘If you shrink from murder (ὁ φόνος), take heart; we will attend to this.’¹³⁹ A throwaway remark, perhaps, but an important one. Julian had gone to great lengths to honour his cousin after death. For someone so close to him to declare that the gods had engaged in φόνος on his behalf suggests that a change was at work. In this speech, therefore, we see Libanius growing in confidence and feeling increasingly able to vent spleen against the departed Constantius. This growing fervour would soon receive a bitter wound, for Julian’s death was a blow from which Libanius never really recovered, and a bitter seam ran through his writing for the rest of his life. His later, unpublished funeral lament to Julian vituperated against Constantius and directed against him a stream of bile that Libanius would also, doubtless, have wished to treasonously point at emperors still living.¹⁴⁰ Grief and the frustration of loss even led Libanius to give voice to allegations that Julian had not been killed by a Persian, but rather by a Roman, weapon.¹⁴¹ Likewise, Ammianus, who freely admitted that his portrayal of Julian verged, at times, on panegyric and who wrote decades after Constantius had died, was happy directly to attack the emperor and to argue that it was his jealous personality (catalysed, admittedly, by corrupt officials) that had brought strife to the Empire and pushed Julian’s soldiers to declare him emperor.¹⁴²

¹³⁵ Lib, Or. XII.38, 44, 59–61. ¹³⁶ Lib., Or. XII.39. ¹³⁷ Lib., Or. XII.43. ¹³⁸ Lib. Or. XII.58. ¹³⁹ Lib., Or. XII.68. ¹⁴⁰ Lib., Or. XVIII.26–7, 31, 33–7, 67, 90, 107, 147, 152. ¹⁴¹ Lib., Or. XVIII.274, XXIV.6; cf. Bowersock, Julian, 116–17. Libanius believed that a Christian claque had used the confusion of the Persian campaign in order to exact vengeance on the last pagan emperor for his attempts to derail the supremacy of the Christian church. This was a claim that Gore Vidal incorporated into his fictionalized biography of the emperor ( Julian (London, 1964), 456–9). ¹⁴² E.g. Amm., XX.4.1–2.

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In the panegyrics of Julian’s reign, therefore, we see a narrow tightrope being cautiously walked. On the one hand, Julian was, like all emperors, engaged in a reinvention of the past, a reinvention that sought, above all, to write Constantius and his dynasty out from Julian’s own history and to create him, rather, as a self-made man, propelled to imperial power by virtue. Civil war and internal strife were banished from these speeches, recast as conflict against barbarians or as Julian’s personal struggles against mendacious court officials. That the struggle had never reached open warfare spared Julian the need to glorify in the defeat of Constantius. Rather, he sought to bury him, quietly, within his own story of triumph. But at the same time, Constantius had ruled as Augustus in the East for nearly thirty-five years. Open conflict with Constantius’ memory was a dangerous thing and Julian was, ultimately, Constantius’ heir. In Mamertinus, we see the tension between these two ideas. In Libanius, we see a transition from one to the other.

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VIII Panegyric and Apology The Accession of Jovian and the Usurpation of Procopius

Despite its buoyant and self-confident beginnings, Julian’s reign was soon to mire in disaster. His great hope for the new heartland of his pagan restoration, the city of Antioch, proved to him a bitter disappointment, sparking the bemusing Misopogon and the threat of much worse than sarcasm for the city once he returned from campaign.¹ More importantly, his ill-conceived Persian campaign ran to ruin on the Tigris, when Julian’s army was cornered by Shapur far from Roman territory and the emperor himself was killed in battle.² This chapter examines the years immediately following Julian’s death on 26 June 363, looking first at the scramble to create a new emperor on Persian soil, and then at the usurpation of the last man who would claim kinship with the great Constantine.

THE NEED F OR VICTORY: JOVIAN AND THE DEMANDS OF I MPERIAL RHETORIC Julian’s death in Persia and the subsequent peace that was agreed with the Persians was military disaster worse than anything since the capture of Valerian in 260. In order to secure the safe return of the Roman army, Jovian was forced to agree to a renegotiation of the frontier, handing back to the Persians all the territory east of the Euphrates, territory won for the Empire by Galerius in 297.³ Significantly, Jovian also agreed to surrender the key cities of ¹ Bowersock, Julian, 103–5; Elm, Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church, 327–32. On the Misopogon, see N. Baker-Brian, ‘The politics of virtue in Julian’s Misopogon’, in Baker-Brian and Tougher (eds), Emperor and Author, 263–80. ² Eutr., X.16; Amm., XXV.7–9; Zos., III.29.1; Bowersock, Julian, 104–19. ³ On Galerius’ conquests, see Dodgeon and Lieu, Roman Eastern Frontier, 109–14.

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Nisibis and Singara, cities which the Persians had, for decades, been trying to capture and which would allow them to control the main strategic corridor between the two empires. These sacrifices were a bitter defeat for the Empire, both in strategic and psychological terms.⁴ Yet before this humbling treaty could be concluded, the Persians needed someone with whom to treat. This brings us to Jovian. Jovian’s accession was hardly a thing to be lauded. Proclaimed emperor on 27 June 363, the day following Julian’s death, Ammianus records the acclamation as a disorderly affair, carried out by a small military claque. A council of Julian’s most senior generals met to decide whom to declare as their new emperor. This council was divided by survivors of Constantius’ regime, who wished to see a civil official appointed, while the Gallic leaders brought east with Julian wished to see a soldier placed upon the throne. During this deadlock, a group of soldiers in haste declared for Jovian, whose name, Ammianus leads us to believe, was not included in the discussion at all, and, before anything could be done, he was being acclaimed by a confused army. It amounted, by this telling, to a coup.⁵ That no usurpation occurred in the period 362‒4, when the West was left without a resident emperor for the first time since the third century, is in part a testament to the condition in which Julian had left Gaul and the Balkans and the esteem in which he was clearly held there. The likelihood of an uprising had also no doubt been reduced by the fact that Julian had denuded the West of soldiers in order to supply the men needed for his Persian expedition, soldiers who did not return to the West until they accompanied Valentinian there in June 364.⁶ Julian had also left the West in the care of men whom he could trust, among them Mamertinus, praetorian prefect of Italy, Africa, and Illyricum, and Sallustius, praetorian prefect of Gaul.⁷ Nevertheless, Jovian was clearly alert to ⁴ The pain of these concessions leaps from the writings of Ephraem the Syrian, a native of Nisibis whose joy at the death of the hated Julian was bitterly mingled with the shock and horror at seeing his homeland handed over to a Persian king that the city had so long resisted (Eph., Hym. contr. Iul., esp III; cf. Lieu, Emperor Julian, 91–134). Ammianus judged the surrender of this territory a humiliation unprecedented in the entirety of Roman history (XXV.9.8–11). On contemporary voices more generally, see G. Greatrex, and S. N. C. Lieu, The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars, AD 363–630: A Narrative Sourcebook (London, 2002), 1–9. For consideration of the treaty, see R. C. Blockley, ‘The Romano-Persian Peace Treaties of AD 299 and 363’, Florilegium 6 (1984), 28–49. ⁵ Amm., XXV.5. Jovian’s return to Antioch was marked by ‘many and fearful’ portents (Amm., XXV.10.1–3) and the crying of Varronianus at his consular inauguration was likewise a foreshadowing of Jovian’s death (XXV.10.11). Ammianus’ account contrasts strikingly with those found in other sources and the implication that Jovian’s election was a coup tells us more about Ammianus than it does about the events he describes: P. J. Heather, ‘Ammianus on Jovian: History and Literature’, in J. W. Drijvers and D. Hunt (eds), The Late Roman World and its Historian: Interpreting Ammianus Marcellinus (London, 1999), 105–16. ⁶ J. W. Drijvers, ‘The divisio regni of 364: The End of Unity?’, in R. Dijkstra, S. van Poppel, and D. Slootjes (eds) East and West in the Roman Empire of the Fourth Century: An End to Unity? (Leiden, 2015), 82–96. ⁷ Bowersock, Julian, 58.

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the possibility of rebellion and because of it made his way rapidly westward through Asia Minor during the winter 363/4 in order to forestall an uprising.⁸ When Jovian’s officers arrived in the West, false rumours that Julian was still alive and that Jovian was a usurper sparked violence in Gaul that might have led to full-scale rebellion had it not been quickly stamped out.⁹ Whether we ought to trust the tenor of Ammianus’ account or not, Jovian was cognizant of the possibility of challenge to his regime, and showed no desire to linger on the Eastern front. After returning to Antioch, he began to make his way westward through Asia Minor while it was still winter. He reached Ancyra shortly before 1 January 364, on which date and in which place he received a panegyric from Themistius to celebrate the inauguration of his consular year, Themistius’ Oratio V. The orator begins with an introduction that promises his speech will deliver something instructive, even on such a happy occasion, Philosophy’s gift in thanksgiving for Jovian’s having restored her to the court (63a‒64c). Themistius reminds his audience that the occasion for the speech is the twin consulship of Jovian and his son Varronianus (64d‒65a). He then launches into the body of his speech, praising Jovian first for his election and his Persian ‘victory’ (65a‒67b), secondly for his laudable toleration in the matter of his subjects’ religious convictions (67b‒70c). Themistius closes by looking forward to Jovian’s arrival in Constantinople and to the eventual proclamation of Varronianus as emperor (70c‒71b). It is perhaps the most uncomfortable read in the surviving corpus of the panegyrics. What it demonstrates to the historian is that the need for orators to reflect back to their emperors the imperial virtue of victory was so compelling that Themistius was willing to stand before the court and to present the humiliating peace with which Jovian had bought his own and his soldiers’ lives as a victory against the might of Persia.¹⁰ A comparison between Jovian and Alexander the Great brings Themistius to the theme of war in the East. After Alexander’s death, Themistius asserts, his followers made a poor choice as to his successor. Yet the modern Romans—‘when war was at its height, giving the vote among the sword and the spears’—were not fooled into this sort of short-sighted behaviour. Jovian’s election in the midst of battle allowed for no corruption or favouritism, but rather evoked from the legions a true choice of the most virtuous successor to the imperial purple.¹¹ But it was not merely Romans who elected Jovian: ‘For the Persians showed that they were voting for you no less than the Romans by throwing aside their weapons as soon as they became aware of the proclamation, and shortly after were wary of the same men of whom before they had no fear.’¹² Themistius conjures ‘both West ⁸ ¹⁰ ¹¹ ¹²

Amm., XXV.10.4–6. ⁹ Amm., XXV.6–10. On the centrality of victory, see McCormick, Eternal Victory, esp. 11–34. Them., Or. V.65b‒d (trs Heather-Moncur). Them., Or. V.66a (trs Heather-Moncur).

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and East in concert’ in declaring Jovian as emperor, and praises the man who ‘has united the whole of this earth’. The chaotic accession of the emperor and the humbling peace which he conducted just a few days later were thus represented as having suddenly brought the war to a halt by quelling the Persians. Themistius, naturally, makes no mention of any concessions made by the Romans in securing that peace, but in his closing remarks he declares that ‘[Jovian] has not taken off the bands of victory’ and compares Jovian to the victorious Athenian fleet in the aftermath of the battle of Salamis!¹³ That Themistius felt both able and required to present the humiliation of the Romans as a victory for Jovian is telling of the demands of imperial propaganda. For Jovian to be an emperor he must be a victor and his interactions with the Persians must be presented as those of a superior dealing with an inferior. I can only imagine that it was difficult to watch. That said, Jovian’s court would already have been well accustomed to this rhetoric. Doubtless other orators had so praised Jovian, for he himself advertised Persian victory in his official propaganda (his coins naming him ‘restorer of the Republic’ and declaring both ‘the victory of the Augustus’ and ‘the victory of the Romans’).¹⁴ Perhaps more importantly, however, Themistius needed to underscore the legitimacy of Jovian’s election, stressing its unanimity and that it gave birth instantaneously to victory, in order to defend Jovian against the charge of usurpation. Julian is strikingly absent from the speech, particularly given how large his Persian war was writ upon Jovian’s accession. The emperor is mentioned twice in the speech; both references are extremely allusive, no more than hinting at the emperor’s memory, and both are highly unfavourable.¹⁵ Early in the speech, Themistius stresses that ‘the kingship was owed to you even before now,’ but that Jovian had hesitated to take it up ‘on the death of the elder of your predecessors’.¹⁶ That Jovian was not made emperor, Themistius asserts, was solely through his desire not to seem to be trying to steal power from Julian. In a single sentence, therefore, Themistius dismisses the entirety of Julian’s reign as an unwelcome distraction prior to Jovian’s, a picture in perfect keeping with the interpretation of the Persian peace that Themistius then goes on to advance. Then, as he moves from the peace to Jovian’s religious policy, Themistius delights in telling his emperor and his audience that, ‘having received the entire Empire at a stroke, you kept it unstained with blood to a greater degree than those who inherited it by right of birth.’¹⁷ Themistius thus ¹³ Them., Or. V.71a (trs Heather-Moncur). For Salamis, see Herod., VIII.40–125; P. Green, The Greco-Persian Wars (Berkeley, 1998), 185–98. ¹⁴ E.g. RIC VIII, 230–1, 281, 424–5, 438–9, 465, 533. ¹⁵ Themistius, of course, had his own reasons to castigate Julian, having clearly failed to enjoy favour under him (Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 118–34; Heather-Moncur, 138–42). ¹⁶ Them., Or. V.65b (trs Heather-Moncur). ¹⁷ Them., Or. V.66d.

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attempted to subvert the military disaster that had brought Jovian to the throne by reminding his audience that while Constantius and Julian had come to the throne in bloodshed—the former in the massacre of 337, the latter in a narrowly averted civil war, attendant upon which had been the trials at Chalcedon—Jovian’s was a peaceful accession. If his audience missed the fact that Jovian was taking the Empire to heights it had not seen for many years, Themistius made this point bluntly in his closing remarks, declaring Jovian ‘one who is himself the very Constantine’.¹⁸ In stressing Jovian’s break with the recent past, Themistius also looked forward confidently to the new future. Throughout the speech he draws the audience’s attention to Varronianus, Jovian’s son and companion in the consulship.¹⁹ Though Varronianus was only an infant, Themistius was already confidently anticipating his rise to imperial power. Given that Jovian had chosen to take his first consulship along with his infant son, this prediction seems entirely justified.²⁰ Just as with the presentation of the Persian peace as a victory, and just as with Jovian’s haste to make his way back into the Empire’s heartlands, this act was an attempt by Jovian to stamp his mark upon imperial power and to quickly establish strong roots. A dynasty, like victory, was an important feather in the cap of any Roman emperor seeking to legitimate their reign. As chance would have it, both the need to create a dynasty for Jovian and to present the Persian peace as a victory were quickly superseded by Jovian’s unexpected death on 17 February 364, just over six weeks after Themistius delivered his speech. The emperor died suddenly in his sleep, having ruled for less than eight months.²¹ Themistius’ confident predictions of Varronianus’ future imperial career thus came to nothing, for the boy disappears utterly from the historical record at this point.²² It might have been different if he had already been designated emperor, but his father had only accorded him the rank nobilissimus.²³ Yet despite the passing of Jovian and another, more ¹⁸ Them., Or. V.70d. ¹⁹ Them., Or. V.64d–65a, 65b, 71b. ²⁰ Promotion of the sons of emperor to imperial children had begun with Marcus Aurelius, who raised Commodus to the rank of Augustus in 177, when the boy was sixteen. Constantine had made his children Caesars when they were very young: Crispus at (perhaps) twelve, Constantine II at one, Constantius II at seven, and Constans at (perhaps) ten. Subsequent emperors would do likewise: Gratian was made Augustus by Valentinian at the age of eight. Arcadius and Honorius were raised to this rank by their father at, respectively, six and nine years old. ²¹ Ammianus reports three theories on Jovian’s sudden death: that he died from the fumes in a newly plastered room, or from those of a charcoal brazier, or from avida cruditas brought on by overeating (XXV.10.12–13); cf. M. Raimondi, Valentiniano I e la scelta dell’Occidente (Alessandria, 2001), 60–3. ²² It may be that he is the orphan of an imperial father mentioned by John Chrysostom (Tractatus ad viduam iuniorem 4; Hom. Phil. 15), in which case it would seem that Varronianus had an eye put out and lived the rest of his life in terror that a worse fate would eventually befall him. ²³ Philost., HE VIII.8; Them., Or. V.64d–65a.

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orderly election taking place that installed a new dynasty on the throne, the legacy of Julian’s Persian campaign was to make itself felt in imperial politics one last time.

THE E NEMY INSIDE: VALENTINIAN, VALENS, AND P ROCOPIUS Following Jovian’s sudden death, a council was convened, for the second time in less than a year, to select an emperor. That the Empire did not descend into chaos following the rapid succession of Jovian’s death upon Julian’s is striking, but we should not be fooled by this into viewing the passage of imperial power from one dynasty to another as a business without risk. Much of the apparent calm may surely be explained by the fact that the majority of the Empire’s military forces were, at this point, relatively concentrated. The spectre of usurpation nevertheless lurked in the wings, ready to step on to the stage at a moment’s notice. When it was discovered that Jovian was dead, his generals and leading civil officials gathered at Nicaea to hold a hasty election. They chose the cavalry officer, Valentinian, who had remained at Ancyra when the army travelled on from there, a distance of a little under 200 Roman miles from Nicaea. This necessitated an interregnum of nine days.²⁴ During the period, leading civil and military official worked actively to prevent the army from growing impatient and promoting a candidate who was present in the city.²⁵ In due course, Valentinian was acclaimed Augustus on 26 February at Nicaea.²⁶ Put under pressure by the military to create a second emperor in order to prevent yet another interregnum, Valentinian chose his younger brother, Valens, apparently against the advice of a number of his senior advisors. Valens was acclaimed at Constantinople on 28 March of the same year.²⁷ Shortly ²⁴ It would have been only eight, but Valentinian did not wish his reign to begin on the intercalary day that followed 24 February (Amm., XXVI.1.7). NB Ammianus says this was an interregnum of ten days (1.5), but the difference stems only from the Roman habit of inclusive counting. ²⁵ Amm., XXVI.1. ²⁶ Herein we find an irritating conflict between the Roman and modern systems of dating (one of many). While Valentinian’s accession did indeed take place on the twenty-sixth day of the month of February, his dies imperii is traditionally listed as 25 February (Kaisertabelle, 327). This is to do with the fact that the Roman leap year took place on 24 February, a day which was repeated: bis sextum kalendas Martias (‘the sixth day before the Kalends of March, twice’). Valentinian’s accession therefore took place on the fifth day before the Kalends of March in the Christian year 364. In 364, the fifth day before the Kalends of March was the date we call 26 February. But in non-leap years, that is in three out of every four subsequent years, this date would in fact be 25 February. For more on Roman dating, see (R. Hannah, Greek & Roman Calendars: Constructions of Time in the Classical World (London, 2005), 98–130). ²⁷ Amm., XXVI.2, 4.

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after their accession, the two emperors were both struck with a violent and lingering fever which engendered bloody treason trials as the emperors sought to root out those who, they believed, had used black magic against them.²⁸ The emperors travelled together to Illyricum, where they divided the imperial armies between themselves. Valentinian then departed for Milan while Valens returned to Constantinople, where we find him by December 364.²⁹ In the spring he crossed into Asia Minor and made for Antioch in order to see to the Eastern frontier, still in serious disorder after the debacle of 363.³⁰ By the autumn of 365, however, Valens had a new problem, for a military frontier had opened up within his own territory. On 28 September 365, the city of Constantinople awoke to find a new emperor being proclaimed in its midst.³¹ His name was Procopius, a relative of the emperor Julian who had been made a comes by that emperor.³² When Julian marched into Persia, Procopius had been placed in joint command of a major detachment of the army, thousands or even tens of thousands strong, that was supposed to guard Julian’s flank before entering Persian territory from the north and rendezvousing with the main force.³³ Both Ammianus and Zosimus report a rumour that Julian had at that time given a purple cloak to Procopius and ordered him to claim imperial power should Julian die in Persia.³⁴ True or not, Procopius clearly felt that his close relationship to the former emperor made him a target, and after Julian’s death he passed away into hiding. Given that Valens seems to have undertaken what amounted to a systematic purge of Julian’s closest supporters (on which more below), Procopius’ fears were not unwarranted. Either way, his exile ultimately took him to Chalcedon, a city lying directly across the Bosphorus from Constantinople, where he was harboured by a Constantinopolitan senator and old friend, Strategius. Procopius’ time in Chalcedon was productively spent. His proximity to Constantinople allowed him to make secret forays into the city, to learn of and perhaps to meet with discontented factions within the capital. Such discontent appears primarily to have been caused by the financial exactions that Valens was undertaking under the guidance of his father-in-law, Petronius, who had been promoted from a legionary command to the rank of patrician. Petronius, according to Ammianus, had unleased a campaign of terror in his attempts to secure badly needed funding for the imperial fisc, subjecting a wide range of people to torture and digging up debts that went back as far as the time of ²⁸ Amm., XXVI.4.4; cf. Zos., IV.2.4. ²⁹ Seeck, Regesten, 214–21. ³⁰ Amm. Marc., XXVI.6.10, 7.2. Lenski, Failure of Empire, 167. ³¹ For the date, Cons. Const. s. a. 365. ³² Amm., XXVI.6.1. Lenski, Failure of Empire, 69. ³³ Ammianus puts this army at 30,000 (XXIII.3.5, cf. XXVI.6.2), Zosimus at 18,000 (III.12.5). ³⁴ Amm., XXIII.3.2, XXVI.6.2; Zos., IV.4.2. Ammianus, it must be said, puts considerable distance between himself and this claim, beginning his account of it with the tellingly distant ‘it is said’ (dicitur) and later calling it ‘a very uncertain rumour’.

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Aurelian (that is, nearly a century previous).³⁵ It also seems likely that Valens, under the guise of trials for witchcraft, had been undertaking attacks against the Julianic old guard within his empire. Even under Jovian, a number of Julian’s supporters had come under suspicion, being removed from their posts and even, on occasion, suffering physical danger. Libanius claims that his position had been so weakened by the fall of Julian that a plot was actually formed in Antioch against his life, which he only avoided thanks to warnings from one of the members of this conspiracy who had no wish to harm the orator.³⁶ Julian’s primicerius notariorum (chief notary), rather unhelpfully also called Jovianus, had been named by some as a potential successor to Julian after his death and had on that account been ordered to be thrown into a dry well with stones tipped in upon him.³⁷ Under Valentinian and Valens, the situation had only grown worse. Ammianus, ever Julian’s partisan, had little doubt that the treason trials which followed the sickness of the two emperors in late winter 364 were a thinly veiled attempt to remove Julian’s followers from positions of power.³⁸ Many of Julian’s friends were clearly hounded by financial exactions or by charges of treason. Julian’s close friend Oribasius had his property confiscated and was sent into exile and Maximus, Julian’s teacher, was fined and later tortured within an inch of his life.³⁹ Others, like the military commanders Gomoarius and Agilo and the Persian prince Hormisdas, had been excluded from senior appointments after Julian’s death.⁴⁰ Zosimus claims that Procopius’ initial funding came from a eunuch, Eugenius, whose main motive for support was that Valens had discharged him from the court.⁴¹ For Procopius, with nothing left to lose but his life, this underlying discontent must have been sufficient to convince him that an attempt on the throne could be made. He thus looked for an opportunity to seize power, which came to him when Gothic agitation on the Danube caused Valens to order a ³⁵ Amm., XXVI.6.6–9; cf. XXVI.8.14. Ammianus denounced Petronius as enriching himself, but we ought at least to give credence to the idea that his exactions were motivated by more than simply personal greed, given the enormous drain on resources constituted by the badly compromised Eastern frontier. ³⁶ Lib., Or. I.136–38; cf. Lenski, Failure of Empire, 106–7. ³⁷ Amm., XXV.8.18, XXVI.6.3. ³⁸ Amm., XXVI.4.4; cf. Zos., IV.2.4. ³⁹ Oribasius: Eunap., V. Soph. 498–9; Maximus: Eunap., V. Soph. 473–81; Zos. VI.2.2; cf. Lenski, Failure of Empire, 107–8. ⁴⁰ Cf. PLRE I, Agilo, Gomoarius; their reinstatement: Amm., XXVI.7.4; cf. Lenski, Failure of Empire, 109. R. C. Blockley, Ammianus Marcellinus: A Study of his Historiography and Political Thought (Collection Latomus 141. Brussels, 1975), 56 suggests that this was a ‘pagan reaction against the choice by Valentinian I of his brother, the Christian Valens, as co-emperor’. Though a number of the rebels were pagans, they were first and foremost adherents of the Constantinian dynasty, and it is unhelpful to suggest that the rebels were religiously motivated. Indeed, despite the modern attempts to detect pagan elements behind a number of usurpations (for instance, both Magnentius and Eugenius), hard evidence for a genuinely religiously motivated usurpation is difficult to locate at any point in Roman history. ⁴¹ Zos., IV.5.3–4.

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redeployment of soldiers to counter this threat. Among the units that were sent to Thrace were the Divitenses and the Tungricani Iuniores, who would pass through Constantinople en route. Soliciting a few men whom he knew in these units, Procopius managed to win their support and, a little after sunrise on 28 September 365, he was hailed Augustus by them at the Anastasian Baths, where they were billeted. Procopius was then escorted to the palace, where he addressed the people from the tribunal, thence to the senate house, where he spoke with such senators as could immediately be assembled.⁴² The die was cast. Procopius was thus in possession of imperial power, but his position was exceptionally tenuous.⁴³ His first actions appear to have been to secure control of Constantinople itself and its immediate hinterland. A number of senior officials resident in the city were arrested, including the praetorian prefect, Nebridius, and the urban prefect, Caesarius. They, and other senior men, were replaced with Procopian appointees, most of them men who had served under Constantius and Julian but fallen from favour after 363. The comes Julius, in command of the soldiers stationed in Thrace, was induced to come to the city by a letter extorted from Nebridius; on his arrival, he too was arrested and the Thracian armies suborned. Procopius met publicly with emissaries claiming to have come from Gaul and from the East who declared that Valentinian had died. He strengthened his forces by co-opting further units that were heading westwards to reinforce the Danube and by sending out agents carrying gold minted in his image to be distributed to units in Illyricum.⁴⁴ Procopius used his coinage to advertise his connection to the former dynasty. He resurrected the old Constantinian legend FEL TEMP REPARATIO, ‘the return of happy times’, which had been eschewed by Jovian and the Valentinians.⁴⁵ More importantly, his image on coins showed him wearing a full beard emphasizing his resemblance to Julian in contrast to the clean-shaven Valentinian (see Fig. VIII.1).⁴⁶ Given the rumours that Julian had entrusted Procopius with a purple robe, the resemblance between these portraits cannot have been coincidental. Many of Procopius’ supporters, as we have said, were men who had served the Constantinian dynasty but fallen from favour under the Valentinians.

⁴² Amm., XXVI.6.3–18; Zos., IV.5.4–6.3. ⁴³ For a strategic analysis of the campaign, see N. J. E. Austin, Ammianus on Warfare: An Investigation into Ammianus’ Military Knowledge (Collection Latomus 165. Brussels, 1979), 88–92. ⁴⁴ This had limited success thanks to the loyalty to Valentinian of the commander in Illyricum, Aequitius, who captured and executed Procopius’ agents and blockaded the mountain passes to prevent any westward expansion by the usurper (Amm., XXVI.7.11–12). ⁴⁵ Austin, ‘A Usurper’s Claim to Legitimacy’, 192–3; cf. RIC IX, 191. This legend had been used so extensively in the 340s and 50s, following the eleventh centenary of Rome in 348, that it would take considerable space to list every occurrence; rather, consult the index of RIC VIII, 557, 564, 567–8. ⁴⁶ E.g. RIC IX, plates I–XII.

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Fig. VIII.1. Coins of a) Procopius, b) Julian, and c) Valens, showing the resemblance between the images of Procopius and Julian. a) Photo courtesy of 51 Gallery—iBelgica; b) Photo courtesy of Triskeles Auctions; c) © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.

Gomoarius, Agilo, Hormisdas, Phronimius, Araxius; virtually every one of Procopius’ supporters who is named appears to fall into this category.⁴⁷ These were not coincidental occurrences. Procopius clearly drew enormous legitimating force from his connection to the long-lived house of Constantine. Procopius’ actual position within the family is unclear; the emphasis of the sources, stressing relationship to Julian but not to any of the other emperors of that house, appears to suggest that he was related to Julian on his mother’s side and so not a member of the Constantinian dynasty per se.⁴⁸ This did not stop him claiming connection, however. In particular, he made use of Faustina and Constantia, the wife and daughter of Constantius, whom Ammianus called ‘a very favourable means of winning [the soldiers] over’. Faustina was present when Procopius received some of the imperial insignia, and he used to carry the infant Constantia about with him and claim kinship (necessitudinem praetendebat) with Constantius and Julian.⁴⁹ Procopius even bought the mother and child with him on campaign, carrying them almost to the battle line itself in order to strengthen the resolve of his soldiers.⁵⁰ These appeals to the moral cache of the old house of Constantine would have had great force in the city that Constantine himself raised to become one the most important— ultimately the most important—of the cities of the East. Indeed, much of the Constantinopolitan senate itself, which supported Procopius (however unwillingly), had been created under the emperor Constantius. Themistius fell into ⁴⁷ For Gomoarius, Agilo, and Hormisdas, see above, n. 40. Phronimius was, at the end of Procopius’ rebellion, executed because of his one-time friendship with Julian (Amm., XXVI.10.8). Araxius had risen to the position of proconsul of Constantinople under Constantius (CTh VI.4.8–9) but then seems to have disappeared until he was made praetorian prefect by Procopius (Amm., XXVI.7.6). The only one of Procopius’ named adherents with no certain close connection to the former dynasty is Euphrasius, who was made magister officiorum by Procopius and was pardoned by Valentinian at the end of the revolt (Amm., XXVI.10.8). ⁴⁸ Amm., XXVI.6.1; Zos., IV.4.2. Austin, ‘A Usurper’s Claim to Legitimacy’, 189; Lenski, Failure of Empire, 69. ⁴⁹ Amm., XXVI.7.10. ⁵⁰ Amm., XXVI.9.3.

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this category.⁵¹ It was a Constantinopolitan senator, Strategius, who harboured Procopius at Chalcedon.⁵² By the end of 365, Procopius had extended his reach into Anatolia, not only winning to his cause several units sent against him by Valens, but also capturing a number of cities along the coast. Valens, who had left Antioch as soon as he heard the news of the uprising, was pushed back to Ancyra and only narrowly avoided capture at Chalcedon. Valentinian, unable to gain reliable intelligence as to whether his brother was dead or alive and hampered by the military activity of Germanic tribes on the Rhine and Upper Danube, decided to stay in the West and allow events to unfold.⁵³ As promising as the situation looked for Procopius at the beginning of 366, however, he appears to have made an error in confiscating the property of the retired general Arbitio, who had refused to join his cause.⁵⁴ But this moved the general, from a neutral position in retirement, to declare himself for Valens. Given his notable career under the House of Constantine, from whom Procopius claimed his right to rule, Arbitio provided Valens with a much-needed ally. He was sent against the forces under the command of Gomoarius and won them and their general over, again apparently without bloodshed. Valens then engaged Procopius in battle near Nacolea. Here, Procopius was deserted by his other military commander, Agilo, who led the army over to Valens. Procopius fled the field but was betrayed by his companions, who bound him and brought him before Valens. Procopius was executed and the revolt was at an end.⁵⁵ Valens’ retribution in the wake of the usurpation was brutal.⁵⁶ Most of Procopius’ adherents are either known to have been executed following the revolt, or else disappear from the historical record (whether to execution, exile, or simply disgrace). Andronicus, whom Procopius had made governor of Bithynia and then vicar of Thrace, and who had claimed that he had served the usurper under duress, was nonetheless executed and his property confiscated.⁵⁷ The men who surrendered Procopius to Valens, Barchalba and ⁵¹ For Themistius’ promotion to the senate in 355, see the translation of Constantius’ letter of appointment in Heather-Moncur, 108–14; Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 87–9, 104–5. For Constantius’ expansion of the senate, see CTh. VI.4.11; Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 55, 61–9. ⁵² PLRE I, Strategius 2 suggests that Procopius and Strategius probably became acquainted while the latter was serving as a palatinus, a court guard, after which time Strategius joined the senate. ⁵³ This was clearly the publicly articulated reason for Valentinian’s decision (Amm., XXVI.5.13; Symm., Or. I.17–19). Accepted by Raimondi, Valentiniano I, 112–21, the official story has, however, been questioned by modern scholars, who believe that Valentinian remained in the West for fear that his absence would trigger a further usurpation (Lenski, Failure of Empire, 76–7; Drinkwater Alamanni and Rome, 273–7; Zos., IV.7.4). ⁵⁴ Amm., XXVI.8.13–15. ⁵⁵ Amm., XXVI.9.4–11. ⁵⁶ Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 162, 165–6; cf. Elbern, Usurpationen im Spätrömischen Reich, 142. ⁵⁷ Lib., Or. LXII.58–60.

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Florentius, were likewise executed, which Ammianus considered a very unworthy punishment.⁵⁸ Marcellus, Procopius’ relative who attempted himself to seize power after the latter’s death, was executed.⁵⁹ Helpidius, Procopius’ proconsul of Asia, was imprisoned and his property confiscated.⁶⁰ Phronomius, urban prefect in Constantinople, was exiled, Ammianus claims, largely on account of a former friendship with Julian.⁶¹ A few, admittedly, did survive. Aliso, the general who had helped Procopius capture Cyzicus, was clearly pardoned, and died years later, fighting the Isurians.⁶² Hormisdas appears to have survived, as did Agilo, who betrayed Procopius and was pardoned.⁶³ But Ammianus says that the members of Procopius’ faction were treated savagely and implies investigations against anyone suspected of having been involved in the rebellion.⁶⁴ Libanius, we know, had to work very hard over the following years to shake the accusations of his enemies that he had delivered a panegyric to Procopius.⁶⁵ Even those who have attempted to play down the intensity of the trials that followed are forced to acknowledge that Valens meted out significant punishments; Lenksi concedes that Valens punished Constantinople, removing its tax privileges and rarely visiting the city again after 366.⁶⁶ He ordered the walls of Chalcedon, which had supported Procopius, to be destroyed and distributed their stone for building projects.⁶⁷ When he passed through Constantinople on his way to combat the Goths in 378 he apparently promised the citizens that, when he returned, he would destroy Constantinople and plough the ground back into fields.⁶⁸ The extent of the violence and retribution that followed the usurpation has, of course, been exaggerated by Valens’ critics, Ammianus foremost among them, but nevertheless it is clear from this summary that widespread punishments and executions were meted out and, as we will see, such activities caused enormous nervousness for those who found their necks near the cut-off between the punished and the pardoned.⁶⁹

⁵⁸ Amm., XXVI.9.8–10. ⁵⁹ Zos., IV.8.3–4. ⁶⁰ Philost., HE VII.10. ⁶¹ Amm., XXVI.10.8. ⁶² Amm., XXVI.8.10. ⁶³ Hormisdas: Amm., XXVI.8.12. Agilo: Amm., XXVI.9.7, 10.7; Philost., HE IX.5; Zos., IV.8.3. ⁶⁴ Amm., XXVI.6.5, 8.10. ⁶⁵ Lib., Or. I.163–5. ⁶⁶ Lenski, Failure of Empire, 111–14. For Valens’ movements after 366, see Seeck, Regesten, 227–49, which shows him in the city again on only three further occasions in the twelve years between the rebellion and his death. ⁶⁷ Soc., HE IV.8. ⁶⁸ Soc., HE IV.38. ⁶⁹ H. Leppin, ‘Coping with the Tyrant’s Faction: Civil-War Amnesties and Christian Discourses in the Fourth Century A.D.’, in Wienand (ed.), Contested Monarchy, 203–7 on the exaggeration of the punishments argues that Valens’ reaction was no more or less vindictive than other emperors in comparable situations. Leppin also argues (211–12) that imperial practice following usurpations was fairly consistent, with generalized amnesties being granted, and I would likewise concur with this position. It is not Valens’ reaction—a relatively typical mix of punishment and forgiveness—that is unusual, but rather the fact that, in Themistius, we hear the voice of those who stood in the line of fire during this delicate period.

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This, then, was the rebellion of Procopius and its aftermath. Two panegyrics survive which treated the incident, and rarely are we presented with two such different speeches. Themistius, whom we have already encountered as an orator, delivered a panegyric (Oratio VII) to Valens sometime in winter of 366/7.⁷⁰ It was composed in Greek, delivered to the emperor who put the rebellion down, and, most importantly of all, was delivered by a man who had been intimately involved with the rebellion it described, something unique in the surviving panegyrical corpus.⁷¹ A year later, during the winter of 367/8, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, then a young man just beginning his senatorial career, travelled to Trier to deliver what would be his first public oration (Oratio I). Symmachus was heading a senatorial delegation that was bearing aurum coronarium (‘crown gold’) from the city of Rome to Valentinian on the occasion of the latter’s quinquennalia.⁷² Symmachus’ speech, which is extant thanks only to its chance survival on a palimpsest, was in Latin, delivered by a man to whom the events he recounted were distant news from a foreign land, and, most importantly of all, was delivered to an emperor who had had nothing whatsoever to do with either the rebellion it described or its suppression, something unique in the panegyrical corpus. The two speeches thus give us very different and very distinct windows onto the processes of image formation that took place within panegyric. They also allow us an invaluable insight into how panegyric could subtly affect the wider recording of history. We begin with Themistius, whose panegyric was delivered in the tense and bloody atmosphere of the Eastern Empire in the wake of Procopius’ fall. Valens, as we have seen, had shown himself willing to take retribution both against individuals but, more generally, against the city of Constantinople as a whole. Themistius, as a leading member of the city’s senate, would not only have felt this sting, but he also stood before Valens as the representative of a body that had supported the emperor’s enemy in a mortal contest. Themistius will have also wanted to heal any personal rift that may have lain between him and Valens, to ensure his continued position as a point of contact between the Constantinopolitan senate and the emperor. The occasion, date, and place of the oration are uncertain. Its date can be roughly determined as sometime late in 366 or early in 367. As for its place of ⁷⁰ In the speech, Themistius speaks of the months, in the plural, counted as an outstanding balance by Valens: Them., Or. VII.84c. ⁷¹ Pacatus, the author of Pan. Lat. II, had lived in the territory ruled by a usurper (Magnus Maximus), but there is no evidence he was actually involved with the usurper’s government. It is a great shame, though hardly a surprise, that neither the panegyric that Symmachus delivered to the usurper Magnus Maximus, nor the formal speech of apology he made to Theodosius, are extant: Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 68–71. ⁷² Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 2–3. On aurum coronarium, see T. Klauser, ‘Aurum Coronarium’, in Gesammelte Arbeiten zur Liturgiegeschichte, Kirchengeschichte und christlichen Archäologie. Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum (Ergänzungsband 3. Münster, 1974), 292–309, and Ando, Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty, 175–90.

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delivery, Constantinople seems the most probable option.⁷³ Whatever the occasion, Themistius’ frequent mention of Valens’ soldiers in the speech, when its general tenor would more comfortably have omitted them, suggests that this was delivered before a large audience including many senior military figures.⁷⁴ Beyond this, the speech, if it lacks the internal evidence needed to fix it to a concrete moment and place, nevertheless evokes the singular context of its delivery. The title of the piece, ‘Concerning the Unfortunates before Valens’, is misleading as an indication of the real subject. If we consider its structure, a clear focus will emerge. Themistius begins with an apology for the delay in giving this speech (84b‒d). He observes that the emperor deserves the sole praise for the recent victory, which was achieved bloodlessly (84d‒87c). The armies can, of course, claim some part, but the emperor alone is responsible for the clement handling of the victory; in this he accords with the idea of the Good King, who is humane (87c‒90a). The rebellion is then described in a level of detail and with an intensity of feeling that is unusual in Themistius, though it would seem perfectly normal in the Latin panegyrics (90a‒93c). From the conclusion of this section to the end of the speech, Themistius resumes the theme of the emperor’s clemency and benevolence, comparing the emperor to a physician who heals, rather than amputates, drawing historical exempla of clement rulers, showing that clemency makes friends of the hostile, declaring clemency to be an especially kingly virtue, showing that Valens has calmed a great number, using reason to cool violent passion, and finally naming some specific examples of Valens’ clemency (93c‒101a). The uncommonly large amount of space devoted both to Procopius and to the theme of clemency are significant, and they help us to understand the purpose of the work. Themistius’ usual style was to speak more generally on the virtues of the emperor, drawing Homeric and Hellenic parallels and linking the emperor to himself through a discourse on the emperor as the philosopher king. His Oratio III, being the other of Themistius’ panegyrics which most focuses on a usurpation, engages with Magnentius and Vetranio with remarkable brevity. Magnentius is given only eighteen lines in the text, and Vetranio is but a passing mention.⁷⁵ The main tenor of the speech is to extol the glory of the emperor and of Rome and to link Rome, Constantius, and Constantinople: ‘A dance is formed which in its three perfect elements is the most perfect of all.’⁷⁶ With Oratio VII, however, Procopius fills the central portion of the speech, and the direct discussion of his character and the usurpation occupies some 123 lines, something like five times the amount of space given to Magnentius and Vetranio combined in Oratio III.⁷⁷ Even ⁷³ ⁷⁴ ⁷⁵ ⁷⁶

R. M. Errington, ‘Themistius and his Emperors’, Chiron 30 (2000), 882. E.g. Them., Or. VII.85d–86a, 87c–88a; cf. Errington, ‘Themistius and his Emperors’, 882. Them., Or. III.43a‒c (Magnentius), 45b‒c (Vetranio). Them., Or. III.42b. ⁷⁷ Them., Or. VII.90a–93c.

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accounting for the fact that Oratio VII is longer than Oratio III (roughly twice the length), this is still an uncharacteristic amount of detail. Likewise, the endlessly repetitious theme of clemency to which Themistius returns again and again and with which he occupies himself for some two thirds of the speech grabs our attention. It has been read at face value by some commentators as a vote of thanksgiving to Valens for his behaviour following the end of the rebellion.⁷⁸ As I have argued, however, Valens’ reaction had been far from clement. The speech, rather, is a classic in the ‘mirror of princes’, a plea to the emperor that he modify his behaviour in future dressed up as a description of his behaviour in the past. The speech opens with an apology. ‘Probably you wonder, my emperor, why I did not offer this gift of thanks for your actions, in the form of oratory, immediately after the victory and the events themselves.’ The explanation, he continues, is to be found in the need for Philosophy (that is, Themistius) to choose the right moment at which to pay its respects; better the carefully thought out thanks of Philosophy than the hasty sentiments of the overeager.⁷⁹ To open a speech with a formal apology is hardly unusual. Yet this particular apology ought to give us pause, because it forces upon us the question, why the delay? Themistius’ own explanation is surely nothing more than rhetorical; we should hardly be convinced that he took many months to meet with Valens because he wanted to get everything he had to say phrased just right. Rather, therefore, the answer would surely lie in an intentional distance imposed between Valens and the Constantinopolitan senate. As has been mentioned, he was only rarely in Constantinople after 366. We may guess, therefore, that Themistius spoke before Valens at the first opportunity afforded him. Themistius transitions quickly from this apology to a discussion of the forces that rule over the lives of men. These, he is keen to stress, are twofold. First, there is that which depends on the ambition and judgement of men. In opposition to this, there is that which comes from external things. He argues that much of what happens in life is governed by the gods and by chance and that, in moments of great importance, men are often thrown into situations that are not of their own making.⁸⁰ The relevance of these remarks to what follows ought to be clear; Themistius is attempting to provide a context in which to slot his discussion of Procopius’ rebellion, something which he will consistently argue was done to Constantinople, not done by it. After some further discussion of the kingliness of clemency, to which we will return shortly, Themistius then turns to the rebellion itself. He carefully constructs an image of an uprising that was built upon stealth and misinformation. Deception was the way that Procopius won himself a following. Themistius describes the usurper emerging from the Anastasian Baths like ‘an evil dream’, ⁷⁸ Errington, ‘Themistius and his emperors’, 882. ⁷⁹ Them., Or. VII.84b‒d. ⁸⁰ Them., Or. VII.84d–85d.

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escorted through the still waking city by an armed troop, ‘wearing a necklace, a falsely-marked emperor (παράσημος αὐτοκράτωρ), smiling, calling all to him, wearing a deceitful smile, a laugh full of lamenting, a laugh that drew forth many tears’. He cancelled debts and partitioned land, ‘a bitter trick for those who were drawn in by these things’. Procopius opened the treasury but sealed the harbours, so that ‘a siege enclosed the city within its walls, with those determined to save it besieged from without.’⁸¹ His use of a pair of messengers, ostensibly from Illyria and from ‘Italy and the Western Ocean’ (in actual fact from the city suburbs) to report ‘the absurd rumours’ (these are surely the rumours of Valentinian’s death), is noted, as is the fact that embassies were also given entry to the palace from Syria, Assyria, Egypt, Lybia, and Iberia. ‘It was necessary either to believe firmly or be firmly bound,’ Themistius claims. ‘Indeed, those who conversed, still more they who were silent or complained or laughed, could not conceal themselves, but everywhere appeared or, to put it better, were present spies and eavesdroppers who had more eyes than Argus and sharper looks than Lynceus.’⁸² Themistius’ Procopius, then, seals the city inside a net, restricting the flow of information to those besieged within and coercing the appearance of support. Lenski uses these passages in Themistius to argue that Procopius’ usurpation was characterized by an intelligence war, claiming that ‘The key to [Procopius’] progress was above all his careful control of information.’⁸³ While there is truth to Lenski’s claims, we should not be fooled into thinking that Procopius was in anyway unique in this approach. Information was a usurper’s most valuable commodity; once committed to their course of action, they moved quickly to secure loyalties and territory.⁸⁴ Themistius picks these features to comment on not because they were unusual, but because they helped to excuse those who had supported him.⁸⁵ The emphasis on compulsion is particularly important. Themistius tells us that the moment of usurpation came in the night, that men were taken in their beds and thrown in jail, that ‘the highest dignitaries sat in custody like criminals and the whole course of the night was grim.’⁸⁶ ⁸¹ Them., Or. VII.91b‒d. ⁸² Them., Or. VII.91d–92a; Argus (Panoptēs) was the guardian set to watch over Io by Hera, having eyes all over his body (Ovid, Metamorph. I.625–9); Lynceus was one of the Argonauts, said to have sight so good that he could see through the earth (Apoll., Bib. I.8.2, 9.16, III.10.3, 11.2; Apoll. Rhod., Argon. I.151–5; Ovid, Metamorph. VIII.304). ⁸³ Lenski, Failure of Empire, 74. ⁸⁴ Ammianus observes that Julian marched against Constantius with great awareness of the need to move quickly in anticipation of the news of his advance (XXI.5.13, 8.3–4, 9.1–2), and Julian criticized Magnentius for his reliance on speed (Jul., Or. I.35c‒d; cf. II.57b). See also MacMullen, ‘How to Revolt in the Roman Empire’, 67–76. ⁸⁵ The same is true of Pacatus, whose native Gaul had been the centre of power for the usurper Magnus Maximus (see Chapter IX, pp. 275–6). ⁸⁶ Them., Or. VII.91a‒b.

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Themistius thus explains how it was that a loyal and sensible city like Constantinople could have been taken in by the temporary madness that Procopius brought upon them. On the one hand, there were the grants to the people, in order to win their favour, that were typical of a tyrant. On the other, those with more sense were so constrained by events, so enclosed by the noose that surrounded the city, that they had no choice; either they must appear to support Procopius or else fall foul of his spies. Themistius’ attention now turns to the question of the usurpers’ very considerable successes in the year 365. Ammianus tells us that the swiftness with which Procopius was able to build himself an army from nothing, and to expand his rule from Thrace into the cities of Asia Minor, threw Valens into such tumult that he considered renouncing the purple. Themistius could hardly say this. Instead, with an orator’s skill, he made a virtue of this necessity. He utterly elides the defeats of 365, declaring that Valens swept his enemy away merely by his arrival, with the rebellious armies instantly declaring for him once he was at hand.⁸⁷ Conceding that the suppression of the rebels was far from instantaneous, Themistius declares: Because it was obviously necessary that the masses first become aware of the affliction which was, at that time, imminent, God allowed you, like a doctor, to show your art at the highest point of the sickness. If, indeed, it had ensued that a speedy end were eventuated, while he still tried to mask his nature and handed out blandishments and enticements to all, then the danger might not have been known. But now that he was allowed to revel in happiness, he was forced, in his confidence, to reveal his viciousness, his insidiousness, and the dark pit of his soul.⁸⁸

Since describing Jovian’s peace with the Persians as a victory two years previously, Themistius’ relationship to the truth had clearly not much improved! Here, he paints Valens as the patient and skilful player, allowing events to unfold in order for the supercilious Procopius to reveal his nature, at which point the emperor struck and, in a single, bloodless blow, was able to defeat him. He evokes the metaphor of the doctor again, as the speech moves on, reminding his audience that it would be madness for a healer to choose amputation when a medicinal cure was available.⁸⁹ Themistius unites this medicinal analogy with a return to the theme of the influence of fate; fate allowed Procopius his short moment of glory in order to raise him up before his final fall. Valens’ patience, likewise, prepared the ground for his own eventual arrival and for a conclusion to the rebellion that demanded no violence. Throughout his description of the usurpation, Themistius builds, with uncharacteristic bile, a description of Procopius the man that strikes at his career, his character, and the nature of his rule. Themistius again and again ⁸⁷ Them., Or. VII.87b‒c. ⁸⁹ Them., Or. VII.94c–95b.

⁸⁸ Them., Or. VII.92c‒d.

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heaps bitter invective upon Procopius. One passage in particular deserves quotation: Zeal and ambition of the wicked and unholy head were, after that, aligned towards dragging as many people as possible from the mass into this corruption, which is alone to be ascribed to him. He was never considered worthwhile as a servant, but as a calumniator, a sinner, always bowed down, always gloomy, frowning his brows, who sought silence as something reverend, who was antisocial, ill-omened, full of wickedness, who boasted, on account of this, of his hatred for all and the hatred that all bore him.⁹⁰

Themistius continues this diatribe by unfavourably comparing him to four of the great tyrants of old (Phalaris, Aristomachus, Apollodorus, and Dionysius), observing that even they could make favourites of those they loved (and who loved them). He then makes a comparison with the scorpion and the serpent, who can at least love their own kind. Elsewhere Themistius calls him a mere secretary who had dared to leave his ink and pens and take rulership of the Roman world, doubtless a jibe at Procopius’ position in the notarii, ignoring the fact that he had also held a senior military post.⁹¹ He calls Procopius ‘a festering wound’ in the heart of the Empire, ‘an evil man of evil ancestry’.⁹² Procopius’ character, as Themistius paints it, is therefore an extended plea for forgiveness on behalf of the city of Constantinople. But Themistius does not stop with this. In fact, he indulges in an uncharacteristic tirade of abuse against the person of Procopius. Throughout, Themistius draws comparison between Procopius and a number of historical and mythological figures: Typhon, Spartacus, and Crixus;⁹³ Mithridates;⁹⁴ Phalaris, Aristomachus, Apollodorus, and Dionysius;⁹⁵

⁹⁰ Them., Or. VII.90a‒b. ⁹¹ Them., Or. VII.86b‒c. ⁹² Them., Or. VII.91a, 86c. ⁹³ Them., Or. VII.86b‒c. Typhon was the son of Gaia, Mother Earth, and was one of the most fearsome monsters of Greek mythology. He attempted to overthrow Zeus, was defeated, and was buried beneath Mount Etna (Hes., Theog. 820–69; Pind., Pyth. I, 16–22). Spartacus and Crixus were leaders of the slave uprising in Italy that resulted in the Third Servile War, 73–71 BC (App., B Civ. I.116–20; Plut., Vit. Crass. 8–11). Pacatus would compare Magnus Maximus to Spartacus in 389 (Pan. Lat. II.23.1–2). Cicero had used the same strategy against Mark Antony (Phil. XIII.22). ⁹⁴ Them., Or. VII.87a‒b. Mithridates VI was a king of Pontus (r. c.120–63), the last independent ruler of the kingdom before its annexation by the Romans and one of the Roman Republic’s most formidable enemies: A. Mayor, The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy (Princeton, 2009). As Themistius points out, Mithridates had conquered the city of Cyzicos in Asia Minor, which Procopius had likewise captured from Valens. ⁹⁵ Them., Or. VII.90b. These were Greek tyrants, rulers of Acragas, Argos, Cassandreia, and Syracuse respectively. All four were noted for their barbaric cruelty. Phalaris in particular is notable as the originator of the Bronze Bull, a method of execution in which condemned men were roasted alive inside a life-size model of a bull, their screams being carried through pipes inside the bull’s head so that they sounded like the snorting of the animal (Pind., Pyth. I.95–8; with Arist., Pol., V.8.4, Rhet. II.20.5; Tatian, Oratio ad Graecos, 34).

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Nero;⁹⁶ Xerxes and Cambyses.⁹⁷ Such comparisons were a favourite tactic of Themistius’ and he often used historical exempla for either panegyric or polemic, but the sheer number and density of these references presents an overwhelming impression of monstrosity. So awful was Procopius that he, in one and the same person, displayed himself as the monster that roared and spewed fire from beneath Mount Etna, as the Persian king who tried to conquer Greece, as the Roman gladiator who rose up in rebellion, as the Greek tyrant who burned men alive in his bronze bull. Themistius was employing a barrage of mutually inconsistent monsters, tyrants, and rebels, not in an attempt to fashion any coherent story through the use of these exempla, but to create an overwhelming collage of monstrosity. Themistius was also sure to target, in his account of Procopius, those things which the usurper himself had advanced as his claims to legitimacy. If Ammianus is to believed, it was Valens’ financial exactions in the city that had been the most important cause of support for Procopius, and even Themistius admitted (though he did so in such a way as to have it reflect poorly on Procopius) that the usurper had made financial restitutions when he came to power. These were clearly short-lived, however, for Themistius shows us a ruler turning upon the city that he had falsely pretended to liberate. ‘He exacted from the august senate taxes that were the source of great lamentation,’ taxes which should have been a year’s contributions but were in fact drawn over a single winter.⁹⁸ Themistius then continues: The feasting people of Constantine, who lived in plenty, who up to that evening had experienced nothing untoward, whom you have taken on from his heirs and have not allowed to perceive the change of dynasty: from it was snatched the accustomed nourishment (ἡ συνήθης τρυφὴ) by him who used Constantine as his pretext and whose name he obscenely brandished before himself like an olive branch (ὑπὸ τοῦ Κωνσταντῖνον προϊσχομένου καὶ τοὔνοματοῦτο ἀναισχύντως προσείοντος), and they were fed like the cattle of the fields. Of the two highest dignitaries, the death of the one was disbelieved, while the one who lived was believed to have died.⁹⁹

In a single statement, Themistius thus directly engages with a number of important themes. In the first place, this provides the crown and conclusion ⁹⁶ Them., Or. VII.92b. Nero, whose reign is described briefly in the opening chapter of this volume, was a stock tyrant in the imagination of all Roman citizens. ⁹⁷ Them., Or. VII.99a. Xerxes and Cambyses were Persian kings who in antiquity—and particularly in the Greek-speaking East—became virtual archetypes of tyrannical government: cf. E. Bridges, Imagining Xerxes: Ancient Perspectives on a Persian King (London, 2015). ⁹⁸ Them., Or. VII.92a‒b; the exact meaning of this is not quite clear. R. Delmaire, Largesses Sacrées et Res Privata: l’ærarium imperial et son administration du IVe au VIe siècle (Collection de l’École française de Rome 121. Rome, 1989), 403 argues that Procopius demanded both the yearly contribution and a special contribution for his accession from the senate, while Lenski, Failure of Empire, 84 n. 103 argues that this was the collatio lustralis, which would normally be collected over five years. ⁹⁹ Them., Or. VII.92b‒c.

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to Themistius’ assertion that Procopius coerced consent. How could the senate and the people have truly loved Procopius, when from the one he exacted extortionate taxes, and from the other he removed traditional corn and meat rations?¹⁰⁰ Secondly, Themistius reiterates the point that Procopius had control of information. It is not entirely clear who exactly is meant by the two highest dignitaries (Vanderspoel’s suggestion that this refers to Procopius and Valens is not impossible), but the point remains vividly clear that those within the city had no true grasp of what was going on beyond its walls.¹⁰¹ Ammianus similarly claims that Valentinian, in the West, had no idea whether his brother was alive or dead, and, with Procopius’ proto-empire positioned between the two brothers, the flow of information was certainly impeded.¹⁰² Thirdly and most importantly, however, Themistius here attacked Procopius’ claims to membership of the Constantinian dynasty. He addresses head-on the connection between the city and Constantine, and quashes any suggestion that this connection helped to fuel the rebellion. Whatever Procopius might have claimed, Themistius argues, the Valentinians had managed the change of dynasty so smoothly that no one had perceived it, while Procopius harmed the very ‘people of Constantine’, taking away the privileges that the emperor had given them. Here, Themistius attacked the heart of Procopius’ claims to power. The foundations of Procopius’ claims to legitimacy were not merely dismissed, but utterly overturned; Valens was the true heir to Constantine (and to Julian), Procopius an upstart and a meddler who might brandish Constantine’s name but could not capture the spirit of that great emperor. This sort of language, common to panegyric in general, had been absent from Themistius’ speeches throughout the 350s, which took a cooler and less focused tone against Magnentius and Vetranio. This is not to say that these men did not come into criticism (we have seen that they did), but that criticism was far more generalized and far less sustained. The barrage of adjectives levelled at Procopius, the descriptions of his character, physical appearance, even his moods, are all utterly absent from Themistius’ other public orations. The explanation for this must be that Themistius’ own connections to Procopius had a profound effect on the orators’ approach. It was not enough that Themistius demonstrate Procopius’ crimes and show his insufficiency as a ruler in comparison to Valens; Themistius needed to communicate a personal loathing for him as a man. If Themistius’ Procopius is a grotesque figure, it is because the orator needed to show to Valens the utter

¹⁰⁰ Dagron, Naissance d’une Capitale, 304 connects this firmly with the annona: ‘La mesure évoquée ici est sans aucun doute une suppression de l’annone: τρυφὴ a ce sens concret; associé à ἄδεια il désigne la sécurité matérielle…et les libertés traditionnelles, très vaguement définies, qui l’accompagnent.’ ¹⁰¹ Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 164–5. ¹⁰² Amm., XXVI.7.13, 5.9–10.

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impossibility of him, or any of his peers, feeling any loyalty towards the man who had usurped power in their city. Themistius’ construction of Procopius was a self-serving one. It is very important to recognize, however, how strikingly similar is this construction to the presentation of Procopius’ rebellion in the pages of Ammianus. This is not to say that Ammianus reproduces Themistius’ more blatant flights of sycophantic fancy; nowhere, for instance, does he attempt to argue that Valens spent 365 waiting for the people of Constantinople to realize what a monster they had in their midst, nor is his account in any way designed to show Valens in a good light, since he held that emperor in low regard. Nevertheless, Ammianus’ Procopius is recognizably the same creature as Themistius’ and this is something which ought to cause us to pause and take note. If we consider every point of overlap between speaker and historian, the dependence of the one upon the other becomes clear (brackets indicating where these assertions appear in Themistius and Ammianus respectively): 1. The uprising began at night, unbeknown to the people (86b‒c/ XXVI.6.14) 2. Procopius was silent and strict (90a‒b/XXVI.6.1, 18, 9.11) 3. Senior figures were arrested before knowing what was going on (91a‒b/ XXVI.7.4–5) 4. The soldiers emerged from the baths with Procopius as emperor and escorted him through the city under arms (91b‒c/XXVI.6.16-17) 5. Procopius was dressed and behaved inappropriately (91c/XXVI.6.15-18) 6. False embassies communicating false news were met by Procopius (91d‒ 92a/XXVI.7.3) 7. He advertised his relationship to the house of Constantine in a very unsuitable way (92b/XXVI.7.10, 9.3) 8. Procopius was allowed successes by fate which merely presaged a hard fall (92d‒93a/XXVI.8.13–14) Some of these are empirical details. That the two authors agree on them is therefore unconcerning; if Procopius really did begin his usurpation at dawn then there is no problem that two supposedly independent sources discuss this. Nor is it to suggest that Ammianus does not contradict Themistius in places. Ammianus, for instance, describes Procopius as being of noble birth but Themistius called him ‘an evil man of evil ancestry’.¹⁰³ What is troubling, however, is that Ammianus’ interpretation of the rebellion is, in fact, strikingly similar to that of Themistius, albeit less targeted at glorifying Valens. Both Ammianus and Themistius paint Procopius as a kind of pantomime emperor pretending (literally) at his role, rather than truly assuming it. While there is

¹⁰³ Amm., XXVI.6.1; Them., Or. VII.86c.

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no way to know whether Ammianus ever heard or read Themistius’ speech, he would certainly have encountered much public propaganda that was like it. Still in the East at the time of Procopius’ rebellion and the political scrabbling that followed it, and perhaps already beginning to accumulate notes for what would become his res gestae, Ammianus would have been presented with an image of Procopius as a loathsome and tragic character, whose short-lived reign was based upon falsities and the support of desperate men, and this interpretation of events seems to have become Ammianus’ own.¹⁰⁴ There is no reason, of necessity, that the similarity in these two readings of the tone and character of Procopius’ rebellion ought to alarm us. One might even be tempted to say that two similar readings of a historical event is an encouraging indication that these readings have some basis in fact. It is, however, important to remember the extent to which we are hopelessly dependant for our understanding of this period on Ammianus’ history. Even my own account of the rebellion (above), though I have tried to draw on other sources and season the whole with a degree of scepticism, is ultimately little more than a summary of and commentary on Ammianus. Thus, when we can see that Ammianus’ account shares an enormous amount in common with an interpretation of events that was so clearly a targeted apology on the part of a Constantinopolitan senate desperate to distance itself from the fallen usurper, it ought to cause us considerable discomfort about the way in which narratives dictated by the propagandistic needs of successive imperial courts have informed, in ways that are all but invisible to us, the sources from the late Roman period in which we are willing to put a considerable degree of trust. Without the miraculous discovery of some hitherto unknown source, such thinking can only carry us so far before it becomes mere counterfactualism. It is alarming, however, to confront the truth that perhaps one of the bestdocumented usurpation attempts in the history of the late Empire, described by the period’s most widely respected historian, appears to be built on an interpretative foundation as shaky as this one.¹⁰⁵ As I attempted to communicate in the introduction to this volume, it is in rare glimpses such as this one that we see the processes of memory sanction and collective memory at work, and such narrow windows suggest unseen influences insidiously at work throughout late Roman political history in ways that remain just beyond sight. Before we conclude our examination of Themistius’ speech, we ought finally to examine Themistius’ continual theme of the clemency of kings. Themistius’ characterization of Procopius and his rebellion, after all, brings us no more

¹⁰⁴ Lenski, Failure of Empire, 71–4. This presentation is broadly echoed in the account of Zosimus (IV.5.4–9.5). Accounts of the rebellion in other sources are universally terse: Aur. Vict., Epit. 46.4; Oros. VII.32.4; Soc., HE. VI.8; Soz., IV.3, 5; Zon., XIII.16. ¹⁰⁵ The only usurpation about which we can say that we might know as much is Julian’s, described at Chapter VII, pp. 193–7.

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than two thirds of the way through the speech. Sandwiched upon either side of it, Themistius discourses at length about the importance of that most imperial of virtues, ‘love of mankind (Themistius’ φιλανθρωπία). It was not the usurpation on which Themistius wished to focus, but its aftermath. Clemency was his real theme. ‘You have not made your anger into a judge nor do you measure the punishment according to the extent of your anger, but rather you have placed reason over passion and so show yourself milder than the laws.’¹⁰⁶ This is how Themistius opened his consideration of the mercy of Valens. If as Socrates, Sozomen, and Zonaras report, Valens had Procopius executed by bending two trees to the ground, tying the usurper to them, and having him ripped in two when they sprang back upwards, this image of the calm, mild Valens is a little hard to stomach.¹⁰⁷ Themistius’ own stomach remained settled, however, as he continued to enumerate the manifestations of Valens’ mercy. Valens showed considerable wisdom in apportioning punishments, distinguishing between those who had concocted the treason and those who had been drawn along with it.¹⁰⁸ Themistius places great stress on Valens’ personal composure and on the bloodlessness of the victory (Valens’ two major victories having been secured by the defection of Procopius’ armies, and not decided by battle).¹⁰⁹ This reminded the audience that Valens brought his enemies to sense, rather than smashing them into defeat, reinforcing the image of Procopius he had created. It both excused Valens’ failure to win any significant military victory and also reminded him that it was better and stronger to win friends than to crush enemies. In light of what we know, these remarks reveal themselves to be far more a description of what Themistius wished had happened, rather than what had actually taken place. His speech even hints at the fear in which the senate dwelt after the rebellion, all too aware of imperial absence from the city and the looming threat of vengeance: ‘Until recently we abandoned the palace and were, until today, discontented, for we did not believe our petitions had been successful; but you had not refused these favours, merely delayed them.’¹¹⁰ Of course, Themistius puts a positive spin on this, but the subtext is clear; the senate had, by this point, lingered in an uncomfortable limbo for many months. Themistius’ discourse on clemency was not, however, merely a passive plea for mercy for the senate and people of Constantinople. It contained within it detectable hints of criticism levelled at Valens, however gently.¹¹¹ He quotes to Valens an example from the time of Philip of Macedon, father to Alexander

¹⁰⁶ Them., Or. VIII.93a‒b. ¹⁰⁷ Soc., HE. IV.5; Soz., VI.8; Zon., XIII.16. ¹⁰⁸ Them., Or. VII.93b‒c. ¹⁰⁹ Them., Or. VII.86a‒c, 87a, 90a, 92c‒d. ¹¹⁰ Them., Or. VII.93c‒d. ¹¹¹ The fact that Themistius felt able to include such carefully coded criticism is again suggestive of the fact that Themistius himself was still on good terms with Valens.

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the Great, in which Philip is warned that one of his generals was plotting against him, to which Philip replied, ‘Yet the cause of this hostility lies with us. The man is not one of the worst of Macedon.’¹¹² Philip then attended to the rebellious general, showering him with honours and making a friend of him. After a series of similar examples, Themistius asks how the emperor of the Romans ought to conduct himself: ‘There is nothing better for a ruler than to bind men to himself through kindness and not to rule through fear. One can find no example of good deeds that have been erased by force, but probably much force has been removed by good deeds.’¹¹³ One can read in these statements not merely Themistius’ hopes for Valens’ future conduct, but also the memory of Petronius and the financial exactions within the capital that had sown the seed for the rebellion in the first place. Themistius’ constant return to the theme of the appropriateness of the virtues of clemency and of leniency carry the subtle implication that a little more of such virtues before the rebellion’s outbreak might have halted it in its tracks: ‘An appropriate hope must be implanted in your subjects, then you will not need to depend upon weapons in order to make them your friends, but you will see that they declare freely for you.’¹¹⁴ Procopius’ usurpation had been centred upon Constantinople, a city which Themistius had spent his career to date lauding for its loyalty to the reigning emperor. That the Constantinopolitan senate had been complicit in Procopius’ rebellion, however unwillingly, was an embarrassment only compounded by the strong association between the city and the House of Constantine. Although some time had elapsed between the end of the usurpation and delivery of the speech, this does not mean that Themistius or his peers could afford to think that their position was assured. Constantius had offered initial pardon to the supporters of Magnentius and then initiated a bitter persecution.¹¹⁵ Valens might still enact violent purges within the city.¹¹⁶ For Themistius, therefore, the future might well have looked very uncertain. Themistius’ object was not simply to glorify the emperor and hold the usurper up for ridicule, but to justify and pardon the conduct of a very broad body of men who had, implicitly or explicitly, supported the usurper. Themistius, as the senior figure in the senate, had much to answer for and to explain away. This concern was the determining factor in everything that he inserted into this speech, which stood in the contested ground between emperor and senate, asking for clemency from the latter and promising clemency to the former, recasting this dangerous rupture in their shared past in terms that allowed both parties to save face. It seems very unlikely that Themistius had any personal need to make apology to the emperor. A speech begging for his ¹¹² Them., Or. VII.95b‒c. ¹¹⁴ Them., Or. VII.96a. ¹¹⁶ See above, nn. 66‒8.

¹¹³ Them., Or. VII.95b–96d. ¹¹⁵ Matthews, Roman Empire of Ammianus, 33–9.

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own personal rehabilitation would surely have looked very different and Themistius’ career seems to have been unimpeded by the Procopian usurpation, since we find him speaking before Valens (and, indeed, sensitively communicating imperial policy in a way that suggests familiarity with imperial intentions) in 368, 369/70, and 373.¹¹⁷ If Themistius himself was not in imperial disfavour, however, this only served to make him all the more effective as an apologist for his home city.¹¹⁸ Indeed, according to the church historian, Socrates, this would not be the last time in Themistius’ career that he would be called upon to sooth Valens’ anger against those who unwittingly found themselves the emperor’s opponents.¹¹⁹ One year later, and more than 1,500 miles away, a Latin orator came before the emperor of the West, Valentinian, in order to deliver a panegyric. This was Symmachus’ Or. I. Symmachus was, like Themistius, the representative of the senate, although this time the senate of Rome and not Constantinople. There, however, any similarity between the two speeches ends. Symmachus was on a mission from the Roman senate occasioned by Valentinian’s quinquennalia. He travelled at the head of an official delegation from Rome charged with bearing both the senate’s official thanksgiving on the occasion and their nominally voluntary gift of aurum coronarium to the emperor. It was a defining moment in the young senator’s career, and the beginning of his rise to prominence on the imperial stage.¹²⁰ Not personally familiar with the emperor, Symmachus’ speech took a safely biographical/synoptic overview of Valentinian’s life and reign. Included in this is a surprisingly lengthy consideration of Procopius’ rebellion, which is strikingly different from that of Themistius’ Oratio VII and which allows us a greater insight into both the rebellion and the processes of composing panegyric. Symmachus’ speech, as it survives (nine folia are missing), is divided into twenty-three chapters, of which six are devoted to the usurpation in the East. Symmachus begins by recounting Valentinian’s military upbringing with his father (1‒3). A lacuna in the text then brings us back midway through extolling Valentinian for protecting the state in some ill-defined crisis, probably the seditio which Ammianus mentions having occurred in 363 (4‒6).¹²¹ Symmachus describes Valentinian’s greatness and his election as emperor (7‒10) which, after another lacuna, is followed by a description of Valens’ election and the unbreakable harmony of the two brothers (11‒13). Symmachus eulogizes Valentinian for making his home in the Empire’s most troubled ¹¹⁷ Them., Or. VIII, X, and XI. ¹¹⁸ Communities seeking favour from the emperor were careful to select orators who would be acceptable to the emperors they spoke with: Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 3–5. ¹¹⁹ Soc., HE IV.32. The passage recounts that Themistius was able to sooth Valens’ behaviour towards Nicaean Christians through the delivery of an oration. ¹²⁰ Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 2–12; Omissi, ‘Rhetoric and Power’. ¹²¹ Amm., XXV.10.6–8; cf. Zos., III.35.1–2. Raimondi, Valentiniano I, 51–60.

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region (14‒16), before moving to speak about Procopius (17‒23). Procopius breaks in on the peace of the Empire while Valentinian is fighting the Alemanni but Valentinian prioritizes defence of the border over conflict with a rival (17‒18). Valentinian tells the soldiers that the public enemy is of more importance than his private one, while overlooking the fact that anyone who gave the emperor cause for grievance was thus a public enemy (19‒20). Praise for the downfall of ‘that brigand’ (ille latro) should be reserved for Valentinian’s worshipful brother and Valentinian rightly trusted his brother to bring ‘the captive rebel’ (captivus rebellis) and the ‘usurper of so great a title’ (usurpator tanti nominis) to justice; Valentinian did not even do him the honour of appearing hostile to him (21‒2). The speech ends abruptly, with a final lacuna of six folia, as Symmachus is explaining the happy state of the Empire after Procopius’ fall. The dictates of Symmachus’ panegyric were completely different from those of Themistius’. Symmachus had no stake in either Procopius or in Valens, except in so far as Valens’ reputation mattered to Valentinian. Accordingly, we have a speech completely divorced not simply from the image of Procopius that Themistius had created, but indeed from the entire rhetorical framework of Themistius’ argument. Symmachus’ language is that of the tetrarchy, albeit without the pagan dual divinities that Maximian and Diocletian possessed. A new college is imagined, in which the brothers, united by blood, are also brother-emperors on the old model.¹²² Valentinian grants Valens equal power and holds nothing back, as befits a true prince; their partnership puts shame to sun and moon, who are unequal to one another, for the emperors hold everything in common.¹²³ Symmachus’ Procopius fits into this schema. Rather than being a tyrant or a manipulator, he appears as a latro and a rebellis, a common thief trying to break into a college to which he has no right. He is, in other words, an outsider to a closed group. Even the rebellion shows Valens and Valentinian as mirrors of one another: ‘What miraculously similar piety there is between you! You do not know how to pursue civil conflict, he cannot avenge it.’¹²⁴ For Symmachus, the rebellion was used to confirm the harmony of the brothers’ relationship, and Procopius was delineated accordingly.¹²⁵ His tone is all dismissive self-confidence. Symmachus also takes a distinctly more aggressive line towards the House of Constantine. We have already seen that Themistius tackled this issue with extreme caution. Writing in Constantinople, mere months after a man claiming relation to Constantine himself had taken power, Themistius urged his audience to see that the Valentinians were the true heirs to the Constantinians, ¹²² Raimondi, Valentiniano I, 85–7. ¹²³ Symm., Or. I.11–13. ¹²⁴ Symm., Or. I.22. ¹²⁵ Note that Themistius never once mentions Valentinian in Or. VII, choosing rather to utterly avoid the awkward issue of the older brother’s inaction during the rebellion.

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while Procopius falsely held the great man’s name before himself. He spoke warmly of ‘the feasting people of Constantine’.¹²⁶ Symmachus, by contrast, made no mention whatsoever of Procopius’ claims to relation with the Constantinians, nor is he anywhere near so cautious when referring to their dynasty. Though he never speaks about them directly, he makes two clear and unfavourable references to them. In the first place, he observes that Valentinian ‘took care in confirming an Augustus with equal rights, that he never be suspect to you’, which no Gallic audience could have heard without recalling the narrowly avoided civil war between Julian and Constantius.¹²⁷ But Symmachus went further still, for he claimed that Valentinian had come west to ‘defend, out of shame for ancient cowardice, provinces given over by the extravagance of your predecessors’. Valentinian’s hardiness, his willingness to live the life of the camp, was a novelty: ‘You rather taught the royal estate what a man ought to do, than learned from it what previous emperors had done.’¹²⁸ Symmachus, therefore, was not simply looking down upon the Constantinian dynasty, but refusing to employ the rhetorical strategies that had flourished under them. He eschews description of Procopius as a tyrannus or an evocation of his crimes against the people and the capital. We may posit that, beyond the immediate environs of Constantinople, this was the manner in which Procopius was publicly denounced. If not for Themistius and his ilk, and their influence on Ammianus (the most important historian of his time), we might depend, for our understanding of Procopius, on texts whose main influence was the collegiate language of Symmachus.¹²⁹ In this case, we would find ourselves with an image of a kind of popular and ultimately lower-class uprising in the city of Constantinople, something wild and lacking the support of any of the political elite and which was put down as soon as it was met with serious resistance. Western historical texts, in fact, consign the rebellion to little better than a footnote.¹³⁰ The creation of a character for a usurper in the panegyrics was decided by immediate political goals. We have seen this again and again. We are presented, in Symmachus and Themistius, with two wildly different stories. Distance has reduced Symmachus’ Procopius to a stereotypical criminal. But proximity

¹²⁶ Them., Or. VII.92b. ¹²⁷ Symm., Or. I.11. ¹²⁸ Symm., Or. I.14. ¹²⁹ Though Ammianus drew his understanding of Procopius from Constantinopolitan sources, he had clearly read Symmachus’ orations, or works based on them: Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 11. Note the similarity of language in the account given by the Cons. Const. s.a. 365: et ipso anno latro nocturnus hostisque publicus intra urbem Constantinopolim apparuit die IIII kal. Oct. (and this despite this section of the source being of Constantinopolitan origin, for which R. W. Burgess (ed. and tr.), The Chronicle of Hydatius and the Consularia Constantinopolitana: Two Contemporary Accounts of the Final Years of the Roman Empire (Oxford, 1993), 187–98). ¹³⁰ Aur. Vict., Epit. 46.4; Oros. VII.32.4.

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to events did not make Themistius a more reliable witness. Far from it; Themistius’ personal stake in his speech renders everything he has to say suspect. Themistius’ Procopius had to be in control of information, to be able to bend unwilling subjects to his will, and to keep them in his thrall, in order to exonerate his colleagues in the senate. The unusually high volume of detailed source material surrounding Procopius’ rebellion gives us a glimpse of these processes of image formation at work. In addition, Ammianus’ narrative gives troubling hints of just how influential these images might become. Individual agendas could thus dominate the historical record, and the needs of the moment could dictate the recording of history.

‘ HE WHO S OUGHT RULE F OR HIMSELF BEHIND THE CLOAK OF A L ITTLE BOY’ : THE USU RPATION OF VALENTINIAN I I Ten years after the fall of Procopius, an unexpected catastrophe rocked the imperial world. On 17 November 375, while engaged in negotiations with the Quadi at Brigetio on the Danube, the famously irascible emperor Valentinian fell into such a blind rage that a blood vessel ruptured in his head and he died. He was fifty-four.¹³¹ The political void thus created presented the dangerous potential for chaos.¹³² Yet Valentinian’s death did not leave the West without an emperor, for the fourteen-year-old Gratian, at Trier at the time of his father’s death, had been made Augustus in 367.¹³³ In the East, Valens ruled. That a new emperor was almost immediately declared on site, without reference to or consultation of either of this pair, can only be considered as a usurpation. It was, however, a usurpation of a very irregular character and it deserves mention primarily as a sign of things to come in the history of the West. Before making further remarks, a brief account of the events involved ought to be made. By the time of his death in November 375, Valentinian had been in the Balkans for a year and a half attempting to subdue revolts amongst the Quadi that had been precipitated by his fortification programme on the Danube.¹³⁴ He had set out from Trier in early 364 and had left the teenage ¹³¹ Amm., XXX.5.13–6.6; Soc., IV.31; Zos., IV.17.1–2. ¹³² The last time an emperor had died—excluding violent deaths brought about by another emperor—as a member of an imperial college whose other members still lived was in 306, when Constantius Pius had died and his armies had proclaimed Constantine emperor. There was thus some precedent to the idea that Valentinian’s armies would look to make a new emperor on the spot. ¹³³ Amm., XXVII.6; Jer., Chron. s.a. 367; Soc., HE IV.11.3; Aur. Vict., Epit. 47.1; Zos., IV.12.2; Oros., VII.32.8. Raimondi, Valentiniano I, 160–9. ¹³⁴ J. Curran, ‘From Jovian to Theodosius’, CAH XIII, 85; R. M. Errington, Roman Imperial Policy from Julian to Theodosius (Chapel Hill, 2006), 55–7.

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Gratian there to maintain his ceremonial presence at the court.¹³⁵ His sudden death was, according to Ammianus, kept secret, and it was hastily agreed to recall the magister peditum Merobaudes from beyond the Danube. The order was sent as if from a still living Valentinian so as not to create panic. Merobaudes then immediately redeployed the commander Sebastianus, who was popular with the soldiers, to a more distant post and then returned to Brigetio, where it was hastily agreed to summon Valentinian’s four-year-old son, also named Valentinian, from the country villa at which he and his mother were residing, and to proclaim him emperor.¹³⁶ The infant was proclaimed Augustus on 22 November, just six days (by Roman reckoning) after Valentinian’s death.¹³⁷ To describe Valentinian II’s accession as a usurpation is somewhat controversial. Much has been made in secondary literature (particularly among German scholars) of Ammianus’ declaration that ‘on the sixth day after his father’s death, and having been lawfully declared emperor (imperator legitime declaratus), he was hailed as Augustus in the usual manner.’¹³⁸ Ammianus’ use of the adverb legitime, meaning ‘lawfully’, ‘legitimately’, or perhaps just ‘properly’, has been cited as evidence of the constitutional understanding that Romans had of the imperial accession.¹³⁹ Ammianus himself, however, belies this claim, for he is explicit that there was concern at Brigetio over how Gratian would react to this proclamation, and if, following Ulpian, ‘what pleases the princeps has the force of law,’ then that which might be done to the emperor’s displeasure can hardly be said to be done legitime.¹⁴⁰ Ammianus’ own assessment of the validity or otherwise of a proclamation throughout his history is hardly legalistic, focusing rather on the aspects of dress and carriage that we saw, in the introduction, obsessed contemporaries.¹⁴¹ His own favourable assessment of this accession shows us nothing more than that it was penned before

¹³⁵ M. McEvoy, Child Emperor Rule in the Late Roman West, AD 367–455 (Oxford, 2013), 54. ¹³⁶ The villa was at Murocincta (also identified as Parndorf): A. Mócsy, Pannonia and Upper Moesia: A history of the middle Danube provinces of the Roman Empire (London, 1974), 302. ¹³⁷ This account is largely a summary of Amm., XXX.10. ¹³⁸ Amm., XXX.5.5. ¹³⁹ Szidat, ‘Imperator legitime declaratus (Ammian 30, 10, 5)’, 185ff.; Pabst, Comitia imperii, 13. ¹⁴⁰ Dig. I.4.1. ¹⁴¹ Compare, for example, his assessment of Julian’s and Procopius’ usurpations (Amm., XV.5 and XXVI.6). When placed side by side, these accounts represent strikingly similar events—an individual proclaimed in a rush by a group of soldiers, dressed in improvised imperial clothing and offering (as was normal in such instances) a donative to the assembled crowd. That Ammianus presents one as a glorious tumult and the other as tragic pantomime has everything to do with his attitudes to the character of the emperors in question and his knowledge of their eventual fates, and nothing to do with any constitutional definitions. This is the only instance in his history that Ammianus uses the adverb legitime, but he certainly uses the term legitimus princeps to mean something like ‘legitimate emperor’ (e.g. XV.8.21, XIX.12.17, XXV.5.3, XXVI.9.10, XXVII.5.1, XXX.10.1).

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Valentinian died, that is before 15 May 392.¹⁴² By my own working definition of usurpation, proposed at the beginning of this book, Valentinian’s accession was unquestionably a usurpation, undertaken, as it was, without reference to either emperor then ruling. That Gratian subsequently acknowledged it, and thereby legitimated it, is beside the point, at least in as far as the accession itself was concerned. Valentinian’s accession also acts as a stark reminder as to just how limited our understanding of the processes of emperor-making really was. Ammianus’ relatively detailed account creates as many questions as it solves. Ammianus disguises any agency, bar Merobaudes, behind a string of passive and impersonal verbs. He tells us only that ‘all feared the same thing’ after Valentinian’s death, that ‘it was agreed by a council of the highest men’ to recall Merobaudes, that ‘the matter was considered with ardent focus and a plan was put forth’ to summon the boy Valentinian.¹⁴³ Who formed these shadowy councils, what they said to one another, and under what authority they felt that they acted, Ammianus does not say. The decisions that made and brought down emperors were, invariably, made behind closed doors.¹⁴⁴ What is so important about Valentinian’s usurpation is that it marks a turning point in the history of the imperial office in the later Empire. Valentinian was, in 375, the youngest person ever to bear the title Augustus. Other young men had been given the imperial title, men at the junior end of adolescence: Elgabalus had been thirteen years old, Alexander Severus and Gordian III both fourteen when they were hailed as Augustus.¹⁴⁵ Furthermore, since Marcus Aurelius had made Commodus Caesar at age five, emperors had frequently awarded the title to their infant children in order to mark them out as their intended heirs.¹⁴⁶ Gratian, as we have mentioned, had been so marked ¹⁴² Barnes, Ammianus, 184 n. 79. ¹⁴³ Amm., XXX.10.2, 4. ¹⁴⁴ Ammianus is hardly more forthcoming on the discussions that followed the deaths of Julian (XXV.5) and Jovian (XXVI.1), elections to which he was personally much closer as a witness. In the first instance, Ammianus states that there were present ‘the leaders of the army’ and ‘the commanders of the legions and the cavalry’, of whom he names Arintheus, Victor, Nevitta, and Dagalaifus (as the leaders of opposing factions) and Salutius (as a candidate who was considered but declined). In the second, he mentions in the most impersonal terms debate among ‘the principal civil and military leaders’ (XXVI.3–5). Nor do these accounts give any sense that there was any formal process at work; these were informal affairs at which such senior figures as were on hand were gathered to make a decision, one of the primary requirements of which was the speed with which a candidate could be acclaimed. ¹⁴⁵ Kienast, Kaisertabelle, 172, 177. ¹⁴⁶ Commodus: Kienast, 147. Septimius Severus made both Caracalla and Geta Caesars, in 196 and 197 and at ten and eight years old respectively (Kienast, Kaisertabelle, 162, 166). The Gallic emperor Tetricus made his son, also named Tetricus, Caesar in (probably) 273. Tetricus’ age is unknown, but since he also bore the title princeps iuventutis and his coin portraits clearly show a youth, it is fair to assumed he was under the age of fourteen (Kienast, Kaisertabelle, 249). Constantine and Licinius had made their infant sons Caesars in 217 (see Chapter V, p. 144). Constantine would also make his other sons Caesars in their childhood, Constantius II at seven, and Constans at (perhaps) ten (Kienast, 314, 312).

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out by his father at the age of eight (though notably with the Augustan title).¹⁴⁷ Valentinian’s promotion, however, cannot be so defined; though his court ultimately came to act under the oversight of Gratian’s, there is no evidence that it was established with this intention. Valentinian’s courtiers, led by Merobaudes, had thus made for themselves a puppet emperor, through whom they might be able to legitimate their own governance and to carry on the business of rule beneath the rubber stamp of the boy emperor. This would become a frequently repeated pattern of imperial power in the decades to come.¹⁴⁸ Nor was this decision without its challengers. Gratian may have acquiesced to it but other figures in the Western hierarchy were less than thrilled by the prospect. When the usurper Magnus Maximus (on whom more in the next chapter) gained control of Gaul in 383, he executed or forced suicide upon Merobaudes, despite the fact that the latter may have helped Maximus in defeating Gratian.¹⁴⁹ Merobaudes, however, was not the real problem. The problem was the ineffectual child-emperor, controlled from behind the throne by his courtiers and generals. Other generals arose to take Merobaudes’ place. In 387, when Ambrose journeyed to the court of Magnus Maximus (on whom more in the following chapter), an already sour Maximus exploded with rage at the suggestion that he and the young Valentinian were equals: ‘You have mocked me!’ he roared at Ambrose, ‘you and that man Bauto, who wished to rule behind the cloak of a little boy.’¹⁵⁰ The issue of Valentinian’s legitimacy would not be forgotten and would rear its head again in the decade to come. Nor would Valentinian’s be the last usurpation that Gratian legitimated.

¹⁴⁷ See above, n. 135. ¹⁴⁸ See Chapter X. ¹⁴⁹ The murder of Merobaudes has been questioned, largely on the strength of an inscription from Rome that appears to name him as consul in 388 (ICUR I.370 = n.s. II 5996, with B. S. Rodgers, ‘Merobaudes and Maximus in Gaul’, Historia 30 (1981), 100–5). T. D. Barnes, ‘Patricii under Valentinian III’, Phoenix 29 (1975), 159–60 argues that the inscription actually refers to the year 383 (COS III having been erroneously carved for COS II). CLRE, 650–2 has also argued strongly that the consulship ought to be discounted. ¹⁵⁰ Amb., Ep. 30.4. Bauto was, like Merobaudes, a Frankish general. He first appears in our sources in 380, as the leader of a detachment sent by Gratian to aid Theodosius in the Balkans. In 383 he helped to hold the Alpine passes against Maximus’ advance and appears after this to have enjoyed a near-total domination over Valentinian’s court from this point until his death in 388: J. M. O’Flynn, Generalissimos of the Western Roman Empire (Edmonton, 1983), 6–7.

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IX Dismembering the House of Valentinian The Usurpation of Theodosius and the War with Magnus Maximus

As the imperial armies at Brigetio saluted the infant Valentinian in November 375, many must have raised their eyebrows. Yet for all that, the young Valentinian was the son of an emperor, and an emperor’s son usually found himself Augustus. Much curiouser—though routinely treated as quite natural in modern literature—is the fact that, just three years later, Balkan armies would hail as Augustus the Spaniard, Flavius Theodosius, a man who had left a Balkan command in disgrace within months of Valentinian II’s acclamation, after his father was executed for treason. Theodosius’ tenure of imperial power, the founding reign of a dynasty that would control the West until 455 and the East until 457, was a regime built by usurpation; his own usurpation earned him the throne, the usurpation of Magnus Maximus gave him control of the West, and the death of Valentinian II and the usurpation of Eugenius put the imperial succession completely within his control, ensuring the division of the entire Empire between his sons upon his death.

‘ AND NOBLY HE MADE THE VOTE HIS OWN ’: THE USURPATION OF THEODOSIUS After Valens’ death, on 9 August 378, a period of more than five months apparently elapsed before the accession of Theodosius, who was declared emperor by Gratian at Sirmium and hailed as Augustus by the soldiers assembled there on 19 January 379. The traditional reading of this seeming interregnum is as follows: following his father’s disgrace and execution in the winter of 375/6, Theodosius, then serving as dux Moesiae, was sent off into retirement-cum-exile

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on his family estates in Spain, where he remained until 378.¹ Following Adrianople, Gratian attempted to stabilize the disastrous situation in the East. Among the measures he took in this regard was to call Theodosius out of retirement, either returning him to his previous position or perhaps to the more senior post of magister militum. During the autumn and early winter, Theodosius then won victories in the Balkans significant enough to convince Gratian that the general ought to be promoted to imperial power. Accordingly, he presented Theodosius to the soldiers as their new emperor at Sirmium in January 379 and gave Theodosius jurisdiction over the entire Eastern Empire.² This traditional narrative is derived directly from our sources, such as they are. Theodosius’ accession actually merits very little consideration in the main narrative sources that cover this period, but all of them nevertheless repeat this same neat account of recall, command, victory, and promotion to imperial power.³ Yet this narrative has a number of important problems, not least the significant interregnum from August 378 to January 379. The time taken to summon Theodosius from Spain cannot be given as sufficient excuse; even assuming that he was still in Spain when Gratian summoned him, this journey could have been accomplished in a matter of weeks and various sources make clear that Theodosius was in the Balkans for long enough to win a victory against the Sarmatians prior to his accession.⁴ Furthermore, there is evidence ¹ On the downfall of Theodosius the Elder, see A. Demandt, ‘Der Tod des älteren Theodosius’, Historia 18 (1969), 598–626; Rodgers, ‘Merobaudes and Maximus in Gaul’, 82–8; S. Williams and G. Friell, Theodosius: The Empire at Bay (London, 1994), 23–4; R. M. Errington, ‘The Accession of Theodosius I’, Klio 78:2 (1996), 440–7. ² Most modern accounts follow this narrative, e.g. Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 91–2; Williams and Friell, Theodosius, 23–6; Errington, ‘The Accession of Theodosius I’, 448–52. However, see importantly Sivan, ‘Was Theodosius I a Usurper?’, 198–211. I follow her arguments here. ³ Orosius says merely that ‘[Gratian] . . . chose a Spaniard, Theodosius, and because of the need to restore the state he clothed him in the purple at Sirmium and placed beneath him both Thrace and the East,’ a statement which Zosimus’ account echoes (Oros., VII.34.2–4; Zos., IV.24.4). Socrates and Sozomen provide virtually identical accounts of the event, which likewise declare merely that Theodosius was taken as a colleague by Gratian in order to prosecute the war against the Goths (Soc., HE V.2; Soz., HE VII.2). Other sources are even more laconic (Aur. Vict., Epit. 48.1; Chron. Pasc. s.a. 378). Of the narrative histories, only the Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret gives any further detail. Theodoret claims that Theodosius, ‘on account of the splendour of his ancestry and of his own courage’ was, despite high repute, living in exile in Spain. When the barbarians overran the Balkans and their advance could not be halted, Gratian decided to recall Theodosius and give him supreme command in the region. Theodosius at once advanced into Thrace with the army and won an enormous victory against ‘the barbarians’, utterly destroying their army and driving the remnants back across the Danube. He then dispersed the army to winter quarters and rode personally to announce his victory to Gratian who initially disbelieved the news. Once he had been able to confirm it, however, Gratian knew that he had made the right choice in Theodosius and appointed him to imperial power over Valens’ old territory (Theodor., HE V.5–6). ⁴ Pan. Lat. II.9–10; Them., Or. XIV.182c, Or. XV.198a. However much attention Themistius and Pacatus might draw to this Sarmatian victory, the Goths were the Romans’ greatest concern, and if a victory was needed to secure Theodosius the imperial title, surely it must have been a victory against them and not some token success against the Sarmatians?

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to suggest that Theodosius was already serving in the Balkans, perhaps as dux Moesiae, long before Adrianople took place.⁵ The traditional narrative, in which Theodosius was recalled to settle the Balkans, first as magister militum and then as emperor, also requires us to believe that Theodosius was regarded by Gratian as one of the foremost—if not the foremost—generals of his time, which his relatively unremarkable career belies.⁶ More importantly, it requires us to see Gratian grooming Theodosius for rule during the autumn and early winter of 378, investing him with sufficient credibility and articulating clearly his support for the future emperor in such a way that his rise to power would, once effected, be unchallenged. Yet this was clearly not the case. In fact when we look at the court of Gratian during the period of Theodosius’ rise to power, we see not fraternity, but cold hostility. To demonstrate this we need to turn away from the Balkans and towards the Western Empire and to Gratian’s friend and teacher, Ausonius. Decimus Magnus Ausonius was a native of the city of Bordeaux in western Gaul, born c.310. He taught grammar in his home city for many decades until he was summoned to Trier by the emperor Valentinian in order to serve as tutor to Gratian. This appointment fell at some point between 364 and 368, that is, when Gratian was still just a little boy.⁷ Valentinian then made him quaestor of the sacred palace (senior legal advisor) in 375. Gratian clearly felt great affection for his teacher, and made him praetorian prefect of Gaul in 377, an office he held with his son, Hesperius, from 378, the pair then rising to be praetorian prefects of Gaul, Italy, and Africa from 378‒9.⁸ Gratian also made Ausonius’ father, then an exceedingly old man, praetorian prefect of Illyricum in 377.⁹ The crowning honour of Ausonius’ career, however, was that, in 379, Gratian made his teacher consul prior, the highest honour it was possible for an emperor to bestow upon a private citizen. Towards the end of 379, Ausonius delivered a speech of thanks (gratiarum actio) to Gratian at Trier,

⁵ Errington, ‘The Accession of Theodosius I’, 448–9. ⁶ Prior to his forced retirement, Theodosius had served as dux Moesiae, an important command but nonetheless far from being one of the most senior military posts in the Empire, and it seems reasonable to assume that this is the command to which he returned. On the strength of Pan. Lat. II.10.3, it has been suggested (Galletier, III 116 n. 77.5; Errington, ‘The Accession of Theodosius I’, 449–50) that Theodosius was promoted to magister equitum, but this is little more than supposition (Errington is forced to amend the text of Them., Or. XV.198a in order to support his claims: ‘The Accession of Theodosius I’, n. 70). Furthermore, Theodosius’ military record after becoming emperor does not suggest that he was a particularly gifted general (A. Ehrhardt, ‘The First Two Years of the Emperor Theodosius’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 15:1 (1964), 9–10; Sivan, ‘Was Theodosius I a Usurper?’, 199–200). The notion that Theodosius was the only individual capable of masterminding the most critical campaign the Empire had faced in living memory seems—particularly given that he failed to ever score a conclusive defeat again the Goths—highly untenable. ⁷ Sivan, Ausonius of Bordeaux, 104–5, 108–10; Coşkun, Gens Ausoniana, 37–43. ⁸ Coşkun, Gens Ausoniana, 52–77. ⁹ PLRE I, Iulius Ausonius 5.

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thanking the emperor for the honour of the consulship, and it is with this speech that we are concerned.¹⁰ Ausonius’ speech is, of itself, not a particularly remarkable one. It begins with a declaration of the benefits that Gratian has heaped upon Ausonius and considers, beneath a guise of modesty, what Ausonius has done to merit this honour (i‒viii). He then describes his nomination by Gratian (ix‒xii) and the virtues of the emperor (xiii‒xvii), before closing with a final vote of thanks for the emperor’s presence in Trier (xviii). The speech, delivered in an imperial capital six months or more after Theodosius had been made emperor of the entire East, is utterly devoid of any mention of Gratian’s new colleague, the man whom, so the conventional narrative states, Gratian had summoned from retirement to settle the Balkan crisis. I quote, in full, Ausonius’ assessment of the current state of the Empire, which appears in the opening of his speech: For I am giving thanks, not in order flatter your majesty, nor without offering proof to a most valiant emperor: witness that the Rhine and Danube both have been pacified in a single year; to a most generous emperor: the wealth of the army shows this; to a most mild emperor: the safety of human error shows this; to a most learned emperor: the organization of the East by so great a princeps shows this; to a most pious emperor: and there is most ample evidence of this tribute—his father [Valentinian I], consecrated with divine honours, his brother [Valentinian II], adopted to empire as if he were a son, his uncle [Valens], avenged for the affront he suffered in war (pater divinis honoribus consecrates, instar filii ad imperium frater adscitus, a contumelia belli patruus vindicatus), a son and father,¹¹ joined in a prefecture, his teacher, elected to the consulship. I could run through these titles, which your valour has won for you thus far, which Fortune has so recently granted, and which divine concession is still devising for you: I may call you Germanicus, because of the surrender of that people to you, Alamannicus, because you carried over their captives, Sarmaticus, because you conquered and forgave them.¹²

Theodosius’ absence from this account is astounding.¹³ Ausonius could have drawn enormous rhetorical power from Theodosius’ proclamation as emperor—victories ¹⁰ R. P. H. Green (ed.), The Works of Ausonius: Edited with introduction and commentary by R. P. H. Green (Oxford, 1991), 537–45 has argued that the speech belongs to the close of 379, though more recently it has been suggested that it ought to be dated, rather, to the summer of that year: Sivan, Ausonius of Bordeaux, 119 n. 1; Coşkun, Gens Ausoniana, 85–6. If we accept the latter dating, Gratian would probably have been absent for the delivery: cf. J. Weisweiler, ‘Domesticating the Senatorial Elite’, 30 n. 40. ¹¹ Ausonius and Thalassius. ¹² Auson., Grat. act. ii.7–8. He likewise omits Theodosius from a list of father, uncle, and brother at x.48. Green, Works of Ausonius, 541, claims that principe fits better to Theodosius than Gratian. This is certainly true, but it doesn’t mean we should think Ausonius intended it to refer to Theodosius; Theodosius is studiously ignored throughout the speech and to suddenly include him now, without any introduction, in the midst of a discourse on Gratian’s virtues (imperatori fortissimo . . . liberalissimo . . . indulgentissimo . . . consultissimo . . . piissimo), seems unlikely. What Green is observing is precisely the glaring oddity of Theodosius’ absence from this speech. ¹³ Sivan, ‘Was Theodosius I a Usurper?’, 205–6.

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had been won in the East, and Gratian could now claim to be an auctor imperii. If Ausonius considered even Gratian’s rather embarrassing younger half-brother Valentinian sufficiently important to merit a mention in the speech, the choice to write Theodosius out of the campaign to pacify the Balkans can only be taken to demonstrate that Gratian viewed his new colleague with extreme distaste.¹⁴ Nor is the above passage alone notable for Theodosius’ absence. Ausonius, in speaking of the special value of his consulship, speaks of the others whom Gratian has appointed and will appoint to this office; he mentions ‘men of military renown . . . men of ancient nobility . . . men renowned for their trustworthiness and tested in office’, but never once does he mention Theodosius.¹⁵ Of himself, Ausonius uses exactly the sort of rhetoric—a man in his old age to whom an august youth adds honour and virtue—that we might expect him to use of Theodosius.¹⁶ Ausonius specifically mentions the fact that Gratian appointed him consul in the midst of the Gothic war while the latter was at Sirmium, citing the city by name without bothering to include the detail that this was the city at which Gratian had later proclaimed (or, more properly, condescended to) the elevation of Theodosius to the rank of Augustus.¹⁷ Furthermore, Ausonius would have known, by this point in the year, that Theodosius was due to hold the consulship for 380. That he makes no mention of this, despite pronouncing eager anticipation for Gratian’s own tenure of that office in 380, is yet another thundering silence. In the long list of Gratian’s virtues, of the favours that he has bestowed upon the army and the provinces, no mention or even hint is made of an imperial honour bestowed upon a worthy partner.¹⁸ Ausonius remarks that Gratian had been unable to attend the ceremonies that inaugurated his consulship, which took place at Trier, without commenting that it was the inauguration of an emperor that was keeping him away from Italy.¹⁹ Theodosius is not merely absent from this speech, he is scandalously so.

¹⁴ Sivan, ‘Was Theodosius I a Usurper?’, 198–211; Errington, ‘The Accession of Theodosius I’, 205. Errington’s contention that the Sarmatian victory was, for Gratian, the spur to make Theodosius his co-emperor (449 n. 72) looks distinctly weak in the light of these silences. ¹⁵ Auson., Grat. act. iv.16. ¹⁶ Auson., Grat. act. v.24. ¹⁷ Auson., Grat. act. ix.42–4. Indeed, the fact that Ausonius was elected to the consulate at all in 379 seems hard to square with the notion that Gratian was preparing Theodosius for power in the late summer and autumn of 378, given that, since the time of the Julio-Claudians, it had been established custom that new emperors would take up the consulship in their first year of office, a principle that had not been broken for more than 200 years, since the time of Marcus Aurelius (who never held the office as emperor: Kienast, Kaisertabelle, 137–45). All this would seem to suggest that Theodosius’ proclamation took Gratian by surprise (though see Coşkun, Gens Ausoniana, 80–2, who suggests that the decision had actually been made in July 378, before Adrianople took place). Theodosius was, in fact, remarkably sparing with his consulships, taking only three in his sixteen-year reign (compare this to Diocletian’s ten or, more recently, Valens’ six; cf. CLRE). Perhaps in this we may see a calculated show of disregard for an office he so conspicuously did not hold in 379. ¹⁸ Auson., Grat. act. xvi.72–xvii.78. ¹⁹ Symmachus excused himself from these festivities as well: see Symm., Ep. I.19.

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To place this absence in the context of the panegyrical corpus as a whole, we might helpfully turn our minds back to other moments at which emperors have been included or excluded from the panegyrics delivered to their colleagues. Emperors who wished to communicate the power of their collegiality would expect their orators to include their colleagues in their panegyrics. Throughout the tetrarchic panegyrics, absent emperors were carefully namechecked in order to remind the audience of the unity of the imperial college.²⁰ Libanius’ panegyric to the feuding brothers, Constantius and Constans, reproduced the rhetoric of their fraternal harmony.²¹ Themistius’ first panegyric to Valens is entitled ‘Brotherly Love, or on Philanthropia’ and dwells at length on the harmony existing between Valens and Valentinian.²² In the previous chapter we looked at Symmachus’ Oratio I, delivered to Valentinian eighteen months after the suppression of Procopius’ usurpation in 366; the speech devotes nearly one quarter of its surviving text to consideration of the East and to praise of Valens.²³ By contrast, those speeches in which distant emperors are excluded from the discussion are those in which conflict, open or otherwise, exists between imperial partners. Galerius and Maximin Daia are virtually unmentioned in the panegyric delivered to Constantine and Maximian on the occasion of the former’s marriage to the latter’s daughter.²⁴ The panegyrist of 310 nervously excuses the absence of other rulers from his panegyric to Constantine.²⁵ Licinius passes utterly without mention in the panegyric delivered for Constantine at Rome on the occasion of the joint quinquennalia of Constantine and Licinius’ children.²⁶ To fail to mention another emperor was a statement, if not of naked hostility, certainly of icy disregard. The cause of this hostility from Gratian’s court should be clear. Theodosius’ ‘accession’ in January at Sirmium was not the moment at which Theodosius had been created emperor. Recalled to serve in the Balkans by Gratian, whether in 378 or before, Theodosius had clearly exploited the power vacuum created by Valens’ death and, following a trifling victory over the Sarmatians, had been declared emperor by his soldiers. Gratian’s choice was then a simple one; either to challenge this decision and, in the midst of the most serious military crisis in living memory, to undertake a conflict against the Eastern armies that would not only see Roman lives wasted in civil conflict but would see Gratian himself pinned to the Balkans until his rival could be defeated; or else to acquiesce and thereby to hand the disasters of the East to another. Gratian chose the latter option.²⁷ The meeting on the morning of 17 January ²⁰ E.g. Pan. Lat. X.3.1, 7.5, 8.6, 11.6, 14.4, XI.3.4, 7.2, VIII.21.1. ²¹ See Chapter IX, pp. 158–62. ²² Heather-Moncur, 173–9. ²³ See Chapter VIII, pp. 248–9. ²⁴ See Chapter V, pp. 106–9. ²⁵ Pan. Lat. X.1.4. ²⁶ See Chapter V, pp. 146–52. ²⁷ We have seen, even in the period covered by this book, that usurpers could become recognized, either tacitly or openly, and could even be legitimated through such recognition, whether temporarily or permanently. Carausius, Constantine, and Vetranio are all examples of

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must have been a tense one. If he remembered Vetranio, Theodosius would have been on guard. But Gratian needed Theodosius more than Constantius had needed Vetranio, nor could he be as certain of the loyalty of Theodosius’ soldiers as Constantius had been of Vetranio’s. He kept his word, and at Sirmium confirmed Theodosius as Augustus. This important fiction became gospel and Theodosius, who had been claiming imperial power for weeks or even months, marked his dies imperii from this point. This explanation of events should be taken very seriously, because it helps to make sense of the otherwise perplexing interregnum from August‒January. If Gratian had intended to create an emperor in the East, it would have been odd not to do so immediately. Yet for the soldiers themselves, after the loss of an emperor and with Gothic tribes rampaging through the Balkans, to hail one of their generals as Augustus is perfectly in keeping with the behaviour we have observed of Roman soldiers time and again. We have seen that imperial armies continually reacted to crisis and the death of an emperor with on-the-spot proclamations: Diocletian, Constantine, and Jovian, to name a few. We have likewise seen the careful precautions taken to avoid this same occurrence in the cases of Valentinian I and II. As we have seen, it also explains why Gratian’s teacher chose not to mention Theodosius in his emperor’s company. Likewise, it makes sense of the otherwise confusing account that sees Gratian, in a moment of utter chaos, appointing not one of the officers of his father’s household, whom he had inherited in 365 and among whom he had grown up, but rather the scion of a house that, owing to the execution of Theodosius the Elder, was likely to bear the house of Valentinian significant ill will. That the hostility of Ausonius’ panegyric was not reproduced in speeches delivered to Theodosius, however, is hardly surprising. However that emperor felt personally about Gratian, the fiction of Gratian having created Theodosius as emperor was an important foundation of Theodosius’ claims to legitimacy. Theodosius marked his dies imperii on 17 January, the day he had been hailed as emperor at Sirmium in company with Gratian. Yet contemporaries must have known it for a fiction. Themistius’ Oratio XIV, an embassy speech to Theodosius, was delivered before the court at Thessalonica in the spring or perhaps early summer of 379.²⁸ It is short and very generalizing in tone and avoids reference to any specific events, appropriate to a speech accompanying the presentation of aurum coronarium, but also indicative of Themistius’ relative unfamiliarity with his subject (Theodosius had been on the throne less than a year and Themistius makes clear that he had not yet visited Constantinople when the speech was delivered).²⁹ Themistius dances carefully such. In the years to come, Theodosius would, for three years, recognize as emperor Magnus Maximus, a man with whom he would ultimately go to war and denounce as a tyrannus. ²⁸ Heather-Moncur, 218–23. ²⁹ Them., Or. XIV.183a; though see Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 192ff.

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around the issue of Theodosius’ accession. The child Valentinian is utterly ignored by the orator, who chooses instead to draw out the inherent contradictions (to the benefit of both parties) in the relationship between Gratian and Theodosius; the former, though a young man and lacking in experience, being senior Augustus and choosing, in Theodosius, a notionally junior partner who nonetheless carried the weight of age: For it was not a kinship of blood which led you forward to the purple, but a kinship of excellence, not the close bonds of family, but a display of strength and manhood. Gratian acted wisely in not deeming his closest relation to him to be best man, but in making the best man his closest relation. And nobly he has made the vote his own, which the moment had made (καὶ καλῶς ἑατοῦ πεποίηται ψῆφον, ἣν προλαβὼν ὁ καιρὸς ἐμεψηφίζετο).³⁰

This is a staggering statement, which reveals Gratian’s role in Theodosius’ confirmation. The relative positions of the two emperors are more problematic. Themistius notes on several occasions that Gratian was the source of Theodosius’ rise, stressing an implicit seniority.³¹ At the same time, however, the emphasis on Theodosius’ virtue (Gratian chose Theodosius, but he chose him because he was the best) and, more particularly, the image of father and son (‘Both men share equal praise, the one for proclaiming his elder, the other because, being older, he was entrusted with a son’s goodwill’),³² sit ill with one another. The implicit contradiction of a junior emperor who was senior in age and experience, which we have suggested may have been a major factor in Gratian’s not creating an Eastern emperor, was already working to Theodosius’ favour. But most striking of all was Themistius’ claim that Gratian merely ‘made the vote his own’. This seemingly innocent phrase in fact shows Themistius grappling with the uncomfortable truth, known to his audience, that Theodosius had been declared emperor long before Gratian became involved in the process. Lulled by Theodosian propaganda, we have allowed ourselves to see this as a mere colourful expression. We can see Themistius negotiating a similar problem, in the closing months of 364, when he addressed Valens and the senate. Valens’ election had been an uncomfortable and a rowdy affair, brought about by military pressure. Themistius felt the need to explain, at some length, why it was in fact ordained from above.³³ Themistius knew he could not, outright, name Gratian Theodosius’ auctor imperii; rather, he skirts by in a quick few words. Themistius’ next surviving pronouncement, his Oratio XV, can be dated to 19 January 381.³⁴ Themistius begins: ‘It is as if we sail in a ship that is under

³⁰ Them., Or. XIV.182b‒c; repeated at 182c: ‘your virtue made you emperor.’ ³¹ 182d: ‘it was Gratian who crowned you . . . for a king is not diminished by the gift, but gains from it;’ 183a: ‘he has made you powerful.’ ³² Them., Or. XIV.183a. ³³ Them., Or. VI.73cff. ³⁴ Heather-Moncur, 230.

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the command of two helmsmen on a voyage towards the storm which suddenly fell on it’ (πλέομεν δὲ ὥσπερ ἐν νηὶ δουῖν κυβερνήταιν ἐφεστηκότων τῇ ναυτιλίᾳ πρὸς τὸν ἐξαίφνης ἐπιπεσόντα χειμῶνα). This metaphor of the two Augusti as pilots on the ship of state is carried on into discussion of how a man who ‘steers’ cities must act, that he must be ever mindful of his subjects. Weapons of virtue are more potent than those of iron, and in this, the ‘beauty of their spirit’ (τὸ κάλλος τῆς ψυχῆς; contrasted with their physical lack of resemblance, stressing again that Theodosius was not chosen for relation to Gratian), Themistius claims: ‘I have come upon a single king upon the banks of the Rhine and the Tigris. These two have extended order from the Ocean to the Tigris and, from the west to the east . . . one spirit and one intelligence (μία ψυχὴ καὶ μία γνώμη) . . . rival contenders with each other in doing good for mankind.’³⁵ Their shared mission was thus evoked and, as the pair were cast as equal partners, talk of one having promoted the other could be neatly forgotten. By 1 January 383, with Theodosius now claiming victory against the Goths (however Pyrrhic that victory may have been in reality), Themistius spoke of an election by God, merely confirmed by Gratian.³⁶ By 389, when the orator Pacatus spoke, this would have become a ‘world assembly’.³⁷ Again, the emphasis is upon confirmation, not initiation. Theodosius’ panegyrist continuously shied away from saying that Gratian had made Theodosius emperor. Gratian’s panegyrist eschewed any mention of the man who was supposedly his partner in empire.³⁸ Later Christian authors, fond of the deeply devout Theodosius, invented pious fables and truncated the anomalous and telltale period between Valens’ death and Theodosius’ official dies imperii. Behind it all was concealed an unorthodox route to power. As with Constantine, the sheer difficulty of disentangling this story shows the enormous power that ‘official stories’ had to take hold over the later historical record. Like Constantine, Theodosius was soon able to secure a shaky beginning with victory in a civil war.

DIVIDED L OYALTIES: THE USURPATION OF MAG NUS MAXIMUS The relationship between Theodosius and his supposed patron and creator gained a fresh relevance when, on 25 August 383, Gratian was captured and executed by a new emperor, Magnus Maximus. Maximus had served under Theodosius the Elder in Britain and Africa (and was thus personally known to ³⁵ Them., Or. XV.194d–198b. ³⁶ Them., Or. XVI.207a. ³⁸ Them., Or. XVI.202d (of Gratian): ὀ κοινωνός τῆς βασιλείας.

³⁷ Pan. Lat. II.3.5.

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Theodosius Augustus).³⁹ In the spring of 383, he had been declared emperor by the armies of Britain. The exact motivations for the promotion are, as is often the case, unclear. In the res gestae, Ammianus darkly points to a general discontent and likens Gratian to the emperor Commodus, saying that he allowed hunting and demonstrations of martial prowess to draw him away from the serious business of rule at a time when the Empire was in dire need of good governance.⁴⁰ Certainly, this must have played its part. But we ought not to be quick to dismiss the claim of Zosimus that, though Maximus exploited discontent among the army over Gratian’s having shown undue favour to Alan soldiers, whom he had accepted into the ranks, nevertheless he was personally motivated by jealousy over Theodosius’ rise to power.⁴¹ Given what had taken place in the winter of 378/9, Maximus’ commission in Britain must have seemed small consolation when he looked upon a man, once his peer, now ruling all the East. Theodosius had responded to the torpor of Gratian’s court by seizing power and taking matters into his own hands. If Maximus saw the military situation in the West being neglected by the young emperor, why should he not feel able to do the same? Maximus thus crossed into Gaul and advanced south against Gratian, then campaigning against the Alemanni. The two emperors came together near Lyons and for five days there was a stand-off, with only minor skirmishing, until defections from Gratian’s camp began. Gratian fell into enemy hands and was summarily executed by Maximus’ magister equitum, Andragathius.⁴² Maximus was now in control of Gratian’s territory, and he established his court at Trier.⁴³ These events must have thrown the Italian court into chaos. Gratian’s death, quite apart from the personal loss it may have inflicted on Valentinian, was a serious blow to the prestige of the house. Perhaps more importantly, however, Italy now had a serious security problem. Maximus had under his command the forces of Britain and the lower Rhine. With Gratian’s death, he had gained control of the army that the latter had taken north to fight the Alemanni. Maximus, divided from the Milanese court by little more than the natural barrier of the Alps, thus possessed a considerable military superiority over Valentinian.⁴⁴ Added to this, Maximus obviously bore Valentinian and his protectors (Ambrose tells us he named Bauto specifically) a particular enmity,

³⁹ Britain: Zos., IV.35.1; Africa: Amm., XXIX.5 (at 6 and 21). ⁴⁰ Amm., XXI.10.18–19. ⁴¹ Zos., IV.35.2–6; cf. Aur. Vict., Epit. 47.6. ⁴² Aur. Vict., Epit. 47.7; Oros., VII.34.10; Soc., HE V.10; Soz., HE VII.11; Sulp. Sev., Chron. II.49.5; Zos, IV.35.4–6. ⁴³ J. R. Palanque, ‘Sur l’usurpation de Maxime’, REAnc 31 (1929) 33–6.; Amb., Ep. 30[24].2; Greg. Tur., Hist. I.43; Sulp. Sev., Chron. II.49.6. ⁴⁴ The adjective ‘Milanese’ is used to distinguish Valentinian’s court from that which Maximus ultimately established at Aquileia. It should be noted, however, that Valentinian’s court moved back and forth between both of these two north Italian cities between 383 and 387, though it resided chiefly at Milan; cf. Seeck, Regesten, 264–72.

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and saw in the Italian court a puppet emperor at the mercy of his courtiers.⁴⁵ Maximus seems to have executed—or forced the suicide of—the general Merobaudes, despite the fact that the latter may have betrayed Gratian in Gaul and helped Maximus gain the upper hand.⁴⁶ Merobaudes, we saw, had been instrumental in making the child Valentinian emperor, and this execution was perhaps intended as a strong censure of that act.⁴⁷ Though he made no serious move to cross the mountains in the first years of his reign, it was evident that Maximus’ eye was turned southwards. In a highly unusual survival, we possess a pair of letters written by Maximus to Valentinian and to the pope in Rome, Siricius. Both show the dangerous position of the Italian court. The first, that to Valentinian, adopts the confident tone of a parental advisor and rings with the barely veiled threat that Valentinian’s conduct towards the Catholic Church will not be long tolerated by Maximus.⁴⁸ The letter to Siricius opens with Maximus assuring the pope he has received ‘the letters of Your Sanctity’ and continues with the usurper telling the pope that he will call a council to address concerns that he had raised.⁴⁹ If the mountains provided a military frontier, they in no way stopped a two-way exchange that saw Maximus exercising influence within Valentinian’s territory. These two letters are merely the surviving signs of the new emperor’s power play in the Italian peninsula. The Milanese court twice sent embassies to Maximus, the first in 383 and the second (probably) in 387.⁵⁰ These delegations were headed by the somewhat unlikely Ambrose of Milan, whose feuds with the Arian Valentinian II had several times bordered on open violence.⁵¹ Ambrose’s first mission may have been instrumental in convincing Maximus not immediately to invade Italy.⁵² One of Ambrose’s main objectives in his second mission appears to have been to secure the return of the body of Gratian, which Maximus was still ⁴⁵ Amb., Ep. 30[24].4. Given that Valentinian’s own accession was open to question, Maximus was right to press this angle and to remind the political elite of the West that Valentinian’s own claims to power were not unassailable (cf. Errington, ‘The Accession of Theodosius I’, 440–1). ⁴⁶ Barnes, ‘Patricii under Valentinian III’, 159–60. ⁴⁷ See Chapter VIII, pp. 251–3. ⁴⁸ Coll. Av. 39 (esp. 1–3). ⁴⁹ Coll. Av. 40. ⁵⁰ A. R. Birley, ‘Magnus Maximus and the Persecution of Heresy’, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library 66(1983–4), 33 would place the second mission very close to Valentinian’s departure from Italy in 377, though more recently McLynn, Ambrose, 217 has suggested that it in fact belongs to the summer of 386. See also the summary in J. H. W. G. Liebschuetz (tr.), Ambrose of Milan: Political Letters and Speeches (Translated Texts for Historians 43. Liverpool, 2005), 349. ⁵¹ On these feuds, see McLynn, Ambrose, 170–208. Ambrose was presumably selected both because of his considerable diplomatic skill and perhaps on the assumption that his ardent Catholicism would act as something of an olive branch to Maximus. ⁵² Amb., Ep. 30[24].1, 5–7. Cf. McLynn, Ambrose, 167. In the second mission Maximus accused Ambrose of misleading him, and it may be that ambiguous promises were made about Valentinian’s surrender. Ambrose certainly will not have promised this, but he may have left the terms of the negotiation vague enough so as to imply that Valentinian would come to Maximus’ court once the winter was over.

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holding onto for its political value; Maximus did not want the Milanese court to have control over this potent reminder of Maximus’ own origins.⁵³ Maximus, perhaps already mustering soldiers for his invasion of Italy in the summer of 387, gave the bishop a cold reception. He refused to meet Ambrose in private and made his position clear; Valentinian was to come to him in Gaul, and Maximus was losing his patience.⁵⁴ Theodosius’ reaction to Maximus’s usurpation is far harder to establish. Some sort of Western expedition against him was at least mooted. Themistius, in his Oratio XVIII (difficult to date, but presumably from some time mid to late 384) makes passing references to an ‘expedition’ to the Rhine, ‘to avenge your founder, carried off before his time, and to salvage the remainder of that dynasty’.⁵⁵ The decision to call Gratian Theodosius’ ‘founder’ (the Greek is ᾿Αρχηγέτης) is striking. Applied as an epithet, it was usually reserved for the founding or patron gods of cities and as such was a markedly clearer distinction for Gratian than had appeared, for example, in Oratio XVI, delivered in the previous year.⁵⁶ Themistius draws the moral from this ‘expedition’ that the mere conception of Theodosius’ deeds often outweighs and stands as more important than their fulfilment. It was, in other words, abortive. We have no evidence that Theodosius ever arrived in the West or came into direct conflict or contact with Maximus or his forces.⁵⁷ The emphatic ᾿Αρχηγέτης is used to evoke the strength of Theodosius’ sentiment in the face of his failure to deliver a military response. In all, the striking feature is not the force of this passage, but the fact that the murder of the notionally senior emperor mere months previously was passed over by Themistius virtually in silence. Aside from the Themistian passage, the evidence we have from the East is for an (albeit

⁵³ Amb., Ep. 30[24].9–10. In a tragic irony, Gratian’s body continued, after Maximus’ fall, to be used to bolster the reputation of a usurper; Theodosius ultimately buried Gratian’s ashes in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, which he spent his reign turning into a museum of imperial bodies (B. Croke, ‘Reinventing Constantinople: Theodosius I’s imprint on the imperial city’, in S. McGill, C. Sogno, and E. Watts (eds), From the Tetrarchs to the Theodosians: Later Roman History and Culture, 284–450 CE (Yale Classical Studies 34. Cambridge, 2010), 253–4). ⁵⁴ Valentinian apparently sent one final embassy, under one Domninus. According to Zosimus, it met with a much more friendly reception from Maximus, but it also brought the Gallic emperor’s army into Italy on its heels: Zos., IV.42.3–7. ⁵⁵ Them., Or. XVIII.220d–221a (at 220d); see also 224c. Themistius’ virtual silence on the subject of Maximus in his Or. XIX strongly suggests that the issue was a delicate and somewhat ambivalent one. On the date of Or. XVIII, see Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 210–11. ⁵⁶ for ᾿Αρχηγέτης, see for example Thuc., VI.3.1 (of Apollo at Naxos); Xen., Hell. VI.3.6 (of Hercules at Sparta); Paus., X.32.12 (of Asclepius in Phocis). ⁵⁷ Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 210. It may have amounted to little more than a conference with Valentinian’s court (P. J. Casey, ‘Magnus Maximus in Britain’, in P. J. Casey (ed.), The End of Roman Britain: Papers arising from a Conference, Durham 1978 (British Archaeological Reports 71. Oxford; 1979), 70).

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low-key) acceptance of Maximus as an imperial colleague.⁵⁸ Zosimus reports that Theodosius ordered Cynegius, praetorian prefect of the East, to display Maximus’ statues in Alexandria (and, we may therefore presume, they were thus generally disseminated throughout the Eastern Empire).⁵⁹ Theodosius also minted coins for Maximus and, most strikingly of all, recognized his consul, Flavius Evodius, for the year 386.⁶⁰ Recognition from Theodosius would have been an important ideological victory of Maximus, since his own self-presentation seems to have been based, at least in part, on his relationship to the house of Theodosius. He clearly advertised the fact that he and Theodosius had served together beneath the latter’s father and may even have gone so far as to claim kinship with the Theodosians.⁶¹ Nevertheless, he was not seeking to make himself subservient to Theodosius, and he made his own dynastic ambitions manifest when he created his infant son, Flavius Victor, Augustus in either 383 or 384.⁶² Theodosius had declared his own son, Arcadius, Augustus in 383, aged six, and so the Empire was, for the first time since the days of Constantine and Licinius, in the hands of two patrilineal dynasties that looked uneasily at each other from the opposite sides of the Empire. Neither, it might be added, had much use for Valentinian. Whether Maximus always intended to break the uneasy peace that followed 383 is unclear, but seems probable. Ambrose’s letter concerning his mission to Maximus reveals the deep antipathy that the latter bore the court of Valentinian. The young emperor was also a living reminder of Gratian’s death and of Maximus’ rise to power through usurpation. Usurpations, as we have seen, were something that usurpers wanted their subjects to forget. Valentinian’s Arianism was also an affront to the apparently deeply devout Maximus; his correspondence with the pope and with Valentinian shows him as concerned ⁵⁸ Palanque is in no doubt about Theodosius’ reaction. Of Maximus, he says: ‘de 384 à 387, il a été un empereur légitime, reconnu par ses collègues’ (‘L’empereur Maxime’, in Les Empereurs Romains de l’Espagne (Colloques internationaux du Centre national de la recherche scientifique. Paris, 1965), 257). ⁵⁹ Zos., IV.37.3. ⁶⁰ CLRE, 307. It seems that Theodosius had not recognized the consulship that Maximus himself claimed in 384. Though coinage struck in the east recognizing Maximus appears to have been limited, it certainly existed: RIC IX, xxii–xxii; also J. Kent, ‘ “Concordia” solidi of Theodosius I: a reappraisal’, NC 153 (1993), 77–90; though see P. Bastien, ‘Y a-t-il eu un monnayage d’or au nom de Maxime à Constantinople?’, Bulletin cercle d’études numismatiques, 20:3 (1983), 51–5. This evidence is also considered in Lunn-Rockliffe, ‘Commemorating the Usurper Magnus Maximus’, 319–20, along with an inscription from Tripolitania dedicated to all three emperors (though Maximus’ name was later erased), indicating that recognition of the usurper was also filtering out into the localities. See also AE 1967, Nr. 561, from (Western) North Africa. ⁶¹ Pan. Lat. II.24.1. It should be noted that, given the paucity of our sources, we have no way in which to confirm or deny this claim, but it is notable that Theodosius clearly provided for the welfare of Maximus’ mother and daughters (cf. Amb., Ep. 74[40].32 and Nixon, Panegyric to the Emperor Theodosius, 75 n. 80). ⁶² Aur. Vict., Epit. 48.6; Oros., VII.35.10; Zos. IV.71.

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to protect the Catholic faith beyond his own territory and the historian Sozomen even says that Maximus was attempting to disguise the tyranny of his reign with a feigned wish to combat ‘innovation in the ancient form of religion and of the ecclesiastical order’.⁶³ Sozomen, writing in an Eastern Empire deeply influenced by the long-lasting Theodosian dynasty, was unwilling to credit his motives as genuine, but the Western author Sulpicius Severus shows us a Maximus closely engaged with the church he ruled.⁶⁴ Whatever the reasons, Maximus crossed the Alps in the summer of 387. Valentinian offered no resistance and he, his mother Justina, and his guardian Probus, perhaps along with other court notables, fled the invasion and made their way east, by ship, to Thessalonica.⁶⁵ Maximus now controlled Italy and, we may presume, Africa with it.⁶⁶ He established himself at Aquileia. Theodosius’ motivations for now pursuing a war which, three years ago, he had avoided are not entirely clear. Zosimus intimates that the war was undertaken by Theodosius in order to marry Galla, the teenage sister of Valentinian.⁶⁷ Orosius, ever Theodosius’ partisan, reports that the war was fought to avenge Gratian (though to do so, he is forced to elide the events of 383‒7 into a single course of action).⁶⁸ Military reality may have also played its part. As long as Valentinian had been in Italy, Theodosius had had a buffer empire between himself and the territory of the ambitious Maximus. With the latter’s push into Italy, they were now neighbours. Furthermore, protestations of loyalty to the ᾿Αρχηγέτης were now far harder to accompany with inaction, given that Valentinian and his family, ousted from Italy, were unwelcome guests in Theodosius’ territory. Continued peace with Maximus would require Theodosius to publicly renounce his connection to Gratian. Too much rested on that. Theodosius thus advanced upon Italy with a combined force of Roman regulars and Balkan Goths.⁶⁹ The first conflict between the two sides appears to have occurred near the town of Siscia (situated in modern Croatia) where Theodosius’ army crossed the river Sava and engaged the enemy holding the opposite bank, routing them quickly.⁷⁰ A second engagement followed hard on the heels of the first. Pacatus gives no location, but it is generally believed to have taken place at Poetovio.⁷¹ The two defeats pushed Maximus’s forces back

⁶³ Soz., HE VII.13; cf. Zos., IV.42.1. ⁶⁴ E.g. Sulp. Sev., V. Mart. 20, Dial. II.6, III.11. ⁶⁵ Soz., HE VII.13; Zos., IV.53. ⁶⁶ An African inscription to Maximus and Victor presumably dates from this period (CIL VIII.22076). For a discussion of Africa’s position from 383–88, see Nixon-Rodgers, 505 n. 136. ⁶⁷ Zos. IV.44.2–4. Theodosius did indeed marry Galla in the autumn of 387. ⁶⁸ Orosius makes Theodosius’ Western campaign appear an immediate and decisive reaction to Maximus’ usurpation (VII.34.9–35.4). Cf. Errington, Roman Imperial Policy, 36–7. ⁶⁹ J. H. W. G. Liebeschuetz, Barbarians and Bishops: Army, Church, and State in the Age of Arcadius and Chrysostom (Oxford, 1990), 30–1. ⁷⁰ Pan. Lat. II.34. ⁷¹ Williams and Friell, Theodosius, 63; Nixon-Rodgers, 501 n. 124.

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into Italy. Whilst Theodosius advanced to Emona, at the head of the Sava (in which city he appears to have held some kind of triumph), Maximus crossed the Alps and fell back to Aquileia.⁷² Here, he was captured, delivered up to Theodosius, and executed.⁷³ Maximus’ infant son, whom Maximus had declared Augustus, was hunted down and murdered, while Andragathius, when he heard of his emperor’s defeat, took his own life.⁷⁴ The war was over. As part of his victory celebrations, Theodosius visited Rome, the first securely attested imperial visit to the city since Constantius in 357.⁷⁵ He was there from 13 June to 1 September 389, and, at some point during this period, Pacatus delivered Pan. Lat. II in the presence of the emperor and of the Roman senate.⁷⁶ The speech is a remarkable one. In the first place, it is by far the longest of the Late Antique speeches in the Pan. Lat. collection, standing at a monumental 1,279 lines.⁷⁷ Furthermore, like Themistius’ Oratio VII or Julian’s Oratio II, Pan. Lat. II bears the distinct marks of its author and his wider agenda. It is highly probable that it was Pacatus himself who put the Pan. Lat. collection together.⁷⁸ This accords with his declared intent to go beyond mere panegyric, and he seeks to blur the boundaries between narrative history and more traditional praise.⁷⁹ This has profound effects on the speech, as we shall see. Pacatus begins with an introduction decked with the usual topoi, including gratitude that an era of free speech has returned (1‒2). He then discusses Theodosius’ heritage and his life before taking power, concluding that Theodosius is the only suitable candidate for his role (3‒12). Following this, he extols the virtues of Theodosius’ rule, bringing us to roughly the midpoint of ⁷² Pan. Lat. II.37–8. ⁷³ His capture is, again, highly contentious. Pacatus gives the impression that Maximus was bottled up in Aquileia, which was stormed by Theodosius’ men, and he was taken (Pan. Lat. II.43.1–2), which Zosimus, Aurelius Victor, and Orosius corroborate (Aur. Vict., Epit. 48.6; Oros., VII.35.4; Zos., IV.46.2–3). Socrates, however, suggests that Maximus was betrayed by his own men (V.14), while Sozomen even claims that it was his own men who killed him (VII.14). ⁷⁴ Oros., VII.35.3, 5; Soc., HE V.14.2; Soz., HE VII.14.6; Zon., XIII.18; Zos., IV.47.1. ⁷⁵ For discussion of imperial visits to Rome in the fourth century, see Barnes, ‘Constans and Gratian in Rome’, 325–33. For Theodosius’ visit, see Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 227–31; Humphries, ‘Emperors, usurpers, and the City of Rome’, 160–1. ⁷⁶ On speech’s location: Nixon-Rodgers, 443–4. ⁷⁷ According to the Teubner edition. The next longest panegyric in the collection, Pan. Lat. IV, stands at roughly two thirds that length (889 lines) and Pacatus’ work dwarfs the tiny Pan. Lat. VII (342 lines). ⁷⁸ Pacatus’ panegyric heads the collection, coming immediately after the ancient exemplum provided by Pliny, and is the last in the collection chronologically, both of which make Pacatus as the compiler plausible. Cf. Galletier, I xv–xvi; Nixon-Rodgers, 6–7; R. Pichon, ‘The Origin of the Panegyrici Latini Collection’, in R. Rees (ed.) Latin Panegyric (Oxford Readings in Classical Studies. Oxford, 2012), 68–72. ⁷⁹ Pacatus’ famous phrase a me fidem sumet historia (47.6) has been made true by time (particularly if we grant Pacatus the credit for assembling the Pan. Lat. collection). But beyond the historical accident that has made Pacatus such an important source, we shall see that he had genuine pretensions to historical value for his text.

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the speech (13‒22). Pacatus then changes pace, and brings us to the historical moment of Maximus’ usurpation, after which he recounts the wrongs that Maximus has inflicted on the Empire and the usurper’s own personal vices (23‒9). The war is then prefixed by a description of the moment Maximus crossed into Italy, a direct comparison of Maximus and Theodosius, and a description of Theodosius’ preparations for the campaign (30‒3). There follows the narrative account of the war, which we have already discussed in part (34‒8). The next section then gives us interesting consideration of Maximus’ fall and on the duty of the representative arts to warn future generations, concluding with the description of Maximus’ death and Theodosius’ clemency (39‒45). Finally, Pacatus concludes the speech itself with general remarks on the liberation of Rome and on the universality of Theodosius’ appeal, ending with his famous exultation to future generations to draw their lessons from his speech (46‒7). Pacatus creates a picture of a war entirely motivated by the actions of Maximus, who forced the conflict on a Theodosius unable to bear the wounds inflicted on the Empire. Maximus was driven to make war by God, who put ‘this madness’ into Maximus’ ‘most accursed head’ so that Maximus broke a treaty, violated the laws of conflict, and declared war.⁸⁰ Pacatus was clear that this must have come about through a divine influence (divino numine), since Maximus could have remained ‘under a nominal peace’ but instead chose to make war on Theodosius, who up to then had offered him pardon.⁸¹ Theodosius, therefore, was coming ‘not so much to join battle as to exact punishment from that nefarious head’ (nec tam ad proelium conserendum quam ad supplicium de nefario capite sumendum).⁸² The defeats in battle were typical examples of the zeal of the righteous, with Theodosius’ army (which Pacatus goes to torturous lengths to eulogize, despite its heavy barbarian element)⁸³ crossing obstacles of terrain with lightning speed and falling upon armies incapable of opposing it.⁸⁴ Similarly to Julian, Pacatus gives credit to the native valour of the enemy soldiers (who fought ‘with the desperation of gladiators’), observing that they were driven also by knowledge of their guilt.⁸⁵ As the enemy soldiers died, ‘they poured out their spirit in admiration of your name and in renunciation of their leader.’⁸⁶ Pacatus had no desire to offend Western generals. The two figures of Gratian and Valentinian stand in distinct relation to the war and to the service that it was made to do for Theodosius’ own dynastic propaganda, and Pacatus made both emperors into tools that served the Theodosian narrative. The presentation of Gratian is particularly insidious,

⁸⁰ Pan. Lat. II.30.1. ⁸¹ Pan. Lat. II.30.2; divine madness is a repeat theme (e.g. Chapter IV, pp. 95–6, and Chapter V, pp. 139–40). ⁸² Pan. Lat. II.32.1. ⁸³ Pan. Lat. II.32.3–33.5. ⁸⁴ Pan. Lat. II.34–6. ⁸⁵ Pan. Lat. II.35.4; Jul., Or. I.36b‒c. ⁸⁶ Pan. Lat. II.36.2.

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for the emperor appears in the narrative under two distinct personae. Pacatus leaves his audience with no doubt whatsoever that, of all the wounds inflicted on the Empire, it was the death of Gratian that most drove Theodosius to the war against Maximus. In the second half of the speech, as he describes Maximus’ rebellion and the war itself, Pacatus takes the unusual step of naming Gratian directly. Gratian’s name first occurs, very tellingly, in the same passage as the first occasion on which Pacatus uses Maximus’ name (on which more below). Gaul, Pacatus writes, of all the countries ‘which that plague oppressed’ (quas illa pestis insederat), can ‘not unjustly claim for yourself a particular privilege in miseries’, because she had been ‘compelled to bear the victory of Maximus, the death of Gratian’ (ferre compulsa victoriam Maximi, interitum Gratiani).⁸⁷ The pairing of the names is important, for Gratian is woven in and out of Pacatus’ account of the war as the tragic victim for whom the war in the West had notionally been fought. Thus, when Pacatus describes the murders of Vallio and Merobaudes, he uses Gratian’s name twice. He says of them that ‘the tyrant’ hated them especially, ‘for indeed each of them had stood in Gratian’s battle line and Gratian loved them’ (steterat enim uterque in acie Gratiani et Gratianus utrumque dilexerat).⁸⁸ In both instances cited, close links are forged between Maximus’ vice and Gratian as a named individual, a connection borne out by the final occurrence of the late emperor’s name. Having deemed fortune the only likely cause of Maximus’ madness in not taking his own life, Pacatus posits: Unless, in truth, you, venerable Gratian, accompanied by avenging Furies, beset your murderer (tuum carnificem) and, an angry and menacing shade, shook before his face and eyes torches smoking with infernal flames and whips crackling with twisted snakes, lest he be spared an honourable death, lest he pollute that regal and sacred clothing with his impious blood, lest that garment, once yours and, in turn, destined for your brothers, received the deathly blood, even as it was punished, and lest, at the last, the hand of the tyrant avenge you and you owe to Maximus even his own death.⁸⁹

Here again, Maximus and Gratian’s names are paired, and the link between the dead emperor and the tyrant reasserted. Nowhere in the panegyrics is a deceased emperor so vividly evoked as in this passage. Emperors, it is true, are often known to smile down on their successors, but here we see the fallen emperor taking direct action in civil war.⁹⁰ We are reminded of Gratian’s troubled and (at this point) unavenged death by his appearance as a shade, stressing the illegality of Maximus’ rise. Importantly, we also see him working

⁸⁷ Pan. Lat. II.24.4. ⁸⁸ Pan. Lat. II.28.5. ⁸⁹ Pan. Lat. II.42.3; cf. 30.3.; also, compare this to Suet., Ner. 34. ⁹⁰ Constantius Pius had, in a similar fashion, apparently led the heavenly soldiers sent to aid Constantine in his war against Maxentius: Pan. Lat. IV.14.6.

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in consort with Theodosius and serving the agenda of the campaign. The passage strongly reaffirms Theodosius’ commitment to Gratian’s house and the programme that Pacatus advances elides, in its careful omissions, the fouryear period that separated the murder from the vengeance.⁹¹ Compared to these visceral evocations of the fallen emperor, the Gratian of the first half of the speech, in which Pacatus examines Theodosius’ origins, is a pale and shadowy character. We meet him first in the section that Pacatus’ devotes to Theodosius’ life before he took power; Pacatus wonders who could be called to face such a troubled state of empire, ‘the sort of man who was capable of watching over the youth of one emperor and aiding the labour of another’.⁹² Later, describing the moment at which Theodosius was called forth, Gratian is again placed in an anonymous pairing with his half-brother, this time in the speech of a personified Republic: ‘The elder of the princes (principum senior) is not up to the task of so many wars; the other (alter) may one day be a most valiant man, but at the moment is still a child.’⁹³ Gratian receives his final mention of the section when the Republic tells Theodosius, ‘It is no more right for you to refuse the Empire that has been offered by the emperor (ab imperatore) than for you to have desired it before.’⁹⁴ Gratian, therefore, appears in an ambiguous position; while clearly involved in the accession of Theodosius, he never the less appears both passive and nameless princeps or imperator, an emperor incapable of the challenge of rule. Pacatus reaffirmed the utter legality of Theodosius’ proclamation without overshadowing him. This was nothing more than a continuation of the process by which Gratian was effaced from Theodosius’ story, which we observed taking place in Themistius. It is wholly unreasonable to suggest that Pacatus’ audience would have been fooled into thinking that the man who had stood as Theodosius’ patron was a different individual from the man on behalf of whom Theodosius had waged war, or into seeing Theodosius’ ‘vengeance’ (if it may be so termed) as swift and righteous. But it has, at no point, been the aim of this volume to demonstrate that panegyrists attempted, or were even capable of, fooling their audiences, who were generally far more closely connected to and personally familiar with the events and individuals described than the orators themselves. A panegyric did not tell the emperor what the audience actually thought but rather told the audience what they ought to think. Pacatus’ dual Gratian was not an attempt at deception but the advancement of a political programme that now established Theodosius as a senior emperor and his house as heirs to that title.

⁹¹ This is exactly the tactic employed by Orosius (VII.34.9–35.4). One wonders if he was familiar with Pacatus’ speech, or others like it. ⁹² Pan. Lat. II.3.5. ⁹³ Pan. Lat. II.11.5. ⁹⁴ Pan. Lat. II.11.7.

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The advancement of Theodosius’ sons had been going on for several years before 389.⁹⁵ With the fall of Maximus and Theodosius’ move west, however, it took on a new dimension. Theodosius’ position within the college made up of him, Gratian, and Valentinian had been a difficult one. Notionally junior even to the adolescent Valentinian, the position must have chafed. The move west, therefore, was an opportunity for Theodosius to reassess his position. Pacatus saw this, and responded accordingly. Gratian was carefully balanced; his part in Theodosius’ election was pushed backwards, but his fate and the theme of vengeance for his death were drawn out for their emotive effect. In stark contrast, Valentinian was not named in the speech, and referred to only infrequently. The young emperor was in fact so thoroughly ignored that Pacatus was able to recount the story of Maximus’ crossing of the Alps without any mention of him.⁹⁶ Given that the notional purpose of the campaign had been to avenge Gratian and restore Valentinian to his throne, the young emperor’s absence is palpable. Pacatus’ panegyric is very firmly a panegyric to Theodosius alone (this is no divided speech, as, for example, Pan. Lat. VII had been). Indeed, the fiction of the restitution of Valentinian was just that; a fiction. Following the war, Valentinian was sent north, ostensibly to deal with the military situation in Gaul, but in reality to be kept under close supervision by the general Arbogast and to be removed from Italy, which Theodosius now intended to hand over to the rule of his son.⁹⁷ The manipulation of Valentinian as a character in this drama is even more striking. Valentinian never appears alone at any point in the speech, but only ever in pairing. He must be (along with Theodosius and perhaps even Theodosius’ sons) one of the fratres referred to in the section, quoted above, in which Pacatus describes the torment of Maximus visited by Gratian.⁹⁸ This is as close as the speech ever comes to true praise of Valentinian, pairing him with Theodosius. More ambivalently, and again in passing, he is mentioned near the speech’s close, when Theodosius is described as ‘the father of the ruler, the avenger of the ruler, the restorer of the ruler’ (illum principis patrem . . . illum principis vindicem . . . illum principis restitutorem).⁹⁹ Only two further references are to be found, and they are neither direct nor complimentary. First we hear that Theodosius was a man ‘who could watch over the age of one emperor and ⁹⁵ Cf. Them., Or. XVI.204b‒d, XVIII.224b–225c. Arcadius was made Augustus on 19 January 383, while Gratian was still living, which was a powerful and provocative statement of independence from the West on the part of Theodosius. Notionally a junior emperor in the Valentinianic college, Theodosius’ promotion of his own son to imperial authority was a declaration that he would rule without reference to Gratian. Independent dynastic hierarchies had set the Empire on a course to war in the past: see Chapter V, pp. 142–52. ⁹⁶ Pan. Lat. II.30; given the emphasis in the narrative sources on Valentinian’s plight and on the dynastic marriage of Theodosius and Galla (Soc., HE V.12; Soz., HE VII.13–14; Zos., II.44.3–4), its absence in Pacatus must be a studied choice (it is likewise absent from Orosius’ truncated account of the years 383–8). ⁹⁷ Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 238. ⁹⁸ See above, n. 89. ⁹⁹ Pan. Lat. II.47.5.

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aid the efforts of another’.¹⁰⁰ In reference to Theodosius’ rise to power in 379 (as it is) this is not an unreasonable comment to make. In 379, Valentinian was a boy of less than eight years, and Pacatus might be forgiven for making reference to a then contemporary reality. But the final mention of Valentinian, again in the context of 379, contains a far more striking statement (it is quoted above, but deserves restating). Pacatus writes of the difficulties facing the Empire, saying: ‘The elder of the princes is not up to the task of so many wars; the other may one day be a most valiant man, but at the moment is still a child’ (alter etsi futurus sit aliquando fortissimus, adhuc tamen paruus est).¹⁰¹ The choice of the subjunctive here is striking, expressing a wish and not a certain condition. Though the context of the statement was 379, the date of its composition and delivery was the summer of 389, when Valentinian was now eighteen years old and ought to have been considered, by any Roman standard, a grown man.¹⁰² The expression of any uncertainty in his eventual fortitudo, therefore, was an important statement. Without directly impugning Valentinian’s valour—indeed, almost implying that he was, in fact, a courageous man—Pacatus is able to remind the audience of his utter ineffectuality. Likewise, dwelling on his youth (he is mentioned twice as a child, twice ambivalently, and not at all as an adult) served to prolong and to emphasize his infant status.¹⁰³ Contrasted with this is the presentation of Theodosius’ own children. Though they appear only briefly in the speech, they are handled very differently from Valentinian. In the first place, the future rule of Arcadius is evoked as a certainty, echoing the propaganda that had already been circulating in the East for many years: ‘Whatever the Goth reduces, whatever the Hun drags off, whatever the Alan obtains, that Arcadius will one day feel the want of.’¹⁰⁴ Pacatus avoids any suggestion here of the doubt which he shows, later in the speech, towards Valentinian. Likewise, while Valentinian had been brushed over with phrases that emphasized his youth or inadequacy, Pacatus names Theodosius’ sons ‘those twin hopes and ornaments of the state’.¹⁰⁵ In this, Pacatus implicitly communicated a fundamental truth, that the death of Gratian and Theodosius’ subsequent conquest of the West had ensured the condemnation to irrelevance of the last son of Valentinian I. We turn now to Pacatus’ presentation of Maximus himself. The section that extols Theodosius’ virtues constitutes the chapters 3‒12, roughly the first ¹⁰⁰ Pan. Lat. II.3.5. ¹⁰¹ Pan. Lat. II.11.5. ¹⁰² The boundary between childhood and adulthood was, for men, traditionally defined by official donning of the toga virilis, a ceremony which took place between the ages of fourteen and sixteen: M. Harlow and R. Lawrence, Growing Up in Ancient Rome: A life course approach (London, 2002), 67–9. ¹⁰³ Sulp. Sev., V. Mart. 20.9 is perhaps the only source to present the victory as Valentinian’s. On the infantilization of Valentinian, see McEvoy, Child Emperor Rule, 92–3. ¹⁰⁴ Pan. Lat. II.11.4. ¹⁰⁵ Pan. Lat. II.16.4. Claud., VI Cons. Hon. 87–91 actually makes the point that Honorius got hold of Italy because tyranny arose there.

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quarter of the speech. Here he prefigures what will come later in the speech by summarizing Theodosius’ character in reference to an imagined tyrannical antithesis. No audience member could have failed to hear a description of Maximus in this. He speaks of Theodosius being summoned to the throne against his will, then exclaims: Hear this, you parricides of the state (publici parricidae), who, the murder of your masters (caedis dominorum) having been forgotten, have seized sceptres and, risking danger no less than the crime, have bargained for power with your life and bought the name of sovereign with the price of blood: the Principate suffers a rebuff and the one aim of the candidate is not to be elected.¹⁰⁶

That this is a reference to the usurpation of Maximus and the death of Gratian should be clear. But there is more than mere comparison at work here; Pacatus not only uses this hypothetical tyrant to provide a contrast to Theodosius but, in so doing, adds yet further support to the important rhetoric of Theodosius’ refusal of power and unwillingness to take office. Given what we have already seen about Theodosius’ beginnings, this assertion has no basis in reality. But it served the admirable purpose of making Maximus’ usurpation a counterexample that served Theodosius’ agenda. Theodosius could not have been a usurper; his defeat of and moral superiority to a fallen usurper demonstrated this. Pacatus gives us a foretaste of what is to come in his description of Maximus, saying: ‘Let those, indeed, avidly covet rule who are delighted by a life free from the law, whose cruelty in killing those not condemned, whose cupidity in the ravaging of private property, and whose lust in defiling the pure demand the right of impunity.’¹⁰⁷ As he moved from the first section of his speech into the second, Pacatus was preparing his audience for Maximus the tyrannus. Pacatus, as Themistius had done with Procopius, needed to show the control that Maximus exercised over his unwilling subjects. He began early. Speaking in the context of his own panegyric, at the speech’s opening, he stressed that he had come to speak as a spontaneous expression of joy, a service of pious labour not to be ruined by an impious silence.¹⁰⁸ Pacatus draws the contrast between the happy condition, in which orators willingly speak before their emperor, and what had gone before: For extorted panegyric (coacta laudatio) and utterances compelled by fear no longer redeem the danger of silence. Let that miserable necessity of subservient rhetoric, when false flattery gratified a wild overlord (trux dominus) grasping every breath of public approval by the vain courting of favour, when those who suffered would give thanks and not to have praised the tyrant was seen as an accusation of tyranny, be a thing done and now absent.¹⁰⁹

¹⁰⁶ Pan. Lat. II.12.2. ¹⁰⁷ Pan. Lat. II.12.4. ¹⁰⁸ Pan. Lat. II.2.1; cf. 3.2. ¹⁰⁹ Pan. Lat. II.2.3.

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This passage forms the rhetorical endpoint of Pacatus’ introduction and leads on into his section on Theodosius’ heritage and virtue (3‒12). But Pacatus clearly wanted the theme of compelled consent to be more than a rhetorical framing, for he returns to it again, with some force. After he reports the early outbreak of the rebellion, Pacatus pauses. It is wrong, he urges us to see, to blame those ‘wretched people’ who were taken in by the ‘purpled butcher’ (carnifex purpuratus) who boasted of both of kinship with and favour from Theodosius. Though they committed ‘the most grave crime of all’ (gravissimum omnium nefas), they did so in innocence (innocentes).¹¹⁰ Describing the terrible afflictions those in Maximus’ territory suffered, Pacatus continues, ‘wretched men we were; we were forbidden to show our wretchedness but rather were compelled to feign joy and, when at home and in private we had confided our secret anguish to our wives and children only, we then proceeded in public with our faces showing nothing of our fortune.’¹¹¹ Pacatus builds on this, putting words in the mouths of imagined informers, who wonder why a rich man grieves for lost wealth when he still has his life, or why another grieves for a dead brother when he still has a son; for the expression of grief was not available to Maximus’ subjects. So says Pacatus, ‘there is no greater punishment than to be wretched but not to show it.’¹¹² This stress on the coercive nature of Maximus’ government should not surprise us. It is important to note that Pacatus stresses that the usurper not only cowed his subjects, but that they were so repressed that they had to go to their unwilling action with bright faces, as if willingly. This idea is a topos in Roman conceptions of tyranny.¹¹³ But we should not imagine that Maximus was the monster that Pacatus paints him to be. Pan. Lat. II, like Themistius’ Or. VII, was composed by a man who had lived within the territory ruled by a usurper at the time of his usurpation. For Themistius, as we have seen, the tactic was to stress that Procopius both kept his nature hidden and enclosed Constantinople in a reverse siege, so that no true information could enter the city.¹¹⁴ Pacatus chose rather to show the oppressive force of his subject, his tyranny being so complete that no one dared manifest their dissatisfaction with it. The result, in either case, was the same—the exoneration of those individuals who had colluded with the usurper by serving in his government and armies or else simply by passively accepting his rule. Why was this important to Pacatus? Some have seen, in Pacatus’ protestations, an attempt by the orator to personally exonerate himself for some ¹¹⁰ Pan. Lat. II.24.1. ¹¹¹ Pan. Lat. II.25.2. ¹¹² Pan. Lat. II.25.4–5. ¹¹³ See Themistius’ statements to the same effect regarding Procopius (Chapter VIII, pp. 237–8), or Ammianus’ declaration that the crimes of Gallus occurred ‘with many tears wept inwardly’ (XIV.1.9). Tacitus states that after the fall of Sejanus, the relatives of those who died in the purges could not mourn their dead for fear of being noticed by the guards who watched over their corpses (Ann. VI.19). ¹¹⁴ Cf. Them., Or. VII.91c‒d.

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service done to Maximus.¹¹⁵ That Pacatus himself had any particular involvement with Maximus’ government seems unlikely, given his meteoric rise from obscurity after 388.¹¹⁶ If, however, we wished to see Pacatus’ comments as being made in reference to a known individual, then a more likely target is the orator and politician Symmachus, whose panegyric to Valentinian I we examined in the previous chapter. Whether by compulsion or volition, Symmachus had become embroiled in Maximus’ usurpation, and appears to have delivered a panegyric to him at some point before his fall in 388. His efforts to rehabilitate himself (including a panegyric delivered to Theodosius at Milan, justifying his conduct) were unsuccessful, and Symmachus was thrust out into the political cold for two years, devoid of office and in virtual exile in Campania.¹¹⁷ It is during this period that Symmachus excised from his letters all material addressed to Maximus or directly pertaining to his usurpation.¹¹⁸ It is common, therefore, to read, in Pacatus’ coacta laudatio, a direct reference to the unfortunate fate of Symmachus.¹¹⁹ Symmachus’ letters from this period are an invaluable first-hand witness to the psychological effects that this sort of fall from grace inflicted upon an individual.¹²⁰ The entire incident also gives us an insight into the lesser reprisals taken in the wake of a usurpation. For the most part, our sources dwell on the more sensational punishments—the close confidants and generals subjected to summary execution. Men like Symmachus, whose crimes were seen as more minor and whose punishments accorded (Symmachus appears to have faced no concrete punishment, only the less definite, if still galling, loss of imperial favour) tend not to be remembered. Perhaps most importantly of all, however, the fate of Symmachus shows us that the task engaged by all orators was no small thing. Symmachus’ crime had been to address Maximus with a panegyric. We have already seen that Libanius’ enemies attempted to engineer a similar fate for him following Procopius’ fall.¹²¹ It is a reminder that the orators’ words mattered. By delivering them, they forever associated themselves with the political message that they espoused.

¹¹⁵ ‘Pacatus is at such pains to exculpate his fellow countrymen, whom he claims were misled by Maximus, that an unkind auditor might even surmise that his own conscience was not clear’ (Nixon-Rodgers, 478 n. 81). ¹¹⁶ He appears to have been serving as proconsul of Africa in February 390 (CTh. IX.2.4) and as comes rerum privatarum in June 393 (CTh IX.42.13); cf. Symm., Ep. VIII.12, IX.61, 64. ¹¹⁷ Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 68–76. ¹¹⁸ J. A. McGeachy Jr, ‘The Editing of the Letters of Symmachus’, CP 44:4 (1949), 223–4; Cameron, Last Pagans, 370–1. ¹¹⁹ Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 68–9. ¹²⁰ Symmachus’ eventual pardon for his wrongdoing ought not to blind us to the terror he must have felt at Maximus’ fall; Socrates claims that Symmachus, an inveterate pagan, fled in desperation to a church in order to seek sanctuary when he was impeached for treason, the condemnation for which would have meant his death (Soc., HE V.14). ¹²¹ Lib., Or. I.163–5.

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Pacatus’ agenda, heeded or not, is certainly clear. Like Themistius, he couples his assertions concerning the compulsion exercised by the usurper with descriptions of Theodosius’ remarkable clemency.¹²² As he drew to his conclusion, he rejoiced that only ‘two or three trainers of that insane gladiator fell (duobus an tribus furiosi gladiatoris lanistis caesis), as expiatory offerings of the war, [while] pardon embraced all the remainder, as if, so to speak, drawn to the maternal bosom.’ No one, he claims, had their property confiscated, their liberty taken, or their position removed.¹²³ Protestations of clemency on the part of the victor are so ubiquitous as to be a virtual commonplace, yet it would appear that they are not without basis in this instance, and, in so far as we can view his behaviour regarding Maximus’ adherents, Theodosius seems to have been largely merciful.¹²⁴ Nevertheless, the extent of Pacatus’ special pleading and the individually evidenced case of Symmachus suggest that, as we saw with Themistius in the previous chapter, Pacatus’ assertions were a tangled mix of genuine description of imperial behaviour, on the one hand, and mirror of princes, on the other. Explicit consideration of Maximus himself begins at chapter 23 and moves in several phases. He speaks first of the commencement of the rebellion (23) and then of the area that was affected by it, drawing the moral of the particular sufferings of Gaul (24). He then deals with the (already discussed) compulsion to feign happiness under Maximus’ tyrannical rule (25) and concludes the section with a description of vices: thievery for the simple joy of theft, the murder of prominent men, the torture and murder of a woman, and collusion with corrupt priests (26‒9); as Pacatus himself summarizes, ‘the possessions of the wealthy for his greed, the punishment of the innocent for his cruelty, the injury of religion for his impiety’.¹²⁵ Across the chapters detailing the early days of the rebellion and the general suffering of the provinces, Pacatus creates contrasting images of Maximus. Pacatus tells us of the emergence of a tyrant in remote parts and draws a comparison with the revolt of Spartacus.¹²⁶ The Spartacus comparison signals Pacatus’ first rhetorical strategy, that of mockery. ‘Who did not laugh at the first news of this new crime?’ (novum scelus) he asks. He uses Britain’s isolated position to indicate the contemptibility of the revolt: ‘a few men and islanders’ (pauci homines et insulani) were attempting to kindle a fire against a whole ¹²² Early in the speech he observed the emperor’s accessibility: Pan. Lat. II.21.3–5. ¹²³ Pan. Lat. II.45.5–6; cf. Cic. Phil. XIII.16: unus furiosus gladiator cum taeterrimorum latronum contra patriam, contra deos penatis, contra aras et focos, contra quattor consules gerit bellum (also XIII.20, 25). ¹²⁴ Other examples: Pan. Lat. XII.20.4; Jul., Or. I.49a; Them., Or. VII. 93c–101a, etc. Theodosius’ behaviour: Leppin, ‘Coping with the Tyrant’s Faction’, 207–11. On the execution of Maximus’ son, Victor, see Aur. Vict., Epit. 48.9; Cons. Const. s. a. 388; Oros. VII 35.10, Zos. IV 47.1. On Theodosius’ cancelling of Maximus’ laws and appointments, see CTh. XV.14.6–8. ¹²⁵ Pan. Lat. II.29.5. ¹²⁶ Pan. Lat. II.23.1–2; cf. Them., Or. VII.86b‒c. Cicero compared Mark Antony to Spartacus (Phil. XIII.22).

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continent, ‘and, exiled from the world, were trying to clothe their exile with a royal cloak’.¹²⁷ But the rebellion, a ‘plague’ (pestis), was given force when everything which had been armed for the protection of the state was turned against it ‘by the treachery of its generals and the defection of the legions’ (peridia ducum, defectione legionum).¹²⁸ Pacatus’ technique is reminiscent of the panegyrics that dealt with the British Empire of Allectus; he dismisses the rebellion as at once laughable in its stature and also distinctly un-Roman.¹²⁹ In what follows, however, he portrays a growing strength, showing that men were tricked into believe Maximus’ rule to be legal. Pacatus’ central diatribe against Maximus is extensive, the longest of any such in the Panegyrici Latini, lasting some 179 lines. Its length, however, belies its lack of substance. Pacatus begins by denouncing Maximus’ rapacity. Maximus, whom he now calls a ‘robber’ (praedo), was incapable of satisfying his ‘madness for acquisition’ (parandi rabies).¹³⁰ As Pacatus presents it, Maximus’ desire for wealth was limitless for, unlike a robber who steals ‘in order to supply his gullet and his belly and not to lack the funds for his expenditures’,¹³¹ Maximus stole merely for theft’s sake. ‘Our pirate’, Pacatus says, drew the goods of Gauls to himself and gave nothing back. ‘To him, indeed, all methods of winning praise seemed foolish.’¹³² He neglected the mines and, indeed, ‘considered purer and more splendid gold which weeping men had given, which the tears of men, and not the water of rivers, had washed over’. In the first person, Pacatus tells us how Maximus’ subjects longed for poverty.¹³³ Though Pacatus’ approach to the hackneyed theme of the avarice of tyrants is innovative, the theme itself remains a cliché.¹³⁴ Maximus had financial problems and he almost certainly was forced to go to great lengths to try to remedy these.¹³⁵ But there is virtually no emperor in the period of whom this is not true (Theodosius was certainly suffering under the financial demands of his Balkan wars), and in the financial power play that surrounded the court there would always be losers. Of course, for Pacatus, the fairness of his claims were of little importance, only their plausibility.

¹²⁷ Pan. Lat. II.23.3. ¹²⁸ Pan. Lat. II.23.4. ¹²⁹ Pan. Lat. II.36.3: ‘having treated them kindly and graciously, you [Theodosius] ordered them to become Romans.’ Pacatus casts the enemy as un-Roman, but re-Romanized by their submission to the true emperor. Given what we know of the make-up of Theodosius’ army (Liebeschuetz, Barbarians and Bishops, 30–1), this last statement drips with hypocrisy, but such are the prerogatives of the victor. On the treatment of Allectus, see Chapter IV, pp. 97–100. ¹³⁰ Pan. Lat. II.25.6; praedo: 25.5; latro: 26.2, 3. ¹³¹ Pan. Lat. II.26.3. ¹³² Pan. Lat. II.28.1. ¹³³ Pan. Lat. II.28.2–3. ¹³⁴ On the tyrannical vices of avaritia and rapacitas, see Sulla: Cic., De fin. 3.75 (Sulla); Cic., Div. Caec. 3 (Verres); Suet., Tib. 46–9 (Tiberius); Suet., Ner. 26.1 (Nero); Tac., Hist. I.37.19–22, and Suet., Galb. 12.1 (Galba); Suet., Dom. 12; Pliny, Pan. 34, 42, 50 (Domitian). ¹³⁵ Financial considerations may have played their part in the trial and condemnation of Priscillian (H. Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila: The Occult and the Charismatic in the Early Church (Oxford, 1976), 144).

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Pacatus moves from the general to the specific as he describes Maximus’ wrath. He names three victims of Maximus, beginning first with the pairing of Vallio, triumphator (triumphalis), and Merobaudes, consul (trabeatus). Pacatus laments that such noble men should be subjected to capital punishment under Maximus, one driven to suicide, another ambushed at his own home by ‘British henchmen’, who hanged him in order to make it seem as if he had, in fear of a blade, taken his life by more cowardly means.¹³⁶ Pacatus also speaks of the death of Euchrotia, the wife of a ‘famous poet’, who was executed as part of the Priscillian affair (below) and clearly endured torture (meeting death, as she did ‘by the hook’).¹³⁷ Though the use of a female execution was doubtless emotive, we may, again, be tempted to see through the rhetoric; in all, though Pacatus gives his case strength by making reference to specific victims, he brings forward only three individuals, two of whom were close political allies of Gratian and who had fought with him. Pacatus springs from the murder of Euchrotia to his final theme, Maximus’ ‘impiety’ (impietas).¹³⁸ ‘For there was, indeed, a species of informers, who were priests in name but in truth were lackeys and butchers (satellites atque adeo carnifices), who, not content with tearing the wretched from their ancestral patrimonies, brought false accusations in blood and threatened the lives of those whom they had already made paupers.’ These men, ‘when they had drunk in with eyes and ears the groans and torments of the wretched’ would return to their sacred rituals with ‘hands polluted by contact with punishment’.¹³⁹ Pacatus laments that, ‘these, that Phalaris had as friends; these were the apples of his eye and were held dear to him.’¹⁴⁰ This is doubtless a reference to the events surrounding the execution of Priscillian, who is often cited as the first person in the history of Christianity ever to be executed for heresy.¹⁴¹ Pacatus’ unwillingness to foist this completely on Maximus (his murders of senior men had, likewise, been perpetrated by satellites) may suggest to us that even the usurper’s most vocal critics felt unease at connecting Maximus directly with these crimes. Indeed, far from being the victim of bloodthirsty ecclesiastical consorts, the Maximus we meet in many other sources appears as a devout and conscientious ruler. Orosius, a firm Theodosian partisan, admits that Maximus was ‘an active and honest man, worthy of the name of Augustus had he not taken that title as a tyrant against the bonds of faith’.¹⁴² Sulpicius Severus’ Vita S. Martin, composed shortly after Severus met the saint in 393, shows us a Maximus willing to be advised, even admonished, by one of Roman

¹³⁶ Pan. Lat. II.28.4–5. ¹³⁷ Pan. Lat. II.29.1–2. ¹³⁸ Again, this was a stock tyrannical vice: Cic., Div. Caec. 3 (Verres); Cic., Phil. XIII.31, 43 (Mark Anthony); Pliny, Pan. 52 (Domitian). ¹³⁹ Pan. Lat. II.29.3. ¹⁴⁰ For Phalaris, see Chapter VIII, n. 95. ¹⁴¹ Chadwick, Priscillian of Avilla, 111–69, esp. 115–48. ¹⁴² Oros., VII.34.9.

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Gaul’s most famous saints.¹⁴³ In his Dialogi, Severus concedes that Maximus may have acted rashly and fallen under the influence of certain priests, but he defends Maximus as ‘otherwise a good man’. Indeed, Severus seems to suggest that Maximus’ involvement in the death of Priscillian was passive, rather than active, and that his crime was allowing himself to be tricked into protecting Priscillian’s murderers, rather than subjecting them to the full force of the law.¹⁴⁴ The Maximus we find in the writings of Severus appears as a man deeply concerned with matters spiritual, and anxious to care for the Church within his territory.¹⁴⁵ This, likewise, is the impression we gather from Maximus’ letters in the Collectio Avellana. Writing to Valentinian, Maximus argues that it is the young Arian emperor, not he himself, who is upsetting the proper order with innovations and with violence. Maximus says that he hears that force has been deployed against the Catholic Church by Valentinian’s new edicts. ‘There is blame,’ he says, ‘in having done something new in things thus long established and held in common.’¹⁴⁶ Every region of the West holds true to ‘this creed’ (hoc sacramentum), save Illyricum alone.¹⁴⁷ Indeed, Maximus reminds the young emperor, ‘the divine Valentinian, of venerable memory, the father of Your Clemency, ordered fidelity to this faith’.¹⁴⁸ From his letter to Siricius, we gain an even stronger impression of a man committed to upholding an orthodox creed. Maximus’ letter makes clear that he was responding to the bishop of Rome’s own enquiries about the Church in Maximus’ territory.¹⁴⁹ He seeks to allay Siricius’ fears with a declaration of his commitment to the Church. Strikingly, Maximus appears to tell the bishop that his accession had also included a baptism: this [the divinity] I confess that I have greater care for, I who have clearly been raised to empire immediately from that same font of salvation (qui uidelicet et ad imperium ab ipso statim salutari fonte conscenderim) and to whom God is ever present as a patron in every attempt and success and of whom, as I hope, he shall deem worthy to be a perpetual protector and guardian, dearest father.¹⁵⁰

¹⁴³ Sulp. Sev., V. Mart. 20; F. R. Hoare, ‘The Life of Saint Martin of Tours’, in T. F. X. Noble and T. Head (eds), Soldiers of Christ: Saints and Saints’ Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (University Park PA, 1995), 1–2. ¹⁴⁴ Sulp. Sev., Dial. III.11. ¹⁴⁵ For instance, Sulp. Sev., Dial. II.6. This perhaps indicates a world in which an emperor’s religious orthodoxy was becoming every bit as important as his political orthodoxy (Rodgers, ‘Merobaudes and Maximus in Gaul’, 99–100). ¹⁴⁶ Coll. Av. 39.3. ¹⁴⁷ Coll. Av. 39.4. This letter was an open attack on Valentinian for his behaviour towards the Catholics of Milan during the basilica controversy of Easter 386, during which Valentinian had attempted to forcibly wrest control of the main Milanese basilicas from the Catholics under Ambrose: McLynn, Ambrose of Milan, 170–208. ¹⁴⁸ Coll. Av. 39.5. ¹⁴⁹ fidei uero catholicae, de qua clementiam nostram consulere uoluisti (Coll. Av. 40.1). ¹⁵⁰ Coll. Av. 40.1.

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If this is indeed Maximus’ meaning—the combination of the traditional accession rituals with the Christian rite of baptism—it would constitute an impressive and unprecedented Christianization of the imperial office and, combined with what we know of Maximus from Severus, shows the charge of impietas is hardly justifiable.¹⁵¹ The impetus for this charge lies not with Maximus, of course, but with Theodosius. Theodosius marked himself out as a firm and pious ruler.¹⁵² He was also in the awkward position that, while he shared a religious creed with Maximus, he was in fact religiously divided from Valentinian and his mother by their patronage of Arianism. Pacatus was keen for anything he could use to demonstrate that Maximus was in fact a religious outsider. Such a tactic may similarly explain the surprisingly combative line that Ambrose of Milan appears to have taken on his second mission to Trier. Ambrose, as he reports his own conduct, seems to have instantly picked a fight with the emperor in the consistory.¹⁵³ Certainly, after Maximus’ death, Ambrose, just like Pacatus, was keen to demonstrate to Theodosius that Maximus was no true Christian. In a letter to Theodosius dating from the winter of 388/9, he stressed that (in opposition to the behaviour he predicted for Theodosius) he had forced Christians to contribute to the reconstruction of a synagogue that had been destroyed in Rome; ‘that king has become a Jew’ (rex iste Judaeus factus est), he wrote.¹⁵⁴ Maximus’ impiety was not a reaction to a reality, but a construct designed to mark him as separate from Theodosius. Despite its grisly catalogue of vices, one of the most striking features of Pacatus’ portrayal of Maximus is that the fallen emperor is named by Pacatus on no fewer than nine separate occasions within the speech, including four instances in the same chapter.¹⁵⁵ As a stylistic choice, this device is so striking ¹⁵¹ The standard practice for emperors had remained that they would (as with most Christians in the period) be baptized only when approaching death (e.g. Constantine: Euseb., VC IV.62–4; Theodosius was baptized in 380 during a very serious illness: Soc., HE V.6; Soz., HE VII.4). Only in the fifth century did explicitly Christian elements begin to be introduced into the accession ceremonies: J. Nelson, Politics and Ritual in Early Medieval Europe (London, 1986), 259–64. ¹⁵² Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 139; Williams and Friell, Theodosius, 47–60; R. M. Errington, ‘Church and State in the first years of Theodosius I’, Chiron 27 (1997), 21–72. Errington’s study is vital reading for those wishing to disentangle the image of Theodosius from a more prosaic actuality. ¹⁵³ Amb., Ep. 30[24].3f. ¹⁵⁴ Amb., Ep. 74[40].23. Ambrose, of course, had his own reasons for advancing this thesis, wishing, as he did, to bring Theodosius to his way of thinking. This, however, in no way detracts from the central point that the post-mortem reputation of a usurper bore little association to the man himself but was, rather, available for political manipulation by its negative example. ¹⁵⁵ Pan. Lat. II.24.4, 38.1, 40.3, 41.2, 42.3, 45.1, 45.2 (twice), 45.4. Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe (‘Commemorating the Usurper Magnus Maximus’, 316–36), at 336, proposed, among her explanations for this curious feature of the speech, that since Theodosius had at one time recognized Maximus it was therefore impossible to cast him as always a villain. One need only compare, for instance, the way in which Maximian is discussed in Pan. Lat. X, the way in which

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as to be impossible to pass over without comment, for no other panegyrist ever calls a declared tyrant by his proper name. Even usurpers long dead are often alluded to through their pejorative titles rather than directly named.¹⁵⁶ As we saw with Gratian, Pacatus was aware of the subtle power of names, but no evidence of the kind of selective deployment that we saw with Gratian can be found for Maximus, whose name appears peppered throughout the sections relevant to him in the speech. Explanation for this curiosity may perhaps be found in Pacatus’ historical pretensions. Pacatus’ likely position as editor of the Pan. Lat. collection shows an individual with an interest in the past, a strong literary awareness, and with an eye for the sort of documents likely to catch the attention of a literate public. Furthermore, by his own admission Pacatus sought a historical value for his work (again commensurate with the suggestion that he put the Pan. Lat. collection together, placing his own speech at its head) that would insure its longevity: ‘Distant cities will flock to me; every pen will receive from me the story of your deeds in order; from me poetry will get its themes; from me history will derive its credibility.’¹⁵⁷ But aside from this candid admission, Pacatus shows himself highly aware of the aims, value, and raw materials of history.¹⁵⁸ ‘It is important,’ Pacatus writes, ‘to the security of every age for what has been done to be seen so that, if anyone had ever entertained any nefarious desires, he may review the monuments of our times and drink in innocence with his eyes.’¹⁵⁹ He is unafraid to state explicitly the role of the panegyrist (the task it has been, in the main, the aim of this volume to elucidate): let those who dream of draping their shoulders with ‘royal purple’ come upon the depiction of Maximus being stripped; if anyone wishes to put an emperor’s shoes on his feet, let ‘barefooted Maximus’ (Maximus plantis nudus) appear before him; ‘if anyone considers placing the diadem upon his head, let him look upon the head of Maximus, plucked from his shoulders, and his nameless corpse’ (avulsum humeris Maximi caput et sine nomine corpus adspiciat).¹⁶⁰ Maximus stands, therefore, as the confirmation of Theodosius’ position. His example demonstrates the futility of opposition to the divinely appointed order, and the fate of those who try. Pacatus dwells in a remarkable level of detail on that fate. Other panegyrists had focused on the post-mortem fate of the usurper, with particular emphasis

Pan. Lat. IV utterly ignores Licinius, or the studied silences in Themistius’ panegyrics regarding Constantine II and Constans to see that a former recognition of status was not, ordinarily, grounds for a panegyrist to give an individual the honour of a name (Licinius: Chapter V, pp. 142–52; Constantine II and Constans: Chapter VI, pp. 160–1). ¹⁵⁶ Lunn-Rockliffe, ‘Commemorating the Usurper Magnus Maximus’, 316–36. ¹⁵⁷ Pan. Lat. II.47.6. Although Pacatus could not have known this, his speech today forms perhaps the most detailed narrative though which we can reconstruct Theodosius’ campaign against Maximus (Nixon, Panegyric to the Emperor Theodosius, 10). ¹⁵⁸ A point Lunn-Rockliffe makes (‘Commemorating the Usurper Magnus Maximus’, 234ff.). ¹⁵⁹ Pan. Lat. II.45.1. ¹⁶⁰ Pan. Lat. II.45.1–2.

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placed on the display and mutilation of the corpse.¹⁶¹ But Pacatus’ approach was different, and his speech created a narrative of Maximus’ capture, his humbling before Theodosius, his admission of guilt, his death, and the mutilation of his corpse. There are two explanations for this, one exceedingly straightforward, the other perhaps less so. Though there is no reason to doubt that this face-to-face meeting took place, we should not be blind to Pacatus’ careful exploitation of the incident in service of Theodosius’ political needs. The greatest threat to Theodosius’ position as a legitimate emperor, the proper successor to the (helpfully) late Gratian, was that Maximus had made claims to an alliance with and even kinship to Theodosius. These claims, we know, had some basis in truth; Theodosius had done nothing in the wake of Maximus’ usurpation and had even, perhaps, entered into open alliance with him. Even were this not the case, members of the Roman elite would have known of Theodosius’ professional and personal connections to Maximus at an earlier stage in their respective careers. By dwelling on Maximus’ final moments, therefore, Pacatus not only gave himself a dramatic scene, but a platform from which to categorically deny any relationship between emperor and tyrant, a denial which gained even greater force when placed, as it was, in the mouth of the tyrant himself.¹⁶² Pacatus, we saw, emphasized the madness of Maximus’ end, describing him as wild and unmanned as he attempted to flee from his fate. He knew he should have taken his life, but lamented: ‘behold! My hand neither obeys my will nor my sword my hand; my iron slips and falls, my right hand trembles, my mind grows weak. Oh how difficult it is for the wretched even to die!’¹⁶³ But it was no mere accident of his own nature that led Maximus to fail in this last act of courage, for Pacatus has Fortune claim four parts in Theodosius’ success: ‘I aided the speed of the army, I hindered the flight of the enemy, I confined Maximus within his walls, and I preserved alive for his master he whom you were driving on to death.’¹⁶⁴ Pacatus compares Maximus to others for whom death should no longer be a thing to be avoided: the man sentenced to capital punishment, the slave fleeing the terrors of a wicked master.¹⁶⁵ But, he asks us again, ‘who doubts that Fortune was responsible for his loss of reason?’ She ‘blinded the tyrant’s judgement’ (tyranni consilia caecavit), ‘blunted his mind’ (animum eius obtudit), and ‘struck aside and held his hand’ (manum percussit et tenuit) when he wished to strike the mortal blow.¹⁶⁶

¹⁶¹ On the mutilation of imperial corpses, and the discussion of the mock funeral held for Pacatus at Emona (cf. Pan. Lat. II.37.3), see Omissi, ‘Caput Imperii, Caput Imperatoris’, 26. For other occurrences of mock mourning, see J. E. Lendon, ‘Roman Honor’, in M. Peachin (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Social Relations in the Roman World (Oxford, 2011), 381. On the panegyrical descriptions of triumph, see M. Beard, The Roman Triumph (London, 2007), esp. 80–92. ¹⁶² Cf. Casey, ‘Magnus Maximus in Britain’, 449. ¹⁶³ Pan. Lat. II.38.4. ¹⁶⁴ Pan. Lat. II.40.3. ¹⁶⁵ Pan. Lat. II.41.4. ¹⁶⁶ Pan. Lat. II.42.2.

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Maximus then, rather than ending his life or dying in battle (the more common fates of a usurper), was taken alive by Theodosius’ forces. The highly symbolic violence that Pacatus describes is worth quoting in full: . . . the diadem was struck from his head, the robe snatched from his shoulders, the ornament plucked from his feet, and, in short, the whole man was made fit for his due reward. The despoiler of the public (publicus spoliator) was publicly stripped, the rapacious hands (manus rapaces) were bound, the fugitive’s legs were laid bare, in short he was brought before your eyes as a captive ought to be brought before a victor, a slave before a master, a tyrant before an emperor.¹⁶⁷

The ceremonial stripping of the defeated is again no mere topos, but a fundamental feature of the process by which a tyrant was punished. It marked him out as one already destined for damnatio memoriae, the impositions of sanctions against his memory.¹⁶⁸ The stripping of Maximus actually makes its way into two of the narrative sources as well, and it should not be imagined as a simple rhetorical trick of Pacatus’.¹⁶⁹ The orator uses it, however, to great effect, conjuring the image of the tyrant, the ‘man of death’ (homo funebris), stripped and laid low, lying at the feet of the merciful and still glorious emperor.¹⁷⁰ Pacatus had, earlier in the speech, compared the two, calling Maximus ‘that man, formerly the most worthless little slave (neglegentissimus vernula) of your house and an attendant stationed at the tables of slaves’.¹⁷¹ Pacatus’ comparison was extensive, drawn out in language by turns cutting and exultant across nineteen lines. He compared Theodosius, the son of a triumphant general, to Maximus, the bastard; Theodosius, the ancient noble, to Maximus, the vassal (cliens); the Roman commander to the banished fugitive (patriae fugitivus); the chosen ruler to one who ‘in the furthest reach of the world, unbeknown to the legions, contrary to the wishes of the provinces, and finally with no auspices, had aspired to the theft of the name of tyrant’ (in illud tyrannici nominis adspiravisset furtum).¹⁷² Now, at the speech’s conclusion, that comparison bore fruit. With the emperor enthroned before a naked, weeping man, any talk of an association between the two fell away. This was Pacatus’ political crescendo. Theodosius had been lukewarm in his response to Maximus. He had given passive and, at times, active recognition of the usurper’s regime and had made no concrete attempt to avenge the death of the man who had been cast as his patron. Maximus, clearly, had made full use of the ambivalence of the Eastern court in his own propaganda and, if Pacatus’ assertions are correct, had even gone so far as to claim kinship with Theodosius. Politically, this was disastrous for Theodosius and it made any claim he might produce to altruistic and consistent motivations for his Western campaign ¹⁶⁷ Pan. Lat. II.43.3. ¹⁶⁸ Omissi, ‘Caput Imperii, Caput Imperatoris’, 17–30. ¹⁶⁹ Zos. IV.46.2; Philost., HE 10.8. ¹⁷⁰ Pan. Lat. II.43.4. ¹⁷¹ Pan. Lat. II.31.1. ¹⁷² Pan. Lat. II.31.2.

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dangerously untenable. The meeting between slave and master, tyrant and emperor, therefore, provided Pacatus with an unmissable opportunity. Pacatus lays the aim out clearly, saying that Theodosius would not have wanted Maximus even to come into his sight, ‘had you not wanted to refute the lying rumours and to clear yourself using the very witness who had fabricated them’.¹⁷³ Theodosius questions Maximus, and a full confession is quickly forthcoming: At your first words a confession was drawn from his nefarious breast, nor could he so much as delay or stay silent to prevent his whole plan from being revealed, namely that he had hidden behind the pretext of your favour, because he would not otherwise have been able to win the partnership of the soldiers if he had not presented himself as operating under your authority.¹⁷⁴

From his own lips, Maximus denounces the very claims upon which he had apparently been basing his authority. More importantly, the stain of association between Maximus and Theodosius was being scrubbed out, as the man who had claimed kinship and association with the true emperor, Theodosius, admitted before all that his claims had been fabrications. The grand rhetoric of Pacatus’ speech, like that of all the orators before him who had addressed victorious emperors in Rome, was cast against the backdrop of the imperial adventus and triumph in the ancient capital. Theodosius’ court had, since his accession, been attempting to portray an image of victory to the citizens of the Eastern Empire.¹⁷⁵ The arrival in Rome allowed that message to be carried westward in the most dramatic fashion. The urban prefect, Ceonius Rufius Albinus, commemorated the occasion by commissioning three statues (of Theodosius, Arcadius, and Valentinian) which were erected in the Forum Romanum, outside the curia, where Theodosius will have sat as Pacatus recounted the course of his victory. They were dedicated ‘to the destroyer of the tyrants and the author of public security, our lord, Theodosius [or Arcadius, or Valentinian], constant and fortunate eternal Augustus’.¹⁷⁶ But perhaps the most striking feature of this visit, that best expressed what the Theodosian victory in the West meant for the future of imperial politics, was that, of the three emperors then ruling, only one were present. Arcadius had been left in the East, a representative of the Theodosian dynasty. Theodosius entered Rome in triumph with his younger son Honorius, the future ruler of the Western Empire. Valentinian was nowhere to be seen and the embassies that came from across the Roman world to offer thanksgiving for the victory offered it to Theodosius alone.¹⁷⁷ The message, ¹⁷³ Pan. Lat. II.43.4. ¹⁷⁴ Pan. Lat. II.43.5. ¹⁷⁵ McCormick, Eternal Victory, 41–4. ¹⁷⁶ CIL 36958 (cf. 31413–14). On the context of these statues, see Kalas, Restoration of the Roman, 85–90. ¹⁷⁷ Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 227 n. 3. We know of embassies sent to Theodosius from Antioch, Emesa, and Alexandria: McCormick, Eternal Victory, 44 n. 40.

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so clearly echoed in Pacatus’ speech, was clear; though this victory was notionally a restoration of Valentinian to his birthright, in truth Valentinian had no place in the world that had emerged after Maximus’ death. This was Theodosius’ world now. Nor were such celebrations and commemorations confined to the ancient capital. Some kind of triumphal procession was clearly staged for Theodosius when he reached Emona in the eastern Alps.¹⁷⁸ By far the most significant commemorations, however, appear to have been undertaken in the Eastern capital of Constantinople. In what must surely have been a conscious emulation of Constantius II’s victory monument in the Circus Maximus, Theodosius had his urban prefect, Proculus, raise for him an enormous Egyptian obelisk of red granite in the city’s hippodrome. The obelisk, which still stands today, was set upon a base whose Latin inscription would have been visible to the imperial box and to the dignitaries seated around it, which declared on behalf of the obelisk: ‘I was formerly reluctant to obey the serene masters, even when ordered to proclaim the victory over the extinct tyrants, but since all things yield to Theodosius and his everlasting offspring, I was conquered and subdued in three times ten days and raised to high heaven on the advice of Proclus.’¹⁷⁹ Spanning the triumphal route that led from the Hebdomon into the heart of the city, Theodosius also ordered the construction of a triumphal arch (now incorporated into the walls as the Golden Gate), above whose central span was a simple inscription that declared: ‘Theodosius decorates this place after the death of a tyrant.’¹⁸⁰ Perhaps most strikingly of all, Maximus was written into the iconographic decoration of Theodosius’ monumental renovations of the Forum of Theodosius.¹⁸¹ Ringing the vast square with a marble portico and spanning its entrance with the largest triumphal arch known from the Roman period, topped with statues of Theodosius and his sons, Theodosius had constructed within the forum a triumphal column carved with a spiral relief like those of the Columns of Trajan and of Marcus Aurelius. Though the column is now lost, enough of its reliefs have been ¹⁷⁸ Pan. Lat. II.37. ¹⁷⁹ CIL III.737; cf. Wrede, ‘Zur Errichtung des Theodosiusobelisken in Istanbul’, 189; Kiilerich, Late Fourth Century Classicism in the Plastic Arts, 31–49; L. Safran, ‘Points of View: The Theodosian Obelisk Base in Context’, GRBS 34:4 (1993), 410–35; A. Effenberger, ‘Überlegungen zur Aufstellung des Theodosios-Obelisken im Hippodrom von Konstantinopel’, in B. Brank, J. G. Deckers, A. Effenberger, and L. Kötzsche (eds), Innovation in der Spätantike: Kolloquium Basel 6. Und 7. Mai 1994 (Wiesbaden, 1996), 207–83; Mayer, Rom ist dort, wo der Kaiser ist, 115–27; S. Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople (Cambridge, 2004), 85–9; Omissi, ‘Damnatio memoriae or creatio memoriae?’, 178–86. ¹⁸⁰ J. Bardill, ‘The Golden Gate in Constantinople: a triumphal arch of Theodosius I’, American Journal of Archaeology 103:4 (1999), 671–96; Omissi, ‘Damnatio memoriae or creatio memoriae?’, 190–4. ¹⁸¹ The forum was also known as the Forum Tauri: F. A. Bauer, Stadt, Platz und Denkmal in der Spätantike: Untersuchungen zur Ausstattung des Öffentlichen Raums in der spätantiken Städten Rom, Konstantinopel und Ephesos (Mainz, 1996), 187; Croke, ‘Reinventing Constantinople’, 258.

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Fig. IX.1. The relief from the Column of Theodosius, showing a group of supplicant figures whose attire, in particular the Chi Rho shield, show them to be the members of an imperial bodyguard. Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Istanbul negative no. D-DAI-IST-R1186. Photographer: W. Schile.

recovered for us to establish that the victories commemorated on the column included those over Maximus in the West. Fig. IX.1 shows a section of the relief depicting the surrender of Maximus’ imperial bodyguard, described so vividly by Pacatus in his oration.¹⁸² Along with the reliefs upon the Arch of Constantine that depict the siege of Verona and the battle of the Milvian Bridge, this is the only known example of Romans depicted fighting Romans to survive from antiquity.¹⁸³ Theodosius, on his triumphal route back into Constantinople in November 391, will have processed past each of these great monuments, finishing in the hippodrome beneath the imposing finger of the obelisk. Maximus would never be forgotten. The impact of this collective, choreographed sigh of relief from across the Empire may be plainly felt in the way in which Maximus was handled by the historians of the age. Many pass over his reign with the customary brevity with which any usurper is likely to be handled. Other accounts, however, bear the distinctive claw marks of Theodosian propaganda. Orosius, who composed his

¹⁸² S. Eyice, ‘Neue Fragmente der Theodosiussäule’, IstMitt 8 (1958), 144–7; G. Becatti, La Colonna Coclide Istoriata: problemi storici, iconografici, stilistici (Rome, 1960) 107–11; M. Speidel, ‘Die Garde des Maximus auf der Theodosiusäule’, IstMitt 45 (1995), 131–6; Omissi, ‘Damnatio memoriae or creatio memoriae?’, 186–90. ¹⁸³ Omissi, ‘Damnatio memoriae or creatio memoriae?’, 189–90.

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history in the West in 417, and who was an unashamed Theodosian partisan, produced an account of the years 383‒8 that truncated the period between Gratian’s death and Theodosius’ campaign against Maximus in such a way as to allow the impression that Theodosius had responded instantly to the latter’s death. He even had the gall to describe the victory as a bloodless one (incruenta victoria).¹⁸⁴ Ausonius decried Maximus as ‘a camp follower posing as a warrior’ and ‘the brigand of Ritupiae’.¹⁸⁵ The Church historians, as we have seen, held Maximus in total contempt.¹⁸⁶ Furthermore, the influence of these narratives—not least, no doubt, because of the reputation as a pious prince that Theodosius went on to enjoy—was long-lasting. Maximus’ downfall was still being celebrated as a public holiday in the city of Rome a century and a half later and Gregory of Tours, writing at the end of the sixth century, named him ‘an impious king’ who was punished by ‘the Eternal King’.¹⁸⁷ Pacatus’ speech, then, re-enacted a drama that had been played out many times before, in which a civil war was used to push its victor into a new position of dominance over the Empire. Maximus was evoked as a character both deceptive and tyrannous. He had made his way to power through violence and trickery. Pacatus delighted in his slow and cowardly end, using it to distance Maximus from Theodosius, whose response to the usurpation of 383 had been far too consensual. As for Theodosius himself, he had, ostensibly, waged a war of vengeance and of restitution—vengeance for Gratian, restitution for Valentinian. Only the former motive was brought out by Pacatus, and this because it was safe, a relic of a murder that had taken place six years before the speech was delivered. As for the living emperor whose return to power was a supposed object of the campaign, he was relegated to a position of utter unimportance while the tyranny of the fallen Maximus was drawn to the fore, legitimizing the war and Theodosius’ presence in the West (at the head, it might be added, of an army that was in large part composed of foreign mercenaries). With Maximus, Valentinian was now consigned to a position of even greater impotence than that which he had so far experienced, and the ascendency of Theodosius and his dynasty was confirmed.¹⁸⁸ Valentinian’s lot was a miserable one, and his ultimate fate was to become, like his half-brother, a tragic imperial death that would further justify the expansion of the Theodosian dynasty. Powerless in Gaul, Valentinian took his own life on 15 May 392.¹⁸⁹ His erstwhile guardian, Arbogast, looked to the ¹⁸⁴ Oros., VII.35.1–5. ¹⁸⁵ Auson., Ord. urb. nob. 9. ¹⁸⁶ Soc., HE V.11–12, 14; Soz., HE VII.13–14. ¹⁸⁷ Proc., de Bellis III.4.16; Greg. Tur., Hist. V.19. ¹⁸⁸ This was to form the core of the presentation of Theodosius during his sons’ reigns, as Constantine’s had done into the reigns of Constantine II, Constantius, and Constans (cf. Amb., de ob. Theod. (esp. 4, 39, 53)). ¹⁸⁹ B. Croke, ‘Arbogast and the Death of Valentinian’, Historia 25 (1976), 235–44; McEvoy, Child Emperor Rule, 95–102.

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East. As it became increasingly clear, however, that he was not about to be sent a Theodosian child to look after as he been had Valentinian, the die was cast. A new emperor was needed in the West if Arbogast was to save his skin. Perhaps consciously following the example of Merobaudes in 375, Arbogast did not claim imperial power, but rather supervised the election of another. Flavius Eugenius, magister scrinii, a former grammarian, and a Roman senator, was proclaimed Augustus at Lyons on 22 August 392.¹⁹⁰ Theodosius once again marched west and was again victorious. On 5 September 394, battle was met on the Frigidus river, the modern Vipava. Over the course of two days, Theodosius’ forces drove those of the Western usurper from the field. Eugenius was handed over to the emperor and was executed, his head paraded before the troops, and Arbogast, upon hearing the news, took his own life. For the second time in five years, Theodosius marched into Italy in triumph.¹⁹¹ Yet the triumph was bittersweet, for Theodosius was given little enough time to enjoy his victory. On 17 January 395, while presiding over chariot races in Milan, he was taken ill. He did not rise again from the bed in which they laid him.¹⁹² Yet the death of Valentinian and the conquest of another Western rival had secured the final triumph of his dynasty, a dynasty that would endure, in one form or another, for another six decades.¹⁹³ Usurpation had thus—as it had so many times before—radically reshaped the Roman Empire. By the time the descendants of Theodosius finally handed on power, however, the Roman world would have been irrevocably changed.

¹⁹⁰ Joh. Ant., fr. 187; Oros., VII.35.11; Soc., V.25; Soz., VII.22; Zos., IV.54.4. ¹⁹¹ Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 247–52; McLynn, Ambrose, 353–6. See also A. Cameron, ‘Theodosius and the Regency of Stilicho’, HSCP 73 (1969), 247–80. ¹⁹² Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 247–8; Williams and Friell, Theodosius, 138. ¹⁹³ Theodosius’ grandson, Theodosius II, ruler of the East Roman Empire, did not die until 450, after which time power was handed on to Marcian, husband of Theodosius’ sister Pulceria, who is generally thus also considered a member of the same dynasty and who ruled until 457.

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X Crisis and Transformation Imperial Power in the Fifth Century

The period of this study was determined on textual, not historical grounds. It is that period in which a more or less continuous narrative of Roman imperial history can be constructed from secular, prose panegyric; that is the century between 289 and 389. After this period, barring the Latin verse panegyrics of Claudian and the Greek pseudo-panegyric of Synesius of Cyrene, a sudden silence falls for almost two generations. This textual vacuum abates in the West with the exceedingly fragmentary works of Flavius Merobaudes (which include poems to the imperial family and two panegyrics delivered to Valentinian III’s generalissimo Aetius in 443‒6 and in 446) and the verse panegyrics of Sidonius Apollinaris, later bishop of Clermont, delivered in honour of the emperors Avitus, Majorian, and Anthemius between 456 and 468 (Carm. VII, V, and II).¹ In the East, not until the reign of Anastasius (491‒518) do we again witness the panegyrist plying his trade in the works of Procopius of Gaza and Priscian of Caesarea.² Though these works attest to a continued panegyrical culture that demonstrated impressive resilience in the face of a rapidly changing social and political world, nevertheless, the fact that so few such speeches survive necessitates that a history such as the one written in the preceding pages cannot meaningfully extend its reach into the fifth century.³ The last ¹ Merobaudes: F. M. Clover, Flavius Merobaudes: A Translation and Historical Commentary (Philadelphia, 1971), 9–10; A. Gillett, ‘Epic Panegyric and Political Communication in the Fifth Century West’, in L. Grig and G. Kelly (eds), Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2012), 274–5; Sidonius: W. B. Anderson (ed. and tr.), Sidonius: Poems and Letters (2 vols. Loeb classical library. Cambridge MA, 1963), xxxvi–xli; J. Harries, Sidonius Apollinaris and the Fall of Rome, AD 407–485 (Oxford, 1994), 5–7; L. Watson, ‘Representing the Past, Redefining the Future: Sidonius Apollinaris’ Panegyrics of Avitus and Anthemius’, in M. Whitby (ed.), The Propaganda of Power: The Role of Panegyric in Late Antiquity (Leiden, 1998), 179–80. ² F. Nicks, ‘Literary Culture in the Reign of Anastasius I’, in S. Mitchell and G. Greatrex (eds), Ethnicity and Culture in Late Antiquity (London, 2000), 183–203; B. Croke, ‘Poetry and Propaganda: Anastasius I as Pompey’, GRBS 48 (2008), 447–52. ³ The eight genuine imperial panegyrics in the period from 389–503 constitute a rate of survival of a little less than one every fourteen years, roughly one seventh of that in the period preceding it.

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great civil wars of the West Roman Empire, fought out in Gaul, Spain, and Italy between 407 and 413, or the struggle between East and West to see the usurper John (423‒5) dethroned and the child Valentinian III set up in his stead, pass untouched by any surviving speech.⁴ Yet it is not merely on textual grounds that I have chosen to bring this study to a close with the reign of Theodosius. Periodization brings with it attendant dangers. Nevertheless, on purely historical grounds, the period of this volume—that is the period roughly bounded by the accession of Diocletian in 284 and the death of Theodosius in 395—is, at least in so far as the operation of imperial power and government is concerned, a distinct one.⁵ The reasons for its separation from what went before were discussed in the opening chapter; in short, they are the standardization of customs attendant on rule by multiple emperors, the stabilization of the Empire after the crisis of the third century, the emergence of a clearly articulated rhetoric of civil war, and the survival of a body of sources that permits detailed enquiry. The reasons for the choice of concluding date for the study may be less obvious and demand some explanation. This concluding chapter will examine briefly how it was that imperial power changed after 395. After the death of Theodosius, the Empire was divided between his two sons, Arcadius and Honorius, respectively eighteen and eight years old and rulers of East and West. As had often proved to be the case with young men brought up in expectation of the succession and thrust into imperial power at a young age, the pair were ineffectual rulers, dominated by factions within their respective courts. In the East, the reins of power were held by a series of court officials, the praetorian prefect Rufinus (murdered by the soldiers of Gainas in 395), the eunuch grand chamberlain Eutropius (executed in 399), the praetorian prefect Aurelianus (who enjoyed a brief ascendency in 399‒400), Arcadius’ wife, Aelia Eudoxia, and finally, after 405, the praetorian prefect Anthemius.⁶ In the West, Honorius’ chief advisor was the magister militum Stilicho, who exercised near total control over the government until his downfall and murder in 408.⁷ Within this wary period, two orators created works of a panegyrical nature, whose tone and concerns reflect the spirit of their age. The first was the Egyptian poet, Claudian, who came to Rome in 394 and there enjoyed an ⁴ G. Halsall, Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West 376–568 (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks. Cambridge, 2007), 210–24, 236–7. ⁵ Treating the period as a whole has enormous benefits: see Wienand (ed.), Contested Monarchy, with Wienand’s comments at viii and Kulikowski, ‘Regional Dynasties and Imperial Court’, 135–48. It was the period chosen for the colloquium on usurpation in Late Antiquity held in Solothurn and Bern, 6–10 March 1996 (cf. Szidat, ‘Vorwort’, in Usurpationen in der Spätantike, 11). ⁶ Liebeschuetz, Barbarians and Bishops. ⁷ O’Flynn, Generalissimos, 25–62; Williams and Friell, Theodosius, 143–58; McEvoy, Child Emperor Rule, 153–86.

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exceptionally successful literary career.⁸ Claudian composed three extant panegyrics for Honorius, delivered to celebrate the emperor’s consulships in 396, 398, and 404.⁹ All praised an emperor that had become a cipher for the powerful figures about him. The first panegyric, that for Honorius’ third consulship, is remarkable for the extent to which its praises are directed not at Honorius, but at his father, whose deeds are recounted at length.¹⁰ The speech’s evident inability to find much concrete to say about the young emperor might, like the similar condition of Claudian’s offering for Honorius’ fourth consulship in 398, be explained by the emperor’s young age.¹¹ Yet Claudian’s speech for Honorius’ sixth consulship, delivered when the emperor had been ruling the West in his own right for nine years, is hardly better. Though Theodosius had, by this juncture, somewhat faded into the background, his death now coming after little more than 100 lines (or about a sixth of the speech), this diminution of the father was more than made up for by the advancement of the father-in-law. Throughout the speech, Honorius remained a background figure and Claudian made no effort to present the emperor as an actor in the recent triumphs over Alaric or to diminish Stilicho’s role.¹² But for the title of the piece, it would hardly be an exaggeration to say that this reads more easily as a panegyric to Stilicho than it does as one to Honorius. When Claudian had written, in his panegyric on the 399 consulship of Manlius Theodorus, that ‘no place is afforded to envy while Stilicho and his heavenly son-in-law watch over the world,’ his subordination of the emperor was not simply rhetoric.¹³ At about the same time, the Eastern capital of Constantinople played host to a visitor from the city of Cyrene in the years 397/8‒400. The young man, Synesius by name, had come to deliver crown gold on the occasion of Arcadius’ fifteenth anniversary and to beg for tax concessions for his native city. During his stay in the capital, he came under the patronage of the praetorian prefect Aurelianus and, at some point, composed the satirical work de Regno. Once taken at face value as a panegyric to Arcadius, it is now recognized that the speech could not possibly have been delivered in the form in which we have it. Aside from being far too long for a speech given to ⁸ A. Cameron, Claudian: Poetry and propaganda at the court of Honorius (Oxford, 1970), 1–45. ⁹ M. Platnauer (ed. and tr.), Claudian (2 vols. Loeb classical library. Cambridge MA, 1963–76), I xiv–xvi. ¹⁰ Indeed, Honorius only makes occasional intrusions to the story of Theodosius’ glory: Claud., III Cons. Hon. 1–62 (learning by observing his father’s glory), 111–41 (going to Rome with his father), 189–211 (the promise of Honorius’ future glory). ¹¹ Some two thirds of the 398 speech elapse before Claudian reaches the death of Theodosius (Claud., IV Cons. Hon. 1–430) and even after this, Honorius remains a passive figure. ¹² For instance, Claud., VI Cons. Hon. 210–37, 300–55, 431–93, 578–602. In the passage 431–93, Claudian even has Honorius addressing Rome and praising Stilicho himself! ¹³ Claud., Man. Theod. cons. 265–6.

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accompany crown gold, the de Regno indulges in open criticism and even mockery of both the emperor and his officials.¹⁴ Among those criticisms is the insistent desire that the emperor leave the palace and engage again in the business of war: ‘The king is a craftsmen of wars, just as the cobbler is a craftsman of shoes. The latter is laughable when he does not know the tools of his craft; how then shall the king understand how to use his tools, namely soldiers, when he does not know these tools?’ He continues, ‘I assert, in fact, that nothing has done the Romans more harm in past days than the protection and attention given to the sovereign’s person…’¹⁵ Both Synesius and Claudian, in their separate ways, described to their audiences a world that was changing. In the 390s, many of the consequences of those changes were only beginning to make themselves felt, and it may not yet have been apparent to the emperors and their courtiers how fundamentally these factors would reshape the Empire—and imperial power—in the decades to come. Both emperors withdrew behind the walls of their respective imperial capitals—Constantinople in the East, Milan and then, after 402, Ravenna in the West—and ended the ceaseless itinerant round of their predecessors, so that the imperial presence was suddenly withdrawn from an Empire used to knowing and seeing its rulers. More importantly still, the emperors withdrew from active command of their military forces. The ability of the emperor to exert unmediated and uncompromised control over a majority of military strength within his Empire was perhaps the most important sine qua non of imperial power. After Theodosius, however, emperors ceased to lead their soldiers in the field and would not do so again until the reign of Heraclius (610‒41).¹⁶ In both the West and the East, this change was immediate from 395, but it consequences were very different. In the Western Empire, it was initially impossible for Honorius to lead his soldiers. Honorius was only a child at his accession in 395 and could not hold military command. Yet his separation from his soldiers was to prove an enduring one. He was eighteen in 405, the year in which Radagaisus invaded Italy, but it was Stilicho who led the defence of the peninsula. In the following year, a major penetration of the Rhine by the Vandals, Alans, and Suevi was followed by the usurpations of first Constantine III (407‒11), Maximus (409‒11), and Jovinus (411‒13), which between them turned Gaul and Spain into a war zone. None of these crises moved Honorius from the comparative safety of Italy. The problem, however, was not merely that Honorius was not himself a ¹⁴ T. D. Barnes, ‘Synesius in Constantinople’, GRBS 27 (1986), 93–112, esp. 104–6; Cameron and Long, Barbarians and Politics, 71–142; Liebeschuetz, Barbarians and Bishops, 105–7; H. Brandt, ‘Die Rede περί βασιλείας des Synesios von Kyrene—ein ungewöhnlicher Fuerstenspiegel’, in F. Chausson and E. Wolff (eds), Consuetudinis amor: Fragments d’histoire romaine (IIe–VIe siecles) offerts à Jean-Pierre Callu (Saggi di storia antica 19. Roma, 2003), 57–70. ¹⁵ Syn, de Reg. 9, 10. ¹⁶ W. E. Kaegi, Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium (Cambridge, 2003), 68–9.

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gifted soldier. Powerful emperors had come and gone who were clearly not possessed of the personal qualities required to lead forces in battle. What happened in the West was that a series of overly powerful generals, who could command military support independently of the emperor, had begun to emerge. The first of these had been Arbogast, who, in 392, had reminded Valentinian II so publicly that the young emperor had not appointed him and could not dismiss him.¹⁷ Under Honorius, Stilicho likewise acted as a power behind the throne, and when Honorius decided to remove him, he could only do so by sacrificing the wider security of the Empire (for one of the immediate consequences of Stilicho’s execution was Alaric’s second invasion of Italy). Alaric appears to have grasped well that generals could control emperors, for he orchestrated the acclamation of the senator Priscus Attalus in 409.¹⁸ Honorius meanwhile passed the rest of his reign beholden to Stilicho’s successor, Flavius Constantius. When Honorius’ successor, John, was ousted by the Eastern Empire and replaced by the child Valentinian III in 425, it was yet another generalissimo, Flavius Aetius, who put him there. Valentinian signed his own death warrant when he murdered Aetius a little under twenty years later.¹⁹ The successor to Aetius’ position of dominance over the Western Empire was Ricimer, a man linked to the Suevi and the Vandals by blood and to the Burgundians by marriage, who presided over the rise and fall of no fewer than four emperors and an interregnum of some eighteen months.²⁰ Ironically, the chaotic condition of the Western Empire, rent apart into a series of war zones in which Roman usurpers and barbarian warlords fought each other and the Italian court for prominence, may actually have contributed to Honorius’ considerable longevity. So long as he remained ensconced behind the walls of Aquileia and the precarious protection provided by the Alps, he could play his enemies off against one another and, for the most part, keep their armies from Italy while they divided the spoils of Gaul, Spain, and (eventually) Africa. In 418 this policy took on a formal character when Honorius made a treaty with the Goths under Wallia, recognizing their control of Aquitaine in order to provide a frontier garrison against Vandal Spain and the disordered north.²¹ Such a policy might be successful and costeffective in the short term, but it was utterly corrosive to imperial power and ¹⁷ Zos., IV.53.1; Joh. Ant., fr. 187. Flaig, ‘Für eine Konzeptionalisierung der Usurpation’, 21. ¹⁸ Poor Attalus was thrown aside when he was realized to be a hindrance in negotiations with Ravenna, though he was to stand as puppet emperor a second time for the Goth Attalus from 414–15: Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 295–99, 316–18. ¹⁹ O’Flynn, Generalissimos, 63–103; Halsall, Barbarian Migrations, 220–56. ²⁰ O’Flynn, Generalissimos, 104–28. ²¹ The exact terms and purpose (and even date) of this treaty have been much disputed (e.g. Halsall, Barbarian Migrations, 228–34, who notably discounts the idea that the Gothic settlement had anything to do with fears of attack from Spain). For other texts on the settlement, see W. Goffart, Barbarians and Romans: The Techniques of Accommodation (Princeton, 1980), 103–26; Heather, Goths and Romans, 220–4; A. M. Jiménez Garnica, ‘Settlement of the Visigoths

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authority in the long term. Each successive deal only bought a brief respite, and led ultimately to more serious problems. If the Goths settled in Aquitaine served to prevent the Vandals from attacking Gaul and Italy, this merely drove the Vandals southwards to North Africa.²² The Goths themselves would soon grow dissatisfied with their position, and would undertake violent action to improve it in 425, 430, and 436‒9, necessitating the recruitment of Hunnic mercenaries in order to combat them.²³ Within little more than a decade, Hunnic involvement in Western politics would lead to the devastating invasions of Attila, in Gaul in 451, and in Italy in 452.²⁴ The damage inflicted by war, and the loss of land either by conquest or by treaty slowly cut away at the resources that allowed the emperor to rule. As land was severed from imperial control, its revenues were lost.²⁵ Furthermore, even when the court retained control of territory, continuous warfare stripped the land of its ability to direct wealth towards the fisc. During the 410s, Honorius was forced to issue a slew of legislation reducing the contributions made by regions of Italy to a fifth, a seventh, and even a ninth of normal levels.²⁶ Violence and war also wreaked havoc on the emperor’s greatest human resource, the army, and the Notitia Dignitatum reveals that, by the 420s, the Western field armies had been decimated, their total size diminished by perhaps a quarter and their losses being made up for by stripping units from the frontiers (without replacing them) and by wholesale recruitment from federate tribes.²⁷ Emperors were thus caught in a death spiral; as they lost men, they attempted to defeat their enemies with diplomacy, and diplomacy inevitably lost them both land and money. As they lost this money and this land, they lost not only the revenue but also the recruiting grounds from which to create new armies, and so in the long run imperial power was only weakened further. Thus by the period of the 450s and 460s, in which were delivered the verse panegyrics of Sidonius Apollinaris, the face of Western imperial power had utterly changed. In January 456, when Sidonius addressed his father-in-law Avitus in Rome, his panegyric praised an emperor installed by the Gothic king Theoderic II, from whose court Avitus and Sidonius had set out the previous summer at the head of the Gothic army that put Avitus in power.²⁸ Sidonius’ in the Fifth Century’, in P. J. Heather (ed.), The Visigoths from the Migration Period to the Seventh Century: An ethnographic perspective (Woodbridge, 1999), 93–128. ²² Heather, Fall of the Roman Empire, 264–99. ²³ P. J. Heather, ‘The Emergence of the Visigothic Kingdom’, in J. Drinkwater and H. Elton (eds), Fifth-Century Gaul: A Crisis of Identity? (Cambridge, 1992), 84–6. ²⁴ Heather, Fall of the Roman Empire, 333–42; Halsall, Barbarian Migrations, 250–4; C. Kelly, The End of Empire: Attila the Hun and the Fall of Rome (New York, 2009), 217–64. ²⁵ Elton, Warfare in Roman Europe, 118–27. ²⁶ CTh. XI.28.7 and 12; cf. XIII.11.13. Heather, Fall of the Roman Empire, 245–6. ²⁷ Jones, The Later Roman Empire, II 1425–6; Heather, Fall of the Roman Empire, 246–8. ²⁸ Harries, Sidonius Apollinaris, 75–9; Watson, ‘Representing the Past, Redefining the Future’, 184–5; Halsall, Barbarian Migrations, 258–9.

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panegyric to Anthemius in 468 was pronounced in praise of an imperial candidate imposed upon the generalissimo Ricimer by the Eastern emperor Leo, a frosty compromise between the power in the East and the power behind the Western throne, a compromise that eventually spilled into open warfare in Italy.²⁹ Unable to overcome the strength of Ricimer’s forces, Anthemius was summarily executed after being dragged from a church by the later king of the Burgundians, Gundobad.³⁰ Just four years later, Odoacer would depose the last emperor in Italy, the child Romulus Augustulus, send his imperial regalia back to the East, and promise for the future to look after the Western Empire on Zeno’s behalf.³¹ This was a world transformed. The view from Constantinople was a very different one, not least because it was a view acquired from the behind the safety of the most impressive and extensive urban fortifications ever built in the ancient world. Between 405 and 413 the indomitable Theodosian Wall was constructed, a triple line of defences stretching 6.5 km across the Golden Horn and enclosing not only the city but a large belt of green land.³² Behind these walls an enormous network of cisterns was built, fed by the longest water supply line ever constructed by the Romans, thus securing the city against siege.³³ In addition, a 56-km network of fortifications and earthworks, called the Anastasian or Long Walls, was erected some 64 km east of the city, stretching from sea to sea across Constantinople’s peninsula.³⁴ On a global scale, these fortifications served to keep successive invasions by Goths and Huns bottled within the Balkans, confining imperial enemies to Europe and protecting the imperial heartlands that provided the East with revenue and with soldiers. The security thus provided is difficult to exaggerate. Barbarian forces were never able to cross from the Balkans into Asia Minor, and countless Germanic and Hunnic invasions of the Balkans faltered before the forward defences of Constantinople.³⁵ Attila was able to ²⁹ Harries, Sidonius Apollinaris, 148–50; Watson, ‘Representing the Past, Redefining the Future’, 185–8. ³⁰ Joh. Ant., fr. 209. ³¹ Malchus, fr. 10. ³² B. Tsangadas, The Fortifications and Defense of Constantinople (East European Monographs 71. New York, 1980), 7–15; N. Asutay-Effenberger, Die Landmauer von Konstantinopel-Istanbul: Historisch-topographische und baugeschichtliche Untersuchungen (Berlin, 2007), 13–117; J. Crow, ‘The Infrastructure of a Great City: Earth, Walls and Water in Late Antique Constantinople’, in L. Lavan, E. Zanini, and A. Sarantis (eds), Technology in transition: A.D. 300–650 (Leiden, 2007), 262–8. On the date of its construction, see Bardill, ‘The Golden Gate in Constantinople’, 675–6. ³³ At 336 km, the water supply system was the longest such known from the Roman world by a factor of three. It terminated in the monumental Aqueduct of Valens: Crow, ‘The Infrastructure of a Great City’, 268–79. ³⁴ J. Crow and A. Ricci, ‘Investigating the hinterland of Constantinople: interim report on the Anastasian Long Wall’, JRA 10 (1997), 253–88. ³⁵ The concern in Constantinople that invading armies remain bottled in the Balkans is evident in a law of 24 September 419 issued by Theodosius II to the praetorian prefect of the East (CTh. IX.40.24) that decreed capital punishment to ‘those who have betrayed the formerly unknown art of shipbuilding to the barbarians’.

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sack virtually every major city in eastern Gaul and northern Italy, including the imperial capitals of Trier and Aquileia. Rome, the Empire’s ancient heartland, was sacked not once but twice during the fifth century, in 410 and in 455. Against the walls of Constantinople, however, Goths, Huns, Slavs, and Avars crashed like waves. The defence provided to Eastern imperial power by Constantinople, however, lay in more than simply the strength of its walls. The capital cocooned Eastern emperors within a palatine structure surrounded by an urban populace which had, by the mid fifth century, grown to some 350,000 people.³⁶ The emperor had withdrawn, but he had drawn much of the apparatus of government back with him, and he retained control of personal and financial resources that allowed him to effectively control those who sought to dominate him. In 400, when the Gothic general Gainas put Constantinople under virtual military occupation, an uprising by the population against the Gothic forces drove him from the city.³⁷ While a later commentator could remark that, when Valentinian III had murdered Aetius, he had cut off his right hand with his left, the Eastern emperor Leo was able to bring about the downfall of the generalissimo Aspar without at the same time jeopardizing the Eastern military situation.³⁸ Within the city of Constantinople, emperors could thus continue to express imperial power, albeit in ways divorced from the emperor’s fourth-century role as itinerant general and eternal triumphator, and instead grounded in an increasingly Christianized and demilitarized ritual idiom. In 425, when the emperor Theodosius II received the news that his generals in the West had overthrown the usurper John, he at once ordered a public thanksgiving and processed with the people of the city from the hippodrome, where they were gathered to watch the racing, to the church of Hagia Sophia.³⁹ In January 447, following a catastrophic earthquake in Constantinople, Theodosius processed barefoot from the Great Palace out through the city of Constantinople to the Hebdomon, a ceremony that was ‘(literally) to enact a triumph in reverse’.⁴⁰ ³⁶ On the city’s population, see C. Mango, ‘The Development of Constantinople as an Urban Centre,’ in The Seventeenth International Byzantine Congress, Major Papers (New Rochelle, 1986), 117–36 (at 120). ³⁷ Liebeschuetz, Barbarians and Bishops, 100–25; Flaig, ‘Für eine Konzeptionalisierung der Usurpation’, 24–5. ³⁸ B. Croke, ‘Dynasty and Ethnicity: Emperor Leo I and the Eclipse of Aspar’, Chiron 35 (2005), 147–203. For the pithy assessment of Valentinian’s error, see Joh. Ant., fr. 200, with comments in J. B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire from the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian (2 vols. London, 1923), I 300 n. 2. ³⁹ Soc., VII.23; P. Brown, Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire (London, 2002), 99. Those of the populace less pious than their emperor may have been slightly put out at a perfectly good day’s racing thus wasted. ⁴⁰ C. Kelly, ‘Stooping to Conquer: the Power of Imperial Humility’, in C. Kelly (ed.), Theodosius II: Rethinking the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2013), 221–43 (quotation at 239).

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The city created a fixed performative space for emperors, which helped to mitigate some of the tensions within the imperial office that had brought about the endemic usurpations of the third and fourth centuries. A fixed coronation ritual emerged, centred first upon the Hebdomon and later upon the hippodrome. From 457, with the coronation of Leo, patriarchs became centrally involved in these rituals and, from 518 and the accession of Justin (if not before), the circus factions appear to have been involved as well.⁴¹ Women like Eudoxia, Pulcheria, and Theodora were able to rise to new prominence in this palatine and demilitarized environment, and this likewise helped to stabilize the succession.⁴² Imperial power thus became increasingly rooted in a fixed community. Undoubtedly, this brought with it new challenges; perhaps the most serious usurpation of the fifth and sixth centuries—that is the usurpation that came closest to unseating the reigning emperor—was that of Hypatius, undertaken in the context of an urban riot, and an uprising such as this would have seemed curious to emperors of the fourth century.⁴³ But for the most part, the retreat to Constantinople served to greatly stabilize the imperial succession. A military uprising would not again place an emperor in power until the accession of Phocas in 602.⁴⁴ Thus, it was in a changed world that the next panegyrists whose works survive stood to speak before their emperors. In 503, when the orator Priscian delivered his panegyric to the emperor Anatasius, he praised an emperor who was now no longer a general, whose power was now rooted in a single city ⁴¹ On the Christianization of the East Roman accession, see Nelson, Politics and Ritual, 259–64; Dagron, Emperor and Priest, 59–83. On the circus factions: A. Cameron, Circus Factions: Blues and Greens at Rome and Byzantium (Oxford, 1976), 262–70. ⁴² When Theodosius died suddenly in July 450, leaving no obvious successor—a situation which, in an earlier period, might have provoked a civil war—Pulcheria, the late emperor’s sister, was able to spearhead the negotiation of a settlement which suited all (or at least most) parties, in which she married the former imperial bodyguard Marcian and then, on 25 August of that year, herself crowned Marcian with the imperial diadem (K. G. Holum, Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, 1982), 208–9; though contra R. W. Burgess, ‘The accession of Marcian in the light of Chalcedonian apologetic and Monophysite polemic’, BZ 86–87 (1993–94), 47–68). After the death of Zeno in 491, not only does his widow, Ariadne, seem to have been in charge of making decisions as to the succession, but also to have acted as a mediator between the urban crowds gathered in the hippodrome and the officials gathered in the palace during the deliberations. Her marriage to her chosen successor, Anastasius, served as a strong guarantor of its wider acceptance (A. D. Lee, ‘The Eastern Empire: Theodosius to Anastasius’, CAH XIV (Cambridge, 2001), 52–3). ⁴³ Cameron, Circus Factions, 278–80; Kaegi, Byzantine Military Unrest, 41–2. In the period 491–565, there were no fewer than thirty riots in the hippodrome significant enough to come to the notice of our sources: A. A. Čekalove, ‘Der Nika-Aufstand’, in F. Winkelman (ed.), Volk und Herrschaft im frühen Byzanz: Methodische und quellenkritische Probleme (Berliner Byzantinistiche Arbeiten 58. Berlin, 1991), 11–17. ⁴⁴ On the eventual end to this period of relative stability, see Kaegi, Byzantine Military Unrest, 119–36; D. M. Olster, The Politics of Usurpation in the Seventh Century: Rhetoric and Revolution in Byzantium (Amsterdam, 1993). Foreign observers from as far afield as China marvelled at the apparent chaos of the Byzantine succession (Dagron, Emperor and Priest, 13–14).

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from which he rarely, if ever, departed, and whose Empire had been shorn of its Western territories. When Priscian declared to Anastasius that ‘[Constantinople] displays trophies justly won, it offers to the eyes the tyrants, conquered, subdued, and led before your feet in the middle of the hippodrome,’ the language is not unfamiliar to us.⁴⁵ But the world of Priscian, the court at which he spoke, and the preoccupations of its members were all very different from those of their fourth-century equivalents, and must be a subject for a book other than this one.

⁴⁵ Prisc., de Laud. 171–3.

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Conclusion Those Made Tyrants by the Victory of Others

Why ought I to remind you of the shameful murder of unfortunate men? Of the unsated hunger of lustfulness? Of the lamentable plundering of inheritances? Let these things go unspoken so that my oration does not stir up the memory of evils now subdued, but also so that such talk does not pollute the most sacred praises of our prince as we speak of the vices of another…thus it suffices for the praise of Constantine that, while we examine the flourishing benefits of his rule, we do not think of the evils that have been cut away. Nazarius, from his Panegyric of Constantine, March 321¹

Tyrannus and imperator, tyrant and emperor, were, in the late Roman world, different sides of the same coin. How that coin landed depended every bit as much upon who flipped it as it did upon the actions of the emperors whose legacies hung so precariously in the balance. Nazarius’ harangue, with its insistent and avowedly discomfited rhetorical questions, is in essence the question that this book set out to answer. Why ought Romans to dwell on murders? Why ought they to call to mind thefts and rapine? Why ought they to sift through every lurid slander that might plausibly stick to the names and reputations of a fallen imperial claimant? Why, because such things made tyrants, and those who made tyrants likewise made emperors. Panegyric was one of the most vital, most visceral, and most widely utilized forms of communication in the late Roman world. Panegyric gave narrative voice to the perpetually unfolding ritual drama of the late Roman state, its purple-clad emperor enthroned before a changing crowd of dignitaries from across the Roman world, there either as actors in or as audience to the unfolding scene. It turned the perpetual and impersonal display of the emperor’s authority into something personal and particular, just as a eulogy gives personal meaning

¹ Pan. Lat. IV.8.4–5.

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to the grim regularity of a funeral. Like a eulogy, the purpose of a panegyric might in certain instances be communicative, as when the orator of 310 announced to his audience the heretofore unknown descent of Constantine from the emperor Claudius. This communicative function was, however, usually a secondary one, and probably only of any regular importance in the case of provincial audiences, far from imperial cities and highways, where the differential in the awareness of current affairs between a well-connected orator and some of the purely local potentates who would make up his audience might, on occasion, be great. Such would be the case of Pacatus, on his return home to Gaul after his visit to Rome in 389. In the context of the court, however, panegyric was more properly a ritual, a formalized ceremonial in which actor, emperor, and audience aligned themselves around a shared narrative and the reinforcement of that narrative through its repetitious performance. Like a funeral eulogy, its purpose was to bond a community. The narratives that orators constructed were not flights of fancy composed by disconnected literati. They were the intelligent and crafted responses of men frequently close to the affairs they described and always sufficiently close to other conduits of imperial propaganda that they were well versed in the political demands of the moment. Panegyric did not speak in a vacuum, but rather interacted with the presentation of the imperial court in all media to produce coherent messages that reinforced the emperor’s self-image. Panegyric is a barometer, a litmus test by which we can explore how it was that individual imperial courts wished the world to understand them. Forming one part of a battery of media designed to communicate the propaganda claims of the court to as wide an audience as possible of the Empire’s great and good, panegyrics form part of the general ‘noise’ of late Roman political culture. The impetus for this perpetual noise lay in the recurrent need for emperors to establish their legitimacy. Words mattered, and no more so than in a political arena in which the ground was both contested and perpetually shifting. Legitimacy, in the field of power relations, denotes the idea that the exercise of power, physical or otherwise, is not only possible but is accepted by those over whom it is exercised as both right and reasonable. Though the legitimacy of the imperial office itself seems never to have been seriously questioned, at least until the fifth century, for individual holders of that office the establishment of their legitimacy was a demand placed continually upon them (see Chapter I). Many emperors, of course, had taken unorthodox roots to power and were, by any definition, usurpers. Not the least names amongst the ranks of such emperors are Diocletian, Constantine, Julian, and Theodosius whose usurpations—and their attempts to conceal them—we have explored in the preceding chapters. But even for emperors whose path to power was as scrupulously licit as was possible, emperors like Constans or Gratian, the need to demonstrate and aggressively assert legitimacy was a real one and the results of a failure to do so fatal. Indeed it is hardly an exaggeration to say

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that establishing and maintaining legitimacy in the eyes of their subjects and th