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The Politics of Roman Memory
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The Politics of Roman Memory
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The Politics of Roman Memory

EMPIRE AND ­A FTER Series Editor: Clifford Ando A complete list of books in the series is available from the publisher.

THE POLITICS of ROMAN MEMORY From the Fall of the Western Empire to the Age of Justinian

Marion Kruse

un iver sit y of pen nsy lvan i a press phil adelphi a

Copyright © 2019 University of Pennsylvania Press All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations used for purposes of review or scholarly citation, none of this book may be reproduced in any form by any means without written permission from the publisher. Published by University of Pennsylvania Press Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4112 www​.­upenn​.­edu​/­pennpress Printed in the United States of Amer­i­ca on acid-­free paper 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 A Cataloging-­in-­Publication record is available from the Library of Congress ISBN 978-0-8122-5162-3

For my friend Anthony σπανίας δ’ εἰκὸς τὰς τοιαύτας εἶναι· ὀλίγοι γὰρ οἱ τοιοῦτοι

contents

A Note on Transliteration Introduction. Roman History ­After the Fall of Rome

ix 1

Chapter 1. New Romans in the Age of Anastasius

17

Chapter 2. Mythistory and Cultural Identity in New Rome

57

Chapter 3. Administrative Reform and Republican History

80

Chapter 4. The Abolition of the Consulship

102

Chapter 5. The Fall of Rome in the Age of Justinian

148

Chapter 6. Apostolic History and the Church of (New) Rome

185

Conclusion 218 Appendix 1. Selected Chronology of the Fifth and Sixth Centuries ad 223 Appendix 2. Ordinations of the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople

225

Notes 227 Bibliography 263 General Index

279

viii co n t en ts

Index Locorum

285

Acknowl­edgments

291

a n o t e o n t r a n s l i t e r at i o n

It has become increasingly mainstream in the past de­cade to transliterate the names of ancients directly from their native language, rather than first ­going through the intermediary of Latin. This book and its author enthusiastically embrace this trend. However, the question is not always straightforward. How, for instance, should we spell the name of the eastern emperors, whose primary language was most likely Greek (even though Justinian, for instance, was a native Latin-­speaker), but whose official language u­ ntil late in the sixth c­ entury was Latin? What about a bilingual Gothic king ruling a Latin-­speaking kingdom best known to us from a Greek history? Similarly, what do we do with a figure like Marcellinus comes, a member of the eastern court who wrote a history in Latin? In the absence of a totally coherent system, the solution ­adopted by this book is as follows: emperors ­will be named according to the modern Anglophone consensus, hence Justinian in place of Justinianus or Ioustinianos; authors ­will have their names transliterated on the basis of the language in which they wrote, so Prokopios, rather than Procopius, and Marcellinus rather than Markellinos; eastern Romans ­will have their names transliterated from Greek, hence the general Belisarios and Ioannes II, bishop of Constantinople, while westerners ­will follow Latinate conventions, yielding Romulus Augustulus and John I, bishop of Rome. Exceptions ­will be made throughout for the sake of readability and clarity, hence Thucydides instead of Thoukydides.

introduction

Roman History ­After the Fall of Rome

Therefore, most pious princeps, it befits your power and office that we should seek your concord, which we have done up u­ ntil now out of friendship. For you are the most beautiful glory of all kingdoms, the helpful bulwark of the w ­ hole world, you whom other rulers look up to by law b­ ecause they perceive that ­there is something exceptional in you. We, who with divine aid learned in your respublica how we are able to rule Romans equitably, do this most of all. Our kingdom is an imitation of yours, the image of your good intention, modeled on the one and only empire. Insofar as we follow you, we surpass all other ­peoples. —­K ing Theoderic to Emperor Anastasius in Cassiodorus, Variae 1.1.2–3

At some point near the ­middle of the reign of Anastasius (r. 491–518), likely during a tense period for east-­west relations (505–8), Theoderic, king of the Goths and Italians, sent a letter to the emperor in Constantinople which had been drafted by his prefect, the Roman senator Cassiodorus.1 In this letter, part of which is quoted above, Theoderic claims to be a subordinate partner in the proj­ ect of Roman government and describes his rule in Italy as an imitation of the one true respublica Romana, the Roman empire of the east. Theoderic occupied an unusual position in the Roman world of the sixth ­century. He had been educated, as his letter mentions, in Constantinople, where he grew up as a diplomatic hostage. A ­ fter being released, Theoderic established himself as the leader of a confederation of Goths whom he eventually led into Italy, with the support of the

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emperor Zeno (r. 474–91), to depose Odoacer, the barbarian general who had himself deposed Romulus Augustulus in 476, an event that has been taken by many modern historians to mark the fall of the western Roman empire. Once in Italy, Theoderic established a Gothic kingdom in the heartland of the former Roman empire, one that was theoretically and rhetorically subject to the emperor in Constantinople, yet functionally in­de­pen­dent. Theoderic’s rhe­toric in his letter to Anastasius may have been only diplomatically polite, but it underscores a fundamental dynamic of the sixth ­century: the former western Roman empire, including Rome herself, now sought to legitimize its Romanness and standing in the world by reference to the emperors of Constantinople. The Roman heartland had shifted from Italy to Thrace, its po­liti­cal center from Rome to New Rome. The inversion of the Roman world, in which Rome’s former provincial territories came to usurp that city’s traditional prerogatives as the ­mother of empire, can be observed in­de­pen­dently of the fraught modern debate over ­whether the empire experienced a “decline and fall” or a more neutrally described “transformation.” ­Whether or not we accept that the western Roman empire fell in 476 (or, for that m ­ atter, at any other point in the fifth or sixth ­century), the circumstances of its two halves and their relationship to one another had radically shifted by the year 491, when Anastasius, a self-­proclaimed descendant of Pompey the G ­ reat, was acclaimed as both emperor and “true Roman” in Constantinople. ­These momentous changes called for explanation even at the time. Only a generation l­ater, Marcellinus comes first proposed the idea that the western Roman empire “fell” in 476, and the first explicit historian of Roman decline, Zosimos, penned his work around 500.2 Scholars of the “transformation school” of ­later Roman history have seen in the “invention” of 476 evidence for the artificiality of the narrative of decline and fall, but we can flip this observation on its head and ask why ­these narratives of decline and fall began to appear at this historical moment and in the place that they did, namely Constantinople. The creation of a Roman turning point in 476 may or may not tell us much about what r­ eally happened in 476, but it does tell us a ­great deal about the historical thinking of the generation that followed. Likewise, discussions of Theoderic as an ideal Roman monarch in Italy, which can be found in the works of Prokopios and Jordanes, may or may not imply a fundamental continuity between the Roman and post-­Roman west, but they do tell us how eastern Romans in the 550s understood the relationship between their empire and the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy.



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This monograph w ­ ill examine the pro­cess by which the emperors, historians, jurists, antiquarians, and poets of the eastern empire employed history and mythistory in order to come to terms with the po­liti­cal realities of the late fifth and sixth centuries. In par­tic­u­lar, it ­will focus on the creation of new historical narratives, the manner of their deployment, and the debates they inspired in order to understand how eastern Romans came to reimagine themselves not merely as eastern Romans but as the only Romans worthy of the name, a pro­cess with profound implications for our understanding of the intellectual and po­liti­ cal climate at the end of antiquity and the beginning of Byzantium and the ­Middle Ages. Thus, this study ­will focus on a series of central questions concerning Roman identity and politics that ­were current at the time: What did it mean to be Roman ­after 476? How could an empire be Roman without the city of Rome? More pointedly, how could an empire be Roman when it was at war with Rome? How did t­ hese issues motivate and shape historical constructions of Constantinople as New Rome? How did the idea that a Roman empire could fall influence po­liti­cal rhe­toric in Constantinople? Whereas a ­great deal of scholarship has attempted to understand the post-­ Roman west,3 the pro­cess by which the Romans of Constantinople came to terms with their new place in the world and the Roman historical imagination has not been explored.4 This study, therefore, investigates how the shifting historical and mythistorical narratives of the sixth c­ entury reflect the attempts of eastern Romans to reconfigure their understanding of Roman history in order to account for the po­liti­cal realities of the sixth c­ entury, a pro­cess that began during the reign of Anastasius and continued through the publication of the major ­ ill emerge works covering the reign of Justinian in the 550s.5 Justinian himself w as a major figure in t­ hese discussions, as eastern Romans sought to support or challenge his view of Roman history. By deploying intellectual and cultural resources in fascinating ways, the eastern Roman empire reconstituted itself as a solitary Greek Roman empire, laying the groundwork for the l­ ater creation of Byzantine identity, itself a species of Roman identity, and the broader transition from Rome to Byzantium. In undertaking this topic, this monograph picks up the study of identity in the eastern Roman empire where Fergus Millar’s seminal A Greek Roman Empire leaves off. Millar discusses the identity and in­de­pen­dence of the eastern Roman empire during the reign of Theodosius II (r. 408–50) and makes a compelling case that, for all of their supposed po­liti­cal coordination, the identities and politics of east and west had already begun to diverge. However, the strategies of distinction

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employed by the eastern Roman empire at the time of Theodosius II ­were predicated on the existence of a western Roman empire. Millar himself makes clear that east and west during this period should be understood as “twin empires” and draws a distinction between phases in the development of the Greek Roman empire based on the presence or absence of a western empire.6 Where Millar’s work focused on the period before 476, this book ­will take up the ­later period, which is distinguished by the loss of the western empire and the resulting need to reconfigure eastern Roman identity to account for its newfound solitude.7 This book shares another distinctive feature with Millar’s work: a focus on ­legal sources. For Millar, the defining document of the Theodosian empire was the Theodosian Code, a compilation of Roman laws from the year 313 onward. The current study ­will likewise devote a ­great deal of attention to Justinian’s ­legal pronouncements, both in his Corpus Iuris Civilis and especially in his Novels, or “new laws,” which come to us with their prefaces and rhe­toric preserved. The fundamental distinction between crafting an identity as a Roman empire and the Roman empire is, interestingly, reflected in the divergent interests of ­these documents. The temporal bound­aries of the Theodosian Code indicate an interest in recent history, especially following the introduction of Chris­tian­ity into the state apparatus during the reign of Constantine (r. 306–37). By contrast, the remit of Justinian’s Corpus is broader, including the entirety of Roman ­legal and po­liti­ cal history. ­Every office, from the consulship on down, is discussed in the Digest, evincing a profound interest in and commitment to the continuity of Roman institutions of all periods, ­whether regal, Republican, or imperial. The implicit thesis of the Corpus is that the eastern Roman empire was the Roman empire ­because it possessed a comprehensive and au­then­tic Roman government, a claim that fits neatly into the rhe­toric of Justinian’s regime in the 530s and is discussed in Chapter 3. Although we ­will take 476 as a putative starting point, the material discussed ­will primarily come from the period ­a fter 491, when the emperor Anastasius (r. 491–518) was acclaimed in Constantinople. ­There are many reasons for this, but all can be traced in one way or another to the phenomenon that Arnaldo Momigliano succinctly encapsulated when he described the events of 476 as “the fall that barely made a whisper” (la caduta senza rumore).8 Our understanding of the fifth-­century east is critically hampered by a lack of sources. Although the period produced significant works by authors such as Eunapios, Olympiodoros, and Priskos, none of ­these survives intact. Moreover, the events of 476 took on their modern, epochal significance only two generations ­later and, even then, incompletely and as the result of a concerted push by authors close to Justinian’s



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court to invent a definitive ending point for the western Roman empire in advance of that emperor’s program of renovation, which preceded his program of reconquest. This pro­cess is discussed in Chapter 5. The reasons for the long silence w ­ ill be addressed more fully in Chapter 1, but for now it suffices to say that it took time for the finality of the western empire’s collapse to become clear and accepted among the writers and officials of the eastern empire. Current scholarship on the sixth ­century remains dominated by two interrelated narratives, which have directed scholarly attention to a specific set of questions and largely exclude ­those discussed ­here.9 The first of ­these narratives is that of Christianization, which assumes that the sixth c­ entury was for all intents and purposes a post-­pagan ­century in the eastern Roman empire.10 To quote the introduction to the Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity, “in the late antique world, religious values became the central values, even the supreme values, for conceiving of the world and for justifying discourse and action.”11 The resulting focus on the role of Chris­tian­ity in late antiquity has illuminated much about the period, but, like any interpretive paradigm, has also made other features of the period, such as secular notions of Roman continuity, more difficult to see. It is also closely linked to the second narrative, that of the transformation of the eastern Roman empire into Byzantium, a subset of the larger transformation of the Roman empire into its three ­daughter civilizations, the other two being Carolingian Eu­rope and the Islamic world. The idea of transformation was first pop­u­lar­ized by Peter Brown in 1971 and has since become the dominant historical paradigm for late antiquity.12 As a consequence, the sixth ­century, and the reign of Justinian in par­tic­u­lar, is often identified as a moment of transition between classical antiquity and the M ­ iddle Ages.13 But this too obscures the continued relevance of Roman history and identity in the eastern Roman world following the fall of the western empire.14 Roman identity evolved, as always, but it hardly became irrelevant. The current study ­will argue that ­there ­were a number of concerns, in par­ tic­u­lar questions of Roman history, which ­were conceptualized according to the traditions of pagan historiography and discussed without reference to Chris­tian­ ity. For want of a better term, I ­will refer to t­ hese historical modes as “secular,” by which I do not mean that they ­were atheistic or stripped of religious aspects, but only that they w ­ ere in­de­pen­dent of and separable from Christian narratives and the proj­ect of Christianizing Roman history, itself a major but dif­fer­ent feature of the period. ­These concerns ­were discussed with considerable intensity among a fairly wide but interrelated elite social group in the eastern empire. The question of t­ hese authors’ religion is largely irrelevant; w ­ hether they w ­ ere pagans

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or Christians or indifferent, ­whether they supported or rejected the Council of Chalcedon (451), ­there ­were other t­ hings to think about ­under Justinian. The picture that ­will emerge from this study is that of a coherent eastern Roman intellectual movement centered on Constantinople and concerned with the development of historical narratives that supported the Roman identity of the eastern Romans, the status of Constantinople as the New (and now only true) Rome, the organ­ization of the imperial administration along traditional lines, and the maintenance of Roman traditions. Central to the creation of a new identity was the development of usable Roman pasts that incorporated and hybridized ele­ments from both the Greek and Roman traditions. Myth (in par­tic­u­lar Homer and Vergil), law, and history ­were all integral to this pro­cess, as ­were the specific historical circumstances that accompanied the proj­ect itself, especially Justinian’s wars. While the primary goal of this study is to understand the role of historical memory in the sixth c­ entury, it is hoped that the conclusions it reaches w ­ ill have a broader effect on the scholarship of the period. Specifically, this book ­will provide much needed context for the study of politics and the imperial administration in the sixth ­century by providing a non-­theological intellectual history of sixth-­century Constantinople. It ­will inevitably be incomplete, but by improving our understanding of what issues w ­ ere on the minds of the leading authors of the sixth c­ entury, it w ­ ill be pos­si­ble to situate them in their larger context with thicker links to classical antiquity.

History and Memory This monograph is, then, a literary and intellectual history of a po­liti­cal transformation that approaches its subject through a study of historical memory—­ that is, the memory and perception of putatively historical events, as constructed in texts, especially imperial pronouncements, laws, histories, and other forms of lit­er­a­ture. This touches on both social memory, which is the study of the role of memory in the construction of specific social groups, and cultural memory, which is the broader study of the role of collective memory in society at large. Th ­ ere are no firm lines between t­ hese dif­fer­ent categories of memory. The study of historical memory is not primarily concerned with distinguishing fact from fiction in the historical accounts of the period, but rather with attempting to understand why the authors of the fifth and sixth centuries chose to write about impor­tant historical themes in the way they did. Rather than as-



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sess the factuality of their accounts, we w ­ ill investigate the rhetorical implications of their authorial decisions with an eye to understanding the concerns and agendas that motivated their works. To be clear, this approach does not reflect the attitude, expressed by some scholars, that facts do not ­matter or that “the insoluble contradiction of ‘truth against fiction’ is devoid of meaning.”15 Indeed, facts are essential to the current proj­ect, as they allow scholars to recognize moments of innovation and invention in historical writing, and it is precisely at ­these moments that we may gain our clearest insight into the rhetorical aims of an author. The production of history as a means to create usable pasts to guide pre­sent and f­ uture debates w ­ ill therefore be at the forefront of this study. In this re­spect, it follows the approach of Alain Gowing’s monograph Empire and Memory. However, where Gowing restricts his subject to discussions of a specific time period (the Roman Republic) in texts published over the course of more than a ­century following the end of that period, this monograph ­will engage with eastern discussions of the full range of Roman history—­from the mythistorical narratives of the founding of the Latin ­people by Aeneas through con­temporary sixth-­century events such as the sieges of Rome that punctuated Justinian’s campaigns against the Goths in Italy—­that w ­ ere written over the course of roughly sixty years, from the accession of Anastasius in 491 through the early 550s. The goal w ­ ill be to understand the methods and motivations b­ ehind the creation of historical memory as a tracer of po­liti­cal discussions taking place in the fifth and sixth centuries. The close readings that lie at the heart of this book relate to and are informed by the lived realities of their authors. As Rosamond McKitterick has argued in her study of Carolingian memory, “recalled past experiences and shared images of the past are the kinds of memories that have par­tic­u­lar importance for the constitution of social groups.”16 This is true of the sixth ­century: the authors studied in this work w ­ ere mostly bureaucrats with close ties to the imperial government living and writing in the city of Constantinople.17 The contacts among ­these authors prove the existence of a coherent literary and intellectual movement in Constantinople, whose members generally belonged to a recognizable social and intellectual class. The coherence of ­these authors’ views of history and their widespread opposition to the historical models offered by the emperor Justinian in his Novels make clear that this was a ­battle over historical authority. Mary Carruthers, in her classic study of medieval memory, highlights the difference between “authoring” and “authorizing,” arguing that “in the context of memory, the first belongs to the domain of an individual’s memory, the second to what

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we might con­ve­niently think of as public memory.”18 In other words, anyone may produce a historical narrative, but that narrative only becomes a public or social memory if it is accepted and reproduced in society more broadly. Historical narratives thus became a forum for an intense debate within a small but influential literary and po­liti­cal class in Constantinople. ­Because the emperors of the period used Roman history as a po­liti­cal tool, t­ hese debates also serve as a road map of the major po­liti­cal debates taking place in sixth-­century ­ ill be constructed using the toolset of classiConstantinople.19 This road map w cal philology and literary analy­sis in order to detect, delineate, and connect the po­liti­cal arguments that ­were current in the period.20 By applying close readings, intertextuality, and a knowledge of the techniques of classical historiography to the histories (broadly understood) written in the sixth c­ entury it is pos­si­ble to identify points of interaction and response. In ­doing so, this book seeks to unearth the habits of mind and reading techniques that con­temporary authors with a traditional classical education would have brought to ­these texts. ­Whether or not Justinian intended for the historical content of his Novels to be read and analyzed as a coherent corpus based on the standards of classical historiography, this is how many (if not all) of the authors discussed in this study would have been trained to read historical claims. Methodologically, this monograph w ­ ill afford the authors of the sixth ­century the benefit of the doubt, crediting the literary merit of their works by default and assuming the intentionality of their intertexts. The study of late antiquity has long suffered from an unwillingness to credit the intelligence or originality of its authors—­one thinks of the tendency to bash Zosimos as a writer of low intelligence, or to assume that Prokopios was a mouthpiece of Justinian—­a trend that has recently begun to be reversed, but which still leaves a large gap in fundamental studies even for major authors. In order to fully explore the matrix of historical memory and politics operating in the sixth ­century, this monograph ­will not be ­limited by genre or language. This enables us, for example, to discuss Christodoros’ poetic Ekphrasis alongside Prokopios. This is also the period of antiquity in which writers in both Greek and Latin are most densely and intently engaged with each other across that linguistic difference. Modern scholarship continues to sequester them along linguistic lines, thus for example separating Prokopios from Jordanes, even though t­ hese w ­ ere both authors with the same professional background who wrote in the same city at the same time about the same subjects. It should also be remembered that the central figure of this period, and in many ways the most impor­tant figure in this book, the emperor Justinian, himself published



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prolifically in both Greek and Latin and in genres ranging from Roman law to theology. Justinian’s Novels attempted to promote the emperor’s version of Roman history by relying on his imperial position and the pretense of exhaustive imperial research. The response of con­temporary authors, especially t­ hose writing in the 550s who vehemently and systematically refuted and undermined Justinian’s historical claims, represents an attempt to deauthorize Justinian’s official account of Roman history. This is an impor­tant conclusion as it not only confirms a broad opposition to Justinian’s policies in the halls of his own government, but also indicates that the emperor’s histories ­were viewed as serious enough to merit a response by many of the major authors of the period. That this response can be narrowly located among a fairly specific social class, at a specific historical moment, in a single city (though with consequences abroad) demonstrates the existence of a strug­gle by a par­tic­u­lar social group against the emperor’s attempt to control the development of public memory. The writings of Jordanes, Lydos, and Prokopios therefore articulate an idiom of re­sis­tance to Justinian’s attempts to (re)create the Roman past. Given the warm reception ­these historical narratives receive in subsequent authors, in par­tic­u­lar Agathias and Euagrios, we must determine that the authors of the 550s w ­ ere largely successful in deauthorizing Justinian’s history and authorizing their own. No other emperor in all of Roman history did as much to shape the narrative of his own reign as did Justinian.21 He sits at the nexus of all our sixth-­century writers, a common point of contact between other­wise disparate traditions in both Greek and Latin to which all of our authors are to some extent responding. By taking such an active role in formulating the historical narrative of his own reign, Justinian became the common target of all subsequent and competing historical narratives. Justinian stands at the heart of this proj­ect b­ ecause he catalyzed the coherent discussion we can observe in our sources by providing the authors of the sixth ­century with a common focal point for con­temporary po­ liti­cal debates. Despite the social implications of this investigation, the identification of par­ tic­u­lar social groups is a secondary concern. Our focus is on politics. Writing history is an inescapably po­liti­cal act: modern scholars too remain unable to divorce their work from its po­liti­cal context and ancient authors never made the effort. In fact, history in the ancient world was a more explic­itly and nakedly po­ liti­cal act than its con­temporary counterpart. Discussions of the personalities and policies b­ ehind Roman successes and failures w ­ ere meant to offer examples

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to con­temporary Romans, a conceit which holds true for historians as diverse as Prokopios and the emperor Justinian.22

The Politics of Roman Memory The sixth ­century was in many ways an unexpected ­century. It interrupts and interferes with attempts to posit e­ ither a smooth transition or a violent discontinuity between the classical Greco-­Roman world and the M ­ iddle Ages.23 The empire of Justinian asserted itself forcefully in the historical rec­ord ­after its long fifth-­century hiatus. Yet in many ways, the study of the sixth c­ entury has fallen victim to the richness of its own historical rec­ord, which is unparalleled at any other point in Roman history. The sixth ­century offers us the single most comprehensive work of Roman law ever created (Justinian’s Corpus Iuris Civilis and Novels) alongside Latin poets working in the tradition of Vergil (Corippus’ Iohannis); our first complete classicizing histories since the third c­ entury (Prokopios’ Wars and Agathias’ Histories); specialized studies of Roman institutions (Ioannes Lydos’ On the Magistracies of the Roman State and On the Months); a dedicated history of a foreign ­people (Jordanes’ Getica); a wealth of chronicles in a range of languages including Latin, Greek, and Syriac, which formulated history according to a variety of schemata (Jordanes’ Romana, the Chronicon of Marcellinus comes, the Chronicon Paschale, the Chronographia of Ioannes Malalas, and the Chronicle of pseudo-­Zacharias and its Syriac continuator to name a few); philosophical dialogues in the tradition of Plato and Cicero (the anonymous Dialogue on Po­liti­cal Science); hagiography (the Lives of the Eastern Saints by Yuhannan of Amida, also known as John of Ephesos); church history (the Ecclesiastical History of Yuhannan of Amida and that of Euagrios); philosophical commentaries (the extensive writings of Ioannes Philoponos and Simplikios); theological geographies (the Christian Topography of Kosmas Indikopleustes); ekphrastic works in poetry and prose (Christodoros’ Ekphrasis on the Statues of the Zeuxippos Baths and Paul the Silentiary’s Description of Hagia Sophia); a rich epigram tradition, including many erotic epigrams forming the kernel of the l­ ater Greek Anthology; letters to the emperor in the tradition of Seneca (Agapetos’ Advice to the Emperor); the Acta of Church Councils (including the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople); and letters to and from bishops (including ­those of Severus of Antioch and the emperor Justinian, as well as many letters to and from the bishops of Rome). This list does not include material from numismatics, epigraphy, papyrology, prosopography, art



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history, and archaeology, which are also rich in evidence in this period. It w ­ ill come as no surprise then that, by the standards of ancient history, studying the sixth c­ entury is like drinking from a firehose. In the face of such overwhelming ancient evidence, the historians of the period have a tendency to fragment, clustering around specific authors or themes. This tendency is exacerbated by the long-­standing neglect of the period, which has only recently begun to be taken up in earnest in scholarship (traditionally much more attention has been paid to the topics of Christianization in the fourth ­century and the western barbarian settlements in the fifth). Where authors such as Thucydides and Vergil have been the subject of countless studies in modern scholarship, Prokopios, the most prominent author of the sixth c­ entury, has been the subject of only four monographs in the last fifty years, only two of which offer strongly competing interpretations.24 The result of abundant documentation and relative scholarly neglect has been the simultaneous development of several dif­f er­ent sixth centuries, the shapes of which generally correspond to the sources used. Th ­ ere is the sixth c­ entury of Justinian, of Prokopios, of the Monophysite Syriac authors, and so on. As this book hopes to appeal to and draw connections between diverse fields, especially ­those of classical philology, late antique history and historiography, ­later Roman law, and the late antique papacy, it cannot be assumed that even the major authors of the period ­will be familiar to all readers. The survey below is therefore both an outline of the book’s argument, for the benefit of all readers, and an aid for readers not familiar with some or all of the major sources used in this study.25

* * * Chapter 1 introduces the crisis of Romanness that confronted the eastern empire following the fall of the west. The prob­lem is framed through the concerns forcefully asserted by the populace of Constantinople during the acclamation of Anastasius (r. 491–518). The chapter focuses on two authors, Zosimos and Hesychios of Miletos, and their competing conceptions of the Romanness of Constantinople, conceptions they articulated through the historically constructed relationship between Old and New Rome. Relatively ­little is known of Zosimos and his sole work, the New History, survives in a single manuscript. Based on l­ ater testimonia, we know that he was a retired financial official, an exadvocatus fisci, in the imperial administration in Constantinople. His work is generally assigned to the late fifth or early sixth c­ entury, though his dating is far from secure, and

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his work comes down to us in an incomplete form and with major lacunae. Although his history is generally disregarded as the poorly written work of the last adamantly pagan author of late antiquity, Zosimos’ New History is much closer to the mainstream of sixth-­century historiography and po­liti­cal thought than has generally been appreciated. Hesychios of Miletos was the author of a Roman and General History (in Greek), which appears to have begun with Belos, the king of Assyria, and continued originally through the death of Anastasius, though it was ­later extended, presumably by the same author, to cover the reign of Justin (r. 518–27), Justinian’s u­ ncle. His history is no longer extant, but a fragment survives in a Byzantine collection of Patria (local histories) of the city of Constantinople. Hesychios held the rank of illustrius, indicating a relatively high social status, and can be linked to a number of buildings, in par­tic­u­lar a bathing complex, in his native Miletos. If we accept that the Hesychios of the inscriptions is our author, then we can also assign him to the imperial bureaucracy: he was an orator in the office of the prefect of Constantinople. Chapter 2 turns to the intersection of mythistory and urban space in Anastasian Constantinople, analyzing the reconfiguration of Trojano-­Roman mythistory into a Greco-­ Roman mythistory more suited to the con­ temporary circumstances of the Roman empire. This chapter offers a close reading of the Ekphrasis on the Statues of the Zeuxippos Baths by Christodoros of Koptos (in Egypt). Christodoros was a Greek poet and a member of the school of Egyptian “wandering poets” first identified by Alan Cameron. He was a prolific author of Patria (local antiquarian histories, often in verse) for cities around the eastern Roman empire, including Constantinople, and also authored an epic poem, the Isaurika, on the emperor Anastasius’ campaigns against the Isaurians in central Asia Minor. He may also be the author of an epigram inscribed on the Chalke Gate (a gate to the imperial palace in Constantinople) by Anastasius, which likewise commemorated the emperor’s Isaurian triumph. Aside from this inscription, Christodoros’ only extant work is a description of the statues in the Zeuxippos bathing complex, which was adjacent to the palace at the heart of imperial Constantinople. This poem was preserved by its inclusion in the first edition of the Greek Anthology, a collection of Greek poetry first compiled during the reign of Justin II (r. 565–78) by Agathias, whose other works include a continuation of Prokopios’ history of Justinian’s wars in the second half of the sixth ­century. As is evident from his corpus, Christodoros had close ties to the imperial court of Anastasius. Chapters 3 through 5 are thematically or­ga­nized and dedicated to the reign of Justinian, each exploring an aspect of Justinian’s formulation of Roman his-



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tory, primarily in Novels published in the 530s and 540s, and con­temporary responses to them, which largely appeared in the 550s. The themes on which the discussion focuses are the administrative history of Rome, including the reasons for its successful expansion during the Republic (Chapter 3), the history of the consulship and the office’s (ir)relevance in the sixth c­ entury (Chapter 4), and the relationship between Old and New Rome with par­tic­u­lar emphasis on valences of Roman identity and conceptions of a Roman fall in 476 (Chapter 5). ­Because of their contemporaneity, ­these chapters are generally ­limited to a handful of major authors from the age of Justinian. First among ­these is Tribonian, who served as quaestor, Justinian’s chief ­legal official, from 530 to 532 and again from 535 to 541/42. Prior to this, he served on the commission that created the first edition of the Codex and was the primary figure ­behind the creation of the Digest, Institutes, and the second edition of the Codex, which make up the Corpus Iuris Civilis as we have it ­today. Tribonian functioned as Justinian’s ghostwriter for the Novels that appeared during his tenure as quaestor, making most of the Novels that ­will be examined in this study the work of his pen. Although written by Tribonian, ­these laws spoke with the voice and authority of the emperor Justinian. Therefore, while the authors of the age of Justinian w ­ ere likely ­under no illusions about who was drafting imperial rhe­toric, their responses to Tribonian’s formulations ­were ultimately aimed at the emperor himself. Pride of place among the authors responding to Justinian must be given to Prokopios of Kaisareia in Palestine, who served as assessor, a l­ egal adviser and personal secretary, to the general Belisarios during his early campaign against Persia, as well as during the reconquest of Africa and Italy. Prokopios appears to have parted ways with Belisarios during the early 540s, at which point he is thought to have settled in Constantinople to produce his three works: the Wars of the Emperor Justinian, the Secret History, and the Buildings. The Wars is an eight-­book history of Justinian’s campaigns against Persia, Vandal North Africa, and Gothic Italy. The first edition of the Wars was published in 551/52 and was or­ga­nized by theater of operations, with the first two books covering the Persian front, books 3 and 4 covering the African theater, and books 5 through 7 covering events in Italy. The eighth book of the Wars was published separately in 553 and covered events on all fronts, bringing them up to the winter of 552/53. The Wars remains the most complete extant military and po­liti­cal account of the reign of Justinian and is unusual for being a con­temporary and sometimes critical account of a still-­reigning emperor. Alongside the Wars, Prokopios wrote and may have circulated among his intimates the Secret History. The Secret History is ostensibly meant to complete the narrative of the Wars by including details that w ­ ere

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unsafe to publish during the lifetime of Justinian (who apparently outlived Prokopios), but this does not account for all of its material, which can be broadly divided into two parts: the first is an extended character assassination of Belisarios, his wife Antonina, the empress Theodora, and the emperor Justinian, while the second section focuses on administrative malfeasance by Justinian and his officials. The Secret History was completed at roughly the same moment as the first seven books of the Wars in 551/52. Prokopios’ final work, which w ­ ill not be discussed in this book, is the Buildings, a panegyrical survey of the construction proj­ ects undertaken by Justinian. Alongside Prokopios the other major authors of the reign of Justinian ­were Marcellinus comes, Jordanes, and Ioannes Lydos. Marcellinus was from Illyria, a Latin-­speaking province in the Balkans ­under the authority of the eastern Roman empire. Justinian and his ­uncle Justin w ­ ere both from the same region, and this shared heritage was likely the reason Marcellinus was chosen by Justinian to serve as cancellarius on his personal staff prior to his accession as emperor in 527. Marcellinus does not appear to have served in any further official capacity for Justinian ­after 527, but he was rewarded with the title of comes and the social rank of vir clarissimus. Marcellinus wrote several works, but the only one extant is his Chronicon, a chronicle in Latin that continues Jerome’s chronicle, which ended in 378, down to the death of Anastasius in 518, and was l­ ater extended by Marcellinus to 534. Jordanes was a self-­proclaimed Goth (on his ­father’s side) and Roman who like Prokopios served on the staff of one of Justinian’s generals, in this case the magister militum assigned to the Balkan theater, Gunthigis Baza. Jordanes is the author of two extant works in Latin, the Getica and the Romana, both published around 551. The Getica is a history of the Gothic ­people, while the Romana is a survey of Roman history from creation through the reign of Justinian. Both works are framed as responses to requests from friends, e­ ither for a summary of Cassiodorus’ lost twelve-­book history of the Goths (Getica) or as a brief survey of all of Roman history (Romana). The two works are unusual in that they reference one another, and the Getica is described as an offshoot of the proj­ect of the Romana. Neither work has traditionally been afforded much re­spect in the scholarship, the Getica being viewed as derivative and valued primarily as a means of accessing Cassiodorus’ lost history, while the Romana is seen as a cursory and inelegant summary of the fragmentary works of the fifth-­century historian Eunapios. Recently, however, the Getica has come to be viewed as a literary work in its own right, and both it and the Romana ­will be treated as such in this study.



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The final major author of the reign of Justinian is Ioannes Lydos, an imperial bureaucrat serving in the office of the praetorian prefect, the chief administrative official of the eastern Roman empire, during the reign of Justinian. He wrote four works in Greek of which we are aware. One of ­these, a history of Justinian’s Persian wars up to 532, is no longer extant. Of the remaining three, two survive only in fragments, namely On the Months and On Portents. His major surviving work, On the Magistracies of the Roman State, is a history of the evolution of Roman offices that focuses on the corruption of the office of the praetorian prefect. It survives in an incomplete form, ending suddenly in the ­middle of the third book. Nevertheless, the portions we have offer crucial insight into the functioning of the imperial bureaucracy ­under Justinian. While the publication dates for ­these works are not especially secure, On the Magistracies had likely appeared by 554. Thus Lydos’ On the Magistracies, Jordanes’ Getica and Romana, and Prokopios’ Wars and Secret History ­were all completed and circulated at roughly the same moment, between 550 and 554. Chapter 6, the final chapter, expands the book’s focus to include Old Rome. The chapter traces the development of the historical narratives deployed by the bishops of Rome and emperors of Constantinople to support their positions on the ecclesiastical status of the see of Constantinople. This chapter is an outlier in several re­spects: it covers a longer period, from 451 through 553; it deals with international, rather than domestic, debates over historical memory and does so largely from the perspective of Old Rome and the post-­Roman west; and it deals directly with Chris­tian­ity, specifically the role of Christian history and mythistory in the politics and rhe­toric of the see of Rome. Despite t­ hese differences, Chapter  6 serves as a valuable comparandum for the rest of the book. The chapter demonstrates the broad importance of Roman historical memory in the construction of po­liti­cal authority and identity during the period, even for ecclesiastical sees; it exposes the crisis of Romanness in the post-­ Roman west; and it documents the ongoing separability of Christian and Roman history even in explic­itly Christian debates. Moreover, the density and consistency of documentation allows us to trace the role that historical narratives played in the development of ideological systems, an opportunity not afforded by the works of our Constantinopolitan authors. The chapter therefore sheds new light on discussions explored in the preceding chapters and illustrates how debates taking place in Constantinople interfaced with ­those in Rome—­ that is, how imperial New Rome argued with Gothic Old Rome during a period of rapid po­l iti­cal change. The authors discussed in this chapter are all ­either

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emperors or bishops. They are too many to discuss ­here, so they ­will be introduced in the chapter itself. A final note: this book uses the toolset of classical philology to interpret the intellectual world of late antiquity and hopes to be of interest to classical scholars. With this in mind, the original Greek and Latin for all quotes has been placed in the notes. ­Unless other­wise indicated all translations are my own.

chapter 1

New Romans in the Age of Anastasius

What did it mean to be Roman in an empire without Rome? At the beginning of the reign of Anastasius it meant a popu­lar reaction against perceived outsiders. As his reign continued, it meant reconfiguring the place of New Rome in the historical and cultural context of a solitary eastern Roman empire. Among our surviving sources, Zosimos and Hesychios of Miletos led the way in reimagining the relationship between Old and New Rome, and their differing approaches offer insight into the insecurities and inventiveness that characterized eastern Roman reactions prior to Justinian’s campaigns of reconquest. For Zosimos, New Rome was the prob­lem, Old Rome the solution. An avowed pagan, Zosimos built his history around cycles of decay and renewal centered on the city of Rome and guaranteed by proper religious observance.1 In his telling, Constantine’s foundation of Constantinople was inseparable from his conversion to Chris­tian­ity, and together they marked the beginning of the end of the western empire and genuine Romanness. Hesychios took the opposite approach, recasting New Rome in the model of the Old and giving Constantinople a Hellenized Roman history. ­These authors allow us to see the range of responses that arose during the age of Anastasius and to more clearly understand the tensions that surfaced on the Bosporos a­ fter the death of Zeno on 9 April 491.

A Roman Emperor for the Romans On 10 April 491, Ariadne, empress of the Romans and ­widow of the emperor Zeno, walked out of the palace and into the imperial box in the hippodrome of Constantinople. ­There she addressed the populace of New Rome and the soldiers of the praesental armies, the armies normally stationed near the capital, who had

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gathered to hear her speak. Flanked by a full imperial entourage, including the bishop of Constantinople, the empress conversed with the populace. Her words ­were carried to them through a herald, their replies in chants repeated dozens of times with the volume and force of thousands of voices. The m ­ atter ­under discussion was the occupancy of the highest office in the Roman world. The ­people, army, empress, administration, and Church had come together that morning to discuss who would rule the last Rome.2

* * * Fifteen years e­ arlier, on 4 September 476, the barbarian general Odoacer had forced the western Roman emperor Romulus Augustulus to step down, an event that is traditionally taken to mark the end of the western Roman empire. In the ­century that followed, 476 would come to play an impor­tant but contested role in the historical narratives that the newly solitary eastern Roman empire developed in order to reconfigure its place in the Roman po­liti­cal and historical imagination. This book is in part about the matrix that created and promoted the idea of a western Roman fall in 476, an idea that has a long legacy in modern scholarship on the period and is discussed in the fifth chapter. For now, we observe that Odoacer’s actions not only left Constantinople as the only imperial city in the empire, they also removed Rome from the empire entirely. The font of all Roman history and identity now found itself beyond the frontier, and the emperor of Constantinople was now situated in the heart of the empire. At the time, however, ­these implications ­were not so clear. ­Until his death in 480, ­there remained at least one recognized candidate for the post of western Roman emperor: Julius Nepos. Nepos had been appointed western emperor by his eastern counterpart Leo I (r. 457–74), whose latter years ­were consumed by crises in the west. Leo’s westward focus culminated in a catastrophic military disaster in 468, when an eastern Roman expedition was destroyed while failing to dislodge the Vandals from North Africa, leaving the economic power­house of the Roman west in barbarian hands.3 ­A fter 468, the eastern empire would face its own prob­lems, which largely prevented it from meaningfully intervening in western affairs and consumed the attention of its historians. Leo’s authority as emperor was weakened in the wake of the military disaster in North Africa, leaving him vulnerable to the maneuverings of Aspar, the barbarian magister militum, who had been the power ­behind the eastern throne since the reign of Theodosius II (r. 408–50). Leo’s armies and trea­sury ­were de-



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pleted, his ability to assist and control the western empire had evaporated, and he was in desperate need of new allies to stabilize his regime. In response to ­these prob­lems, Leo sought to tap the manpower of the Isaurians, a martial ­people from south-­central Asia Minor who, though surrounded on all sides by Roman territory for centuries, w ­ ere never fully pacified and not yet considered quite Roman.4 Using t­ hese domestic barbarians, Leo succeeded in securing his throne, but at the cost of establishing a power­ful Isaurian faction at court, whose position was formalized by the marriage of the emperor’s ­daughter, Ariadne, to an Isaurian general named Tarasikodissa, who took the name Zeno. Despite this marriage, Leo never intended to allow Zeno to be emperor, and instead named his grand­son Leo II, the child of Ariadne and Zeno, as Caesar. Leo I died on 18 January 474, but his grand­son followed him the same year, albeit not before crowning his f­ ather as co-­emperor. Upon the death of Leo II, and in a radical inversion of heredity, his f­ ather Zeno inherited his throne. In the course of a single year, the eastern empire had passed through the hands of two emperors only to end up ­under the authority of a man whose Romanness was contested at best. One year ­later, in 475, Zeno faced a revolt led by the usurper Basiliskos, who was his uncle-­in-­law—­that is, the ­brother of Zeno’s mother-­in-­law, the dowager empress Verina. Zeno was forced to flee Constantinople but managed to return in 476 accompanied by an army of his Isaurian kinsmen. The irony of the year 476 is that both Rome and Constantinople w ­ ere besieged and taken by barbarian armies, but where Odoacer explic­itly rejected the title of emperor and sent the western imperial regalia to Constantinople, Zeno upon his return assumed the office of eastern, now sole, Roman emperor. Zeno’s trou­bles did not end in 476, and his reign was plagued by revolts and court intrigues. His brother-­in-­law Marcian, grand­son of the eponymous emperor Marcian (r. 450–57), revolted in 479. Zeno was saved by his general Illos, originally a supporter of Basiliskos, and a contingent of Isaurian troops. In the years that followed, Zeno came to rely heavi­ly on his fellow Isaurians, who became an entrenched faction in the military, court, and administration of the eastern empire. Zeno and Illos eventually had a falling out that in 484 produced another rebellion, which lasted u­ ntil 488. At no point in his reign did Zeno have the capacity to meaningfully intervene in western affairs. Instead he outsourced the prob­lem of Odoacer to another barbarian general, Theoderic the Goth, primarily as a way of ending the threat that Theoderic posed to Zeno’s beleaguered regime. Theoderic headed west, ostensibly acting u­ nder imperial o­ rders, but he was for all intents and purposes seeking to establish himself as the in­de­pen­dent king of Italy, a goal he accomplished a few years ­after Zeno’s death.

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On the night of 9 April 491, the emperor Zeno died ­after seventeen tumultuous years on (and off) the throne. At the time of his death, Odoacer and Theoderic w ­ ere struggling for control of Italy. Theoderic had invaded in 489 and by 491 was well on his way ­toward ruling Italy as an in­de­pen­dent Gothic kingdom, albeit one that observed many of the forms of traditional Roman rule and feigned subordination to the government in Constantinople.5 Nevertheless, Theoderic’s conquest of Italy was a further step in the devolution of the former western Roman empire, and one that contributed to the prob­lem of identity that faced the government and ­people of Constantinople. A ­ fter all, the eastern empire too could be said to be ruled by barbarians: Zeno and his Isaurians. When Ariadne entered the imperial box in the hippodrome to address the citizens and soldiers of Constantinople on the morning of 10 April, she was addressing a Roman populace as well as a po­liti­cal and intellectual elite that was weary of being ruled by an unpop­u­lar and non-­or quasi-­Roman emperor, wary of the influence of barbarians, and resentful of the dominance of the Isaurians, led now by Zeno’s ­brother Longinos. She was likewise addressing, ­whether she knew it or not, the historians and poets who would begin the pro­cess of coming to terms with the new realities of the solitary eastern Roman empire. It had been traditional since the reign of Augustus for historians not to write the history of a living emperor, and Zeno’s reign had locked away the history of the end of the western Roman empire b­ ehind that taboo.6 Zeno’s death, therefore, marked a new opening for writing the history of the fall of the western empire, as well as a new moment in the history of the eastern empire, a moment at which the sequence of domestic crises would abate, allowing the east to take stock of what had happened to itself and to the west in the years since 476. The shape of the discussion would be determined by the po­liti­cal milieu of the eastern empire ­under its new emperor, Anastasius. Front and center, and from, quite literally, the first day of his reign, was the question of Romanness.

* * * Our most detailed account of the events of 10 April 491 comes from On Ceremonies, a handbook compiled at the behest of the Byzantine emperor Konstantinos VII Porphyrogennetos (r. 945–59), which preserves the account of Petros the Patrician. On Ceremonies is itself a testament to the continued potency of Roman historical memory, seeking as it does to ground Byzantine imperial traditions in their Roman heritage. Petros, meanwhile, is a prototype for the authors who w ­ ill, by and large, be the focus of this book. A trained l­ awyer, Petros



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joined the imperial bureaucracy of the eastern Roman empire and served as ambassador to the Ostrogothic kingdom and magister officiorum during the reign of Justinian. He knew Ioannes Lydos, was known to Prokopios, and like his fellow bureaucrats, produced works of history and antiquarianism.7 His account of the accession of Anastasius is in some re­spects compressed, but demonstrates that a palpable concern for Romanness permeated the proceedings. The morning a­ fter Zeno’s death, the p­ eople and soldiers of Constantinople gathered in the hippodrome to cheer Ariadne, hailing her as augousta, which was traditional for an empress, and wishing her eternal victory, which was not. Ariadne, in turn, praised the ­people for their restraint and calm during the ongoing interregnum, remembering perhaps the chaos and destruction caused by Marcian’s putsch twelve years e­ arlier. ­These pleasantries exchanged, the assembled crowd called for an “orthodox emperor for the oikoumenē” and shortly thereafter for an “emperor of the Romans for the oikoumenē.”8 Although it appears innocuous or banal, the mention of an emperor of the Romans highlights a tension that ran through the proceedings. It was clearly one the empress understood, as she responded with a promise to choose as emperor “a man who is Christian, Roman, and filled with e­ very imperial virtue.”9 In 491 it did not go without saying that the emperor of the Romans would himself be (or be seen as) a Roman, but this was clearly a central component of the populace’s demand, a point driven home during the next phase of the proceedings. Following her promise to choose, in consultation with the senate and other high officials, an orthodox Roman, Ariadne declined to name a new emperor, asking that time be allowed for the burial of Zeno. This request highlights the transactional nature of the exchange between ­people and empress; in return for their patience, the p­ eople demanded the removal of the prefect of the city, whom they called a thief. They then went on to remind Ariadne that they expected her to keep her promise and appoint a Roman to the throne, chanting “let ­every good ­thing come to you, Roman ­woman, if nothing foreign is added to the race of the Romans.”10 ­There can be no mistaking the meaning of this acclamation. The populace, which had so far called the empress by e­ ither her name or her official title of augousta, pointedly referred to her as a Roman and demanded that she not choose a non-­Roman emperor. The Romans of Constantinople would not tolerate another Isaurian emperor. Thus began the reign of Anastasius the son of Pompeios, the first emperor of the Romans raised to that office ­after the fall of the western empire.11 He was selected by the court, approved by the ­people and the armies, and married to Ariadne two weeks l­ ater, all on a tide of anti-­Isaurian sentiment that was clearly

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articulated by the ­people of Constantinople in terms of Romanness. Indeed, Ariadne gave Anastasius’ Romanness equal billing with his Chris­tian­ity as a condition of his appointment. Such was the heady and electric mix of what we might now call identity politics that characterized the accession of Anastasius. Almost at once he faced the first challenge to his reign: a predictable uprising by the Isaurians ­under Longinos. It was five years before Anastasius concluded his Isaurian War by demolishing the mountain strongholds of the Isaurians.12 To celebrate his victory, the emperor erected a statue of himself (crushing Isaurian arms underfoot) in the Zeuxippos Baths near the palace in Constantinople, in a collection that included his putative ancestor Pompey the ­Great.13 He also inscribed an epinician epigram on the Chalke Gate of the palace. ­A fter the defeat of the Isaurians, Anastasius spent the remainder of his reign in relative tranquility and prosperity, though his final years ­were overshadowed by the rebellion of his general Vitalian in Thrace. The accession of Anastasius underscores how charged, popu­lar, and po­liti­ cally relevant discussions of Romanness ­were in late fifth-­century Constantinople. Romanness was part of the litmus test for a new emperor in 491, and the subsequent years of campaigning against Isaurians, along with the establishment of a stable and prosperous Gothic kingdom in the west, prompted the writers of Anastasius’ reign to confront the prob­lem of recent Roman history through the same lens. The prob­lem for Anastasius and for the authors working during his reign was that, with Rome and Italy lost to the empire, New Rome and her Romans needed a new way to conceptualize their Romanness; a new locus of Roman identity was required, and the authors of Anastasius’ reign strug­gled to find it, not out of an abstract desire for a Roman history for Constantinople, but out of urgent po­liti­cal necessity. We find evidence of this shift in the road not taken. E ­ arlier in the fifth ­century, two eastern Roman authors, Priskos of Panion and Malchos, had pioneered a new form of Roman historiography, the history of Byzantium. Despite its prevalence in modern academic parlance, the citizens of the eastern Roman empire never ­adopted for themselves the title of “Byzantines,” though the term was sometimes used to refer to the inhabitants of Constantinople. Priskos and Malchos are our exceptions and wrote histories of the eastern Roman empire ­under the title of Byzantine History. Priskos’ history, according to the Souda, a tenth-­century encyclopedia, was “a Byzantine history and the affairs concerning Attila in eight books.”14 According to another source, the patriarch Photios, Malchos likewise wrote a “Byzantine history in seven books.”15 Priskos published his history around 476 and was



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aware of the deposition of Romulus Augustulus. Malchos’ date is less secure, but he is usually assigned to roughly 480. Both historians, then, belonged to the period before what had happened in the west was clearly perceived as a fall, and ­were writing histories of the period before Zeno’s accession in 474. They are therefore evidence of the direction eastern Roman historiography was taking prior to the reign of Anastasius—­a final snapshot of the historiography of the “twin empires” Millar postulated. This trend in fifth-­century historiography was predicated on the need to carve out a distinct space in the larger category of Roman history for the history of the eastern Romans and their empire. The abandonment of this proj­ect in the years ­after 480 indicates a change in the concerns of con­temporary historians (one reflected in the works of con­temporary poets, ­lawyers, and emperors), namely the newfound need to establish a solitary and hegemonic Romanness.16 Looking ahead to the next two chapters, we see that some authors, like Zosimos, turned to Old Rome, ­others, like Hesychios, sought to reinvent New Rome in the model of the Old, while still o­ thers, like Christodoros, sought to reconceptualize Romanness in a Greek world. Anastasius, for his part, looked for a ge­ne­tic link, and his administration’s propaganda sought to associate him with Pompey the ­Great, a figure of unimpeachable Roman credentials. Under­ lying all of t­ hese approaches was a fundamental question: what did it mean to be Roman in an empire without Rome? The answers ­were crafted with a common method: the creation of a new Roman history for New Rome.

Zosimos: Rome and Anti-­Rome The foundation and inauguration of Constantinople by Constantine in 324 and 330 respectively are among the most discussed events in late Roman historiography, and debates over the relative status, implications, and importance of Old and New Rome can be found in the sources throughout the fourth and fifth centuries.17 Given this background, it is not surprising that the sudden, dense discussion of identity that followed the end of Roman rule in the west often focused on the identity and destiny of the city of Constantinople, now that the Roman empire no longer included the city of Rome. The status of Constantinople had been, ever since its rechristening as New Rome, implicitly and explic­itly defined in relation to Old Rome, in much the same way that the values of many modern currencies are pegged to the American dollar.18 The events of 476 and 489, by demoting Rome from its status as an imperial city and rendering it first

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in­de­pen­dent of and then nominally subject to Constantinople, necessarily invalidated the existing mechanisms for confirming the city and its empire’s Roman identity. What is the value of a currency pegged to the dollar if the dollar suddenly ceases to exist?19 This was the dilemma that confronted the eastern Roman empire in 476 and intensified in 489, less than two years before Zeno’s death brought the question to a head.20 The po­liti­cal separation of the empire from its original capital created a spectrum of new valences for the title of “Roman,” which w ­ ere thrown into greater confusion by Justinian’s campaigns of reconquest beginning in 535. The dispersal of Roman identity during this period is most clearly expressed in Prokopios’ account of the Gothic War, in which we find Romans (the imperial army, composed largely of native Greek speakers along with Germanic and Hunnic auxiliaries) fighting to “liberate” Romans (the inhabitants of Rome as well as other cities in Italy) in the shadow of the ­great achievements of the Romans (the ancient inhabitants of the city who created the empire). Against this tumultuous background, discussions of the city of Constantinople, w ­ hether literary, historical, topographical, or monumental, became de facto discussions of Roman identity, with all the attendant implications for po­liti­cal and cultural legitimacy.

Zosimos and the Cycles of Roman History Zosimos’ New History is an excellent starting point for understanding discussions of Constantinople in the sixth c­ entury both b­ ecause he introduces and foreshadows many ele­ments of ­those discussions and ­because his intense focus on the city of Rome highlights the insecurities and conflicts that lay beneath t­ hose discussions. Zosimos is a writer of indeterminate period commonly assigned to the late fifth or early sixth c­ entury. An employee of the imperial bureaucracy, he was a resident of Constantinople and one of the last vocally pagan authors of late antiquity.21 True to form, Zosimos’ response to the challenges of his day was contrarian: not only was New Rome not capable of supplanting its pre­de­ces­sor, but the fall of Old Rome could be laid directly at the feet of Constantinople, which was both a lesser Rome and a manifestation of the sinful and barbaric failures of its founder Constantine. Constantinople’s role in Zosimos’ narrative is predicated on the cycles of collapse and revival that run throughout his work and the essential role religion and the city of Rome play in t­ hose cycles. Zosimos opens his history with a strategic reframing of the history of Polybios:



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It appeared proper to Polybios the Megalopolitan, in deciding to hand down to posterity the deeds of his own time that ­were worthy of remembrance, to show by means of the deeds themselves how the Romans, despite waging war on their neighbors for six hundred years following the founding of their city, did not acquire a ­great empire, but having subjugated to themselves some portion of Italy, and despite being deprived of it following the arrival of Hannibal and the defeat at Cannae, when they saw their enemies pressing upon their very walls, they ­were raised to such a degree of fortune that in fewer than fifty-­three years they won for themselves not only Italy but also all of Libya and they had already brought the western Iberians u­ nder their control.22 Where Polybios’ history dealt with the rise of Rome’s empire (archē), shifting between vari­ous theaters, in par­tic­u­lar between the Punic and Macedonian wars, Zosimos re­orients that story to focus on the city of Rome itself. For Zosimos the core of Roman identity is not found in its empire, which he reports was both minimal and lost at the time of the Second Punic War, but in the city. By beginning his narrative of Roman imperial expansion at a moment when the Romans possessed only a single city, Zosimos not only emphasizes the remarkable nature of Roman expansion, but also implies a definition of Romanness predicated solely on reference to the city of Rome. Rome’s empire is secondary, so long as the city is held. Zosimos distorts the narrative of Polybios in order to enhance and highlight his focus on Rome rather than her empire. Roman imperial expansion began, in Zosimos’ telling, when the Cartha­ginians w ­ ere “pressing upon [Rome’s] very walls.”23 Readers of Polybios both modern and ancient ­will recognize this as an exaggeration. Hannibal famously failed to press his advantage ­after Cannae by declining to assault the walls of Rome,24 but Zosimos’ misrepre­sen­ta­tion of Polybios redirects attention away from the empire (archē) of the Romans, which Polybios explic­itly identifies as his subject,25 and onto the city of Rome itself. It also foreshadows the siege of Rome by the Goths that Zosimos himself ­will recount, and so this slight distortion of Polybios further links the two histories thematically. Zosimos uses the first line of his history to place Rome at the center of a cycle of expansion, decline, and renewal, a sequence that w ­ ill reoccur throughout his history and which he uses to structure his entire narrative. Zosimos proceeds to flatten the arc of Roman history ­after Hannibal, reducing the staccato and haphazard Roman expansion reported by Polybios and ­others into an orderly narrative proceeding outward from the city of Rome:

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In fewer than fifty-­three years they won for themselves not only Italy but also all of Libya and they had already brought the western Iberians u­ nder their control. Then, aiming at more, they crossed the Ionian Gulf, conquered the Greeks, dismantled the Macedonian empire, and, seizing hold of the man who at that time was ruling the Macedonians, they led him to Rome.26 The steady and orderly progression of empire Zosimos lays out ­here is reminiscent of the image, familiar from both documentaries and Hollywood movies, of Roman colors expanding smoothly across a map, effortlessly and homogenously incorporating new territory into the empire. Rome, meanwhile, remains at the center of this expansion, a point underscored by the progression of conquests. Zosimos ultimately brings his narrative back to its original starting point, concluding the tale of Roman expansion with the deportation of the last Antigonid king, Perseus, to Rome. Zosimos maintains focus on the city of Rome by de-­ emphasizing Perseus at a grammatical level, omitting his name and not referring to him directly as a king. Instead, Perseus is mentioned through an awkward and deflating periphrasis, shifting attention away from his person and onto the city to which he was sent. No Roman is named at any point in Zosimos’ brief narrative: the city of Rome stands in for all Roman characters, and the deportation of Perseus marks the submission of Greece not to a general of Rome, as a triumph might normally imply, but to the city itself. Narrating imperial expansion inevitably draws attention away from the origin of that expansion and t­ oward its margins, yet Zosimos’ decision to loop his narrative of Rome’s conquests back through Rome not only returns attention to the city, it also creates a cyclical narrative structure in which expansion begins and ends at Rome. Zosimos highlights the discreteness of this first cycle of imperial expansion by resuming his narrative, ­after a comment on the remarkable nature of Rome’s success, not with Roman expansion into Asia, but with the rise and fall of Greece, the Macedonian empire, and the Hellenistic empires, which leads directly into his account of the fall of the Republic and rise of Augustus.27 In other words, the narrative of Zosimos’ opening lines is set apart from the main narrative of his first book. Given the placement of this narrative at the very opening of the history, its completeness, and its sequestration from the remainder of the historical narrative, the story of Rome’s expansion a­ fter Cannae must be understood as programmatic for Zosimos’ New History. Zosimos uses Polybios to establish a normative narrative of Roman history in which the city of Rome remains the focal point of Roman imperialism. The



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extent to which Zosimos can be credited with meaningfully adopting the model of Polybios has been discussed before and the judgment was not to Zosimos’ benefit.28 However, insufficient attention has been paid to how Zosimos is using Polybios. Polybios was not merely a model to be directly copied, but rather a normative narrative template used to create expectations in con­temporary readers and to condition their reactions to subsequent events in the narrative. The normative narrative Zosimos establishes in his own history is one of imperial failure and revival with a central role reserved for the city of Rome as both the font of Romanness (­because even without an empire Roman civilization was understood to exist while Rome was f­ ree) and the ultimate symbol of Roman imperial dominance.29 The model that Zosimos constructs in his opening lines is repeated twice more in his work, once in the first book of his history and again in the second. The first book of the New History covers all of Roman history from the founding of the city to the reign of Diocletian, but as the excerpts cited above show, the level of detail varies. Zosimos’ historical coverage begins with ­little more than a list of territories conquered and, eventually, emperors, although greater detail is added beginning with the foundation of the Severan dynasty. While no reign is treated at length, the longest extant narratives in the first book cover emperors from the period of the third-­century crisis, among whom Aurelian is especially prominent. The end of the first book of the history is obscured by the loss of eight leaves, a full quaternion, from the manuscript, covering the latter half of the reign of Probus through the reign of Diocletian. A similar lacuna obscures the opening of book 2 and the end of the final book. Fortunately, Photios discusses Zosimos in his Bibliotheke and reports specifically on the contents of the first and sixth books of the history: [Zosimos] begins, one might say, with Augustus, but runs through all of the emperors u­ ntil Diocletian, barely reporting their public proclamations and succession. ­A fter Diocletian, he divides his account of past emperors more broadly into five books. The first book accounts for ­those emperors from Augustus up to Diocletian, and he completes the sixth book with an accounting of precisely that time at which Alaric, then besieging Rome for the second time and with the populace in dire straits, broke the siege, and proclaimed Attalus their emperor.30 Photios is not specific as to what material on Diocletian’s reign was contained at the end of the first book, but the extant second book picks up with a digression

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on the Secular Games and offers clues about where the division between the books takes place. The Secular Games ­were a Roman festival reintroduced by Augustus; they derived their name from the fact that they ­were meant to be celebrated once per saeculum, the longest period of a ­human life, which Zosimos places at one hundred and ten years.31 The extant portion of Zosimos’ second book begins in the m ­ iddle of an explanation of the name of the games and the term saeculum; this context most likely places the passage near the beginning of the digression.32 At the end of the digression, Zosimos reports that “the festival was neglected ­after Diocletian laid aside the office of emperor,”33 and offers a calculation showing that the games o­ ught to have been celebrated during the joint reign of Constantine and Licinius.34 When Zosimos returns to his main narrative, he begins with the appointment of new Caesars by Constantius and Galerius, indicating that the preceding narrative had left off ­either at or soon ­after Diocletian’s retirement.35 ­Because the digression on the Secular Games looks forward to events not yet reported, namely the reign of Constantine and the decline of the empire a­ fter his neglect of the games, it can be understood as part of a programmatic preface to the second book and the remainder of the history, which is chiefly concerned with the failures of imperial governance and policy that led to Alaric’s siege of Rome. ­There is debate over the ending of Zosimos’ history. The sixth and final book of the work is significantly shorter than the other five and terminates at an inconclusive point in the narrative. However, Photios reports precisely this moment as the end of Zosimos’ account, indicating that the edition of Zosimos to which he had access ended at the same place as our own. Given Photios’ relative proximity to the time Zosimos was writing, the prob­lem has prompted speculation that Zosimos died with his work unfinished, an idea which is somewhat undermined by Photios’ assumption that the title Nea Historia indicated that this was the second edition of Zosimos’ work.36 Operating u­ nder the assumption that the work is incomplete or unfinished, the prob­lem of the original or intended end point is complicated by Zosimos’ own uncertain dates. He is now generally assigned to the late fifth or early sixth ­century primarily on the basis of a reading of his comments on a tax instituted by Constantine and abolished by Anastasius.37 However, this reading is an inference based on a pair of genitive absolute phrases with aorist participles38 and Zosimos at no point explic­itly refers to the end of the tax. The case for placing Zosimos ­under Anastasius is therefore highly circumstantial. Nevertheless, we may, considering the degree to which his views accord with t­ hose of Justinian and other sixth-­century writers (as ­will be discussed below) place him within the



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Justinianic intellectual milieu regardless of w ­ hether he was con­temporary with that emperor.39 In other words, even if Zosimos wrote before the age of Justinian, he anticipated both the terms and the content of discussions that took place ­under that emperor. In light of all that is uncertain about the conclusion of Zosimos’ history, any attempt to understand its structure must rely to an extent on supposition. In the discussion below, I w ­ ill treat the New History as though it w ­ ere a complete work ­because the historical cycles under­lying the narrative are certainly pre­sent and reach a natu­ral kind of completion in the extant text. W ­ hether or not the entirety of the work as originally written or conceived preserved t­ hese structures throughout is ultimately impossible to know given the state of the text, the lack of other manuscripts, and the ­limited specificity of corroborating sources like Photios. However, the logical and thematic consistency between the observable cycles indicates that they w ­ ere of central importance to the New History regardless of what­ever content may or may not be missing from the conclusion of the extant work. The structure of the first two books is impor­tant b­ ecause it allows us to discern two cycles in Zosimos’ history that fit the Polybian model provided by his opening lines and indicates that, for all his bemoaning the decline of the Roman state, Zosimos’ outlook in his history is fundamentally optimistic. Zosimos has long been seen as a pessimist, a judgment that governs the way his history is interpreted and used by modern scholars. He is generally presented in terms that highlight ideas of decline, framing him as the last openly pagan author or the first historian of Rome’s decline and fall.40 All of t­ hese descriptions are true to an extent but rely on historical accident (our lack of other explic­itly pagan authors from this period) and an incomplete reading of the text. From the first sentence of his history, Zosimos discusses the mutability of imperial fortunes, citing the complete loss of Rome’s Italian empire to Hannibal immediately prior to its expansion throughout Spain, North Africa, and Greece. A similar narrative cycle structures the remainder of the first book in which, ­after introducing several examples of empires that fell due to internal divisions (the Greeks, the empire of Alexander, the Hellenistic empires), Zosimos reports on the civil discords that nearly destroyed Rome in the third c­ entury, only to end with the successful reassembly of the Roman empire u­ nder Aurelian and Diocletian. While it is difficult to make compelling arguments concerning material we no longer have, the majority of this narrative arc is extant, with only the period from Probus to Diocletian’s retirement missing, a period of about thirty years. The subsequent narrative in book 2 confirms that the empire has, in Zosimos’ view, been

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functionally reassembled. In addition, the digression on the Secular Games brings the discussion back to the city of Rome, which is inextricably linked to the games through the etiology Zosimos provides. The city of Rome and the games are also granted divine validation by a Sibylline Oracle. The Secular Games can be celebrated only in Rome and although we do not know how Zosimos prefaced this digression, the return of the narrative to the city of Rome aligns with the model established at the opening of book 1. The narrative arc of book 1, like that of the opening sections of the work, is the story of imperial collapse and revival structured around the city of Rome. ­A fter providing two historical examples of the ability of the Roman state to achieve stability and even expansion following a period of imperial decline, Zosimos begins the third and final cycle with his account of the Secular Games. As mentioned above, the games look forward to the reign of Constantine, and Zosimos begins to lay the groundwork for his account of that emperor at the close of his discussion of the Secular Games. The narrative arc of the last five books of the history thus begins at Rome with a discussion of the Secular Games and, as Photios reports, ends in the same city with a discussion of one of Alaric’s sieges in the fifth c­ entury. The overarching structure of t­ hese books, as well as the programmatic function of the digression on the Secular Games, is made clear when Zosimos explic­itly links the decline of the Roman empire, up to and including his own lifetime, to the neglect of the Secular Games that began during the reign of Constantine: While all of t­ hese ­things ­were completed in accordance with the rite, the empire of the Romans was protected and the Romans continued, even up to our time, to hold the entire inhabited world, so to speak, subject to themselves. But when the festival was neglected a­ fter Diocletian laid aside the office of emperor, the empire was immediately undermined and, unperceived, became completely barbarized, as events themselves showed us.41 Like the preceding two cycles, this third and final cycle begins and ends at Rome with the Secular Games and Alaric’s siege respectively. The difference is that the third cycle is incomplete; the siege of Rome is not the scene of Roman imperial revival but rather the nadir of Roman fortunes. However, it closely parallels another low moment in Rome’s history, when the city was, at least according to Zosimos, isolated and besieged by Hannibal in the aftermath of the defeat at Cannae. The incompleteness of this cycle begs the question of what happens next,



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and that is precisely the question Zosimos presumably means to pose to his readers. Of course, he also provides clues to the answer in the form of his comments on the Secular Games. It is the abandonment of ­these games, and the neglect of pagan religion more broadly, that has caused the decline of the empire. That empire remains recoverable, but it ­will require the Romans to reverse course and readopt their ancestral religion. Con­temporary scholars have correctly identified the decline of the Roman empire as one of Zosimos’ chief topics of concern but have failed to recognize that this decline is not inherently irreversible, ­because it maps directly onto the cycle of imperial decline and resurgence set forth in the opening lines of the history and again in the core narrative of book 1. The cause of Rome’s decline is the abandonment of traditional religious practices, in par­tic­u­lar the Secular Games, but Zosimos has already indicated that such a decline may be arrested and reversed. In his discussion of Aurelian’s campaigns in book 1, Zosimos pauses for a brief digression on the signs that foretold the eventual collapse of the Palmyrene Empire: It is fitting to relate the events that occurred prior to the collapse of the Palmyrenes, even if I appear to be composing my history at a run according to the program I wrote in my introduction, ­because just as Polybios recounted how the Romans gained their empire in a short time, I ­will tell how they [the Romans], through their wickedness, destroyed it in not much time. But I w ­ ill report ­these ­things when 42 I arrive at that portion of my history. Zosimos heavi­ly signposts the episode he is about to report: the rejection of the Palmyrenes by the gods. Zosimos refers once again to Polybios, which recalls the role of that author in the programmatic opening lines of the history. Moreover, Zosimos explic­itly states that he is interrupting the ­running pace of his work to digress on the topic of the relationship between the Palmyrenes and the gods ­because of its importance. Fi­nally, this is the first time in the work that Zosimos explic­itly states that his goal is to report on the decline of the Roman state, a topic he formulates only now and in contrast to Polybios. Zosimos acknowledges h ­ ere the partition of his history between the first book, his current narrative (the third-­ century crisis), and the other books of the history by indicating that he has not yet reached his discussion of the reasons for the decline of the empire. This confirms that Zosimos recognized the tripartite structure of his work, which I am arguing mapped onto cycles of imperial decline and revival.

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­A fter giving his reader so many reasons to pay attention, in par­tic­u­lar by exciting their interest in the looming decline of the Roman empire, Zosimos proceeds to report the vari­ous signs given to the Palmyrenes by the gods that foretold the demise of their empire.43 ­These warnings take the form of a prophecy and an omen. The prophecy comes from an oracle in a ­temple of Apollo who rebukes the Palmyrenes for inquiring about their chances for seizing the eastern Roman empire.44 The omen occurs when Aphrodite rejects the current and past offerings the Palmyrenes had customarily thrown into a pond near her t­ emple.45 In both cases, the Palmyrenes are not reported to have done anything to offend the deities in question, although the oracle does chastise them for being the “harassers of the glorious race of the immortals.” 46 Instead Zosimos attributes the divine rejection of the Palmyrenes to the ­favor with which the gods viewed Rome: This was the sort of goodwill the divinity had for the Romans so long as divine ritual was preserved, but when I come to t­ hose times in which it came about that the empire of the Romans quickly became barbarized into something small, and even this was destroyed, at that time I w ­ ill pre­sent the ­causes of its misfortune and ­will correlate them, as best I am able, with the oracles which foretold the events.47 Zosimos draws a contrast between the fate of the Palmyrenes, whom the gods abandoned through no fault of their own, and the Romans, who willfully abandoned the proper worship of the gods. His statement about the eventual destruction of the empire corresponds closely to the language he uses (at 2.7.1) to describe the consequences of neglecting the Secular Games, in par­tic­u­lar the idea that the empire was barbarized, likely a reference to the foreignness of Chris­tian­ity. The contrast between the Palmyrenes and Romans emphasizes the distinctions between the two major periods that Zosimos’ history covers, namely the pre-­Christian period, in which it was pos­si­ble for the Romans to recover their empire even ­after disastrous losses, and the post-­Christian period, in which the empire became something alien to itself and quickly collapsed. More impor­tant, however, is how the Palmyrene episode highlights a key feature of Roman decline: it is the result of a choice. Like the decision not to celebrate the Secular Games described in book 2, Zosimos makes it clear that the collapse of the Roman empire was the direct result of the choice to abandon traditional pagan religion. Zosimos even alludes to the fact that the gods specifically warned the Romans, through oracles, of the consequences of their actions.48 The logical conclusion of this line of argument is that the decline of the empire is reversible, if



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the Romans reverse their choice and embrace traditional religious ceremonies, like the Secular Games. Zosimos does not pre­sent the destruction of the empire as the final word on Roman civilization, in fact he has already reported that Rome accomplished more a­ fter its collapse during the Second Punic War than it had in six centuries, and this passage is itself placed in the midst of his account of the revival of the empire during the third ­century. The situation is far from hopeless, but the key to the f­ uture of the empire is the city of Rome, the only city in which the Secular Games and other traditional rites may be performed. The first line and first book of Zosimos’ history both act as test cases or proofs of concept for his approach to history in general by demonstrating Rome’s ability to recover from devastating losses, so long as proper religious practices are maintained. The structure of the second cycle parallels Zosimos’ reworking of Polybios’ narrative of Roman expansion; Zosimos begins with Augustus and the effects of monarchy on the administration of Rome before moving his narrative outward only to return once again to Rome for a lengthy discussion of the Secular Games, which are tied to the city by both an etiological myth and a prophecy. Again, the same pattern is followed in the remaining books of the history, whose structural distinction from the first book Zosimos himself acknowledges, with the narrative expanding only to once again focus on the city of Rome during Alaric’s siege. Unfortunately, Photios’ description is ambiguous about the exact ending point of the history,49 but it seems likely u­ nder the circumstances that the work ended with Alaric’s famously reluctant sack of Rome in 410. In any case, Photios does make it clear that the history at least covers Alaric’s second siege of Rome and the promotion of the puppet emperor Attalus. No ­matter the exact end point temporally, Zosimos’ narrative ends thematically where he picked up from Polybios, with enemies besieging the walls of Rome. It was perhaps this symmetry that prompted Zosimos to end his account with Alaric—­ assuming the work is not unfinished—­rather than Odoacer’s deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476. Each of Zosimos’ cycles begins and ends at Rome (the siege ­after Cannae pairs with the deportation of Perseus, the rise of Augustus with the Secular Games, and the Secular Games with Alaric’s siege of Rome), a feature which is certainly deliberate and likely reflects the tension between the subject of the New History and the circumstances of its composition. Zosimos wrote ­after the collapse of Roman rule in the west from the perspective of a retired member of the imperial administration operating out of Constantinople. Put differently, Zosimos was engaged in the proj­ect of empire on behalf of a Roman state that, for the first time in its history, did not control Rome, what­ever polite fictions ­were

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told regarding Odoacer and Theoderic. Despite this real­ity and the overtly morose tone of his work, Zosimos’ view of Roman history can be seen as optimistic ­because none of the ­factors he identifies as leading to Rome’s decline, including the marginalization of the aristocracy, the abandonment of pagan practice, and the neglect of the Secular Games, is necessarily a permanent state of affairs. Simply put, if Zosimos’ arguments are accepted, then Roman fortunes declined not ­because fate conspired against Rome, but ­because the Romans neglected their po­liti­cal and religious duties. Zosimos pre­sents Rome’s decline as a reversible pro­ cess and even provides, in his rushed first book, two examples of how similar declines had been arrested and reversed. This argument about the empire’s potential for recovery allows Zosimos, despite the fact that he was writing in Constantinople and had seen the end of Roman rule in the west, to view Elder Rome as the once and ­future center of the Roman empire. The image of Zosimos so far presented is a significant departure from existing scholarship on the author. For most scholars, Zosimos is unambiguously the first historian of Rome’s decline and fall.50 The prob­lem with this view is that while Zosimos talks at length about Roman decline, he does not posit a definitive or irreversible Roman fall. This is a modern idea that has been read into his text. A ­ fter all, how could Zosimos reasonably discuss the fall of the Roman empire while living in that very empire? Nevertheless, scholars such as Walter Goffart and Walter Kaegi have viewed Zosimos’ value to the intellectual history of the period as deriving primarily from his supposed acknowl­edgment of Rome’s fall.51 Goffart even goes so far as to suggest that Zosimos proves that modern historians are mistaken in emphasizing the continuity between the eastern Roman empire before and ­after the fall of the west, drawing on passages from Ioannes Lydos and Justinian’s laws to support this claim.52 As f­ uture chapters ­will show, Lydos and Justinian had complex relationships with their Roman past(s), but their default assumption was one of continuity.53 Likewise, Zosimos did not view himself as existing in a post-­Roman state and the idea that he did, as well as the reading of his work as fundamentally pessimistic, derives primarily from an unwarranted focus on Zosimos’ second programmatic passage, placed at the end of his account of the oracles offered to the Palmyrenes, at the expense of the opening of his history. While it is true that Zosimos frequently refers to the destruction of the empire, generally with the verb diaphtheirō, this does not necessarily correspond to our conception of the “fall” of an empire. The phrase “the decline and fall of the Roman empire,” especially ­after Gibbon, conveys a sense of complete erasure not only of a state’s imperial holdings, but also of its po­liti­cal institutions and cul-



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ture. When Zosimos speaks of the ruin or destruction of Rome’s empire, he is speaking solely of Rome’s imperial holdings, as is clear from his first line in which he recounts how Rome gained its Mediterranean empire ­after losing its previous Italian empire entirely. Zosimos gives no indication that ­there is an essential difference between Roman civilization before and a­ fter the b­ attle of Cannae, nor is the state that emerges u­ nder Diocletian identified as being any less Roman than what came before, at least in the passages that survive. This continuity is, in fact, essential to Zosimos’ argument about the pernicious legacy of Constantine and the role of his reforms, religious and administrative, in the decline of Roman fortunes and the loss of Roman imperial territories. In order to make Constantine’s crimes stand out, Zosimos relies on the assumption that the Roman state has been the same since the time of Augustus, who a­ dopted the monarchy and revived the Secular Games. Regardless of ­whether we view Zosimos’ outlook in the New History as optimistic or pessimistic, the fact remains that he pre­sents the city of Rome as an essential component of Roman identity. The fate of both the empire and Roman civilization more broadly is tied up in the city through divinely mandated rituals, as well as the proven ability of the empire to weather challenges so long as Rome remains. As we ­will see below, the importance of Rome in Zosimos’ historical model creates prob­lems for the identity and standing of New Rome and, by implication, the Roman identity of the empire (eastern or western) ­after 476. While t­ here is no evidence that Zosimos would have viewed the Roman empire as having “fallen” at the time of the final expulsion of the last emperor from the city in 476 (assuming he had written down to that point), t­ here can be no doubt, given the logic of his historical analy­sis, that he would have prioritized the recovery of Rome and felt that an essential component of Romanness, as well as a potential bulwark for Roman fortunes, had been lost along with the city. We can see in Zosimos’ prioritization of Rome a precursor to the attitudes of Justinian and Prokopios in their discussions of the reconquest of Italy. Although t­ hese l­ ater authors framed the debate in dif­f er­ent terms, a central question for both was the role of Rome in the sixth-­century Roman empire. Zosimos, as we have seen, was the first of our extant historians to grapple with this question.

Zosimos and Constantinople Zosimos chose to build the structure and content of his history around the city of Rome, granting it a level of prominence rivaled by no other city or character

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in his history and making it indispensable to any potential Roman revival through its mono­poly on the Secular Games. Yet his history also covers the foundation of Constantinople and he chooses to describe that event at some length. As with most accounts of Constantinople’s foundation, Zosimos’ version is closely connected to his depiction of Constantine. Zosimos divides his discussion of Constantine into two parts: the first is a military and po­liti­cal summary of his ­career up u­ ntil the death of Licinius, which is surprisingly positive at times,54 and the second is an account of his actions as sole emperor covering the remainder of his reign, which is overwhelmingly negative. Scholars have traditionally regarded this as an incoherent picture, but it has a kind of logic to it: Constantine in Zosimos can be presented positively and as victorious before his conversion to Chris­tian­ ity, but afterward he is always presented negatively. Zosimos’ account takes several liberties, including ignoring the foundation of Constantinople in 324 in ­favor of the dedication of the city in 330, in order to construct a narrative that links the creation of the new city to Constantine’s conversion to Chris­tian­ity.55 According to Zosimos, Constantine executed his son Crispus and second wife Fausta b­ ecause Fausta, ­after being rebuked in her amorous advances by Crispus, claimed that he had assaulted her.56 ­A fter the death of Crispus, and the complaints lodged by Constantine’s ­mother Helena, the emperor likewise put Fausta to death by locking her in an overheated bath. Subsequently, Constantine searched for a way to cleanse himself of ­these crimes: ­ ecause he had overseen t­ hese ­things [the murders] himself, and B moreover b­ ecause he had disregarded his oaths, he went to the priests seeking purification for his sins. When the priests told him that no manner of purification had been handed down capable of cleansing such g­ reat impieties, a certain Egyptian [or a man named Aigyptios] who had come to Rome from Spain and become acquainted with the ­women in the palace met with Constantine and assured him that the doctrine of the Christians was able to wipe out his entire sin; and he held out this promise, that the impious, when they had converted to that doctrine, would immediately be brought out of all sin.57 Zosimos’ account deliberately sets out to undermine the mainstream Christian narrative of Constantine’s conversion found in the works of writers such as Eusebios, Sokrates, and Sozomenos. Instead of Chris­tian­ity being responsible for Constantine’s military success, an appealing association for both the emperor and the Church given the importance of military victory in imperial ideologies, all



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of Constantine’s campaigns are placed squarely in the pagan phase of his life.58 In place of military prowess, Chris­tian­ity is associated with sordid and murderous domestic intrigue. Th ­ ere was a long-­standing tradition in ancient writing that associated domestic disorder with tyranny and effeminacy, beginning with Herodotos who ended his history with a description of the domestic disorders suffered by Xerxes a­ fter the B ­ attle of Plataea.59 The association between tyranny, ineffectual rule, and domestic disorder continued into the sixth ­century, as is clear from the works of Prokopios.60 Zosimos’ account is therefore the thematic inversion of the mainstream Christian narrative of Constantine’s conversion. Scholars have long noted, often as evidence of its unreliability, the parallels between the story of Fausta’s failed affair with Crispus and the myth of Phaedra and Hippolytos.61 What has so far gone unnoticed is the way in which this episode contributes to Zosimos’ account of the foundation of Constantinople and the casting of Constantine in the role of the refugee-­founder, a common archetype that includes figures such as Orestes, Dido, Diomedes, and Aeneas, although Constantine morally inverts this type of figure. Of t­ hese previous models, Constantine most closely resembles a reverse Aeneas, g­ oing from Rome back to Troy, where Constantine attempts to found a city before abandoning the site in f­ avor of Byzantion.62 However, the immediate cause of Constantine’s exile is not war (Aeneas), domestic intrigue (Diomedes and Dido), or his unholy crime (Orestes)—­though all of t­ hose play a role in his story—­rather Constantine is driven into a form of exile by the disapproval of the senate and ­people of Rome resulting from his new religious affiliation: When an ancestral festival occurred according to which it was necessary for the army to go up to the Capitoline and complete the customary rituals, Constantine, fearing the soldiers, took part in the festival. But the Egyptian sent an apparition that viciously reproached his ascent to the Capitoline, and Constantine, standing apart from the holy ritual, roused the senate and ­people to anger. ­Because he was not able to endure the slanders of the ­whole population, so to speak, he sought a city to be a counterweight for Rome, where it was necessary for him to erect an imperial capital.63 Zosimos’ account of the foundation of Constantinople is a long concatenation of ­causes and effects that ultimately lead to the symbolic banishment of Constantine from Rome, a sentence severe enough that the emperor was compelled (Zosimos uses the verb deō) to found a new capital. Constantine’s banishment

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has strong po­liti­cal connotations as Zosimos makes clear that it was the senate and ­people of Rome whose disapproval drove Constantine from the city, precisely ­those institutions upon which legitimate Roman government was understood to be based.64 This detail calls into question both the legitimacy and Romanness of the new city. Zosimos also attacks the Romanness of Constantinople and Constantine through the contrast that he establishes between Chris­tian­ity and traditional Roman religion. It should be remembered that a major feature of the decline of the empire in Zosimos’ history is the pro­cess of barbarization, which he associates with religious change during his programmatic discussions of the fall of the Palmyrene Empire and the Secular Games. Th ­ ere are certainly other facets to this barbarization (literally the pro­cess of becoming foreign), such as the Germanic migrations reported in l­ ater books, but the abandonment of traditional religion is Zosimos’ central concern. Zosimos offers insight into the identity of the man who swayed Constantine to Chris­tian­ity; he is “a certain Aigyptios,” an ambiguous title that is e­ ither an ethnonym or a name derived therefrom. In e­ ither case, he is associated with a distant, eastern province that had an established reputation for religious oddity and, by the time of Zosimos’ writing, militant Chris­tian­ity.65 The tension in the story of Constantine’s flight from Rome is provided by the competing interests of an unidentified “ancestral festival” and the pressure exerted by a man, explic­itly identified as a foreigner, hawking a foreign religion. Constantine’s decision to yield to foreign pressure, which sets into motion the foundation of Constantinople, results from a convergence of personal failings. Constantine was too foolish to see through Fausta’s lie, too cruel to deal justly with e­ ither Crispus or Fausta, too cowardly to accept the consequences of his decisions, and too vulnerable to foreign charlatans to see through their manipulations, all of which led to his embrace of Chris­tian­ity. This is precisely the sort of danger Zosimos anticipates in his brief discussion of the transition from republic to empire in book 1: It escaped the Romans’ notice that by handing over the entire administration to the judgment of that one man [Augustus] they ­were throwing dice for the hopes of all men and entrusting the danger of so ­great an empire to the enterprise and authority of a single man.66 Although this passage refers specifically to Augustus, it is part of a broader discussion of the perils of monarchy.67 Constantine perfectly demonstrates the danger, announced at the opening of the work and underscored by the opposition



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of the senate and ­people, by allowing his personal failings to begin the pro­cess by which, in Zosimos’ account, the entire empire is barbarized, baptized, and destroyed. Zosimos underscores his questions about the legitimacy and Romanness of Constantine and his New Rome by highlighting the correspondences between Constantine and Aeneas. Aeneas’ primary epithet in the Aeneid is pius, a term that refers explic­itly to his reverence for and obedience to the pagan gods whose worship Constantine had mocked and abandoned. Constantine on the other hand is precisely the opposite of pius: according to Zosimos he was an uncommitted pagan who “still made use of the ancestral rites, not out of honor but out of necessity.” 68 His fear of the gods did not restrain him from the murders of his son (born of his first wife) and his second wife, characters whose relationship to Constantine exactly parallel ­those of Ascanius and Lavinia to Aeneas. Both Ascanius and Lavinia play crucial roles in the establishment not of the city of Rome as such, but of the Roman ­people, the gens Romana, and therefore Roman identity. Where Aeneas repeatedly sacrificed personal desires in obedience to the gods in order to give Ascanius his kingdom, Constantine’s irreverence allows him to not only murder his analogous relation, Crispus, but to then abandon traditional religion entirely in search of easy forgiveness. Additionally, Zosimos depicts Constantine’s flight from Rome as the inverse of Aeneas’ journey, beginning in Italy and sailing back to Troy, before eventually settling on Byzantion. Constantinople, in Zosimos’ telling, truly was the city of Constantine, but not in a good way: its creation was directly caused by the emperor’s domestic, moral, and religious failings and aimed to create a source of imperial legitimacy to rival the senate and p­ eople of Rome, a counterbalancing (antirropos) city complete with its own permanent imperial residence. Zosimos’ portrayal of Constantine as an anti-­ Aeneas, an impius Constantinus, further underscores the contrast between the legitimate Roman capital and its distortion on the Bosporos. The idea of Constantinople as a counterpart to Rome is not unique to Zosimos, but the specific meta­phor of the new city being used to balance out the old, as if on a set of scales, merits consideration, especially in light of Zosimos’ subsequent commentary. The meta­phor of the scales establishes an antagonistic, zero-­sum relationship between the two cities, in which the greatness that accrues to New Rome comes at the expense of Old Rome. The image of the scales also recalls Zeus’ famous weighing of fates in the Iliad, which he uses to determine the outcome of a contest between the Achaians and Trojans, and, more famously, the outcome of the duel between Achilles and Hector.69 Just as the lives of heroes, and by extension the fate of Troy itself, hangs in the balance in the Iliad, so

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too does the fate of the Roman empire depend on the balance between Old and New Rome. This mortal, zero-­sum dynamic lends a ­bitter edge to Zosimos’ description of Constantine’s construction proj­ects in Constantinople. Zosimos’ account highlights the pagan nature of public space in Constantinople, pointing out that the t­ emple of the Dioskouroi was incorporated into the hippodrome along with a tripod bearing the figure of Apollo, and that Constantine built two ­temples, one to Rhea and one to the Fortune (Tychē) of Rome.70 Zosimos is willing to admit the impressiveness of some of t­ hese structures, but the relationship that he sets out between Old and New Rome makes even this praise double-­ edged: by embellishing Constantinople, Constantine impoverishes Rome.71 Despite ­these pagan ele­ments, Constantinople continues to lack what Zosimos pre­sents as the most impor­tant aspect of traditional pagan religion, at least in terms of the long-­term survival of the Roman empire: religious ceremonies. This emphasis is obvious in his discussion of the Secular Games, themselves a pagan festival, but Zosimos goes further in his formulation, linking the utility of the games to proper observation of the established rite (thesmos). In other words, festivals w ­ ere essential to the proper practice of pagan religion, but their utility depended on correct per­for­mance. For the Secular Games, adherence to established custom required that they be celebrated at Old Rome; what­ever its pagan adornments, New Rome could not act as a substitute. Likewise, Zosimos’ programmatic statement during the Palmyrene episode focuses on the preservation of divine ritual (hiera hagisteia), while Constantine’s abandonment of traditional religion comes to a head during an “ancestral festival” (patrios heortē). Zosimos’ clear and consistent focus in the New History is on religious ceremony, which required active participation on the part of the emperor and his subjects. The presence and incorporation of pagan ele­ments into public structures in Constantinople only serves to underscore Constantine’s failure to adopt the more meaningful and, in Zosimos’ telling, prophylactic ceremonies of Roman religion. In such a framework, ­there is a ­bitter irony in Constantine’s construction of a ­temple to the Fortune of Rome: his city was, by its very nature, antagonistic to the city of Rome’s good fortune, while his failure to promote or establish traditional religious ceremonies was equally poisonous to the health of the Roman state. Following his account of the foundation of Constantinople, Zosimos proceeds to briefly cover the remainder of Constantine’s reign, and his account is mostly composed of a series of criticisms of Constantine’s military and administrative policies, as well as ad hominem attacks on Constantine’s laziness and cowardice. Zosimos’ ultimate judgment of Constantine is briefly stated and pre-



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dictably bleak: “to speak plainly, Constantine began and planted the seed of the destruction of the empire which has continued up to the pre­sent day.”72 ­A fter devoting a single sentence to the appointment of Constantine’s heirs, Zosimos proceeds to spend two chapters outlining the ­future of the city of Constantinople. This survey functions as a parallel narrative to the account of Roman decline that occupies the remainder of Zosimos’ history; the growth of Constantinople, following Zosimos’ formulation, comes at the expense of Rome. The foundation of the city, along with the neglect of the Secular Games, administrative malfeasance, military incompetence, and moral turpitude, is yet another aspect of Rome’s decline set in motion by Constantine: Constantine increased the size of Constantinople to that of an exceedingly ­great city with the result that many of the emperors a­ fter him chose the city, which had gathered in itself a superfluous crowd, as their residence.73 Zosimos continues to trace the expansion of the city through the construction of the Theodosian land walls, the reclamation of waterfront, and the expansion of the populace, which he accentuates with complaints about building practices and overcrowding74 that are reminiscent of long-­standing tropes in Greek and Roman poetry.75 All of t­ hese comments provide indications of Constantinople’s rising importance and, by extension, the declining importance of its counterweight, the city of Rome. By framing his discussion of the fate of Constantinople in terms of the history of the empire following Constantine’s death and the rise of his successors, Zosimos is able to si­mul­ta­neously explore the fate of Constantinople and Rome and lay the blame for ­those ­future events on the actions of Constantine. A ­ fter all, if Constantine had not devoted so much energy to the embellishment of Constantinople, f­ uture emperors might not have chosen to live ­there at the expense of Rome and the focus of the empire might not have shifted east. ­Because the city of Rome is essential to both Zosimos’ conception of Romanness and his model of Roman imperial success, the move to Constantinople, a city without appropriate festivals and whose founding was an inversion of Rome’s, inevitably contributed to the abandonment of traditional pagan religion, the pro­cess of barbarization, and ultimately the failure of the western Roman empire. Zosimos’ condemnation of Constantine is diachronic. Constantine was not, in Zosimos’ telling, immediately responsible for the fall of Rome, a case that would have been difficult to make given the evidence, but he was the origin of

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all the pro­cesses and trends that culminated in Alaric’s sack of Rome in 410. Constantine’s founding of Constantinople is in effect the unfounding of Rome, an implication conveyed by the inverted parallels between Aeneas and Constantine. In order to drive this point home, Zosimos adduces an oracle that pre­sents Constantinople as a festering boil: For a savage, festering wound ­will come over the side of the land It w ­ ill swell greatly and, when it suddenly bursts, it w ­ ill flow with blood.76 Clearly, Zosimos loathes the city of Constantinople and the shift in imperial policies and priorities he believes it represents. Yet Zosimos’ conceptual model of Constantinople’s function in Roman history requires that the city be more than just a festering wound or product of imperial sin. In order for Constantinople to damage Rome it must fulfill the role of counterweight that Constantine conceived for it. In other words, Zosimos cannot portray Constantinople, and by extension Constantine, as a villain in the story of Roman decline u­ nless the city thrives. Zosimos’ hatred of Constantinople is balanced by occasional admissions that some features of the city w ­ ere truly remarkable. The palace, he admits, was “not much inferior to that of Rome”77 and Constantine “adorned the hippodrome beautifully in ­every par­tic­u­lar.”78 Moreover, looking forward to his own time, Zosimos won­ders at the lack of a prophecy foretelling Constantinople’s rise despite the fact that “the city of the Byzantines has increased to such a degree that no other city can rival its prosperity or magnitude.”79 Although Zosimos uses this prob­lem to introduce the less-­than-­flattering prophecy quoted above, the comment, like the ­others, reflects Constantinople’s sixth-­century real­ity as a power­ful and adorned imperial city. The tension between sorrow over the decline of Rome and grudging re­spect for the success of Constantinople runs throughout Zosimos’ account of Constantine’s city and facilitates his par­tic­u­lar model of the relationship between Old and New Rome. Zosimos’ hostility to Constantinople was predicated on the belief that the city of Rome held a unique place in the Roman world as a source of both Roman identity and Roman imperial success. Constantinople was by nature and (according to Zosimos) by design Rome’s rival, a new and foreign usurper of Rome’s rights as the ­mother of empire. Yet, as mentioned above, this attitude contrasted with Zosimos’ own circumstances as a resident of Constantinople, former employee of the imperial administration, and citizen of the eastern Roman empire.



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We can understand why the writers of the reign of Justinian did not adopt Zosimos’ hostility to New Rome. The relative statuses of the two cities remained an issue, especially in light of the disappearance of the western empire, as did the prob­lem of Rome’s po­liti­cal separation from the remaining Roman empire in the east, but explicit contrasts ­were generally eschewed.80 Zosimos’ hostility to New Rome is part of a matrix of historical arguments advanced in the New History, which privilege the religion, history, and topography of Old Rome in order to explain the ailing fortunes of the Roman state, especially ­after 476. According to Zosimos, the source of the state’s prob­lems and the nature of their remedies ­were bound up in the city of Rome, and Constantinople could not usurp that ancient capital’s function, no ­matter how well-­adorned the city was. In fact, Zosimos pre­sents Constantinople as at best a distraction and at worst a parasite, absorbing the resources of the Roman state without being able to offer the hope of revival provided by Rome and its pagan rituals. Although it is impossible to completely reconstruct Zosimos’ thinking from the incomplete and fragmented text that survives, it is clear that he understood Rome’s importance as inextricable from the Romanness of the empire. In other words, the city of Rome was not a talisman, whose power would pass to whoever possessed it, but rather an organ compatible with and essential to only one body politic: the surviving eastern Roman empire.

Hesychios of Miletos and the Greek Rome Both Zosimos’ ambivalence t­ oward Constantinople and his attempt to clarify its relationship to Rome are features that reappear throughout sixth-­century lit­ er­a­ture. They reflect a fundamental prob­lem presented by the po­liti­cal and cultural touchstone of Old Rome. Traditionalists, such as Zosimos, saw the replacement of Rome by Constantinople as an act of barbarization, even though he was unable or unwilling to deny that the new capital was a ­great city. However, for many authors, in par­tic­u­lar t­ hose writing ­under Anastasius or early in the reign of Justinian, the prob­lem with Constantinople was not w ­ hether or not the city was authentically Roman, but rather how to reconcile its Roman identity with the more immediate and largely Greek cultural context in which it existed. In no author is this more evident than Hesychios of Miletos who, perhaps in response to Zosimos’ framing of Rome and Constantinople as thesis and antithesis (or similar formulations that may have been current in late fifth-­ century or early sixth-­century Constantinople), offered a synthesis that bolstered

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Constantinople’s Roman credentials, while si­mul­ta­neously acknowledging the centrality of Old Rome in the construction of Roman identity and creating a parallel Greek history for the new Roman capital. He did so by crafting for Constantinople a new and improved Roman mythistory to parallel and compete with Rome’s Trojan origins. The result was the creation of a Greek Rome for a Greek Roman empire. As with Zosimos, the study of Hesychios is rendered difficult by the state of his extant writings.81 Where Zosimos’ New History appears to be largely intact with a single major lacuna and a problematic final book, Hesychios’ works survive only in fragments and in descriptions by l­ ater witnesses such as Photios and the Souda. Despite ­these limitations, we know a fair amount about Hesychios’ life, especially if we accept that he is the Hesychios, son of Hesychios whose name appears in a series of fifth or sixth-­century inscriptions found at Miletos.82 Hesychios’ primary work, and the only work from which an extended fragment survives, is his Roman and General History covering the period from the reign of the Assyrian king Belos to the death of the emperor Anastasius.83 Photios reports that Hesychios was also the author of another work, perhaps a continuation of his history, covering the reign of Justin and the early years of Justinian.84 Given this information we can assign Hesychios’ first composition to the early sixth c­ entury, likely the reign of Justin (r. 518–27) with the publication of the expansion and end of his writing ­career taking place sometime ­a fter Justinian’s ascension in 527, most likely before the beginning of Justinian’s campaigns in Italy. This dating is supported by the fact that Ioannes Lydos appears to have borrowed his periodization of Roman history in On the Magistracies, published around 554, from Hesychios.85 Accepting an early sixth-­century date for Hesychios places him at a transitional point between the writings of Zosimos and the majority of our sources for the reign of Justinian, which ­were largely published in the 540s and 550s. Hesychios does not appear to share the morose disposition of Zosimos, especially regarding the fate of the city of Rome. Nor was Hesychios writing in the wake of, and therefore in response to, the Roman reconquest of Italy. Hesychios’ Patria of Constantinople was produced at a moment when the loss of Rome could be viewed without the apocalyptic implications found in Zosimos or in the light of the destruction caused by the Gothic Wars. Instead, the relative security of the early sixth ­century allowed another prob­lem to come into focus, one which would only be exacerbated by Justinian’s imperial proj­ects in the west: the Romanness of the eastern empire.



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The Patria takes the form of a history of Constantinople from its founding as the city of Byzantion through its rededication and embellishment by Constantine. It opens with a discussion of the relationship between Rome and Constantinople: When 362 years had passed in Elder Rome a­ fter the monarchy of Augustus Caesar, and the affairs of that city had already reached their limit, Constantine, son of Constantius, took up the scepters and raised up a new Rome, ordering that it be judged equal to the first. And in this way it happened that this city [Byzantion], which had already been subject to tyrants and kings and which had often been governed as an aristocracy and democracy, at last achieved its preordained greatness.86 The distinctive feature of Hesychios’ mini-­history of Constantinople, especially when compared to Zosimos’ digression on the same topic, is the way in which he diffuses the potential tension between Rome and Constantinople. Hesychios opens his history of Constantinople at Rome, but rather than focus on the personality of Constantine, he calls attention to the history of Rome and that city’s arrival at some natu­ral limit (peras).87 The nature of this limit is not explic­itly defined, but both a temporal and territorial limit in or around 325 can be ruled out; temporally, the city of Rome continued to exist and function as a Roman capital for more than a ­century ­after the foundation of Constantinople, and, territorially, the bound­aries of the empire did not increase noticeably in the interim nor was t­here significant expansion a­ fter the foundation of Constantinople. The only logical limit the city of Rome could have reached was in its abstracted greatness (megethos), a conclusion supported by Hesychios’ use of the same term to refer to the growth of Constantinople. Hesychios in no way indicates that the greatness of Rome shrinks or is threatened by the greatness of Constantinople; the transition between the capitals is instead presented as the conclusion of one task (the glorification of Rome) and the assumption of another (the glorification of Constantinople). The goal of the new undertaking, Hesychios makes clear, is not to supplant or outshine Rome, but rather to equal it. The founding of Constantinople also fits an established model from the Greek world: the founding of a colony by a metropolis, an event which was often tied to the limitations of the m ­ other city. The relationship Hesychios posits not only takes Rome out of competition with Constantinople, it also makes the foundation, and subsequent greatness, of Constantinople an extension of Rome’s greatness.88

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Hesychios goes beyond diffusing tension and creates a relationship between Rome and Constantinople that actively reinforces the status of both cities by establishing parallels between episodes and features of Rome’s history and the history of Byzantion. Th ­ ese resonances give the history of Byzantion, and by extension Constantinople, a Roman shape despite their strictly Greek content. By incorporating famous episodes from Roman history into the Patria Hesychios implicitly acknowledges the importance of that history for establishing Roman identity. In other words, the allusions to Rome’s legendary past serve to make Byzantion appear more Roman and to confirm the status of Rome’s past as the definitive source of Romanness.

Romanizing Byzantine History Hesychios’ embrace of Old Rome in the Patria is neither innocent nor an affectation, but part of a strategy for crafting a Greek, pagan, and pre-­imperial identity for Constantinople without undermining the city’s Roman identity. For a work that is concerned, by its own admission, with the story of how Byzantion realized its destiny as the equal of Rome, the ­actual content of the Patria has ­little to do with Rome or the Romans. Of the forty-­t wo sections in the surviving Patria, the first thirty-­four contain no references to Rome or the Romans aside from ­those quoted above. Moreover, the chronology of the Patria is uneven. It begins several generations before the Trojan War and continues ­until roughly two generations a­ fter Philip II’s siege of Byzantion only to skip over a period of about four hundred years, resuming with Severus’ siege of the city in 196.89 It may be argued that this narrative gap is not original but the result of a subsequent recension. However, if this w ­ ere the case, it would be surprising if the l­ ater editor of the work, who preserved trivial details, such as a description of the bovine statue that the Athenian general Chares dedicated to his mistress, was unable to find a single episode or detail worth preserving in four centuries of narrative covering a period that included the city’s incorporation into the empires of Lysimachos, the Antigonids, and Rome.90 The surprising absence of Rome from the explicit narrative of the Patria is complemented by the emphatically Greek associations that Hesychios constructs for the city. In par­tic­u­lar, Hesychios goes out of his way to situate Byzantion’s legendary history in the context of the Trojan War. In antiquity, Byzantion was widely understood to have been founded by Megarian colonists, but Hesychios systematically undermines this tradition in order to identify the original inhab-



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itants of the city as Argives.91 Hesychios opens his discussion of the founding of Byzantion by setting the Argive and Megarian traditions at odds with one another using a men/de construction and distancing himself from both traditions by reporting them as the claims of ­others (Patria 3). Despite the ostensible equality this gives the two accounts, the Argive account is twice as long, calls on the sacred authority of the Pythian oracle, and includes an etiological myth for the naming of the Boukalia, all of which serve to enhance its legitimacy (4). The Megarian account, on the other hand, is given a single sentence, is undermined by an editorial comment saying that the Megarians are “telling stories,” and is further undermined by a third account that includes neither the Argives nor the Megarians (5).92 Hesychios’ preferred story is evident from his pre­sen­ta­tion of the two accounts. The Argive account is given primacy of place, a more elaborate narrative, as well as the oracular and etiological trappings of a traditional colony. The Megarian story, on the other hand, is presented as blandly as pos­si­ ble and not for lack of a more robust tradition for, as mentioned above, the Megarian origin of Byzantion was widely accepted in antiquity. The structure of this discussion allows Hesychios to pre­sent himself as a neutral arbiter who is equally dismissive of both traditions, and when he sets the rec­ord straight in the subsequent lines he does so having given the impression of impartiality while quietly endorsing an Argive tradition. Hesychios begins his more “plausible” account with Io the ­daughter of Inachos, whom he explic­itly identifies as the king of the Argives (6).93 ­A fter briefly covering the story of Io’s abduction, transformation, and torment by Hera, Hesychios reports that, while she was being driven mad by Hera, Io paused in Thrace to give birth to Keroessa, who was in turn impregnated by Poseidon and gave birth to Byzas, the founder of Byzantion (6–9). Hesychios’ story elevates the foundation of Byzantion from a traditional Greek colonial narrative, in which a group of citizens set out to found a new city ­under the direction of an oracle, to the level of myth.94 More importantly, the inclusion of a legendary story such as that of Io in a work of history recalls the style of Herodotos, in whose account Io also played an impor­tant role: Herodotos identifies the rape of Io as the starting point for all hostilities between the Greeks and Persians, at least from the Persian perspective.95 In this mythistorical context, Hesychios’ desire to associate Byzantion with the Argives takes on a new facet ­because, while the Megarians are not mentioned in the Iliad as having sent men to fight at Troy, the Argives are.96 The leader of the eighty ships from Argos was Diomedes, whose h ­ orses are referenced ­later in the Patria (37), and who reportedly stole the Palladion, the source of Troy’s protection, during the course of the

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war.97 Hesychios’ narrative for the founding of Byzantion allows him to associate the city and its p­ eople with the Achaians of the Trojan War, whom the ancients understood to be the Greeks, even though Homer did not use the term “Greek.”98 The associations Hesychios establishes between the founding of Byzantion and the Achaians of the Trojan War are supplemented and confirmed during the course of his narrative. Throughout the Patria, the city, in par­tic­u­lar its topography, is repeatedly associated with Greek figures from the Trojan War, while not a single Trojan hero is ever mentioned. This is a surprising feature in a text that is intent on proving the Romanness of Byzantion, especially considering that Aeneas attempted to found a city in Thrace, near Byzantion, before being rebuffed by the spirit of Polydoros.99 The Greek references begin with a headland of the Bosporos which Hesychios reports was named Chrysopolis a­ fter the child of Agamemnon and Chryseis, who was fleeing Clytemnestra in search of Iphigeneia (11). Similarly, Byzas built altars to Achilles and Ajax in the Strategion, Byzantion’s version of the Campus Martius (16). In the course of the Patria, areas in and around the city are given monuments to or stories involving the hero Amphiaraos (16), the Achaian seer Kalchas (21), Jason (33), Herakles (14, 37), and Diomedes (37). Meanwhile, the explicit mention of the Troadisian portico is granted no explanation of the name or associated my­thol­ogy (39).100 Hesychios goes to g­ reat lengths to ensure that the city of Byzantion and its environs are conceived of as existing not only in a Greek context, but in a heroic, anti-­Trojan Greek context. Of all the heroes mentioned, only Jason and Amphiaraos ­were not involved in a siege of Troy. However, Jason was responsible for Medea’s departure from Colchis, an event which Herodotos incorporated into his list of disagreements between Greeks and Persians, while Amphiaraos was a king of Argos, making him a logical figure to be memorialized in an ethnically Argive city.101 Hesychios uses the division between the two sides of the Trojan War to create an insurmountable distinction between Byzantion and Rome, which in turn allows Byzantion and Constantinople to be something more than Rome’s younger sibling. New Rome is the Achaian counterpart to the Trojan (Elder) Rome. For Hesychios, Rome is a Trojan city, Byzantion a Greek city, but both are Roman cities. The touchstone of Romanness in the Patria is not a city’s topography, but the shape of its history. Scholars have long noted the striking similarities between the events reported in the Patria and the legendary history of Rome, in par­tic­u­lar the correspondences between the figures of Romulus and Byzas.102 None of ­these similarities are explic­itly identified by Hesychios, but



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their density in an account as brief as the Patria as well as Hesychios’ consistent one-­upmanship of the Roman originals leaves no doubt that they ­were included in order to make Byzantion appear not only Roman, but even better than Rome when judged on Roman terms. The effect of ­these stories is to counterbalance the Greek identity Hesychios crafts through the city’s topography and associated etiologies with a Roman historical identity. The legendary history of Byzantion prepares the city to become Constantinople, the Greek Roman capital of a Greek Roman empire. The correspondences between the history of Rome and that of Byzantion begin with Hesychios’ account of Io. Aeneas, like Io, was driven from his home by Hera/Juno, and he eventually established the f­ amily line that produced Romulus, just as Byzas was descended from Io.103 Romulus and Byzas are obviously parallel figures not only in their capacity as found­ers, but also in their genealogies. Romulus is a distant relation of Venus/Aphrodite and the son of Mars/ Ares, both second-­order Olympians, but Byzas is the grand­son of Zeus and son of Poseidon, both of whom belong to the first generation of Olympians. The directness of Byzas’ descent and the higher status of his divine ancestors allow Byzas to compete favorably with his Roman counterpart. Byzas’ divine genealogy is the first in a series of competitive improvements on Roman legend that Hesychios inserts into his history. The next example of this competition comes when an ea­g le snatches a sacrifice from Byzas and deposits it on the ­future site of Byzantion (11), an event which is similar to the bird augury Romulus and Remus used to determine the original site of Rome. However, in Byzas’ story, the bird is an ea­gle, traditionally associated with Zeus.104 Having determined the site of the city, Byzas begins to build the walls with the help of Poseidon and Apollo (12). This detail links Byzantion to Troy, whose walls w ­ ere famously impenetrable and built by the same two gods, and sets up a contrast between the walls Romulus built for Rome and t­ hose the gods built for Byzantion.105 The reference to Troy, Poseidon, and Apollo recalls another wall, that built by the Achaians, which was not given the blessing of the gods and was torn down a­ fter the end of the Trojan War, a detail memorably reported in the Iliad.106 The walls of Byzantion therefore serve as replacements for the walls of Troy and the temporary Achaian wall, both of which have fallen, providing the victorious Achaians (Greeks) with a permanent, divinely sanctioned city across from the Troad—an Achaian Troy. Meanwhile, the reference to Poseidon and Apollo implicitly links Byzantion to Troy and creates a favorable contrast between its walls, b­ ehind which the Roman state continued to function in Hesychios’ time, and t­ hose of Rome, which had failed to protect the city.

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Despite the many parallels between Romulus and Byzas t­ here is one major feature of Rome’s founding that has no corresponding episode in the Patria, the murder of Remus. Scholars have assumed that the figure of Strombos, a hostile general leading an army of Skythians against Byzantion and explic­itly identified as Byzas’ (at least half-) ­brother, is meant to correspond to Remus.107 However, Strombos is a flawed parallel for Remus. Unlike Remus, who was Romulus’ twin and had been raised alongside him from infancy, Strombos does not enter the narrative ­until ­after the city of Byzantion is founded (20). The two traditions surrounding Remus’ death place his murder ­either during the disagreement about the location of Rome or shortly a­ fter Romulus begins to build its walls.108 Both of ­these events have analogs in the Patria, but Strombos is mentioned in neither of them. The association of Remus’ death with the founding of Rome was crucial to the ancient understanding of its significance; the murder of Remus was Rome’s original sin and an etiology for the Roman propensity for civil strife.109 By itself, the absence of Strombos from t­ hese ­earlier foundation scenes invites a contrast between the polluted foundation of Rome and the divinely assisted foundation of Byzantion. The contrast is enhanced by the fact that Hesychios never reports any direct conflict between Byzas and Strombos. When Strombos enters the narrative, he is leading a group of Skythians to attack Byzantion, which is in turn being assisted by a variety of other Greeks (20). Among ­these allies is Dineos, the ruler of Chalcedon, the area directly across the Bosporos, whose arrival at Byzantion, Hesychios rec­ords, coincided with the death of Byzas (22). The verb used to report Byzas’ death is metallassō, a word conspicuously devoid of violent connotations.110 Dineos is quickly chosen as stratēgos to replace Byzas, but Strombos and his Skythians are never mentioned again. Strombos and his disappearing army are made all the more suspicious by the fact that he is not attested in any other Greek source.111 It appears that Hesychios in­ven­ted the figure of Strombos and inserted him into the conclusion of Byzas’ life. Hesychios may have had many reasons for inventing Strombos, but one effect of his presence is to highlight the fact that Byzantion was founded without fratricide and that its founder avoided ever having to confront his ­brother in combat. The next parallel between Roman history and the Patria takes place during the siege of the city by Philip II of Macedonia in 340–39 bc.112 Hesychios reports that, on a moonless night, the Byzantines would have lost their city “if some god had not been their ally and caused dogs all over the city to bark.”113 This episode strongly resembles the story of Juno’s geese who, a­ fter the dogs had failed to notice a Gallic attack, alerted the Romans to the danger, allowing Marcus Manlius to preserve the Capitoline.114 In addition to being a famous episode



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from Rome’s early history, this event was also used as an etiology for the Supplicia Canum, an event during which geese ­were carried in pro­cession as heroes while dogs ­were tortured and killed.115 What has not yet been noticed is that the Byzantine version of this story improves upon the original in two major re­ spects. First, the dogs of Byzantion fulfill their proper function as guardians and detect the attack; the fate of the city is not left up to geese. Second, while the geese saved the Capitoline, the dogs of Byzantion saved the entire city and, in Hesychios’ telling, set the stage for the Byzantines to humiliate Philip, no minor feat (27). Once again, Hesychios is writing the history of Byzantion in a Roman mold, but improving upon the rec­ord of the early Romans. Hesychios makes clear in his introduction to the Patria that the greatness of Constantinople is distinct from that of Rome; Rome had already reached its predetermined limit before Constantine set out to create a new capital. This does not, however, mean that Hesychios viewed the two cities as equals. Throughout the Patria Hesychios describes Byzantion as a better version of Rome, freed in par­tic­u­lar from the pollution of fratricide and put on solid footing by the gods themselves. We can detect in Hesychios’ constant improvements upon the Roman rec­ord a desire to validate or explain the success of Constantinople and the eastern Roman empire in the years ­after 476. But this goal is balanced against two other major concerns, the first of which is making Byzantion a Greek city in a Greek world, one whose early history neither involved nor needed the intervention of Rome or a link to the defeated Trojans.116 The second countervailing consideration for Hesychios is the importance of being Roman. For all of his attempts to make Byzantion and Constantinople appear greater than Rome, the ­mother city of the Roman empire remains the inescapable font of Romanness. The very structure of the competition Hesychios creates between the two cities reinforces the authoritative Romanness of Old Rome by asking the reader to consider which city is better at being Roman based on the model established by Rome.

Hesychios and the Greek Roman Empire Hesychios’ historical formulation is fascinating in its own right, but, when inserted into its sixth-­century context, it illuminates a broader conversation taking place among a variety of authors beginning at the turn of the ­century and continuing at least u­ ntil the end of Justinian’s reign. Comparing Hesychios’ discussion of Rome and Constantinople to that of Zosimos, we find both authors

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concerned with many of the same issues, in par­tic­u­lar the fall of the western empire, the status of the empire’s two capitals, and the fundamental question of what it means to be Roman. Hesychios bases the distinctiveness of Byzantion on its associations with Greek history, a move that implies a distinction between the city of Rome and the Greek world. The origin of this divide, according to the Patria, dates back at least to the Trojan War when Greek heroes battled the Trojans, who would in turn become Romans. Where Zosimos conceptualized the empire as divided between pagans and Christians or Romans and barbarians, Hesychios instead posits a Greek and Trojan divide. As in Zosimos, Constantinople is dif­fer­ent from Rome, but that distinctiveness is not presented negatively. Hesychios’ focus on the Greek/Trojan divide allows him to construct a narrative that agrees with many of Zosimos’ core sentiments, in par­tic­u­lar on the nature of Roman imperial success and the importance of pagan religion. The first of t­ hese topics situates Hesychios firmly inside the intellectual context of the sixth ­century (as discussed in subsequent chapters), while the second provides evidence for an association between that context and an appreciation, not necessarily religious, for ele­ments of pagan Greek culture. Although Hesychios’ history largely ignores the period of the Roman Republic, skipping the four hundred years following the death of Philip II of Macedonia and picking up with Severus’ siege of Byzantion, the author offers a brief summary of the intervening centuries. But it happened then [­after the death of the last stratēgos] that the Byzantines lived at dif­fer­ent times ­under aristocracies, democracies, and even tyrannies. But when the empire of the Romans, by means of the authority of the consuls, overthrew e­ very power and enslaved the tribes of the Greeks, the Byzantines likewise came to obey it.117 The focus in this passage, as is appropriate for the Patria, remains solely on the city of Byzantion, and Hesychios makes a point of reiterating the vari­ous forms of government which administered the city during the intervening years, while failing to give the reader a single detail about the actions of t­ hose governments or their effects on the city. As mentioned above, even if we suspect that Hesychios’ original Patria has been epitomized, and that possibility must be acknowledged, the sheer number of years that are being glossed over in a single sentence makes it likely that this par­tic­u­lar summary was in the original work. Additionally, the phrasing in this passage closely resembles the opening of the Patria, in



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which Hesychios stated that Byzantion achieved its full mea­sure of greatness as Constantinople only ­after it had been ruled by tyrants and kings and governed as a democracy and aristocracy. Of ­these four forms of po­liti­cal leadership, all but the kings are mentioned in the summary of the period ­after Philip II. The implication is that Hesychios’ narrative has already covered the governance of Byzantion by kings, a clear indication that the reader was right to understand the seven stratēgoi of Byzantion as parallels for the seven kings of Rome. The other three forms of government, meanwhile, correspond to variations in the Roman constitution that took place during the same period. Having reminded the reader of the parallels he has developed between Roman and Byzantine history, Hesychios proceeds with a brief description of the expansion of the Roman empire and, despite the brevity of his account, pauses to mention that the empire of the Romans grew ­because of the consuls. The insertion of this comment into an account as compressed as this calls attention to the sentiment, as does its placement immediately a­ fter a subtle reminder that the narrative has just finished describing the period analogous to the rule of the kings at Rome. In Rome, the rule of the kings was followed by the rule of the consuls, and Hesychios is able to achieve a similar effect for Byzantion by compressing his narrative, even though a large period of time separated the last of the stratēgoi and the incorporation of the city into the Roman empire. Hesychios’ narrative of the expansion of the empire into Greece is surprisingly violent; the major po­ liti­cal powers in the Greek world are “overthrown” (hyperballō) and the Greek tribes “enslaved” (katadouloō). The subjection of Byzantion, on the other hand, is presented more mildly as a form of obedience. Hesychios uses the verb peithō to describe the submission of the Byzantines and thereby frames the act in the traditional Greek distinction between persuasion and violent force (bia). ­Because the Byzantines w ­ ere persuaded, rather than overthrown and enslaved, the reader is meant to understand that their submission was voluntary, or at least not the result of the same violent compulsion that affected the rest of the Greek world. This small detail creates a unique status for Byzantion inside the Greek context Hesychios has constructed for it in the Patria. Byzantion, alone among Greek cities, is not a slave to Rome, but some species of partner. Hesychios adds one more ambiguous detail to his account of Byzantion’s incorporation into the Roman empire by inserting the feminine dative singular pronoun to complete the meaning of the participle derived from peithō. This pronoun could refer to e­ ither the empire (archē) of the Romans or the authority (epikrateia) of the consuls. Though the empire is the likelier antecedent, the ambiguity is nonetheless pre­sent and complements the themes developed in the next

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passage in the Patria, which resumes the historical narrative with the emperor Severus’ siege: But when, a­ fter some time, Severus ruled Rome, ­these men [the Byzantines] honored the hope of Niger, who was at that time ruling the east as a tyrant, and dared to come to grips with the emperor.118 The story of Severus’ siege of Byzantion in 196 contains the vio­lence that is absent from Hesychios’ original account of the city’s incorporation into the empire.119 The phrase “come to grips with” is most often used of close engagements between armies in the field and, although clearly used meta­phor­ically ­here, introduces the idea of a direct strug­gle between Severus and the Byzantines. Severus is the first Roman emperor mentioned in the narrative of the Patria, and his appearance coincides with civil unrest and conflict, in other words the end of the Byzantines’ willing submission to Rome. Once again, Hesychios is using his abbreviated narrative to create telling juxtapositions, in this case suggesting a resolution to the ambiguity of the previous passage: to whom or what had the Byzantines submitted? If the Byzantines had originally submitted to the empire of the Romans, then their rebellion against Severus in ­favor of Niger is left without an explanation. If, however, their submission was to the authority of the consuls, then the Byzantine rebellion against the emperor is consistent with the previous narrative; due to the compression of the narrative, the end of the consulship in the Patria coincides with the end of Byzantine cooperation with Rome. The idea that Byzantion submitted not to an empire but to the authority of the consuls has another useful implication for Hesychios’ narrative: it creates yet another resonance between New and Old Rome. Hesychios describes Byzantion as the only Greek city not to be enslaved but to be ruled, like Rome itself, by the authority of the consuls. In his brief account of the period between the death of the last stratēgos and Severus’ siege, Hesychios implies the existence of a Greek counterpart to the Roman Republic, a Greek “time of the consuls” and, like the equivalent Roman period, this Byzantine “time of the consuls” ends in a Roman civil war. Hesychios’ narrative transition from the period of the stratēgoi to the period of the emperors lacks meaningful historical detail, but reveals the author’s view of a major shift in Roman history. Like the authors discussed in Chapter 4, Hesychios pre­sents the consulship as the engine of Roman imperial expansion and implicitly questions the authority of the imperial office by associating it with civil discord. Zosimos, Jordanes, Lydos, and Prokopios all echo and de-



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velop similar ideas in their works, while Justinian repeatedly attempts to bolster the legitimacy of the imperial office, often at the expense of the consulship, in the Novels. Our understanding of Hesychios’ ideas about the consulship and the imperial office is ­limited by the loss of the remainder of his writings, but what information does survive in the Patria suggests that we may place him in the intellectual mainstream of the sixth ­century. This in turn has implications for our understanding of his formulation of a unique identity for Byzantion and by extension Constantinople. Hesychios’ use of Roman parallels to structure an other­wise exclusively Greek history bolsters the Romanness of sixth-­century Constantinople while si­mul­ta­neously granting the city a unique cultural identity. When taken in conjunction with the general lack of Roman history in the Patria, the implication is that the city of Constantinople, and by extension the Roman empire it governs, constitutes a Greek Rome and Greek Roman empire distinct from the Trojan Rome and Trojan Roman empire that had collapsed in the west. That collapse, moreover, becomes explicable in part ­because of ­these identities: the Trojans did, a­ fter all, lose the Trojan War. Hesychios’ formulation of Constantinopolitan history not only synthesizes the histories of Old and New Rome, it also uncouples their destinies, allowing and accounting for the continued survival of a distinct, but no less Roman, empire in the years ­after 476.

The Limits of History in New Rome Despite their differing views of Constantinople and its relationship to Rome, Hesychios and Zosimos share many of the same assumptions about the nature of Romanness and its relationship to history. Chief among t­ hese is their shared focus on the cities of Rome and Constantinople as proxies for wider discussions of Roman fortunes and as loci for debates over Roman identity. Additionally, both authors conflate method and message, encoding the relationship between Rome and Constantinople into their narratives. For Zosimos, this conflation takes the form of Constantine’s exile, which associates Constantinople with domestic intrigue, unpardonable sins, and the abandonment of essential religious ceremonies. For Hesychios, the modeling of Byzantion’s history on that of Rome both acknowledges and exploits the elder city’s prerogatives as the Roman heartland. In this way Zosimos creates a Constantinople that is a cancerous imitation of the true Rome, while Hesychios makes New Rome a ju­nior (but not inferior) Hellenized version of the same.

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Both authors likewise find themselves struggling with the limitations of purely historical narratives. This phenomenon is most evident in Hesychios, whose focus is heavi­ly biased ­toward the mythistorical past, specifically the period of Byzantine history that corresponds to Roman history from the arrival of Aeneas through the expulsion of the kings. To be sure, Hesychios had ample pre­ ce­dent for including mythistorical ele­ments in his history; ancient historians never observed a strict distinction between what modern scholars would understand to be history and myth. Nevertheless, the balance of attention is striking and, while we must admit the possibility that some portion of the more solidly historical narrative has been lost, points ­toward the limitations of history in defining identity in an intellectual millieu that had, for centuries, sought to ground con­temporary phenomena in mythical pasts. A similar tension runs throughout Zosimos’ account of the foundation of Constantinople. Although he might have presented the story of Constantine’s flight from Rome in any number of ways, Zosimos chose to build his account on the narrative scaffolding of previous fugitive founder myths from the ancient world. By d­ oing so, he not only calls attention to the fact that the foundation of New Rome is a perversion of ­these traditional foundation stories, he also forestalls any attempt to correlate the fall of Old and the rise of New Rome to the fall of Troy and rise of Rome, a potentially compelling parallel in the years ­after 476. The mythistorical flirtations in Hesychios’ and Zosimos’ narratives reveal the limits of traditional historiography that was not willing to engage directly with the matrix of Roman mythistory from which Romanness was ultimately constructed. Hesychios may have consistently improved upon Roman traditions, but his very echoing of t­ hose traditions reinforced their iconic cultural status. A better imitation of Rome remained an imitation and could never challenge the cultural position of its model. What was required in the years a­ fter 476 was not reassurance that New Rome was a good, or even better, copy of Old Rome, but that New Rome could be Rome in­de­pen­dent of any cultural, historical, or mythical attachments to the city on the Tiber. As the accounts of Hesychios and Zosimos indicate, this was a prob­lem that was ultimately rooted in the realm of myth.

chapter 2

Mythistory and Cultural Identity in New Rome

Hesychios was not the only author of the early sixth c­ entury to strug­gle with the relationship between the Romanness of the eastern empire and its largely Greek cultural background. The same concerns are found in Christodoros of Koptos, a Greek hexameter poet whose sole surviving work is descriptively titled the Ekphrasis on the Statues of the Zeuxippos Baths.1 Although Zosimos and Hesychios pre­sent radically dif­fer­ent models of the relationship between Old and New Rome, both authors accept that capital/imperial cities function as essential loci of Romanness. The shared focus on urban space necessarily constrains the discussions of both authors, focusing attention on the history and topography of the two capitals, especially Constantinople. Unlike Zosimos and Hesychios, Christodoros does not focalize his discussion on the cities of Rome and Constantinople. Instead, he is constrained by the topic of his poem, and the commission that likely generated it, to discuss a collection of statues, albeit one situated in the heart of imperial Constantinople. Despite his partially preselected material, Christodoros is able to use the major figures from the history and my­ thol­ogy of the ancient Mediterranean pre­sent in the Zeuxippos collection to situate con­temporary eastern Roman identity within a larger scheme of usable Mediterranean pasts. Central to his program, as I ­will argue, is the demotion of Italian-­Roman identity and the promotion of Greek-­Roman identity through revisionist mythistory. Unlike Zosimos’ New History and Hesychios’ Patria, Christodoros’ Ekphrasis pre­sents no textual prob­lems; it comes down to us intact as the second book of the Greek Anthology. Outside of the Ekphrasis, which contains no information

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about its author save a rhetorical claim to be the son of Homer, we know Christodoros solely through his entry in the Souda and Ioannes Lydos’ brief mention that he authored a work titled On the Disciples of the ­Great Proklos, which links him firmly to Neoplatonist circles.2 From the Souda we learn that Christodoros was a prolific poet with a pronounced interest in cities. His lost works include a twelve-­book Patria of Constantinople, a twenty-­five book Patria of Thessalonike, and additional patria for Nakle, Miletos, Tralles, and Aphrodisias.3 His only works, aside from the Ekphrasis itself, that did not have a city as their subject ­were a six-­book Isaurika, which celebrated the emperor Anastasius’ victory over the Isaurian rebels in 498, and his aforementioned work on the disciples of Proklos.4 It has also been suggested that he is the author of the epigram Anastasius inscribed on the Chalke Gate to celebrate his Isaurian triumph.5 The quantity and thematic consistency of Christodoros’ corpus supports Cameron’s argument that he was a member of an itinerant school of poets operating out of Egypt, while his Isaurika, along with ele­ments of his Ekphrasis and the Chalke inscription, suggest that he had close ties to, or was at least frequently employed by, the court of Anastasius.6 In any event, he was a vocal supporter of Anastasius’ regime, in par­tic­u­lar a­ fter the defeat of the Isaurians. The Ekphrasis itself is a hexameter poem of four hundred and sixteen lines that describes a series of statues located in the Zeuxippos baths in central Constantinople, between the northeastern corner of the hippodrome and the Chalke Gate.7 The baths themselves allegedly date to the emperor Severus’ embellishment of Byzantion following his defeat of Pescennius Niger in 196, and they w ­ ere subsequently adorned, likely by Constantine, with statues of uncertain provenance.8 We know nothing of the organ­ization or display of the statues except that some, but not all, of the statue bases w ­ ere labeled.9 To date, most discussions of Christodoros have focused on his value as a witness to the material culture of turn-­of-­the-­century Constantinople, and what discussion ­there has been of his literary agenda has generally focused on his use of Trojan figures and the degree to which his poem advances a traditional Romano-­Trojan ideology.10 More recently, Anthony Kaldellis has elucidated the competitive relationship Christodoros establishes between poetry and sculpture, and proposed that his poetic agenda was more closely tied to the author’s own aggrandizement and the court of Anastasius than to any Romano-­Trojan ideology.11 ­These arguments are convincing, but do not account for several of the text’s salient features, in par­tic­u­lar the selectiveness of Christodoros’ discussions of Trojan heroes and his use of archaic ethnonyms in his discussions of ancient Greeks and Romans, both of



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which have impor­tant implications for his poetic agenda and the view of Romanness reflected in his poem.

Deiphobos in Christodoros’ Poetic Agenda It has been argued that the inclusion of Trojan figures in the Ekphrasis is evidence of the development of a standard Romano-­Trojan civic ideology comparable to that of Vergil.12 Christodoros was certainly familiar with Vergil and even included the poet of the Aeneid in the Ekphrasis (a point to which we w ­ ill return below). Far from following in Vergil’s footsteps, however, Christodoros undermines the Trojan tradition developed in the Aeneid by revising established myths, downplaying famous heroes, and focusing on the climactic moment of Trojan defeat rather than looking forward to the foundation of Rome in Italy. The focus on the fall of Troy is so prevalent that t­ hese scenes have been accurately characterized as an “Ilioupersis in bronze.”13 Christodoros’ reinterpretation of the Trojans begins in the opening lines of the Ekphrasis, which describe a statue of the Trojan hero Deiphobos (at least according to Christodoros; we do not know if the statue was labeled). In a collection of statues that includes several prominent Trojans, most notably Aeneas, Deiphobos is an unlikely character with whom to begin the Ekphrasis. A minor though recurring figure in the Iliad, Deiphobos is perhaps best remembered as the hero Athena impersonates in order to halt Hector’s flight around the city in Iliad 22. Deiphobos was also the second husband of Helen, having married the Spartan queen ­a fter the death of Paris, an event that prompted the defection of his b­ rother Helenos to the Achaians according to the post-­Homeric tradition.14 That Deiphobos is remembered at all is largely the result of his marriage to Helen and the fact that it made him a target during the sack of Troy. Homer himself introduces this tradition in the Odyssey, making specific mention of Deiphobos in Demodokos’ song about the fall of Troy, which is performed in front of Odysseus while the hero is still incognito among the Phaiakians: But Odysseus to the ­house of Deiphobos Went, like Ares, with godlike Menelaos. ­There, it is said, he undertook his most dreadful ­battle And conquered through the aid of great-­hearted Athena.15

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The focus in Demodokos’ account is on Odysseus, even Menelaos is excluded by the accusative singular participle of tolmaō, and serves the larger agenda of Alkinous, the Phaiakian king, by goading Odysseus into revealing himself. The scene also serves to foreshadow Odysseus’ role as an avenger of marital and familial transgression; Deiphobos had usurped Menelaos’ place in marriage, just as the suitors seek to do in Ithaka. Nevertheless, it is not u­ ntil Vergil’s Aeneid that we find Deiphobos presented as an impor­tant figure and are given a fuller account of his final moments.16 Aeneas is approached by Deiphobos’ mutilated shade during his journey to the underworld in Aeneid 6. During their conversation, Aeneas indicates that he is aware of a story according to which Deiphobos died fighting and was buried at Rhoeteum.17 Deiphobos’ ghost corrects Aeneas and reports that he was betrayed by Helen, who hid his arms and secretly let Menelaos and Odysseus into his bedroom. Surprised by the two Achaians, Deiphobos was killed and his corpse desecrated, accounting for his frightful appearance in the underworld.18 In Homer, Deiphobos is e­ ither the guise of Athena or a briefly mentioned opportunity for Odysseus to prove his martial prowess and demonstrate his role as an avenger of marital transgression. In the Aeneid, Vergil transforms him into a ghost whose ignominious slaughter reflects poorly on the Achaians and highlights the sufferings of the Trojans. In neither episode is Deiphobos the focus, yet Christodoros chooses to begin his Ekphrasis with this figure of absence. Christodoros begins by presenting a radically dif­f er­ent version of Deiphobos’ death than that found in Vergil: First Deiphobos, on a well-­carved base stood, daring, armed, a mighty hero just as he was when he came face to face with raging Menelaos, while his h ­ ouse was plundered. He stood in ­every way like a man advancing: at an a­ ngle in good order, squaring his back and leaning forward in rage he gathered his piercing strength. He swept the light of his eyes as if guarding against the assault of hostile men. In his left hand he held out a broad shield, in his right he held high a sword. His raging hand was poised to drive the weapon into the flesh of his opponent . . . but nature did not make the bronze obedient to his rage.19



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The first two lines of Christodoros’ description are generic boilerplate, a series of adjectives that might equally apply to any number of statues in the Zeuxippos. Beginning in line three, however, Christodoros inserts the statue into a specific moment in the Trojan Cycle: the sack of Troy. Christodoros constructs his scene to stand apart from both Homer and Vergil. His major innovation is that Deiphobos ­faces only Menelaos—­Helen and Odysseus have been removed from the scene—­but he restores Homer’s ­battle by making Deiphobos armed and armored, meeting his opponent in good order. The dishonorable slaughter of Deiphobos in the Aeneid is, in the Ekphrasis, transformed into a duel. The participants in that combat are not, as in Demodokos’ song, Odysseus and Deiphobos, but Helen’s rightful husband and a man whose adultery could not even claim, as Paris’ did, the sanction of a god.20 Both the thematically relevant Deiphobos of the Odyssey and the pathetic and sympathetic Deiphobos of the Aeneid have been supplanted by a warrior whose moral failings are thrown into high relief in the midst of an equitable strug­gle for his life. The gods, most notably Athena, are conspicuously absent. Christodoros does not describe Deiphobos’ death in the Ekphrasis, opting instead to transition from his narrative account back into a literal description of the statue just before the climactic moment of confrontation. This arresting transition is achieved through a play on words in the final line of the description. The bronze that is not obedient to Deiphobos’ rage refers both to his sword, which never struck the fatal blow he sought, and the statue itself which, by virtue of its immobility, has trapped Deiphobos (in Christodoros’ account) in the moment before his defeat and death. By leaving the statue trapped in this narrative moment, Christodoros places Deiphobos in a position that foreshadows his doom while si­mul­ta­neously denying him the glory of a last stand, as in Homer, or the sympathy of a desecrated corpse, as in Vergil. The transition from Christodoros’ ­imagined narrative back to the description of the physical appearance of the statue highlights the difference between the mundane appearance of the statue, emphasized by the generic language Christodoros employs in the first two lines of the poem, and the excitement and dynamism imparted by Christodoros’ narrative. Deiphobos thus introduces Christodoros’ two major themes in the Ekphrasis: the contest between poetry and sculpture and his revision of traditional Romano-­Trojan my­thol­ogy. ­These themes are complementary. Statues without narrative are unable to innovate, their static nature rendering them subject to the narrative or understanding supplied by the viewer. The statues of the Zeuxippos, if left to themselves, would inevitably support and confirm the

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normative Romano-­Trojan narrative. Only through poetry, and the intervention of Christodoros as the poet, can ­these statues revise that tradition. Christodoros’ mythological revisionism therefore goes hand in hand with his assertion of poetry’s superiority to the “­silent bronze.” The opening epigram has one additional implication when read against the Aeneid (a reading invited by Christodoros through his epigram on the statue of Vergil, discussed below): it annuls Deiphobos’ curse. In Aeneid 6, the same book in which Vergil has Deiphobos recount his story, the hero concludes by asking the gods to curse the Greeks: “Gods, if I ask with a pious mouth, then repay the Greeks with the same sort of punishment.”21 The Greeks to whom he refers are the Achaians, but the use of the term Graeci is deliberately ambiguous.22 Vergil uses several names for the Achaians in the Aeneid that would have forestalled confusion between the mythological Achaians and the historical inhabitants of Greece and Rome’s Greek provinces. By using a term that conflates the Achaians with historical Greeks, Vergil h ­ ere emphasizes the con­temporary resonance of Deiphobos’ curse and constructs an etiology for the Roman conquest of Greece, an event that is foreshadowed during the parade of Roman heroes l­ ater in Aeneid 6.23 The foreshadowing of Rome’s conquest and administration of Greece is implicit in Anchises’ description of Rome’s dominion u­ nder Augustus, but explicit in his unnamed description of Lucius Mummius and Lucius Aemilius Paullus: That man [Mummius] proceeding to the high Capitoline in triumph over Corinth ­will drive a chariot as a conqueror accompanied by the fallen trophies of the Achaians. That man [Paullus] w ­ ill overthrow Argos and Agamemnon’s Mycenae and the Aeacidae, the ­family of Achilles, mighty in arms, avenging Trojan ancestors and Minerva’s desecrated ­temples.24 Vergil conflates the Achaians of the Trojan War with historical Greeks by linking the sack of Corinth in 146 bc to the Achaians, and the defeat of the last Antigonid king Perseus in 168 bc to Agamemnon, Achilles, and Locrian Ajax. ­These connections, along with the temporal ambiguity of the term “Achaian,” transform the conquest of Greece into the culmination of Deiphobos’ curse, a fitting revenge taken upon the descendants of the Achaians at Troy.25 The curse and parade of conquerors underscores the differences between the



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Greeks and Romans, emphasizing an ethnic and ge­ne­tic divide upon which the distinctiveness of the Roman claim to empire is predicated. Christodoros’ account of Deiphobos unravels the anti-­Greek agenda of Aeneid 6 by invalidating the protasis of Deiphobos’ conditional statement. If the audience of the Ekphrasis accepts Christodoros’ account of Deiphobos’ death, then the Deiphobos of the Aeneid does not speak with pious lips, his curse is invalidated, and the justification for the Roman domination of Greece falls apart. Through this intertextual interaction Christodoros defuses Vergilian Romano-­Trojan ideology, specifically dismantling the Vergilian justification for Rome’s conquest of and superiority over Greece. By rewriting Deiphobos’ death in a way that undermines the rationale for Trojan dominance, Christodoros begins the pro­cess of rewriting the relationship between the Latin-­speaking Romans of the recently fallen western Roman empire and the Greek-­speaking Romans of an eastern Roman empire still grappling with the implications of the fall of the city of Rome. While Deiphobos’ statue opens the Ekphrasis, Vergil’s statue closes it. The choice to pair a hero famous primarily for his appearance in the Aeneid with the author of that same work in the two most emphatic positions in the poem is a clear signal that the Ekphrasis is responding to Vergil. Christodoros’ description of Vergil is designed to invite comparison between the two poets, a comparison that Christodoros has arranged to his own advantage. While Vergil is called “another Homer” in his statue-­epigram, the statue immediately preceding him, that of the minor poet Homer of Byzantion, is likewise called “another Homer.” This pairing effectively makes Vergil “another other Homer,” a startling demotion for the poet of the Aeneid, and establishes a parallel between Vergil and Homer of Byzantion. Both poets are also closely associated with cities, namely the only two cities recognized as capitals of the Roman empire in the sixth ­century: Rome (Vergil) and Byzantion/ Constantinople (the “other” Homer). However, the precise relationship between the men and their cities varies. Homer of Byzantion is described as having “adorned his Byzantine fatherland with his words,” while “the ancestral echo of the Tiber raised [Vergil] to be another Homer for Rome.”26 This phrasing grants agency to Homer of Byzantion, but strips it from Vergil, subtly implying that his reputation for being “another Homer” is just as flimsy as that of Homer of Byzantion, a result not of merit but of the “ancestral echo” of Rome. The phrase “ancestral echo” is both ambiguous and rare. In fact, it appears in only one other place in the extant Greek corpus: Nonnos’ Dionysiaka.27

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Nonnos, it happens, was a fellow member of the Egyptian school of “wandering poets” and a rough con­temporary of Christodoros.28 Nonnos uses the phrase to describe Zeus’ forceful restraint of Dionysos during the latter god’s martial contest with Poseidon over the maiden Beroë. The echo in question in the Dionysiaka is the ringing sound produced by Zeus’ salpinx, a form of war trumpet.29 This comparison supports the subordination of Vergil to the agency of Rome by linking Vergil’s poetic success to the military success of the Roman empire. The likeliest reading of the passage is as a slight to Vergil whose status as “another Homer” was not merited by his poetry but achieved through the greatness of his topic, the city of Rome. Vergil’s poetic reputation is ­little more than the reflected, or echoed, glory of Rome. If the intertext with Nonnos is accepted, then the implication is that it was specifically Rome’s military force, meta­phor­ ically encoded in the sounding of Zeus’ warhorn, that granted Vergil his status. We can therefore discern Christodoros’ view of Vergil: Vergil’s Aeneid provided divine sanction for Rome’s empire, specifically her empire in Greece, and in turn Vergil’s status as a poet was assured by the success of Rome’s empire, itself a product of Rome’s military power. In­de­pen­dent of any intertextual relationship with Nonnos, Christodoros’ description of Vergil erodes the status of Rome’s national poet and national epic. Christodoros embarrasses Vergil in part to enhance his own standing—­ elsewhere in the Ekphrasis he claims Homer as his ­father, a move that supersedes any claim Vergil himself might have to Homer’s legacy—­but that is not his primary goal.30 Vergil is simply a con­ve­nient poetic stand-in for the normative matrix of Romano-­Trojan associations that an audience of Romans in the sixth-­century east would have brought to their viewing of the Zeuxippos collection. In order for Christodoros to set himself apart as a poet and prove the superiority of poetry over sculpture, it was essential that he construct narratives or interpretations of the collection that innovated meaningfully within the existing tradition. Vergil may have been a target for Christodoros’ proj­ect ­because his statue was labeled and therefore his inclusion in the Ekphrasis unavoidable. It is, however, equally likely that Christodoros deliberately set out to challenge the Latin-­speaking poetic godfather of Rome’s imperial (and anti-­Greek) ideology in the symbolic heart of the Greek-­speaking capital of the eastern Roman empire at a moment of broad po­liti­cal and cultural reflection on the nature and par­a meters of Romanness. In ­either case, the terms in which Christodoros structures the debate highlight a common thread of insecurity: Rome’s historical military dominance, which both gained it dominion over the Greek-­



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speaking p­ eoples of the east and allowed Vergil’s reputation to outstrip his poetic accomplishments.

The Fall of Troy: Romans Without Trojans Christodoros alters the standard Romano-­Trojan narrative less through explicit revision than through careful editing and selective emphasis. With the exception of Deiphobos, Christodoros never contradicts established traditions concerning the Trojans mentioned in the Ekphrasis; instead, he curtails Trojan stories, bringing them to a close with the fall of the city rather than the foundation of Rome, a point he underscores through repeated emphasis on the Trojan homeland. It is a mea­sure of how established the normative Romano-­ Trojan narrative is even t­ oday that readers of Vergil do not generally balk at the idea of one of history’s most power­f ul and enduring polities tracing its origins to a defeated p­ eople. Yet that is exactly what the Trojans w ­ ere in Roman my­thol­ogy: a group of ­people whose failure to defend their homeland led to their conquest of the entire Mediterranean. The Trojans ­were exceptional not only for their privileged role in the construction of Romanness but also for their unique status in history (and my­thol­ogy) as the ­people who snatched imperium sine fine from the jaws of catastrophic failure.31 This is precisely the sort of Trojan exceptionalism that Christodoros attempts to undermine by creating a coherent metanarrative of the fall of Troy in the Ekphrasis, a narrative that emphasizes the finality of Troy’s end and its military helplessness while refusing to acknowledge the traditions that granted the Trojan nation a rebirth in Italy. Christodoros’ rejection of Trojan exceptionalism is achieved as much through what is left unsaid as what is said. Despite spending twelve lines on a minor figure like Deiphobos, whom he emphatically places at the opening of his poem and who died at Troy a­ fter a short-­lived claim on Helen, Christodoros spares just over four lines for Aeneas: Be gracious shield-­wielding offshoot of the Trojan land, be gracious, shining Aeneas, counselor of the Trojans. Wise reverence infuses your eyes, breathing splendor and announcing the wondrous ­family of golden Aphrodite.32

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Christodoros makes no mention of Aeneas’ role in creating the Roman p­ eople or transferring the Trojan nation to Italy. In fact, Christodoros creates no narrative for Aeneas at all, opting instead to embellish the sculpture by positing a ­family resemblance between Aeneas and his ­mother Aphrodite. By refusing to associate Aeneas with the foundation of Rome or any other narrative in which he might appear, Christodoros effectively cuts the Trojans off from their redemption in Italy, focusing attention on their disaster in Troy. The emphasis on his parentage directs attention backward through time (parental relationships being necessarily genitive rather than progenitive), rather than on his progeny (which included Caesar and Augustus, a major feature of the parade of Roman heroes in Aeneid 6), and, b­ ecause the connection is based on appearance, it fails to grant the statue the dignity of a meaningful narrative. According to the aesthetic logic of the Ekphrasis, this failure to add a narrative leaves Aeneas at the mercy of an inferior medium, marginalizing him along with his untold story of Trojan rebirth in Italy. Aeneas is further marginalized by the placement of his description shortly before, but separate from, the cluster of statues that Christodoros most closely associates with the fall of Troy. The statues that constitute the Ilioupersis in bronze include both Achaian and Trojan figures, but the Trojans are overwhelmingly female and situated by Christodoros in moments of lament. The first of t­ hese figures is Creusa, Aeneas’ first wife, whose appearance at the beginning of the sequence is thereby linked to Christodoros’ description of Aeneas’ statue. Christodoros places Creusa at the precise moment of Troy’s fall: In this way she wept and the bride’s brazen tears w ­ ere an omen that her nurse had been won by the spear of Ares: Ilion had been taken by the shield-­bearing Argives.33 This is the first point in the Ekphrasis where the Trojan homeland is referred to as a nurse, but the meta­phor w ­ ill recur in several subsequent descriptions. The meta­phor calls attention to the bonds between the Trojans and their original homeland in the east at the expense of their ­adopted homeland, which Creusa in any case never saw, in Italy. Like the parental relationship stressed in the description of Aeneas’ statue, the meta­phor of Ilion-­a s-­Nurse is fundamentally backward looking, and Creusa’s narrative identifies her as Aeneas’ wife, but, as per the backward-­looking description of Aeneas, makes no mention of her son Ascanius, who looks to the f­ uture.



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Just as Creusa’s statue recalls the description of Aeneas, the statue that immediately follows Creusa, Helenos, recalls the description of Deiphobos: Nor did Helenos cease his raging, pitiless to his fatherland he appeared to be stirring his wrath still. He was holding, in his right hand, a saucer for libations and I think that he was prophesying good t­ hings for the Argives, but asking the gods to reveal the final omens for his nurse.34 Helenos was a Trojan and the ­brother of Deiphobos. The ­brothers had a falling out over who would wed Helen following the death of Paris, and a­ fter Deiphobos won Helen’s hand, Helenos defected to the Achaians and began actively working against his native city. In Christodoros’ description we find a strong emphasis on Helenos’ treason, an action that necessarily calls attention to the betrayed party, in this case his native land of Troy. The attention his defection draws to Troy is supplemented by two explicit mentions of his relationship to his homeland in this five-­line description of his statue. Troy is called not only Helenos’ nurse but also his fatherland, both relationships that are backward-­looking on the model of Aeneas’ descent from Aphrodite. The description of Helenos emphasizes the finality of Troy’s fall, already implicit from the absence of any narrative of Trojan migration to Italy, through the phrase “final omens” (panustata sēmata). The use of the superlative implies an ultimate finality to the fall of Troy, situating the event at the end of Trojan my­thol­ogy rather than the beginning of Roman mythistory, and once again creating a divide between Trojans and Romans. In the statues that follow Creusa and Helenos, the finality of Troy’s fall and the emphasis on the close ties the Trojans have with their native Ilion precludes the audience from viewing them as wandering exiles, a feature which is helped by the poet’s refusal to mention or allude to their lives a­ fter the fall of the city, a major feature of Aeneid 3. Immediately following Helenos is a sequence of paired statues, Greek heroes with female Trojans. ­These pairings are not just an accident of order, but deliberately crafted e­ ither through explicit actions—­the statue of Menelaos is said to be looking at Helen and that of Pyrrhos at Polyxena—or by transitions between subjects midway through a line, thus the description of Odysseus and Hekabe.35 The decision to describe the statues of the female Trojans amid descriptions of the triumphant male Achaian heroes reinforces the specific temporality of ­these statues, once again situating them at the moment of Troy’s demise. The fact that only Trojan w ­ omen are described recalls the fact that

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the Trojan race had been effectively ended by the extermination of the male population. It moreover raises the specter of sexual vio­lence, which underscores the conquest of Troy and reminds the audience that, if the Trojan race did not end at Troy, then the Greeks too can make a strong claim to Trojan descent through the c­ hildren they fathered on the female slaves brought back from Ilion. A mea­sure of Christodoros’ intent in ­these passages can be gleaned from his description of the statue of Andromache. The statue he describes gives no outward sign of being linked to the fall of Troy, and Andromache is not depicted in mourning. Nevertheless, Christodoros raises the topic of Troy’s fall by temporally situating the statue at a moment before the death of Hector: [Andromache] did not let slip her mournful weeping, so I think that Hector, he of the glancing helm, had not yet fallen in war, nor had the overbearing sons of the shield-­bearing Achaians yet completely plundered her Dardanian nurse.36 So ­great is Christodoros’ emphasis on the fall of Troy, that even a statue of a happy Andromache is defined by the looming death of her husband and fall of her ­adopted city. Although Christodoros does not develop a temporally linear narrative in this sequence of statues—­Helenos’ defection postdates the death of Hector and therefore the statue of Andromache—­the passage does have a temporal logic. It opens with the descriptions of Helenos and Andromache that place them before the sack of Troy, while the following four statues (Menelaos, Helen, Odysseus, and Hekabe) are explic­itly placed at the moment of Achaian triumph. The fall of Troy is in turn followed by a description of Pyrrhos and Polyxena, in par­tic­u­ lar the latter’s execution on the grave of Achilles, an event that followed the ­actual sack of the city. The paired statues are ­those placed at the moment of Troy’s fall: Menelaos with Helen and Odysseus with Hekabe. Both Menelaos and Odysseus are explic­ itly said to be rejoicing over their victory, Menelaos ­because he has regained Helen, but Odysseus is “gloating ­because he had destroyed Troy utterly with his twisted plots.”37 Menelaos’ delight in Helen corresponds to the poet’s description of her statue as being beautiful enough to inspire attraction in the viewer. This is one of the few moments in the Ekphrasis in which Christodoros credits sculpture, but in a deflating way. Helen’s beauty was, ­after all, the cause of ceaseless woes. Where Menelaos’ joy can be understood as somewhat positive, Odysseus’ is unambiguously cruel. Odysseus is not just personally responsible for the fall



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of Troy, the destruction of the city must be “utter” or “complete” (pas). Just as Menelaos’ joy is confirmed by reference to another statue, so too is Odysseus’ joy linked to the description of Hekabe. Hekabe is an unexpectedly major figure in the Ekphrasis. At fourteen and a half lines, her description is one of the longest in the collection (Menelaos, Helen, and Odysseus are given a total of ten and a half lines, Deiphobos twelve), and she is marked out by the poet’s direct, second-­person address. Christodoros uses Hekabe as a counterpoint to his description of Helen and chastises sculpture for its decision to trap Hekabe in a moment of grief and suffering: The bronze does not end your suffering: sculpture,38 the breathless art, did not pity you and hold back the deadly frenzy. So you stand h ­ ere still shedding tears.39 The description of Hekabe’s statue also acts as a gloss on the utter destruction that gives Odysseus’ statue so much joy: I believe that you no longer mourn for the fate of unhappy Hector or suffering Andromache’s heavy grief, but for your fallen fatherland.40 Christodoros’ interpretation of Hekabe’s statue bypasses obvious moments of lament, including her lament over the body of Hector from Iliad 24 and her enslavement in Euripides’ Trojan ­Women, in order to focus attention on the broader and more abstract pain of the loss of her fatherland. The mention of Hector once again reminds the reader of the extermination of the male population of Troy and looks back on the war, while the reference to Hekabe’s fatherland continues to localize and terminate the Trojan race in the Troad. The statues so far described, together with ­those of Kassandra, Pyrrhos, and Polyxena, create a coherent metanarrative of the fall of Troy that emphasizes the finality of its end while refusing to acknowledge the traditions that granted the Trojan nation a rebirth in Italy. Christodoros is so committed to emphasizing the fall of Troy, that he inserts it into almost all of his descriptions of Trojan heroes. We may doubt that the statues by themselves would have led any viewer to this interpretation; it has been projected by the poet onto the collection. The most striking example of this comes in his description of the statues of Panthous, Thymoites, Lampon, and Klytios, the Trojan elders who observe and comment

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upon Helen’s first appearance on the wall of Troy in Iliad 3. We may be justifiably skeptical that the statues being described in fact depicted ­these men, as they are exceedingly minor figures in the Iliad. Nevertheless, Christodoros uses ­these four statues to once again reenact the fall of Troy, this time as a series of emotional responses from the elders of the city: ­ ere was Panthous, counselor of the Trojans. He had not yet Th ceased to direct his terrible wisdom against the warlike Argives. Thymoites held back the tangled plan of the elders, constrained by a sea of speechlessness. He resembled a man casting about to devise some plan for the Trojans. Lampon could be seen in the form of a grieving man. He no longer had it in his mind to bring forth a plan to save the broken Trojans from the rolling roar of ­battle. Helpless Klytios was placed t­ here. He held both his hands together, fin­gers interlocked, heralds of his s­ ilent grief.41 The elders of Troy pro­gress both emotionally and temporally from active engagement with a war they feel can be won (Panthous) to confusion and desperation (Thymoites), hopelessness (Lampon), and fi­nally grief (Klytios). Once again, we see the hallmarks of Christodoros’ discussion of the Trojans: an emphasis on the older generation, a narrative focus on the fall and destruction of the city, and a failure to acknowledge the possibility of a ­future for the Trojans. The function of ­these elders in the Ekphrasis inverts the role they play in the teichoskopia of Iliad 3. In the Iliad, the elders look backwards to the origins of the Trojan War, but in the Ekphrasis they look forward to the end of their city. The cumulative effect of t­ hese Trojan narratives is the sequestration of Trojan identity in mythical times; the Romans are no more Trojans than the Athenians are Achaians. The consistency of Christodoros’ approach in the Ekphrasis, a poem whose contents w ­ ere not entirely in his control, indicates the importance the poet placed on isolating the Trojans from the Romans.

The Heroes of Greek Rome Christodoros uses his descriptions of Trojan figures to re­orient the mythistorical narrative of Troy in such a way that it becomes the culminating catastrophe of the Trojan ­people, rather than an origin for the Romans. This narrative shift



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complements another noteworthy feature of his Ekphrasis: the use of archaic ethnonyms to designate dif­fer­ent p­ eoples in the ancient world. Christodoros’ Ekphrasis creates a world without Romans, Athenians, or Peloponnesians, but filled instead with Ausones (not Trojans), Cecropians, and Pelopians. In fact, the word “Roman” never appears in the Ekphrasis, even in descriptions of figures such as Julius Caesar and Pompey the G ­ reat. Deprived of their Trojan heritage and Roman appellation, ­these figures simply blend into the larger context of the Ekphrasis: an ecumenical array of figures from a variety of traditions, tribes, and professions who are linked by their common appearance in the Zeuxippos collection. The use of the term “Ausones” perpetuates the cleavage between Trojans and Romans, linking the Romans to the soil of Italy rather than the Troad, and placing them in a Greco-­Roman milieu in which no one group may claim po­liti­cal or cultural primacy based on heritage. In such a context, the value and esteem granted a par­tic­u­lar group or city depends solely on their achievements, allowing Christodoros to pre­sent the implicit competition between the (recently fallen) Latin-­speaking western Roman empire and Greek-­speaking eastern Roman empire on terms favorable to the status of Constantinople and her empire. Christodoros begins this pro­cess by contrasting the intellectual achievements of Greek lit­er­a­ture with the vio­lence of the Trojan tradition. As discussed above, Christodoros’ description of Deiphobos robs the hero of the sympathy his vicious death earns him in the Aeneid, but the description also emphasizes the frenzy of the narrative moment in which Christodoros places him. The bronze has trapped Deiphobos in a scene of mad vio­lence, when he has come face to face with “raging” Menelaos and is himself “leaning forward in rage.” Even the closing word of the description, which cements the pun that introduces the competition between poetry and sculpture, is Deiphobos’ “rage.” The focus on the frenzy and vio­lence in Deiphobos’ narrative makes the transition to the second statue in the Ekphrasis, of the Athenian (in Christodoros’ terminology Cecropian) orator Aischines, especially jarring: “The Cecropian gleams, the flower of thoughtful persuasion.” 42 Besides playing into the long-­standing distinction in Greek thought between force and persuasion, the description of Aischines sets the Greek figure at odds with the vio­lence and disaster of Deiphobos. Aischines is enhanced and Deiphobos diminished by the contrast between the two figures, and the credit is registered in ­favor of the Greek tradition at the expense of the Romano-­Trojan tradition. The figures that follow Aischines are, for the most part, famous Greek writers from a wide variety of genres including Attic oratory (De­mos­the­nes), philosophy (Aristotle), tragedy (Euripides), epic poetry (Hesiod), and lyric

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(Simonides). The parade of g­ reat writers at the opening of the Ekphrasis functions as a survey of Greek lit­er­a­ture, in which Christodoros situates himself in his description of Homer. This survey establishes a thematically coherent unit analogous to the Ilioupersis discussed above. Against the background of Deiphobos’ statue, the cata­logue of Greek writers establishes the Greek claim to superiority in learning in contrast to Trojan vio­lence (and unsuccessful vio­lence at that), an effect that is enhanced by the grouping of t­ hese authors. The violent-­Trojan/ learned-­Greek dichotomy also anticipates Christodoros’ dismissal of Vergil’s greatness as the result of an “ancestral echo.” The thematic grouping of figures is a common tactic of the Ekphrasis and offers further evidence that Christodoros did not arrange his poem according to the physical positioning of the statues in the Zeuxippos. ­These groupings allow the poet to emphasize or de-­emphasize par­tic­u­lar statues, a semantic flexibility that is deployed for the first Ausonian in the collection: Julius Caesar. Nearby shone Julius Caesar, who once crowned Rome with the countless ox-­hide shields of her enemies. He was raising the grim-­faced aegis on his shoulder and exulted, carry­ing the thunderbolt in his right hand, as befitted the man called another young Zeus by the Ausones.43 The placement of Caesar in the poem is designed to undermine both his significance as a historical figure and the remarkable iconography of his statue.44 To begin with, Caesar is the first Ausonian mentioned in the poem and widely separated from the other three figures bearing that title (Apuleius, Pompey, and Vergil), who are clustered at the end of the Ekphrasis. Caesar is therefore an isolated Ausonian in a poem already populated with Trojans, Ascrans, Achaians, Cecropians, and Emathians. The toponym attenuates Caesar’s Romanness by divorcing him from the matrix of Romano-­Trojan identity and slotting him into a new, Ausonian identity. This effect is achieved not by the mere fact of the name “Ausonian”—­this was a traditional poetic name for the Romans and the inhabitants of Italy more broadly—­but by the fact that this identity is used in parallel to and in place of the Trojan identity assigned to figures from the epic cycle. In other words, designating Caesar an Ausonian to distinguish him in the com­pany of genuine Trojans necessitates that the one identity preclude the other. This is a remarkable and culturally fraught revision given Caesar’s long-­standing status as the Trojano-­Roman par excellence by virtue of his putative relationship with Aeneas and, by extension, Venus/Aphrodite.



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Christodoros divorces Caesar from his Romano-­Trojan identity first by denying him the name “Roman” and then by assigning him an antiquarian name other than “Trojan.” Even the title “Ausonian” is granted to Caesar only indirectly; Christodoros reports that the Ausones called him “another young Zeus.” Caesar’s prestige is further undermined by his immediate pre­de­ces­sors in the Ekphrasis. The two figures who precede Caesar are Chryses, the suppliant ­father of Iliad 1 whose prayer to Apollo set the disastrous narrative of the epic in motion, and Alkibiades, the Athenian statesman whose megalomaniacal tendencies ­were a source of disaster both for his city and himself.45 To the extent that statues preceding Caesar have thematic coherence it is as figures whose ­careers presaged disaster for ­those around them. Caesar is followed in the Ekphrasis by a statue of Plato. One won­ders if a more forceful juxtaposition of Roman vio­lence and Greek wisdom is even pos­si­ ble. Christodoros enhances the effect of the juxtaposition by deflating the iconography of Caesar’s statue. According to the poet, Caesar’s deific depiction is fitting ­because it accords with what was said about Caesar by mortals. Plato, on the other hand, is described on the authority of the poet himself as “godlike,” the man “who revealed the hidden paths of the god-­made virtues.” 46 The poet’s authority to pass judgment on divine figures is buttressed, and the distinctiveness of Caesar’s appearance further marginalized, by the statues surrounding this group of figures. The two statues that precede Alkibiades are of Apollo and Aphrodite, the two that follow are of Aphrodite (again) and Hermaphroditos. At no point in ­these descriptions does Christodoros make reference to Caesar’s supposed relationship with Aphrodite despite having three closely grouped opportunities, but he shows no such reticence to name Hermaphroditos as the child of the goddess.47 The description of ­actual gods, moreover, deflates the appearance of Caesar as Zeus, expanding on the effect of Plato’s description to reveal Caesar’s claims to divinity as mere posturing, a status awarded by mortals. Like Vergil’s, Caesar’s status is conferred rather than earned. In terms of narrative, Caesar is given only a brief comment on the many victories he won over Rome’s enemies, but the specifics of the description belie Christodoros’ praise. Christodoros describes Caesar as meta­phor­ically surrounding or crowning the city of Rome with shields. The image of the city created by this meta­phor both localizes Caesar’s accomplishments and pre­sents his conquests in terms of defensive imagery. The meta­phor of the shields also carries a darker implication ­because the verb strephō can have a negative semantic range, including “to surround,” “to overturn,” and even “to torture.” In other words, the meta­phor could be taken to indicate a siege of Rome, with the shields of

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enemies (whose shields is never specified) serving as a metonymy for Caesar’s soldiers. Following this reading, Christodoros’ description is not a cele­bration of Caesar’s military victories, but a reminder of the costs of his civil war, a reading that would have been supported by Caesar’s grouping with Alkibiades and Chryses, and would compare unfavorably to the reign of Anastasius who spent years fighting a civil war against Isaurian rebels, a war which was celebrated in Christodoros’ lost Isaurika.48 Both potential readings of the meta­phor are supported by corresponding features found in Christodoros’ description of the statue of Pompey l­ ater in the Ekphrasis. The statue of Pompey is unique in the Ekphrasis ­because it contains the poem’s only developed reference to the con­temporary world: a mention of the emperor Anastasius’ claim to be descended from Pompey and the coincidence that both men conducted campaigns against the Isaurians.49 The depiction of Pompey in the Ekphrasis is at odds with that of Caesar, an antagonism that was likely intended for members of Christodoros’ audience who would be familiar with the civil war the two men waged, and Pompey lost, for control of Rome: Pompey, the foremost man among the victorious Ausonians, the shining monument of the Isaurian-­slaying triumphs, was treading underfoot Isaurian swords, showing that he dragged the neck of Mount Tauros like a slave u­ nder the yoke, bound by Nike’s unbroken chain. It was that man, a light to all, who gave rise to the holy line of the emperor Anastasius. This my blameless, sceptered king proved to all by slaying the tribes of the Isaurian land with his arms.50 Pompey’s competition with Caesar is spelled out at the beginning of the account. In a poem in which only four men are given the appellation Ausonian (Caesar, Apuleius, Pompey, and Vergil), naming Pompey the “foremost” among ­these and explic­itly narrowing the field of competition to military conquest pulls the generals into direct competition. The two figures are further linked by the complementarity of their conquered spoils. Where Caesar is described as surrounding or crowning Rome with shields, Pompey is said to be treading upon the swords of his enemies. The complementarity of their war prizes develops their competition on terms favorable to Pompey, effectively reversing their historical roles. Not only does his scene lack the potential menace of Caesar’s statue, it actively imi-



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tates a prominent feature of imperial iconography in late antiquity: the calcatio colli or ritual trampling of enemies.51 The calcatio was a standard feature of ancient triumphs and the implication of the scene Christodoros pre­sents is that the statue of Pompey is narratively situated in a moment of literal triumph. The triumphal scene is completed by the image of the victorious general parading the region he conquered, in this case the perennial redoubt of Isaurian rebels, Mount Tauros, bound in chains. The semantic universe of the Roman triumph was deeply concerned with the repre­ sen­ta­tion of conquered territories through the parade of prisoners and spoils, allowing the triumph to function as a meta­phorical annexation of conquered territory.52 Christodoros embraces this tradition but, by virtue of poetic license, is able to pre­sent the meta­phor directly rather than through a description of a full triumphal pro­cession (this is yet another way poetry is shown to be superior to visual media in the Ekphrasis). Pompey’s triumph, in fact the entire description of Pompey’s statue in the Ekphrasis, is designed to allow Christodoros to praise Anastasius. The description of Pompey’s triumph is transferred intact to Anastasius through their genealogical connection and common victories in Isaurian campaigns. The description of Pompey is thus functionally transformed into a description of Anastasius. The parallel between the two men culminates in the revelation of their familial connection, which is one of only two descending ­family relationships mentioned in the Ekphrasis (the other being Christodoros’ descent from Homer), despite the fact that several of the figures described, such as Achilles and Pyrrhos or Amphiaraos and Alcmaon, ­were ­father and son. Christodoros’ pointed failure to acknowledge the connection between Rome and Troy allows the unexpected (and relatively recent) relationship between Pompey and Anastasius to supersede the expected, but never admitted, relationship between the Trojans and Romans, in par­tic­u ­lar that between Aphrodite, Aeneas, and Caesar. Con­ temporary Constantinopolitan connections to the Romans of the late Republic therefore replace the dismantled link between Troy and Rome as the primary generative mythistory in the Ekphrasis. Christodoros’ audience may also have been aware that Caesar came from a patrician ­family, while Pompey was the son of a provincial Italian novus homo. Christodoros’ quiet suppression of the Trojan heritage of Rome not only denies Caesar his divine descent, it also undermines the importance of his status as a patrician. Likewise, the term “Ausonian,” by referring to the entire populace of Italy and not just the inhabitants of Rome, is able to occlude the status differences

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between ­these two men. ­Under ­these circumstances, the Romanness of Pompey, and by extension of Anastasius, is able to compete on equal footing with that of Caesar, especially given Pompey’s superior, or at least more emphatically presented, victories in war. Christodoros’ description of Pompey does more than just show that Pompey was superior to Caesar or that Anastasius was a true Roman, it radically redefines the par­ameters of Romanness in order to assert the validity of the Roman identity of the Greek-­speaking eastern Roman empire and incorporate the Greek literary tradition into that identity. The Ekphrasis concludes in a crescendo of major Greek literary figures, a Greek canon in bronze that includes Homer, Thucydides, Herodotos, Xenophon, Pindar, and Menander, and mirrors the pro­cession of Greek writers that followed the description of Deiphobos. Christodoros even makes a point of transforming a statue of the prophet Alcmaon into a statue of the lyric poet Alcman in order to maintain the literary theme of this grouping.53 Instead of Deiphobos’ belligerent fury, this second sequence of Greek authors is juxtaposed with the victorious and pacifying victories of Pompey and Anastasius. Pompey, whose Roman credentials are unimpeachable, supports Anastasius’ claim to the same based on shared success. The same logic applies to the Greek authors whose statues fill the Ekphrasis: their success as authors legitimizes their incorporation into a Greek Roman corpus. In the world of the Ekphrasis no one group or city can claim an a priori superiority in Romanness based on their heritage or tradition. Ausonians and Cecropians compete for Romanness on equal footing and the competition is judged on achievement rather than f­ amily. Anastasius is allowed to claim Pompey as his ancestor based on his conquest of Isauria, just as Christodoros claims Homer as his f­ ather based on his works.

Urban Space and Imperial Propaganda Although the Ekphrasis is not focused on urban space in the same way as Zosimos’ New History or Hesychios’ Patria, its rhetorical and literary effects are intimately connected with the space it describes. As mentioned above, the Zeuxippos baths, prior to their destruction in the Nika Revolt of 532, w ­ ere located in the semantic heart of Constantinople. Positioned between the hippodrome and the palace, the baths occupied a space between the imperial sphere, represented by the imperial residence (which also served as the seat of the imperial administration), and the popu­lar sphere, represented by the hippodrome, the assembly point for the p­ eople of Constantinople. The ideology



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communicated by the baths, especially its statues, therefore existed at the intersection of public and imperial space in New Rome. Given this placement, Christodoros’ reimagining of the identities and implications of the statue collection in the Zeuxippos becomes an attempt to reimagine the topography of late antique Constantinople. Instead of being a shrine to Rome’s Trojan roots or a disor­ga­nized assemblage of classical statuary, the collection (and by extension the Zeuxippos itself) becomes a statement of Roman identity that plays off of existing ele­ments of Anastasian propaganda. Just as Anastasius’ regime sought to legitimize itself by claiming inheritance of Pompey’s Romanness, so too Christodoros seeks to legitimize Constantinople’s Greek heritage as a species of Romanness parallel, but in no way inferior, to that of the Trojan heritage of Old Rome. Christodoros therefore occupies the opposite end of the ideological spectrum from his (rough) con­temporary Zosimos. Zosimos saw Old Rome as the only legitimate font of Roman identity by virtue of its exclusive relationship with traditional Roman religious practice. Hesychios occupied a ­middle ground and attempted to transform Byzantion into New Rome by giving the city a pseudo-­ Roman history. Hesychios was willing to assert Constantinople’s equality with Rome, but only in terms that ultimately reinforced Rome’s claim to primacy. By reconceptualizing the Zeuxippos collection as an assertion of the equality of Greek Rome on Greek terms, Christodoros encourages his readers to view the Zeuxippos as a tribute to Constantinople’s Greek cultural heritage and its Romanness without conceding anything to Old Rome. Just as Augustus used the so-­called ­house of Romulus on the Palatine as proof of Roman identity and a reminder of his imperial legitimacy, so too Christodoros transforms the Zeuxippos collection into a monument that legitimized the practice of Roman politics in the urban environment of the Greek Rome.54 The placement of this reminder at the intersection of popu­lar and imperial government in the heart of po­liti­cal Constantinople allowed it to function as a reservoir of identity for both emperor and p­ eople. Anastasius was the emperor of the eastern Roman empire, the Greek-­ speaking empire of Constantinople, therefore he was also, unequivocally, a Roman emperor for the Romans.

Anastasius and the Greek Rome The majority of the citizens of the eastern Roman empire never doubted that they ­were Roman. They called themselves Romans, ­were governed by the emperor “of

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the Romans,” and w ­ ere with few exceptions Roman citizens of equal ­legal standing to their (former) western counter­parts; they w ­ ere also beginning to develop an ethnic Roman identity that would become more explicit in ­later Byzantine centuries. The interest in Romanness that appears in the works of Zosimos, Hesychios, and Christodoros does not reflect insecurity about the Romanness of the eastern empire, but rather an interrogation of the par­ameters and distinctiveness of eastern, Greek-­speaking Romanness, a question that ­rose to the forefront of po­liti­cal and intellectual life in the eastern empire following the fall of Rome, the death of Zeno, and the rebellion of the Isaurians. Eastern Romanness, while never in doubt, suffered from a lack of explicit foundations. Centuries of lit­er­a­ture and po­liti­cal messaging had constructed a robust system of signs linked to the city of Rome, populating its lit­er­a­ture and history with usable pasts from which it was pos­si­ble to conceptualize the pre­sent in normative Roman terms. ­A fter Augustus, t­ hese usable pasts often made reference to the Trojan descent of the Latin ­people. Vergil’s Aeneid and the opening of Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita are two prominent examples of the ways in which ­these mythistorical narratives could be adapted to specific literary and po­liti­cal agendas, and together they demonstrate the utility of the Trojano-­Roman narrative in conceptualizing Romanness. It was this conglomerate that was being (unevenly) transferred to the east in late antiquity. The traditional Trojano-­Roman narrative was so power­f ul that another strain of mythistorical tradition, one that ran ­counter to the aims of Christodoros in the Ekphrasis, emerged during the sixth ­century to provide New Rome with a link to the Trojan past. At the center of this tradition was the Palladion, an ancient statuette of Athena that was supposed to grant protection to whichever city held it. Numerous traditions about the Palladion survived and linked the statue to Aeneas and the foundation of Rome.55 In the sixth ­century, three sources report that this statue had been moved from Rome to Constantinople by Constantine, a con­ve­nient story that accounted for the fall of Old Rome (it had lost its divine—­pagan—­protection), while situating New Rome in the Trojan tradition and offering reassurances about its own f­ uture.56 As with Zosimos and Hesychios, Christodoros’ Ekphrasis and the traditions surrounding the Palladion represent dif­fer­ent approaches to the same cultural concerns that make use of the same raw materials, in this case Trojano-­Roman mythistory. The challenge for the writers, artists, and emperors of New Rome ­after 476 was to construct a new set of usable pasts and normative mythistorical Roman narratives that did not import the prob­lems of a broken Old Rome. Zosimos, confronted with this task, took the view that it was impossible; Romanness came



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from Rome, therefore the empire was doomed to fail so long as it lacked its religious heartland. To an extent, Zosimos’ historical formulation was correct. Even when they retook Rome in the 530s and 540s, the Romans of the east did not reestablish the city as a center of empire, much less revive its ancient pagan festivals. By the age of Justinian, a new formulation was in the works and Rome was fast becoming a historical footnote in the history of its empire. In contrast to Zosimos, Hesychios postulated two Romes linked by a parallel antiquity and formed in a similar matrix of pressures and events. The weakness in Hesychios’ history, possibly addressed elsewhere in his corpus, was how to account for the divergent trajectories of the two Romes. While Hesychios fails to answer that question in the surviving passages of his history, Christodoros provides a clear response. For Christodoros, the divergent fates of Old and New Rome came down to their respective cultures. Old Rome arose from the remnants of a broken and defeated ­people, but New Rome arose from the victors and was bolstered by the contributions of ­great thinkers and ­great warriors, such as Anastasius. Old and New Rome w ­ ere the poles of the Roman world and neither was inherently more Roman than the other. The proof of New Rome’s Roman identity was not to be found in ancient stories, but in historical and con­temporary events. The survival and success of New Rome thereby became proof of eastern Romanness. Despite the responses of t­ hese authors, debates over what it meant to be Roman did not abate between the death of Anastasius and the reign of Justinian. In fact, Justinian’s policies threw the prob­lem into even sharper relief as his Roman armies campaigned through the cradle of Roman civilization. The Italian campaigns launched by Justinian elevated the demand for new narratives of Romanness from the level of propaganda to that of policy. As Justinian’s early successes gave way to the frustrations and failures of the 540s, the issue became ever more acute, especially when it came to accounting for the dif­fer­ent fates of the two Romes. A ­ fter all, if Old Rome could fall, it was not difficult to imagine, in the midst of plagues, foreign invasion, and military collapse, that New Rome might suffer the fate of her metropolis.

chapter 3

Administrative Reform and Republican History

The Romans never forgot the Republic. Even ­after centuries of imperial rule, the period of the consuls, as they generally called the era from the expulsion of the kings to the reign of Augustus, remained a formative component of Roman identity. ­Under the principate, emperors went to ­great lengths to make themselves appear to be the natu­ral outgrowths of the mutable constitutional offices of the Republic. Although the need to appear to function as Republican magistrates declined with time, coming to a decisive end with the military emperors of the third ­century, the Republic remained a vital component of Roman history and identity. In par­tic­u­lar, it was well known that Rome’s growth from city-­state to master of the Mediterranean and Western Eu­rope took place largely u­ nder the rule of the consuls. For an imperial system that predicated its authority on military triumph,1 the Republic was a model and a challenge, a perpetual reminder that Rome’s success was not inextricably tied to the office of the emperor. When the western Roman empire fell in the fifth ­century, the eastern empire was challenged to redefine its identity. The responses of historians and poets to this challenge have occupied the first two chapters, but the emperors of New Rome felt and responded to the same pressures. For eastern emperors, the end of Roman authority in the west motivated a move ­toward imperial rhe­toric that embraced the Republic as the gold standard of Romanness and a source of validating authority. As discussed above, the emperor Anastasius (r. 491–518) came to power amid demands for a “true Roman,” and claimed for himself descent from Pompey the ­Great. It is diffi-



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cult to tell with the l­imited sources we have w ­ hether the Republic loomed large in Anastasius’ imperial self-­presentation, or if his ancestry was a minor footnote in a larger program.2 We are likewise at a loss for the reign of Justin, though this Illyrian may have found his path to the imperial office smoothed by his credentials as a native Latin-­speaker. Not ­until the ballooning of the historical rec­ord during the reign of Justinian are we able to see a coherent program of imperial Republican rhe­toric, one that is hinted at in the Corpus Iuris Civilis, but which is more fully developed, u­ nder the oversight of Tribonian, in Justinian’s Novels.3 Our sources do not allow us to know how much of Justinian’s use of Republican history was traditional. What­ever prefatory material was once attached to Roman law is almost entirely lost, obliterated by time or the editors of the Theodosian Code.4 The inscriptional evidence is likewise scarce, attested only by rare and remarkable survivals such as Diocletian’s Price Edict. W ­ hether a unique phenomenon or iteration on an established practice, Justinian’s use of the Republic in the Novels is closely tied to his con­ temporary circumstances, especially to the remarkable series of conquests he achieved in the first half of his reign. Justinian uses his Novels as a space for the construction of usable and useful Roman pasts which both establish evaluative criteria favorable to the emperor’s proven accomplishments and situate proposed proj­ects in a supportive historical context. In the Novels, Justinian is attempting to reshape the past according to the needs of the ­pre­sent. One of the ­g reat ironies of the study of the sixth ­century is that the emperor often associated with the Byzantinization of the Roman empire, its purported shift from classical rationalism to autocracy and medieval superstition, made such an effort to promote himself as a Republican figure and to frame both his conquests and reforms in the idiom of Republican history. The responses his formulations inspired demonstrate that in the sixth c­ entury the Republic was not an abstraction. Despite all of the ways in which contemporaries could and did respond to Justinian’s rhe­toric, they often chose to confront the emperor on his own terms, to refute the legitimacy of his actions by refuting his formulation of Roman history. The Republic was disputed ideological ground in the sixth ­century, and Roman history was both the field and the weapon of this conflict. The focus on Roman history in Justinian’s Novels and the works of his contemporaries is an indication not only of the importance of that period in the construction of con­temporary Roman identity, but

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also of the role of history in the po­liti­cal and intellectual world of sixth-­century Constantinople.

Novel 24 and the Trajectory of Empire On 18 May 535, the Emperor Justinian promulgated three laws concerning the provincial administrations of Pisidia, Lykaonia, and Thrace.5 ­These ­were the first in a series of reforms of the eastern empire that continued throughout the course of the following year.6 The spring of 535 was an exciting moment in Justinian’s reign. His general Belisarios had, in 533/34, reconquered North Africa with unexpected ease, while in 534 Justinian’s ­legal commission published the second edition of the Codex, completing its revision of Roman law.7 Following t­hese successes, Justinian had dispatched Belisarios to North Africa the previous winter with o­ rders to sail to Sicily in the spring; Justinian had begun his campaign to reconquer the Roman homeland from the Ostrogoths.8 It was at this point, in the midst of what Tony Honoré called the “age of hope,” that Justinian and his advisers chose to reform the administration of the eastern provinces.9 The readership of ­these laws is somewhat uncertain, but, dealing as they did with high posts in the imperial administration, they would certainly have been read closely by ambitious members of the senate and officials serving in the provinces, as well as by numerous bureaucrats and secretaries such as Ioannes Lydos, Jordanes, and Prokopios.10 Given the intended audience, as well as the unrest that reform might generate in a conservative society rife with special interests, it is no surprise that Justinian and his l­egal advisers sought to justify the necessity of the reforms enacted in ­these laws.11 What is surprising is how they went about it: crafting a historical narrative of Roman success predicated on the offices of the Roman Republic. Although the first three reform novels w ­ ere published on the same day, they have an internal order, with Novel 24, concerning the province of Pisidia, explic­ ­ ere by Triitly identified as the first.12 Justinian’s official voice, ghost-­written h 13 bonian, begins this Novel not with a discussion of Pisidia, or even the administration of the provinces, but a historical interpretation of Rome’s rise to empire: We believe that the ancient Romans would never have been able to assem­ble so large a politeia from small, even trivial, beginnings and afterward to have taken hold of and won for themselves the entirety



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of the inhabited world, so to speak, if they had not appeared more august by sending more se­nior magistrates into their provinces and granted them authority over both arms and laws, and if they had not had men who w ­ ere competent and distinguished in both fields.14 Justinian h ­ ere assumes the persona of a critical historian, rather than the solicitous f­ ather figure we find in many of his other laws.15 The subject Justinian has been investigating is the original rise of the Roman empire from small beginnings in Italy to the world empire it claimed to be at its height. One source of Rome’s success, Justinian argues, was its use of se­nior magistracies, in par­tic­u­lar the praetors, whose name Justinian attributes to their “­going before all o­ thers and establishing the ­battle line,” as well as organ­izing military exercises and giving judgments concerning the law.16 This lexical antiquarian flourish both supports Justinian’s claim to learnedness and draws attention to the two ele­ments that make up not only the praetor’s power, but also Justinian’s own. Arms and laws are designated the special provinces of the praetor, but a reader in 535 would recognize that they ­were now ­those of the emperor himself. The conquest of Africa, the codification of the laws, and the invasion of Sicily gave ample evidence of Justinian’s expertise in both fields, albeit through talented subordinates. Justinian therefore predicates his rhetorical authority in the Novel on his research and his own rec­ord as emperor. By drawing attention to his own special talents alongside ­those of the ancient praetors, Justinian creates a parallel between his office and the one he is restoring. This parallel is enhanced by the statement that opens the law: the Romans would never have gained their empire if not for the office that combined authority over laws and arms. The negative phrasing allows Justinian to make a specific claim. The praetors may not have been the only ­factor that contributed to Rome’s rise, but they ­were an indispensable one. The claim also establishes a princi­ple that is at the heart of Justinian’s reform legislation and the imperial administration’s talking points in 535: restoration. By associating himself and his office with the ancient praetors, Justinian creates a parallel between the original expansion of the Roman empire and his current campaigns to restore it to its ancient bound­aries. The association was strengthened, and its terms clarified, by Justinian’s renaming the office ­a fter himself. Thus the “Justinianic praetor” becomes an agent of Justinian’s Roman imperial restoration. Justinian positions himself as a restorer not only of po­liti­cal bound­aries, but also of the administration, stating that he is reintroducing the praetorship “­because we ­were reflecting upon [the origins of Roman success], leading

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antiquity back into the politeia with a greater blossom, and exalting the name of ­ ere makes the terms of his restoration clear. He is not the Romans.”17 Justinian h content with reestablishing the ancient Roman state; he is g­ oing to restore antiquity “with a greater blossom” (meta meizonos anthous). This meta­phor is significant not only ­because it elevates Justinian’s works above t­ hose of the ancient Romans, but also b­ ecause it links his law with the authority of the natu­ral world. Novel 24 was published in mid-­May. The coincidence of spring, highlighted by Justinian’s flower meta­phor, with the start of the Italian campaigns and the theme of restoration all serve to emphasize the renewal, or re-­blossoming, of the Roman world ­after a period of decline. The phrase “greater blossom” would have had another meaning for some readers. The words used for “blossom” in the laws are flos (Lat.) and anthos (Gr.), the depersonalized versions of Flora and Anthousa, the names of the goddesses who represented the genius of Rome and Constantinople respectively and served in addition as their sacred names.18 While depersonalized, the use of flos/anthos is peculiar enough to attract notice, as is the fact that the words are found only four other times in the Novels, and only in laws published between 535 and 536 reforming the administrations of provinces.19 The term, then, was closely linked to the rhe­toric of the reforms Justinian enacted during this period. Given the context of its first appearance, it seems that Justinian is attempting to insert a reference to his ambitions in the west, an attempt made pos­si­ble by widespread con­temporary interest in the history of both the sacred names and their associated festivals.20 The specific use of flos/anthos in Novel 24 points to an interest in the city of Rome. The blossoms are referred to as maior and meizōn respectively, words which resonated in the broader discussion of the relative roles of Rome and Constantinople in the late Roman world. The use of the word meizōn to refer to Elder Rome goes back at least as far as Libanios, who uses it obliquely when comparing Antioch to the empire’s other capitals.21 The term megas was also associated with Rome in the sixth c­ entury; Prokopios rec­ords a letter, purportedly sent to Totila by Belisarios on the occasion of Totila’s capture of Rome, that attempted to dissuade the Gothic king from demolishing the city. This letter repeatedly uses words related to megas to make its case, calling Rome “the greatest” (megistē) city in the world, reflecting on its unrivaled greatness (megethos), and claiming that its destruction would be a “­g reat crime” (adikēma mega).22 As discussed in the sixth chapter, words related to megas also played a role in ecclesiastical discussions of the city of Rome, especially ­after the Council of Chalcedon in 451.



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Given the con­temporary association between Rome and “the greater,” the scholarly interest in the names of Rome, the worship of Flora/Anthousa in the sixth c­ entury, and the restriction of the words flos and anthos to the provincial reform novels published between 535 and 536, ­there is ample circumstantial evidence to suggest that Justinian is ­here alluding to the city of Rome. Moreover, Justinian’s claim about the “greater blossom” is followed immediately by his claim to be “exalting the name of the Romans.” The text of the law forces the reader to consider the subject of names alongside this puzzling reference to a flower, specifically “the greater” flower. The po­liti­cal situation in Italy in the months prior to the publication of Novel 24 likewise supports reading “greater blossom” as an allusion to Rome.23 Amalasuintha, the Gothic queen-­regent in Italy, had opened negotiations with Justinian in 534 when her son became ill.24 She had initially promised to hand Italy over to the emperor, but reneged on the agreement, crowning her disgraced cousin Theodahad in November  534.25 Theodahad imprisoned Amalasuintha that winter and Justinian responded by ordering his ambassador Petros the Patrician to make private and public statements in support of the queen.26 ­These statements failed to protect Amalasuintha, who was murdered on 30 April 535, eigh­teen days before the promulgation of Novel 24. While news of Amalasuintha’s death may not have reached Constantinople by 18 May 535, regaining Rome was an active (though still covert) imperial proj­ect when the law was drafted. Understanding Rome as the “greater blossom” makes Justinian’s somewhat awkward phrase, “leading antiquity back into the politeia with a greater blossom,” intelligible. He claims to be restoring the ancient status of the Roman empire, most notably by reconquering its ancient capital. Novel 24 also marks Justinian’s first use of the term oikoumenē in the surviving Novels.27 The term, which refers to the entirety of the inhabited world, had a long history in discussions of the rise and dominance of the Roman empire, beginning with Polybios (about whom more below). The word draws attention to the extent of the Roman empire in the period before its collapse in the west and, u­ nder other circumstances, might have been a source of embarrassment to an imperial system that controlled only half of that territory. However, in 535 it reminds the reader of Justinian’s accomplishments and ambitions rather than his shortcomings, indicating that his goal is to retake all of the territory formerly held by the Romans.28 Justinian defines the role of the praetors in terms of the Roman rise to dominance over the oikoumenē, arguing that they made two significant contributions to that expansion:

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A ­great deal of law derives from the edicts of praetors, and t­ here ­were many praetors; some conquered and administered Sicily, some the island of Sardinia, ­others Spain, and still o­ thers conquered and administered other lands and seas.29 The statement about the praetors’ contributions to the development of Roman law is true, but far more in­ter­est­ing are the areas of praetorian administration that Justinian chooses as examples: Sicily, Sardinia, and Spain. ­These three territories are also linked to the beginnings of the Roman empire and the origins of the praetorship in the Digest, which was compiled ­under the direction of the same Tribonian who wrote Novel 24. Quoting from the jurist Pomponius on the topic of the origin of laws and all the magistracies, the Digest states that “when Sardinia had been taken, and soon Sicily, and then Spain, and fi­nally the province of Narbonensis, praetors ­were created for each place, as many provinces as came ­under [Roman] authority.”30 The use of Sicily, Sardinia, and Spain in the Novel, combined with the exclusion of Narbonensis, points to the origins of the Roman empire in the first two Punic Wars (fought against Carthage, which occupied the same territory in North Africa that Justinian had just reconquered), the first of which gave Rome Sicily and Sardinia, the second of which gave her Spain. By referencing the very first provinces brought u­ nder Roman control, Justinian not only continues his display of learnedness, upon which he has based his claim to authority in this Novel, but also narrows the par­ameters of the parallel he is drawing between ancient and con­temporary Roman expansions. Justinian uses Sicily, Sardinia, and Spain to indicate that his own expansion is still in its earliest phases and that it ­will be accomplished through military force. Specifically, he had taken Sardinia and was in the pro­cess of taking Sicily, leaving only the conquest of Spain to be accomplished. Rome herself is excluded from the historical parallel but is indicated through the reference to the “greater blossom.” The allusion to the Punic Wars, along with thematic and linguistic parallels, link Justinian’s discussion of Roman history in Novel 24 to the history of Polybios and, through Polybios, to the related discussion of Rome’s trajectory in Zosimos’ New History. At a basic level, Justinian’s depiction of Roman expansion, focusing on the smallness of the city of Rome and its rise to dominance over the entire Mediterranean, closely mirrors Polybios’ description of his subject in the opening lines of his history: Who is so stupid and lazy that he would not wish to understand how and with what type of government (politeia) it happened that in



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fewer than fifty-­three years a single empire, that of the Romans, came to rule virtually the entire inhabited world (oikoumenē).31 Polybios’ history, like Novel 24, is concerned with the phenomenon of Roman expansion as a function of its politeia. Polybios, in his discussion of the Roman constitution, attributes the success of the Roman state to its unique balance of monarchical, aristocratic, and demo­cratic ele­ments in government.32 Justinian’s formulation ignores this template, for obvious reasons, and focuses instead on the magistracies of the state. In d­ oing so, Justinian’s laws are responding to objections such as t­ hose raised by Zosimos, who used Polybios’ history as a framework for understanding the decline of the Roman empire.

Jordanes and Novel 24: An Alternate Trajectory Zosimos was not the only author to complain of Roman decline and frame it in terms of the Republic. Jordanes’ Romana, published around 551 in Constantinople, also discusses the overall trajectory of the empire.33 Jordanes’ history is an ambiguous work; it resembles an epitome in length, a chronicle in style, and a classicizing history in its use of allusion and intertext. Jordanes himself calls the Romana an adbreviatio chronicorum at the beginning of his Getica, which is itself framed as a digression from the Romana, linking the texts in a unique way. Nevertheless, the Romana is explicit in its goals; the work is addressed to a certain Vigilius, who had asked Jordanes for a summary of Roman history. Jordanes agrees to undertake the proj­ect and defines his topic in this way: You wish to understand the disasters of the current world, e­ ither how it began or what has persisted even up to our own time, and I have explained this. You add, moreover, that I, having selected the small blossoms from the works of our ancestors, should pre­sent to you briefly how the Roman respublica seized, held, and subjugated virtually the entire world, and how it even now continues to do so in appearance.34 Jordanes’ approach to Roman history is a neat inversion of Justinian’s. Instead of seeing a Roman world on the rebound, poised to reassume its ancient shape, Jordanes sees a Roman empire in decline and focuses his proj­ect on explaining that decline. Jordanes frames his work as a response to Justinian’s discussion of

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Roman revival by invoking the same fundamental question: how did the Romans achieve dominance over almost the entire world? Jordanes’ statement of method, gathering the “small blossoms” ( floscula) of ­earlier writers, serves as both a Latinization of the Greek anthologia and a satirically diminutive allusion to Justinian’s “greater blossom” (maior flos). His history also takes aim at Justinian’s claim to have restored, or to have begun the restoration of, the former empire by calling that restoration appearance rather than real­ity. ­A fter his address to Vigilius, Jordanes begins his history of Rome with the same formulation Justinian uses in his description of the praetors: The Romans, as Iamblichos says, made the world their own through the use of arms and laws: what­ever they arranged with arms, they preserved with laws.35 Although he does not extend this analy­sis through the rest of his work (at least not explic­itly), the comment clearly echoes the rhe­toric of Justinian’s Novels. Likewise, when recounting the beginnings of Justinian’s Italian campaigns, Jordanes refers to Belisarios as the “tamer of the Cartha­ginians” (Poenorum domitor).36 The word he uses refers not to the con­temporary inhabitants of Carthage, but to the Phoenician enemies of Rome in the Punic Wars. This usage stands out ­because Jordanes discusses the reconquest of Africa just a few lines before and ­there correctly identifies the e­ nemy as the Vandals. In fact, Jordanes mentions the Vandals in the same sentence he uses Poenorum domitor, reporting that Belisarios displayed the trea­sures of the Vandals in his triumph. The title Poenorum domitor is poetic and striking, and it indicates the same moment in Roman history, the Punic Wars, that Justinian invoked in his reforms.37 The connection is further confirmed by Jordanes’ use of the term Poenus in his account of the Punic Wars.38 The title Poenorum domitor ties the character of Belisarios si­mul­ta­neously to the rhe­toric of Justinian’s reform program and, along with the general’s other titles, to the Republic. During his account of Belisarios’ defeat of the Goths, Jordanes repeatedly refers to him as consul, even though the term of his consulship expired in December 535.39 Only three other figures are named consuls in Jordanes’ narrative ­a fter the death of Crassus in 53 bc: Theoderic, Vitalian, and Justin, the son of Germanos. Of t­ hese, only Theoderic and Vitalian, both described as Goths, are given meaningful attention.40 For all three, the consulship is mentioned incidentally, while for Belisarios it becomes a standard title, marking him out as a Republican figure. Moreover, Jordanes grants Belisarios traditional



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Republican titles for his victories, Vandalicus and Geticus, setting Belisarios up as a Republican foil for Justinian, who in fact took both of t­ hose names in his official titulature.41 Jordanes transfers the glory and the titles to Belisarios, while transferring Belisarios back to the Republic. The Vergilian echoes in the title Poenorum domitor also call attention to the similarities between Belisarios’ campaigns and the travels of Aeneas. Both men begin in Asia, by Troy, sail to Africa, spend time at Carthage, and move from Africa to Italy. Moreover, the goal of both men is to establish the Roman state in Italy.42 In Belisarios’ case, he is re-­founding Rome and the necessity of this re-­founding is emphasized by Jordanes in his description of the Rome Belisarios finds upon his arrival: The consul Belisarios entered the Roman city [Romanam urbem] and was received by that populace which had once been Roman and by the senate (although that name had already been all but buried along with its virtue).43 Romana urbs is a standard substitution for Roma, which Jordanes uses elsewhere in his narrative, but is used to deliberate effect in this passage to undermine the Romanness of the city of Rome.44 Jordanes breaks the citizens of Rome into two standard categories: the senate and p­ eople. The ­people he calls “once Roman,” but he reserves greater disdain for the senate which he says had, for all intents and purposes, been buried by this point, along with its virtue. Jordanes’ de-­ Romanization of the senate and p­ eople of Rome raises the question of how Roman this Romana urbs actually is. Moreover, his critique of the senate is pointed; by referring to buried virtue Jordanes is referencing the tombs of famous Romans that dominated the urban landscape of ancient Rome. Prokopios points to ­these same monuments, in the letter to Totila recounted in his Wars, as signs of the greatness of Rome.45 Jordanes is making the opposite point but to similar effect. The Romans have lost their Romanness and even the senate, which was responsible for the expansion of the Roman state, has lost the virtue that previously defined it. The “greater blossom” Justinian had hoped to add to his empire is, in Jordanes’ telling, a degenerate imitation of Rome, undead, sharing only the name of its pre­de­ces­sor and barely that. Jordanes concludes his history by taking aim directly at Justinian and the idea of Roman revival that Justinian proposed in his laws. A ­ fter reviewing the difficult peace in newly conquered Africa, the ongoing conflicts in Italy, and the campaigns against the Persians, Jordanes reports:

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­ ese are the disasters of the Roman respublica besides the daily Th presence of the Bulgars, Antes, and Sclavini. If anyone wishes to know about t­ hese ­things, let him review the annals and the consular list without disgust and discover that the respublica of our time is worthy of a tragedy. And let him know from where it arose, how it grew . . . ​or rather how it subdued all lands to itself and how it lost them again on account of its negligent rulers.46 Jordanes’ recommendations for further reading are a series of responses to Justinian’s policies that call into question the emperor’s claims of a Republic-­inspired restoration. Leaving aside the obvious (and daring) claim that the Romans lost their empire through the negligence of their rulers, Jordanes uses his closing passage to imply the disintegration not only of the empire, but also of Roman history. He begins his conclusion with the verb revolvo, which literally refers to rewinding a scroll and, in the context of his history, traveling back through time to when the state of the respublica was not material fit for tragedy. Even more pointed is Jordanes’ mention of the consular lists. Writing in the 550s, Jordanes would have been aware that the consulship had been a dead institution since 541, in fact this likely accounts for his fixation on Belisarios’ consulship, as he was the last man of proven merit to hold the post.47 Jordanes’ recommendation is a reminder that consular history has ended. This is impor­tant for two reasons. First, consular years w ­ ere used to date all of Roman history ­after the expulsion of the kings, so the end of that office was, in some sense, the end of Roman history. Justinian himself was responsible for both the end of the consulship as a post and the supplanting of its role in Roman timekeeping with the regnal years of the emperor.48 Second, by calling attention to the end of the consulship, Jordanes heightens the tension inherent in the term respublica ­because the consulship was, for many late antique authors including Justinian, the defining office of the Republic and its most impor­tant survival. The period of the Republic was the period in which Rome gained her empire. By focusing on the end of Republican timekeeping, and by extension of Republican history, Jordanes is divorcing Justinian’s reign from the same period the emperor invoked in Novel 24. Moreover, if magistrates played a key role in the rise of Rome, as Justinian claims, then the irony of his abolishing the highest magistracy of the Roman state cannot be overstated. Fi­nally, Jordanes makes the claim that the current state of the empire is fit material for tragedy. This statement is not, as it might be in En­glish, simply a poetic way of referring to the sorry state of the empire, but a technical reference to



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Athenian tragedy. Readers might recall Aristotle’s criteria for tragedies:49 Aristotle describes the ideal tragic protagonist as the sort of man who is neither exceptional in his virtue and justice nor falls into misfortune on account of his evil or hatefulness, but on account of a m ­ istake (hamartia), and is one of ­those who has a g­ reat reputation and good fortune.50 The Roman empire, at its height, certainly met the qualifications for reputation and fortune, which raises the question: What, in Jordanes’ formulation, is the hamartia of the Roman empire? Jordanes explic­itly points to the negligence of the rulers of Rome. The phrase used ­here, ignari rectores, is meaningful. Jordanes avoids the terms we would expect if he ­were referring solely to the imperial office (imperator, augustus, e­ tc.) and instead uses a term that could refer to a w ­ hole range of leaders, including magistrates and emperors. Moreover, the adjective ignarus links the hamartia of Rome to its anagnorisis both linguistically and semantically. According to Aristotle, the anagnorisis is the moment at which the hero of a tragedy appreciates the real­ity of his or her situation, generally in regard to some personal relationship.51 Jordanes’ history is the anagnorisis of the tragedy of the Roman empire and the realization that it has been led astray by its rulers. Aristotle argues that the effect of the anagnorisis is the creation of e­ ither friendship or hostility based on the truth perceived.52 Rome’s rulers, in Jordanes’ telling, are the enemies of Rome’s success, a fact of which they are tragically ignorant, but which the Romana has revealed. Given the con­temporary stopping point of Jordanes’ narrative, Justinian must be included at the head of the list of ignorant leaders who have caused empire’s ruin.53 The Romana combines several traditions of historical writing, epic poetry, and Aristotelian literary analy­sis in order to generate a coherent historical narrative that inverts the historical reasoning of Novel 24. In d­ oing so, Jordanes mirrors the wider discussion of Republican history, and particularly Republican offices, in which he is participating. The coherence of the debate presented by Justinian (through Tribonian), Zosimos, and Jordanes, as well as the interest in similar questions apparent in a variety of works from the sixth ­century, demonstrate a broad con­temporary interest in the ­causes of Rome’s successes and failures. This coherence also has implications for the audience(s) of t­ hese works ­because the authors must have expected that some readers would be able to link their works back to the broader debate. In the case of Jordanes, such readers would have been expected to associate his discussion with Novel 24 and perhaps even

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with one or more of the works of Zosimos, Prokopios, Lydos, and the Dialogue on Po­liti­cal Science.54 The extent and interconnectedness of the discussions taking place in the sixth c­ entury is evidence for the existence of a coherent intellectual movement concerned with understanding and representing the historical ­causes of Rome’s success in order to comment upon con­temporary po­liti­cal issues.

Novel 13: Administrative Corruption and Urban Reform Tribonian’s rhetorical approach to the provincial reforms of 535 allowed him to associate Justinian with the explosive expansion of the Roman Republic ­after the Second Punic War. The posture of erudite restorer was also an effective method for burying the lede and postponing a discussion of other motivating ­factors, in par­tic­u­lar brigandage, corruption, and administrative infighting, which ­were also addressed by ­these laws. A similar approach characterizes the rhe­toric of Novel 13 (Praetor of the Plebs), which Justinian promulgated on 15 October 535.55 The law reconstituted the post of the prefect of the watch (praefectus vigilum) as the “praetor of the p­ eople” (praetor plebis), raising the standing and authority of the office in the pro­cess.56 Justinian justifies his actions in Novel 13 by promoting his au­then­tic Roman identity at the expense of his subjects and arguing that Constantinople o­ ught to be governed by magistrates that paralleled, and superseded, the ancient offices of consul and plebeian tribune. Both tracks of Justinian’s argument w ­ ere challenged by con­temporary authors, namely Lydos and Prokopios, who responded to his history, his discussion of Roman identity, and his formulation of the relationship between Rome and Constantinople. Novel 13 contains within itself the narrative of the emperor’s discovery, investigation, and correction of the office of the praefectus vigilum. Justinian begins by indicating that the corruption of the office’s name first called his attention to the prob­lem: We do not know how the name of the most illustrious magistrates of the watch (agrypnia), which was distinguished and famous among the ancient Romans, has assumed a dif­fer­ent name and rank. For our native language called ­these men the praefecti vigilum, entrusting ­these men with command over the watchmen and the men who leave nothing uninvestigated. We do not know for what reason the language of the Greeks calls t­ hese men the prefects of the nights, as if,



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so it seems, they take up their office when the sun sets and lay it aside when the sun rises.57 The law opens by establishing a thematic connection between the office ­under discussion and the persona Justinian has been cultivating in his laws.58 Justinian identifies the praefecti vigilum as the prefects of the agrypnia, a term that literally means sleeplessness and was a watchword in Justinian’s imperial self-­ representation. The earliest evidence for Justinian’s sleepless persona is an inscription in the church of Ss. Sergios and Bacchos in the mid-520s.59 The term is most often found, however, in the laws, where reference to Justinian’s sleeplessness appears as early as 534, in the Institutes, and as late as 541.60 Con­temporary readers of the Novels would therefore have been sensitized to key words such as agrypnia, which is used throughout the Novels to translate the Latin term for the emperor’s sleeplessness, vigilia. The mention of sleeplessness at the beginning of Novel 13 therefore serves as a reminder of the emperor’s relentless character, which is evident from his attention to a relatively trivial ­matter like the misnaming of an office by his subjects. The use of the term agrypnia likewise establishes the correct Greek translation of the Latin word vigil, which is itself germane to the law. The opening of Novel 13 creates a rhetorical divide between the emperor and his Greek-­speaking subjects in Constantinople, as well as, by extension, the predominantly Greek-­speaking empire he ruled. The prob­lem Justinian identifies is not that the Latin name has changed or that the office has been demoted, but that the Greek language, through its speakers, has corrupted the perception of the office by erroneously mistranslating vigiles as “nights.” This framing of the prob­lem grants the Latin language primacy at the expense of Greek and aligns Justinian with the more authoritative, and more traditionally Roman, Latin side of this linguistic divide. When Justinian calls Latin “our native language,” he is not only claiming it as the ancestral language of the Roman empire, but also as his own native tongue, leveraging his provincial origins (he was born in Latin-­ speaking Illyricum) to enhance his credentials as a “true” Roman, one who is qualified to both detect and correct errors brought about by the inferior Romanness of his subjects. The linguistic divide Justinian lays out in Novel 13 (Praetor of the Plebs) mirrors the con­temporary real­ity of the Roman state, specifically the linguistic divide between the eastern and (what had been) the western Roman empire. Justinian defused the question of Roman decline in Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia) by both promising to restore Rome to the empire (through his allusion to the

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“greater blossom”) and reframing the trajectory of Roman fortunes, aligning his reign with the expansion of the Republican empire. By foregrounding questions of language and Romanness in Novel 13, Justinian calls attention back to this issue and implicates the Greek-­speaking Romans of the east in the pro­cess of imperial decline. Justinian argues throughout the Novels that the health of the empire is inextricably tied to the health of its magistracies, which implies that the corruption of the name and corresponding neglect of the office of praefectus vigilum has broad implications for the health of the empire as a w ­ hole. Justinian plays the restorer by virtue of his superior Latinity, a reflection of his superior Romanness, and thereby situates himself on the traditional, western side of the linguistic divide. He is distancing himself from the pro­cess of Roman decline, and complementing his attempt to associate himself with a new imperial trajectory in Novel 24, which was published just five months ­earlier. Justinian incorporates his reform of the office of praefectus vigilum into the program of Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia) and the other provincial reform Novels through the title he grants the restored office: praetor plebis, praetor of the ­people. Justinian explic­itly cites his provincial reform laws in Novel 13 (Praetor of the Plebs), stating that “the laws make clear how revered the name of praetor is and how its standing is not far from the consulship.” 61 This is an internal reference to the status laid out for praetors in Novel 24, which was the model for all the other praetorships created in 535, and is noteworthy not only ­because it suggests a coherent rhetorical strategy for Novels 13 and 24, but also ­because it assumes the existence of a readership that is familiar with both. This clue offers valuable insight into the ways in which Justinian and his ­legal team expected the Novels to be read. They assumed that at least some readers would be familiar with most or all of ­these laws and could grasp internal cross-­references and allusions. The newly constituted praetor of the ­people is explic­itly paired in the discussion with another office, that of praetor urbis, or urban praetor. The urban praetor was the head of the senate of Constantinople and tenure of that office conferred the highest rank available in that body.62 Justinian makes clear that the praetor of the p­ eople w ­ ill hold a lower rank than the urban praetor but ­frees the praetor of the p­ eople from oversight by the urban praetor. He then goes on to elaborate a system in which the two offices w ­ ill work together to provide a coherent and comprehensive administration for the city of Constantinople: Just as the ancient consuls led the ­great (megistē) senate and the tribunes of the plebs held the reins of the ­people, in this way let the



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praetors of the senate do the ­things we mentioned before and let the praetors of the p­ eople assist the good order of the p­ eople and provide for their benefit.63 By paralleling the urban and plebeian praetors with the office of the consul and that of the plebeian tribune, Justinian is once again situating his reforms in the historical context of the Roman Republic. His rhe­toric likewise has a geo­graph­ i­cal ele­ment: the megistē boulē of the Novel clearly refers to the senate of Rome, which had long associations with the word megas in late antiquity and the sixth ­century. Justinian is therefore reforming his current capital on the model of Republican Rome, a step that implicitly acknowledges Rome’s superiority to Constantinople as a Roman capital.64 The fact that Justinian needs, and is able, to reform the administration of the city to make it follow a traditional Roman model raises questions about the Roman identity of both the city and its inhabitants. This question is echoed by Justinian in the opening of the Novel, where he distinguishes himself from his subjects on the basis of language. By creating this rhetorical distance from his subjects and their Romanness, Justinian is also creating a need for his own ser­vices as an agent of restoration. His rhetorical strategy is enhanced by the po­liti­cal context of the autumn of 535. By basing his reforms in Constantinople on a Republican model, Justinian is continuing the Republican associations that he established in Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia) and making a subtle reference to his campaigns in the west. Justinian claims to be giving his empire a true Roman capital by reforming Constantinople, but t­ hese reforms anticipate the return of Rome, the original Roman capital, to the empire. Novel 13 (Praetor of the Plebs) si­mul­ta­neously advertises Justinian’s restoration of both east and west and acts as a preview of the po­liti­cal changes Justinian was expecting in the not-­too-­distant ­future. Justinian bases his reform of the prefect of the watch on Republican offices ­because it furthers his rhetorical agenda, but his history of the tribunate is other­ wise a complete fiction in­ven­ted to serve the rhetorical purposes of this Novel. In praising the plebeian tribunate, Justinian is reversing several centuries of thought on the sources of order and disorder in the Roman Republic and misconstruing the purpose of the office. Justinian claims the plebeian tribune was assigned to look ­after the good order of the ­people, in his words “to hold their reins.” According to Roman tradition, however, the plebeian tribune was created ­after a plebeian secession in order to secure greater po­liti­cal authority for the plebeians and offset the power of the (patrician) consuls.65 The adversarial, and at times hostile, relationship between ­these two offices was traditionally identified

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as a leading cause of the fall of the Republic, particularly by Appian, who begins his account of the civil wars with the creation of the tribunate.66 The historical role of the tribune is not the only place where Justinian diverges from received wisdom. By modeling the authority of the plebeian praetor on that of the plebeian tribune, Justinian is also ignoring the major role tribunician powers played in constructing the authority of the imperial office. Augustus’ Res Gestae make clear that the potestas tribunicia was a core component of imperial authority.67 This association lasted at least as late as the reign of Anastasius, who specifically mentions his tribunician powers in a letter to the Senate of Rome in 516.68 Justinian’s argument in ­favor of his reforms to the office of the prefect of the watch is supported by his claim to a superior understanding of traditional Roman offices, which in turn is based on his Latinity and research. Ironically, the formulation he produces is radically untraditional, ignoring both the historical role of the tribunate in civil disorders and in the formulation of imperial authority.

Fact-­Checking the Emperor: Lydos’ Response to Novel 13 Justinian’s revisionism did not go unnoticed by his contemporaries; in par­tic­u­ lar Ioannes Lydos, in his work On the Magistracies of the Roman State, directly contradicts Justinian’s history of the prefect of the watch.69 To highlight the ironies of his tacit correction of Justinian, Lydos adopts the rhe­toric of Justinian’s Novels in this work, arguing for the importance of the traditional magistracies of the Roman empire, in par­tic­u­lar the praetorian prefecture. For Lydos, like Justinian, the names of offices encode and reflect their reasons for existing, inextricably binding their proper administration to a sound understanding of their names and histories. Throughout On the Magistracies Lydos highlights the tension between Justinianic rhe­toric and real­ity by offering his own histories of many of the same offices Justinian reformed. That Lydos is ­going out of his way to argue against Justinian is evident from the fact that he both­ered to include the historically minor post of prefect of the watch in his list of the oldest, and therefore most impor­tant, magistracies of the Roman state. Lydos places the office in an emphatic position at the end of the second book of his work. In his discussion, Lydos deliberately contradicts and undermines e­ very argument Justinian lays out in Novel 13, beginning with the name of the office, which he calls . . . ​the prefect of the nights.



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Lydos traces the prefect of the nights, which he claims is the ninth institution created ­after the kingship, to the sack of Rome by the Senones (whom Lydos misidentifies as the Treveri) in 387 bc.70 According to Lydos, the prefect of the nights was specifically created in response to the Gallic entry into the city at night, making the name both descriptive and appropriate.71 Lydos’ version of events therefore contradicts that of Justinian, who mocks the idea that the authority of the prefect of the watch would be restricted to the night. Lydos goes on to quote the jurist Paulus who, in Lydos’ Greek translation of the Latin original, refers to the pre­de­ces­sors of the prefects of the watch, the triumvirs, as the “night men” (nykterinoi). The use of Paulus is significant, as he was among the jurists included in Justinian’s Digest of Roman law, meaning that his information and opinions had received official sanction from the emperor himself. Moreover, the lines Lydos quotes are, though he does not point this out, taken directly from the Digest itself. They are the opening lines of the section on the praefectus vigilum: Among the more ancient Romans, the triumvirs ­were in charge of defending against fires, and t­ hese men ­were called the nocturnals (nocturni) from that time ­because they kept the watch.72 Lydos is quoting Justinian’s officially sanctioned ­legal authorities against the emperor, highlighting the hy­poc­risy of his attack on the association between the praefectus vigilum and the night. Moreover, the section Lydos quotes is not the most explicit mention of an association between the praefectus vigilum and the night: that mention comes a few lines l­ ater when Paulus states that “it should be known that the praefectus vigilum is responsible for keeping watch through the entire night.”73 Lydos has already demonstrated his knowledge of the Digest, so we may assume that he was familiar with the remainder of the passage he began quoting. The second, unquoted passage adds to Lydos’ critique by making it clear not only that ­these prefects ­were called “nocturnal” but also that their authority was in fact circumscribed by the setting and rising of the sun, an idea Justinian specifically mocks in Novel 13. Lydos must have expected some portion of his audience to be familiar enough with the Digest to recognize that he was not quoting the entire entry, and that t­ here was more ironic information in the text that followed. Like Justinian, Lydos’ assumptions indicate the existence of (or at least his belief in the existence of) a group of readers intimately familiar with the corpus of Roman law.

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Lydos’ response to Novel 13 challenges Justinian’s authority by exposing his ignorance of, or contempt for, the l­egal system that he himself put in place. Lydos then goes a step further and attacks Justinian’s rhetorical justification for his reform of the office: the corruption of the post by a false name. In the pro­ cess, Lydos calls into question the basis of Justinian’s insight into the prob­lems plaguing the office: Justinian’s Latinity, and by extension his superior Romanness. In his description of the modern incarnation of the office of praefectus vigilum, Lydos mentions that, even in his own time, the citizens of Constantinople summon the prefects by shouting “omnes collegiati, concurrite” in the “ancestral tongue of the Romans” (patrios Rōmaiōn phōnē).74 This phrase recalls Justinian’s reference to “our ancestral tongue” in the preface to Novel 13 and challenges the implicit assertion that the emperor has an exceptional knowledge of the Latin language in contrast to his Greek subjects. The Greek citizens of Constantinople, from whom Justinian is attempting to distinguish himself in the Novel, are revealed to retain a greater Latinity than the emperor would have his readers believe. Moreover, Lydos promotes the Latinity of the Constantinopolitans over that of the emperor by arguing that their phrase, ossified remnant though it may be, preserves accurate information about the original nature of the office, namely that the praefecti vigilum w ­ ere members of a college rather than holders of a single office with command over several subordinates.

Inverting the Party Line: Prokopios and Novel 13 Lydos’ history of the praefectus vigilum is a point-­by-­point refutation of the counterpart history given in Novel 13 (Praetor of the Plebs), targeting both the accuracy of Justinian’s information and the rhetorical basis of his authority in the Novel. A complementary attack is made by Prokopios, who focuses not on the rhe­toric, but on the real-­world consequences of Novel 13.75 In his Secret History, Prokopios identifies the praetor of the p­ eople as an entirely new office, created at the expense of both tradition and the authority of the urban praetor: And as if the existing magistracies that had long been established ­were not sufficient for his purposes, he devised two more to add to the state, even though the magistracy in charge of the city populace had previously handled all criminal accusations.76



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The two new magistracies Prokopios goes on to identify are the praetor of the ­people and the quaesitor, and he claims that Justinian in­ven­ted them in order to increase the ranks of informers and to have an excuse to torture innocent ­people.77 Although this hyperbole is a standard feature of the Secret History, the motif of Justinian as the destroyer of his own p­ eople takes on special poignancy in this case ­because Prokopios claims that the praetor of the p­ eople made a point of sorting through recovered property in order to offer the emperor choice items.78 This “perpetual source of priceless goods,” as Prokopios dubs it, parallels the abuses that, by Justinian’s own admission, took place u­ nder the old office of the prefect of the watch. In the section of Novel 13 dedicated to the a­ ctual reform of the office, Justinian admits that u­ nder the old system officers of the prefect used their positions to extort protection money from criminals. Justinian frames his discussion of t­ hese abuses within a narrative of imperial investigation: We have learned of the wicked arrangements of ­these men in contradiction of their duties, and we are speaking of the investigators of robberies, the beneficiales, cutpurses, and the rest of the crowd, each of whom it is more fitting to punish rather than allow them to live in such a way. For the status of the investigators of robberies is of such a sort that they do nothing for the sake of the good, but only according to the following manner: when they discover thieves, they hunt for some profit from them for themselves and for their superiors.79 Again, we see Justinian presenting himself as a tireless investigator, not only of the Roman past but of his own officials, whose corruption must be restrained for the good of the populace. Prokopios’ account of the a­ ctual functioning of the new praetor of the ­people alludes to this narrative established in Novel 13 and casts Justinian in the role of the investigators he is chastising. Instead of correcting the abuses of ­these investigators, Justinian is extorting protection money from his own officials, rather than from thieves, in the form of “unclaimed” property that had in turn been stolen from honest citizens. By casting Justinian in the role of a corrupt investigator, Prokopios is subjecting the emperor to the same judgment the emperor originally passed on ­these officials: he is worthier of punishment than life. This characterization of Justinian also serves to reinforce the sinister interpretation of Justinian’s tireless investigations and innovations that runs throughout the Secret History. Justinian is not tirelessly searching for wrongs to make right, but for abuses to imitate and franchise.

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Prokopios goes on to level one more charge against the praetor of the ­people, as well as the urban praetor and quaesitor, namely that Justinian, at some point, removed the distinctions between their jurisdictions and encouraged them to “compete with each other to see who could destroy more ­people in the shortest time.”80 The verb Prokopios uses to introduce Justinian’s command is epistellō, which Kaldellis suggests could refer to a Novel that is no longer extant.81 ­Whether or not t­ here was ever an official pronouncement to this effect, the charge is an appropriate inversion of Justinian’s Republican model in Novel 13, but one that ironically corresponds more closely with the standard narrative of the late Republic. Justinian, according to Prokopios, is forcing the urban praetor and the praetor of the ­people to compete with one another (erizō) in their abuse of the populace.82 ­Because Justinian aligned t­ hese offices with the consuls and plebeian tribunes respectively, his order in effect corrects his previous, and unhistorical, model of civic harmony, replacing it with a vision of strife and contention whose effect is the ruin of the ­people, and by extension the state. All of t­ hese features may be found in the opening chapters of Appian’s Civil Wars and are linked explic­itly to the strug­gle between the consuls and tribunes. Prokopios is therefore, like Lydos, correcting Justinian’s historical revisionism while maintaining the emperor’s rhe­toric in order to underscore both the importance of proper history and the illegitimacy (or criminality) of the emperor’s reforms.

Laws, Histories, and Offices Justinian’s attempts at writing history w ­ ere focused around his desire to co-­opt the historical legitimacy of the Roman Republic in order to clothe his administration in a mantle of traditional Romanness. That this was a coherent program meant to build upon itself is evident from the thematic consistency of the Novels and their internal references to one another. Justinian, or at least Tribonian, intended for the histories laid out in the Novels, especially the administrative reform Novels, to function as a coherent, if not complete, history of the Roman state. The creation of such a corpus was an invitation to con­temporary authors to read and respond to Justinian’s laws as though they w ­ ere a text, an invitation that was accepted by most of the major authors of the period. The defining feature of t­ hese responses is not their hostility to Justinian and his regime, but their decision to engage the emperor on his own terms, ­whether they ­were fact-­checking the emperor’s history against his own pronouncements, as was the case with Lydos and Novel 13 (Praetor of the Plebs), or inverting the



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logic of Roman revival, as Jordanes did with Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia). This phenomenon demonstrates that Justinian and his ­legal team had accurately gauged con­temporary interest in issues of Roman history, in par­tic­u­lar the history of the Republic, a conclusion confirmed by the close correspondences between the ways in which Justinian and Zosimos frame the issue of Roman success and failure. Justinian and Tribonian had their fin­ger on the pulse of the intellectual scene in Constantinople in the sixth c­ entury and used the Novels to insert the emperor into con­temporary debates in an attempt to bend the development of historical memory in a direction favorable to the emperor’s policies. This attempt ultimately failed ­because it galvanized Justinian’s critics and inspired them to impose on their works the burden of responding to the emperor. ­These responses ­were varied, ranging from the serious (Jordanes’ Roman tragedy, Prokopios’ description of the depredations of the praetors) to the playfully humorous (Jordanes’ floscula, Lydos’ ironic quotation of the Digest). The similarities between ­these responses in content, method, and tone indicate not only the creation of a specific social memory shared among Jordanes, Prokopios, and Lydos, but also a coherent attempt by a social and intellectual movement to deauthorize Justinian’s official historical narrative. At the heart of the debate Justinian inspired lay Roman history and its utility for understanding and framing the sixth ­century. The notion that our understanding of the pre­sent is ­shaped by our understanding of the past is not a modern invention, but was a conviction among the authors of the sixth ­century, who contested the emperor’s history precisely ­because it did not accord with their experiences of the pre­sent or their perceptions of the emperor. Jordanes, Lydos, and Prokopios all published their works at roughly the same time, in the early 550s, and all three authors de­cided to respond to laws published fifteen years before, laws written during the “age of hope.” Justinian had reconfigured Roman history to support his attempts to reconquer the western Roman empire, and the apparent failure of ­those policies (and many ­others) in the 540s and early 550s demanded a response from the historians of the sixth c­ entury. Although ­these responses varied according to the models and intentions of the individual authors, they shared a general agreement that Justinian’s Roman history was wrong and could not go unchallenged.

chapter 4

The Abolition of the Consulship

For all of Justinian’s Republican posturing, t­ here remained one insoluble prob­ lem when the emperor turned to the period of the Republic for pre­ce­dent and support: the role of the consulship.1 Although governmental authority was widely distributed among vari­ous offices in the Republic, the consulship was, and more importantly was remembered to be, the chief executive office, holding broad authority over the conduct of foreign policy and acting as one of the preeminent civil authorities in the city of Rome.2 ­Under the Republic the consulship was also the highest annual office in government and was u­ nder most circumstances the end of the cursus honorum. In the sixth c­ entury, however, the consulship was ranked below several other posts, including the urban prefect, who served as the president of the senate of Constantinople. Similarly, the rank of consularis, which could be held in­de­pen­dently of the office, was inferior to a variety of other titles including patricius (patrician).3 The same was not true of the consulship in the last days of Roman rule in the west. In Rome and Ravenna, the consulship was often awarded to power­ful generals who effectively ruled in the name of weak emperors.4 In this context, the office posed clear prob­lems for Justinian’s rhetorical agenda in the Novels. The challenge for Tribonian and his ­legal team was to craft a rhetorical approach that could access the authority of the Republic without creating tension between the consulship and the office of emperor. The need for such a solution became more intense following the tremendous successes and consulship of Belisarios, whose consular pro­cession through Constantinople in January of 535 involved the distribution of Vandal trea­ sures to the ­people of the city and is even called a triumph (thriambos) by Prokopios.5



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Justinian employed a strategy of marginalization throughout the 530s to reduce the prominence of the consulship, stripping away or minimizing the few official functions it still served. Consular years w ­ ere supplanted as the standard form of Roman timekeeping, while expenditures on consular games and pro­ cessions ­were regulated and capped.6 Not satisfied with this, the emperor allowed the office to lapse ­after 541 and eventually, in a distant echo of Augustus’ treatment of the office, absorbed it into his imperial titulature. Justinian justified his treatment of the consulship by focusing on the overlap between its historical duties and imperial authority. In Justinian’s telling, the consuls, along with all the other organs of the Roman state, yielded their authority to the emperor,7 but w ­ ere in any case deviations from the standard, monarchical pattern of Roman history.8 For Justinian, it was impor­tant that the sixth-­century consulship be seen as the useless vestige of a relatively unimportant office. The backlash against Justinian’s consular reforms was widespread. Prokopios, Jordanes, and Lydos all attacked both the rhe­toric and content of Justinian’s laws. Once again, they chose to do so on the emperor’s terms, refuting his rhe­toric rather than offering their own systematic approach to the relationship between their own time and the Republic. Yet the consulship, both b­ ecause of its historic importance and the con­temporary c­ areer of Belisarios, generated a more coherent conversation than the offices discussed in Chapter 3. Looking at all three of ­these responses we see an overlap in their conceptions of the office and perceptions of Justinian. This is most likely evidence of a much broader conversation about the end of the consulship than our surviving sources allow us to see, but it certainly indicates that ­these three authors belonged to a coherent social and intellectual movement that was operating in Constantinople by the early 550s. The popularity of this movement and its views of the consulship can be gleaned from the propaganda of Justin II, Justinian’s nephew and heir. In a panegyrical poem celebrating Justin’s accession, the poet Corippus has the emperor claim to be enriching the ­people (plebs) by restoring the consulship, a claim that proved to be false.9 The dramatic response to the end of the consulship evident in our sources is to be expected. The consulship was the definitive office of the Republican period. It was, as Lydos makes a point of arguing, the one truly unique Roman po­ liti­cal invention.10 It was an essential component of Roman identity and, historically, the handmaiden of Roman military achievement. The authors of the sixth ­century w ­ ere keenly aware of and deeply concerned by the extent to which Justinian was altering the bound­aries, offices, and functions of the Roman state.

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The humiliation and abolition of the consulship gave them an event around which to marshal in order to discuss con­temporary concerns about the nature and direction of Roman government in the sixth c­ entury.

Justinian’s Consular Novels In Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia) and 13 (Praetor of the Plebs), Justinian’s ­legal team appealed to the rhetorical authority of the Roman Republic in order to establish the emperor’s credibility as the restorer of Rome’s imperial fortunes. This rhetorical approach was predicated on the resurrection or restructuring of Republican offices to act as symbols of a return to the period of Roman imperial expansion. While this approach was effective when discussing offices such as the praetor or tribune, it was incompatible with the most prominent Republican survival in Justinian’s Rome: the consulship. Unlike other offices, the consulship had a continuous history stretching back, at least in theory, to the deposition of the kings and establishment of the Republic in the sixth c­ entury bc. Moreover, the consulship still functioned as a high civilian office in the sixth ­century ad, and its associated rank, consularis, occupied a prominent position in the court hierarchy.11 Yet the office presented a prob­lem. The majority of Rome’s territorial expansion, as Zosimos was quick to point out, took place during the Republic ­under the consuls. The post was also synonymous with Roman history itself as, u­ ntil the reign of Justinian, documents ­were dated by consular years.12 Ancient authors did not periodize Roman history in the same way as modern scholars, separating the period of “the Republic” from that of “the Empire.”13 To the Romans, both “the Republic” and “the Empire” ­were equally understood as the respublica Romana, while the imperium Romanum was a product of “the Republic.”14 What we now refer to as “the Republic” was generally conceptualized as “the period of the consuls” by ancient authors, using the chief executive office synonymously with the form of government. The consulship was the definitive office of the Republican period, and therefore could not be restored to its ­actual historical function without dismantling the imperial system, nor could it be restored to its hallmark status without raising uncomfortable questions about the authority of that system. Tribonian and the rest of Justinian’s ­legal team can be seen grappling with the consulship as early as 535, during the reor­ga­ni­za­tion of the administration of the eastern provinces that took place during Belisarios’ consulship. In Novel 25 (Praetor of Lykaonia), published on 18 May 535 along with Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia) and Novel 26 (Praetor of Thrace), Justinian discusses the newly created



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office of the Praetor of Lykaonia. Internal references indicate that this law was the second of the three Novels promulgated that day, and it takes up the question of the relationship between the praetorship and the consulship: It is therefore just to equip [Lykaonia] with a magistrate [i.e., a praetor] distinguished by the ancient symbols of Roman rank; to combine into a single office t­ hose magistracies now governing the province, both the one holding what we call the po­liti­cal magistracy and the one that has been placed in charge of arms; and to adorn this office with the title of praetor, for this name is the patrimony (patrion) of the Roman empire and administered the g­ reat (megistē)15 city of the Romans even before the consuls.16 Justinian promotes the praetorship over the consulship by adducing its greater antiquity. This temporal sidelining of the status of the consulship sets the tone for most of Justinian’s subsequent references to the office, especially ­those of 537. The claim of superior antiquity also bifurcates the logic of Justinian’s rhe­toric of renewal. As we saw in Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia), the name of praetor was chosen b­ ecause of its special association with arms and laws, but also ­because of its connection to the original expansion of the Roman empire outside of Italy in the First and Second Punic Wars. ­These events took place during a “golden age” of the Republic, when the consulship was unequivocally the most impor­tant office in the Roman state and was deeply implicated in the expansion of the empire. Justinian’s decision to renew the office of praetor rather than the consulship (which likewise had a long tradition of ­legal and military authority) is justified, in Novel 25 (Lykaonia), by its even deeper antiquity, which is said to stretch back to a moment when the city of Rome was administered by praetors, but not consuls. The temporal logic is strained. In Novel 24 (Pisidia) praetors are preferred over consuls ­because of their function during a period when the consuls ­were serving superior and parallel functions, but in Novel 25 (Lykaonia) they are preferred ­because of their origin in a period prior to the origin of the consulship. It is not surprising, given the ideological prob­lems that the historical consulship could pose to an emperor, that Justinian and his ­legal team would seek to bypass the office. However, in bypassing the more famous and se­nior office of consul in f­ avor of the praetorship, the ­legal team set themselves at odds with the ideology of Republican renewal upon which ­these reforms ­were based. The resulting attempt to resolve this conflict required a confusing appeal to two dif­ fer­ent periods of time, one for a successful pre­ce­dent for expansion and the other

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for the authority of antiquity. This tension can be somewhat explained by the con­temporary importance of the consulship as a civilian office: Justinian did not (yet) wish to demote or denigrate the existing office of consul any more than he wished to return military and ­legal authority to that office with its strong Republican connotations. The solution Justinian’s administration eventually hit upon was to rewrite Roman history without the consulship. Although laws published between 18 May 535 and 537 mention the consulship, it is only in order to explain the origin of the term proconsul.17 The next major discussion of the office comes in Novel 62 (Concerning Senators), dated 1 February 537 and surviving only in Latin, in which Justinian explic­itly addresses the constitutional transition from Republic to Empire: In the most ancient times the authority (auctoritas) of the Roman senate shone forth with such force of power (potestas) that by means of the governance being conducted both at home and abroad, the entire world was subjected to the Roman yoke, Roman jurisdiction reached not only to the rising and setting of the sun but even to both sides of the globe, and every­thing was conducted by the common counsel of the senate. But ­after the ­legal authority (ius) of the p­ eople and the senate was transferred to the imperial majesty for the sake of the happiness of the respublica, it came about that t­ hose men, whom they themselves chose and placed in charge of the administration, carried out every­ thing which the voice of the emperor enjoined on them.18 Justinian’s account of the transition from Republic to empire is studiously vague, referring only to a transfer of the l­ egal authority (ius) of the senate and p­ eople to the “imperial majesty.” The vagueness obscures the real­ity of the po­liti­cal transition from Republic to empire, specifically Augustus’ use of the existing powers of several magistracies, including the consulship, to establish the imperial office.19 The resulting image of the Republic, the Principate, and the nature of Roman po­liti­cal authority is therefore skewed to suit the ideology of the Novels. By positing the existence of a unified l­egal authority (ius) which was held in common by the senate and p­ eople, Justinian is able to depict the imperial office as legally holding total control over the Roman state, rather than as an amalgam of discrete and l­imited powers modeled on specific offices. Moreover, this approach forestalls any discussion of par­tic­u­lar magistracies, allowing Justinian to overlook the distinctive functions of offices such as the consulship and to claim for himself both the implicit support of the senate and ­people and universal ­legal



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authority. Put differently, rather than defining imperial authority as a collection of definite l­egal rights, Justinian asserts that the l­egal rights of the Republican magistracies w ­ ere slivers of the complete ­legal authority held by the senate and ­people, an authority which passed to the emperors in toto. Justinian’s formulation grants the emperor absolute l­ egal authority and fits neatly into the imperial ideology developed in the Novels, an ideology predicated on the combination of ­legal and military authority. The preface to Novel 62 (Concerning Senators) articulates only the ­legal half of this authority, while the military half is taken up in Novel 105, which is discussed below. The most drastic attack on the status of the consulship was made on 31 August 537, in Novel 47 (On Dating). Novel 47 is concerned with the dating of official documents, and it ­orders that henceforth all official documents take as their primary chronological indicator the regnal years of the emperor, rather than the indiction cycle or the name of the consuls. In laying out his justification for this change, Justinian identifies both the need for greater clarity and the historical imperative of monarchy: For if anyone w ­ ere to look back at the oldest of all ­things and the very beginnings of our state (politeuma),20 he ­will find that Aeneas, the Trojan king, began our politeia, and a­ fter him we are called Aeneadae; if he should then consider the second beginning, the one on account of which the Roman name shines among men, he w ­ ill find that Romulus and Numa set themselves up as kings during this period, the first founding the city, the second [Numa] ordering and arranging it according to laws; and then if he w ­ ere to grasp the third beginning of the imperial office, he ­will find g­ reat Caesar, august21 Augustus, and the politeia, the one that is now prevailing (may it be immortal), proceeding from ­those times. It is therefore unnatural that on contracts, all t­ hose made in courts and ­those made generally, on which t­ here is some indication of time, the imperial office not be first among t­ hese.22 Justinian establishes a timeline of Roman history based around three epochal moments: the foundation of the Latin ­people by Aeneas, the establishment of Rome and its laws by Romulus and Numa, and the establishment of the imperial office by Julius Caesar and Augustus. Absent from this chronology is any mention of the period of the Republic, whose existence is only implied by its terminus in the dictatorship of Julius Caesar. By denying epochal status to the expulsion of the kings by Brutus, which constituted a fundamental historical

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turning point in all Roman historiography, Justinian erases the period of the consuls (the entirety of what we call “the Republic”) from Roman history. His vision of Roman history is exclusively monarchical, despite his acknowledgement in Novel 62 (Concerning Senators) that imperial authority rests on the l­ egal authority of the senate and ­people. Moreover, this periodization advances the proximate goals of Novel 47 (On Dating) by undermining the implicit premises ­behind consular dating, namely that the establishment of the consulship marked a new, and salutary, form of Roman government, and that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the Roman state of the sixth ­century ad was the same respublica that had been established in the sixth ­century bc. Instead, in Justinian’s telling, the Republic (implicitly) becomes a deviation from the older, and therefore more authoritative, tradition of Roman kingship. The fact that the Republic reverted to monarchy only supports this normative view.23 Whereas Roman historiography of the Republic and early empire saw the senate and ­people as the mainstays of the Roman po­liti­cal tradition, and strug­ gled to explain the imperial system from that standpoint (or problematize it as a deviation), in this Novel Justinian turns this order on its head: the Roman tradition was one of monarchy. Justinian’s formulation enables his move to eradicate consular timekeeping, a move that would be further bolstered by the emperor’s refusal to appoint new consuls ­after 541. However, this logic conflicts with his formulation of Roman renewal in Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia) and Novel 13 (Praetor of the Plebs). By denying the legitimacy of the Republic as a distinct period in Roman history, Justinian is also denying himself access to the rhetorical model of Republican imperial expansion. While the emperor was certainly not constrained to follow a single rhetorical strategy throughout all of his Novels, the consistency of his rhe­toric across his provincial and urban reform Novels, as well as the coherence of the responses of con­temporary authors, both point to the Novels being conceived of and read as a corpus, at least during the years Tribonian was quaestor. The shift in rhetorical strategies is therefore noteworthy, and it is not coincidental that it appears in a law dealing with the vexed question of the consulship in Justinian’s program of Roman renewal. A key to understanding Justinian’s rhetorical shift is to be found in his epochal approach to Roman history. Justinian’s Roman history centers on foundational moments, first of the Roman p­ eople themselves, whom he pointedly calls Aeneadae24 rather than Trojans, Latins, or Quirites (a term the emperor himself endorses elsewhere),25 then of their city and its laws, and fi­nally of the kingship or monarchy, in which tradition he himself is situated. The common themes linking t­ hese events are the establishment and legitimization of dif­fer­



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ent par­ameters for monarchical rule (basileia), all of which have clear parallels to Justinian’s depiction of his own reign. To begin, Aeneas is remarkable ­because he first established the Roman presence in Italy by merging his Trojan followers with the Latins. Likewise, Justinian could claim to have reintroduced the Romans to Italy through Belisarios’ invasion. Indeed, this is precisely the claim he appears to have been making in Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia) when the Italian campaign was just beginning.26 Justinian had also, like Aeneas and Romulus, attached his name to his foundations by labeling all of his new offices as Justinianic, thus the new praetors he was creating w ­ ere officially known as Justinianic Praetors, likewise the Justinianic Proconsuls. A reader of the laws familiar with the provincial reform legislation would be likely to catch this parallel between the emperor and Aeneas, and all readers would have been likely to question the label of Aeneadae, an uncommon and poetic way of referring to the Roman ­people. Justinian’s reference to Aeneas therefore calls attention to his own accomplishments, imbues them with the authority of ancient pre­ce­dent, and promotes them above that pre­ce­dent. This same rhetorical strategy was used in both Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia) and Novel 13 (Praetor of the Plebs). Justinian’s discussion of Romulus and Numa functions similarly. Justinian identifies two major accomplishments, one for each king: Romulus settled the city, Numa gave it laws. This brief sketch of their respective c­ areers is in­ter­est­ing both for what it includes and what it leaves out. No mention, for instance, is made of the name Romulus was said to have left to the Romans a­ fter his deification as Quirinus: Quirites, an altogether more common appellation than Aeneadae. Instead, Romulus and Numa are jointly credited with promoting the “Roman name,” a phrase that fails to acknowledge the source of the name, which derived from Romulus through the city Roma. Likewise, Numa’s establishment of laws is mentioned, but not his perhaps better-­k nown establishment of Roman religion through the founding of priesthoods and festivals. Like Romulus, Justinian had given the Romans Rome, an achievement that was anticipated in Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia) but accomplished by August 537 when Novel 47 (On Dating) appeared, though Rome was ironically ­under siege by the Goths at the time the law was published. Like Numa, Justinian could claim to have established an entirely new system of law both through the ­legal codification completed in 534 (the Corpus) and in his continued ­legal pronouncements, of which Novel 47 was itself an example. Moreover, by the very nature of the comparison, Justinian is calling attention to the fact that he has rivalled the accomplishments of two legendary kings and found­ers; he is both a modern Romulus and a modern Numa. The effect is to once again assert his superiority by invoking

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and subordinating the achievements of antiquity, while omitting mention of any period that might challenge his personal primacy within Roman history. The final epoch in Justinian’s formulation also matches his achievements favorably with ­those of two ­earlier Roman figures, Caesar and Augustus. The attention, however, is drawn completely away from t­ hese men by the focus on the con­temporary state of the politeia and its f­ uture, introduced by Justinian’s optative prayer for its immortality. The prayer naturally pulls the focus forward in time to the pre­sent, a move that is confirmed by the second temporal leap (from Augustus to the pre­sent). Thus, Caesar and Augustus provide context for Justinian’s authority, while calling attention, once again, to Justinian’s achievements rather than ­those of the figures he is ostensibly praising. The focus on Justinian continues through the end of the preface, where the emperor states that it is inappropriate for the emperor’s name, meaning his own, not to take pre­ce­dence in dating. The irony of Justinian’s argument is that his reform of Roman timekeeping is epochal, but not for the reasons he claims. For the first time since the deposition of the kings, official Roman time would, by law, be mea­sured primarily by something other than consular years. Justinian claims his new position in Roman chronology based on the proven superiority of his achievements compared to the other epochal figures he mentions in the preface, but in fact it is the office he is displacing that grants the reform significance. The preface to Novel 47 (On Dating) is a rhetorical masterstroke, si­mul­ta­neously omitting the consulship from Roman history and denying its place in Roman timekeeping, all the while predicating Justinian’s own claim to epochal status on that very erasure of the consulship from Roman time. Honoré has famously claimed that Justinian was all too aware that he was living in the age of Justinian.27 It appears, based on the evidence of Novel 47, that Justinian sought to impose this understanding on his subjects as well. Justinian’s final law on the consulship, Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures), was promulgated on 28 December 537. The content and timing of this law are suggestive. Traditionally, consuls took up their office on 1 January of each year, and although the consulship had been reduced to a largely ceremonial office, it retained several expensive duties, including the distribution of largesse to the populace and the staging of vari­ous entertainments at both the beginning and end of the consular term. Novel 105 was published just prior to the beginning of the consular term in 538 and set down strict limits on the expenditures a consul could make on both the shows and largesse he offered in office. The law was the latest in a centuries-­long series of attempts to manage the expenses associated with the consulship.28 It is unclear where the impetus for ­these restrictions came from, the emperor or the office-­holders, and it is likely that the precise politics shifted



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over the centuries.29 Nevertheless, coming a mere three days before the beginning of the new consular term, it is difficult not to see this law as a direct grant to the next holder of the consulship, who just happened to be Ioannes the Cappadocian, Justinian’s famously avaricious and spendthrift praetorian prefect, who advised him on all fiscal m ­ atters and was the motive force b­ ehind many of the emperor’s initiatives, possibly even this one.30 If the timing of the reform and the identity of the beneficiary ­were not suggestive enough, the Novel can also be placed within a larger context of Justinian’s financially rewarding loyal subordinates. In ­either November or December of the same year, Justinian published Novel 75 (Appeals from Sicily),31 which directed that all judicial appeals from newly reconquered Sicily be directed to the quaestor Tribonian, rather than the senate or any other magistrate.32 The law constituted a special exemption to the normal powers of the praetorship that had been instituted in Sicily.33 Like the Cappadocian, Tribonian was a famously corrupt and talented subordinate. By redirecting the ­legal fees (not to mention potential bribes) of this rich province to the quaestor’s court, Justinian was serving up significant financial gain, especially for an unscrupulous bureaucrat.34 Ioannes and Tribonian both belonged to the ranks of new men Justinian had brought with him into the administration of the empire. They both had risen through the administration based on their talent and utility to the emperor, and they had fallen from grace at the same moment, during the early days of the Nika Revolt in 532, when Justinian sacked them in a failed attempt to mollify the opposition.35 Ioannes was returned to power rather quickly and is attested in office by 18 October 532, while Tribonian’s restoration is first attested on 3 January 535.36 Given the common trajectories of the two men and the temporal proximity of Novels 105 (Consular Expenditures) and 75 (Appeals from Sicily), it appears likely that Justinian chose the winter of 537 to reward ­these talented and loyal subordinates.37 In addition to rewarding Ioannes and Tribonian, Justinian may have chosen this moment in order to undermine the ambitions of another loyal subordinate, the general Belisarios. Belisarios had been consul in 535 and no one e­ lse held the office ­until Ioannes in 538. When Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) appeared, Belisarios was in the midst of his reconquest of Italy, operating well beyond Justinian’s reach. The general’s consulship put to lie e­ very claim Justinian would make about the office in Novel 105, an irony that was not lost on Prokopios, whose response is discussed below. Given Belisarios’ military and po­liti­cal success, as well as his distant command in the former western empire, Justinian may have been understandably ner­vous about his subordinate’s ambitions—­ unnecessarily, as events ­later proved. Nevertheless, Justinian was never one to

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tolerate competition, and it is likely that, on the eve of appointing the first consul a­ fter Belisarios, he wished to retroactively h ­ umble Belisarios’ achievement and ensure that the office would never again increase the luster of potential rivals.38 What­ever its proximate motivations, Justinian’s reform to the consulship came at the end of a year in which the office had clearly been on the mind of his ­legal team: both Novels 62 (Concerning Senators) and 47 (On Dating) ­were published ­earlier in 537. Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) therefore offered an excellent opportunity for Tribonian to ­settle, once and for all, Justinian’s official position on the office of the consul: The name and business of the consulship w ­ ere conceived by the ancient Romans for the exigency of wars by means of the votes which the shared structure of the government (politeia) gave to them by a show of hands. For straightaway they divided out the provinces in which the Romans w ­ ere at war, and on account of ­these received the fasces. But ­later, when time had transferred the conduct of war and the making of peace to the authority of the most pious emperors, the importance of the consuls became solely a m ­ atter of competition in honors, and they did not exceed that which was moderate and established or appropriate mea­sure.39 Justinian is once again studiously vague about the pro­cess by which the authority of the consuls passed to the emperors. He is also disingenuous about the nature of the authority granted to the consulship u­ nder the Republic, arguing that the post was a purely military position with its authority restricted to the provinces and citing as evidence the association between provincial command and the fasces. The effect is to depict the consuls as if they ­were glorified provincial governors, when, in fact, they had extensive civil authority, of which the fasces ­were a prominent symbol. By limiting consular authority to the power over war and peace, Justinian establishes the superiority of his own office, whose name, at least in Latin, designated military authority. It is telling ­here that the Greek text of the Novel refers to the emperors not with the term basileus or any of its cognates, which the reader might expect ­after the discussion of the monarchy in Novel 47 (On Dating). Instead, Justinian opts for the term autokratōr, which was often used to translate the Latin dictator,40 designated the sole possessor of a form of authority, and is a more literal translation of imperator than basileus.41 This word choice bolsters Justinian’s claim that the emperors have absorbed the military authority of the consuls by emphasizing the emperor’s



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military, rather than constitutional, authority. The effect is more pronounced in the Greek text, where the substitution of autokratōr for the expected basileus attracts more notice. The exclusion of civil duties from his summary of the consulship allows Justinian to pre­sent the office as truly vestigial. ­A fter all, if the consuls had only ever been military figures, and they no longer played any role in military affairs, then we could believe the emperor when he said that the office’s sole purpose was as a mark of status, a game of philotimia played by members of the senate of Constantinople. However, coming in the same year as Novels 47 (On Dating) and 62 (Concerning Senators), and in the wake of the comments made two years ­earlier in Novel 25 (Praetor of Lykaonia), t­ hese claims must be viewed with suspicion. Following the appointment of Ioannes the Cappadocian to the consulship in 538, Justinian would appoint only three more consuls in the remaining twenty-­seven years of his reign. The last of t­ hese men, Anicius Basilius, served in 541, a­ fter which the consulship was absorbed into Justinian’s official titulature.42 The consulship was on its way out, and Justinian’s consistent attempts to marginalize the office point to this being a deliberate strategy inspired, most likely, by the same concerns that motivated the demotion of the consulship in f­ avor of the praetorship in 535. This is true even if the ultimate inciting incident for ending the consulship was Ioannes the Cappadocian’s fall in 541. In Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures), Justinian’s marginalization of the consulship is immediately used to justify a further reduction in the prestige of the office, but in the guise of preserving it for posterity. Justinian argues that the same philotimia that serves as the office’s sole raison d’ être is also an existential threat to the office, as consuls have gone beyond all moderation in the expenditures that they make to fulfill their duties. Therefore we perceive that the name of the consuls is in danger of perishing, the name which has for a long time, approaching almost a thousand years, flourished together with the republic (politeia) of the Romans. On account of this, we believe it is necessary to constrain the m ­ atter and, trimming its excess to a comprehensible mea­sure, to reduce the financial burden of the consulship in order that it persist continuously for the Romans and begin to be accessible to all good men whom we judge worthy of such an honor.43 Justinian positions himself as the savior of an impor­tant Roman institution, albeit one he is attempting to render merely antiquarian, whose long history and

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vaguely implied benefit to ­future generations merit consideration. He does this by significantly reducing the amount a consul may spend on his public benefactions, which in turn reduced the impact of the office on the civic life of Constantinople. In order to save the office from its own profligacy, Justinian is legislatively restricting it to a smaller role in the one area in which it is still relevant. Justinian leaves the consular expenditures up to the consul in only one field, the money scattered to the p­ eople, but even h ­ ere he not only prohibits the scattering of gold (reserving that for the emperor), but also specifies which low denomination coins may be scattered.44 ­These restrictions are not merely further evidence of Justinian’s well-­attested proclivity for micromanagement; they create logistical hurdles for any consul wishing to give the populace a ­great deal of money in this manner. Given the nature of the Roman monetary economy, a consul would have no easy way to amass large amounts of silver in t­ hese par­tic­u­lar denominations, not to mention the difficulty of securing and transporting significant sums in small denomination coins. The effect, then, is to ensure that even where the consul is given the latitude, he is physically incapable of spending too lavishly.45 Justinian’s reforms to the consulship effectively serve as a demotion of the office, making it more difficult for f­ uture candidates to stand out in the per­for­ mance of the few civil functions still ­under the consul’s purview. While this might have been welcome news to Ioannes the Cappadocian, who could take office on 1 January  538 with imperially mandated austerity, it fundamentally contradicts Justinian’s repeated claim to be restoring the ancient offices of the Roman state and, through them, the state itself. Justinian buries this contradiction by presenting himself as the savior of the very office he has set out to marginalize and, in the pro­cess of saving it, further marginalizes it. It is particularly ironic that in his assertions of the importance of the office, Justinian stresses the name of the post and the duration of its existence. The nearly thousand years the emperor claims the office has existed are the same nearly thousand years for which consular names had been the basis of the official dating of the Roman state. Moreover, by stressing the antiquity of the office Justinian undermines his argument favoring the praetors for their greater antiquity; one would think that a millennium was antiquity enough. Having stripped the consulship of its role in Roman history, its importance to the development of the Roman po­liti­ cal system, and its use in Roman timekeeping, Justinian’s reforms of 537 had rhetorically demolished the office. As a final irony, Justinian absorbs the only concession he was willing to grant the consulship (its importance to the con-



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duct of foreign wars) into his own imperial titulature, reenacting in a ­limited way the historical role of consular authority in establishing the imperial office. ­Whether this is a sly acknowledgement of the disingenuousness of his argument or a final squeezing of rhetorical legitimacy from the d­ ying post is left up to the reader to decide. In attacking the consulship, Justinian was taking aim at the most prominent Republican survival of the sixth ­century. His method of attack was designed to undercut precisely the sort of criticisms Zosimos leveled against the imperial system in his New History. Zosimos argued that the ­great strength of the Republican system lay in the competition between senators, specifically between the consuls, for status and reputation. In Zosimos’ telling, so long as affairs w ­ ere watched over by the aristocracy, [the Romans] continued to add to their empire ­every year ­because the consuls competed eagerly (philoneikeō) to surpass one another in virtues.46 The verb Zosimos uses, philoneikeō, represents a more aggressive form of the idea conveyed by the word philotimia, which Justinian uses to dismiss the current office of consul in Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures). Justinian’s comment is in fact a direct parody of the idea put forward by Zosimos, one that reduces the salutary rivalry of the Republican consuls to the unsavory, trophy-­hunting competitiveness of stay-­at-­home magistrates. The correspondence in both language and topic between the New History and Novel 105 is sufficiently close to suggest that Justinian may have been responding, if not to Zosimos himself, then to arguments that other contemporaries presented in similar terms, even down to word choice. In other words, Justinian was likely responding to a broad intellectual movement of which Zosimos was one representative. Justinian’s discussions of the consulship also respond to the periodization of Roman history laid out, although less systematically, in the New History. According to Zosimos, all Roman history before Cannae was a wasted prelude to the explosive growth of the empire during and a­ fter the Second Punic War. The transition from Republic to empire is presented as epoch-­making, not, as Justinian argued, b­ ecause it reasserted the monarchical basis of the Roman state, but ­because it eradicated the dynamics that allowed the Romans to win their empire. Justinian’s periodization is designed to undercut precisely this sort of argument by subordinating the period of the Republic to the rule of the kings and

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treating Roman expansion as a secondary detail to Romulus and Numa’s establishment of the po­liti­cal and ­legal basis for monarchy.

Prokopios on the Consulship Responses to Justinian’s consular rhe­toric ­were varied and often focused on par­tic­u­lar aspects of the emperor’s reforms.47 The range and extent of discussions of the consulship in the sixth ­century nevertheless indicate the importance Justinian’s contemporaries attached to the office, as well as its utility for critiquing an imperial ideology built on historical premises. Prokopios uses the character of Belisarios to focalize his discussion of the consulship in the Wars; the general’s consulship of 535 is the only one Prokopios discusses at any length.48 Prokopios is particularly concerned with Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures), which he discusses in both the Wars and Secret History. We w ­ ill examine t­ hese in turn. In the Wars, Prokopios places his discussion of the law at the end of his account of the conquest of Sicily. ­A fter pacifying the island in 535, Belisarios laid down the consulship in Syracuse on 31 December: At that time it happened that Belisarios met with a piece of good luck that surpasses description. For having taken up the consulship as an honor for his defeat of the Vandals and still holding the office, ­after he had annexed the ­whole of Sicily, he marched into Syracuse on the last day of his consulship while being loudly applauded by the army and the Sicilians and throwing gold coins to all. This event, however, was not purposefully arranged by him, but some chance (tychē) happened to allow the man who had recovered the w ­ hole island to pro­cess into Syracuse on that day and to lay down the office of the consuls and become an ex-­consul t­ here and not, as was customary, in the senate ­house of Byzantion. In this way Belisarios happened to be fortunate.49 Prokopios goes to g­ reat lengths to make this scene innocuous, stressing repeatedly that this event was a coincidence and a result of chance (tychē). However, ­these repeated assurances also draw the reader’s attention to the passage, as does the repeated claim that this was a piece of good luck. For an audience familiar with Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures), the attention Prokopios directs to this



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event would likely focus on the key detail of Belisarios’ entry: the scattering of gold coins to the p­ eople of Syracuse and his troops. The dramatic date of Belisarios’ entry into Syracuse is 31 December 535, at which point Belisarios was legally permitted to distribute gold coins in the traditional manner at the end of his consulship.50 However, by the time the Wars was published in 550/51, such distributions had been illegal for thirteen years, and the consulship itself had been gone, absorbed into Justinian’s titulature, for about a de­cade. ­These changes would have been widely noticed, not only by readers of the Novels, but also by the citizens of Constantinople. The shift from gold to silver coinage would have been vis­i­ble to anyone watching consular pro­cessions ­after 537, and the reduced largesse distributed by the consuls would have been noted not only by t­ hose receiving the money (about whom more below), but also by a wide range of merchants whose customers did not have the amount of surplus cash they had come to expect. Put differently, the reduction of a substantial biannual subsidy would have had a depressive effect on the economy of Constantinople, one that would have been widely felt. Therefore, a broad cross-­section of Prokopios’ readers in 550/51 would likely have latched onto this par­tic­u­lar detail, even if they had not read the Novels.51 Nevertheless, ­those readers of the Wars who ­were also familiar with the Novels would be in a position to note not only the traditional largesse of Belisarios’ pro­cession, but also the ways in which Prokopios tailored this scene to form a point-­by-­point refutation of the logic of Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures), as well as a counternarrative designed to flip the ideology of the Novels on its head. Prokopios frames his account with two statements that stress that the event was a stroke of good luck for Belisarios, a claim that runs c­ ounter to Justinian’s assertion that the consulship had become a burden to its holders. Prokopios also specifically says in the opening of the scene that Belisarios’ good luck “surpassed description,” a hint to the reader that the full import of the scene is not being spelled out. This hint focuses attention on the precise nature of Belisarios’ good luck. What is it that makes him so unbelievably lucky? Certainly his successful conquest of Sicily, coming so soon a­ fter his defeat of the Vandals in Africa, was a tremendous achievement, but Prokopios belies the importance of ­these events by relegating them to a participial construction and a subordinate clause. The main thrust of the sentence describing Belisarios’ entry focuses on three details: the location of the pro­cession, the scattering of gold, and the last day of the consulship. The location of the pro­cession at Syracuse is unlikely to be the key detail as Prokopios does not offer any further description of the city. The scattering of

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gold is a more likely candidate b­ ecause it calls attention to the fact that Belisarios was the last consul who was allowed to perform this traditional action. However, the true nature of Belisarios’ good luck is found in Prokopios’ description of the timing of Belisarios’ pro­cession, in the phrase “τῇ τῆς ὑπατείας ὑστάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ.” While this phrase is often translated as “on the last day of his consulship” (and was likely read that way by a part of Prokopios’ audience in 550/51), t­ here is no possessive construction, meaning that the literal translation is “on the last day of the consulship.” A reader, alerted by Prokopios’ use of good luck to frame the episode and aware of the subsequent history of the office, would have been able to discern that Belisarios’ good fortune was to be the last true consul of Rome, the final holder of an office whose history went back more than a thousand years, and which would subsequently be humiliated and then absorbed by Justinian. Belisarios was, moreover, the last consul to hold office before the reforms of Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures). The specific mention that Belisarios scattered gold coins supports this reading by calling attention to one of the most vis­i­ble and significant changes in Justinian’s reforms, one that Prokopios discusses more fully in his Secret History. Prokopios uses Belisarios’ entry into Syracuse not only to accuse Justinian of destroying the consulship, but also to directly attack his reasons for d­ oing so. In the preface to Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures), Justinian argued that the consulship was no longer a useful institution ­because its role in “the conduct of war and the making of peace” had been ceded to the emperor. Belisarios’ entry into Syracuse comes at the end of the fifth chapter in the first book of the Gothic War. The first four chapters of the Gothic War are devoted primarily to an account of Justinian’s failed attempts to exploit the divisions of the Amal court in order to secure control of Italy. The emperor’s attempts to gain Italy through diplomacy failed and he sent Belisarios to make an attempt on Sicily as a prelude to the invasion of Italy. Chapter 5 is taken up entirely by an account of the consul Belisarios invading the island, receiving the surrender of all but one of its cities (the making of peace), and conducting the successful siege of Palermo (the conduct of war). The juxtaposition of t­ hese events creates a stark contrast between Belisarios the successful general and Justinian, whose diplomacy failed, resulting in the dispatch of Belisarios to fight the war while the emperor remained in Constantinople. The reader may also take Belisarios’ c­ areer in Sicily as further evidence of his good fortune: Belisarios was afforded an opportunity to end his consulship performing the traditional role of a consul as a military conqueror. Prokopios goes further and calls attention to the fact that Belisarios was awarded the consulship for his previous conquest of Vandal Africa, setting his



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conquest of Sicily in a broader context of military success. Prokopios even uses a verbal parallel with Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) to cement the comparison, giving Belisarios the title “stratēgos autokratōr” to indicate his supreme command over the expedition.52 By using the phrase “stratēgos autokratōr,” Prokopios is depriving Justinian, whom he consistently refers to as basileus throughout the Wars, of the title the emperor claimed for himself in precisely the passage of Novel 105 in which he described the ceding of control over war and peace to the emperors. Prokopios instead opts to give Belisarios that title at the beginning of his account of the conquest of Sicily, in which the consul demonstrates his control over both of ­those spheres.53 The term autokratōr also functions as a Thucydidean imitation, as argued by Charles Pazdernik, but that function does not impede its resonance with Justinian’s imperial rhe­toric.54 The cession of control over war and peace was only half of Justinian’s justification for reforming the consulship in Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures). The other half of the argument focused on the crippling financial burden the office placed on its recipients. Prokopios’ description of Belisarios’ pro­cession refutes this argument as well by making clear that Belisarios was able to fulfill the obligation even while on campaign. The logistics of Belisarios’ largesse merit consideration. The consul was distributing gold at the end of a year of campaigning on the far side of the Mediterranean from Constantinople. Prokopios is s­ilent as to the source of Belisarios’ gold and it is unclear if it was taken from the general’s share of the loot from Palermo (the only city that may have been sacked during the Sicilian campaign), diverted from the war chest the emperor provided for the expedition, or brought for this purpose by Belisarios from the east. By refusing to comment on the source of the gold for the pro­ cession, Prokopios implicitly denies that ­there ­were any logistical or financial burdens associated with it. Belisarios’ largesse therefore raises the question: if a general on campaign is able to fulfill the financial obligations of his office without any apparent difficulty, how crippling could the financial burden actually have been? The question of how the distribution of consular largesse should be financed is explic­itly taken up ­earlier in Prokopios’ narrative, during his account of Belisarios’ triumph in 534 and subsequent assumption of the consulship. This ­earlier account supports and complements Prokopios’ arguments against Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) in the description of Belisarios’ entry into Syracuse. Prokopios pre­ sents the consulship as a natu­ral extension of Belisarios’ triumph, a fitting reward for his exemplary military ser­v ice. Emphasizing the link between military ser­v ice and the consulship would by itself be sufficient to further Prokopios’

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critique of Novel 105, but he immediately proceeds to an account of Belisarios’ distribution of largesse at the beginning of his consulship: A l­ ittle l­ ater [­after the triumph over Gelimer] another triumph was celebrated by Belisarios according to the ancient custom. For it happened that he advanced among the consuls and was both carried by prisoners and, while riding in the curule chair, threw to the p­ eople the very spoils of the Vandal war. For the ­people carried away the silver plate, golden girdles, and a very ­great amount of the Vandal wealth on account of the consulship of Belisarios, and it seemed for a time that something which was no longer customary was being revived.55 According to Prokopios, Belisarios’ distributions during his inaugural consular pro­cession ­were financed by the spoils of the Vandal campaign. The author clearly approves of this model of financing, even ­going so far as to say that the manner in which the ­people got hold of a share of this conquered wealth made it appear, for a time, that an ancient custom was coming back into use. This comment must be read against Prokopios’ lament for the dissolution of the office in the Secret History and against the image of imperial renewal Justinian constructed in his Novels. Belisarios’ consulship was, for Prokopios, a brief return to a proper system of Roman government in which the consul provided for the p­ eople not through taxation (as is implicit in the imperial subsidization of consular pro­cessions mentioned in the Secret History), but through personal wealth acquired through conquests abroad.56 Unlike Justinian’s claimed restoration of Republican institutions, which Prokopios viewed as a rhetorical cover for the eradication of traditional offices and the creation of new ave­nues for financial exploitation, Belisarios’ restoration of the consulship was authentically traditional and beneficial to the p­ eople.57 In other words, Prokopios pre­sents Belisarios as usurping Justinian’s rhetorical role as reformer-­in-­chief. Prokopios is not only arguing h ­ ere against the specific rationale for Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) with his pre­sen­ta­tion of Belisarios’ consular pro­cessions, he is contesting the rhe­toric of Justinian’s entire reform program by holding up Belisarios’ consulship as an example of restoration done properly. It is no coincidence that Prokopios makes a point of tying Belisarios’ consulship directly to both of the major reconquests that took place during Justinian’s reign; he is targeting precisely the evidence Justinian adduces in the reform Novels to legitimize his imperial model of Republican restoration. The effect of Prokopios’ critique of Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) is heightened by two ironic circumstances that would have been clear to po­liti­cally



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observant members of his readership. The first is that Novel 105 was published in 537, a­ fter an additional two years of successful campaigning in Italy by Belisarios. The second is that the next man to hold the office, Ioannes the Cappadocian (whom Prokopios never calls consul), lacked any military experience and would most likely not have been overly burdened by a traditional consulship, especially if Prokopios’ account of his corruption and greed is believed.58 The full effect of Prokopios’ oblique criticisms of Novel 105 is to frustrate and reverse the narratives Justinian used to justify his reforms. In ­doing so Prokopios constructs a counternarrative in which the emperor enacted a number of damaging and unnecessary reforms that functionally ended a venerable and impor­tant Roman office with a strong, con­temporary rec­ord of ser­vice to the state. This model of Justinian’s meddlesomeness and innovation undermining the success of the empire is a fixture of Prokopios’ critique in the Secret History, as is the inversion of Justinian’s own rhe­toric, often the rhe­toric of the Novels.59 Prokopios takes up the topic of Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) in the Secret History, focusing not on the historical implications of the law, but rather on its immediate effects upon the p­ eople of Constantinople. Two consuls w ­ ere appointed e­ very year for the Romans, one in Rome and the other in Constantinople. Whoever was called to this honor would spend more than twenty centenaria for the state (politeia), getting a ­little from his estate and the majority from the emperor. This money was raised for the o­ thers whom I mentioned before [city merchants] and for ­those who w ­ ere more lacking a livelihood. This money was for the most part paid primarily to ­those who worked on the stage and who always put on all of the shows in the city. ­After Justinian succeeded to the kingship (basileia) ­these ­things ­were no longer done at the customary times. At first, a consul was appointed for the Romans only at long intervals, but, in the end, they did not even see the m ­ atter in dreams. In fact, afterward h ­ uman affairs ­were oppressed continuously by this poverty, both ­because the emperor no longer supplied the accustomed ­things to his subjects and b­ ecause he was robbing them of the ­things they already had at e­ very turn and in ­every conceivable way.60 Prokopios’ description in the Secret History is clearly a reference to Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures), but one that focuses on the financial responsibilities the consul undertook in addition to scattering gold, specifically the financing of public shows—­distributions of coin ­were more public but less financially

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consequential. The fact that this account does not overlap at all with Prokopios’ discussion of Novel 105 in the Wars indicates that this discussion should be read as a supplement to, rather than a replacement of, his account in the Wars. The two discussions remain linked, however, ­because the Secret History continues the inversion introduced in the Wars by questioning Justinian’s stated rationale for reforming the consulship. In Novel 105, Justinian claimed that the expense of the consulship had become a burden on the prospective holders of the office, but Prokopios tells us that it was the emperor who found the expenditures crippling b­ ecause he was expected to furnish a majority of the money. Prokopios’ accusation not only further undermines Justinian’s rationale for reform, it also turns the logic of Novel 105 back onto the imperial office. If financial burdens ­were reason enough to demote the consulship ­because that office no longer served a useful military function, then what are the implications of the emperor’s inability to meet his financial obligations while outsourcing his military campaigns to a consular general? The law also confirms the reading of Belisarios’ entry into Syracuse taking place on “the last day of the consulship” by describing the gradual petering out of the office u­ nder Justinian. Despite its implications for the imperial office, Prokopios’ discussion of Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) in the Secret History is primarily focused on the plight of the urban poor and the local merchants and performers who ­were the economic casualties of Justinian’s reform. The contrast between the emperor’s stinginess and the suffering of his subjects is amplified by Belisarios’ generosity in Sicily; he scattered coins to ­people who had only recently come into his authority, while Justinian was denying sustenance to the citizens of his own capital. Once again, Prokopios’ account makes Belisarios look more like a legitimate emperor than Justinian. Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) is not the only consular law Prokopios references in the Wars. When describing Belisarios’ return to Constantinople ­after his recall from Italy in 540, a recall that followed Belisarios’ refusal to take up the mantle of western emperor, Prokopios attacks the formalized senatorial hierarchy Justinian lays out in Novel 62 (Concerning Senators): Belisarios was first among all the Romans in dignity, though some of them had been enrolled before him among the patricians and had actually ascended to the seat of the consuls. But even so they all yielded first place to him, being ashamed in view of his achievements (aretē) to cite the law and claim the right that it conferred, and this pleased the emperor greatly.61



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Prokopios’ description of Belisarios’ reception is a direct attack on the regulation of status set out in Novel 62 (Concerning Senators). The senators of Constantinople are simply too ashamed by Belisarios’ superior achievements to question his superior status. Prokopios reports that Justinian, far from being angry, was pleased by this open flouting of his own law. Belisarios’ reception si­ mul­ta­neously points out the absurdity of attempting to legally regulate social status, especially in a collegial body, and serves as a proof-­of-­concept for a model of aristocratic or consular competition of the type ­imagined by Zosimos in the New History and mocked by Justinian in Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures). If even the emperor was gratified by the illegal re­spect accorded Belisarios by his fellow senators, who are in turn motivated by their own shame at his superior aretē, then the fundamental components necessary for a po­liti­cal system predicated on competition remained in effect. The useless philotimia Justinian dismisses in Novel 105 is revealed to be Zosimos’ philoneikia denied an appropriate outlet. The close correspondences between the Novels and the works of Zosimos and Prokopios do not necessarily mean that they w ­ ere all familiar with one another’s work, although it is at least feasible that Prokopios was familiar with the New History, and he was certainly familiar with the Novels. What t­ hese correspondences show are the major fault lines in a con­temporary debate over the nature of Roman governance in the sixth c­ entury, and they testify to the duration and breadth of that discussion, which stretched from the turn of the sixth c­ entury (if we accept Zosimos’ traditional dating) u­ ntil at least the early 550s. In almost no other period of antiquity, the late Republic being a notable exception, it is pos­ si­ble to so clearly reconstruct both sides of a series of con­temporary po­liti­cal debates, especially when the emperor himself is a participant.

The Consulship in Jordanes’ Romana Belisarios’ ­career and consulship stand out in the sixth c­ entury. Of all the men who held the consulship u­ nder Justinian, he was the only one aside from Justin (the son of Germanos and cousin of the ­future emperor Justin II) who had any military experience, much less a distinguished rec­ord of foreign conquests. It is not surprising then that Prokopios chose to focus his discussion of the consulship on Belisarios, nor that other authors did the same. Jordanes also focused on Belisarios’ consulship, associating the general with that office more than any other imperial-­era figure in his Romana. However, Belisarios was not the only

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imperial-­era consul mentioned by Jordanes; he also identifies Theoderic, Vitalian, and Justin (the son of Germanos) by that office. In order to understand the significance of this association it is necessary to understand the role of ­those characters in Jordanes’ histories. The Gothic king Theoderic was an impor­tant figure for Jordanes’ corpus.62 Being both a Goth and the founder of the Gothic kingdom in Italy, Theoderic looms large in the Getica and his appearance in the Romana is not surprising given Jordanes’ stated interest in identifying the ­causes of the current ruinous state of the empire and his accounts of Justinian’s costly wars in Italy. Theoderic’s consulship is mentioned twice in the Romana, first as a sign of his rapprochement with Zeno and again during the account of his campaign against Odoacer.63 The first mention is suggestive: However, Theoderic, enticed by the courtesy of the emperor Zeno, went to Constantinople, where he was made magister militum praesentalis and celebrated the triumph of a consul ordinarius at public expense.64 Jordanes immediately proceeds to recount Theoderic’s dispatch to the west, where he is entrusted by Zeno with the task of administering the western empire on the emperor’s behalf.65 ­There are noteworthy parallels between this narrative and the ­career of Belisarios. Like Theoderic, Belisarios celebrated a triumph (534) and was made consul (535) just prior to being sent west to conquer Italy. Unlike Belisarios, however, Theoderic’s victory was quick, or at least briefly reported: Rejoicing, the king of the nations and Roman consul Theoderic sought Italy and took Odoacer, ­after he had been exhausted by g­ reat ­battles, into his custody during the surrender of Ravenna.66 The phrase “sought Italy” (Italiam petiit) is an intentional echo of the Aeneid, in which the phrase is repeated several times, notably in the discussion of Aeneas’ fate by Venus and Juno at the beginning of Aeneid 10, in which both goddesses use the phrase.67 Like Aeneas, Theoderic is charged with seeking Italy and founding a new kingdom. As discussed in the previous chapter, Jordanes also made a point of highlighting the similarities between Belisarios’ ­career and the journey of Aeneas. So ­there exists a three-­way parallel between Aeneas, Theoderic, and Belisarios, with the historical generals distinguished by their consulships and charged with founding or refounding Roman Italy.



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In addition to being modeled on Aeneas as a founder of the Roman p­ eople, Theoderic is also held up as an idealized imperial figure. When reporting the nature of the assignment given to Theoderic by Zeno, Jordanes reports that the emperor “ordered [Theoderic] to the area of Italy and entrusted to him the Roman p­ eople and senate.” 68 Jordanes specifically alludes to the formula senatus populusque Romanus in this passage, a phrase that is used throughout Roman historiography as shorthand for the Roman state, but often retained Republican connotations, as is clear from its appearance in Novel 62 (Concerning Senators). Theoderic is therefore being entrusted not with control of Italy, but with the legacy of Republican Rome. Not only does this account emphasize the continuity of Roman government in Italy, it also makes Theoderic an obvious rival and comparandus for the emperor. The remainder of Theoderic’s life is covered only briefly in the Romana, but Jordanes does report that ­a fter the death of Odoacer, whom we are told was assassinated in the palace, “[Theoderic] continued his kingship over his own p­ eople and his principate over the Roman ­people prudently and peacefully for thirty years.” 69 Again, the terminology Jordanes employs sets Theoderic up as an imperial foil for the eastern emperors by giving him the title of princeps, which harks back to Augustus himself. Jordanes portrays Theoderic as an excellent emperor, ruling wisely and balancing his role as princeps of the Romans and king of the Goths. This is in marked contrast to the account of the eastern court that immediately follows the brief account of Theoderic’s reign, in which Jordanes details Zeno’s plot against Ariadne, the rebellion of Illos, Zeno’s civil wars, the accession of Anastasius, the second Isaurian rebellion, the rebellion of Vitalian (discussed further below), the accession of Justin I, Justin’s purges, the murder of Vitalian, the accession of Justinian, the ­battles at Dara and Kallinikon (the latter a Roman defeat), the Nika Revolt, and the conquest of North Africa. To cement the comparison, this long list of events, many of which are clearly presented as shameful or disastrous, is bookended by a reference to Theoderic’s death.70 Jordanes thereby calls attention to the fact that all of ­these misfortunes occurred during the uninterrupted years of peaceful Gothic rule in Italy. In Jordanes’ Romana, no news is good news and the eventfulness of the late fifth and early sixth ­century in the eastern Roman empire is indicative of governmental failures. Jordanes’ Theoderic, on the other hand, a Gothic consul, king, and princeps, proves to be a better Roman emperor than any of his eastern Roman contemporaries. Jordanes’ positive portrayal of Theoderic and his reign is a point of contact between the Romana and Prokopios’ Wars. Like Jordanes, Prokopios specifically

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mentions that Theoderic was a consul and gives a similar, though more detailed, account of the Goth’s early c­ areer.71 A more striking similarity is found in Prokopios’ assessment of Theoderic’s constitutional position: Theoderic did not think it proper to usurp e­ ither the appearance or name of the emperor of the Romans, and instead spent his life being called rex, for this is how the barbarians have traditionally called their leaders. Nevertheless, in governing his subjects he assumed all the qualities which are fitting for one who is an emperor by nature.72 Like Jordanes, Prokopios makes Theoderic the image of an ideal emperor, and goes on to praise him at length for his re­spect for the laws, his ability to fend off foreign barbarians, and his ability to maintain broad support among the populace, all of which are qualities Justinian is criticized for lacking in the Secret History. Jordanes’ and Prokopios’ shared re­spect for Theoderic and use of him as an idealized imperial figure likely indicates that the two men w ­ ere familiar with one another’s work, a scenario made more likely by their parallel ser­vice on the staffs of se­nior generals. If, however, the two men w ­ ere unknown to one another, their shared opinion of the Gothic king indicates that Theoderic was being widely discussed as a model ruler in sixth-­century Constantinople. In e­ ither case, the correspondence provides further evidence for the existence of a broadly coherent debate over the nature of imperial authority in the sixth c­ entury, one in which Theoderic and his consular status w ­ ere salient. The next imperial-­era figure Jordanes identifies as a consul is Vitalian.73 Vitalian is a critical, if understudied, figure in the history of the late fifth and early sixth centuries. A Roman general of barbarian extraction, Vitalian commanded the Roman armies in Thrace u­ nder Anastasius u­ ntil he raised the flag of revolt in 513, ostensibly in response to Anastasius’ support for monophysite Christian doctrine and opposition to the Council of Chalcedon (451), but the inciting incident was Anastasius’ failure to provide supplies for his foederati.74 Vitalian and his forces launched an abortive attack on Constantinople in 514, but subsequently remained quiescent, if in­de­pen­dent, u­ ntil the death of Anastasius in 518. At that point, the strongly Chalcedonian emperor Justin, u­ ncle of Justinian, reconciled with Vitalian and appointed him magister militum praesentalis. Vitalian was subsequently made consul ordinarius in 520, only to be assassinated in the palace in the same year.75 Notwithstanding Vitalian’s gruesome end, his nephew Ioannes was an impor­tant general u­ nder Belisarios.76



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In his narrative, Jordanes makes the conflict between Anastasius and Vitalian the chief misfortune of that emperor’s reign, elevating it above the Isaurian rebellions and vari­ous other civil and foreign campaigns: But ­there was something more deserving of sorrow: [Anastasius] drew out the civil war against his last servant, Vitalian the Scythian, for six years. And if indeed Vitalian approached many of the suburbs of the royal city with sixty thousand soldiers in roughly the third year [of the civil war] and sacked them for the sake of riches and spoils, he was hostile to the emperor and not the respublica.77 Jordanes makes Vitalian a hero in his history by excusing his questionable actions, namely his raid on the suburbs of Constantinople, and aligning him with the interests of the state. He accomplishes this by making clear that Vitalian was not opposed to the respublica but only to the emperor. This comment is, in itself, in­ ter­est­ing b­ ecause it makes clear that Jordanes did not understand the imperial office to be synonymous with the state, making it pos­si­ble for someone to oppose the emperor, even violently, without making himself an e­ nemy of Rome. Justinian articulates the opposite view in Novel 47 (On Dating), in which he explic­itly identifies the imperial office with the politeia/respublica founded by Caesar and Augustus. Jordanes was familiar with the effects of Novel 47 as is evident from his comments at the end of the Romana discussed in the previous chapter. His desire to divorce the imperial office from the respublica further suggests that he was familiar with the text of the law, as do the implications of this statement for his history. If the emperor and the respublica are not synonymous, then it is pos­si­ble for the emperor to be an ­enemy of the respublica. Vitalian and Anastasius ­were engaged in a military strug­gle for control over the respublica. If Vitalian was not an e­ nemy of the respublica, then it stands to reason that his opponent must be. This is how Jordanes depicts Anastasius, who is criticized explic­itly for his heretical beliefs, meaning his monophysite Chris­tian­ity.78 Jordanes emphasizes that the emperor’s repeated failures against Vitalian w ­ ere a direct result of his heterodoxy by focusing at (relative) length on Anastasius’ inability to defeat the general.79 The contrast between the noble Vitalian and the heretical Anastasius creates the expectation that the rebellious general ­will be vindicated or redeemed by the emperor Justin, a Chalcedonian. This expectation is reinforced by the first chapter on Justin’s reign, in which the new emperor is described as punishing his po­liti­cal opponents. Immediately following this, Jordanes reports the fate of Vitalian:

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[Justin] struck an alliance with Vitalian and, when he had summoned [Vitalian] to himself, he made him magister militum praesentalis and a consul ordinarius. ­Later, when Justin again held this man [Vitalian] in suspicion on account of his previous be­hav­ior, he killed him by having him gouged with sixteen wounds in the palace along with his bodyguards Celerianus and Paulus.80 The initial promise of reconciliation, highlighted by Vitalian’s appointment as magister militum and consul, precisely the same offices granted to Theoderic, leads the reader to expect that the next section of Justin’s reign ­will be characterized by the rewarding of loyal followers. However, the narrative quickly turns against Vitalian who is viciously hacked to death in the palace (in Jordanes’ ­account the wounds are literally cut out of his body), based on mere suspicion. The narrative then proceeds, without further comment, to Justinian’s elevation as co-­ruler. At no point is ­there any indication that Vitalian has lost the support of Jordanes, or that he has become an e­ nemy of the respublica. Jordanes also fails to comment on the validity of Justin’s suspicions, forcing the reader to rely on the information already provided, all of which identifies Vitalian with the interests of the respublica. The assassination of Vitalian therefore functions as a comment on the reign of Justin, whose years as emperor are recorded in the Romana on a timeline of executions and exiles, and marks the new emperor, and by extension his appointed heir Justinian, as an ­enemy of the respublica. The consulships of Theoderic and Vitalian are linked at several levels in the Romana. To begin with, both men are identified as Goths, Theoderic directly and Vitalian through his identity as a Scythian, a term Jordanes uses for the Goths in his Getica. The two figures are also defined in opposition to “bad” rulers, Odoacer and Anastasius respectively, and their opposition to ­these figures is presented as representing the best interests of the respublica. The ­careers of Theoderic and Vitalian diverge in their relationship to imperial power. The c­ areer of Theoderic establishes a model for a subordinate to successfully carry out the ­orders of a reigning emperor and, like Aeneas, found a new kingdom in Italy. ­Vitalian, on the other hand, raises the possibility that the emperor can be an ­enemy of the respublica, an idea which resurfaces in the conclusion of the Romana when Jordanes blames negligent leaders (ignari rectores) for the con­ temporary misfortunes of the state.81 Despite their differences, both consulships, as well as that of Belisarios, contradict the historical narrative of Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures). Theoderic and Vitalian are highly competent generals, and Theoderic in par­tic­u­lar is singled out as an accomplished lawgiver for his estab-



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lishment of the Gothic court in Italy.82 In addition, both men are in­de­pen­dent operators working at the behest, but not u­ nder the control, of the emperor, and, in the case of Vitalian, openly flouting an emperor’s authority. Through a deliberate use of the consular title, Jordanes offers an implicit counternarrative to Novel 105 in the Romana. Instead of being a feeble and vestigial office, the consulship is instead shown to act as both a surrogate for (Theoderic) and rival to (Vitalian) imperial authority. Moreover, Jordanes’ portrayal of Vitalian creates an association between a champion of the respublica and the consulship, one which Belisarios’ c­ areer in the Romana confirms. Jordanes challenges the historical narrative of Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) not only through the details that he provides about the consuls he mentions, but also with the placement of that information. Justinian’s basic contention in Novel 105 is that the consulship is on the decline. In Jordanes’ narrative, however, the fifth and sixth centuries witness a resurgence of the consulship. The only consuls mentioned a­ fter Crassus (d. 53 bc) are all found within that brief period and the narrative is constructed in such a way that, a­ fter Theoderic is appointed consul, ­there is always at least one living consular figure in the narrative. In fact, the consulship of Belisarios is mentioned immediately before the death of Theoderic, a placement that calls attention to the parallels between the c­ areers of the two men, which are strengthened by the Vergilian allusions found in both accounts. Jordanes uses the parallels between Theoderic and Belisarios, as well as his description of Vitalian’s rebellion, to create a set of expectations for the consulship at the end of the Romana. Belisarios, more than any other figure in the history, is identified by his consulship, an office Jordanes has constructed as in­de­pen­dent of, if not hostile to, the imperial government. Belisarios, however, fails to deliver on the promise of his pre­de­ces­sors despite the decay evident in the senate and p­ eople of Rome.83 He neither supplants imperial authority in Italy, as Theoderic did, nor rebels against Justinian a­ fter the model of Vitalian. Jordanes calls attention to this fact when he summarizes the situation in the west immediately prior to Belisarios’ recall in 540: And thus in a short space of time, the emperor Justinian, by means of his most faithful consul, subjected two kingdoms and two respublicae to his authority.84 This is a loaded passage. To begin with, the emphasis on Belisarios’ faithfulness invites comparison to the in­de­pen­dence of Theoderic and rebellion of Vitalian, both of which remind us that the consulship in this period represented a legitimate

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threat to imperial authority, at least in the Romana. Moreover, the implication of the superlative is that the other consuls appointed by Justinian, who are never mentioned aside from a brief reference to the consular status of Justin the son of Germanos,85 ­either would not have been or ­were not as loyal. This has in­ter­est­ ing implications for men such as Ioannes the Cappadocian, who served as consul, conspired against Justinian, and could be counted among the ignari rectores Jordanes attacks in his conclusion. The main thrust of Jordanes’ statement can be found in his curious repetition, when he states that Justinian conquered two kingdoms and two respublicae. The prob­lem with this description is that neither the Vandal nor Gothic kingdom is ever explic­itly described as a respublica. Unlike the Vandal kingdom, however, the Gothic kingdom u­ nder Theoderic is clearly presented in Roman po­ liti­cal terms as the “senate and p­ eople of Rome” while Theoderic is styled a princeps, a term with both Republican and imperial connotations. Moreover, the respublica most recently mentioned in the narrative is the eastern empire, which Jordanes brings up only to defend the rebellion of Vitalian. As argued above, Vitalian’s rebellion is presented as being against Anastasius not the respublica, implying that Anastasius was himself opposed to, or at least distinct from, the respublica. While the term respublica is sometimes used in other Latin authors to refer simply to a state, Roman or foreign, it is never used that way in the ­Romana. Moreover, t­ here is a previous mention of dual respublicae in the history. Jordanes frames the division of the empire by Theodosius I in similar terms: “[Theodosius I] handed over each of the two peaceful respublicae to one of his two sons.”86 ­These same two respublicae, the eastern and western Roman empires, should be understood in Jordanes’ comment about Belisarios. Jordanes is therefore reporting two separate sets of accomplishments, Justinian conquered two kingdoms, ­those of the Vandals and Goths, as well as two respublicae, the western and eastern Roman empires, through his “most faithful” consul. Belisarios’ failure to rebel against Justinian’s authority makes the general complicit in subjecting both east and west to the rule of Justinian. The implication, then, is that Justinian served as emperor at the plea­sure of Belisarios. The balance of power between the office of emperor and consul is inverted, creating a similar effect to that seen in Prokopios’ treatment of Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures). Jordanes must therefore be added to the list of sixth-­century authors concerned with the fate of the consulship. In addition, his strategies for subverting Justinian’s narrative of consular decline as well as his lionization of the consuls place him squarely in the rhetorical tradition of Prokopios and Zosimos. He is



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further linked to Prokopios by his praise for the reign of Theoderic and his focus on Theoderic’s consular status. Once again, we see coherence in the discussion of the consulship and Roman governance in the sixth c­ entury.

Lydos and the Consulship: The Missing Magistracy Like Jordanes and Prokopios, Ioannes Lydos responds to Justinian’s consular Novels in his work On the Magistracies. However, Lydos does not respond, as we might expect in a work dedicated to the major magistracies of the Roman state, in a single coherent discussion of the consulship. Lydos’ Magistracies is an incomplete work, so it is pos­si­ble that the consulship was discussed more coherently in the missing sections, perhaps on the occasion of Ioannes the Cappadocian’s tenure of the office in 538, but it remains striking that, in the surviving portions of the work, Lydos never gives the consulship the same focused discussion that he devotes to a number of other offices, including relatively minor ones such as the praefectus vigilum.87 To be clear, this is not merely an argument from absence. It would be reasonable to expect that the consulship would feature in Lydos’ list of founding magistracies, even if ­there ­were another, more engaged discussion in the non-­extant portions of the work. Not even a reference to such a discussion can be found in the extant portions of the work. The omission cannot be laid entirely at the feet of accident. The omission of the consulship is noteworthy b­ ecause Lydos claims to be giving a history of the magistracies of the Roman state from the beginning, starting with the praetorian prefecture, whose origin he finds in the post of cavalry commander (hipparchos), and continuing through other major Republican offices, such as the dictatorship, tribunate, quaestorship, and praetorship. Why would Lydos write a history of the major magistracies of the Roman state and largely ignore the most impor­tant magistracy of the Republican period? The omission becomes even more confusing in light of Lydos’ opening passage on the periodization of Roman history, in which he refers to the Republic as the “years of the consuls.”88 The consulship for Lydos is the defining office of the period from the expulsion of the kings u­ ntil the dictatorship of Julius Caesar, and yet it still does not merit significant discussion. In spite of this apparent ambivalence and in­de­pen­dent of any discussion of the consulship that may have occurred in the lost portions of the Magistracies, it remains pos­si­ble to see Lydos responding to the ideas and rhe­toric of Justinian’s consular Novels in the Magistracies, especially in the programmatic passages that open his work.

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Lydos begins the Magistracies by refuting and attacking the periodization of Roman history established by Novel 47 (On Dating). Like Justinian, Lydos begins with Aeneas: It occurred to me as I was undertaking to enumerate the magistracies of the politeia of the Romans that it is impor­tant to give a preface to my account beginning from the oldest and most honored man of all. This man was Aeneas, who on account of his beauty and force of both spirit and body was thought to be the son of someone greater than exists among men.89 At first glance, this passage appears to signal Lydos’ ac­cep­tance of Justinian’s ­periodization, as he is beginning with Aeneas. However, the choice to begin with Aeneas is framed as an afterthought, something ancillary to the main focus of the history, which sets this account at odds with Novel 47 (On Dating), in which Aeneas is both an epochal and foundational figure. The implication of Lydos’ statement is that Aeneas contributed nothing to the development of the Roman politeia, making it impossible for him to serve as a meaningful pre­ce­dent for Roman po­liti­cal institutions, including the office of emperor. Lydos underscores Aeneas’ unimportance by identifying the grounds on which he is memorable: the beauty and force of his spirit and body. In other words, Aeneas is remarkable ­because of his good looks and personality rather than his importance as a constitutional pre­ce­dent.90 Lydos goes a step further and makes explicit reference to stories of Aeneas’ divine parentage, reclaiming the Trojan hero as a pagan figure and predicating his importance to the Roman state on his perceived, if not factual, descent from the pagan gods. By emphasizing Aeneas’ associations with pagan religious beliefs, Lydos makes him a toxic figure to the polemically Christian Justinian. Nor is it likely that this is mere coincidence. The hero of the latter of half of the Magistracies, the praetorian prefect Phokas, was forced to commit suicide on charges of backsliding into pagan belief.91 Lydos was sensitive to questions of religion u­ nder Justinian’s regime. Lydos proceeds from Aeneas to lay out his own periodization of Roman history,92 which is broken into five sections: Aeneas to Romulus, the rule of the kings, the period of the consuls, the period from Caesar to Constantine, and fi­ nally the period from the death of Constantine to the death of Anastasius.93 Notably lacking from this division is the period from the accession of Justin to the time of the work’s publication. This period is of course implied, but the fact that Lydos does not include it explic­itly in his timeline of Roman history indi-



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cates that ­there is something distinct about his own period while si­mul­ta­neously divorcing it from any historical pre­ce­dents. By minimizing the importance of Aeneas and separating the reign of Justin and Justinian from the rest of Roman history, Lydos effectively dismantles the periodization Justinian laid out in Novel 47 (On Dating) and by extension Justinian’s reframing of Roman po­liti­cal history as a succession of normative monarchical governments. Lydos’ periodization implies that ­there was as much difference between the empire before and ­after Constantine as ­there was between the rule of the kings and the Republic. Lydos’ periodization also engages with Justinian’s monarchical periodization on a conceptual level. The rationale of Lydos’ periodization, leaving aside Aeneas who is introduced as an unimportant addendum, is the office in control of the state. The first meaningful period is that of the kings (Lydos makes a point of transliterating reges into Greek), while the next is that of the consuls, followed by two periods for the emperors.94 This is a more traditional schema for Roman history, although Lydos’ division of the period of the emperors between t­ hose before Constantine and t­ hose from Constantine to Anastasius is unusual. This division is explained by a fundamental shift in the nature of the politeia that took place ­under Constantine: the founding of Constantinople, which Lydos highlights by giving the city an in­de­pen­dent dating.95 Furthermore, in the final lines of his second chapter, Lydos makes clear that he is responding to another, ostensibly inaccurate, dating system when he states, “now that t­ hese ­things have been established by us according to the truth, it is fitting, as I have said, to enumerate the magistracies of the state in our time.”96 Lydos’ claim ­here is specific. He does not claim that he has accurately calculated the time since Aeneas, which would anyway be untenable given his explicit ambivalence about the dating of the period from Aeneas to Romulus and from Caesar to Constantine.97 Instead, he claims that the information has been laid out, literally “placed,” “according to the truth.” Lydos’ word choice eschews anything that might lead his reader to believe that the issue at stake is the accurate calculation of dates: rather the placement of the dif­fer­ent periods, and by extension the rationale for their se­lection, must be understood. Lydos’ truth claim implies that he is responding to someone who has crafted a false periodization for Roman history. As shown above, Lydos was intimately familiar with both the Novels and the Corpus Iuris Civilis, even to the point of being able to quote the Digest against the Novels.98 While Lydos may well be responding to several dif­fer­ent schemes for the periodization of Roman history, con­temporary or other­wise, his familiarity with Justinian’s laws suggests that the periodization of Novel 47 (On Dating) is one of his targets. This conclusion is supported by the way he structures

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his periodization to marginalize Aeneas and exclude Justinian, both moves that directly undermine the periodization and rhetorical aims of Novel 47. The final sentence of the second chapter also subtly redefines the topic of ­Lydos’ work. At the beginning of the Magistracies he claims that he is ­going to “enumerate the magistracies of the politeia of the Romans,” whereas in the final sentence of the second chapter he says that he w ­ ill now proceed to “enumerate the magistracies of the state in our time.” Though this is a small addition, it may offer an explanation for the absence of the consulship from Lydos’ work. While the precise date of the Magistracies remains uncertain, internal references and Lydos’ own retirement in 551/52, which he discusses in the work, indicate that it was not published prior to the 550s and perhaps in the latter half of that de­cade.99 In any case, even the earliest date would make the Magistracies con­temporary with Prokopios and Jordanes, which grants the work the same perspective on the demise of the consulship afforded to t­ hose authors. By adding the phrase “καθ’ ἡμᾶς” to the statement of his topic, Lydos offers a potential explanation for his neglect of the consulship: the office no longer exists, and therefore is not included in his work. Again, it is pos­si­ble, but by no means certain, that the consulship was discussed in the missing portions of the work, but in e­ ither case a l­ater discussion of the office would not change the effect of its omission from Lydos’ discussion of the foundations of the major Roman magistracies.

Kings, Tyrants, and Emperors in the Magistracies ­ fter establishing a periodization in opposition to that of Justinian in Novel 47 A (On Dating), Lydos begins his narrative with Romulus and Remus only to immediately digress on the distinction between kingship, tyranny, and the office of the emperor. In the course of this discussion, Lydos draws clear distinctions between the office held by Romulus and that held by Justinian, an argument that serves to further undermine the connection Justinian attempts to draw between himself and other Roman monarchs in Novel 47. The name of the magistracy of ­these men [Romulus and Remus], which the Italians call regium, is a form of tyranny, for the name regium is not indicative of lawful Roman kingship, as some men have claimed. For this reason, [the name regium] has not been used since the expulsion of the reges even when the Romans are ruled by kings (Rōmaioi basileuomenoi).100



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Where Justinian tried to align himself with Romulus and Aeneas through the po­liti­cal institution of monarchy, Lydos’ more nuanced approach to the vari­ous forms of monarchical rule argues against such a connection. Moreover, the fact that he bases his distinction on the quality of lawfulness makes any association between the current imperial system and the kingship of Romulus undesirable ­because the Roman kingship is identified as a species of tyranny. Lydos subsequently defines the three forms of monarchy as lawful kingship, tyranny, and the office of the emperor. The first two offices are defined by their source of authority and their relationship with established custom. Lawful kings, Lydos claims, are chosen by their subjects, make a point not to overturn established laws, and take decisions in consultation with the best men (aristoi) in the state.101 Tyrants on the other hand make decisions in­de­pen­dent of any advice and have no re­spect for established law.102 What is surprising about this formulation is that one would expect the office of emperor to oscillate between ­these two forms, rather than be defined as an entirely separate category. Lydos’ formulations of tyranny and lawful kingship are well inside the mainstream of Roman po­liti­cal thought in the sixth ­century. His tyrant is precisely the image of Justinian found in the Secret History: an emperor overturning established custom in consultation with no one, driven by a mad desire to innovate.103 While, on the other hand, his model of lawful kingship, with its emphasis on the monarch’s consultation with the senate and his submission to the laws, echoes idealized repre­sen­ta­tions of the imperial office ­going back at least to Pliny’s Panegyricus.104 ­There are likewise models for this ideal in late antiquity, such as Ammianus’ report that the emperor Julian fined himself ten (Roman) pounds of gold for usurping consular prerogatives during a manumission ceremony on 1 January 362.105 Despite his banal formulation, Lydos nuances his description of lawful kingship by inserting a reference to Sophocles’ Ajax: A king is one who is foremost b­ ecause he has first been placed on a solid basis (bathra), which is also like a foundation, by the votes of his subjects, and who gains a greater fortune than the o­ thers. Sophocles spoke of Ajax in this way, that he held “the base of sea-­girt Salamis.”106 The quote is taken from the opening of the first choral ode in the Ajax, immediately following the first appearance of the gleefully murderous and deluded Ajax. The chorus in the Ajax is composed of sailors from Salamis, a sampling of the men upon whom Ajax’s royal power rests. The chorus is mostly devoted to a summary of Ajax’s nocturnal sally against the Achaian leaders, which was deflected

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onto their flocks by Athena, but the precise passage Lydos is referencing deals with the relationship between the sailors and their king: Child of Telamon, holding the base of sea-­girt and doubly-­washed Salamis, I rejoice when you do well. But whenever the raging blow of Zeus or the slanderous speech of the Danaans attacks you, I cower greatly and am put to flight like the shape of a winged dove.107 Lydos is directing his reader to a passage that emphasizes the intertwined fortunes of ruler and ruled. This idea has clear implications in Lydos’ po­liti­cal scheme, namely that a lawful king aligns his interests with ­those of his ­people in such a way that their successes and failures become shared. The mechanism by which this is accomplished is the vote, which serves to provide the basis for l­ egal royal authority. The theme of the relationship between the ruler and ruled appears once more in the choral ode, ­after a discussion of the rumors which have spread through the Achaian camp about Ajax’s mad rampage: You cannot miss when attacking g­ reat souls, but if anyone should say ­these sorts of ­things about me, he would not be convincing. Envy slithers ­toward the power­ful man, but minor men without g­ reat men are a feeble defensive tower. The minor man should be made noble (aristos) by ­great men, and the ­great man raised up by lesser men.108 Ajax’s sailors understand their relationship with their king as reciprocal. Their role is to exalt him and his, in turn, is to ennoble them. The position of king, as the sailors define it, is an inherently treacherous one, in which the ruler is called upon to be a defender of his ­people, but his very prominence makes him a target of envy, against which his subjects can offer only a poor defense. The final assertion by the sailors, that g­ reat men have a duty to make lesser men better and that lesser men must in turn exalt ­great men, is in essence the model of elected kingship Lydos describes for lawful kings in the Magistracies: they are secure in their power and assured of a good foundation b­ ecause they are supported by lesser men. Curiously, this model of elected executive authority, one that is both above but also dependent on “lesser” men, accurately describes the ideology of the Republican po­liti­cal system, in which the office of consul held pride of place and closely mirrored the executive function of the kingship.109 It likewise resembles the acclamations of Roman emperors in Constantinople which, while not formal votes, ­were essential expressions of popu­lar support for a new emperor.110



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Lydos defines the imperial office in­de­pen­dently of ­either the lawful or tyrannical form of monarchy, opting instead to delimit the office narrowly and in terms of a specific set of duties: The cognomen of the Caesares, or rather that of the emperors (autokratores), is not indicative of ­either kingship or tyranny, but rather of sole authority and direct command over managing for the better the tumults that arise against the common interest and for commanding the army in what­ever way it is necessary to fight their enemies.111 Lydos is h ­ ere playing a semantic game with the title autokratōr, which was the preferred Greek title of late antique emperors, including Justinian who stamped it on his coins. As mentioned above, this title literally refers to the sole holder of a par­tic­u­lar type of authority, but it could also be understood to mean someone whose authority was self-­derived, in other words contingent upon no one e­ lse’s approval or consent. H ­ ere, Lydos is attempting to make clear that neither the title autokratōr nor Caesar, with which it is synonymous, denotes self-­derived power, which would make the office a form of tyranny by precluding the reciprocity that is characteristic of lawful kingship. Instead, both titles are used to refer to the emperor’s sole control over the military in both domestic and foreign affairs. The emperor is thus the supreme military official, the generalissimo, of the Roman state, a status that is distinguished from both lawful kingship and tyranny by its lack of concern with the laws. Lydos thus fails to acknowledge the civil authority of the imperial office or discuss its origins. This is precisely how Justinian treated the consulship in Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures). While the distinction between military and civil imperial authority is ultimately academic (in real­ity each depended on the other), the articulation of a po­ liti­cal ideology that accepts the position of emperor but attempts to define, and thereby delimit, the authority of the office is a radical departure from the ­wholesale absorption of authority described by Justinian in the Novels. Lydos’ justification for this bifurcation of imperial authority depends on an etymological argument, but one with strong implications for the ­legal status of the imperial office. The word “to command” is said by the Italians as imperare from which comes imperator. It is clear that the name of autokratōr or Caesar is not indicative of kingship, just the opposite: both the

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consuls and, a­ fter them, the Caesares had the honor of being called imperatores as a title.112 Through a combination of etymology and historical argument, Lydos links the military authority of the emperor to that held by the consuls. This is similar to the claim Justinian makes in Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) that the consuls yielded the conduct of war and making of peace to the emperors. But where Justinian uses a vaguely defined yielding of power to claim absolute control over Roman foreign policy, linking it to the similarly broad cession of ius by the senate and p­ eople, Lydos uses the same connection to limit the authority granted to the office of emperor by restricting it to the powers held by the consuls ­under the Republic, powers he identifies as the right to command troops in ­battle and quiet internal uprisings. Lydos adopts Justinian’s conception of the consulship as a military office but reverses the implications of the emperor’s rhe­toric to circumscribe imperial authority. Once again, we see an author inverting the logic of Justinian’s rhe­toric to make the opposite point. By linking the authority of the emperor to the powers of the consuls, Lydos is not only providing a more accurate history of the development of the imperial office, he is also making the case that the imperial office is simply another form of the consulship, at least as defined by Justinian. This is a critical point b­ ecause Lydos’ conception of administrative reform is as a perpetual pro­cess of decay and renewal in which offices are identified more by function than by name. This is how Lydos can claim that the praetorian prefecture of his day is in fact the post of cavalry commander (hipparchos), and the same logic casts the imperial office as the modern consulship, a contention that is supported by Justinian’s treatment of the office a­ fter 541. By carefully delineating the military authority of the emperors and conceptualizing that authority in terms of the powers vested in the consuls, Lydos casts the imperial office as a Roman magistracy that lacks a role in l­ egal affairs, and is therefore neither a lawful kingship nor a tyranny. He continues this pro­cess in his brief discussion of the civil powers of the imperial office: The office of the Caesares never appeared to make use of tyrannical insignia, instead they used the purple robe when ascending to the senate of the Romans and when directing the forces at arms in the manner of a sole commander (autokratōr), as I said. For this reason, the Romans also called t­ hese men [the emperors] principes, as if they w ­ ere the foremost head of the entire politeia.113



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Lydos’ antiquarian discussion of imperial dress allows him to ignore the civil authority of the emperors, whose role is denied formal standing by the phrase “as if,” and to focus on their military powers. By distinguishing between the civil and military authority of the emperor, Lydos is sundering the link between arms and laws that underpins much of Justinian’s rhe­toric throughout his l­egal corpus.114 ­There is no connection, in Lydos’ telling, between t­ hese two forms of authority, which undermines the cyclical logic Justinian develops in Novels 24 (Praetor of Pisidia) and 25 (Praetor of Lykaonia), wherein the emperor’s military success legitimized his ­legal reforms, and vice versa. Lydos then makes a point of clarifying that the title Caesar is a patronymic title and not linked to any official post except by association.115 Lydos’ discussion of imperial titles is finely nuanced for deliberate effect. ­Lydos has previously said that the imperial office is called by one of two titles, Caesar or imperator/autokratōr, but has proceeded to show that neither of t­ hese titles indicates the full powers of the con­temporary imperial office. The title of Caesar is an unofficial shorthand for the imperial office, while the term autokratōr is applicable only to the emperor’s command over the military. Missing from this discussion is the emperor’s civil authority, which Lydos ­later mentions is associated with the title of princeps. Lydos has therefore posited a dual nature for the imperial office that corresponds to its vari­ous titles and stands apart from both lawful kingship and tyranny b­ ecause, even in his capacity as princeps, the emperor only appears “as if ” he has control over the laws. Having carefully laid out t­ hese distinctions, Lydos proceeds to collapse them by detailing the degeneration of the imperial office into a species of tyranny: This type of proper order for the Caesares was guarded by the Romans up ­until Diocletian, who first, by crowning himself with a crown composed of costly stone and adorning his clothes and feet with gems, turned to the custom of kings or, to tell the truth, tyrants. And he mea­sured out the land and weighed it down with taxes.116 Lydos’ sartorial commentary draws attention to the contrast between the dress of Diocletian and the dress of proper Caesares, which in turn parallels the proper role of the emperor and the tyrannical perversion of the office. ­Because the emperor’s authority over the military is understood to be absolute from the title of autokratōr, Diocletian’s turn to tyranny must relate to his civil authority, specifically, following Lydos’ own definition, he must reject advice and overturn the

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laws. The only detail Lydos offers about Diocletian’s reign is a description of his tax reforms. ­Because tax reform does not deal directly with the management of the troops it falls, on Lydos’ scheme, into the civil sphere and therefore confirms that the abuse of civil powers was b­ ehind the tyrannical turn of the imperial office during the reign of Diocletian.117 Lydos leaves his discussion of the imperial office’s tyrannical turn unresolved, moving back to Romulus rather than forward to Justinian. The discussion of Romulus allows Lydos to merge the two major strands of argument developed in the opening of the Magistracies, namely periodization and the tripartite system of monarchical rule. Just as he undermined Justinian’s use of Aeneas as a prototype for Roman monarchy, Lydos uses his formulation of tyranny to give Romulus a similar treatment. On the criteria previously established concerning the forms of monarchy, Lydos judges Romulus to be a tyrant, that is an unlawful king, based on the murder of Remus and ­because he was irrational (alogos) in his management of affairs.118 By itself, this judgment of Romulus makes him an undesirable role model for Justinian’s authority, but Lydos goes further and continues his argument on a linguistic level, claiming that the name Quirinus was given to Romulus on analogy to the Greek kyrios ­because “tyrants love to be called lords (kyrioi) and masters (despotai) but not kings (basileis).”119 The inclusion of the term master is unnecessary to Lydos’ etymological argument, but allows Lydos to link tyrannical kingship to “master” (despotēs), the preferred term of address of many late antique emperors following Diocletian, including Justinian. This reference gives Lydos a pretext for explic­itly linking the discussion of Romulus to Justinian in order to defend the con­temporary emperor’s use of the title despotēs. By establishing this link, Lydos is replicating the parallel established by Justinian in Novel 47 (On Dating), but reversing the effect and making Justinian’s similarities to Romulus a rhetorical liability. Lydos’ objection to the term despotēs is predicated on the relationship it implies between the emperor and his subjects: The rank of Caesar is greater than that of the kingship ­because in ancient times it held in its power the ability to give kings to the nations. For it was hateful and foreign to Roman freedom to call rulers “masters” (despotai), but it was not so to call them “kings” (basileis). This is ­because the title of master is shared by them [the rulers] and by t­ hose who have acquired even a single fugitive slave, while the title of kings is theirs and only theirs.120



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Put differently, the title of master is meaningless ­because it applies equally to an emperor and, legally at least, the owner of a single slave, even if they are not currently in possession of that slave. The title of king, on the other hand, has a consistent value upon which the title of Caesar was based due to its ancient prerogative for assigning kings to vari­ous nations. The idea that the status of a ruler depends upon the ­people whom he rules is the same idea found in the choral ode from Sophocles’ Ajax, which Lydos references in his definition of lawful kingship. In the Ajax, it is the duty of the king to ennoble his subjects and they, in turn, elevate his status through their support. Justinian, and other emperors, are reversing this pro­cess by using the title of master, disparaging their subjects and making the support and praise of ­those subjects less meaningful. ­Because the title of master is antithetical to lawful kingship, Lydos goes on to argue, it must be understood as a feature of tyranny.121 Thus a tyrannical emperor locks himself into a sort of deflationary spiral in which the greater his authority, the more subservient his subjects are and the less prestigious his position is. Having thoroughly tainted the title of master, Lydos attempts to reconcile its con­temporary use with the benevolent (if at times negligent) image of Justinian he pre­sents in the Magistracies. He does this by explaining that Justinian is uncomfortable with the use of the term: But ­because the outrage [of the title of despotēs] was previously introduced as an honor, the goodness of our most gentle emperor (basileus) tolerates being called master, in the sense of “a good ­father,” even though his moderation surpasses all of the men who have ever ruled as kings.122 Lydos goes on to say that Justinian accepts the title not b­ ecause he enjoys it, but ­because he does not want to embarrass the subjects who are trying to honor him. While this passage makes sense on the surface, the be­hav­ior of Justinian contrasts with the anecdote Lydos reports just prior to this statement. According to Lydos, an early emperor, e­ ither Augustus or Tiberius, once walked out of the senate a­ fter being called master ­because he did not think it worth his time to conduct business with slaves.123 Compared to this ­earlier emperor’s assertive position, Justinian’s desire not to embarrass anyone comes across as weak rather than indulgent, a sense that is reinforced by the adjectives Lydos uses to describe Justinian: gentle and moderate.

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Of course, if we accept that Justinian could easily have changed the way he was addressed and believe Prokopios’ claims about his preference for the title of master, then the passage can be read in another way entirely. This subversive interpretation of the passage is supported by Lydos’ claim that Justinian was more moderate than any other king in history. The word for moderate comes from a verb, metriazō, which literally means to be mea­sured and often has a sense of being reduced. Lydos’ comment may therefore be understood to mean that Justinian is the least exceptional of all the kings who have ever ruled. This claim makes sense in the context of the evaluative scheme Lydos has just established only if Justinian is also the most tyrannical of all kings and therefore the most prone to treat his subjects as slaves, a claim which accords with information provided by other authors, especially Prokopios.

Tyrants and Consuls Lydos’ discussion of l­egal kingship and tyranny, when paired with his subsequent discussion of the tyranny of Romulus, lays out a complex model of proper imperial rule conceptualized on the basis of nomenclature. The imperial office is most generally referred to as Caesar, out of deference to the tradition of taking the ­family name of Julius Caesar. The title autokratōr, which derives from the Latin imperator, only describes the military authority of the emperor, which is understood to be absolute. The title princeps is used to supplement that of autokratōr and to designate the civil authority of the emperor. In civil affairs, a good emperor or lawful king is understood to be a leader rather than a commander and to make decisions in consultation with his leading citizens and with the support of the ­people. Moreover, a good emperor understands that the value of his rule is determined by the quality of the citizens he rules, giving him a vested interest in elevating rather than oppressing them. The reciprocal relationship between the status of an emperor’s subjects and the value of his own post is tied to the civil functions of government. Administrative abuses, which devalue citizens by treating them as servants or slaves, overstep the bound­aries of the role of princeps and, by lowering the status of the citizens, demean the emperor and imperial office. Tyranny for Lydos is exclusively an abuse of civil authority, and his definition of the term autokratōr might even imply support for the use of military force against rebellious or dissident citizens, such as occurred during the Nika Riots. In constructing his definitions of both the civil and military authority of the emperors, Lydos relies heavi­ly on the pre­ce­dents established by the consuls.



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This is in contrast to Justinian, whose chronology in Novel 47 (On Dating) attempted to bypass the consulship and establish monarchy as the normative form of Roman government. Nor is this the only point in the Magistracies at which Lydos can be seen responding to Novel 47. Lydos uses consular dating throughout his account of the Republican period and makes a point of mentioning that even Julius Caesar, for whom Lydos has undisguised disdain, altered the Roman state in ­every re­spect except the use of consular dating: The magistracies proceeded in the manner I have already described up ­until the domination of the first Caesar [Julius Caesar]. And this man, when he had established his control over affairs, changed the government entirely. He left nothing to the consuls aside from their name, I suppose for the sake of reckoning time.124 This reference to consular dating is given weight by Lydos’ prior and unequivocal condemnation of Julius Caesar as a tyrant.125 In the context of Lydos’ previous discussion of tyranny and l­ egal kingship, this reference would be enough to call attention to Justinian’s abolition of consular dating and imply that it was an act of tyranny. However, Lydos goes a step further and responds to the idea, expressed in Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures), that the conduct of war was yielded by the consuls to the emperors: And organ­izing the entire military u­ nder his command, [Julius Caesar] gave his successors the ability to conduct impending wars ­either themselves (as they would do u­ nless they honored luxury) or through generals, whomever they chose, or through lieutenant generals, who ­were called legatoi by the Romans.126 Where Prokopios calls attention to the fact that Belisarios, unlike Justinian, continued to perform the traditional role of a military consul, Lydos takes the opposite tack and draws attention to the fact that, despite being granted the right to conduct military ­matters in person, Justinian has opted not to do so. This decision, as Lydos’ parenthetical statement makes clear, is evidence that Justinian prefers luxury to the proper execution of his office. The implication in Lydos’ account is therefore that Justinian is more innovative (a trait that Lydos like Prokopios associates with tyrannical rule) and lazier than Julius Caesar. In other words, Justinian inverts the imperial office as defined by Lydos, focusing on civil affairs, which should not be u­ nder his authority, while

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neglecting his role as commander-­in-­chief, which is the defining feature of his office. The effect of Lydos’ implicit characterization of Justinian, as well as the falseness of the emperor’s claim to command the conduct of war, works in conjunction with the discussion of the triumphalia three chapters e­ arlier. According to Lydos, Caesar, at a loss for a title that sufficiently conveyed his authority a­ fter his triumphs over so many kings, assumed an amalgamation of titles (including consul) and developed a new uniform to accompany the position, the triumphalia, which became the traditional garment of an emperor celebrating a triumph.127 Lydos cites as evidence of this tradition the triumph celebrated for the conquest of Africa: [The tradition of wearing the triumphalia] has been demonstrated clearly in our own time when God delivered Gelimer, the king of the Vandals and Libya, along with his entire race, to our empire as a prisoner. For it was not appropriate that the victor appear in the same purple that the conquered king wore.128 Lydos’ language is circumspect and he carefully avoids directly mentioning the emperor or making clear who was actually wearing the triumphalia at the ceremony. The conquest of the Vandals is framed in terms of the empire and the central Roman figure is referred to only as the conqueror (nikētēs). The prob­lem with Lydos’ account is that the conqueror of the Vandals was Belisarios, not Justinian, ­because the emperor had ceded his prerogatives in waging war. Lydos therefore calls attention to the irony of a palace emperor claiming the role of victorious conqueror. In addition to undermining the rationale of Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) and Novel 47 (On Dating), Lydos’ paralleling of Julius Caesar and Justinian offers insight into the author’s understanding of the relationship between tyranny, the imperial office, and the consulship. During Lydos’ most comprehensive (albeit still brief) discussion of the consulship, he makes clear that the office is both distinctly Roman and inherently anti-­tyrannical: Having returned to Rome and embraced the earth (she is the m ­ other of every­thing), [Brutus] freed the Romans from tyranny, founding a magistracy that had been known to no race, even though Daniel, the holiest prophet among the Hebrews, makes mention of hypatoi occurring among the Assyrians.129



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Lydos links the foundation of the consulship to the abolition of tyranny at a verbal level, subordinating the office’s creation to the act of freeing the Romans by means of a participial clause. By explic­itly defining the consulship as an anti-­ tyrannical office, Lydos adds significance to the demotion of the consuls by Julius Caesar, an act which he links by to Justinian through his veiled references to Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures) and Novel 47 (On Dating), as well as through the parallels he establishes between the two rulers. Lydos integrates his discussion of the anti-­tyrannical nature of the consulship into his assertion that the office was a uniquely Roman invention, even g­ oing so far as to argue against the apparent use of the term hypatos in the Hebrew Bible. According to Lydos, the prophet Daniel did not himself use the word hypatos, an assertion few modern scholars would dispute, rather the word was introduced into the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible produced at the court of the Ptolemies.130 While this might appear to be a minor detail, Lydos’ insistence on refuting the argument indicates how impor­tant the uniqueness of the consulship is to his conception of the office.131 By making the consulship the definitive Roman office, Lydos is implicitly refuting Justinian’s attempt to portray the monarchy as the normative office of the Roman state in Novel 47 (On Dating). Just as Lydos distanced Justinian from Aeneas through reference to the hero’s divine parentage, he also refutes any Judeo-­Christian connection to the office of consul, and goes so far as to explic­itly link the title of the office to the god Poseidon.132 Tyranny is one of the major themes Lydos develops in the Magistracies and its importance, in turn, raises the profile of the consulship. By equating the consulship with Roman liberty and its demotion with tyranny, Lydos leads his readers to an obvious question. If Julius Caesar, Lydos’ quin­tes­sen­tial Roman tyrant, stripped the consulship of all its honors and powers save dating, then what are the implications of Justinian’s reforms in Novel 47 (On Dating)? Lydos gives clues to his answer at vari­ous points in the Magistracies, especially through the parallels he creates between the reign of Caesar and that of Justinian. Justinian, like Caesar, is a tyrant, albeit one who cannot even claim the martial virtues of the man who gave his office its most trea­sured name.

Republicanism and the Consulship The consulship was a natu­ral lightning rod for discussions of the Republic in the sixth c­ entury. The history of the office was too long, its accomplishments both too ­great and too essential for it to be able to dis­appear without comment. We

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are fortunate that so many conversations about the consulship survive and in a format where they can be situated in the broader context of responses to Justinian’s reign. Despite the amount that Justinian discusses the consulship in his laws, no explicit rationale survives for the post’s demotion and absorption into the imperial office. By the sixth c­ entury emperors had long since abandoned the premise that their authority was constituted from an amalgamation of traditional offices. Yet the consulship survived for centuries a­ fter the end of the Julio-­Claudian dynasty and ­there is no reason to suspect that, absent Justinian’s reforms, the office would not have continued in­def­initely. So why did Justinian decide the consulship had to end? ­There is a wide variety of plausible answers ranging from the centralization of authority to the fear of competition or the desire to put a Justinianic stamp on the entirety of the Roman administration (one imagines that Justinian would have had trou­ble selling the office as the “Justinianic Consul”). Perhaps Justinian was simply tired of former consuls conspiring against his regime. Despite all of the available options, we are ultimately unable to definitively discern Justinian’s motivations for the reform from the rhe­toric of his laws. In this we find ourselves in the same position as his contemporaries, who took it upon themselves to offer their own theories. The end of the consulship is useful for the study of the sixth c­ entury precisely ­because of the ambiguity of Justinian’s motives. His contemporaries, as demonstrated by the authors discussed above, w ­ ere unpersuaded by the histories in­ven­ted to justify Justinian’s consular reforms in the Novels, but equally lacked evidence of the emperor’s motivations. To fill this gulf of explanation, each author simply took the act as further evidence of the pro­cesses they already saw playing out in Justinian’s reign and Roman history more generally. The end of the consulship served as an ideological Rorschach test for sixth-­century authors. For Prokopios, the move was primarily motivated by Justinian’s insatiable greed, as he makes clear in the Secret History, and neatly complemented the emperor’s almost deliberate mismanagement of the empire. Prokopios also insinuated, through the focus on the consulship of Belisarios, that it was an attempt to curtail the reinvigorated office and perhaps the ­career of its most recent (at the time of Novel 105 [On Consular Expenditures]) holder. The idea of the consulship as both an alternative and threat to the imperial system is likewise taken up by Jordanes, who establishes the conflict between virtuous consuls and corrupt, bloodthirsty emperors as one of the defining features of the late fifth and early sixth centuries. In Jordanes’ narrative, Belisarios’ failure to repudiate Justinian is an unexpected turn of events, and contributes



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to the maladministration which was destroying the empire. Lydos, too, viewed the end of the consulship in terms of its implications for the administration of the empire. Despite his frequent praise for Justinian, the entirety of the Magistracies is at odds with the image of Justinian as a diligent and ­legal emperor. The chief villain of Lydos’ history was a man Justinian appointed to run the praetorian prefecture not once, but twice. Moreover, the decline of Lydos’ beloved praetorian prefecture took place largely on Justinian’s watch. Although Lydos seeks to absolve Justinian of responsibility, he does so by asserting that the emperor must not have been aware of the abuses that w ­ ere taking place or was too polite to intervene for the good of the state. This fits Justinian neatly into the category of ignarus rector proposed by Jordanes. But Lydos also uses the consulship to put a more sinister face on Justinian’s supposed ignorance by associating his reign with the innovations typical of tyranny and linking him to the arch-­tyrants Julius Caesar and Diocletian. The image of the innovative tyrant destroying the administration of the empire through a combination of incompetence and malfeasance, in turn, links Lydos back to Prokopios’ Secret History. What is intriguing about all of ­these responses is their willingness to engage with Justinian on his own terms. Rather than ignore the emperor’s rhe­toric, Prokopios, Jordanes, and Lydos make a point of using it against Justinian, ­either through deliberate inversion or less specific rewritings of the narrative Justinian develops in his Novels. The willingness of ­these authors to engage with the Novels as well as their concern with Republican history and offices indicates that the question of the legacy of the Republic, and by extension the identity of the sixth-­ century Roman state, was a hotly contested topic. ­These authors ­were not content merely to reject the decisions and historical rhe­toric of Justinian’s reign; instead they chose to do so in precisely the same terms the emperor used to make his case for reform. While this in part reflects the relative ease with which a specific response may encode ostensibly unrelated discussions, it also indicates the perceived validity of Justinian’s historical innovations. Lydos, Prokopios, and Jordanes chose to respond in the same idiom b­ ecause they felt, like Justinian, that the consulship and the Republican history of the Roman state ­were impor­tant enough to contest. Their attachment to the Republic indicates that the history of that period was actively relevant in sixth-­century Constantinople in­de­pen­dent of Justinian’s attempts to use it as a justification for his policies. In other words, the Romans never forgot the Republic.

chapter 5

The Fall of Rome in the Age of Justinian

In the spring of 546, Rome was about to fall. Again. It was an event that might have seemed impossible to the inhabitants of the city two centuries prior, but had, by the ­middle of the sixth ­century, become a regular facet of life in the Eternal City. It was almost routine. The late antique tradition of marching on, and even besieging, Rome began, as many such traditions did, with Constantine, who in 312 defeated Maxentius in order to gain control of the city and consolidate his command over the western empire. In the fifth ­century, civil wars slowly transitioned into foreign invasions, beginning in 410 with Alaric, a Roman general of Gothic descent, who led a largely Gothic (but arguably Roman) army in the chivalrous extortion of Rome. The transition culminated in 455 with the savage and destructive sack of the city by the Vandal king Geiseric. By the sixth ­century, during Justinian’s campaigns of reconquest, the siege of Rome had become an almost annual event. Belisarios invaded Italy in the spring of 536 and quickly occupied the city, whose Gothic defenders, Prokopios tells us, ­were fleeing from one gate as Belisarios’ army marched in through another.1 Yet the Goths swiftly counterattacked and by early 537 had invested Rome. Belisarios resisted the siege for a year and a half before fi­nally breaking it in the spring of 538. ­A fter Belisarios was recalled in 540, the Goths renewed their offensive u­ nder their new king ­Totila who, ­after initially bypassing Rome in order to seize the coastal cities of Benevento and Naples, retook the city in 546. The Romans regained Rome in 548, it was besieged by the Goths once more in 549 and fell again to the Gothic king Totila in 550. By the time Justinian’s forces liberated the city for the last time, ­under the general Narses in 552, Rome had fallen five times in sixteen years.2 The instability of Rome’s owner­ship during Justinian’s Italian campaigns was the culmination of a series of shifts in po­liti­cal geography that had been underway since the third-­century crisis uprooted the emperors from their ancient capi-



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tal and sent them prowling along the empire’s frontiers. This shift from center to periphery, the turning inside out of the Roman empire, continued into the reign of Theodosius II (r. 408–50), when two new capitals, Ravenna in the west and Constantinople in the east, established themselves as the two imperial courts of the Roman world.3 When the Roman government of the western empire was abolished by Odoacer in 476, Rome completed its transition from the beating heart of the Roman world to a foreign city. Upon Belisarios’ landing in Italy in the spring of 536, the former birthplace of empire, the wellspring of Roman imperialism and identity, became a Roman military frontier. Rome in the sixth ­century had more in common with the Danube region and Mesopotamia than Constantinople. Where the writers of the fifth ­century had strug­gled to articulate a conception of Romanness in an empire that had lost Rome, the writers of the age of ­Justinian w ­ ere forced to confront Rome as an object of empire. The status of the city became entangled not just in the military campaigns being waged in Italy, but also in the structure of the historical narratives that situated Justinian’s reconquest within the broader scope of Roman history. This was no small task: ­there ­were no ancient models for writing the history of the reconquest of a foreign-­ occupied imperial heartland or conceptualizing its reintegration into the empire. For Justinian, as much as for Prokopios and Jordanes, this dilemma manifested itself in the relationship between ancient and con­temporary Rome and, by extension, the relationship between ancient Rome and the con­temporary empire. The prob­lem presented by Rome was therefore fundamentally one of how to write and interpret history. For the emperor, the prob­lem was twofold: how to reintegrate the original capital into a monopole empire centered on Constantinople, and how to frame the city’s return to Roman rule, albeit eastern Roman rule, in the official narrative of Roman history. Complicating the emperor’s relationship with Rome was the presence ­there of the foremost bishopric in the Roman world.4 As had been established at the Council of Ephesus and confirmed at the Council of Constantinople, the bishop of Rome was the primus inter pares of Christian bishops, and Justinian’s interactions with Rome ­were perpetually colored by his desire to keep the bishop onside, not only for his program of imperial reconquest, but also in his attempts to reunify Roman Christendom in the wake of the Council of Chalcedon, which for almost a c­ entury had split the eastern Roman empire.5 The see of Rome, far more than the ancient city, occupied Justinian’s focus in ways that ­will be discussed in the next chapter.6 Nevertheless, the emperor confronted an essential dilemma: how could he use Roman history to legitimize his reforms

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and government without empowering the city of Rome as a locus of po­liti­cal legitimacy? The prob­lem was all the more acute given the emperor’s distance from Rome, its long-­standing role as the seat of a distinct western empire, and his reliance on power­ful generals (read: potential rivals) to carry out his campaigns of reconquest. Justinian’s solution was to construct a firewall between Rome and its Roman history, a decision that has cast a long shadow over the historiography of the fifth ­century.

Rathymia and Imperial Decline The narrative of Roman revival that Justinian lays out in Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia) implies a corresponding narrative of Roman decline. Though logically necessary, it was by no means a foregone conclusion that the emperor would bother to create such a narrative in his Novels. In fact, creating a narrative of ­Roman decline would offer the emperor’s critics an obvious line of attack on Justinian’s government. Once an official history of Roman decline existed, it would be a ­simple m ­ atter for critics to link Justinian’s own policies to it. So, why would Justinian and his administration want to create a potentially double-­edged narrative of Roman decline? The answer can be found in the prob­lem posed by Rome. ­A fter the murder of Amalasuintha in 535, which set Justinian’s Italian campaigns in motion, the emperor had continued to negotiate with Theodahad, Amalasuintha’s murderer, cousin, and co-­regent, for the surrender of Italy.7 According to Prokopios, negotiations for Theodahad’s abdication and the cession of Italy to Constantinople w ­ ere nearing completion, spurred by Belisarios’ success in Sicily during the campaigning season of 535, when Justinian’s armies faced a major setback.8 The invasion of Italy had been intended as a pincer movement. Belisarios would sail from Sicily and force a landing on the Italian coast, while another army ­under the general Mundo would march through the Balkan provinces and enter Italy from the north. Pursuant to this plan, Mundo’s army besieged and took the city of Salona in the winter of 535/36 in order to secure the route into Italy and the army’s supply lines for the coming campaign. A ­ fter the siege, a Gothic army sent to relieve Salona happened upon a Roman scouting party that included Mundo’s son Maurikios. Maurikios was killed in the ensuing skirmish, a loss that provoked Mundo into a frenzied pursuit of the Gothic army. Although victorious in the ensuing ­battle, Mundo died shortly afterward from a wound received during the fighting, leaving Justinian’s army of northern Italy without a general on the eve of a major campaign.9 Heartened by this vic-



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tory, Theodahad broke off his secret agreement with Justinian and de­cided to resist the emperor’s invasion. No one in the winter and spring of 536 could have realized that the collapse of Justinian’s negotiations with Theodahad would result in an eighteen-­year campaign that would devastate Italy and drain the attention and resources of the eastern Roman empire, which was itself soon to be beset by plague and foreign invasions. Nevertheless, the developments of that winter certainly put an end to what­ever polite po­liti­cal fictions Justinian and his administration had devised to advertise and frame the return of Italy to the imperial fold. In place of their bloodless victory, they now faced the dangers and uncertainties of a military campaign alongside the rhetorical prob­lem of how to sell the prospect of a Roman war against the Roman homeland. During the same period that Justinian had assigned Petros the Patrician to negotiate with Theodahad, from the summer of 535 u­ ntil the collapse of negotiations in the winter of 536/37, Tribonian and his l­ egal team continued to work on the reforms of the imperial administration of the eastern provinces that had begun in Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia). The reform of Pisidia was published concurrently with t­ hose of Lykaonia and Thrace on 18 May 535, and t­ hese ­were followed by the reor­ga­ni­za­tion of Pontos and Paphlagonia in two Novels published together on 16 July 535. During the following summer and fall, Tribonian’s ­legal attention was diverted to smaller posts in the imperial administration, including the post of defensor in July or August and the praefectus vigilum on 15 October 535. When Tribonian and his team began drafting laws for the year 536, we find evidence that the po­liti­cal and military uncertainty in Italy was having repercussions for the imperial discussions of Roman history embedded in their laws. The result is an unpre­ce­dented opportunity to watch Roman imperial messaging adapt to con­temporary circumstances virtually in real-­time. On 15 February 536, in Novel 38 (On Decurions), Justinian opened a law concerned with managing the inheritance of decurions with an ambiguous reference to a Roman capital: The ancient found­ers of our politeia thought it necessary, in imitation of the royal city, to muster the best men in ­every city and give to each city an or­ga­nized senate through which all public business should be conducted and arranged according to proper order.10 Historically, the “royal city” in question must be Rome, whose senate provided the model for all ­later curial assemblies in the empire, including that of

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Constantinople. Yet the Novel does not address Rome by any of its traditional titles, opting instead to call it the “royal city,” a title that was closely associated with the ecclesiastical status of Constantinople.11 Moreover, in the winter of 536, ­there was only one royal or imperial city in the Roman world: Constantinople. The opening of this law appears to be para­lyzed between its desire to access the authority of the Roman tradition to legitimize its reforms and its unwillingness to do so in a way that highlights the uniqueness or authority of Rome. The fact that the phrasing specifically, if indirectly, points to Constantinople indicates that the source of the tension lies in the relationship between t­ hese two cities. The winter of 536 was not a moment at which Justinian’s government felt comfortable elevating the status of Elder Rome at the expense of Constantinople by making it the model for all cities in the empire. Though it is only a small feature of a law that does not other­wise concern itself with Roman history, the mention of the “royal city” in Novel 38 is the first point in the Novels where we can see Justinian’s rhe­toric stumbling over the prob­lem of Rome. A comprehensive solution was provided a month l­ater when, on 17 March  536, Justinian promulgated a Novel that contained his first explicit discussion of the c­ auses of the fall of the Roman west. Before discussing the content of that law and Justinian’s narrative of Roman decline, it is worth considering why the emperor and his ­legal team considered it worthwhile to engage with this subject at all. When examining the sources for the reign of Justinian, it is impor­tant to remember that, even in this exceptionally well-­documented period, only a small fraction of the written texts have survived to modern times. The consistency and emphasis placed on Justinian’s Roman revival in the laws of 535 almost certainly corresponded to a broader program of imperial propaganda across a variety of media, analogous to Anastasius’ attempts to identify himself with Pompey the ­Great.12 Glimpses of Justinian’s program survive, in par­tic­u­lar the lavish triumph he celebrated over Gelimer in 534 at the conclusion of the Vandal War, even if many other specific aspects of it cannot always be recovered.13 We can discern the shape of Justinian’s propaganda program, or at least a key part of it, from the features of his reign that are emphasized in the reform Novels of 535, namely the emperor’s synergetic mastery of arms and laws. Then as now, effective messaging depended on saturation, making any radical overhaul of imperial propaganda undesirable and, given the limits of media and media production in a premodern society, likely untenable. In other words, the framework of Justinian’s imperial messaging was inelastic and the setbacks Justinian faced in the winter of 535/36, the death of Mundo and the breakdown of negotiations with Theodahad, w ­ ere not sufficient to justify a complete revision of his program. Tribonian and his



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team ­were trapped between two competing imperial agendas, the first of which was maintaining the emperor’s l­egal rhe­toric, which required a continued push to claim the authority of Roman history, and the second the anticipation and disarming of potential counter-­narratives, including narratives that co-­opted ­Justinian’s emphasis on Roman history. This latter task was made more difficult by the fact that Justinian had already overplayed his hand in the Novels, alluding to the reconquest of Rome in Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia),14 indicating the extent of his territorial ambitions in Novel 9 (Roman Prescriptions)—­which is discussed below—­and claiming for himself the title of Gothicus (along with the titles Alamanicus, Francicus, Germanicus, Anticus, Alanicus, Vandalicus, and Africanus) as early as 16 April 535 in Novel 17 (Imperial Mandates).15 In the spring of 536, as imperial attention swung back to the reform of the eastern provinces, Tribonian was faced with the task of constructing a narrative of Roman history that legitimized Justinian’s military venture in Italy and invalidated Gothic claims to owner­ship of the province.16 The solution he settled on was to permanently divorce ancient and con­temporary Rome by creating an official narrative of Roman decline. Such a narrative allowed the emperor to claim to be the direct inheritor of the laws, offices, and traditions of the Roman state, while denying any legitimacy to the Goths in Italy. This rhetorical strategy makes its first debut in the extant rec­ord on 17 March 536 in Novel 30 (Proconsul of Cappadocia).17 Like the provincial reform Novels of 535, Novel 30 claimed to be reintroducing an ancient office, but where the reforms of the previous year had focused on the might of the ancient Romans and the sources of their success, the opening of Novel 30 calls attention to the difficulties the Romans faced in subduing Cappadocia: Lovers of ancient erudition do not fail to recognize how g­ reat is the name and tribe of the Cappadocians and how much trou­ble they gave the Romans before being subdued. Cappadocia ruled all of nearby Pontos, and men who w ­ ere both exceedingly famous and worthy of the g­ reat attention of the Romans w ­ ere produced t­ here. It is an abundant and wondrous land and has made amends with the empire to such a degree that we even established a magistracy ­there to oversee our private estate. This province is in no way inferior to the province of Pontos, and is in fact much greater. For the tremendous population of this land furnished and established a ­great city named for our most beloved Caesar [Caesarea], who gave our monarchy a noble beginning. ­Because of this, the most famous name among all the tribes of

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the world is the name of Caesar and we trea­sure this before any other token of our kingship.18 The opening of this Novel rehearses the claims of erudition and historical learning Justinian made in the reform Novels of 535.19 Once again the learned emperor is reaching back into obscure history in order to find strategies for Roman success. But where, in the Novels of 535, the emperor had looked to Roman administrative pre­ce­dents, Novel 30 finds him admiring the failures and frustrations of Roman foreign policy ­under the Republic. The emperor’s change in focus is made more remarkable by the inaccuracy of his account. Not only did Cappadocia not rule Pontos, nor give the Romans a particularly hard time, Pontos had in fact functionally annexed Cappadocia during the reign of one of Rome’s most per­sis­tent enemies: Mithridates VI.20 This is an embarrassing error for an emperor who had taken pains to establish himself as the researcher-­in-­chief of the Roman state. Nevertheless, if the history is taken at face value, then we can see a new strategy at work in the reform Novels. Where, in 535, Justinian had been anxious to glorify ancient Roman achievements in order to provide a historical pre­ce­dent and justification for his reforms, this Novel shows the emperor backing away from that strategy and calling attention to the setbacks faced by Roman imperialism, at least in the eastern theater. This transition was facilitated by the continued success of Justinian’s imperial program. At the time Novel 30 appeared, Justinian’s forces had successfully entered Italy and would shortly take control of Rome. By overplaying the difficulties faced by the Romans in the ­middle stages of their imperial expansion, Justinian creates a favorable comparison for his own campaign of reconquest, which was getting underway at the same moment in Italy. ­A fter his brief history of the Roman conquest of Cappadocia, Justinian proceeds to offer a digression on the foundation of the city of Caesarea and the title of Caesar. This description is linked to the previous discussion b­ ecause it justifies the promotion of Cappadocia over Pontos, as indicated by the explanatory particle gar. It is at this point that Justinian’s historical error begins to make sense; the reversal of the historical relationship between Pontos and Cappadocia is justified not by the history, which readers may recognize is fabricated, but by the closer association between Cappadocia and the monarchy provided by the city of Caesarea. Like Cappadocia, Justinian has his status similarly enhanced through association with the name of Caesar (in this case meaning Augustus rather than Julius Caesar), which he claims to prize above all of his imperial titles. Justinian’s attempts to associate himself with Augustus may serve another purpose as



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well. As was discussed in Chapter 2, a major component of Anastasius’ propaganda program was his attempt to link himself to Pompey, whose dominance in Roman politics was superseded by his conqueror, Julius Caesar, who in turn passed it off to his grandnephew Augustus. ­There are clear parallels between ­these figures and the emperors of the late fifth and early sixth centuries. If Anastasius was Pompey, then the shift in dynasties to Justin paralleled the victory of Caesar, while the succession of Justin’s nephew Justinian paralleled the rise of Augustus. It is pos­si­ble, then, that Justinian is experimenting with a program of propaganda that associates him with Augustus, just as Anastasius did with Pompey. The emphasis on Augustus’ founding of the monarchy would then correspond to Justinian’s refounding of Roman government along ancient lines as well as his restoration of Roman control over the western provinces. The opening of Novel 30 (Proconsul of Cappadocia) sets the stage for the introduction of Justinian’s official account of the decline and fall of the western Roman empire, which is placed at the conclusion of the Novel. Having expanded his claims to be reviving Roman traditions even to the point of implicitly establishing himself as a second Augustus, Justinian proceeds to create a model of Roman history that safely sequesters Roman pre­ce­dents in a past that is rhetorically inaccessible to non-­Romans, in par­tic­u­lar the Gothic court in Italy: The proconsul ­will deal honestly with our subjects (as we have often ordered), conducting our business with zeal and being prepared to have no concern for money, especially in the midst of such expenses and g­ reat wars. For it is through t­ hese that God has granted that we make peace with the Persians, overpower the Vandals, Alans, and Moors, and win over the w ­ hole of Africa and Sicily. God has granted us also the noble hope that he ­will assent to our dominion over the remainder of ­those places which the ancient Romans tossed aside through their continual negligence (rathymiai), though they had previously held dominion over all the territory up to the limits of both oceans. It is this negligence which, taking heart from our alliance with God, we hasten to turn to strength, and we shrink from no challenge, not even the most extreme difficulty. Instead, we continually employ sleeplessness, fasts, and e­ very other manner of toil on behalf of our subjects.21 The conclusion of Novel 30 marks the fusion of two major strands of Justinian’s imperial propaganda: his claim to be restoring ancient practices and his persona

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as the sleepless emperor.22 The emperor’s tireless personal efforts mirror his determination in the face of what­ever setbacks his program of reconquest might face, and both qualities stand aligned with the determination of the ancient Romans in their conquest of Cappadocia (according to Justinian) and opposed to the negligence (rathymia) which cost the l­ ater Romans their western provinces.23 Justinian’s formulation of the cause of Roman decline is, by any modern standard, hopelessly vague, but the diffuseness of his model allows the emperor to bring overwhelming rhetorical force to bear on the prob­lem. Had Justinian opted to advance a more specific cause for Roman decline, he would have been correspondingly ­limited in the contrasts he could draw between his regime and the “ancient” Romans who lost the empire. For example, had Justinian highlighted military failure, he could have reasonably adduced his successful campaigns as evidence of his superiority, but not his rec­ord of administrative reform or his personal acts of devotion. In order to be able to make use of all the ele­ments of his propaganda, Justinian required an explanation of Roman decline that was ­either extremely complex and nuanced or one that was ­simple and vague. As any observer of modern politics can attest, nuance is rarely effective in po­liti­cal mass messaging. The imprecision of the term “negligence” (which has additional connotations of personal laziness) allows Justinian to combine his rhe­toric of diligent administration, personal devotion, and acts of mortification with his successful foreign policy in order to pre­sent a portrait of a coherent and comprehensive imperial effort. The choice of negligence as the fatal flaw that cost Rome her empire also allows Justinian to claim success, along with the title of restorer and reviver, not only on the basis of his proven achievements such as the peace with Persia and conquest of Africa, but also on the basis of the mere attempt to reclaim ­those lost territories. Justinian’s efforts, by virtue of being proactive and regardless of their results, are themselves a reversal of the cause of Roman decline. What better rhetorical strategy could t­ here be for an emperor who openly admitted, less than two years ­later, that his constant activity irritated some of his subjects.24 Justinian’s account of the ­causes of Roman decline is remarkable both for its vagueness and for its chronology. Novel 30 identifies the negligent Romans as the “ancient Romans” (hoi palai Romaioi). This is an unexpected way to frame the disintegration of the western empire during the course of the fifth ­century given that the culminating event of western Roman decline, the deposition of the last emperor, took place in 476. Just over fifty years passed between that seminal moment and Justinian’s accession in 527, placing it within living memory. Justinian’s peculiar chronology is unparalleled in his laws, in which the latest dat-



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able event to be designated as ancient, with the Latin term antiquitas translating palai, falls during the reign of Vespasian (r. 69–79).25 Justinian’s chronology in Novel 30 (Proconsul of Cappadocia) is logically untenable, but nevertheless provides the emperor with a significant buffer against competing claims to ­Roman legitimacy on the part of the Goths in Italy (or any other party, for that ­matter) by sequestering the fall of Rome in a vaguely defined ancient period. Despite all of Justinian’s efforts to isolate con­temporary Rome from the authority of Roman history in his Novels, the emperor himself does not trumpet the city’s reconquest in any of his surviving laws. The oversight is somewhat surprising given the potential propaganda coup the recapture of the Roman homeland might have been. One pos­si­ble explanation for Justinian’s reticence may be his continued ambivalence about Old Rome’s status in the con­temporary empire. Such a view is supported by another set of Novels that appeared during this period and addressed the topic of Roman authority.

Ancient and Modern Rome in the Novels On 14 April 535, roughly a year before Belisarios would begin the invasion of ­Italy, Justinian promulgated Novel 9 (Roman Prescriptions). The law was designed to prevent debts owed to the Church of Rome from lapsing ­a fter the standard period of thirty years and extended the limit to a full c­ entury, reasoning that this was the longest span of a ­human life.26 This is a peculiar Novel; not only does it survive, and was likely issued, only in Latin, it also addresses an institution which was not at the time of its publication u­ nder the l­egal authority of Constantinople. In the short term, the law could only have extended the statute of limitations for the Roman see’s holdings in the eastern empire. U ­ nder t­ hese circumstances, it is easy to see Novel 9 for what it was: a bald-­faced attempt to win the support of the bishop of Rome prior to Justinian’s annexation (by purchase) or invasion of Italy (both options ­were on the ­table in 535).27 The Novel also has a deliberate chronological dimension. As mentioned above, Justinian became emperor just over fifty years ­after the fall of the western empire in 476. By extending the statute of limitations from thirty years to a ­century, Justinian is ensuring that the Church of Rome ­will not be eco­nom­ically disadvantaged by its time outside the Roman politeia, while continuing to quietly advertise his intention to restore Old Rome to Rome. Novel 9 begins by drawing a parallel between the episcopal authority of con­ temporary Rome and the l­ egal authority of ancient Rome:

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­ arlier Rome received by lot the origin of laws, and t­ here is no one E who would doubt that the bishopric of the highest pontificate is in that city. Therefore, we considered that the fatherland of laws, the font of the priesthood, needed to be made illustrious by a special law of our divine majesty, in order that from this the strength of a most healthful law might be extended into all the catholic Churches, which are located even up to the wash of the ocean. And let our law, which is consecrated to the honor of God, remain in effect wherever possessions belonging to our Churches are found to be located, throughout the ­whole west and also the east, w ­ hether owned 28 now or acquired in the f­ uture. At the outset of the Novel, Justinian articulates a careful formulation that balances the roles and privileges of three major players: the emperor himself, the bishop of Rome, and the city of Rome. To begin with, Justinian restricts his discussion of Rome to “ancient” or “­earlier” Rome (anterior), a specification that preempts any con­temporary claims to authority by the city or its inhabitants by implying that the city has since ceded its position.29 Rome’s ­legal authority was ancient and therefore could not act as a counterweight to the authority of Justinian’s Constantinople. Justinian’s praise is further ­limited to the role the city played in establishing Roman law, which, in the context of an imperial law, implicitly abrogates the rhetorical authority of ancient Rome to the emperor, who is now not in Rome. Justinian pushes this advantage, claiming that the force of his law extends to territories as far as “the wash of the ocean,” an ambiguous phrase that might refer to the Straits of Gibraltar or the En­glish Channel. In the spring of 535, Justinian did not control Rome or any part of Italy, much less the territories he implies with this statement. This claim to ­legal authority is therefore nothing more than a po­liti­cal fiction. Nevertheless, the fiction furthers the rhetorical goals of the Novel and supports the idea that Justinian had inherited both the authority and the geo­graph­i­cal scope of ancient Roman law. Justinian’s self-­presentation ­here fits the pattern seen in ­earlier chapters: the emperor plays to his proven strengths in the rhe­toric of his laws. Just as Justinian’s authority over the imperial administration was supported by his military successes in Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia), so too is his authority over Roman law in Novel 9 (Roman Prescriptions) supported by his l­ egal achievements, in par­tic­u­ lar his codification of Roman law, which had concluded with the publication of the second edition of the Codex late in 534. Justinian’s proactive engagement



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with Roman law is in turn contrasted with the random allotment of l­egal ­authority to Old Rome (sortior), again to the emperor’s advantage. Justinian goes on to create a parallel between the origin of his l­ egal authority and the origin of the bishop of Rome’s episcopal authority, though he places the bishop at a slight disadvantage by introducing the phrase “no one would doubt.” The power differential continues throughout Justinian’s formulation of the bishop’s authority. Justinian begins by acknowledging the primacy of the Roman see, a status the bishops of Rome zealously sought in late antiquity, but only in terms that grant the emperor himself a corresponding ­legal authority that, although more ancient, was grounded in the same logic of Roman origin.30 Justinian thereby adapts the diarchic model, which was pioneered by the bishops of Rome during this same period, in order to neutralize Old Rome by variously co-­opting its ancient ­legal authority and shunting its con­temporary authority into the ecclesiastical sphere. Added to this is the text of the law itself, which offers financial incentives to the Roman Church and implicitly acknowledges Rome’s hegemony over all of the churches in the west. However, this recognition of Roman episcopal authority is balanced out by the unwritten terms of the law. If the bishop of Rome accepts and supports the legality of Novel 9, then he effectively recognizes Justinian’s authority to pass laws concerning Church property and, more perilously in an Italy still ruled by the Gothic court in Ravenna, recognizes Justinian as the legitimate head of the imperial government with ­legal authority in Italy.31 Novel 9 (Roman Prescriptions) is an attempt by Justinian to secure the support, or at least neutrality, of the Roman see at the beginning of his campaign to retake Italy. Justinian makes clear that he would continue to support the primacy of the bishop of Rome, as agreed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and offers financial incentives in order to bring the Church of Rome onside. More materially, however, Justinian also reaffirms the bishop of Rome’s control over the territories in the west, which implicitly includes the island of Sicily (the conquest of which began in the spring of the same year this Novel was issued) as well as the territories directly administered by the Church in Italy.32 In other words, Justinian was offering to allow the bishop of Rome to conduct business as usual, buoyed by the affirmative support and financial assistance of the imperial government of Constantinople. Th ­ ere was, however, a catch. If the bishop of Rome undertook to manage lawsuits according to the terms of the Novel 9, then he accepted that his religious authority was subject to the l­egal authority of the Roman emperor, whose imperial authority was both singular and absolute. The

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chief prelate of the Church would reside in the Old Rome, subordinate to the sole emperor of the Romans in New Rome.33 Justinian’s approach to Rome in Novel 9 (Roman Prescriptions) resembles the judgment of Solomon. The emperor is essentially dividing the legacy of the city into two distinct categories: its ancient role as the m ­ other of laws and therefore imperial government, and its current role as a prominent religious center. Like his division of Roman history into “ancient” and con­temporary periods, the segregation of ancient temporal and con­temporary religious authority allows Justinian to woo an impor­tant ally (and potentially disastrous ­enemy) in his campaign to restore Italy to the empire and forestall any threat Old Rome might pose to the status of Constantinople. Justinian’s careful h ­ andling of Rome is a feature of his Novels in 535. Novel 9 (Roman Prescriptions) appeared on 14 April 535, just over a month before Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia). Novel 24 was the first of Justinian’s laws to draw explicit historical parallels between the con­temporary empire and the expansion Rome experienced during the Republic, yet it too addressed the topic of Rome with care, limiting its comments to Justinian’s goal of “leading antiquity back into the politeia with a greater blossom, and exalting the name of the Romans.”34 As discussed above, Justinian’s “greater blossom” is an allusion to the city of Rome.35 Like Novel 9, Novel 24 temporally sequesters Roman authority. Justinian is interested in restoring “antiquity,” focuses on reviving offices which (he claims) are older even than the consulship and limits his discussion of Roman history to the distant past. All of t­ hese strategies help to prevent con­temporary Rome from operating, at least in the emperor’s rhe­toric, as a potentially destabilizing alternate source of authority, and actively support the proposition that the emperor in Constantinople is the sole legitimate heir of Roman imperialism. ­Later in the Italian campaigns, in November or December of 537, Justinian published another law concerning the imperial administration of the newly annexed territories in the west. Like Novel 9 (Roman Prescriptions), Novel 75 (Appeals from Sicily) survives, and was almost certainly issued, only in the Latin. The Novel o­ rders that appeals from Sicily be directed to Constantinople and the office of the quaestor Tribonian (who wrote the law himself) but not to Rome: The appeal may not be brought to ancient (anterior) Rome nor to any other judge in this royal city, but you yourself w ­ ill hear them in the manner of a sworn witness and w ­ ill resolve the lawsuit.36



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Once again, we see Rome described as anterior alongside another vague reference to the “royal” or “imperial” city. The indefinite pronoun huius might refer back to the city of Rome or to the geo­graph­i­cally nearer city from the emperor’s perspective, which would be Constantinople. Although the former option would be more grammatically correct by the standards of classical Latin, the latter makes significantly more sense ­because the prohibition of appeals to Rome is absolute and requires no further delimiting, whereas the redirection of appeals to Tribonian’s office does not necessarily imply that he must oversee ­these cases personally. The fact that Justinian felt the need to mention Rome at all is itself noteworthy. In the fall and winter of 537, the city of Rome was u­ nder Roman control but still besieged by Gothic forces, which would not depart the city u­ ntil March of 538. Th ­ ere was certainly no immediate risk of Rome usurping Constantinople’s ­legal authority, so Justinian’s reform must be understood to be preemptive. Before the conquest of Italy was even complete, Justinian was reor­ga­niz­ing the administration of Sicily and redirecting it to face Constantinople in order to undercut any potential accumulation of administrative influence in Elder Rome. Justinian’s unwillingness to grant Rome any stake in the governance of ­Sicily outside of episcopal ­matters is a striking testament both to his desire to centralize his authority over his recent conquests and his distrust of Rome. Sicily fell firmly within the Italian sphere of influence and the logistical complications, not to mention expense, of redirecting appeals to Constantinople would have been significant. The reform would also have been humiliating to the power brokers of Rome, like the senate and bishop, to whom the removal of Sicily from their jurisdiction would have appeared as extreme as if Justinian had been forced to yield administrative oversight over the province of Thrace to Rome.37 Novel 75 (Appeals from Sicily) gives the clearest pos­si­ble indication that Justinian was anxious to re­orient the administration of the west t­ oward Constantinople. The Novel’s explicit mention of Rome indicates that Justinian perceived the Eternal City as a potential rival to Constantinople and was keen to anticipate any attempts to create a locus of Roman government in the west. In the Novels published between 535 and 537, Justinian’s desire to isolate Rome manifests in a historical narrative that treats all of the city’s accomplishments as ancient and introduces the discontinuity of decline. Rome could be praised, but only ancient Rome, a city separated from the modern city by the shame of its failure, a product of negligence (rathymia), and by an elastic chronology in which “ancient” Rome could refer to any period prior to Justinian’s reign. Con­temporary

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Rome, meanwhile, was an ecclesiastical seat, not an imperial capital. Even with ­these rhetorical strategies in place, the emperor did not make the city of Rome a focus of his rhe­toric, generally preferring to employ placeless traditions and offices in order to access the legitimizing potential of Roman history. In short, Justinian’s chief strategy for disarming Rome’s disruptive potential was to ignore it, tacitly denying the existence of a locative dimension to Romanness or Roman history. The same strategy was not an option for other writers in the sixth ­century, in par­tic­u­lar Prokopios, whose ­career as Belisarios’ assessor brought him face to face with the ancient Roman homeland and forced him to grapple with the implications of Rome’s return to the Roman empire.

Identity and Po­liti­cal Loyalty in Prokopios Justinian never saw Rome. This was not unusual for an emperor by the sixth ­century, but stands in marked contrast to the experience of Prokopios, who not only marched into Rome with Belisarios in 536, but also endured with his general the siege of the city in 537–38. It is not surprising, therefore, that the city of Rome looms large in Prokopios’ narrative of the Gothic Wars. What is unexpected, however, is the way in which Prokopios pre­sents the attitudes of the Goths and (eastern) Romans t­ oward the city. In the frequent letters and embassies exchanged between the two sides, the Romans u­ nder Belisarios consistently conceptualize the city of Rome as a possession, something to be owned for the sake of owning it. The Goths, meanwhile, understand the city in terms of its inhabitants, rather than its urban structure, and focus on their bonds of loyalty to the Gothic regime established by Theoderic. Bound up in ­these divergent conceptions of the city of Rome are the speakers’ attitudes ­toward the Romanness of the city’s inhabitants. For Belisarios, the only Romans in Rome w ­ ere t­ hose marching ­under Justinian’s banner; for the Goths, on the other hand, the Romanness of the city’s inhabitants was a cornerstone of their historical rhe­toric and their attempts to paint Justinian’s invasion as unwarranted aggression against a Roman polity. It is critical at this juncture to remember that Prokopios is not a ­simple recorder of events, though he would have had unparalleled access to t­ hese exchanges as (and if) they occurred, especially t­ hose of the 530s, due to his position on Belisarios’ staff. In writing his history, Prokopios undertook to frame the events he witnessed according to the standards of classical historiography, in which speeches cannot be assumed to represent what was actually said (though they



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might not diverge too far from real­ity). Instead, speeches functioned as an essential tool with which an author developed characters and themes, and advanced critical issues. Rather than attempt to tease out what was actually said, it is more productive to read Prokopios’ account in the spirit it was written: as an attempt to pre­sent events in Italy, in this case the debates over identity, in a way that responded to the concerns of a Constantinopolitan audience in the late 540s and 550s, one familiar with Justinian’s laws and concerned with the consequences of his policies. Shortly a­ fter Belisarios occupied Rome in 536, he began preparing for a Gothic counterattack. Witnessing ­these preparations, the ­people of Rome, in par­ tic­u­lar the senators, became ner­vous at the prospect of a protracted siege. When rumors of their discontent reached the Gothic king Vittigis, he sent an ambassador named Albis to address Belisarios and the senate in the hopes of stirring up dissension and confusion. Albis’ address is rhetorically ornate, filled with counterbalanced clauses and predicated on an abstract, pseudo-­Aristotelian discussion of the difference between rashness (tharsos) and courage (andreia). When Albis fi­nally comes around to the topic at hand, the impending siege of Rome by the Goths, he frames the question in terms of the p­ eople of Rome rather than the city itself: Therefore, do not prolong any further the suffering of t­ hese Romans, whom Theoderic raised in a life of luxury and freedom, and do not stand in the way of the master of the Goths and Italians. How is it natu­ral for you to hole yourself up in Rome, shutting yourself in and cowering from your enemies, while the king of this city wastes his time on a siege and inflicts the evils of war on his own subjects?38 Although Albis is in Rome to provoke acrimony between Belisarios and the Romans, the way in which he frames the issue of Roman loyalty raises questions about what it means to be Roman in Italy in the 530s and, by extension, what it meant to be Roman in Constantinople in the early 550s when the Wars was published.39 According to Albis, the Romans are simply the inhabitants of Rome and no other group is afforded that title. The remainder of Italy is populated by Goths and Italians, while Belisarios and his army are never given any sort of ethnonym in his speech. In effect, Albis is postulating a post-­Roman world, one in which historical associations m ­ atter not at all, especially compared to more recent allegiances, such as that owed by the inhabitants of Rome to the Goths for their fair and paternalistically indulgent treatment u­ nder Theoderic. By denying

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the existence of any historical or ethnic affinity between Belisarios’ army and the Romans of Old Rome, Albis is able to reframe the question in terms of what the Romans owe the Goths as loyal subjects, even ­going so far as to make clear that Vittigis is being forced now to make war on his own subjects. ­There is nothing particularly surprising about Albis’ rhetorical approach. His goal is to sow dissension, and therefore any reminder of a shared heritage or implicit acknowl­edgment of the Romanness of Belisarios’ army would be counterproductive. What is surprising, however, is the way in which Belisarios responds: In taking Rome we have taken nothing that is not ours, rather it was you who in e­ arlier times seized this city although it did not belong to you. You have now returned the city to its ancient masters, albeit unwillingly. And if any of you hopes to set foot in Rome again without ­battle, he is mad; Belisarios is unable to surrender this city so long as he lives.40 Instead of appealing to a linked past, mutual heritage, or common identity shared by his army and the inhabitants of Rome or rehearsing the rhe­toric of liberation that Justinian sometimes employed in his Novels, Belisarios simply lays claim to the city of Rome as a former imperial possession (just as, for instance, Amalasuintha had previously claimed the city of Lilybaeum in Sicily and protested its seizure by Belisarios in 535).41 Although apparently straightforward, Belisarios’ response in fact has seismic implications for his conception of a common east-­ west Roman identity. Specifically, he makes clear that he does not view the former territories of the western Roman empire as Roman. As far as Belisarios is concerned, Rome is simply an imperial possession, something that belongs to the emperor Justinian b­ ecause it was previously taken from the Roman government unjustly. The inhabitants of the city are nowhere mentioned and, moreover, Belisarios’ contention that the city was not, prior to his arrival, ­under its “ancient masters” implicitly rejects the notion that the senators of Rome, whom Prokopios makes clear w ­ ere pre­sent, in any way represent an arm of Roman government or even the Roman p­ eople; the existence of a Roman senate in Rome does not suffice to make Rome Roman. In fact, Belisarios’ failure to make any mention of the inhabitants of Rome reveals a worldview in which p­ eople are immaterial and cultural, historical, and even ­legal claims are secondary to ­simple owner­ship. By far the most striking implication of Belisarios’ speech is the complete reversal of the orientation of Roman identity. Whereas the authors of the early



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sixth c­ entury, in par­tic­u ­lar Zosimos and Hesychios, had looked to Rome as a source of au­then­tic Romanness, Belisarios, without fanfare or concern, claims owner­ship of Rome by virtue of an axiomatic Romanness that is not shared by the city or its inhabitants. Romanness for Belisarios operates at the level of government, which means that Rome has, in the sixth c­ entury, become a net importer of Roman identity. It is not the populace, the senate, or the monuments that make Rome Roman; rather it is Belisarios’ army which does so by bringing the city once more u­ nder the authority of the Roman emperor, albeit one in the east. Without Justinian, Rome cannot be Roman.42 Although briefly mentioned by Albis, the history of relations between the Romans and the Goths is given fuller attention in a ­later exchange, set in December of 537 and modeled on the Melian Dialogue in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. In the Melian dialogue, the Athenians, who have come to conquer Melos or force its surrender, request a private meeting with the Melian leaders and ask to speak frankly and briefly rather than in the long rhetorical speeches that are typical of diplomatic addresses in Thucydides (and Prokopios). The Athenians immediately make clear that they do not intend to waste time discussing what is just, as they believe that “in ­human reasoning justice arises from common necessity, but when some men have power, they act, and t­ hose without strength acquiesce.” 43 As a result, the Athenians compel the Melians to debate the question of Melian in­de­pen­dence in terms of Athenian advantage, a debate the Melians are bound to lose.44 In Prokopios’ Wars, the Gothic Dialogue is set in a similar context. The Goths, who are besieging Rome, ask for an audience with Belisarios and propose that both sides speak plainly and avoid long speeches, a rule they themselves violate almost immediately.45 However, in introducing this proposal, the Goths make a telling claim: “each of us, having come to experience hardships in our pre­sent conflict, knows that the events of our war have been to neither of our advantage.” 46 Right away, the Goths establish that ­there is parity between the two sides in this negotiation, a feature that sets the Gothic Dialogue in direct opposition to the Melian Dialogue, in which the forces of Athens and Melos ­were in no way commensurate. The Goths then ask to have a discussion based on justice, to which Belisarios agrees, prompting the Goths to rehearse an extensive history of relations between themselves and the emperors of Constantinople.47 Prokopios deliberately invokes the model of the Melian Dialogue, only to turn that model on its head. The two sides of the Gothic Dialogue successfully discuss the owner­ship of Rome using a hermeneutic of justice. The Goths do not

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claim, as they did when represented by Albis, that Rome belongs to them simply ­because they have treated its inhabitants well. Instead, they make the argument that Rome legally belongs to them by virtue of the deal made by the emperor Zeno with Theoderic. Moreover, they say, Justinian has no cause to revoke that owner­ship: We [the Goths] have maintained the laws and the politeia no less than ­those emperors who have ruled in the meantime, and t­ here exists no [newer] written or unwritten law, ­either from Theoderic or any of the ­others who received the command of the Goths ­after him.48 By claiming imperial sanction and adducing evidence of l­egal continuity, the Goths are claiming to still be members of the extended Roman polity, functionally no dif­fer­ent than Belisarios himself. In order to drive this point home, the Goths list all of the ways in which they have not changed the governance of Italy, including respecting non-­Arian Christians, the rights of churches, and even yielding control over the consulship to Constantinople.49 In addition to t­ hese, the Goths mention one additional feature of their rule that bears directly on perceptions of Romanness in the period. According to the Goths, “[the Romans] have continued to hold all of the magistracies of the politeia and no Goth has had a share in them.”50 The Gothic argument is therefore not only that their government is legally and religiously a Roman government operating with complete continuity since the time of Theoderic, but also that it is still staffed exclusively by Romans. The Goths’ insistence that magistracies determine Romanness echoes the premise of Justinian’s reform Novels, while their argument relies upon both an ongoing distinction between Romans and Goths and the Italians being recognized as legitimate Roman subjects. The criteria the Goths outline, therefore, act as a rubric for Romanness. The areas assessed by this rubric are laws, religion, and magistracies, much the same criteria Justinian employs in his Novels. The Goths characterize the dispute between Belisarios and Vittigis as, in essence, a Roman civil war, in which neither side can claim to be more Roman than the other—­a claim Belisarios never attempts to make. The Goths therefore appear to be incorrectly anticipating Belisarios’ arguments while echoing ­those of Justinian. Belisarios’ response to the Goths is as brief and stark as his answer to Albis: The emperor Zeno sent Theoderic to make war on Odoacer not so he could have command of Italy—­why would the emperor be interested



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in exchanging one tyrant for another?—­but in order that Italy might be f­ ree and subject to the emperor.51 Belisarios summarily rejects the proposition that the Gothic government of Italy could be a legitimate Roman government, calling it instead a tyranny, a byword in late antiquity for an illegitimate kingship, and a usurpation of imperial authority. The only criterion on which Belisarios assesses Romanness is submission to the emperor, therefore ­there could never be an in­de­pen­dent Roman government in Italy; the Goths, however Roman their model of rule might be, are rebels against the emperor, and that is all that ­matters. Even a Roman government administered by orthodox, Latin-­speaking Romans (such as the senators of Rome) who hold traditional Roman magistracies would fail the general’s standard of Romanness. Belisarios also repeats his view that Rome (and Italy in general) is a possession, an item to own rather than a group of p­ eople to govern: “I would never betray the emperor’s territory to another.”52 The Gothic Dialogue interrogates the sources of (old) Roman identity in the sixth c­ entury, asking the reader to consider ­whether continuity with the Roman past or po­liti­cal affiliation with the emperor is the defining feature of Roman government in Italy. Can Rome itself be Rome anymore without New Rome, specifically without Justinian? The question is ultimately left unresolved as Belisarios categorically refuses to negotiate further. The dialogue ends with an armistice while an embassy is sent to negotiate with the emperor. Nevertheless, neither side makes reference to the city of Rome as a source of Roman identity. Instead, both discussions of Romanness are predicated on governmental structures and their modalities, which represents a radical shift from discussions of Roman identity current during the reign of Anastasius. According to Prokopios’ narrative, Justinian’s formulation of Roman identity and history in the Novels had become the dominant paradigm, even among the Goths, by 537. We may be skeptical of how much the historical Goths w ­ ere engaging with Justinian’s par­ameters of Romanness, but Prokopios’ discussion nevertheless indicates that the emperor’s formulations w ­ ere a topic of debate among Constantinopolitan social elites in the 550s.

Greeks, Romans, and Monuments ­ fter withstanding the siege of Rome, Belisarios spent the next two years comA pleting the conquest of Italy, culminating in his capture of the Gothic capital at

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Ravenna in the spring of 540. A ­ fter this, the general was recalled to Constantinople in order to or­ga­nize the defense of the eastern frontier, which had been the victim of a devastating Persian campaign. Following Belisarios’ departure, the situation in Italy rapidly deteriorated as a new Gothic king, Totila, began to roll back the Roman conquest. By 544, with a truce on the Persian frontier and ongoing outbreaks of bubonic plague wracking the empire, Belisarios returned to Italy in order to check Totila’s advance. His return, however, was as ignominious as his e­ arlier campaigns had been brilliant. In the words of Prokopios, “not only did [Belisarios] not recover anything of what had been lost, he even lost Rome and all the rest, so to speak.”53 During his account of the loss of Rome, Prokopios reintroduces the topic of Roman identity to his narrative. The question first appears in a letter Totila sends to the senate of Rome during his siege of the city in 543. As with the address of Albis, the letter’s goal is to encourage the senators to defect from the Roman cause and renew their allegiance to the Goths, but, rather than being conciliatory, Totila’s tone is reproachful and he upbraids the Romans for betraying the Goths. In the letter, Totila asks “Did you hear about the excellence of the Greeks [the eastern Romans] t­ oward their subjects or learn of it through trial and therefore thought to hand over the affairs of the Goths and Italians to them?”54 The name Greeks is rendered not in the standard form Hellenes, but through a transliteration of the Latin term Graeci, which indicates that the term ­either is, or is meant to appear to be, a direct quote from the letter, which would have originally been written in Latin. One component of Totila’s reproach of the Romans is that they have betrayed their Gothic masters, who have always treated them well, to mere Greeks. The use of this ethnonym as a pejorative is characteristic of Totila’s rhe­toric and draws on ancient Roman tradition. In fact, of the seven occurrences of the term as a pejorative in the first seven books of the Wars, four are spoken by Totila during the siege of Rome.55 Totila’s use of the term “Greeks” (Graeci/Graikoi) to refer to Justinian’s armies represents the Gothic state’s intensifying efforts to discredit the Romanness of the invaders. Totila first uses this term in his address to the Roman senate; he is attempting to rhetorically undermine the implicit claim of Belisarios’ ­earlier statements and thereby help to distinguish the cause of the inhabitants of Rome from that of Justinian’s armies. He does so by establishing a commonality between himself and the Roman senators on the ­matter of viewing the easterners as “mere Greeks.”56 However, Totila’s attacks on the Roman identity of Justinian’s armies ­were not intended purely for senatorial consumption, but, ac-



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cording to Prokopios’ narrative, ­were a core component of his messaging as king. ­A fter the fall of Rome in 546, Totila warns his own soldiers not to mistreat the (Italian) Romans ­because the Goths’ former setbacks w ­ ere a form of divine punishment for their misdeeds. He drives his point home by highlighting how unlikely their initial loss of Italy was: I say that previously we had assembled as many as two hundred thousand warlike soldiers, and had at our disposal enormous wealth and a surplus of ­horses and arms. Moreover, we boasted a ­g reat host of most prudent elders, which appears to be most useful to t­ hose undertaking a strug­gle. But we ­were overpowered by seven thousand Greeks and we w ­ ere robbed of our kingdom and every­thing ­else against all expectation.57 Once again, Totila uses the pejorative “Greeks,” though this time the emphasis has shifted. He is no longer trying to create divisions among the besieged in Rome, but instead to shame his soldiers into obedience and moderation. The shame of the Goths was not just being defeated by a much smaller force, but the fact that it was a force composed of Greeks, the implication being that they are inferior to other ­peoples, and, in any case, ­were certainly not Romans. The culmination of Totila’s assault on the Roman identity of Justinian’s armies is not reported directly. Prokopios, a­ fter giving a verbatim account of Totila’s speech to his Gothic followers, gives a summary of the speech he addressed to the senate on the occasion of his capture of Rome. Much of Totila’s speech, as summarized by Prokopios, focuses on the same issues that characterized Gothic rhe­toric throughout the Wars, in par­tic­u­lar the fair and beneficent treatment that the Romans received from Theoderic and other Gothic rulers, and the Roman mono­poly on the high offices in the Gothic state. However, at the end of his address, Totila introduces a formulation that completes the logic of his attempts to de-­Romanize the armies of the east: according to Totila, the Romans ­were driven to such an extreme of ingratitude, that they “had brought the Greeks to attack their fatherland and had unexpectedly become traitors to themselves.”58 The language Totila uses to rebuke the senate of Rome is calculated to kindle a sense of identity in the Romans. By making the armies of Justinian out to be foreigners, whose invasion is not a liberation but a subjugation of the Roman homeland, Totila is appealing to a geo­graph­i­cal and cultural identity accessible only to the inhabitants of Rome and, to a lesser extent, other Italians. The Gothic king is encouraging the Romans to think of themselves not simply as the subjects

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of one or another distant ruler, in which case the difference is simply between Ravenna and Constantinople, but to view themselves as active participants in a sovereign government which Justinian has attempted to overthrow. Totila is, in effect, pushing the Romans to embrace a Roman identity based on themselves and constructed in opposition to the identity of Justinian’s armies. A Gothic king is attempting to teach the Romans how to be Romans.59 As startling a reversal of expected roles as Totila’s address is, it ultimately comes to nothing. The senate does not revive itself as a Roman institution nor meaningfully alter its relationship to Totila. Why not? The question is never directly addressed, but a sense for the prob­lems Totila f­ aces in stirring up Roman sentiments among the inhabitants of Rome can be gleaned from a letter sent to him by Belisarios shortly ­after his speech to the senate. The occasion of the letter is intelligence received by Belisarios indicating, correctly, that Totila, angered by the rebellion of the Romans (of Rome) and by the continual irritation caused by the city of Rome, had determined to raze the city and its monuments as retribution. What is startling is that Prokopios rec­ords no attempt by the inhabitants of Rome to prevent this destruction. Admittedly, that does not mean no such intervention was staged, but Prokopios’ decision not to mention it accords with his general pre­sen­ta­tion of the Romans, whose addresses to Belisarios and ­others are mostly concerned with the sufferings they endured during the vari­ous sieges of Rome. In other words, Prokopios’ silence implies a Roman silence; the p­ eople of Rome care so ­little for their own Roman heritage that they w ­ ill not speak up to save it. Belisarios’ letter to Totila breaks the pattern established in his previous communications with the Goths.60 Whereas before Belisarios had been terse and direct, refraining from abstract concepts or flowery language, the letter to Totila on the destruction of Rome pairs the general’s characteristic pragmatism with an extended digression on the majesty of Rome and its continuing importance in the sixth ­century: The work of creating beauty for a city where none was before is the work of men who are prudent and able to live civilized lives, but the destruction of existing beauty befits ignorant men who are not ashamed to leave to a ­future time this token of their nature. Of all the cities that happen to exist u­ nder the sun, Rome is agreed to be the greatest and most remarkable. It was not built by the virtue of a single man, nor did it attain such a degree of greatness and beauty through a short-­lived power, but a host of emperors, many companies of noble



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men, a g­ reat length of time, and an excess of wealth and power ­were able to gather ­there ­every other ­thing from the entire world alongside skilled workmen. In this way, they built the frame for so g­ reat a city, such a city as you now see, ­little by ­little, and they left ­behind for their progeny memorials of the virtue of all men. The result is that any abuse done to this city would be understood to be a ­great injustice against the men of ­every age ­because it would rob our forefathers of the memory of their virtue and the men born a­ fter of the sight of their works.61 The remainder of Belisarios’ speech is a reversion to form; the general explains to Totila that destroying Rome is not in his best interests regardless of w ­ hether he defeats the emperor or not. The opening of Belisarios’ speech, however, is the only explicit description of the role and importance of the city of Rome found anywhere in Prokopios. This is the sum total of attention given to the founding city of the Roman empire. The reason for this surprising absence is immediately apparent from the content of the letter: Rome is a city whose importance is purely historical. Just as Jordanes described Rome as a sepulchral city, one whose inhabitants no longer deserved the title of “Roman,” 62 so too does Belisarios’ letter pre­sent Rome as being ­little more than a museum. In the course of his letter arguing against the destruction of the city, Belisarios does not even allude to the fact that ­there are still p­ eople living in Rome, nor does he imagine any ­future role for the city. Perhaps as l­ ittle as fifty years prior to the publication of the Wars, Zosimos could still imply that the Roman empire could not be Roman without the city of Rome, yet by the early 550s, when Prokopios published his work, it was pos­si­ ble to suggest that Rome was not crucial to e­ ither the success or identity of the Roman empire. Nor did Rome have a f­ uture in that empire outside of its role as a memorial for past deeds, a mere museum of cultural heritage. Belisarios is so absolute in this conviction that he does not even raise the possibility that the city might act as a source of inspiration to ­future generations; instead it is simply a sight (thea), something to be viewed but not considered. In Belisarios’ telling, Rome is a receipt for empire, keeping track of the expenditures and returns of a previous age’s imperial undertakings. Belisarios’ perspective on Rome complements the position he has taken in all of his interactions with the Goths to date, including the position he ultimately takes with Totila. Rome is an object for Belisarios b­ ecause ­there is nothing of value left in Rome save for its objects. The city ultimately (and as Belisarios

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recognized immediately) proves to be indefensible, strategically irrelevant, and generally a distraction from the business of the war. Meanwhile its inhabitants are l­ ittle more than a tactical liability and a drain on supplies; all they do during the (eastern) Roman occupations is whine about food. The failure of Totila’s attempt to rouse a spirit of in­de­pen­dence in the inhabitants of Rome as well as his attempt to delegitimize Justinian’s armies by impeaching their Romanness reflect a new paradigm in Roman identity in the sixth ­century: the Roman empire of Justinian had outgrown its need for Rome, which in any case had nothing to offer Constantinople save for its history. Prokopios’ explicit discussions of Roman identity share a common and frustrating feature: they tell us nothing about Prokopios’ own thoughts. Unlike so many other topics, we cannot turn to the Secret History to find the truth Prokopios could not speak in the Wars; the Secret History is ­silent on the Romanness of Rome. We are left, then, with the words of Belisarios and his Gothic interlocutors, and neither group can be assumed to speak for the author; their rhe­ toric tells us more about the speakers—­the reductive, martial pragmatism of Belisarios or the principled indignation of Totila—­than it does about who is and is not a true Roman. Moreover, we find Prokopios, on this issue, uncharacteristically reticent to attack Justinian’s formulations. The only inversion his account offers is the irony of Belisarios refusing to yield to the emperor’s own logic when it is deployed by the Goths in the Gothic Dialogue. Nevertheless, Prokopios’ apparent agnosticism about Romanness is not the result of disinterest. We find in his account echoes of Justinian’s Novels and Jordanes’ Romana alongside responses to the challenges raised by Zosimos’ New History. To understand Prokopios’ views, we must turn away from speeches about Roman identity in order to examine his narrative of the Roman fall and place it within its sixth-­century context.

Historical Memory and the Fall of Rome In his letter to Totila, Belisarios says that the destruction of Rome and its monuments would be “a g­ reat injustice against the men of e­ very age.” 63 The phrase “­every age” (pas aiōn) would be more literally rendered as “the ­whole of eternity.” Looking backward from that historical moment, the city acts as a testament to the achievements of bygone generations, but looking to the ­f uture, the city of Rome is nothing more than a glorified museum. Belisarios gives no indication at any point in his letter that Rome might one day grow again, might be embel-



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lished with further monuments recalling yet to be accomplished deeds. Rome’s only function, according to Belisarios, is to act as evidence for f­ uture generations of the ­great achievements of the Romans of a previous age. For Belisarios, the age of Elder Rome has ended. The idea that Elder Rome’s history had somehow ended was widespread in the sixth ­century and is an example of a sixth-­century consensus that authorized the historical memory of Rome’s fall.64 The idea appears in a moderate form in Hesychios, who comments on Rome’s limit, and a similar sentiment underlies the narrative of Roman history Justinian develops in his laws. The vague “ancient” period to which Justinian continually refers when discussing Roman history coincides and, by implication, coterminates with the period of Rome’s preeminence. Likewise, Justinian’s narrative of imperial decline caused by rathymia, which is outlined in Novel 30 (Proconsul of Cappadocia), must refer only to the western Roman empire, as the eastern empire had not lost any territory. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Justinian’s official pronouncements are reflected in the attitudes of his leading general, although we must recognize that our Belisarios is ­really Prokopios’ Belisarios. As for Prokopios himself, even though we cannot assume that any character in the Wars speaks for him, t­ here is solid evidence throughout the Wars that Prokopios, in a moment of rare agreement (or at least the absence of active disagreement) with the rhe­toric of Justinian’s regime, shares the views of the emperor and Belisarios. Moreover, key details of Prokopios’ formulation of the end of Roman rule in the west tie him to con­temporary authors, such as Marcellinus comes and Jordanes, the latter of whom was also generally reproachful of Justinian’s regime. Marcellinus’ view can, in turn, be linked to the writings of Zosimos.65 Taken together, the views of ­these fifth-­and sixth-­century authors show the development of a new paradigm in Roman historical memory, one that answered the fundamental questions of the age of Anastasius, provided a direction and justification for Roman foreign policy during the reign of Justinian, and has influenced modern conceptions of Roman history ever since. Belisarios’ belief that the age of Rome had ended does not necessarily reflect that of Prokopios himself, yet Prokopios appears to support this view in his narrative of the fifth ­century. While laying out the background to Justinian’s invasion of Africa in book 3 of the Wars, Prokopios introduces the mid-­fi fth-­century generals and rivals Aetius and Bonifatius: ­ ere ­were two generals of the Romans, Aetius and Bonifatius, both Th exceedingly strong and inferior to no man of their time in their experience of wars. Th ­ ese two men came to disagree po­liti­cally, but

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had reached such a degree of greatness and of ­every virtue that if any man called e­ ither of ­these two the last man among the Romans, he would not be mistaken.66 Prokopios, ­here speaking in his own authorial voice, endorses the view that ­there was a point at which the Romans ceased to produce men of note, giving credit to the idea that t­ here could be, and in fact had once been, a “last man among the Romans.” 67 Who exactly is meant by “the Romans” is unclear from the passage itself, but, given the praise Prokopios heaps upon Belisarios at the opening of book 7 of the Wars, the term is surely not meant to include the eastern Romans. If we exclude the eastern Romans, the remaining possibilities are the western Romans, broadly understood, or just the p­ eople of the city of Rome. While e­ ither is pos­ si­ble, the former option is more likely given that the western empire at this point in Prokopios’ narrative was still ­under a government he recognizes as Roman. Prokopios’ stated ambivalence over w ­ hether Bonifatius or Aetius might be called the last man of the Romans is disingenuous. ­Because Aetius significantly outlived Bonifatius, and governed the Roman state with distinction, defeating Attila in 451 albeit with Visigothic aid, he is certainly more deserving of the title. Moreover, l­ater in the narrative, during his account of the assassination of Valentinian III by Maximus, Prokopios reports that Maximus plotted to have Aetius killed in order to clear the way for the murder of the emperor Valentinian, “giving no thought to the fact that the w ­ hole hope of the Romans rested on that man.” 68 Prokopios’ judgment of Aetius is echoed by another sixth-­century author, Marcellinus comes, whose Chronicon covers the years 378–518 and first appeared during the reign of Justin. Marcellinus l­ater extended his work down to 534, bringing him into the reign of Justinian, at whose court he served as a loyal follower of the emperor.69 In his account of the year 454, the year in which Aetius was killed, Marcellinus reports: Aetius, the g­ reat welfare of the western respublica and the terror of king Attila, was butchered in the palace along with his friend Boethius by the emperor Valentinian [III]. The western empire fell along with this man, and to date it has not been strong enough to be raised again.70 Marcellinus’ description of Aetius’ death alludes to the traditional Roman greeting (salve) and farewell (vale), which are etymologically related to his term for



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welfare (salus) and the verb “to have strength” (valeo). Not only do t­ hese two words bookend this entry, they also resemble the famous funerary address in Catullus 101, salve atque vale, reinforcing the funereal note of the entry. H ­ ere they are applied to the empire as a w ­ hole rather than to a single man. Just as Catullus was addressing his ­brother’s ashes (located, like Constantinople, near Troy), so too Marcellinus, by his own description, is addressing the fallen western empire. Marcellinus also introduces an ele­ment of Christian doctrine into his description. The verb for “to fall” (cado) is a common euphemism for death, an ambiguity which allows the word to apply to both Aetius and the western empire, while the verb “to rise again” (relevo) has obvious parallels in the New Testament account of the life of Christ. Marcellinus’ brief entry for 454 is therefore loaded with Christian and poetic language describing the death of Aetius and simultaneous fall of the western Roman empire, but allowing for the possibility that that empire ­will rise again. This can be seen as an early draft of Justinian’s messaging on the western empire and an approach that was subsequently abandoned in order to avoid the implications of a renewed western Roman empire. The similarity between the descriptions found in Marcellinus and Prokopios raises the possibility that the two w ­ ere working from a common source or tradition, yet this would not change the fact that both authors accepted and reproduced the same view, the critical criterion in assessing social memory.71 Regardless of where the idea came from, its ac­cep­tance by two authors who occupied opposite ends of the po­liti­cal spectrum (in terms of their view of Justinian and his proj­ects) and wrote in vastly dif­f er­ent traditions (Latin chronicle versus classicizing Greek history) indicates how widespread and popu­lar this view was in the sixth-­century east. Marcellinus’ formulation also echoes that of another roughly con­temporary author, Zosimos. As discussed above, Zosimos’ New History was not a fundamentally pessimistic work, b­ ecause it allowed for the possibility that the Roman empire might recover the support of the gods through the revival of traditional Roman festivals. Similarly, Marcellinus’ description of the fall of the western Roman empire allows for the possibility that it may be recovered by claiming only that it has “not yet” had the strength to revive itself. The religious overtones in Marcellinus’ account likewise allow for discontinuities in the pro­cess of Roman revival; Christ was dead for three days before his resurrection. ­Here Marcellinus, though in agreement with Zosimos, diverges from Prokopios, who never describes Justinian’s reconquests as a revival of the western Roman empire. Nor, for that ­matter, did the emperor. Prokopios’ and Marcellinus’ views of Aetius are similar to ­those of Jordanes. In his Getica, Jordanes devotes a ­great deal of attention to the defeat of Attila in

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451 by a combined Roman-­Gothic army u­ nder the leadership of Aetius and the Visigothic king Theoderic (not to be confused with the Ostrogothic king of the same name who ruled Italy in the late fifth and early sixth centuries).72 Jordanes describes Aetius as a man who “endured warlike ­labors and had been born solely for the benefit of the Roman respublica,”73 a man “upon whom the respublica of the western territory then rested.”74 Jordanes’ praise of Aetius’ generalship echoes Prokopios’ description of the general as experienced in war, while his image of the entire western empire depending on Aetius mirrors the sentiment found in both Marcellinus and Prokopios. Jordanes can therefore be included among the chorus of sixth-­century historians who believed Aetius to be a central figure in the history of the western empire, one whose death presaged the end of the west. The death of Aetius is not the only point at which Marcellinus discusses the fall of the western Roman empire. He brings up the topic again in his account of 476, making him the earliest extant author to identify that date and the deposition of Romulus Augustulus as the definitive end of the western empire: The western empire of the Roman p­ eople, over which Octavian Augustus, first of the Augusti, assumed control seven hundred and nine years ­after the founding of the city, perished along with this Augustulus in the five hundred and twenty-­second year of the reign of the succeeding emperors. Thereafter, the kings of the Goths held Rome.75 According to Marcellinus, the western Roman empire suffered two deaths, the death of its hope of survival in 454 and the termination of the line of emperors who had succeeded Augustus in 476. The prospect of Roman revival, which was pre­sent in Marcellinus’ account of 454, is absent from his description of 476. Marcellinus goes to ­great lengths to emphasize the finality of 476, beginning with his decision to end the history of the western empire with the deposition of Romulus Augustulus rather than the death of Julius Nepos in 480, another (deposed) emperor of the period. The sense of finality is developed by the closing ablative absolute—­“ Thereafter, the kings of the Goths held Rome”—­which echoes the definitive brevity of Tacitus’ history of constitutional forms in the opening of the Annales.76 It should be noted that the emphasis Marcellinus places on this date does not mean that he was attempting to “manufacture” a turning point out of w ­ hole cloth.77 The deposition of Romulus Augustulus and the subsequent transition to Gothic rule in Italy was recognized as a watershed by writers of both the fifth and sixth centuries, even if its precise chronology and import



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continued to be debated and refined throughout the period. The choice of 476 does, however, allow Marcellinus to establish a pleasing symmetry, one that writers discussing the fall of Rome have enjoyed ever since, between the founder of the city of Rome, Romulus, the founder of the imperial system, Augustus, and the last emperor, Romulus Augustulus (a diminutive form of Augustus that literally means “­little Augustus”). Marcellinus also belabors the dating of the event, counting the years from the founding of the city (by Romulus) to Augustus and then from Augustus to Augustulus.78 In the context of a chronicle, a genre and format in which preeminent importance is attached to dating, this emphasis underscores the seriousness of the moment in a way not paralleled in Marcellinus’ description of Aetius’ death. Fi­nally, in another moment of sympathy with Prokopios’ history, Marcellinus makes a clear distinction between the existence of the western empire and mere control of the city of Rome by juxtaposing the end of the empire with the Gothic occupation of Rome. Marcellinus’ description of 476 is echoed, in fact copied nearly verbatim, by Jordanes in both his Romana and Getica.79 Jordanes’ account in the Getica is identical to that found in Marcellinus save for the addition of the phrase sic quoque at the beginning and the addition of prodecessorum, to clarify and expand Marcellinus’ decessorum, which is common to both accounts.80 Neither of ­these modifications significantly changes the meaning of the sentence, though the addition of the word prodecessorum is echoed in Theoderic’s speech to Zeno shortly beforehand, thereby linking the deposition of Romulus Augustulus to Theoderic’s “liberation” of Italy.81 In his Romana, however, Jordanes describes the fall of the western empire in 476 by using the same words as in the Getica save that he has removed the word prodecessorum and added the claim that not only the western empire, but also the principatus of the Roman ­people ended in 476.82 The term principatus in this context is polyvalent. In a literal sense, the term refers to the end of the principate or the imperial office in the West, reinforcing both the finality of the event and the dating scheme based on the foundation of the imperial office by Augustus. However, principatus may also be read as “leadership” or “primacy,” a reading that would indicate that the inhabitants of Rome lost their primacy of status within the Roman world. Like the literal meaning, this reading is confirmed by other information in the entry, specifically the closing comment on the Gothic occupation of Rome that Jordanes shares with Marcellinus. Moreover, this reading accords with the description of Rome Jordanes relates during his narrative of Belisarios’ Italian campaigns, in which Rome is described as a graveyard and its p­ eople and senate as unworthy of the Roman

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name. Jordanes’ narrative of 476 and his declaration that the city of Rome and its inhabitants have lost their preeminence thus fit seamlessly into the author’s larger narrative of Roman decline and his view of the city of Rome in the sixth ­century. If we accept that Jordanes views the western empire as conterminal with the end of the special prestige traditionally afforded to Elder Rome, then his views are even more closely aligned with t­ hose of Prokopios than previously realized. As discussed above, both Prokopios and Jordanes pre­sent the city of Rome in the sixth c­ entury as ­little more than a historical marker, though they differ slightly in their emphasis, and Prokopios places this sentiment in a letter of Belisarios. The two also share a high regard for the abilities of Aetius. The number and specificity of ­these similarities strongly suggest that Jordanes and Prokopios belonged to a common intellectual movement in sixth-­century Constantinople, seeing as they ­were both writing histories of the same con­temporary events at the exact same time, in the same city, and both had been secretaries of Balkan generals in the course of their professional c­ areers. It is pos­si­ble, in fact likely, that the two ­either knew one another or ­were familiar with one another’s work.83 In any case, they align more closely and consistently than Jordanes does with Marcellinus, with whom he is most often connected on account of the shared language and genre of the Chronicon and Romana, as well as the shared language in the Chronicon and Getica. Although Prokopios, Jordanes, and Marcellinus are in general agreement about the importance of Aetius, Prokopios diverges from the other two authors in his portrayal of the “fall” of the western Roman empire. Jordanes and Marcellinus make clear that the fall occurred when Romulus Augustulus was deposed by Odoacer, but Prokopios pre­sents this as a brief interregnum of the sort that had become common in the fifth-­century west. Prokopios’ account of this period is divided between two dif­fer­ent books of the Wars owing to his unusual arrangement of material by military theater rather than chronology. In book 3 of the Wars, during the narrative run-up to the Vandal War in Africa, Prokopios’ narrative follows events in Italy through the appointment of Romulus Augustulus, whom he calls simply Augustus, moving quickly through the reigns of Majorianus, Nepos, and Glycerius. Once he has done so, Prokopios makes a pointed comment about the imperial confusion that prevailed during this period: ­ ere had, however, been other emperors before this in the West, Th whose names, though I know them thoroughly, I do not consider



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worth mentioning at all. For it happens that they survived only a short time on the throne and as a result have done nothing worth mentioning.84 Prokopios’ refusal to comment on the other western emperors gives the impression of a highly destabilized po­liti­cal situation in the western Roman empire of the late fifth c­ entury. That impression is completely correct; western emperors during this period had a remarkably short shelf life. The chaos Prokopios describes and implies through this comment undermines the distinctiveness of the interregnum that follows the deposition of Romulus Augustulus, setting a pre­ce­dent for viewing his deposition not as the culminating event of a western Roman “fall,” but as simply another in the long series of abortive reigns that characterized western imperial politics in the fifth ­century. Prokopios’ narrative of Italian events breaks off with Augustulus, only to be picked up three books ­later in the opening of his account of the Gothic Wars in Italy. But where Marcellinus and Jordanes pause their narratives following the deposition in 476 in order to mark the passing of the western Roman empire, Prokopios’ pre­sen­ta­tion of the event is understated to the point of anticlimax. ­A fter describing how Odoacer came to power by promising land to his barbarian soldiers, Prokopios says simply “having gained the tyranny in this way, [Odoacer] committed no further evil against the emperor, but permitted him to live out the remainder of his life in the manner of a private citizen.”85 This description encodes a stark contrast between the legitimate l­egal power held by Augustulus (basileus) and the illegitimate power held by Odoacer (tyrannis). But illegitimacy is not the same ­thing as discontinuity. Odoacer’s tyranny can be understood as an illegitimate but nonetheless real imperial position, such as had been held by any number of imperial usurpers in the centuries since Augustus. In any case, the event is quickly and unceremoniously passed over in order to introduce the character of Theoderic. Theoderic’s campaigns against and eventual assassination of Odoacer are treated with similar brevity. The narrative only pauses once Theoderic gains sole rule over Italy, and, even then, it is not to commemorate the passing of the western empire, but to make clear that Theoderic was, if not in name then in practice, a Roman emperor, and a damn good one at that.86 In Prokopios’ narrative Theoderic is for all intents and purposes a Roman emperor, a fact that strips the events of 476 of any importance. The deposition of Romulus Augustulus was simply another in a long series of imperial depositions that characterized the fifth c­ entury in Italy and came to an end with Theoderic,

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who ruled for thirty-­seven peaceful and prosperous years. What makes Prokopios’ depiction of Theoderic even more ironic is the fact that he praises the Gothic king for many of the qualities he criticizes Justinian for lacking, in par­ tic­u­lar re­spect for the law. Theoderic was not only a Roman emperor, he was a better Roman emperor than Justinian. Although Prokopios’ account of Augustulus’ deposition breaks the pattern established in Marcellinus and Jordanes, the specificity with which his account ­counters the narrative set forth in t­ hose authors suggests that Prokopios was aware of and likely responding to historical accounts of a Roman fall in 476. To begin with, Prokopios makes a point of dividing his two Italian narratives with Augustulus. ­There is nothing in his account of western Roman history in book 3 that requires him to mention the rulers that followed Majorianus, yet he makes a point of bringing his narrative down to Augustulus and emphasizing the disorder that reigned during that period. As argued above, this narrative undercuts any attempt to make a single imperial deposition, of which ­there ­were so many in such quick succession, epochal. Likewise, when Prokopios takes up the narrative again in book 5, he makes a point of mentioning the fact that, despite being a usurper, Odoacer ruled “most securely” (bebaiotata) for ten years, a fact that contrasts starkly with the chaos that had previously prevailed in Italy. Moreover, Prokopios’ insistence that Theoderic was functionally an emperor, a conceit which was not shared even by Jordanes, Theoderic’s most avid apologist in sixth-­ century Constantinople, logically undercuts any attempt to elevate the events of 476 to epochal status. The character of Theoderic is critical h ­ ere both b­ ecause it plays into subsequent events in Prokopios’ narrative, in par­tic­u­lar the constant appeal in Gothic rhe­toric to the peace and prosperity Theoderic brought to the Romans and Italians, and also ­because it raises complicated questions about what Prokopios understood Romanness to be. If Theoderic could become a de facto Roman emperor by ruling well and, crucially, in accordance with Roman law (a point also raised by the Goths during the Gothic Dialogue discussed above), then it stands to reason that anyone who ruled in the same manner could attain the same status. Conversely, it would theoretically be pos­si­ble for an emperor, by not respecting the law, to lose his legitimacy both as an emperor and as a Roman. Therefore, submission to the emperor, which was the single criterion for Romanness in the view of Belisarios (at least in Prokopios’ narrative), was not only meaningless in itself, but even self-­defeating if the emperor in question was the sort of innovator Prokopios accuses Justinian of being in his Secret History. Prokopios’ view of the Romanness of the former western Romans is therefore revealed to be a



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tertium quid, it was neither axiomatic by virtue of geography and history nor dependent on submission to the emperor, but instead depended on the existence of proper Roman government. Prokopios’ own view therefore appears to most closely approximate that of the Goths in the Gothic Dialogue, though with the critical caveat that the Goths could claim only the form of proper Roman government. The privileging of government as a defining feature of Romanness was as old as the imperial government itself, finding its clearest early articulation in Anchises’ famous address to Aeneas in Aeneid 6.87 In the sixth c­ entury, this idea links Prokopios to Lydos’ formulation of the imperial office and ­legal kingship, while the distinction between the government (politeia/respublica) and the emperor is likewise found in Jordanes, as is the dilemma of Belisarios’ loyalty to a bad emperor. Jordanes, like Prokopios, took an extremely positive view of the Gothic king Theoderic, papering over the often contentious and hostile relationship between Theoderic and the emperor Zeno in his Getica and Romana. In fact, Jordanes invents an address by Theoderic to Zeno asking for permission to serve the emperor by conquering Italy on his behalf.88 This is an inversion of Prokopios’ narrative, in which Zeno, ever a crafty politician, uses the conquest of Italy as a con­ve­nient way to rid himself of the troublesome Theoderic. However, Jordanes stops short of ever comparing Theoderic to an emperor, though he does belabor his status as consul and dramatize his loyal subordination to Zeno. The specificity with which the accounts of Jordanes and Prokopios invert one another can be traced back to the logic of their depictions of 476. In order for the western Roman empire to fall in 476, Jordanes cannot allow Theoderic to be anything more than a loyal vassal; any hint of his functioning as an au­then­tic Roman emperor would undermine the finality of Augustulus’ deposition. The reverse was true for Prokopios. The dif­fer­ent emphases we see in the two men’s accounts of Theoderic’s reign and his relationship to Zeno, despite the fact that both authors praise the Gothic king, can be traced back to their differing readings of the events of 476 and their dif­fer­ent assessments of a postulated Roman fall.

The Sixth-­Century Consensus The experiments of the age of Anastasius contained the seeds of a new confidence that emerged in the age of Justinian. As we saw in the first two chapters, writers ­under Anastasius strug­gled to come to grips with the hole in the fabric of Roman identity left by the loss of the city of Rome in the fifth c­ entury and the vari­ous

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Isaurian crises that plagued the eastern Roman empire from the accession of Zeno through Anastasius’ triumph over Isauria in 497. The loss of Rome affected dif­ fer­ent writers in dif­fer­ent ways, prompting Zosimos to consider the (in his formulation) irreplaceable role Rome played in Roman religion, while Hesychios and Christodoros sought to manufacture new or adapted Roman narratives to replace the now defunct Romano-­Trojan tradition that had predominated at least since Vergil’s Aeneid. Although Zosimos’ New History allowed for no successful Roman state without the city of Rome and its attendant pagan religious festivals, both Hesychios and Christodoros i­magined an in­de­pen­dent f­ uture and Roman identity for the empire of Constantinople, one predicated on revised narratives of the Roman past. Of the two, Hesychios was the more conservative and built his conception of New Rome on analogy to Old Rome, implicitly acknowledging the primacy of the elder city and its history. Yet even he prefaces his discussion of Constantinople by saying that the new city had been built only ­after “the affairs of [Elder Rome] had already reached their limit.”89 Hesychios’ assertion of Rome’s limit, the natu­ral terminus of its life cycle, accords with the opinions of other writers dating at least as far back as Florus in the second c­ entury and continuing through Ammianus Marcellinus in the late fourth, both of whom claimed that the city had progressed into its senescence with the advent of the emperors.90 The idea that Rome might become obsolete was therefore already pre­sent when, in the fifth ­century, the city yet again ceased to function as the capital of the western Roman empire. In­de­pen­dent of any notion of a fall, the transfer of government from the Eternal City to Ravenna, a gradual pro­cess but one that was firmly entrenched by the reign of Theoderic, marked the end of Rome’s relevance as an imperial center in late antiquity. Although it would remain active in ecclesiastical affairs, the view from Constantinople encouraged formulations such as that of Hesychios.91 What emerges from the accounts of ­these sixth-­century writers and their fifth-­century antecedents is a coherent portrait of the matrix of historical thought that began to take shape in Constantinople in the late fifth ­century and had developed, almost to the point of codification in certain circles, by the 550s. As mentioned above, the terms of this discussion appear to have crossed po­liti­cal factions, incorporating authors who supported Justinian as well as ­those who despised him or never lived to see his reign. We may therefore reasonably challenge the notion that the fall of the western Roman empire was viewed as a non-­event by its contemporaries and developed into a model of historiography



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only as a result of the efforts of Edward Gibbon.92 The paradigm of the fall of the western Roman empire was developed in the eastern Roman empire at least in part as a response to the uncertainties of the age of Anastasius and matured in the context of Justinian’s campaigns of reconquest.93 If it was the court of Justinian, in par­tic­u­lar Marcellinus comes, that first dated the fall to 476, it was able to do so ­because Constantinopolitan historical memory had already accepted the fundamental premise that the eastern empire now stood alone. And, credit where it is due, 476 turned out to be a good choice. The date was explic­ itly accepted by Jordanes, and even Prokopios, Justinian’s most trenchant critic, offered only understated ambivalence in his narrative of the fifth ­century. Meanwhile, he quietly endorsed 476 in his reckoning of the imperial interregnum that ended with Belisarios’ entry to Rome in 536.94 By recognizing the par­ameters of the historical model for the decline and fall of the western Roman empire current in the sixth c­ entury, it becomes pos­si­ ble to situate Justinian’s use of Roman history within its broader intellectual context. Far from making bland and vague statements concerning the “ancient” Romans, Justinian’s laws ­were actively engaging with con­temporary debates about the c­ auses and implications of western Roman decline. Justinian’s decision to gate the majority of Roman history b­ ehind an elastic conception of an “ancient period” was an attempt to create historical space between his regime and the widely perceived collapse of its elder and more prestigious m ­ other empire. U ­ nder t­ hese circumstances Belisarios’ comment in his letter to Totila about the historical period in which Rome was made g­ reat can be seen for what it is: a careful rehearsal of an official or semi-­official party line, which was put into Belisarios’ mouth by Prokopios, himself a keen observer and manipulator of imperial rhe­toric. It is not surprising that u­ nder t­ hese circumstances, the city of Rome became a lightning rod for discussions of Romanness, the politics of Justinian’s reconquest, and the history of the western Roman empire. The city of Rome stood apart from the po­liti­cal circumstances in Italy in the sixth c­ entury, and the magnificence of its monuments, something no sixth-­century author denies, ­were an uncomfortable reminder of both the status of the city and the fragility of empire. It was crucial for writers who did not accept the Romanness of the Italians living ­under the Goths to disarm the city of Rome, to render its monuments and historical associations somehow inert or backward facing. Justinian achieved this by restricting the city’s glories to the past, while Jordanes and Prokopios used the city’s monuments, as well as the fecklessness of its current inhabitants, against it. Jordanes went even further and, along with Marcellinus, accepted that Roman

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government had ended in the western Roman empire in 476. Nevertheless, both men still felt compelled to comment specifically, even in their aggressively abbreviated histories, on the fate of the city of Rome. The confidence of the age of Justinian begs the question: what had changed between 10 April 491, when the p­ eople of Constantinople demanded a true ­Roman for the empire, and the 550s, when the works of Prokopios, Jordanes, and Lydos appeared and challenged the historical narrative of the Novels? The ­simple answer is that the Romans of Constantinople came to understand themselves as Roman in­de­pen­dent of, and in fact in opposition to, the Romans of the west. It would be reductive to lay this sea change in Roman attitudes solely at the feet of poets and historians, even ­those who wore a diadem. The defeat of the Isaurians, the years of internal stability that followed Zeno’s death, the rise of a Latin-­ speaking Illyrian dynasty, the reconquest of Africa and Italy, and a campaign of imperial propaganda, whose shape is only partially recoverable, all had their role to play. Nevertheless, it was t­ hese poets and historians whose writings established the par­ameters and normative narratives upon which this new confidence was founded.

chapter 6

Apostolic History and the Church of (New) Rome

The previous chapters of this book have addressed how the Romanness of the eastern Roman empire was debated, constructed, and developed by historians, poets, and emperors in the wake of the fall of the western empire. Not all of ­these authors agreed with one another, in fact the previous three chapters have focused on the disagreements between Justinian’s regime and its critics. Nonetheless, all of ­these authors played an active role in defining the nature of the eastern Roman empire, its Romanness, and its po­liti­cal circumstances through their use of historical and mythistorical narratives. They ­were engaged in the same proj­ect, but to dif­fer­ent ends. This chapter ­w ill examine a parallel set of debates over Romanness in which that was not the case. Instead of fundamentally agreeing on the terms of the debate and, ultimately, accessing and developing a shared pool of historical narratives to meet their concerns, the authors discussed in this chapter avoided shared historical conceptions and ultimately destroyed the possibility of a m ­ iddle ground. The result was a form of rhetorical and historical trench warfare, in which the vari­ous sides developed ever more sophisticated ideological systems on the backs of irreconcilable historical narratives ­until resolution could be achieved only by the forcible capitulation of one side. Thus, this chapter offers a useful comparandum for the nature and use of historical memory during this period by examining debates that employed not simply divergent, but inimical and exclusive worldviews. The crux of the issue was a ­simple question: should narratives of ecclesiastical Romanness be premised on sacred history, as the bishops of Rome insisted, or secular imperial history, as the emperors of Constantinople argued? We see ­here evidence of the road not taken by the Constantinopolitan authors of the sixth c­ entury,

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whose disagreements with Justinian manifested as arguments over the proper interpretation of a shared historical framework rather than as attempts to reject that framework w ­ holesale. At issue in ­these debates was the status of the Church of Constantinople, or New Rome. The see of a new city, Constantinople lacked the deep history, in par­tic­u­lar Christian history, of other major episcopal centers such as Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, which w ­ ere, in that order, the highest-­ranking Christian Churches at the time. What Constantinople lacked in history, though, it made up for in con­temporary po­liti­cal relevance. As the capital of the increasingly sedentary eastern Roman emperors, it was natu­ral for Constantinople and its bishop to seek higher se­niority. The pro­cess of formalizing the status of Constantinople began at the Council of Constantinople in 381, when, ­under the auspices of Theodosius I (r. 379–95), the city’s Church was promoted to second-­place status ­after Rome. However, Rome rejected this outcome and refused to communicate the decision to the western bishops, so it came as something of a surprise to the Roman see when, at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the issue was raised again.1 What followed was more than a ­century of disagreement between the Church of Rome and the eastern court. From the outset, both sides seized upon historical narratives in order to justify their ac­cep­tance or rejection of the new ranking of episcopal sees, and it is on t­ hese narratives and the ideological systems that evolved out of them that we w ­ ill focus h ­ ere.

The End of the Debate By 545 Justinian was done debating. Negotiations between the emperor in Constantinople and the bishop of Rome over Church affairs had been a continuous source of contention for him since the earliest years of the reign of his u­ ncle Justin, when the new regime in Constantinople sought to repair the Acacian schism, an ecclesiastical rift between Rome and Constantinople that had begun during the reign of Zeno.2 Justinian himself was party to ­those discussions, and had continuously sought the support and approval of the bishop of Rome ever since. Nevertheless, by 545 Justinian’s already long reign had witnessed repeated failures in his attempts to reunify the Church and heal the divides that had followed the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Unable to accomplish his goals through diplomacy, Justinian turned instead to the force of law and, eventually, of arms. On 18 March 545, he published Novel 131 (Church Canons and Standing) resolving by fiat the issues that had divided Rome and Constantinople for almost a c­ entury.



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Novel 131 was a sweeping attempt to subsume Justinian’s preferred interpretations and arrangements of canon law into the larger system of Roman law, essentially formalizing the long-­standing real­ity of Roman imperial control over Church affairs. Without preamble, the law set down which Church Councils would be binding (Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus I, and Chalcedon), ­under the imperial profession that “we guard the canons as [if they ­were] laws.”3 Justinian went on to define the order of ecclesiastical se­niority: Therefore, we decree in accordance with the definitions of t­ hese councils that the most holy pope of Elder Rome is the first of all the priests, that the most blessed archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, should hold the second place ­after the most holy apostolic see of Elder Rome, but that [he] precedes all ­others in honor.4 Justinian also delineated the jurisdiction of the archbishop of his home village of Tauresium, which he had refounded as Justiniana Prima, promoting its bishop while placing him ­under the supervision of the bishop of Rome, and confirmed the parallel rights of the bishop of Carthage, which he had renamed Justinianic Carthage, over the North African Church.5 No mention is made in the Novel of the status of Alexandria and Antioch, though they likely would have stood ­after Constantinople in the east. In fact, it appears that Justinian’s intent was to establish a parallel system of ecclesiastical preeminence in both the east and west, with Constantinople overseeing Alexandria and Antioch, while Rome took charge of Justiniana Prima and Carthage.6 ­A fter giving the force of law to the canons and establishing the ranks of the Churches, Justinian spent the rest of the Novel standardizing the management of churches and Church property. At first glance, Novel 131 (Church Canons and Standing) appears to be ­little more than yet another Justinianic law dealing with the organ­ization and administration of the Church, a topic to which Justinian devoted considerable attention during his reign. But the significance of the Novel was far greater. Not only was Justinian attempting to rewrite the ecclesiastical map of the Roman world through the promotion of Carthage and Justiniana Prima and the implicit demotion of Antioch and Alexandria, he was also putting to bed (or so he thought) a long-­r unning debate over the nature of the relationship between the sees of Rome and Constantinople, a debate with power­ful implications for the nature and extent of Roman imperial control over Church affairs and the standing of the eastern empire in a world without a western empire. Novel 131 marked the temporary end of an interconnected set of debates that had begun at the Council

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of Chalcedon in 451, when, ­under the emperor Marcian and Anatolios, the bishop of Constantinople, the synod had attempted to make Constantinople the second see of the Roman world, placing it ahead of Alexandria and Antioch. This decision of the council, the so-­called 28th Canon of Chalcedon, kicked off a ­century of arguments between Rome and Constantinople, which are reflected in the extant letters of the bishops of Rome, beginning with Leo I immediately following Chalcedon in 451 and concluding with a letter of Vigilius in 553, which, written in the aftermath of Justinian’s unilateral solution to the issue, essentially surrendered the Roman position on Constantinople’s status. Throughout ­these letters, figures on both sides repeatedly used history to buttress their positions. The historical narratives initially marshaled in ­favor of ­either position w ­ ere, over time, subsumed into larger ideological systems. This pro­cess, documented in the letters of the bishops of Rome and their correspondents in Constantinople and elsewhere, allows us to study the role of two opposed but stable historical narratives about preeminence in the Roman world as evolving ideological systems. Even more compelling, however, is the background against which this pro­cess took place: the end of the western Roman empire, the reign of Odoacer, the rise of the Ostrogothic kingdom, and Justinian’s reconquest— in other words, precisely the period we have examined so far. Unlike our more traditional historical sources, the preservation of the letters of many bishops of Rome in medieval collections, such as the Collectio Avellana, makes it pos­si­ble to trace ­these debates continuously through an other­w ise poorly documented period, and from a western perspective no less.7 The debates between Rome and Constantinople therefore preserve evidence of attitudes in the west ­toward the eastern empire, and vice versa, during a critical moment of po­liti­cal transition, when power moved from west to east. The politics of Christian and Roman memory are therefore a win­dow into the real-­time evolution of rhetorical and historical narratives in response to the fall of the western empire. Despite the size of the extant corpus of ecclesiastical correspondence, our evidence suffers from significant limitations. The corpora w ­ ere largely the creation of ninth-­century Carolingian editors, whose agenda, methods, and original sources have received l­ imited attention, despite the critical role they play in shaping our histories of the Church during this period.8 The intervention of ­these editors and compilers is relevant to the current discussion b­ ecause the Carolingian regime was not innocent in the proj­ect of re-­Romanizing the post-­imperial west.9 Due to ­these medieval editors, the most forceful letters written by eastern emperors to Roman bishops do not survive. We have, for instance, no imperial



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letters from Zeno and Anastasius during the Acacian schism, though traces of their anger at the Roman see can be found in the responses of the Roman bishops. By contrast, the conciliatory and obsequious rhe­toric of the eastern court following the end of the Acacian schism is documented at length, with even the letters of lesser figures surviving. Nevertheless, the responses of the bishops of Rome preserve the shadow of the rhe­toric employed by the court in Constantinople, and as such the broad outline of the Constantinopolitan position can be reconstructed with reasonable confidence by reading against the Roman texts. This chapter w ­ ill trace the evolving rhe­toric of the Roman see from the immediate aftermath of Chalcedon in 451 to the capitulation of Vigilius in 553. It is not pos­si­ble to touch on all aspects of Roman ecclesiastical rhe­toric during this period, so this survey ­will focus on three key topics based on the issues that are at the heart of Novel 131 and related to the larger argument of the monograph. ­These are (1) the historical narratives deployed by bishops and emperors, (2) the responses of both the bishop of Rome and the eastern court to con­temporary po­ liti­cal developments, and (3) the role that t­ hose narratives played in developing and structuring ­these responses.

The Shadow of Chalcedon The Council of Chalcedon (451) falls outside of the chronological scope of this book. Nevertheless, the dispute that arose ­after the council, as Leo I, bishop of Rome, and the eastern court staked out their positions on the 28th Canon, ­established the patterns that this chapter ­w ill trace through the subsequent ­century. By examining the letters that followed Chalcedon, we come to realize that Justinian’s mention of Old and New Rome in Novel 131 (Church Canons and Standing) was not an idle turn of phrase, but rather an authorization of a specific historical narrative within a dispute that had developed over the previous ­century. The 28th Canon was debated at the sixteenth session of Chalcedon and concerned the ranking of ecclesiastical sees. Following the Council of Nicaea, the three most prestigious Christian Churches ­were, in order, Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. In the roughly 125 years that elapsed between Nicaea and Chalcedon, however, the city of Constantinople had become a permanent imperial residence and the capital of a functionally in­de­pen­dent eastern Roman empire; naturally, it wanted a promotion. The bishops at Chalcedon, who ­were drawn primarily from the eastern empire, argued for the promotion of Constantinople on the grounds that the city had already been promoted at the Council of Constantinople in 381,

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though documentation of that promotion had never been distributed in the west.10 Facing opposition from the Roman del­e­ga­tion, the question was opened at the sixteenth session: the bishops approved the resolution, while the Roman del­e­ ga­tion noted its objections.11 With that, the debate over the status of Constantinople moved into the realm of negotiations between the eastern court and the bishop of Rome, where it remained u­ ntil the reign of Justinian. Anticipating Leo’s re­sis­tance, the eastern court dispatched three letters in late 451, one from the bishops assembled at Chalcedon, another from the emperor Marcian, and a final letter from Anatolios, the bishop of Constantinople.12 Although each of ­these letters put a unique spin on the question, they ­were consistent in following the language and logic of the proposal that had been placed before the Council, which argued for promoting Constantinople on the basis of imperial criteria and retroactively assigned primacy to Rome on the same basis; in fact, the latter move facilitated the former:13 The F ­ athers fittingly bestowed se­niority (presbeia)14 on the see of Elder Rome on account of the exercise of imperial power (dia to basileuein) in that city, and, with the same aim, the 150 most god-­ loving bishops [at Constantinople] undertook to apportion the same se­niority to the most holy see of New Rome, reasonably judging that the city should be exalted in ecclesiastical affairs like [Elder Rome] and have authority in second place a­ fter it, b­ ecause [New Rome] was honored by the imperial office (basileia) and a senate, and b­ ecause it enjoyed equal se­niority to Elder imperial (basilis) Rome.15 The argument for promoting Constantinople relies h ­ ere solely and explic­itly on the (secular) imperial history of the city, with special emphasis on its institutional resemblance to Rome in the form of an emperor and senate. The rhe­toric of the bishops carves out a clear and unambiguous superiority for the city of Rome, again based on the history of that city vis-­à-­vis Constantinople: Elder Rome is necessarily the superior of Younger Rome by virtue of its imperial history. Moreover, the proposal envisions only a rhetorical in­equality between the sees based on Rome’s longer history. Functionally, Rome and Constantinople ­were to have “equal se­niority.” All the eastern correspondents echo the language of this proposal without meaningfully developing the rhe­toric, with the sole exception of the emperor Marcian, who linked the promotion of Constantinople to the health of the Roman respublica—an argument that implicitly linked the promotion to the responsibilities of the emperor.16 The nature of the connection between the



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secular respublica and divine ­matters would accordingly become a point of contention between Rome and Constantinople in the years following this exchange of letters. Leo strenuously rejected the promotion of the see of Constantinople, for reasons that continue to be debated.17 Nevertheless, what is impor­tant for us are the terms in which he did so. Leo responded to the narrowly imperial justification for the promotion of Constantinople by developing and deploying an apostolic counter-­history. While Leo did not invent the traditions from which this history was drawn, he was the first extant author to combine and deploy them for this purpose. The rhe­toric of apostolic history can be found in all of his responses, but the formula is most clearly developed in his letter to Anatolios, his counterpart in Constantinople: Let the rights of the provincial primates not be overturned nor the metropolitan bishops be defrauded of the se­niority (privilegia) that was assigned to them in antiquity. Let nothing of the dignity of that Alexandrian see, which it merited through St. Mark the evangelist and disciple of the blessed Peter, perish, nor let the splendor of so ­great a Church be obscured by foreign shadows b­ ecause Dioskoros is shaking it with the per­sis­tence of his impiety. May the Antiochene Church, in which the Christian name was first raised by the aforementioned blessed apostle Peter,18 also be preserved in the ranking of the decree of the F ­ athers and, having been assigned to the third rank, let it never be made lesser. Sees are one t­ hing, their presidents another, and the g­ reat honor of each man is his own integrity.19 Leo’s argument to Anatolios is fundamentally historical. Leo ties the see of both Alexandria and Antioch to St. Peter and uses this connection to bolster the decision of the Nicene f­ athers. The connection also, though only implicitly, explains the origins of Rome’s primacy by indicating the debts that the Alexandrian and Antiochene sees owed to the founder of the Roman see. Leo is, in essence, developing a Christian mythistorical etiology for the ranking of major bishoprics, linking them effectively to the journeys and activities of St. Peter.20 In such a system, Peter plays a role much like Aeneas: his wanderings provide a mythistorical basis for the ecclesiastical relationship between Rome and other sees, just as Aeneas did for Rome and other cities in Vergil’s Aeneid. Leo had one final contribution to the shape of subsequent debates: his explicit argument against the use of secular logic in Church affairs. While this

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argument had a long history, Leo was again the first to deploy it in this par­tic­u­ lar debate. In his letter to Marcian, Leo divided the secular from the divine: Let the Constantinopolitan city have, as we desire, its glory and may it delight in the long-­lasting rule (imperium) of your clemency, shielded by the right hand of God: nevertheless, t­ here is one reckoning (ratio) for secular affairs, another for divine ones, and ­there ­will be no other stable edifice besides that rock [i.e., St. Peter, the “Rock”], which the Lord placed in the foundation.21 In other words, the sacred is distinct from, and implicitly superior to, the secular. In their subsequent dealings, Marcian abandoned the 28th Canon in f­ avor of securing Leo’s unreserved support for the Christological formulation and other acts of Chalcedon. The issue, however, continued to simmer, and would infect and inflect subsequent debates between Rome and Constantinople, especially ­a fter the extinction of the office of western Roman emperor, which un­ balanced the eastern court’s use of imperial history and status as the basis for the primacy of Constantinople.

A History of Re­sis­tance: Apostolic History A ­ fter Chalcedon The debate over the status of Constantinople largely subsides in our surviving Roman episcopal correspondence between the death of Leo in 461 and the election of Simplicius to the seat of St. Peter in 468, only to revive seven years into Simplicius’ tenure. Responding to the return of an anti-­Chalcedonian bishop to the see of Alexandria, Simplicius dispatched two letters to Constantinople in January of 476, one to the bishop Akakios, and another to the emperor Basiliskos, who had temporarily driven Zeno from power.22 ­These letters rehearsed the same apostolic rhe­toric pioneered by Leo, using the association between the Alexandrian see and St. Mark to argue for imperial intervention on behalf of the deposed Chalcedonian bishop.23 This emphasis on apostolic history continued throughout Simplicius’ subsequent letters, but with few notable innovations. The one exception is in a letter of 477 addressed to Akakios, in which Simplicius parallels the expulsion of Timotheos “Wobble Cap” (salophakiolos, a nickname designed to distinguish him from his pre­de­ces­sor, Timotheos “the Cat”), the Chalcedonian bishop of Alexandria, to the expulsion of St. Peter from Antioch and St. Paul from Ephesus.24 The invocation of Peter and Paul as mythistorical



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parallels for the plight of Timotheos “Wobble Cap” demonstrates that apostolic history could both establish the status of the vari­ous sees and provide a pool of exemplary episodes that could be reconfigured to validate and frame con­ temporary events. In this sense, the apostles played the same role in Christian mythistory as figures such as Aeneas or Romulus did in Roman mythistory. Thus, the letter shows how Rome’s episcopal chancellery patterned events in the pre­ sent to t­ hose of apostolic history, just as secular writers in Constantinople did with ­earlier Roman history.25 Simplicius’ letters contain two significant additions to Roman episcopal rhe­toric. The first innovation was to distinguish between separate but equal spheres of ­human and divine law by arguing that an anti-­Chalcedonian bishop had been “divorced from the universal Church according to law by the opinions (sententiae) of priests and imperial constitutions.”26 ­Later, Simplicius identified the same bishop as a “shameless parricide, who was convicted at the same time by ­human and divine laws.”27 The putative distinction between divine and secular law paralleled that between apostolic and imperial history and represented an expansion of the ideological princi­ples that Rome had relied on when it advocated against the promotion of Constantinople on the basis of apostolic history. Simplicius’ second innovation was the explicit inversion of imperial rhe­toric, which came ­later in his tenure, following Zeno’s defeat of Basiliskos. Just as Zeno framed Basiliskos as an illegitimate usurper, or “tyrant,” in the imperial sphere, Simplicius frequently deployed tyrannical language for the anti-­Chalcedonian bishop of Alexandria who had deposed Timotheos “Wobble Cap.”28 This line of argument was anchored by linking the health of the Church to the health of the respublica, a move that was itself a borrowing from Marcian’s arguments a­ fter Chalcedon.29 Where Marcian had argued that the standing of the Churches needed to be reordered for the health of the respublica, Simplicius argued that the Church of Alexandria needed to be restored to order for the same reason. Thus Simplicius’ most significant innovations in the rhe­toric of the Roman see w ­ ere to expand the mythistorical scope of apostolic history, to develop the larger ideological apparatus of sacred and profane spheres in which that history was situated, and to apply both to con­temporary imperial messaging on tyranny and the respublica in order to redeploy that messaging against the court of Constantinople. All of the ele­ments of Simplicius’ rhe­toric w ­ ere developed by his successor, 30 Felix III, who replaced Simplicius in 483. Although Felix faced a new challenge, in the form of the Henotikon, a statement of faith promulgated by Zeno the previous year, his rhe­toric remained largely unchanged. Apostolic history was regularly invoked to justify not only the authority of Rome, but in par­tic­u­lar to argue

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for the se­niority of Alexandria, where disagreements over the ordination of bishops continued.31 In addition, Felix revived Leo’s argument that the se­niority of a see was not linked to any par­tic­u­lar bishop but rather relied on apostolic mythistory.32 Fi­nally, Felix continued to turn Zeno’s words against him by citing the emperor’s attribution of his victory over Basiliskos to God and arguing that he must repay God by driving the “tyrant” from the see of St. Mark and bringing it back into communion with the see of St. Peter.33 Felix’s primary innovation was to develop the distinction and interplay ­between secular and divine law that had been pioneered by Simplicius, who had in turn followed Leo’s lead concerning the dif­fer­ent rationes of secular and divine affairs. In a libellus from 483 addressed to Zeno, Felix argued that Akakios’ failure to submit to Rome ­violated both Church and imperial law.34 According to Felix’s logic, the see of St. Peter, and by extension the bishop of Rome, played a parallel role in Church law to that of the emperor in secular law. The bishop of Rome is thereby framed as a sort of co-­ruler with the emperor in Constantinople, administering divine law while the emperor attends to secular affairs. This is a striking formulation and its timing is suggestive, coming as it does seven years ­a fter the deposition of Romulus Augustulus and three years ­a fter the death of Julius Nepos, the last man to claim the title of western Roman emperor. The singular Roman emperor located in the east neatly parallels the singular chief bishop located in the west. Old Rome now stands for ecclesiastical authority while New Rome stands for imperial authority, and the two are presented rhetorically as peers. This formulation also allows the bishop of Rome to concede Constantinople’s imperial status without giving ground on Church affairs, a strategy with a clear impetus a­ fter 476. Felix’s rhe­toric in 483 reveals a strug­gle on the part of the Roman see to remain relevant to the politics, ecclesiastical and other­wise, of Constantinople. Much of Felix’s attention during this period was focused on defining his connection to the emperor, e­ ither by emphasizing the emperor’s debt to God, and the bishop of Rome’s corresponding status as intermediary for the divinity, or arguing that the bishop of Rome held a similar position in re­spect to divine law as the emperor did in secular law. The roots of all of t­ hese arguments can be found in Simplicius, but they continued to be developed by Felix. Taken together, they indicate insecurity on the part of the Roman see over the nature of its relationship to Constantinople and its quest to remain relevant in a world where power had shifted decisively to the east. It is unclear how the status of Rome would have been viewed from Constantinople a­ fter 476, seeing as the city lacked a ruler whose office would make it



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“vis­i­ble” to the east as an imperial city.35 Felix’s attempt to link himself to the emperor through a theory of complementarity, particularly his attempt to frame the bishop of Rome and the emperor as holding parallel offices that oversaw dif­ fer­ent spheres of law (divine and secular), was an attempt to link at least one part of the former western empire to the eastern empire. That the parallel roles Felix suggests echo the relationship of l­egal parity between the eastern and western emperors is no coincidence—he is attempting to step rhetorically into the gap left by the absence of a western Roman emperor and create a similar position for himself in relation to the emperor in Constantinople. To be clear, Felix nowhere asserted that he, as bishop of Rome, had stepped into the shoes of the former western Roman emperor; rather, it is the logic of his rhetorical claims that casts him structurally in such a role. This was essential to his politics, and e­ arlier t­ hose of Simplicius, b­ ecause without such a connection, the bishop of Rome could all too easily be shut out of the Roman imperial world ­after 476. Rome’s marginalization would have become progressively more apparent as Odoacer’s regime in Italy took root, u­ ntil the Acacian schism laid it bare by demonstrating Constantinople’s intransigence in the face of the excommunication of Akakios by the Roman see and the subsequent thirty-­five-­year break in communion between the two Churches. This reading of Felix’s rhe­toric helps to explain his decision to excommunicate Akakios in 484. The bishop of Rome needed a “hook” to keep himself relevant to the imperial politics of Constantinople following the loss of the western emperor as a de facto guarantor of the bishop of Rome’s role in the imperial Church. When Zeno sacrificed the support of Rome for the sake of unity in the eastern Church, he made his attitude ­toward Rome clear. The bishop of Rome was left with two options: e­ ither accept his irrelevance to the ecclesiastical politics of the eastern empire, or create a rhetorical facade to cloak his weakness. The excommunication of Akakios fit the bill perfectly: ­either Akakios would be compelled by Zeno to submit to Rome, validating Felix’s authority, or,  as actually happened, the excommunication would be largely ignored in Constantinople, allowing Felix to hide his irrelevance b­ ehind the cloak of princi­ple: he was being ignored ­because of the excommunication and not ­because he was unimportant. The bishop of Rome’s insecurity regarding his relevance to the politics, ecclesiastical or other­wise, of the eastern Roman empire would continue ­until the emergence of a strong and stable Ostrogothic state in the early sixth ­century, which would partially redress the loss of the western imperial office. In the meantime, as the schism continued, the bishops of Rome developed ever more

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sophisticated rhe­toric in order to frame their relationship with Constantinople as a form of engagement rather than exclusion. This shift required the development of an entirely dif­fer­ent set of historical narratives than the apostolic history that had so far dominated Roman rhe­toric. This proj­ect was also complicated by Rome’s now well-­established and increasingly developed ideology of the two spheres, which split the world into sacred and secular spaces, allowing each side’s respective laws and histories to operate in­de­pen­dently of one another.

Ecclesiastical History and the Acacian Schism Felix’s excommunication of Akakios and Zeno’s refusal to compromise even a­ fter Akakios’ death left Felix’s successor, Gelasius, cut off from Constantinople. Moreover, when Gelasius was elected bishop of Rome on 1 March 492, Italy was in the midst of a war between Odoacer, who had ruled the peninsula since the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476, and Theoderic, a Romanized Goth who had come west with an imperial commission from Zeno to depose Odoacer. Theoderic became the uncontested master of Italy in 493, and quickly set about laying the foundations of an Ostrogothic state that would usher in a period of relative peace and prosperity. But Gelasius would live to see only the very beginnings of this pro­cess, as he died in November of 496, three years into Theoderic’s regime. The po­liti­cal situation in Italy was therefore highly unsettled during his tenure as bishop of Rome.36 Of all the bishops to hold the throne of St. Peter between 476 and the age of Justinian, Gelasius was likely the weakest aside from Vigilius. He was helpless to restrain the senators of Rome from celebrating the Lupercalia,37 held tenuous authority over a restive clergy angered by the Acacian schism,38 and was forced to await and then come to terms with a new regime in Ravenna. All the while, he sought to move the needle on the Acacian schism despite his lack of bargaining power.39 Nevertheless, when Anastasius wrote to Gelasius, chiding him for his failure to send a letter along with the most recent Roman legation to Constantinople, Gelasius responded at once with a letter that ranks among the most lasting documents produced by a late antique bishop of Rome.40 Gelasius’ first extant letter to Anastasius, Letter 12, was composed in 494, when the bishop was already two years into his tenure. In this letter, Gelasius significantly expanded the scope and intensity of many of the formulations we have already seen employed by prior bishops of Rome, and in ­doing so made explicit much of the implicit internal logic that governed t­hose e­ arlier letters.



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­ fter opening with an apology to Anastasius for not having written sooner, GelaA sius proceeds to define the nature of his relationship to the emperor: Glorious son, as I am a Roman by birth, I love, cultivate, and cherish the Roman princeps; as I am a Christian, along with the man who has a zeal for God, I desire also to have knowledge of the truth; and being the vicar, what­ever my quality, of the apostolic see, what­ever I w ­ ill have discovered to be anywhere absent from the full Catholic faith, I strive to supply by means of suitable suggestions in accordance with my small stature.41 Gelasius begins the substantive portion of his letter to Anastasius by outlining his three primary roles and the ethical obligations he believes correspond to each. As a Christian, Gelasius must love truth and ­those who share his zeal for God (by implication Anastasius), while as the bishop of Rome, a position he frames emphatically through the Petrine topos as the “vicar of the apostolic see,” he must be on the lookout for what­ever the faith lacks and seek to supply it. Neither of t­ hese claims is surprising, but Gelasius’ opening claim, the one that serves to link him directly to the “Roman princeps” he is addressing, is less straightforward. Scholars have been puzzled by Gelasius’ claim to be a Roman by birth and view the statement as casting doubt on his biography in the Liber Pontificalis, which claims that he was born in Africa.42 However, Gelasius’ claim to Romanness is not a reference to a fact of his biography but an identity claim designed to establish a relationship between himself and Anastasius. By claiming to be a Roman by birth, Gelasius is attempting to reify his Romanness, to burnish credentials that might appear dubious in the po­liti­cal context of 494, in order to create a link between himself as a Roman subject and Anastasius, the sole remaining Roman princeps, duly elected by the p­ eople of New Rome to be a true Roman.43 This relationship serves to tie the two men together, despite the po­liti­cal realities that separated them. The fact that Gelasius felt the need to make such a forced claim, which, it should be noted, does not appear in the letters of his pre­de­ces­ sors, indicates e­ ither that he perceived his own Romanness to be precarious or that he expected Anastasius to hold that view. In e­ ither case, the result was the same: an indication that Roman identity had become a question mark in the relationship between Rome and Constantinople, to the disadvantage of the inhabitants of the former, who needed to prove to the latter their continued relevance to and participation in the Roman respublica.

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Gelasius quickly pivots from his identity claims to a provocative statement concerning the nature of divine and imperial authority. This passage, in which Gelasius outlines what is generally called the “Two Powers” doctrine, has been the primary source of Gelasius’ fame from the ­Middle Ages onward and represents the most developed expression of Roman ecclesiastic ideology extant from this period.44 ­There are two t­ hings, august emperor, by which this world is principally governed: the sacred authority of the pontiffs and imperial authority. Among t­ hese, the burden of the priests is heavier insofar as they must give an account even on behalf of the kings of men during the divine judgment . . . ​For if, as much as it pertains to the order of public discipline, bishops of this religion, recognizing that imperium has been conferred on you by heavenly dispensation, are also equipped with your laws, in order that their opinions (sententiae), which are excluded from worldly affairs, not appear to be in opposition to them, then with what affection, I beg you, is it fitting that you yield to ­those men who have been joined to the aforementioned venerable mysteries?45 Like Simplicius and Felix before him, Gelasius argues that divine and secular ­affairs constitute distinct spheres, but Gelasius takes the argument further. Although ­there was an implication of the superiority of divine affairs in the l­ater letters of Felix, by virtue of the role of the bishop as an intermediary between secular and divine, Gelasius leaves no room for ambiguity, boldly stating that divine affairs are weightier. Moreover, while he concedes that priests submit to imperial law, a concession that picks up on his ­earlier emphasis on his status as a Roman, he makes clear that this submission is inextricably tied to the fact that the emperor rules with the consent of God. Thus divine and secular affairs are intimately intertwined but share a common source, God, to whom the bishop has more direct access. All of this facilitates Gelasius’ attempt to occupy the rhetorical space originally defined by Felix, in which the bishop of Rome occupies a parallel and equal position to the eastern emperor, and step into the gap left by the absence of a western emperor. Just as the world is ruled by two powers, sacred and profane, so too t­ hese two powers have two leaders, the chief bishop of the Christian world (as Gelasius styles himself) and the emperor, who superintend two dif­f er­ent but mutually recognized spheres of law. Th ­ ese parallel figures, the bishop of Rome and emperor of Constantinople, also draw authority from



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dif­fer­ent narratives, as Gelasius makes clear when he explic­itly links apostolic history to his ideological framework. Clearly when your piety directs your attention, [you ­will see that] no one is ever able to elevate himself through completely ­human counsel to the se­niority (privilegium) or the acknowl­edgment of that man [i.e., Peter], whom the voice of Christ placed at the head of every­thing ­else, whom the venerable Church always acknowledged and, being devoted to him, considers to be the chief bishop (primas). ­Those ­things can be attacked by h ­ uman presumption, which are decreed by divine judgment, however they cannot be conquered by the worldly power (potestas) of any man.46 By invoking the authority of St. Peter and referencing Matthew 16:18, Gelasius brings the apostolic inflection of Roman history into the larger ideological framework of the separate spheres and parallel functions of the emperor and bishop of Rome. Moreover, the bishop explic­itly invites the emperor to engage in a historical argument, claiming that never in history has h ­ uman counsel been capable of rivaling the authority of the bishop of Rome. It is through the bishop of Rome’s connection to St. Peter, and by extension to the ­will of God, that he gains the authority on which all of his other arguments are based, revealing the central role that apostolic history plays in the argument. Gelasius’ claim of se­niority (privilegium) for Rome frames the actions of Akakios and the ongoing oversight of the eastern Churches by the court of Constantinople as a usurpation of the rights of the see of Rome. The emphasis placed on this point throughout the letter suggests that Gelasius was responding to specific claims that had been advanced by the eastern court, though any such claims are ultimately ancillary to his agenda in the letter. Gelasius, moreover, builds a sophisticated model of his relationship to Anastasius and the imperial court: as the bishop of Rome and a Roman, he is a loyal subject who yields to the emperor in secular laws, but stands above him in divine affairs ­because the emperor rules with God’s approval and is accountable to God through the bishops.47 As the chief official of the see of St. Peter, whose authority is confirmed through apostolic mythistory, Gelasius was therefore the princeps of divine ­matters. This series of relationships functionally made the bishop of Rome the eastern Roman emperor’s co-­ruler. Gelasius’ pre­sen­ta­tion of the state of the world in Letter 12 is undeniably tendentious, and it is unlikely that any of his claims ­were taken seriously in

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Constantinople.48 The forcefulness of Gelasius’ rhe­toric was, as is often the case, inversely proportional to his a­ ctual power, as subsequent history made clear. Not only did Anastasius never yield to Gelasius in the schism, t­ here is evidence that the emperor was attempting to expand the eastern Church’s reach at Rome’s expense (see below), and, to add insult to injury, the year a­ fter Gelasius’ death Festus, the head of the Roman senate, would offer Anastasius the Roman see’s support for the Henotikon, Zeno’s compromise statement of faith that continued to operate ­under Anastasius, in return for the emperor’s recognition of Theoderic.49 Clearly Gelasius was not the dominant figure he portrayed himself to be. Nevertheless, Gelasius’ rhe­toric possesses a coherence not seen in prior letters exchanged between Rome and Constantinople. It is precisely this forcefulness and coherence that have made this letter such a remarkable and long-­lived document, despite its tenuous relationship with ecclesiastical and po­liti­cal real­ity. In addition to offering a clear and synthetic articulation of Roman episcopal claims to authority, Gelasius’ letters also provide us with insight into the prominent role that dueling historical narratives played in the attempts of both the Roman see and eastern court to rally support for their positions in the schism. One area of contention was Dardania, in the prefecture of Illyricum. Illyricum had long been liminal territory, passing between the jurisdiction of the eastern and western emperors. ­A fter 476, however, this predominantly Latin-­speaking province began to fall into the po­liti­cal orbit of the eastern empire, where it would ultimately remain, while its Churches wavered between their traditional affiliation with the bishop of Rome and the pull of the bishop of Constantinople.50 As a result of t­ hese dynamics, Dardania became a frontline in the ongoing Acacian schism, one to which Gelasius paid close attention in his surviving letters.51 Consider Gelasius’ letter to the Dardanian bishops in 495 or 496, Letter 26.52 In this letter, Gelasius went on the offensive against the claims of Constantinople, giving us direct insight into the rhe­toric originating from the eastern court prior to the reign of Justin. A ­ fter recapitulating his “Two Powers” model, Gelasius takes aim at the se­niority of the see of Constantinople: We laugh, therefore, at the fact that they wish to compare the prerogative [of the bishop of Rome] to Akakios’ b­ ecause he was the bishop of an imperial city. Did an emperor not s­ ettle at many times in Milan, Ravenna, Sirmium, and Trier? But do the priests of t­ hese cities claim for their positions any mea­sure beyond that allotted to them in ancient times?53



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Gelasius’ statement is our clearest indication that the eastern court had continued to press the claims of the see of Constantinople on the basis of that city’s imperial status, a line of argument that could only have benefitted from the absence of a western imperial colleague ­after 476. Moreover, such claims continued to play a major role in Constantinople’s ecclesiastical foreign policy in contested areas such as Illyricum. Strikingly, Gelasius engages directly with the Constantinopolitan argument. Where Leo had simply rejected imperial honors as a basis for ecclesiastical se­ niority, deploying instead apostolic mythistory, Gelasius approaches such claims on their own terms, and refutes them by citing other cities that had been long-­ term imperial residences in recent imperial history. His counterargument, however, is weak. Unlike ­those other cities, Constantinople had been explic­itly founded to be New Rome and had hosted the imperial court for over a c­ entury by this point. Nevertheless, Gelasius’ willingness to engage with the argument at all marks a shift in the rhe­toric of the Roman see that corresponds to its waning influence in ecclesiastical affairs, at least outside of Italy. One curious ele­ment of Gelasius’ list of former imperial residences bears mentioning: his failure to name a single eastern city. He did not want for choices: Nicomedia had been called “a regio of Rome” ­under Diocletian, and the city of Antioch had frequently ­housed emperors during their campaigns along the eastern frontier. Why, then, did Gelasius mention only cities that ­were a part of the former western empire? Perhaps he was l­ imited by con­temporary historical memory, his own or his audience’s, but he may also have had an ulterior motive in focusing on cities that w ­ ere closer to home. His se­lection emphasized the impermanence of imperial residences, especially given that the entire western empire had since collapsed (an interpretation that makes sense only if we believe that Gelasius viewed the lack of a western emperor as a permanent state of affairs in 495/96). The letter therefore does double duty, fending off the threat from Constantinople and, closer to home, anticipating a potential challenge from Ravenna, which by 496 was already emerging as the capital of the new Ostrogothic kingdom, a role it had likewise served u­ nder Odoacer. Nor are t­ hese two explanations at odds with one another; most of the arguments that Gelasius goes on to make against the claims of Constantinople could just as easily be applied to Ravenna, relying as they did on the assumption that the bishop of Rome was opposing the claims of a city that now possessed greater secular power. In any case, Gelasius proceeds to develop his attack on Constantinople, linking his argument to the already well-­developed rhe­toric of the two spheres, ecclesiastical and secular:

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Surely if ­there is a dispute concerning the dignity of cities, then the dignity of the second see [Alexandria] and of the third [Antioch] is greater than the dignity of that city [Constantinople], which is not only ranked least of all among the sees, but also is not admitted to the rights of the metropolitans. For that which you say belongs to the “imperial city,” one part is the power (potestas) of a secular kingdom, and another part is the distribution of ecclesiastical dignities. For just as an insignificant city does not reduce the prerogative of the pre­sent kingdom [i.e., the eastern empire], so too the imperial presence does not change the mea­sure of religious dispensation.54 Most of what Gelasius says ­here recapitulates ideas that can be traced back to Leo’s rejection of the 28th Canon; however, apostolic history is absent. When Leo argued against the promotion of Constantinople on the basis of that city’s unimportance as an ecclesiastical center, he did so explic­itly by tying the sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch to apostolic mythistory. Gelasius makes no such claims, instead invoking his “Two Powers” formula to separate imperial authority from any claim to ecclesiastical se­niority and adding, for good mea­sure, a petty snipe at Constantinople, calling it a small or insignificant (parva) city and implying that it was impor­tant only ­because of the emperor. The comment was hardly fair in a period when Constantinople was thriving and its population nearing the half-­million mark while the population of Rome steadily declined, but it again underscores the degree to which Gelasius engaged with the claims advanced by the eastern court on their own terms, at least when he was not corresponding directly with Constantinople. The implication is that Gelasius believed that the eastern empire’s rhe­toric was working. Gelasius’ argument works in two directions: just as the power of Constantinople does not validate a promotion in episcopal rank, so too the secular diminution of Rome does not threaten its status as the first see. Gelasius naturally does not call attention to this implication, but it is an obvious corollary of the logic upon which he bases his argument. Thus we can detect defensiveness even in Gelasius’ most assertive statements concerning the in­de­pen­dent and immutable religious authority of the Roman see. In place of the apostolic mythistory deployed by Leo, Gelasius invokes the history of Leo himself, citing the bishop’s ostensible victory over Marcian and Anatolios following Chalcedon as confirmation of his theory of separation.55 Leo had, by 495/96, become part of a new narrative of Roman ecclesiastical re­sis­tance that could be deployed by his successors against Constantinople to c­ ounter the very claims Leo had himself opposed. And a history of ecclesiastical opposition



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to secular power is precisely the narrative Gelasius employs in place of apostolic mythistory in his letter to the Dardanian bishops. A ­ fter lambasting the claims of the “royal city” (Constantinople), Gelasius rattles off a list of religious figures who had stood against secular authority: the prophet Nathan against King David, Ambrose of Milan against Theodosius I, Leo against Theodosius II, Hilarius against Anthemius, Simplicius and Felix against Basiliskos and Zeno, Eugenius, bishop of Carthage, against Huneric, the Vandal king, and Gelasius himself against the “heretic” Odoacer (albeit no mention is made of Gelasius’ attitude t­ oward the equally heretical Theoderic).56 In crafting and deploying a history of ecclesiastical re­sis­tance to secular power in which he himself was a participant, Gelasius radically shifts the par­ ameters of the historical memory on which his position was built. In this way, his rhe­toric resembles that of Justinian who, fifty years ­later, would likewise draw materials from ancient history, Roman instead of Old Testament, in order to promote his authority and validate his actions. Gelasius’ history is moreover emphatically triumphant—­all of the religious figures he mentions prevailed against their respective secular authorities. Gelasius therefore made a deliberate choice to eschew an already well-­developed narrative discourse that focused on Christian re­sis­tance to secular power: the martyr narrative. As we ­will see, not all of his successors followed suit. Gelasius’ history is striking both for what it includes and what it does not. His invocation of bishops of Milan and Carthage is unexpected in a dispute concerning Constantinople’s relationship to Alexandria and Antioch. All the more so b­ ecause the example of Ambrose of Milan actually works against the argument Gelasius was developing—­during his time as bishop, Ambrose effectively supplanted the bishop of Rome as the leader of the western Church based largely on his proximity to the imperial court, which resided in Milan, one of the very cities Gelasius claims never became impor­tant ecclesiastically ­because emperors ­ fter a single resided in it!57 The gaps in the narrative are still more revealing. A instance from the Old Testament (Nathan), which gives ecclesiastical re­sis­tance biblical affirmation, all of the examples Gelasius cites come from the fourth ­century or l­ater, in other words relatively recent history. This jump reveals something of Gelasius’ motives. He was searching for examples that did more than just fit the general circumstances: he wanted examples that could serve as direct models. Again, this reads as a sign of insecurity—­Gelasius apparently felt that examples from the Old Testament ­were insufficiently direct; he needed examples of Roman bishops resisting Roman emperors, including eastern emperors.

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Gelasius’ examples transition seamlessly between Roman emperors and barbarian kings, undermining Anastasius’ imperial claims by reducing the emperor to just another post-­Roman secular ruler. Once more he draws his examples entirely from the western Roman tradition, although, as was the case for his list of imperial residences, ­there was no shortage of eastern clergy whose re­ sis­tance to secular authority he might have cited. This decision too is likely linked, at least in part, to western historical memory: t­ hese figures would likely have been more familiar to the Latin-­speaking and traditionally western-­facing Dardanian bishops whom Gelasius was trying to win over. But t­ here is another reason for the choice: it confirms the relevance of western episcopal opposition even to eastern emperors. By demonstrating the broad range of secular figures who had taken western bishops seriously, including eastern emperors such as Theodosius II and Zeno, Gelasius implicitly argues that the bishop of Rome ­matters to the emperor of Constantinople. The overall effect of Gelasius’ history is to normalize his current circumstances by downplaying the po­liti­cal discontinuities that characterized his relationship with Constantinople, while emphasizing ecclesiastical continuity. Nevertheless, we once again find evidence that Gelasius is insecure about the nature and quality of his relationship to the eastern court in the absence of a power­ful imperial patron. We can infer from Gelasius’ letter to the Dardanian bishops that the eastern court was, during this period, arguing for Constantinople’s ecclesiastical prerogatives on the basis of its imperial status, at least in ecclesiastically contested areas such as Illyricum, which remained ­under Constantinople’s po­liti­cal authority. The uniqueness of Gelasius’ rhe­toric in this letter is highlighted by another letter, composed in the same year and addressed to an eastern audience. Gelasius’ letter to the eastern bishops eschews historical arguments in order to argue against the authority of the bishop of Constantinople on the basis of canon law and the Petrine topos.58 By virtue of its temporal proximity and similar audience, the letter to the eastern bishops confirms that the historical rhe­toric of the letter to the Dardanian bishops was a unique feature targeted at a specific audience. Additional implications of Gelasius’ rhe­toric w ­ ere subsequently made explicit by his successors. In 496, Anastasius II replaced Gelasius as bishop of Rome and wrote to Anastasius (the emperor) describing the bishop of Rome and emperor of Constantinople as equals, even ­going so far as to call the bishopric a principate.59 Anastasius II died a­ fter only two years in office, and his death was followed by a contested election that produced a schism inside the Roman Church. The Laurentian schism, named for Laurentius, one of the two candidates for the position, was driven at least in part by disagreements in Rome over



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­ hether to end the Acacian schism.60 Laurentius, with the backing of the senaw tor Festus, favored coming to terms with the east, while his rival Symmachus opposed ending the schism. Communion with Constantinople was certainly not the only f­ actor driving the eight-­year conflict, but it played an impor­tant role and demonstrated how hollow Roman rhe­toric had been at least since the time of Gelasius. Rather than dealing from a position of strength, the bishops of Rome who continued the schism with Constantinople did so at significant cost to the internal unity of the Roman see. When Symmachus ultimately prevailed and was confirmed in the see of St. Peter with the aid of the Gothic king Theoderic in 506, the news was unwelcome in Constantinople, and Symmachus’ correspondence indicates that he received harsh letters from the emperor Anastasius at around the time the schism was resolved. Despite, or perhaps ­because of, Anastasius’ hostility, Symmachus penned a series of letters to the emperor that confirmed and expanded the rhe­toric developed by Gelasius. In his Defense to Anastasius, written to Anastasius sometime ­after 506 and preserved as Letter 10, Symmachus mimics Gelasius’ use of ecclesiastical history but shifts focus from opposition to instruction, citing the eight books that Ambrose of Milan had written to the emperor Gratian.61 He then proceeds to cast himself in a dif­fer­ent light: If, emperor, it w ­ ere necessary for me to speak on behalf of the catholic faith among foreign kings and men entirely ignorant of the divinity, I would speak at length concerning what­ever accorded with the truth and reason of the faith, even if death had been threatened. . . . ​If you truly are a Roman emperor, you o­ ught to mercifully accept embassies even from barbarian p­ eoples; and if you are a Christian princeps, you ­ought to patiently heed the voice of the apostolic bishop, what­ever his quality.62 Symmachus opens his letter by imagining himself in the position of a martyr tasked with preaching the faith even when threatened with death. The clear implication, confirmed by the accusations and rebukes that fill this par­tic­u­lar letter, is that Anastasius is behaving in a manner befitting the persecutions instigated by “foreign kings and men entirely ignorant of the divinity,” a charge that gains an edge from the fact that Symmachus himself was writing u­ nder a foreign, Arian king. Symmachus then proceeds to implicitly question both Anastasius’ Romanness and his Chris­tian­ity, chastising him for failing to receive embassies from Theoderic and for not heeding the bishop of Rome (himself). Symmachus’ rhe­toric

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opened up a new front in the war of words between the eastern court and the bishop of Rome by questioning the Romanness and Chris­tian­ity of the one remaining Roman emperor. Chris­tian­ity and Romanness are not synonymous in Symmachus’ formulation: being Roman is presented as distinct from being Christian, b­ ecause the identities operate in dif­fer­ent spheres, the one secular, the other divine. A thinly veiled attack on the Romanness of the only remaining Roman emperor is a strikingly hostile position for the bishop of Rome to take, but it accords with the tone of the Defense generally as well as the specific context in which it appears. It was equally striking, though certainly not unpre­ce­dented, to cast a Christian emperor in the role of persecutor, as Symmachus does explic­itly a few lines l­ater, even quoting Matthew 5:11 to drive the point home.63 The theme is developed throughout the rest of the Defense with a density and consistency that precludes discussing e­ very instance h ­ ere. However, Symmachus put a fine point on this approach at the close of his letter by saying that “it should not be fitting for Christ to be harassed by Christians, what­ever doctrine they confess, nor should it be fitting for Romans to savage ­those living ­under Roman law.” 64 Two aspects of this statement should be highlighted. First, Symmachus appears to be defining Romanness with reference to Roman law, an innovation in Roman episcopal rhe­toric that is likely related to ­legal developments taking place ­under Theoderic but parallels and anticipates similar formulations from the reign of Justinian, in par­tic­u­lar ­those of Prokopios and Lydos.65 In the context of Theoderic’s ­legal program, Symmachus’ formulation should be understood to represent a renewed confidence in the Roman identity of the former western empire, rehabilitated now by the Goths. Second, the bishop of Rome is drawing a connection between civil and religious disorder that allows for plurality in Christian, but not Roman, affairs. Th ­ ere can be dif­fer­ent confessions in Chris­tian­ity (i.e., Arians like Theoderic and Catholics like Symmachus), but only one law for Romans.66 Symmachus’ Defense to Anastasius was the last meaningful exchange between the bishop of Rome and the emperor ­until Symmachus’ death in 514. It stands at the end of a period during which the bishop of Rome was at a disadvantage in his dealings with the eastern court due to his lack of a power­ful secular patron following the loss of the western emperor. It is no coincidence that the see of Rome’s rhe­toric was most developed during its period of weakness. Backed into a corner by Felix III’s decision to excommunicate Akakios, the bishops of Rome could rely on ­little more than words to buttress their positions, which ­were undermined by instability at home and irrelevance abroad. The strik-



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ing feature of Roman rhe­toric during this period is not only its coherence and ideological sophistication, but its willingness to engage actively with the arguments emanating from Constantinople, especially in Gelasius’ letter to the Dardanian bishops and Symmachus’ Defense. The rhe­toric of Rome initially betrayed a deep insecurity concerning the see’s continued relevance and participation in the Roman respublica, only to turn that insecurity against the emperor by questioning his Romanness and Chris­tian­ity. This shift maps onto the development of the Ostrogothic state as a stable quasi-­Roman entity, and it seems likely that the messaging of the Ostrogothic court, with its keen focus on maintaining essential Roman traditions, including the Roman ­legal tradition, contributed to the renewed confidence (or appearance of confidence) that we find in Symmachus’ Defense. This progression suggests that anxiety over Romanness was assuaged by the Ostrogothic regime, a model that accounts for the propaganda of both Theoderic, who sought to legitimize the Ostrogothic kingdom as a basically Roman state, and Justinian, who sought to undermine that legitimacy in preparation for invasion and conquest.67 Against this background, historical memory was deployed in range of ways, but the most impor­tant, though short-­lived, innovation was an increased focus on recent ecclesiastical history as a means for linking the bishop of Rome to the Roman respublica in the east. To some extent, this shift must represent the failure, real or perceived, of apostolic mythistory, which went from being the only basis for Roman re­sis­tance to the claims of Constantinople u­ nder Leo, to being discarded entirely by the Roman see following Gelasius, its only traces found, ironically, in a libellus of anti-­Chalcedonian Alexandrians.68 The shift to more recent and more explic­itly Roman historical models, specifically ­those based on an antagonistic relationship between bishops and kings/emperors, demonstrates the changing horizons and insecurities of the Roman see, as well as a desire to paint secular and religious authorities as complementary equals. ­Until at least the end of the Laurentian schism, remaining relevant to the Roman world was a chief concern, one that ecclesiastical history was capable of addressing in a way apostolic mythistory never could.

Healing the Breach The extant letters of Gelasius, Anastasius II, and Symmachus suggest that contact between the see of Rome and the court of Constantinople was relatively infrequent during the majority of the Acacian schism. The same cannot be said

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for the period ­after the death of Symmachus.69 More than sixty epistles exchanged by the bishop of Rome and eastern court survive from the period between 514 and 521, when Hormisdas was the bishop of Rome. Sheer volume makes it pos­ si­ble to detect subtle but deliberate variations in rhe­toric by mea­sur­ing the consistency and suddenness with which new formulations appear against the baseline rhe­toric of the correspondence. Hormisdas’ exchange with Constantinople began in late 514 and was likely motivated by the Chalcedonian rhe­toric of Vitalian, one of Anastasius’ generals, who rebelled against the emperor in the 510s and at one point marched nearly to the walls of Constantinople.70 The threat of Vitalian’s revolt changed the calculus of the Acacian schism for the court of Constantinople especially in light of the increasingly Chalcedonian bent of the populace of the royal city, and the surviving letters in Hormisdas’ corpus demonstrate an attempt by Anastasius to come to terms with Rome, though this did not necessarily mean that he was willing to compromise on doctrinal issues. In terms of the rhe­toric employed during this preliminary stage of reengagement, both sides used relatively muted language. Anastasius opened his first letter by claiming that divine ­matters o­ ught to take pre­ce­dence over all other business, and asserted that “we put our faith in omnipotent and favorable God to preserve and improve the respublica,” a nod to Rome’s long-­standing position on the superiority of divine affairs.71 Hormisdas’ response, sent in the spring of the following year, was equally mild, if a bit passive-­aggressive. The bishop thanked God that Anastasius had broken his silence, encouraged the emperor to take care for orthodoxy “in reverence of the blessed apostle Peter,”72 and linked the health of the respublica to the proper oversight of the faith: “what t­ hing provides a greater defense for your imperium than the ­favor of heaven?”73 Though superficially mild, ­there is a clear subtext to many of Hormisdas’ early communications. Facing a rebellion, Anastasius’ imperium was in need of material defense. Likewise, in the same letter Hormisdas referenced “an unconquerable wall,” which seems pointed, given that Vitalian and his army had raided the suburbs of Constantinople, almost reaching the wall of the city, in the previous year.74 Hormisdas continued to implicitly invoke Vitalian’s revolt, even g­ oing so far as to designate the rebellious general as an intermediary between the emperor and bishop of Rome, and tie the health of Anastasius’ regime and the respublica to the faith in his subsequent correspondence, u­ ntil, in 516, relations took a turn for the worse.75 In 516, Anastasius wrote to the senate of Rome and encouraged the members of that body to pressure Hormisdas to come to terms with



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Constantinople. For our purposes, the content of the letter is less in­ter­est­ing than its opening address:76 Emperor Caesar Flavius Anastasius, glorious pontiff, glorious Germanicus, glorious Alamannicus, glorious Francicus, glorious Sarmaticus, in the tribunician power for the twenty-­fi fth time, consul for a third time, pious, happy, victorious, always Augustus, ­father of the fatherland, sends greetings to the proconsuls, consuls, praetors, tribunes of the plebs, and his senate.77 While many of Anastasius’ titles are standard, several stand out as reversions to a traditional conception of the imperial office. In par­tic­u­lar, Anastasius’ claim to the tribunician power and the title “­father of the fatherland” are early imperial conventions that had since fallen out of use in the eastern empire.78 ­These titles implicitly invoke Republican and early imperial history and, therefore, call upon precisely the sort of secular imperial history that Marcian had used a­ fter Chalcedon and to which Gelasius was responding in his letter to the Dardanian bishops. Moreover, Anastasius refers to the senate of Rome possessively, calling it “his senate,” a bold position to take thirteen years into the reign of Theoderic. He goes on to offer “friendship, in which the limbs of both respublicae are preserved by a hoped-­for soundness.”79 Part of Anastasius’ appeal to the senate of Rome is his direct recognition that the body remained a properly Roman senate, despite the con­temporary po­liti­cal circumstances in the west. The form of the emperor’s address develops his appeal by invoking the shared tradition of Roman government as a link between Anastasius and the senators of Rome. The emperor goes on to recognize and invoke the senate as a governing body of a Roman respublica in order to support his request for action. Anastasius is attempting to encourage and leverage a sense of shared Romanness in his dealings with the senate of Rome by appealing to its historical traditions as well as its con­ temporary po­liti­cal circumstances. Anastasius’ gambit was not unreasonable; the senate of Rome had contained a faction that favored ending the Acacian schism during the Laurentian schism. But the balance of opinion appears to have shifted by 516, ­because the senate responded by endorsing Hormisdas, though they a­ dopted Anastasius’ rhe­toric concerning the two respublicae.80 Meanwhile, Hormisdas wrote to Anastasius, rebuking him for attempting to exert pressure on the see of Rome through the senate of Rome.81 Following this exchange, the tepid relationship between

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Anastasius and Hormisdas cooled further, and nothing of consequence was said between the two prior to Anastasius’ death in 518. The death of Anastasius brought about a sea change in the policies emanating from the palace of Constantinople. Anastasius, who had increasingly favored anti-­Chalcedonians in the eastern Church, was replaced by Justin, a hard-­line Chalcedonian who had been born, like his nephew and successor Justinian, in Illyricum, the same region Gelasius had fought to keep in the orbit of the see of Rome de­cades ­earlier. Justin wasted no time in attempting to effect a reconciliation between Rome and Constantinople. His first letter to Hormisdas, written on 1 August 518, opens by paralleling the role of God in his election to the more traditional ele­ments of eastern Roman accessions: the court, senate, and army.82 Negotiations proceeded swiftly thereafter, though tension was still evident in the exchanges, with Justin claiming divine approval, while Hormisdas emphasized the emperor’s debt to God, to be repaid through submission to the see of St. Peter.83 Similar sentiments run throughout the letters exchanged between Rome and Constantinople as the details of their reunion ­were worked out, ­until, on Easter Sunday 519, communion was restored and the Acacian schism ended a­ fter thirty-­ five years. Akakios and his followers ­were condemned, their names removed from the diptychs, and Ioannes II, the bishop of Constantinople, signed a statement of faith that fully embraced the Chalcedonian position of the bishop of Rome. Likewise, in a move that reflected both the anger of the Roman see and Justin’s attempts to consolidate his still nascent rule, Zeno and Anastasius ­were officially condemned as well.84 During the tenure of a single Roman bishop, Constantinople had gone from a s­ ilent opponent to an ­eager congregant. Naturally, the eastern court took this opportunity to revive the language and claims of the 28th Canon.85 The initial round of letters written by the members of the eastern court to Hormisdas following the end of the schism all make use of the language of Old and New Rome, language that had, since the time of Marcian, been associated in eastern use with the claims of the 28th Canon. Ioannes II wrote to Hormisdas addressing his colleague as “the pope of ­Great Rome,” and signing his letter “Ioannes, by the mercy of God, bishop of Constantinople, New Rome.”86 He likewise stated that “I accept that the most holy Churches of God, that is of your Superior and of this New Rome, are one, and I declare that that see of the Apostle Peter and of this imperial (augusta) city are one.”87 This has it both ways: Rome in Italy is “Superior,” but it and New Rome are “one.” Meanwhile, in his own letter to Hormisdas, dated 22 April 519, Justin referred to Ioannes II as “the most blessed man, bishop of our New Rome.”88 Ioannes II, in a letter of the same date,



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once again referred to “both Churches, that of Se­nior and that of New Rome.”89 Justinian, in a letter also dated 22 April 519, called Hormisdas “the archpriest and pope of the city of First Rome.”90 The density with which the language of Old and New Rome, in all ­these vari­ous permutations, was deployed by the eastern court indicates that it was deliberate, especially in light of the total absence of similar language from previous exchanges. Moreover, this language, along with the secular imperial history it implied, could only mean one ­thing in the context of the correspondence between the court of Constantinople and the bishop of Rome. Hormisdas noticed. In his responses to the eastern court, Hormisdas studiously avoided any mention of Old or New Rome, instead expressing extensive praise for Justin’s achievement on behalf of God and orthodoxy, while focusing on the benefits that would accrue to the respublica as a result. Hormisdas’ failure to echo or address the rhe­toric of the eastern court is suggestive on its own, but his imitation of the rhe­toric of Ioannes II drove the point home as clearly as pos­si­ble without addressing it directly. In the opening of his response to Ioannes in 519, Hormisdas echoed the bishop of Constantinople’s joy at the reunion between the two sees and referred to Ioannes II’s letters, “in which you have professed that ­there is one faith for you with the see of the blessed Apostle Peter.”91 This phrasing directly cites Ioannes’ repeated statements concerning the unity of the two sees, each of which was accompanied by a statement employing some form of the language of Old and New Rome. In response, Hormisdas refers only to the see of St. Peter. In a vacuum, such a statement would not mean much, but given the history of conflict between ­these two sees over status and the terms of the debate that followed Chalcedon, in which apostolic history was matched against secular imperial history, the effect is unmistakable. Moreover, in case Ioannes missed the cue, Hormisdas inserted at the end of the same letter another veiled warning to back away from the 28th Canon: Concerning the status of the Antiochene and Alexandrian Churches, do not cease (supersedeo) to be solicitous, by continuously beseeching the most merciful princeps in order that he might restore peace by means of religious ordination to t­ hese sees as well.92 The question of ordination in the eastern sees, in par­tic­u­lar in Alexandria, had been a major f­ actor in the disagreements that had led to the (recently repaired) Acacian schism. At issue had been the attempts by Akakios to administer the eastern Churches in­de­pen­dently of Rome, and, in par­tic­u ­lar, to regulate the

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appointment of bishops to ­those sees. In other words, Akakios had attempted to exercise control over the sees the 28th Canon had demoted in ­favor of Constantinople. In this context, Hormisdas’ appeal to “religious ordination” carries the veiled threat of renewed disagreement between Rome and Constantinople should the bishop of Constantinople assert himself over ­those sees. Moreover, Hormisdas makes clear that Justin, not Ioannes, should be the agent of reform in Antioch and Alexandria—­the bishop of Constantinople’s role is merely to advocate to the emperor on Rome’s behalf. Hormisdas’ refusal to endorse the rhe­toric of the 28th Canon in the aftermath of the Acacian schism closed the question of Constantinople’s ecclesiastical status for the time being, but, as we saw at the opening of the chapter, the issue was not yet resolved. Nevertheless, the language of the controversy and its corresponding narratives had become ingrained by the time of Hormisdas. ­These narratives supported, and w ­ ere supported by, the larger ideological framework into which they had been inserted. This is evident from the dueling rhe­toric of the first exchanges between Justin and Hormisdas, in which the emperor took his secular election as evidence of divine approval, while the bishop insisted that the imperial office was, in essence, a loan from God that needed to be repaid to his chief representative in Rome.

From Supplicant to Master: Justinian and the Church of Rome Unfortunately, the letters of the bishops of Rome do not survive in meaningful numbers a­ fter the death of Hormisdas in 523.93 Luckily, the letters of Hormisdas bring us to the cusp of the age of Justinian, when rec­ords from the eastern empire become more abundant. In this final section, we ­will move our focus from the letters of the bishops of Rome to the imperial pronouncements of the emperor Justinian. Justinian would eventually rely on the force of law, backed up by his military control of Italy and the acquiescence of the captive Vigilius, to ­settle the question of the relationship between the sees of Old and New Rome. However, this was not his initial approach. On 14 April 535, the same spring in which the general Belisarios launched his invasion of Sicily, Justinian promulgated Novel 9 ­(Roman Prescriptions).94 This Novel was, in effect, an attempt to bribe the bishop of Rome, likely with an eye ­toward securing his support in the coming conflict. The law extended the period of time during which the Roman Church could



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reclaim land and collect on debts owed to its vari­ous properties throughout the Mediterranean and opens with a discussion of Roman history. ­ arlier Rome received by lot the origin of laws, and t­ here is no one E who would doubt that the bishopric of the highest pontificate is in that city. Therefore, we considered that the fatherland of laws, the font of the priesthood, needed to be made illustrious by a special law of our divine majesty, in order that from this the strength of a most healthful law might be extended into all the catholic Churches, which are located even up to the wash of the ocean. And let our law, which is consecrated to the honor of God, remain in effect wherever possessions belonging to our churches are found to be located, throughout the ­whole west and also the east, w ­ hether owned now or acquired in the f­ uture.95 Justinian’s rhe­toric in this Novel relies on both the 28th Canon and the internal logic of the rhe­toric that characterized his Novels during ­these years. The historical core of Justinian’s argument ­here is that Roman law originated in Rome, which fits well into his rhe­toric of “arms and laws.” Arms being rhetorically irrelevant to discussions concerning the Church, Justinian instead focuses on laws and posits a parallel between Rome’s historical role in the creation of law and the preeminence of the Roman see. Justinian goes on to develop his formula by, in the very next sentence, specifying that Rome’s status derived from its role as the source ( fons) of the priesthood and linking this again to Rome’s role as the “fatherland of laws.” Despite his affected re­spect for both the ­legal and clerical traditions of Rome, Justinian’s phrasing is deflating. He makes it clear that Rome did not earn its status as the original of laws, as this was “received by lot” (sortior), while “no one would doubt” the status of Rome, a negative phrase that cannot help but imply its opposite. The deflating effect of ­these indirect statements culminates in the third sentence, when Justinian effectively co-­opts the authority of both the law and the Church by revealing that it is his own (propria) law that is g­ oing to enhance the Church of Rome. The focus on his own ­legal enactment allows Justinian to show that, what­ever its origin, Roman law is now u­ nder his control, while his actions on behalf of the Roman Church subordinates the see of Rome, no ­matter its preeminence, to the emperor by presenting it as a client relying upon his custodianship. Put differently, the very fact of Novel 9’s existence is an indication that the source of law had shifted from Rome to Constantinople, and,

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following Justinian’s own logic, the see of Constantinople would naturally enjoy ecclesiastical benefits from this shift. Similarly, Novel 9 demonstrates that what­ever se­niority Rome enjoys, it does so at the plea­sure of the emperor, whose ability to confirm the see’s standing implies an ability to overturn it. We see ­here the beginning of a rhetorical position that Justinian would continue to develop through Novel 131 (Church Canons and Standing), in which he expanded his claims to authority over the Church by subordinating the Church to imperial law and extending his ­legal authority to include canon law. Justinian similarly deploys the language of the 28th Canon in order to describe the city of Rome. As we have seen, in ecclesiastical debates from the time of Leo onward, the language of Old and New Rome in any variation served as a stand-in for the claims of the 28th Canon. ­A fter the Acacian schism, this standardized language allowed the eastern court to indirectly broach the subject with Hormisdas. Sixteen years ­later, Justinian used the same technique in Novel 9. ­A fter all, the logic of a comparative adjective requires a point of comparison; you cannot have “­Earlier Rome” u­ nless you have an implied “­Later Rome.” We can see, then, that at the opening of the Gothic War, Justinian attempted to both aggrandize and assert authority over the Roman Church. Of course, that Church was not yet ­under his power in 535, nor would the emperor ever achieve the territorial reach anticipated by the law, but the language of the Novel, addressed to John II, bishop of “Elder Rome” (vetus Roma), presupposes Justinian’s military success and corresponding l­egal authority.96 Hence the rhe­toric of “arms and laws” remains in play, but with the arms implied rather than openly asserted. The extension of remunerative ­legal privileges to the Roman Church does not so much mask Justinian’s intentions as offer an incentive for acquiescence. It is pos­si­ ble, moreover, to draw a straight line between Justinian’s view of Church affairs in 519, when he was a ju­nior member of his u­ ncle’s court and likely following the emperor’s lead, through 535 (Novel 9, Roman Prescriptions) and on to 545, when he promulgated Novel 131 (Church Canons and Standing) and explic­itly resolved the question of the 28th Canon by force of Roman law—­his own. Rome was not the only see Justinian sought to regulate in 535. In August of the same year, he promulgated Novel 37 (On the African Church), which made the bishop of Carthage the overseer of the African Church. As in Novel 9 (Roman Prescriptions), Justinian sweetened the deal with financial incentives, specifically mea­sures allowing the Church to reclaim any property lost during the Vandal occupation. The rhe­toric of Novel 37 is, however, markedly dif­fer­ent from that employed in ­either Novel 9 or Novel 131 (Church Canons and Standing). Instead of focusing on ancient history, Justinian opens Novel 37 with a discussion of the



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recent past, specifically his concern for the Churches’ well-­being now that they “had been sundered from the tyrants [i.e., the Arian Vandals] through the aid of God and re­united with our respublica.”97 Justinian places this history inside a standard discussion of his continual efforts on behalf of the Church and a justification for the promotion based on the long-­standing privileges of the bishop of Carthage in the African Church. Despite the lack of rhetorical consistency with Novel 9, Novel 37 demonstrates Justinian’s categorical desire to regulate the Church through laws, as well as the consistent role imperial history played in his arguments for ­doing so. By referring to the Vandals as “tyrants,” Justinian is invoking the same imperial historical logic that Symmachus and Felix deployed against Zeno. However, while the Roman Church ultimately yielded to Justinian (see below), the African Church was steadfast in its unwillingness to tolerate a dominant local bishop and open in its endorsement of Leo’s re­sis­tance to the 28th Canon even into the 550s.98 The importance of imperial history in Justinian’s Church rhe­toric reached its peak in Novel 131, in which Justiniana Prima receives a similar promotion on the sole (rhetorical) basis of the emperor’s own biography.99 Unfortunately, we have ­little direct evidence of the response from Rome to the rhe­toric and effects of Novel 9 and the subsequent invasion of Italy by ­Roman forces. John II, the bishop of Rome addressed in the Novel, died in May of 535, likely before any official notice of the law reached him. John II was succeeded by Agapetus and then Silverius, both of whom lasted for less than a year. Nevertheless, ­there is some evidence that Agapetus appealed to Justinian on behalf of Rome’s se­niority, though with none of the rhetorical force we have come to expect from the bishops of Rome.100 Silverius was succeeded by Vigilius, who had been Agapetus’ apocrisarius in Constantinople, and is reported to have been suborned by the anti-­Chalcedonian empress Theodora.101 ­A fter Agapetus’ death, Vigilius was sent to Rome by the eastern court. Once he was t­ here, his rival Silverius was deposed by Belisarios (who had in the interim taken control of Rome and in turn come u­ nder siege), on the charge that he had conspired to betray the city to the besieging Gothic army.102 Silverius was then replaced by Vigilius. Although Vigilius ultimately disappointed Theodora, he remained a weak figure, as is clear from the rhe­toric of one of his few surviving letters, dated to 540, in which Vigilius expresses to Justinian his hope that “you do not, in your most Christian times, permit the se­niority (privilegia) of the see of the blessed Apostle Peter to be diminished by the snares of any thieving [anti-­Chalcedonian].”103 Vigilius goes on to cite Leo’s role in confirming the faith at Chalcedon, making it clear that his emphasis is on the importance of the see of Rome as a bastion of orthodoxy.

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Though the evidence is slight, we can see something approaching a coherent logic in the letters of Agapetus and Vigilius. In the context of Justinian’s push for a resolution to the Chalcedonian schism that erred on the side of Chalcedon, the bishops of Rome appealed to the status of their see as a bastion of orthodoxy in order to tentatively fend off Justinian’s attempts to rearrange the status and structure of sees in the Roman empire. In ­doing so, they ­were picking up, in an abbreviated and reframed manner, the ecclesiastical history of Gelasius. However, instead of focusing on episcopal re­sis­tance to emperors, as Gelasius did, Agapetus and Vigilius shifted their focus to the orthodoxy of the Roman see, erasing the image Gelasius had created of Leo as the western opponent of an eastern emperor, in ­favor of a Leo who was a beacon of orthodoxy against the depredations of Dioskoros.104 This was a natu­ral adaptation of Rome’s rhe­toric to suit Justinian’s most (Chalcedonian) Christian times. ­A fter 540, the question of episcopal status dis­appears from the rec­ord ­until 545, when Justinian promulgated Novel 131. We saw the details of this law at the opening of this chapter; note in it the language of Elder and New Rome, which we can now recognize as call-­outs to the 28th Canon of Chalcedon and an implicit endorsement of the secular imperial history that formed the basis for the promotion of the see of Constantinople at that council in 451. Justinian revived the language of the 28th Canon in 535, on the eve of the invasion of Italy, and integrated it into his larger rhetorical system of that period. Hence his focus on Roman history, specifically ­legal history, as the source and guarantor of Rome’s superior status. Nevertheless, by that point the writing was on the wall, and the tentative re­sis­tance of the see of Rome, combined with the continued failure to effect a reconciliation between pro-­and anti-­Chalcedonian factions in the empire, likely contributed to the emperor’s decision to put the issue to rest in 545. All that remained was to ensure the capitulation of the bishop of Rome, which came in 553, when Vigilius produced a constitutum in which he a­ dopted the language of Old and New Rome.105 In ­doing so, the bishop of Rome, at that point the effective hostage of Justinian in Constantinople, implicitly endorsed the secular imperial narrative introduced at Chalcedon, closing this chapter of Rome’s re­sis­tance to the claims of New Rome.

Historical Memory and the See of St. Peter The 28th Canon of Chalcedon embodied the claims of New Rome in the sphere of ecclesiastical politics. In surveying the rec­ord of Roman re­sis­tance to the



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mea­sure, we find that history was e­ very bit as essential to the bishops of Rome, for the construction of ecclesiastical identity and ideology, as it was to the emperors and authors of Constantinople. In the fifth and sixth centuries, both Constantinople and Rome articulated their Romanness and their politics through the medium of history. The historical narratives deployed by the Roman see ­were stable but dynamic and centered on apostolic history and the Petrine topos. Yet other narratives ­were introduced when necessary in order to articulate and frame the relationship between the western bishop and the eastern emperor in the years ­after 476. The realities of the post-­imperial west created new challenges for a Roman see that needed to maintain its connection to the east while attempting to oppose the actions of emperors (Zeno and Anastasius) who neither considered the city part of their domain nor ­were overly both­ered by the loss of communion with Rome. U ­ nder such circumstances, a natu­ral insecurity concerning Roman identity drove a shift t­ oward historical narratives, especially u­ nder Gelasius, that ­were explic­itly Romanocentric, and that, moreover, linked the bishop of Rome to the emperor in Constantinople by reference to a shared Chris­tian­ity. Yet throughout this period Chris­tian­ity and Romanness w ­ ere separable concepts, which not only could, but needed to be deployed in­de­pen­dently in order to maintain the distinction between secular and divine spheres, the distinction on which the ideology of the Roman see was based. History, in par­tic­u­lar apostolic history, was a core component and driving force ­behind this ideological formulation, while the use of ecclesiastical history can be understood as a response by the same ideological system in the face of shifting challenges. What is striking about the rhe­toric employed by the bishops of Rome is the evident parallels between their strategies—­the inversion of imperial rhe­toric, the attacks on imperial historical narratives, the deployment of a set of authorized narratives drawn from mythistory—­and t­ hose of the authors in Constantinople, who sought to address related questions of Romanness or to similarly oppose the agendas of emperors. This pattern reveals that Rome and Constantinople belonged to the same intellectual milieu in late antiquity, and that Christian leaders and secular historians ­were equally indebted to an intellectual ­middle ground that was neither Christian nor pagan, but simply Roman.106 The politics of memory are therefore revealed to be a fundamental feature of Roman po­liti­ cal discourse in the aftermath of the fall of Rome, regardless of which specific historical memory was being invoked at any par­tic­u ­lar moment. In response to the crisis of empire in the west, the Romans, as a group, looked to their past to understand their pre­sent.

conclusion

The sixth ­century is the perennial victim of a historical narrative that identifies it as a period of transition between classical antiquity and the M ­ iddle Ages or Byzantium. Yet it can also be seen as a period of aggressive conservatism and re­ spect for Roman traditions on the part of both emperors and their subjects. It looked to the Roman past for its laws, dreams of empire, and literary modes. Far from presaging the development of a putative theocratic Byzantine state, the sixth ­century demonstrates the commitment of the eastern Romans to remaining traditionally Roman in the face of upheavals and imperial disintegration. They rooted their path forward in the classical Roman past. Historical memory played an impor­tant role in constructing Roman identity and driving Roman politics. At its core, this book analyzes a series of debates among authors in the reigns of Anastasius, Justin, and Justinian, debates that engaged not only the emperors themselves, but also the secretarial classes of the imperial administration and the bishops of Rome, with each group attempting to articulate its stake in power through reference to Roman history. ­These debates about Roman history challenge scholarly narratives about the transformation of the classical world, the supremacy of Christian identity in late antiquity, and the low intelligence and literary merit of several major authors writing in this period. It also highlights the limitations of single-­author studies while demonstrating the utility of the tools of classical philology for understanding the lit­er­a­ture of late antiquity. Fi­nally, and most fundamentally, this monograph demonstrates the continued relevance of Roman history for the identity of the Roman east. It is true that the eastern Roman empire became increasingly Hellenized during this period, but this Hellenization did not, as has sometimes been assumed, take the form of a reversion to pre-­Roman models. Instead, the Greek-­ speaking Romans of the east translated Roman history into a Hellenic idiom, creating a Greek version of Roman history for their empire. Control over historical memory was just as central a concern for the emperors of the fifth and sixth centuries as it had been for Augustus and the Julio-­

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Claudians more than five hundred years before, and had similar frames of reference.1 The response of the “republican” writers of the early empire to the sonorous dissembling of Augustus’ Res Gestae w ­ ere replicated in the many con­ temporary responses to Justinian’s lofty proclamations about his place in history. As u­ nder the Principate, official historical narratives continued to be generated, challenged, modified, and, eventually, incorporated into the social memories of po­liti­cal and intellectual elites in Constantinople. The emperor possessed significant prerogatives in his role as historian-­in-­chief, a role that turns out to have been central to the exercise of imperial authority in the sixth ­century, but neither was his power absolute nor ­were his narratives accepted uncritically. In this way, constructing history was no dif­fer­ent from any other aspect of imperial governance. Scholarship on late antiquity frequently pre­sents the literate and intellectual classes of the empire as genuinely accepting and dutifully echoing imperial ideology and propaganda, while focusing on the role of bishops and holy men in challenging imperial authority. We have seen, by contrast, that the majority of our Constantinopolitan authors from the late fifth and sixth centuries represent distinct voices in a coherent intellectual scene that was concerned with the nature and implications of Roman history, and that they challenged the potential abuses of Roman history being perpetrated by the emperor. The members of this movement w ­ ere never in total agreement nor w ­ ere they, as a rule, dogmatic; Justinian’s most adamant critics sometimes agreed with the emperor on some issues (Prokopios on the status of the inhabitants of the city of Rome), while authors whom modern scholars have characterized as ideologically in step with his regime mounted subversive criticisms (Lydos’ Roman chronology and discussion of kingship).2 By bringing the variegated contours of this intellectual movement into sharp relief, we may now recognize the coherence among the approaches and verdicts of Prokopios, Ioannes Lydos, and Jordanes, a coherence that can plausibly be explained by placing them within a common social and intellectual circle. Moreover, our recognition of this scene forces us to re­orient our image of the intellectual world of the sixth c­ entury and admit that some authors whom scholarship has long relegated to the intellectual fringes w ­ ere in fact operating well within the bounds of mainstream historical and po­liti­cal thought in the period. Zosimos, in par­tic­u­lar, must be rehabilitated.3 Far from being a cranky pagan spewing irrelevant polemic, he was posing po­liti­cal, historical, and religious questions that concerned not only other sixth-­century authors but the emperor Justinian himself, and he was embracing paradigms, such as the decline of the western Roman empire, that ­were adapted and developed by Justinian’s court.

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In fact, contrary to what much modern scholarship suggests, Zosimos was an outlier not ­because he was a pagan, but ­because he made religion a centerpiece of his historical thinking. Even Justinian, who is often held up as the prototype for a new model of theocratic Byzantine kingship, preferred to justify his administrative reforms on the basis of non-­religious, though implicitly pagan, Roman traditions. Ironically, Zosimos’ religious fixation aligns him mostly closely with the bishops of Rome, though they too found it necessary to wade into secular and contested historical battlegrounds in order to assert their claims in the face of imperial opposition. The secular Roman framework of this Constantinopolitan intellectual scene has remained largely invisible to scholarship on the sixth ­century. In part, this is ­because of the nature of that scholarship. The authors of this period have generally been studied in isolation from one other, in accordance with the author-­ centric nature of many dissertations, articles, and books, and individually many of them are still often dismissed as, at best, inferior imitators of classical models (Prokopios, Christodoros), uncritical spokesmen for imperial authority (Prokopios, Lydos), or, at worst, unhinged polemical bigots (Zosimos) and derivative ­idiots (Jordanes). Some discussions force them to march in lockstep with the narrative of transformation and its axiomatic assumption of near universal Christianization. Thus, Ioannes Lydos has become a Christian and an implicit supporter of Justinianic absolutism, despite his extensive interest in (pagan and Republican) Roman traditions, his avowed Neoplatonism, and his total lack of interest in Chris­tian­ity. Even if he was (socially) Christian, forcing Lydos to play the role of a Christian intellectual prioritizes a tenuously established biography over the a­ ctual content of his works, and does vio­lence to both our understanding of Lydos’ corpus and of the intellectual milieu of sixth-­century Constantinople. When approached thematically and given the benefit of the doubt, ­these authors more readily reveal the details of their historical and po­liti­cal agendas. One of this monograph’s most significant innovations is the addition of Justinian himself, or at least his official po­liti­cal voice, to this list of sixth-­century Roman authors. Justinian has never been studied in his capacity as historian-­in-­ chief. Like most emperors, he is generally presented as a historical agent rather than as a writer of history, but, as we have seen, Justinian was the central voice in the historical debates of the sixth ­century. The writers of the age of Justinian formulated their models and views of Roman history in direct response to the views advanced in Justinian’s legislation.

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To date, scholars of late antiquity have primarily investigated ­these authors as win­dows onto specific social or religious identities and groups operating in the sixth c­ entury. On the other hand, classical scholars have rarely strayed so late, in part b­ ecause the field of classics and its canon traditionally exclude texts from the Christian empire. As a result, this is the first investigation of the secular, Roman thought-­worlds of fifth-­and sixth-­century authors conducted using the methodological toolset of classical philology. What emerges most vividly from this study is the fact that the authors of the period constructed their works in conscious and often explicit response to the canonical authors of classical antiquity: Christodoros situates himself and his poetic program through his discussions of Homer and Vergil; Prokopios routinely employs allusions to Thucydides and Xenophon; Lydos uses Sophocles’ Ajax to inform his discussion of kingship; Zosimos explic­itly describes himself as the negative complement to Polybios; both Zosimos and Jordanes use Vergilian allusions to lend their narratives mythic overtones. Th ­ ese invocations of classical authors are neither win­dow dressing nor sterile articulations of classical paideia, though they have often been described as such. Nor are ­these engagements with the classical canon examples of reception taking place a­ fter a temporal gap. Instead, they represent the uninterrupted exploration of the same themes in a contiguous ­later phase of the same ancient society. The field of classics, by failing to incorporate ­these ­later works, has robbed itself of the perspectives on classical lit­er­a­ture offered by a range of talented authors whose works demonstrate the continued utility of the classical tradition in an increasingly diverse set of po­liti­cal, cultural, and religious circumstances. By employing classical authors as models and targets for allusion, ­later eastern Roman writers ­were forging a connection between their time and that of their classical antecedents. Just as Justinian was ­eager to shorten the distance between himself and the robustly expanding empire of the Republic, and the bishops of Rome sought to link their see ­either to Peter or their own power­ful and imperial pre­de­ces­sors, so too the eastern authors of the sixth ­century attempted to situate themselves in the history of lit­er­a­ture through their use of classical authors. ­There is therefore meaningful correspondence between the method and the message of sixth-­century discussions of Roman history. Roman memory is, of course, the central concern of this monograph, and it was likewise a central concern for the eastern Romans of this period. We should ask why such questions came to the foreground at this par­tic­u­lar moment. Po­liti­ cal fictions aside, the western Roman empire was ruled by a barbarian king a­ fter

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476 without even the pretense that he was subject to a western Roman emperor. The bishops of Rome, keenly aware of ­these shifting realities, responded by repudiating Roman history (while emphasizing their Romanness) and developing historical idioms that allowed them to play the role of both loyal subjects and conscientious objectors in­de­pen­dent of prevailing po­liti­cal conditions. Meanwhile, the eastern Roman empire, at least judging by the opinions of the populace of Constantinople, was hardly less affected. The empress Ariadne, it would appear, was thought to be a proper Roman in 491, but Zeno and his Isaurian partisans ­were not. The loss of a homeland is no small ­matter, especially when it comes to maintaining a coherent identity, and the effect of the fall of the west upon the writers, citizens, bishops, and emperors of the east was that of a static diaspora: while they had not moved, po­liti­cally and culturally Rome itself had been taken off-­ field. Cut off from easy cultural access to the myths, histories, and ancestral language upon which they had long relied to substantiate and articulate their Roman identities, and in the face of potential western challenges to their Romanness (as seen in western claims that the eastern Romans w ­ ere Graeculi), the authors of New Rome sought to construct new paradigms of Romanness that would not only shore up their own standing, but could equally be deployed against rival claims. Thus this period is characterized by renewed interest in Vergil’s Aeneid, Roman prehistory, and the origins of Roman imperialism, all essential ingredients in the historical memory of Romanness. The authors of the fifth and sixth centuries, emperors and bureaucrats alike, ­were revising and redeploying the foundational historical and mythistorical narratives of Roman identity in their attempts to construct the edifice of a Greek Roman empire.

Appendix 1

Selected Chronology of the Fifth and Sixth Centuries ad

Date

Eastern Roman Empire

474 475

Accession of Zeno Theoderic becomes king of the Ostrogoths

476 484 489 491

Deposition of Romulus Augustulus by Odoacer Beginning of Acacian Schism Theoderic invades Italy Death of Zeno Accession of Anastasius

493 c. 500

518 519 521 525 526

Western Roman Empire

Death of Odoacer Theoderic becomes king of Italy Publication of Zosimos’ New History Publication of Christodoros’ Ekphrasis Death of Anastasius Accession of Justin I End of Acacian Schism First Consulship of Justinian Marriage of Justinian and Theodora Death of Theoderic Accession of King Athalaric with Amalasuintha as regent (continued)

224

A p p en d i x 1

Date

Eastern Roman Empire

527

Death of Justin Accession of Justinian Publication of first edition of the Codex Justinianus Nika Riots Eternal Peace with Persia Publication of Digest and Institutes

529 532 533 533–34 534

535 535–40 536 537 540 541 544 545 548 549 551? 551/52

553

c. 554 565

Publication of second edition of the Codex Justinianus Publication of Marcellinus comes’ Chronicon Publication of Novels 9, 13, 19, 24, 25, 26, and 37

Western Roman Empire

Belisarios’ conquest of Vandal North Africa Death of Athalaric

Death of Amalasuintha Belisarios’ conquest of Gothic Italy

Publication of Novels 30 and 38 Publication of Novels 47, 62, 75, and 105 Persian sack of Antioch and renewal of the Persian War Outbreak of bubonic plague

Recall of Belisarios Accession of King Totila Belisarios sent to Italy

Publication of Novel 131 Death of Empress Theodora Final recall of Belisarios Publication of Jordanes’ Getica and Romana Publication of the first seven books of Prokopios’ Wars and completion of the Secret History Publication of the eighth book of Prokopios’ Wars Vigilius’ Constitutum Publication of Lydos’ On the Magistracies of the Roman State Death of Justinian

­ attle of Taginae/Busta Gallorum B Death of Totila

Appendix 2

Ordinations of the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople

Date 440 446 449 458 461 468 472 483 489 490 492 496 498

Bishop of Constantinople

Leo I Flavianos I Anatolios Gennadios Hilarius Simplicius Akakios Felix III Flavianos II (Fravitta) Euphemios Makedonios II

508 511 514 518 520

Bishop of Rome

Gelasius Anastasius II Laurentian Schism Bishopric contested by Symmachus and Laurentius End of Laurentian Schism Symmachus confirmed

Timotheos I Hormisdas Ioannes II the Cappadocian Epiphanios (continued)

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Date 523 526 530 533 535 536 537 552 555

A p p en d i x 2

Bishop of Constantinople

Anthimos I Menas

Bishop of Rome John I Felix IV Boniface II John II Agapetus I Silverius Vigilius

Death of Menas Death of Vigilius

notes

The following abbreviations are used in the Notes and Bibliography: ACO BA FGrH

Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum. 4 vols. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1914–40. Byzantina Australiensia Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker. I. Worthingon, ed. Brill’s New Jacoby Online. https://­referenceworks​.­brillonline​.­com​/­browse​/­brill​-­s​-­new​-­jacoby. CA Collectio Avellana. 2 vols. CSEL 35. Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1895–98. CFHB Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1967–. CJ Justinian, Codex Justinianus CSEL Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum. 104 vols. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1866–. CTh Codex Theodosianus LCL Loeb Classical Library MGH.AA Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Auctores Antiquissimi. 14 vols. Berlin: Wiedmann, 1877–1919. PLRE 2 and 3 J. R. Martindale. Prosopography of the L ­ ater Roman Empire. Vols. 2 (395–526) and 3 (527–641). Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1980–92. TTH Translated Texts for Historians

introduction Note to epigraph: Cassiodorus, Variae 1.1.2–3: Et ideo, piissime principum, potentiae vestrae convenit et honori, ut concordiam vestram quaerere debeamus, cuius adhuc amore proficimus. vos enim estis regnorum omnium pulcherrimum decus, vos totius orbis salutare praesidium, quos ceteri dominantes iure suspiciunt, quia in vobis singulare aliquid inesse cognoscunt, nos maxime, qui divino auxilio in re publica vestra didicimus, quemadmodum Romanis aequabiliter imperare possimus. Regnum nostrum imitatio vestra est, forma boni propositi, unici exemplar imperii: qui quantum vos sequimur, tantum gentes alias anteimus. 1. For Theoderic’s title, see Jones, “Constitutional Position.” 2. For 476, see Croke, “Manufacturing.” 3. For post-­Roman Africa, see Conant, Staying Roman. The bibliography on post-­Roman Eu­rope, in par­tic­u­lar Italy, is massive. For the transition to the M ­ iddle Ages, see Murray, ­After Rome’s Fall; Wickham, Framing the Early M ­ iddle Ages and Inheritance of Rome; Smith, Eu­rope

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­After Rome; Heather, Empires and Barbarians and Restoration of Rome; Sarris, Empires of Faith. For the barbarian and Roman identities in the post-­Roman west, see Pohl, Kingdoms; Collins, “Law and Ethnic Identity”; Gillett, Barbarian Identity; Pohl and Heydemann, Post-­Roman Transitions; Swain, “Empire of Hope and Tragedy.” For the Ostrogoths in Italy, see Burns, History of the Ostrogoths; Amory, P ­ eople and Identity; Heather, “Gens and Regnum”; Barnish and Marazzi, Ostrogoths; Arnold, Bjornlie, and Sessa, Companion to Ostrogothic Italy. For the reign of Theoderic, see Moorhead, Theoderic; Goltz, Barbar—­König—­Tyrann; Lafferty, Law and Society; Arnold, Theoderic. For the question of Rome’s fall in general, see Ward-­Perkins, Fall of Rome; Heather, Fall of the Roman Empire; O’Donnell, Ruin of the Roman Empire. For the economic case against the fall of the Roman Empire, see Durliat, Les finances publiques. Contra Durliat, see Wickham, “The Fall of Rome.” 4. Studies have considered the eastern Roman reaction to the fall of Rome and the continuation of Roman po­liti­cal systems in the eastern Roman empire. See respectively, Kaegi, Byzantium and the Decline; Kaldellis, Byzantine Republic. For the development of a Greek Roman identity in late antiquity and Byzantium, see Kaldellis, Hellenism in Byzantium, 42–119. 5. This study of historical memory in the sixth ­century is anticipated and aided by a number of excellent studies in historical memory that have appeared in recent years, covering both the ancient and medieval periods and effectively bracketing the period of late antiquity, for which no such studies exist. For the Roman Republic, see Gallia, Remembering the Roman Republic. For the early empire, see Gowing, Empire and Memory. A series of edited volumes ­under the direction of Karl Galinsky has recently taken up the question of Roman memory, primarily ­under the empire: Galinsky, Memoria Romana; Galinsky and Lapatin, Cultural Memories; Galinsky, Memory in Ancient Rome. To ­these we may add Maggie Popkin’s work on the architectural context of the triumph, Architecture of the Roman Triumph. On medieval memory generally, see Carruthers, Book of Memory. On the Carolingians, see Latowsky, Emperor of the World, and McKitterick, History and Memory. 6. Millar, Greek Roman Empire, 2–4. 7. The former western empire awaits its own dedicated study of historical memory during this period, but a number of scholars have begun exploring aspects of the question. For the declining role of Roman architecture as a vehicle for memory in the fifth and sixth centuries, see Kalas, Restoration, 169–71. For its role prior to 476, see Machado, “Building the Past”; Kalas, Restoration. Susanne Muth plausibly identifies the growing disconnect between Rome’s role as a state memorial landscape and its urban decay beginning in the fifth c­ entury as a major f­ actor driving the move ­toward Christian memory in the city, in “Rom in der Spätantike.” For the development of St. Peter’s basilica as an alternative locus of memory, see Bauer, “Sankt Peter.” For the pseudo-­ Roman administration of Ostrogothic Italy, see Bjornlie, “Governmental Administration,” and Lafferty, “The Law,” both of which indicate the degree to which the Ostrogoths attempted to maintain a Roman-­style administration. For the l­ egal program of Theoderic, see Lafferty, Law and Society. For Cassiodorus’ attempt to Romanize the administration of Gothic Italy for a Constantinopolitan audience, see Bjornlie, Politics and Tradition, esp. 163–84. 8. Momigliano, “La caduta senza rumore.” For a more nuanced approach to the fall of the western empire, see Ando, “Decline, Fall, and Transformation,” esp. 40–41. 9. ­These current narratives do not entirely dominate the field, however; see A. M. Cameron, “Old and New Rome.” 10. This is one of the conclusions of Alan Cameron’s work on paganism in late antiquity, A.  D.  E. Cameron, Last Pagans. For approaches to the reign of Justinian that stress Christian frameworks, see Meier, Das andere Zeitalter Justinians, and Leppin, Justinian.



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11. Inglebert, “Introduction,” 16. 12. Brown, World of Late Antiquity. For challenges to the “transformation” paradigm, see inter alia, Ward-­Perkins, Fall of Rome, and Heather, Fall of the Roman Empire. 13. For an approach to the period predicated on the sixth c­ entury as transition, see Moorhead, Justinian, 1. 14. This trend is exacerbated by the continued unwillingness of modern scholarship to recognize the Byzantines for the Romans that they ­were, on which see Kaldellis, Romanland. 15. J. C. Smith, Conversion of Herman the Jew, 32. 16. McKitterick, History and Memory, 3. 17. Even t­ hose with no rec­ord of ser­vice in the imperial administration, such as Christodoros, can be shown to have close ties to the imperial court. This rule also applies to Justinian’s Novels which w ­ ere, in the period discussed in this study, written by the quaestor Tribonian. 18. Carruthers, Book of Memory, 189. 19. It should be noted that Shane Bjornlie does an excellent job fitting Cassiodorus into a sixth-­century Constantinopolitan context, but this is not the primary focus of his study, Politics and Tradition. 20. For a survey of the ways the tools of classical philology enhance the reading of ancient history, see Marincola, Companion to Greek and Roman Historiography. 21. For emperors acting as historians in an e­ arlier period, see Durry, “Les Empereurs comme historiens.” 22. The locus classicus for exemplarity in Roman history is of course Livy; see Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1.1.10. 23. I borrow the phrase “unexpected ­century” from Anthony Kaldellis. 24. Evans, Procopius; A.  M. Cameron, Procopius; Kaldellis, Procopius; Börm, Prokop. Cameron’s and Kaldellis’ are the two works that offer contrasting interpretations. Evans offers a general survey of Prokopios’ works, while Börm discusses Prokopios’ treatment of the Persians and the pos­si­ble Persian sources for his history. 25. The authors discussed, along with bibliographic information addressing their lives and works, ­will be reintroduced as they appear in the discussion.

chapter 1 1. I opt for the term pagan, rather than Hellene/Hellenic, as a more general way of referring to traditional polytheistic and henotheistic religions in the Mediterranean world. 2. For the po­liti­cal implications of the accession of Anastasius, see Kaldellis, Byzantine Republic, 106–17. For the reign of Anastasius, see Meier, Anastasios, 63–74; Haarer, Anastasius, 1–10. 3. For this campaign, see Heather, Fall of the Roman Empire, 399–407. 4. For the Isaurians, see Elton, “Nature of the Sixth-­Century Isaurians”; Shaw, “Bandit Highlands and Lowland Peace”; idem, “Bandit Highlands and Lowland Peace (Continued).” 5. For the argument that Theoderic ruled as a Roman emperor, see Arnold, Theoderic, 63–91. 6. The most notable exception to this rule is the historian Prokopios, who published his history of Justinian’s wars with more than a de­cade left in that emperor’s reign. For a full discussion of this taboo, see Kaldellis, “How Perilous Was It.” 7. For the ­career of Petros, see PLRE 3b.994–98 (Petrus 6). For the fragments of Petros’ lost history, see Banchich, The Lost History.

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8. Konstantinos VII, On Ceremonies 1.92 (R418.19–20): ὀρθόδοξον βασιλέα τῇ οἰκουμένῃ; (R419.6–7): Ῥωμαίων βασιλέα τῇ οἰκουμένῃ. 9. Konstantinos VII, On Ceremonies 1.92 (R419.10–11): ἄνδρα ἐπιλέξασθαι Χριστιανὸν Ῥωμαῖον καὶ πάσης γέμοντα βασιλικῆς ἀρετῆς. 10. Konstantinos VII, On Ceremonies 1.92 (R420.14–16): ὅλα τὰ καλὰ ἐπὶ σοῦ γένηται, Ῥωμαῖα, εἰ οὐδὲν ξένον αὔξει τὸ γένος τῶν Ῥωμαίων. 11. The name of Anastasius’ ­father is not certain, but Pompeios is a likely guess, A.  D.  E. Cameron, “House of Anastasius,” 262–63. 12. Meier, Anastasios, 75–83; Haarer, Anastasius, 11–28. 13. This statue collection and the poem that describes it are discussed in Chapter 2. 14. Souda, s.v. “Priskos” [=Adler Pi, 2301]. Text in Blockley, Fragmentary Classicising Historians, vol. 2, 223: ἔγραψεν Ἱστορίαν Βυζαντιακὴν καὶ τὰ κατὰ Ἀττήλαν ἐν βιβλίοις ὀκτὠ. 15. Photios, Bibliotheke 78. Text in Blockley, Fragmentary Classicising Historians, vol. 2, 403: Ἀνεγνώσθη Μάλχου σοφιστοὒ Βυζαντιακὰ ἐν βιβλίοις ἑπτά. 16. For the chronology of this shift and the role of the city of Constantinople, see Kaldellis, “Belated Hegemony.” 17. See Dagron, Naissance, 19–29; Grig and Kelly, Two Romes; Van Dam, Rome and Constantinople. 18. For the foundation of Constantinople as New Rome, see Lenski, “Constantine and the Tyche.” For the somewhat in­de­pen­dent question of Constantinople’s ecclesiastical status, see Chapter 6 as well as McLynn, “Two Romes”; Blaudeau, Alexandrie et Constantinople; idem, Le siège de Rome; idem, “Between Petrine Ideology and Realpolitik.” 19. This logical relationship between Old and New Rome explains why Ravenna does not appear in discussions of the Romanness of New Rome. Moreover, as Gillett has demonstrated, Rome remained the preferred capital of the l­ater western Roman emperors; see Gillett, “Rome, Ravenna.” Although Odoacer and Theoderic would invest heavi­ly in making Ravenna a po­liti­cal and monumental capital, the surviving sources do not indicate a similar attempt to generate historical Romanness for the city. On Ravenna during this period, see Deliyannis, Ravenna, esp. 46–51 (for the “transfer” of the capital) and 106–38 (for the Ostrogothic program in the city). For a survey of the artistic contributions of the Ostrogoths, in par­tic­u ­lar their building program in Ravenna, see M. Johnson, “Art and Architecture.” 20. For the cognitive adjustment to Constantinople’s new status, see Kaldellis, “Belated Hegemony.” 21. For Zosimos and his New History, see Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 107–14; Goffart, “Zosimus”; Kaegi, Byantium and the Decline, 99–145. The closest work to a monograph on Zosimos is a collection of papers by Paschoud, Cinq études. 22. Zosimos, New History 1.1.1: Πολυβίῳ τῷ Μεγαλοπολίτῃ, μνήμῃ παραδοῦναι τὰ καθ’ ἑαυτὸν ἀξιόλογα τῶν ἔργων προελομένῳ, καλῶς ἔχειν ἐφάνη δι’ αὐτῶν ἐπιδεῖξαι τῶν πράξεων ὅπως οἱ Ῥωμαῖοι μετὰ τὸν τῆς πόλεως οἰκισμὸν ἑξακοσίοις ἔτεσι τοῖς περιοίκοις προσπολεμήσαντες μεγάλην ἀρχὴν οὐκ ἐκτήσαντο, μέρος δέ τι τῆς Ἰταλίας ὑφ’ ἑαυτοὺς ποιησάμενοι, καὶ τούτου μετὰ τὴν Ἀννίβα διάβασιν καὶ τὴν ἐν Κάνναις ἧτταν ἐκπεπτωκότες, αὐτοῖς δὲ τοῖς τείχεσι τοὺς πολεμίους ὁρῶντες ἐπικειμένους, εἰς τοσοῦτον μέγεθος ἤρθησαν τύχης ὥστε ἐν οὐδὲ ὅλοις τρισὶ καὶ πεντήκοντα ἔτεσιν μὴ μόνον Ἰταλίαν ἀλλὰ καὶ Λιβύην κατακτήσασθαι πᾶσαν, ἤδη δὲ καὶ τοὺς ἑσπερίους Ἴβηρας ὑφ’ ἑαυτοὺς καταστῆσαι. 23. Zosimos, New History 1.1.1: αὐτοῖς δὲ τοῖς τείχεσι τοὺς πολεμίους ὁρῶντες ἐπικειμένους. For a dismissive view of Zosimos’ use of Polybios, see Paschoud, “Zosime et Polybe.” 24. Polybios, Histories 3.118 and Livy, Ab urbe condita 22.51.



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25. Polybios, Histories 1.1.5, on which see Walbank, Commentary on Polybius, vol. 1, 40. 26. Zosimos, New History 1.1.1: ἐν οὐδὲ ὅλοις τρισὶ καὶ πεντήκοντα ἔτεσιν μὴ μόνον Ἰταλίαν ἀλλὰ καὶ Λιβύην κατακτήσασθαι πᾶσαν, ἤδη δὲ καὶ τοὺς ἑσπερίους Ἴβηρας ὑφ’ ἑαυτοὺς καταστῆσαι, ἐπεὶ δὲ τοῦ πλείονος ἐφιέμενοι τὸν Ἰόνιον ἐπεραιώθησαν κόλπον, Ἑλλήνων τε ἐκράτησαν καὶ Μακεδόνας παρέλυσαν τῆς ἀρχῆς, αὐτόν τε ὃς τηνικαῦτα τούτων ἐβασίλευε ζωγρίᾳ ἑλόντες εἰς τὴν Ῥώμην ἀνήγαγον. 27. Zosimos, New History 1.2–5. 28. Inter alia, Paschoud, “Zosime et Polybe,” 201–6. 29. Zosimos has not traditionally been regarded as a historian of Roman revival, but rather as the first historian of Rome’s fall. I ­will address this issue further below, but for the moment it suffices to say that for all of his pessimism, Zosimos’ historical model is not hopeless. 30. Photios, Bibliotheke 98 (84B): Ἄρχεται μὲν τῆς ἱστορίας, ὡς ἄν τις εἴποι, ἀπὸ Αὐγούστου, ἐπιτρέχει δὲ πάντας τοὺς μέχρι Διοκλητιανοῦ, ψιλὴν ὥσπερ τὴν ἀνάρρησιν καὶ τὴν διαδοχὴν αὐτῶν ἀφηγούμενος. Ἀπὸ δὲ Διοκλητιανοῦ πλατύτερον περὶ τῶν βεβασιλευκότων διαλαμβάνει ἐν βιβλίοις πέντε. Τὸ γὰρ πρῶτον τοὺς μέχρι Διοκλητιανοῦ ἀπὸ Αὐγούστου ἀριθμεῖται. Καὶ πληροῖ τὴν ἕκτην βίβλον ἐν ἐκείνοις ἀπαρτιζομένην τοῖς χρόνοις ἐν οἷς Ἀλάριχος τὴν Ῥώμην τὸ δεύτερον πολιορκῶν καὶ τῶν ἐνοικούντων ἀπορουμένων, λύει τὴν πολιορκίαν, βασιλέα τούτοις Ἄτταλον ἀνειπών. 31. Beard, North, and Price, Religions of Rome, vol. 1, 201–6. 32. Zosimos, New History 2.1.1. 33. Zosimos, New History 2.7.1: ἀμεληθείσης δὲ τῆς ἑορτῆς ἀποθεμένου Διοκλητιανοῦ τὴν βασιλείαν. 34. Zosimos, New History 2.7.2. 35. Zosimos, New History 2.8.1. 36. Photios, Bibliotheke 98 (84B); Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 108. 37. Goffart, “Zosimus,” 420–22; Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 108. 38. Zosimos, New History 2.38.4: ἐπιμεινάσης γὰρ καὶ μετὰ Κωνσταντῖνον τῆς ἀπαιτήσεως ἐπὶ χρόνον συχνόν, ἐξαντλουμένου κατὰ βραχὺ τοῦ πλούτου τῶν πόλεων, ἔρημοι τῶν οἰκούντων αἱ πλεῖσται γεγόνασι. 39. Bjornlie argues the same on the basis of dif­f er­ent evidence, esp. the Chronicon of Marcellinus comes; Bjornlie, Politics and Tradition, 85–94. 40. Goffart, “Zosimus,” 413 and 438–41; Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 109. 41. Zosimos, New History 2.7.1: τούτων ἁπάντων κατὰ θεσμὸν ἐπιτελουμένων ἐφυλάττετο μὲν ἡ Ῥωμαίων ἀρχή, καὶ διετέλεσαν τὴν καθ’ ἡμᾶς πᾶσαν ὡς εἰπεῖν οἰκουμένην ὑφ’ ἑαυτοὺς ἔχοντες· ἀμεληθείσης δὲ τῆς ἑορτῆς ἀποθεμένου Διοκλητιανοῦ τὴν βασιλείαν, ὑπερρύη κατὰ βραχὺ καὶ ἔλαθε κατὰ τὸ πλέον βαρβαρωθεῖσα, ὡς αὐτὰ ἡμῖν τὰ πράγματα ἔδειξεν. 42. Zosimos, New History 1.57.1–2: Ἄξιον τὰ συνενεχθέντα πρὸ τῆς [πρώτης] Παλμυρηνῶν καθαιρέσεως ἀφηγήσασθαι, εἰ καὶ τὴν ἱστορίαν ἐν ἐπιδρομῇ φαίνομαι ποιησάμενος διὰ τὴν εἰρημένην ἐν προοιμίῳ μοι πρόθεσιν· Πολυβίου γὰρ ὅπως ἐκτήσαντο Ῥωμαῖοι τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐν ὀλίγῳ χρόνῳ διεξελθόντος, ὅπως ἐν οὐ πολλῷ χρόνῳ σφῇσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν αὐτὴν διέφθειραν ἔρχομαι λέξων. Ἀλλὰ ταῦτα μέν, ἐπειδὰν ἐν ἐκείνῳ γένωμαι τῆς ἱστορίας τῷ μέρει. 43. For Palmyrene religion, see Kaizer, Religious Life. 44. Zosimos, New History 1.57.4. 45. Zosimos, New History 1.58.3. 46. Zosimos, New History 1.57.4: φύτλης ἀθανάτων ἐρικυδέος ἀλγυντῆρες. 47. Zosimos, New History 1.58.4: Ἡ μὲν οὖν εἰς Ῥωμαίους εὐμένεια τοῦ θείου τῆς ἱερᾶς ἁγιστείας φυλαττομένης τοιαύτη· ἐπειδὰν δὲ εἰς ἐκείνους ἀφίκωμαι τοὺς χρόνους ἐν οἷς ἡ Ῥωμαίων

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ἀρχὴ κατὰ βραχὺ βαρβαρωθεῖσα εἰς ὀλίγον τι, καὶ αὐτὸ διαφθαρέν, περιέστη, τηνικαῦτα καὶ τὰς αἰτίας παραστήσω τοῦ δυστυχήματος, καὶ τοὺς χρησμοὺς ὡς ἂν οἷός τε ὦ παραθήσομαι τοὺς τὰ συνενεχθέντα μηνύσαντας. 48. In his quotation of the Sibylline Oracles, Zosimos, New History 2.6. 49. Treadgold argues that the history was meant to extend to the death of Zeno or Anastasius, Early Byzantine Historians, 113. Though t­ here is ­little direct evidence to support that claim, it was common for historians to write up through the reign of the previous emperor. 50. Kaegi, Byzantium and the Decline, 99; Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 109 and 113; Goffart, “Zosimus,” 413. 51. According to Kaegi “[Zosimos’] shallow, inconsistent, and superstitious arguments indicate how intellectually impoverished eastern paganism had become by the year 500. Nevertheless, the New History is the last and most highly developed eastern pagan interpretation of Roman history, and therefore marks the climax of pagan historical apol­o­getics.” Kaegi, Byzantium and the Decline, 101. 52. Goffart, “Zosimus,” 440–41. 53. They still recognized that the po­liti­cal system in the western Roman empire had collapsed, so we should not accept the notion that such an event is a scholarly invention, for which see Bowersock, “Vanis­hing Paradigm.” 54. Zosimos’ positive coverage of Constantine includes the emperor’s campaign against ­Licinius, which is based on classical models; see Krallis, “Greek Glory,” 112–20. 55. Paschoud, “Zosime 2,29.” 56. See Barnes, Constantine, 144–50; Woods, “Death of the Empress Fausta”; Fowden, “Last Days,” 155–58 and 163–65. For a response to Fowden, see Paschoud, “Zosime et Constantin.” 57. Zosimos, New History 2.29.3: Ταῦτα συνεπιστάμενος ἑαυτῷ, καὶ προσέτι γε ὅρκων καταφρονήσεις, προσῄει τοῖς ἱερεῦσι καθάρσια τῶν ἡμαρτημένων αἰτῶν· εἰπόντων δὲ ὡς οὐ παραδέδοται καθαρμοῦ τρόπος δυσσεβήματα τηλικαῦτα καθῆραι δυνάμενος, Αἰγύπτιός τις ἐξ Ἰβηρίας εἰς τὴν Ῥώμην ἐλθὼν καὶ ταῖς εἰς τὰ βασίλεια γυναιξὶν συνήθης γενόμενος, ἐντυχὼν τῷ Κωνσταντίνῳ πάσης ἁμαρτάδος ἀναιρετικὴν εἶναι τὴν τῶν Χριστιανῶν διεβεβαιώσατο δόξαν καὶ τοῦτο ἔχειν ἐπάγγελμα, τὸ τοὺς ἀσεβεῖς μεταλαμβάνοντας αὐτῆς πάσης ἁμαρτίας ἔξω παραχρῆμα καθίστασθαι. 58. McCormick, Eternal Victory, 35–79. 59. Herodotos, Histories 9.108–13. 60. Prokopios also referenced this scene in his Wars; see Kaldellis, “Procopius’ Persian War,” 259–62; Kruse “Speech of the Armenians,” 873–77. 61. The observation goes all the way back to Otto Seeck’s 1890 article, “Die Verwandtenmorde,” 67–68. 62. Zosimos, New History 2.30.1. 63. Zosimos, New History 2.29.5–30.1: Τῆς δὲ πατρίου καταλαβούσης ἑορτῆς, καθ’ ἣν ἀνάγκη τὸ στρατόπεδον ἦν εἰς τὸ Καπιτώλιον ἀνιέναι καὶ τὰ νενομισμένα πληροῦν, δεδιὼς τοὺς στρατιώτας ὁ Κωνσταντῖνος ἐκοινώνησε τῆς ἑορτῆς· ἐπιπέμψαντος δὲ αὐτῷ φάσμα τοῦ Αἰγυπτίου τὴν εἰς τὸ Καπιτώλιον ἄνοδον ὀνειδίζον ἀνέδην, τῆς ἱερᾶς ἁγιστείας ἀποστατήσας, εἰς μῖσος τὴν γερουσίαν καὶ τὸν δῆμον ἀνέστησεν. Οὐκ ἐνεγκὼν δὲ τὰς παρὰ πάντων ὡς εἰπεῖν βλασφημίας πόλιν ἀντίρροπον τῆς Ῥώμης ἐζήτει, καθ’ ἣν αὐτὸν ἔδει βασίλεια καταστήσασθαι. 64. ­There is an in­ter­est­ing and inverted parallel to this story in the Syriac Julian Romance, which likely dates to the sixth ­century. According to that story, the failure of the (Christian) populace of Rome to acclaim the emperor Julian denied him l­ egal standing as emperor and forced him to seek ­legal recognition in the form of popu­lar acclamation in Constantinople; see Sokoloff, Julian Romance, 34–35 and 99–100.



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65. It is widely suspected that Hosius of Cordoba is the “Aegyptios” of Zosimos’ account. For the perceived oddness of traditional Egyptian religion, see Frank­f urter, Religion in Roman Egypt, 11–15. For the evolving role of Egypt, in par­tic­u ­lar the Egyptian desert, in the Christian imagination, see Rapp, Holy Bishops, 105–25. 66. Zosimos, New History 1.5.2: καὶ τῇ τούτου γνώμῃ τὴν πᾶσαν διοίκησιν ἐπιτρέψαντες ἔλαθον ἑαυτοὺς κύβον ἀναρρίψαντες ἐπὶ ταῖς πάντων ἀνθρώπων ἐλπίσιν καὶ ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς ὁρμῇ τε καὶ ἐξουσίᾳ τοσαύτης ἀρχῆς καταπιστεύσαντες κίνδυνον. 67. Paschoud, “La digression.” 68. Zosimos, New History 2.29.1: ἐχρῆτο δὲ ἔτι καὶ τοῖς πατρίοις ἱεροῖς, οὐ τιμῆς ἕνεκα μᾶλλον ἢ χρείας. 69. Homer, Iliad 8.69–71 and 22.209–12. 70. Zosimos, New History 2.31.1–2. See also Dagron, Naissance, 297–347 and 40–45; Lenski, “Constantine and the Tyche.” 71. This may be understood as a pagan counterpart to Jerome’s famous claim that Constantine adorned Constantinople with the nudity of other cities. 72. Zosimos, New History 2.34.2: καὶ ἁπλῶς εἰπεῖν τῆς ἄχρι τοῦδε τῶν πραγμάτων ἀπωλείας αὐτὸς τὴν ἀρχὴν καὶ τὰ σπέρματα δέδωκε. Once again it should be noted that Zosimos’ formulation does not posit a decisive Roman fall, merely a continued destruction. 73. Zosimos, New History 2.35.1: ηὔξησε τὴν Κωνσταντινούπολιν εἰς μέγεθος πόλεως σφόδρα μεγίστης, ὥστε καὶ τῶν μετ’ αὐτὸν αὐτοκρατόρων τοὺς πολλοὺς τὴν οἴκησιν ἑλομένους τὴν ἐν αὐτῇ πλῆθος ὑπὲρ τὴν χρείαν συναγαγεῖν. 74. Cf. CJ 8.10. 75. Cf. Theokritos, Idylls 15; Tibullus, Elegies 2.3; Juvenal, Satires 3. 76. Zosimos, New History 2.37.1: τρηχὺ γὰρ ἠπείρου πλευρὰς ἐπινίσεται ἕλκος, / καὶ μέγ’ ἀνοιδήσει, ταχὺ δὲ ῥαγὲν αἱμοροήσει. 77. Zosimos, New History 2.31.1: οὐ πολλῷ τῆς Ῥώμης ἐλάττονα. 78. Zosimos, New History 2.31.1: τὸν ἱππόδρομον εἰς ἅπαν ἐξήσκησε κάλλος. See also Dagron, L’ hippodrome. 79. Zosimos, New History 2.36.1: Καί μοι πολλάκις ἐπῆλθε θαυμάσαι πῶς εἰς τοσοῦτο τῆς Βυζαντίων πόλεως ηὐξημένης ὡς μηδεμίαν ἄλλην εἰς εὐδαιμονίαν ἢ μέγεθος αὐτῇ παραβάλλεσθαι. 80. One aspect of this rivalry, the episcopal status of the sees of Rome and Constantinople, is the subject of Chapter 6. 81. For the extant fragments of Hesychios with commentary, see Hesychios of Miletos, FGrH 390. For his Patria, see Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 270–78; Kaldellis, “Works and Days”; Dagron, Constantinople imaginaire, 21–29. 82. FGrH 390, T3–5. 83. Photios, Bibliotheke 69 (34A–­B). 84. According to Photios, Hesychios ended his history of Justinian b­ ecause of his grief over his son’s death. Not to discount a ­father’s sorrow, but the inclusion of this information in the history itself, as well as the subsequent publication of the work, suggests that it was part of a recusatio excusing Hesychios from continuing to write the history of a living emperor. Photios, Bibliotheke 69 (34B): Καὶ τὸ λοιπὸν ὁ συγγραφεὺς ἐπεσχέθη, θανάτῳ τοῦ παιδὸς Ἰωάννου τὴν ψυχὴν καιρίαν βληθεὶς καὶ τῆς πρὸς τὸ γράφειν ὁρμῆς ἐκκοπείς. 85. Kaldellis, “Works and Days,” 382–83 and 393–95. 86. Hesychios, Patria [=FGrH 390, F7] 1: Δύο καὶ ἑξήκοντα καὶ τριακοσίων ἀπὸ τῆς Αὐγούστου Καίσαρος μοναρχίας διεληλυθότων ἐνιαυτῶν τῇ πρεσβυτέρᾳ Ῥώμῃ καὶ τῶν πραγμάτων αὐτῆς ἤδη πρὸς πέρας ἀφιγμένων Κωνσταντῖνος ὁ Κωνσταντιόυ παῖς ἐπιλαβόμενος τῶν

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σκήπτρων τὴν νέαν ἀνίστησι Ῥώμην ἴσην αὐτὴν τῇ πρώτῃ χρηματίζειν προστάξας. Ἤδη μὲν γὰρ καὶ τυράννοις καὶ βασιλεῦσι χρησαμένην πολλάκις ἀριστοκρατίας τε καὶ δημοκρατίας πολιτευσαμένην τρόπῳ τέλος ἐπὶ τὸ προκείμενον ἐξενηνοχέναι μέγεθος. 87. For ancient prophecies on the demise of Rome, see Olbrich, “Constantiniana Daphne.” 88. Cf. Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 1.38. 89. Th ­ ese four centuries are given a single section, which ­will be discussed below. 90. Hesychios, Patria 30. 91. FGrH 390, F7 n. 1. 92. Hesychios, Patria 5: οὗπερ τὴν προσηγορίαν μυθεύουσι τῆι πόλει προστεθῆναι. 93. Hesychios, Patria 6: Οἱ μὲν οὖν διαφόροις ἐχρήσαντο λόγοις, ἡμεῖς δὲ πιθανὴν τὴν ἱστορίαν τοῖς ἐντυγχάνειν ἐθέλουσιν παραστῆσαι βουλόμενοι ἐκ τῆς Ἰνάχου θυγατρὸς Ἰοῦς τὴν ἀρχὴν προσφόρως ποιούμεθα. Ἰνάχου γὰρ τοῦ Ἀργείων βασιλέως γέγονε θυγάτηρ Ἰώ. 94. Cf. the foundation of Kyrene in Herodotos, Histories 4.150–58. 95. Herodotos, Histories 1.1–2. 96. Homer, Iliad 2.559–68. 97. Vergil, Aeneid 2.162–70. Cf. Prokopios, Wars 5.15.8–14. 98. Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 1.3.3–4. 99. Vergil, Aeneid 3.13ff. 100. Janin, Constantinople, 95–96. 101. Herodotos, Histories 1.2. 102. ­There are many such correspondences; see Dagron, Naissance, 14–19; Kaldellis, “Works and Days,” 395–98; FGrH 390, F7, Commentary. 103. Io also appears in the Aeneid in a depiction on Turnus’ shield; Vergil, Aeneid 7.789–92. 104. Cf. Pindar, Pythian 1, and Kallimachos, Hymn 1. 105. Homer, Iliad 7.451–53 and 21.441–57. 106. Homer, Iliad 12.3–18. 107. FGrH 390, F7 n. 20–21; Janin, Constantinople, 11. 108. Livy, Ab urbe condita 1.7.1–3. 109. Cf. Horace, Epodes 7.17–20. See also Ogilvie, Commentary, 54. 110. Hesychios, Patria 22: μὴ δυνηθεὶς προσορμῆσαι τῇ πόλει ἄρτι τοῦ βασιλέως αὐτῶν Βύζαντος μεταλλάξαντος καὶ τοῦ δήμου παντὸς ἐν ἀγωνίᾳ τυγχάνοντος πρὸς τὸν καλούμενον Ἀνάπλουν ἀφίκετο. 111. A search of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae returned only results for a homonymous Achaian hero in the Iliad. 112. For the siege of Byzantion by Philip, see Hammond, Philip, 133–35. 113. Hesychios, Patria 27: εἰ μή τις αὐτοῖς τοῦ θείου γέγονε συμμαχία τοὺς κατὰ τὴν πόλιν κύνας πρὸς ὑλακὴν ἀναστήσαντος. 114. Livy, Ab urbe condita 5.47. 115. This festival was celebrated yearly on the third of August; see Scullard, Festivals, 170. 116. In this re­spect, Hesychios’ agenda parallels that of his e­ arlier con­temporary Christodoros, the subject of Chapter 2. 117. Hesychios, Patria 35: Ἀλλὰ ταῦτα μὲν καὶ ἀριστοκρατουμένων καὶ δημοκρατουμένων τῶν Βυζαντίων, ἔτι δὲ καὶ τυραννουμένων κατὰ διαφόρους συμβέβηκε χρόνους. Ὡς δὲ τῇ τῶν ὑπάτων ἐπικρατείᾳ ἡ Ῥωμαίων ἀρχὴ πάσας ὑπερεβάλετο τὰς δυναστείας, κατεδούλωσε δὲ καὶ τὰ τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἔθνη, εἰκότως αὐτῇ καὶ Βυζάντιοι πειθόμενοι διετέλουν.



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118. Hesychios, Patria 36: Ἐπειδὴ δὲ μετά τινας χρόνους Σεβήρου βασιλεύσαντος τῆς Ῥώμης αὐτοὶ τὴν τοῦ τυραννήσαντος τῶν ἑῴων Νίγρου προτιμήσαντες ἐλπίδα εἰς χεῖρας ἐλθεῖν ἐτόλμησαν πρὸς τὸν αὐτοκράτορα. 119. For the siege of Byzantion, see Birley, Severus, 108–20. For the possibility that Severus was used by Constantine as a way to erase Licinius’ contributions to the city, see Van Dam, “Constantine’s Beautiful City,” 85–86.

chapter 2 1. For Christodoros, see Christodoros of Koptos, FGrH 283; Kaldellis, “Christodoros”; Bassett, “Historiae Custos”; Stupperich, “Statuenprogramm.” 2. Lydos, Magistracies 3.26; Cavero, Poems in Context, 31–33. 3. FGrH 283, T1 Commentary. For fragments of similar local histories, see Janiszewski, Missing Link, 165–328. 4. Souda, s.v. “Christodoros” (=Adler Chi, 525). 5. Croke, “Poetry and Propaganda,” 448–49. 6. A. D. E. Cameron, “Wandering Poets,” 480–81 and 489; Kaldellis, “Christodoros,” 377–81. 7. For the Zeuxippos Baths, see Müller-­Wiener, Schiele, and Schiele, Bildlexikon, s.v. “Zeuxippos-­Thermen.” 8. Hesychios reports that the name Zeuxippos was derived from Herakles’ taming of Diomedes’ ­horses, Hesychios, Patria 37. 9. Casson, Rice, and Hudson, Second Report, 18–21; Basset, Urban Image, 160–85. 10. In support of this traditional ideology, see Bassett, Urban Image, 53–55. For skepticism on the same subject, see Bassett, “Historiae Custos,” 503–4; Kaldellis, “Christodoros,” 372–73. 11. Kaldellis, “Christodoros,” 362ff. 12. Even Bassett’s rejection of the Romano-­Trojan focus is based in part on the number of Trojan statues pre­sent in the collection, rather than the content of Christodoros’ description. Bassett, “Historiae Custos,” 503–4. 13. Kaldellis, “Christodoros,” 372. 14. Deiphobos’ death in a drunken stupor is reported briefly by Quintus of Smyrna, followed by Menelaos’ extended gloat, Posthomerica 13.354–73. 15. Homer, Odyssey 8.517–20: αὐτὰρ Ὀδυσσῆα προτὶ δώματα Δηϊφόβοιο / βήμεναι, ἠΰτ’ Ἄρηα, σὺν ἀντιθέῳ Μενελάῳ. / κεῖθι δὴ αἰνότατον πόλεμον φάτο τολμήσαντα / νικῆσαι καὶ ἔπειτα διὰ μεγάθυμον Ἀθήνην. 16. For a survey of scholarship on Deiphobos in the Aeneid, see Horsfall, Virgil, vol. 2, 360–66. 17. Vergil, Aeneid 6.502–8. 18. Vergil, Aeneid 6.494–534. For this scene’s role in the Aeneid, see Bleisch, “Empty Tomb.” 19. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 1–12: Δηΐφοβος μὲν πρῶτος ἐυγλύπτῳ ἐπὶ βωμῷ / ἵστατο, τολμήεις, κεκορυθμένος, ὄβριμος ἥρως, / τοῖος ἐών, οἷός περ ἐπορνυμένῳ Μενελάῳ / περθομένων ἤντησεν ἑῶν προπάροιθε μελάθρων. / ἵστατο δὲ προβιβῶντι πανείκελος· εὖ δ’ ἐπὶ κόσμῳ / δόχμιος ἦν, μανίῃ δὲ κεκυφότα νῶτα συνέλκων / δριμὺ μένος ξυνάγειρεν· ἕλισσε δὲ φέγγος ὀπωπῆς, / οἷά τε δυσμενέων μερόπων πεφυλαγμένος ὁρμήν. / λαιῇ μὲν σάκος εὐρὺ προΐσχετο, δεξιτερῇ δὲ / φάσγανον ὑψόσ’ ἄειρεν· ἔμελλε δὲ μαινομένη χεὶρ / ἀνέρος ἀντιβίοιο κατὰ χροὸς ἆορ ἐλάσσαι· / ἀλλ’ οὐ χαλκὸν ἔθηκε φύσις πειθήμονα λύσσῃ.

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20. Compare Aphrodite’s speech to Helen, Homer, Iliad 3.414–17. 21. Vergil, Aeneid 6.529–30: di, talia Grais / instaurate, pio si poenas ore reposco. 22. The word Grais is a poetic dative and ablative plural of Graecus. 23. For the Roman conception of the conquest of Greece, see Dmitriev, Greek Slogan; ­Lavan, Slaves to Rome. 24. Vergil, Aeneid 6.836–40: ille triumphata Capitolia ad alta Corintho / uictor aget currum caesis insignis Achiuis. / eruet ille Argos Agamemnoniasque Mycenas / ipsumque Aeaciden, genus armipotentis Achilli, / ultus auos Troiae templa et temerata Mineruae. 25. Corinth in 146 bc was, of course, also a member of the Achaian League. 26. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 413: κοσμήσας ἐπέεσσιν ἑὴν Βυζαντίδα πάτρην; ibid., 415–16: ὅν ποτε Ῥώμης / Θυβριὰς ἄλλον Ὅμηρον ἀνέτρεφε πάτριος ἠχώ. 27. For Nonnos and his place in the lit­er­a­ture and culture of late antiquity, see A. D. E. Cameron, “Poets and Pagans”; Hadjittofi, “Unclassical Epic”; Liebeschuetz, “Pagan My­thol­ogy.” 28. A. D. E. Cameron, “Wandering Poets,” 470–71. 29. Nonnos, Dionysiaka 43.378–80. 30. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 320. 31. On the cultural status of Troy in the Roman world, see Erskine, Troy. 32. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 143–47: Ἵλαθι, γαίης / Τρωιάδος βλάστημα σακεσπάλον, ἵλαθι, λάμπων / Αἰνεία Τρώων βουληφόρε· σαῖς γὰρ ὀπωπαῖς / ἀγλαΐης πνείουσα σοφὴ περιλείβεται αἰδώς, / θέσκελον ἀγγέλλουσα γένος χρυσῆς Ἀφροδίτης. 33. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 152–54: οἷά τε μυρομένη· τὰ δὲ χάλκεα δάκρυα νύμφης / Ἄρεϊ δουρίκτητον ἐμαντεύοντο τιθήνην, / Ἴλιον Ἀργείοισιν ἐελμένον ἀσπιδιώταις. 34. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 155–59: Οὔθ’ Ἕλενος κοτέων ἀπεπαύετο· πατρίδι νηλὴς / φαίνετο δινεύων ἔτι που χόλον. ἦν μὲν ἀείρων / δεξιτερῇ φιάλην ἐπιλοίβιον· ὡς δοκέω δέ, / ἐσθλὰ μὲν Ἀργείοις μαντεύετο, κὰδ δὲ τιθήνης / ἀθανάτοις ἠρᾶτο πανύστατα σήματα φαίνειν. 35. For Menelaos looking at Helen and Pyrrhos at Polyxena, see Christodoros, Ekphrasis 167 and 196. For the transition between Odysseus and Hekabe, see 175. 36. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 161–64: οὔτι γόον σταλάουσα πολύστονον· ὡς γὰρ ὀίω, / οὔπω ἐνὶ πτολέμῳ κορυθαίολος ἤριπεν Ἕκτωρ, / οὐδὲ φερεσσακέων ὑπερήνορες υἷες Ἀχαιῶν / Δαρδανίην ξύμπασαν ἐληίσσαντο τιθήνην. 37. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 174–75: Τροίην γὰρ ἐγήθεε πᾶσαν ὀλέσσας / ᾗσι δολοφροσύνῃσι. 38. Christodoros uses the word technē to refer to the art of sculpture throughout the Ekphrasis. 39. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 178–80: οὐδέ σε χαλκὸς ἔπαυσεν ὀιζύος, οὐδέ σε τέχνη / ἄπνοος οἰκτείρασα δυσαλθέος ἔσχεθε λύσσης, / ἀλλ’ ἔτι δάκρυ χέουσα παρίστασαι. 40. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 180–83: ὡς δὲ δοκεύω, / οὐκέτι δυστήνου μόρον Ἕκτορος οὐδὲ ταλαίνης / Ἀνδρομάχης βαρὺ πένθος ὀδύρεαι, ἀλλὰ πεσοῦσαν / πατρίδα σήν. 41. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 246–55: Πάνθοος ἦν Τρώων βουληφόρος, ἀλλ’ ἔτι δεινὴν / οὔπω μῆτιν ἔπαυσε κατ’ Ἀργείων στρατιάων. / Δημογέρων δὲ νόημα πολύπλοκον εἶχε Θυμοίτης, / ἀμφασίης πελάγεσσιν ἐελμένος· ἦ γὰρ ἐῴκει / σκεπτομένῳ τινὰ μῆτιν ἔτι Τρώεσσιν ὑφαίνειν. / Λάμπων δ’ ἀχνυμένῳ ἐναλίγκιος ἦεν ἰδέσθαι· / οὐ γὰρ ἔτι φρεσὶν εἶχε κυλινδομένοιο κυδοιμοῦ / τειρομένοις Τρώεσσι τεκεῖν παιήονα βουλήν. / Εἱστήκει Κλυτίος μὲν ἀμήχανος· εἶχε δὲ δοιὰς / χεῖρας ὁμοπλεκέας, κρυφίης κήρυκας ἀνίης. 42. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 13: Κεκροπίδης δ’ ἤστραπτε, νοήμονος ἄνθεμα Πειθοῦς. 43. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 92–96: Καῖσαρ δ’ ἐγγὺς ἔλαμπεν Ἰούλιος, ὅς ποτε Ῥώμην / ἀντιβίων ἔστεψεν ἀμετρήτοισι βοείαις. / αἰγίδα μὲν βλοσυρῶπιν ἐπωμαδὸν ἦεν ἀείρων, / δεξιτερῇ δὲ κεραυνὸν ἀγάλλετο χειρὶ κομίζων / οἷα Ζεὺς νέος ἄλλος ἐν Αὐσονίοισιν ἀκούων.



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44. The iconography is unusual enough to raise questions about what precisely Christodoros was describing. We may fairly suspect that Christodoros has recast a statue of Zeus, complete with aegis and thunderbolt, as Caesar. Alternatively, the statue of Zeus may have been mislabeled, and Christodoros is leaning into the misidentification. 45. Connor, Thucydides, 158–68. 46. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 97–98: Εἱστήκει δὲ Πλάτων θεοείκελος, ὁ πρὶν Ἀθήναις / δείξας κρυπτὰ κέλευθα θεοκράντων ἀρετάων. 47. The inclusion of Hermaphroditos at this point in the Ekphrasis is reminiscent of Caesar’s reputation for being “­every w ­ oman’s man and e­ very man’s w ­ oman,” Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 52.3. 48. The Isaurians ­were not, as a rule, considered to be Romans. 49. A. D. E. Cameron, “House of Anastasius,” 259–63. The only other allusion to the con­ temporary world is Christodoros’ reference to Homer as “my ­father,” Ekphrasis 320. For the identification of this Anastasius with the emperor and not his nephew as well as the other evidence for Anastasius’ attempt to promote this association during his reign, see Kaldellis, “Christodoros,” 377–81. 50. Christodoros, Ekphrasis 398–406: Καὶ πρόμος εὐκαμάτων Πομπήιος Αὐσονιήων, / φαιδρὸν ἰσαυροφόνων κειμήλιον ἠνορεάων, / στειβομένας ὑπὸ ποσσὶν Ἰσαυρίδας εἶχε μαχαίρας / σημαίνων, ὅτι δοῦλον ὑπὸ ζυγὸν αὐχένα Ταύρου / εἴρυσεν ἀρρήκτῳ πεπεδημένον ἅμματι Νίκης· / κεῖνος ἀνήρ, ὃς πᾶσιν ἔην φάος, ὃς βασιλῆος / ἠγαθέην ἐφύτευσεν Ἀναστασίοιο γενέθλην. / τοῦτο δὲ πᾶσιν ἔδειξεν ἐμὸς σκηπτοῦχος ἀμύμων / δῃώσας σακέεσσιν Ἰσαυρίδος ἔθνεα γαίης. 51. For the imitation of the calcatio colli as well as a survey of depictions of Anastasius’ Isaurian triumph, see Croke, “Poetry and Propaganda,” 447–56. See also McCormick, Eternal Victory, 57–58. 52. Östenberg, Staging the World, 283–92. 53. This is a part of Christodoros’ per­for­mance of learnedness, a major component of his poem. See Kaldellis, “Christodoros,” 373–77. This transformation is also a stark indication of Christodoros’ ability and willingness to control the contents of the Ekphrasis even in the presence of identifying inscriptions. 54. For the casa Romuli and Augustus, see Meyboom, “Imperial Tradition.” 55. For a survey of t­ hese ancient traditions about the Palladion, see Ando, “Palladium,” 398–99. 56. The story of the transfer of the Palladion is told by Malalas, Chronicle 13.7, and repeated with only a mild disclaimer in the Chronicon Paschale 328. Prokopios also rec­ords the tradition and claims to have seen a copy of the Palladion still kept in Rome, Wars 5.15.8–14. For the con­ temporary importance of t­ hese traditions, see Ando, “Palladium,” 397–404. Alan Cameron has argued, contra Ando, that t­ hese traditions w ­ ere not concerned with sacred topography, but rather with the transfer of empire in the wake of the fall of the western empire (Last Pagans, 609–13).

chapter 3 1. McCormick, Eternal Victory, 35–79. 2. Aside from Christodoros, only Priskian mentions Anastasius’ descent; see A. D. E. Cameron, “House of Anastasius,” 259–61. 3. For history and authority in Justinian’s Codex, see Pazdernik, “Justinianic Ideology,” 198–205. For the relationship between the emperors and their l­egal officials during previous centuries, see Honoré, Emperors and ­Lawyers. For Justinian in general, see Leppin, Justinian.

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4. For the Theodosian Code, see Matthews, Laying Down the Law. For a list of all the imperial edicts that survive intact from Augustus to Caracalla, about thirty-­three in all, see Lavan, Slaves to Rome, 213 n. 8. 5. The Christian context of ­t hese novels is discussed by Maas, John Lydus, 45–48; idem, ­“Roman History.” 6. The last of the reform novels is dated 1 July 536, Justinian, Novel 103.Ep (499.39–40). All discussion of the Novels ­will be based on the Greek text ­unless other­wise noted. The Greek text would have had the widest audience in the eastern Roman empire of the sixth c­ entury, and moreover more clearly pre­sents the verbal parallels between the text of the laws and the content of con­temporary authors, who, with a few notable exceptions, published in Greek. 7. For Justinian’s l­ egal reforms, see Honoré, Tribonian; Pazdernik, “Justinianic Ideology.” 8. For the military history of Justinian’s reign, see Heather, Rome Resurgent. 9. Honoré, Tribonian, 17. 10. For Lydos and the law, see Caimi, Burocrazia. For Prokopios’ l­ egal background and its influence on his history, see Greatrex, “­Lawyers and Historians.” For the readership and enduring importance that attached to Roman laws, see Corcoran, “State Correspondence,” esp. 180–81. 11. For the interaction between landed interests and the Roman government, see Sarris, Economy and Society, 149–76. 12. Justinian, Novel 24.1 (190.24–25). 13. Honoré, Tribonian, 117–38. 14. Justinian, Novel 24.Pr (189.7–15): Καὶ τοὺς πάλαι Ῥωμαίους πεπιστεύκαμεν οὐκ ἆν ποτε δυνηθῆναι τοσαύτην πολιτείαν ἐκ μικρῶν καὶ ἐλαχίστων ἀρχῶν συστήσασθαι καὶ πᾶσαν ἐξ αὐτῆς τὴν οἰκουμένην, ὡς εἰπεῖν, προσλαβεῖν τε καὶ καταστήσασθαι, εἰ μὴ μείζοσιν ἄρχουσιν ἐν ταῖς ἐπαρχίαις πεμπομένοις σεμνότεροί τε ἐντεῦθεν ἐφάνησαν καὶ παρέσχον αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν ὅπλων τε καὶ νόμων, καὶ πρὸς ἑκάτερον εἶχον αὐτοὺς ἐπιτηδείους τε καὶ ἀξιοχρέους καθεστῶτας. 15. Pazdernik, “Justinianic Ideology,” 191. 16. Justinian, Novel 24.1 (189.15–19): οὓς δὴ καὶ πραίτωρας ἐκάλουν ἐκ τοῦ πρὸ τῶν ἄλλων ἁπάντων ἰέναι καὶ παρατάττεσθαι ταύτην αὐτοῖς δόντες τὴν προσηγορίαν, ἐπιτρέψαντές τε αὐτοῖς καὶ τὰ πολεμικὰ διοικεῖν καὶ τὰ περὶ τῶν νόμων γράφειν. For the history of the praetorship, see Brennan, Praetorship. 17. Justinian, Novel 24.1 (189.26–28): Ταῦτα ἐννοοῦντες ἡμεῖς, καὶ τὴν παλαιότητα πάλιν μετὰ μείζονος ἄνθους εἰς τὴν πολιτείαν ἐπαναγαγόντες καὶ τὸ Ῥωμαίων σεμνύναντες ὄνομα. 18. Lydos, On the Months, 4.30, 4.73, and 4.75; Dagron, Naissance, 44–45. 19. Aside from Novel 24, flos/anthos occurs in Novels 28, 29, 30, and 103. Novels 28 and 29 ­were published on 16 June 535, Novel 30 on 17 March 536, and Novel 103 on 1 July 536. 20. Lydos, On the Months, 4.30, 4.73, and 4.75; Malalas, Chronicle 13.7–8; Chronicon Paschale 328. 21. Libanios, Orations 11.270; Crow, “­Water and Late Antique Constantinople,” 116–17. 22. Prokopios, Wars 7.22.8–16. The letter to Totila is discussed in detail in Chapter 5, section “Greeks, Romans, and Monuments.” 23. Chrysos, “Die Amaler-­Herrschaft.” We may also adduce the evidence of the Theodosian Code, which twice refers to Constantinople as florentissima urbs, CTh 7.8.14 and 15.2.4. 24. For the sources on Amalasuintha, see PLRE 2.65 (Amalasuintha); for an analy­sis of her ­career, see Vitiello, Amalasuintha. 25. Prokopios, Wars 5.3.28 and 5.4.1–11. For the sources on Theodahad, see PLRE 2.1067–68 (Theodahadus); for his c­ areer, see Vitiello, Theodahad. 26. Prokopios, Wars 5.4.22. For Petros the Patrician, see PLRE 3b.994–98 (Petrus 6).



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27. The term oikoumenē also appears in Novels 40, 109, and 132, published in 534/35, 541, and 545 respectively. The date of Novel 40 differs in the Greek (18 May 536) and Latin (18 May 535) text. In ­either case, Novel 24 contains one of the first uses of the term in the Novels. 28. The meaning of the term oikoumenē would continue to evolve into the Byzantine period, on which see Kaldellis, “Did the Byzantine Empire.” 29. Justinian, Novel 24.Pr (189.21–25): καὶ πολὺς νόμος ἐκ τῆς τῶν πραιτώρων ἐξεχέθη φωνῆς, πολλοί τε πραίτωρες οἱ μὲν Σικελίαν οἱ δὲ Σαρδὼ τὴν νῆσον οἱ δὲ Ἱσπανίαν οἱ δὲ ἄλλην κατεκτήσαντό τε καὶ διῳκήσαντο θάλαττάν τε καὶ γῆν. 30. Justinian, Digest 1.2.32: Capta deinde Sardinia, mox Sicilia, item Hispania, deinde Narbonensi provincia totidem praetores, quot provinciae in dicionem venerant, creati sunt, partim qui urbanis rebus, partim qui provincialibus praeessent. 31. Polybios, Histories 1.1.5: τίς γὰρ οὕτως ὑπάρχει φαῦλος ἢ ῥᾴθυμος ἀνθρώπων ὃς οὐκ ἂν βούλοιτο γνῶναι πῶς καὶ τίνι γένει πολιτείας ἐπικρατηθέντα σχεδὸν ἅπαντα τὰ κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην οὐχ ὅλοις πεντήκοντα καὶ τρισὶν ἔτεσιν ὑπὸ μίαν ἀρχὴν ἔπεσε τὴν Ῥωμαίων. 32. Polybios, Histories 6.18. 33. Goffart linked Zosimos, the Novels, and Jordanes, arguing that Jordanes was attempting to adapt Zosimos’ narrative for a Christian context (Narrators, 54–57). The majority of recent literary scholarship on Jordanes has focused on the Getica rather than the Romana. See Swain, “Jordanes and Virgil,” 243–45; Whately, “Jordanes.” For a more complete assessment of Jordanes as an author and historian, see Swain, “Empire of Hope.” Most recently, Lieve Van Hoof and Peter Van Nuffelen have argued for both Jordanes’ originality and his social connection to Cassiodorus (“Historiography of Crisis”). 34. Jordanes, Romana 2: vis enim praesentis mundi erumnas cognuscere aut quando coepit vel quid ad nos usque perpessus est, edoceri. addes praeterea, ut tibi, quomodo Romana res publica coepit et tenuit totumque pene mundum subegit et hactenus vel imaginariae teneat, ex dictis maiorum floscula carpens breviter referam. 35. Jordanes, Romana 6: Romani, ut ait Iamblicus, armis et legibus exercentes orbem terrae suum fecerunt: armis si quidem construxerunt, legibus autem conservaverunt. 36. Jordanes, Romana 368. 37. Vergil uses equum domitor to translate the Homeric epithet ἱππόδαμος; see Vergil, Aeneid 7.189, 7.651, 7.691, 9.523, 12.128, and 12.550; cf. Homer, Iliad 24.804. For Jordanes’ use of Vergilian allusions, see Swain, “Jordanes and Virgil,” 246–49, and Whately, “Jordanes,” 70–71. 38. See, inter alia, Jordanes, Romana 165 and 166. 39. Jordanes, Romana 373, 377, and 378. 40. Jordanes, Romana 348–49, 361, and 376. For Theoderic, see PLRE 2.1077–84 (Fl. Theodericus 7). For Vitalian, see PLRE 2.1171–76 (Vitalianus 2). For Vitalian’s revolt, see Laniado, “Jean d’Antioche”; Georgakakis, “Το κίνημα”; Ruscu, “The Revolt of Vitalian.” For Justin, son of Germanos, see PLRE 3b.750–54 (Iustinus 4). 41. Jordanes, Romana 377. 42. The story of Aeneas and his Trojans is also ­behind Jordanes’ depiction of the Gothic migrations in the Getica; see Swain, “Jordanes and Virgil,” 247 and 249. 43. Jordanes, Romana 373: consul Belisarius Romanam urbem ingressus est exceptusque ab illo populo quondam Romano et senatu iam pene ipso nomine cum virtute sepulto. 44. See especially Jordanes’ description of the founding of the city, Romana 87 and 94. 45. Prokopios, Wars 7.22.11–12. 46. Jordanes, Romana 388: Hi sunt casus Romanae rei publicae preter instantia cottidiana Bulgarum, Antium, et Sclavinorum. que si quis scire cupit, annale consulumque seriem revolvat

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sine fastidio repperietque dignam nostri temporis rem publicam tragydiae. scietque unde orta, quomodo aucta, qualiterve sibi cunctas terras subdiderit et quomodo iterum eas ab ignaris rectoribus amiserit. 47. Prokopios, Wars 8.21.2–3. The consulship is discussed in detail in Chapter 4. 48. Justinian, Novel 47.Pr (283.1ff.). 49. For Aristotle on Greek drama, see Munteanu, Tragic Pathos, 70–140. 50. Aristotle, Poetics 13 (1453a): ἔστι δὲ τοιοῦτος ὁ μήτε ἀρετῇ διαφέρων καὶ δικαιοσύνῃ μήτε διὰ κακίαν καὶ μοχθηρίαν μεταβάλλων εἰς τὴν δυστυχίαν ἀλλὰ δι’ ἁμαρτίαν τινά, τῶν ἐν μεγάλῃ δόξῃ ὄντων καὶ εὐτυχίᾳ. 51. Aristotle, Poetics 11 (1452a). 52. Aristotle, Poetics 11 (1452a). 53. This is in contrast to Goffart’s argument that, though downbeat, the Romana is not critical of Justinian (Narrators, 57–58). 54. Some of ­these authors may have had direct contact; see Kaldellis, “Dissident Circles.” 55. The numbering of the Novels is neither original nor chronological, which is why Novel 13 can be numbered before Novel 24 despite being published a­ fter it. 56. For the praefectus vigilum, see Fuhrmann, Policing, 56–58. 57. Justinian, Novel 13.Pr (99.19–28): Τὸ τῶν λαμπροτάτων τῆς ἀγρυπνίας ἀρχόντων ὄνομα, σεμνόν τε καὶ τοῖς πάλαι Ῥωμαίοις γνωριμώτατον ὄν, οὐκ ἴσμεν ὅπως εἰς ἀλλοίαν μετέστη προσηγορίαν καὶ τάξιν. ἡ μὲν γὰρ πάτριος ἡμῶν φωνὴ praefectos vigilum αὐτοὺς ἐκάλεσε, τῇ τῶν ἀγρυπνούντων καὶ οὐδὲν ἀνερεύνητον καταλιμπανόντων ἀνθρώπων ἀρχῇ τούτους ἐπιστήσασα. ἡ δέ γε Ἑλλήνων φωνὴ οὐκ ἴσμεν ὅθεν ἐπάρχους αὐτοὺς ἐκάλεσε τῶν νυκτῶν, ὥσπερ ἀναγκαῖον ὂν ἡλίου μὲν ὡς ἔοικε δύνοντος ἐξανίστασθαι τὴν ἀρχήν, παύεσθαι δὲ ἀνίσχοντος. 58. Croke, “Sleepless Emperor,” 106. 59. Croke, “Justinian.” 60. Croke, “Sleepless Emperor,” 105 with 105 n. 19. 61. Justinian, Novel 13.1.1 (100.31–34): Τὸ δὲ τοῦ πραίτωρος ὅπως ἐστὶ σεμνόν, ὅπως οὐ πόρρω καθέστηκεν ὑπατείας, ὅπως ἐγγύτατα τοῦ νόμου τέτακται, δηλοῦσιν οἱ νόμοι. 62. This was confirmed and formalized by Justinian in 537, Novel 62.2. 63. Justinian, Novel 13.1.1 (100.35–101.3): καὶ ὥσπερ τὸ παλαιὸν ὕπατοί τε ἦσαν οἱ τῆς μεγίστης ἐξάρχοντες βουλῆς δήμαρχοί τε οἱ τὸν δῆμον ἡνιοχοῦντες, οὕτω δὴ καὶ νῦν ἔστωσαν πραίτωρες μὲν συγκλήτου οἱ τὰ ἔμπροσθεν ἡμῖν εἰρημένα πράττοντες, πραίτωρες δὲ τῶν δήμων οἱ τῆς εὐταξίας αὐτῶν ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι καὶ τοῦ συμφέροντος αὐτοῖς προνοοῦντες. 64. This is the same logic that underlies Hesychios’ Patria, discussed in Chapter 1. 65. Lintott, Constitution of the Roman Republic, 121–28. 66. Appian, Civil War 1.1. 67. Augustus mentions his tribunician power five times in the Res Gestae, often using it, along with the consulship, as a Republican alternative to regnal years, Res Gestae, 4, 6, 10, 15. For the Res Gestae, see Cooley, Res Gestae, 1–55. 68. Anastasius was not the only late antique emperor to advertise this power; it also appears on the coins of Theodosius II. See Kienast, Römische Kaisertabelle, 40 n. 164. The letter is discussed further in Chapter 6, section “Healing the Breach.” 69. For the reception of Justinian’s laws in Lydos’ On the Magistracies, see Caimi, Burocrazia, 313–80 and passim. 70. This event is the climax of the fifth book of Livy; see Livy, 5.34–50. For the Senones, see Ogilvie, Commentary, 709–10; Kruta, “Les Sénons.” 71. Lydos, Magistracies, 1.50.



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72. Justinian, Digest 1.15.1: Apud vetustiores incendiis arcendis triumviri praeerant, qui ab eo quod excubias agebant nocturni dicti sunt. 73. Justinian, Digest 1.15.3.3: Sciendum est autem praefectum vigilum per totam noctem vigilare debere. 74. Lydos, Magistracies 1.50: οἱ τυχὸν ἐπικαίρως ἐξ αὐτῶν εὑρισκόμενοι βοῶντες τῇ πατρίῳ Ῥωμαίων φωνῇ “omnes collegiati ,” οἷον εἰπεῖν, “πάντες ἑταῖροι συνδράμετε.” 75. The complementary nature of Prokopios’ and Lydos’ critiques might not be coincidence. Kaldellis has argued that they ­were members of the same literary circle and may have been familiar with one another’s works (“Dissident Circles,” 3–4). 76. Prokopios, Secret History 20.7 (trans. Kaldellis): ὥσπερ δὲ οὐχ ἱκανῶν οἱ ἐς τοῦτο οὐσῶν τῶν πάλαι διατεταγμένων ἀρχῶν, ἑτέρας δύο ἐπὶ τῇ πολιτείᾳ ἐπετεχνήσατο, καίτοι ἅπαντα μετῄει πρότερον τὰ ἐγκλήματα ἡ τῷ δήμῳ ἐφεστῶσα ἀρχή. 77. Prokopios, Secret History 20.8. 78. Prokopios, Secret History 20.10–11. 79. Justinian, Novel 13.4 (102.35–103.4): Μεμαθήκαμεν δὲ αὐτοῖς πρὸς ὑπουργίαν εἶναι τάγματα πονηρά, φαμὲν δὲ λῃστογνώστας τε καὶ βενεφικιαλίους καὶ βαλαντιοτόμους καὶ ἕτερον πλῆθος, ὧν ἕκαστον προσῆκόν ἐστι κεκολάσθαι μᾶλλον ἢ τοιαῦτα βιοῦν. οὐδὲ γὰρ τὸ τῶν λῃστογνωστῶν τοῦτο τοιοῦτόν ἐστιν ὡς ἐπ’ ἀγαθῷ τι πράττειν, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ τούτῳ μόνον γινώσκουσι τοὺς κλέπτας, ἐφ’ ᾧ τι κέρδος ἑαυτοῖς τε καὶ τοῖς ἄρχουσιν αὐτῶν θηρᾶν. 80. Prokopios, Secret History 20.13 (trans. Kaldellis): Ὕστερον δὲ ὁ παλαμναῖος οὗτος ταύταις τε καὶ τῇ τῷ δήμῳ ἐφεστώσῃ ἀρχῇ πάντων ὁμοίως ἐπιμελεῖσθαι τῶν ἐγκλημάτων ἐπέστελλεν, ἐρίζειν σφίσι πρὸς ἀλλήλους εἰπὼν ὅστις αὐτῶν πλείους τε καὶ θᾶσσον διαφθείρειν ἱκανὸς εἴη. 81. Kaldellis, Secret History, 91 n. 18. 82. The use of erizō recalls Hesiod’s famous statement about the two types of Strife; just as potter competes with potter, so too corrupt official competes with corrupt official (Works and Days, 11–26).

chapter 4 1. Justinian also had con­temporary prob­lems with the consulship. The leading figures of the Nika Revolt in 532, Anastasius’ nephews Hypatios and Pompeios, ­were former consuls. ­Later, the emperor was endlessly suspicious of Belisarios a­ fter the general’s consulship in 535. When Justinian eventually relaxed his grip on the office, he began by appointing Ioannes the Cappadocian to the post. Ioannes was caught conspiring against the emperor in 541, the last year in which Justinian appointed a consul. 2. For the domestic power of the Republican consulship, see Polo, Consul at Rome. For the consulship in late antiquity, see Bagnall, Consuls. 3. Dagron, Naissance, 226–39 and 283–86. By the sixth c­ entury, the title patrician had been stripped of all the specific implications it held ­under the Republic and reduced to yet another rank the emperor could award to whomever he chose. 4. Famous examples of such appointments include Aetius ­under Valentinian III (discussed in Chapter  5, section “Historical Memory and the Fall of Rome”) and Constantius III ­under Honorius. 5. Prokopios, Wars 4.9.15. This passage is discussed further below. 6. See Novel 47 (On Dating) and Novel 105 (Consular Expenditures), both discussed further below.

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7. Justinian, Novel 62.Pr (332.23–28), discussed below. 8. Justinian, Novel 47.Pr (283.21–284.3), discussed below. 9. Corippus, In laudem Iustini Augusti Minoris 2.351–53. 10. Lydos, Magistracies 1.32 (48.2–7). 11. Jones, L ­ ater Roman Empire, vol. 2, 528–30. 12. A feature alluded to by Jordanes in his Romana. See the discussion in Chapter 3, section “Jordanes and Novel 24.” 13. For the periodization of Roman history in late antiquity, see Kaldellis, Byzantine Republic, 22–27. For early imperial periodizations of the Republic and Empire, see Sion-­Jenkins, Von der Republik, 53–64. 14. For other systems of dating and their role in the development of ancient chronicle traditions, see Burgess and Kulikowski, Mosaics of Time. 15. Once again, ­there is an association between the city of Rome and the adjective megas. 16. Justinian, Novel 25.Pr (196.13–21): Δίκαιον τοίνυν ἂν εἴη καὶ αὐτὴν ἀρχῇ κατακοσμῆσαι τὰ παλαιὰ τῆς Ῥωμαϊκῆς τάξεως ἐπιγραφομένῃ σύμβολα, καὶ τοὺς νῦν αὐτῆς ἡγουμένους, τόν τε ἄρχοντα φαμὲν τὴν πολιτικὴν ἀρχὴν τόν τε ἐφεστῶτα τοῖς ὅπλοις, εἰς ἕν τι συναγαγεῖν καὶ τῇ τοῦ πραίτωρος κοσμῆσαι προσηγορίᾳ. ὄνομα γὰρ τοῦτο πάτριον τῇ Ῥωμαίων ἀρχῇ καὶ πρόγε αὐτῶν τῶν ὑπάτων κατὰ τὴν μεγάλην τῶν Ῥωμαίων πολιτευσάμενον πόλιν. 17. As in Justinian, Novel 30.5 (227.19ff.). 18. Justinian, Novel 62.Pr (332.23–28): Antiquissimis temporibus Romani senatus auctoritas tanto vigore potestatis effulsit, ut eius gubernatione domi forisque habita iugo Romano omnis mundus subiceretur, non solum ad ortus solis et occasus, sed etiam in utrumque latus orbis terrae Romana dicione propagata: communi etenim senatus consilio omnia agebantur. Postea vero quam ad maiestatem imperatoriam ius populi Romani et senatus felicitate reipublicae translatum est, evenit ut ii, quos ipsi elegerint et administrationibus praeposuerint, omnia facerent quae vox imperialis eis iniunxisset. 19. The most compelling account of the formation of the imperial office remains that of Syme, Roman Revolution. For a briefer and more modern survey of the pro­cess, see Gruen, “Augustus.” 20. The Latin version uses respublica making clear politeuma is interchangeable with politeia. 21. The awkwardness of this phrase results from the fact that the Greek sebastos is the ­traditional translation of the Latin augustus. In the Latin, the phrase is “pious Augustus” (pius Augustus). 22. Justinian, Novel 47.Pr (283.21–284.3): εἰ γάρ τις ἀπίδοι πρὸς τὰ παλαιότατα πάντων καὶ ἀρχαῖα τοῦ πολιτεύματος, Αἰνείας ἡμῖν ὁ Τρὼς ὁ βασιλεὺς τῆς πολιτείας ἐξάρχει, Αἰνεάδαι τε ἡμεῖς ἐξ ἐκείνου καλούμεθα· εἴτε τις καὶ εἰς τὰς δευτέρας ἀρχὰς θεωρήσειε τὰς ἐξ οὗ καθαρῶς τὸ ῥωμαϊκὸν ὄνομα παρ’ ἀνθρώποις ἐξέλαμψε, βασιλεῖς αὐτὰς κατεστήσαντο Ῥωμύλος τε καὶ Νουμᾶς, ὁ μὲν τὴν πόλιν οἰκοδομήσας, ὁ δὲ αὐτὴν νόμοις τάξας τε καὶ κατακοσμήσας· εἴτε καὶ τὰ τρίτα προοίμια λάβοι τις τῆς βασιλείας, τὸν Καίσαρα τὸν μέγαν καὶ Αὔγουστον τὸν σεβαστὸν καὶ οὕτω τὴν πολιτείαν ἡμῖν ἐξευρήσει τὴν νῦν δὴ ταύτην κρατοῦσαν (εἴη δὲ ἀθάνατος) ἐξ ἐκείνων προϊοῦσαν. ἔστιν οὖν ἄτοπον ἐν τοῖς συμβολαίοις καὶ τοῖς ἐν δικαστηρίοις πραττομένοις καὶ ἁπλῶς ἐν ἅπασιν, ἐν οἷς μνήμη τις γένηται χρόνου, μὴ τὴν βασιλείαν ἡγεῖσθαι τούτων. 23. Justinian is right to identify the Republic as an aberration. Even discounting the kings, the respublica Romana was a Republic for less than five centuries (509–31 bc), but was ruled by emperors for a millennium and a half (31 bc–­a d 1453). 24. Aeneadae is generally a poetic term and is used throughout the Aeneid to refer to Aeneas and his followers.



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25. Justinian expounds the term Quirites in his Institutes, a textbook of Roman law compiled u­ nder the direction of Tribonian. Institutes 1.2.2: sic enim et ius quo populus Romanus utitur, ius civile Romanorum appellamus: vel ius Quiritium, quo Quirites utuntur: Romani enim a Quirino Quirites appellantur. 26. The parallel was not lost on Jordanes, who depicts Belisarios as an Aeneas figure, see below. 27. Honoré, Tribonian, 16. 28. Novel 105 references a similar expenditure-­related law of the emperor Marcian, and Justinian had reaffirmed a law of Leo I completely banning the scattering of money in the Codex, CJ 12.3.2. Moreover, t­ here are multiple mentions of such laws in the Theodosian Code, see CTh 15.5.1–2 and 15.9.1–2, the latter of which also restricts the decoration of consular diptychs. 29. For support for limits from office-­holders, see Symmachus, Relationes 8.2, along with Barrow, Prefect and Emperor, 61–62 n. 2. 30. PLRE 3a.627–35 (Fl. Ioannes 11). Stein argues that it was also an attempt to rehabilitate Ioannes’ image ­a fter the Nika Revolt of 532 (Bas-­Empire, 2.461–62). Ioannes the Cappadocian was a phenomenally unpop­u ­lar figure in the sixth c­ entury, in par­tic­u ­lar with Ioannes Lydos. For Lydos on the Cappadocian and the role of the praetorian prefect in the sixth c­ entury, see Kelly, Ruling, 68–89. For the social and economic dimensions of this resentment, see Bell, Social Conflict, 88–93. 31. The precise date is lost due to a lacuna in the manuscript. The law is dated to December, but ­because of the vagaries of Roman dating, it is pos­si­ble that the law was published several days before the first of that month. 32. Novel 75 is discussed further in Chapter 5, section “Ancient and Modern Rome in the Novels.” 33. Justinian, Novel 75 (378.1–25). This Novel is identical to Justinian, Novel 104 (500.1–25). 34. For Tribonian’s corruption, see Prokopios, Wars 1.25.2. 35. For a survey of the Nika Riots, see Greatrex, “Nika Riot.” 36. PLRE 3a.628 (Ioannes 11) and PLRE 3b.1338 (Tribonianus 1). 37. By virtue of his post as quaestor, Tribonian would have overseen the composition of both Novels 105 and 75. 38. Cameron and Schauer, “Last Consul,” 140–41. 39. Justinian, Novel 105.Pr (500.30–40): Τὸ τῆς ὑπατείας ὄνομά τε καὶ πρᾶγμα τοῖς μὲν πάλαι Ῥωμαίοις πρὸς τὴν τῶν πολέμων ἐπενοήθη χρείαν, κἀν ταῖς ψήφοις, ἃς αὐτοῖς ἐπὶ τῇ χειροτονίᾳ τὸ κοινὸν ἐδίδου τῆς πολιτείας σχῆμα, διελάγχανον [γὰρ] εὐθὺς τὰς ἐπαρχίας ἐν αἷς Ῥωμαίοις πόλεμος ἦν, καὶ κατ’ αὐτὰς ἐκληροῦντο τὰς ῥάβδους· ὕστερον δὲ ὁ χρόνος εἰς τὴν τῶν εὐσεβεστάτων αὐτοκρατόρων μεταστήσας τὸ πολεμεῖν τε καὶ εἰρήνην ἄγειν ἐξουσίαν εἰς φιλοτιμίαν μόνην τὸ πρᾶγμα τοῖς ὑπάτοις μετέστησε καὶ ταύτην σώφρονα καὶ τεταγμένην καὶ τὸ μέτρον οὐκ ἐκβαίνουσαν. 40. Especially in Polybios, see Histories 3.86.7 inter alia. For the title autokratōr compared to that of basileus, see Mason, Greek Terms, 118–21. 41. The distinction between autokratōr and basileus appears in Lydos’ treatment of kingship in his Magistracies, discussed below. 42. Basilius was a westerner, a refugee from the Amal court, and a scion of the western branch of the Anicii, one of the most prominent families in the empire. The chief figure of the eastern branch of the Anicii during Justinian’s reign was Anicia Juliana. For Basilius, see PLRE 3a.174–75 (Fl. Anicius Faustus Albinus Basilius 3). For a reconstruction of Basilius’ ­career and the case for identifying his diptych, see Cameron and Schauer, “Last Consul,” 127–31.

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43. Justinian, Novel 105.Pr (501.5–13): ἐπειδὴ τοίνυν ὁρῶμεν κινδυνεῦον διαπεσεῖν τὸ τῶν ὑπάτων ὄνομα, ὅπερ ἐκ χρόνων οὕτω μακρῶν καὶ εἰς χιλιοστὸν σύνεγγυς ἔτος ἐλθὸν τῇ τῶν Ῥωμαίων συνήκμασε πολιτείᾳ, διὰ τοῦτο ᾠήθημεν χρῆναι τὸ πρᾶγμα περιστεῖλαι, καὶ τὴν ἀμετρίαν τούτου περικόψαντες εἰς εὐσύνοπτον τὴν ὑπατικὴν συστεῖλαι δαπάνην, ὅπως ὂν διηνεκὴς μείνῃ Ῥωμαίοις, ἅπασι δὲ τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς ἀνδράσιν ὑπάρχῃ βατὴ οὓς τῆς τοιαύτης ἡμεῖς ἀξίους εἶναι τιμῆς ἐγκρίναιμεν. 44. Justinian, Novel 105.2.1 (503.21–4.14). 45. Scattering coins during consular pro­cessions had technically been illegal since the reign of Leo I, and Justinian confirmed this law in the Codex, CJ 12.3.2, but in Novel 105 Justinian claims that exemptions w ­ ere often sought and generally granted, apparently rendering the law a dead letter, Novel 105.Pr (501.15–26). 46. Zosimos, New History 1.5.2: ἕως μὲν ὅτε τὰ τῆς ἀριστοκρατίας ἐφυλάττετο, προστιθέντες ἔτους ἑκάστου τῇ ἀρχῇ διετέλουν, τῶν ὑπάτων ὑπερβαλέσθαι ταῖς ἀρεταῖς ἀλλήλους φιλονεικούντων. 47. Jordanes’ response to the end of consular dating is discussed in Chapter 3, section “Jordanes and Novel 24.” 48. Prokopios also mentions that the following men w ­ ere consuls in the Wars, but does not discuss their consulships: Appius Claudius Caecus, the censor responsible for the Via Appia (5.14.6); Theoderic (6.6.16); Justin, the son of Germanos (7.32.15); and Cethegus, called Gothigos by Prokopios, a western consul at the court of Justinian (7.35.10). 49. Prokopios, Wars 5.5.17–19: τῷ δὲ Βελισαρίῳ τότε κρεῖσσον λόγου εὐτύχημα ξυνηνέχθη γενέσθαι. τῆς γὰρ ὑπατείας λαβὼν τὸ ἀξίωμα ἐπὶ τῷ Βανδίλους νενικηκέναι, ταύτης ἔτι ἐχόμενος, ἐπειδὴ παρεστήσατο Σικελίαν ὅλην, τῇ τῆς ὑπατείας ὑστάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐς τὰς Συρακούσας εἰσήλασε, πρός τε τοῦ στρατοπέδου καὶ Σικελιωτῶν κροτούμενος ἐς τὰ μάλιστα καὶ νόμισμα χρυσοῦ ῥίπτων ἅπασιν. οὐκ ἐξεπίτηδες μέντοι αὐτῷ πεποίηται τοῦτο, ἀλλά τις τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ ξυνέβη τύχη πᾶσαν ἀνασωσαμένῳ τὴν νῆσον Ῥωμαίοις ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐς τὰς Συρακούσας ἐσεληλακέναι, τήν τε τῶν ὑπάτων ἀρχὴν, οὐχ ᾗπερ εἰώθει ἐν τῷ Βυζαντίου βουλευτηρίῳ, ἀλλ’ ἐνταῦθα καταθεμένῳ ἐξ ὑπάτων γενέσθαι. Βελισαρίῳ μὲν οὖν οὕτω δὴ εὐημερῆσαι ξυνέτυχεν. 50. Technically, Leo’s law prohibiting the scattering of gold remained in effect ­because it had been incorporated into the Codex, but Novel 105 makes clear that enforcement of the law had been allowed to lapse. See note 45 above. 51. This reading is supported by Justin II’s claim, authored by Corippus, that he ­will enrich the ­people by reintroducing the consulship. Corippus, In laudem Iustini Augusti Minoris, 2.351–53. 52. Prokopios, Wars 5.5.4 53. For Prokopios’ depiction of Belisarios on campaign, see Pazdernik, “Xenophon’s Hellenica”; idem, “Procopius and Thucydides.” 54. Pazdernik, “Dangerous Liberty,” 252–54. 55. Prokopios, Wars 4.9.15: Ὀλίγῳ δὲ ὕστερον Βελισαρίῳ καὶ ὁ θρίαμβος κατὰ δὴ τὸν παλαιὸν νόμον ξυνετελέσθη. ἐς ὑπάτους γὰρ προελθόντι οἱ ξυνέπεσε φέρεσθαί τε πρὸς τῶν αἰχμαλώτων καὶ ἐν τῷ δίφρῳ ὀχουμένῳ τῷ δήμῳ ῥιπτεῖν αὐτὰ δὴ ἐκεῖνα τοῦ Βανδίλων πολέμου τὰ λάφυρα. τά τε γὰρ ἀργυρώματα καὶ ζώνας χρυσᾶς καὶ ἄλλου πλούτου Βανδιλικοῦ πολύ τι χρῆμα ἐκ τῆς Βελισαρίου ὑπατείας ὁ δῆμος ἥρπασε, καί τι τῶν οὐκ εἰωθότων ἀνανεοῦσθαι τῷ χρόνῳ ἔδοξε. 56. Prokopios’ praise for the financing of Belisarios’ triumph is part of the author’s larger economic ideology and tied to his critiques of Justinian; see Kruse, “Economic Thought.” 57. Prokopios, Secret History 11.1–2 and 20.7–12. 58. Prokopios, Wars 1.25.3.



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59. The best example being Prokopios’ reworking of Justinian’s famed sleeplessness. See Croke, “Sleepless Emperor.” 60. Prokopios, Secret History 26.12–15: ὕπατοι Ῥωμαίων ἀνὰ πᾶν ἔτος ἐγινέσθην δύο, ἅτερος μὲν ἐν Ῥώμῃ, ὁ δὲ δὴ ἕτερος ἐν Βυζαντίῳ. ὅστις δὲ εἰς τὴν τιμὴν ἐκαλεῖτο ταύτην πλέον ἢ κεντηνάρια χρυσοῦ εἴκοσιν ἐς τὴν πολιτείαν ἀναλοῦν ἔμελλεν, ὀλίγα μὲν οἰκεῖα, τὰ δὲ πλεῖστα πρὸς βασιλέως κεκομισμένος. ταῦτά τε τὰ χρήματα ἔς τε τοὺς ἄλλους, ὧνπερ ἐμνήσθην, καὶ ἐς τῶν βίων τοὺς ἀπορωτέρους ἐκ τοῦ ἐπὶ πλεῖστον φερόμενα καὶ διαφερόντως ἐς τοὺς ἐπὶ σκηνῆς ἅπαντα τὰ πράγματα ἐς ἀεὶ τῇ πόλει ἀνίστη. ἐξ οὗ δὲ Ἰουστινιανὸς τὴν βασιλείαν παρέλαβεν, οὐκέτι καιροῖς τοῖς καθήκουσι ταῦτα ἐπράσσετο· ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν πολλοῦ Ῥωμαίοις ὕπατος καθίστατο χρόνου, τελευτῶντες δὲ οὐδὲ ὄναρ τὸ πρᾶγμα ἑώρων, ἐξ οὗ δὴ πενίᾳ τινὶ ἐνδελεχέστατα ἐσφίγγετο τὰ ἀνθρώπεια, τὰ μὲν εἰωθότα οὐκέτι τοῖς ὑπηκόοις παρεχομένου, τὰ δὲ ὑπάρχοντα τρόποις ἅπασι πανταχόθεν ἀφαιρουμένου. 61. Prokopios, Wars 8.21.2–3 (trans. Kaldellis): ἦν τε τῷ ἀξιώματι πρῶτος ὁ Βελισάριος Ῥωμαίων ἁπάντων, καίτοι τινὲς αὐτῶν πρότεροι ἀνάγραπτοί τε ἐς πατρικίους γεγόνασι καὶ ἐς αὐτὸν ἀναβεβήκεσαν τῶν ὑπάτων τὸν δίφρον. ἀλλὰ καὶ ὣς αὐτῷ τῶν πρωτείων ἐξίσταντο πάντες, αἰσχυνόμενοι κατὰ τῆς ἀρετῆς τῷ νόμῳ χρῆσθαι καὶ τὸ ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ δικαίωμα περιβάλλεσθαι. ταῦτά τε βασιλέα κομιδῆ ἤρεσκεν. 62. For Theoderic in Jordanes’ corpus, see Swain, “Empire of Hope.” For Theoderic and Ostrogothic Italy, see Moorhead, Theoderic in Italy; O’Donnell, Ruin, 107–74; Arnold, Theoderic; Amory, P ­ eople and Identity. 63. Jordanes, Romana 348 and 349, respectively. 64. Jordanes, Romana 348: Theodoricus vero Zenonis Augusti humanitate pellectus Constantinopolim venit, ubi magister militum praesentis effectus consulis ordinarii triumphum ex publico dono peregit. 65. For the ­legal status of Theoderic in the west, see Jones, “Constitutional Position.” 66. Jordanes, Romana 349: obansque rex gentium et consul Romanus Theodoricus Italiam petiit magnisque proeliis fatigatum Odoacrum Ravenna in deditione suscepit. 67. Vergil, Aeneid 1.553–54, 3.253, 3.364, 10.32, 10.67. 68. Jordanes, Romana 348: ad partes eum Italiae mandans, Romanum illi populum senatumque commendat. 69. Jordanes, Romana 349: regnum gentis sui et Romani populi principatum prudenter et pacifice per triginta annos continuit. 70. Jordanes, Romana 367. 71. Prokopios, Wars 5.1.9. 72. Prokopios, Wars 5.1.26: καὶ βασιλέως μὲν τοῦ Ῥωμαίων οὔτε τοῦ σχήματος οὔτε τοῦ ὀνόματος ἐπιβατεῦσαι ἠξίωσεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ῥὴξ διεβίου καλούμενος (οὕτω γὰρ σφῶν τοὺς ἡγεμόνας καλεῖν οἱ βάρβαροι νενομίκασι), τῶν μέντοι κατηκόων τῶν αὑτοῦ προὔστη ξύμπαντα περιβαλλόμενος ὅσα τῷ φύσει βασιλεῖ ἥρμοσται. 73. PLRE 2.1171–76 (Vitalianus 2). 74. For the revolt of Vitalian, see Laniado, “Jean d’Antioche”; Georgakakis, “Το κίνημα”; Ruscu, “Revolt of Vitalian.” 75. For the precise dating of the death of Vitalian, see A. D. E. Cameron, “Death of Vitalian.” 76. PLRE 3a.652–61 (Ioannes 46). 77. Jordanes, Romana 357: sed et quod plus fuit dolendum, contra ultimum suum famulum Vitalianum de Scythiam per sex annos civile bellum extraxit. is si quidem Vitalianus cum LX milibus armatorum tertio pene non rei publicae sed regi infestus accedens multa suborbana regiae urbis praedis spoliisque adtrivit.

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78. Jordanes, Romana 359. 79. Jordanes, Romana 358. 80. Jordanes, Romana 361: foedusque cum Vitaliano percussit et ad se evocitum magistrum militum praesentis et consulem ordinarium fecit: quem rursus in suspicionem habens facti prioris XVI vulneribus in palatio cum Celeriano et Paulo satellitibus effosum peremit. 81. For a discussion of this phrase and its context, see Chapter  3, section “Jordanes and Novel 24.” 82. Jordanes, Romana 349. 83. Jordanes, Romana 373, also discussed in Chapter 3. 84. Jordanes, Romana 375: sicque intra pauci temporis spatium Iustinianus imperator per fidelissimum consulem duo regna duasque res publicas suae dicioni subegit. 85. Jordanes, Romana 376. 86. Jordanes, Romana 318: utramque rem publicam utrisque filiis quietam relinquens. 87. Justinian, Novel 13 (Praetor of the Plebs). 88. Lydos, Magistracies 1.2 (10.14): οἱ δὲ τῶν ὑπάτων ἄχρι Καίσαρος τοῦ πρώτου ἐνιαυτοὶ. 89. Lydos, Magistracies 1.1 (10.1–7): Ἐγχειροῦντί μοι περὶ τῶν ἀρχῶν τῆς Ῥωμαίων πολιτείας διαλαμβάνειν ἀξιόλογον εἶναι παρέστη προοίμιον δοῦναι τῷ λόγῳ ἀπὸ τοῦ πρεσβυτάτου καὶ τιμιωτάτου πάντων. Αἰνείας δὲ ἦν οὗτος, ὁ διὰ κάλλος καὶ ῥώμην ψυχῆς τε καὶ σώματος κρείττονος ἢ κατὰ ἀνθρώπους εἶναι νομισθεὶς υἱός. 90. It is also pos­si­ble that Lydos is ­here echoing the description of Aeneas’ statue in Christodoros’ Ekphrasis, see Chapter 2, section “The Fall of Troy.” We know Lydos was familiar with Christodoros’ corpus, as he specifically mentions Christodoros’ work On the Disciples of the ­Great Proklos. Lydos’ opening chronology (discussed below) has also been linked to the chronology of Hesychios’ Patria of Constantinople; see Kaldellis, “Works and Days,” 382–83 and 393–95. 91. PLRE 2.881–82 (Phocas 5). For Phokas’ paganism and his work as praetorian prefect, in par­tic­u ­lar his administration of the building of the Hagia Sophia, see Kaldellis, “Making of Hagia Sophia.” 92. Lydos, Magistracies 1.2 (10.8–27). 93. For Lydos’ periodization, see Wallinga, “Date of Joannes Lydus.” 94. Lydos begins the period of the emperors with Caesar, Magistracies 1.4 (14.4–14) and 2.1–3 (82.1–84.28). 95. Lydos, Magistracies 1.2 (10.19–21). 96. Lydos, Magistracies 1.2 (10.25–27): τούτων οὕτως ἡμῖν σὺν ἀληθείᾳ τεθέντων, καιρός ἐστιν περὶ τῶν ἀρχῶν, ὡς εἴρηται, τοῦ καθ’ ἡμᾶς διαλαβεῖν πολιτεύματος. 97. Lydos, Magistracies 1.2 (10.8–12) and 1.2 (10.14–15). 98. In Chapter 3, section “Fact-­Checking the Emperor.” 99. Lydos’ dates are uncertain and remain debated; see Bandy, Ioannes Lydus, xxvi–­x xviii; Maas, John Lydus, 9–10; Wallinga, “Date of Joannes Lydus.” James Caimi breaks with consensus and argues that the work was completed by 552, Burocrazia, 111–24 esp. 122–124. 100. Lydos, Magistracies 1.3 (10.30–12.2): ὄνομα δὲ τῆς ἀρχῆς αὐτῶν, ὃ Ἰταλοὶ λέγουσι ῥήγιον, οἷον τυραννικόν· οὐδὲ γὰρ βασιλείας Ῥωμαϊκῆς ἐννόμου ἐστὶ σημαντικόν, ὥς τινες ὑπολαμβάνουσιν, τὸ ῥήγιον ὄνομα· ὅθεν οὐκέτι μετὰ τὴν ἐκβολὴν τῶν ῥηγῶν παρὰ Ῥωμαίοις καίτοι βασιλευομένοις ἐχρημάτισεν. 101. Lydos, Magistracies 1.3 (12.4–12). 102. Lydos, Magistracies 1.3 (12.14–18). 103. This may not be coincidence, as ­there is evidence suggesting that Lydos and Prokopios ­were familiar with one another’s work, see Kaldellis, “Dissident Circles.”



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104. Pliny, Panegyricus 64–65, 76–77, 93. 105. Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae 22.7.2. 106. Lydos, Magistracies 1.3 (12.4–7): βασιλεύς ἐστιν ὁ τῶν ἑαυτοῦ ὑπηκόων πρῶτος ψήφῳ ἐπιλελεγμένος ἐπὶ βάθραν τινὰ ὥσπερ καὶ κρηπῖδα, τύχης κρείττονος ὑπὲρ τοὺς ἄλλους λαχών· ὡς Σοφοκλῆς περὶ Αἴαντος εἶπεν ἔχειν αὐτὸν βάθραν τῆς ἀγχιάλου Σαλαμῖνος. 107. Sophocles, Ajax, 134–40: Τελαμώνιε παῖ, τῆς ἀμφιρύτου / Σαλαμῖνος ἔχων βάθρον ἀγχιάλου, / σὲ μὲν εὖ πράσσοντ’ ἐπιχαίρω· / σὲ δ’ ὅταν πληγὴ Διὸς ἢ ζαμενὴς / λόγος ἐκ Δαναῶν κακόθρους ἐπιβῇ, / μέγαν ὄκνον ἔχω καὶ πεφόβημαι / πτηνῆς ὡς ὄμμα πελείας. 108. Sophocles, Ajax 154–61: Τῶν γὰρ μεγάλων ψυχῶν ἱεὶς / οὐκ ἂν ἁμάρτοις· κατὰ δ’ ἄν τις ἐμοῦ / τοιαῦτα λέγων οὐκ ἂν πείθοι· / πρὸς γὰρ τὸν ἔχονθ’ ὁ φθόνος ἕρπει· / καίτοι σμικροὶ μεγάλων χωρὶς / σφαλερὸν πύργου ῥῦμα πέλονται· / μετὰ γὰρ μεγάλων βαιὸς ἄριστ’ ἄν, / καὶ μέγας ὀρθοῖθ’ ὑπὸ μικροτέρων· 109. For the ideology of reciprocity in Republican politics, see Hölkeskamp, Reconstructing, 76–123, and Morstein-­Marx, Mass Oratory, esp. 204–78. For the current status of the question, see North “Constitution,” 273–76. The ideology of the system, of course, does not necessarily correspond to its real­ity; for a reconstruction of the Republic as a narrow oligarchy, see Mouritsen, Plebs and Politics. 110. For the ideology and pragmatics of popu­lar ­will in imperial appointments, see Kaldellis, Byzantine Republic. 111. Lydos, Magistracies 1.4 (12.19–23): Τὸ γὰρ τῶν Καισάρων, ἤ γ’ οὖν αὐτοκρατόρων, ἐπώνυμον οὐδὲ βασιλείας ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ τυραννίδος ἐστὶ σημαντικόν, αὐταρχίας δὲ μᾶλλον καὶ αὐθεντίας τοῦ διοικεῖν τοὺς ἐξανισταμένους κατὰ τῶν κοινῶν θορύβους ἐπὶ τὸ κάλλιον ἐπιτάττειν τε τῷ στρατεύματι πῶς ἂν δέοι μάχεσθαι τοῖς ἐναντίοις. 112. Lydos, Magistracies 1.4 (12.23–27): imperare γὰρ τὸ ‘ἐπιτάττειν’ παρ’ Ἰταλοῖς λέγεται, ἔνθεν ἰμπεράτωρ. ὅτι δὲ βασιλείας οὐκ ἔστι σημαντικὸν τὸ αὐτοκράτορος ἢ Καίσαρος ὄνομα, δῆλον ἄντικρυς τῷ καὶ τοὺς ὑπάτους καὶ μετ’ ἐκείνους τοὺς Καίσαρας τὸ τῶν λεγομένων ἰμπερατώρων ἀξίωμα τῆς ἐπωνυμίας λαβεῖν. 113. Lydos, Magistracies 1.4 (14.3–4): οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐπισήμοις τυραννικοῖς φαίνεται χρησαμένη ἡ τῶν Καισάρων ἀρχή, ἁλουργίδι δὲ μόνῃ, τὴν Ῥωμαίων βουλὴν ἀναβαίνουσα καὶ τὰς ἐν ὅπλοις δυνάμεις αὐτοκρατῶς, ὡς ἔφην, ἰθύνουσα, ταύτῃ καὶ πρίγκιπας αὐτοὺς ἐκάλεσαν Ῥωμαῖοι, οἷον εἰ πρώτην κεφαλὴν τῆς πάσης πολιτείας. 114. See Justinian, Institutes 1.1; idem, Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia), 25 (Praetor of Lykaonia), and 26 (Praetor of Thrace). 115. Lydos, Magistracies 1.4 (14.4–9). Lydos’ emphasis on the title Caesar is likely a response to Justinian’s claim to “trea­sure [the name of Caesar] before any other token of our kingship” in Novel 30 (Proconsul of Cappadocia), discussed in Chapter  5, section “Rathymia and Imperial Decline.” 116. Lydos, Magistracies 1.4 (14.9–14): ἐφυλάχθη οὖν παρὰ Ῥωμαίοις ἡ τοιαύτη τῶν Καισάρων εὐταξία ἄχρι Διοκλητιανοῦ, ὃς πρῶτος στέφανον ἐκ λίθου τιμίας συγκείμενον τῇ κεφαλῇ περιθεὶς ἐσθῆτά τε καὶ τοὺς πόδας ψηφώσας ἐπὶ τὸ βασιλικὸν ἤ, τἀληθὲς εἰπεῖν, ἐπὶ τὸ τυραννικὸν ἔτρεψεν, ἀνεμετρήσατό τε τὴν ἤπειρον καὶ τοῖς φόροις ἐβάρυνεν. 117. The trope of Diocletian as the first of a new, more autocratic type of emperor begins with Eutropius, Breviarium historiae Romanae 9.26. See also Pazdernik, “Dangerous Liberty,” 194–235. 118. Lydos, Magistracies 1.5 (14.15–16). 119. Lydos, Magistracies 1.5 (14.29–30): κυρίους γὰρ ἑαυτοὺς καὶ δεσπότας ἀλλ’ οὐ βασιλέας τύραννοι φιλοῦσι καλεῖσθαι.

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120. Lydos, Magistracies 1.6 (16.1–6): Κρεῖττον δὲ βασιλείας τὸ Καίσαρος ἀξίωμα, ὅτι καὶ δοῦναι βασιλέας πάλαι τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἐπ’ ἐξουσίας εἶχεν. μισητὸν γὰρ καὶ Ῥωμαϊκῆς ἐλευθερίας ἀλλότριον δεσπότας, ἀλλὰ μὴ βασιλέας, τοὺς κρατοῦντας ὀνομάζειν καθ’ ὅ τι δεσπότης ὄνομα κοινόν ἐστιν αὐτοῖς καὶ τοῖς ἔνα δραπέτην κεκτημένοις, τὸ δὲ βασιλέων αὐτῶν καὶ μόνων. 121. Lydos, Magistracies 1.6 (16.6–7). 122. Lydos, Magistracies 1.6 (16.13–18): ἀλλ’ ἤδη πρότερον ὥσπερ ἐν τιμῇ τῆς ὕβρεως εἰσαχθείσης, ἀνέχεται ἡ τοῦ ἡμερωτάτου βασιλέως ἡμῶν ἐπιείκεια, καίπερ ὑπὲρ πάντας τοὺς πώποτε βεβασιλευκότας μετριάζοντος, καὶ δεσπότης, οἷον πατὴρ ἀγαθός, ὀνομάζεσθαι. 123. Lydos, Magistracies 1.6 (16.11–13). 124. Lydos, Magistracies 2.6 (90.10–14): Οὕτως οὖν τῶν ἀρχῶν ὡς ἔφθην εἰπὼν ἄχρι τῆς Καίσαρος τοῦ πρώτου ἐπικρατείας προελθουσῶν, αὐτὸς μετὰ τῆς Τύχης· ἐπιστὰς τοῖς πράγμασι ξύμπαν ἐξηλλοίωσε τὸ πολίτευμα, ὑπάτοις μὲν μηδὲν παρὰ τὴν προσηγορίαν ἀπολιπών, εἰς μήνυμα τοῦ χρόνου δῆθεν. 125. Lydos, Magistracies 2.1 (82.21–25). 126. Lydos, Magistracies 2.6 (90.14–18): ὑφ’ ἑαυτῷ δὲ τάξας τὸν σύμπαντα στρατόν, δέδωκε τοῖς μετ’ αὐτὸν ἢ δι’ ἑαυτῶν (πλὴν εἰ μή γε τὸ τρυφᾶν προτιμῷεν) ἢ διὰ στρατηγῶν, ὧν ἂν θέλωσιν, ἢ  δι’ ὑποστρατήγων, τῶν παρὰ Ῥωμαίοις λεγομένων ληγάτων, τοὺς ἐνισταμένους διεργάζεσθαι πολέμους. 127. Lydos, Magistracies 2.2 (82.26–84.16). For triumphal dress, see Beard, Roman Triumph, 272–78. 128. Lydos, Magistracies 2.2 (84.16–20): καὶ τοῦτο δῆλον ἐν ἡμῖν ἀπεδείχθη ὅτε Γελίμερα τῶν Βανδίλων καὶ Λιβύης βασιλέα πανεθνεὶ θεὸς αἰχμάλωτον τῇ καθ’ ἡμᾶς παρεστήσατο βασιλείᾳ. οὐδὲ γὰρ ἦν ὁμοσχήμονα τὸν νικητὴν πορφύραν περικειμένῳ γίνεσθαι τῷ κρατηθέντι. 129. Lydos, Magistracies 1.32 (48.2–7): καὶ δὴ ἐπανελθὼν ἐν τῇ Ῥώμῃ καὶ τὴν γῆν περιβαλὼν (αὕτη δὲ μήτηρ τῶν πάντων), ἠλευθέρωσε Ῥωμαίους τυραννίδος, ἀρχὴν ἐξευρὼν παρ’ οὐδενὶ τῶν ἐθνῶν γνωριζομένην, καὶ εἰ παρ’ Ἑβραίοις Δανιὴλ ὁ προφητῶν θειότατος ὑπάτων παρὰ Ἀσσυρίοις γενομένων ποτὲ μνημονεύει. 130. Lydos, Magistracies 1.32 (48.7–11). 131. Lydos’ dealing with the topic of hypatoi among the Assyrians may also represent another point of contact between the Magistracies and the Roman and General History of Hesychios of Miletos, which begins (according to Photios) with the reign of King Belos of Assyria. It is moreover in­ter­e st­i ng to note that Lydos’ comment on the use of hypatos by Daniel creates an opposition between Roman and Christian traditions, with the author preferring the ­former. 132. Lydos, Magistracies 1.30 (46.3–14).

chapter 5 1. Prokopios, Wars 5.14.14. 2. For the status of Rome in late antiquity, see Curran, Pagan City; Van Dam, Rome and Constantinople; Grig and Kelly, Two Romes. 3. Van Dam, Rome and Constantinople, 47–80. We should be careful not to overstate the importance of Ravenna prior to 476. While it served as the capital u­ nder Odoacer and Theoderic, and grew in importance ­a fter Theodosius, the last western emperors spent more time in Rome; see Gillett, “Rome, Ravenna.” 4. McLynn, “Two Romes.”



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5. For relations between the bishop of Rome and the eastern court during this period, see Chapter 6. 6. For Justinian’s interactions with the bishops of Rome, see Demacopoulos, Invention, 102–33; Sotinel, “Autorité pontificale”; Sessa, “Roman Church.” 7. For a brief overview of Amalasuintha’s ­career, see PLRE 2.65 (Amalasuintha). For an in-­ depth analy­sis of her reign and the implications of her queenship, see Vitiello, Amalasuintha. Likewise, for Theodahad’s ­career, see PLRE 2.1067–68 (Theodahadus), and for an in-­depth analy­sis of his reign, see Vitiello, Theodahad. 8. Prokopios, Wars 5.5.17–19 and 5.6.11. 9. Prokopios, Wars 5.7. 10. Justinian, Novel 38.Pr (246.12–17): Οἱ τὴν πολιτείαν ἡμῖν πάλαι καταστήσαντες ᾠήθησαν χρῆναι κατὰ τὴν τῆς βασιλευούσης πόλεως μίμησιν ἀθροῖσαι καθ’ ἑκάστην πόλιν τοὺς εὖ γεγονότας καὶ ἑκάστῃ σύγκλητον δοῦναι βουλήν, δι’ ἧς ἔμελλε τά τε δημόσια πράττεσθαι ἅπαντά τε γίνεσθαι κατὰ τάξιν τὴν προσήκουσαν. 11. See Chapter 6. 12. A. D. E. Cameron, “House of Anastasius,” and Croke, “Poetry and Propaganda.” 13. For the semantic implications of the triumph over Gelimer, see Börm, “Justinians Triumph.” 14. Discussed in Chapter 3, section “Novel 24 and the Trajectory of Empire.” 15. Justinian, Novel 17 (117.40–42). Novel 24 is dated to 18 May  535 and Novel 9 to 14 April 535. 16. Compare the exchange between Belisarios and Vittigis over the legality of the latter’s occupation of Rome in 536, Prokopios, Wars 5.20.8–18. This episode is discussed further below. 17. This rhetorical strategy of Justinian is distinct from that of Marcellinus comes, discussed below. 18. Justinian, Novel 30.Pr (223.33–224.12): Ὁπόσον ἐστὶ τὸ Καππαδοκῶν ὄνομά τε καὶ ἔθνος, καὶ ὅπως τὴν ἀρχὴν ἵνα κτηθείη πράγματα παρέσχε Ῥωμαίοις, οἱ τῆς ἀρχαίας πολυμαθείας οὐκ ἠγνοήκασιν ἐρασταί. τοῦ τε γὰρ Πόντου σχεδὸν παντὸς ἐξῆρχε, καὶ ἄνδρες ὀνομαστότατοί τε καὶ φροντίδος ἄξιοι Ῥωμαίοις γενόμενοι μεγάλης ἐκεῖθεν ἤρθησαν. γῆ τε αὐτοῖς ἐστι πολλή τε καὶ θαυμαστὴ καὶ οὕτως ἀρέσασα τῇ βασιλείᾳ, ὡς καὶ ἀρχὴν ἐπιστῆσαι ταῖς ἐκεῖσε κτήσεσιν ἰδίαν, τῆς Ποντικῆς ἀρχῆς οὐκ ἐλάττω, μᾶλλον μὲν οὖν καὶ μείζω. πολυανθρωποτάτη τε γὰρ καθέστηκε καὶ πόλιν παρέχεται μεγίστην τὴν τοῦ φιλτάτου Καίσαρος ἡμῖν ἐπώνυμον τοῦ δόντος ἀρχὴν ἀγαθὴν τῇ καθ’ ἡμᾶς μοναρχίᾳ, δι’ ὃν ἐν ἅπασι τοῖς τῆς γῆς ἔθνεσιν ὀνομαστότατόν ἐστι τὸ τοῦ Καίσαρος ὄνομα καὶ ᾧπερ ἡμεῖς ἀντ’ ἄλλου τινὸς τῶν τῆς βασιλείας συμβόλων σεμνυνόμεθα. 19. See Chapter 3, section “Novel 24 and the Trajectory of Empire.” The emphasis on the ­title and person of Caesar may also explain Lydos’ interest in the same in On the Magistracies, see Chapter 4, section “Kings, Tyrants, and Emperors in the Magistracies.” 20. On Mithridates VI, see Mayor, Poison King. 21. Justinian, Novel 30.11.2 (234.27–43): Καὶ καθαρῶς τοῖς ἡμετέροις ὑπηκόοις (τοῦτο ὅπερ  πολλάκις εἰρήκαμεν) χρήσεται, πρᾶγμα διεσπουδασμένον ἡμῖν καὶ χρημάτων ἀμελῆσαι παρασκευάσαν μεγάλων, καίτοιγε ἐν τοσαύταις δαπάναις καὶ πολέμοις μεγάλοις, δι’ ὧν δέδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ θεὸς πρὸς Πέρσας τε ἄγειν εἰρήνην Βανδίλους τε καὶ Ἀλανοὺς καὶ Μαυρουσίους χειρώσασθαι, καὶ Ἀφρικὴν ὅλην καὶ πρός γε καὶ Σικελίαν κατακτήσασθαι, καὶ ἐλπίδας ἔχειν ἀγαθὰς ὅτι καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν ἡμῖν τὴν ἐπικράτειαν νεύσειεν ὁ θεὸς ὧνπερ οἱ πάλαι Ῥωμαῖοι μέχρι τῶν πρὸς ἑκάτερον ὠκεανὸν ὁρίων κρατήσαντες ταῖς ἐφεξῆς ἀπέβαλον ῥᾳθυμίαις· ἃς ἡμεῖς τῇ παρὰ θεοῦ συμμαχίᾳ θαρροῦντες ἐπὶ τὸ κρεῖττον μεταβάλλειν σπεύδομεν οὐδέν τε ὀκνοῦμεν τῶν εἰς ἐσχάτην δυσκολίαν ἡκόντων, ἀγρυπνίαις τε καὶ ἀσιτίαις καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἅπασι πόνοις ὑπὲρ τῶν ἡμετέρων ὑπηκόων διηνεκῶς καταχρώμενοι.

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22. For Justinian’s sleeplessness, see Croke, “Justinian.” For the use of ancient history in the Codex, see Pazdernik, “Justinianic Ideology.” 23. Justinian was not the first to blame Roman decline on imperial laziness; compare ­Florus’ claim in the second ­century ad that Rome declined due to the inactivity (inertia) of the emperors, Florus, Epitome 1.Pr.8. 24. Justinian, Novel 60.Pr (325.14–22), published 1 December 537. 25. In the Institutes, Justinian claims that the senatusconsultum Pegasianum, promulgated c. ad 73, was unpop­u ­lar even “in antiquity itself ” (ipsi antiquitati), Institutes 2.23.7. For the date of the senatusconsultum Pegasianum, see Thomas, Institutes, 159. 26. Justinian, Novel 9.1 (91.28). 27. Sotinel, “Emperors and Popes,” 277–79; Meyendorff, Imperial Unity, 225. 28. Justinian, Novel 9.Pr (91.18–23): Et legum originem anterior Roma sortita est, et summi pontificatus apicem apud eam esse nemo est qui dubitet. Unde et nos necessarium duximus patriam legum, fontem sacerdotii, speciali nostri numinis lege illustrare, ut ex hac in totas catholicas ecclesias, quae usque ad oceani fretum positae sunt, saluberrimae legis vigor extendatur, et sit totius occidentis, nec non orientis, ubi possessiones sitae inveniuntur ad ecclesias nostras sive nunc pertinentes seu postea eis acquirendae, lex propria ad honorem dei consecrata. 29. The same connotation would not have been communicated by the adjective “elder,” which was a common way to describe the city. 30. This accords with the so-­called diarchic model advanced by Justinian elsewhere in his laws; see Demacopoulos, Invention, 116–27. For the role of this idea in his exchanges with the Church of Rome, see Chapter 6, esp. section “Ecclesiastical History and the Acacian Schism.” 31. For Justinian’s attitudes ­toward temporal and religious authority, see Markus, “Carthage,” 292–302; Meyendorff, “Justinian.” 32. For the administrative authority of the Roman Church, see Gaudemet, L’Église, 445–46. 33. ­Here Justinian is echoing formulations of the relationship between Old and New Rome that ­were advanced by the bishops of Rome beginning with Felix III in 483; see Chapter 6, section “A History of Re­sis­tance.” 34. Justinian, Novel 24.1 (189.26–28): Ταῦτα ἐννοοῦντες ἡμεῖς, καὶ τὴν παλαιότητα πάλιν μετὰ μείζονος ἄνθους εἰς τὴν πολιτείαν ἐπαναγαγόντες καὶ τὸ Ῥωμαίων σεμνύναντες ὄνομα. 35. See the dicussion of Novel 24 (Praetor of Pisidia) in Chapter 3, section “Novel 24 and the Trajectory of Empire.” 36. Justinian, Novel 75.1 (378.12–13): neque ad anteriorem Romam neque ad alium iudicem huius regiae civitatis eatur, sed ipse vice sacri cognitoris audias et litem dirimas. 37. The move was also a means of rewarding Tribonian. 38. Prokopios, Wars 5.20.11–12: νῦν οὖν μήτε Ῥωμαίοις τοῖσδε περαιτέρω τὴν ταλαιπωρίαν μηκύνεσθαι ποίει, οὓς δὴ Θευδέριχος ἐν βίῳ τρυφερῷ τε καὶ ἄλλως ἐλευθέρῳ ἐξέθρεψε, μήτε τῷ Γότθων τε καὶ Ἰταλιωτῶν δεσπότῃ ἐμποδὼν ἵστασο. πῶς γὰρ οὐκ ἄτοπον, σὲ μὲν οὕτω καθειργμένον τε καὶ τοὺς πολεμίους κατεπτηχότα ἐν Ῥώμῃ καθῆσθαι, τὸν δὲ ταύτης βασιλέα ἐν χαρακώματι διατρίβοντα τὰ τοῦ πολέμου κακὰ τοὺς αὑτοῦ κατηκόους ἐργάζεσθαι; 39. For the loyalties of the Italians during the Gothic War, see Moorhead, “Italian Loyalties”; Amory, P ­ eople and Identity, 109–48. 40. Prokopios, Wars 5.20.17–18: Ῥώμην μέντοι ἑλόντες ἡμεῖς τῶν ἀλλοτρίων οὐδὲν ἔχομεν, ἀλλ’ ὑμεῖς ταύτης τὰ πρότερα ἐπιβατεύσαντες, οὐδὲν ὑμῖν προσῆκον, νῦν οὐχ ἑκόντες τοῖς πάλαι κεκτημένοις ἀπέδοτε. ὅστις δὲ ὑμῶν Ῥώμης ἐλπίδα ἔχει ἀμαχητὶ ἐπιβήσεσθαι, γνώμης ἁμαρτάνει. ζῶντα γὰρ Βελισάριον μεθήσεσθαι ταύτης ἀδύνατον.



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41. Prokopios, Wars, 4.5.19–24. 42. Geoffrey Greatrex extrapolates from evidence such as this to argue that Romanness, as a ­whole, was defined in the sixth ­century as loyalty to the emperor, “Roman Identity,” 268. Below, I ­will attempt to situate Belisarios’ attitude within a wider spectrum of definitions of Romanness that w ­ ere active in Prokopios’ Wars and in the sixth c­ entury generally. 43. Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 5.89: δίκαια μὲν ἐν τῷ ἀνθρωπείῳ λόγῳ ἀπὸ τῆς ἴσης ἀνάγκης κρίνεται, δυνατὰ δὲ οἱ προύχοντες πράσσουσι καὶ οἱ ἀσθενεῖς ξυγχωροῦσιν. This passage is often translated more colloquially along the lines “the strong do as they wish, while the weak suffer what they must.” 44. The framework mirrors the actions of the Spartans ­a fter the fall of Plataia, Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 3.68. 45. Prokopios, Wars 6.6.12. 46. Prokopios, Wars 6.6.4: Ὡς μὲν οὐδετέροις ἡμῶν ἐς τὸ ξυμφέρον τὰ τοῦ πολέμου κεχώρηκεν ἐξεπίσταται ἡμῶν ἕκαστος ἐς αὐτὴν ἥκων τῶν ἐνθένδε δυσκόλων τὴν πεῖραν. 47. The Gothic Dialogue, and its intertextual relationship with Thucydides, also operates as part of a larger, tripartite parallel drawn between Theoderic, Belisarios, and Perikles of Athens; see Pazdernik, “Reinventing Theoderic.” 48. Prokopios, Wars 6.6.17: τούς τε νόμους καὶ τὴν πολιτείαν διεσωσάμεθα τῶν πώποτε βεβασιλευκότων οὐδενὸς ἧσσον, καὶ Θευδερίχου μὲν ἢ ἄλλου ὁτουοῦν διαδεξαμένου τὸ Γότθων κράτος νόμος τὸ παράπαν οὐδεὶς οὐκ ἐν γράμμασιν, οὐκ ἄγραφός ἐστι. 49. The mention of the consulship is somewhat ironic given that Justinian’s major reforms of the office took place in 537, the same year as the dramatic date of the Gothic Dialogue. 50. Prokopios, Wars 6.6.20: ἀλλὰ καὶ πάσας τὰς τῆς πολιτείας ἀρχὰς αὐτοὶ μὲν διαγεγόνασιν ἔχοντες, Γότθος δὲ αὐτῶν μετέσχεν οὐδείς. 51. Prokopios, Wars 6.6.23: Θευδέριχον γὰρ βασιλεὺς Ζήνων Ὀδοάκρῳ πολεμήσοντα ἔπεμψεν, οὐκ ἐφ’ ᾧ Ἰταλίας αὐτὸς τὴν ἀρχὴν ἔχοι· τί γὰρ ἂν καὶ τύραννον τυράννου διαλλάσσειν βασιλεῖ ἔμελεν; ἀλλ’ ἐφ’ ᾧ ἐλευθέρα τε καὶ βασιλεῖ κατήκοος ἔσται. 52. Prokopios, Wars 6.6.25: ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν χώραν τὴν βασιλέως ἑτέρῳ τῳ οὔποτε οὐκ ἂν παραδοίην. 53. Prokopios, Secret History 5.3: διὸ δὴ οὔτε τῶν ἀπολωλότων τι ἀνεσώσατο, ἀλλὰ καὶ Ῥώμην προσαπώλεσε καὶ τἄλλα ὡς εἰπεῖν ἅπαντα. 54. Prokopios, Wars 7.9.12: ἀλλὰ τὴν Γραικῶν ἐς τὸ ὑπήκοον ἀρετὴν ἢ ἀκοῇ λαβόντες ἢ πείρᾳ μαθόντες οὕτω δὴ προήσεσθαι αὐτοῖς τὰ Γότθων τε καὶ Ἰταλιωτῶν πράγματα ἔγνωτε; 55. The term Graeci/Graikoi is used by Gontharis in Carthage (4.27.38), once by Vittigis (5.29.11) and once by his messenger Wacca (5.18.40), and then by Totila (7.9.12 and 7.21.4, 12, 14). 56. This strategy is reminiscent of Justinian’s attempt to predicate his authority on his superior Latinity in Novel 13 (Praetor of the Plebs), see Chapter 3, section “Novel 13.” 57. Prokopios, Wars 7.21.4: λέγω δὲ ὅτι πρώην μὲν ἐς μυριάδας εἴκοσι μαχιμωτάτων ξυνιόντες στρατιωτῶν πλούτῳ τε ὑπερφυεῖ χρώμενοι καὶ ἵππων τε καὶ ὅπλων περιουσίαν τινὰ, ὡς ἔνι μάλιστα, ἐνδεικνύμενοι, καὶ γερόντων ξυνετωτάτων πολὺν ὅμιλον, ὅπερ τοῖς ἐς ἀγῶνας καθισταμένοις ξυμφορώτατον εἶναι δοκεῖ, πρὸς ἀνδρῶν ἑπτακισχιλίων Γραικῶν ἡσσηθέντες, τήν τε ἀρχὴν καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ξύμπαντα λόγῳ οὐδενὶ ἀφῃρήμεθα. 58. Prokopios, Wars 7.21.12: οὺς Γραικοὺς ἐπὶ τῇ πατρίδι ἐπαγάγοιντο, προδόται σφῶν αὐτῶν ἐκ τοῦ αἰφνιδίου γεγενημένοι. 59. Totila did not pioneer this strategy; Vittigis, during his siege of Rome, likewise accused the inhabitants of Rome of betraying their fatherland through his subordinate Wacca; Prokopios, Wars, 5.18.40.

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60. For the letter, see Carolla, “Roma vista da Bisanzio.” 61. Prokopios, Wars 7.22.8–12: Πόλεως μὲν κάλλη οὐκ ὄντα ἐργάζεσθαι ἀνθρώπων ἂν φρονίμων εὑρήματα εἶεν καὶ πολιτικῶς βιοτεύειν ἐπισταμένων, ὄντα δὲ ἀφανίζειν τούς γε ἀξυνέτους εἰκὸς καὶ γνώρισμα τοῦτο τῆς αὑτῶν φύσεως οὐκ αἰσχυνομένους χρόνῳ τῷ ὑστέρῳ ἀπολιπεῖν. Ῥώμη μέντοι πόλεων ἁπασῶν, ὅσαι ὑφ’ ἡλίῳ τυγχάνουσιν οὖσαι, μεγίστη τε καὶ ἀξιολογωτάτη ὡμολόγηται εἶναι. οὐ γὰρ ἀνδρὸς ἑνὸς ἀρετῇ εἴργασται οὐδὲ χρόνου βραχέος δυνάμει ἐς τόσον μεγέθους τε καὶ κάλλους ἀφῖκται, ἀλλὰ βασιλέων μὲν πλῆθος, ἀνδρῶν δὲ ἀρίστων συμμορίαι πολλαὶ, χρόνου τε μῆκος καὶ πλούτου ἐξουσίας ὑπερβολὴ τά τε ἄλλα πάντα ἐκ πάσης τῆς γῆς καὶ τεχνίτας ἀνθρώπους ἐνταῦθα ξυναγαγεῖν ἴσχυσαν. οὕτω τε τὴν πόλιν τοιαύτην, οἵανπερ ὁρᾷς, κατὰ βραχὺ τεκτηνάμενοι, μνημεῖα τῆς πάντων ἀρετῆς τοῖς ἐπιγενησομένοις ἀπέλιπον, ὥστε ἡ ἐς ταῦτα ἐπήρεια εἰκότως ἂν ἀδίκημα μέγα ἐς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους τοῦ παντὸς αἰῶνος δόξειεν εἶναι· ἀφαιρεῖται γὰρ τοὺς μὲν προγεγενημένους τὴν τῆς ἀρετῆς μνήμην, τοὺς δὲ ὕστερον ἐπιγενησομένους τῶν ἔργων τὴν θέαν. 62. This is part of Jordanes’ response to Novel 24, see Chapter  3, section “Jordanes and Novel 24.” 63. Prokopios, Wars 7.22.11: ὥστε ἡ ἐς ταῦτα ἐπήρεια εἰκότως ἂν ἀδίκημα μέγα ἐς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους τοῦ παντὸς αἰῶνος δόξειεν εἶναι. 64. I mean authorizing in the technical sense defined by Carruthers, Book of Memory, 189. 65. For an excellent analy­sis of Marcellinus’ response to Zosimos, see Bjornlie, Politics and Tradition, 85–94. 66. Prokopios, Wars 3.3.14–15: Στρατηγὼ δύο Ῥωμαίων ἤστην, Ἀέτιός τε καὶ Βονιφάτιος, καρτερώ τε ὡς μάλιστα καὶ πολλῶν πολέμων ἐμπείρω τῶν γε κατ’ ἐκεῖνον τὸν χρόνον οὐδενὸς ἧσσον. τούτω τὼ ἄνδρε διαφόρω μὲν τὰ πολιτικὰ ἐγενέσθην, ἐς τοσοῦτον δὲ μεγαλοψυχίας τε καὶ τῆς ἄλλης ἀρετῆς ἡκέτην ὥστε, εἴ τις αὐτοῖν ἑκάτερον ἄνδρα Ῥωμαίων ὕστατον εἴποι, οὐκ ἂν ἁμάρτοι· 67. The emphasis in the awkward phrase is certainly as much on the manliness of ­t hese two men as it is on their Romanness. It is pos­si­ble that they are meant to contrast the depictions of Belisarios and Justinian in the Secret History, in which both men are subservient to their wives. 68. Prokopios, Wars. 3.4.25: ταῦτά τε διανοουμένῳ ἄμεινον ἔδοξεν εἶναι τὸν Ἀέτιον ἐκποδὼν ποιήσασθαι πρότερον, οὐδὲν ποιησαμένῳ ὅτι ἐς αὐτὸν περιέστηκε πᾶσα ἡ Ῥωμαίων ἐλπίς. 69. The dates of both editions of the Chronicon are uncertain, as is the degree to which the ­earlier edition was revised for the second edition. The current consensus has both editions being published in the same year in which they terminated, see Croke, Count Marcellinus, 27–35. 70. Marcellinus comes, Chronicon 454.2: Aetius magna Occidentalis rei publicae salus et regi Attilae terror a Valentiniano imperatore cum Boethio amico in palatio trucidatur, atque cum ipso Hesperium cecidit regnum nec hactenus valuit relevari. 71. The suggestion that this common source was the history of Symmachus has been definitively disproven by Croke, “Manufacturing,” 103–15. Croke’s suggestion that t­ here may have been a fasti of Constantinople is certainly pos­si­ble, but remains unproven. In any case, the hunt for common sources occludes the agency of individual authors, who make a conscious choice to reproduce existing accounts. 72. For the Visigothic king Theoderic, see PLRE 2.1070–71 (Theodericus 2). 73. Jordanes, Getica 176: labores bellicos tolerans, rei publicae Romanae singulariter natus. 74. Jordanes, Getica 191: cui tunc innitebatur res publica Hesperiae plagae. 75. Marcellinus comes, Chronicon 476.2: Hesperium Romanae gentis imperium, quod septingentesimo nono urbis conditae anno primus Augustorum Octavianus Augustus tenere coepit, cum hoc Augustulo periit, anno decessorum regni imperatorum quingentesimo vigesimo secundo, Gothorum dehinc regibus Romam tenentibus.



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76. In par­tic­u ­lar, the phrase Gothorum dehinc regibus Romam tenentibus parallels the first words of the Annales, Urbem Romam a principio reges habuere; Tacitus, Annales 1.1. 77. E.g., Croke, “Manufacturing,” and Bjornlie, Politics and Tradition, 93–94. 78. Romulus and Augustus are also two of the three epochal moments in Justinian’s monarchical formulation of Roman history in Novel 47 (On Dating), for which see Chapter 4, section “Justinian’s Consular Novels.” 79. Jordanes, Romana 345 and Getica 242. 80. The precise phrase in the Getica is decessorum prodecessorumve. 81. Jordanes, Getica 291. This scene is discussed further below. 82. Jordanes, Romana 345: Romanique populi principatum. 83. To this group we may also add Ioannes Lydos; see Kaldellis, “Dissident Circles.” 84. Prokopios, Wars 3.7.16–17: βασιλεῖς μέντοι καὶ ἄλλοι πρότερον ἐν τῇ ἑσπερίᾳ γεγόνασιν, ὧνπερ τὰ ὀνόματα ἐξεπιστάμενος ὡς ἥκιστα ἐπιμνήσομαι. χρόνον τε γὰρ αὐτοῖς τῇ ἀρχῇ ὀλίγον τινὰ ἐπιβιῶναι καὶ ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ λόγου ἄξιον οὐδὲν πεπραχέναι ξυνέπεσε. 85. Prokopios, Wars 5.1.7: οὕτω τε τὴν τυραννίδα παραλαβὼν ἄλλο μὲν οὐδὲν τὸν βασιλέα κακὸν ἔδρασεν, ἐν ἰδιώτου δὲ λόγῳ βιοτεύειν τὸ λοιπὸν εἴασε. 86. Prokopios, Wars 5.1. 87. Vergil, Aeneid 6.851–53. 88. Jordanes, Getica 289–92. 89. Hesychios, Patria 1: τῶν πραγμάτων αὐτῆς ἤδη πρὸς πέρας ἀφιγμένων. 90. Florus, Epitome 1.Pr.7–8; Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae 14.6.3. 91. For eastern perceptions of Rome during this period, see Kaegi, Byzantium and the Decline, 3–58; Croke, “Manufacturing,” 115–19. 92. Argued inter alia by Bowersock, “Vanis­hing Paradigm,” 35–43. 93. As argued on the basis of dif­fer­ent evidence by Kaegi, Byzantium and the Decline, ­59–145. 94. Prokopios, Wars, 5.14.14. It should be noted that the passage is somewhat corrupt and has been restored on the basis of Euagrios’ Ecclesiastical History; see Haury, Procopii Opera, vol. 2, 77–78.

chapter 6 1. While it remains common to refer to the bishop of Rome during this period as the pope, and I have done so when translating sources that use the term papa, I have other­wise avoided any mention of the title “pope” or related words. The reason for this is that the bishop of Rome in this period was never the pope, but rather a pope, and the current meaning of the term unduly influences perceptions of the bishop of Rome’s standing inside the Church. The bibliography on the bishop and bishopric of Rome during this period is vast and largely unrelated to the current discussion. For a survey of current interpretations as well as a compelling reconstruction of the bishop and bishopric of Rome that pushes back against maximalist interpretations of the see as a quasi-­state, see Sessa, Formation of Papal Authority. 2. Menze, Justinian, is the best survey of the ecclesiastical history of this period, and offers a valuable analy­sis of the role of memory in the construction the Syrian Orthodox Church. See also Meyendorff, Imperial Unity, and Frend, Rise. For a narrative survey of the papacy during this period, see Moorhead, Popes and the Church of Rome. 3. Justinian, Novel 131.1 (655.7–8): τοὺς κανόνας ὡς νόμους φυλάττομεν.

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4. Justinian, Novel 131.2 (655.9–15): Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο θεσπίζομεν, κατὰ τοὺς αὐτῶν ὅρους τὸν ἁγιώτατον τῆς πρεσβυτέρας Ῥώμης πάπαν πρῶτον εἶναι πάντων τῶν ἱερέων, τὸν δὲ μακαριώτατον ἀρχιεπίσκοπον Κωνσταντινουπόλεως τῆς νέας Ῥώμης δευτέραν τάξιν ἐπέχειν μετὰ τὸν ἁγιώτατον ἀποστολικὸν θρόνον τῆς πρεσβυτέρας Ῥώμης, τῶν δὲ ἄλλων πάντων προτιμᾶσθαι. 5. Justinian, Novel 131.3–4 (655.16–656.16). 6. For more on Carthage and Justiniana Prima, see below, section “From Supplicant to Master.” 7. ­There is now a useful guide for orienting oneself in the imposing array of editions and collections that exist for t­ hese letters, see Neil, “Papal Letters.” For a complete list of all extant and attested letters by or to the bishops of Rome, see Jaffé et al., Regesta. This chapter w ­ ill primarily draw its letters from the edition of Andreas Thiel (=Thiel) and the Collectio Avellana (=CA), which frequently overlap. I have provided citations to both sources where appropriate. I follow the text of Thiel as the more diplomatic edition through the death of Hormisdas where his volume ends (Thiel had planned a second volume covering the letters from John II through Pelagius II, but it was never published), at which point I employ the CA. The letters of Leo, however, are found among the Acts of Chalcedon in the second volume of the Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum (=ACO). For the textual history of the CA, see Jasper and Fuhrmann, Papal Letters, 83–85. For the dating of the CA’s composition as well as an interpretation of the corpus’ agenda, see Blair-­Dixon, “Memory and Authority.” For a survey of Rome’s role in the ecclesiastical conflicts of the fifth and sixth centuries, as told through the letters of the bishops of Rome, see Allen and Neil, Crisis Management, 97–130. 8. For the distorting role played by t­ hese editors, see Demacopoulos, Invention, 8–9. For a  discussion of the production of the corpus of the letters of Gregory the ­Great, see Pitz, ­Papstreskripte; Castaldi, La trasmissione. 9. See, inter alia, the letter of Charlemagne’s grand­son, Louis II, to the Byzantine emperor Basileos, MGH, Epp. 5.385–94 at 389–90. For the use of the term Graeci by the bishops of Rome as an attempt to de-­Romanize the Byzantine empire, see Gantner, “The Label ‘Greeks.’ ” For a case study of the function of Roman history in Carolingian memory during the ninth ­century, see McKitterick, History and Memory, 186–217. 10. For an analy­sis of the decision by the Council of Constantinople to promote the see of New Rome, see McLynn, “Two Romes.” 11. For an overview of the sixteenth session, see Price and Gaddis, Acts, vol. 3, 67–73. 12. Respectively, ­these are Leo, Letter 98 (=ACO 2.1.3, 116–18), Letter 100 (=ACO 2.4, 167–68), and Letter 101 (=ACO 2.1.2, 52–54). The letter of the bishops somewhat preceded t­ hose of Anatolios and Marcian, which are presumed to have been sent at the same time, though the letter of Anatolios is undated. 13. The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon survive in several dif­f er­ent versions, which are collected in the ACO edited by Edward Schwartz. I have followed the lead of the most recent translation of the Acts in relying primarily on the Greek text of the council (ACO 2.1) with supplements from the Latin text (ACO 2.3) where noted. For this approach, see Price and Gaddis, Acts, vol. 1, x–xi. All translations are my own. 14. The term πρεσβεῖα, translated into Latin as privilegia, has a broad and somewhat ambiguous meaning. H ­ ere, the term is used to refer to both the specific powers being granted to the Constantinopolitan see, in par­tic­u ­lar its control over the Pontic, Asian, and Thracian dioceses, but also more broadly to its primacy in the hierarchy of bishoprics. I have opted for “se­niority” as a more literal and similarly ambiguous translation of the Greek, while Price and Gaddis use “privileges,” a more literal translation of the Latin. See Price and Gaddis, Acts, vol. 3, 76 n. 23.



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15. Acts of Chalcedon, 16.8 (=ACO 2.1.3, 89.3–9): καὶ γὰρ τῶι θρόνωι τῆς πρεσβυτέρας Ῥώμης διὰ τὸ βασιλεύειν τὴν πόλιν ἐκείνην οἱ πατέρες εἰκότως ἀποδεδώκασι τὰ πρεσβεῖα καὶ τῶι αὐτῶι σκοπῶι κινούμενοι οἱ ρν θεοφιλέστατοι ἐπίσκοποι τὰ ἴσα πρεσβεῖα ἀπένειμαν τῶι τῆς νέας Ῥώμης ἁγιωτάτωι θρόνωι, εὐλόγως κρίναντες τὴν βασιλείαι καὶ συγκλήτωι τιμηθεῖσαν πόλιν καὶ τῶν ἴσων ἀπολαύουσαν πρεσβείων τῆι πρεσβυτέραι βασιλίδι Ῥώμηι καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἐκκλησιαστικοῖς ὡς ἐκείνην μεγαλύνεσθαι πράγμασιν δευτέραν μετ’ ἐκείνην ὑπάρχουσαν. 16. Marcian’s rhe­toric was other­wise conventional, Leo, Letter 100 (=ACO 2.4, 167.26–33): scilicet ut post sedem apostolicam Constantinopolitanae urbis antistes secundum optineat locum, quoniam et eadem splendidissima ciuitas iunior Roma nuncupatur, dignetur sanctitas tua etiam huic parti proprium adhibere consensum . . . ​speramus autem quod concordantibus toto orbe sacerdotibus ea quae rei publicae Romanae proderunt, diuinus fauor praestare dignabitur. For similar sentiments, see the letter from the bishops of the council, Leo, Letter 98 (=ACO 2.1.3, 118.26–37), and the letter of Anatolios, Letter 101 (ACO 2.1.2, 53.28–54.2). 17. Dvornik, Roman Primacy, 50–52; Halleux, “Le décret chalchédonien”; idem, “Le vingt-­huitième canon”; Price and Gaddis, Acts, vol. 3, 70–72. 18. Cf. Acts 11:26. 19. Leo, Letter 106 (=ACO 2.4, 61.23–31): non conuellantur prouincialium iura primatuum nec priuilegiis antiquitus institutis metropolitani fraudentur antistites. nihil Alexandrinae sedi eius quam per sanctum Marcum euangelistam beati Petri discipulum meruit, pereat dignitatis nec Dioscoro impietatis suae pertinacia corruente splendor tantae ecclesiae tenebris obscuretur alienis. Antiochena quoque ecclesia, in qua primum praedicante beato apostolo Petro Christianum nomen exortum est, in paternae constitutionis ordine perseueret et in gradu tertio collocata numquam se fiat inferior. aliud enim sunt sedes, aliud praesidentes, et magnus unicuique honor est integritas sua. 20. Leo’s rhe­toric is mythistorical b­ ecause the evidence for Peter’s links to Rome are late and heavi­ly implicated in con­temporary debates, Demacopoulos, Invention, 13–16. The historical argument advanced by Leo is, in part, an inflection of the Petrine topos. For Leo’s use of this topos, see Demacopoulos, Invention, 39–72; Ullman, “Leo,” 41–50. 21. Leo, Letter 104 (=ACO 2.4, 56.13–17): habeat, sicut optamus, Constantinopolitana ciuitas gloriam suam et protegente dei dextera diuturno clementiae uestrae fruatur imperio: alia tamen ratio est rerum saecularium, alia diuinarum, nec praeter illam petram quam dominus in fundamento posuit, stabilis erit ulla constructio. 22. For a summary of Zeno’s reign, see Chapter 1, section on “A Roman Emperor for the Romans.” 23. Simplicius, Letter 2.2 (=Thiel 178; CA 58.4): et beati Marci evangelistae sede hostem parricidamque propellat; idem, Letter 3.7 (=Thiel 182): Ante omnia autem quaeso, ut beati Marci evangelistae sedes—­ A lexandrinam loquor ecclesiam—­ a cruentissimi praedonis incubatione liberata). 24. Simplicius, Letter 7.3 (=Thiel 191): Cum quo Paulus ab Ephesina ecclesia, et Petrus ab Antiochena civitate depulsus, atque omnes, qui ab eo se vel ab his, quos illicite fecerat, aestimant episcopos ordinatos, eadem debent lege percelli. 25. Simplicius’ letters also contain many banal references to apostolic history: inter alia, Letter 10.1 (=Thiel 196; CA 62.2): expulsa profanitate Eutychetis atque Dioscori damnatorum, ad regendos orthodoxos beati Petri et evangelistae Marci sedem. I follow h ­ ere the text of Thiel including the correction of “Petri” for “Pauli.” The CA omits mention of Peter. 26. Simplicius, Letter 2.1 (=Thiel 177–78; CA 58.2): qui ab universali Ecclesia sacerdotalibus sententiis et imperialibus constitutis jure est segregatus.

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27. Simplicius, Letter 3.7 (=Thiel 182): at vero improbus parricida, qui divinis simul reus est legibus et humanis. 28. The most explicit development of this rhe­toric comes in Simplicius, Letter 6.4 (=Thiel 188–89; CA 60.6): ut sicut rem publicam vestram a tyrannica dominatione purgastis, ita ubique Ecclesiam Dei ab haereticorum latrociniis atque contagiis exuatis, nec id potius praevalere patiamini, quod iniquitas temporum per eos, quos non solum in vestrum imperium sed et in Deum quoque rebellis spiritus concitavit. See also, inter alia, Simplicius, Letter 7.1 (=Thiel 190) and Letter 10.1 (=Thiel 196; CA 62). 29. See, inter alia, Simplicius, Letter 7.2 (=Thiel 190) and Letter 12.1 (=Thiel 199; CA 64). 30. Felix III is sometimes called Felix II b­ ecause his eponymous pre­de­ces­sor is not recognized by the modern Catholic Church. 31. Felix III, Letter 1.2 (=Thiel 223–24). 32. Felix III, Letter 1.5 (=Thiel 225) and 1.9 (=Thiel 227). 33. Felix III, Letter 1.13 (=Thiel 231–32): Depulit ille vestrae religionis vastatorem; vos ab ejus Ecclesiae cervicibus irruptionem deturbate praedonum. Pacavit ille rempublicam, sicut vester quoque sermo testatur, a tyrranide haeretica libertatem; vos ab ipsius haereseos praeceptoribus populos eruite Christianos. Restituit ille vos aulae legitimae; imperatoris jure suffultos reddite vos magistro discipulum et sedem beati evangelistae Marci ad communionem beatissimi Petri debita eorum meritis devotione reducite. 34. Felix III, Letter 4.2 (=Thiel 241). 35. Walter Kaegi has attempted to reconstruct eastern reactions to the fall of Rome, but is severely hampered during this period by the lack of extant eastern sources, see Kaegi, Byzantium and the Decline, 99–175. 36. For this period, see Moorhead, Theoderic, 6–65. 37. As is clear from his Tractate 6 on the Lupercalia, see McLynn, “Crying Wolf,” 174–75. 38. See Gelasius’ pardoning of Misenus, the proceedings of which are recorded in his Letter 30 (=Thiel 437–47). For the argument that the proceedings reveal Gelasius’ weakness, see Kelley, Dictionary of Popes, 48; Demacopoulos, Invention, 80–82. For the opposing view, that the rehabilitation of Misenus was a sign of strength, see Richards, Popes and the Papacy, 66. 39. For Gelasius and Anastasius, see Haarer, Anastasius, 128–31; Meier, Anastasios, 103–17. 40. For the impact and reception of Letter 12, see Knabe, Die gelasianische Zweigewaltentheorie; Levison, “Die mittelalterliche Lehre.” 41. Gelasius, Letter 12.1 (=Thiel 350): quia, gloriose fili, et sicut Romanus natus Romanum principem amo, colo, suspicio, et sicut Christianus cum eo, qui zelum Dei habet, secundum scientiam veritatis habere desidero, et qualiscunque apostolicae sedis vicarius, quod ubicunque plenae fidei catholicae deesse comperero, pro meo modulo sugestionibus opportunis supplere contendo. 42. Liber Pontificalis, 51.1. 43. This interpretation accords most closely with the reading of Jonathan Conant but does not require us to assume an unspoken reference to Gelasius and Anastasius’ shared circumstance of having been born in places that had since fallen out of Roman control, Conant, Staying Roman, 83 n. 65. 44. For a survey of attitudes ­toward this letter, including valuable attempts to situate its rhe­toric and ideology inside theories of Roman law and domestic authority, see Neil and Allen, Letters of Gelasius, 49–51. Th ­ ere is a fundamental divide between maximalist interpretations, which argue that this letter reflects the real and acknowledged power of the see of Rome, and



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minimalist readings, which view it as a rhetorical mask for Gelasius’ weakness. I ­favor the minimalist interpretation. For the maximalist school, see Caspar, Geschichte, vol. 2, 70–71; Ullmann, Gelasius, 17–28 and 61–87; Ensslin, “Auctoritas und Potestas.” For the minimalist school, see McClynn, “Crying Wolf ”; Demacopoulos, Invention, 80–82; idem, “Universalist Politics.” 45. Gelasius, Letter 12.2 (=Thiel 350–51): Duo quippe sunt, imperator auguste, quibus principaliter mundus hic regitur: auctoritas sacrata pontificum, et regalis potestas. In quibus tanto gravius est pondus sacerdotum, quanto etiam pro ipsis regibus hominum in divino reddituri sunt examine rationem. . . . ​Si enim quantum ad ordinem pertinet publicae disciplinae, cognoscentes imperium tibi superna dispositione collatum, legibus tuis ipsi quoque parent religionis antistites, ne vel in rebus mundanis exclusae videantur obviare sententiae; quo, oro te, decet affectu eis obedire, qui praerogandis venerabilibus sunt attributi mysteriis? 46. Gelasius, Letter 12.3 (=Thiel 352): Ubi pietas tua evidenter advertit, nunquam quolibet penitus humano consilio elevare se quemquam posse illius privilegio vel confessioni, quem Christi vox praetulit universis, quem Ecclesia veneranda confessa semper est et habet devota primatem. Impeti possunt humanis praesumptionibus quae divino sunt judicio constituta, vinci autem quorumlibet potestate non possunt. 47. Gelasius continued to develop the parallels between divine and secular law l­ater in the letter, Gelasius, Letter 12.8 (=Thiel 354–56). 48. Demacopoulos, Invention, 89–95. 49. For Fl. Rufius Postumius Festus, see Schäfer, Der weströmische Senat, 67–69. For this embassy, see Moorhead, Theoderic, 56–60; Haarer, Anastasius, 87–89; Meier, Anastasios, 97–98. 50. For a survey of Roman episcopal policy in Illyricum from Leo I to Gregory I, see Pietri, “La géographie.” Illyricum was, incidentally, the place Justinian was born sometime in the early 480s, meaning that he would have been a teenager at the time of Gelasius’ Letter 26 to the Dardanian bishops. One won­ders to what extent he was aware of the ecclesiastical conflict between Rome and Constantinople during this period. 51. Previously, in 493, Gelasius had written to the bishops of Dardania, ordering them to strike the names of Akakios and his followers from the diptychs, Gelasius, Letter 7 (=Thiel ­335–37; CA 79). The fact of this letter reveals Gelasius’ incomplete control over the Churches in that region, who had apparently not yet publicly denounced Akakios despite the schism having been in effect for nearly a de­cade. The subsequent assent of ­those same bishops indicates their desire to stay within the Roman ecclesiastical sphere, Gelasius, Letter 11 (=Thiel 348–49; CA 80). Despite this success, Gelasius remained concerned enough about the region to author another letter in August of 494, warning the bishops against communion with the bishop of Thessaloniki on the grounds that he retained Akakios’ name on his diptychs, Gelasius, Letter 18 (=Thiel 382–85; CA 101). 52. ­There is debate over the date, Thiel places it in 495, Otto Guenther, the editor of the CA, in 496 based on divergent readings of the MS; see CA 398 n. 9. 53. Gelasius, Letter 26.10 (=Thiel 405–6; CA 95.53): Risimus autem, quod praerogativam volunt Acacio comparari, quia episcopus fuerit regiae civitatis. Numquid apud Mediolanum, apud Ravennam, apud Sirmium, apud Treviros multis temporibus non constitit imperator? Numquidnam harum urbium sacerdotes ultra mensuram sibimet antiquitus deputatam quidpiam suis dignitatibus usurparunt? 54. Gelasius, Letter 26.10 (=Thiel 406; CA 95.54): Si certe de dignitate agitur civitatum, secundae sedis et tertiae major est dignitas sacerdotum, quam ejus civitatis, quae non solum inter

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sedes minime numeratur, sed nec inter metropolitanorum jura censetur. Nam quod dicitis regiae civitatis, alia potestas est regni saecularis, alia ecclesiasticarum distributio dignitatum. Sicut enim quamvis parva civitas praerogativam praesentis regni non minuit, sic imperialis praesentia mensuram dispensationis religiosae non mutat. 55. Gelasius, Letter 26.10 (=Thiel 406; CA 95.55–57). 56. Gelasius, Letter 26.11 (=Thiel 408–9; CA 95.59–63). 57. For the ­career of Ambrose of Milan, see McLynn, Ambrose of Milan. 58. Gelasius, Letter 27.4 (=Thiel 416). 59. Anastasius II, Letter 1.1 (=Thiel 616): ut sicut praecelsum vocabulum pietatis tuae per  universas gentes toto orbe praefulget, ita per ministerium humilitatis meae, sicut semper  est, sedes beatissimi Petri in universali Ecclesia assignatum sibi a domino Deo teneat principatum. 60. For the Laurentian schism, see Wirbelauer, Zwei Päpste; Sardella, Società, chiesa e stato. For the schism and its influence on the eastern court, see Haarer, Anastasius, 133–36; Meier, Anastasios, 238–49. 61. Symmachus, Letter 10.1 (=Thiel 700). For the books in question, see Thiel 700 n. 1. 62. Symmachus, Letter 10.1 (=Thiel 700): Si mihi, imperator, apud exteros reges, eosque totius Divinitatis ignaros, pro fide catholica dicendum foret, quidquid ejus veritati rationique congrueret, etiam praetenta morte perorarem. . . . ​Verum tu si Romanus imperator es, etiam gentium barbararum legationes debes clementer admittere; si Christianus princeps es, qualiscunque praesulis apostolici vocem debes patienter audire. 63. Symmachus, Letter 10.2 (=Thiel 700). 64. Symmachus, Letter 10.14 (=Thiel 707): quia nec a Christianis vexari deceat Christum quocunque titulo confitentes, nec viventes in jure Romano lacerare conveniat Romanis. 65. For Roman law ­under Theoderic, see Lafferty, Law and Society, 54–100. For law and Romanness in Theoderic’s propaganda, see Arnold, Roman Imperial Restoration, 277–78. 66. L ­ egal themes are a major feature of Symmachus’ letters to the emperor, see also Symmachus, Letter 10.5 (=Thiel 702). 67. This renewed western confidence also supports the verisimilitude of the statements Prokopios places in the mouths of vari­ous Gothic kings and ambassadors in the Wars; see Chapter 5, section “Identity and Po­liti­cal Loyalty in Prokopios.” 68. Written to Anastasius II, this libellus is our only evidence of apostolic history being used against the see of Rome during this period, in this case by the apocrisarii of Alexandria in Constantinople on behalf of the anti-­Chalcedonian bishop of Alexandria; see Anastasius II, Letter 5.1 (=Thiel 629) and Letter 5.3 (=Thiel 629–30). 69. For the ecclesiastical history of this period, see Menze, Justinian, 58–105; Frend, Rise, 221–54; Meyendorff, Imperial Unity, 207–21. 70. For the revolt of Vitalian, see Laniado, “Jean d’Antioche”; Georgakakis, “Το κίνημα”; Ruscu, “The Revolt of Vitalian.” For the response of Anastasius, see Haarer, Anastasius, 164–79; Meier, Anastasios, 295–311. 71. Hormisdas, Letter 1 (=Thiel 741; CA 109.1): Deo etenim omnipotente propitio rempublicam et conservandam et meliorandam esse confidimus. 72. Hormisdas, Letter 4.1 (=Thiel 745; CA 108.4): de orthodoxae concordia cogitatis ­Ecclesiae in beati apostoli Petri reverentia. 73. Hormisdas, Letter 4.1 (=Thiel 746; CA 108.4): Quae res majorem superni favoris defensionem vestro procurat imperio?



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74. We need not speculate that Hormisdas was leveraging the threat of Vitalian’s rebellion in his discussion with Anastasius; it is confirmed by a set of instructions to his delegates in Constantinople in 515, Hormisdas, Letter 7.3 (=Thiel 749; CA 116.6). 75. For Vitalian as an intermediary, see Hormisdas, Letter 7.3 (=Thiel 749; CA 116.7–8). For faith and the respublica, see Hormisdas, Letter 6 (=Thiel 747–48; CA 110) and Letter 8.1 (=Thiel 755–56; CA 115.1). 76. For this letter, see Haarer, Anastasius, 100–101; Amory, P ­ eople and Identity, 209–10. 77. Hormisdas, Letter 12 (=Thiel 765; CA 113.1): Imperator Caesar Flavius Anastasius, pontifex inclytus, Germanicus inclytus, Alamannicus inclytus, Francicus inclytus, Sarmaticus inclytus, tribuniciae potestatis XXV, consul III, pius, felix, victor, semper augustus, pater patriae, proconsulibus, consulibus, praetoribus, tribunis plebis senatuique suo salutem dicit. The CA reads “tribunici imperii” for “tribuniciae potestatis.” 78. Compare Anastasius’ titles to t­ hose of Justinian in his Deo Auctore, Constitutio Tanta (addressed to the senate of Constantinople), and Constitutio Omnem. On the use of the title pontifex maximus in late antiquity, see Cameron, Last Pagans, 51–56. 79. Hormisdas, Letter 12 (=Thiel 766; CA 113.4): ut in ea parte animi sui bonitatem dignentur impendere, in qua utriusque reipublicae membra sperata sanitate salventur. 80. Hormisdas, Letter 14.2 (=Thiel 769; CA 114.7). 81. Hormisdas, Letter 13.3 (=Thiel 767–68; CA 112.9). 82. Hormisdas, Letter 41 (=Thiel 830; CA 141). For the nature of imperial elections and popu­lar sovereignty in Constantinople, see Kaldellis, Byzantine Republic, 118–64. 83. For Justin’s rhe­toric, see, inter alia, Hormisdas, Letter 42 (=Thiel 831; CA 143). For Hormisdas’ response, see Letter 45.1 (=Thiel 834; CA 142). 84. We are fortunate to have a description of the event written by the Deacon Dioscorus, who was representing Hormisdas in Constantinople, Hormisdas, Letter 65 (=Thiel 858–61; CA 167). It should be remembered that Anastasius left a number of potential heirs, two of whom, Pompeios and Hypatios, would ­later be forced into the position of imperial candidates by the failed Nika Revolt in 532. 85. For an account of the reconciliation focused on theological and ecclesiastical rhe­toric, as well as its implications for ecclesiastical geo-­politics (what the author terms Geo-­Ecclesiology), see Blaudeau, “Petrine Ideology,” 367–84. 86. Hormisdas, Letter 61.2 (=Thiel 854; CA 159.7–8) papae magnae Romae . . . ​Johannes misericordia Dei episcopus Constantinopolitanae novellae Romae. 87. Hormisdas, Letter 61.1 (=Thiel 852; CA 159.2): Sanctissimas enim Dei ecclesias, id est superioris vestrae et novellae istius Romae, unam esse accipio, illam sedem apostoli Petri et istius augustae civitatis unam esse definio. 88. Hormisdas, Letter 66 (=Thiel 861; CA 160.1): vir beatissimus antistes novae Romae nostrae. 89. Hormisdas, Letter 67.2 (=Thiel 863; CA 161.5): utrasque ecclesias tam se­nioris quam novae Romae. 90. Hormisdas, Letter 68 (=Thiel 864; CA 162.1): primae archipontifici et papae urbis Romae. 91. Hormisdas, Letter 80.1 (=Thiel 879–80; CA 169.1): in quibus cum sede beati apostoli Petri unam tibi esse fidem professus es. 92. Hormisdas, Letter 80.5 (=Thiel 881; CA 169.9): De Antiochenae quoque atque Alexandrinae ecclesiarum statu non supersedeas esse sollicitus, et clementissimo subinde principi supplicato, ut in his quoque pacem religiosa ordinatione restituat.

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93. For a full list of the known letters of the bishops of Rome written a­ fter Hormisdas, including ­those not extant but mentioned in other sources, see Jaffé et al., Regesta, 109ff. 94. See also Chapter 5, section “Ancient and Modern Rome in the Novels.” 95. The Novel survives only in Latin, Justinian, Novel 9.Pr (3.91.18–23): Et legum originem anterior Roma sortita est, et summi pontificatus apicem apud eam esse nemo est qui dubitet. Unde et nos necessarium duximus patriam legum, fontem sacerdotii, speciali nostri numinis lege illustrare, ut ex hac in totas catholicas ecclesias, quae usque ad oceani fretum positae sunt, saluberrimae legis vigor extendatur. Et sit totius occidentis, nec non orientis, ubi possesiones sitae inveniuntur ad ecclesias nostras sive nunc pertinentes seu postea eis acquirendae, lex propria ad honorem dei consecrata. 96. Justinian, Novel 9.Pr (3.91.17). 97. The Novel survives only in Latin. Justinian, Novel 37.Pr. (3.244.23–24): postquam nostrae reipublicae, per dei praesidium a tyrannis abreptae, sociatae sunt. 98. For the history of the African Church u­ nder Justinian and its re­sis­tance to imperial interference, see Adamiak, Carthage, Constantinople, and Rome, 53–87, esp. 59–63. For the endorsement of Leo, see ibid., 138–39. 99. For Justinian’s use of title “archbishop” (archiepiscopus) for the bishop of Justiniana Prima, see Markus, “Carthage—­Prima Justiniana—­R avenna,” 289–92. For the effects of Novels 9 and 131 on Justiniana Prima and a discussion of Justinian’s ecclesiastical agenda in the region, see Turlej, Justiniana Prima, 47–86 and 135–74. 100. CA 88.14 (338.1–3). The only clear recognition of Petrine status or apostolic history by the eastern court during this period strictly ­limited that recognition to questions of orthodoxy, see CA 89 and 90. 101. Liber Pontificalis 60.6–7. 102. Prokopios, Wars 5.25.13. 103. CA 92.12 (352.18–21): ut nullius subripientis insidiis privilegia sedis beati Petri apostoli Christianissimis temporibus vestris in aliquo permittatis imminui. 104. See CA 83 and 92. 105. Vigilius twice refers to Caelestinus (Celestine) as “the most blessed pope of Elder Rome” (beatissimus Caelestinus papa se­nioris Romae), CA 83.4 (231.14) and 83.5 (231.20–21). Likewise, he calls Anatolios “the most reverent archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome” (Anatolius reuerentissimus archiepiscopus Constantinopolis nouae Romae), CA 83.239 (298.4–5). 106. The Roman see’s rhe­toric in its dealings with the eastern court raises questions about the historical memory and identity of the inhabitants of post-­Roman Italy. Specifically, to what extent was the rhe­toric of the bishops of Rome specific to its Constantinopolitan audience and to what extent was it a coherent part of a larger program? How did Roman ecclesiastical rhe­toric change when addressing the inhabitants of Rome, the Ostrogoths (including the Amal court), the bishop of Ravenna, and, eventually, the armies and government of Justinian? Put differently, what w ­ ere the politics of Roman memory in Rome ­a fter 476? No comprehensive study has yet been written, but several works offer preliminary insight into the dynamics of historical memory in the period. For the “international” axis between Ravenna and Constantinople, see Bjornlie, Politics and Tradition. For the Roman senate’s use of Republican history as a touchstone in their formulation of their con­temporary identity, see Vitiello, “Blaming the Late Republic.” For the role of monuments in Rome, see Muth, “Rom in der Spätantike”; Bauer, “Sankt Peter”; Kalas, Restoration, 169–71. For the attempts to maintain a more l­imited form of Roman administration in Ostrogothic Italy, see Lafferty, “The Law”; idem, Law and Society; Bjornlie, “Governmental Administration.” The best survey of Theoderic’s attempts to manage historical memory is Arnold,



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Theoderic, though it must be read with caution. Arnold accepts the self-­image Theoderic’s regime promoted as fundamentally accurate, but we should read it instead as the product of a deliberate messaging campaign, see Fournier, “Review.”

conclusion 1. See, for instance, the emphasis on arms and laws at Augustus’ funeral, Tacitus, Annales 1.8. 2. It was the bishops of Rome, not the Constantinopolitan writers of the reign of Justinian, who proved to be the most dogmatic and intransigent voices in the historical debates of the period. 3. Bjornlie has reached the same conclusion on dif­fer­ent evidence, Politics and Tradition, 85–94.

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