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WINTER IS COMING: THE BARBARIZATION OF ROMAN LEADERS IN IMPERIAL PANEGYRIC FROM a.d. 446–68

  • Scott Kennedy (a1)

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The Ostrogothic king Theoderic I (a.d. 475–526) drew on his experience of ruling post-imperial Italy when he famously remarked that ‘The poor Roman imitates the Goth and the rich Goth imitates the Roman’. Written well after the fall of the western Roman empire, these words have prefaced many discussions of the process of Roman and barbarian assimilation and mutual acculturation. This topic has long captured the imagination of scholars, who have approached the topic from many different angles, such as archaeology, religion, prosopography and literature.

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In the course of writing this paper, I have incurred a debt of gratitude to a number of scholars. First, my thanks are due to Anthony Kaldellis and the other students of his seminar on Constantinople in Fall 2015, from which this paper ultimately derives. I greatly appreciated Kaldellis's patience and editorial forbearance as a paper originally on western Roman views of Constantinople morphed into its present form. I am also grateful to the students of Ohio State's coffee hour, who graciously allowed me to present a condensed version of this paper. Finally, my thanks are due to Bruce Gibson and the anonymous reviewers of CQ, whose comments and corrections greatly improved this paper. However, all errors are my own.

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2 Anonymus Valesianus 12.61: Romanus miser imitatur Gothum et utilis Gothus imitatur Romanum. The text is edited by König, I., Aus der Zeit Theoderichs des Großen. Einleitung, Text, Übersetzung und Kommentar einer anonymen Quelle (Darmstadt, 1997). All translations are my own.

3 The bibliography on this topic is expansive. This is only a selection of some important contributions and collections on the issue: Hen, Y., Roman Barbarians: The Royal Court and Culture in the Early Medieval West (New York, 2007), 27123; Pohl, W., Kingdoms of the Empire: The Integration of Barbarians in Late Antiquity (Leiden, 1997); Pohl, W. and Reimitz, H., Strategies of Distinction: The Construction of Ethnic Communities, 300–800 (Leiden, 1998); Mathisen, R.W. and Shanzer, D., Romans, Barbarians, and the Transformation of the Classical World (Burlington, VT, 2011); Conant, J., Staying Roman: Conquest and Identity in Africa and the Mediterranean, 439–700 (Cambridge, 2012); Goffart, W.A., Barbarians and Romans, a.d. 418–584: The Techniques of Accommodation (Princeton, NJ, 1980); Brown, P., The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, a.d. 200–1000 (Oxford, 2003); Courcelle, P., Histoire littéraire des grandes invasions germaniques (Paris, 1964).

4 Watson, L., ‘Representing the past, redefining the future: Sidonius Apollinaris’ panegyrics of Avitus and Anthemius’, in Whitby, M. (ed.), The Propaganda of Power: The Role of Panegyric in Late Antiquity (Leiden, 1998), 177–98, at 191–2; Heather, P., The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History (London, 2005), 381; Harries, J., ‘Sidonius Apollinaris, Rome and the barbarians: a climate of treason?’, in Drinkwater, J. and Elton, H. (edd.), Fifth Century Gaul: A Crisis of Identity (Cambridge, 1992), 298308, at 299–300; Arnold, J., Theoderic and the Roman Imperial Restoration (Cambridge, 2014), 121–41; Conant, J., ‘Romanness in the age of Attila’, in Maas, M. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila (Cambridge, 2014), 156–74, at 166–7.

5 Arnold (n. 4).

6 Arnold (n. 4), 235–61; Courcelle (n. 3), 235–52.

7 On late imperial panegyrics, see Rees, R., Latin Panegyric (Oxford, 2012), 348; Rees, R., Layers of Loyalty in Latin Panegyric: a.d. 289–307 (Oxford, 2002); Schindler, C., Per carmina laudes: Untersuchungen zur spätantiken Verspanegyrik von Claudian bis Coripp (Berlin, 2009); Mause, M., Die Darstellung des Kaisers in der lateinischen Panegyrik (Stuttgart, 1994); MacCormack, S., ‘Latin prose panegyrics: tradition and discontinuity in the later Roman empire’, REAug 22 (1976), 2977.

8 On the ceremony as propaganda, Mause (n. 7), 30–42; Cameron, A., Claudian: Poetry and Propaganda at the Court of Honorius (Oxford, 1970).

9 Weisweiler, J., ‘From empire to world-state: ecumenical language and cosmopolitan consciousness in the later Roman aristocracy’, in Lavan, M., Payne, R.E. and Weisweiler, J. (edd.), Cosmopolitanism and Empire: Universal Rulers, Local Elites, and Cultural Integration in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean (Oxford, 2016), 201–4 detects a similar kind of hypermasculine northern type emerging in Symmachus’ panegyric of Valentinian I. However, I would point out that Symmachus also emphasizes Valentinian's endurance of the cold (Symm. Orat. 1.1, 2). It is only starting with Merobaudes’ panegyric of Aetius that the northern barbarian type takes over.

10 On environmental theory and its development, see Dauge, Y.A., Le Barbare. Recherches sur la conception romaine de la barbarie et de la civilisation (Brussels, 1981), 468–81 and especially Isaac, B., The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (Princeton, NJ, 2004), 55168. Sassi, M.M., The Science of Man in Ancient Greece (Chicago, 2001), 82139 is also helpful.

11 Veg. Mil. 1.2. Vegetius tells us that his information on recruitment had been approved by the most learned men (quae a doctissimis hominibus conprobata sunt).

12 Concerning a monarch: Plin. Pan. 12.3–4; Symm. Orat. 1.1, 2; Amm. Marc. 25.4.10, 27.6.8–9; Claud. 3 Cons. 44–5; Ennodius, Panegyricus 7, 9. Concerning a commander: Livy, Epit. 21.4; Pan. Lat. 11(2).8.3; Claud. Ruf. 1.241–2; 4 Cons. 26–40. Concerning soldiers: Claud. Stil. 1.176–90.

13 Plin. Pan. 15.3–4. On this topos, cf. Mause (n. 7), 79; G. Posset, ‘Studien zur panegyrischen Topik in den Panegyrici Latini bis zum Jahre 313’ (Diss., Vienna, 1991), 35–40.

14 Amm. Marc. 27.6.8.

15 Pan. Lat. 9(4).18.3–4. Similarly, Hdn. 6.3.7.

16 The barbarian and native composition of the Roman army has been the subject of much debate, especially with regard to the years before Valentinian III (425–55). Scholars such as Nicasie, M., Twilight of Empire: The Roman Army from the Reign of Diocletian until the Battle of Adrianople (Leiden, 1998), Elton, H., Warfare in Roman Europe, a.d. 350–425 (Oxford, 1996) and Burns, T.S., Barbarians within the Gates of Rome: A Study of Roman Military Policy and the Barbarians, ca. 375–425 a.d. (Bloomington, IN, 1994) have generally argued that the barbarians made up only a small component of the late Roman army. However, there seems to be wider acceptance that the army from Valentinian onward relied much more heavily on barbarians acting independently of the imperial service. Liebeschuetz, W., ‘The end of the Roman army in the western empire’, in Rich, J. and Shipley, G. (edd.), War and Society in the Roman World (London, 1993), 265–76 and James, E., Europe's Barbarians, a.d. 200–600 (Harlow, 2009), 171–3 argue that the army relied almost exclusively on coalitions of barbarians from the 450s onward.

17 Mathisen, R.W., ‘Violent behavior and the construction of barbarian identity’, in Drake, H.A. (ed.), Violence in Late Antiquity: Perceptions and Practices (Burlington, VT, 2006), 27–35, at 34–5; Mathisen, R.W., Roman Aristocrats in Barbarian Gaul: Strategies for Survival in an Age of Transition (Austin, TX, 1993).

18 On Salvian, see Lambert, D., ‘The uses of decay: history in Salvian's De gubernatione Dei’, AugStud 30 (1999), 115–30; Alciati, R., Monachi, vescovi e scuola nella Gallia tardoantica (Rome, 2009), 83101; Brown, P., Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–550 a.d. (Princeton, 2012), 441–53; Courcelle (n. 3), 146–55.

19 Merobaudes, Panegyric 2.121–6. Merobaudes is cited according to Clover, F.M., ‘Flavius Merobaudes: a translation and historical commentary’, TAPhS 61 (1971), 178.

20 Claud. 3 Cons. 22–32. Similarly, Pan. Lat. 1(10).2.4; Symm. Orat. 1.1; Claud. 4 Cons. 149–53, 160–4.

21 Schindler (n. 7), 177.

22 Sid. Apoll. Carm. 5.249–50; Verg. Aen. 6.606–7; Caes. BGall. 4.1.10.

23 Tac. Germ. 4; Caes. BGall. 4.1.10; Gal. De san. tuend. 6.51; Sid. Apoll. Carm. 7.171–2, 2.37.

24 On the portrayal of Stilicho as a typical Roman commander in Claudian, see Sánchez-Ostiz, Á., ‘Claudian's Stilicho at the Vrbs: Roman legitimacy for the half-barbarian regent’, in Burgersijk, D.W.P. and Ross, A.J. (edd.), Imagining Emperors in the Later Roman Empire (Leiden, 2018), 310–30.

25 Cf. Liebeschuetz (n. 16), 275.

26 On Ricimer, see O'Flynn, J., Generalissimos of the Western Roman Empire (Edmonton, 1983), 104–28; MacGeorge, P., Late Roman Warlords (Oxford, 2003), 167278.

27 On Sidonius, the bibliography is vast. For a starting point, see Harries, J., Sidonius Apollinaris and the Fall of Rome: a.d. 407–485 (Oxford, 1994); Loyen, A., Recherches historiques sur les panégyriques de Sidoine Apollinaire (Paris, 1942). For more detail, see https://sidonapol.org/.

28 Caes. BGall. 4.1.10.

29 Livy, Epit. 21.31–58; Petron. Sat. 122–3; Sil. Pun. 3.477–556; Luc. 1.183.

30 Plin. Pan. 14.2–3; Pan. Lat. 3(11).9, 9(12).3.3, 12(2).45.2. On this scene in Sidonius, see Brolli, T., ‘Silio in Sidonio: Maggioriano e il passagio delle Alpe’, Incontri triestini di filologia classica 3 (2003–4), 297314.

31 Carm. 5.529–30.

32 Anthemius, On, Henning, D., ‘Der erste „griechische Kaiser”. Überlegungen zum Scheitern des Procopius Anthemius im weströmischen Reich’, in Wiemer, H.U. (ed.), Staatlichkeit und politisches Handeln in der römischen Kaiserzeit (Berlin, 2006), 140; O'Flynn, J., ‘A Greek on the Roman throne: the fate of Anthemius’, HZ 40 (1991), 122–8.

33 Some westerners labeled Anthemius a Greek. Sid. Apoll. Epist. 1.7.5 reports that the Gallic praetorian prefect Arvandus conspired with the Gothic king Euric (466–84) to dethrone the ‘Greek’ emperor. Similarly, in Ennodius, Life of Epiphanius 54, Anthemius is deemed a Graeculus by the Ligurian nobility. (Ennodius is cited according to the edition of Cook, G.M., The Life of Saint Epiphanius by Ennodius: A Translation with an Introduction and Commentary [Washington, D.C., 1942].) For a helpful summary of Roman prejudices against Greeks, Isaac (n. 10), 381–405; Dauge (n. 10), 546–54; Petrochilos, N., Roman Attitudes to the Greeks (Athens, 1974); Balsdon, J.P.V.D., Romans and Aliens (London, 1979), 3054.

34 Fenster, E., Laudes Constantinopolitanae (Munich, 1968), 2054. On Sidonius’ image of Byzantium, Bonjour, M., ‘Sidoine Apollinaire et l'Empire’, in La patrie gauloise d'Agrippa au VIème siècle: actes du colloque (Lyon 1981) (Lyon, 1983), 203–18; Kelly, G., ‘Sidonius and Claudian’, in van Waarden, J.A. and Kelly, G. (edd.), New Approaches to Sidonius Apollinaris (Leuven, 2013), 171–93; Schindler (n. 7), 200–1.

35 Only John Malalas, Chronicle 13.7 gives the city a Thracian origin. Malalas is cited according to Thurn, J., Ioannis Malalae chronographia (Berlin, 2000).

36 Pompon. 15, 17; Claud. Stil. 23; Ruf. 1.241–2; Paulinus of Nola, Ad Nicetam 205–17. Paulinus is cited according to Dolveck, F., Paulini Nolani Carmina (Turnhout, 2015).

37 Expositio Totius Mundi et Gentium 50. The Expositio is cited according to Rougé, J., Expositio Totius Mundi et Gentium: introduction, texte critique, traduction, notes et commentaire (Paris, 1966).

38 On the Rutulians, Horsfall, N., ‘Numanus Remulus: ethnography and propaganda in “Aen.”, ix, 598 f.’, Latomus 30 (1971), 1108–16; Jenkyns, R., ‘Pathos, tragedy and hope in the Aeneid’, JRS 75 (1985), 6077.

39 Endurance of the cold: Amm. Marc. 31.2.4; Claud. Ruf. 1.326–7. Horseback-riding from the cradle: Amm. Marc. 31.2.30; Sid. Apoll. Carm. 2.262–4.

40 Sid. Apoll. Carm. 7.83–4.

41 Gal. De temp. 1.627 discusses the similarity of the Celts, Germans, Scythians and Thracians with regard to hair colour because of their cold climate. Thus, the Thracians could have been contaminated by stereotypes of northern barbarians.

42 Sid. Apoll. Carm. 2.138–48.

43 Sid. Apoll. Carm. 2.243–5, 2.262–9.

44 Ennodius, Panegyricus 7, 9. Ennodius is cited according to the edition of Rohr, C., Der Theoderich-Panegyricus des Ennodius (Hannover, 1995).

45 Ennodius, Panegyricus 11–15.

46 Messis, C., ‘Lectures sexuées de l'altérité: Les Latins et identité romaine menacée pendant les derniers siècles de Byzance’, JOB 61 (2011), 151–70.

In the course of writing this paper, I have incurred a debt of gratitude to a number of scholars. First, my thanks are due to Anthony Kaldellis and the other students of his seminar on Constantinople in Fall 2015, from which this paper ultimately derives. I greatly appreciated Kaldellis's patience and editorial forbearance as a paper originally on western Roman views of Constantinople morphed into its present form. I am also grateful to the students of Ohio State's coffee hour, who graciously allowed me to present a condensed version of this paper. Finally, my thanks are due to Bruce Gibson and the anonymous reviewers of CQ, whose comments and corrections greatly improved this paper. However, all errors are my own.

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