Although a panegyric can be defined very simply as a speech of praise, it is no longer assumed that praise is also its sole function. What that function might be, however, continues to preoccupy scholarship. Generalisations can be made, but even a nuanced judgement such as ‘every encomium is at once a literary work, a moral problem, and a social rite’ (Pernot, Epideictic Rhetoric, ix) can be challenged by the particular: ‘there is no system and there never was. There is circumstance, preference and ambiguity’. The question is further complicated by the evolution of a rhetoric of praise, related to but independent of the formal panegyric, which came to characterise the literature of Late Antiquity and beyond. The questions, therefore, of what a panegyric is and what it is for are highly relevant to modern scholarship, not only to commentaries but, as is apparent from the books under review, to studies of rhetoric, late antique historiography and the creation of the imperial image.