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‘Narrative and Subversion: Exemplary Rome and Imperial Misrule in Ammianus Marcellinus’

Mark Humphries Orcid Logo

Some organic readings in narrative, ancient and modern : gathered and originally presented as a book for John, Volume: Ancient Narrative Supplements 27, Pages: 233 - 254

Swansea University Author: Mark Humphries Orcid Logo

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Abstract

This chapter examines how, by means of a carefully constructed narrative, the fourth-century Latin historian Ammianus Marcellinus presents not so much a description of the Roman empire in his own day as a diagnosis of its ills and recommendations of how they might be cured. The analysis focuses on t...

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Published in: Some organic readings in narrative, ancient and modern : gathered and originally presented as a book for John
ISBN: 9789492444943
ISSN: 1574-5066 1568-3532
Published: Groningen Barkhuis & Groningen University Library 2019 2019
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa525
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Abstract: This chapter examines how, by means of a carefully constructed narrative, the fourth-century Latin historian Ammianus Marcellinus presents not so much a description of the Roman empire in his own day as a diagnosis of its ills and recommendations of how they might be cured. The analysis focuses on the historian’s celebrated description of the emperor Constantius II’s adventus to Rome in 357. It is argued here that the account is remarkably subversive, both in terms of the description it offers, and how it is embedded in Ammianus’ wider narrative. Constantius had come to Rome to celebrate a victory in civil war, but Ammianus regarded such festivities as wholly inappropriate at a time when the empire was facing existential threats from across its frontiers, and his description underscores his distaste. At the same time, Constantius’ unmilitary lassitude is explicitly contrasted, by means of narrative juxtaposition, with an altogether more worthy demonstration of imperial activity focused on the defence of Roman territory by Ammianus’ hero, the Caesar Julian.
Item Description: Edited by Ian Repath, Fritz-Gregor Herrmann
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Start Page: 233
End Page: 254