Classics/History 222

The Later Roman Empire from Alexander Severus to Anastasius

Spring 2012

207 481 Main Street

TR 11:30-12:45

Description of Course

Continuity and change are the usual descriptors of the Mediterranean world in late antiquity. Topics for scrutiny in the class will include the reasons for the near collapse of the Roman empire in the third century CE, its reintegration and reinvention with attendant sociological and economic challenges, changing perceptions of the ruler, the political triumph of Christianity and conflicts between pagans and Christians and between adherents of different interpretations of Christianity, traditional and Christian historiography, the final collapse of the empire in the west and the enduring appeal of the notion of Romanitas.

Office hours:  Tuesday 10:00-11:00, Thursday 1:30-2:30 and by appointment

What to read before each class: read for the date listed all ancient sources (given first) and modern literature, whether part of a book or journal articles. Everything listed before the entry "See also" or a link to further bibliography is required of all students. In addition, choose one item from the bibliography (or bibliographies) listed below the topics and read it, making notes to bring to class. Do not choose an item that is already listed as required reading.

Some brief advice on research projects

Required Texts (all also on reserve except for Early Christian Lives):

Ammianus Marcellinus The Later Roman Empire
St. Augustine Political Writings
Early Christian Lives
Eusebius The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine

Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity AD 150-750
Stephen Mitchell, A History of the Later Roman Empire, AD 284-641: the Transformation of the Ancient World
Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization

Recommended Texts (on reserve):

A.H.M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284-602
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire volumes 1 and 2

Useful things in print

Available in Reference (non-circulating):
G.W. Bowersock, Peter Brown, Oleg Grabar, edd. Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World. 1999. DE5 .L29 1999
The Cambridge Ancient History (14 volumes) (CAH) D57 .C252
Brill's New Pauly DE5 .N4913 2006

Available in the stacks:
The multi-volume work Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt (ANRW). DG209 .T36
Thirteen volumes of Roman Imperial Coinage (RIC). CJ969 .R6

Some online resources

Narrative: Gallienus to Theodosius I

List of Roman Emperors from Augustus to Heraclius

The very useful De Imperatoribus Romanis

CAH Volume 12
CAH Volume 13
CAH Volume 14

General Bibliography

Ancient Sources

There are translated texts of many of the early church fathers as well as Eutropius' Breviarium and some of the orations of Julian and Libanius, letters from Libanius to Julian, Eunapius of Sardis Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists, Ammianus Marcellinus, and Zosimus at
Lacus Curtius has a variety of texts and other features, including the Historia Augusta
Paul Halsall's Internet Medieval Sourcebook also contains a variety of texts relating to the end of the classical world and Byzantine history

In the bibliographies on and linked to this syllabus, journals are abbreviated according to the conventions of L'Année philologique (henceforth APh), a bibliographical database. There are many online lists of these abbreviations; here is the one from UC Berkeley, and a pdf file straight from APh.
If the UVM library does not have a subscription to the periodical in question, on this syllabus there will always be a reference number of seven digits (e.g. 79-11481). These numbers are L'Année philologique accession numbers, useful to know if you want to order one or more of these through interlibrary loan (e.g., for your research projects). The first two digits are the volume number of L'Année philologique, the last five are the entry (not page) number in that volume.

UVM library has an online subscription to APh. To find it, choose the link Articles & More on the main library page, then the letter A in the alphabet.

There is also a print edition of APh through 2004, shelved in Reference Z7016 .A56, and a more up to date collection in the Classics seminar room. For some things (e.g., personal names) the print version is better than the electronic one.

17  The importance of being Trajan; Sources

Eusebius book 3

Mitchell chapters 1-2
Introduction to the Historia Augusta (hereafter SHA followed by the name of the Life)

Two files you should look at:
Bad Emperors
SHA chart
19  What is late antiquity?
Brown Preface and chapters I-II, Ward-Perkins chapter 1
James J. O'Donnell. "Late Antiquity: Before and After," TAPhA 134 (2004) 203-213
Clifford Ando. "Decline, Fall, and Transformation," JLA 1 (2008) 31-60 [79-11481
Edward James. "The Rise and Function of the Concept 'Late Antiquity'," JLA 1 (2008) 20-30 [79-11485
See also:

Frank M. Clover and R. Stephen Humphreys. "Toward a Definition of Late Antiquity," in Tradition and Innovation in Late Antiquity 3-19 DE59 .T7 1989
Peter Brown and others. "'The World of Late Antiquity' Revisited," SO72 (1997) 5-30
Bryan Ward-Perkins. "The Making of Late Antiquity," in J. Drinkwater and B. Salway, edd., Wolf Liebeschuetz Reflected: Essays Presented by Colleagues, Friends, and Pupils. London 2007. DG311 .W63 2007. Pt. 1
Arnaldo Marcone. "A Long Late Antiquity? Considerations on a Controversial Periodization," JLA 1 (2008) 4-19. [79-11486

24  Maximinus Thrax, the Gordians, Philip the Arab, and Decius

Becoming, remaining, and being represented as emperor after the Severi
The Decian persecution

Lactantius De Mortibus Persecutorum 1-6; Eusebius book 6; SHA The Two Maximini, The Three Gordians; Eutropius 9.1-6

Jason Moralee. "Maximinus Thrax and the Politics of Race in Late Antiquity," G&R 55 (2008) 55-82
John M. York, Jr. The Image of Philip the Arab. Historia 21 (1972) 320-332
H. A. Pohlsander. "Philip the Arab and Christianity," Historia 29 (1980) 463-473
H. A. Pohlsander. "The Religious Policy of Decius," ANRW II 16.3 (1986) 1826-1842
James Boykin Rives, "The Decree of Decius and the Religion of Empire," JRS 89 (1999) 135-154

Some bibliography on emperors from Maximinus Thrax to Carinus

See also Herodian Books 7 and 8
26  Valerian, Gallienus, and the Gallic empire
SHA The Two Valerians, The Two Gallieni, Postumus, Victorinus, Tetricus (the last three are in the group The Thirty Pretenders); Eutropius 9.7-11

Lukas de Blois. The Third Century Crisis and the Greek Elite in the Roman Empire. Historia 33 (1984) 358-377

It's all Gallienus' fault
A purpose to the Gallic empire?
Some Bibliography on the Sassanians
31  Aurelian and his immediate successors

Aurelian's achievement

SHA The Deified Aurelian, Probus, Carus, Carinus and Numerian; Eutropius 9.12-17
Scarborough, J. Aurelian. Questions and Problems. CJ 68 (1973) 334-345
Dmitriev, Sviatoslav. Traditions and Innovations in the Reign of Aurelian. CQ 54 (2004) 568-578
Maps showing Roman expansion and contraction
Expansion of Rome 264 BCE - 180 CE
Map of Western Provinces
Provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire

2  Diocletian and Maximian

Why Iovius and Herculius?
Carausius' standing: did Diocletian and Maximian recognize him?

Panegyric of Maximian (289 CE); Eutropius 9.18-28; Aurelius Victor Liber de Caesaribus 38-39; Gregory of Tours 1.32-35

Mitchell chapter 3.47-62

Sviatoslav Dmitriev. "'Good Emperors' and Emperors of the Third Century," Hermes 132 (2004) 211-224
Bill Leadbetter. "Best of Brothers: Fraternal Imagery in Panegyrics on Maximian Herculius," CPh 99 (2004) 257-266

7 Diocletian and the Tetrarchy

What was the effect of Diocletian's Edict on Maximum Prices and reform of the currency?
Maintaining the tetrarchy?

The Price Edict; Eumenius, For the Restoration of the Schools, In Praise of Later Roman Emperors 145-177; Epitome de Caesaribus 38-40

Gunnar Ellingsen. "Some Functions of Imperial Images in Tetrarchic Politics," SO 78 (2003) 30-44.
Roger Rees. "Images and Image: a Re-Examination of Tetrarchic Iconography," G&R 40 (1993) 181-200.

An image of tetrarchic unity

Some bibliography relating to Diocletian and the tetrarchy
Some bibliography pertaining to Diocletian and finances; mostly relating to the Edict on Maximum Prices

9  Christians in the Roman Empire and the Last Persecution
Lactantius De Mortibus Persecutorum 7-24; Eusebius books 7-8
Those who are interested can find translations of the early church fathers at the Early Church Fathers site; the letters of Cyprian, a valuable source for the third century, are in Volume V of the Ante-Nicene Fathers.

Mitchell chapter 7; Brown chapters IV-V

The last great persecution: whose?
Some bibliography relating to the early Christian church and Rome
14  Constantine and Christianity, Religion and Politics
Panegyrics of Constantine (310 and 313), In Praise of Later Roman Emperors 211-253, 288-333; Lactantius De Mortibus Persecutorum 25-52; Eusebius Life of Constantine 1.15-40 (see links here; there are several choices); Eutropius 10.1-8; Liber de Caesaribus 40-42; Epitome de Caesaribus 41-44; Gregory of Tours 1.36-38; Excerpta Valesiana first part

Mitchell chapter 3.62-70, chapter 8.257-263; Brown chapters VI-VII

Ramsay MacMullen. "What Difference Did Christianity Make?" Historia 35 (1986) 322-43 [to find this on JSTOR, you need to write MacMullen like this: Mac Mullen]
Claudia Rapp. "Imperial Ideology in the Making: Eusebius of Caesarea on Constantine as 'Bishop.'" JThS 49 (1998) 685-95

Constantine's visions
Maximian and Constantine
Religious symbolism on Constantine's coinage

Some bibliography relating to Christians and pagans, especially after 312
Recent bibliography on Constantine

16  Constantine's colleagues, and his foreign policy
Eusebius chapters 9 and 10
Constantine and Licinius
Constantine and Crispus
Constantine and Persia

21  Constantine's family

Ammianus books 14-19; Eutropius 10.9-18

Mitchell chapter 3.70-79

The massacre after Constantine's death
Territorial problems of Constantine II, Constans, Constantius II
The revolt of Silvanus (see Ammianus book 15)
The court of Constantius II
Gallus Caesar
23  Julian
Claudius Mamertinus Gratiarum Actio, In Praise of Later Roman Emperors 393-436; Ammianus books 20-25

Mitchell chapter 8.263-267
James J. O'Donnell. "The Demise of Paganism," Traditio 35 (1979) 45-88

Julian's tenure in Gaul: military and civil activities
Julian's treatise Against the Galileans
The Persian expedition
28  Saints' Lives; Monasticism
Athanasius Life of Antony (in Early Christian Lives)

Brown chapter VIII
Brian Brennan. "Athanasius' 'Vita Antonii'. A Sociological Interpretation," VChr 39 (1985) 209-227
Philip Rousseau. "Antony as Teacher in the Greek Life" in Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity, edd. Tomas Hägg and Philip Rousseau (Berkeley 2000) 89-109. PA3043 .G74 2000
Samuel Rubenson. "Philosophy and Simplicity: The Problem of Classical Education in Early Christian Biography" in Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity, edd. Tomas Hägg and Philip Rousseau (Berkeley 2000) 110-137. PA3043 .G74 2000

See also:

Peter Brown. "The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity," JRS 61 (1971) 80-101
Peter Brown. "The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity, 1971-1997," JECS 6 (1998) 353-376
Garth Fowden. "The Pagan Holy Man in Late Antique Society," JHS 102 (1982) 33-59


1  An interregnum

Ammianus book 25.5, 26.1-4; Symmachus Oration 1

David Woods. Valens, Valentinian I, and the 'Iouiani Cornuti'. Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History 9 (1998) 462-486. PA6011 .S86
Christian Olariu. Datianus, Valentinian and the Rise of the Pannonian Faction. Historia 54 (2005) 351-354

Finding an emperor

13  Valentinian and Valens

Ammianus books 26-28; Ausonius Gratiarum Actio; Epitome de Caesaribus 45-47; Gregory of Tours 1.39-48

Mitchell chapter 3.79-84

The revolt of Procopius
Death of Theodosius the elder
Elevation of Valentinian II


15  Valens and Gratian

Ammianus books 29-30

Valens and the opposition


20  Adrianople

Ammianus book 31

Noel Lenski. "Initium mali Romano imperio: Contemporary Reactions to the Battle of Adrianople," TAPhA 127 (1997) 129-168

Why didn't Valens wait for Gratian?
Effects of the battle of Adrianople
Bibliography on Adrianople, causes, and aftermath
22  Christianissimus princeps
Pacatus Panegyric of Theodosius, In Praise of Later Roman Emperors 437-516; Epitome de Caesaribus 48; Symmachus On the Altar of Victory; Ambrose's reply: Ep. 17

Mitchell chapter 3.84-89

Diptych of the Symmachi

Theodosius and Magnus Maximus
Religious legislation
27  Outsiders I: Ammianus Marcellinus
Brown chapter III
Ammianus' loyalties
Ammianus and religion
Bibliography on Ammianus
29  Outsiders II: Stilicho and Alaric
Claudian The Gothic War

Mitchell chapter 3.89-96

The eastern policy of Stilicho
Stilicho and Alaric
The execution of Stilicho
Bibliography on Stilicho (inter alios)
3  The early fifth century in the West
Sulpicius Severus Life of St Martin of Tours (in Early Christian Lives); Sacred History of Sulpicius Severus; read 2.46 (II.XLVI) to end; Procopius' History: Sack of Rome under Alaric and Vandals under Gaiseric conquer North Africa

Brown chapter X; Mitchell chapter 4.101-113; Ward-Perkins chapters 2-3

Galla Placidia
Reaction to events of 410
5  Rome
Rutilius Namatianus De reditu suo; Gregory the Great Life of Benedict (in Early Christian Lives)

Lellia Cracco Ruggini. "Rome in Late Antiquity: Clientship, Urban Topography, and Prosopography," CPh 98 (2003) 366-382

The idea of Romanitas
The prejudices of Rutilius Namatianus
10  Augustine
Augustine City of God books 1-5, 19, 22; Political Writings 213-229

Mitchell chapter 8.268-295

Please visit James O'Donnell's web pages on Augustine, Boethius and Cassiodorus
The site devoted to Augustine has many resources, including texts and bibliography

Augustine on just war and other problems
The kingdom of God
12  Barbarians and the Roman army

Jordanes History of the Goths XXXIII-LX

Mitchell chapter 4.113-124; Ward-Perkins chapters 4-6

Aetius and Valentinian III
17  Senators and Bishops and Emperors: Sidonius Apollinaris
Sidonius Apollinaris Letters book I.II, IX, XI; III.III; VII.I, VI; VIII.IX

Introduction to the Letters of Sidonius; Brown chapters IX-X

Not before time: a website devoted to Sidonius Apollinaris

Sidonius' verse panegyrics
Sidonius' political choices
The bishopric as refuge

19  The Economy

Mitchell, chapters 9 and 10
John Drinkwater, "Patronage in Roman Gaul and the Problem of the Bagaudae," in Patronage in Ancient Society (see general bibliography) 189-203
Zeev Rubin, "Mass Movements in Late Antiquity: Appearances and Realities," in Leaders and Masses in the Roman World: Studies in Honor of Zvi Yavetz, edd. I. Malkin and Z. W. Rubinsohn (1995) 129-187
The Bagaudae
The elements of taxation after Diocletian

24  Senators and Bishops: Ruricius of Limoges

Mitchell chapter 6
26  Venantius Fortunatus
Gregory of Tours History of the Franks book 2

Brian Brennan. "Venantius Fortunatus: Byzantine Agent?", Byzantion 65 (1995) 7-16 OR (same author) "The Career of Venantius Fortunatus," Traditio 41 (1985) 49-78
Yitzhak Hen. "Clovis, Gregory of Tours, and pro-Merovingian Propaganda," RBPh 71 (1993) 271-276
Brown chapter XI

1  Ages
Ward-Perkins chapters 7 and 8
11  Research projects due by 1:30 p.m.

Last updated: 17 April 2012
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