The people in France had never seen such a good dancer as Peter Penny. They told their cousins about him, and their cousins told their cousins too. Peter became famous. When he danced into a town, people lined the streets to watch and cheer, the town band played, and the mayor read a speech. Sometimes the speech was so long that Peter had already danced out of town before it was over.

In 1433 Johannes Aurispa discovered in Mainz a manuscript containing Pliny's Panegyricus and eleven other orations of the same genre. That manuscript has perished, but it has left surviving copies, and the collection of speeches thus preserved is called the XII Panegyrici latini. The general purpose of these twelve panegyrics is the praise of one or more Roman emperors. Pliny delivered his panegyric of Trajan in 100 CE; the other eleven were addressed to emperors of the third and fourth centuries: Maximian (and Diocletian), Constantius I (and the other Tetrarchs), Constantine, Julian, and Theodosius. With the exception of Pliny, the orators were probably all natives of Gaul; many of them were teachers of rhetoric at Autun or Bordeaux and/or officials of the imperial administration.

Orators in all parts of the empire delivered speeches in honor of the emperor(s) on festive occasions: Rome's birthday, the emperor's birthday, his dies imperii, his marriage, the celebration of a triumph. A consul would compose a gratiarum actio for delivery on the first day of January of his consular year, and cities would send an orator to request a favor or to thank the emperor for having granted a petition.

No one knows who made this collection of panegyrics, or when, or why. The final editor may have done his work as early as the end of the fourth century or as late as the ninth; the orations may have been assembled for reasons of local pride or perhaps as a school text. The appearance of Pliny's Panegyricus points to this latter purpose, and each of the subsequent panegyrics celebrates a different occasion and demonstrates the difference between orations composed for various festivities. These occasions are as follows:

1. Pliny's Panegyricus: gratiarum actio; the model
2. Defeat of a usurper
3. Gratiarum actio for consulship; defeat of a legitimate emperor by a usurper
4. Quinquennalia of emperor's sons
5. Gratiarum actio for services to orator's city
6. Quinquennalia of an emperor; request on behalf of native city
7. Epithalamium
8. Dies imperii; recovery of a province
9. Request on behalf of the schools of Autun
10. Rome's birthday
11. Emperor's birthday
12. Defeat of one [previously recognized] emperor by another
Another common factor is that, with the exception of Eumenius' oration (Panegyric 9) and Panegyric 5, every speech in the corpus deals in one way or another with legitimate versus illegitimate rule. In Panegyric 4, delivered in 321, the orator Nazarius remembers at length Constantine's liberation of Rome from Maxentius in the year 312. In Panegyric 6 the orator discusses Maximian's attempted coup in 310, while in Panegyric 7 Maximian is praised for resuming the purple in the year 307. The usurper Carausius is merely alluded to in Panegyrics 10 and 11, because he was still at large; in 11 there is also a cryptic but unfavorable notice of Diocletian's predecessor Carinus. Even Panegyrics 5 and 9 refer to the time of the Gallic Empire.

The Panegyrici latini are of some interest to students of literature: the orators from Gaul knew and copied classical Latin models, especially Cicero. They learned Latin as we learn it (cf. 12.1.2), yet their language reveals few items of vocabulary or syntax which may be branded as late or vulgar. Their historical importance is even greater.

Detailed, contemporary histories are lacking for most of the third and fourth centuries CE; the extant panegyrics of the emperors are, however, both detailed, up to a point, and contemporary. An orator's description of an emperor's military campaigns or peacetime activities often supplies a unique account of otherwise unknown details of that reign. The panegyrists did not cover all of the emperor's deeds, not even all of the glorious ones, and they were likely to exaggerate successes, ignore defeats, and generally, if not always, to represent the emperors' points of view.

To understand an author's purpose is an invaluable asset in dealing with his evidence, and even lies and forgeries are, or ought to be, evidence for something. The Historia Augusta is a case in point. It seems dreadfully dull to write that the corpus of the Panegyrici latini is a collection of orations gathered at random for no particular purpose by an unknown person at a time unknown. At the least one can guess that the speeches were used as a school text, or were collected as part, or all, of an effort to preserve something. Horror vacui wins the day: there follows what is known of the collection's origin.

The manuscripts do not preserve the names of most of the authors of the Panegyrici, only the following headings:

1. Panegyricus Plinii dictus Traiano. [Pliny's panegyric spoken to Trajan. 100 CE]
2. Finitus panegyricus primus Plinii. Incipit panegyricus Latini Pacati Drepani dictus Theodosio. [First panegyric, Pliny's, ends. The panegyric of Latinius Pacatus Drepanius spoken to Theodosius begins. 389 CE]
3. Finitus panegyricus Latini Pacati Drepani dictus d.n. Theodosio in urbe eterna Roma. Incipit gratiarum actio Mamertini de consulatu suo Iuliano imperatori. [Panegyric of Latinius Pacatus Drepanius spoken to our lord Theodosius in the eternal city, Rome, ends. Mamertinus' thanks-giving for his consulship to Julian the emperor begins. 362 CE]
4. Explicit oratio Mamertini. Incipit Nazarii dictus Constantino. [The oration of Mamertinus ends. Nazarius' begins, spoken to Constantine. 321 CE]
5. Panegyricus Nazarii explicit. Incipiunt panegyrici diversorum VII. Incipit primus dictus Constantino. [Panegyric of Nazarius ends. Panegyrics of seven different men begin. The first, spoken to Constantine, begins. 311 CE]
6. Finit primus. Incipit secundus. [First ends. Second begins. 310 CE]
7. Finit secundus. Incipit tercius. [Second ends. Third begins. 307 CE]
8. Finit tercius. Incipit quartus. [Third ends. Fourth begins. 297/8 CE]
9. Finit quartus. Incipit quintus. [Fourth end. Fifth begins. 297/8 CE]
10. Finitus quintus. Incipit sextus. [Fifth ends. Sixth begins. 289 CE]
11. Eiusdem magistri †memet genethliacus Maximiani Augusti. [Of the same magister †memet on the birthday of Maximian Augustus. 291 CE]
12. Hic dictus est Constantino filio Constantii. [This was spoken to Constantine the son of Constantius. 313 CE]
There seem to be several parts: an early collection, made up of seven or five orations, namely 5-11 (or 5-9 with 10 and 11 added shortly thereafter), the authors of which either deliberately or accidentally have remained anonymous, although Eumenius' name is known from the letter which he quotes at 9.14.5. The speeches appear in reverse chronological order; if one ignores for the moment the relative dates of 8 and 9, only 10 and 11 are out of order. Someone prefaced this collection with the three fourth-century panegyrics by Pacatus, Claudius Mamertinus, and Nazarius, preserving the reverse chronological order, and the same person, or someone else, set Pliny's Panegyricus at the beginning. Panegyric 12 seems to have been added after the collection was in its final form, although it may have belonged to an earlier corpus, or to one of the later ones in another position, and may have fallen out of its original place.

This analysis of the different forms the collection(s) underwent is the result of many scholars' methodical work. Only René Pichon dared to name the person who put the panegyrics together in their final form: he thought that Pacatus might have been the editor, and Galletier (I.xvi) is tempted to agree with him. Note that the words domino nostro Theodosio at the beginning of Panegyric 2 indicate (or were meant to indicate) that this particular heading, if not all the headings, was written before Theodosius' death in 395. Galletier believes that the earliest collection, Panegyrics 5-9, was assembled by someone from Autun who wished to keep together orations pertaining either to that city or to its benefactors, Constantius I and Constantine; that 10 and 11, and possibly 12 as well, come from another collection, for the authors of these seem to be more involved with Trier than with Autun; and that the third addition (Panegyrics 1-4) my well have been made by Pacatus, as he and Nazarius both came from Bordeaux, and his is the latest oration in the collection. There are slight variants in modern scholarship on this basic theme; one ought especially to mention Brandt's hypothesis. He sees an original collection of only six panegyrics (5-10), all of which preserve reverse chronological order, and says that 11 and 12 were both added later. The lack of a notice at the end of 10 and beginning of 11 (e.g., Explicit sextus. Incipit septimus) supports his theory. He must, however, suppose that 9 antedates 8 and that a scribe then altered the VI to VII in the heading panegyrici diversorum; this must have happened, then, before the addition of 12, or the scribe who altered VI to VII ought to have written VIII. The heading of Panegyric 12 may provide some clue, for it specifically identifies Constantine as the son of Constantius. None of the others contains such a reference and one might infer that the notice attached to 12 was written when some other Constantine was emperor, or controlled Gaul: possibly Constantine II (d. 340) or the fifth-century usurper.

Arguments about the growth of the collection inevitably involve the questions of authorship and dating. If Panegyrics 10 and 11 come from the same source, then it is likely that the eiusdem in the heading of 11 refers to the author of 10, not to the emperor Maximian; there would also be no reason why these two orations, being separate from the original collection, could not be in normal chronological sequence. On the other hand, if the original collection contained six panegyrics (5-10), then the same man need not have written both 10 and 11; the eiusdem refers to the author of a lost panegyric from the collection to which 11 had originally belonged. If the original collection contained seven orations (5-11), one must explain why 10 and 11 are out of sequence: the usual answer is "because they are by the same man".

In any event, one must explain why Panegyrics 8 and 9 seem to be out of chronological sequence. There are two suggestions for the relative dating of these two panegyrics (delivered within a year of each other) and their order in the manuscripts: (1) they are not out of order and the original editor worked soon after 312 and therefore was able to get the dates right; he knew both the recent history of the last decade of the third century and probably knew as well the authors of the panegyrics and the occasions on which they were delivered; (2) the editor did not necessarily work early in the fourth century; he did not know which panegyric came first, as the speeches are so close together in time and the relative order can only be ascertained by a careful study of the internal evidence.

The dates and place of most of the panegyrics may be established, usually by means of internal evidence, with fair certainty. Many scholars of this and the last century have attempted to discover, on evidence of the manuscript, content, and style, whether or not it is possible to learn the identities of the various panegyrists, or at least to see if more than one of the panegyrics 5-12 is the work of the same man. The name Eumenius appears in the letter, quoted in the ninth panegyric (9.14.5), which Constantius addressed to the author of that oration. Otto Seeck wanted to attribute almost all of the anonymous speeches to Eumenius; not a few scholars subsequently attacked his conclusions. Their studies may be classified into two groups: literary/philological and biographical/historical.

The literary/philological treatises cover such questions as the panegyrists' syntax, vocabulary, use of rhetorical handbooks, knowledge of classical authors, borrowings from earlier panegyrists. The panegyrics are, however, relatively short works, and one author's knowledge of Sallust, for example, is not really good evidence against the possibility that the same man has written another panegyric in which there are no echoes of Sallust. On the other hand, the fact that the authors of two orations both allude to Virgil or favor the same clausulae does not prove that the same man wrote both speeches. The panegyrists' oratorical training included the reading and study of standard authors. R. Götze notes: "Attamen ex pari genere dicendi etiam similitudinem quandam sermonis ortam esse, mihi quidem non tam mirum videtur, quam novum esset, si magna inveniretur diversitas". But one cannot ignore the weight of such evidence taken as a whole: if various literary examinations all point to the same results, the likelihood is that those results are valid.

The historical, or biographical, method of investigating authorship is more promising. The panegyrists sometimes mention themselves, their careers, their native city or their children, and a careful examination of such evidence where it exists (there is very little in Panegyrics 7 and 12), reveals that the authors are different men. Many scholars believe that Panegyrics 10 and 11 were written by the same person, although not all are willing to accept the name Mamertinus for this panegyrist; that 9 was written by Eumenius; and that 5, 6, 7, 8, and 12 are the works of five different authors. I readily embrace these conclusions, with the exception of one. The manuscript evidence for the name Mamertinus (alleged author of Panegyric 11, and thus of 10) is of very little value. Mamertinus is the name of the author of Panegyric 3, and was there in the manuscript for anyone to copy. See Mynors' apparatus and introduction; for argument for the name Mamertinus see Galletier's introduction to Volume I.

To discover the identities of the speakers is of great interest to one who studies the Panegyrici latini as historical sources. For example, since we know that Pacatus became Proconsul of Africa, we may assume that Theodosius approved of his panegyric. It is dangerous, however, to form conclusions on the basis of presumed authorship: one might, in that case, say that the word ad restituendam rem publicam ("to restore the state": 10.3.1; cf. 10.4.1) refer to the death of Carinus in 285, on the grounds that since the author of Panegyric 11 (presumably identical with the author of 10) says that he has praised the emperor before (11.5.1) and that he will not therefore speak of Diocletian's victory over Carinus (11.5.3), we must be able to find some reference to this victory in the tenth panegyric. In order to avoid employing circular reasoning, I treat the authors of 10 and 11 as two separate men; it is useless either to draw conclusions or to argue at any greater length about things for which there is no certainty.


"Welcome aboard, Mr. Pilgrim," said the loudspeaker. "Any questions?"
Billy licked his lips, thought a while, inquired at last: "Why me?"
"That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?"
"Yes." Billy, in fact, had a paperweight in his office which was a blob of polished amber with three ladybugs embedded in it.
"Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why."

The first man to have composed a "panegyric" was Isocrates, who published in 380 BCE the oration entitled Panegyrikos (sc. logos). Isocrates wrote this speech ostensibly for delivery during the festivities of the Olympic Games of that year, but he did not recite it orally. Although he had his predecessors — Gorgias and Lysias had each delivered in Olympiakos in 392 and 388 respectively — Isocrates invented the name "Panegyric" for an oration composed for a festival, a panegyris. His topic was political advice (4.3); his stated purpose was to be of service to his "listeners", as well as to win fame for himself (4.4). His praises of Athens (4.21-99) take up almost the entire first half of the oration; thereafter he includes polemical elements: justifications of the Athenian empire (4.100-110) and criticism of Sparta (4.111-128).

For many centuries after Isocrates' time, the term panegyric retained its original meaning of a speech composed for a festival. Quintilian (2.10.11) says that epideictic oratory has as one of its aims the pleasure of the listeners. Here he includes panegyric in the demonstrativum genus. Later he says: "Isocrates considered that there was praise and blame in every type. There is, then, as I have said, one type, in which praise and blame is contained, but it is called 'encomiastic' from its better part: others call the same thing 'epideictic'" (3.4.11-12). He then discusses the relative merits of the terms encomiastic (laudativum) and epideictic (demonstrativum) and names the three kinds of epideictic oratory (3.4.14-15). In another place he mentions the reward of a panegyric (3.8.7): "since even in panegyrics the favor of the audience is sought, where the reward consists not of some advantage, but solely in the praise". Quintilian's observations on the nature of panegyric could have been drawn from Isocrates' Panegyricus alone.

Eventually, however, the term panegyric became synonymous with the terms encomium and psogos, particularly with the former, as the topic of praise (or blame) because the predominant idea attached to this kind of speech, and by the time of Pliny's gratiarum actio, called Panegyricus, to Trajan in 100 CE the idea of panegyric seems also to be synonymous with that of the basilikos logos. Pliny (Ep. 3.18.2) says that he had two ideas in mind when he expanded and published his oration: first, to praise Trajan, and second, to instruct future emperors. The idea of instruction eventually disappeared for all practical purposes from Latin panegyric as it remains, and it may already have done so by Pliny's time, despite his rationalization. A panegyric became nothing other than a laudatio delivered on a festive occasion.

Rome had its own native species of encomiastic oratory. The laudatio funebris made its appearance early in Republican history; the main difference between a laudatio funebris and a fourth-century panegyric was that the laudatio funebris treated of events in reverse chronological order, beginning with the deceased and going back through his ancestors, while the encomium usually dealt with the ancestors (of a living person) first. Like a panegyrist, the speaker of a laudatio funebris could use the public display of his oratory to gain prominence for himself and his family; Julius Caesar's laudatio of his Aunt Julia is one example of such an opportunity. The subject-matter was of no small concern to the speaker who wished to extol his family's services to the state, and many resorted to invention when genuinely notable deeds were lacking. As Cicero says (Brutus 62), these speeches were not reliable historical witnesses.

Political speeches could also be laudationes, and Cicero's works Pro lege Manilia and Pro Marcello are the best surviving examples of this genre from the Republican period; the earlier speech actually had a purpose besides the praise of Pompey, while the later, a gratiarum actio delivered to Caesar, had no overt end other than praise.

Pliny says in his Panegyricus (1.4) that, according to the decree of the senate, the consul was supposed to give a speech, "under the title of a thanks-giving", the purpose of which was to allow good princes to hear about their good deeds, and bad princes to hear what they ought to do. Pliny experienced some trouble with his speech, as he says in a letter to Voconius Romanus:

In this (type of oration) I would have you consider both the beauty of the material and the difficulty. In the rest novelty itself keeps the reader's attention, in this one everything is commonly known, with the result that the reader is, as it were, at leisure and carefree, and pays attention only to the style (elocution), in which respect it is more difficult to do a satisfactory job when it alone is being judged. (Ep. 3.13.2)
The panegyrist's problem, then, is to say the same things in a new way. Isocrates had set forth this same problem as a principle in his Panegyricus (4.8-9). One orator of the third century CE was not at all troubled by the commonplace nature of a panegyric's themes. He had composed an oration for the Emperor Maximian's quinquennalia of 291 but had not been able to deliver it to the emperor in person, and so he told Maximian:
Neque enim orationis eius quam composueram facio iacturam, sed eam reservo ut quinquennio rursus exacto decennalibus tuis dicam, quoniam quidem lustris omnibus praedicandis communis oratio est.
For I have not taken a loss on that oration which I had composed, but I am saving it to deliver on your tenth anniversary when another five years have elapsed, since for any five-year anniversary the same oration will suffice. (11.1.3)
The evidence of surviving handbooks and panegyrics is not in itself sufficient grounds for assuming that there had been a revolution since the time of Pliny. Pliny himself says that the form (and topics) had already been fixed, and if he does not go so far in making his emperor seem like a god, in all other respects his Panegyricus is much like those of his successors, save that in its published form it is very much longer.

The panegyrists occasionally make observations on the form of oratory which they practice. The author of Panegyric 8 reveals that he has consulted the works of one of his predecessors; he mentions what Fronto had said about M. Aurelius' successful campaign in Britain (8.14.2-3). The same panegyrist voices two concerns — commonplaces of the genre, to be sure — which afflict most of the orators. A panegyrist should not make his speech too long: Quibus ego si omnibus immorari velim, neque hic dies mihi totus neque proximus neque porro ceteri sat erunt; et habenda ratio est temporis, Caesare stante dum loquimur (But if I should wish to dwell upon all of them, neither this entire day nor the next nor yet all the rest of days will suffice, and one must be mindful of time, since Caesar is standing while we speak) (8.4.4). At the same time, the speaker worries about not having adequately praised the emperor's glorious deeds: Dixi, Caesar invicte, prope plura quam potui sed pauciora quam debui (I have said, invincible Caesar, almost more than I could, but less than I ought) (8.21.3). The author of the panegyric of 311 describes many aspects of imperial orations. He says (5.1.1-2) that he came of his own accord to thank Constantine on behalf of Autun, since the city itself could not come. He adds that he would have offered Constantine a speech of thanks on the occasion of the emperor's visit, but held back, not because he was incapable of speaking ex tempore (5.1.4), but because there were not enough people present to do justice to such an occasion, and he did not want his speech to take up any of the short time that Constantine was spending in Autun (5.1.3-5). The orator describes the nature of a gratiarum actio (5.2.2), having already said that no one would believe the facts that he is about to relate unless he were to speak them in the presence of the emperor himself (5.2.1): the emperor's presence is supposed to be a guarantee of veracity.

The author of Panegyric 5 also describes one sort of speaker who might be expected to make an appearance on a public occasion — cum omnes homines omnium fere civitatum aut publice missi aut pro se tibi supplices adsint (since all men of almost every city are present either sent on official business or petitioning you on their own behalf) (5.2.1) — and contrasts his own mission of giving thanks, rather than asking a favor (dicam . . . ea quae libenter agnoscas; I shall say what you would gladly acknowledge). The author of the epithalamium (Panegyric 7) describes his own choice of topic and contrasts it with other kinds of praises:

Dixerint licet plurimi, multique dicturi sint, ea quibus omnia facta vestra summarumque virtutum merita laudantur, . . . Cetera enim in rem publicam vestra beneficia possunt multis occasionibus diversorum temporum praedicari.
Although many have spoken already, and many will speak hereafter, words in which all of your deeds and the merits of the highest virtues find praise, . . . the rest of your services to the state can be proclaimed on many occasions at different times. (7.1.1-2)

Other orators mention the importance of the emperor's dies imperii, either as an occasion important in itself (6.2.3) or compared with the emperor's birthday (11.2.1-3; 11.19.1-2). The panegyrist's assertion (11.1.2, quoted above) that there is a communis oratio for the emperor's five-year anniversaries of rule is not really so insulting as it might appear, for the speakers often describe the nature of their task as a regular part of their orations.

If there is one aspect of oratory on which all the panegyrists agree, it is that festive occasions give the orators a chance to praise their emperors. Pliny may have thought that his task was both to praise and instruct, and some modern scholars make the same claims for the later panegyrists, but it was not really the place of a fourth-century orator to tell his monarch what to do. In 1906, René Pichon wrote (Les derniers écrivains profanes [Paris 1906] 43):

Il s'agit de le complimenter, et rien que de le complimenter. Le discours du rhéteur est une pièce nécessaire de la cérémonie, au même titre que le déploiement des soldats de la garde impériale, la décoration du palais ou les jeux offerts au peuple. Ce qu'on réclame de lui, ce ne sont pas des idées sérieuses sur des sujets pratiques: le jour ne s'y prête pas, et l'Empereur, au surplus, croit n'avoir pas besoin qu'on lui en suggère; on attend seulement que l'éclat de sa parole donne à la solennité un nouvel embellissement, une nouvelle parure.
These praises, however, were not empty formulae unconnected to reality. The emperor himself may sometimes have asked a certain panegyrist to speak on one occasion or another, not only because "il avait intérêt à être bien loué", as Gaston Boissier noted (La fin du paganisme [Paris 1907] 2.215), but also to make sure that his policies received a sympathetic public review.

One should not take the panegyrists to task for contradicting each other, or even for uttering contradictory statements in one panegyric. The orator who performed the unpleasant task of complimenting Constantine on the death of his father-in-law says, when he compares Maximian with Constantine: Gratulare, Constantine, naturae ac moribus tuis quod te talem Constantius Pius genuit . . . ut crudelis esse non possis (Give thanks to your nature and character, Constantine, that Constantius Pius begot you . . . to be so good that you cannot be cruel) (6.14.4). The same orator had just praised Constantine's savage treatment of captured Franks (6.12.1-4). Sending the barbarians to the beasts in the games was praiseworthy, for Constantine thereby demonstrated his virtus and his lack of fear of reprisal: he was a great and successful military leader. The comparison with Maximian, however, has a different purpose. The orator wants to stress Constantine's real paternity over the adoptive relationship between Maximian and Constantine.

The panegyrics represent the emperors' policies for the moment, the day on which the panegyric was pronounced. Greater themes, such as the ruler's military ability, temperance, and justice, recur in every panegyric, but praises of particular policies and deeds have but a transient validity. Some panegyrists followed closely the outline of the imperial oration as they learned it in their handbooks; others, such as Pacatus or the authors of Panegyrics 8 and 12, included the obligatory sections on birth, parentage, and so on, but devoted the greater part of their orations to vivid and detailed accounts of one or more military campaigns. Such speeches surpass the contemporary historians' narratives of the same subjects and become the equivalent of an historical account.

All panegyrists from Isocrates to Pacatus hoped by their treatment of important subjects to win some fame for themselves. It may be that the fame of a speech usually lasted only until the next speech, or at best until the next reign, when a new emperor had new policies: to praise the present emperor at the expense of the past was to foreshadow the future. Both prince and panegyrist understood the rules of the game.

It is a commonplace of encomiastic oratory to herald the arrival of a golden age with each new ruler. The author of Panegyric 10 looks forward to a twofold profit for the empire's inhabitants (10.11.3), the author of Panegyric 11 describes the new era with more assurance when he contrasts the recent past with the present (11.15.3-4). These men proclaim a return of prosperity, hoping that it will be true; twenty-five years later, the author of Panegyric 5 describes Autun in terms that the orators usually reserved for their tales of times before the accession of whatever emperor they were praising.

If the empire's inhabitants were still capable of having aspirations the rulers must have found these impossible to fulfill. But, as Eumenius said, the emperors' victories deserved the public acknowledgment of panegyric (9.9.1). The orators chose and arranged their material carefully so that the emperors would hear nothing but good about themselves. The panegyrics are valuable nevertheless for preserving facts that are sometimes available nowhere else, and for revealing the authors' thoughts about the empire and themselves. The authors of Panegyrics 8 (8.2.1) and 6 (6.23.1) take pride in their positions in the government; the latter also recommends his sons, one of whom works in the finance office, to Constantine (6.23.1-2). Eumenius was glad to retain, when he took over the schools of Autun, the privileges of his position as magister memoriae (9.15.4), and Constantius' letter shows that the emperor was not unaware of his subject's anxiety (9.14.4). The author of Panegyric 10 observes that the people of Gaul regarded the Rhine, when it was full, as security against invasion, and he imagines that those who live in Syria felt the same way about the Euphrates (10.7.5). He says that the rivers are no longer necessary as lines of defense: a statement of fear and hope, and at the time not really an exaggeration. Over twenty years later, the author of Panegyric 6 asserts the provinces' newly-found security from outside attack: Quamlibet ille [Rhenus] arescat aestu aut resistat gelu, neutro hostis audebit uti vado (Let that river dry up in the heat or stand frozen in the cold as much as it pleases, the enemy will dare to employ neither crossing) (6.11.1). This speaker in 310 has echoed his predecessor who spoke in 289 (Licet Rhenus arescat 10.7.7). To praise an emperor for securing the borders is not only a commonplace, it is also an admission that the emperors earned, year after year, the same acclaim for accomplishing the same things.

A century ago, Gaston Boissier wrote a sympathetic discussion of the Gallic orators (La fin du paganisme [Paris 1907] 2.217-218). He said that one should not overlook the real feeling and patriotism that are apparent in the Panegyrici: a Roman who remembered the humiliations of the second half of the third century had a right to be proud of his own time, and of his emperors. As for their insistence upon maintaining a standard of almost Ciceronian Latin, Boissier feels that these orators were making a protest against the rule of force overwhelming intellectual life and the things of the spirit:

. . . c'est affirmer qu'on était Romain et qu'on voulait continuer à l'être. Quand je relis dans cette pensée les rhéteurs gaulois du IVe siècle, j'avoue que je suis tenté de leur pardonner leur rhétorique. Ces raffinements d'expression, ces excèss de beau langage, tout cet effort trop visible pour bien écriree me paraissent un peu moins futiles, et il me semble que j'y vois encore un des aspects de leur patriotisme.
In the late twentieth century it was difficult to understand panegyric or to imagine enjoying the hearing of one, even as its object, let alone to contemplate the composition of such a thing. The rhetoric displayed at the national conventions of the major political parties in the United States was neither as distasteful (distasteful as it was) nor as elegant as the speeches in the collection of the Panegyrici latini. Late Latin panegyric is an acquired taste that some may never acquire; it was on perhaps the second or third reading that my loathing reached its peak, but after rereading the orations many times and struggling to represent them fairly in English, understanding has replaced distaste. It was only recently that I saw a reason for Nazarius' appearance of incoherence, and finally relinquished an unholy desire to pay him back in the introduction. No argument can sway future readers whose reactions must be governed by their own prejudices and tastes, but it would be fair to the individual writers, must of whose names are lost, that they not be considered in a body. There are different voices, not a chorus, and they do not always even sing the same song. Each deserves the dignity of an individual judgment, whatever that may be.


"Earthlings are great explainers, explaining why this event is structured as it is, telling how other events may be achieved or avoided. I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber."
"You sound to me as though you don't believe in free will," said Billy Pilgrim.
"If I hadn't spent so much time studying Earthlings," said the Tralfamadorian, "I wouldn't have any idea what was meant by 'free will.' I've visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will."

At least four of the Gallic orators were natives of Autun: Eumenius (Panegyric 9) and the authors of Panegyrics 8, 6, and 5. All four of these panegyrists observe that the Aedui were among Rome's oldest and most steadfast friends; the expression fratres populi Romani, or a variation on it, occurs at least once in each oration. The three anonymous orators (but not Eumenius) reveal an interest in Julius Caesar: one describes the Britain of Caesar's time (8.11.2-4; cf. Caesar BG 5.12-14, 4.23-26, 5.11), another narrates the details of Caesar's siege of Marseilles (6.19.3; cf. Caesar BC 1.34-36, 1.56-58, 2.1-16, 2.22). Both of these incidents have a place in the panegyrists' arguments. A passage in Panegyric 5 suggests a reason for the orators' interest in Caesar's activities in Gaul: [Aedui] primi omnium inter illas immanes et barbaras Galliae gentes plurimis senatus consultis fratres populi Romani appellati sunt (they were the first of all among those wild and barbaric Gallic nations to be named in many decrees of the senate as brothers of the Roman people) (5.2.4; cf. Caesar BG 1.33). The speaker rehearses Autun's history, not from the founding of the city but from his people's first contact with Rome (5.2.4-3.4), and gives the Aedui credit for having helped Rome to establish dominion over the Celts and Belgians (cf. Caesar BG 6.12.5), although he ignores their subsequent insurrection. The orators from Autun were proud of their past. They considered themselves Romans, their nationalism embraced a wider area than Gaul, and two of them reminded their listeners of their attempt to secede from the Gallic Empire and to reunite themselves with their Roman brothers (9.4.1, 5.4.2-3).

These four panegyrists were not without interest in and sympathy for other parts of Gaul, but of the extant panegyrics, theirs are the only ones containing information about the speaker's native city. The welfare of Autun, or of any city, depended upon the stability of the province, and the presence of a competent, legitimate Roman emperor promised peace from without and within (cf. 10.14.4). Two orators reveal the benefits connected with an emperor's visit to, or residence in, a particular place; they both observe that Trier is especially fortunate. When the author of Panegyric 6 asks Constantine to come to Autun in person, he clearly states the purpose of his request: dabis et illic munera, constitues privilegia (there too you will give gifts, you will establish privileges) (6.22.3). Not much later, another orator from Autun thanked Constantine for his visit:

Nunc itaque, cum in hac urbe quae adhuc assiduitate praesentiae tuae prae ceteris fruitur (habebit enim felicitatis aemulam Flaviam [= Augustodunum] nostram), . . . dicam, imperator, ea quae libenter agnoscas, et ceteri nobis indulta non crederent nisi te agnoscente dixissem.
Therefore, since in this city, which compared to the rest has thus far enjoyed your constant presence [for it will have our Flavia (= Autun) as rival in felicity], . . . I shall say, emperor, what you would gladly acknowledge, and what the rest would not believe has been conferred upon us unless I had said it with your acknowledgment. (5.2.1)
Most of the orators are interested in the emperors' efforts to secure peace for the provinces and to recreate the empire's cities, towns, and agricultural areas. To ensure peace in the provinces, the rulers established military bases (alarum et cohortium castra: camps of cavalry and cohorts) all along the Rhine, Danube, and Euphrates frontiers (9.18.4), a feature that another orator also notes with pride: per intervalla disposita magis ornant limitem castella quam protegunt. Arat illam terribilem aliquando ripem inermis agricola (fortresses arranged at intervals adorn rather than protect the boundary. Unarmed farmers plow that once frightening bank) (6.11.5). The emperors also tried to repopulate the provinces by bringing in settlers, making new subjects out of old adversaries. The author of Panegyric 8, surveying his task, says that he is overwhelmed by the emperors' victories, the annihilation of barbarian tribes, extension of the limes and restoration of the provinces. Allowing for rhetorical exaggeration merely reveals his preoccupations. He also mentions tot translati in Romana cultores (so many farmers settled in Roman territory) (8.1.4), a phrase he later explains more clearly (8.8.4). He describes huge crowds of barbarians in chains in all the large cities, waiting to be led to the deserted areas that they will occupy as farmers (8.9.1). Some of them will also serve as soldiers in the Roman army (8.9.4). The orator rejoices in the name of all Gaul, and exclaims, Arat ergo nunc mihi Chamavus et Frisius (For me, therefore, now the Chamavus plows and the Frisian) (8.9.3).

The dative mihi, if taken literally, means that Constantius had installed these people in the vicinity of Autun, but a later orator implies that Autun had received none of the foreign settlers (5.6.1). At the end of his speech, the author of Panegyric 8 tells where the emperors established the various groups (8.21.1).

The emperors added a rebuilding program to their efforts. Eumenius recounts their achievements up to 297 (9.18.1-2). He says that Britain had recently been overwhelmed, as had another area, which Constantius had recently retrieved from the Franks (9.18.3). There were new trees, crops, and many new walls set upon the old foundations, the traces of which could scarcely be found (9.18.4). Unfortunately, Eumenius does not name the towns.

Autun as well, which had not recovered from the sack of the city in 269, deserved the emperors' attention. Eumenius (9.16.5, 9.18.1) and the panegyrist of Constantius (8.21.1) both express their love for the city and their desire to see it restored. The author of Panegyric 8 says that Constantius has sent artisans from Britain (Eumenius' artifices transmarinos [craftsmen from beyond the sea]: 9.4.3) to rebuild Autun's houses, public buildings, and temples (8.21.2). Eumenius quotes his letter of appointment from Constantius, wherein the Caesar writes, in supra dicta civitate, quam non ignoras nos ad pristinam gloriam reformare (in the above-mentioned city, which, you are not unaware, we are restoring to its former glory) (9.14.4). Every orator from Autun cherishes this intention of Constantius. Eumenius twice (9.4.1 and 9.5.1) brings up the emperors' plans for the city when he argues that the schools must be rebuilt, and he describes what the rulers have already accomplished. The emperors have expended money to restore not only temples and public buildings, but private homes as well (9.4.2). They have imported artisans and brought in new families ex amplissimis ordinibus provinciarum (from the highest social orders of the provinces) (9.4.3). Finally, they wintered the legions in Autun so that the soldiers could spend their time repairing the city's aqueducts and building new ones (9.4.3). Although Eumenius wants to give the emperors as much credit as possible for the work they have already done, he indicates that the task is far from accomplished. He is particularly anxious to see that the schools are rebuilt, and he offers to have this done without any cost to the city or to the state: he will donate his annual salary of 600,000 sesterces for the purpose (9.11.2).

Fifteen years after Eumenius' speech, an orator went from Autun to Trier to thank Constantine for his kindnesses to the city. In 312, Autun had still not been restored to its former condition, although the orator reminds Constantine of his father's good will and good intentions (5.4.4). But a city's wellbeing does not depend only upon having new buildings. The new census had given Autun a heavy burden of taxes (5.5.4). He admits that the census had been fair according to the letter of the law (5.5.5). They hadn't enough people to farm the land (5.6.1-2), and the fields had been neglected for so long that they were overgrown with bushes and trees and quite useless (5.6.3-5), with the exception of the pagus Arebrignus, conspicuous for the cultivation of the vine. All the other once famous vineyards produce almost no wine at all, and the nature of the terrain makes the replacement of the old vines with new ones next to impossible (5.6.6-8). There follows a moving description of the poverty and ruin of the region around Autun and the city's attempts to put together a proper welcoming procession for the emperor (5.7.1-8.5). Even the military roads were so bad that they barely afforded a path; the task of transporting whatever crops they had was almost impossible (5.7.1-3). The orator is grateful that Constantine had the fortitude to persevere in his visit (5.7.4). Even making allowances for the speaker's rhetorical exaggeration, especially when he compares his city with the flourishing towns elsewhere in Gaul, his description of Autun is grim, and if he really is exaggerating the other towns' prosperity, the Gallic provinces may not have been as well off as some of the orators pretended. Behind every compliment lurks a request for more progress in the task of restoration. Constantine responded generously, but perhaps not generously enough.

The author of Panegyric 5 is the sole panegyrist to mention oppressive taxation, with the exception of Claudius Mamertinus, who can afford to discuss the abuses that Julian had abolished. The author of Panegyric 8 lists the income from taxation as one reason why Britain was worth recovering (8.11.1). Aurelius Victor has only one remark on imperial finances of the period. He says that Diocletian imposed a tax on Italy that was not a great burden at first, but later in perniciem processit (became ruinous) (Caes. 39.31-32). Lactantius, who is invaluable for this kind of comment, notes with disgust that Diocletian created three colleagues for himself and thereby brought into being four courts and four armies: adeo maior esse coeperat numerus accipientium, quam dantium, ut enormitate indictionum consumptis viribus colonorum, desererentur agri et culturae verterentur in silvam (the number of people on the public payroll became so much greater than the number of taxpayers that when the strength of the farmers had been exhausted by the enormous size of the taxes imposed, fields were deserted and cultivated land turned into forest) (DMP 7). The story in the fifth panegyric confirms Lactantius' assertion. Claudius Mamertinus compares Gaul before Julian's arrival with the greatly improved conditions there under that emperor's guidance (3.4.1-2) but since he has other things to speak of, Mamertinus says little about Gaul. Ammianus Marcellinus, however, has a lot to say (see 18.1.1, 17.3.1-6). In book 16 Ammianus writes a resumé of Julian's accomplishments, among which is the following: quod profuerit anhelantibus extrema penuria Gallis, hinc maxime claret, quod primitus partes eas ingressus, pro capitulis singulis tributi nomine vicenos quinos aureos repperit flagitari, discedens vero septenos tantum munera universa complentes (that he aided the Gauls who were gasping in extreme poverty, is apparent especially from this, that when he first arrived in that region, he discovered that twenty-five aurei were demanded for each head, in the name of tribute, but when he left only seven took care of all the expenses) (16.5.14). The historian agrees with the author of the fifth panegyric: the emperors could count on getting more money by lowering the taxes, for people paid a reasonable amount more willingly, but when faced with an impossible burden of debt they gave up trying to satisfy any of it. Perhaps the emperors were frequently treated with this argument.

It may be misleading to look to descriptions of Gaul written half a century or more after the fifth panegyric, for before Julian's arrival in 355 there had been no resident emperor in the west since Constantius II lost his last brother, Constans, in 350, and for the ten years before that time Constans had controlled his own territory to the south as well as Spain, Britain, and Gaul, which had been under the jurisdiction of Constantine II (Augustus from 337-340). There had been the usurper Magnentius (no oration by a native of Autun survives to describe that one), a civil war expensive in human lives, and a short-lived usurpation under Silvanus. But one cannot ignore the evidence of Claudius Mamertinus' panegyric of Julian or Ammianus' history. A feeling of despair comes over one when reading their accounts of Julian's reforms, because everything seems always to be the same: no matter what the date is, the speaker or writer says that Gaul has, up to that very moment that he describes, been a depressed area, suffering from one or a combination of the fourth century's worst ills: barbarian invasions, civil wars, and taxes. The present was truly a mirror of the future.

          erunt etiam altera bella,
atque iterum ad Troiam magnus mittetur Achilles.