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Honorius and the city of Rome: Authority and legitimacy in late antiquity
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.
2002 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study examines the importance of the concept of Roma et Augustus, the close relationship between the Roman emperor and the city of Rome, in the reign of Honorius, who reigned in AD 395-423. Rome and the emperor were two of the most important and conspicuous manifestations of Roman civilisation and power, around which much of late antique ideology of authority and legitimacy was formulated. The concept had its origins in the mainly republican ideals deliberately exploited and reinforced by the first emperor Augustus in his attempt to dismantle the Republic as a political force. Consequently, it was an important part of the ideology of the imperial power from Augustus onwards. Until recently, it has been generally assumed that the importance of Rome, and consequently of the relationship, suffered a significant decline in late antiquity (c. AD 300-500). By analysing the political events of Honorius' reign and how they were reflected in the imperial propaganda, the image of a strong and active relationship emerges. It is argued that this relationship affected and, in turn, was affected by the political events of the late fourth and early fifth century. Furthermore, Honorius' reign offers an opportunity to study the relationship under pressure. Honorius' failure to meet the expectations of Rome forced the city to reject him as emperor and proclaim its own; this was the most serious challenge to his power that Honorius had to face. It shows clearly the need the emperor had to maintain good relations with Rome. The most dramatic consequence of this crisis was the first sack of Rome (in AD 410) by barbarians in almost eight centuries. In the aftermath of this disaster, it is possible to see how Honorius attempted to re-establish good relations with Rome, culminating in a triumph in the city in 416. This study thus argues for the continued importance of the concept of Roma et Augustus in late antiquity. The political events of Honorius reign can be intimately connected with the state of his relationship with Rome. It is clear that the relationship between the emperor and the city of Rome continued to be important for the image of the imperial power even as late as the early fifth century. The connection with Rome was a mark of legitimacy which few emperors could manage without.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Classical archaeology and ancient history , 2002. , 180 p.
Keyword [en]
Archaeology, Emperor, Rome, relationship, legitimacy, Attalus, power, usurpation, senate, Alaric, propaganda, Honorius, adventus, consensus universorum, late antiquity.
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Research subject
Classical Archaeology and Ancient History
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-2603OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-2603DiVA: diva2:161935
Public defence
2002-10-05, Sal IX, Uppsala Universitet, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2002-09-12 Created: 2002-09-12Bibliographically approved

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