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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter (A) November 26, 2012

Bad Emperors on the Rise: Negative assessments of imperial investitures, AD 284–395

Martijn Icks
From the journal Klio

Abstract

In this article, the author examines how imperial investiture rituals, which normally served to boost the prestige of aspiring rulers, could be turned against them by hostile authors. In their descriptions, these authors deviated from the ideal patterns to make imperial candidates look bad or ridiculous. The focus is on the period AD 284–395. Three cases are analyzed in detail, namely those of Maximinus Daia (AD 305), Jovian (AD 363) and Procopius (AD 365), followed by an analysis of negative descriptions of investitures in late antiquity in general. Contrary to accounts from the principate, when criticism focussed on a candidate’s immoral behaviour during his investiture, negative descriptions from the late third and fourth centuries also put great emphasis on uninspired acclamations and the use of improper attributes to signal that someone was/would be a bad ruler. Thus authors not only questioned a candidate’s morality, but his legitimacy as well.

Published Online: 2012-11-26
Published in Print: 2012-11

© by Akademie Verlag, Berlin, Germany