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Emperors and Usurpers in the Later Roman EmpireCivil War, Panegyric, and the Construction of Legitimacy$
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Adrastos Omissi

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198824824

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198824824.001.0001

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Dismembering the House of Valentinian

Dismembering the House of Valentinian

The Usurpation of Theodosius and the War with Magnus Maximus

(p.255) IX Dismembering the House of Valentinian
Emperors and Usurpers in the Later Roman Empire

Adrastos Omissi

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by exploring the accession of the emperor Theodosius and then events of the period 378‒9. Recognizing deficiencies and inconsistencies within the various, later, historical accounts of this episode that we possess from (mostly) Eastern sources, the chapter examines the gratiarum actio of Ausonius and the total silence that this speech maintains on the subject of Theodosius, demonstrating that Theodosius in fact seized imperial power in the year 378. The chapter then examines the usurpation of Magnus Maximus and Theodosius’ response to it, carefully constructing a narrative of Maximus’ progressive advance through Collectio Avellana 39 and 40 and Ambrose, Epistula 30[24]. Finally, the chapters considers the war between Maximus and Theodosius in 388, and explores how Pacatus’ Pan. Lat. II can shed light upon the way in which Theodosius sought to distance himself from association with Maximus after the latter’s death.

Keywords:   civil war, usurpation, Theodosius, Ausonius, Themistius, Pacatus, Magnus Maximus

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