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What makes Alexander Great? His story has captured the imagination of authors, artists, philosophers, and politicians across more than two millennia. He has provided a point of convergence for religious and spiritual thinkers, he has been co-opted as a champion for gender and sexual openness, he represents a paradigm for would-be charismatic dictators (and their opponents), he gives us scientific imperialism and justification for conquistadorial dreaming, and he exemplifies the risks of cultural appropriation. To understand why Alexander resonates so widely across so many different fields of study, interest groups, and media, is an exercise in reception. This Alexander who has captured the imagination is triumphantly equivocal and it is in the plurality of traditions through which this complexity is expressed that his enduring “greatness” lies. The imaginary quality of Alexander is unsurprising because more profoundly than for any comparable individual from classical antiquity, his history is a product of reception from the start: every encounter with Alexander the Great is part of a conversation that depends substantially on accounts and narrative evidence from long after his death, and at the least at one remove from the historians who first and contemporaneously chronicled his life and achievements.

Article

Cassiodorus was a prominent participant in the political, intellectual, and religious life of 6th-century ce Italy, and a learned scholar of the classical and Christian traditions. As a member of the administration of the Gothic government under Theoderic and his successors, he advanced through what may be considered the late-Roman cursus honorum. He was also witness to the dramatic political and religious debates of the day, including volatile interactions between the royal court at Ravenna, the Senate at Rome, and the emperor in Constantinople. Justinian’s Gothic War in Italy effectively ended his political career, after which he first became an exile in Constantinople, and then the founder of a school for Christian learning (Vivarium) on his ancestral estates in southern Italy. The literary works that he produced span the spectrum of his personal experiences and attest to the intellectual and cultural range of people living during the 6th century: panegyrics, a chronicle, ethnography, letters, treatises on reading, grammars, Christian exegesis, and ecclesiastical history.

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Article

Raymond Davis

Diocletian (Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus), originally named Diocles. Of obscure origins, born in Dalmatia perhaps in the early 240s ce, he rose to command the domestici (bodyguard) of the emperor *Numerianus on the Persian campaign of 283–4. When Numerianus was killed by his praetorian prefect Aper, the army proclaimed Diocles Augustus at *Nicomedia (20 November 284); he killed Aper. He campaigned (285) against Numerianus' brother Carinus, who was killed at Margus. A usurper Iulianus was also removed, and Diocletian was sole emperor. Visiting Italy, he proclaimed his comrade-in-arms *Maximian as Caesar and sent him to suppress the *Bacaudae. Maximian was made Augustus (286) and spent the next years defending Gaul. Diocletian spent most of his reign on the Danube or in the east. In 287 he installed Tiridates III as king of Armenia and reorganized the Syrian frontier. He campaigned on the Raetian frontier (288); he fought the Sarmatians (285 or 289), and the Saracens (290).

Article

Aelia Flavia Flaccilla was the first wife of the emperor Theodosius I, and the mother of his two surviving sons, Arcadius (b. c. 377 ce) and Honorius (b. 383 ce), as well as of a daughter named Pulcheria, who predeceased both her parents.1 Flaccilla is generally believed to have been a native of Spain, and her marriage to Theodosius probably occurred some two or three years prior to his elevation as emperor, perhaps during his temporary retirement from military service to family properties in Spain, after the sudden execution of his father, the comes Theodosius, in 375/376 ce.2

Flaccilla’s location at the time of her husband’s elevation as emperor in January 379 ce is unknown; however, when Theodosius entered the city of Constantinople for the first time as Augustus in November 380 ce, he was accompanied by his wife, the empress, and his young son Arcadius.

Article

Franks  

John Frederick Drinkwater

Franks (Franci), a Germanic people who conquered Gallia (*Gaul), and made it Francia (France). Their adoption of Gallo-Roman Catholic culture was the seed of French civilization and, hence, that of medieval and modern western Europe. Despite their great importance, their first appearance is late (c. 260 ce), their name (‘the bold’, ‘the fierce’) suggesting a coalition of *German tribes on the middle and lower Rhine. From then to the end of the 4th cent. they caused the empire frequent trouble, though they also gave it loyal generals and soldiers. Indeed, 4th-cent. emperors allowed some Frankish settlement on Roman soil in return for military service. However, during the early 5th cent., when the Rhine frontier weakened and the German occupation of Gaul began in earnest, the Franks, like the *Alamanni, seemed destined to be eclipsed by relative newcomers. There was some movement across the Rhine into Belgica Secunda, but it was not until the late 5th and early 6th cents. that the various Frankish groups were united by the Salians Childeric and Clovis, and moved south to break the *Visigoths and *Burgundians.

Article

The empress Justina was the second wife of the emperor Valentinian I, and mother to the emperor Valentinian II and his three sisters, Galla, Grata, and Justa. Justina herself seems to have been a descendant of the Constantinian dynasty: her father, Justus, a former consul, was probably a member of the aristocratic Roman family of the Neratii, and likely also to have been a nephew of Galla, the wife of Julius Constantius (half-brother to Constantine I).1 As a young child Justina had been married previously to the usurper Magnentius (reigned 350–353 ce), who presumably hoped to advance his legitimacy through this connection to the then ruling dynasty. Some years after Magnentius’s death, the emperor Valentinian I (reigned 364–375 ce) sought Justina in marriage for similar dynastic reasons, putting aside his first wife, Severa (in perhaps 369 ce), to marry her.2Justina’s son Valentinian II was born in 371 ce and was aged four years when Valentinian I died suddenly in 375.

Article

Pulcheria was a Roman empress in the early to mid-5th century ce, one of the sisters of the eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II (408–450). Pulcheria spent her entire life in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) and its suburbs where she was a prominent public figure. She has been described as being influential in the First Council of Ephesus in 431 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and as a significant founder of churches in Constantinople. Following the death of the childless Theodosius in 450, Marcian (450–457) became emperor and then married Pulcheria. Aged 55, Pulcheria died in Constantinople in July 453. Many ancient and modern interpretations of Pulcheria’s life rely heavily on later source material, with the result that she was more influential in historiography from the 6th century onward than in her own lifetime. She is portrayed very differently by two contemporary historians, Sozomen and Socrates Scholasticus. In Sozomen’s account, she is represented as managing the Roman Empire in the early part of Theodosius’ reign. Socrates Scholasticus, however, omits her from his history. These two different perspectives probably relate to conflict between Pulcheria and Eudocia, Theodosius’ wife from 421.

Article

John F. Matthews

The three sons of Constantine who emerged from a co-ordinated killing of the more distant claimants at their father's death in 337 competed among themselves for pre-eminence; *Constantine II , who succeeded in Gaul (with Britain and Spain), was eliminated in 340 by his brother *Constans II , who had inherited Illyricum. He was in turn defeated by the usurper *Magnentius (350), and he by the surviving brother *Constantius II (353). Constantius, preoccupied in the west, appointed *Gallus Caesar to deputize in the East, and after Gallus' execution (354) tried to rule as sole emperor. Again, however, he was confronted by usurpation while he himself was committed to war with Persia, and reluctantly accepted his cousin *Julian as Caesar in Gaul. Julian's military successes and his army's growing discontent at his treatment by his senior partner led to his proclamation against Constantius, but he was spared a war which he would probably not have won by Constantius' death (361).

Article

John Frederick Drinkwater

Gaius Pius Esuvius Tetricus became emperor in Gaul in 271 ce. In the literary tradition he appears weaker than *Postumus and *Victorinus, finally betraying his own army to *Aurelian at Châlons-sur-Marne (274). However, his coins (which show the late elevation of his son, Tetricus II, as Caesar) suggest a more resolute regime. Having led Tetricus in triumph, Aurelian gave him a senatorial appointment in Italy (PLRE 1.

Article

John Frederick Drinkwater

Praetorian prefect (see praefectus praetorio) of the Gallic usurper, *Postumus, whom he succeeded in 269 AD after the ephemeral reign of Marius. Though he abandoned *Spain and lost eastern Narbonensis (see gaul (transalpine)) to *Claudius II Gothicus, he successfully resisted other efforts to undermine his regime and suppressed a major revolt at Autun (*Augustodunum).