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Article

Alexander the Great, reception of  

Diana Spencer

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

Arbela  

John MacGinnis and David Michelmore

The history of Arbela (cuneiform Urbilum/Urbel/Arbail, modern Erbil) is documented in archaeological and textual sources. From the point when it first entered history in the middle of the 3rd millennium, the city’s fortunes alternated between periods of independence and incorporation within the super-regional states of Mesopotamia, including the Ur III kingdom and, more briefly, the Upper Mesopotamian empire of Shamshi-Adad I. In the later 2nd millennium the city was incorporated within the Assyrian Empire, rising to become a regional capital of major importance. Following the fall of Assyria, the city was incorporated within the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Arsacid, and Sasanian empires. A period of independence as an emirate in the early mediaeval period was a golden age. This came to an end with the city’s submission to the Mongols, after which it came under the control of the Black Sheep and White Sheep Turcomans and the Safavid and Ottoman empires.Arbela—modern Erbil—is a city in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq with a documented history going back more than four thousand years. It is situated in the trans-Tigris region at the interface of the Zagros Mountains and the fertile plains of .

Article

Cassiodorus, Roman magistrate, author of political and religious works, c. 485–c. 580 CE  

M. Shane Bjornlie

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.

Article

Constantia, half-sister of Constantine and wife of Licinius  

Julia Hillner

Article

Diocletian, Roman emperor, 284–313 CE  

Monica Hellström

Although not the watershed once considered, it remains justified to treat Diocletian’s reign (284–305 ce) as the beginning of Late Antiquity. Its length allowed for changes to take root, and the introduction of a ruling college of two Augusti (Diocletian and Maximian) and two Caesares (Galerius and Constantius I, also made sons-in-law) deterred civil wars by creating predictable lines of succession. Even so, serious civil conflicts arose in Gaul, Britannia, and Egypt, while peoples across the Rhine and Danuble required constant attention. The most glorified campaign was against Sasanian Persia (295/6–298/299), concluded by a signal victory celebrated at a joint triumph/jubilee in Rome (303). Diocletian enlarged the army but did not radically transform its structure, concentrating on consolidation. The empire retained its integrity, and evidence for permanent imperial residences is lacking, but Nicomedia emerges as an eastern imperial centre. Better substantiated is the subdivision of provinces, which increased the presence and capacity of the bureaucracy. The fiscal reform (287–) supported the war effort, making extraction predictable and effective (if not necessarily heavier). A new, global coinage was introduced in 294, and the Edict of Maximum Prices (301) set maxima for commodities, likely to contain inflation.

Article

Eustathius of Epiphania  

Laura Mecella

Eustathius of Epiphania (modern-day Hama, Syria), late 5th–early 6th ce. He authored a lost summary of universal history in Greek, known only from Evagrius Scholasticus, John Malalas, the Suda, and Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos (14th century). It seems likely that both Evagrius and Malalas had direct access to it, while the Suda knew its existence only from Hesychius of Miletus’s Table of Eminent Writers (Onomatologos). We do not know the details of the link with Nicephorus, who quotes Eustathius in a passage concerning Theodosius II’s reign and Attila’s campaigns against the Romans (Historia ecclesiastica 14.57). A Patmos manuscript attests the existence of Eustathius’s work as late as the 13th century, so such direct access by Nicephorus cannot be ruled out.1 However, Nicephorus’s narrative is based on several different sources, and it is impossible to identify what could have been taken from Eustathius.2 Furthermore, the possibility that many fragments of John of Antioch’s Chronological History preserve a large part of Eustathius’s work has little credibility: according to this hypothesis, both John Malalas and John of Antioch would have drawn widely on Eustathius’s history, copying it extensively.

Article

Flaccilla, Aelia Flavia, wife of the eastern emperor Theodosius I  

Meaghan McEvoy

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

inequality  

John Weisweiler

The just distribution of social goods was fiercely debated in the ancient Mediterranean and the ideologies of egalitarianism and inegalitarianism developed in Rome and Athens shaped Euro-American political thought from the Enlightenment onward. By contrast, the study of actual income and wealth distributions in ancient societies is a more recent development. Only in the early 21st century have scholars begun to make systematic attempts to quantify levels of inequality in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. Since we lack the documentary sources on which the study of inequality in contemporary economies is based, most of these reconstructions rely on a combination of modelling and the interpretation of isolated figures found in literary texts. This fragmentary evidence suggests that in the best-attested regions of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East inequality was considerable. In particular, the formation of large territorial states—most notably the empires of Babylon, Persia, and Rome—facilitated the concentration of wealth into fewer hands. But it is unclear whether inequality increased over time. At least, there is no unambiguous evidence that wealth and income were more unequally distributed in late antiquity than in earlier periods of Roman history.

Article

Justina, wife of the emperor Valentinian I and mother of the emperor Valentinian II  

Meaghan McEvoy

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, Roman Augusta, 414–453 CE  

Hugh Elton

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

Rome, history, the Late Empire  

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

Tetricus, Gaius Pius Esuvius, Roman emperor  

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

Victorinus, Marcus Piavvonius  

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).