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Taylor Fitzgerald (PhD, University of Exeter), ‘Imperial concordia: dynasty and collegiality in Late Antiquity.

A seminar by Taylor Fitzgerald for Classics and Ancient History

A Department of Classics and Ancient History seminar
Date1 February 2017
PlaceBuilding:One Bateman Lecture Theatre

Scholarship on imperial legitimacy during the late third and early fourth centuries suggests a dichotomy between legitimacy based on collegial rule (i.e. the Tetrarchy) and legitimacy based upon dynastic claims (i.e. Constantine and his family). This dichotomy is present for scholarly discussion of the Tetrarchic ‘system’ as well, with some scholars (e.g. Leadbetter 2009) arguing for the prominence of familial connections between the Tetrarchs while others (e.g. Hekster 2015) adhering to the traditional view of the Tetrarchy as avoiding familial ties and presentation—what has been termed a ‘meritocracy’ (Borm 2015). If one looks at the self-presentation of the Tetrarchs (on coinage and inscriptions) as well as the representations of the Tetrarchic imperial college in literature, however, there is more continuity between the emperors of the third century and emperors of the fourth than is often acknowledged. This paper will examine the Tetrarchy outside this false dichotomy by synthesizing examples from a variety of media: imperial coinage, inscriptions, Lactantius’ De Mortibus Persecutorum, and the Panegyrici Latini. The representations of the Tetrarchy in these various forms are often not very different than that of the third-century imperial families: both revolve around the ideal of concordia. Concordia is presented as an imperial virtue important to the Tetrarchy, the idea being that in lieu of dynastic ties, the regime promoted ideas of unity and collegiality. This is found in a variety of media, from statuary to coinage to panegyric. But concordia was also an important imperial virtue throughout the third century and after the end of the Second Tetrarchy. In examining the continuity of concordia alongside representations of imperial colleges this paper will illustrate some of the main themes and arguments presented in my doctoral thesis.

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