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Images of Late Roman Emperors
#1
Hi,

I'm putting together some initial thoughts on how the image of the Roman Emperor was used in the period from Constantine to 476 AD- what image of themselves did they want to portray, and how these were used to boost/ prop up their standing.

I'm sure that there are some images that I've missed - and it struck me that it would be a good resource for RAT as well. Could you post images of Roman emperors from all sources (ideally with a description of the piece, where it is now and the name and dates of the Emperor?

And if you PM me your email, I will send you a copy of the short paper once it is produced (before the summer).

Thanks!

Paul
[Image: wip2_r1_c1-1-1.jpg] [Image: Comitatuslogo3.jpg]


aka Paul B, moderator
http://www.romanarmy.net/auxilia.htm
Moderation in all things
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#2
There are several images of Constantius II (337-361) that can be found via Wiki-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Missorium_Kerch.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:K...shield.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:07_con...ono354.png
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bust_o...rrsch).jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Consta...ii_025.jpg

Here is the description of Constantius II found in Ammianus-

'The virtues of Constantius Augustus, and his faults.

Observing, therefore, a true distinction between his good qualities and his defects, it will be fitting to set forth his good points first. He always maintained the dignity of imperial majesty, and his great and lofty spirit disdained the favour of the populace. He was exceedingly sparing in conferring the higher dignities, with few exceptions allowing no innovations in the way of additions to the administrative offices; and he never let the military lift their heads too high. Under him no leader of an army was advanced to the rank of clarissimus. For they were (according to my personal recollection) all perfectissimi. The governor of a province never officially met a commander of the cavalry, nor was the latter official allowed to take part in civil affairs. But all the military and civil officials always looked up to the praetorian prefects with the old-time respect, as the peak of all authority. In the maintenance of the soldiers he was exceedingly careful; somewhat critical at times in evaluating services, he bestowed appointments at court by the plumb-line, as it were. Under him no one who was to hold a high position was appointed to a post in the palace suddenly or untried, but a man who after ten years was to be marshal of the court, or head treasurer, or to fill any similar post, was thoroughly known. It very rarely happened that any military officer passed to a civil magistracy, and on the other hand, none were put in command of soldiers who had not grown hardy in the dust of battle. He made great pretensions to learning, but after failing in rhetoric because of dullness of mind, he turned to making verses, but accomplished nothing worth while. By a prudent and temperate manner of life and by moderation in eating and drinking he maintained such sound health that he rarely suffered from illnesses, but such as he had were of a dangerous character. For that abstinence from dissipation and luxury have this effect on the body is shown by repeated experience, as well as by the statements of physicians. He was content with little sleep when time and circumstances so required. Throughout the entire span of his life he was so extraordinarily chaste, that not even a suspicion could be raised against him even by an ill-disposed attendant on his private life, a charge which malice, even if it fails to discover it, still trumps up, having regard to the unrestrained liberty of supreme power. In riding, in hurling the javelin, and especially in the skilful use of the bow, and in all the exercises of the foot-soldiers, he was an adept. That no one ever saw him wipe his mouth or nose in public, or spit, or turn his face in either direction, or that so long as he lived he never tasted fruit, I leave unmentioned, since it has often been related.
Having given a succinct account of his merits, so far as I could know them, let us now come to an enumeration of his defects. While in administrative affairs he was comparable to other emperors of medium quality, if he found any indication, however slight or groundless, of an aspiration to the supreme power, by endless investigations, in which he made no distinction between right and wrong, he easily surpassed the savagery of Caligula, Domitian, and Commodus. For it was in rivalry of the cruelty of those emperors that at the beginning of his reign he destroyed root and branch all who were related to him by blood and race. To add to the sufferings of the wretches who were reported to him for impairment of, or insult to, his majesty, his bitterness and angry suspicions were stretched to the uttermost in all such cases. If anything of the kind was bruited abroad, he gave himself up to inquisitions with more eagerness than humanity, and appointed for such trials merciless judges; and in the punishment of some he tried to make their death lingering, if nature allowed, in some particulars being even more ruthless than Gallienus in such inquisitions. As a matter of fact, he was the object of many genuine plots of traitors, such as Aureolus, Postumus, Ingenuus, Valens surnamed Thessalonicus, and several others, yet he often showed leniency in punishing crimes which would bring death to the victim; but he also tried to make false or doubtful cases appear well-founded by excessively violent tortures. And in such affairs he showed deadly enmity to justice, although he made a special effort to be considered just and merciful. And as sparks flying from a dry forest even with a light breeze of wind come with irresistible course and bring danger to rural villages, so he also from trivial causes roused up a mass of evils, unlike that revered prince Marcus, who, when Cassius had mounted to imperial heights in Syria, and a packet of letters sent by him to his accomplices had fallen into the emperor's hands through the capture of their bearer, at once ordered it to be burned unopened, in order that, being at the time still in Illyricum, he might not know who were plotting against him, and hence be forced to hate some men against his will. And, as some right-thinking men believed, it would have been a striking indication of true worth in Constantius, if he had renounced his power without bloodshed, rather than defended it so mercilessly. And this Tully also shows in a letter to Nepos, in which he taxes Caesar with cruelty, saying: "For happiness is nothing else than success in noble actions. Or, to express it differently, happiness is the good fortune that aids worthy designs, and one who does not aim at these can in no wise be happy. Therefore, in lawless and impious plans, such as Caesar followed, there could be no happiness. Happier, in my judgement, was Camillus in exile than was Manlius at that same time, even if (as he had desired) he had succeeded in making himself king. Heraclitus the Ephesian also agrees with this, when he reminds us that the weak and cowardly have sometimes, through the mutability of fortune, been victorious over eminent men; but that the most conspicuous praise is won, when high-placed power sending, as it were, under the yoke the inclination to harm, to be angry, and to show cruelty, on the citadel of a spirit victorious over itself has raised a glorious trophy.
Now, although this emperor in foreign wars met with loss and disaster, yet he was elated by his success in civil conflicts and drenched with awful gore from the internal wounds of the state. It was on this unworthy rather than just or usual ground that in Gaul and Pannonia he erected triumphal arches at great expense commemorating the ruin of the provinces,and added records of his deeds, that men might read of him so long as those monuments could last. He was to an excessive degree under the influence of his wives, and the shrill-voiced eunuchs, and certain of the court officials, who applauded his every word, and listened for his "yes" or "no," in order to be able to agree with him.
The bitterness of the times was increased by the insatiate exertions of the tax-collectors, who brought him more hatred than money; and to many this seemed the more intolerable, for the reason that he never investigated a dispute, nor had regard for the welfare of the provinces, although they were oppressed by a multiplicity of taxes and tributes. And besides this, he found it easy to take away exemptions which he had once given.
The plain and simple religion of the Christians he obscured by a dotard's superstition, and by subtle and involved discussions about dogma, rather than by seriously trying to make them agree, he aroused many controversies; and as these spread more and more, he fed them with contentious words. And since throngs of bishops hastened hither and thither on the public post-horses to the various synods, as they call them, while he sought to make the whole ritual conform to his own will, he cut the sinews of the courier-service.
His bodily appearance and form were as follows: he was rather dark, with bulging eyes and sharp-sighted; his hair was soft and his regularly shaven cheeks were neat and shining; from the meeting of neck and shoulders to the groin he was unusually long, and his legs were very short and bowed, for which reason he was good at running and leaping. '
Adrian Coombs-Hoar
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#3
Quote:Hi,

I'm putting together some initial thoughts on how the image of the Roman Emperor was used in the period from Constantine to 476 AD- what image of themselves did they want to portray, and how these were used to boost/ prop up their standing.

I'm sure that there are some images that I've missed - and it struck me that it would be a good resource for RAT as well. Could you post images of Roman emperors from all sources (ideally with a description of the piece, where it is now and the name and dates of the Emperor?

And if you PM me your email, I will send you a copy of the short paper once it is produced (before the summer).

Thanks!

Paul

Just look at coins. Everyone used them, so everyone would see their emperor: if they wanted to portray a "Seperate but united empire" they would show both Emperors (E.g. Imperial Issued of Valentinian III and Theodosius II, Constantinople Mint)
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#4
What I find interesting in the Late Images of the Emperors is the change in the style used to portray them .... and why this change took place ....

Why, during the late II century the power of the State represented itself in this way (Commodus):

[Image: 2554479487_62af579fd8_z.jpg~original]

and then they passed to this way to represent the Imperial power:

[Image: fig_6webBibliotecaVaticanaCoppiadiTetrar...g~original]

Now, probably in this change, there is something more than a simple evolution (or maybe involution?) of the artistic and aesthetic taste, there is a new way to see the world and the power, the Hellenism is no more working here .... there is something radically new ....
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#5
The artist who portrayed Commodus was much more talented imho. Late roman and mid-age depictions are much less realistic. They are much coarser. The question is, if this is just a change in taste or a loss of knowledge, how to do it better? I vote for the latter, even if there are some busts of Diocletian and Constantine, which are not that bad.
Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas
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#6
The other important change in how Emperors were depicted was that from 337 all Emperors , apart from Julian, were depicted with Christian symbols somewhere in their vicinity.
Take this famous statue of Valentinian I-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Coloss...rletta.jpg

Hi is holding the Imperial orb in his left hand whilst holding aloft a cross in his right.
Coins of the Christian Emperors from 337 almost always have Christian symbols on them as well.
Adrian Coombs-Hoar
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#7
Quote:Now, probably in this change, there is something more than a simple evolution (or maybe involution?) of the artistic and aesthetic taste, there is a new way to see the world and the power, the Hellenism is no more working here .... there is something radically new ....

Well as it seems to me there is clear change in art from heavily personalized Imperial portrait to somewhat universal imperial portrait-like if they become a kind of an Icon.This have directly something to do with change to Dominate rather than lack of talented artist.Although later after some time spended in this iconic style, knowledge of older realistic portrait in sculpture probably really disappeared to some considerable level.
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#8
I always favorized Valentinian I. myself to be represented with Barletta statue but other candidates exists(among them Emperor Heraclius-which seems very very unlikely to me).From those other likely possibilities:

-Theodosius I.

-Marcianus http://www.byzantium1200.com/marcianos.html

-and Leo http://www.byzantium1200.com/leo.html

-plus others from time to time

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=othETzXU0IA
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#9
Without a doubt the influence of pagan Greek artistic sensibilities was lessening.
Joe Balmos
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#10
Quote:Take this famous statue of Valentinian I-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Coloss...rletta.jpg
He is holding the Imperial orb in his left hand whilst holding aloft a cross in his right.
Coins of the Christian Emperors from 337 almost always have Christian symbols on them as well.

Unfortunately it's not proven this statue, know as the 'Colossus of Barletta', is Valentinian I. Nor do we know if the Christioan symbols were added later. Apparently it was washed ashore, supposedly after being on board of venetian ship that went down carrying spolis from the sack of Constantinople in 1204.

Personally I think he held a signum, not a cross.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#11
I think that many emperors of all periods would have themselves known by the propaganda that they showed of the reverse of their coinage with such things as their largesse and military exploits, and then of course in later times we find the winged victory on the obverse of much of the coinage had begun to represent a Christian angel. Then of course the reverse of all coinage has carried on as normal and indeed is still with us today.
Brian Stobbs
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