A Tale of Two Cities

John Vanderspoel

in Two Romes

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199739400
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933006 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Late Antiquity

A Tale of Two Cities

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This chapter, developing and nuancing elements of the author’s monograph of 1995, examines the philosopher Themistius’ panegyrics as they present the developing status of Constantinople from the 350s to the 380s; it focuses particularly on its development as a capital and its relationship with Rome. Themistius’ status as a spokesman of the senate and his relationship with successive emperors make him a crucial source for Constantinople’s institutional development. The chapter maintains the importance of changes in the status of Constantinople and its senate in ca. 357, from a dynastic city to an eastern capital; and to a lesser degree after the accession of Theodosius, whose predecessor Valens had resented the city. It closes by considering the relationship between Themistius’ ideal of “two capitals” and the eventual reality, after 395, of “two empires.” The chapter also makes a number of detailed arguments about interpretation, notably arguing that the final section of Or. 3 did not form part of the speech as originally delivered in Rome in 357.

Keywords: Themistius; Constantinople; Rome; senate; capital; Panegyric

Chapter.  9258 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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