Ancient History & Civilisation


War and Little Peace Constantius II’s Final Years

“Poor Tree!”: Constantius and Julian’s Caesarship

With some improvement in his own political circumstances during the mid-350s, Constantius recognised that he was better placed than he had been in a long while to realise a number of long-standing goals. First, he renewed connections with regions beyond the recognised south-eastern frontier of the empire, established incidentally by Diocletian at the end of the third century, by consolidating Roman interests in matters of trade and diplomatic relations in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, with a view to gaining a strategic advantage over the Sasanians. He also began to move against those whom he had come to view as agents of disunity within the empire itself, namely the coterie of predominantly western-based bishops who had refused to accede to the imperial will on the matter of religion as mediated through the decisions of a series of synods held both during and after the defeat of Magnentius. Furthermore, the military presence in the diocese of Gaul was given greater attention than had previously been the case, necessitated by Alamannic and Frankish activities in the Rhine valley.1 However, on the basis of the impression given by certain key sources – notably the narrative of Ammianus Marcellinus, and also Julian (Letter to the Athenians) and Libanius (Oration 18, his epitaphios for Julian) – that Gaul was in dire straits following the end of the civil war, some commentators have painted a bleak picture of Roman fortunes along the Rhine during the 350s. For example:

Roman control of the western Rhine valley between Strasbourg and Mainz had been lost to intrusive Alamanni from east of the river. Alamannic settlement now stretched for 300 stades – about 55 kilometres – west of the river, bordered by a further zone, another 150 kilometres wide, where Gallo-Roman farmers felt too insecure to graze cattle or raise crops. In addition, about forty-five substantial Roman settlements in the region (including Speyer and Worms) had seen their defensive walls dismantled.2

By contrast, others propose that the portrayal of Germanic success is exaggerated by these same sources in order to magnify Julian’s achievements: For instance, the seeming dominance of the Alamanni on the left bank of the Rhine was not the result of aggressive barbarian expansion3 but rather came about due to the astute politicking of Constantius and his officials in light of Alamannic support given to the emperor during his conflict against Magnentius and Decentius.4 In other words, Germani had been permitted to settle on the Roman side of the Rhine following a series of formal alliances between Rome and the Alamanni.5 John Drinkwater makes the excellent point that an all-out conflict against the Rhine Germani was not something Constantius could afford during the years 356–357, particularly in light of what his intelligence agents were reporting with regard to the activities of the Sasanians over in the east (see Chapter 7). As such, the deployment of a large body of troops under Barbatio in 356, whose aim was to meet up with the smaller contingent under Julian’s nominal charge, was intended to convey the impression of “a massive display of strength”,6 which was both intended for a “home audience” in Italy to assure the populace of their safety by creating the perception of a hostile environment for barbarians in the regions to the north-west, and to counter any negative publicity that may have been heading in Constantius’ direction regarding seemingly unchecked Alamannic settlement “on our side of the Rhine”.7 How these contrasting interpretative approaches are configured has implications for divining the relationship between Constantius and Julian, his newly appointed Caesar, sent to the region soon after his promotion in November 355. Should the line of the sources be followed, Julian is transformed over a relatively short period of time into a dynamic military commander who brooked no opposition from the Germani but who was undermined by Constantius and his supporters at every turn. In contrast, should we read against the grain of the triumphalism of the sources – as most notably Drinkwater does – we encounter a Caesar who rejects Constantius’ strategy of careful diplomacy and judicious military display in managing relations with the barbarians of the Rhineland in favour of “terrorizing” the innocent inhabitants of the barbaricum in order “to demonstrate that he was now a power to be reckoned with”.8

Less than five months after the Council of Milan met to reinforce the fate of Athanasius as persona non grata in Alexandria, Julian was appointed Caesar in the same city on 6 November 355, an arrangement cemented by marriage to his cousin, Helena,9 the daughter of Constantine I and Fausta. Julian’s pedigree was impeccable. The child of Julius Constantius,10 a son of the emperor Constantius I, Julian’s (half-)uncle was Constantine I and his cousin was the reigning emperor, Constantius II. Julian’s mother, Basilina,11 was the daughter of Julius Julianus,12 Licinius’ Praetorian Prefect who had transferred allegiances to Constantine during the civil war against the eastern Augustus and was duly rewarded with a (suffect) consulship in 325 and the marriage of his daughter to Constantine’s half-brother. Indeed, Julian’s aristocratic credentials appear to have lain more on his mother’s side rather than his father’s, a point noted by Ammianus who referred to Basilina’s family as greatly noble.13 Julian’s appointment arose out of a sense of necessity, a response to a series of ongoing challenges to imperial authority across the north and east of the diocese of Gaul. These challenges included the ongoing military and diplomatic exigences required to manage the Germani beyond the Rhine, but also the less predictable and arguably more damaging behaviour of imperial officials in both Italy and Gaul, whose rivalries and ambitions had begun to dominate the political culture of the period. The culmination of political rivalry and intrigue in this period was a further usurpation in Cologne during August 355, an episode which appears to have benefitted the careers and fortunes of a number of key individuals in the imperial administration with the exception of the usurper himself, a general named Silvanus. Constantius had been campaigning in Raetia during the late spring or early summer months of 35514 against a foe whom Ammianus calls the “Lentienses”, a regional name assigned by the Romans to Alamannic tribes (Alamannicis pagi).15 Aided by Flavius Arbitio,16 the magister equitum, the campaign was conducted around Lake Constance, and was intended ultimately to protect Italy from further raiding activities.17 It is suspected that Ammianus’ account of the engagements in Italia Annonaria concealed the signing of treaties to mark the campaign’s conclusion, an aspect of his attempt to undermine Constantius’ reputation but also, more pointedly, as a result of the author’s animus towards Arbitio who had earlier been implicated in the plot to discredit Ursicinus through rumours that the latter’s adult sons were seeking to usurp (14.11.3; see Chapter 7). Indeed, for what was effectively a “major skirmish” rather than a full-scale battle, the resultant casualties (“an excessive number of soldiers and ten tribunes”: 15.4.8) made Ammianus’ observation that Constantius returned to Milan “in celebration and joyful” especially pointed.

Arbitio stands out in this period as an especially deceitful figure who appears, according to Ammianus’ narrative, to have been more concerned with instigating plots against his fellow officers than promoting Roman interests in the barbaricum. However, reading the political culture of the time exclusively through the lens of Ammianus requires a significant pinch of salt. The behaviour of Arbitio towards his fellow magistri is an example of the competitiveness identified as inherent in the proliferation of this particular military office during the reigns of Constantine’s immediate successors.18 Alongside Arbitio was another commander recently appointed whom the magister equitum also worked to undermine, namely the very able Silvanus,19 the Frankish magister peditum in Gaul, who during the civil war at the beginning of the decade had fought for Magnentius but had deserted to Constantius’ camp during the battle of Mursa.20 His father was Bonitus, a Frankish general in the service of Constantine I during his conflicts against Licinius (Ammianus, 15.5.33),21 and it is apparent that Silvanus owed his initial appointment by Constantius to his father’s reputation.22 Indeed, Michael Kulikowski suggests that Silvanus’ Frankish origin was viewed by Constantius as an advantage for a posting in Gaul in light of the demands arising from handling the barbarian gentes of the time.23 Silvanus was based in Colonia Agrippina (modern-day Cologne) and Ammianus reveals that his arrival in Gaul led to a number of early successes in the north-east of the region and the hope that Rome’s fortunes there had begun to turn,24 although a more complex portrait of Silvanus’ operations in Gaul is presented by Julian in his imperial orations honouring Constantius (Or. 2.98c; also, Or. 1.48c) where Silvanus is accused by the orator of plundering the wealth of the Gallic cities in order to bribe tribes beyond the Rhine. Silvanus’ achievements were undermined in an elaborate plot hatched in the first instance by a character named Dynamius,25 an official (actuarius) in charge of the imperial baggage train. In an episode involving the production of forged letters created under the direction of Dynamius but with oversight from high-profile individuals, including Arbitio,26 C. Ceionius Rufus Volusianus, the Praetorian Prefect of Gaul27 or Italy,28 Eusebius, former comes rei privatae, and Aedesius, former magister memoriae (a figure well-placed to offer advice on the matter of the authenticity or otherwise of documents29), Constantius was led to believe that his newly appointed magister peditum was planning to lead an uprising and seize the purple.30 The plot was disclosed to Constantius directly by his Praetorian Prefect31 (whom, Ammianus notes, hoped to gain from reporting the matter to the emperor) and although a fellow Frank, Malarichus32 (a commander of the Gentiles of the scholae palatinae) with the support of Mallobaudes (another Frank and former interrogator of Gallus) spoke in Silvanus’ defence, Arbitio saw a chance to discredit his rival commander by appointing Apodemius, an agens in rebus who had been instrumental in securing the arrest of Gallus (see Chapter 7),33 to recall Silvanus. However, upon reaching Cologne, Apodemius did not present Silvanus with Constantius’ letter of recall and instead set about exploiting Silvanus’ clients with the assistance of the regional agent (rationalis) of the privy purse (Ammianus, 15.5.8). Personal advancement in the sense of both financial enrichment and improved political standing with the emperor thus seems to have concerns driving the incrimination of Silvanus.

Dynamius took it upon himself to double-down on the deception by arranging for an additional forged letter in the names of Silvanus and Malarichus to be sent to tribune of the armoury in Cremona, in the north-west of Italy, with orders to prepare armaments propere (15.5.9). This forgery found its way into the hands of Malarichus, which confirmed his earlier suspicions that a plot was afoot in which Silvanus was an innocent party. Malarichus interpreted the affair as an attack on the Franks in the imperial service and an unofficial conference arranged by Malarichus prompted Constantius to launch an investigation into the authenticity of the letters by his comitatus overseen by Florentius34 acting on behalf of the magister officiorum (15.5.12; later appointed magister officiorum between 359 and 361). Although the deception was exposed by the investigation, the main protagonists escaped punishment: In the case of Volusianus, he was reinstated following an investigation, and Dynamius was actually promoted to the position of corrector of Etruria and Umbria. By contrast, Silvanus’ predicament grew worse and fearing retribution at the hands of the emperor as a result of Apodemius’ tactics, he convinced his fellow officers and, in turn, the army to support his promotion to the imperial rank which he achieved with the promise of rewards (15.5.16–17). From this point, Silvanus’ fate was sealed. Constantius, who had been convinced of Silvanus’ innocence, was shocked by the news emanating from Cologne. A further conference resulted in Ursicinus (on “secondment” in the west at this point in time) and a small but crack body of troops, including Ammianus, being sent to Cologne to end the uprising (Ammianus holds that Ursicinus was set up to fail by his opponents at court). Silvanus was evidently unaware that Constantius had received news of the insurrection since he welcomed Ursicinus warmly and looked to establish common ground with him as a hard-working fellow officer who had nevertheless been passed over for honours, in contrast to unworthy individuals who were appointed as consuls (15.5.27), as well as sharing experiences as one recently drawn into intrigues at court. Unbeknown to Silvanus, the delegation worked on securing the loyalty of the auxilia, the Bracchiati and the Cornuti, via considerable bribes, and a party of them subsequently assassinated Silvanus while he was at prayer in one of the city’s chapels (15.5.31).

This is a curious episode and one which has attracted a range of explanations to account for Silvanus’ actions. Ammianus’ presentation of the episode, specifically Silvanus’ usurpation (15.5.16–17), has been dismissed as a fiction by Kulikowski on the basis that the usurper did not strike coins to legitimise his elevation, a feature of most if not all usurpations during the third and fourth centuries irrespective of an insurrection’s duration. Kulikowski’s argument is simple: If Silvanus had usurped, he would have minted coins; as there are none, he did not in fact usurp. Instead, in the case of Ammianus’ account, we are dealing with a fiction which “peddles the official version”,35 albeit characterised by considerable sympathy for Silvanus (in contrast to the absolutely “official version” evident in Julian’s orations, where the magister was portrayed as an ungrateful opportunist),36 conditioned by Ammianus’ support for Ursicinus and a desire to exonerate him from his role in ending the Cologne uprising. According to Kulikowski’s explanation, Silvanus was killed

because once the rumours about him had reached a certain pitch, it no longer mattered whether they were true: an emperor like Constantius would condemn a man for such charges, even if he knew them to be false, pour décourager les autres.37

This is an intelligent assessment, but one which fails to connect the complex background of the affair – the numerous examples of individual and pooled ambition and rivalries which were so evidently present in Constantius’ Gallic and Italian administrations – with the complexities of the subsequent usurpation. By contrast, the argument of David Nutt highlights the ways in which the main players on the political scene of 355 took advantage of the emperor’s lack of oversight in relation to the decisions of his immediate council of advisers. For Nutt, the central aspect of the affair lay in Constantius’ willingness to let the consistorium proceed with the initial investigation (Ammianus, 15.5.6), a body which included two of the principal conspirators, namely Volusianus and Arbitio, while Constantius himself “seemingly withdrew from the debate”38 (whether or not this is true is debatable). The decisions reached by the consistory included the despatching of Apodemius to Cologne – his subterfuge involving Silvanus’ clients, where he proclaimed that Silvanus had already been tried and executed, is said to be the principal reason for the magister’s rebellion (15.5.15) – and, as Nutt argues, Arbitio left Constantius “in ignorance” about the extent of the plan to undermine the magister peditum. Indeed, the second meeting of the consistory following Malarichus’ exposure of the forgery led to the exoneration of Volusianus, Aedius and a promotion for Dynamius to a governorship, in spite of Constantius being informed that the affair was a deception. Indeed, much about the affair suggests that decisions were manipulated or disguised since Constantius was said to have been surprised by Silvanus’ actions at the point when he actually rebelled, which suggests that his innocence had been established at some point but not acted upon.

What is proposed here is that the basis for the whole affair is rather a serious breakdown in communication; a breakdown between the emperor and his field commander, and between the emperor and his consistorium. That the latter breakdown is a conspiracy of silence is an attractive proposition. One point worth mentioning here. While it may have been possible to keep the news of Apodemius’ actions from the emperor directly, it would have been impossible to have kept them from his chief, the magister officiorum. That this official did not consider it his duty to pass such news on to the emperor is highly suggestive and lends added strength to the possibility of a conspiracy of silence.39

Nutt’s analysis in fact undermines the claim broadcast predominantly by Ammianus that Constantius was a suspicious and fickle ruler. It turns out that he was too ready to trust his advisers. Exploitation of the affair continued after the event as can be seen in the investigations and trial which followed the usurpation’s collapse led once again by Paul the notary (Ammianus, 15.6.1–4). A certain Proculus, Silvanus’ adjutant, held out under torture and maintained that Silvanus had not intended to challenge Constantius’ authority but had been pushed into doing so as a result of the machinations at court. As a proof, he produced evidence of Silvanus’ fidelity: Four days prior to Silvanus’ usurpation, the magister had distributed a payment (donativum) to the soldiers in Constantius’ name – perhaps to mark the emperor’s birthday on 7 August40 – and exhorted the troops to maintain their loyalty to Constantius: “From which it was clear that if he were planning to appropriate the insignia of a higher rank, he would have bestowed so great a quantity of gold as his own gift” (15.6.3). Without doubting Proculus’ testimony, this may represent a claim deriving from Silvanus himself at the point at which his rebellion was exposed and in fact the opposite was the case: The donative had been paid as either a bribe or a reward for the officers (15.5.16) and the soldiers who supported Silvanus’ initiative, and thereby represented an accession donativum to mark the beginning of his reign.41

What is apparent is that Constantius’ appointment of Silvanus had fatally exposed the extent of the divisions within his government. Kulikowski has noted the important role played by the regional factions of the time that enabled individuals like Silvanus to rise to positions of prominence, but also the extent of the conflicts between factions and the susceptibility of individuals to fall victim to factional rivalries:

Even as we concentrate on the person and actions of the emperor, it is the background rumble of such factional rivalries that explains much of late imperial history. The case of Silvanus, which is so well known only because Ammianus took part in it personally, can stand as an example of how palatine factionalism claimed its victims.42

The events in Milan and Cologne in the summer of 355 represent, therefore, the immediate circumstances underlying the appointment of Julian as Caesar and his posting to Gaul. Julian himself in his Letter to the Athenians, a work of self-justification composed in mid-361 as he headed east to challenge Constantius, notes that the catalyst for his call to Milan had been the affair of Silvanus in addition to a further report from Sirmium that a revolt was planned at around the same time (late July–early August 355) involving Africanus,43 the governor (consularis) of Pannonia Secunda, and a tribune named Marinus,44 an episode also reported by Ammianus (15.3.7–11). With shades of Magnentius’ usurpation, guests at a dinner party where Africanus and Marinus were present had been overheard bemoaning the oppressive nature of the present regime but had nevertheless consoled themselves in the knowledge that change was coming soon according to recent and historic auguries. Their fate was sealed by the presence of Gaudentius,45 an agens in rebus, who reported the conversation to Rufinus,46 the chief officer of the Praetorian Prefect of Illyricum; incidentally, Gaudentius’ position cannot have been unknown to the assembled guests, and it is a sign of how misplaced their trust was in him that they spoke so unguardedly before him, but also a measure of the political climate which encouraged acts of denunciation (Julian’s identification of Gaudentius as a sukophantes would appear entirely apposite). Rufinus, in turn, alerted the emperor and was duly rewarded, in turn, with an extension of his position; recognising that the political climate rewarded informers, Rufinus not long afterwards concocted another allegation of usurpation involving the theft of Diocletian’s imperial robe from his tomb which, however, back-fired and resulted in his execution.47 The outcome of the matter sadly followed the standard course of events: Ruin and suicide, trial and executions. Julian notes that it was the combination of news about Silvanus and Africanus which sent Constantius into a state of alarm and terror, and prompted his summons to Milan. While Ammianus’ portrayal of the emperor’s suspicious personality is a central feature of how he wanted Constantius to be seen in relation to the career and fate of his commanding officer, Ursicinus, the ongoing fall-out from the civil war against Magnentius may be seen in these instances of factionalism and political dissidence that were still occurring over two years after the usurper’s suicide. In light of this, John Matthews’ assessment is worth repeating here:

… Ammianus’ explanation of the political climate as the expression of Constantius’ obsessive and easily intimidated temperament is less than just. But given the nature of Ammianus’ involvement with Ursicinus, a ‘just’ assessment of Constantius would be more than we could reasonably expect.48

Julian’s appointment on 6 November 355 as Constantius’ new Caesar is a well-known tale and one which derives largely from Julian’s own version of events in writings composed at a time when he was intent on manipulating the narrative of his insurrection against Constantius during 361. The image presented in his Letter to the Athenians, which is echoed to varying degrees in the pro-Julianic sources of Libanius and Ammianus, is done with a view to promoting Julian’s success in the role despite the countless obstacles laid before him by his cruel and egotistical cousin. John Vanderspoel has wryly characterised the initiative as Julian’s attempt, “to bolster support for his cause by rehearsing all the horrible things that his cousin had done to him”.49 In the Letter, Constantius’ mistreatment of Julian is portrayed as stretching all the way back to his childhood when the eastern Augustus initiated the killing of members of his – and Julian’s own – family (Letter, 270c–271a). Julian and Gallus survived the blood shed but were duly dispatched to the imperial estate of Macellum in Cappadocia to spend six years in conditions likened to a prison, where they were kept under constant surveillance as if they were residing in a Persian garrison (271b–d). Gallus himself was, in turn, later murdered on Constantius’ orders, and “in defiance of the laws [Constantius] neither suffered him to share the tombs of his ancestors nor granted him a pious memory” (271d). Julian found himself plucked from his studies in Athens following the affairs of Africanus and Silvanus, and sent to Milan where he was subjected to the conformist demands of the imperial court (including a shave and a makeover); although his ordeal could have been much more traumatic had it not been for the loving hand of Eusebia, the emperor’s wife (273c–274b). Speedily made Caesar and despatched to Gaul with an undersized army, Julian was not a genuine commander but a subordinate to the generals. Constantius had sent letters to his senior officers ordering them to keep Julian under observation lest he try and revolt: He was, in effect, simply a placeholder or figurehead for Constantius, a state of affairs represented by the fact that he was accompanied wherever he went by a portrait (eikona) of the Augustus and a copy of his insignia (schēma: 277d–278d). The absence of greater successes against the barbarians prompted Constantius to give Julian command of all forces, which Julian duly took advantage off in order to recapture Colonia Agrippina (Cologne) and Argentoratum (Strasbourg), although Constantius claimed the victories for himself and prevented Julian from holding a triumph to commemorate his achievements (278d–279b). Further successes followed for Julian, including the recovery of nearly forty towns before the descent into rebellion which the Caesar strenuously sought to avoid (284a–c).

Many aspects of Julian’s narrative have been confirmed by scholars in recent years, most notably the central role played by Constantius in securing through the killings of all credible rivals the untrammelled succession of the children of Fausta and Constantine in the dangerous months following his father’s death (see Chapter 4). Other aspects, however, have been shown to be manipulated by Julian in order to exaggerate the hostility and subterfuge emanating from Constantius’ court. One such feature emerging from Julian’s own writings and reverberating in the narratives of his supporters50 includes the notion that Julian was wholly inexperienced in matters relating to the military and war at the point of his promotion with the obvious implication that Constantius intended to place his naïve new Caesar in “harm’s way” by sending him to the hazardous regions of eastern Gaul bordering the barbaricum. However, recent scrutiny of Julian’s other writings, notably his Letter to Themistius (c. 356, 360/361 (?)),51 has established a plausible case that Julian was not without experience in these areas. Vanderspoel has suggested that on the basis of Julian’s claim in his missive to Themistius (259d–260a) that he stayed with the army [or court: Gk. stratopedon] prior to his first sojourn in Greece (indeed, there was not one but two visits to Greece), Julian was on campaign with Constantius’ forces on the Rhine for c. seven months in the spring of 354 following the Augustus’ tricennalia celebrations in Arles in late 353. This is one aspect of the argument which undercuts the idea that Julian’s military successes in the west either came out of nowhere, or he had engaged in applying his knowledge learnt from studying ancient battles as a student to the battlefield.52 Of greater significance, however, is the additional aspect of Vanderspoel’s argument that Constantius, by taking his young cousin on campaign on the Rhine, was seeking to ready him for imminent promotion to the junior rank of Caesar. Indeed, Vanderspoel proposes that Julian and Gallus’ time at Macellum involved being trained in military horsemanship in readiness for rulership, in the manner advised by Plato for future rulers (Republic 467e; cited by Julian, Or. 1.11d), with Cappadocia as a recognised location for the breeding of thoroughbred horses.53 In this sense, therefore, Constantius’ guardianship of Julian was sincere and directed by the intention of utilising the services of both Gallus and Julian for the good of the state,54 an argument which stands in direct contrast to the impression given by Julian, Ammianus et al that Constantius intentionally mismanaged and undermined their careers as Caesars. Such oversight is, however, open to varied interpretation as is evident from the conclusions of both ancient and modern commentators. That Constantius composed a “little book” (libellum; 16.5.3) which defined the parameters of Julian’s service as Caesar, for example, by setting him a budget for expenditure on food and hosting while on campaign, may be read on the one hand as an indication of administrative probity on the part of the Augustus, or on the other as a sign of Constantius’ desire to control excessively the life of his Caesar.55

Although Constantius’ motivations towards Julian are viewed, it is clear that during the initial phase of Julian’s time in Gaul, he was the figurehead for the Constantinian dynasty. In light of the proposal that Constantius had somehow become distanced from the decisions of the consistory (à la Nutt) as evidenced in the turmoil of ambitions that boiled over and resulted in Silvanus’ rebellion, Constantius recognised the importance of making a high-profile appointment in the region where his Caesar could serve as the Augustus’ “spitting image”.56 In this regard, the promotion of Julian’s imperial resemblance to Constantius was paramount. Julian disclosed the dynastic emphasis of his appointment in the admission that he was begrudgingly made to carry around Constantius’ painted image in the opening months of his time on campaign in Gaul. This feature is reflected by the continuation of Constantinian identifiers on coinage issued from this time. Accession solidi from the Antiochene mint in 355 depict a youthful, bareheaded (in line with his caesarean rank) and beardless Julian with a distinctive hairstyle that reaches beyond the nape of his neck, a portrait style in line with Constantinian precedents stretching back over fifty years.57 Silver coinage (miliarenses) issued by the mint in Arles depict a similarly youthful Julian on the obverse (accompanied by the legend FL CL IVLIANVS – NOB CAES), again bareheaded, draped and cuirassed with the same distinctive hairstyle. On the reverse are three standards in honour of the army, again another familiar typology stretching back to the reign of Julian’s uncle and intended to introduce the new Caesar to the armies of the empire.58

Julian’s time in Gaul was marked by some remarkable military successes, although perceptions of the greatness of his achievements owe much to Ammianus Marcellinus’ reporting which, as the author himself admits, in the case of Julian was more given to the style of panegyric than historiography,59 a claim that invites further problematisation since Ammianus from 356 was on campaign in the east with Ursicinus and was not therefore present in Gaul for the most noteworthy operations.60 The hyper-scepticism of Drinkwater with regard to Ammianus’ portrayal of Julian’s Alamannic and Frankish campaigns is certainly welcome,61 and his revisionist treatment of the sources clearly illustrates the important role played by the campaigns in showcasing Julian’s military competence and in creating a cogent impression of Julian’s independence from Constantius and ultimately his fitness to secure his position as Augustus. However, it is also apparent that the defence and administrative infrastructure of the region was in need of urgent renewal: Cities required repairs to their fortifications, tax levies on the provincials demanded urgent revision, and the excesses of banditry, piracy and raiding required urgent attention. All of these concerns were legitimate reasons for Julian’s deployment to the west which came with Constantius full military support, including presenting Julian with a sizeable contingent of his own troops.62 Indeed, Julian’s initial involvement coincided (just) with an assault by Constantius on the Alamanni from Raetia,63 which itself was a continuation of the campaign around Lake Constance headed by Arbitio earlier in 355 (see above). Julian arrived in Augustodunum (Autun) on 24 June 355 (Ammianus, 16.2.2) and spent the winter of his first year billeted in Vienne. In early summer 356,64 the northern contingent of Roman forces headed for Remos (Riems), then to Decem Pagi (Dieuze), before scoring a notable victory over the Germani at Brotomagum (Brumath) a short distance north of Strasbourg (Ammianus, 16.2.12–13). While Ammianus’ focus in these early campaigns is Julian, commentators have challenged the extent to which the Caesar commanded operations; Julian is said to have been nothing but a “figurehead” at this point65 which is likely an underestimate of his authority but it is reasonable to conclude as some have that either Ursicinus or his replacement Marcellus,66 who took on the combined office of magister equitum et peditum in Gaul, were the principal strategic figures in this phase of operations67; the former had been under investigation for embezzlement following the fall of Silvanus (15.5.35), but had nevertheless been ordered to stay in post alongside his successor until the end of the campaigning season (16.2.8). Drinkwater argues for the presence of Constantius’ guiding hand throughout the campaigns of 355 and 356, with his role defined by acts of diplomacy and the conciliation of southern Alamanni in the regions (pagi) under the authority of the kings Gundomadus and Vadomarius, the latter characterised as “a prominent imperial politician” with whom Constantius had previously secured a formal agreement.68 Ultimately, such initiatives appear to have been intended to protect the western army’s rear.69

The recovery of Cologne which had fallen to the Franks soon after Silvanus’ execution followed,70 and Julian then settled in Senones (Sens; Ammianus, 16.3.1–3) during the winter of 356–357. During this time, the city was subjected to an opportunistic assault by the enemy which nevertheless failed due to the resistance of the Roman troops there. Notably, Marcellus did not for whatever reason71 relieve the city, which led him being replaced by Severus72 as magister equitum. Marcellus’ fate was sealed through the intervention of the eunuch chamberlain, Eutherius,73 who had served at the courts of both Constantine I and Constans. He spoke up for Julian by assuring Constantius that the Caesar was a loyal servant against the calumnies of Marcellus. The strategy to enforce Roman authority in the Rhine valley began to be realised with the appearance in Kaiseraugst of Barbatio, the new magister peditum, from Italy with a force of twenty-five thousand soldiers (Libanius (Or. 18.49) indicates that the force was thirty thousand strong and was sent directly from Constantius). According to Ammianus, the plan was to drive the “raging Alamanni … into straits as if with a pair of pliers by twin forces of our soldiers, and cut them to pieces” (Ammianus, 16.11.3). A key feature of this strategy was the construction of a bridge across the Rhine under Barbatio’s guidance, “downstream of Strasbourg”,74 which would have permitted the two Roman forces to meet. However, a series of setbacks put an end to this anticipated phase of operations. The construction work on the bridge failed as a result of Alamannic sabotage (Libanius, Or. 18.50).75 This was followed by the near defeat of Barbatio by an Alamannic force (cf. 16.12.5) presumably following the failure of the bridge initiative; Barbatio’s caravan was overwhelmed by the enemy which hastened his retreat to Kaiseraugst (16.11.14) and indeed appears to have forced him to retire from the campaign to court. Emboldened, a confederacy of Alamanni led by seven kings with Chnodomarius76 – the victor over the Caesar Decentius – at their head, staged an assault on Strasbourg in late summer 357. (“The site of the battle has been identified as being near Oberhausbergen, c. 3 km north-west of Strasbourg, on the road to Brumath. It was fought towards the end of August”.77) Against difficult odds and an enemy force of thirty-five thousands troops (16.12.26; no doubt exaggerated for the propagandistic purposes78), the Roman forces secured a notable victory with seemingly minimal casualties (16.12.62). Chnodomarius was captured and paraded before Julian before being sent to Constantius’ court and then on to Rome where he spent his remaining days in the Castra Peregrina on the Caelian Hill (16.12.66).

Ammianus offers a long and involved narrative of the battle of Strasbourg (16.12.1–62). Alan Ross has lately demonstrated the importance of this account to Ammianus’ historiography and also to the development of his authorial persona as a classicising historian,79 particularly with regard to book sixteen where Strasbourg follows Ammianus’ critical assessment of Constantius’ arrival (adventus) in the city of Rome on 28 April 357 (16.10.1–17), where the Augustus celebrated (inappropriately, so the judgement goes) a triumph to commemorate the spilling of Roman (=Magnentius) rather than foreign blood (see Chapter 3).80 By contrast, “Julian’s successes in Book 16 are designed to overshadow Constantius’ faux-triumph”,81 and to legitimise posthumously Julian’s reputation as a militarily competent Augustus in light of the failure of his Persian expedition. The role that a historical description of the battle played in shaping Julian’s imperial persona had been devised initially by the Caesar himself who wrote his own account in honour of the victory, a work which although lost is outlined in a fragment from Eunapius’ history.82

This expedition was more violent and renowned than those that preceded it. … the most noble emperor Julian, enthused by his own achievements, adequately described in his own words these events in a pamphlet (Gk. biblidion) which he dedicated to the battle; and so I [Eunapius] shall not produce another narrative with the same contents for comparison with his work. Rather, those who wish to observe the greatness of his words and his deeds I shall direct to turn to his pamphlet on these events and to the splendours of his account, whose brightness has been reflected from the real experience of his achievements into the power of his words.

(Fr. 17; Blockley 1983: 23)

In light of the responsive nature of Julian’s body of written work,83 it is likely that he was compelled to compose his own historical account of the battle of Strasbourg as a response to Constantius’ attempt to claim the victory for himself; although duly criticised by Ammianus, this was not all that unusual since military successes tended to be appropriated by senior figures in the imperial college as an aspect of its inherently hierarchical nature.84

In short, there are extant statements filed among the public records of this emperor [Constantius II], in which ostentatious85 reports are given, of his boasting and exalting himself to the sky. When this battle was fought near Strasbourg, although he was a distant forty days’ march, in his description of the fight he falsely asserts that he arranged the order of battle, and stood among the standard-bearers, and drove the barbarians headlong, and that Chnodomarius was brought to him, saying nothing (oh, shameful indignity!) of the glorious deeds of Julian, which he would have buried in oblivion, had not fame been unable to suppress his splendid exploits, however much many people would have obscured them.86

However, here is another likely instance of Ammianus exaggerating Constantius’ selfishness towards Julian. Despite the attention paid to the battle and subsequent victory in historiography, the conflict outside Strasbourg may not have been rated particularly highly by the senior emperor and his court. Beyond the inclusion of the episode in the public record of events,87 Constantius took no victory title and there is no evidence of any commemorative issues from the mint in Sirmium where the emperor was based during the course of Julian’s western campaigns.88

Conveyed only by Ammianus is the detail that following the victory Julian was acclaimed Augustus by the entire army (16.12.64). He refused the honour and called an assembly where he distributed rewards (praemia) to the soldiers; it is doubtful that these comprised donative payments since Ammianus later notes (17.9.6–7) that the soldiers had received no gold or silver payments from Julian from the time of his appearance in the region because Constantius had restricted their circulation out of fear that Julian may bribe the soldiers to usurp. Ammianus’ portrayal of a confident nay aggressively assertive army that ultimately is persuaded by Julian’s words and deeds is a feature of his overall account of the battle and can be seen in an earlier part of the narrative where it is the enthusiasm of the soldiers that forces an acceleration of the battle’s opening engagements (16.12.13). Ross argues that this feature of the narrative was intended to temper a trend in pro-Julianic sources (e.g. Letter to the Athenians 285d; Zosimus 3.9.2; Zonaras 13.10) where Julian appears as the agent of potentially disloyal troops.89

Drinkwater argues that following Strasbourg, Julian asserted Roman dominance in the region of the Wetterau Alamanni (Ammianus, 17.1.1–13), “a normally pacific area”90 with long-standing connections to the empire, in a manner which presaged a more aggressive approach to managing relations with the Alamanni and the Franks. This approach became evident in his engagement with the Salian Franks during the summer and autumn months of 358, a campaign which Julian undertook initially to secure channel shipping lanes in the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta against Frankish pirates in order to bring grain across from Britain (cf. 18.2.3) for his field armies waiting in Gaul (17.8.1–2).91 The Salians had settled (c. 342) in Toxandria – the northern area of Brabant in the Netherlands and Belgium – during the reign of Constans (see Chapters 2 and 5), and their desires to maintain peaceful relations with the empire are emphasised by Ammianus (17.8.3). However, Julian had other ideas. He ordered Severus to attack the embassy (legatio) which had earlier seemingly settled an agreement with him. This was indeed very rough treatment,92 which was repeated soon afterwards in an engagement with the Chamavian Franks (17.8.5). This strategy of harassment was clearly not intended to improve Roman relations with the Alamanni and the Franks whose dealings with Julian during this period frequently resulted in less favourable terms than those arranged under Constantius (for example, the ten-month “peace” settled with the Wetterau Alamanni), but was likely intended to convey a strong impression of Julian’s developing military leadership and possibly also his independence from Constantius.93

This interpretation is certainly justified in the light also of Ammianus’ narrative of Julian’s dealings with the Alamannic kings whose cantons lay in the area south of Mainz, Suomarius (17.10.3–4) and Hortarius (17.10.5–9), during the remaining months of 358; both had lent their support against Julian during the battle of Strasbourg and their subjugation before the Caesar was therefore essential to the image of the Caesar’s triumphal progress. Indeed, in contrast to Julian’s assertive handling of Suomarius and Hortarius, Ammianus conveys a not especially well-veiled critique of Constantius’ previous “soft-power” approach to these clients:

So these kings, who in times past were inordinately puffed up with pride, and accustomed to enrich themselves with the spoils of our subjects, put their necks, now bowed down, under the yoke of Roman dominion, and ungrudgingly obeyed our commander, as if born and brought up among our tributaries.94

During the campaigning season in 359, Julian strengthened the existing military fortifications of seven abandoned cities along the Rhine and constructed of series of granaries to store grain brought across from Britain (18.2.3–4). Clearly, the long-term security of the region was a major concern during this campaign. Julian demonstrated considerable appreciation of the politics of coalescing with the Alamanni, greater than he had displayed previously, when he rejected the advice of Florentius, the Praetorian Prefect of Gaul,95 and Lupicinus,96 the magister equitum, to build a bridge across the Rhine at Mainz through fear of upsetting recently established agreements with Alamanni on the east bank (18.2.7). Instead, he moved south and constructed the bridge opposite the region controlled by Hortarius. This was achieved despite resistance from a significant contingent of Alamanni who were critical of Suomarius’ reluctance, bound as he was by agreement, to prevent the Romans from crossing the river (18.2.8). Julian’s army passed through to the territory of Hortarius without incident (another king restricted by treaty with the Romans), and then ravaged the regions of the kings who had opposed this new offensive. The army reached the “boundary stones marking the frontiers of the Alamanni and the Burgundians” (18.2.15). As a response, other Alamannic kings sued for peace, including the brothers Macrianus and Hariobaudus, with the experienced hand of Vadomarius serving as an intermediary (18.2.15–16)97 not only on behalf of the brothers but also for Urius, Ursicinus and Vestralpus, the kings who had assembled outside Strasbourg in August 357, which reinforces the impression that Julian was engaged in a vendetta against his enemies from the previous campaign.98 Julian demanded the return of all prisoners captured during Alamannic raids as an essential condition in the agreements established with the kings (18.2.19; Zosimus, 3.4.4–7; Letter to the Athenians 280c), and despite the “garbled account”99 by Zosimus on this matter, it is apparent that Julian was driven to secure the release of as many captives as possible. Indeed, Vadomarius’ intermediary role was determined in part by self-interest, since Julian was holding his son as hostage to be sent back only when Vadomarius’ released prisoners taken during one of his raids.100

A key aspect of Julian’s justification for rising up against Constantius in his Letter to the Athenians concerned the numerous constraints imposed by the senior emperor on the Caesar during his Gallic campaigns. One of the most oppressive – following Julian’s allegation – was the appointment of officials by Constantius whose sole purpose was to undermine and inform on Julian to the Augustus. These included three men who most certainly warrant the title of “loyalists” to Constantius101: Florentius, Praetorian Prefect of Gaul, the notarii Paul “the Chain”, and Gaudentius (who as agens in rebus who has been instrumental in the downfall of Africanus), but also Pentadius, the magister officiorum in Gaul102 appointed in 358.103 However, it is clear that Julian’s version of events on this matter is only half-right, as his dealings with Florentius during 357–358 would seem to illustrate.

The cumulative effects of a long civil war, banditry and raiding, and the subsequent depletion of viable agricultural land in Gaul, had had a deleterious impact on the tax yields collected from the region. Julian and Florentius had both reviewed the taxation arrangements for Gaul – the focus of the review appears to have been the north-eastern provinces of the diocese, including the region referred to as Gallia Belgica (Belgica Secunda cf. Ammianus, 17.3.6) – although they arrived at different solutions from one another.104 Florentius had come to the conclusion that an additional levy was needed in order to make up a short-fall in the amount of revenue received from regular taxation (capitatio = poll tax), a ruling which was in line with a recent constitution issued ad populum by Constantius and Julian from April 356 (Cod. Theod. 11.16.7, 8; Cod. Just. 10.48.8),105 which had granted Praetorian Prefects the right to collect additional tax revenue beyond that required in proclamations from the emperors or by annual custom. The same constitution had also given Prefects permission to prosecute, via the office of the Count of the Sacred Largesse, any judges (e.g. provincial governors) who demanded unauthorised additional levies from the provincials. Julian may have believed that Florentius was in violation of the latter component of the ruling from April 356 in that he had come to his decision independently of either the Caesar or the Augustus. Ammianus, however, presents Julian’s objection on moral grounds: An additional levy would only hasten the total ruination of an already deeply impoverished region. Constantius was caught in the middle of the cross-fire: Florentius complained about the Caesar’s lack of respect for his authority on the matter, while Julian argued that existing revenues would suffice if it meant preserving the administrative integrity of the region. He definitively rejected Florentius’ proposal – he refused to sign it and threw the document on the ground. Constantius’ ruling was therefore required. He wrote to Julian requesting that he support rather than undermine Florentius, to which Julian, in turn, responded by writing that Constantius should be satisfied with the standard rate of tax drawn from a province that was very hard pressed. In the end, Constantius supported Julian over Florentius, and “contrary to precedent” Julian took over the administration of Belgica Secunda from the Praetorian Prefect.

Constantius’ endorsement of Julian’s initiative, which amounted in effect to a tax reduction in contrast to Florentius’ proposal of a tax increase, was a key moment in the development of Julian’s authority, following soon his victory at Strasbourg. Peter Heather has rightly pinpointed these events as important moments in the emergence of Julian’s ambition to assert his independence from Constantius,106 and they may very well have been catalysts for the events in Paris some twenty-four months hence. In context of the events leading up to the effective demotion of Florentius,107 Heather argues that a further dispute between the Caesar and the Praetorian Prefect over the imperial management of Salian and Chamavian Franks was in fact linked to Julian appropriating the administration of Belgica II, which the Caesar recognised as essential for securing the passage of the grain supply from Britain to Gaul (Ammianus, 17.8.3–5). It is Julian’s own partisan version which supplies details of this other dispute (Letter to the Athenians 279d–280c). Julian commissioned a fleet of six hundred ships to bring grain over from Britain (the latter detail is inferred from Ammianus 17.8.1–2), but Frankish Salii and Chamavi were routinely disrupting traffic. Florentius proposed to pay the Franks two thousand pounds of silver in return for the fleet’s safe passage,108 and Constantius informed Julian about the plan via letter and requested that Julian carry out the arrangement unless he considered it to be wholly disgraceful (280b). For Julian, however, Florentius’ proposal imitated Constantius’ earlier initiatives of bribing barbarians to achieve a desired settlement, which he categorically rejected, choosing instead to force the Franks into submission (Letter 280c; Ammianus, 17.8.4–5). Julian’s trenchant criticism of the precedent set by Constantius (“how could it fail to be disgraceful when it seemed so even to Constantius, who was only too much in the habit of trying to conciliate the barbarians” (280b)) as the pretext for his rejection of Florentius’ initiative is the judgement of the author of the self-justificatory pamphlet from 361 and perhaps not that of the burgeoning Caesar of 358. Instead, his objection to Florentius’ scheme at the time was likely the same as his objection to the Prefect’s surtax and his concern to not unduly burden fiscally the Gallic provincials from whom, ultimately, the payment of two thousand pounds’ weight of silver would have been sourced. Indeed, the origin of Florentius’ surtax probably lay in the need to finance his intended payment to the Franks. Julian’s objection to this would, as Matthews has noted, left him with only one option: A military expedition against the Franks.109 In this sense, the portrayal of Julian’s campaign against the Franks both in his own letter to the boulē of Athens and in Ammianus is denuded of its dynamism and prestige. Julian had backed himself into a corner as a result of his resistance to Florentius. For a second time, however, Constantius lent his support to his Caesar rather than to his Prefect, evidence that rather than sabotage his new Caesar’s career, Constantius had wanted Julian’s time in Gaul to be a success. As Heather notes:

Constantius’ choice was contingent and Julian’s position deliberately limited, but there is no reason to suppose that it was not genuinely meant to work, and, over time, the Augustus was even willing to license some increase in his new colleague’s power.110

Heather argues, however, that Julian had other plans. His emerging maturity as a public figure may be glimpsed in a letter (Wright, ep. 4; Bidez, ep. 14) that he wrote to Oribasius,111 an associate and physician, which has been dated to around this time, namely 358/359.112 As a reply to a previous letter by Oribasius, in which the topic of dreams had been discussed with regard to their relationship to future events, Julian confided the details of a recent dream to his friend. Julian had experienced sight of a spacious room in which a tall tree was lying at full stretch on the ground, while next to it was another smaller tree, its offshoot, which by contrast was erect and flourishing. Anxiety for the well-being of the tall tree swept over Julian (“Poor Tree!”: oiuo dendrou!) but also for the fledging tree (ep. 4.384c). A stranger reassured Julian that the smaller tree was rooted securely in the ground and in fact was destined to become very well established (384d). Julian’s agnosticism regarding the dream’s significance masked the lack of ambiguity when divining its meaning: It was a caricature of the contemporary political situation regarding the positions of Constantius and Julian. According to this interpretation, Julian in 358/359 saw himself outlasting and surpassing the achievements of his senior partner. However, the remainder of the letter, which rarely draws any comment when the text is discussed, discloses that Julian’s sympathy for Constantius’ plight was likely genuine and determined by his concern for the activities of Constantius’ administrators in Gaul, to the extent that established interpretations of this letter should probably be revised. Julian mentions two familiar officials of Constantius in the letter to Oribasius, although not by name, in the guise of Eusebius, the Augustus’ praepositus sacri cubiculi (“that disgusting eunuch”: 384d), who had recently it seems engaged in some rumours about Julian, and Florentius, who is also not named but would appear to have been discussed by Oribasius in his letter (the Prefect may be identified in ep. 4 by the accusative of the personal pronoun autos, which contra Bidez113 and Wright cannot refer back to Eusebius, as the epithet (tou miarou androgunou) was not appropriate for the Praetorian Prefect, but to the antecedent Florentius first raised by Oribasius in his letter), and can be identified from the circumstances of his appearance in Julian’s letter. Julian refers to the episode involving Florentius’ attempt to hike taxes in Gaul, and his resistance to being implicated in what he viewed as an exploitation of the provincial population. Indeed, Julian’s sympathy for the provincials is very evident in the letter to Oribasius, although his rejection of Florentius’ proposal is portrayed less forcefully here than by Ammianus (17.3.5). He tells Oribasius that when confronted with the reports outlining the scheme, he did not know how to respond and was left wondering what to do (ep. 4.385b). He looked to his philosophical education for a solution: “In such a case what was the proper conduct for a man who is a zealous student of the teachings of Plato and Aristotle?” (385b). In a clever ruse, Julian announced his dislike of the plans to a room of individuals whom he knew would report the Caesar’s opinion directly to Florentius. At the time of writing, the incident over Florentius’ proposal was still a live issue for Julian and in the course of the letter he discloses his uncertainty as to whether or not he would survive the political fall-out from the affair. Julian was left to muse that should the affair result in him being replaced by another (Caesar), it was not something he could be angry about since (to paraphrase) it is better to fulfil one’s duty, if only briefly, than to behave dishonestly for a prolonged period of time (385d). In light of the broader context for the letter, therefore, it is possible to interpret Julian’s vision over the fate of Constantius from the perspective of the Caesar’s concern with the corrupt nature of the officials associated with the court of the Augustus and the threat they posed to his position. Therefore, the infamous dream about the trees was less about by Julian’s rivalry with Constantius as is commonly supposed, and more about Julian’s anxieties regarding the political culture of the time and its impact on the security of Constantius’ position; in this sense, a little later in time Ammianus transmits a partially faithful portrayal of the corrupt environment and intrigues in the higher echelons of government (was it ever thus!), minus the sympathy for Constantius evident in Julian’s letter to Oribasius. If this interpretation is sound, there is little evidence that Julian was seeking to supplant Constantius in the months and years – i.e. 358–359 – following his great victory at Strasbourg, and his “successes” against the Praetorian Prefect, Florentius. The relationship between Augustus and Caesar may very well have been unsettled at a personal level, but Julian still regarded himself as a dutiful and subordinate member of the imperial college.114

Arrivals and Departures

Despite Ammianus’ claim that raids by Sarmatians (an Iranian-speaking tribal confederation from the Carpathian Basin115), Quadi (a Germanic tribe that had settled in the northern Danube frontier beyond the Pannonian provinces) and Suebes (an eastern Germanic tribe) in Moesia Superior, Pannonia Secunda, Valeria Ripensis and Raetia had caught Constantius unawares in the spring of 357 (Ammianus, 16.10.20), the Roman response to these incursions had likely been at the forefront of imperial plans since 355, when in fact the raids appear to have begun, an earlier date than previously supposed based on the evidence of a coin hoard from the Roman fortress at Ács-Vaspuszta (Kastell Ad Statuas).116 Constantius would have been looking for a propitious beginning to this new campaign, and he turned to the eternal city for just such a start. Having spent the winter and spring months of 356–357 in Milan, the emperor entered Rome on 28 April 357 accompanied by his retinue, which included members of the imperial family, his wife Eusebia and his sister Helena (the wife of Julian), in addition to a number of his favoured episcopal advisers, including Basil of Ancyra and Eudoxius, the bishop of Germanicia,117 whose own relationship would deteriorate spectacularly over the coming months and precipitate a further ecclesiastical crisis as the new decade of the 360s honed into view. From the point of view of the emperor and his associates, there was a good deal to celebrate, not least his recent military victories against numerous foreign enemies, foremost of which was the suppression of a barbarian pretender in Roman dress, namely Magnentius (on the barbarisation of Magnentius, see Chapter 3). The legacy of Ammianus’ jaundiced account of Constantius in Rome (16.10.1–17) has led many commentators to deny that the arrival of the emperor was staged as a Triumph, given the civil war context for Constantius’ recent highest profile success.118 However, in light of what we know regarding the role played by the Constantinian dynasty in rewriting the “rules” for commemorating victory in civil war,119 it is entirely imaginable that a triumph was held, a detail that indeed seems to have shaped Ammianus’ acute challenge. However, the year could also be mobilised to celebrate a host of other occasions. The year marked Constantius’ vicennalia (9 September 337; the twenty-year anniversary is linked with the adventus by the Chronicon Paschale s.a. 357, although the timing (April–May) does not correspond with the commemorative date120), and ergo twenty years since the passing (22 May 337) of his father, divus Constantine. It also anticipated the thirty-fifth anniversary of his appointment as Caesar (8 November 324) occurring in 359 (notably, the Consularia Constantinopolitana s.a. 357).121 In fact, it was the (somewhat premature) celebration of this event that characterises the gold coins issued at the mint in Rome to mark the occasion, on which the reverse legend, FELICITAS ROMANORVM, was accompanied by the reverse type of enthroned Tyches Roma and Constantinopolis separated by a shield on which appears the vota, VOT XXXV MVLT XXXX.122 The obverse portrait of some of these issues depicts Constantius II in consular robes (RIC 8, no. 298, plate 11), a reference to the ninth consulate of Constantius in 357,123 although as Moser has noted, the consular issues derive from Rome only, an indication that the consular basis for the commemoration was confined to Rome, “elevating Rome to her rightful position as the city of the (senatorial) traditions of the empire”.124 Rome’s privileged position relative to Constantinople was addressed by the reverse type for the vota series – which began to be issued earlier to mark Constantius’ tricennalia (October–November 353) but with VOT XXX MVLT XXXX125 – where Roma is depicted frontally while Constantinopolis is turned to face (in the words of Lucy Grig) her “big sister”,126 and also by the speech (Or. 3) delivered by Themistius in 357 as the head of an embassy from Constantinople charged with presenting a gift of crown gold from the east, although the priority of Rome appears to break down towards the end of the oration in favour of Constantinople (46d–48d), which has led some commentators to argue that that portion of the speech was added later – perhaps for a repeat performance to the Senate in Constantinople – and therefore never actually delivered in Rome.127 Constantius’ plans with regard to Constantinople’s continuing development were clearly of considerable interest to the emperor’s senatorial audience in Rome, and the rhetorical and iconographic responses to Constantius’ visit seem intended to assuage, for the most part, any concerns about the new city in the east stealing the glory from the ancient city in the west.128 Indeed, Rome’s endorsement, its “greenlight”, for Constantinople’s development as the empire’s second major city may have been an official policy promulgated during the emperor’s visit, as seen perhaps by the production of a sizeable medallic coin (a “Multiple”, weighing over 20g) by the moneyers in Rome that depicts the Tyche of Constantinople holding a globe on which Victory is affixed clutching a wreath and palm (RIC 8, 285, plate 11).129

The imperial adventus as ceremony was replete with what Sabine MacCormack termed “associations”, and for the sake of brevity we can think of its significance in relation to another key term introduced by MacCormack, that of consensus, as revealed by the welcome accorded to the arriving emperor as a measure of his legitimacy.130 However, it is precisely the absence of consensus for Constantius’ adventus that characterises Ammianus portrayal of the event where, in contrast to “the essential point of adventus as form of ceremonial that reinforces a population’s loyalty to the emperor through their beholding him”,131 Ammianus focalises the emperor’s arrival in Rome through the eyes of Constantius himself: Thus, he beheld the waiting senators (16.10.5), he was amazed to see the assembled crowds (16.10.6) and he was dazzled (16.10.13) by the city’s sights as they rolled into view, like a tourist trying to take in the grandeur of a new destination. It is indeed an irony, therefore, that Ammianus’ description (he was not actually present during the adventus) is among the best known depictions of an imperial ceremony in classical literature when in fact nearly every aspect of it was intended to subvert the meaning of the adventus ritual in order to delegitimise Constantius.132 By contrast, the panegyrics, coins and monuments produced to mark the occasion communicate Constantius’ legitimacy. The symbolic depiction of Constantius’ reception by the city is found on medallic coin issues from the time, minted again in Rome, which portray on their reverse the emperor on horseback, traversing leftwards, with his right hand raised in acknowledgement of the greetings offered by the crowd (who are not depicted in the coin’s field but whose presence is implied by the emperor’s gesture; RIC 8, 288, plate 10).133 In the context of a given political landscape, not one, however, but a multitude of demands and expectations determine whether consent is granted to a ruling party or not, and consent as symbol tells us little about the nature of such demands. There were certainly victories to celebrate, first and foremost over Magnentius but also possibly the defeat of the Alamanni from the campaigning seasons of 354–355, although evidence for the commemoration of these victories in the celebrations of 357 is meagre.134 Above all, it was the annihilation of the usurper which formed the basis for the adventus and for the lasting association of Constantius’ visit to Rome. The scale of Constantius’ achievement is imagined in the language of the panegyrics commissioned for the occasion: The emperor had saved the city (Rome) and the empire from a new age of barbarism, and, in turn, had preserved the integrity of his dynasty which had been threatened by “bastard and spurious successors”.135 Beyond making the unpalatable palatable, the barbarising of Magnentius, and the promotion of the idea that the usurper’s defeat had saved Rome from being overwhelmed by “Germans and Jazygi” (the latter, a Sarmatian tribe),136 may also have been intended to evoke in the minds of those witnessing the celebrations Constantius’ recent successes against the barbarians of the Rhineland and the Danube (the latter somewhat prematurely since the campaign began only in 358; see below): Thus, the scale of the “alien” threat posed by Magnentius certainly invited acceptance of the idea that Constantius had protected the empire against all-comers of foreign origin, which at this level meant that there was little to distinguish Magnentius and his forces from the Alamanni, Franks and Sarmatians.

As the site of fierce internecine violence during the course of the civil war, including the execution and beheading of a member of the Constantinian family (see Chapter 5), Rome was a key early location for public displays reaffirming Constantius’ legitimacy. While there is little to corroborate the claim that Magnentius “hacked at the Senate”,137 senatorial loyalties had become deeply divided during the period of Magnentius’ occupation of the city. There should be little doubt that the period witnessed numerous instances of political opportunism and score-settling, a state of affairs complicated by Nepotianus’ brief appearance as an imperial contender during the first year of the Magnentian government.138 All the senators who served as Urban Prefects between 27 February 350 and 26 September 352 (the date of the appointment of Constantius’ choice, Neratius Cerealis; see Chapter 6), with the exception of two individuals, Celius Probatus139 and Septimius Mnasea140 whose careers are poorly attested, had established their careers in the service of Constantinian emperors. The Urban Prefects who followed the tranche of Magnentian officials, beginning with a family appointment in the guise of Cerealis (in office 26 September 352–8 December 353), responded to the reintroduction of Constantinian government in Rome by commissioning a number of high-profile tokens acknowledging Constantius’ legitimacy. As noted in Chapter 7, Cerealis commissioned between 352 and 353 an equestrian statue of Constantius to stand outside the senate house (curia) in the Roman Forum, on which was inscribed an early example of the way in which the time of Magnentius was henceforth to be recalled, as the “pestilential tyranny”.141 By turn, Constantius is declared, “the restorer of the city of Rome and the whole world”,142 themes of local and global restoration evident in other media (see below) current during the years when Constantius held with Gallus consecutive imperial consulships between 352 and 354.143 Cerealis’ successor and another family appointment,144 Memmius Vitrasius Orfitus, during his first term in the office (which most likely ended c. summer 355145; the subject of a pointed vignette by Ammianus (14.6.1)), dedicated via his curator statuarum a statue of the emperor situated in the baths of Decius on the Aventine146; and his successor, Flavius Leontius147 (appointed autumn 355148), dedicated further two statues of Constantius in the Roman Forum and in the baths of Decius.149 As Mark Humphries has noted, these monumentalised expressions of loyalty to Constantius anticipated “the tenor of the imperial visit of 357”.150 Moser has established a convincing argument that during this period, the two parties – the emperor and the Senate – demonstrated a keen interest in one another, with the latter publicly advancing the interests of the former in the city by repealing Magnentius’ influence, and the former by his responsiveness in tackling a range of social ills affecting the city,151 including an attempt beginning in late 353 to solve a crisis in the city’s budget by responding to requests that senators be made to fulfil their financial obligations (munera) to Rome (notably Cod. Theod. 6.4.4, 6.4.7).152 In contrast to the long-established idea that relations between Constantius and Rome continued to be strained following the defeat of Magnentius, which the emperor’s visit to the city during April–May 357 was meant to remedy,153 Moser has demonstrated the extent to which Constantius took an interest in, for instance, the promotion the careers of Rome’s senators, and indeed a broader respect for the traditions of the Senate, the latter reinforced as we see by his conduct during the imperial visit.154 As noted by a number of commentators,155 the extent of Constantius’ integration into the cultural milieu of Rome is evident in the prominent place he is accorded in the compendium of calendar lists and illustrations otherwise known as the Chronography of 354, which was assembled by the noted calligrapher, Filocalus,156 for a Roman senator named Valentinus in 353–354 (it is extant only in a number of much later manuscripts157). The calendar is a major source of evidence for the way in which Constantius’ reign intersected with and influenced festivals and anniversaries in Rome and also in other major cities of the empire in the period immediately following the restoration of Constantinian rule in the west. Illustrations of the emperor in the Chronography convey ideologies familiar from inscriptions and coin types of the period; for example, the portrait of Constantius at the head of the list of imperial birthdays (Natales Caesarum; amended to include only approved emperors, viz. imperial predecessors who legitimised the Constantinians and shaped their imperial image, including Trajan and Claudius Gothicus) depicts the emperor with raised right hand and holding in his left hand a phoenix on top of a globe,158 iconography familiar from the FEL TEMP REPARATIO series (see Chapter 2) and from the theme of the emperor as the restorer of Rome and the world from dedications of the time. The illustrations of the imperial consuls for the year 354 are justifiably renowned, and the traditional consular imagery which defines the portraits of Constantius and Gallus would, one imagines, have been well-received by the city’s senatorial class159 (Figure 8.1). As expected, imperial history and contemporary events are framed through the persona of Constantius as the ruling emperor, although the compendium is particularly “on point” in the way that it carefully rewrites recent history, notably in removing the consuls appointed during Magnentius’ reign with those appointed by Constantius.160 As Humphries has indicated: “Thus, even before the emperor’s arrival, his restored legitimacy (and, by implication, the illegitimacy of his rival) was being affirmed by loyal servants in the urbs”.161

Reproduction of a Carolingian-era illustration depicting Constantius II as Consul for 354 CEFigure 8.1 Chronography of 354, Portrait of Constantius II as Consul: The image is in the public domain

“He addressed the nobles in the Senate house” (Ammianus, 16.10.13). An audience with the senators of the city in the fabled curia was high on Constantius’ list of appointments during his visit of 357. However, in light of some recent policies and legislative decisions by the emperor, meticulous preparations were required beforehand. These included the removal of the sacrificial altar on which libations were offered to propitiate Victoria, whose presence in the Senate house was symbolised by an Augustan-era statue of the goddess.162 A later witness caught up in the ongoing dispute over the emperor Gratian’s removal of the altar in 382, Ambrose of Milan, claimed to disclose Constantius’ rationale:

Constantius of august memory, though he had not been baptised into the sacred mysteries,163 thought that he would be defiled if he saw that altar. He ordered it to be taken away.164

A recent series of constitutions, beginning with the outlawing of “nocturnal sacrifices” allegedly instituted by Magnentius in Rome (Cod. Theod. 16.10.5: There is no evidence supporting the claim that Magnentius’ permitted sacrifices, and it is possible that this is a high-profile instance of slanderous propaganda) addressed to Cerealis in November 353, was followed by a constitution from February 356 issued from Milan (Cod. Theod. 16.10.6) which called for those who engaged in sacrifice or the veneration of images to be executed (the addressee and location are not preserved). The performance of sacrifice now carried the ultimate sanction. The potential for political embarrassment in light of the emperor’s recent legislative record was therefore avoided by the removal of the altar from the Senate.165 However, the revered statue remained an indication perhaps of Constantius acknowledging his family’s long-standing alignment with Victory as a symbol accompanying their martial successes.166 It is unlikely that senators took offence at Constantius’ initiative.167 Indeed, the orator Symmachus,168 Urban Prefect during 384–385, recalled the emperor’s visit and his respect for the traditional cults and the conservative values of the Senate in his petition (Relatio) to Valentinian II from 384:

He did not take away any of the privileges of the Vestal Virgins. He filled up the priestly colleges with men of noble birth. He did not deny their expenses to the rites of the Roman state, and following a joyful senate through all the streets of the eternal city, he gazed on the shrines with serene expression, read the names of the gods inscribed on the gables, inquired after the origins of the temples, expressed admiration of their founders, and while he himself followed different rites, he preserved these for the empire.169

In short, posterity recalled Constantius as the consummate senatorial emperor during his visit to Rome, and as an exemplary pontifex maximus who fulfilled his duty by making appointments to the priestly colleges. However, this is a highly contrived image of the emperor and one which provides a point-by-point contrast with the emperor Gratian’s actions, his repeal of pagan endowments, his abandonment of the title and obligations of pontifex maximus, and his removal of the altar of Victory from the curia in 382 (it had likely been restored during Julian’s reign). Despite Gratian having perished during the usurpation of Magnus Maximus only a year later in 383, Symmachus’ juxtaposition was especially significant in light of the fact that Gratian had married Constantia in 374, the daughter of Constantius II born following her father’s death in November 361, and therefore Gratian had been posthumously the son-in-law of Constantius (see Chapter 9).

In an incisive article looking at the context for the (first) removal of the altar of Victory, Glen Thompson highlights the contrast between Constantius’ harmonious relations with the senatorial order as opposed to his fraught engagement with Rome’s Christian community prior to and during 357. Despite the evident issues around the portrayal of Constantius’ dutifulness before the Senate in the Valentinian-era sources, it is entirely believable that both emperor and senators wanted to establish an effective, working relationship with one another. By contrast, Constantius took a much rougher approach with Rome’s Nicene community, exemplified in his treatment of their bishop, Liberius, whose refusal to submit to the emperor’s requests over the decision of the council of Sirmium in 351, including holding out in support of Athanasius (see Chapter 7), led to his banishment to Thrace in 355. In his place, an archdeacon named Felix was appointed the bishop of Rome. The circumstances of Liberius’ removal from Rome are noted by Ammianus (15.7.6–10). Leontius, the Urban Prefect appointed as Orfitus’ successor in mid-355, was charged with the arrest of the bishop of Rome in the autumn of that year.170 According to Ammianus, Liberius was abducted by the prefect during the middle of the night, and “only with the greatest difficulty”, because of the strength of support for the bishop from the city’s populace (17.7.10). Earlier in his career, Leontius had served as part of a delegation sent by the emperor to Sirmium in 351 to oversee the interview of Photinus by Basil of Ancyra.171 Evidently, he was someone deemed sympathetic to Constantius’ approach to managing ecclesial affairs during the period. In Rome itself, with the support of Epictetus, the bishop of Centumcellae, Felix was consecrated at the imperial palace, an event decried as a mock ceremony by Athanasius (History of the Arians 75.2–3). Following Liberius’ exile, a division arose in the Nicene community at Rome whereby the clergy and the laity became divided over the appointment of Felix. The Nicene historians of the fifth century recount the level of popular outrage at Liberius’ fate and his replacement by Felix, a figure who is defended as being in line with the Nicene communion but condemned for having communed with “corrupters” of Nicaea. The protests reached Constantius in person during his visit to the city, where he received a petition from Rome’s aristocratic women. Theodoret’s account (Hist. eccl. 2.14) indicates that this petition convinced the emperor to recall Liberius from exile, but with the condition that Felix and Liberius oversee the church jointly. Constantius’ ruling was read before a crowd assembled in the Circus Maximus, to which they responded with the slogan, “One God, One Christ, One Bishop”. An earlier Latin source (quae gesta sunt inter Liberium et Felicem episcopos; ed. O. Günther, CSEL 65.1: p. 1, nt. 1 = libellus precum) which forms part of the Collectio Avellana, a compendium of documents pertaining to the history of the Roman see collected in the sixth century,172 portrays the division in the Nicene community over Liberius and Felix, and situates the decision to recall Liberius from exile during the time of Constantius’ attendance in the city:

… the emperor Constantius came to Rome. The people asked for Liberius’ return. He soon agreed saying, ‘You may have Liberius, who will return to you better than he was when he departed (habetis Liberium, qui, quails a vobis profectus est, melior revertetur)’. But this revealed that by his agreement he was extending the hand of treachery. In the third year, Liberius returned, and the Roman people went out to meet him with great joy. Felix, censured with by the Senate or by the people themselves, was forced out of the city. But after a little time, at the instigation of the clergy, who broke their oaths, Felix broke into the city again and dared to set himself up in the basilica of Julius across the Tiber. The entire population, along with the nobility, again threw him out of the city with great shame.


Liberius returned to Rome on 2 August 357 following his acceptance of the conditions set forth by the synodal letter of the council of Sirmium in 351 (see Chapter 7).174 However, as Thompson has demonstrated, the decision to cancel Liberius’ exile had likely already been made prior to or during the early stages of Constantius’ visit beginning in April, in which case the emperor’s consent to the petitionary activities of the Roman nobility was a pretence, a move intended to flatter the city’s aristocracy and a further indication of the conciliatory tone of the visit.175 However, we should be careful not to overstate the clemency of the emperor in this particular episode, particularly if Theodoret’s testimony regarding Constantius’ proposal of a dual Roman episcopacy is to be trusted. Thus, the church in Rome was led – however briefly – by two severely compromised Nicene bishops, an outcome no doubt pleasing to both the emperor and the eastern episcopal faction, some of whom had accompanied him on his visit, including Basil of Ancyra, Ursacius and Valens, and who had most certainly offered their advice on how to diminish Liberius’ opposition to the emperor.176

There had been a dedicated Constantinian presence in Rome during the 340s and the early 350s, primarily in the guise of Constantina’s association with the city. Her residence and patronage of key sites had maintained the visibility of the first family in the eternal city for over a decade.177 However, Constantius’ adventus in 28 April 357 marked the first appearance in Rome by a Constantinian emperor since Constantine I’s vicennalia-inspired visit in July 326.178 Although Constantius’ time there lasted only thirty-two days, the political legacies arising from his visit were significant, although their long-term efficacy should be challenged. Senatorial anxieties regarding Constantius’ plans to enhance the Senate in Constantinople may have been temporarily assuaged179; and its relationship with the emperor was clearly strengthened as can be seen in the Senate’s rebuttal some four years later in the summer of 361 of the Caesar Julian’s advances to the city of Rome as he sought to consolidate his nascent position as Augustus (see below). Liberius’ return offered a momentary cause for celebration for the Nicene community in the city, although the Roman see remained deeply unsettled for many years afterwards following the fall-out from the appointment of Felix as the bishop and the emergence of Damasus (bishop from 366 to 384) whom the Collectio Avellena portrays as taking advantage of Constantius’ mismanagement (in that source’s estimation) of the deposition and reinstatement of Liberius.180

More tangible legacies were also left in Constantius’ wake. The most controversial is the emperor’s transportation of the obelisk of Thutmose III of the eighteenth pharaonic dynasty (c. 1504–1450 BC) from Alexandria to Rome, and its installation on the spina of the Circus Maximus in the period of the emperor’s visit to the city. Ammianus Marcellinus’ depiction (17.4.1–23) of the obelisk’s journey and erection is a masterclass in obfuscation, an account intended to diminish the spectacle of the obelisk’s appearance in Rome under Constantius and thereby undercut the official story of the monument supplied by an impressive, hexametric verse inscription which was inscribed on the newly installed obelisk’s base. Not only is Constantius excised from Ammianus’ history of the obelisk in favour of describing Constantine I’s efforts in transporting it from Thebes to Alexandria, but the “story” of the monument is placed later in Ammianus’ narrative than the account of the imperial visit of 357 (the latter in book 16.10; the former in book 17.4), reinforcing the notion that Constantius decided to install the monument after his adventus (16.10.17).181 Therefore, it is widely held that the obelisk was raised in the Murcia Valley only after Constantius had left the city,182 but this is far from certain. Its presentation to the people of Rome would have been entirely in keeping with the majesty of Constantius’ appearance there, and the inscription on its purpose-built base reinforced the prevailing ideology of victory that characterised, for instance, the panegyrics performed to mark the occasion (see above). Ammianus’ account conveyed further criticism of Constantius’ involvement with the obelisk. Divine portents are a central feature of Ammianus’ theology, and despite its polytheistic pedigree the obelisk does not escape divine judgement: Ammianus notes (17.4.16) that after having been raised and capped with a bronze globe in gold leaf, the monument was immediately (confestim) struck by lightning. The damaged globe was subsequently replaced by the model of a bronze torch aflame, a sign that Constantius’ much-vaunted sovereignty over the whole world – recall the inscription accompanying Cerealis’ equestrian statue, and the description of the emperor on the obelisk’s base (see below) had been judged and found wanting.183 Further, Ammianus provides a Greek translation of the hieroglyphic inscription cut into the obelisk, ascribed to the interpretive labours of a certain Hermapion (it is in fact a translation relating to the inscription from the obelisk now in the Piazza del Popolo),184 and in so doing side-lines entirely the hexameter inscription commissioned to mark the commemoration of Constantius’ victories and achievements.

The obelisk’s base on which was inscribed the fourth-century-era Latin inscription was broken up during the restoration of the obelisk in the late sixteenth century, when it was re-erected during the papacy of Sixtus V in the Lateran,185 although a record of the text was fortunately preserved and published by papal favourite Michele Mercati in his Gli Obelischi di Roma (1589).186 The inscription, a twenty-four-line poem divided as six lines over the four sides of the base, explicitly dedicates the obelisk as a gift (munus) to the city of Rome and commemorates Constantius’ victory over Magnentius, identified as the loathsome tyrant (line 15: ta[etr]o tyranno) who laid waste to the city (line 15: vastante). It is described as a “lofty victory monument (specifically, a tropaeum) and benefaction befitting his illustrious triumphs” (lines 23–24),187 and thus provides one of the clearest indications that the civil war against Magnentius was celebrated as a legitimate victory following its conclusion. Indeed, the magnitude of the victory was such that, in the words of the inscription, Constantius was able “to take control of the whole world” (line 2: toto Constantius orbe recepto) and as a result he became, “the lord of the world” (line 10: dominus mundi), familiar epithets of triumph used for the emperor on other monuments of the time – for example, the trio of identically worded statue pedestals from the Roman Forum, dedicated in 357 for Constantius by Orfitus during his second period in office as Urban Prefect188 – which Constantius himself is said to have utilised as part of his signature.189 The transportation of the obelisk from Thebes to Italy along the Tiber to Rome must also have been a central feature of the official account of the monument since we find details of its journey in both Ammianus and the Latin inscription (the latter the likely source for the former), the difference being that the details regarding Constantius II’s role in bringing this significant civil engineering project to fruition are excised from the historian’s narrative together with the details about Constantine I’s original plan to situate the obelisk in Constantinople (line five: “the city bearing his cognomen”), both disclosed by the inscription but missing in Ammianus due to his strategic silences about Constantius’ achievements and Constantinople, the “upstart capital” in the east.190 The association established by the inscription between Constantine and the obelisk, specifically his plan to erect the stone elsewhere than Rome drew on two key themes of Constantius’ propaganda from the 350s: First, that it was under Constantius that the obelisk was moved to Rome provided (further) indication that the son had surpassed the achievements of the father, and second, the needs of Rome were shown to have been prioritised over Constantinople, reiterating the emergent ranking of the cities of the time as seen in panegyrics and on coinage (see above).

Another overlooked monument from the time of Constantius in Rome may also include the triumphal arch identified by the fourth-century Cataloghi Regionari (in regio XI, Circus Maximus) as the Arcus Divi Constantini, situated in the Forum Boarium, and also known as the Janus Quadifons or Arch of Janus.191 The arch has long been regarded as deriving from the time of the Constantinian dynasty, although identification of the actual imperial honorand has escaped detection due to the spoliation of the arch’s reliefs, statues and inscriptions. However, research as part of the project, “Roma, las capitales provinciales y las ciudades de Hispania”,192 has proposed a reconstruction of an imperial inscription recovered from San Giorgio al Velabro, a neighbouring church to the triumphal arch. Fragments from a marble panel originally from the arch and reused to make steps for an altar staircase in the church were restored and a dedicatory inscription reconstructed on the basis of available precedents.193 The suggested location for the inscription was the attic or topmost portion of the arch. The project’s researchers are rightly tentative regarding their proposed reconstruction although their careful scrutiny of epigraphic precedent suggests that there is a reasonable degree of certainty underpinning the proposed reading. Their conclusion is

that the inscription is a eulogy to Constantius II which probably refers to his victory over the usurper Magnentius, and which therefore could only have been created in the years between the latter’s death in A.D. 353 and the celebration of the imperial anniversary of Constantius in the spring of A.D. 357.194

The reconstructed text utilises terms current in imperial messaging of the time referring for example to Constantius as “greatest victor of the whole sphere of the earth, liberator of the city [Rome] and restorer of peace” [fundatori quietis] and to his defeat of Magnentius as the “disposer of the tyrant sovereign”, expressions we have seen before. A less familiar topos is the inscription’s reference to the killing of Constans (lines 7–9: “the enemies who savagely murdered with great cruelty the brother of the August, Constans …”: [c]um mag[na crudelitate saevos interfi]cerent Co[nstantem Aug(usti) fratrem …],195 but as Mateos, Pizzo and Ventura have highlighted, a small number of literary sources refer either to Magnentius’ threat to the dynastic succession of the Constantinians (Themistius, Or. 3.43a), or to the notion that Constantius, in defeating Magnentius, avenged his brother’s murder (Athanasius, Defence before Constantius 10, 23),196 a concern that appears in a highly stylised manner in Byzantine-era historiography – from the sixth century in Peter the Patrician’s history, and in Zonaras from the twelfth century – in which Constantine I appears to Constantius in a dream following the conference at Heracleia in December 350 (see Chapter 6) calling on him to avenge Constans’ murder, which may derive via Eunapius from the fourth century.197 Indeed, the arch may have been dedicated to both Constantius and by extension the Constantinian dynasty in light of the fact that pedestals and possibly also statues of Constantine I from those pedestals were used to decorate niches in the arch itself.198 In this sense, the identification of the monument by the author of the fourth-century regional catalogue as the “Arch of the Deified Constantine” and his son would be accurate.199 The arch is situated in the area known as the Velabrum on the boundary of the Forum Boarium and on a cross-roads where heading eastwards via the Vicus Tuscus is the Roman Forum.200 It lay, therefore, on an established route for triumphal possessions which in 357 may have also included Constantius’ party passing by the Circus Maximus to admire the obelisk.201 However, this is conjecture. It is more certain that Orfitus in his second term as Urban Prefect oversaw the dedication of the arch on behalf of the Senate, and that he also supervised the installation of the obelisk in the Circus Maximus, either before or after Constantius had left the city. Indeed, monumental preparations for Constantius’ adventus likely began during his first term in 353–355. Although Constantius only spent one month in Rome, he made a very significant impression on the urban environment of a city that he is known to have visited only once as Augustus in his lifetime. The emperor’s profectio from Rome took place on 29 May and his attention was turned towards the tribal confederacies of the middle Danube and the security of Pannonia and Moesia Inferior.

“The Golden Cushion”: Conflict and the Limits of Sovereignty

The events of the years 358–359 give a clear sense of the range of issues faced by the empire during the mid-fourth century, comprising near-simultaneous military campaigns along both the Rhine and Danube frontiers, and northern Mesopotamia. Along the Danube in modern-day Hungary, earlier agreements and alliances established by Constantine I and his Caesar Constantine (Constantine II) in the wake of the Gothic war of 332–334 had hastened fractures in the social relations of Sarmatian society (Origin of Constantine 6.31–32) leading them to flare once again during the late 350s and requiring this time the intervention of Constantius II directly. During the spring campaign of 358, the Sarmatians were routed by the Romans in Pannonia Secunda in the area identified as the eastern fringe of the Banat region, and again on the borders of the province named Valeria (Ammianus, 17.12.4–6).202 A military alliance between the Quadi and Sarmatians failed to provide an effective response to the strength of the Roman army, which led, in turn, to the conclusion of a treaty with the Sarmatian nobles, led by a young chief called Zizais. A separate arrangement was made with the chiefs of the Quadi led by Araharius, the first of its kind with the Quadi according to Ammianus (17.12.12–13). Constantius is reported to have been alert to the ongoing “civil war” between the Sarmatians (or free-Sarmatians, or Arcaragantes203) and the Limigantes, the latter identified as the slaves of the Arcaragantes who had rebelled against their owners following Constantine Caesar’s war against the western Goths in 332 and expelled the Arcaragantes from their settlements in the Hungarian Plain. This division in Sarmatian society was ongoing during the 350s and Constantius sought to improve the plight of the Arcaragantes by renewing Roman protection in exchange for a diminution of their sovereignty with the appointment of Zizais as vassal monarch (17.12.20). An unintended consequence of the renewal of Rome’s protection of the Arcaragantes was a series of raid by the Limigantes on Moesia in the same period. After an initial bloody engagement close to where the Tisza river meets the Danube, Roman forces suppressed two Limigantian groups, the Amicenses and the Picenses, so named according to Ammianus on account of their proximity to the limes fortifications of Acumincum and Pincum (17.13.19),204 with the assistance of the Arcaragantes under Zizais and the Taifali. The Limigantes were duly suppressed and evicted from the territory they had seized from the Arcaragantes during the conflicts of the 330s, although it appears that they were resettled further north of the plain as part of a treaty agreement. As Eszter Istvánovits and Valéria Kulcsár have highlighted, Ammianus’ account at 17.12 of the surrender of the tribes is a ritualised affair that emphasises their submission before (deditio), and adoration (adoratio) of, Constantius: The “mute terror” of the petitioners before Constantius is embodied in the failed voice of their leader, Zizais, followed by a collective act of submission by the assembled barbarians before the Roman emperor who “all threw down their shields and spears, stretched out their hands with prayers, and succeeded in many ways in outdoing their prince in lowly supplication”.205 Indeed, while only a brief campaign, its political value to Constantius was exploited to the highest degree: The emperor was awarded (for a second time; see Chapter 6) the victory title, Sarmaticus, and a triumph was staged upon his return to Sirmium in the early summer of 358. The defeat of the Quadi and Sarmatians was also promoted in Rome with Julian identified as sharing in Constantius’ victory.206 A further attempt to gain territory was made by the Limigantes in early spring months of 359 in direct contravention of the agreement made with them in the previous year. This was again suppressed with the direct involvement of Constantius (Ammianus, 19.11.5–16). In light of Julian’s successes in Gaul at the same time (and without subscribing entirely to Ammianus’ cynicism with regard to Constantius’ motives over Julian’s success), it is difficult not to interpret these Danubian campaigns as intended to promote a corresponding image of Constantius as a triumphant victor. Ammianus’ portrayal of Constantius’ Limigantes campaign from 359 seem intended to offer a point of contrast with Julian’s successes, specifically the scene of his collective subjugation of the Alamannic kings (18.2.15–18). In a similar setting, Constantius is abused and assaulted during an assembly of the Limigantes in Aquincum in Pannonia Valeria207: A barbarian’s shoe is hurled at the make-shift tribunal on which the Augustus was seated, encouraging the assembly to surge forward with the aim of seizing the emperor. While Constantius escaped on horseback, the crowd swarmed the dais and destroyed the imperial seat and tore its golden cushion to shreds (19.11.12). In contrast to the magnitude of Julian’s achievements, those of Constantius are reduced to the frivolous ornaments of sovereignty which he had still been unable to protect.

By contrast, political capital would prove harder to extract from the situation emerging in Mesopotamia and Syria. While Constantius was pre-occupied with the Limigantes in the northern Hungarian Plain,208 the Sasanian armies were bringing their plans for an assault on northern Mesopotamia and Syria to fruition. According to the main narrative source for this phase of the conflict with Persia, Rome’s failure to anticipate and thereby prepare correctly for this heightened activity was the result of the politicking at court and the continued attempt to marginalise Ursicinus, magister equitum, who had been sent back to the east following his time in Gaul (Ammianus, 16.10.21), only to be promoted following the execution of Barbatio209 in 359 to the position of magister peditum praesentalis,210 the general in charge of the emperor’s own field army, and replaced in the east by Sabinianus,211 a man in Ammianus’ opinion utterly unsuited to such an important role.212 However, the truth was greatly more complicated than the one-sided interpretation offered by Ammianus who, nevertheless, presents the build-up to the conflict and offers insights into the failures of intelligence and diplomacy on the Roman side, in addition to conveying the scale of Shapur II’s ambitions, namely to overturn the terms of the treaty of 298 by, in the “words” of the monarch himself, “recovering Armenia and Mesopotamia, which double-dealing wrested from my grandfather” (17.5.6). This build-up had been ponderous and lasted a number of years with embassies moving back and forth between the courts of the two monarchs,213 including one attended by Procopius,214 a member of the imperial family (with links back to Constantius I (?))215 who would attempt to maintain the Constantinian monarchy in the aftermath of Julian’s death (Ammianus, 26.5.12; see Chapter 9).216 Procopius’ embassy, with Count Lucillianus217 also in attendance, had been at the Sasanian court on the eve of Shapur’s invasion of Mesopotamia in the spring season of 359 and had sent a cipher to the city of Amida containing the information – concealed by a classicising allusion to Mithridates VI’s invasion of Asia Minor in 74/73 BC218 – that Shapur had crossed the Zab and the Tigris with the intention of invading Mesopotamia.219 From Ammianus’ perspective, a key moment in the development of Shapur’s plans came with the defection of a Roman officer named Antoninus (whom the Amidan cipher alludes to) to the Persian side. Antoninus had incurred significant debts which, through an accounting ruse on the part of his unscrupulous debtors, had been transferred to the fiscus which meant that the imperial office holder was his ultimate creditor. A former Protector and proficient in Greek and Latin – thus, a mirror of Ammianus himself who in spite his treachery is highly regarded by the historian (tunc protector exercitatus et prudens) as a victim of the same corrupt forces deployed against other honourable men in the empire – Antoninus sought to extricate himself and his family from this predicament, and by utilising his professional training he surreptitiously collected information about troop numbers, expedition plans and the provision of weapons and supplies to the armies in the east which he passed to the Sasanians in exchange for protection, status and money.220 As such, Antoninus became an honoured guest at court and a dining companion at Shapur’s table, which he took full advantage of by urging the shah to prioritise crossing the Euphrates and reaching Edessa (18.5.7). This represented a significant alteration in Shapur II’s Roman strategy, whose previous campaigns had focused on capturing key settlements in the contested frontier lands rather than, as now proposed, seeking to outflank Roman forces by arcing towards Armenia and heading for Syria. Seeing the Roman defector as the original fons of this new approach is debatable since the enormous potential of this strategy to Sasanian fortunes served to magnify the scale of Antoninus’ betrayal. Nevertheless, Antoninus’ advice was highly sought, and when the Sasanians were forced to change their plans to cross the Euphrates, which was in high flood with the melting of the winter snows (18.7.9), it was Antoninus’ counsel that was heeded which diverted the Persian army further north towards Amida.

The siege of Amida that followed lasted seventy-three days, ending only in September 359.221 The battle for the city and the suffering of its soldiers and citizens is described in detail by Ammianus, in a narrative stretching across the first nine chapters of his nineteenth book. Both Ursicinus and Ammianus were involved in attempts to lift the siege, the former having been recalled to the east to discern the extent of the Persian invasion and now in the uncomfortable position of having to work alongside Sabinianus, the newly appointed magister equitum. (Roger Blockley proposes that the division of authority made perfect sense in the context of the knowledge of Shapur’s intentions: Thus, Sabinianus was stationed in Edessa with orders to prepare the field army (18.7.7), in readiness for an assault across the Euphrates, while Ursicinus took up his old role of overseeing the frontier fortresses, which he had done for a number of years previously.222) In the period just prior to the Sasanian assault on the city when Shapur’s original plan to cross the Euphrates at a shallower stretch still held, which Ursicinus intended to halt by destroying the bridges at Zeugma and Capersana,223 Ursicinus’ contingent was ambushed by a Sasanian force led by the defector Antoninus outside Samosata. A piece of reported speech is placed in the mouth of Antoninus which explains his predicament as the result of malign forces marshalled against him (18.8.6). Ammianus then narrates his own dramatic escape in the direction of Amida (18.8.11–14). His account of the siege of the city, in which the author blends different narrative voices (third person, first person singular and first person plural) is quite justifiably viewed as “one of the high points of his narrative and a classic passage in Roman historical writing”,224 although the account also has its fair share of detractors.225 Recent research has demonstrated226 that Ammianus’ narrative draws on descriptions of sieges elsewhere in classical literature, and his characterisation of the main protagonists of the siege highlights the intertextuality of his approach in the guise of his skilful reformulation of Julian’s orations honouring Constantius (Orr. 1 and 2) and the siege of Nisibis in 350.227 As Alan Ross has highlighted, the failure of the Romans to prevent the destruction of Amida was another notch against Constantius’ record in foreign campaigns. The disproportionate focus given to Amida’s siege in contrast to the destruction of the Roman cities of Singara (20.6.1–9) and the capture and garrisoning of Bezabde (20.7.1–16) in 360, also enabled Ammianus to augment his characterisation of Ursicinus by way of a contrast with Sabinianus; the latter, whose failure to deploy troops to relieve Amida derived in Ammianus’ estimation from his military incompetence (when in fact it appears to have been Constantius’ concern to preserve the integrity of his army by not sacrificing lives to break the siege),228 itself viewed as a symptom of his fervent Christianity typified by his devotion at moments of acute crisis to the renowned martyr churches of Edessa (“[Sabinianus] was leading a life of dissolute luxury among the cemeteries of Edessa [viz. churches], secure, I suppose, in the belief that the dead were in no position to disturb the peace”: 18.7.7229), contrasted starkly with Ursicinus’ relentless initiatives to relieve the suffering of Amida (19.3.1–3), a juxtaposition that ultimately stood as further criticism of the workings of Constantius’ government. However, Roger Blockley in an incisive article from 1988 has argued that both Ursicinus and Sabinianus misread the Persian plans for the entire campaign of 359. In this regard, Ursicinus stands especially condemned in light of Ammianus’ insight that the cavalry under his charge failed to observe two thousand Persian troops under the command of Tamsapor and Nohodares230 moving towards Amida (18.8.1–3); the failure to observe their movement was one thing, but as Blockley argues, the failure to recognise the Persian party as an invasion force intent of assaulting Nisibis was the greater error.231 The capture of Amida was, therefore, the objective of Shapur’s campaign all along due to its importance for the defence of Roman Mesopotamia, “the depository of mural artillery for the region and the fulcrum of the border defences north of the Tur ‘Abdin mountains”.232 Roman military intelligence had thus garbled Persian intentions, believing erroneously that an invasion of Syria was Shapur’s ultimate goal. In this regard, Blockley proposes that the cipher supposedly deriving from Procopius was in fact an instance of Persian disinformation,233 its intention being to distract Roman high command from properly defending the cities. This is indeed a real possibility, but it is more likely that Ammianus’ himself foregrounds the initiative credited to Antoninus and substantiated by the cipher in order to disguise Ursicinus’ failure to bolster the security of Amida. In any case, the neglect of Amida became a matter of an official enquiry conducted at Constantius’ court (20.2.1–5) – characterised tendentiously by Ammianus as a criminal trial of Ursicinus – over which Arbitio and Florentius presided as magistri officiorum. Ammianus presents the entire commission as set against Ursicinus, which led to an instance of outspokenness on the general’s part where he warned Constantius that the following year’s campaign would see the “dismemberment of Mesopotamia” (20.2.4). Although Ursicinus was cashiered for this display of parrhesia at court, Constantius’ efforts to increase the capacity of his eastern army in the early months of 360 suggests that he took Ursicinus’ advice very seriously indeed. However, the emperor’s initiative came with a heavy price.

Searching for Consensus (Again)

However, certain evidence suggests that Constantius had arranged to support the empire’s eastern territories prior the siege of Amida and the loss of fortified locations such as Reman and Busan (18.9.10). When the emperor was at Sirmium in May 359, an order was issued to Hermogenes,234 the Praetorian Prefect of the east, granting the transfer of soldiers from one place to another whenever required for “the public welfare” (quae publica utilitas depoposcerit) following consultation with the magister equitum et peditum (Cod. Theod. 1.7.1). The arrival of six additional legions at Amida, including those formed by Magnentius and his Caesar, Decentius,235 in addition to Amida’s own garrisoned legion (Legio V Parthica), indicates, as Blockley proposes, a degree of forward planning which may have formed part of a larger strategy to challenge the Persian advance and thus to move beyond the defensive strategy that had characterised Constantius’ approach for numerous decades. Indeed, the appointment of Ursicinus as magister peditum in attendance on the emperor hints at the possibility that the emperor was planning to head eastwards with his praesental field army as soon as his duties permitted.236 Did an improvement in the religious condition of the empire, an increased assuredness of divine favour for all of the emperor’s enterprises at this precise time, suggest to Constantius that he could be more confident in his dealings with the Sasanians, a confidence that came from progress made in reconciling the opposing parties in the church during the first half of 359? In this regard, the groundwork had been laid exactly one year earlier. In May 358, Constantius had returned from Pannonia to Sirmium. To what extent the protracted battles and negotiations with the Danubian barbarians between 357 and 358 had made Constantius hungry to seek consensus elsewhere in his portfolio is open to discussion, but between the years 358 and 359, a series of initiatives took place, some under the emperor’s guidance, that seem ostensibly to be concerned with arriving at a consensus within the church over the theology of the Son’s relationship to the Father. However, the immediate context for the events of this time involved Constantius clarifying the nature of authority within the Christian community of Antioch brought about by the pressing matter (from the government’s point of view) of preventing a deterioration in social relations in the Syrian city over the status of its current episcopal incumbent, bishop Eudoxius, formerly of Germanicia (modern-day Kahramanmaraş). As Barnes points out, Eudoxius has been among the imperial entourage during Constantius’ spring visit to Rome. He took advantage following the death of Leontius, the bishop of Antioch, to push for his election to the venerable Syrian see without the authorisation of the bishops of Syria, among whom included George, bishop of Laodicea and Mark of Arethusa. The first alarm was raised by George, the bishop of Laodicea in Phrygia, in his letter to bishops gathered at Ancyra for the purpose of consecrating a church (preserved by Sozomen, Church History 4.13.2–3). George, a notable anti-Nicene,237 expresses deep concern about the influence of Aetius on Eudoxius and the Antiochene church, and the extent to which the wider public influence of Aetius’ theology of dissimilarity – the heterousian position that the Son is of a different essence to the Father – could lead to the city of Antioch being lost to the bishops of Syria. The letter’s addressees included Basil, the bishop of Ancyra, along with Macedonius, bishop of Constantinople, Cecropius, bishop of Nicomedia and Eugenius, bishop of Nicaea, all of whom were feeling their way towards a new relational understanding of the persons of the Trinity. Personal motivations coalesced alongside doctrinal divisions. The epitomised Philostorgius (4.6) reports that Basil had Antioch in mind for himself and was deeply anxious when Eudoxius rushed ahead of him to capitalise on Leontius’ death. These bishops, in turn, convened a meeting prior to Easter 358 and composed a lengthy238 letter to the bishops of Phoenicia “and elsewhere” which set out their position on the basis of George of Laodicea’s letter, warning against those who have recently come to light who are attempting to win over certain individuals with “profane and vain babblings” [1 Tim. 6.20], particularly in Antioch and further afield in Alexandria, Lydia and Asia.239 Their position can be read in the following:

And it is plain that those who deny the Son’s likeness of essence to the Father do not call him a son either, but only a creature – and do not call the Father a father, but a creator. For the notion of ‘like’ does not entail the Son’s identity with the Father, but his likeness of essence to him, and his ineffable sonship to him without passion. For, I say again, as he was not made identical with men by being made in the likeness of men and of sinful flesh, but, for the reasons given, became like the essence of the flesh, so, by being made like in essence to the Father who begot him, the Son will not make his essence identical with the Father, but like him.

(preserved in Epiphanius Panarion 73.9, 6–7)

The heresiological label, “Semi-Arian”, is sometimes used to describe the position of Basil of Ancyra and the other signatories, but the term homoiousios (“like according to essence”) better defines the centrality of their idea that it is the similarity of essence which defines the relationship between the Son and the Father.

A delegation led by Basil, Eustathius, bishop of Sebaste and Eleusius, bishop of Cyzicus, came to court at Sirmium to present their case and request Constantius’ involvement to intercede on their behalf at Antioch. Quite how much of the shared history involving Basil, Eustathius and Aetius was disclosed during this visit is unknown (see Chapter 7), but its outcome indicates that Constantius established common ground with Basil over his concerns about Eudoxius’ tenure of the Syrian metropolis. In light of the previous good relations between Aetius and the disgraced Gallus, Eudoxius it seems had taken advantage of his friendship with Aetius to claim the support of the ruling imperial dynasty in his move towards the episcopacy. In light of Gallus’ fate, this was bound to infuriate Constantius, and the emperor’s anger is displayed in the letter he wrote to the church of Antioch in the spring of 358, which is preserved by Sozomen (Church History 4.14.1–7).

It is reported that there are among these people certain quacks and sophists, whose very names are scarcely to be tolerated, and whose deeds are evil and most impious. You all know to what set of people I allude: for you are all thoroughly acquainted with the doctrines of Aetius and the heresy which he has cultivated. He and his followers have devoted themselves exclusively to the task of corrupting the people, and these clever folks have had the audacity to publish that we approved of their ordination. Such is the report they circulate, after the manner of those who talk overmuch; but it is not true, and indeed, far removed from the truth.


Here, Constantius demonstrates his awareness of the intellectual self-identity of Aetius and his circle and in so doing repudiates any association with their theological sophistry. Disclosing the influence of Basil of Ancyra, the emperor also adds that “our saviour is the Son of God, and of like substance with the father”. However, for the time being, it seems that Eudoxius stayed put in Antioch in spite of the emperor’s denunciation and the characterisation of his associate, Aetius, as an atheist. The involvement of Basil of Ancyra and his apparent influence over Constantius is inflated by Sozomen in the following chapter (4.15) where the capitulation of Liberius is incorporated into the activities of the small group of homoiousian advocates at court in Sirmium during 358. As we noted, Liberius was returned from exile to Rome around the middle of 357, a year earlier, after having denounced Athanasius and signed a document, the identity of which remains uncertain, but which caused such offence to Nicenes like Hilary of Poitiers that he interpolated a curse and an anathema on Liberius when the document in question is raised by Liberius in his letter (pro deifico timore) to the bishops and presbyters of the east (Feder 1916: 168.5–170.1; Wickham 1997: 77–78). Sozomen’s narrative has been influential in promoting the idea that a “fourth council of Sirmium” thus took place at which bishops previously opposed to one another were reconciled by a document which condemned those who refused to accept that the son is like the father in essence and in everything, viz. the homoiousian position. This was not, however, a council in the accepted sense of the term but, in the words of Barnes, a meeting “of a small number of eastern bishops at court”.241 Sozomen’s “imaginative reconstruction”242 has nevertheless proved influential in giving birth to the idea that the emperor saw homoiousian as a medial formula capable of bringing together former Nicenes and anti-Nicenes such as Ursacius, Valens and Germinius of Sirmium who in the previous year had produced a statement (referred to as the Second Sirmium Formula, or “the Blasphemy of Sirmium”) which had repudiated ousia/substantia and had garnered the involvement of Ossius of Cordoba and Potamius of Lisbon.243 Thus, scrupulous scholars such as Hanson were led astray and proclaimed, “Constantius now thought he saw an opportunity of achieving lasting agreement in the Church on the vexed subject of the Christian doctrine of God”.244

Notably, Steffen Diefenbach has proposed that Constantius’ horizons at this point in 358–359 were much narrower than previously supposed. The situation in Antioch remained the emperor’s priority rather than some grand, unificatory scheme. As Diefenbach has argued, Constantius was interested primarily in obtaining a degree of oversight in the regulation of the see of Antioch and was keen (on the basis of his experiences elsewhere during 356–357!) not to encourage open dissent in ecclesiastical politics in the awareness that it was likely to spill out into a civic setting.245 Here, theology meshed with other concerns such as the need to uphold urban stability and compliance in a city, Antioch, that was instrumental in preparations for conflict with Sasanian Persia, a situation which was looking more likely as the final months of 358 honed into view. Furthermore, the assumed close association between Basil and Constantius was also unlikely since the emperor was undoubtedly very concerned by Basil’s interest in the regions influenced by Aetius’ teaching as revealed in the letter to the Phoenician clergy, with Constantius fearing that the bishop of Ancyra was looking to impose on all the sees which Aetius’ teachings had infiltrated with “sparks of impiety in the souls of the simple” (Panarion 73.2.5) his own nominees. Constantius was not prepared to tolerate this level of interference and he proposed a synod with the “decidedly limited agenda”246 of appraising only the situation in Antioch with regard to the activities of Aetius (Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.16.1–2). The city of Nicomedia was chosen as the venue for the conference, but the plans for this event were definitively terminated by a devastating earthquake which struck the Bosphorus Strait on 28 August 358. Not only was Nicomedia affected, its bishop Cecropius was killed in the disaster, but Constantinople, Nicaea and Perinthus were also damaged in the quake.247 It is clear from the allegations against Basil at the Council of Constantinople in January 360 that he took advantage of the ensuing disorder to engineer the removal and exile of clergy not only from Antioch (thus, including Eudoxius, Aetius and Eunomius; see the epitome of Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 4.8) but also from the Euphrates region, Cilicia, Galatia and Asia Minor, carried out with the involvement of the civil authorities, notably Hermogenes, the Praetorian Prefect of the East (Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.24.5–9), an initiative that exploited the political turmoil which followed the earthquake whereby the emperor’s original order that Aetius and his followers must face an enquiry by the bishop of Nicomedia was undermined by Basil following Cecropius’ death so that he now became the principal judge of Aetius’ fate.248 However, Basil had clearly overstepped his authority in the eyes of Constantius, and a further formula of faith – the so-called “Fourth Sirmium Creed”, dated 22 May 359 and as a result also referred to as the “Dated Creed” – moved the terminology and therefore the parameters of the debate away from those who favoured “like according to essence” (viz. Basil) towards those who professed, “that the Son is like the Father in all respects, as the holy Scriptures also declare and teach”249 (the Homoian position advocated by Acacius of Caesarea, Eudoxius and others). While the “Dated Creed” was intended to be a compromise formula,250 it is correct to assert that Basil’s assent to it required him “to make significant concessions”.251 The statement’s homoian character is clearly apparent in the repudiation of ousia as a term shared between both Nicene and moderate subordinationist formulae. And so,

the word ousia, because when it was naively inserted by our fathers though not familiar to the masses, it caused disturbance, and because the Scriptures do not contain it, we have decided should be removed, and that there should be absolutely no mention of ousia in relation to God for the future, because the Scriptures make no mention at all of the ousia of the Father and Son.252

The initiative was moved forward by Constantius himself who,253 following the counsel of Ursacius, Valens and Germinius of Sirmium, convened a dual council in 359, one in the west and one in the east, on the basis that such an arrangement was likely to result in a less fractious and more uniform “investigation of contested points concerning the faith” than a single council254: Memories of the proceedings and aftermath of Serdica undoubtedly lingered long and shaped this decision. Bishops based in the west converged on Ariminum (Rimini) in July, and bishops from the east met in Seleucia (modern-day Silifke) in September. In a letter to the bishops assembled at Ariminum (Feder 1916: 93.19–94.25; Wickham 1997: 80–81), Constantius proposed that achieving a consensus with their eastern counterparts was a matter of the highest importance to the well-being of the empire:

your Sincerities are to recognise the need for a discussion on faith and unity and for attention to be given to the provision of due order in matters ecclesiastical. For the prosperity of all peoples everywhere will extend and sure concord be secured, when your Sincerities have set in motion the consequences attendant upon the utter removal of all disputes on such things.


The task for both groups was simple: Subscribe to the wording of the “Dated Creed”, composed in Sirmium by a small circle of bishops, including Mark of Arethusa during the month of May.255 However, the delegates of both councils appear to have paid little attention to the imperial desire for unity over the question of faith, in spite of the fact that imperial officials had been despatched to oversee the conduct of business at both gatherings. In Ariminum, Flavius Taurus,256 the Praetorian Prefect of Italy and Africa, was given orders not to release the delegates from their deliberations until agreement had been reached. Generous public subsidies were offered to enable bishops from Italy, Africa, Spain and Gaul to attend, although many chose to pay their own expenses with the exception of three British clerics who willingly accepted the public subsidies. Over four hundred bishops attended in total (Sulpicius Severus, Chronicle 2.41). The majority at Ariminum rejected the homoian offering and renewed their attachment to the creed of Nicaea and condemned Arius once again.257 A smaller contingent of around eighty bishops headed by Ursacius, Valens and Germinius held out against the wishes of the majority and were excommunicated as a result. This party then wrote a letter to the emperor, conveying their relief at having finally left behind the troublesome ousia terminology of the past, and requested that they be allowed to return to “our people” (ad nostras plebes) in the east and leave behind the company of “people infected by perverse teaching” (qui perversa doctrina infecti sunt) in Ariminum (Feder 1916: 87.1–88.20; Wickham 1997: 87–88).258 A delegation of the majority of Nicene-leaning bishops led by Restitutus of Carthage was despatched to brief the emperor as he himself had requested in his earlier letter to the bishops at Ariminum, but they were made to wait in Adrianople while Constantius moved on to Constantinople to deal with the crisis that had erupted in Mesopotamia culminating in Shapur’s successful assault on Amida. The horror of what had occurred in the east was evidently well-known by this stage; indeed, the back-channelling that took place between the Italian delegates and their colleagues in Ariminum likely performed the service of promoting the triumph of the Sasanians in the western empire, but it also served as a convenient excuse for the emperor not to have to meet with those who had seemingly ignored the imperial will over questions of faith and unity. The western delegation was then moved to Nice in Thrace where they were made coercively to retract their denunciation of Ursacius, Valens, Germinius and Gaius (a bishop from Illyricum),259 and sign a modified version of the “Dated Creed” in October 359.260 In tandem with a very staged reappearance of Valens of Mursa in Ariminum, where he was made to anathematise a series of stock Arian-orientated slogans,261 the modified fourth Sirmium formula was eventually accepted by the majority in the west.262

Over in the eastern empire in Seleucia, the partner council of Ariminum convened in September 359, where around one hundred and sixty bishops gathered under the supervision of the comes Leonas263 and Bassidius Lauricius,264 the governor of Isauria. This council turned out to be a deeply fractious affair even by the standards of mid-fourth-century ecclesiastical conclaves. Early reactions to the council by a number of notable figures revealed a wide-spread anxiety that the event would degenerate and involve the settling of old scores. Basil of Ancyra, Patrophilus, bishop of Scythopolis, and Macedonius, bishop of Constantinople, all absented themselves from proceedings – the latter two on the basis of illness – through fear of being accused of recent or historic charges. Indeed, the delegates first had to rule on which enquiry took precedence: Either doctrinal matters, or the conduct of those against whom accusations had been made (Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.22.4): In the end, the former prevailed despite the evident unhappiness among certain sections of the synod (notably Acacius of Caesarea and his supporters) about the presence of suspect and deposed clerics at the council.265 The ambiguity of Constantius’ own letters on what was to be discussed by the council apparently added to the delegates’ confusion. Two main groups formed around the issue of doctrine. The first was headed by Eudoxius and Acacius, a somewhat confusing alliance in light of the former’s earlier alignment with Aetius and the Heterousians of Antioch and his subsequent condemnation by Basil of Ancyra. However, by the time of Seleucia, the fortunes of both individuals appear to have reversed.266 The other party comprised George, bishop of Laodicea, Sophronius, bishop of Pompeiopolis, and Eleusius of Cyzicus, which represented the majority party. The discussion between the two groups focused on whether an established formula, specifically the second creed of the Council of Antioch from 341 (the “Dedication Creed”),267 was sufficient for all to endorse, or whether a (relatively) new formula of the type devised in Sirmium and credited to Mark of Arethusa, would be acceptable to the council. The majority party agreed that an established statement should prevail and form the basis for consent, and they met privately to confirm the Antiochene creed. Acacius refused to support the proposal and reintroduced the fourth Sirmium creed via a document in which he had made sure to align completely his rejection of ousia (homoousios and homoiousios) and his condemnation of anomoios with the will of the emperor:

… we made every effort … to preserve the peace of the church and, as our emperor Constantius, the most beloved of God, commanded us, produce a sound statement of faith in the words of the prophets and Gospels, and add nothing contrary to the sacred scriptures to the creed of the church.268

Acacius’ proposal was scrutinised and undermined by his opponents with the claim that in one of his own earlier writings, he had advocated for the homoiousian cause. Eleusius concluded the debate by reaffirming the validity of the Antiochene formula, noting “if anyone desires to introduce any doctrine which is not included here, he ought to be held as alien to religion and the Church”.269 Acacius’ own position was further compromised with regard to the case of Cyril of Jerusalem, with whom Acacius had been in dispute for a number of years over the metropolitan status of Cyril’s see. A synod of Palestinian bishops in 357 had deposed Cyril and installed Eutychius, formerly of Eleutheropolis (Bayt Jibrin in Palestine), as the bishop of Jerusalem.270 Following a petition by Cyril, Constantius had requested the delegates at Seleucia to reconsider his case, but Acacius refused point blank to do so. As a result, the majority council of Seleucia deposed him, and his associates. Eudoxius was among those removed from their position, and a certain Anianus was installed as the new bishop of Antioch, who was delivered to Leonas and Lauricius by the supporters of Acacius and afterwards exiled.271

Delegates from both sides left for Constantinople to inform Constantius about the decisions, although the party led by Acacius stole a march on all by arriving first and “set about lubricating the levers of power”272 to gerrymander not only acceptance of the homoian formula but also the deposition of key figures from the opposing parties at Seleucia.273 Initially, Honoratus,274 not long into his position as the (first) Urban Prefect of Constantinople,275 was charged with investigating the events of the council, but on the matter of Aetius, the emperor himself took direct charge.276 The “Acacians” engaged in a political sleight of hand whereby they used the recent western consent for the modified Sirmium formula to indicate in the imperial presence the grounds for unanimity, to which Constantius not surprisingly responded approvingly.277 On the day before the new year of 360 dawned, the emperor applied all his persuasive powers to garner the consent of the majority party at Seleucia to the formula which the western delegation had subscribed to in Nice in Thrace, a sense of high urgency no doubt being felt by all parties in light of the fact that the emperor was preparing to be inaugurated as consul for the new year.278 Alongside abstract discussions, tangible benefits were also withdrawn. The question of clerical exemption from liturgies and taxation, which had been raised at Ariminum, was revisited in Constantinople and the emperor took steps to cancel liturgical exemptions for those clergy who refused to subscribe.279 This gathering, known as the council of Constantinople of 360, “an odd council, or rather … series of conciliar and quasi-conciliar gatherings”,280 was overseen by Acacius with the support of several bishops from Bithynia, including Maris, bishop of Chalcedon, and Ulfila, the bishop of Gothia.281 The agreement of the majority party at Seleucia did nothing to save them from what happened next. Various historic charges were brought forward as grounds for deposing a host of bishops, with former imperial favourite Basil of Ancyra winning the contest for the longest list of crimes and misdemeanours.282 The depositions were engineered by Acacius and Eudoxius who, taking a leaf out of the emperor’s own book regarding Constantius’ earlier attempt to collect signatures empire-wide for the credal formula from Sirmium in 351 (see Chapter 7), sent copies of the creed from Ariminum “with various additions of their own” to every province across the empire, “and procured from the emperor an edict for the banishment of all who should refuse to subscribe to it”.283 The highest profile casualties of Constantinople included that city’s own bishop, Macedonius, a troublesome figure from Constantius’ perspective due to numerous infractions, including his involvement in the riots of 341/342 (see Chapter 5), reinstating a deacon found guilty of adultery,284 and his decision to move the body of his father, Constantine I, from the Church of the Holy Apostles to the precinct of the holy martyr Acacius, which sparked further civil unrest.285 In addition to Macedonius, there was also Basil, Eustathius of Sebaste (already previously deposed by the synod of Melitene),286 Eleusius of Cyzicus and Cyril of Jerusalem, to name only a select number. Eudoxius himself became the bishop of Constantinople, a remarkable change of fortune in light of Constantius’ letter sent to the Antiochenes two years previously which disowned any association with the former bishop of Antioch, in addition to a further imperially derived deposition engineered by Basil which returned Eudoxius to his own home property in Armenia Secunda, along with the exile of seventy further clerics.287 The path of Eudoxius’ career is indeed puzzling. Stevenson has suggested that Eudoxius’ influence over Acacius and Constantius was consolidated during the council convened at Nice in autumn 359, although it had been formed prior to the meetings of the dual councils of Ariminum and Seleucia when it became clear to Constantius that Basil had taken advantage of his patronage to secure the exile of his clerical opponents.288

Whatever the truth of the affair, Eudoxius’ appointment as the bishop of Constantinople had evidently been planned for a while and was clearly a desideratum for Constantius and his oversight of the city’s see. Enthroned on 27 January 360 before an assembly of seventy-two bishops, Eudoxius would have played a leading role weeks later when the Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) was consecrated on 14/15 February (Chronicon Paschale s.a. 360: 543–545). As proposed by Diefenbach and noted earlier, “the sees in the capitals Antioch and Constantinople were so important that Constantius himself intervened in the course of events”289 and in line with the appointment of Eudoxius in Constantinople, Meletius was elected as the new bishop of Antioch at some point after the departure of Eudoxius for Constantinople. Meletius’ appointment occurred considerably later than the changes hastened by Constantinople in January 360, taking place at a council convened in Antioch during the winter months of 360/361. His tenure, however, was exceedingly short. He was deposed by the leading bishops assembled for the purposes of the synod (notably, Acacius and George of Alexandria) following a sermon,290 commissioned by Constantius himself and devised as a exegetical joust on the subordinationist-inclined verse, Proverbs 8.22 (“The Lord created me at the beginning of his course, as the first of his works of old”),291 in which Meletius upheld the homoian position but also appears to have made concessions to the homoiousian position which figures like Acacius had worked so hard since Seleucia to discredit.292 Indeed, Oliver Hihn has argued that Meletius’ removal stemmed from his conciliatory gestures towards supporters of the homoiousios in Antioch, those previously expelled from the church by Eudoxius, whom Meletius had reappointed to positions in the Antiochene church.293 With regard to Constantius’ oversight of the dual councils and the synod of Constantinople in January 360, Diefenbach has stressed that the emperor’s approach had changed little from the previous decade. Constantius’ involvement remained limited to influencing the occupancy of several important sees and lending support, when needed, to achieve the isolation and exile of key clerics. This did not amount to a “dirigiste church policy”, in spite of the fact that aspects of the emperor’s involvement during the 350s, notably with the case of Athanasius and the see of Alexandria, do suggest something amounting to a “proactive, dirigiste religious policy”.294 The promotion of the homoian agenda derived from the episcopal party around Acacius and Eudoxius rather than the emperor, and while revisionist treatments like Diefenbach’s dilute to some extent the achievement of securing an empire-wide credal formula, it is important to recognise that Constantius regarded the selective deposition of troublesome clerics as better suited to the job of securing church unity rather than credal formulae which proved to be “extraordinarily effective at polarizing dissent”.295 The absence of a theological “grand plan” on the part of Constantius has been highlighted by Sara Parvis, who views Constantius’ final years as chaotic and the legacy of the council of Constantinople in largely negative terms:

It is only fair to allow that [Constantius] was indeed no theological fanatic: he was too doctrinally vacillating for that … He seems to have had no idea either what the Church was for on its own terms, or how it might contribute to the stability of the empire, let alone what its norms of government were supposed to be. He arbitrarily based his entire policy on the views of first one and then another ambitious middle-ranking prelate, before abandoning him for a new favourite, often within a few months of one another.296

In some respects, this is justifiable criticism, although it operates on the principle that Constantius’ influence over the church in the final years of his life was all-encompassing, which it was certainly not. Both short and long views clearly demonstrate that Constantinople failed to achieve anything like unity within the church. Hilary of Poitiers, who had been in attendance at Seleucia, provides early (possibly the first half of 360)297 censure of homoios in his Against Constantius (chs. 12–22), while the Homoians themselves, including Acacius, changed track when Jovian, Julian’s primicerius domesticorum, came to power and demonstrated his partiality for Nicaea by communing favourably with Athanasius (Historia Acephala 4.4; Athanasius, Festal Letter for 363 (no. 35, Martin 1985)).298 At a synod in Antioch during 363, Meletius, Acacius, Eutychius, among others, wrote a letter to Jovian declaring their intention to embrace the faith of the Council of Nicaea from the time of Constantine’s reign.299 Even if we take this as a sign of the Acacians’ political pragmatism (so, Socrates, Church History 3.25), it is also an indication that the very creators and exponents of the creed endorsed at the Council of Constantinople in 360 no longer regarded their formula as suited to unifying the factions of the church. However, this was a temporary blip under Jovian, and the status of the homoian settlement as the official confession of the empire endured into the reigns of Valens and Valentinian I before being eclipsed by the neo-Nicene orthodoxy of Theodosius I.300

The New Public Enemy: Constantius against Julian

Around the time that Constantius was lavishing gold and jewels on the new church of the Holy Wisdom and granting the populace of Constantinople an increase in their corn allocation, Julian was in Lutetia (Paris) receiving the acclamation of a discrete section of his army. In a seemingly impromptu ceremony during February 360, Julian was raised on an infantryman’s shield and crowned with a torque (“a twisted neck-chain”)301 taken from a draconarius serving in the auxiliary unit of the Petulantes.302 The immediate impetus for Julian’s coronation lay in an act of protest by his army. An order had been sent from Constantius, allegedly devised by Florentius, the Praetorian Prefect of Gaul and delivered by Decentius, a notarius and tribune in Constantius’ army, to appropriate four auxiliary infantry units from Julian’s army, the Herculi, the Batavi, the Celtae and the Petulantes, in addition to three hundred soldiers from his other units (not belonging to the auxilia)303 along with a select number from the scholae of the Scutarii and the Gentiles.304 Constantius’ order is characterised by Ammianus as motivated by jealousy of Julian’s recent successes in Gaul, which indicates his awareness of Julian’s own interpretation offered in his Letter to the Athenians, that it was part of Constantius’ plans to denude Julian of his military role (Letter, 282d), although by contrast Julian suggests that the order was for “the whole of the most efficient troops”. Constantius intended that the troops be handed over to the authority of Lupicinus, magister equitum; however, the emperor was evidently unaware that Julian had sent Lupicinus, together with the Batavi and Herculi, to Britain, in order to quell a rebellion of the Scots and the Picts (Ammianus, 20.1.1). The over layering of the order with the excuse of Constantius’ jealousy disguised the real intention of Constantius’ motivations, as a commentary on the episode notes Ammianus wished “to stress that emotional motives rather than rational calculation were responsible for the events”,305 foremost being Constantius’ urgent requirement for Julian’s infantry troops to challenge Sasanian incursions in Mesopotamia with the awareness that Shapur II was mustering an early spring assault on a number of key cities, including Singara and Bezabde (both of which fell after relatively short sieges). While submitting to the removal of the Scutarii and Gentiles, representatives from the Petulantes and Celtae protested against their eastern reassignment. A letter replete with slanderous comments was publicly broadcast in the camp of the Petulantes in which the basis of the complaint was made known: “We verily are driven to the ends of the earth like criminals, and our dear ones, whom we freed from their former captivity after mortal battles, will again be slaves to the Alamanni”.306 Julian’s own account of the letter (was there more than one?, viz. Zosimus 3.9.1) suggests that it covered three areas: Abuse of Constantius, complaints about the condition of Gaul, and laments about the disgrace brought on Julian himself (Letter 283b).307 The protests, therefore, were driven as much by an unwillingness to be sent to the eastern frontier as by the fear that the departure of such a significant section of the army would encourage reprisal raids in Gaul from those east of the Rhine. Indeed, Julian seems to have been sympathetic to the latter part of the complaint from the point of view of the reputational damage which was likely to arise in future attempts to recruit troops from the Germanic regions to the auxilia when the pledge not to move “barbarian soldiers” beyond the Alps could be so readily overturned.308 Ostensibly isolated and without his senior advisers – Lupicinus was across the Channel, and Florentius was in Vienne (Letter, 282b) – Julian’s course of action was unclear. However, his intention to uphold Constantius’ orders is a feature of both his own and Ammianus’ narrative of events,309 although his decision to have the troops earmarked for redeployment to proceed to the east via Paris, and then to host a banquet for the officers of the auxiliary units concerned, has been viewed as a sign of Julian’s complicity in the protest (notably, Julian’s Letter fails to mention the dinner party, in contrast to Ammianus, 20.4.13).310

The leading figures in the protest against Constantius were initially placated by Julian’s overtures in Paris, but this state of affairs seems to have changed quickly when the officers concerned had time to reflect following the end of the banquet. With regard, therefore, to the structure of the plot, Bleckmann has commented:

It can be presumed that the sources here reveal something that was true of the majority of acclamations of late antiquity, namely that it was seldom more than somewhere between a few hundred and a few thousand men who stood at the beginning of a usurpation.311

Both Julian himself and Ammianus portray the Caesar as a deeply reluctant usurper. Julian’s own rather sparse account of events is committed to this feature. Thus, Julian narrates that he was in the room next to Helena’s in the palace trying his best to ignore the rising protests from outside. However, they became so loud that he could no longer ignore them:

Then from there through an opening in the wall I prayed to Zeus. And when the shouting grew louder and all was in a tumult in the palace I entreated the god to give me a sign; and thereupon he showed me a sign and bade me yield and not oppose myself to the will of the army.

(Letter, 284c)

As a number of commentators, including most recently Bleckmann, have argued, Julian’s reluctance reached only to the point when the extent of the consensus militum, an indispensable feature of Constantinian ceremonial practice,312 became apparent to him (Letter, 284d).313 A clear sign that Julian was committed nevertheless to negotiating with Constantius is apparent in the embassy he sent around a month after his acclamation to his cousin while he was in Cappadocian Caesarea.314 This was led by Pentadius and Eutherius, who bore two letters from Julian for Constantius. The principal letter outlined the complaints from sections of the army with regard to the nature of their future posting, and conveyed Julian’s reluctance to engage with the plot to elevate him beyond the rank conferred by Constantius.315 Notably, Julian himself indicates that he only ever used the title of Caesar in letters to Constantius (Letter, 285d), which would chime with the overall sentiment of the contents of the letter preserved by Ammianus where Julian does not reject the outcome of the acclamation but instead requests that Constantius approve what has been done as “expedient and right” (Ammianus, 20.8.12). The letter makes it apparent that Julian was looking for Constantius’ recognition of his new position, and thus is not “especially conciliatory”.316 However, Julian’s terms in the letter do in fact acknowledge Constantius’ seniority: Thus, Constantius is granted the right to appoint Julian’s regional Praetorian Prefects (indeed, Nebridius soon replaced Florentius as the Gallic Prefect), while all other civil and military officials were to be made by Julian’s court.317 With regard to the original complaint, Julian stands resolute and, in fact “doubles down” on the issue: Gaul requires a greater military presence and cannot spare any auxiliaries for the Persian campaign, an ingenious addition to Julian’s justificatory narrative.318 Ammianus indicates that a less politically literate letter was also sent alongside this one.319

On receiving Julian’s embassy, Constantius exploded in rage and dismissed Pentadius and Eutherius out of hand.320 In turn, Constantius sent Leonas, recently returned for the thankless task of overseeing the proceedings of the council of Seleucia, with a reply to Gaul in which he refused to approve Julian’s elevation, but conceded on the matter of officials by appointing Nebridius, along with a number of other civilian nominations.321 Leonas was courteously received in Paris by Julian, although Constantius’ refusal to acknowledge Julian’s new position was met – according to Ammianus – by a further acclamation from the assembled soldiers and citizens.322 In November 360, Julian celebrated his quinquennlia in Vienne with games, but this was a time of mixed fortunes for the new Augustus. During the summer months, he had conducted a short campaign against the Attuarii Franks,323 but during this time Helena had died, and during the games in Vienne her body had been interred in Rome in the mausoleum on the Via Nomentana where her sister, Constantina, had been buried some six years previously.324 At the beginning of Julian’s brief Frankish campaign of 360, Ammianus imagines Julian “happier in his lofty station and in the confidence which the soldiers felt in him” (20.10.1), and during the games themselves, Ammianus notes that Julian appeared wearing “a magnificent diadem set with gleaning gems, whereas at the beginning of his principate he had assumed and worn a cheap crown” (20.1.4). Much of Julian’s growing confidence in Ammianus’ narrative at this point is intended as a point of contrast to Constantius’ fortunes, which are depicted as on the wane, typified by the failure of his attempt to regain Bezabde during the autumn of 360.325 However, this is a portrait substantiated by coins issued to mark the occasion of the quinquennlia, notably the solidi produced by the Trier mint depicting Rome and Constantinople enthroned as a mark of concordia and the vota, VOTIS V MVLTIS X on the reverse, and on the obverse a portrait of a beardless Julian wearing a double-round pearl diadem accompanied by the legend “Augustus”.326 Julian’s change of mind, and the fact that towards the end of 360 he was no long seeking Constantius’ approval for the Parisian acclamation, had been prompted by Constantius’ management of affairs in Gaul and Italy. Towards the end of his Letter to the council in Athens, Julian is explicit about the tipping point:

All the legions with me sent letters to [Constantius] praying that there might be harmony between us. But instead of this he let loose against us the barbarians, and among them proclaimed me his foe and paid them bribes so that the people of the Gauls might be laid waste; moreover he wrote to the forces in Italy and bade them be on their guard against any who should come from Gaul; and on the frontiers of Gaul in the cities nearby he ordered to be got ready three million bushels of wheat which had been ground at Brigantia, and the same amount near the Cottian Alps, with the intention of marching to oppose me.

(Letter to the Athenians 286a–b)327

By seeking the support of the clients among the Alamanni and thereby annulling any prior treaties established with Julian, Constantius’ actions were a legitimate feature of his declaration that Julian was now a “public enemy”,328 a sentence promulgated as early even as January 361. It was prompted, one assumes, by the failure of Constantius’ final embassy to Julian led by Epictetus, bishop of Centumcellae (Civitavecchia in Lazio: Julian is mistaken in referring to him as the “bishop of the Gauls”) and a figure previously deployed to mediate in difficult situations,329 who may have arranged to meet Julian when the Augustus attended the Feast of the Epiphany in Vienne in January 361.330 Epictetus assured Julian that Constantius would guarantee his personal safety on the condition that he renounces his claim to the rank of Augustus. Soon afterwards, Alamannic raiders began attacking the frontier with Raetia following which the comes rei militaris, Libino, was killed in a counter-attack.331 It transpired that Constantius had corresponded with Vadomarius and, so Ammianus’ explanation goes, requested that he keep Julian occupied by repelling incursions by his warriors so that Julian would be unable to move his troops towards Illyricum.332 Details of the letters exchanged between Vadomarius and Constantius came to light when they were intercepted by a notarius. Vadomarius was duly arrested and subsequently exiled to Spain.333

The complaints outlined by Julian in his Letter to the Athenians indicate clearly that Constantius had made significant preparations for conflict against Julian over many months by stockpiling resources, in addition to effectively initiating a war by proxy on the Raetian border. To his credit, Constantius recognised quickly the threat posed by Julian’s usurpation, choosing to prioritise the subjugation of his cousin above his campaign in Mesopotamia.334 The stage was set for a clash between the two emperors. In Rauracium (Kaiseraugst), Julian realised his ambition to make new civilian and military appointments to his staff,335 in line with the demand in his earlier letter to Constantius. Flavius Sallustius was appointed the Praetorian Prefect of Gaul,336 Flavius Nevitta337 became magister equitum (thereby demoting Gomoarius on the suspicion he had betrayed Vetranio, but more likely because he had been Constantius’ appointment),338 Jovius, whom Ammianus indicates he had previously discussed in an earlier (lost) book in terms of his connection to Magnentius, took up the role of quaestor sacri palatii,339 Claudius Mamertinus became the new comes sacrarum largitionum,340 and Dagalaifus was appointed comes domesticorum.341 Ammianus notes that loyalty to Julian was deemed the key requirement for all these appointments. Julian himself in his Letter to the Athenians reveals his urgency to leave Gaul, driven by the fear that Constantius would soon outflank him with his own armies and the support of the Alamanni (Letter, 287c). Julian divided his army into three parts,342 with the smallest section of the three under his direct command marching through the Black Forest and crossing the Danube before descending swiftly on Sirmium in May 361.343 Around mid-to-late July, Julian gained control of the Succi Pass on the eastern side in order to prepare for the invasion of Thrace344 and moved on to Naissus.345 However, Julian’s movement into Illyricum was deemed illegitimate by Constantius’ supporters in the region, given the terms of Julian’s original Gallic command,346 as evidenced by the response of Lucillianus, comes in charge of cavalry troops in Illyricum,347 at Bononia outside Sirmium. Arrested by Dagalaifus in a lightening raid on his headquarters, Lucillianus was brought before Julian to pay homage but refused, noting only how unwise he felt it was for Julian to encroach on another’s sovereign territory with such a small force (Ammianus, 21.9.8). Julian’s position was thus far from secure and was further threatened by the desertion of two legions sent by him to Aquileia: Once safely within the walls of the city, they reaffirmed their support of Constantius with the intention of “rousing the neighbouring Italians to side with Constantius”.348 Thus, within the sweep of Illyricum from the base of the eastern Mediterranean up to central Italy, Julian’s position looked suddenly very fragile. Julian’s precarity was determined in large part by the fact that Constantius had managed to shrink the influence of the usurper to a small area of mainland Illyricum by cutting off the African coast to Julian’s armies; in this regard, Constantius had learnt from his conflict against Magnentius whose brief control of Africa had enabled him to consolidate his hold over the western half of the empire. In Africa, Constantius’ authority was reinforced by Gaudentius, the powerful notarius. He had sailed across the Mediterranean in spring 361(?)349 to organise the defence of the Mauritanian provinces under the command of Cretio.350 It was for the reason of bolstering his position that while in Naissus Julian wrote to the councils of Athens, Corinth and Sparta in Achaia, and also to the Senate in Rome, in which he sought to justify his decision to persist with his claim to the title of Augustus in defiance of the wishes of Constantius. Only the letter to the Athenian council survives – a small portion providing a choice insight into Julian’s assessment of Constantine I’s mother Helena is preserved from the letter to the Corinthians (see Chapter 4) – although the reaction of Senate is preserved by Ammianus, and it was a straightforward rejection of Julian’s position: “For with complete agreement, [the senators] one and all shouted: ‘We demand reverence for your own creator’” (21.10.7).

Constantius was no doubt aware of how news of Julian’s move had been received in the cities of Italy and Illyricum. His immediate response was the despatch of Arbitio and a contingent of troops to curtail Julian’s advance across the Balkan Mountains.351 In the meantime, Constantius himself headed back to Antioch before moving westwards during October 361 with the intention of overseeing the pending conflict with Julian. Upon reaching Tarsus, he developed a fever but insisted on pressing on deeper into Cilicia. At a place called Mopsucrene on the road from Tarsus to the Cilician Gates, the emperor’s illness grew worse. Euzoius, an Alexandrian cleric, former associate of Arius and, in 361, the bishop of Antioch following Meletius’ deposition, was summoned to baptise the dying emperor.352 According to Ammianus, in the final stage of his life while his mind was still clear, he designated Julian as his rightful successor. Only after his legitimation of Julian did Constantius pass away. It was 3 November 361.353 The rite of conclamatio – the call to the deceased by name – was performed by those assembled around the emperor’s deathbed. Ammianus notes that the chamberlain Eusebius persisted in his machinations and attempted to divert the succession away from Julian but was brought to his senses by the proximity of the Augustus. Two companions at Constantius’ court, Theolaifus and Aligildus, were despatched to Julian in Naissus with the news. Rumours of a will began to circulate in which Julian was named as Constantius’ heir and the conflict over Constantius’ reputation had begun.


1. See Drinkwater 2007: 200–201.

2. Heather 2020: 66.

3. For example, Amm. Marc. 16.11.8.

4. A thesis developed by Drinkwater 2007: 217–265. Cf. the assessment of Heather 2020: 76–77.

5. Drinkwater 2007: 218

Alamannic leaders may have been promised land, and thus had no reason not to call on this promise when the opportunity offered. … In exposing themselves and their dependents to Roman power over the Rhine they cannot have believed that they were committing a punishable offence: they must have been convinced that they had sufficient authority for their actions in the documents and the promises they had received from Constantius II And in settling across the Rhine under the aegis of Rome they showed themselves willing to become Roman subjects.

Contra, see the remarks byHeather 2020: 80.

6. Drinkwater 2007: 228.

7. Amm. Marc. 16.11.8 (qui domicilia fixere eis Rhenum); cf. Julian, Letter to the Athenians 279a.

8. Drinkwater 2007: 241.

9. PLRE 1: 409 (Helena 2).

10. PLRE 1: 226 (Constantius 7).

11. PLRE 1: 148.

12. PLRE 1: 478–479 (Julianus 35); Chausson 2007: 126.

13. Amm. Marc. 25.3.23; see esp. the discussion by Chausson 2007: 125–126, who discusses the significant clues about Julian’s maternal lineage but notes “in fact, we know very little about the family of Basilina” (p. 126).

14. Drinkwater 2007: 208–209.

15. Amm. Marc. 15.4.1; Drinkwater 2007: 172–173; Heather.

16. PLRE 1: 94–95 (Arbitio 2).

17. Amm. Marc. 15.4.1–13; Drinkwater 2007: 210.

18. On this feature of the post of magister and the case of Arbitio, see esp. Lee 2015.

19. Amm. Marc. 15.5.33 for an evaluation of Silvanus’ background and merits; PLRE 1: 840–841 (Silvanus 2).

20. Amm. Marc. 15.5.33; Zonaras 13.8.

21. PLRE 1: 163 (Bonitus 1 and 2).

22. See esp. Kulikowski 2016: 296.

23. Kulikowski 2016: 296.

24. Amm. Marc. 15.5.4.

25. PLRE 1: 275 (Dynamius 2).

26. Amm. Marc. 15.5.1.

27. PLRE 1: 978–980 (Volusianus 5 signo Lampadius).

28. Moser 2018: 283, n. 21 contesting the PLRE’s entry and placing Volusianus in northern Italy.

29. See Jones 1964: 367–368, 504–505.

30. The formative modern analysis of the episode remains Nutt 1973, followed by Drinkwater 1994, and Hunt 1999. For a detailed commentary on Ammianus’ account, see Jonge 2013: 67–122. Also, Matthews 2007: 37–38; and recently, Crawford 2016: 124–128 has offered some important insights.

31. Cf. Julian, Letter to the Athenians 273d.

32. PLRE 1: 538.

33. See the remarks by Stevenson 2021: 81–82.

34. PLRE 1: 363 (Florentius 3).

35. Kulikowski 2016: 297.

36. See Omissi 2018: 180–181.

37. Kulikowski 2016: 298.

38. Nutt 1973: 84.

39. Nutt 1973: 86.

40. See Matthews 2007: 491.

41. See esp. Hebblewhite 2017: 77–81.

42. Kulikowski 2016: 296.

43. PLRE 1: 26 (Africanus 2).

44. PLRE 1: 560 (Marinus 2).

45. PLRE 1: 386 (Gaudentius 3) distinguished from Gaudentius 1 (p. 385) who with Syncletius took an imperial letter from Constantine I to Athanasius in Alexandria (Ath., Apology against the Arians 59); cf. Stevenson 2021: 79–80.

46. PLRE 1: 774 (Rufinus 2).

47. Amm. Marc. 16.8.3–7.

48. Matthews 2007: 36.

49. Vanderspoel 2013: 328.

50. Esp. Amm. Marc. 16.1.5.

51. See the compromise position by Vanderspoel 1995: 118–119; also, Watt 2012; cf. Swain 2013: 53–68. By contrast, see García Ruiz 2018: 217, nt. 48. (“… Julian could hardly have acquired such self-awareness as ruler by them [356]”.)

52. See esp. Tougher 2007: 36.

53. Vanderspoel 2013: 334–336.

54. Inferred by López Sánchez 2012: 160–162.

55. See the commentary by Jonge 1972: 36–37.

56. García Ruiz 2018: 208.

57. Garía Ruiz 2018: 205–206 (figure 9.1).

58. RIC 8 Arles, 222, nos. 247–249 (n. 248, plate 7); López Sánchez 2012: 160–161.

59. Amm. Marc. 16.1.3; on the significance of Ammianus’ comments, see Ross 2016b: 296–297.

60. See esp. the comments by Heather 2021: 65–66.

61. For example, Drinkwater 2007: 227–228 (“Despite Ammianus’ reference to ‘Alamanni raging beyond their customary manner and ranging more afield’ [16.11.3], there was no major Alamannic warlike activity at this time” (p. 227)).

62. Amm. Marc. 16.11.2 (twenty-five thousand soldiers); Libanius, Or. 18.49 (thirty thousand soldiers).

63. Amm. Marc. 16.12.16; Heather 2021: 69–70.

64. Cf. Barnes 1993: 227.

65. Notably characterised as such by Drinkwater 2007: 221; and, Heather 2021: 69.

66. PLRE 1: 550–551 (Marcellus 3).

67. Crawford 2016: 134.

68. Drinkwater 2007: 155–156.

69. Drinkwater 2007: 221–224.

70. See esp. Drinkwater 2007: 215.

71. See the comments by Crawford 2016: 136.

72. PLRE 1: 832 (Severus 8).

73. PLRE 1: 314–315 (Eutherius 1); see esp. Tougher 2021: 81–82.

74. Drinkwater 2007: 230.

75. Cf. Drinkwater 2007: 233–235 for an alternative explanation for the failure of the bridge.

76. Amm. Marc. 16.12.1 lists the Alamannic kings at Strasbourg as Chnodomarius, Vestralpus, Urius, Ursicinus, Serapio, Suomarius and Hortarius (the uncle of Serapio). See Drinkwater 2007: 224 for the location of these kings’ territories.

77. Drinkwater 2007: 237.

78. See esp. the analysis by Crawford 2016: 142–143. Cf. Heather 2020: 85.

79. See Ross 2016a: 126–161.

80. On the structure of book sixteen in terms of highlighting the merits of Julian and the demerits of Constantius, see esp. Humphries 2019.

81. Ross 2016a: 134.

82. Fr. 17 (Blockley 1983: 22–23; with notes, no. 25, 131).

83. See Baker-Brian and Tougher 2012.

84. Cf. Hebblewhite 2017: 55–60.

85. See Jonge 1972: 300–301.

86. Amm. Marc. 16.12.70; Ross 2016a: 130–131.

87. Cf. Ando 2000: 117–118.

88. Cf. Drinkwater 2007: 240.

89. Ross 2016a: 157–158.

90. Drinkwater 2007: 241.

91. See esp. Crawford 2016: 159–161.

92. Cf. Drinkwater 2007: 242.

93. Cf. Drinkwater 2007: 243. (“It appears that Julian was continuing to exploit the Alamanni to win a military reputation and political strength”.)

94. Amm. Marc. 17.10.10.

95. PLRE 1: 365 (Flavius Florentius 10).

96. PLRE 1: 520–521 (Lupicinus 6).

97. See Drinkwater 2007: 251

98. Drinkwater 2007: 247.

99. Blockley 1983: 132: A rather harsh observation.

100. Eunapius, Fr. 19 (Blockley 1983: 28–29).

101. Heather 2020: 89.

102. PLRE 1: 687 (Pentadius 2).

103. Julian, Letter to the Athenians 282c.

104. Amm. Marc. 17.3.1–6; see Jonge 1977: 51–68; Matthews 2007: 88–90; Heather 2020: 91–93.

105. Excerpts from this constitution survive in two forms, the ruling from 2 April 356 “to the people”, and the version of the ruling communicated to Flavius Taurus, the Praetorian Prefect of Italy and Africa. On their relationship, see the commentary by Cuneo 1997: 292–294.

106. Heather 2020: 91–92.

107. Heather 2020: 92.

108. It is to be suspected that a plan to dupe the Franks underpinned the proposed payment in silver rather than gold: The former would certainly appear to a be a physically larger payment than the latter since gold has a greater density than silver, but its overall value would have been considerably less.

109. Matthews 2007: 90.

110. Heather 2020: 90.

111. PLRE 1: 653–654; see Penella 1990: 109–117.

112. Drinkwater 1983: 374; Tougher 2007: 39; Heather 2020: 93.

113. Bidez 2004: 21, n. 3.

114. Cf. the insightful comments by see García Ruiz 2018: 205–209.

115. See esp. Istvánovits and Kulcsár 2017: 1–100, 310–337.

116. Zosimus 3.1.1; see the discussion by Istvánovits and Kulcsár 2017: 327–328.

117. See Barnes 1993: 139, 283, nt. 56.

118. The arguments are carefully and conveniently summarised by Flower 2015: 823, nt. 3; also, Humphries 2015: 158–160.

119. Notably, Wienand 2015a.

120. See Vanderspoel 1995: 101, nt. 138. (“It may be best simply to suggest that Constantius, intending to visit Rome, found pretexts to celebrate something”.)

121. Burgess 1993: 238.

122. RIC 8 Rome 277, nos. 296–298; also, Aquileia 334–335, no. 210 and 211 (latter a silver issue); Siscia 376, nos. 357–359; Sirmium 388–389, nos. 55–64; see Burgess 1988; Thompson 2005: 88.

123. Thompson 2005: 88.

124. Moser 2018: 306.

125. RIC 8: 244–245.

126. Grig 2012: 44.

127. For the arguments, see Vanderspoel 2012.

128. See Moser 2018: 298–303.

129. RIC 8 Rome 275, nos. 285–286; Cf. Moser 2018: 303.

130. Notably, MacCormack 1981: 17–61.

131. Ross 2021: 111.

132. See Flower 2015; Humphries 2019; Ross 2021.

133. RIC 8 Rome 276, nos. 287–288.

134. In contrast to Salzmann 1990: 219, I am unable to discern reference to Constantius’ defeat of the Alamanni in the obelisk inscription; cf. Liverani 2012; Varner 2020.

135. Themistius, Or. 3.43a–c; the significance of Themistius’ statement in relation to Magnentius’ possible links to the Constantinian dynasty (via Justina) is discussed by Woods 2004.

136. Themistius, Or. 3.43b.

137. Themistius, Or. 3.44c.

138. See the comments by Moser 2018: 280.

139. PLRE 1: 733, known only from the Chronography of 354.

140. PLRE 1: 604, known from the Chronography and an inscription from Rome (AE 1949: 182); cf. Chastagnol 1962: 134–135.

141. CIL 6.1158 = LSA 838.

142. Trans. Carlos Machado, LSA 838.

143. Kienast 2017: 302, 304.

144. See Cameron 1996.

145. See Barnes 1992b; cf. PLRE 1: 651–653 (Orfitus 3).

146. CIL 6.1159 = LSA 1654.

147. On Leontius’ career, see the reappraisal by Moser 2018: 95–96.

148. Notably Barnes 1992b.

149. CIL 6.31397 = LSA 1361 (from the Forum); CIL 6.1160 = LSA 1097 (from the Aventine).

150. Humphries 2015: 159.

151. For example, the constitutions addressed to Orfitus between March 354 and June 356; see Chastagnol 1962: 142, n. 146.

152. On these constitutions, see esp. the commentary by Cuneo 1997: 225–226.

153. Outlined and rebutted by Salzman 1990: 218–223.

154. Moser 2018: 282–287.

155. Salzmann 1990: 34–35; Humphries 2015: 159; Moser 2018: 284.

156. See Salzman 1990: 25–26.

157. See Divjak and Wischmeyer 2014: 7–74, for a discussion of the structure and manuscript history of the Chronography.

158. See Salzman 1990: 28–30; Divjak and Wischmeyer 2014: 91–98.

159. See the discussions by Salzman 1990: 34–35; Divjak and Wischmeyer 2014: 87–90 (with the images on pp. 85–86).

160. See Divjak and Wischmeyer 2014: 441.

161. Humphries 2015: 159.

162. See Thompson 2005 for a background discussion.

163. A criticism of Constantius’ deathbed baptism by the “Arian” bishop of Antioch, Euzoius.

164. Ambrose, Ep. 73.32. Translation by Liebeschuetz 2005: 92.

165. See Thompson 2005: 92–93.

166. For example, the debate surrounding the identity of the statue of the god (goddess?) awarded by the Senate to Constantine I following the defeat of Magnentius, see Pan. Lat. 12(9) 25.4, and the discussion by Nixon and Rogers 1994: 331–332, nt. 157; also, Thompson 2005: 91–92.

167. Moser 2018: 295.

168. PLRE 1: 865–870 (Symmachus 4).

169. Symmachus, Relatio 3.7. Translation by Liebeschuetz 2005: 73. On the later stage of the controversy over the altar, see the commentary and sources collected by Liebeschuetz 2005: 61–94.

170. Barnes 1992b: 259–260.

171. Epiphanius, Panarion 71.1.5 (Williams 1994).

172. See Blair-Dixon 2007; Thompson 2005: 97–98.

173. The translation is by Aaron J. West and may be viewed at [Accessed September 2021].

174. Barnes 1992b: 260–261.

175. See Thompson 2005: 99–100.

176. Notably, Barnes 1993: 283, nt. 56.

177. Thus, Hillner 2017a.

178. Kienast 2017: 288; also, Ward-Perkins 2014: 116.

179. Moser 2018: 298–303.

180. See esp. Blair-Dixon 2007.

181. On Ammianus and the obelisk, see esp. Kelly 2003; also, Kelly 2008: 225–230.

182. For example, PLRE 1: 652.

183. Rike 1987: 30.

184. See Jonge 1977: 120–121; and esp. Swetnam-Burland 2015: 93–97.

185. See Platner and Ashby 2015 (1929): 367–368.

186. See Liverani 2012; Varner 2020.

187. The translation of the inscription is by Varner 2020: 124; for the text, see CIL 6.1163 (31249); with Liverani 2012.

188. CIL 6.1161 = LSA 1278; CIL 6.1162 = LSA 1279; CIL 6.31391 = LSA 1360.

189. Amm. Marc. 15.1.3; Humphries 2003: 39–40.

190. Notably, Kelly 2003; and, Ross 2021 (the expression is taken from Ross, p. 104).

191. Platner and Ashby 2015: 280.

192. See Mateos, Pizzo and Ventura 2017.

193. The fragments had been catalogued in CIL 6.30364 nos. 5–7, 4; doubts had earlier been expressed about the possibility of reconstructing the attic text, notably Bariviera 2017: 437.

194. Mateos, Pizzo and Ventura 2017: 265.

195. Mateos, Pizzo and Ventura 2017: 264; with the precedents discussed on p. 265, nt. 72.

196. Mateos, Pizzo and Ventura 2017: 265, nt. 72.

197. Banchich 2015: 145–147.

198. Mateos, Pizzo and Venture 2017: 258–259.

199. Mateos, Pizzo and Ventura 2017: 259, nt. 52.

200. See Table 178, Region XI, Carandini and Carafa 2017.

201. Cf. the description of Nero’s triumphal procession, Bariviera 2017: 435. On the Circus Maximus and triumphal routes, see Popkin 2016: 129–131.

202. Istvánovits and Kulcsár 2017: 330.

203. Jerome, Chron. s.a. 334; Istvánovits and Kulcsár 2017: 318–326.

204. Istvánovits and Kulcsár 2017: 335.

205. Amm. Marc. 17.12.9–10; Istvánovits and Kulcsár 2017: 329, nt. 950.

206. A now lost inscription from Rome (provenance unknown), CIL 6.1165 = LSA 1280.

207. Istvánovits and Kulcsár 2017: 337.

208. See Istvánovits and Kulcsár 2017: 337.

209. Amm. Marc. 18.3.2–5.

210. Amm. Marc. 18.5.5; Jonge 1980: 134–135.

211. PLRE 1: 789 (Sabinianus 3); see the note on Sabinianus by Barnes 1998: 85–86, nt. 37.

212. Amm. Marc. 18.5.5.

213. See the careful reconstruction by Stevenson 2021: 72–84.

214. PLRE 742–743 (Procopius 4).

215. Notably, Chausson 2007: 146–150, a more cautious note struck by Tougher 2011: 190–191.

216. On the usurpation of Procopius, see McEvoy 2016.

217. PLRE 1: 517–518 (Lucillianus 3).

218. Cf. Blockley 1986; Blockley 1989: 484; cf. Jonge 1980: 201–204; also, Trombley 1999: 21–22.

219. Amm. Marc. 18.6.17–19; see Trombley 1999: 21–22.

220. Amm. Marc. 18.5.1–3; see Trombley 1999.

221. Amm. Marc. 19.9.1; the ascent of the “constellation of the billy goats” identified as 6 October by Jonge 1982: 172; also, den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1987: 9.

222. Blockley 1988: 255.

223. Jonge 1980: 252–253.

224. Matthews 2007: 58.

225. For a summary of criticisms and overall assessment of Ammianus’ account, see esp. Blockley 1988.

226. Notably Kelly 2008: 59–63; Ross 2014.

227. Ross 2014: 143–150.

228. Cf. Crawford 2016: 189–190.

229. This translation is by Barnes 1998: 85–86. See also, Jonge 1980: 238–239.

230. PLRE 1: 633.

231. Blockley 1988: 254.

232. Blockley 1988: 258.

233. Blockley 1988: 256.

234. PLRE 1: 423 (Hermogenes 3); Barnes 1992a: 259.

235. Lightfoot 1981: 106–107, nt. 24.

236. Thus, Blockley 1988: 252.

237. See Hanson 1988: 350.

238. Barnes 1993: 139.

239. The letter of the bishops assembled at Ancyra in 358 is conveyed in Epiphanius, Panarion 73.2,1–11,11. Translations from Epiphanius are by Williams 1994.

240. Trans. Hartranft 1890.

241. Barnes 1993: 232.

242. Barnes 1993: 232.

243. Barnes 1993: 138–139.

244. Hanson 1988: 362.

245. Diefenbach 2012: 85–86.

246. Diefenbach 2012: 86.

247. Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.16.2–3.

248. See esp. Barnes 1996b; Diefenbach 2012: 87–88, 2015: 360.

249. Viz. the “Dated Creed”, in Athanasius, On the Synods of Ariminum and Seleucia 8; also, Hanson 1988: 363–364.

250. See the comments by Vaggione 2000: 214–215.

251. Diefenbach 2015: 360, nt. 35.

252. Translation by Hanson 1988: 364.

253. Cf. Diefenbach 2015: 360–361.

254. Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.16; Barnes 1993: 140–141.

255. So, Athanasius, On the Synods of Ariminum and Seleucia 8.7; Barnes 1993: 144–145.

256. PLRE 1: 879–880 (Taurus 3); Davenport 2020: 232–233.

257. On this matter, see esp. Smulders 1995: 6, nt. 29.

258. Barnes 1993: 145–146; by contrast, n.b. the misreading of the context for the letter by Hanson 1988: 379, nt. 123.

259. Feder 1916: 86–87.

260. Kelly 1960: 291–292:

Of greater moment, however, as betokening a substantial weakening of the draft creed at Sirmium, were a) the omission of IN ALL THINGS with LIKE, and b) the prohibition not only of ousia but also ‘one hypostasis’ in the doctrine of the Trinity.

Also, Vaggione 2000: 217

261. Hanson 1988: 378–379.

262. Cf. Barnes 1993: 148.

263. PLRE 1: 498–499.

264. PLRE 1: 497.

265. For example, the encyclical of the homoian-leaning bishops at Seleucia, Epiphanius, Panarion 73.25.3.

266. Cf. Elm 2012: 47.

267. Cf. Hanson 1988: 285–291.

268. Epiphanius, Panarion 73.25.2; trans. Williams 1994.

269. Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.22.20. Trans. Hartranft 1890 (modified).

270. For an analysis of the disagreement, see esp. Drijvers 2004: 35–41.

271. Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.22.27.

272. Vaggione 2000: 223–224.

273. Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.23–24; Socrates, Hist. eccl. 2.41; Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 4.12; Vaggione 2000: 224–225.

274. PLRE 1: 438–439 (Honoratus 2).

275. Moser 2018: 214.

276. Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 4.12, with Vaggione 2000: 224–225 for commentary.

277. Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.23.6–7.

278. Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.23.8; Kienast 2017: 302.

279. Socrates, Hist. eccl. 2.41.3–4; Cod. Theod. 16.2.15; Lizzi Testa 2001: 138–139.

280. Parvis 2021: 155.

281. See Schäferdiek 2014; Parvis 2014.

282. Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.24.4–8; Barnes 1996b.

283. Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.26.2.

284. Socrates, Hist. eccl. 2.42.3; Parvis 2020: 159.

285. In addition to the above chapter from Socrates, the alleged crimes and misdemeanours of Macedonius are treated by Socrates, Hist. eccl. 2.38; on the issue of Constantine’s interment, see esp. Johnson 2009: 119–121.

286. Cf. Hihn 2011: 364.

287. Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 4.8; Stevenson 2021: 58–59.

288. Stevenson 2021: 58–59.

289. Diefenbach 2015: 362.

290. Identified as the sermon preserved by Epiphanius, Panarion 73.29.1–33.4.

291. Theodoret, Hist. eccl. 2.31.7–8.

292. See the discussion and analysis by Hihn. 2011.

293. Hihn 2011: 371–372.

294. Diefenbach 2015: 362–363.

295. Diefenbach 2015: 365.

296. Parvis 2021: 160–161.

297. Flower 2016: 29–30.

298. Martin 1985: 195–196, nt. 97. N.b. the note of caution struck by Lenski 2002: 238; also, Drijvers 2018: 247–249.

299. Socrates, Hist. eccl. 3.25.10–18.

300. See esp. Heil 2014.

301. Den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1987: 98.

302. Amm. Marc. 20.4.17–18; Zosimus 3.8.2; den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1987: 91–102; also, Hebblewhite 2017: 146

Many have explained this episode as symbolic of the intrusion of Germanic custom into imperial acclamatio. In demanding that Julian be raised on a shield (Schilderhebung) and then crowned by a torque (Torqueskrönung), the Germanic troops of the Petulantes were attempting to reformulate the traditional Roman consensus militum in their own cultural terms. This is unlikely. Instead, both were more likely emergency measures designed to mimic official Constantinian practices.

Cf. Bleckmann 2020: 112–114

303. Although Ammianus’ meaning here is ambiguous, notably den Boeft, den Hengst and Teiter 1987: 58–59.

304. Amm. Marc. 29.4.3. Bleckmann 2020: 110–111.

305. Den Boeft, den Hengst and Teiter 1987: 56.

306. Amm. Marc. 20.4.10.

307. Cf. den Boeft, den Hengst and Teiter 1987: 75.

308. Amm. Marc. 20.4.3; see esp. the comments by Syvänne 2015: 234.

309. Cf. Matthews 2007: 96.

310. Bleckmann 2020: 112.

311. Bleckmann 2020: 112.

312. Cf. Hebblewhite 2015: 144–146.

313. Bleckmann 2020: 113–114.

314. Amm. Marc. 20.9.1; den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1987: 220–223.

315. Amm. Marc. 20.8.5–17; see the detailed commentary by den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1987: 188–212.

316. Bleckmann 2020: 116.

317. Amm. Marc. 20.8.14; den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1987: 205.

318. Amm. Marc. 20.8.15.

319. See Den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1987: 212–214.

320. Amm. Marc. 20.9.2.

321. Amm. Marc. 20.9.1–5.

322. Amm. Marc. 20.9.7.

323. Amm. Marc. 20.10. 1–3.

324. Amm. Marc. 20. 1.5; Johnson 2009: 140.

325. Amm. Marc. 20.11.1–32; den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1987: 244–293; cf. Hanaghan 2017.

326. RIC 8 Trier 168, no. 362 (plate 4); cf. Garciá Ruiz 2018: 209–210 (figure 9.4).

327. Trans. Wright 1913.

328. Julian, ep. 9 (Wright 1923) to Julianus (PLRE 1: 470–471 (Julianus 12)).

329. Athanasius, History of the Arians 75.2; Cf. Barnes 1993: 274–275, nt. 28; and, Flower 2016: 105–106, nt. 278.

330. Amm. Marc. 21.2.5; den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1991: 30–31.

331. Amm. Marc. 21.3.3; PLRE 1: 508.

332. Amm. Marc. 21.3.4.

333. Cf. Drinkwater 2007: 256–257. Yet, his reputation was rehabilitated under Valens and during the time of the revolt of Procopius, he was sent to recapture Nicaea from Procopius’ supporters, Amm. Marc. 26.8.2.

334. Notably, Amm. Marc. 21.7.1.

335. Amm. Marc. 21.8.1.

336. PLRE 1: 797–798 (Sallustius 5).

337. PLRE 1: 626–627.

338. PLRE 1: 397–398. Cf. den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1991: 106–107.

339. PLRE 1: 464 (Jovius 2), together with the commentary by den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1991: 107.

340. PLRE 1: 540–541 (Mamertinus 2).

341. PLRE 1: 239.

342. Amm. Marc. 21.8.3.

343. So, Bleckmann 2020: 118.

344. Amm. Marc. 21.13.6.

345. Notably, Kaegi 1975.

346. Cf. Bleckmann 2020: 118.

347. PLRE 1: 517–518 (Lucillianus 3), proposes comes et magister equitum in Illyricum on the basis of Amm. Marc. 21.9.7; cf. den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1991: 120–121.

348. Amm. Marc. 21.11.3.

349. Cf. den Boeft, den Hengst and Teiter 1991: 97.

350. Amm. Marc. 21.7.1–7. PLRE 1: 231.

351. Amm. Marc. 21. 13.16.

352. Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 6.5; 5a. On the significance of Euzoius, see Smith 2001.

353. So, the Consularia Constantinopolitana (Burgess 1993: 238); cf. den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1991: 233, on O. Seeck and W. Seyfrath’s emendation of Octobrium to Novembrium in the ninth century ms. Fuldensis (V): “… the arguments for an emendation are not conclusive and the possibility that V’s text is sound and that [Ammianus] himself was mistaken cannot be excluded”. Cf. Barnes 1998: 232. See Kienast 2017: 301.

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