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Ammianus Marcellinus Notes

History Notes > Augustine and the Last Days of Rome: 370-450 Notes

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Monish Kulkarni Text: Ammianus Marcellinus Introduction o Born A.D 330 in Syrian Antioch to a good Greek family: Antioch one of the principal cities of the Roman Empire. o Not happy how Jews, Syrians and Greeks devoted and united only by pursuit of pleasure. o Goths destroy Valens' armies at Adrianople (378) making official if not severing Empire's prestige.
? After this calamitous event, Ammianus went to Rome, taking up residence there before 383.
? Became relatively influential; was friends with Symmachus and Praetextatus. o Not a Christian but:
? liberal towards Church
? Speaks of the power of deus in the way Horace spoke of it (pagan writers) o Probs died sometime after 393. o His History: Res Gestae o Covered accession of Nerva (AD 96) ? death of Valens in 378. o 31 books (first thirteen are lost) o What we actually have: 353 - 378, the reign of Constantius II o the battle of Adrianople. o Influenced by Tacitus, Sallust and Livy., Ciciero, Caesar. o Reads Ovid, Lucan, Horace, Terence, Virgil too. o Uses personal observation and personal experiences to substantiate his history. o Aimed for strict truthfulness ? gives free expression to praise or blame. o Wrote for Roman readers, in particular, the leading literary circle of the Eternal City, of which Symmachus was a prominent member.
? Thus his text is in Latin. o An officer and a gentleman o Style o Ornamental style + imitation of Tacitus. o Attempted picturesque and poetic forms of expression. o A little offensive to modern readers (though probs not at the time) o Attention to form, rhythm and structure o The Book Book I Pages 33-53 o Orfitus is in charge of Rome
? serious riots break out and there are violent disturbances

Monish Kulkarni o Why am I talking about Rome and its dissensions?
o When Rome was rising, Virtue and Fortune (ordinarily at Variance) come together to bring Rome supremacy o When "young", Rome was a towering, successful state whose people brought back "laurels and triumph" ? now old and in decline o Rome's magnificence was spoiled "by the rude worthlessness of a few" who descended into sin and vice.
? They chase worldly fame, not virtue
? they exaggerate their wealth, have no idea of the past greatness of Rome and their forefathers.
? The banquets are unwholesome and tedious
? Learned and serious people are seen as unlucky and useless to the noble class o He dislikes the great hustle and bustle of the markets, with slaves, eunuchs, weavers, plebeians, matrons running mayhem across the streets. o The great houses respect lower arts now
? Singers have replaced philosophers
? Dramatists have replaced orators
? Libraries are not shut. o So base, that foreigners are driven from the city. Men are so arrogant that those born outside of the city are considered worthless (except the childless and unwedded who provide the opportunity for "legacy hunting" ? satirised by Horace. o Sees everyday Roman culture as truly debased
? Men drinking wine, playing dice, disgusting open mouths. o Ammanius ridicules the plebeians for their obsession with chariot racing. Book III

27.3: AD 365-6 o An ass mounts a tribunal and brays ? portentous of the coming of Terentius as governor of the Pistorian province.
? But Terentius is troublesome and dishonest ? he is executed by Claudius in 374. o Symmachus (father of Symmachus from whome we have a collection of letters) becomes prefect in 364 and 365.
? The ungrateful Romans set fire to Symmachus' beautiful house on erroneous charges of wine hoarding. o Succeeded by Lampadius.
? Man becomes very ill, but he was strict and honest
? Generous ? gave valuable gifts to the poor.
? Many outbreaks of violence during his prefectorial reign.
? Leads Lampadius to flee.

Monish Kulkarni o Succeeded by Viventius (former court-chancellor, a just and prudent man of Pannonia")
? Alarmed by sanguinary outbreaks of factional violence.
? He was challenged for power by Damasus and Ursinus' own power struggle.
? This great struggle led Viventius to retire to the suburbs o Damasus was victorious ? however, great violence: at the basilica of Sicininus, 137 Christians were slain in the mayhem. o Ammianus argues that gaining political power should be a struggle, because once attains, there are great riches and rewards. o Happiness could be achieved by these "kings" if they lived in moderation like the Bishops and concentrated their lives towards God, the "Eternal Deity".

27.7: the propensity to anger, savageness, and cruelty of Valentinianus Augustus (AD 367) o Mamertinus is quickly displaced by Vulcatius Rufinus: a man of excellent virtue but he freed Orfitus from banishment. o Valentinian was known for his cruelty and anger.
? Execution of Diocles and Diodorus
? Ordered the death of the decurions of the three ? a foolish move as these men, put to death as criminals, "the Christian religions will honour as martyrs".
? When a debtor couldn't pay, he was put to death. o Valentinians was a prince of great cruelty and lofty arrogance ? they refused to listen to their ministers and made their enemies afraid to speak. o

27.9: the Moorish tribes devastate Africa. Valens checks the brigandage of the Isaurians. Of the city prefecture of Praetextatus (AD 364-8) o Africa overrun by mad savages and robbers.
? troubles exacerbated by slack army and poor conduct of the governor, Romanus
? Romanus in cahoots with Remigius, chief marshal of the court, who sent misleading reports to emperor ? Emperor was unaware of how bad the situation was. o Valentinian increased the arrogance of the military at the expense of the empire.
? Many in believe in killing innocent generals as punishment to diminish their bluster and self-importance. o Isauria ? brigands were sacking villages / Musonius, deputy-governor of Asia, believes no soldier was resisting them.

Monish Kulkarni
? Musonius collects half armed troops to fight, but is killed trying.
? The brigands gain momentum o Praetextatus becomes prefect of Rome (367-8)
? Honest + upright
? Loved and feared by citizens
? Quelled Christian revolts
? Introduced salutary measures + ruled with policies most suited to the wish of the citizens of Rome.
? Established standard weights
? Although he did nothing to gain favour, yet everything he did was looked upon with favour.

11. Of the noble birth, wealth, honours, and characters of Probus (A.D 368) o After the death of Vucacius Rufinus, Probus becomes prefect.
? good family, great wealth known throughout Roman world
? Had good fortune
? Had great power, but was a little timid when confronted and arrogant against those who feared him. o Probus never ordered a client or slave to do anything illegal ? equally, he defended criminals no matter how guilty they were. o Probus could be suspicious, anxious and was troubled by some slight illness always. Book XXVIII: (368-70)

1. Many people, even senators and women of senatorial families are accused at Rome of poisoning, fornication, and adultery, and executed. o War raged throughout Rome and this period saw great massacres. o Phrynbichus composes a play on the plundering Persians during the first Medic War ? puts on the stage in Athens ? too dramatic, tragic and in bad taste and so he is punished. o Maximinus in 368, became governor of Corsica and Sardinia and Tuscia
? He was a man good at interpreting omens o Maximinus widens his sphere to punish the sins of upper class Rome. o Soon, Maximinus was made prefect at Rome ? he was cruel and punished brutally those found guilty.
? This led to the further murder of citizens
? One Marinus was executed for allegedly using the "forbidden arts" to gain a woman, Hispanilla,
? There was a fear of a suspension of legal proceedings

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