This study presents a new reading of Pacatus' treatment of the usurper Magnus Maximus in the closing section of his panegyric of Theodosius. It begins by setting Pacatus' panegyric against its recent political context to demonstrate that although Theodosius may have tacitly acknowledged Maximus as co-emperor, and that they certainly coexisted in nominal peace for some time, the hostilities that eventually arose between them were followed, after Maximus' capture and execution, by the conventional damnatio and abolitio memoriae. This renders all the more striking Pacatus' insistent naming and visual memorialization of Maximus, which is the subject of the second part of the article. Pacatus' poetically inflected and ekphrastic descriptions of the spectacle of conquest and the vanquished Maximus, as well as of hypothetical artistic representations of both, are examined. It is suggested that such images should not be taken literally as descriptions of elements of the triumphal imperial adventus which probably preceded this panegyric. Instead, this imagery is analyzed to reveal something of its author's literary ambitions and moralizing intentions. The final section develops the suggestion that Pacatus' historiographical aspirations might have influenced Ammianus' distaste for panegyric.


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pp. 316-336
Launched on MUSE
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