Archive of European Projects

Constantius in Context: Reshaping the Roman Empire (CONSTANTIUS2)
Start date: 01 Jan 2015, End date: 31 Dec 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The reign of the Roman emperor Constantius II (337–361) was instrumental in shaping early models of a united Europe. Constantius presided over religious controversies regarding the definition of Christian orthodoxy and the role of the state in ecclesiastical affairs, and a substantial reorganization of the political, administrative and military aspects of the empire. His reign shaped the state which was to become the Carolingian empire in the west and the Byzantine empire in the east.In the absence of Constantius’ own writings, the literary source tradition for his reign, represented by secular and ecclesiastical writers, is the most complex and hostile towards a single emperor in Roman history. It is characterised by a range of traditional yet developing literary genres which articulate the religious and political anxieties of their age and have obscured Constantius’ role in this formative period of European history. Using theoretical approaches developed within the field of classical literary studies, this project will investigate:(1) how the presentation and reception of Constantius developed in the source tradition between his accession and the mid fifth century;(2) what the shifting critical framework within which these authors judge Constantius tells us about the changing nature and understanding of the imperial office in Late Antiquity;(3) to what extent the literary presentation of Constantius may be reconciled with information derived from laws, inscriptions and numismatic evidence, which illuminate his overhaul of the administrative and legalistic role of the emperor.The outcomes will contribute to several objectives of the ERA and Horizon 2020. Together with creating intra-European collaborations, the scientific outcomes will provide an enhanced interpretation of Constantius’ reign, an enriched understanding of the literary and cultural contextualization of each source author, and a new, interdisciplinary approach to assessing Late Antiquity.
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