Ancient History & Civilisation


New Faces, Old Enemies

Constantius’ Priorities

Even by the standards of the political and military turmoil of the “long third century”, the beginning of the 350s was an especially tumultuous period in the history of the later empire. In its western half, Constantius was facing much more than simply a regional usurper in the figure of Magnentius. Acknowledgement of Magnentius’ position throughout the western half of the empire – with the exception of Illyricum – as the successor of the murdered Constans occurred with relative rapidity as seen by the installation in Rome of the former Constantinian loyalist, Fabius Titianus, as the regime’s new Urban Prefect on 27 February 350.1 The rise of Magnentius triggered a further series of seismic events. In Pannonia, the army under the authority of Constans’ magister peditum in the Danubian provinces, a figure named Vetranio, acclaimed their commander as Augustus. While the motivation for this particular episode is contested,2 the outcome was clear. Constantius, who was residing in Edessa at the time,3 now faced two usurpers to the west of his territories, thereby representing the gravest threat to the hegemony of Constantinian rule since the inception of the dynasty. To add to this catalogue of woes, Shapur II chose the year 350 to launch a fresh assault on northern Mesopotamia with the focus of the Sasanian military once again on the beleaguered city of Nisibis.4

350 was undeniably Constantius’ annus horribilis. Following his assessment of the battle of Singara against the Sasanians in 344, Julian indicates that news of the turmoil in the western half of the empire, including details of Vetranio’s usurpation, was brought [to Constantius?] by a single messenger. While this is highly unlikely, the young orator adds the following crucial details:

On learning these facts you thought you ought not to waste your time in idleness to no purpose. The cities of Syria you stocked with engines of war, garrisons, food supplies, and equipment of other kinds, considering that, by these measures, you would, though absent, sufficiently protect the inhabitants, while you were planning to set out in person against the usurpers. But the Persians ever since the last campaign had been watching for just such an opportunity, and had planned to conquer Syria, by a single invasion. … For it was their intention to reduce the cities, and once masters of the country, to bring in colonists in spite of us.5

In this period, the focus of Sasanian attention was northern Mesopotamia specially the city of Nisibis, which Shapur II had besieged on two previous occasions in June 3376 and summer 346. The first assault on the city followed very soon after the death of Constantine I on 22 May 337 and the siege of 350 during the summer campaigning season would appear to have followed a similar tactic on the part of the Sasanians whereby they looked to take advantage of a major hiatus in Rome’s domestic affairs to steal a march in one of the most contested regions of the empire.7 The reasons for Shapur’s interests in the region were driven by the matter of political primacy in Armenia and Iberia (Georgian, Kartli)8 and by trading considerations, although the basis for the territorial claims of Shapur and Rome’s counter-expressions was encapsulated in a narrative about the recent past shared between the two empires. This narrative of a shared past derived from a long history of diplomatic exchanges between the two powers that stretched back to the reign of Ardashir, the founder of the Sasanian monarchy, and involved the deployment of legends about the Macedonian monarch Alexander and claims by both sides to his former territorial conquests.9 A letter by Shapur II to Constantius embedded in the history of Ammianus Marcellinus (17.5.3–8), in which the Sasanian monarch responds to a covert diplomatic exchange between Roman and Sasanian representatives during 358, reflects the mid-to-late fourth-century interpretation of this shared story. In the letter, Shapur demands the return of Armenia and Mesopotamia, “which double-dealing wrested from my grandfather”. Ammianus also preserved Constantius’ reply to Shapur (17.5.10–14), in which the Roman emperor responds that, “it is absurd and silly to surrender what we long preserved unmolested when we were still confined with the bounds of the east”. A clear nod signalling the authenticity of the exchange can be seen in Shapur’s framing of these territorial claims in the language of Alexander-inspired patrimony (“That my forefathers’ empire reached as far as the river Strymon and the boundaries of Macedonia even your ancient records bear witness” (17.5.5.)) that had characterised both Sasanian and Roman exchanges over the years.10

This exchange of letters belongs to the period prior to the restarting of the conflict between the two imperial powers in 359 following nearly a decade during which both empires were too preoccupied with threats from their own “barbarians”, tribal confederacies perceived as endangering their respective civilisations, to be able to bother much with one another. It is also probably correct to raise a question mark over the authenticity of the letters,11 while nevertheless retaining the belief that the correspondence offers plausible insight into the grievances that contributed to the ongoing dispute over Mesopotamia and the provinces of Armenia. The basis for Shapur’s complaint is clear: It represents the Sasanian assessment of the treaty of 298 which Naresh (the grandfather of Shapur II) had signed following the defeat of his forces by Galerius at Satala in Armenia in 297. The deceit referred to may be a reference to the fate of Persian captives taken prisoner during the battle, specifically members of Naresh’s own family, whose return to the Sasanian monarch played a key role in the negotiations as related in the remains of the lost historical work by Peter the Patrician.12 Naresh’s compliance with the terms of the treaty was overseen by the Roman diplomat Sicorius Probus. The treaty as described by Peter comprised five demands: The Sasanians were required to surrender the Armenian provinces of Ingilene, Sophanene, Arzanene, Corduene and Zabdicene; the river Tigris was to be the boundary between the two states; the fort of Zintha in the border territory of Media was to mark the frontier of Armenia; the king of Iberia was to become monarch under Rome’s protection; and Nisibis was to be the sole place of trade. Naresh is reported to have agreed to all terms with the exception of Nisibis, to which Probus is said to have replied, “You are obliged to yield to this. For the embassy is not fully empowered, and no leeway has been granted about this from the sovereigns”.13 The Armenian provinces were contested by the Romans and the Persians on account of their importance in trade, communication and their role as buffer states “at a tender spot along the frontier between Mesopotamia and Armenia”.14 Located at the foot of the Tur Abdin (Mons Masius), Nisibis was also vital militarily and commercially to the interests of both parties. Its contentious status in the treaty of 298 as evidenced by Naresh’s reluctance to concede was evidently motivated by fear of the loss of revenue for the Persians with Nisibis now under Roman control.

Constantius’ service as both Caesar and Augustus was intimately bound up with the political and military affairs of these regions. What should be interpreted as a decision not to rush to the defence of the western empire following the usurpations of Magnentius and Vetranio was therefore conditioned by a hard-nosed pragmatism born of many years of experience about the importance of defending Roman interests in Mesopotamia and Armenia in the light of Shapur II’s continued efforts to re-establish Sasanian hegemony in the regions. In order to understand how Constantius formulated his priorities in 350, it is necessary to discuss the known details of the emperor’s military career, specifically in the east. However, pinning down even the most general details of Constantius’ caesarean activities there is difficult,15 as the protracted exchange of views between Timothy Barnes and Javier Arce over Constantius Caesar’s victory titles (cognomina devictarum gentium) has clearly highlighted.16 The maximalist interpretation of the evidence pursued by Barnes led him to the conclusion that, “serious fighting [against Persia] began only after the death of Constantine”.17 Arce, by contrast, makes a point of considerable importance when he notes that, “during the long career and presence of Constantius in the Persian front, this ‘serious fighting’ never happens”.18 To a certain extent, this is very accurate. Constantius’ engagements on Rome’s eastern frontier were scrappy affairs, sapping both time and personnel but on a smaller and more defensively orientated scale that Julian’s later invasion of Mesopotamia.19 During the decade of the 330s, episodes of internal strife in Armenia and the Armenian provinces brought both Persian and Roman attentions to bear on the region and provided Constantius Caesar with his first real experience of campaigning. However, these engagements barely register in the (Roman) sources.

Nevertheless, there is a record of sorts. At the very beginning of the 330s, Tiridates IV (“the Great”: r. 298/299–330), the Armenian monarch who converted to Christianity c. 314, was murdered. Armenian sources for this period, principally the fifth-century histories of Armenia by Faustus of Byzantium20 and Moses of Chorene,21 indicate a hiatus of some sort in the royal succession following the death of Tiridates IV. In contrast to the Roman sources, the Armenian sources are reasonably detailed for this period. However, these “histories” are in fact epics replete with legendary and romantic features,22 and are not historiographical-documentary sources. As a result, positivist approaches to them quickly unravel, not least as a result of confusions over regnal names and dates (e.g. the imposition of kings and events from the third century into later periods) for the Armenian throne in the early half of the fourth century.23 Whether a monarch succeeded Tiridates IV (Chosroes III, or Arsaces II) following his death, or there was an interregnum – and the point is the subject of considerable debate24 – it is apparent from the Armenian sources that there was significant internal strife within Armenia and surrounding principalities between 330 and 337/338 that was very likely fuelled by an ambitious Shapur II, manoeuvring to turn the political dynamics in Armenia towards Persian interests.25 In an important passage from his first oration (discussed in detail below), Julian informs his audience that the ruler of Armenia (whom Julian does not name) was exiled in a coup that had been assisted by the Persians.26 Armenian sources attest to the support provided by Persia in facilitating the revolts of Sanatruk (Sanesan) in P‘aytakaran,27 who sought independence from Armenia, and Bakur, the bdeashkh (governor) of Arzanene.28 As these sources indicate,29 Armenians loyal to Rome lobbied the emperor. An army under the command of a Roman general (named Antiochus) was despatched to aid the cause of the loyalists.30 Christopher Lightfoot has argued that one of Rome’s main worries arising from the unrest in Armenia during the first half of the 330s would have been the potential loss of influence over the satrapy of Arzanene (Arm.: Ałjnik’), whose prince, named Bakur, was among the Persian loyalists pushing for a settlement under the guiding hand of the Sasanians in an uprising c. 33531: Arzanene was the “Arabian march”,32 a key principality in terms of its location relative to Rome’s interests in both Arabia and Armenia. Arzanene’s importance to Rome was enshrined by its identification in the headings of the treaty of 298,33 and to Persia by its transfer to the Sasanians in the treaty of 363 following the defeat of Julian. The authority of the vitaxa of Arzanene over the remaining regional principalities was also considerable, making Arzanene a lynchpin for imperial powers with an interest in Armenia and neighbouring regions. The vitaxa commanded the rulers of the principalities of Moxene, Corduene and Zabdicene.34

In the midst of these machinations (335–336), Narses, the brother of Shapur II, launched an invasion of Mesopotamian and Armenian territories. His offensive is noted in a number of sources.35 The chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor, whose description of the episode was drawn from a source identified by Joseph Bidez as belonging to an “Arian” or Homoian historiography from the fourth century (for a discussion of this work, see Chapter 3), notes:

In this same year,36 Narses, the son (sic) of the Persian king, overran Mesopotamia and captured the city of Amida. The Caesar Constantius, son of Constantine, made war on him; and suffered minor setbacks. Eventually he inflicted such a defeat on him in battle that Narses was killed.”37

In enumerating the Roman victories over Persia, Festus notes, “nevertheless at the battle of Narasara where Narses was killed, we were the winners”.38 The two references have been taken to refer to the same incident39: That at a place called Narasara, which lay on the north bank of the Tigris river between Amida and Cepha,40 Constantius Caesar inflicted a significant blow on Persia’s ambitions for Armenia.41 Further support for the episode’s place in the conflict of 336 derives from Ammianus Marcellinus and his comment, that Amida “was once very small, but Constantius, when he was still Caesar, in order that the neighbours might have a secure place of refuge … surrounded Amida with strong walls and towers”.42 As a fortified city, its role was to protect Greater Sophene and Arzanene from Persian attacks.43 (In the ellipsis, Ammianus indicates that Constantius also built “another city”, called Antoninupolis, at the same time as Amida’s fortification.44) The capture of Amida by Narses, and its recapture by Roman forces (presumably) following the Sasanian prince’s defeat would necessitate its fortification soon afterwards.45 Further steps to develop Rome’s military preparedness in the light of Shapur’s ambitions included Constantine’s appointment of Flavius Felicianus as comes Orientis,46 “appointed for the first time” according to John Malalas. As Lightfoot notes, Felicianus’ role in overseeing troop movements and arranging military supplies suggests that his appointment “was closely connected with the worsening situation of the eastern front”.47

It is during this hiatus that the role of Hannibalianus as “King of Kings and of the Pontic Peoples” becomes a little clearer (see Chapter 4). The role assigned to Hannibalianus, a son of Flavius Dalmatius Censor, by Constantine towards the end of 335, was not to serve in lieu of an Arsacid monarch during the interregnum,48 but rather to facilitate pro-Roman sympathies among the Armenian nobility, including the satraps of those provinces mandated to Rome by the treaty of 298. His residence as King of Kings in Cappadocian Caesarea most likely served as a base for receiving embassies from Armenia and its surrounding regions. Diplomatic efforts were evidently crucial in the co-ordination of relations with Armenia at this point in time.49 An indication of the influence of embassies and the tools of diplomacy (e.g. imperial letters) despatched from both sides on the course of events can be seen in the Armenian sources50; and as Julian’s description of Constantius’ conduct towards both Roman loyalists and Persian sympathisers among the Armenians indicates (Or. 1.18d–19a), diplomatic efforts were fundamental to the de-escalation of conflict (as the defeat of Narses at Narasara, and the loss of Amida indicate there were only a couple of major incidents during an otherwise tense time) and facilitated the instatement of the Arsacid prince, Arsaces II, who was crowned the successor of Tiridates. It is correct to think of Hannibalianus then as the head of a pro-Roman “Pontic confederation”.51 (It is to be suspected that Hannibalianus’ efforts in bringing about the eventual reinstatement of the exiled monarch were suppressed in the pro-Constantinian sources for the period (i.e. Julian’s oration), and that his diplomatic successes were passed off as the achievements of Constantius.)

The infamous lacuna in book four of Eusebius’ Life of Constantine (4.57) indicates that during Constantine’s preparations for war, the Sasanians despatched an embassy to the emperor to make peace, “being much afraid of doing battle with him”.52 However, the course of events after Constantine’s death on 22 May would seem to suggest that rather than the embassy seeking a conciliatory settlement, it was instead taking the lead in proposing terms on Shapur’s behalf for Armenia and Mesopotamia.53 As an indication of Shapur’s aggression, within less than a month of the emperor’s demise (ergo, mid-June),54 the Persians besieged Nisibis. As noted, Nisibis was the provincial capital of Mesopotamia and the strategic centre for Roman military operations being the headquarters of the dux Mesopotamiae.55 It stood along “the main arteries of trade between Syria and the lands beyond the Tigris, and between Mesopotamia and Armenia”.56 The protection of Roman interests in northern Mesopotamia during Constantius’ reign was due in large part to the defensive strength of the city, which resisted three large-scale attempts by Shapur to take it (337, 346, 350). The geographical conspectus, the Expositio totius mundi et gentium, dating from Constantius II’s reign,57 draws attention to the strategic and economic importance of Nisibis and Edessa – the latter was never attacked during Shapur II’s reign58 – which, according to its author, were the most noteworthy of all the Mesopotamian cities.

There are then, Nisibis and Edessa, which possess the best men in every respect, both clever merchants and good hunters. Above all they are wealthy as well as equipped with all sorts of goods. For they acquire their goods directly from the Persians, sell them throughout the Roman empire and then engage in trade with the goods they purchase there, except for bronze and iron because it is not permitted to sell bronze and iron to enemies. These cities, which will always remain standing through the wisdom of the gods and the emperor and which have famous walls, in war always thwart the bravery of the Persians; they are enthusiastic about their business and well engaged in trade with the entire province.59

Ammianus reiterates Nisibis’ defensive importance with his characterisation of the city as Rome’s “most steadfast bulwark of the East”.60 Shapur’s assault on Nisibis at this point in 337 represented, therefore, an attempt to seize one of Rome’s most important centres in Mesopotamia and was presumably intended to lay the ground for an aggressive reassertion of Sasanian power in the region. That Constantine’s death had occurred just before the siege must have been welcomed by Shapur and was likely a spur to the Sasanian assault.

Upon hearing the news of his father’s death, Constantius travelled from Antioch to Constantinople to oversee the funeral arrangements. The overlap between the funeral and the beginning of the siege of Nisibis in early-to-mid June 337 was noted by Libanius (the siege has traditionally been dated a year later: Richard Burgess’ (Burgess 1999b) examination of the chronicle tradition surrounding the first siege demonstrated beyond doubt its errancy and established the date of the siege a year earlier). In his oration of dual praise (Or. 59), the orator waxes about Constantius’ dutifulness towards both his father and the empire in managing the demands on his time:

At that critical time two very important necessities coincided. For on the one side his father’s burial drew his attention, and on the other the din of the Persian assault. He was obliged either to meet the enemy and neglect the funeral rites or to observe the rites and lay the empire open to the enemy. So what did he do? He did not consider advantage more highly than rites, but rather both duties were successfully combined and the secondary purpose of the journey was more honourable than any deed. For he himself hastened energetically to the burial, while fear held the Persians back in their own land.61

Libanius then adds: “After accomplishing his other duties he met with his brother who is in every way deserving of our admiration”.62 The excision of Constantine Caesar by Libanius should not impugn the narrative at this point. Thus, the proximity of a series of major events – the death of Constantine, Sasanian aggression along the Mesopotamian limes, and the matter of the sons’ succession that involved the staging of a bloody coup – made this a highly charged time in the later empire’s history. Constantius was at the forefront in all of these events. Some scholars argue that Constantius was also able to fit in a victorious campaign against the Sarmatians during the July of that year, for which he was awarded the victory title of Sarmaticus.63

The siege of Nisibis during 337 lasted for just over two months, and ended in failure for the Sasanians around mid-to-late August.64 While Julian’s first oration resonates the “official” retrospective on this time, his description provides an indication of the “challenges” facing Constantius:

This is perhaps the right moment to describe how you controlled the situation, encompassed as you were, after your father’s death, by so many perils and difficulties of all sorts – confusion, an unavoidable war, numerous hostile raids, allies in revolt, lack of discipline in the garrisons, and all the other harassing conditions of the hour.65

Julian describes the talismanic presence of Constantius’ arrival in Antioch after having concluded the succession plans with Constantine and Constans in Pannonia in September 337. “Everything was changed and improved all at once”.66 One of Constantius’ first tasks as Augustus of the eastern empire was to reconcile Rome with the ruling family of Armenia, and to restore Arsaces II to the throne. Julian describes Constantius’ diplomatic efforts to secure Arsaces’ return in the summer months of 338.

The Armenians who had gone over to the enemy at once changed sides again, for you ejected from the country and sent to Rome those who were responsible for the ruler’s exile, and you secured for the exiles a safe return to their own country. You were so merciful to those who were responsible for [Arsaces’] exile, and you secured for the exiles a safe return to their own country. You were so merciful to those who now came to Rome as exiles, and so kind in your dealings with those who returned from exile with the ruler, that the former did, indeed, bewail their misfortune in having revolted, but still were better pleased with their present condition than with their previous usurpation; while the latter, who were formerly in exile, declared that the experience had been a lesson in prudence, but that now they were receiving a worthy reward for their loyalty. On the returned exiles you lavished such magnificent presents and rewards that they could not even resent the good fortune of their bitterest enemies, nor begrudge their being duly honoured.67

It is arguable that Constantius looked towards a diplomatic solution in handling the crisis over Armenia since recourse to, for example, a military invasion to forcibly reinstate Arsaces, did not appear viable in light of the fact that the settlement of 337 had divided Constantine’s field army among three Augusti and thereby diluted its effectiveness as an invasion force.68 A recent study of the armies of the Constantinian dynasty has argued that,

[t]he limiting of the field armies to geographic areas and the division of the empire saw each brother somewhat short on resources; Constantius in particular would struggle to find sufficient troops to fight the Persians, which would influence his strategic choices. Therefore, while regionalisation may have minimised the risk of heavy losses caused by war on two fronts, it could have reduced the imperial capacity for offence.69

Julian voices the line propagated by Constantius’ circle that he had come away from the meeting in Pannonia with something of a poor deal.

You became master of a third of the empire, that part in fact which seemed by no means strong enough to carry on a war, since it had neither arms nor troops in the field, nor any of those military resources which ought to flow in abundantly in preparation for so important a war. Then, too, your brothers, for whatever reason, did nothing to make the war easier for you.70

The responsibility of administering Thrace and the need to maintain the federation of Armenian provinces fell to Constantius as additional responsibilities following the assassinations of Dalmatius and Hannibalianus. (Indeed, it is a curious feature of the coup of 337 that the Augusti appear not to have considered the resource implications to themselves arising from the reallocation of territories and the division of the army following the assassination of their relatives). Constantius may very well have advertised the fact that his army was understrength and not up to the job of defending the eastern frontier to his brothers. A sense of Constantius’ complaint is preserved in what is nonetheless a very garbled account of the events surrounding the outbreak of war in 340 between Constantine II and Constans offered by Zosimus.71 The author indicates that under the pretence of sending additional troops to support the war effort against Persia, Constans attacked Constantine II as he entered a province loyal to him.72 Zosimus or his source evidently confused the names of the aggressor and victim, and instead it was Constantine who crossed into Constans’ territory in order to assist (as a pretence) Constantius’ struggle against the Persians. (Constans would be heading in the opposite direction to Persia by crossing into Constantine’s realm!)73

Constantius’ war against the Persians may indeed have had a direct impact on the events of 340 and the outbreak of hostilities between Constantine and Constans. Bruno Bleckmann’s analysis of the sources and events of the fraternal civil war three years after the death of Constantine I draws attention to points of overlap between the conflict on the eastern frontier and the events in north-eastern Italy during the early months of 340. In his account of the war, Zonaras reveals that Constans “was abroad in Dacia” at the time of Constantine’s invasion.74 As Bleckmann points out,75 the reference is to the province that towards the end of the fourth century was referred to as Dacia Mediterranea.76 Constans had been resident in Naissus from the time of his accession as Augustus in September 337,77 and laws preserved in the Theodosian Code attest to his presence in the city during the first months of 340.78 Constans may have been conducting a campaign against the Sarmatians at this time,79 although as Bleckmann suggests, Constans’ presence in Dacia in early 340 may have been influenced by the rolling disruption in the east: “If Constans was close to the border with Constantius, this could be explained by the fact that the youngest emperor wanted to be prepared for all eventualities connected with the difficulties associated with the Persian border”.80 A constitution from 12 August 340 indicates that Constantius was in Edessa,81 presumably co-ordinating the assault(s) across the Tigris that Polemius, the author of the Itinerary of Alexander who was writing in the same year, had noted had got off to a promising beginning,82 and which Julian also likely referred to in his first oration83:

I shall say nothing about your great array of arms, horses, and river-boats, engines of war and the like. But when all was ready and the time had come to make appropriate use of all that I have mentioned, the Tigris was bridged by rafts at many points and forts were built to guard the river. Meanwhile the enemy never once ventured to defend their country from plunder, and every useful thing that they possessed was brought in to us. This was partly because they were afraid to offer battle, partly because those who were rash enough to do so were punished on the spot.84

Furthermore, the extent of Constantius’ commitment along the eastern frontier during the late 330s and early 340s may also have prompted Constantine to attack Constans at this particular point in time, secure in the knowledge that the eastern army could not have been placed at the disposal of his youngest brother since they were preoccupied facing the forces of Shapur II.85

The sources for this time, therefore, offer a conflicting impression of Constantius’ early campaigns against the Persians. Julian’s orations convey the sense that Constantius engaged in both diplomatic and military solutions on a significant scale, while also drawing attention to the fact that his cousin’s eastern army was severely under-resourced for the task in hand. (This complaint most likely derived from the emperor himself and his retinue as a feature of the post-Pannonian arguments over the division of the empire, and can be compared to some extent with the complaint of Constantine II). In contrast to the characterisation offered by Libanius in his Epitaphios for Julian in 368 (see Chapter 3), where Constantius is charged with conducting a wholly defensive war in response to annual instances of Persian aggression, Libanius’ Or. 59 presents a portrait of the eastern emperor as a dynamic ruler engaged not only in attacking Persian territory in the months and years following Constantine I’s death, but also in resettling Persian civilians in Thrace following the capture of “a not unimportant city of the Persians”,86 recruiting Goths87 into the eastern army (to make up for the shortfall of troops?),88 and quelling serious civil unrest in Constantinople arising from the displacement of Paul and the murder of Hermogenes (see Chapter 5). Although Libanius’ narrative says nothing about the religious context for this unrest (in contrast to the narrative of Socrates and Sozomen), his suitably heroic account of Constantius’ reaction to the unrest in Constantinople does provide an impression of the frenetic pace of events during late 341–early 342.

With regard to the war against Persia, the episode illustrates the highly responsive nature of Constantius’ government at this time. Earlier in his speech, Libanius noted that at the beginning of the fighting season, Constantius “blazed forth (Gk. exelampe), attacking as much Persian territory as calculation permitted”.89 The emperor’s capture of the unnamed city (§ 83) in 34390 and subsequent triumph,91 and his policy with regard to its inhabitants (“he had the notion to make use of the captives in the place of a victory monument or trophy”) suggest that Constantius not only took the fight to the Persians, but that he was also highly successful in doing so. Therefore, in seeking to characterise this early period of Constantius’ Persian wars, it seems that in spite of being under-resourced relative to the demands of his portion of the empire, the emperor was still able to develop fortifications (e.g. Amida in 336), launch offensives and capture cities (during the campaigns staged between 340 and 343), and conduct diplomatic missions resulting in the reassertion of Roman hegemony in client kingdoms (Armenia and the Armenian provinces). However, as Libanius’ oration reveals, Constantius’ position in the east degraded very quickly and in a way that in the long-term affected not only his reputation, but that of the Constantinian dynasty.

Libanius’ oration offers a dramatic account of one of the most important battles of the 340s: The Persian assault on the city of Singara and the pitched battle that ensued in the nearby Persian camp during a summer campaigning season92 at which Shapur II and his son and heir were present,93 as was Constantius.94 Given what is assumed to be the fawning nature of the panegyrical form,95 Libanius’ oration resonates with critical comments about the conduct and course of the battle that likely reflected the eastern government’s admission of its significance for future Roman policy along the eastern frontier. A frontline settlement, the strategic value of Singara to Rome lay in its role as a military station offering early warnings of Persian advances across the Tigris, a fact that as Ammianus notes was also a weakness to the empire since it was repeatedly targeted for capture by the Persians96 often with heavy losses on the Roman side.97 Singara and its environs became a focal point for numerous engagements during Constantius’ reign: Confusion in the sources surrounding the battles staged in and around Singara attest to the frequency of its role as the centre of events during the years of Shapur’s invasions.98 (It was also one the places that the Nicene Paul was condemned to exile after his second expulsion from Constantinople in 34299). Indeed, the date of what is considered to be the main Persian assault of the 340s has been the matter of debate over the years.100 Some scholars, following the chronology and description of the battle in Jerome’s Chronicle,101 date the episode to 348, preferring Jerome’s reputation for chronological infallibility over the remarks of Julian who, with his access to the dispatches of Constantius and his historic proximity to the imperial court,102 notes that around six years separated the assault on Singara from Magnentius’ usurpation and Constans’ assassination,103 thereby indicating a date of 344 (which I accept here).104 Jerome’s entry notes unambiguously that the battle resulted in defeat for the Roman army: “a Persian night battle at Singara at which we lost a by no means certain victory on account of the stupidity of the soldiers”. The conduct of the Roman army that fought at Singara is indeed a central feature of other accounts of the battle.105 The army’s apparent contumaciousness (caused it seems by their rash enthusiasm for battle)106 is highlighted in Libanius’ account.

Libanius was aware as he composed the oration that the outcome of Singara had already had a deleterious effect on Constantius’ conduct of the war against Persia. The orator’s account of the battle is by far the fullest in any extant source (it is certainly the earliest).107 It provides an outline of events, and reflects official responses to the outcome of Singara.108 Libanius indicates that the Persian offensive which began the battle was a response to repeated Roman assaults across the Tigris, as described by Julian (Or. 1.22a–b, see above). The scale of the Persian undertaking Libanius describes in the following tendentious manner:

… [The Persians] raised their levies amongst the men from youth upwards and did not grant immunity from military service to the very young. They conscripted their womenfolk to act as sutlers in the army. There were various nations of barbarians on their borders, some of whom they persuaded by entreaty to share their dangers, while others they compelled by force to serve in the hour of need. To others they offered a quantity of gold, a hoard preserved since ancient times and nor for the first time expended in payment to mercenary soldiers.109

The meat of Libanius’ description is concerned with exonerating Constantius for the undisciplined rout of Shapur’s troops by the Roman force that pursued the Persians towards their temporary walled camp beyond Singara (Or. 59.103–117). While Libanius does not refer to the outcome of the battle as a defeat (in contrast to Jerome’s bald assessment), it is apparent that Roman aggression had backfired on this occasion. Nonetheless, given the oration’s panegyrical constraints, Libanius’ narrative is candid in its depiction of the battle. As noted in Chapter 3, Libanius addresses the tension underpinning panegyric’s reporting of historical events by proclaiming his commitment to a Thucydidean model of forensic historiography (“For I have not immediately accepted any report without examination nor have I avoided hardship in my quest for truth …”).110 A Thucydidean approach in relation to Libanius’ account of Singara meant that the orator acknowledged that the soldiers had disregarded the order from the emperor not to pursue the Persians,111 that the battle had involved Roman losses,112 and that the final outcome was uncertain. Libanius’ response to the interpretation of the battle that derived from Constantius’ government is also evident in his portrayal of the emperor’s victory as being without precedent.

At this juncture the emperor won a victory not in the style of the usual victories nor like those that have occurred frequently both in the present age and in the past. Nor was it a victory whose result depended on skill at arms and military equipment, nor one for which there was need of association with others, that could not otherwise have been accomplished. But it was a victory which we are permitted to class as rightly belonging to the victor. What is meant by this? He alone discovered the intention behind what was happening, he alone was not deceived by the purpose of the battle formation and he alone shouted out the order to our troops not to pursue nor to be forced into obvious danger.113

Following Libanius’ account, the Persians purposely fell back in order to ambush the Roman force that had set about pursuing them towards their camp (at Eleia?114). The pursuit lasted for the best part of the afternoon, and the Romans eventually breached the camp’s wall at night.115 A full-scale rout ensued, not of the Persian camp alone but also of the surrounding countryside.116 During the course of the rout, the Romans lost their advantage since night-time made their usual tactics redundant. They took heavy casualties in the volley of arrows shot by Persian archers atop their fortification. In the melee the Romans abducted Shapur’s son who was tortured and later executed.117 Libanius adds: “If the Roman troops had been receptive to reasoning and their ardour had not overborne [Constantius’] advice, nothing would have prevented both the enemy from being defeated as they are at present and the victors from winning safely through”.118

While the uncertain outcome of the engagement at Singara for both powers was not quite a watershed in the conduct of the war between the two empires, it nonetheless demonstrated to both parties the difficulties involved in making meaningful progress, be it the subjugation of Persian power on Rome’s part or the ambition to tear up the historic treaty of 298 on the Sasanian side. The impact of Singara therefore seems to have led to a scaling back of both Roman and Persian military aspirations.119 The episode also seems to have highlighted tensions between Constantius and his troops, as revealed by an interesting little aside in Julian’s first oration.120 Julian ascribes the soldiers’ disregard for Constantius’ orders to three factors, two of which evidently are causative: First, the army did not want the Persians to escape justice, given their “audacious conduct”; second, the soldiers’ lack of experience of Constantius’ leadership led them to believe that their own decisions regarding how to proceed against the Persians were superior to those of the emperor; and third, their historic allegiance to Constantine I, under whom many of them had served, led them to believe that they were invincible. Given the panegyrical context for these claims, the latter two represent barely concealed criticisms of Constantius, and may very well reflect the soldiers’ own dissatisfaction with the emperor’s conduct of the war against Persia. It is noteworthy that the memory of Constantine’s reputation as an excellent general was still being evoked half a decade after his death, a fact that Constantius himself used to his own advantage during the upcoming period of civil war. Irrespective of these problems and complaints, Singara was indeed celebrated as a military victory as seen not only in the panegyrics commemorating the campaign,121 but also on solidi issued in the mid-to-late 340s cast with triumphal imagery122 on the reverse showing both emperors nimbate, stood in a six-horse drawn chariot and flanked on either side by two Victories bearing wreathes and palm-branches (with the obverse legend, D N CONSTANTIVS MAX AVGVSTVS).123

Constantius resided close to the eastern frontier for the remainder of the decade.124 Between the time of his return to Antioch in 338 and his departure westwards in late 350, Constantius is attested as having spent only three short periods of time away from the eastern provinces.125 In the early months of 342, he speedily quelled the civil unrest in Constantinople over the episcopal election of Paul; in 343, it seems he visited the city once again, perhaps as part of the celebrations for his vicennalia126; and, in 347, he is attested as having resided in Ancyra. The remainder of his time was split between Antioch, Edessa and Hierapolis (in Anatolia). Shapur laid siege to Nisibis for a second time in 346, but the venture ended in failure for the Persians after three months.127 In spite of the triumphalist tone from some quarters,128 little actual progress had been made by either side in advancing their agendas. The success of Nisibis in withstanding two sieges reiterated to the Romans the importance of fortress cities in light of the Sasanians’ policy of targeted attacks, and may well have influenced Constantius’ decision to adopt a more “passive” approach – relying on frontier fortresses, rather than aggressive strikes across the Tigris – of the type that came to be parodied by critics of his reign (exemplified in the characterisation by Libanius in Or. 18, discussed above).129 The widely advertised claim of the soldiers’ contumaciousness at Singara suggests that complaints about Constantius’ Persian strategy may in fact have begun within the army itself – indeed, that Constantius’ caution during the battle130 which precipitated the act of disobedience may have been the event that catalysed negative attitudes to Constantius’ abilities as a strategist – which then became exacerbated by elite efforts (as evidenced in Libanius’ oration) to place responsibility for the lack of success at Singara at the feet of the army.

By contrast, the outcome of the third siege of Nisibis in 350 lent itself very well to eulogising Constantius. From the Sasanian point of view, the timing of this siege – it followed Vetranio’s accession and probably began in early-to-mid spring – may have been determined by news that southern Huns were on the move towards the frontier of east Iran following reprisals orchestrated by the Chinese general Ran Min.131 Shapur may therefore have sought a speedy result against Rome before becoming entangled with the Huns; the reported size of the siege preparation certainly suggests that Shapur was planning for a shorter than usual siege. However, it was almost certainly the arrival of the Huns in Shapur’s territory that forced the curtailment of the siege and the retreat of Sasanian forces. The sources describe the assault on Nisibis as an undertaking on a grand scale, although the reporting of the third siege is rightly judged to be a confused jumble of “facts and fiction”.132 They range from the eye-witness poetic compositions of Ephrem (d. 373),133 a Christian deacon in Nisibis who was present during the siege, through the imaginings of Julian (who must nonetheless have drawn on military dispatches of the siege134), to the account of the early fifth-century writer, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, who conflated details of the first (337) and third (350) sieges.135 While all sources broadly agree that the river Mygdonius was utilised by the Sasanians to breach the walls of Nisibis – very likely as described by Theodoret with a combination of engineering feats, including damming the river’s course, building up the height of the river’s banks, and releasing the Mygdonius against the city’s defences136 – Julian uniquely137 introduces the Sasanians creating a lake around Nisibis and sailing ships bearing siege towers up to the walls. “Their plan was that one force should sail to attack the walls while the other kept shooting on the city’s defenders from the mounds”.138 The extent to which Julian drew on Heliodorus’ Aethiopica and the (fictional) siege of Synene is moot (or, did Heliodorus draw on Julian’s account of Nisibis?).139 Julian’s descriptions incorporated fictional and historical paradeigmata in order to accentuate the magnitude of Constantius’ achievement, befitting the writer of panegyric, but also to create a historicising narrative of the emperor’s wars in 350. Shapur’s failure to capture Nisibis in spite of his not insignificant efforts boosted Constantius’ martial credibility. The negative historiographic tradition may have dismantled this pro-Constantius “Julianic” portrayal of the emperor as a dashing general in classical guise but in the later years of the 350s, the first year of that decade was portrayed as the high-point of Constantius’ long conflict against the Sasanians. In Or. 1, Julian presents Constantius moving from Asia, where he acquired victories and trophies fighting the Sasanians, to Europe, with the claim that the emperor will “fill the whole world with the monuments of your victories” by defeating the usurper (namely Magnentius).140 In Or. 2, Julian draws on the tale of Heracles fighting the Hydra of Lerna to represent Constantius’ handling of events in mid-350:

[Nisibis] was besieged by an overwhelming number of Parthians with their Indian allies, at the very time when the emperor was prepared to march against the usurper. And like the sea crab which they say engaged Heracles in battle when he sallied forth to attack the Lernaean monster, the King of the Parthians, crossing the Tigris from the mainland, encircled the city with dykes.141

“The Parthians” is an intentional anachronism that was intended to put Julian’s audience in mind of Trajan’s famously valiant efforts against Persia at the beginning of the second century.142 As Wilmer Cave Wright points out (vol. 1, 167, nt. 2), Julian cast Shapur in the guise of the sea crab which, according to the version of Heracles’ labours in the Library of Apollodorus, came to the aid of the Hydra during its battle with Heracles: Nevertheless, Heracles killed the crab before eventually defeating the Hydra. In Or. 2, therefore, the Hydra is Magnentius and Shapur’s assault on Nisibis is a prelude to Constantius tackling the usurper, thereby making the Sasanian king an ally of Magnentius. In this regard, Julian’s conflation of the threats from Magnentius and Shapur offers a valuable insight into the memorialisation of the wars during the early part of the decade. Indeed, Julian conveys considerable subtlety in his use of the myth by implying that the usurper was the more dangerous enemy of the two: Furthermore, the usurper as Hydra also suggests that Julian was evoking the “many-headed” instances of rebellion against Constantius following the death of Constans and was perhaps not just focusing on Magnentius alone. Julian’s treatment of the third siege of Nisibis in both orations was, therefore, instrumental in shaping arguments whose purpose was to glorify the civil conflicts of the 350s. The episode was preparatory for Constantius and the realisation of his greatest achievement, namely the annihilation of the usurpers in the western half of the empire.

However, Christian historiography of a non-Nicene bent also regarded this period of the conflict against the Sasanians, specifically the four month long siege of Nisibis in 350,143 as considerably important for the promotion of Constantius as a Christian emperor attended by divine favour. In particular, the early seventh-century Chronicon Paschale (see Chapter 3) offers a detailed portrayal of the assault. According to the (anonymous) author, who claims to be drawing on a letter by a certain Valageses, the bishop of the city (Vologeses, the bishop of Nisibis 350–c.361/362), the Nisibenes and the Roman garrison enjoyed God’s favour throughout the duration of the siege. Shapur is styled a new Pharoah who, in the manner of the Israelites’ oppressor in the book of Exodus, is a despot intent on persecuting the blessed citizens of Nisibis. By contrast, Constantius (a new Moses?) is the defender of the city. Divine portents are central to the narrative. For instance, a thunderbolt from heaven killed the Persians retreating from the city’s walls following their failed attempt to enter the city through a breach in its defences. An even more impressive portent occurred at the very moment when the city was on the brink of capture by the Persians. At precisely that point, Shapur witnessed what he took to be Constantius himself parading along the walls of the city. In an exchange with the Nisibenes, Shapur called on the residents to send their emperor out to fight or if not to surrender their city to him. The people replied by declaring that Constantius was absent from the city to which an enraged Shapur accused the residents of lying: “[A]nd he said, ‘For what purpose are you lying? With my own eyes I behold your emperor Constantius running around on the walls of your city’”. Shapur sought the counsel of his magi following which the monarch, now disquieted, retreated with his army.144

Evidently the Chronicon draws on a pro-Constantius source at this point, a source which has traditionally been characterised as an “Arian” or Homoian historiography from the mid-fourth century (see Chapter 3 for a fuller discussion). The promotion of the emperor according to the political agenda of this ecclesial faction stands in contrast to the reception of the same episode in Nicene historiography. Theodoret’s dual narration in his Ecclesiastical History and his Religious History, which conflates the first and third sieges, places the bishop Jacob in the role of the city’s defender,145 a substitution evidently influenced by the author’s pro-Nicene inspired criticisms of Constantius. In contrast to the Homoian leaning narrative which manages to elide Constantius’ presence with the divine apparition, the pro-Nicene (Theodoret) account flatly denies that the imperially clad wall walker was Constantius. Yet, it may also be the case that rather than seeing the story’s origin in a pro-Arian history, the tale’s ultimate source was Constantius’ government. It may be that an anecdote concerning an apparition of the emperor emerged in the context of discussions regarding Constantius’ whereabouts during the siege itself. The sources disagree over Constantius’ location during the siege,146 although either Edessa147 or Antioch148 are very plausible locations in light of how events emerged during the late winter–early spring months of the year. For Ephrem, who was present in the city during the siege, Constantius’ absence was a matter of high controversy in contrast to his commendation of the emperor’s efforts to protect the city in his works against Julian.149 In his stanzaic poems composed around a decade after the third siege and collected under the heading, On Nisibis, Ephrem laments the absence of the emperor during the Sasanian assault but also the mercy of God (“the Merciful”) in saving the city: “He has saved us without wall, and taught us that He is our wall: He has saved us without king and made us know that [He] is our king”.150 Along similar lines, Ephrem laments the failure of the “secular” powers in contrast with the mercy of God over the fate of Nisibis: “How, O Master, can a desolate city, whose king is far off, and her enemy nigh, stand firm without the aid of mercy?”151 The historical value of Ephrem’s poetry about the siege has been questioned and evidently the poetry’s theological orientation “[does] not constitute a precise historical record”152 of the episode. However, what source could offer this? It is to be suspected that Ephrem’s hymns contain blended memories from all three sieges in which case his poems provide a powerful cultural statement about perceptions of emperorship from the view of the provinces and in particular a judgement about the imperial presence (or absence) in a frontier city. Therefore, a tale of an angelic apparition in the guise of the emperor in a pro-Constantius, non-Nicene source (crystallised in the Chronicon Paschale) would serve as an effective defence of the emperor’s reputation. Indeed, the story of Constantius’ miraculous presence at Nisibis is a fine example of the important role that foreign campaigns could play in promoting the ideology of empire during the time of a Christian monarchy.

As Christopher Lightfoot has highlighted, the significance of the third siege lay in its timing and “the fact that it coincided with a major threat to the internal stability of the Empire and to the continued existence of the Constantinian dynasty”.153 In an alternative to the assumption that Shapur II took advantage of Constantius’ domestic troubles by launching the siege at the moment that the emperor was preparing to march westwards, Julian intimates that Shapur used the excuse of the erupting civil wars in Rome’s empire to terminate the siege of Nisibis.

So, after spending four months, [Shapur] retreated with an army that had lost many thousands, and he who had always seemed to be irresistible was glad to keep the peace, and to use as a bulwark for his own safety the fact that you [Constantius] had no time to spare and that our own affairs were in confusion.

(Or. 1. 28d)

As we noted briefly, for Shapur the reality of his retreat from the city was much less convenient. In actual fact, Sasanian forces shifted volte-face from their western frontier because of the movement of the Chionitae, a “half-Iranian, half-classicising”154 term employed during the late antique period to designate various Hunnic confederacies and in this case very likely referring to southern Huns who were themselves in flight from persecution in China.155 These same displaced groups were to play a crucial role in the next phase of Shapur’s conflict against Rome in the latter half of the 350s as his allies.156 The terrible immediacy of the threat facing Shapur at this point in time is evident in the abrupt termination of the assault on Nisibis. Michael Jackson Bonner neatly sums up Shapur’s predicament in the autumn of 350: “The sudden end to this conflict, without a formal armistice, demonstrates that the arrival of the Huns as a grave emergency requiring the presence of [Shapur] and the full weight of the Iranian army”.157 As Jackson Bonner notes, although Persian historiography marks “this momentous occasion in silence”, it is Roman authors, principally Ammianus Marcellinus, who convey a sense of Shapur’s troubled management of affairs in eastern Iran:

… the king of Persia, involved in war with his neighbours, was driving back from his frontiers a number of very wild tribes which, with inconsistent policy, often makes hostile raids upon his territories and sometimes aid him when he makes war on us.158

(Not So) New Pretenders in a New Decade

Despite the fundamental differences in the nature of the conflicts that Constantius II and Shapur II prosecuted during 350 – on the Sasanian side, an expansionist foreign policy tempered by the demands of migratory groups on imperial land and domestic resources, and on the Roman side, a defensive foreign policy in the east curtailed by the re-emergence of civil conflict precipitated by usurping generals – the positions of both the Roman and Sasanian Empires demonstrates the deeply complex and entwined nature of foreign and civil warfare, politics and diplomacy at this point in the mid-fourth century. Constantius’ decision to stay in the east and ensure the failure of Shapur’s latest venture clearly influenced both the speediness of Magnentius’ consolidation of Constans’ territories and the decision of Vetranio and the military in the central territories of the empire. This hiatus in Constantinian rule may have been an instrumental factor in the way that the usurpers initially presented themselves to the army and the wider public. Therefore, foremost among considerations raised by an analysis of the usurping regimes of the 350s should be the question of how the usurpers situated themselves in the existing nexuses of imperial authority and agency. In the case of a successful usurpation, the violent death of the incumbent emperor was an important feature of the act itself. However, in light of the nature and circumstances of such an event, the potential for hostile counter-reactions always lingered: How, therefore, did Magnentius justify to the aristocracy, the soldiers and the populace at large in the west the murder of Constans as a sitting ruler and member of the venerable Constantinian dynasty? The basic response to the question is that Magnentius reached for the political playbook of Constantine I on how best to delegitimise an opponent in civil war. As a recap, Constantine’s defeat of Maxentius on 29 October 312 was promoted among the citizens of Rome as an act of liberation from tyranny. This was a considerable sleight of hand with regard to Maxentius who had been the Augustus of Rome and Italy for six years159 and had promoted himself via his coin issues as the “Preserver of the City” and, more broadly, as the guardian of Rome’s traditions.160 The disassembling of Maxentius’ reputation clearly did not occur overnight: It probably took many months if not years of exposure to oratorical, pecuniary and monumental messaging positing Constantine’s act of liberating the empire from the moral and political failings of Maxentius to tip the delicate balance attained by cognitive dissonance away from recollections of Maxentius as a pious and dutiful emperor in favour of the former ruler as a “stupid, worthless creature”.161

The delegitimising of Constans adhered to a similar course of opprobrious messaging. For an insight into the nature of this opprobrium we turn once again to the evidence of coinage, an invaluable source for understanding the representation of usurping emperors. Magnentius took control of the major mints in Constans’ territory within only a few months after his acclamation in Autun,162 The mint in Aquileia, a city strategically located for Magnentius in the territory bordering Pannonia, produced a number of notable emissions in the opening months (i.e. between late February to early May 350)163 of his occupation of the city, including the issue of a triple solidus (at a weight of 13.45g) bearing a number of distinctive features.164 On the reverse side, the emperor is depicted astride his cantering horse and on the right is greeted by a female figure wearing a turreted crown and holding a cornucopia. The legend, which declares LIBERATOR REI PVBLICAE, reveals the suppliant figure to be the personification of Respublica (rather than a personification of Aquileia165). In the words of Kathleen Shelton: “[The emperor] is the bringer of a new order or the restorer of an older and better one and receives the homage of Respublica in thanks”.166 A solidus issue from the same period also from Aquileia167 depicts the emperor in military attire holding Victory on a globe and a labarum, i.e. the military standard and banner featuring the Chi-Rho monogram. The legend RESTITVTOR LIBERTATIS attends the image on the reverse. In both examples, the emperor is portrayed as the figure who has re-established the freedom previously sacrificed during a period of tyranny. This seems to be a clear judgement about Constans’ government, a judgement compounded by the appropriation of the Constantinian labarum as an indication that the mantle of legitimacy – as defined by the incumbent dynasty – has passed to Magnentius. Both examples were prestige issues and therefore it was important that they struck the correct political tone. As such, both of these gold issues also show signs of Magnentius’ subordination to Constantius II. The obverse of the triple solidus carries a bareheaded portrait of Magnentius with the legend IMP CAES MAGNENTIVS AVG. The absence of the diadem or even laurel wreath and the use of Caesar as a junior title in the Tetrarchic mould indicates that Magnentius’ early public persona was cast in the shadow of the senior figure of Constantius.168 Contrary to Alan Dearn’s suggestion that Magnentius’ bare head was intended to promote his role “as a liberator from the tyranny of Constans and Constantius, rather than as a successor to Constantinian rule”,169 since the diadem (as Dearn convincingly establishes) was a mark of dynastic identity under the Constantinians – e.g. Hannibalianus when “King of Kings and of the Pontic Peoples” was portrayed as bareheaded in order to indicate his exclusion from “dynastic connection or expectation”170 – the date of emission in relation to the political climate strongly suggests that the portraiture here was meant to convey Magnentius in a politically subordinate position to Constantius (a position corroborated by the concurrent striking of bronze medallions that honoured both Magnentius and Constantius; see below). Perhaps also to be understood in this context is the use on the obverse legend of the RESTITVTOR LIBERTATIS issue of the nomen, Flavius, incorporated into the unusual and never to be repeated title (following Bastien’s reconstruction), Flavius Magnentius Triumphator171 Pius Felix Augustus. This was clearly meant to reinforce continuity with the Constantinian line.172 Therefore from the very beginning of Magnentius’ reign, he was variously promoted and celebrated – e.g. on a mile marker (columna miliaria) between Ticinium and Taurinos173 – as the liberator and restorer of Roman freedom, although in a way that did not advertise a total break with Constantius.

More pointed messaging from the Magnentius camp aimed at defaming Constans can also be seen in contemporary historiography. As George Woudhuysen has highlighted, there is relatively abundant evidence for this lying right under our noses in the guise of the frequent judgements about Constans’ profligate habits and the claims that he imperilled the empire in his pursuit of them. Comparing Constans’ persona as promoted in panegyric (notably Or. 59 by Libanius) and his legislation against the views of Aurelius Victor, Eutropius, Philostorgius, Zonaras et al, Woudhuysen argues that the historiographic version of the emperor is like “the photographic negative” of Constans, which “is too systematic and too orderly to be accidental … It has all over it the fingerprints of someone who wished to deliberately blacken Constans’ name. Who in the 350s wanted to do that? It could hardly be Constantius”.174 Indeed, and Magnentius is the most likely suspect. The point that should not be overlooked in this regard is that Magnentius evidently adopted the strategies of political defamation that had evolved during the long reign of Constans’ father, of which his own children – notably Constans and the recollection of Constantine II – had only made limited use up to this point in time.

Magnentius’ adoption of Constantinian-derived motifs and language is an indication that new emperor’s government participated in, “the same broad definition of who and what the Roman emperor was or should be: a military figure with charge and beneficent care for the cities and peoples of the empire”.175 The numismatic record reveals that the early phase of Magnentius’ reign was characterised by the hope nay expectation that an agreement with Constantius II could be reached whereby both emperors were at liberty to rule their respective territories, although united by a single agency from which they derived their authority that, in turn, translated into a shared mission to oversee the continued prosperity of the empire. It is well known that Magnentius’ efforts to cement an alliance with Constantius are documented in the historiographic record. Embassies and delegations were sent by Magnentius to Constantius’ court, including an infamous joint embassy comprising delegates from Magnentius and Vetranio that met with Constantius close to Heracleia (Perinthus) in Thrace in the final months of 350176 as Constantius finally extricated himself from his commitments in the eastern half of the empire (all embassies were rebuffed as we shall see).177 However, his attempts to win over Constantius II are most clearly demonstrated by the pieces produced in the mints under his authority. From the mint in Rome, bronze medallions were struck in the names of both Constantius and Magnentius in the period between February and May 350.178 This alone is significant. It is a sign of Magnentius’ claim to be the legitimate emperor in the areas formerly ruled over by Constans, and an indication of the usurper’s intention to forge an alliance with Constantius. However, the choice of the reverse legend VIRTVS AVGVSTORVM for one specific issue of medallion reinforces Magnentius’ ambition: As Marietta Horster has noted, the legend was a “primary code of strength”,179 indicating (implying?) two emperors with a shared responsibility for the care of Roman citizens. Notably, it had been promoted by Constantine I also on a medallion produced in his mint in Trier in the period following the defeat of Maxentius and the death of Maximinus Daia, which marked the ascendancy of Licinius as uncontested emperor in the east.180 The reverse type of the Rome medallion is an unabashed portrait of military might vested in the person of the emperor: The emperor (bareheaded) holding a spear and parazonium, the weapon traditionally associated with military strength and courage and frequently depicted in the hand of the deified Virtus. The obverse legend conveys the same idea of Constantius’ superiority and Magnentius’ deferential subordination as the triple solidus from Aquileia: Constantius is diademed and P F AVG, while Magnentius is IMP CAE.

As noted by Shelton, Magnentius’ mints ceased to strike issues for Constantius from c. August 350, “an outward sign of the end of his diplomatic efforts to win recognition for his rule in the West”.181 A key factor in the refusal of Constantius to concede to Magnentius was the rebellion of Vetranio. Vetranio, the infantry general (magister peditum) of Constans in Illyricum, had been proclaimed emperor by the Illyrian army on 1 March 350 in Sirmium, following which he resided in the city of Mursa.182 As Vetranio now occupied the heartland of the empire, Magnentius’ position became much more vulnerable. In turn, this relieved the pressure on Constantius to respond with absolute speed to counter the usurpation in the west. Considerable speculation attends the reasons for the rebellion of Vetranio because the “official” versions of the episode in the panegyrics from Constantius’ reign (see Chapter 3) are ambivalent about the general in a way that is highly unusual for one otherwise condemned to bear the mark of a usurper.183 A widely accepted explanation is that Vetranio’s actions derived from his loyalty to Constans and Constantius and his rebellion was intended to create a bulwark that kept the central territories of the empire out of the hands of Magnentius, to be returned at a not-too-distant point in time to the Constantinian emperor of the east. The idea that Vetranio was a Constantinian loyalist derives largely from the description of his rebellion in Philostorgius (Hist. eccl. 3.22) which is by far the fullest account of events in March 350. According to Photius’ summary, Constantina – a daughter of Constantine I and Fausta,184 the widow of Hannibalianus, and the future wife of Gallus Caesar – raised Vetranio to the rank of Caesar on account of her status as an Augusta, which had been conferred on her by Constantine I himself, Constantina’s actions motivated by a fear “that the usurper Magnentius might proceed to take over everything”.185 On hearing this news, Constantius sent a diadem to Vetranio in order to legitimise further his elevation to the imperial office. Philostorgius’ version of events, together with the accounts in the Chronicon Paschale and the Chronicle of Theophanes186 – all seemingly drawing on a pro-Constantius, Homoian narrative (see Chapter 3) – portray relations between Constantius and Vetranio as respectful even friendly, in contrast to the contemporary, panegyrical portrayal of Vetranio as a figure of abuse who is “talked-down” from his rebellion by the dazzling oratorical skills of Constantius during a meeting of the two emperors and their armies in Naissus on 25 December (symbolically the date of Constans’ dies imperii).187

This received narrative has been challenged in different ways by a number of scholars, most notably in articles by Bruno Bleckmann (1994), John Drinkwater (2000), and Jill Harries (2014). Revisions of Vetranio’s rebellion have included reappraising its circumstances (Bleckmann and Drinkwater: Vetranio’s actions were driven by the hostility of the Danubian armies and administration to the Constantinian dynasty), Vetranio’s motivations (Bleckmann: Vetranio was a genuine usurper who had common cause with Magnentius against Constantius; Drinkwater: He was a reluctant usurper pushed into acting by his troops), and the role of Constantina (Bleckmann: Constantius II’s sister had her own ambitions and acted independently; Drinkwater: She was an ambitious intermediary; Harries: Philostorgius’ account is shot-through with anachronisms, a Theodosian-era retrojection of the authority of an empress, and should not be granted the precedence it has188). A more nuanced assessment has therefore emerged connecting the dizzying array of events of 350 closer together. Alan Dearn’s study of coinage from Vetranio’s mints in Siscia and Thessalonica has, in turn, undermined these revisionist arguments by positing Vetranio’s subordination to Constantius, albeit using a much more critical method of analysis than prior attempts to demonstrate Vetranio’s loyalty. Dearn adds the very important reminder: “[t]he coinage struck under Vetranio is the only evidence available to us for how he represented his own authority prior to his abdication. All our other sources interpret his actions in hindsight”.189

Dearn’s analysis draws attention to the differences between the obverse portraiture of Vetranio and Constantius in coins struck in both mints under Vetranio’s authority – principally Vetranio’s sporting of a laurel wreath in contrast to Constantius’ diadem – together with the use of certain legends (e.g. the plural, VICTORIA AVGVSTORVM,190 VIRTVS AVGVSTORVM191) and types on the coins’ reverses, and interprets these as indications of Vetranio’s subordination to and cooperation with Constantius.192 Vetranio’s “Constantinian” credentials were advertised on a billon issue with the reverse legend, HOC SIGNO VICTOR ERIS, and the image of an emperor holding a standard with the Chi-Rho on the banner, being crowned by Victory.193 As Dearn correctly (to my mind) argues, the Chi-Rho was a potent, dynastic symbol, which for Vetranio, Magnentius and even Nepotianus (on whose coins the motif appears but not on a vexillum) “presented a means of displaying an attitude towards what it represented: Constantinian imperial rule, with all its implications of victory, dynasty and Christianity”.194

In this regard then, it is very likely that Vetranio was coerced by the Illyrian army into an act of usurpation (albeit reluctantly).195 While the literary sources portray Vetranio as a traitor who took the resources offered by Constantius as a defence against Magnentius and turned them on the Augustus himself (exemplified by Julian, Or. 1. 30d), Vetranio’s coinage according to Dearn’s analysis promotes the image of a loyal subordinate who utilised Constantinian imagery on his coins to advertise the inevitability of a divinely inspired victory over Magnentius.196 It is unlikely that Vetranio was Constantius’ puppet, although I would not go as far as to claim that Vetranio had his own ambitions to join Constantius in any sort of collegial arrangement. As his coinage indicates, Vetranio remained loyal to the dynasty. His principal motivation was plausibly the protection of the empire’s heartland for Constantius in the face of Magnentius’ rebellion. This is not to say, however, that Constantius and his court were initially convinced by Vetranio’s actions. Indeed, Drinkwater’s assessment that Vetranio’s occupation of territories in the prefectures of Italy and Illyricum prompted considerable anxiety in the east and exposed the vulnerability of Constantius’ position, is very likely correct.197 This begs the question then whether Constantius initiated or endorsed the actions of Vetranio and his troops? It is doubtful that any emperor would welcome an act of usurpation done ostensibly out of loyalty to himself. Vetranio’s behaviour was likely viewed by Constantius’ government as an embarrassing, inconvenient and potentially inflammatory act that the family needed to claim ownership of, lest it precipitate similar rebellions elsewhere in the empire, thereby making the situation even more unmanageable for Constantius. There can be little doubt that Constantius and his court received Vetranio’s display of “loyalty” ambivalently. The panic in Constantius’ court over Vetranio’s militarisation of the Succi Pass certainly appears genuine.198 Constantinian ownership of the initiative was therefore central to Constantius’ response. Hence the tale of Constantina taking charge in Constantius’ absence (her actions conforming to the historiographical model of “unofficial power” – “power behind the throne” – dissected by Liz James; see Chapter 4). The portrayal of Vetranio’s disloyalty in Julian et al most likely emerged as a way of exonerating the Illyrian army of any stain of treason following Vetranio’s abdication.199 These troops were too important for Constantius’ military response to Magnentius to allow a question mark concerning their loyalty to remain hanging over them. Vetranio then was saddled with the guilt and packed off to a leisured life on his estate in Prusa.200

Neither Magnentius nor Vetranio formally acknowledged one another’s claims to imperium, as their unwillingness to strike coinage for one another indicates.201 Both, independently, struck coins bearing Constantius’ portrait during 350.202 The likelihood then that a formal concord existed between the pair is very remote.203 Indeed, competition between Magnentius and Vetranio over claims to the title of Augustus likely explains the latter’s titulature (D N VETRANIO PF AVG204) in spite of the indication of his willing subordination to Constantius: i.e. Vetranio did not want to imply subordination to Magnentius.205 Nonetheless, meetings and negotiations between the three parties and their representatives did take place, the details of which can be teased from the sources – see the detailed reconstruction by J. Šašel.206 Both Magnentius and Vetranio were keen to de-escalate the situation as the conference held before Constantius near Heracleia in Thrace would seem to indicate (see below). It is here that we may be able to place Constantina’s role in the affair as an intermediary, presenting terms to Constantius and back-channelling to Vetranio.207 Drinkwater has argued that Magnentius held out the possibility for a collegial settlement with Constantius for most of 350, or at least until intelligence arrived indicating that Constantius had heightened Syria’s war-footing as he began his return to the west with his army.208 The catalyst for war was Vetranio’s militarisation of the Succi Pass, a move that highlighted the precariousness of Vetranio’s loyalty.209

In the autumn of 350, Constantius and his army had begun the long march away from Antioch towards the territories of Vetranio. After having crossed the Bosphorus, and upon reaching Thrace – i.e. leaving a sufficient cushion of territory between Constantius and the troops of Vetranio stationed in Illyricum – the emperor was met by a joint embassy of Magnentius and Vetranio’s highest placed officials. Both Bleckmann and Drinkwater identify this gathering as near Heracleia in Thrace as occurring “just weeks” before the surrender of Vetranio on 25 December. Details of the conference are conveyed in a fragment from the lost sixth-century history of Peter the Patrician (who was the basis for the later account of the conference in Zonaras).210 From Peter we learn that both men sent representatives to Constantius with the express purpose of dissuading the emperor from going to war. Magnentius’ embassy comprised Marcellinus, his magister militum (and a different individual from Marcellinus, the co-instigator of the usurpation211), and Nunechius, a “senatorial prefect”, who was possibly the Praetorian Prefect in Gaul.212 Vetranio’s embassy included Vulcacius Rufinus,213 consul in 347 and the Praetorian Prefect of Illyricum, and his nephew, Maximus, who should be identified as Valerius Maximus,214 the future urban prefect under Julian.215 Both of Vetranio’s lead negotiators were members of the extended Constantinian family: Vulcacius Rufinus was the brother of both Neratius Cerealis (the Urban Prefect following Constantius’ recovery of Rome from Magnentius, in post from 26 September 352 to 8 December 353216) and Galla, the wife of Julius Constantius (Constantine’s half-brother), from whose marriage was born Gallus, and a daughter who was at the time of the embassy the wife of Constantius II (making Vulcacius Rufinus the uncle of Constantius’ wife). This family connection linking Vetranio’s representatives to Constantius thereby played a significant part in softening Constantius’ suspicion towards Vetranio (adapting the line argued by Drinkwater217), and while Peter’s account shows signs of reflecting the Constantinian line over the conference (see below), the almost incidental reference that all ambassadors were subsequently arrested with the exception of Vulcacius Rufinus (and presumably also his nephew Maximus), is an indication of the privileged position of Vetranio’s representative as a member of the extended Constantinian family. Indeed, the familial ties between Vetranio’s ambassadors and Constantius provide a context for the offers in Peter made by Magnentius to give his own daughter in marriage to the emperor, and to take Constantina as his wife. Both offers came to nothing! Indeed, Bleckmann has made the case for Vulcacius Rufinus as the “kingmaker” of Vetranio, adding the valuable observation that as Praetorian Prefect he was senior in the administrative-military hierarch to Vetranio and was therefore the only one in a position to be able to engineer a loyalist rebellion.218 As Bleckmann also points out, Rufinus had also served as Constantius’ comes orientis219 and was likely well-acquainted with the emperor which further reinforces the belief that Vetranio’s rebellion was essentially driven by loyalty to Constantius in the face of the threat caused by Magnentius.

It is worth dwelling for a short time on Magnentius’ proposal of marriage to Constantina. Magnentius may already have been married at this point in time to a certain Justina.220 Considerable speculation attends Justina’s parentage who was very young at the time of Magnentius’ reign: Chausson proposes that she was aged around twelve/thirteen at the time of her marriage.221 Her connection to the Constantinian family via Julius Constantius and Galla has long been surmised. The proposal that she was the granddaughter of Crispus and his wife Helena – the daughter of the child born c. October 322 whose birth was celebrated by the granting of an imperial pardon (Cod. Theod. 9.38.1) – is speculative222 but may explain the transmission of Constantinian and Neratii names, for example Constantianus223 and Cerealis224 (Justina’s brothers), and Galla225 (Justina’s daughter from her marriage to Valentinian I) within the family of Justina.226 Indeed, these ties to the Neratii also link her to Vulcacius Rufinus, the Praetorian Prefect in Illyricum discussed above.227 More convincing is François Chausson’s detailed investigation of the links suggested by J. Rougé concerning Justina’s matrilineal association to the dynasty (as one of the granddaughters of Julius Constantius and Galla, from the marriage of one of their daughters to Justus,228 the governor of Picenum 352/361), which makes Magnentius’ marriage to Justina a typical “dynastic” marriage. Many scholars claim this marriage took place during the period of Magnentius’ usurpation, either before or after his proposal at Heraclea to offer his own daughter (from his first marriage) to Constantius in exchange for marrying Constantina.229 The appointment of Justina’s father, Justus,230 to the governorship of the Italian region of Picenum c. 352–353231 is viewed as a reward by his son-in-law.232 However, the principal evidence for this marriage makes no reference to its timing.233 It may be that Magnentius had married Justina prior to January 350, and that the marriage to this great-granddaughter of Constantius I had needed the approval of Constans, if her father had been in an administrative role in the west prior to his Italian governorship, or Constantius II if he had served in the east. As Chausson observes, the evidence and subsequent chronology for this period is exceptionally delicate; yet, certainties have been proposed about this marriage the evidential basis for which is fragile or non-existent and as such a contrasting argument can also be advanced on similarly slim evidence. We know that Magnentius deserted Italy in autumn 352 following a concerted offensive by Constantius that resulted in the taking of Aquileia in early September,234 in which case it was Constantius’ administration in the west that was responsible for Justus’ appointment; indeed, both Justus and Justina survived the purges that followed Magnentius’ defeat,235 which suggests that Constantius did not regard them as tainted by their involvement with the enemy regime, perhaps as a result of having reaffirmed their allegiance to him at some point during the crisis. (Socrates relates the story that Justus was put to death by Constantius II after revealing a dream that was interpreted to mean that a descendant of Justus would become emperor: This anecdote has few chronological anchors, and Justus’ death could have occurred at any point between 352 and 361.236 The story may have been invented to disguise the sensitive matter of Justus’ involvement with Magnentius and his subsequent fate, in light of the fact that his daughter’s principal claim in the fifth century was as the mother of Valentinian II). Should Magnentius’ marriage to Justina have pre-dated his rebellion, then this has sizeable repercussions for thinking about Magnentius’ social standing, his (pre-existing) links with the imperial family, and the context for the coup in Autun: It would make Magnentius a member of the ruling family already, and it would have meant that he could draw on his marriage to Justina to formulate the legitimacy for his actions in the opening weeks and months of 350. However, the chronology for 350 is indeed “brouillée” (in the description of Chausson), and this remains simply speculation. Yet, the events surrounding Constantina, and Justina, reiterate very clearly the fact that imperial women and marriage were sine qua non in establishing legitimacy.

Returning to the valuable details offered by Peter the Patrician, Vulcacius Rufinus is credited with a speech that serves to promote a central feature of Constantius’ response to Magnentius’ usurpation. He reminds Constantius of both commanders’ vast experience, of their like-mindedness, and warns that unless Constantius agreed to peace terms, “the quality and quantity of these men … would be arrayed against him in the course of a civil war …”.237 Magnentius’ ambassador, Nunechius, also indicated that Magnentius sought peace. Constantius is said to have been disturbed by the speeches of the ambassadors, and his state-of-mind was such that when he went to sleep, he had a dream in which Constantine appeared to him holding the hand of Constans, and spoke to him saying,

Constantius, behold Constans, the progeny of many sovereigns, my son and your brother, treacherously slain. Therefore, neither suffer to look upon a realm sundered and a constitution overturned nor continence threats, but pay heed to the glory of every enterprise that will henceforth come to you and do not see your brother unavenged.

The portrayal of Constantius as his brother’s avenger was a main plank of Constantinian rhetoric with regard to justifying the civil war against Magnentius, and in the subsequent memorialisation of Constantius’ victory. It featured centrally in the epigraphic memorialisation of Constantius’ victory (e.g. the reconstructed attic inscription on the Arch of Janus (Arcus Divi Constantini)), in panegyrics, and in the way Constantius’ court promoted the emperor as taking over and completing his brother’s duties as a model of familial piety. Therefore, the imperial response to Constans’ death drew on deeply embedded perceptions of emperorship and dynasty in Roman society. In particular, the murder of Constans by the Magnentian faction breached the consensus regarding the inviolable nature of the emperor and his family. Numerous precedents existed for the public approving the murders of bad emperors, and while deaths arising from internecine struggles for power within dynasties could be spun in ways that disguised their ruthless intent, the assassination of an emperor who remained part of the ruling dynasty – i.e. not condemned by its other members – by those outside the imperial family remained a shocking event. The dream of Constantius in Peter the Patrician looks very much like an authentic example of political messaging from the Constantinian camp: A quasi-moralising vignette presented as an emotive response of Constantius that was intended to reiterate the principles underlying dynastic legitimacy in the wake of Magnentius’ usurpation. And, although the episode appears in a Byzantine-era source, the story of Constantius’ grieving for his brother and vowing revenge was likely in circulation by the mid-350s.

The involvement of Vulcacius Rufinus in negotiations almost certainly contributed to the arrangement some weeks later whereby Vetranio formally divested himself of imperial authority before an assembly of his own and Constantius’ troops in Sirmium.238 This was a formal affair, a conference “in the manner of the tetrarchs of old”,239 whereby Vetranio was permitted to save face for his actions, his army were exonerated and Constantius’ authority was reaffirmed during a formal address (adlocutio) to his army.240 This event represented a key moment for Constantius in relation to the prosecution of the war against Magnentius, but also in terms of the future consolidation of Constantius’ imperial persona over the three to four years (c. 355–357) following the end of the civil war. Even before the creation of the influential portrayal of Constantius’ performance to the assembled armies in the Orations by Themistius and Julian241 – the latter borrowing considerably from the former242 – the bare details of the meeting of Constantius and Vetranio convey clearly the contrived nature of the episode and the ceremonial importance of Constantius’ appearance in the context of a civil war that had tested military loyalties to the emperor and the Constantinian family to their very limits. While the murder of Constans is either ignored or not especially central to the earliest sources for this event, the date of the assembly – 25 December 350 – was evidently intentional. It was the dies imperii of Constans, a fact that would have been lost on no-one there, and which, in turn, will have served as a powerful reminder of the murdered emperor. Furthermore, the location of Naissus, whose historic association with the Constantinian family stretched back to Claudius II’s victory over the Goths at the Battle of Naissus in 269, will not have been chosen simply because it was on Constantius’ marching route west, but rather the dynasty’s links with the city will have been intended to reinforce the awareness of those assembled of the need to reaffirm their loyalty to the emperor.243 Both factors will also have brought to mind the magnitude of the actions of Magnentius and his government.

The scene in wintery Naissus was set for an imperial adlocutio. An emperor’s address to his troops traditionally occupied an awkward place in primary sources with ancient historians frequently confessing that they are unable or unwilling to reproduce the words of an emperor. Julian’s high-minded modesty regarding his reluctance to present Constantius’ speech is a case in point (“to make an inferior copy is absurd and unworthy of a generous and noble soul”244). When speeches or summaries of imperial addresses do appear, the tendency of modern commentators has been to regard them as invented by the author; however, more considered responses have emerged recently positing a conjunction of authorial invention and imperial ideology in the reporting of emperors’ addresses.245 According to Julian, Constantius’ address to the armies at Naissus resulted in Vetranio divesting himself of the imperial insignia, reluctantly at first but yielding in the end to the “Thessalian persuasion” (cf. Letter to the Athenians 274c: Wright, vol. 1, p. 83: “A proverb for necessity disguised as choice”) of Constantius’ address.246 As Ignazio Tantillo has noted with regard to the account of the adlocutio in Naissus presented by Julian in his first oration (Or. 1. 30d–33c), no details regarding the address’ contents are given since it is the effect of the speech on the audience that is Julian’s primary concern.247 The same can also be said for Julian’s account of the address in his second oration (Or. 2. 76b–78d), in which we are told that the immediate impact of Constantius’ oratory was the securing of the loyalty of countless troops, which Julian compares to the “tearless victory” of the Spartans over the Arcadians (cf. Xen. Hell. 7.1.32).248 This is to be expected given the panegyrical context for Julian’s descriptions, since an emperor’s ability to formulate and deliver a dignified (but not overly grand) speech was one of the measures of a ruler’s success.249

However, Julian’s neglect of the details of Constantius’ adlocutio may also count as one of the those instances in Julian’s imperial orations where he wrote subversively, either by placing emphasis on one subject at the expense of another, or by ignoring an issue completely.250 Zosimus’ description indicates that Constantius addressed his own troops and those of Vetranio on the matter of loyalty to the House of Constantine, a crucial issue at this point in the developing civil war, but one which was problematic 360. The pressing political situation, therefore, necessitated an assertion of Constantius’ authority, and since this rested largely on Constantinian dynasticism, his adlocutio appealed to the military’s historic loyalty to his father, and the need to avenge the crime of his brother’s assassination. While it is correct to be cynical about even an indirect report of an emperor’s address in the ancient sources, the circumstances behind Constantius’ adlocutio suggest that there is more than a kernel of truth to Zosimus’ account.

Constantius was appointed to speak first in accordance with the high-standing of his family, and throughout his speech he reminded the soldiers of his father’s liberality to them and of the oaths they had sworn to remain loyal to his children. He thought they ought not allow Magnentius to go unpunished, the murderer of the son of Constantine in whose company they had suffered hardship in many campaigns and by whom they had been honoured with very generous gifts. On hearing this, the soldiers, who had been won over previously by rich presents, shouted for the removal of the false emperors; whereupon they took Vetranio down from the rostrum, stripped him of the purple and reduced him to private rank, but Constantius would not allow them to harm him, and sent him to live on a pension in Bithynia, where, after living for a time with nothing to do, he died.251

Zosimus’ account is significantly different then from Julian’s. First, are the details of Constantius’ address provided by the author which are absent from earlier sources. Zosimus shows a particular interest in reporting the theme of loyalty to the House of Constantine, for example we see it in his report of Flavius Philippus’ speech to Magnentius prior to Mursa in 351 (2.46.3). As noted above, it is to be suspected that this was indeed the theme of the adlocutio at Naissus: The details fit the partisan context of the time and would be suitable as a theme for an imperial speech to troops.252 In terms of the evolution of Constantinian political messaging, it may also be that this was the first time Constantius appealed to the army to avenge the murder of Constans. Second, Zosimus reveals that Constantius had distributed donatives to the troops, perhaps as a reward for their previous service but intended on this occasion as a bribe to secure their loyalty.253 Thus, Constantius’ words and actions went hand-in-hand with each other in this instance. Julian notes that Constantius exercised clemency towards his opponents and awarded them presents, although it is unclear whether these were distributed to the entire army assembled at Naissus.254 Third, in contrast to Julian’s account of Vetranio’s wiling capitulation – “he who was masquerading as Emperor came down from the platform when he had pleaded his cause, and handed over to the Emperor the imperial purple, as though it were an ancestral debt”255 – Zosimus indicates that Vetranio was removed from the purpose-built rostrum by the soldiers, who then “stripped him of the purple and reduced him to private rank”: Only the direct intervention of Constantius prevented Vetranio from being severely injured. Thus, the crisis was over. Now onto the next one.

Familiar Faces, Old Enemies

Trouble was also brewing in the symbolic heart of the empire. In the city of Rome, Nepotianus, the son of Eutropia, was proclaimed emperor. At first sight, this appears to be a seemingly insignificant event when compared to the upheavals wrought by Magnentius’ usurpation across the western empire; it lasted a mere twenty eight days (according to Eutropius’ account,256 beginning on 3 June257) and involved members of the imperial family who were seemingly peripheral figures to Constantius II and his government. However, this is a serious underestimation of the personalities involved in Nepotianus’ rebellion together with the longer term influence of the episode on the political culture of the empire. On his mother’s side, Nepotianus’ pedigree was first rate. Eutropia as a daughter of Theodora and Constantius I was a half-sister of Constantine I, meaning that Nepotianus was a nephew of the great emperor and Eutropia was an aunt of Constans and Constantius II. Nepotianus was also a grandson of Constantius Chlorus and a great grandson of Maximian (as the father of Theodora). Constantius II was his cousin. On Nepotianus’ paternal side, it has been proposed (by François Chausson among others) that Eutropia had married Virius Nepotianus258 and that Nepotianus was the child of this alliance. Eutropia’s marital history is, therefore, an excellent example of the type of exogamous marriage which members of the imperial family conducted with members of the Roman aristocracy,259 a marriage that may have been arranged by Constantine I260 or even Maximian.261 Virius Nepotianus had been the consul prior for 336. His family background lay in a number of venerable Italian aristocratic families, including the Virii and the Iunii.262 The former consul is believed to have been one of the victims of the dynastic purge of 337, although it is important to point out that both Eutropia and Nepotianus (the latter may have been born c. the mid-320s263) were spared (as Shaun Tougher has pointed out, the survival of the consul’s wife and child disproves the claim by Ammianus Marcellinus that Constantius II had destroyed his family “root and branch”264).

These connections to both the Constantinian family and the aristocracies of Rome and Italy may explain the decision by “a band of armed gladiators” (following the description of Aurelius Victor) to proclaim Nepotianus as emperor in the city. The traditional date for Nepotianus’ elevation taken from the Chronicon Paschale of 3 June 350 has been challenged on the basis of Aurelius Victor’s testimony (42.5–6): The epitomator places the episode in Rome after the capitulation of Vetranio, and mentions the severe winter weather that prevented Constantius from moving against Magnentius in Italy. As such, Bleckmann has proposed that Nepotianus’ revolt took place later, during the winter months of 350/351 – proposing a correction to the Chronica Minora from et Nepotianus Romane III n. Iun to Ian.265 Another attempt by Muriel Moser to redate the rebellion in Rome to as early as January 350 is also attractive but alas is based on a misreading of Bleckmann’s argument.266 In a highly notable attempt to shift the date of Nepotianus’ rebellion from June 350 to May–June 351 (between 12 May and 7 June, determined by the dates of Celius Probatus’ brief tenure as Urban Prefect), Shawn Caza has argued that the sequence of events in a selection of historical works (Aurelius Victor, Eutropius, Epitome de Caesaribus, Orosius) appears to indicate that Nepotianus revolted only after the surrender of Vetranio.267 Caza seeks to substantiate this argument by reviewing the numismatic evidence for Magnentius’ medallions and coins (including those issued for Decentius, which suggests an earlier pre-Nepotianus’ date for Decentius’ elevation as Caesar).268 While aspects of this argument are commendable, notably the seemingly more than coincidental twenty-six-day tenure of Probatus as Urban Prefect (corresponding with the alleged twenty-eight-day period of the rebellion), the initial basis for the revision, namely the sequential order of events in the epitomising historians, is somewhat inadequate in light of the fact that a narrative rather than chronological tendency determined the portrayal of events in the historians in question. By contrast, no regard is paid to the evidence from the chronicle tradition notably Jerome’s Chronicon where Jerome’s source for the 350s (presumably the Kaisergeschichte269) is particularly attentive to the details of those years and the sequence of events (Constans’ murder near Helena; Nepotianus’ betrayal by the senator Heraclides; Magnentius’ defeat at Mursa, “in which battle the Roman forces were ruined”, the last detail curiously absent from Victor’s account).

However, timing in a sense matters less than the location and the personalities involved. Aurelius Victor’s calumniatory commentary of Nepotianus’ reign was likely meant to disguise the complicity of the soldiers (presumably the ragtag band of gladiators mentioned by Victor) and the Senate of Rome in Nepotianus’ rise. It was also probably intended to cloud the involvement of Constantius’ extended imperial family in the elevation of Nepotianus (evident in Victor’s highly nebulous description of the usurper as “a relative (propinquus) of Flavius through his mother’s family”). Like her niece Constantina, Eutropia also resided in Rome during the 340s and was very likely an instrumental figure in the promotion of Christianity among the aristocratic class in the city. Indeed, while a focus has traditionally fallen on Constantina as imperial patron of Christian culture in Rome typified by her foundation of the Basilica of St. Agnes (S. Agnese fuori le mura) on the Via Nomentana270 during the same decade (on her death in 354, she was buried alongside the now ruined fourth-century basilica in an imperial mausoleum known as Santa Costanza271), the case has recently been made that it was Eutropia who was key in this regard as a result of her association with Athanasius.272 Julia Hillner reads the evidence of Athanasius’ encounter with Eutropia during his time in Rome in the late 330s–early 340s273 (see Chapter 5) as an indication of her support for Nicene Christianity and suggests that as a result of this association Eutropia became a central figure in the translation of Egyptian ascetic culture to the city’s aristocrats, principally among the circle of Marcella, the associate of Jerome of Stridon, who herself was linked via her mother, Albina, to the Constantinian family.274 Thus:

… given her friendship with Athanasius, it was more likely the older and well-connected Eutropia who facilitated the spread of new Christian ideas among the Roman aristocracy and, possibly, to Constantina, who cannot have been older than twenty when she arrived in Rome, and to Marcella, who must have been a very young girl in the 340s.275

These historic and contemporary trends in Rome of the mid-fourth century are reflected clearly in the coinage produced by the city’s mint during the brief period of Nepotianus’ reign. It is important to note that Nepotianus had control of the Rome mint in this period in light of the account by Zosimus (2.43.3–4) in the Greek historiographical tradition that portrays Nepotianus’ rebellion as taking place outside of the city’s walls, with the implication that he never actually had control of the city.276 Kay Ehling’s study of Nepotianus’ coinage highlights the centrality of both Rome the city and the notion of Christian imperial power as embodied in the Constantinian monarchy in Nepotianus’ imperial self-representation. Indeed, his coin issues substantiate the existing textual evidence which indicates that Nepotianus’ rebellion was a reaction by the members of the imperial family in Rome and the senatorial aristocracy, who jointly formed a “community of interests”277 in response to the murder of Constans and Magnentius’ subsequent usurpation of power. This thesis is implicit in Ehling’s study, although it has recently been advanced in a more systematic manner in the work of Esteban Moreno Resano. The obverse portraits of Nepotianus’ coins evoke either the soldier-emperor in the manner of Tetrarchs (bareheaded wearing a draped paludamentum)278 or a Constantinian style, notably and in contrast to the early portraits of Magnentius and Vetranio, the inclusion of the emperor with diadem on a solidus issue (VRBS ROMA) that also bears the obverse legend D N IVL NEPOT-IANVS P F AVG.279 Nepotianus’ obverse legends undergo rapid transformation over the short period of his reign, beginning with the legend on the VRBS ROMA issue, replaced by FL POP [Flavius Popilius] NEPOT-IANVS P F AVG and finally FL NEP CONST-ANTINVS AVG on his billon and bronze issues,280 this final incarnation promoting unambiguously his lineage and right of succession from Constantine I.281 The Rome mint produced joint issues of VRBS ROMA solidi for both Nepotianus and Constantius featuring Roma personified seated on a throne and holding a globe topped with a Chi-Rho and a spear.282 VRBS ROMA billon and bronze issues struck only in Nepotianus’ name featured the more conventional reverse type of Roma on a throne holding Victory on a globe and a spear.283 These VRBS ROMA coins drew attention to the centrality of Rome to Nepotianus’ position and are key to understanding the Rome-centric nature of his imperial persona in the same way that the type was struck in the past (Maxentius284) and in the future (Priscus Attalus, r. 409, 414–415) by emperors whose powerbase was the historic city. It was also an indication that the Senate had been a key supporter in the emperor’s elevation.285 The appearance of the Chi-Rho on the VRBS ROMA solidus represents a unique variation of this type as Maraval has correctly noted, although he goes too far in proposing that Nepotianus was instituting an “anti-pagan programme” on the basis of this innovation. Indeed, Maraval holds that the impetus for Nepotianus’ insurrection was his desire to counter the political opportunism of Magnentius who on the one hand had promoted the Chi-Rho on his coin issues but, on the other hand, appeared to appease the pagans of Rome by reinstituting nocturnal sacrifices – this initiative inferred from Constantius’ constitution repealing Magnentius’ order, preserved as Cod. Theod. 16.10.5 dated 24 November 353 and addressed to Naeratius Cerealis as the Urban Prefect – perhaps under the influence of his Urban Prefect, Fabius Titianus (“celui-ci etait païen, et même un païen devot …”).286 Ehling had earlier arrived at a similar conclusion about Titianus’ influence on Magnentius, and he had also noted the appearance of an eagle on the billon coins of Magnentius prior to Nepotianus’ rebellion (VICTORIA AVG LIB ROMANOR)287 which is interpreted as a symbol of Rome’s traditional cults (notably, Jupiter Capitolinus); this certainly ramifies the religious imagery of Magnentius’ coinage. As Maraval argues, the promotion of Magnentius in this way earned the distrust of the city’s Christian populace who, when the opportunity arose, supported Nepotianus and the imperial family in Rome whose Christian credentials had been promoted since the 340s. This “conflict model” of interpretation presupposes a confrontational atmosphere over religion in the city which has undergone serious revision in the last couple of decades.288 The management of political and religious affairs by Constans in the previous decade (see Chapter 5) demonstrates that the situation in 350 was much more complex that Maraval supposes to have been the case.

It should come as no surprise, however, that explanations for Nepotianus’ elevation based on “religion” have predominated. Assumptions about the dominance of adherents of traditional cults in the Senate of the early-to-mid fourth century are long-standing, but as Moreno Resano has wisely highlighted the Senate was not a guild of pagan devotees but a collegiate institution289 where religion was “part of the language of power”290 rather than a cause of conflict. A more likely explanation involves a two-fold model of collective cooperation between the imperial family in Rome and the Senate: The former, fearing further reprisals against the relatives of Constantine decided to take a stand, while the latter, likely indignant at having been further marginalised politically by Magnentius’ rise to power291 and perhaps incensed that a low-born barbarian had taken the imperial insignia (his status conveyed in derogatory terms by near contemporary accounts, including Themistius, Julian and Aurelius Victor; see Chapter 3),292 saw an opportunity to re-establish its relevance as a political powerbroker. It is apparent on the basis of Nepotianus’ coins, where his style is very much that of a “senatorial emperor”293 and in a number of the historiographical sources – notably Eutropius who refers to Nepotianus’ supporters as nobiles (10.11.2) – that the Senate and more broadly the aristocrats of the city played a key role in his elevation.

Eutropius’ account of Nepotianus’ defeat (10.11.1–2) some twenty-eight days after his proclamation supplies important details about the fate of his supporters and the highly symbolic conclusion of his life:

… he met with the sort of death he deserved for his savage undertaking, for on the twenty-eighth day he was crushed by the generals of Magnentius and paid the penalty. His head was carried through the city on a javelin and terrible proscriptions (gravissimae proscriptiones) and massacres of the nobles ensued.294

We should recognise that the beheading of Nepotianus was not some senseless act of violence, but a highly significant ritual whereby an individual declared an enemy (Nepotianus branded hostis by Magnentius: Aurelius Victor 42.9) by the governing regime was subjected to one final act of public humiliation. Decapitation and the public procession of the head, traditionally in the context of a Triumph, was “one of the key rituals of war, namely that to possess the enemy’s body, or head … is to have the ultimate form of power over someone”.295 More than this, however, decapitation was conventionally conducted by Romans against defeated barbarians and was also a form of capital punishment applied to citizens condemned as criminals. In the case of Nepotianus – as in the case of Maxentius some years earlier following his defeat by Constantine – the severing of an enemy’s head from his body was another way in which a civil war opponent could be barbarised and transformed into a literal nobody.296 It is one of those curious rituals of late Roman war culture whereby its significance as an act of violence resided in its mutually contradictory meaning, on the one hand, it barbarised or dehumanised a significant person and on the other, it promoted their total humiliation which, in turn, maintained their fame as infamy. In this respect, it was a highly effective rhetorical act.

The panegyrics of the 350s convey a consistent line with regard to Nepotianus’ rebellion: They simply ignore it! He appears briefly in the Speech of Thanks297 by Claudius Mamertinus from 362, delivered to mark Mamertinus’ appointment as consul prior for that year by Julian. His appearance in Mamertinus’ work alongside the figure of Silvanus, the Master of Infantry (magister peditum) in Gaul who was caught up in plot against Constantius II of Byzantine complexity (see below), forms part of the orator’s praise of Julian as the consummate Augustus. An imaginary questioner (deus … adloquatur) addresses both men, who “sought imperial power through hostile swords and imminent death”, and wonders if they would be prepared to adopt the demanding routine of Julian: Both, terrified by the prospect, sink back into the lower reaches of the netherworld. Mamertinus’ choice of Nepotianus and Silvanus is curious, especially when a more ready villain in the guise of Magnentius was available, and one who after many years of being branded a villain must have occupied an established place in the public consciousness as a consummate tyrant. However, despite his earlier efforts as a panegyrist to defame Magnentius, Julian as Augustus held Magnentius in some regard as his appearance in the emperor’s satirical work, The Caesars (316a), demonstrates, albeit his comments are veiled in criticism here (as Libanius’ Epitaphios (Or. 18.104) for Julian reveals, the emperor enabled Magnentius’ troops to redeem themselves by incorporating them into his campaigning force, so his regard may be traceable to this act of clemency). The idea that it was the brevity of Nepotianus’ and Silvanus’ reigns, their “blind lust to rule” which caused them to “rush to their deaths”, which appealed to Mamertinus since he was making a broader point about Julian’s endurance is certainly plausible,298 as is the suggestion that Nepotianus was chosen because as a Flavian he served as a counterweight to Julian’s success by demonstrating that Julian triumphed in spite of his family pedigree.299 However, something much more complex seems to occur with regard to the memorialisation of Nepotianus and Magnentius in the period of Julian’s reign in contrast to the latter years of the 350s. At that point in time, Nepotianus’ rebellion was probably still a highly sensitive political topic for composers of panegyric. The social upheaval caused by Magnentius’ recapture of the city in the form of proscriptions (the confiscation of property and political disqualification) and sentences of death applied to Nepotianus’ supporters is attested (Eutropius, 10.11.2); Julian himself alludes (Or. 2.58c) to the severity of these punishments in a tacit condemnation of Marcellinus, Magnentius’ co-conspirator whom he appointed as Master of Offices in charge of the administrative and military response to Nepotianus. Therefore, it is understandable that speakers shied away from mentioning the episode in light of the imperial family’s evident involvement in the affair. Turning to the historiography of the early 360s and especially to Aurelius Victor, it is noticeable that Nepotianus is saddled like a packhorse with all the responsibility for the suffering caused by the episode with his place alongside others who tried and failed to seize power assured: “[Nepotianus’] brutish nature was so destructive to the Roman people and the senators that everywhere the houses, squares, streets and temples were filled with gore and corpses like tombs” (42.7–8).300 Moreno Resano has proposed that this is one of many inaccuracies in Victor’s account, his argument based in part on a comparison with the portrayal of the same episode by works in the chronicle tradition, notably Jerome’s Chronicon.301 According to Jerome, it was the counter-response of Magnentius’ troops and supporters (most likely led by Marcellinus and Fabius Titianus, Magnentius’ Urban Prefect) enabled by the betrayal (proditur) of the senator Heraclides (a detail unique to Jerome) that led to the grievous slaughter of the city’s nobles.302 In a way similar to the trend detected by Woudhuysen regarding Victor’s presentation of Constans,303 the historian’s depiction of Constantine’s nephew betrays the influence of Magnentius’ defamation of his opponent. The appearance of Magnentian political messaging in Victor may be the result of simple confusion, an unconscious blending of competing political dialogues; or, in light of the Victor’s clear ambivalence towards Constantius, which is apparent in the notorious “postscript” (42.24–25) about Constantius’ failings in government,304 it perhaps became safer for the author to reintroduce episodes formerly excluded from the dominant narrative as his work headed towards final publication in the summer of 361.

The historiography of June 350 is therefore replete with detail, but the picture of events is confused and contradictory. Victor’s account is clearly in error about the office of the Urban Prefect of the time since it claims that the holder was murdered by Nepotianus’ supporters. Fabius Titianus was Magnentius’ first Urban Prefect, appointed on 27 February 350 as the usurper’s forces consolidated their hold on the city. Titianus had previously been Urban Prefect under Constans at the turn of 340, and remained in post for his second period in office until 1 March 351. In the Eunapian tradition, Zosimus is a corrective to Victor’s error305 since he offers the information that a certain Anicetus was Magnentius’ Praetorian Prefect in Italy, the error residing in Victor’s confusion over offices. According to Zosimus, Anicetus was the lead figure in engineering a spirited defence of Rome in the usurpation’s early stages, only to be killed soon after. Anicetus is otherwise unattested; a Flavius Anicius306 is attested as consul prior for 350 by a single inscription which is extant only in a manuscript instead of Flavius Sergius, although the reason for the disparity cannot be satisfactorily explained. Zosimus’ narrative of Nepotianus’ rebellion is topographically peculiar since the battle for Rome between the usurper’s troops and the force led by Anicetus is outside the city, which led to the Praetorian Prefect closing the city’s gates in order to protect the city. Further, time is also dramatically compressed by Zosimus:

Nepotianus’ men pursued them, and as they had no way to escape, killed them all, but a few days later, Magnentius sent out a force under Marcellinus, the commander of the court forces whom they call Magister Officiorum, and Nepotianus was put to death.


To reiterate, Nepotianus controlled the mint at Rome, one of the most important institutions of government, during his brief spell as Augustus. Marcellinus’ appointment as Master of Offices is a significant piece of information. Not only does it highlight the importance of Magnentius’ co-conspirator beyond the early stages of the coup in Autun, but the remit of his office which comprised oversight of “a curiously miscellaneous group of duties”,307 including the Imperial Guard (Scholae Palatinae), Imperial Agents (agentes in rebus) and the premier administrative and legal departments of state (Sacra Scrinia), is an indication of his status and authority in the western government and furthermore a sign of how seriously the threat of Nepotianus’ control of Rome was taken by Magnentius.

It seems Marcellinus did his job very effectively. The usurpation was stopped in its tracks. Nepotianus was killed and his body ritually dismembered according to the unwritten conventions of civil conflict. Eutropia was also killed, much to the sadness of Athanasius who reflected some time later on her generous nature when she hosted him in Rome.308 Athanasius adds the important detail that in addition to Eutropia, “that worthy man, Abuterius, [and] the most faithful Spirantius, and many other excellent persons” were also killed during Magnentius’ reprisals in Rome. The titular “most faithful” conventionally denotes a eunuch in service of the court, suggesting therefore the murder of Eutropia’s household by Magnentius’ troops and supporters.309

In his second oration delivered by Julian c. 358–359310 the then Caesar displays particular animus towards Marcellinus. In his portrayal of the battle of Mursa in September 351, Julian refers to Marcellinus as, “the real author of that monstrous and unholy drama, who had been the first to suggest to [Magnentius] that he should pretend to the imperial power and rob us of our special privilege” (58a).311 The “monstrous and unholy drama” is clearly a reference to the displacement of Constans, Magnentius’ usurpation and the episodes of slaughter which followed (Julian is in the midst of narrating Magnentius’ flight from the battlefield at Mursa). In reference to Marcellinus’ fate following the rout of Magnentius’ troops at Mursa, Julian adds:

… the man who had trained and tutored the usurper was neither among the fallen nor the fugitives. It was indeed natural that he should not even hope for pardon, since his schemes had been so wicked, his actions so infamous, and he had been responsible for the slaughter of so many innocent men and women, of whom many were private citizens, and of almost all who were connected with the imperial family. And he had done this not with shrinking nor with the sentiments of one who sheds the blood of his own people, and because of that stain of guilt fears and is on the watch for the avenger and those who will exact a bloody reckoning, but, with a kind of purification that was new and unheard of, he would wash his hands of the blood of his first victims, and then go on to murder man after man, and then, after those whom they held dear, he killed the women as well.


Marcellinus may have secured Rome for Magnentius at the end of June 350, although the city continued to remain highly susceptible to episodes of treasonable activity against the usurper’s government. The roll-call of Urban Prefects following the end of Titianus’ second tenure hints at considerable political turmoil. Following Titianus, Aurelius Celsinus312 also served for a second time but only for over very short period in 351 (between 1 March and 12 May, a total of two months and eleven days). Celsinus was then followed by Celius Probatus313 who occupied the office of Urban Prefect for a remarkably short period of just twenty-six days (between 12 May and 7 June). Clodius Celsinus Adelphius followed Probatus, serving between 7 June and 18 December 351. Adelphius was the husband of Proba the author of the famous Christian Cento (see Chapter 3), and his tenure as Urban Prefect was controversial. Ammianus Marcellinus (16.6.2) notes that Dorus,314 a centurion charged with guarding public buildings in Rome (he had been lately promoted to the role by Magnentius so Ammianus informs his readers), had brought charges of treason against Adelphius during his tenure as Urban Prefect (in this case, Dorus was subordinate to Adelphius under whose authority he resided).315 The allegation was that Adelphius was “aiming at higher office” (ut altiora coeptantem), altiora when used in a political setting referred to a planned act of usurpation (notably used about Gallus Caesar by Ammianus).316 Furthermore, the context for this historic allegation reveals the severity of the charge against the Urban Prefect. Ammianus is describing the contriving against the general Flavius Arbitio317 by Verissimus318 and Dorus during 356 of the specific allegation that he was conspiring to seize imperial power, therefore the earlier episode also involving Dorus implies an identical charge against Adelphius. As Barnes has argued, Adelphius must have been tried and convicted of the treason charge brought by Dorus in 351 since if the allegation was groundless or even false, Dorus would not have been able to bring further allegations since he would likely have been charged with “making a false accusation against his superior”, tried and possibly executed.319 Adelphius’ fate following his truncated tenure as Urban Prefect and likely trial is uncertain: He may have been charged, tried and executed, or he may have slipped the attention of Magnentius and taken advantage of the refuge offered to senators from Rome in Pannonia by Constantius II in the aftermath of the battle of Mursa320 (following the evidence of Julian’s panegyrics, John Matthews321 identifies that Constantius presented at least two opportunities for amnesties to senators before and after Mursa).

Rebooting the East

On 15 March 351,322 Constantius reintroduced the rank of Caesar into the Constantinian college. According to the much later testimony of Ammianus Marcellinus (21.13.11), Gallus was raised to the position of Caesar with the express purpose of defending the east.323 Much to the frustration of future legal scholars of late Roman law,324 Gallus also took the name of his imperial partner and became Flavius Claudius Constantius.325 The occasion was marked by a coronation in Sirmium at which Himerius, a Greek orator from Prusa in Bithynia, delivered a panegyric in praise of Gallus as Constantius’ newly appointed Caesar. The speech in question, which survives like much of Himerius’ work only partially (frg. 1.6: Penella 2007: 273–274), offers a remarkably important insight into Constantius’ intentions during an especially tindery period of his reign. Himerius’ oration in its entirety was likely a “Crown Speech” (Stephanōtikos) whereby the virtues of the new honorand were set against the reputation of his family in order to highlight continuity of rulership.326 This is clearly the position that Himerius takes in the remaining fragment of his oration honouring the elevation of Gallus, where Gallus is spoken of as reflecting the glory of Constantius as Augustus, whom Himerius, in turn, refers to as the descendent of Helios. The idea that a Caesar reflects the divine light and majesty of his Augustus had a clear precedent in the Constantinian period where Eusebius in his Life (1.1.2) refers to the Constantinian Caesars as “new lamps filling the whole world with his radiance”327 (Eusebius is referring to Constantine I as recently deceased at this point in the Life’s preface!). In a similar vein, Himerius celebrates the luminosity of Constantius and Gallus; indeed the Augustus’ radiance reaches even to Gallus’ half-brother, the young student Julian, who also makes an intriguing appearance in the speech.

O most brilliant light of your family, you [Constantius] who have been for your family what your ancestor the Sun has often been for you! For of this fair pair [Gallus and Julian], the one [Gallus], like a morning star, rose up early with you, as you illuminated your great throne. He imitated your rays with his own beams of light. The other of the two [Julian], letting his light shine out from the herd of young men like a high-spirited bull leading the herd, leapt about in the meadows of the Muses like an inspired colt with his head held high. He imitated the Homeric youth, the son of Thetis, by being both a good “speaker of words” and “doer of deeds.”

Barnes established the case that Himerius’ speech conveyed “something highly significant”328 about the time of Constantius and Gallus. The religious significance of Helios in the context of this fragment (and presumably in the wider oration) serves to define the absolute majesty of Constantius’ emperorship, as Robert Penella has pointed out in his comment about the ecumenical purpose of Helios,329 the earthly equivalent of God (to paraphrase Wolf Liebeschuetz oft-cited analysis of Sol).330 The idea that Helios “confers imperial power” was an established feature of Constantinian religious iconography,331 but the significance of the solar deity in the context of Gallus’ promotion as Caesar is subtly different from its more familiar role. Gallus as the morning star, imitating the radiance of Constantius, is cast as the emperor’s companion, the one who reflects but also renews his imperial authority. Gallus’ authority, therefore, resides in his proximity to Constantius.

Even the most scrupulous scholars find themselves unable to escape the taint that attaches to Gallus’ reign. The Caesar is viewed as responsible for a brief and brutal regime that brought terror to the eastern empire and to the city of Antioch in particular. Ammianus Marcellinus must bear the weight of responsibility in this regard: His portrayal of Gallus and his wife, Constantina, as scourges of the east is the dominant theme in book fourteen of his history. This politically charged portrait of the Caesar has been difficult to escape. A related charge, however, should also be brought against Julian, principally his Letter to the Athenians, since it is here where Constantius is first firmly assigned the all-encompassing character flaw of a suspicious temperament, which Julian by his own admission was forced to endure during his own time as Caesar, and which Ammianus hones into one of the defining features of Constantius’ reign during the time of Gallus’ Caesarship. The failings of Gallus’ scandalous reign are evidently more complex than the cruel nature assigned to him by Ammianus or indeed the suspicious “micromanagement” of Gallus’ administrative retinue by Constantius. The principal issue in this regard is the extent to which evaluations of Gallus’ entire reign have been contaminated by retrospective judgements which derive from historiographical commonplaces. Nowhere is this more noticeable than for the beginning of Gallus’ imperial career. While it is valid to note that unlike the Caesars of the First Tetrarchy, Gallus “had no or only limited administrative authority”, and that “Constantius retained for himself the right to appoint Gallus’ key officeholders”, it is a case of swallowing Ammianus’ spin in its entirety to claim that Constantius’ motivations for doing so were driven by a desire to “keep his rival under close supervision”.332 Indeed, Bleckmann among others has proposed that this type of “government by guardianship” never actually existed in Gallus’ case (see Chapter 7).333 It is more likely that Constantius’ decisions about his government in the east during the time of the civil war were guided by the youthful Gallus’ lack of experience and by his desire to manage the eastern regions rather than his Caesar as closely as possible in light of his absence.

Panegyric certainly does not equate to “truth” or “reality”, or anything approximate to those abstract concerns. However, it is a window onto the ambitions of an emperor and an imperial regime. It is apparent from Himerius’ oration, therefore, that Gallus’ appointment in March 351 was presented in the context of a period of optimism – however artificial that may have been given events in the west – and a time of renewal for the empire and the Constantinian dynasty. Furthermore, Michaela Dirschlmayer has valuably pointed out that the marriage of Gallus to Constantina, a daughter of Constantine I, at the same time as his appointment, “must have given the impression of serious succession plans” on the part of Constantius.334 Other evidence suggests that Gallus’ appointment was part of a broader strategy on Constantius’ part to “reboot” the eastern empire in light of Magnentius’ seizure of Constans’ territories, foremost among them being the creation of a new imperial senate in Constantinople. Moser’s study of the formation of this new senate, which it seems was created intentionally to rival the one in Rome (which was now in the hands of Magnentius), has demonstrated admirably the historic circumstances behind this significant innovation on Constantius’ part. Moser argues that Magnentius’ usurpation precipitated a considerable political crisis for Constantius II. Before 350, the eastern emperor had maintained the cursus honorum of empire wide appointments, whereby Constantius like Constantine before him had made appointments in the east which comprised many

from elite senatorial families of Rome … or long-serving senatorial families from Africa … or Greece … They were often appointed to rule over provinces, or given special roles at times when there was increased need to secure Constantius’ authority (following the death of Constantine and Constantine II, or following urban unrest as in Constantinople).335

With the rise of Magnentius, support from the senate in Rome for Constantius disappeared despite a number of senators from Rome defecting to Constantius following Magnentius’ eventual recapture of the city. The political crisis for Constantius heralded by Magnentius thereby demanded the “upgrading” of the local Constantinopolitan council to a body of “Conscript Fathers” so that Constantius could have ready access to men of senatorial rank to appoint to key administrative roles in the eastern empire and to ratify his policies in lieu of the legitimising role previously played by Roman senate. The new reality that confronted Constantius is apparent in the nature of the appointments he made for the virgin administration of Gallus Caesar between 351 and 354. The men appointed to key positions in the east during this period were not, therefore, individuals with the long pedigrees of senators from Rome.336 The result was, as Moser indicates, “a partition of posts was put in place: During the usurpation of Magnentius and the Caesarship of Gallus, eastern posts were the privilege of men from the East”.337

On the basis of an imperial letter (oratio) dating from late 351 to early 352 preserved as an inscription from Perge338 in which Constantius addressed his new senatorial council in Constantinople over the matter of erecting gilded statues for his Praetorian Prefect, Flavius Philippus,339 Moser has proposed a date between mid-350 and mid-351 for the establishment of an imperial senate in the city.340 If this is correct, Constantius responded to the crisis quickly and with considerable political acumen. The speed of Constantius’ response was governed by the need to move west as soon as possible following the collapse of the Sasanian siege of Nisibis in order to tackle the two usurpers before the seasons changed and made travel too arduous. However, Constantius’ “great gamble”341 (as Moser puts it) of venturing west while seeking to maintain his position in the eastern empire via the appointment of Gallus and the creation of the senate in Constantinople was almost certainly not as straightforward as it seems.

In fact, Gallus’ elevation came fairly late in the day and was determined by two related factors: The eventual resolution of the situation with Vetranio and the attendant question of the Illyrian army’s loyalty to Constantius, and the political intervention of the Praetorian Prefect Vulcacius Rufinus. As we noted previously, Rufinus was Gallus’ uncle being the brother of his mother, Galla, and had been a key figure in negotiations between Vetranio, Magnentius and Constantius at Heracleia and beyond.342 It is very likely that Rufinus played a central role also in ensuring the promotion of his sister’s child to the rank of Caesar, perhaps as a reward from Constantius for his role in handling the abdication of Vetranio with the minimal amount of controversy. Rufinus’ hand is also to be suspected in the marriage of Gallus to Constantina which also took place at around the time of Gallus’ appointment. Both Gallus’ caesarship and marriage may have been discussed and planned at Heracleia some months earlier.343 Constantina had previously been married to Hannibalianus between 335 and 337,344 a cousin of her new husband Gallus, and the marriage strengthened further the ties between the Constantinian and Neratii families. The central importance of Vulcacius Rufinus to the career of Gallus is apparent in the episode dating from spring 354 when the Praetorian Prefect in Gaul was removed from office (albeit temporarily since he was Praetorian Prefect of Italy, Illyricum and Africa again under Valentinian I from 365 to 368) ostensibly over his handling of a supply crisis for the army in Gaul, but really to dissipate his influence over his nephew.345 It is worth noting also the other family ties from this time in order to appreciate the political significance of Gallus’ appointment. Rufinus’ brother, Neratius Cerealis, became the Urban Prefect during the transition from Magnentius’ to Constantius’ administration. His tenure in the office lasted for nearly fifteen months, from 26 September 352 to 8 December 353, thereby making it one of the longest of recent times.346 The son of Galla’s sister (whose name is unknown) is the Maximus that accompanied his uncle, Rufinus, at the conference in Thrace. Valerius Maximus became the Urban Prefect during Julian’s reign following the tenure of Tertullus, the Prefect who rebuffed Julian’s advances to the Senate in Rome during his usurpation of 361 (see Amm. Marc. 21.10.5–7). Thus, Gallus’ blended Constantinian and Neratian lineage – to reiterate he was also the child of Julius Constantius and Galla and therefore the brother of Constantius II’s first wife347 – made him the perfect political choice for the caesarship at this period in time and it is correct to assume that hopes for his success were high.

With regard to Gallus’ position in March 351, two other factors should be considered. The first is based on Bleckmann’s suggestion that Constantius originally intended Gallus to be Caesar in the west as opposed to the idée fixe conveyed by the address placed in the mouth of Constantius by Ammianus Marcellinus (21.13.11; see above) that Gallus was appointed exclusively to counter the threat from the Sasanians.348 This latter one grew to become the established view of Gallus’ original commission. According to Socrates, Gallus was sent straightaway to Antioch following his appointment and, in a chronological conflation Socrates connects Gallus’ arrival in the city with the appearance of the cross over Antioch, the same phenomenon appearing during Pentecost in May 351 over Jerusalem described by Cyril, bishop of the city (see Chapter 3).349 By contrast, Bleckmann has prioritised the testimony of Libanius who in his Epitaphios for Constantius’ cousin, Julian, while recollecting the time when Julian had been his remote student in Nicomedia,350 notes:

While [Julian] interested himself in this, his brother came to share the throne in a junior capacity. Constantius had two wars on his hands, first against Persia, and then against the usurper Magnentius. He certainly required a colleague, and so he sent Gallus from Italy to safeguard his eastern empire.

(Or. 18.16)351

For Bleckmann, it was Constantius’ lack of outright success against Magnentius and the failure to secure the total suppression of the usurper following his victory at Mursa in September 351 which is the context for Libanius’ remark that the plan for Gallus changed from the west to the east. Despite the fact that post-Mursa Constantius had pushed into Magnentius’ recently abandoned territory of Venetia-Histria (in the Italian prefecture),352 time was running out for Constantius since little in the way of a meaningful advance could be made against Magnentius during the winter of 351–352, which Julian observed as especially harsh.353 Thus, so Bleckmann’s argument goes, when it became apparent that the civil war in the west was entering another year and the campaigning season in the east would begin again in early 352, only then did Constantius make the decision to send Gallus to Antioch. Bleckmann proposes that Gallus’ original posting was to have been the ever-troubled Gaul which at this point was beset by raids of Germani across the Rhine frontier,354 and although he fails to develop this suggestion, it may have been intended for Gallus to take on Decentius, the Caesar appointed by Magnentius in mid-350, with the express purpose of shoring up Roman power in the region.355 However, ever the pragmatic commander-in-chief, Constantius sent Gallus east when it became clear that he himself was unlikely to be heading there any time soon. Gallus was therefore envisioned as a mobile Caesar, a claim which Bleckmann substantiates by highlighting the passage in Ammianus Marcellinus where the author reports that Constantius, in his effort to recall Gallus in 354 on spurious grounds (14.11.9–10; cf. Eutropius 9.24356), reminded his cousin in letters of the recent example of Diocletian and Maximian who utilised Caesars as deputies (apparitores), expecting them to respond obediently to the demands of the Augusti and be ready to travel where needed. The specific example of caesarean obedience allegedly conjured by Constantius for Gallus’ edification involved Galerius’ humiliation following the defeat of Roman forces under his command between Carrhae and Callinicum in 296,357 after which he met up with Diocletian who forced the Caesar to perambulate alongside his Augustus’ chariot for nearly a mile while still wearing his imperial robe. Further, Ammianus claims that Constantius’ letters emphasised the threat to Gaul in particular, an important detail in light of the alleged original destination for Gallus following his elevation in March 351.

To cast doubt on Ammianus’ testimony, it is unlikely that Constantius chose so humiliating an example of caesarean subjugation in light of his efforts to achieve the recall of Gallus on ostensibly friendly terms. Furthermore, if indeed Gallus had remained in Pannonia and Italy alongside Constantius for the best part of 351, the sources make no reference to his involvement in campaigns, although not too much should perhaps be made of this in light of the allusive (Julian) and confused (Zosimus) narratives for the military engagements of late summer-autumn of 351.358 However, of greater significance is the fact that Gallus’ military potential was hardly if at all advertised by Constantius. No “Prince of youth” coins were issued for Gallus by the mints under Constantius’ authority, which marked a significant departure from the Constantinian practice of advertising both the military potential and achievements of Caesars, notably Crispus and Constantine Caesar in the 320s (see Chapter 4).359 In spite of these doubts, serious consideration should be given to Bleckmann’s argument.

The second consideration regarding the elevation of Gallus concerns Magnentius’ earlier initiative to appoint one of his own relatives, Magnus Decentius – almost certainly his brother – as his Caesar in Milan.360 Decentius was very quickly hailed as the “Prince of Youth” on coins issued in Trier as a way of conveying to Gaul his youthful military potential under Magnentius’ stewardship.361 When Magnentius made this appointment is debated,362 but it seems likely to have been around July–August 350 following the demise of Nepotianus in Rome.363 It is notable that following Magnentius’ appointment of Decentius, all joint coin issues from Magnentius’ mints in the name of Constantius II immediately halted, a sure sign that Magnentius was looking to forge his own path in the matter of joint rulership (although as events in Heracleia demonstrate the embassies to Constantius continued until the end of the year). What was the reason for Decentius’ appointment? Early sources (notably Aurelius Victor 42.9 and Eutropius 10.12.2) are clear that Decentius was sent to Gaul. This information chimes with the slender available evidence for Magnentius’ original interest in tackling the security of Gaul following the not entirely intentional neglect of the region by Constans.364 As Julian notes, Magnentius began his Augustuship by marshalling his armies to face the Rhine Germani, “the armament which [Magnentius] had collected to use against the barbarians but actually employed against us [Constantius’ troops], who could give you an adequate report of its strength?”365 The testimony of Libanius gives us good reason to believe that Germanic tribes were attacking towns and cities in Gaul from a relatively early period of Magnentius’ reign when he observes (again from Or. 18.33–34), “[the barbarians] swept in [to Gaul] with absolutely none to stop them, for Magnentius had his force in Italy” (despite Libanius’ account beginning with the allegation that Constantius gave the Alamanni licence to invade Gaul in order to cause problems for Magnentius).366 Drinkwater has proposed that the Alamanni began raiding Gaul “probably from late 352”, but since Magnentius effectively surrendered his hold on Italy in the autumn of that year, the suggestion is that Libanius was referring to raids that occurred in the first two years of Magnentius’ reign, during the entrenchment of his armies and administration in Italy. In this case, Magnentius’ original plan to shore up the security of the Rhine area may then have been side-tracked by events in Rome during the month of June which, in turn, precipitated Decentius’ elevation as a way of assuaging the impact of the Germani while Magnentius got on with his push into Italy and Illyricum.

Both Decentius and Gallus were appointed, in the style of the Caesars of the Tetrarchy, “to police the empire in its critical zones”.367 As we discuss in the following chapter, Gallus scored a number of notable victories in battles against the Sasanians, and despite the defeat of Decentius in 351/352 by Chnodomarius,368 an Alamannic king, and Decentius’ initial failure to recapture Trier following the rebellion in the city led by Poemenius,369 both Caesars were capable generals. Indeed, as the episode in Trier (in 352?) demonstrates, Decentius in contrast to Gallus and his eastern career was preoccupied by both external and internal enemies.

The civil war brought about by Magnentius’ usurpation of Constans exposed many long-standing issues facing the Roman Empire during the middle of the fourth century. The first and most obvious was the continued intrinsic political instability of Roman emperorship in spite of the fact that a ruling dynasty had maintained a hold over the empire for just over a quarter of a century (taking Constantine’s defeat of Licinius in 324 as the genuine beginning of Constantinian hegemony). The causes of this instability were manifold, but the events of 350 and the preceding decade of the 340s indicate that two factors were central above all in shaping events. The first and more perennial of the two was the competition for the office of emperor which went unabated even during this period of dynastic consolidation. Competition always exists in societies where honour is one of the defining qualities of rulership since the idea of dishonourable rule stands as honour’s dialectical partner,370 with the result that there will always be someone around who will claim to be able to do a better job than the sitting monarch. While the case for reviewing the historiography of Constans’ negative reputation has been made convincingly by Woudhuysen et al, it is apparent that among the reasons for Magnentius’ rebellion was a desire to remedy Constans’ governmental failings in Gaul. In this regard, John Drinkwater’s assessment is worth reiterating here:

[T]hough Constans did not neglect the west, he could not give it his undivided attention. The huge and awkwardly shaped territory that was under his jurisdiction and a state of more-or-less permanent hostility towards his brother caused him to spend much time in northern Italy and the Balkans. The Rhine frontier fell quiet.371

Drinkwater alludes here to the second principal issue underpinning the downfall of Constans: The considerable susceptibility of the western half of the empire to internal instability as a result of external threats to its security along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. John Matthews neatly summarises the relationship between these factors in the following way: “Germanic aggression and the need, on the Roman side, for large armed forces, freedom of action among their commanders, and sufficient authority in their hands to conduct recruitment, raise finance and negotiate settlements”.372 The question of susceptibility was linked, as Matthews points out to the impossibility of “guarantee[ing] that generals who were granted such powers would, or could, be content with them”.373 During the 340s these external threats may have been minimal but they were undoubtedly amplified by the territorial settlement that Constans inherited (or engineered?) following his role in the death of Constantine II in 340. The localised display of military loyalty in the Danubian area in favour of Vetranio with the attendant involvement of the extended Constantinian family during 350 demonstrates very clearly that political events were driven by the geo-politics emerging from such a heavily compartmentalised empire.

Closer to home, however, the civil war also exposed fault lines at the heart of the Constantinian dynasty. The appointment of Gallus as Caesar in March 351 may initially have been a cause of celebration – the promotion of a figure from a hitherto disparaged line of the imperial family – but it exposed the lack of a male heir for Constantius II. The emperor’s marriage to a daughter of Julius Constantius and Galla since 336 had not produced any children,374 a failing that intensified towards the end of his life and which he began to rationalise with reference to his past conduct.375 Constantius’ second marriage to Eusebia,376 the daughter of Flavius Eusebius,377 around 353–354, was explicitly intended to remedy the failure of his first marriage to produce a successor.378 Thus, when the geo-political realities of the empire intruded into the areas of imperial strategy and succession (the two had always been closely tied to one another), Constantius chose his first wife’s brother to fill the role of Caesar. Indeed, the challenging dynastic context for Constantius’ reign would ultimately define the final decade of his life and shape the memorialisation of his rule long after he had died.


1. Drinkwater 2000: 147–148.

2. See esp. Omissi 2018: 181–190.

3. Philostorgius, Hist. Eccl. 3.22; Lightfoot 1988: 113.

4. Cf. Lightfoot 1988: 112–113.

5. Julian, Or. 1.26d–27a. Trans. Wright 1913.

6. On this date for the first siege, see Burgess 1999b.

7. Cf. Lightfoot 1988: 113.

8. See esp. Aleksidze 2018.

9. See esp. Jackson Bonner 2020: 36–38.

10. Jackson Bonner 2020: 36–38.

11. Cf. the analysis of Jonge 1977: 134–163; also the comments by Lee 1993: 21–22, 37.

12. FHG frgs. 13 and 14 = frgs. 202 and 203, Banchich 2015: 133–140.

13. Trans. Banchich 2015.

14. Jackson Bonner 2020: 64.

15. For example, Julian, Or. 1.12a alludes to his appointment by Constantine as “governor and king of the Celtic tribes” while still a boy; cf. Vanderspoel 1993 who argues that this reflects Constantius’ participation in campaigns along the Rhine (328), against the Goths (332) and Sarmatians (334), in contrast to those who argue that it was a place-holding position in Gaul during the Gothic campaign of Constantine and Constantine Caesar, the latter credited with a major victory against the Goths in the Origin of Constantine (31). Cf. Barnes 1983; also Crawford 2016: 27.

16. In summary, Arce (1982, 1984) argues that Constantius while Caesar had been awarded the victory titles Sarmaticus and Persicus on the basis of his involvement in campaigns in 334 against the Sarmatians and against the Sasanians following the defeat of Naresh, the brother of Shapur I, in 336. Contra Arce, Barnes (1983) argues that Constantius’ victory titles derived from campaigns after 337, refuted by Arce. Burgess 2008 (p. 33) suggests that Sarmaticus was awarded to Constantius following a campaign between June and August 337. On victory titles, see esp. Hebblewhite 2017: 50–55.

17. Barnes 1983: 233.

18. Arce 1984: 227.

19. Cf. Seager 1997.

20. On Faustus, see Russell 1999. For the relevant portions of Faustus’ History pertaining to the period in English translation, see Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 300–309.

21. On Moses, see Garsoïan 2012. For an English translation, see Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 314–327.

22. See the analysis of Faustus’ History by Russell 1999.

23. For a discussion of the problems, see Hewsen 1978–1979: 108–113. Baynes 1910 was among the first studies to indicate that Faustus’ History contained details of Armenia’s relations with the Roman Empire during the reign of Constantius II. See the important note correcting aspects of Baynes’ essay in Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 380–381, n. 22.

24. Hewsen 1978–79: 110 argues against the existence of Chosroes III (“who is only a doublet of Tiridates’ father Chosroes II”), and regards the period from the death of Tiridates IV (330–c.338) to the accession of Arsaces II (r. 337–367) as an interregnum. In contrast, Lightfoot 2005: 495–496 argues against an interregnum, and implies that a king (Chosroes III?) did accede to the throne in 330, only to be met with serious internal challenges as described in the histories of Faustus and Moses.

25. See Lightfoot 2005 for an account of Armenian loyalty to Rome.

26. Julian, Or. 1.20d–21a.

27. Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 284 (nt. 84), following Hewsen 1992: 253–255, locate P‘aytakaran “on the western side of the Caspian Sea, south of Albania and north of the Araxes”.

28. The revolt of Sanatruk, Faustus 3.7, 9; Moses 3.3;6. The revolt of Bakur, Faustus 3.9; Moses 3.4, 7.

29. Faustus 3.21; Moses 3.10. See Lightfoot 2005: 496–497 for commentary.

30. Faustus 3.7–9; Moses 3.3–4; 6–7. Cf. Julian, Or. 1.18d–19a. For further details of the coup d’état of 335, see Marciak 2017: 151.

31. Lightfoot 2005: 496. Also, Marciak 2017: 149.

32. Redgate 1998: 95.

33. Petr. Pat., frg. 202 (Banchich 2015: 135–136).

34. Lightfoot 1981: 195.

35. From the viewpoint of the Armenian sources, Faustus 3.21 (Dodgeon and Lieu 1981: 307–308) seems to have spliced Prince Narses’ (Naresh) invasion of Armenia in 335–336 that was checked by Constantius, with King Narses’ attempted conquest of Armenia in 296–298. See Dodgeon and Lieu 1981: 385, nt.4.

36. Here, Theophanes indicates the years 324–325 with his earlier reference to the deaths of Martinianus and Licinianus, but which is evidently a chronological error. Cf. the comments by Barnes 1983: 235.

37. Theophanes. a.m. 5815.

38. Festus 27, in Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 154.

39. Ensslin 1936: 106. Cf. Peeters 1931: 44, who argues that Constantius’ victory at Narasara was an episode in the larger battle of Eleia/Singara in 344.I follow Lightfoot 1981: 13–14, who argues that Narses’ defeat occurred at Narasara during the campaign of Constantius Caesar over the northern frontier with Armenia.

40. Lightfoot 2005: 496.

41. Lightfoot 1981: 30, nt. 80.

42. Amm. Marc. 18.9.1.

43. Cf. Lightfoot 1981: 199.

44. See Blockley 1989: 472, nt. 42. Blockley also suggests that Constantius oversaw the construction of the fort at Cepha on the Tigris, and another fort on the borders of Beth-Arabaye.

45. Lightfoot 1981: 13–14.

46. PLRE I: 330 (Felicianus 5).

47. Lightfoot 1981: 13.

48. Cf. Lightfoot 1981: 14–15. As Lightfoot argues, there is no doubt that the title assigned by Constantine was intended to provoke the Sasanian monarch.

49. See the comments by Blockley 1989: 473.

50. For example, Faustus 3.21. Moses 3.5–6.

51. Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 383, nt. 2, echoing Peeters 1931: 14–20.

52. And, Festus 26, Dodgeon and Lieu 1991

At the news of his coming, the court of Babylonia went into such a panic that a suppliant legation of Persians went to him with all haste, promising to do what he commanded. However they did not even earn a pardon for the incessant incursions which had beset the Oriens under Constantius Caesar.

53. Cf. Barnes 1982: 397, nt. 148.

54. Following Burgess 1999b.

55. Lightfoot 1981: 93–94. Lieu 2006.

56. Lieu 2006.

57. Grüll 2014.

58. Lightfoot 1981: 77.

59. Expositio 22, trans. Dignas and Winter 2007: 197–198.

60. Amm. Marc. 25.8.14.

61. Libanius, Or. 59.74. Trans. Lieu and Montserrat 1996.

62. Libanius, Or. 59.75.

63. That is, the title in evidence in the Troesmis inscription; Barnes 1983: 230; Burgess 2008: 41.

64. On the duration of the first siege of Nisibis, see Burgess 1999b.

65. Julian, Or. 1.20b. Trans. Wright 1913.

66. Julian, Or. 1.20c.

67. Julian, Or. 1.20d–21b.

68. See Blockley 1992: 13–14.

69. Crawford 2016: 38.

70. Julian, Or. 1.18c–d.

71. See esp. Bleckmann 2003: 234–236.

72. Zosimus 2.41.

73. Lane-Fox 1997: 244; Bleckmann 2003: 244–246; and more recently, Lewis 2020.

74. Zonaras 13.5.

75. Bleckmann 2003: 246–247.

76. Cf. Barnes 1982: 216–217.

77. Barnes 1980: 161.

78. Cod. Theod. 12.1.29 (19 January 340); 10.10.5 (February 340); Bleckmann 2003: 247.

79. Crawford 2016: 64, adduced with no evidence.

80. Bleckmann 2003: 247.

81. Seeck 1919: 188, for the emendation from “Bessae” to “Edessae”. Cod. Theod. 11.1.5 preserves a law from 3 February 339 issued to a certain Uranius (PLRE 1: 982 (Uranius 2); cf. Barnes 2011: 45–46). Neither this official’s office, nor the location where the law was issued has been preserved by the Code. Nevertheless, the law has been attributed to Constantius. The text itself pertains to the payment of taxes by provincials: Pharr’s commentary (p. 291, nt. 14) suggests that the emperor was “compelled to issue a special tax levy or superindiction” as a result of the cost of the war against the Persians. However, I tend to side with the judgement of Barnes 2011 who argues that the attribution to Constantius is not secure, and that the characterisation of the law’s context represents a “gratuitous assumption” (46, nt. 26).

82. Itin. Alex. 1.1.

83. Suggested by Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 179. On the role of Edessa as a base of operation, see Lightfoot 1981: 77–78.

84. Julian, Or. 1.22a–b. Trans. Wright 1913.

85. Cf. Bleckmann 2003: 244–250.

86. Libanius, Or. 59.83–87.

87. See the commentary by Malosse 2003: 49. Cf. Heather 1991: 102.

88. Libanius, Or. 59.89–93.

89. Libanius, Or. 59.77.

90. Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 385, nt. 18, suggest that the city in question was Nineveh.

91. Cedrenus 1.522, indicates that Constantius celebrated a victory over the Assyrians (= Persians) in the sixth year of his reign (i.e. 343). Athanasius, Hist. Ar. 16.2., notes that news of a victory by Constantius over the Persians interrupted the proceedings of the Council of Serdica, which is dated to 343. Dodgeon and Lieu’s suggestion (see note immediately above) of the captured city as Nineveh in the province of Adiabene (cf. Amm. Marc. 18.7.1) offers a context for the victory title Adiabin. (sic!) Max. awarded to Constantius in a milestone from Sirmium dated 344–345, CIL 3.3705 (ILS 732). Cf. Maraval 2013: 70.

92. Julian, Or. 1.23c.

93. Libanius, Or. 59.103; 117; Julian, Or. 1.

94. Julian, Or. 1.24d–25a.

95. Cf. Crawford 2016: 54.

96. For example, Festus’ enumeration of Constantius’ “pitched” battles against the Persians (nine in total) included two over Singara. As Blockley 1989: 489 points out, however, the description supplied by Festus is “not clear”. See Blockley’s discussion, pp. 489–490.

97. Amm. Marc. 20.6.9. See esp. the discussion of Singara in Lightfoot 1981.

98. For example, Festus 27 (Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 188):

… there were nine pitched battles: on seven occasions these were conducted by his generals, and he was personally present twice. However, in the battles at Sisara, at Singara and at Singara at second time (in which Constantius was present), and at Sicgara [“a cacography”, Blockley 1989: 489], also at Constantia and when Amida was captured, the state suffered severe loss under that emperor. Nisibis was besieged three times, but the enemy suffered the greater loss while maintaining the siege. However, at the battle of Narasara, where Narses was killed, we were the winners. But in the night battle at Eleia near Singara, the outcome of all the expeditions would have been counterbalanced if, though terrain and night were adverse, the emperor himself by addressing them had been able to recall his soldiers, excited with their aggression, away from an inopportune time for a battle.

99. Athanasius, Hist. Ar. 7.3. See Barnes 1993: 215–216.

100. For example, the judgement of Blockley 1989: 476, n. 63, whose acceptance of 348 as the date for the battle is based not only on Jerome (“rarely out in his dates by more than one year”, paraphrasing Alberto Olivetti’s “Osservazioni storiche e cronologiche sulla guerra di Costanzo II contro il Persiani” from 1915: 1019–1023), but also on his acceptance of 348–349 for Libanius, Or. 59. Also, the older opinion of Barnes 1980: 163 for 348, and his acceptance of 344 in Barnes 1993: 312, nt. 19, on the basis of the argument of Portmann 1989, who established the case for Or. 59s composition in 344–345. In both instances, Barnes argues for two battles in the proximity of Singara in order to make sense of the description offered by Festus (27): The first, at which Constantius was present, he dates (in Barnes 1993: 313) to 348, and the second battle, described by Festus as “a night battle at Eleia near Singara” to 344 (at which Constantius was also present). Cf. the commentary of Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 386, nt. 25.

101. Jerome, Chron. s.a. 348 (Helm 1956): Bellum Persicum nocturnum aput Singaram, in quo haut dubiam victoriam militum stoliditate perdidimus.

102. For example, the judgement of Tantillo 1997: 285, regarding Julian’s tendency to provide precise details of events.

103. Julian, Or. 1.26b–c.

104. For a survey of the arguments, see Tantillo 1997: 284–286.

105. Cf. Julian, Or. 1.22d–25b; Festus 27; Eutropius, 10.10.1; Amm. Marc. 18.5.7. Collected and translated in Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 188–189.

106. Cf. Julian’s assessment of the reasons for the troops behaviour, Or. 1.24a–b, discussed above.

107. Julian, Or. 1.22d–25b.

108. Cf. Crawford 2016: 54–57.

109. Libanius, Or. 59.100. Trans. Lieu and Montserrat 1996.

110. In relation to his account of Constans’ campaign against the Franks at Or. 59. 126. On Libanius’ method in the oration, see Ross 2016b.

111. Libanius, Or. 59.106.

112. Libanius, Or. 59.112.

113. Libanius, Or. 59.105–106.

114. Cf. Barnes 1993: 313, n. 23.

115. Cf. the argument of Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 386, nt. 25 – which speaks a great deal of sense – of reconciling the idea of two battles, one in 343–344, the other in 348 at Eleia: Namely, that the night engagement was part of the battle of Singara in 344, since Libanius notes that the conflict continued on into the night-time.

116. Libanius, Or. 59.112.

117. Libanius, Or. 59.117.

118. Libanius, Or. 59.108.

119. Blockley 1989: 477, albeit accepting the date of 348.

120. Julian, Or. 1.24a–b.

121. Triumphal notes (albeit somewhat muted) struck by Libanius, Or. 59.120; Julian, Or. 1.25a–b.

122. See RIC 8: 504 for a discussion.

123. RIC 8: Antioch 516, 67; 68 (showing only one emperor).

124. Cf. Barnes 1993: 220.

125. Following Barnes 1993: 219–220.

126. Barnes 1993: 263, nt. 6, citing the hypothesis of Klein 1977: 74, nt. 149 (Barnes incorrectly has nt. 179); also Barnes 1993: 220; 312, nt. 18; 313, nt. 25. Cf. Crawford 2016: 57.

127. Jerome, Chron. s.a. 346; Theophanes, Chron. A.M. 5837: collected in Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 192. Cf. Lightfoot 1981: 94.

128. For example, Firmicus Maternus, On the Error 29.3. (Dodgeon and Lieu: 1991): “The battalions of your adversaries had been turned back, and the rebellious armies had fallen down before your gaze. The most arrogant people had been yoked and the Persian hopes had foundered”.

129. Cf. Blockley 1989: 467–468. See Wienand 2015b for details of the distinctive gold medallion (RIC 8 Antioch 518, no. 78: Emperor in a quadriga, pouring coins with his right hand, while in his left hand he holds an eagle-tipped sceptre; in the background to the right of the emperor is a staurogram) struck at Antioch to commemorate the Roman success at Singara, i.e. the retreat of Sasanian forces.

130. Hinted at by Libanius, Or. 59.106.

131. See Jackson Bonner 2020: 74–78; cf. Rezakhani 2017: 89–93.

132. To borrow from the title of Lightfoot 1988.

133. Collected in Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 193–197.

134. Cf. Lightfoot 1988: 119.

135. The sources are analysed in a clear-eyed manner by Lightfoot 1981: 92–103; also, Lightfoot 1988.

136. Theodoret, Hist. Eccl. 2.30.5 and Hist. Rel. 1.11 (the numeration of Price 1985); Lightfoot 1988: 115–116.

137. Lightfoot 1988: 117.

138. Julian, Or. 1. 27c.

139. Lightfoot 1981: 100–101, and an extended discussion in Lightfoot 1988: 117–119. Recent research on the Aethiopica dates it confidently to the third century, e.g. Most 2007.

140. Julian, Or. 1.28d–29a.

141. Julian, Or. 2. 62c. Trans. Wright 1913.

142. Cf. Lightfoot 1990.

143. Julian, Or. 1.28d.

144. Chron. Pas. 536–539 (Trans. Whitby and Whitby 1989: 27–28).

145. See Lightfoot 1988: 112.

146. Lightfoot 1988: 113.

147. Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 3.22.

148. Theodoret, Hist. eccl. 2.30.1–2, 9–10, 31.1.

149. Ephrem, Hymns against Julian 2.20; 4.15; Lieu 1989.

150. Ephrem, On Nisibis 2.2; trans. Sarsfield Stopford 1886.

151. Ephrem, On Nisibis 4.18.

152. Lightfoot 1988: 111.

153. Lightfoot 1988: 112.

154. Jackson-Bonner 2020: 78; on the name, see esp. Rezakhani 2017: 88–89.

155. On the nature of this migration, see esp. the important discussion by Rezakhani 2017: 88–89.

156. Amm. Marc. 14.3.1 (on the volatile nature of Shapur’s relations with the Huns); 16.9.3–4 (with reference to events in 356). Shapur later concluded an alliance with the “Chionite” Huns under their king Grumbates, and then attacked Amida with their support, see Amm. Marc. 19.1.1–2. See De La Vaissière 2015.

157. Jackson Bonner 2020: 78.

158. Amm. Marc. 14.3.1.

159. For the extent of Maxentius’ territory, see Cullhed 1994: 68–74.

160. See esp. Cullhed 1994: 45–49.

161. For example, Pan. Lat. 12(9) 14.3.

162. Cf. Shelton 1982: 223.

163. Following the chronology of phases established by Bastien 1964: 48–49. For Magnentius and Aquileia, see the illuminating analysis by Sotinel 2005: 49–54.

164. Discovered as part of the famous Emona hoard, for details, see Shelton 1982: 219–220. For a representative type, see RIC 8 Aquileia 325–326, no. 122 (Plate 14, 122a); also Bastien 1964: 49 (no. 302).

165. Cf. Bastien 1964: 48–49.

166. Shelton 1982: 221.

167. RIC 8 Aquileia 326, no. 124.

168. See the comments by Kent, RIC 8: 132, and the remarks by Bastien 1964: 40. Cf. Humphries 2020: 165–166.

169. Dearn 2003: 183.

170. Dearn 2003: 183.

171. Cf. ILS 741, 742.

172. See Bastien 1964: 37

173. CIL 5.2.8066 = ILS 742.

174. Woudhuysen 2018: 179.

175. Shelton 1982: 227–228.

176. See Barnes 1993: 220.

177. Šašel 1971: 209 has tabulated the course of negotiations between the three rulers during 350, although I have my doubts over the correctness of some of his inferences.

178. Bastien 1964: 51.

179. Horster 2007: 298.

180. For example, RIC 7 Trier 164, no. 11.

181. Shelton 1982: 235.

182. Chron. Pas. s.a. 350; Vetranio’s elevation by the army and his residence in Mursa can be found in Zosimus 2.43.1.

183. An ambivalence effectively highlighted by Omissi 2018: 181–184.

184. Identified by Harries 2014: 197, as Constantine I’s eldest daughter.

185. Trans. Amidon 2007: 57.

186. Misdated by Theophanes to AM 5849/AD 356/357, where Vetranio is referred to as Bretanion; see Mango and Scott 1997: 72, and the nt. 16, p. 74.

187. Cf. Barnes 1993: 220–221.

188. Philostorgius’ depiction of Constantina is defended by Tougher 2020a: 199–200.

189. Dearn 2003: 170.

190. RIC 8 Siscia 368, nos. 265–269.

191. RIC 8 Siscia 370, nos. 295–296.

192. Dearn 2003: 179–183.

193. RIC 8 Siscia 368, n.283 (pl. 16).

194. Dearn 2003: 188.

195. Drinkwater 2000: 154.

196. Dearn 2003: 186–189.

197. Drinkwater 2000: 150–151.

198. Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 3.24; cf. Drinkwater 2000: 146–157.

199. However, the loyalty of sections of the Illyrian army to Vetranio seems not to have been absolute as the case of a certain Gomoarius (PLRE 1:397) demonstrates. A tribune of the schola Scutariorum, heis said by Ammianus (21.8.1) to have betrayed Vetranio. He was appointed magister equitum by Constantius, presumably as a reward for his service in the affair of Vetranio. It is noteworthy that Julian (Amm. 21.8.1) dismissed him from that role because of his treachery.

200. Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. 3.22; Zonaras 13. 7.

201. Dearn 2003: 178.

202. RIC 8: 240; Dearn 2003: 184.

203. As suggested by Julian, Or. 1. 30c.

204. RIC 8 Siscia 367.

205. Dearn 2003: 183.

206. Šašel 1971: 209.

207. Drinkwater 2000: 153.

208. Julian, Or. 1.26d.

209. Philostorgius, Hist eccl. 3.24.

210. Fr. 16 = F. 213 in Banchich 2015: 145–147; see also Banchich 2015: 3–9.

211. According to PLRE 1: 546. Marcellinus 8 is the magister officiorum, Marcellinus 9 is the magister militum. Cf. Cameron 2011: 661, for the suggestion that the general in the embassy party was a Marcellianus.

212. PLRE 1: 635. Also, Zonaras 13.8. Barnes 1992a: 255: “The nature of Nunechius’ prefecture is totally unclear”.

213. PLRE 1: 782 mistakenly notes that Vulcacius Rufinus was sent by Magnentius. The same error is also made by Delmaire 1997. Drinkwater 2000: 155 correctly identifies him as belonging to the party of Vetranio.

214. PLRE 1 582 (Maximus 17).

215. Chastagnol 1962: 154–156.

216. Chastagnol 1962: 135.

217. Drinkwater 2000: 156–157.

218. Bleckmann 1994: 56–57.

219. Cod. Theod. 12.1.33 (5 April 342).

220. John of Antioch, fr. 187 (= fr. 212, Mariev 2008).

221. John of Antioch, fr. 187. See Chausson 2007: 99–100, for a discussion of the sources.

222. Barnes 1982: 44; developed ingeniously by Woods 2004.

223. PLRE 1: 221 (Constantianus 1).

224. PLRE 1: 197 (Cerealis 1).

225. PLRE 1: 382 (Galla 2).

226. Chausson 2007: 104–105. See the family tree at p. 162.

227. On this association, see the comments by Bleckmann 1994: 57.

228. PLRE 1: 490 (Justus 1).

229. Cf. Drinkwater 2000: 137, nt. 36, who places the marriage prior to “the break with Constantius II”, which I take to mean in the early half of 350 before Magnentius stops issuing coins in the name of Constantius. Also, Frakes 2006: 96, who suggests 351/2 for the date of the marriage to Justina. Chausson 2007: 98–99, puts Magnentius’ marriage to Justina after his proposal to marry Constantina is rebutted.

230. PLRE 1: 490 (Justus 1).

231. Socrates, Hist. eccl. 4.31.11.

232. Chausson 2007: 101.

233. That is, John of Antioch, fr. 187.

234. See RIC 8: 242.

235. Cf. Amm. Marc. 30.7.3, for the treatment of Gratianus, the father of Valentinian I, whose estate was confiscated as a result of showing hospitality to Magnentius during his campaign in Pannonia.

236. Socrates, Hist. eccl. 4.31.11–13.

237. Trans. Banchich 2015: 146.

238. See esp. Bleckmann 1994: 54–59; Drinkwater 2000: 155–158.

239. Drinkwater 2000: 157.

240. See esp. Hebblewhite 2017: 150–159.

241. Themistius, Or. 2. 37a-b (dating from the end of 355; see Errington 2000: 868–870); Themistius, Or. 3. 45c–d.

242. Tantillo 1997: 325.

243. So, Tantillo 1997: 324–325.

244. Julian, Or. 2.78a–b.

245. See the pertinent comments by O’Brien 2013, on the imperial speeches in Ammianus Marcellinus.

246. Julian, Or. 1. 31d–32a.

247. Tantillo 1997: 324.

248. Julian, Or. 2.77b.

249. Cf. Julian, Or. 2. 77a–b.

250. See esp. Tougher 2012.

251. Zosimus, 2.44.3–4.

252. Cf. Hebblewhite 2017: 155–156.

253. On praemia militae and other payments to the Roman army, see now Hebblewhite 2017: 71–119.

254. Julian, Or. 132a–b.

255. Julian, Or. 2.77c.

256. Eutropius 10.11.2; on the merits of Eutropius’ account of the episode, see Moreno Resano 2009: 301.

257. Consularia Constantinopolitana s.a. 350 (Burgess 1993: 236).

258. PLRE 1: 625 (Nepotianus 7); likely the son of Virius Nepotianus (Nepotianus 6), who had also been consul in 301. See the comments by Hillner 2017: 80.

259. See esp. the pertinent analysis by Hillner 2017: 77–78.

260. See Tougher 2020a: 198.

261. See the intriguing suggestions by Hillner 2017: 80.

262. Chausson 2007: 129–133.

263. On the basis of Chausson 2007: 133, and the suggestion that Eutropia and Virius Nepotianus were married c. 320, around the same time as Julius Constantius and Galla’s marriage.

264. Tougher 2011: 188.

265. Bleckmann 2004: 46, nt. 7.

266. Moser 2018: 174.

267. Caza 2018.

268. Caza 2018: 68–70.

269. Cf. Burgess 1995.

270. The famous epigram inscription (ILCV 1768, II.1–6) commemorating the foundation of the basilica and composed in the first person of Constantina’s imperial “voice” (“a poetic tour de force and blatant statement of Christian triumphalism”: Trout 2014: 221): see the discussions by Curran 2000: 128–129; Jones 2007; Hillner 2017: 87; Tougher 2020a: 201–202.

271. On the mausoleum, see esp. Johnson 2009: 139–156.

272. Hillner 2017: 86.

273. Athanasius, Defence before Constantius 6. Cf. Hillner 2017: 90.

274. Hillner 2017: 86.

275. Hillner 2017: 88.

276. A point made well by Moreno Resano 2009: 306–307.

277. The expression belongs to Moreno Resano 2009: 317.

278. Ehling 2001: 148 with plate 1.2; 1.3 = RIC 8 Rome 265, n. 200 and 266, n. 201, respectively.

279. RIC 8 Rome 261, n. 167 (plate 9); see the discussion by Ehling 2001: 149–151.

280. For example, RIC 8 Rome 266, n. 203.

281. Moreno Resano 2009: 318.

282. RIC 8 Rome 261, ns. 166 and 167.

283. RIC 8 Rome 266, ns. 202 and 203.

284. See Cullhed 1994: 45; and esp. his comments on p. 62.

285. See esp. Ehling 2001: 153.

286. Maraval 2013: 94. Cf. the discussion of Titianus by Cameron 2011: 138–139.

287. RIC 8 Rome 263, nos. 177–180.

288. Notably Cameron 2011, passim (with pp. 33–92 offering the salient points of the arguments); also see the recent contribution by Salzman 2016.

289. Moreno Resano 2009: 317.

290. Salzman 2016, who usefully summarises prior debates about Constantine’s relations with the Senate.

291. Cf. the comments by Drinkwater 2000: 138.

292. The suggestion of Moreno Resano 2009: 317. Cf. the analysis of the evidence by Drinkwater 2000: 138–142.

293. Ehling 2001: 153.

294. Trans. Bird 1993.

295. Kristensen 2015: 331.

296. Kristensen 2015: 327.

297. Pan. Lat. 3 (11) 13.1–3; Nixon and Rodgers 1994: 412–413.

298. Omissi 2018: 214–215.

299. Tougher 2020: 136.

300. Trans. Bird 1994: 52.

301. Moreno Resano 2009: 298–301, 302–303.

302. Jerome, Chron. s.a. 350.

303. Woudhuysen 2018: 179–180.

304. Cf. Ross 2016: 297.

305. Cf. PLRE 1: 67–68 (Anicetus 1); Barnes 1992a: 257.

306. PLRE 1: 67 (Anicius), with explanatory note against which should be read CLRE for 350 (p. 234).

307. Jones 1964: 368, and the discussion between 575 and 584.

308. Athanasius, Defence before Constantius 6.

309. Cf. Tougher 2008: 40–42.

310. Cf. Omissi 2018: 170, nt. 91.

311. Trans. Wright 1913: 155.

312. PLRE 1: 192 (Celsinus 4).

313. PLRE 1: 733.

314. PLRE 1: 270.

315. See the important discussion by Barnes 2006: 250.

316. See Barnes 2006: 251.

317. PLRE 1: 94 (Arbitio 2).

318. PLRE 1: 952.

319. Barnes 2006: 252.

320. See Cameron 2011: 336.

321. Matthews 1992: 295–296.

322. Chron. Min. 1.238.

323. The detail is found in Ammianus’ report of a speech (adlocutio) by Constantius to his troops at Hierapolis prior to confronting Julian in late 360. On the stylised manner of the speech, see the comments by den Boeft, den Hengst and Teitler 1991: 189–190, 204–207.

324. Cuneo 1997: lxx–lxxi.

325. PLRE 1: 224–225 (Constantius 4).

326. Cf. Menander Rhetor 422.1–15.

327. Trans. Cameron and Hall 1999: 67. See the comments by Barnes 1987: 209.

328. Barnes 1987: 209.

329. Penella 2007: 274, nt. 5.

330. Liebeschuetz 1979: 284.

331. Bardhill 2012: 170; also, 168–174.

332. Thus, Moser 2018: 180–181.

333. Bleckmann 1994: 61.

334. Dirschlmayer 2021: 469.

335. Moser 2018: 102.

336. For a discussion of the individuals concerned, see Moser 2018: 180–189.

337. Moser 2018: 188.

338. See Moser 2018: 190–196 for the discussion of the inscription.

339. PLRE 1: 696–697 (Phillipus 7), alongside which should be read Barnes 1992a: 254–255, esp. nt. 24; cf. Moser 2018: 199–207 for a valuable reappraisal of Phillipus’ career, in particular the subsequent and much contested fate of the Prefect.

340. Moser 2018: 194.

341. Moser 2018: 212.

342. See esp. Bleckmann 1994: 56–58.

343. As proposed by Bleckmann 1994: 58.

344. Cf. Barnes 2011: 170–172.

345. Amm. Marc. 14.10.4. Zos. 2.55.3 indicates that his successor was C. Ceionius Rufius Volusianus (Lampadius), deemed loyal to Constantius whose role as an informer against Gallus is noted by Zosimus. See Bleckmann 1994: 64–65.

346. Chastagnol 1962: 135–139.

347. A connection highlighted by Julian, Letter to the Athenians 272d, and Athanasius, History of the Arians 69.1. See Chausson 2007: 125.

348. Bleckmann 2004.

349. Socrates, Hist. eccl. 2.28.21; see Périchon and Maraval 2005: 132–133, nt. 2. Bleckmann 2004: 48.

350. See Van Hoof 2014: 7.

351. Trans. Norman 2003: 289.

352. Bleckmann 2004: 55.

353. Julian, Or. 1.38b. See the comment by Bleckmann 2004: 54.

354. See the discussion by Drinkwater 2007: 200–202.

355. Bleckmann 2004: 55.

356. See esp. Bleckmann and Gross 2018: 266–267.

357. See the analysis by Leadbetter 2009: 89–91.

358. See esp. Šašel 1971: 210–216, and also the comments by Bleckmann 2004: 52–54.

359. RIC 7: 49–50; Hebblewhite 2017: 12–18.

360. Notably, Aurelius Victor, On the Caesars 42.9. See the discussion by Bleckmann 1999b. Cf. PLRE 1: 244–245 (Decentius 3); Kienast 2017: 306. On Milan as the place of Decentius’ elevation, see Zonaras 13.8.

361. RIC 8 Trier 161, n. 298 (see pl. 3); 162, nos. 302–303. Also, Bastien 1964: 57; 162. On the significance of the legend, see Hebblewhite 2017: 12–17.

362. See Barnes 1993: 269–270, nt. 10.

363. See the case proposed by Bastien 1964: 15–16.

364. Again, the analysis by Drinkwater 2007 (p. 200f.) is invaluable here.

365. Julian, Or. 1.34b–c.

366. Drinkwater 2007: 202.

367. Rees 2004: 8.

368. Amm. Marc. 16.12.5; see Drinkwater 2007: 201. PLRE 1: 202.

369. Amm. Marc. 15.6.4; see RIC 8: 136; Matthews 2007: 18.

370. See esp. the important analysis by Lendon 1997: 30–106.

371. Drinkwater 2007: 200.

372. Matthews 2007: 93.

373. Matthews 2007: 93.

374. See Chausson 2007: 111–113; Tougher 2011: 187–188.

375. Reported by Julian, Letter to the Athenians 270d–271a.

376. PLRE 1: 300–301; see esp. the comments by McEvoy 2016: 156–158.

377. PLRE 1: 307–308 (Eusebius 39).

378. Julian, Or. 3.109b; Tougher 1998; James 2012.

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