Date of Degree
Access restricted until 07/03/2020
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Sarah E. Bond
First Committee Member
Sarah E. Bond
Second Committee Member
Paul C. Dilley
Third Committee Member
Craig A. Gibson
Fourth Committee Member
Robert C. Ketterer
Fifth Committee Member
Rosemary L. Moore
In both the narratives of their reigns and as objects of allusion in accounts of later periods of Roman history, the seven kings of Rome (r. 753-509 BCE, traditionally) frequently feature in historiographical and biographical works written after the death of Livy (17 CE) with meaningful nuance despite the relative crystallization of Rome's founding and regal legends during the age of Augustus (r. 31 BCE-14 CE). I demonstrate how 12 authors writing over a period of four centuries, from late in the reign of Tiberius (r. 14-37 CE) to shortly after the death of Theodosius I (r. 378-395), refashion the kings as creative reflections of, or reactions to, the Roman emperors in both their narratives and the time of writing those narratives. These writers are, in Latin, Velleius Paterculus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Florus, Justin, Aurelius Victor, Eutropius, Ammianus Marcellinus, and the anonymous authors of the Historia Augusta and Epitome de Caesaribus; in Greek, Appian and Cassius Dio. Through close, contextual readings I examine how and explain why certain authors present the kings as exemplary monarchs whose conduct should be imitated or avoided, especially in contexts where those kings are by a variety of rhetorical tactics compared or contrasted with figures in narratives of later history. I then place those readings along a chronological spectrum to reveal common elements of continuity and evolution of the kings among these 12 authors at various points in imperial history. It can be shown that the idealization of the kings is roughly a function of the author's audience and social class (i.e. Roman senators are less favorable to them than equestrians and provincials). Moreover, the kings evolve over time, beginning as blood ancestors of emperors in the early Principate, expanding to products and benefactors of a diverse, Mediterranean cosmopolis during the High Empire, then restricting to symbols of traditional political, cultural, and religious notions tied to the physical city of Rome in Late Antiquity, when the political, spatial, and spiritual transformation of the imperial office made the kings obsolete as persuasive models of imperial rulership. More broadly, this project adds to our understanding that at any point, societies tend to not only reinvent their histories as reflections of their own time, but also credit "Great Men" both as explanatory devices for major events and as embodiments of national identity.
Kings of Rome, Late Antiquity, Roman biography, Roman historiography
xi, 415 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 404-415).
Copyright © 2018 Jeremy Joseph Swist
Swist, Jeremy Joseph. "A principio reges: the reception of the seven kings of Rome in imperial historiography from Tiberius to Theodosius." PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2018.
Available for download on Friday, July 03, 2020