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Manliness and Imperial Representation

March 3, 2022 @ 3:30 pm 5:00 pm

The Roman emperor Constantine the Great is usually considered the first Christian Roman emperor. It is certainly true that Constantine adopted Christianity and made it a legal Roman religion, but the emperor who really laid the foundation for Christian rulership was the emperor Theodosius, also the Great, some sixty years later. Theodosius, like Constantine and most other Roman emperors before him, was considered most sacred and divine. As divine ruler he embodied and represented the apex of virtue, of everything Romans considered essential in a man and leader—virtue in fact derives from the Latin word vir, meaning elite male. How then did Theodosius transform Roman imperial rule into a Christian ideal? How did he conceive of himself as the most sacred and divine yet Christian emperor and vir? What should such a divine Christian Roman ruler look like? Pacatus’ panegyric praising the emperor Theodosius offers essential insights into the signal transformation of the divine Roman emperor into a Christian ruler Theodosius initiated and that was to last for centuries to come.


March 3
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
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