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Constantius III, Galla Placidia, and Libanius the Magician: Olympiodorus of Thebes and the Reconstruction of Imperial Politics in Ravenna in 421

Dunn, Geoffrey D. 2020. Constantius III, Galla Placidia, and Libanius the Magician: Olympiodorus of Thebes and the Reconstruction of Imperial Politics in Ravenna in 421. Journal for Late Antique Religion and Culture 14 , pp. 50-64. 10.18573/jlarc.113

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Abstract

In Fragmentum 36, the ninth-century Photius, patriarch of Constantinople, summarises Olympiodorus of Thebes teratological story about Libanius the magician and the contradictory responses to his presence in Ravenna by Constantius III and his wife, Galla Placidia. The story of the dispute between the couple and of Galla Placidia’s success in having Libanius put to death is to be believed, in the light of what else we can reconstruct about how this married couple operated in other situations. Although R.C. Blockley assessed this story in terms of Olympiodorus’ interest in paganism and magic, it will be argued here that it is best seen in terms of the poet-historian’s hostility to Constantius—something Blockley noted but did not explain. That hostility is to be understood as flowing from Olympiodorus’ aim of providing an encomium for Theodosius II in Constantinople, who was ill-disposed towards Constantius, parallel as it were with the efforts of Claudian for Stilicho, detailed a generation ago by Alan Cameron.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
D History General and Old World > DG Italy
Publisher: Cardiff University
ISSN: 1754-517X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 July 2020
Date of Acceptance: 1 February 2020
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2020 12:47
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/132936

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