Thursday, March 13, 2003

The development of ritual in late Roman antiquity

My latest audio course is "The World of Byzantium" by Professor Kenneth Harl of Tulane University. Professor Harl pointed out that with the increasing number of soldier-emperors of the late imperial period, ritual was developed to counteract the discrepancy in education between emperors from the army camps and the aristocratic elite. He said that when the emperor Julian tried to dispense with all of the elaborate rituals that had been developed around the emperor and return to a more accessible "princeps" model like Marcus Aurelius, he was criticized by his subjects for not being regal enough. I thought this was very interesting but was a little confused because I thought most Roman commanders were educated aristocrats.