"Where does it end?": Limits on imperial authority in Late Antiquity
Organizer: Jacqueline Long, Loyola University Chicago
Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity
At the meeting of the Society for Classical Studies in San Diego, California, JANUARY 3–6, 2019, the Society for Late Antiquity will sponsor a session on limits to imperial authority in Late Antiquity.
No other mortal man commanded more authority in empire. The late-Roman emperor was source of law, head of government, victor of his armies' wars (whether or not he led in battle), exemplar and enforcer of orthodoxy even after repudiating his ancient presidency over state cults, because public order relied on him. How was such a man to “remember [he was] mortal”? If the famous triumphal counterpoint was no more than a Christian interjection to the tradition of ceremony (Beard, Roman Triumph  85-92), nevertheless it had currency amid the ideological and historical changes of the later Empire. Its question generalizes: what limits on imperial power were recognized, after Roman imperialism proved its geographical limit? The Society for Late Antiquity seeks to compose a panel of papers addressing this multifarious question. Both events and ideas are welcome for consideration. How were usurpers able to reject rivals' rule and claim imperial title for themselves? What failed when they fell short? In what ways could laws rein in rulers? Could criticism or consent regulate their actions, or only opposed force? What cultural values shaped judgment of reigning and past emperors; did such judgments matter? How did alternative organs of empire-wide power, such as bureaucracy or armies or Church, or local constituencies seeking accommodation, work with emperors so as to achieve ends of their own?
Abstracts for papers requiring a maximum of twenty minutes to deliver should be sent no later than February 16, 2018 by email attachment to Mark Masterson at Mark.Masterson@vuw.ac.nz (Note: please don't mail abstracts to the organizer of this panel). All submissions will be judged anonymously by two referees. Prospective panellists must be members in good standing of the SCS at the time of submission and must include their membership number in the cover letter accompanying their abstract. Please follow the SCS’s instructions for the format of individual abstracts: https://classicalstudies.org/annual-meeting/guidelines-authors-abstracts. The submission of an abstract represents a commitment to attend the 2019 meeting should the abstract be accepted. No papers will be read in absentia and the SLA is unable to provide funding for travel to San Diego.