Consular lists were a common and public genre of list throughout the imperial period, but assumed particular importance during the later empire (Bagnall, Cameron, Schwartz, Worp 1987) It was in this moment when the magisterial functions of the office were at their lowest ebb that the consulate took on an ever more important symbolic role—as the eponymous name of the year and the concomitant personae of the festivals that marked that year. Consular lists—in manuscripts, in monumental inscriptions—proliferated and formed part of a larger late antique fluorescence of chronological lists. The function of consular lists, however, and particularly consular lists of different forms, remains under-interrogated (Cameron 2013).
This paper will discuss a) the different functions of consular lists preserved on stone and in manuscript. And b) whether late antique consular lists can be assumed to be "official" in the same sense as the inscribed lists of the early empire. Often treated as the product of governmental issue and possessing the imprimatur of imperial authority, late antique consular lists have both generic and formal qualities which suggest they served other, less official purposes.