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CALL. 31.01.2016: Imperial panegyric between Diocletian and Theodosius (9th Celtic Conference in Cla



LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland)


INFO: web -


We possess more examples of imperial panegyric written between the reigns of Diocletian and Theodosius than from any other period. These surviving texts constitute a small proportion of what must have been delivered, but nevertheless they provide a corpus that may be used to study the development of the form and use of such speeches within literary, political, and cultural discourse during an important period of change in the late empire.

Within the corpus, several sub-groups of speeches may be identified. Most obvious is the collection of Gallic panegyrics, preserved in the manuscript tradition along with Pliny’s Panegyricus as the Panegyrici Latini. We may group the speeches of Libanius, Julian, and Themistius together as a parallel corpus, all written by élite Greek easterners who adhered to ideals of Hellenic paideia. Other classifications may be constructed according to the ‘performative context’ of a panegyric, whether the speech was delivered before the emperor himself (e.g. several of the Pan. Lat. and Themistius’ Orations), or without a present emperor, or only as a written exercise (Julian’s Orations), or indeed after an emperor’s death (e.g. Libanius Or. 18); we may also observe different ‘cultural contexts’, as speeches delivered by an orator from the West speaking in the East (Mamertinus’ Latin Panegyric to Julian in Constantinople) or vice versa (Themistius’ Greek Or. 3 to Constantius in Rome).

Detailed modern studies of these texts have often been confined to one group or another, and the division between Latin and Greek speeches has been particularly persistent. The objectives of this panel are to bring together scholars working on panegyrics within several of the different sub-groups identified above, and to study the development of imperial panegyric across the ‘long’ fourth century. Papers are invited, then, that study an aspect of panegyric across differing sub-groups, or within single group diachronically. For example, speakers may wish to consider the following questions:

· How does the relationship constructed between panegyrist, addressee, and audience change according to the nature of a text’s ‘performative’ context; or can a trend of development be identified across the century?

· How does the attitude to religion change as Christianity supplants ‘paganism’ both as the religious identity of the emperor and of his panegyrists; or are existing studies of the use of religious terminology in the Panegyrici Latini replicable in other groups of texts?

· How do speeches show awareness of the conventions of panegyric generally, or of the content of certain earlier speeches specifically, and is this sort of intertextual relationship fundamentally different for Greek and Latin texts?

· How does the treatment of recurring motifs such as military events, usurpers, and foreign enemies change between the Dyarchy and Theodosius; or does the function of narrative within panegyric differ depending on the performative context?

· Is there a difference in the conception of empire or the role of the emperor in Eastern vs. Western texts; how does this phenomenon manifest itself in the ‘in between’ texts such as Mamertinus’; or is there a distinction in how ‘pairs’ of emperors are treated in the Dyarchy (e.g. Pan.Lat. 10 & 11) and in the 360s (e.g. Themistius on Valens and Valentinian)?

Papers should primarily address the extant imperial prose panegyrics by Eusebius, Libanius, Themistius, Julian, Symmachus, Ausonius, and the Panegyrici Latini, although they may of course draw comparisons with other contemporary literature, and earlier examples of epideictic. Suggestions for pairs of papers would also be welcome: for example, if one speaker does not wish to tackle an issue across a large group of speeches, she or he may team up with another speaker and together they may address the same issue in different panegyrics. It is hoped that it will be in the discussions as much as in the papers themselves that the panel’s aims of surveying the phenomenon of panegyric in the fourth century will be achieved.

The Celtic Conference provides panels with up to 16 hours of papers and discussion across four days. Papers will be allotted slots of 50 minutes, with c.35 minutes for presentation and c.15 for questions and discussion. The registration fee for the conference will be c. €150 (tbc by the organisers) and accommodation will be available at €60 per night.

Titles and abstracts should be emailed to Alan Ross ( by 31st January 2016.

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