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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

Author:

Geoffrey D Dunn

University of Pretoria / John Paul II Catholic University, Lublin, ZA
About Geoffrey
Geoffrey D. Dunn is a Fellow of the Australian Humanities Academy and Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Ancient and Modern Languages, University of Pretoria. In 2019 he was Thomas F. Martin St Augustine Fellow, at Villanova University in Philadelphia.
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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.
How to Cite: Dunn, G.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.
Published on 09 Feb 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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