Selected Papers from the XV Oxford University Byzantine Society International Graduate Conference
Edited By Maximilian Lau, Caterina Franchi and Morgan Di Rodi
Caput Imperii, Caput Imperatoris: The Display and Mutilation of the Bodies of Emperors in Rome and Beyond, 296–416
Thereupon one might have witnessed such a surpassing proof of human frailty as to prevent one’s ever again being puffed up with conceit. For the man whom at dawn they had escorted to the senate-hall as a superior being, they were now dragging to prison as if no better than the worst; on him whom they had previously thought worthy of many crowns, they now laid bonds; him whom they were wont to protect as a master, they now guarded like a runaway slave, uncovering his head when he would fain cover it; him whom they had adorned with the purple-bordered toga, they struck in the face; and him whom they were wont to adore and worship with sacrifices as a god, they were now leading to execution.
— CASSIUS DIO, LVIII.11.1–2, on the death of Sejanus in 31 AD; tr. E. Cary
The word ‘landscape’ conjures an instant image of a vista; of fields and hills and forests and rivers. ‘Landscapes of power’, by contrast, summon to mind city walls, towering basilicas, and the enormous and magnificent fora of Rome and the imperial cities. There are, however, few landscapes quite so apparent or immediate as the human body, and it was upon the human body that one of the most important power conflicts of the later Roman Empire was played out; the conflict for imperial legitimacy.
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