Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century AD [Hardback]

Noel Lenski (Author)

ISBN: 9780520233324 | Published by: University of California Press | Year of Publication: 2002 | Language: English 454p, 22 b/w illus, 5 maps

Failure of Empire


Within a few lines of the introduction Valens is summarised as a `distinctly underwhelming figure in Roman history'. The ancient sources are no more enthused about Valens and overall they record his place in history as somewhat disappointing. This biography assesses Valens' reputation as a loser and a failure by addressing the administrative, military, economic, social, cultural and religious aspects of his reign (AD 363-378). Lenski consults a range of sources including contemporary accounts, such as those of Ammianus Marcellinus and Themestius, and later ecclesiastical histories by Rufinus, Philostorgius and Sozomen. Each chapter takes a different period or event of the reign, from Valen's accession and career, to the revolt of Procopius where significant parts of the empire were lost, his expedition against the Goths, his interaction with the eastern frontier, his religious policy and internal administrative and economic affairs. Was he really such a failure, or just an `ordinary man faced with a superhuman task'?

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