Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 September 2021
My focus is on elites who competed for influence in the wake of events that the Romans themselves characterized as “crises.” In narrating these five crises, I emphasize the critical role in Rome of senatorial aristocrats and the slow growth of the influence of the bishops and clergy of Rome, two segments of Roman society whose continued focus on the city provides a key thread through these centuries. Although generals and emperors came and went, the institutionalized presence of the senatorial aristocracy, the Senate, and the church persisted. After each crisis, senators reinvested in the city, fueling its resurgence time and again. The bishops, too, returned to the city to restore Christian communities.