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6 - Narratives of Court Crises

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 September 2022

Benjamin Kelly
Affiliation:
York University, Toronto
Angela Hug
Affiliation:
York University, Toronto
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Summary

Most of the textual sources concerning the imperial court are relatively short; many recount anecdotes illuminating a single moment, a memorable saying, or a specific practice. The surviving works of history and biography do, however, contain a few longer narratives of connected sequences of events at court. Such narratives most commonly occur when historians and biographers describe crises, when events at court had wider implications for the political history of the Principate. Prompted by this observation, this chapter presents a selection of the richest crisis narratives. The narratives presented relate to: the fall of Claudius’ wife, Messalina; the loss of position at court suffered by Nero’s mother, Agrippina the Younger, and her ensuing murder by her son; and the assassinations of the emperors Domitian and Commodus.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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