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A ‘social’ definition of the ‘court’ implies that a court society existed only where the ruler was personally present; the functions and business of the court therefore shifted with the person of the emperor. This chapter systematically analyses the changes and potential difficulties faced by the Roman court when travelling either in Italy or in the provinces. Attention is given to the composition of the travelling court; to its ceremonial entrances to and exits from major cities (the adventus and profectio); and to the logistics of travel arrangements (and moral reactions to them). Imperial journeys provided important opportunities for members of local elites to interact with the court, but also disrupted routines of communications between the emperor and the Roman aristocracy and people. The chapter also stresses the importance of individual emperors’ character traits in prompting travel, and cautions against the overstatement of structural factors in explaining journeys.
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