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Marlowe’s play survives in the so-called A-Text of 1,517 lines, first printed in 1604, and in the B-Text of 2,121 lines, printed in 1616. The B-Text is not only the longer, but also the more overtly political play, providing more in-set spectacle that is reminiscent of court performance. The difference in length has often been explained with reference to cuts made to allow provincial acting during the plague of 1592–4 or to additions made to the play in 1602 (Greg 1950). However, Eriksen offers another solution, positing that, in fact, the longer and more politically informed B-text is the earlier and was intended for court performance by a dramatist who had already tried his hand at court drama in Dido. Doctor Faustus, Eriksen argues, would be his second attempt, written in support of the self-sovereignty of Elizabeth I before the attack of the Spanish Armada in August 1588. Its consistent staging of imperial iconography in the papal and imperial scenes, especially the use of the 'pillars' and Alexander the Great, portrays Charles V as a wise ruler in contrast to his aggressive son and the Pope as a usurper of imperial power, both posing threats to the queen.
The relationship between war and the state was always a close one throughout Roman history, but never more so than during late antiquity. During the early Empire the relationship between military and political power was particularly evident in two interrelated areas. Maintenance of the emperor's political position was dependent to a significant degree on the projection of an image of military success. During the course of late antiquity challenges to imperial power did periodically emerge from within the Empire's own armed forces. Some of these were the result of ambitious individuals exploiting the interests of troops for their own ends. Donatives and material incentives, and mutinies over slowness of or reductions in pay reflect the importance of economic dimensions and ramifications of military affairs. In the late fifth century, while the western half of the Empire ceased to exist as a political entity, the eastern half continued to exist in one form or another for a further millennium.
This chapter examines the consequences for emperors and their supporters of the increasing centralization of power and the continued growth of a sophisticated and well-organized bureaucracy. The emperor in the later Roman world was undoubtedly a powerful figure. Later Roman emperors could not rule alone. As fourth-century commentators clearly saw, the effective governance of empire inevitably involved a close reliance on sometimes untrustworthy courtiers, relatives, officials and friends. The payment of money was integral to the workings of later Roman bureaucracy. In an uncertain world, only emperors, as they repeatedly insisted, stood a chance of resolving what for the majority caught up in later Roman government remained a shifting set of tactical possibilities to be played to best advantage. From that point of view it was clearly in the interests of all jockeying for power, position or preferment to cheer loudly as the glittering procession of a godlike emperor passed them by.
The work of the last generation of historians has represented a large step towards a better understanding of the early imperial court. Several major studies have extended the detailed knowledge of the freedmen personnel, the equestrian amici principis, and of links among the senatorial elite. Above all, study of contacts between emperors and their subjects, the decision-making process and the distribution of resources and patronage, show the network of imperial personnel in operation and reveal something of the structures within which they operate. In discussing the nascent court of the Julio-Claudian period, it is necessary to generalize more broadly about the function of the court in the structure of imperial power. The social rituals of a court may act as a facade to screen the realities of power. Between Augustus and Nero the patterns of court life were developing, and still far from fixed. The court was a system of power which tended to its own perpetuation.
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