Marzia Fiorentini (University of St Andrews – Sapienza Università di Roma) passed her viva with the PhD thesis ‘Tyrants in Late Antiquity: A Rhetorical and Historical Analysis of Claudian and Sidonius’, supervised by Roger Rees and Gianfranco Agosti.
The following thesis is a historical and rhetorical investigation of tyranny in the fifth century CE. The main focus of the work is Claudian (ca 370-404) and Sidonius (430-486), coupled for their literary and rhetorical kinship and for the similar role as panegyrists which they held in the Western court, between the rule of Honorius (395-423) and Anthemius (467-72). The historical introduction and the first chapter offer an analysis of different late-antique sources (both in Greek and in Latin), aiming for a definition of the differences between the labels of usurpator and tyrannus in the political vocabulary between the fourth and the fifth century. The central chapter moves, then, to the analysis of Claudian’s poems in hexameters, where the tyrannus does not correspond to any of the usurpers who rebelled during Honorius’ reign, but rather identifies with Stilicho’s political enemies: Arcadius’ minister Rufinus, the eunuch Eutropius, and the comes Africae Gildo. Such a new use of the label tyrannus determines a neat shift from its employment as a typical label for usurpers (as was still customary in the fourth century) to its vituperative use against a political enemy. Claudian’s scapegoats are characterised as tyranni and opposites of all Roman values who threaten the cosmic order granted by the concordia fratrum between Honorius and Arcadius, heading the Western and the Eastern court respectively after the death of their father Theodosius I. In Sidonius’ panegyrics to Avitus, Majorian, and Anthemius, analysed in the third chapter, Sidonius recovers Claudian’s mould of the tyrannus and adapts it to vituperate the new fearful enemy of the empire, i.e., the Vandal Gaiseric. Gaiseric is demonised in terms very similar to those used by Claudian against the African Gildo. While encouraging an enervated Romanitas to fight together (in the joint military effort of Anthemius and Leo I) against the new tyrannus, Sidonius attaches this political label to a barbarian aspiring to defeat and conquer the whole empire.
Eleonora Recupero Porcino has received an innovation grant to create a digital so-called “linked open data” edition of Sidonius’ Letters as her PhD thesis, supervised by Holger Essler, Luca Mondin and Marco Onorato, at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice in partnership with the Universities of Udine and Trieste.
Eleonora graduated in 2021 in Messina, supervised by Marco Onorato, in Tradizione classica e archeologia del Mediterraneo with a thesis titled “Tra scuola e poesia. La chreia come possibile matrice del Ludus septem sapientum di Ausonio”.
The title of her PhD project is “Linked open data ed ecdotica dei testi tardolatini: per un’edizione digitale dell’epistolario di Sidonio Apollinare”. The project aims to create a digital edition of the Letters provided with a wide variety of links to the apparatus criticus (with new collations) and to a full database of resources ranging from testimonia and manuscripts to linguistic problems at the level of individual letters. The reference text is to be Lütjohann’s 1887 MGH edition.
The ulterior aim is to facilitate a future new critical edition by making all relevant materials available at a glance in one place.
Eleonora can be contacted at eleonora.recupero AT unive.it.
Willum Westenholz is to defend his doctoral thesis ‘Sidonius Apollinaris Letters Book 6: A Commentary’ on the 25th of February at 17:00h.
University of Vienna
Supervisor: Prof. Danuta Shanzer
See announcement here, where you’ll also find the link to join the online defence.
Richard Rush is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Riverside (United States of America). In his dissertation, “Landscapes along the Fifth-Century Rhône,” he argues that the literary use of a landscape cannot be separated from the author’s experience of that landscape. Richard uses Latin authors who lived along the Rhône during the long fifth century to explore how reading their texts in conjunction with an analysis of the landscapes evoked therein can deepen our understanding of the authors’ lived experiences. This dissertation requires close engagement with both the literary works of fifth-century Gallic authors and what remains of the fifth-century landscape.
While in Lyon, Richard will analyze the local geography’s relationship to the works of Sidonius Apollinaris, Avitus of Vienne, and the “Life of Apollinaris of Valence,” as well as the fifth-century archeology of Lyon and its environs.
He currently is a HiSoMA bursary in Lyon, as part of the project Lugdunum dans l’empire de Rome. See also paper IMC Leeds.