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The Sphragis And Closure Of The Res Gestae

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Chapter Summary

The closing sentence of the Res Gestae has been interpreted both as a recommendation that qualified successors should continue Ammianus' history in the same grandiose and allusive manner, and also as a warning that events after Theodosius' accession can only be narrated in the medium of panegyric. This chapter argues that, though in some ways contradictory, both interpretations should be accepted. In particular it argues for the purposed ambiguity of the closing words, in which Ammianus advises his successors 'to forge their tongues to grander styles', though in this case the contrasting readings can be reconciled. The chapter finally suggests that the last words of the sphragis are open to two contrasting inferences about what lies beyond the end of the Res Gestae, and, less straightforwardly, that instead of choosing one and standing by it, or attempting to reconcile them, we should accept the contradiction.

Keywords: Ammianus; Res Gestae; Sphragis; Theodosius

10.1163/ej.9789004162129.i-326.51
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