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Non Consolandi Gratia, Sed Probrose Monendi (Res Gestae 28.1.4). The Hazards Of (Moral) Historiography

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Chapter Summary

In books 26-31 of the Res Gestae Ammianus' authorial comments are more frequent than before. His assessment of the times of the emperors Valentinian and Valens is mainly negative and comes remarkably close to a passage in Augustine's De civitate Dei. Moralizing historiography, however, has its risks: some readers may conclude that crime pays and act accordingly, others will feel offended by the author's reproaches. The authorial comments have become more frequent, both in the form of critical judgment and condemnation, and of a tendency to render explicit account of his policies as a historiographer. Ammianus puts the finishing touches to his portrait in a deadly manner in a passage not referred to by Barnes, at the end of which he remarks that if the aspirations of the nasty magister officiorum Leo to become praefectus praetorio had been fulfilled, administratio Probi ferebatur in caelum.

Keywords: Ammianus' authorial comments; Augustine's De civitate Dei; Barnes; historiography; Res Gestae; Valens; Valentinian

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