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Senium Imperii

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Chapter Summary

At the end of his great study on Ammianus, John Matthews speculates about Ammianus' expectations of the future. One would a priori suppose a historian who ended his work with the disastrous battle of the Romans against the Goths at Adrianople , during which the emperor Valens was killed, to be pessimistic. Ammianus devotes a whole chapter to the omina that announced the disaster, in 31.13.11 he speaks about numquam pensabilia damna suffered by the Romans and he compares Adrianople explicitly to Cannae in 31.13.19. Ammianus thus clung to his belief in the eternity of Rome even after the Balkan frontier of the empire had been forced by the Goths. It is among the most discussed passages in the Res gestae,5 but, as so often, a closer inspection of the text raises fresh questions. Moreover, the widely divergent interpretations put forward in the important recent studies by Matthews and Barnes.

Keywords: Adrianople; Ammianus; Balkan frontier; John Matthews; Romans



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