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Open Access The Roman Imperial Court: Seen And Unseen In The Performance Of Power

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The Roman Imperial Court: Seen And Unseen In The Performance Of Power

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Chapter Summary

Marcus' assertion of continuity was right in more senses than one: it is not just that imperial courts had a generic similarity to other royal courts, but that there were strong ties of historical continuity that linked the Roman court to those of the Hellenistic east after Alexander, and to the Persian court which Alexander's conquests absorbed and incorporated. Beyond Mommsen's influence is an interesting convergence of ideologies, between modern liberalism and ancient republicanism. From Mommsen on, Roman imperial history has been told from an insistently Tacitean perspective. The imperial court, then, was something Roman historians knew about but preferred not to discuss, the skeleton in the cupboard of Roman history. Norbert Elias' analysis of the court of Versailles has come under heavy criticism in recent literature, not least for his excessive reliance on Saint Simon.

Keywords: Marcus; Mommsen; Norbert Elias; Persian court; Roman imperial court; Saint Simon

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