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Roman Imperial Policy from Julian to Theodosius

By R. Malcolm Errington

352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8078-3038-3
    Published: September 2006
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7745-6
    Published: October 2007

Studies in the History of Greece and Rome

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The division of the late Roman Empire into two theoretically cooperating parts by the brothers Valentinian and Valens in 364 deeply influenced many aspects of government in each of the divisions. Although the imperial policies during this well-documented and formative period are generally understood to have been driven by the religious and ideological aims of the emperors, R. Malcolm Errington argues that the emperors were actually much more pragmatic in their decision making than has previously been assumed.

The division of responsibilities between the emperors inevitably encouraged separate developments and allowed locally varying and often changing imperial attitudes toward different forms of religious belief. Errington demonstrates that the main stimulus for action in this period nearly always came from below the level of the imperial government, and not from an imperial initiative. Extending the theory of Fergus Millar into the later empire, Errington argues that the emperors were fundamentally reactive to regionally supplied information, as Millar has asserted was the case for the High Empire. Thus, despite significant structural changes, the empire remained broadly traditional in its operations.

About the Author

R. Malcolm Errington is professor of ancient history at the Philipps-Universitat in Marburg, Germany. He is author of three other books, including A History of Macedonia.
For more information about R. Malcolm Errington, visit the Author Page.


"Lays out the evidence . . . clearly, and the whole book is essential reading for those interested in the 4th century."--Ancient History: Resources for Teachers

"A detailed investigation. . . . Solid analyses of issues of government will underpin future discussions."--Journal of Roman Studies

"Builds on several [of Errington's] groundbreaking articles. . . . A model of sensible large-scale analysis. . . . It is a sign of the book's excellence that one can disagree with . . . large questions of interpretation while remaining wholly convinced by the many specific discussions that here sustain them."--The Classical Bulletin

"This is a traditional institutional history of the later Roman empire. . . . It enhances our understanding of a turbulent time."--The Journal of Military History

"Thoughtful and highly readable. . . . [A] rewarding [and] substantial contribution to the study of this era. "--The Historian

"Errington's is a sweeping revisionist treatment of the 32 years between the death of Julian and the death of Theodosius in which he explores the fundamentally reactive nature of Roman government and how that affected the monumental changes witnessed by the empire. Crystal clear in its organization and writing, this book offers a major contribution to the growing debate about politics and administration in this crucial period."--Noel Lenski, University of Colorado