Amicitiae Cultus Ingenuus Est: The Proper Cultivation of Emperors, Patrons and Friends as Strategy and Mirage in the Works of Q. Aurelius Symmachus

  • Author / Creator
    Lougheed, Christopher J
  • The late fourth-century Roman senator Q. Aurelius Symmachus (c. 340-402 CE), author of the Orations, Relations and Letters, is undoubtedly an important source for late Roman patronage and its cultivation. This thesis seeks to explain why these phenomena should be so clearly visible in these works, through a literary analysis of the works in which they most appear and an examination of their social context. It argues that Symmachus not only cultivated his superiors but was, among Latin authors, uniquely concerned with the question of proper cultivation, deliberately and regularly highlighting proper forms of cultivation – those which he practiced himself – in contrast to common improper forms. In doing so he was responding not only to the practical need to cultivate benefactors to advance and safeguard his career as a prominent senator, but also to a new, primarily negative, attention paid in his own age to cultivation and the unmerited advantages that it could procure, attested in Mamertinus and Libanius. The hypothesis that he responded in this way to particular negative attention to his friendships at court in in Rome in the later 390s explains many details of the organization and inclusion of material in the Letters, Symmachus’ main work of literary self-presentation. This was not, however, Symmachus’ first foray into discussion of cultivation: the explicit description of particular gifts as offering proper cultivation is a recurring and surely useful feature of a series of works delivered decades earlier and for a wholly different audience with its own expectations at imperial anniversaries. It is even found, albeit in a highly anomalous and inverted form, in the famous Relation 3. The cultivation of benefactors, then, is prominent in the works of Symmachus, across his career, not only because he was engaged in cultivation, but also because the activity raised suspicions and generated expectations on the part of his readers. As he responded to these, in his own way, Symmachus defined himself as statesman and friend.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2017-11:Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of History and Classics
  • Specialization
    • Classical Languages
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Mackay, Christopher (History and Classics)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Ben Zvi, Ehud (Religious Studies)
    • Vanderspoel, John (Classics and Religion, University of Calgary)
    • Kemezis, Adam (History and Classics)
    • Pownall, Frances (History and Classics)