The Constantian orations : a contextual analysis of self-presentation in Libanius' 'Orr.' 59, 11, 61 and 31
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A total of sixty-four orations survive from the hand of Libanius. Four of these speeches were delivered under the reign of Constantius II (AD 337-361) and thus form a distinct chronological cluster in the Libanian corpus. The Constantian orations include Or. 59 To Constantius II and Constans (AD 346-9), Or. 11 The Antiochikos (AD 356), Or. 61 Monody on Nicomedia (AD 358), and Or. 61 For the teachers (AD 360-1). This study adopts a diachronic approach and analyses the historical and literary context of each Constantian oration with a particular focus on Libanius' self- presentation. The study suggests that Libanius’ self-presentation was characterised by adaptability and versatility; it shows Libanius exploring a range of different genres and communicating with attentiveness to context and audience. The thesis also argues that Libanius’ attitude to and engagement with Constantius’ court fluctuated significantly from the delivery of Libanius’ panegyric in the mid- to late 340s where Libanius supported Constantius after his defeat in the battle of Singara, over Libanius’ encomium to Antioch in 356 where Libanius emphasised the strong connection between the Emperor and the city following the devastating reign of Gallus Caesar, to the delivery of For the teachers in 360-361, where Libanius publically voiced his criticism of the Emperor’s cultural and religious policies after Libanius himself had lost imperial funding. Furthermore, the study displays the continued importance of oratory in Late Antiquity and emphasises the central role of sophists both as commentators and mediators in society.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2026-10-14
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 14th October 2026
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