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The Fall of Elagabalus as Literary Narrative and Political Reality - A Reconsideration

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Standard narratives of the overthrow of the emperor Elagabalus in 222 tend to see the event as an anomaly, caused especially by his aggressive and unpopular promotion of the Syrian god Elagabal. This view is not properly supported by the literary sources, and we should instead see the events of 222 in the context of a repeated pattern in the early third century whereby unstable coalitions drawn from various political constituencies ruled through young figurehead emperors. The article consists of an in-depth analysis of each of the main literary traditions (Dio, HA, Herodian) followed by an alternative reconstruction of the last part of Elagabalus' reign.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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  • Historia, first published in 1952 by Karl Friedrich Stroheker and Gerold Walser is an international, peer-reviewed journal on Greek and Roman antiquity. Articles are in English, German, French and Italian. It features original articles on Greek history, the Roman Republic and Empire as well as late antiquity. It covers all aspects of political, economic, religious and social life and deals with legal, archaeological, numismatic and epigraphical questions.
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