The Vaticinium of Constans. Genesis and original purposes of the legend of the Last World Emperor

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Abstract

Drawing from Anke HoldenriedÌs book (2006), this article considers the content, the manuscript tradition and the different version of the Tiburtine Sibyl,concentrating in particular on the Vaticinium concerning the Last World Emperor named Constans. In his critical edition of the Latin Sibyl (1898), E. Sackur interpreted the Vaticinium as a preannouncement of the hoped return of the son of Constantine the Great, who had died in 350. Such identification, accepted and shared by the subsequent historiography, was paralleled by his proposal to date the (lost) Urtext of the whole Sibyl to the second half of the fourth century. The article shows that the Vaticinium was instead produced in the context of the initiatives of propaganda aimed at praising and celebrating Constans II, who had become emperor (641) in the dramatic and uncertain phase of the first Arab expansion in Byzantine territories. The genesis of the Vaticinium has to be ascribed to the first decade of his reign; to Constans it refers some features which the Syriac Legend of Alexander had attributed to the grandfather Heraclius. The Latin text allows thus to better understand elements of continuity and modification of the Syriac imperial propaganda in the timeframe between the Legend of Alexander and the Pseudo-Methodius, i.e. in the historical and literary segment which was determinant for the formation of the Legend of the Last Emperor
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)271-289
Numero di pagine19
RivistaMILLENNIUM
Volume8
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2011

Keywords

  • Constans II
  • Last World Emperor
  • Political Prophecy
  • Tiburtine Sibyl

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