The Forgotten Reign of the Emperor Jovian (363-364): History and Fiction

ISBN : 9780197600702

Jan Willem Drijvers
264 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Mar 2022
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The Forgotten Reign of the Emperor Jovian (363-364): History and Fiction offers a new assessment of the Roman emperor's brief rule. A former imperial bodyguard, Jovian reinvigorated the Roman Empire militarily, administratively, and religiously. More than an imperial footnote, the years 363-364 restored the Roman empire after the failed reign of Julian. Jovian returned to the policies of Constantius II and Constantine the Great and his political legacy continued to endure with his successors Valentinian I and Valens, especially in the realm of religion. Jan Willem Drijvers' newest edition tracks the intricacies of Jovian's election, offers a novel evaluation of his peace agreement with Shapur II, and examines Jovian's self-representation. For an emperor who ruled only eight months, Jovian had an unexpected and surprising afterlife. In the rarely studied and largely unknown historical fiction piece The Julian Romance, Jovian is presented as the ideal Christian emperor and a new Constantine. In comparison with other sources, the Syriac Romance also offers a surprising and different perspective on his personal associations and reign. The Forgotten Reign challenges readers to rethink Jovian's reign and other imperial figures largely forgotten by history. Ultimately, the book reveals the legacy of Jovian's role in Roman-Persian relations and the positioning of Edessa in the late antique world of Christendom.


List of Map(s) and Illustrations
Abbreviations and Conventions
Part I History
1. Rise to Power
2. Retreat and Treaty
3. Ruling the Empire
3.1 Statues, Inscriptions and Coins
3.2 Legislation
3.3 Officials
3.4 The West
4. Religious Policy
4.1 Jovian and Athanasius
4.2 A Law on Religious Tolerance?
5. Death
Part II Fiction
6. The Julian Romance
7. History of Scholarship
8. The Jovian Narrative
8.1 Julian and Jovian
8.2 Jovian and Arimihr
8.3 Jovian and Shapur
8.4 Jovian's Election
8.5 The Peace Treaty
8.6 Anti-Judaism
8.7 Edessa
8.8 The Nisibis Connection
8.9 Jovian: A New Constantine
9. Some Considerations
1. Chronology and Itinerary of the Retreat
2. The Size of Jovian's Army
3. The Eusebius Narrative
4. Dates in the Jovian Narrative
5. Names in the Jovian Narrative
Primary Sources

About the author: 

Jan Willem Drijvers is Associate Professor of Ancient Historian at the University of Groningen and the author of Cyril of Jerusalem: Bishop and City and Helena Augusta: The Mother of Constantine the Great and the Legend of Her Finding of the True Cross, among other titles.

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