“Is it possible to control the crowd?” Libanius in defense of Julian and against the population of Antioch in the 4th century
Regarding the recourse to humor and mockery as response mechanisms of a city’s population to the performance of imperial power, an emblematic case of estrangement between a ruler and his subjects occurred in 362-363 during Emperor Julian’s stay in the city of Antioch. Their estrangement was so intense that it led to the writing of an at least disconcerting work such as the Misopogon, a satirical text in which Julian harshly criticizes the modus vivendi of Antioch’s inhabitants. As a result of this episode, two discourses written by Libanius, To Antiochians, on the Emperor’s anger (Oration 16), and The embassy to Julian (Oration 15), attempt to reverse Antioch’s difficult situation in face of Julian’s anger. This article explores Libanius’ reasoning about the controversy involving Julian and Antioch’s inhabitants, in order to demonstrate how the sophist was committed to the emperor’s proposal of reforming the polis.
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Universidade Federal de São Paulo
Escola de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas
Departamento de História
Estrada do Caminho Velho, 333 - Bairro Pimentas
CEP:07252-312 - Guarulhos - São Paulo - Brasil