Youth in power: Dio Cassius and Tacitus' perceptions of young emperors and their advisors

Johansson, Britta (2014). Youth in power: Dio Cassius and Tacitus' perceptions of young emperors and their advisors. In: Programme: AMPHORAE VIII. Emerging Horizons: Material Culture, Text & Thought in Antiquity. Schedule. AMPHORAE VIII - Emerging Horizons: Material Culture, Text & Thought in Antiquity, Parkville, VIC, Australia, (14-15). 26-28 November, 2014.

Author Johansson, Britta
Title of paper Youth in power: Dio Cassius and Tacitus' perceptions of young emperors and their advisors
Conference name AMPHORAE VIII - Emerging Horizons: Material Culture, Text & Thought in Antiquity
Conference location Parkville, VIC, Australia
Conference dates 26-28 November, 2014
Convener University of Melbourne
Proceedings title Programme: AMPHORAE VIII. Emerging Horizons: Material Culture, Text & Thought in Antiquity. Schedule
Place of Publication Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Publisher University of Melbourne
Publication Year 2014
Sub-type Published abstract
Open Access Status
Start page 14
End page 15
Total pages 2
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
Youth as a stage of life was a period of emergence, characterised by restlessness, conflict and change. The Roman young man was passing through a phase that allowed him to develop skills needed during adulthood. As such, during the period of youth, iuventa, the young man was expected to either succeed or fail in making the transition from a confused and undefined youth, to that of a ‘good Roman’, all within the public sphere. Throughout the first three centuries AD, youths held the highest political office as Emperor. While only two emperors during the first century AD took to the throne in their youth, Gaius (25) and Nero (16), the second and third centuries AD saw a number of youths become emperor while still young: Commodus (16; 19), Caracalla (11; 23), Geta (20; 22), Elagabalus (14), Alexander Severus (13) and Gordian III (13). While these youthful emperors shared the publicised transitional experiences of the upper class youths, one imperative difference remained: they were absolute ruler of the Roman Empire.

This paper considers the literary portrayals of youths and guidance, and their application to one particular youthful emperor, Nero, in the works of Dio Cassius and Tacitus. It will be argued that much stress was placed on the type of advisors available to the young emperors - such as family members, praetorian prefects, senators, and tutors. Based on the person advising the young emperor, and the extent to which this guidance was accepted, the young emperor could be led down either the path of virtue or vice. Accordingly, this preconception of youth was used to shape the representations the young emperors around the liminality of youth in response to the respective author’s literary agenda.
Q-Index Code EX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
 
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Created: Thu, 19 Mar 2015, 11:42:07 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry