The Lexicon of Abuse: Drunkenness and political illegitimacy in the late Roman world

Humphries, Mark (2002) The Lexicon of Abuse: Drunkenness and political illegitimacy in the late Roman world. In: UNSPECIFIED Cambridge University Press, pp. 75-88.

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In the anonymous, mid-fourth century narrative known as the Origo Constantini Imperatoris (The Origin of the Emperor Constantine), several apparently remarkable statements are made about the moral fibre — or more precisely the lack of it — of the enemies of the emperor Constantine.1 Prominent among these villains are Galerius, Augustus of the eastern empire (305-311), and his short-lived associate as western emperor, Severus (Caesar 305-6; Augustus, 306-7). The relationship between the two men, so our anonymous author has it, was based on their shared propensity to heavy drinking: ‘Severus Caesar was ignoble both by character and by birth; he was a heavy drinker (ebriosus) and for this reason he was a friend of Galerius.’2 Galerius’ own fondness for drink and its deleterious effects are soon described: ‘Galerius was such a heavy drinker (ebriosus) that, when he was intoxicated, he gave orders such as should not be implemented.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Lexicon of abuse, late Roman world
Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > Ancient Classics
Item ID: 368
Depositing User: M Humphries
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2006
Journal or Publication Title: Humour, History and politics in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Refereed: Yes

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