Dmytro Pukhovets

Dmytro Pukhovets

PhD, associate professor of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.


DOI: 10.17721/2522-4611.2022.45.1



Abstract. Two speeches by a famous orator of the IV century Libanius «To the Antioch Senate» and «To the Emperor on the Curia» describe the internal situation in the curia of Antioch, the causes and circumstances of the crisis of this institution. The purpose of the article is to analyze the processes that took place in the curia of Antioch in the late IV century AD based on these two speeches. Orator identifies two main problems of the city council: reducing the number of its members and their impoverishment. Moreover, Libanius blames this not on the state, but on the curials themselves. On the contrary, the speaker praises the empire in the person of Theodosius I and his predecessors for trying to help the curia and preserve the condition of the curials. The real culprits of the crisis of the curia, according to the speaker, are the decurions themselves. The wealthiest of them were often foreign to polis patriotism. They were easily prepared to leave their cities to take high official positions, where they received immunity from the performance of curial duties. Wealthy curials, which remained in the city councils and formed a narrow stratum of principals, arouse no more sympathy by Libanius. They use the curia for their own ends, distributing liturgies and impoverishing the poor curials, and then buying up their lands. Also principals do not fight the fugitives from the curia, explaining it by fear of them and the futility of this struggle. In fact, they simply put their interests above the interests of the curia, wanting to gain influential patrons and retain their power in the city. Libanius in his speeches shows the process of escape from the curia of the usual average decurions. Some of them became middle-class officials, some military, some were forced to sell their lands and become clients of the powerful men. Many curials try to send their sons to study in other cities, with the dream that they would make a career as bureaucrats and get out of the curial class. In general, it can be concluded from Libanius’ speeches that most curials did not regard their stay in the curia as a high honor, as an opportunity to develop Antioch and support urban self-government. For them, membership in the curia was a heavy duty, which they tried to get rid of whenever possible.

Key words: Late Antiquity, Libanius, Antioch, curia, Theodosius I.

Received by the editorial board: 12.10.2021


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