Forgan Smith (building 1), The University of Queensland, St Lucia
Venue: Forgan Smith (building 1), The University of Queensland, St Lucia.

Judging Young Rulers on Guidance in Roman Imperial History

MPhil Confirmation Seminar.

This paper considers the literary portrayals of youths and their application to the youthful Roman emperors between the years AD 37 and 244: Gaius (25), Nero (16), Commodus (11), Caracalla (11), Geta (20), Elagabalus (14), Severus Alexander (13), and Gordian III (13). Specifically, this paper focuses on one particular characteristic of iuventa, namely the necessity of guidance. 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 constructions of the young emperors’ imperial portraits around the liminality of youth in response to the respective author’s literary agenda.