The present dissertation examines the ways in which Roman officials and dignitaries acted as active agents vis-à-vis the emperor by engaging with the various publics that comprised Roman society in order to gain the public support necessary for the advancement of their careers. It is my aim to explore the communicative actions––oral textual, visual, and material––employed by these officials as they promoted themselves to wider Roman audiences throughout the empire. In order to emphasize the individuality of bureaucrats, I have opted to offer a biographic narrative of a Roman official by the name Michael Palaiologos, who donned the imperial dignity in the very last days of 1258. By following Palaiologos’ public life from his formative years to his imperial coronation, a whole new world of social interactions arises before us and we see individual agents other than the emperor engaging in the public arena of Roman society in the hopes of carving out a place for themselves under the sun. By focusing on the importance of communicative methods in the political lives of Roman officials, I contribute to a wider scholarly conversation about the role wider publics––those who did not dwell at the imperial court––played in shaping the politics of the Roman polity. It is my argument here that the publics’ role was essential not only in maintaining the existing regime, but for advancing an individual’s career within the Roman system of officialdom. In arguing so, I hope to demonstrate the communicative creativity of officials such as Michael Palaiologos, who had to come up with orthodox and unorthodox ways of endearing themselves to specific interest groups in the empire in order for their political lives to prosper.
Copyright is held by the author.
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Krallis, Dimitrios
Member of collection