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Jan Willem Drijvers

“The Forgotten Reign of the Emperor Jovian (363–364): History and Myth”

Jan Willem Drijvers

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Byzantine Studies Summer Fellow

Jovian’s short reign (27 June 363–17 February 364) is generally thought to be of little interest by scholars of late antiquity. Publications on Jovian are few and a monograph is lacking. This book project offers a reappraisal of his reign. It consists of two parts: history and legend. The first part offers reevaluations of his unusual election, his peace treaty with the Sassanid king Shapur II, his religious policy, and his self-representation. The second part examines the rarely studied but important (fictional) Syriac Julian Romance in which Jovian is presented as an ideal Christian emperor, a new Constantine.

Jan Willem Drijvers is professor of ancient history at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. His researches focuses on late antiquity, in particular the fourth and fifth century, especially the Christianizing of the Mediterranean world and political, military, and social history. He is interested in historical fiction as an historical source, of which his book Helena Augusta: The Mother of Constantine the Great and the Legend of her Finding of the True Cross (1992) is an example. He is one of the Dutch commentators of the philological and historical commentaries on Ammianus Marcellinus. His more recent topics concern the city of Jerusalem in late antiquity and leadership, particularly emperorship, in the late Roman world. His currently working on a monograph on the emperor Jovian (363–364) and, with Roger Rees, a commentary on Panegyricus Latinus XII (9) delivered in 313 in honor of Constantine the Great.