This volume explores one of the most complex, multifaceted and momentous of all western cultural transformations: the refashioning of the Roman principate under Constantine in the early fourth century AD. It does so through the kaleidoscopic lens of one of antiquity’s most fascinating (and maligned) artists: Publilius Optatianus Porfyrius.
Optatian’s works are little known among classicists and historians. Nevertheless, his picture-poems uniquely reflect, figure, and shape the cultural dynamics of the period. By bringing together different disciplinary perspectives the volume demonstrates how the poems give unique form to the various political, intellectual and cultural currents of the age. Contributors champion Optatian as a uniquely creative artist – and one who anticipated some of our most pressing literary critical, art historical and philosophical concerns today.