This book describes a specific and very prominent instance of the decline in power of the late Roman Empire. Rome's changed power status resulted from transformations of the classical past and from interactions with nonclassical cultures. It became clear that late Roman rulership was more complex than its first- and second-century incarnation. The first two and a half centuries of Roman emperorship witnessed only sporadic and often quite harmless challenges from usurpers. Only in the third century did usurpation become a regular threat, and it remained so throughout the rest of late antiquity. Finally, for the first time under Valens, Rome was forced to come to grips with the issue of large groups of barbarians living autonomously inside traditionally Roman territory.
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