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Analyses of imitatio imperii commonly focus on the ceremonial and symbolic aspects of the Roman Empire—victory celebrations, creation of a capital, ceremonial dress and language, imagery on coins, and legal pronouncements—not ethnicity. Perhaps one reason is that in modern English, ‘imitation’ carries derogatory connotations of uninspired copying that remove the agency and creativity of the imitator. Imitated items and practices are seen as poor copies of originals, the latter of which are much more worthy of attention.2 Under this definition, one would expect an imitator of Rome to claim to be Roman, resembling Athaulf’s claim that Goths were unable to submit to law and so should join and revive Rome, not replace Romania with Gothia. 3 Following this logic, the Visigoths may be considered imperfect imitators of Roman ethnic concepts since the identity they claimed was not ‘Roman’ but ‘Gothic’, a poor copy of the original.


Original published version: https://doi.org/10.2307/jj.7418748.15

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Rome and Byzantium in the Visigothic Kingdom: Beyond Imitatio Imperii



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