Ritual Experience

The installed statues and the ritual procession of 404 in Rome altered memories of Theodosius, who appointed Stilicho as regent over both Arcadius and Honorius according to a fictive version of the events.  Yet, Stilicho’s manipulation of memory was not successful, because he had not gained the lasting consent of aristocrats and the citizens of Rome.  The statues that initially depicted Stilicho as Honorius’ cohort in Rome illustrate how an absent imperial court used representational strategies to earn public support.  After 408, Stilicho’s erased name reversed the bold ambition of one who had overstepped the limits by reclaiming the past in the Forum’s central area without the properly constituted authority to do so.  Accusations of treason against Stilicho led to a reversal of the memory practices that he had launched during his political ascent.  Honorius’ statues, nevertheless, survived as testimony to the revised history of the Theodosian dynasty that officials in Rome had produced by decorating the late antique Roman Forum.