The Letter ofDecius is one of the longest fragments from the Scythica written by the Athenian historian P. Herennius Dexippus in the third century A.D. The letter purports to be a missive sent by the Roman emperor IVajan Decius to the city of Philippopolis, which was at the time threatened by a Gothic army. Like other embedded letters in ancient historiography, the Letter ofDecius is not a genuine historical document, but a rhetorical exercise, filled with sententious commonplaces. This article provides a reading of the Letter ofDecius based on recent studies of the function of embedded letters in ancient historiography. It is suggested that the Letter ofDecius served not only a means for Dexippus to characterise the emperor in a manner that was consistent with the historical situation that Decius found himself in 251, but also as a way to elucidate the changing network of relationships between the emperor, the army, and the provincial populations during the middle decades of the third century.
|Number of pages||17|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|