What is the content, context, subtext, and audience of Priscus' "The Court of Attila"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

During the fifth century, the Roman Empire was in decline. Attacks from rival polities and related demands for tribute were constant threats at the edges of imperial territory for years. Along with military defenses, the empire engaged in diplomatic solutions such as treaties.

On the northeast sides of the empire, the Huns posed the greatest threat. Two brothers jointly led the Huns until Attila killed his brother Bleda and became the sole leader.

In the 440s, Theodosius was emperor of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. Priscus was a Roman historian originally from Panium (or Panion) in Thrace, an area of Greece.

During a treaty negotiation in 449, Priscus was part of the diplomatic delegation from Theodosius to Attila's court. He wrote an extensive description of court life and customs, and other information about the Huns from a former slave.

Of Priscus's longer history of Byzantium, originally 11 volumes, only fragments survive, including the Attila section. As official history, its purpose was laudatory and its audience was other educated Romans.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial