0226 An Icon of Ugliness – Eutropius the Eunuch

  • Susanna Elm (Author)
    Department of History and Classics, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley CA

    Susanna Elm is the Sidney H. Ehrman Professor of History and Classics at the University of California at Berkeley. Her recent publications include Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome (Berkeley, 2012); Braut Christi: Familienformen in Europa im Spiegel der "sponsa", eds. Susanna Elm and Barbara Vinken (Munich, 2016); Antioch II. The Many Faces of Antioch: Intellectual Exchange and Religious Diversity 350–450 CE, eds. Silke-Petra Bergjan and Susanna Elm (Tübingen, 2018).

Identifiers (Article)


Theoretically, ugliness as aesthetic concept—more than the absence of beauty—first came to the fore in the 19th century. This contribution uses the late Latin poet Claudian (370–404 CE) to show that his invective epic against the consul and eunuch Eutropius (d. 399 CE) already created a notion of ugliness through the juxtaposition of the splendid consular robes and the "ugliness" of Eutropius's body.


aesthetic concept, beauty, ugliness, Eutropius the Eunuch, Latin poet Claudian (370–404 CE), consular robes, virtue