It is Ammianus Marcellinus himself who points to the contrast between panegyrical and historical appraisals of Valentinian I (364-75). At the beginning of his catalogue of this emperor’s vices and virtues, he reflects ‘that posterity is usually an uncorrupted judge of the past, being constrained neither by fear nor by odious flattery’ (nec metu nec adulandi foeditate constricta: 30.8.1). The necessary corollary of this is that contemporary opinion is-or may be-influenced by fear and flattery. Moreover, flattery and fear went together as negative reflections of the imperial power. As Ammianus said of Constantius II, ‘this fatal fault of cruelty, which in others sometimes grew less with advancing age, in his case became more violent, since a group of flatterers (cohors adulatorum) intensified his stubborn resolution’ (14.5.5).