CASSIODORUS AND SENARIUS
Hydatius, Sidonius, Constantius, and Ennodius are concerned with the activities and status of legates acting on behalf of provincial councils, cities, and other regional communities. The two authors discussed here speak from the point of view of the royal court of post-imperial Italy. The status and rewards of palatine emissaries differ from those of provincial legates: they look to achieve status not only within their local community, but also within the ranks of their professional peers, and to gain more tangible returns in terms of career path and financial reward. Cassiodorus and Senarius, demonstrating their part in political communication in the late antique West before the time of Justinian, display a court official's professional ethos. They provide a thumbnail sketch of the career of a court servant who was well seasoned in foreign embassies, and of certain aspects of his public life: the qualities for which he was chosen for such tasks; the nature and scale of the journeys he undertook; the rewards he gained within the civil bureaucracy; and the social capital accrued by success. Some of the intellectual and spiritual concerns which occupied such a Roman official while at the royal court of Ostrogothic Italy can also be glimpsed. Senarius and others like him were not professional ambassadors in the modern sense. They undertook important embassies, at the direction of emperors or kings, as an adjacent duty to their proper palatine office, whether in financial or other administrative posts. Their careers and honours illustrate the fluid structures of late Roman government adapting to the sharply increased necessity for political communication during the fifth and sixth centuries.
Like Hydatius and Sidonius, these two Italian authors attest the importance and frequency of diplomatic communication throughout the Mediterranean world. They present, however, different perspectives, and must be studied in different contexts, from that of their older contemporaries. Whereas Hydatius is almost the sole witness for many of the events he describes, and Sidonius' Gaul is only sporadically illuminated for us, Italy under the Ostrogoths is the best-documented western