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Dr. M. (Martijn) Icks

Faculty of Humanities

Visiting address
  • Kloveniersburgwal 48
  • Room number: D0.08
Postal address
  • Postbus 1610
    1000 BP Amsterdam
  • Profiel

    Martijn Icks is a Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Amsterdam. Most of his research is focused on the time of the Roman Empire, in particular on late antiquity, although his interests are not confined to the ancient world, but extend to later periods as well. Among other things, his research interests include the representation and perception of imperial power, Roman art and coinage, imperial rituals, gender and reception studies. He also has a keen interest in character assassination as an historical and cross-cultural phenomenon.

    Icks obtained his PhD cum laude from the University of Nijmegen in 2008. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the Roman emperor Elagabalus and his fictional afterlife in art and literature from antiquity to the present day. This study was published under the title The Crimes of Elagabalus: The Life and Legacy of Rome’s Decadent Boy Emperor (2011).

    As a Marie Curie Fellow, Icks initiated the project “Making and Unmaking the Emperor” at the University of Heidelberg (2009-2011), focusing on the defamation of Roman emperors through negative interpretations of imperial rituals in ancient texts. Afterwards, he worked for several years as a research fellow at the University of Düsseldorf (2011-2014) and as a lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast (2014-2016) before coming to Amsterdam. His current research project involves the visibility and invisibility of Roman imperial power.

    Icks is a founding member of CARP, the Lab for Character Assassination and Reputation Politics, based at George Mason University, Virginia ( With Eric Shiraev, he published the edited volume Character Assassination throughout the Ages (2014). He is also one of the editors of the Routledge Handbook for Character Assassination and Reputation Management (2020).


  • Boeken

    Routledge Handbook of Character Assassination and Reputation Management

    (edited with Sergei Samoilenko, Jennifer Keohane & Eric Shiraev; Routledge 2020)


    Character Assassination throughout the Ages

    (edited with Eric Shiraev; Palgrave Macmillan 2014)

    Using a variety of cases from history and today's life, the book examines character attackers targeting the private lives, behavior, values, and identity of their victims. Numerous historical examples show that character assassination has always been a very effective weapon to win political battles or settle personal scores.


    The Crimes of Elagabalus: The Life and Legacy of Rome's Decadent Boy Emperor

    (I.B. Tauris 2011 / Harvard University Press 2012)

    Elagabalus was one of the most notorious of Rome's 'bad emperors': a sexually-depraved and eccentric hedonist who in his short and riotous reign made unprecedented changes to Roman state religion and defied all taboos. An oriental boy-priest from Syria – aged just fourteen when he was elevated to power in 218 CE – he placed the sun god El-Gabal at the head of the established Roman pantheon, engaged in orgiastic rituals, took male and female lovers, wore feminine dress and was alleged to have prostituted himself in taverns and even inside the imperial palace.

    Since his assassination by the Praetorian Guard at the age of eighteen, Elagabalus has been an object of fascination to historians and a source of inspiration for artists and writers. This immensely readable book examines the life of one of the Roman Empire's most colourful figures, and charts the many guises of his legacy: from evil tyrant to firebrand rebel, from mystical androgyne to modern gay teenager, from decadent sensualist to ancient pop star.


  • Publications


    • Dirven, L., Icks, M., & Remijsen, S. (Eds.) (2023). The Public Lives of Ancient Women (500 BCE-650 CE). (Mnemosyne Supplements: History and archaeology of classical antiquity; Vol. 468). Brill. [details]
    • Icks, M. (2023). Empresses taking charge? The powerful women of the Severan house in the literary sources. In L. Dirven, M. Icks, & S. Remijsen (Eds.), The Public Lives of Ancient Women (500 BCE-650 CE) (pp. 46-64). (Mnemosyne Supplements: History and archaeology of classical antiquity; Vol. 468). Brill. [details]
    • Icks, M. (2023). Splendid isolation: Secluded emperors and the spectre of Oriental despotism. In C. Davenport, & M. McEvoy (Eds.), The Roman Imperial Court in the Principate and Late Antiquity (pp. 262-277). Oxford University Press. [details]
    • Icks, M. (2023). The many deaths of Domitian: Scandal and image destruction in imperial Rome. In A. Haller, & H. Michael (Eds.), Scandalogy 4: Political Scandals in the Age of Populism, Partisanship, and Polarization (pp. 125-137). Springer. [details]
    • Icks, M. (2023). [Review of: A. Gangloff & G. Gorre (eds.) (2021) Le corps des souverains dans les mondes hellénistique et romain. Journal of Roman Studies, 113, 1-2.
    • Icks, M. (2023). [Review of: S. Bönisch-Meyer (2021) Dialogangebote : Die Anrede des Kaisers jenseits der offiziellen Titulatur]. Klio. Beiträge zur alten Geschichte, 105(1), 392-396. Advance online publication. [details]



    • Hagen, E., & Icks, M. (2021). Inleiding: Karaktermoord is een tijdloos wapen. Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 134(2), 187-200. [details]
    • Icks, M. (2021). Having the last laugh: Scandalous character assassination in comedy in Classical Athens and the current-day United States. In A. Haller, H. Michael, & L. Seeber (Eds.), Scandology 3: Scandals in New Media (pp. 135-149). Springer Verlag.
    • Icks, M. (2021). Romeinse politieke cultuur door de eeuwen heen: [Bespreking van: L.E. Tacoma (2020) Roman Political Culture : Seven studies of the Senate and City Councils of Italy from the First to the Sixth Century AD]. Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 133(4), 734-735. [details]
    • Icks, M. (Guest ed.), & Hagen, E. (Guest ed.) (2021). Themanummer Karaktermoord en media. Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 134(2), 187-302.


    • Icks, M. (2020). Agrippina, Theodora and Fredegund as Evil Empresses in the Historiographic Tradition. In S. A. Samoilenko, M. Icks, J. Keohane, & E. Shiraev (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Character Assassination and Reputation Management (pp. 183-195). (Routledge International Handbooks). Routledge. [details]
    • Icks, M. (2020). Keeping up appearances: Evaluations of imperial (in)visibility in Late Antiquity. In E. Manders, & D. Slootjes (Eds.), Leadership, Ideology and Crowds in the Roman Empire of the Fourth Century AD (pp. 163-179). (Heidelberger althistorische Beiträge und epigraphische Studien (HABES); Vol. 62). Franz Steiner Verlag. [details]
    • Icks, M. (2020). Kept in the dark: Narratives of imperial seclusion in Late Antiquity. In K. Choda, M. S. de Leeuw, & F. Schulz (Eds.), Gaining and Losing Imperial Favour in Late Antiquity: Representation and Reality (pp. 173-192). (Impact of Empire; Vol. 36). Brill. [details]
    • Icks, M. (2020). The Oriental empresses of Rome: Severan women in literature and the performative arts. In F. Carlà-Uhink, & A. Wieber (Eds.), Orientalism and the Reception of Powerful Women from the Ancient World (pp. 129-141). Bloomsbury Academic.
    • Icks, M. (2020). Three Usurpers in Rome: The Urbs Aeterna in the Representation of Maxentius, Nepotian, and Priscus Attalus. Studies in Late Antiquity, 4(1), 4-43. Advance online publication. [details]
    • Icks, M., & Shiraev, E. (2020). Character assassination and scandalogy: How and why character attacks cause scandals. In A. Haller, & H. Michael (Eds.), Scandalogy 2: Cultures of Scandals - Scandals in Culture (pp. 104-123). Halem.
    • Icks, M., Shiraev, E., Keohane, J., & Samoilenko, S. A. (2020). Character assassination: Theoretical framework. In S. A. Samoilenko, M. Icks, J. Keohane, & E. Shiraev (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Character Assassination and Reputation Management (pp. 11-24). (Routledge International Handbooks). Routledge. [details]
    • Samoilenko, S. A., Icks, M., Keohane, J., & Shiraev, E. (Eds.) (2020). The Routledge Handbook of Character Assassination and Reputation Management. Routledge. Advance online publication. [details]


    • Icks, M. (2019). [Review of: T.C. Brennan (2018) Sabina Augusta: An Imperial Journey]. Classical Philology, 114, 541-544.
    • Icks, M., & Shiraev, E. (2019). Character assassination in ancient Rome: Defamation in Cicero’s First Catilinarian Oration from a historical-psychological perspective. The Journal of Psychohistory, 46(4), 270-289. [details]
    • Icks, M., Jussen, D., & Manders, E. (2019). Generaals in de groei: De militaire representatie van de kindkeizers Gratianus en Honorius op munten en in lofdichten. Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 132, 541-558.


    • Icks, M. (2018). [Review of: F. Sittig (2018) Psychopathen in Purpur : Julisch-claudischer Caesarenwahnsinn und die Konstruktion historischer Realität]. Bonner Jahrbücher des Rheinischen Landesmuseums in Bonn ..., 218, 470-474. [details]
    • Samoilenko, S., Shiraev, E., Keohane, J., & Icks, M. (2018). Character assassination (general). In A. Ledeneva (Ed.), The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality: Understanding Social and Cultural Complexity (Vol. 2, pp. 441-446). (Fringe). UCL Press., [details]



    • Icks, M. (2016). Great pretenders: Elevations of 'good' usurpers in Roman historiography. In H. Börm, M. Mattheis, & J. Wienand (Eds.), Civil war in ancient Greece and Rome: Contexts of disintegration and reintegration (pp. 303-320). (Heidelberger althistorische Beiträge und epigraphische Studien; Vol. 58). Franz Steiner Verlag. [details]
    • Icks, M. (2016). [Review of: B. Schöpe (2014) Der römische Kaiserhof in severischer Zeit (193-235 n. Chr.)]. Historische Zeitschrift, 302(3), 775-776. [details]


    • Icks, M. (2015). Archäologisches Landesmuseum Baden-Württemberg (ed.), Caracalla. Kaiser Tyrann Feldherr. Klio. Beiträge zur alten Geschichte, 97(2), 821-824.
    • Icks, M. (2015). The depraved devotion of Elagabalus: Images of the priest-emperor in the visual and performing arts. In F. Carlà, & I. Berti (Eds.), Ancient Magic and the Supernatural in the Visual and Performing Arts (pp. 211-224). Bloomsbury Academic.


    • Icks, M. (2014). Creating tyrants in ancient Rome: Character assassination and imperial investiture. In M. Icks, & E. Shiraev (Eds.), Character Assassination throughout the Ages (pp. 83-100). Palgrave Macmillan.
    • Icks, M. (2014). De triomf van de tiran: Triumphi als kritiekmiddel in Romeinse literatuur. Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis , 127(1), 1-19.
    • Icks, M. (2014). The inadequate heirs of Theodosius: Ancestry, merit and divine blessing in the representation of Arcadius and Honorius. Millennium. Jahrbuch zu Kultur und Geschichte des ersten Jahrtausends n. Chr., 11(1), 69-99.
    • Icks, M., & Shiraev, E. (Eds.) (2014). Character Assassination throughout the Ages. Palgrave Macmillan.


    • Icks, M. (2013). Book Review: Christian Bechtold, Gott und Gestirn als Präsenzformen des toten Kaisers. Apotheose und Katasterismos in der politischen Kommunikation der römischen Kaiserzeit und ihre Anknüpfungspunkte im Hellenismus (V&R Unipress: Göttingen 2011). Klio. Beiträge zur alten Geschichte, 95, 249-250.
    • Icks, M. (2013). Book Review: Clifford Ando, Imperial Rome AD 193 to 284: The Critical Century (Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh 2012). Sehepunkte.


    • Icks, M. (2012). Bad emperors on the rise: Negative assessments of imperial investitures, AD 284-395. Klio. Beiträge zur alten Geschichte, 94, 462-481.


    • Icks, M. (2011). The Crimes of Elagabalus: The Life and Legacy of Rome's Decadent Boy Emperor. I.B. Tauris.
    • Icks, M. (2011). Elevating the unworthy emperor: Ritual failure in Roman historiography. In A. Chaniotis (Ed.), Ritual Dynamics in the Ancient Mediterranean (pp. 347-376). Franz Steiner Verlag.


    • Icks, M. (2010). Book Review: Leonardo de Arrizabalaga y Prado, The Emperor Elagabalus: Fact or Fiction? (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge 2010). Sehepunkte.
    • Icks, M. (2010). From priest to emperor to priest-emperor: The failed legitimation of Elagabalus. In A. Turner, J. Chong-Gossard, & F. Vervaet (Eds.), Private and Public Lies (pp. 331-341). Brill.


    • Icks, M. (2009). Empire of the Sun?: Civic responses to the rise and fall of Sol Elagabal in the Roman Empire. In O. Hekster, S. Schmidt-Hofner, & C. Witschel (Eds.), Ritual Dynamics and Religious Change in the Roman Empire (pp. 111-120). Brill.
    • Icks, M. (2009). L'Agonie versus De berg van licht: Beelden van Heliogabalus bij Couperus en Lombard. Arabesken : Tijdschrift van het Louis Couperus Genootschap, 17(33), 14-27.


    • Icks, M. (2008). Book Review: Jan de Hond, Verlangen naar het Oosten. Oriëntalisme in de Nederlandse cultuur, ca. 1800-1920 (Primavera Pers: Leiden 2008). Ex Tempore, 28(2), 178-180.
    • Icks, M. (2008). Heliogabalus, a monster on the Roman throne: The literary construction of a "bad" emperor. In I. Sluiter, & R. Rosen (Eds.), KAKOS (pp. 477-488). Brill.


    • Icks, M. (2007). "Niet te vrouwelijk, niet te mannelijk": Keizer Heliogabalus als androgyne icoon in het fin-de-siècle. Geschiedenis der Geneeskunde, 12, 4-10.


    • Icks, M. (2006). Priesthood and imperial power: The religious reforms of Heliogabalus, 220-222 AD. In L. de Blois, P. Funke, & J. Hahn (Eds.), The Impact of Imperial Rome on Religions, Ritual and Religious Life in the Roman Empire (pp. 169-178). Brill.


    • Icks, M. (2004). Heliogabalus: Dienaar van Elagabal, heerser van Rome. Lampas, 37, 347-362.


    • Icks, M. (2002). Komt dat zien: geschiedenis in Nijmegen: De toeristisch-historische beeldvorming van Nijmegen vόόr en na de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Ex Tempore, 21(3), 152-164.


    • Icks, M. (2007). De Valse Antoninus: Beeld en werkelijkheid van Heliogabalus in de oudheid. Kleio. Tijdschrift voor oude talen en antieke cultuur, 36(4), 176-188.


    • Icks, M. (2004). Image-building in het oude Rome: Een tweeduizend jaar oude zeepbel. Kleio. Tijdschrift van de Vereniging van Docenten in Geschiedenis en Staatsinrichting in Nederland, 45(1), 22-26.


    • Icks, M. (2002). Roma Aeterna?: Het tijdsbesef van Polybios en Livius. Kleio. Tijdschrift voor oude talen en antieke cultuur, 32(1), 29-38.

    Talk / presentation

    • Icks, M. (speaker) (25-11-2023). Caesar als man van het volk: Een staaltje Romeins populisme?, H'ART Museum.
    • Icks, M. (speaker) (31-8-2023). Corporate Neros: Charismatic leadership and character assassination in ancient Rome and modern business, Reputation Symposium, Oxford.
    • Icks, M. (speaker) (5-7-2023). A tale of two palaces: The courts of Arcadius and Honorius in the works of Claudian, International Congress on the Study of the Middle Ages, Leeds.
    • Icks, M. (speaker) (14-4-2023). Character assassination in history: Cicero vs. Catiline, George Mason University, Fairfax Campus.
    • Icks, M. (speaker) (15-3-2023). De “schurk” Catilina: Karaktermoord op een Romeins staatsman, Gallo-Romeins Museum Tongeren.
    • Icks, M. (speaker) (28-11-2022). The crimes of Elagabalus: Building blocks for a character assassination, Varius Antoninus Tiberinus, Iași.
    • Icks, M. (speaker) (31-10-2022). Wrede Afrikanen en sluwe Syriërs: De Severi als niet-Europese keizers van Rome, Murmellius Gymnasium Alkmaar.
    • Icks, M. (speaker) (1-10-2022). The many deaths of Domitian: Scandal and image destruction in imperial Rome, 4th International Conference in Scandalogy, Bamberg.
    • Icks, M. (speaker) (18-6-2022). Peinzen tussen de ruïnes: Edward Gibbon als auteur van Romes ondergang, Decline and Fall?, Amsterdam.
    • Icks, M. (speaker) (24-3-2022). Retorisch venijn: Karaktermoord in de redevoeringen van Cicero, Persoonlijke aanvallen van nul tot nu, Amsterdam.
    • Icks, M. (speaker) (17-3-2022). Justinianus en Theodora: Beeldenstrijd rond een laatantiek power couple, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden.


    • Icks, M. (participant) (21-6-2023 - 23-6-2023). CARP 4: Character Assassination, Illiberalism, and the Erosion of Civic Rights, Amsterdam. CARP 4: Character Assassi-nation, Illiberalism, and the Erosion of Civic Rights (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Icks, M. (participant) (18-6-2022). Decline and Fall?, Amsterdam (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Icks, M. (participant) (24-3-2022). Persoonlijke aanvallen van nul tot nu, Amsterdam (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
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