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 (http://communication.gmu.edu/research-and-centers/carp). 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).
(edited with Sergei Samoilenko, Jennifer Keohane & Eric Shiraev; Routledge 2020)
(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.
(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.