Contortion (sometimes contortionism) is a performance art in which performers called contortionists showcase their skills of extreme physical flexibility. Contortion acts often accompany acrobatics, circus acts, street performers and other live performing arts. Contortion acts are typically performed in front of a live audience. An act will showcase one or more artists performing a choreographed set of moves or poses, often to music, which require extreme flexibility. The physical flexibility required to perform such acts greatly exceeds that of the general population. It is the dramatic feats of seemingly inhuman flexibility that captivate audiences.

Contortionist performing
Contortionist, posed in studio, ca. 1880
Contortionist, posed in studio, ca. 1880.


Many factors affect the flexibility of performers including age, genetics, stature, and adherence to rigorous physical training routines. Most contortionists are generally categorized as "frontbenders" or "backbenders", depending on the direction in which their spine is most flexible. Relatively few performers are equally adept at both.

Skills performed by contortionists include:

  • Frontbending skills such as folding forward at the waist with the legs straight, or placing one or both legs behind the neck or shoulders with the knees bent (called a human knot).
  • Backbending skills such as touching one's head to one's feet, or all the way to the buttocks (called a head-seat), while standing, lying on the floor, or in a handstand. A Marinelli bend is a backbend while supported only by a grip at the top of a short post that is held in the mouth.
  • Splits and oversplits (a split of more than 180 degrees) may be included in frontbending or backbending acts. An oversplit may be performed while the feet are supported by two chairs or by two assistants.
  • Enterology is the practice of squeezing one's body into a small, knee-high box or other contained space which initially appears to audiences as being too small to contain the performer.
  • Dislocations of the shoulders or hip joints are sometimes performed as a short novelty act by itself. One example is lifting the arm to the side until it passes behind the head and lies across the top of the shoulders; also referred to as bonebreaking.
Hussein backbend
Hussein Yoga performing a combination of a cheststand and dislocation


A medical publication from 2008 suggests that long-term damage to the spine is common in long-term practitioners. A study of five practitioners using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) by Peoples et al. documented limbus vertebrae, intervertebral disc bulges, and disc degeneration. Three of the five practitioners also reported back pain.[1]


Man in a box
This man in a trunk is an example of enterology.

Contortion acts are highly variable with many incorporating elements of humor, drama, shock, sensuality or a blend of styles. Contortion is often incorporated into other performances such as dance and theater.

Contortion may be incorporated into other types of performances:

  • An adagio act is an acrobatic dance in which one partner lifts and carries the other partner as she/he performs splits and other flexible poses.
  • In a rag doll or golliwogg act, one or two assistants bend, shake and carry the contortionist in such a way as to convince the audience that the disguised performer is actually a limp, life-sized doll. The act often ends by stuffing the doll into a small box.
  • Contortion positions can be performed on a Spanish web, an aerial act consisting of a rope with a hand/foot loop that is spun by someone underneath.
  • Contortionists might manipulate props during their performance, for instance spinning hula hoops or juggling rings, balancing towers of wine glasses, or playing a musical instrument.

A contortionist may perform alone, may have one or two assistants, or up to four contortionists may perform together as a group.

In the past, contortionists were associated almost exclusively with circuses and fairs, but recently they have also found work performing in nightclubs, amusement parks, in magazine advertisements, at trade shows, on television variety shows, in music videos, and as warmup acts or in the background at music concerts.

The Ross Sisters were American contortionists most famous for their musical number in the 1940s movie Broadway Rhythm.[2] In addition, contortion photos and digital movie clips are traded by fans on the Internet, and several web sites provide original photos of contortion acts for a monthly fee, or sell videotapes of performances through the mail.

Some loose-jointed people are able to pop a joint out of its socket without pain, thereby making it difficult to determine if a joint is dislocated without medical examination such as an X-ray. However, as long as the joint socket is the right shape, most extreme bends can be achieved without dislocating the joint.[3] Actual dislocations[4] are rarely used during athletic contortion acts since they make the joint more unstable and prone to injury, and a dislocated limb cannot lift itself or support any weight.

List of notable contortionists


Contortion backbend
Example of a chest stand
  • Backbend/Backfold - Any pose with an unusual degree of backward bending at the waist and/or any portion of spine while standing, kneeling, resting on the floor, or while suspended.
  • Box act(also called: body packing; enterology; packanatomicalization) - Circus act in which a contortionist squeezes his/her body into a small box or transparent container.
  • Chest stand - Any backbending pose in which the performer's chest is resting on the floor for support.
  • Dislocate - 1. [verb] To injure a joint by temporarily forcing the bone out of its normal socket. 2. [noun] In men's gymnastics, a rotating of the shoulders when performing a backwards turn on the still rings. Many skills in acrobatics appear to involve dislocating a joint, when they actually do not.
  • Durvasa's pose or crane pose - Named for the mythological Indian sage, Durvasa, who supposedly assumed this pose during his years of penance: to stand on one foot with the other leg lifted in front and placed behind the neck or shoulders.
An elbow stand performed by an acro dancer
  • Elbow stand - Any inverted pose in which the performer uses only the forearms on the floor for support.
  • Frontbend - Any pose that features an unusual degree of frontward bending of the waist and/or spine, either with the legs together or parted.
  • Front split (also called: Stride split) - A split in which one leg is extended frontward and the other leg is extended backward, both at right angles to the trunk. Ideally, the hips are square facing to the front, while both legs are turned out from the hips.
  • Hairpin - A pose in which one kneels down, sits on top of the feet, and bends backwards until the top of the head comes into contact with the tailbone; it may also done with a starting position on hands and knees.
  • Headseat - An extreme backbend in which the top of the performer's head touches the buttocks; usually in a handstand or chest stand.
  • Leg shouldering - A standing split in which the leg touches the shoulder. Can be done to the front, side, or rear.
  • Marinelli bend - [From contortionist and international theatrical agent H. B. Marinelli (1864-1924)] A head-seat with the legs extended, performed while supported only by a mouth grip at the top of a short post.
  • Needle scale - A front split while standing on the forward foot, with the torso bent downward with the hands touching the floor, while the rear leg is extended vertically toward the ceiling.
  • Oversplit (also called: Hypersplit) - Any split in which the angle formed by the legs measures greater than 180 degrees. It can be done to the front with either or both legs elevated, or in a straddle split with one or both legs elevated.
  • Passive stretching (also called: Static-passive stretching; assisted relaxed stretching) - 1. A static stretch (See: "static stretching") in which an external force (such as the floor or another person) holds the performer in the static position. 2. The practice of having a relaxed limb moved beyond its normal range of motion with the assistance of a partner. In "active stretching", in contrast, the limb is extended to its maximum range using only the muscles of that limb.
  • Pike - To be bend forward at the waist with the legs and trunk kept straight.
  • Pointe - In classical ballet, when a dancer uses special shoes (called pointe shoes or toe shoes) to dance en pointe (on their toes). The arch of the top of the foot is at its maximum when the dancer "pushes over", causing the heel of the foot to be almost directly over the toes. Difficult and often painful to learn, both men and women may benefit from studying pointe technique, however, most performance opportunities are for women only. Children do not begin to study pointe until they have years of experience and sufficient ankle strength, as well as being old enough to ensure that their bones are strong enough.
  • Rag doll act (also called: Golliwogg act) - Circus act in which a contortionist, dressed in a loose-fitting clown costume, gives the appearance of being a limp, life-sized doll, as one or two assistants bend, roll, carry and pose the "doll" and then stuff him/her into a small box.
  • Rhythmic gymnastics (also called: Rhythmic sportive gymnastics (RSG); rhythmics) - Olympic sport for one woman (or 5 women in group competition) consisting of a balletic floor exercise which demonstrates leaps, turns, balance and flexibility while moving and tossing hand-held apparatus: a ball, a rope, a hoop, two clubs, or a ribbon. Men's rhythmic gymnastics currently exists in Japan, and is gaining worldwide acceptance.
  • Rope act (also called: Spanish web) - Circus act in which an acrobat (usually female) performs exercises high above the floor while holding on to a long, vertically suspended rope, or hanging from a loop in the rope.
  • Scale - In acrobatics, when the leg is raised toward the back and may be held with one hand while standing.
  • Split (also called: the splits) - Any pose in which the legs are extended in opposite directions such that the angle of the legs is 180 degrees.
  • Straddle split (also called: side split; box split; Chinese split; cut split) - A split in which the legs are extended to the left and right, until a 180 degree angle between the legs is reached.
  • Tortoise position (also called: pancake) - A seated forward bend with the chest against the floor between the legs; the outstretched arms are also against the floor and underneath the knees.
  • Triple fold - A chest stand (See: "chest stand") in which the knees come all the way over to touch the floor, and the shins lie flat on the floor.
  • Twisting split - An exercise in which the performer changes from a split with the left leg forward, to a straddle split, and then to a split with the right leg forward, by rotating the legs, and without using the hands for support.

See also


  1. ^ Peoples RR, Perkins TG, Powell JW, Hanson EH, Snyder TH, Mueller TL, Orrison WW (2008). "Whole-spine dynamic magnetic resonance study of contortionists: anatomy and pathology". J Neurosurg Spine. 8 (6): 501–9. doi:10.3171/SPI/2008/8/6/501. PMID 18518669.
  2. ^ Pellot, Emerald. "The Ross Sisters Prove No One Does It Like The 1940s In This Epic Contortion Performance". Retrieved 2017-10-03.
  3. ^ Hahn F, Kissling R, Weishaupt D, Boos N (July 2006). "The extremes of spinal motion: a kinematic study of a contortionist in an open-configuration magnetic resonance scanner: case report". Spine. 31 (16): E565–7. doi:10.1097/01.brs.0000225983.44327.b1. PMID 16845345.
  4. ^ Owen E (May 1882). "Notes on the Voluntary Dislocations of a Contortionist". Br Med J. 1 (1114): 650–3. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.1114.650. PMC 2371707. PMID 20750190.
  5. ^ Swift, Andy (November 16, 2018). "America's Got Talent: The Champions Reveals 25 Returning Acts". TVLine. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  6. ^ Swift, Andy (May 25, 2018). "'Rubber boy' can rotate his shoulders 360 degrees and spin his head right round". Retrieved February 16, 2019.

External links

Aerial silk

Aerial silks (also known as aerial contortion, aerial ribbons, aerial tissues, fabric, ribbon, or tissu, depending on personal preference) is a type of performance in which one or more artists perform aerial acrobatics while hanging from a fabric. The fabric may be hung as two pieces, or a single piece, folded to make a loop, classified as hammock silks. Performers climb the suspended fabric without the use of safety lines and rely only on their training and skill to ensure safety. They use the fabric to wrap, suspend, drop, swing, and spiral their bodies into and out of various positions. Aerial silks may be used to fly through the air, striking poses and figures while flying. Some performers use dried or spray rosin on their hands and feet to increase the friction and grip on the fabric.

Alexey Goloborodko

Aleksei I. Goloborodko (Russian: Алексей Голобородько, pronounced: Al-ix-EY Ga-la-ba-RROJ-ka, born December 1994) is a contortionist who has been described by many as the most flexible human on the planet. He was born in Tula, Russia. In addition to contortion and flexibility, he has trained in classical and modern dance and Chinese martial arts. This helps to add fluency, grace and elegance to his contortion performances. He has performed in a variety of arts festivals and competitions, television programs, circuses, and shows. He is currently in the Cirque du Soleil show Luzia.


A backbend is a gymnastics, contortion, dance and ice skating move, where the spine is bent backwards, and catching oneself with the hands. Throughout the move, the abdominal muscles, obliques, and legs are used to steady the performer while curving backwards. Backbending can be acquired from intense training or genetics.

Chair acrobatics

The use of chairs as props in acrobatic activities falls into three broad categories: balancing, vaulting and contortion.

Christine Danton

Christine Danton (Shillaker), professionally billed as "The Amazing Cristina" is an Australian contortionist who is still performing her contortion act at the age of 67. Now celebrating over 50 years as a professional performer,

Christine has been featured on several TV Shows, including "Just for the Record" and "Australia's Got Talent", and has worked internationally in theatre, film and circus. In the early 1960s while performing in Europe, Christine was asked to pose for the medical journal "Hypermobility of Joints", and it was those b&w images that were used in early (and possibly later) editions of that publication. Christine performs her contortion act on a regular basis and is also in great demand as an "After Dinner Speaker".

Christine started her professional career as a dancer/contortionist in the early days of Australian television in Adelaide and went on to tour internationally as a featured cabaret artist.

Contorsion tensor

The contorsion tensor in differential geometry is the difference between a connection with and without torsion in it. It commonly appears in the study of spin connections. Thus, for example, a vielbein together with a spin connection, when subject to the condition of vanishing torsion, gives a description of Einstein gravity. For supersymmetry, the same constraint, of vanishing torsion, gives (the field equations of) 11-dimensional supergravity. That is, the contorsion tensor, along with the connection, becomes one of the dynamical objects of the theory, demoting the metric to a secondary, derived role.

The elimination of torsion in a connection is referred to as the absorption of torsion, and is one of the steps of Cartan's equivalence method for establishing the equivalence of geometric structures.

Contortion (disambiguation)

Contortion is a word for an act of twisting and deforming. It may also refer to:

Contortion, a performance art

Contorsion, a concept in differential geometry described by the Contorsion tensor

an old term for complicated geological foldsContortions may also refer to:

James Chance and the Contortions, a musical groupContort may additionally refer to:

Contort (law), an informal legal term combining "contract" and "tort"

Contort, a botanical term for a type of aestivation

Contortion Spur

Contortion Spur (80°25′S 160°9′E) is the largest and easternmost of three spurs which descend northwards from Mount Madison near the mouth of Byrd Glacier in Antarctica. The spur exposes a spectacular syncline of white marble and black schist. It was geologically mapped on December 10, 2000, by Edmund Stump of the United States Antarctic Program; he suggested the name because of the skewed form of the spur.

Cú Chulainn

Cú Chulainn, also spelled Cú Chulaind or Cúchulainn ([kuːˈxʊlˠɪnʲ] (listen); Irish for "Culann's Hound") and sometimes known in English as Cuhullin , is an Irish mythological hero who appears in the stories of the Ulster Cycle, as well as in Scottish and Manx folklore. He is believed to be an incarnation of the god Lugh, who is also his father. His mother is the mortal Deichtine, sister of Conchobar mac Nessa.

Born Sétanta, he gained his better-known name as a child, after killing Culann's fierce guard-dog in self-defence and offered to take its place until a replacement could be reared. At the age of seventeen he defended Ulster single-handedly against the armies of queen Medb of Connacht in the famous Táin Bó Cúailnge ("Cattle Raid of Cooley"). It was prophesied that his great deeds would give him everlasting fame, but his life would be a short one. He is known for his terrifying battle frenzy, or ríastrad (translated by Thomas Kinsella as "warp spasm" and by Ciarán Carson as "torque"), in which he becomes an unrecognisable monster who knows neither friend nor foe. He fights from his chariot, driven by his loyal charioteer Láeg and drawn by his horses, Liath Macha and Dub Sainglend. In more modern times, Cú Chulainn is often referred to as the "Hound of Ulster".Cú Chulainn shows striking similarities to the legendary Persian hero Rostam, as well as to the Germanic Lay of Hildebrand and the labours of the Greek epic hero Heracles, suggesting a common Indo-European origin, but lacking in linguistic, anthropological and archaeological material.

Daniel Browning Smith

Daniel Browning Smith, also known as The Rubberboy (born May 8, 1979), is an American contortionist, actor, television host, comedian, sports entertainer, and stuntman, who holds the title of the most flexible person in history, owning a total of seven Guinness World Records. Smith owes his flexibility to the genetic condition hypermobile Ehlers–Danlos syndrome.


A frontbend is a contortion position where the body is curved forward at the hips and spine. In an extreme frontbend, some contortionists can place the backs of their knees behind their shoulders.


A gurn or chuck, in British English, is a distorted facial expression and a verb to describe the action. The American English equivalent is making a face. A typical gurn might involve projecting the lower jaw as far forward and up as possible, and covering the upper lip with the lower lip, though there are other possibilities.

The English Dialect Dictionary, compiled by Joseph Wright, defines the word gurn as "to snarl as a dog; to look savage; to distort the countenance," while the Oxford English Dictionary suggests the derivation may originally be Scottish, related to "grin." In Northern Ireland, the verb "to gurn" means "to cry," and crying is often referred to as "gurnin'." Originally the Scottish dialectical usage refers to a person who is complaining. The term "gurn" may also refer to an involuntary facial muscular contortion experienced as a side-effect of MDMA consumption.

Hypermobility (joints)

Hypermobility, also known as double-jointedness, describes joints that stretch farther than normal. For example, some hypermobile people can bend their thumbs backwards to their wrists, bend their knee joints backwards, put their leg behind the head or perform other contortionist "tricks". It can affect one or more joints throughout the body.

Hypermobile joints are common and occur in about 10 to 25% of the population. It is usually not associated with any symptoms but a minority of people develop other conditions caused by their unstable joints; in such cases, it is known as Hypermobility syndrome.Until new diagnostic criteria were introduced, Hypermobility Syndrome was sometimes often considered identical to Ehlers–Danlos syndrome hypermobile type/EDS Type 3. As no genetic test can identify or separate either conditions and because of the similarity of the diagnosis criteria and recommended treatments, many experts recommend they should be recognized as the same condition until further research is carried out.In 2016 the diagnostic criteria for EDS Type 3 were re-written to be more restrictive, with the intent of narrowing the pool of EDS Type 3 patients in the hope of making it easier to identify a common genetic mutation, EDS Type 3 being the only EDS variant without a diagnostic DNA test. At the same time Hypermobility Syndrome (also known under the earlier names Joint Hypermobility Syndrome and Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome) was redefined as a hypermobility disorder that does not meet the diagnostic criteria for EDS Type 3 (or Marfans, OI, or other collagen disorders) and renamed as Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD). The body of the article has not yet been rewritten to reflect this.

Joint dislocation

A joint dislocation, also called luxation, occurs when there is an abnormal separation in the joint, where two or more bones meet. A partial dislocation is referred to as a subluxation. Dislocations are often caused by sudden trauma on the joint like an impact or fall. A joint dislocation can cause damage to the surrounding ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. Dislocations can occur in any joint major (shoulder, knees, etc.) or minor (toes, fingers, etc.). The most common joint dislocation is a shoulder dislocation.Treatment for joint dislocation is usually by closed reduction, that is, skilled manipulation to return the bones to their normal position. Reduction should only be performed by trained medical professionals, because it can cause injury to soft tissue and/or the nerves and vascular structures around the dislocation.

Marinelli bend

Marinelli bend is a form of contortion posture in which the performer (most often female) supports their whole body weight only by biting onto a mouth grip attached to a short post in a backbend position with their buttock sitting on their own head. It is considered to be one of the most difficult and dangerous contortion positions, and is usually the climax during a contortion performance.

Olga Pikhienko

Olga Pikhienko (born February 11, 1980) is a circus performer who specializes in handbalancing and contortion. Pikhienko started in rhythmic gymnastics at the age of five. When she was eleven, she started performing with her father, Sasha Pikhienko, at the Nikulin Circus based in Moscow. Olga's act with her father won them a gold medal in 1992 at the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in Paris. In 1993, they won a silver medal in Beijing, China at the World Festival.

Pikhienko started working with Cirque du Soleil in 1994. In 1996, she went on tour with Cirque du Soleil's production Quidam, and, for more than five years, performed her hand balancing and contortion with canes act throughout Europe and North America. In 2001, she worked on the creation of Varekai, while being filmed for the Bravo network's documentary series Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within, which won an Emmy Award in 2003.After touring with Varekai for three years, Pikhienko decided to branch out artistically, developing new acts for special events, commercials, print and video. Her new act was choreographed by Debra Brown, who has choreographed for many Cirque du Soleil shows. She returned to Quidam in 2006, and toured with the show once again until she went back to the Cirque du Soleil headquarters for the creation of Iris, her third show with the company. The show premiered in July 2011. According to her personal Facebook page, she left Iris on September 2, 2012. After that, she performed briefly in a show called Le Noir: the Dark Side of Cirque, and also Empire, a show touring in Australia. She has returned to doing private events and resides in Los Angeles, California with her family.

Plate spinning

Plate spinning is a circus manipulation art where a person spins plates, bowls and other flat objects on poles, without them falling off. Plate spinning relies on the gyroscopic effect, in the same way a top stays upright while spinning. Spinning plates are sometimes gimmicked, to help keep the plates on the poles.

Many Chinese acrobatics troupes feature plate spinning, usually in combination with contortion or acrobatic skills. These usually feature performers holding several plates in each hand spinning on sticks.

Western plate spinning performers usually present comedy acts and typically feature one performer with an assistant, spinning multiple plates on sticks held vertically in stands.

Other forms of plate manipulation include plate waltzing, where plates are spun on their edges on a table top, and plate juggling, where plates are manipulated and thrown by the performers. Some performers have combined several of these elements into restaurant or kitchen-themed acts.

The Guinness World Record for spinning multiple plates is held by David Spathaky, assisted by Debbie Woolley, who spun 108 plates simultaneously in Bangkok, Thailand, on television in 1996. He had previously held and broken his own record four times since 1986.

Robert Muraine

Robert "Mr. Fantastic" Muraine (born July 2, 1987 in North East Los Angeles, California) is a dancer in the popping style.

Muraine gained national attention when he gave a lengthy audition to the instrumental of the obscure tune "It's Me Bitches" by Swizz Beats for Season 4 of the television program So You Think You Can Dance, during which executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe declared that Muraine was his favorite dancer of 2008 and then handed him the ticket in a mock slow motion fashion. Many So You Think You Can Dance viewers uploaded the audition to their YouTube accounts moments after the show aired, making the audition clip one of So You Think You Can Dance's most successful viral videos, earning around 26,000,000 accumulated views only a week after the video surfaced. Muraine later quit the show during contestant selection due to the difficult choreography, but appeared later in the season for a guest performance, after which Lythgoe suggested a dance-off with Phillip "PacMan" Chbeeb. The dance-off aired in August 2008 during the season finale and the judges selected Muraine as the winner.

Muraine also represented the US in Superstars of Dance on NBC later in fall of 2008, specifically winning the bronze medal in the solo category, which helped lead the US to take the top prize for the season. He was referred to as the "popping soloist" of the team.

In the same year Muraine starred in a television commercial for IKEA in 2008 called "What Goes Where?" in which he arranges IKEA products alongside Shugamai Johnson performing with robot dance and liquid dancing. Muraine also starred in various other commercials and viral videos in 2008 including adverts for Pringles, BlackBerry, Strike Bowling & Uvestment. Robert also collaborated with Laurent Bremond, a French filmmaker in 2008 to make a short viral documentary about Muraine's unique dance and way of life.

From 2009 to early 2011 Muraine was involved in the Cirque Dreams: Illumination 2009-2010 tour of the US. He was majorly featured in segments "An Urban Beat with Robert Muraine" a short number constructed with help of choreographer Ruddy Betancourt [New Century Dance Company] and "Detour" a number in which Muraine and the Mongolian contortion group Contortion Sisters put together a 'twisted & funky' mix of his dancing and the troupe's traditional contortion.

Between the shows and seasons of his tour with Illumination, Robert would be asked to perform in various parts of the World of Dance Tour "the largest urban dance competition in the United States focusing on the art of street dance and choreography, taking place in 14 cities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom" Several video clips of his freestyle performances at World of Dance shows have been uploaded and posted by audiences all over the US to have gained millions of international views to this day.

In Summer and Fall of 2011, Muraine was contracted for his first time abroad in the German circus show called Magnifico directed by André Heller. Shortly after the tour launched the company filed for bankruptcy, leaving Muraine as a free agent in Europe.

In 2012 and 2013 Robert earned medals for his 'Eccentric Dance' piece in the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in France and The Nikulin Circus Festival in Moscow, in which he also earned 'the most creative act of 2012' award.

Robert now travels the world performing his act in all different types of live shows all over the world and currently works with Crazy Horse in Paris and is working on his 'new contortion number' and putting together 'a few comedy acts for future festivals'.

Robert now travels back and forth between Los Angeles and Paris and working as an international freelance entertainer.

Valerius Valens

Aurelius Valerius Valens (died March 1, 317) was Roman Emperor from late 316 to March 1, 317. Valens had previously been dux limitis (duke of the frontier) in Dacia.

In the first civil war between Licinius and Constantine I, the latter won an overwhelming victory at the battle of Cibalae on October 8, 316 (some historians date it in 314). Licinius fled to Adrianople where, with the help of Valens, he gathered a second army. There, early in December 316, he elevated Valens to the rank of Augustus, presumably in order to secure his loyalty. Much later, Licinius would use the same trick (with just as little success) in the second civil war with Constantine, by appointing Martinian co-emperor.

Despite the literary sources referring to Valens as a junior emperor (Caesar), the numismatic evidence indicates his Augustan rank.After Licinius's indecisive defeat at Campus Ardiensis in later 316 / early 317, Constantine was still in the dominant position; from which he was able to force Licinius to recognize him as the senior emperor, depose Valens and appoint their sons as Caesars. According to Petrus Patricius, he explicitly expressed his anger at the elevation of Valens by saying the following to the envoy of Mestrianus:

The emperor made clear the extent of his rage by his facial expression and by the contortion of his body. Almost unable to speak, he said, "We have not come to this present state of affairs, nor have we fought and triumphed from the ocean till where we have now arrived, just so that we should refuse to have our own brother-in-law as joint ruler because of his abominable behaviour, and so that we should deny his close kinship, but accept that vile slave [Valens] with him into imperial college".

The peace treaty was finalized at Serdica on 1 March, 317. Whether it was part of the agreement is unknown, but Licinius also had Valens executed.

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