Roman emperors, conquest, and violence: images from the Eastern provinces

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Abstract

This chapter examines monuments and objects depicting the Roman emperor as a violent agent of conquest which were produced in the eastern provinces during the first and second centuries CE. Imagery of the emperor subjugating and enslaving peoples and provinces could be found on large public buildings, such as the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias, as well as on statues, coins, and terracotta votives. The creators and patrons of these imperial representations were influenced both by local (Greek, Egyptian) and by Roman concepts of rulership and artistic traditions. This desire to depict the violent treatment of foreign peoples by Roman emperors demonstrates that eastern patrons and artists sought to identify themselves with the civilised world of Rome, rather than with the subjugated barbarian ‘other’. The Roman emperor was thus envisioned as a protector of his people, and a guarantor of their safety and security. But it is probable that these images also carried a more sinister message, reminding the emperor’s subjects that he could punish them as well.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe social dynamics of Roman imperial imagery
EditorsAmy Russell, Monica Hellström
Place of PublicationCambridge, UK
PublisherCambridge University Press
Chapter5
Pages100-127
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781108891714
ISBN (Print)9781108835121
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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