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Figures d’empire, fragments de mémoire

 | 
Stéphane Benoist
, 
Anne Daguet-Gagey
, 
Christine Hoët-van Cauwenberghe

B. Discours et idéologie, le prince et ses figures

6. Identities of Emperor and Empire in the third century AD: some considerations*

Erika Manders et Olivier Hekster

Résumé

Les sources épigraphiques provenant des différentes régions de l’Empire romain du iiie siècle témoignent d’une conscience croissante de la perception de cet Empire comme un tout, qui était alors appréhendé comme menacé. Parallèlement, d’autres inscriptions montrent la permanence de la conception de l’empereur comme figure de proue de cet Empire. La succession rapide des titulaires de la charge impériale et, par conséquent, le pouvoir amoindri de chaque empereur en tant qu’individu semblent n’avoir eu que peu d’impact dans la perception par les sujets de l’empire de la place éminente occupée par les princes. De fait, l’absence plus fréquente des empereurs de la cité de Rome durant l’essentiel de la période – et plus important encore leur présence au niveau local – semble avoir augmenté le nombre des requêtes faites à l’empereur en provenance des provinces. Au même moment, l’analyse des monnayages impériaux du iiie siècle peut également révéler un changement de représentation des relations entre l’empereur et la cité de Rome. Cet article se propose de conduire une discussion sur la perception de l’identité de l’empereur et de l’Empire au iiie siècle en termes de relation entre l’empire, l’empereur et la cité qui avait donné son nom à cet ensemble impérial.

Texte intégral

  • * This article was greatly improved by the comments on the original paper of Simon Corcoran and Fran (...)

1In AD 238, at what is now called Gressenich, near Aachen, an altar was dedicated with the following inscription:

  • 1 CIL, XIII, 7844: [I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo)] et genio loci pro salute imperi Masius Ianuari et Titi (...)

«[to Iupiter Optimus Maximus] / and the genius of the place for / the safety of the empire Ma/sius Ianuari and Ti/tianus Ianuari have kept their promise freely to the god who deserved it, under the care / of Masius, mentioned above, and of Macer Acceptus, in [the consulship] of Pius and Proclus»1.

2Far in the periphery of the Roman Empire, two men vowed to the supreme god of Rome and the local genius, not for the safety of the current rulers, but for that of the Empire as a whole. Few sources illustrate as clearly how, fairly early in the third century already, the Empire was thought, at least by some, to be under threat. At the same time though, the inscription makes clear how the Empire as a whole was perceived as a communal identity which had to be safeguarded by centre and periphery alike. Finally, it is striking how in the text Empire has taken the place of emperor.

3In the very same year, however, at the other periphery of the Empire, the inhabitants of the town of Skaptopara (in modern Bulgaria) explicitly turned to the emperor, Gordian III, whom they address in exalted terms. They write:

  • 2 CIL, III, 12336: Αύτοκράτορι Καίσαρι Μ. ’Aντωνίῳ Γορδιαν(...)

«To Emperor Caesar Marcus Antonius Gordianus, Pious, Fortunate, Augustus, a petition from the villagers of Skaptopara, also known as the Greseitai. You have often, in replying to petitions, announced that in this most fortunate and eternal time of your reign villages should be settled and improved, rather than their inhabitants be ruined. This both results in the security of mankind and benefits your most holy treasury. Consequently we bring a lawful petition to your godliness, hoping that you will graciously give your approval to us as we make our appeal in this way»2.

  • 3 A. Kolb, Transport und Nachrichtentransfer im Römischen Reich (Klio. Beiträge zur Alten Geschichte (...)
  • 4 On changes within the structuring of local power, see D. Slootjes, Local potentes in the Roman Emp (...)

4As the petition makes clear, in Skaptopara, soldiers, private visitors, and even the procurators and governors with their staff had been confiscating goods and demanding accommodation, all without payment. Apparently Skaptopara was so attractive with its spa-like water, that «official» guests from afar came to the town, and demanded hospitality, thus abusing the already problematic system of angareia or uehiculatio, which obliged provincial subjects to accommodate transportation and lodging of official Roman travellers, based in the provinces3. First, the people turned to local authorities, in this case the governor, who forbade the military agents to continue the abuses, but without result4. The town then sought help from the emperor to end this hopeless situation. His response, on December 20th, 238, must have been a disappointment:

  • 5 CIL, III, 12336: Imp. Caesar M. Antonius Gordianus pius felix Aug. uikanis per Pyrrum mil. conposs (...)

«Emperor Caesar Marcus Antonius Gordianus, Pious, Fortunate, Augustus, to the villagers, through the soldier Pyrrhus their fellow householder: this sort of quarrel, directed with entreaties…, ought to be officially settled by the governor’s court, which has better knowledge about the matters which will be brought up, rather than by the receipt of a explicit decision in the form of an imperial written opinion. I have written it. I have authorised it. Seals: 7»5.

  • 6 This mode of behaviour is not unique to the Roman Empire. «If only the Czar/Hitler/Stalin knew» we (...)
  • 7 On the continuing importance for emperors to present themselves as a good princeps, see S. Benoist (...)

5This petition, followed by the imperial response, gives another perspective on the position of the Roman emperor in the early third century. Whereas in the Gressenich inscription the absence of the emperor’s name was striking, it is noticeable how in Skaptopara the emperor remained the ultimate authority to turn to, described in exalted terms, even if the system which he personified was starting to become problematic. To approach the emperor in these terms, and then inscribe the text in what must have been a central location, shows how at least in Skaptopara, people assumed that power was still with the emperor. It is, in fact, a common response in military dictatorships to blame advisers and minor administrators for wrongs, arguing that the leader is simply kept ignorant6. Roman emperors, however much they presented themselves as a ciuilis princeps, were ultimately military dictators7. But the Roman Empire was extraordinary in that individuals, or certainly communities, could and did turn to the emperor; and that the emperor more often than not answered.

  • 8 F. Millar, The Emperor in the Roman World, Londres, 19922 (= Emperor).
  • 9 On the role of the emperor in interpreting law, see M. Peachin, Iudex vice Caesaris: deputy empero (...)
  • 10 F. Millar, The Emperor, p. 6.
  • 11 T. Hauken, Petition and Response. For the notion of the «epigraphic habit», see famously R. MacMul (...)

6Of course responding to requests was an essential part of Roman emperorship8. As supreme ruler, the emperor was the ultimate judge, and he was in this capacity approached by a substantial number of his subjects9. The history of the third century is characterized by the arrival of «soldier emperors» and emphasis in modern historiography is often given to the changes this has wrought in emperorship. But one should not underestimate the continuing importance – also in the third century – of F. Millar’s famous adagium: «the emperor was what the emperor did»10. It is not coincidental that, notwithstanding the «epigraphic habit» which severely limits the number of inscriptions from the third century, there is substantial epigraphic evidence for continuing petitions to the Roman emperor, carefully analysed by Tor Hauken11. The original numbers must have been substantial. In Severan times, for example, an Egyptian strategos named Serapion is stated to have heard (and answered) within three days, the astounding number of 1 804 cases in March 209 (P. Yale, I, 61). Even if far fewer requests reached the emperor – and we cannot be certain that this was the case – it still shows how much attention from the centre, either from the emperor himself, or those immediately surrounding him, must have gone to reacting to subjects.

  • 12 C. Ando, «The army and the urban elite», dans P. Erdkamp (éd.), A Companion to the Roman Army, Oxf (...)

7By seeking help directly from the emperor, the inhabitants of Skaptopara – like the other petitioners throughout Roman history – no longer gave the emperor the possibility to hide behind an «administrative façade». In doing so, they placed the competition for resources between themselves and the various representatives of Rome «directly within the sphere of imperial politics»12. Yet the emperor counteracted by pointing at his own lack of information, indicating that the court «has better knowledge about the matters which will be brought up». In the case of the Skaptopara inscription, the emperor chose to remain impartial in the dispute. In a way, then, he chose absence here – even if he was explicitly invoked.

  • 13 H. Halfmann, Itinera principum. Geschichte und Typologie der Kaiserreisen im Römischen Reich, Stut (...)
  • 14 For the importance of the presence of emperors for the status of the city of Rome, see S. Benoist,(...)
  • 15 R. Fowler and O. Hekster, «Imagining kings: from Persia to Rome», dans O. Hekster et R. Fowler (éd (...)

8Absence in a more physical way might well be one of the key words to describe Roman emperorship in the third century. After all, the emperors were increasingly rarely in the capital of the Empire. In the period AD 200-250, emperors were present at Rome in 21 out of 50 years, for stays which were much shorter than in earlier times, whereas in the period AD 250-300, emperors were present in 18 out of 50 years; but most of these stays were extremely short periods in between campaigns13. This absence is often commented upon, and may well be one of the main reasons for the lessening importance of the city of Rome – which in a sense reached its low during the Tetrarchy14. These increasing imperial absences from Rome must also have affected the number of petitions. Emperors, like governors, had always travelled through their territory to make themselves approachable to their subjects – most often to act as a judge. This mobility may have become somewhat extreme in the third century, and unwelcome to Rome, yet one positive consequence for provincial subjects was that it became much more straightforward to present petitions to the emperor15.

  • 16 C. Roueché, «Acclamations in the later Roman Empire: New evidence from Aphrodisias», JRS, 74, 1984 (...)
  • 17 J. Reynolds, Aphrodisias and Rome. Documents from the Excavation of the Theatre at Aphrodisias Con (...)

9Requests – and acclamations – were of course also made by cities as a whole, clearly defining the relationship between city and emperor. These acclamations were increasingly often epigraphically recorded towards the end of the second century. Near-simultaneously, cities began issuing coins showing acclamations of emperors16. These two tendencies seem to indicate the growing importance of showing loyalty to the emperor. Likewise, passing a decree to congratulate new emperors showed the cities’ allegiance. How much such explicit acceptance of imperial power was appreciated is clear from the many positive imperial responses to such decrees17. With the rapid turnover of emperors in the third century, the risk in too readily greeting a new emperor was obvious – but the benefits in getting it right grew as well.

  • 18 C. Roueché, «Floreat Perge », dans M. M. MacKenzie et C. Roueché (éd.), Images of Authority. Paper (...)

10A somewhat safer strategy would be to acclaim an emperor at a later stage – when there was at least some certainty that he had a secure power base. This seems to have been the strategy chosen by the inhabitants from Perge in Pamphylia during the brief reign of Tacitus (AD 275-276) – resulting in the longest acclamation inscribed on a single stone. The acclamation, in fact, seems to coincide the emperor Tacitus granting the city the right to call itself «Metropolis of Pamphylia», which was extensively celebrated18.

11Even if imperial power changed in the third century, and the focus of that power was no longer the city of Rome, imperial approval was still of utmost importance in the fierce inter-town competition which defined much of the Roman Empire. The emperor remained the central figure who could bestow honour and solve problems in a way nobody else could.

12Yet that is not to deny that there was real change. Somewhat overstating, one could argue that whereas in previous ages military qualities had been necessary qualities to gain the purple, they now had become sufficient qualities for the emperorship. The resulting rapid changeover, in combination with the imperial absence from Rome, created the above sketched changing patterns of imperial acclamations and petitions.

  • 19 E. Manders, «Mapping the representation of Roman imperial power in times of crises», Crises and th (...)
  • 20 C. F. Noreña, «The communication of the emperor’s virtues», JRS, 91, 2001, p. 146-168, at p. 156; (...)
  • 21 C. King, «Roman Portraiture: Images of Power?», dans G. M. Paul et M. Ierardi, Roman Coins and Pub (...)

13Similar developments are recognizable when one looks at the ways in which emperors presented themselves. Most strikingly, this is clear from analysing centrally minted third-century coin types. These types can be roughly grouped together in thirteen different categories, such as, for instance, dynastic or military representation, divine association, emphasis on imperial virtues or the message that the Golden Age was coming about19. The military category, referring to the armies, victories, or depicting the emperor in a military role, is the single largest group, and comprises 22,5% of all coin types, just outnumbering the 21,8% coin types associating imperial power with the divine. The «Golden Age» category, emphasising the prosperity that emperors have brought or will bring, comprises 19,2% of coin types. 17,4% stresses the imperial virtues – within which military qualities had risen in status (fig. 1). Thus, for instance, uirtus and prouidentia (which was required to safeguard the state) together comprised a quarter of all imperial virtues as displayed on denarii between AD 69-238. Virtus alone accounted for 13%. From 238 to 284, however, the number of uirtus coins struck seems to have risen steeply among the coin types displaying imperial virtues. At the same time, aequitas (tranquillity/justice) which had constituted 24% from AD 69-238 was depicted substantially less often20. This increasing emphasis on the imperial military qualities is also visible from the fact that in coinage depictions of the emperor in a cuirass became the dominant type21. In the third century, then, approximately every other coin showed the emperor as someone who would bring military glory or peace – in substantial periods of third-century history, the difference would have been hard to tell.

  • 22 E. Manders, Images of power, p. 85-88. Cf. S. Benoist, Le prince et la Cité, p. 79-91.
  • 23 RIC, IV, 1, Septimius Severus, no 91, 106, 138, 165a-c, 494, 728, 740A, 746, 752; RIC, IV, 1, Cara (...)
  • 24 T. Hölscher, Victoria Romana. Archäologische Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Wesenart der römisc (...)

14Within this dominant mode of representation, one should give some emphasis on the coin types depicting the imperial aduentus and profectio22. For whereas aduentus coin types were distributed consistently throughout the third century, the profectio types were restricted to the reigns of Septimius Severus, Caracalla, and Severus Alexander23. It appears strange that more emperors issued aduentus types than struck profectio types. After all, wars were waged almost continuously during the third century, but successful military campaigns, celebrated during the emperor’s aduentus, became scarce. Possible explanations for the discrepancy have been given by T. Hölscher, who argues that the imperial departure was celebrated with an eye toward a safe return to his residence; yet in the third century the emperor often travelled from one battle to another and rarely visited Rome. Also, still according to Hölscher, the majority of the third-century emperors owed their positions to the armies in the provinces. At the moment in which the emperor arrived in Rome, he had officially taken over supreme power. Finally, Hölscher suggests that the aduentus of the emperor became an epiphany of the god-emperor in the third century, overshadowing the profectio24. For Hölscher, then, the interaction between the changing status of the emperors, the decreasing importance of Rome as imperial residence, and the heavy influence of the provincial armies on imperial power might all have contributed to the neglect of profectio scenes on coins after Severus Alexander.

  • 25 R. Stepper, Augustus et sacerdos. Untersuchungen zum römischen Kaiser als Priester (Potsdamer Alte (...)

15This is interesting enough in itself, but becomes all the more striking once set against developments in the second-largest representational category that can be distinguished in third-century imperial coinage: divine association. For in this category, too, there are patterns visible that seem to show a changing relation between the emperor and the city of Rome. Most emphatically, coin types depicting the emperor as a sacerdos are substantially more common in the first half of the third century than in the second. Similarly, there is a decline in references to the title pontifex maximus, which runs almost parallel to the change in the depiction of the emperor as a priest; depictions of the emperor as a priest nearly disappear after Claudius Gothicus’ reign and references to pontifex maximus decline from the rule of Claudius Gothicus onwards (fig. 2). It hardly needs reminding how closely the role of the emperor as chief priest was linked to the city of Rome25. His absence from the capital seems to have had consequences for the way in which the emperor depicted himself in «religious» terms.

  • 26 T. Hölscher, Victoria Romana, p. 61
  • 27 O. Hekster, «Captured in the gaze of power. Visibility, games and Roman imperial representation», (...)

16Yet the decreasing emphasis on the emperor as a priest was more than compensated by an increasing emphasis on the association between the emperors and individual gods. Indeed, from the second half of the third century onwards, ever more attention was paid to depicting gods (fig. 2). The less the emperor was present in Rome, the more he seems to have emphasized the divine. It could, then, be argued that in the third century, emperors considered it more important to reduce the distance between themselves and the gods than to emphasize their priestly function. If true, this would link wonderfully well with Hölscher’s argument that the aduentus of the emperor became an epiphany of the god-emperor in the third century26. In the course of third-century history, the emperors’ distancing from the capital made them less approachable to their subjects in that very capital – in turn allowing them to rise above these subjects. After all, it is much easier to think in exalted terms of a ruler who is physically absent27. The benefits to the emperors themselves are also clear: by enhancing their own status in the divine terms, they could find new means of legitimising their power during a period in which they were alienated, socially and geographically, from the Roman senate, and in which they no longer had the practical power to solve the sort of problems for which the inhabitants of Skaptopara approached them.

17The argument, of course, is over-simplistic. But it still seems worthwhile to think of the identity of emperor and empire in the third century in terms of their relation to the city of Rome. The Roman Empire was ultimately a city state that had grown out of all proportions. Removing – or certainly lessening – the primate of the centre was to have serious consequences for the ways in which people thought about the empire, and about the rulers who so clearly formed the ideological focus of the realm. It is certainly too much to argue that the Gressenich inscription ought to be read in this light; even if the above sketched pattern is correct, AD 238 is far too early to see the consequences. Rather, one should think in terms of overlapping developments of imperial absence from Rome, enhanced notions of Roman-ness that were caused, or at least strengthened, by the constitutio Antoniniana, and the inevitable changes that the ongoing frontier wars in substantial period of third-century history were to cause. More factors can – and should – be added. Yet the identity of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire, and of their rulers, was inescapably linked to the city which gave its name to the realm.

Notes

1 CIL, XIII, 7844: [I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo)] et genio loci pro salute imperi Masius Ianuari et Titianus Ianuari u(otum) s(oluerunt) l(ibentes) m(erito) sub cura Masi s(upra) s(cripti) et Maceri Accepti, Pio et Proclo [cos.]. Cf. W. Eck, «Krise oder Nichtkrise – das ist hier die Frage. Köln und sein Territorium in der 2. Hälfte des 3. Jahrhunderts» dans O. Hekster, G. de Kleijn, D. Slootjes (éd.), Crises and the Roman Empire, Impact of Empire 7, Leyde-Boston, 2007 (= Crises and the Roman Empire), p. 23-43, especially p. 33-34.

2 CIL, III, 12336: Αύτοκράτορι Καίσαρι Μ. ’Aντωνίῳ ΓορδιανImage ΕὐσεβεImage ΕὐτυχεImage Σεβ. [δ]έησις παρὰ κωμητImageν Σκαπτοπαρήνων τImageν καὶ ΓρησειτImageν. ’Eν τοImageς εὐτυχεστάτοις καὶ αἰωνίοις σου καιροImageς κατοικεImageσθαι καὶ βελτιοImageσθαι τὰς κώμας ἤτερ ἀναστάτους γίγνεσθαι τοὺς ἐνοικοImageντας πολλάκις ἀντέγραψας ἔστιν γε καὶ ἐπι τImage τImageν ἀνθρώπων σωτηρίᾳ τò τοιοImageτο καὶ ἐπὶ τοImage ἱερωτάτου σου ταμείου ὠϕελείᾳ. [Δ]ὶ ὄπερ καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔννομον ἱκεσίαν τImage θειότητί σου προσκομίσομεν. εὐχόμενοι ἱλέως ἐπὶνεImageσαι ημεImageν δεομένοις τòν τρόπον τοImageτον. T. Hauken, Petition and Response. An Epigraphic Study of Petitions to Roman emperors 181-249, Bergen, 1998 (= Petition and Response), no 5, part. p. 98, 117, with further references.

3 A. Kolb, Transport und Nachrichtentransfer im Römischen Reich (Klio. Beiträge zur Alten Geschichte, Beihefte, Neue Folge, 2), Berlin, 2000, p. 49-51. Cf. W. H. C. Frend, «A Third-Century Inscription Relating to Angareia in Phrygia», JRS, 46, 1956, p. 46-56.

4 On changes within the structuring of local power, see D. Slootjes, Local potentes in the Roman Empire, A. D. 193-284 (forthcoming).

5 CIL, III, 12336: Imp. Caesar M. Antonius Gordianus pius felix Aug. uikanis per Pyrrum mil. conpossessorem. Id genus qu[ae]rellae praecibus intentum an[te], iustitia pr[aesi]dis [p]otius super his quae adlegabuntur instructa, discinge [q]uam rescripto principali certam formam reportare debeas. Rescripsi. Recognoui. Sig[n]a.

6 This mode of behaviour is not unique to the Roman Empire. «If only the Czar/Hitler/Stalin knew» were likewise widespread sayings in the various dictatorships of early twentieth-century Europe.

7 On the continuing importance for emperors to present themselves as a good princeps, see S. Benoist, «L’identité du prince face à la crise: Construction d’un discours et usage de la memoria », Crises and the Roman Empire, p. 261-273, especially p. 262-265.

8 F. Millar, The Emperor in the Roman World, Londres, 19922 (= Emperor).

9 On the role of the emperor in interpreting law, see M. Peachin, Iudex vice Caesaris: deputy emperors and the administration of justice during the principate (Heidelberger Althistorische Beiträge und Epigraphische Studien 21), Stuttgart, 1996, p. 10-91.

10 F. Millar, The Emperor, p. 6.

11 T. Hauken, Petition and Response. For the notion of the «epigraphic habit», see famously R. MacMullen, «The epigraphic habit in the Roman Empire», American Journal of Philology, 103, 1982, p. 233-246, but with the comments by G. Woolf, «Monumental writing and the expansion of Roman society in the early Empire», JRS, 86, 1996, p. 22-39, at p. 38.

12 C. Ando, «The army and the urban elite», dans P. Erdkamp (éd.), A Companion to the Roman Army, Oxford, 2007, p. 359-378, at p. 375.

13 H. Halfmann, Itinera principum. Geschichte und Typologie der Kaiserreisen im Römischen Reich, Stuttgart, 1986, p. 221-244; O. Hekster, Rome and its Empire, AD 193-284 (Debates and Documents in Ancient History), Edinburgh, 2008, p. 14-16.

14 For the importance of the presence of emperors for the status of the city of Rome, see S. Benoist, Rome, le prince et la Cité. Pouvoir impérial et cérémonies publiques ( ier siècle av. – début du ive siècle ap. J.-C.), Paris, 2005 (= Le prince et la Cité).

15 R. Fowler and O. Hekster, «Imagining kings: from Persia to Rome», dans O. Hekster et R. Fowler (éd.), Imaginary Kings. Royal Images in the Ancient Near East, Greece and Rome, Stuttgart, 2005 (= Imaginary Kings), p. 9-38, at p. 13; T. Hauken, Petition and Response, p. 151; A. R. Birley, Septimius Severus. The African Emperor, Londres-New York, 1988, p. 138.

16 C. Roueché, «Acclamations in the later Roman Empire: New evidence from Aphrodisias», JRS, 74, 1984, p. 181-199, especially p. 185-186.

17 J. Reynolds, Aphrodisias and Rome. Documents from the Excavation of the Theatre at Aphrodisias Conducted by Professor Kenan T. Erim Together with some Related Texts, Londres, 1982, p. 131-133, 140-143. Cf. F. Millar, Emperor, p. 410-420.

18 C. Roueché, «Floreat Perge », dans M. M. MacKenzie et C. Roueché (éd.), Images of Authority. Papers Presented to Joyce Reynolds on the Occasion of her 70th Birthday, Cambridge, 1989, p. 206-228, at p. 208.

19 E. Manders, «Mapping the representation of Roman imperial power in times of crises», Crises and the Roman Empire, p. 275-290, especially p. 285, 289-290; ead., Coining Images of Power. Patterns in the Representation of Roman Emperors on Imperial Coinage AD 193-284, PhD, Nimègue, 2008, p. 14-30, with table 2 (= Images of power).

20 C. F. Noreña, «The communication of the emperor’s virtues», JRS, 91, 2001, p. 146-168, at p. 156; O. Hekster et E. Manders, «Kaiser gegen Kaiser: Bilder der Macht im 3. Jahrhunderts», dans K.-P. Johne, T. Gerhardt et U. Hartmann (éd.), Deleto paene imperio Romano. Transformationsprozesse des Römischen Reiches im 3. Jahrhundert und ihre Rezeption in der Neuzeit, Stuttgart, 2006, p. 135-144.

21 C. King, «Roman Portraiture: Images of Power?», dans G. M. Paul et M. Ierardi, Roman Coins and Public Life under the Empire, E Togo Salmon Papers II, Ann Arbor, 2002, p. 123-136, at p. 133 with n. 21.

22 E. Manders, Images of power, p. 85-88. Cf. S. Benoist, Le prince et la Cité, p. 79-91.

23 RIC, IV, 1, Septimius Severus, no 91, 106, 138, 165a-c, 494, 728, 740A, 746, 752; RIC, IV, 1, Caracalla, no 107-108, 225-226, 431-433, 438-440, 445-446, 449a-b; RIC, IV, 2, Severus Alexander, no 210, 524, 595-596, 639-641.

24 T. Hölscher, Victoria Romana. Archäologische Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Wesenart der römische Siegesgöttin von den Anfangen bis zum Ende des 3. Jhs. n. Chr., Mayence, 1967, p. 1-62 (= Victoria Romana). Of course, the notion of god-emperor seems to be somewhat of an overstatement, though there does seem to be sacralisation of power in the third century.

25 R. Stepper, Augustus et sacerdos. Untersuchungen zum römischen Kaiser als Priester (Potsdamer Altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge 9), Stuttgart, 2003, p. 9. Cf. J. Rüpke, Fasti sacerdotum. Die Mitglieder der Priesterschaften und das sakrale Funktionspersonal römischer, griechischer, orientalischer und jüdisch-christlicher Kulte in der Stadt Rom von 300 v. Chr. Bis 499 n. Chr. Teil 3: Quellenkunde und Organisationsgeschichte, Bibliographie, Register (Potsdamer Altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge 12), Stuttgart, 2005, p. 1605-1615. This link between emperor and city was closely related to the important role of the emperor as a priest performing sacrificial duties, see R. L. Gordon, «The veil of power. Emperors, sacrificers and benefactors», dans M. Beard and J. North (éd.), Pagan Priests. Religion and Power in the Ancient World, New York, 1990, p. 199-231.

26 T. Hölscher, Victoria Romana, p. 61

27 O. Hekster, «Captured in the gaze of power. Visibility, games and Roman imperial representation», dans Imaginary Kings, p. 157-176.

Notes de fin

* This article was greatly improved by the comments on the original paper of Simon Corcoran and Françoise Van Haeperen, and especially of Stéphane Benoist.

Auteurs

Université Radboud de Nimègue

Université Radboud de Nimègue

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