The Poetics of Power in Augustan Rome: Latin Poetic Responses to Early Imperial Iconography 1108422659, 9781108422659

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The Poetics of Power in Augustan Rome: Latin Poetic Responses to Early Imperial Iconography
 1108422659, 9781108422659

Table of contents :
FM......Page 1
Dedication......Page 5
Contents......Page 7
Illustrations......Page 8
Acknowledgments......Page 11
1. The Mutual Constitution of Augustus......Page 15
2. History in Light of the Sidus Iulium......Page 49
3. Questioning Consensus on the Palatine......Page 97
4. Remapping the Forum Augustum......Page 156
5. The Triumph of the Imagination......Page 199
6. The Last Word?......Page 254
Bibliography......Page 269
General Index......Page 305
Index Locorum......Page 312

Citation preview

THE POETICS OF POWER IN AUGUSTAN ROME

Augustus’ success in implementing monarchical rule at Rome is often attributed to innovations in the symbolic language of power, from the star marking Julius Caesar’s deification to buildings like the Palatine complex and the Forum Augustum to rituals including triumphs and funerals. This book illuminates Roman subjects’ vital role in creating and critiquing these images, in keeping with the Augustan poets’ sustained exploration of audiences’ active part in constructing verbal and visual meaning. From Vergil to Ovid, these poets publicly inter pret, debate, and disrupt Rome’s evolving political iconography, reclaiming it as the common property of an imagined republic of readers. In showing how these poets used reading as a metaphor for the mutual constitution of Augustan authority and a means of exer cising interpretive libertas under the principate, this book offers a holistic new vision of Roman imperial power and its representation that will stimulate scholars and students alike.  .  teaches Classics at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Her research centers on Latin literature, its historical and cultural contexts, and its postclassical reception. She has published in Transactions of the American Philological Association, The International Journal of the Classical Tradition, Vergilius, Classical Philology, Classical World, The Classical Journal, and Eidolon.

THE POETICS OF POWER IN AUGUSTAN ROME Latin Poetic Responses to Early Imperial Iconography

NANDINI B. PANDEY University of Wisconsin–Madison

University Printing House, Cambridge  , United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, th Floor, New York,  , USA  Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne,  , Australia –, rd Floor, Plot , Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – , India  Anson Road, #–/, Singapore  Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/ : ./ © Nandini B. Pandey  This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published  Printed in the United Kingdom by Clays, St Ives plc A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data : Pandey, Nandini B., – author. : The poetics of power in Augustan Rome : Latin poetic responses to early imperial iconography / Nandini B. Pandey. : Cambridge, United Kingdom ; New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, [] | Includes bibliographical references. :  |   (hardback) |   (pbk.) : : Augustus, Emperor of Rome,  B.C.- A.D. | Rome–History–Augustus,  B.C.- A.D. | Symbolism in politics–Rome–History. | Imperialism–History. :  . .  |  /.–dc LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/  ---- Hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

For Erich, Gil, and Gus patribus optimis

Contents

List of Illustrations Acknowledgments

page viii xi



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus





History in Light of the Sidus Iulium





Questioning Consensus on the Palatine





Remapping the Forum Augustum





The Triumph of the Imagination





The Last Word?

   

Bibliography General Index Index Locorum

vii

Illustrations

. Denarius of Julius Caesar,  BCE. Diademed bust of Venus with star in hair (obverse); trophy with shields, captives, and legend CAESAR (reverse). Crawford, RRC / = Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , Spain no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society. page  . Denarius of P. Sepullius Macer,  BCE. Laureate head of Julius Caesar (obverse); standing Venus holding victory (reverse). Crawford, RRC /b = Grueber, BMCRR I, p. , Rome no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.  . Denarius of Mark Antony,  BCE. Head of Antony with star beneath (obverse); bearded head of Octavian (reverse). Crawford, RRC /a = Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , East no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.  . Bronze of Octavian,  BCE. Head of Octavian labeled DIVI F[ILIVS] with star (obverse); laurel wreath encircling DIVOS IVLIVS (reverse). Crawford, RRC / = Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , Gaul nos. – = Burnett, RPC I, p. , no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.  . Denarius of Octavian,  BCE. Head of Octavian (obverse); temple of Divus Iulius (reverse). Crawford, RRC / = Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , Africa nos. – = Sydenham, CRR, p. , no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.  . Denarius of Augustus, – BCE. Head of Augustus (obverse); eight-rayed comet (reverse). Sutherland, RIC I, p. , no. a = Mattingly, BMCRE I, p. , nos. –. Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.  viii

Illustrations

ix

. Denarius of Augustus,  BCE. Herald of games (obverse); youthful head with comet above (reverse). Sutherland, RIC I, p. , no.  = Mattingly, BMCRE I, p. , no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.  . Denarius of Augustus,  BCE. Head of Augustus (obverse); Augustus placing star on head of half-clad figure of Divus Iulius carrying Victory and spear (reverse). Sutherland, RIC I, p. , no.  = Mattingly, BMCRE I, p. , nos. – = Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , Rome no. – = Seaby, RSC, p. , no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.  . Plan of the Palatine complex in light of Iacopi and Tedone (/), redrawn by M. C. Bishop. © M. C. Bishop.  . Painting of Apollo Citharoedus from the house of Augustus, Palatine Museum, Rome. Photograph by the author.  . Aureus of L. Caninius Gallus,  BCE. Bare-headed Augustus as DIVI F[ILIVS] (obverse); oak wreath labeled OB C[IVIS] S[ERVATOS] above doors flanked by laurel branches (reverse). Sutherland, RIC I, p. , no.  = Mattingly, BMCRE I, p. , no. . © The Trustees of the British Museum.  . Danaid statue in the Palatine Museum, Rome. Photograph by the author.  . Top of the head of one Danaid statue in the Palatine Museum, Rome. Photograph by Bill Gladhill. With permission.  . Emperor Augustus ordering the creation of a map of the Roman empire, from an  facsimile of the Hereford Mappamundi, c. . Photograph by Kathryn McKee. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St. John’s College, Cambridge  . Plan of the Forum Augustum in light of recent excavations of the lower exedrae, redrawn by M. C. Bishop. © M. C. Bishop  . Silver skyphos from the Boscoreale treasure depicting a sacrifice. Musée du Louvre. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, New York. Photograph by Hervé Lewandowski.  . Silver skyphos from the Boscoreale treasure depicting the triumph of Tiberius. Musée du Louvre. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, New York. Photograph by Hervé Lewandowski. 

x

Illustrations

. Denarius of Augustus,  BCE. AVGVSTVS with bare head (obverse); barbarian kneeling right and offering a vexillum (reverse). Sutherland, RIC I, p. , no.  = Mattingly, BMCRE I, p. , no.  = Seaby, RSC, p. , no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society. . Bronze head of Augustus with inlaid eyes of glass and calcite (c. – BCE). © The Trustees of the British Museum.

 

Acknowledgments

This book has grown like a tree with the unseen passage of time, its interosculating branches and growth rings marking my own maturation as a scholar, watered by so many sources it is difficult to parse my thanks. Two of these chapters began in seminars at the University of California, Berkeley, led by Erich Gruen and Tonio Hölscher, though they might hardly recognize the seeds of earlier ideas in the present work. I thank my doctoral supervisor Kathleen McCarthy; Erich, his AHMA dissertation group, and Ann, for nourishing us all with moral support and fresh-baked cookies; and other Berkeley faculty and friends for challenging me to improve and expand these ideas on many fronts. My work benefited at an early stage from funding from UC Berkeley and a predoctoral position at the College of Wooster (–) through the Consortium for Faculty Diversity in the Liberal Arts. I am also grateful to Loyola University Maryland for summer grants in  and , as well as research assistance by Tracy Gore, and the Fondation Hardt for an idyllic setting in which to develop Chapter  in . An earlier draft of Chapter  was published in TAPA () and benefited from the comments of readers and then-editor Katharina Volk. This book is indebted to conversations at the Symposia Cumana in  and , organized at the Villa Vergiliana by Bill Gladhill and by Christopher Nappa and John Miller, respectively. I extend heartfelt thanks to them and my fellow participants, including Christine Perkell and Julia Hejduk, who respectively edited an early version of one section of Chapter  for Vergilius () and a related paper on the Harvard School for Classical World (). At Cumae I also had the privilege of solidifying intellectual friendships with John Schafer, Micah Myers, Lauren Curtis, and Tom Zanker, all of whom commented on drafts of various chapters. I am particularly grateful to a Loeb Classical Library Foundation Fellowship for funding a semester of research leave in the – academic year, matched by another semester from the University of xi

xii

Acknowledgments

Wisconsin–Madison. The latter’s Center for the Humanities additionally awarded me a First Book Prize to convene advisors on a preliminary draft of the book: Jim O’Hara, Anton Powell, my departmental mentor Laura McClure, Nick Cahill, Marc Kleijwegt, Teresa Kelley, and Dan Kapust. To them, along with my colleagues Grant Nelsestuen and Alex Dressler, I owe thanks for a welcome infusion of fresh ideas, several stemming from Grant’s workshop on Roman Republicanism with related talks by Joy Connolly and Jed Atkins. Other formative events in the life of this book include the Commemorating Augustus conference organized by Penelope Goodman at Leeds in ; a  workshop on epic organized by Boris Maslov at the University of Chicago, which I had the honor of co-leading with David Quint; and a workshop organized by Amy Russell and Monica Hellström at Durham University in  on the social dynamics of ideology formation in the Roman Empire, along with the conversations that there ensued with Greg Rowe, Olivier Hekster, Clare Rowan, and others. For a late-stage infusion of energy and ideas, I am especially indebted to the Globalizing Ovid conference organized by Jinyu Liu at Shanghai Normal University in , particularly to Gareth Williams, Mira Seo, and Laurel Fulkerson for careful comments on the central chapters. I gratefully acknowledge the organizers, moderators, and attendees of APA/SCS panels in  and – where I presented ideas related in diverse and sometimes tangential ways to this book. I also received useful feedback on related conference papers at Johns Hopkins (), Ohio State (), the Classical Association conference at Durham University (), the ACLA meeting at Brown University (), the University of Lisbon (), and the Celtic Conferences in Classics in Dublin () and Montreal (). Though interlocutors who inspired me are too numerous to name, Richard Thomas, Matthew Roller, Peter Wiseman, and Joseph Geiger deserve fond thanks among the many who have nourished my thinking in person and in print. In addition I would like to thank the friends, colleagues, interview committees, and students who variously organized, attended, and offered feedback at talks related to this book at Loyola University Maryland (, , , ), the University of Missouri (), Reed College (), Swarthmore College (), where I first learned and loved Latin thanks to Gil Rose, the University of Wisconsin–Madison (, with a Center for the Humanities talk in ), Amherst College (), Harvard University (), Illinois Wesleyan University (), Trinity University (), Beloit College (), the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Acknowledgments

xiii

(), and Northwestern University (), as well as participants in various online sessions on my papers at Academia.edu and the eversustaining inspiration of my students, past and present. Michael Sharp and my readers at Cambridge University Press have given me invaluable advice during the long gestation of this book. I am particularly grateful to Lisa Sinclair and Philip Riley for their expert assistance late in the production process. I thank Elena Stolyarik of the American Numismatic Society, the Denver Art Museum, Mike Bishop, Paul Zanker, and Kathryn McKee of St. John’s College, Cambridge, for their help and generosity in supplying figures for the present monograph. Support for this research was provided by the University of Wisconsin– Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education with funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. I also most gratefully acknowledge the material and intellectual support of my colleagues at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and I apologize to Tibullus, who didn’t survive the final, cruelest rub of the pumice stone. It seems only fitting that a book about poetic dialogue has itself been the beneficiary of countless conversations over its long history, not all directly related to the ideas at hand, often over a vivifying Last Word (equal parts gin, maraschino liqueur, Green Chartreuse, and fresh lime juice). As I recede behind this text, I raise a glass to Anna Pisarello, Virginia Lewis, Athena Kirk, Amy Russell, John Tully, Tom Hendrickson, Randy Souza, David Jacobson, Chris Adams, Brian Norman, Mavis Biss, the Berkeley Wine Team, and above all Laurent Heller, whose love, support, and culinary talents sustained me over the last, and happiest, years of this project.

 

The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

When, with Brutus and Cassius slaughtered, there was no longer an army of the state; when Sextus Pompey was put down in Sicily; and Lepidus had been swept aside and Antony had been killed, so that not even on the Julian side was there any leader left but Caesar; then, casting off the title of triumvir, Augustus carried himself about as consul, claiming he was content with tribunician power for protecting the people. Meanwhile, he seduced the army with gifts, the common people with grain, and everyone with the sweetness of peace; and little by little he increased his strength and absorbed the offices of the senate, officials, and laws into his own person, with no opposition. Tacitus, Annales .

. Authorizing Augustus Few figures have been credited with more control over the course of political events than Rome’s first emperor, Augustus. From Tacitus to the twenty-first century, Augustus’ success in transforming the res publica into an enduring dynastic monarchy has been ascribed to his artful manipulation of Roman institutions and perceptions. But Augustus’ deathbed scene, in Suetonius’ account (Aug. .), both illustrates and circumscribes his power over public image. supremo die identidem exquirens, an iam de se tumultus foris esset, petito speculo capillum sibi comi ac malas labantes corrigi praecepit et admissos amicos percontatus, ecquid iis videretur mimum vitae commode transe gisse, adiecit et clausulam: Ἐπεὶ δὲ πάνυ καλῶς πέπαισται, δότε κρότον καὶ πάντες ἡμᾶς μετὰ χαρᾶς προπέμψατε.



All translations are my own unless otherwise indicated. Primary source abbreviations generally follow Oxford Classical Dictionary conventions.





The Mutual Constitution of Augustus On his final day he asked repeatedly whether there was any disturbance outside on his account; then, calling for a mirror, he ordered for his hair to be combed and his sagging cheeks set straight. After that, bringing in his friends, he asked whether it seemed to them that he had played the mime of life fitly and added this closing verse: “Since I’ve played my part well, clap your hands, all, And dismiss me from the stage with applause.”

On the one hand, Augustus’ dying attempt to “set straight” (corrigi) his sagging jowls exemplifies the concern for public appearance he had shown during life. So, too, does his staging of this scene: his attendants had little choice but to answer his question in the affirmative, as indeed the Menandrian tag presumes. At the same time, though, this comic quotation places Augustus in the low-status position of an actor and solicits his witnesses’ approval, even their permission to leave. The princeps’ dying scene thus reveals two opposing impulses: the emperor’s attempt to control his public persona to the last, and his simultaneous admission that his audience enjoyed final rights of judgment over his performance. This anecdote encapsulates the interdependence of author and audience, emperor and subjects, that, in the argument of this book, also preoccupied the poets of Augustus’ day and lent them a dynamic model for discussing Rome’s new order. The immense auctoritas (authority) that underpinned Augustus’ rule (RG ), even his honorific name, existed within and because of his subjects’ perceptions: autocracy thus found a paradoxical basis in mutual consent. But the same holds true for literary authority. And the Latin authors – to use another derivative of the augroot – keenly explore the resultant similarities between themselves and the emperor, particularly in their dependence on the validating judgment of an audience. This analogy takes striking form in the poets’ representation of themselves as triumphing generals in advancing their claims for artistic greatness. In Georgics , Vergil describes his quest for poetic glory (–)  





Bassi (: –) discusses the Athenian origin of the comparison between tyrant and stage actor, applied productively by Bartsch () to the Roman empire. Louis (: ) compares this fragment with the conclusions of comedies (e.g., Ter. Adel. , Hor. AP ) and the commonplace of life as a stage (σκηνὴ πᾶς ὁ βίος); Hanslik () analyzes the composition of this vita. Galinsky (: –) discusses auctoritas as the foundational idea behind Augustus’ leadership; see also Wallace-Hadrill () and Rowe () for the ambivalent nature of Augustan power and, for the mutual constitution of Roman republican authority, Hellegouarc’h () and Vasaly (). As Beard notes (: ), the term triumphator is unattested before the second century CE; the poets’ separation of triumph from military achievement, discussed in Chapter , may have encouraged the term’s development.



Authorizing Augustus

in terms that evoked or anticipated Octavian’s triumph after Actium. The poet envisions himself returning home from Greece (–) to lead the Muses in procession, clothed in the victor’s purple (); presiding over sacrifices and victory games (–); and founding a marble temple to Caesar often read as an emblem of the Aeneid (; –). Horace declares he has built a monument “more lasting than bronze” (exegi monumentum aere perennius, Odes ..) and crowns himself with a triumphal laurel () in anointing himself a princeps of poetry (). Propertius depicts himself as a triumphing general leading a band of imitators (.), while Ovid, once part of that band, imagines himself first triumphed over by Love in Amores ., triumphant himself at Amores ., and finally surpassing even kings (cedant carminibus reges regumque triumphi, “let kings and royal triumphs yield to songs,” Am. ..). Metamorphoses  develops this rivalry between poetic and temporal power, ultimately envisioning the poet’s apotheosis in terms that trump the deifications of Caesar (–) and Augustus (–): iamque opus exegi, quod nec Iovis ira nec ignis nec poterit ferrum nec edax abolere vetustas. cum volet, illa dies, quae nil nisi corporis huius ius habet, incerti spatium mihi finiat aevi: parte tamen meliore mei super alta perennis astra ferar, nomenque erit indelebile nostrum, quaque patet domitis Romana potentia terris, ore legar populi, perque omnia saecula fama, siquid habent veri vatum praesagia, vivam.

( )

And now I’ve completed my work, which neither Jupiter’s wrath, nor fire nor sword can erase, nor gnawing old age. Let that day which has power over nothing but this body end, when it will, the span of my uncertain years: nevertheless, the better part of me will be borne, immortal, beyond the high stars, and my name will be indelible, and wherever Roman power extends over the lands it has conquered, I will be read by the mouths of the people: and through all the ages, if there’s truth in poets’ prophecies, I shall live on in fame.





This passage’s metaliterary implications have long been recognized, e.g., by Drew (), Buchheit (), Thomas (), Balot (), Harrison (), Nappa (), and Wilkinson (). See Section . for the implications of Vergil’s supposed recitation of the Georgics to Octavian on his way back to Rome for his triumph of August  BCE (Donat. Vit. Verg. ). See Hardie (), Solomon and Nielsen (: ), and Nisbet and Rudd ().



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

From one perspective, these poetic triumphs flatter by way of imitating a ritual whose associations with imperial glory form the subject of Chapter . At the same time, in forcibly appropriating Augustus’ symbolic property for their own purposes, these poets illustrate the separability of representation from reality, symbol from signifier, that is the mutual liability of all ‘authors,’ imperial or literary. Moreover, in metamorphosing the triumph from a real-world celebration to an imaginative event, these poems underscore the basis of all auctoritas in an audience’s subjective judgment. Ovid underscores this point when he stakes his literary immortality on his continued readership by people across the Roman world (ore legar populi, “I will be read in the mouths of the people,” Met. .). An author’s glory, like a triumphing general’s, ultimately derives from the active consent of Roman subjects as mediated by a text. The poets’ authority, of course, existed only in the limited sphere of literary recognition, among the narrow Roman demographic with the education, leisure, and inclination to consume such poems. The emperor’s, by contrast, influenced lives at all levels through taxes, troops, government, law, culture, the economy, civic life, religious institutions, and patronage networks. While Rome had long had a geographical empire, moreover, its internal power structures, based during the Republic on the principles of collegiality and limited tenure, were evolving during the principate into new, “imperial” forms, not always disaligned with subjects’ interests, but exerting an increasingly hegemonic force over their ways of understanding, fashioning, and conducting themselves within society. It is precisely in response to these shifting political winds that the Augustan poets offer their own power as a model and metaphor for the princeps’. Given the geographical extent of Rome’s empire and the impossibility of mass surveillance, policing, and communication as in modern totalitarian regimes, the emperor’s power rested in a very real way on symbols: the texts, inscriptions, coins, portraits, and other vehicles that  



Cf. Murphy (: –) and Hardie (: –) on the role of readers’ voices in immortalizing the poet. For reading at Rome, see Auerbach (), Cavallo (), Johnson (), and Johnson and Parker (). Blanck () and Wiseman (: –) add consideration for the physical book, with Strocka () and Hendrickson () on the development of libraries. See also Harris (), Humphrey (), and Woolf () for literacy – or, more accurately, literacies – in antiquity. See Richardson (, ) on the semantic range of imperium, which originally denoted power to command and came to include Rome’s territorial extent only in the first century BCE. The emperors’ power, with important limitations in antiquity, bears some resemblance to Foucault’s much later model of power () as “productive of subjects, accompanied by resistance, twined with knowledge” (in the words of Digeser : ).

Authorizing Augustus



conveyed his image across the Roman world. In this sense, the poets recognized, the emperor was analogous to them and subject to the same interpretive judgment as were their own poems. The passive modern term “reception” is inadequate to the mental, aural, phonic, and social activity that Romans associated with the act of reading, not to mention the ancient belief that a viewer’s eyes emitted rather than received light from the thing seen. Augustus’ gratification when subjects shielded their faces from his luminous gaze (Suet. Aug. .) finds a mirror in the penetrating vision that Roman eyes exerted upon him, his symbols, and the poets’ texts, confirming their agency at a time when other spheres of civic participation were narrowing. In framing meaning and authority as the products of active collaboration, the poets and their readers thereby explored new forms of libertas by which to grapple with their relative loss of dominance within Rome’s social hierarchy. Following this analogy between poets and princeps as fellow subjects of the public gaze, this book offers readership as a new model for understanding Augustan poetry in its dynamic engagement with Roman politics. Over the long history of the field, the poets have alternately been treated as eulogizers, skeptics, and subverters of the principate. But nobody has yet attempted a comprehensive study of the poets’ public responses to imperial iconography as a tool for dissecting, debating, even disrupting imperial power. This study therefore shows how the poets read and respond to Augustus’ public image as represented in well-known signs, monuments, and rituals: the sidus Iulium, the Palatine complex, the Forum Augustum, and the triumph. In training their literary gaze on such symbols, I argue, the poets explore the degree to which imperial signs and power rely on audience interpretation. They also model ways of responding to Augustus that join the public discourse surrounding the emperor, shed light on how he was perceived in his own day, and continue to affect our own understanding of the age. In short, this study tunes in to the lively, independent dialogue that took place beneath the surface of images historically understood as vehicles for imperial control. It recasts these instead as instruments by which the poets and their readers reasserted their own critical authority over empire. In my view, the poets ultimately suggest that the emperor’s 



Thibodeau () surveys the “extramissionist” models favored by Plato, Galen, and Euclid, among other theories of vision; compare the poets’ frequent play on the double meaning of lumina. Also relevant is Barton () on the link between seeing, being seen, and shame in Roman culture. As an aid to their rhetorical projects, the poets thereby consciously indulge in what Morley (: ) has called the “misplaced concreteness” of focusing on urban monuments as signs of imperial power.



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

authority, no less than their own, depends on a mutually constitutive relationship with a judging audience – as Augustus himself recognized with his deathbed mime. In response to burgeoning autocracy, then, the poets reclaim for themselves and their audiences intellectual authority over the symbols and ideas that underpinned the principate, imaginatively transforming Rome’s empire into a res publica of readers.

. The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus? The idea that Augustus “organized” public opinion to disguise his autocratic power, championed by Ronald Syme and prevalent for much of the past century, is at least as old as Tacitus (Ann. ., above) and continues to shape textbooks and syllabi. In recent years, though, this notion has slowly yielded to a model that makes for a less succinct narrative, but better accommodates the historical realities and political complexities of the Augustan age. Historians now suggest that imperial power depended as much on horizontal patronage networks as brute force. Increasing attention has surrounded “soft” means of creating cohesion across Rome’s farflung and heterogeneous empire: the active participation of subjects, notably provincial elites, and a shared system of ideas, objects, civic institutions, and social, political, economic, and religious practices. Among these, visual representations of the emperor have received particular attention since the publication of Paul Zanker’s Augustus und die Macht der Bilder (), a work of sweeping scope and influence that the present volume revisits and revises from a literary perspective. Scholars of architecture and urban design have analyzed the physical city of Rome as a structured and meaningful “text” that created for its viewers a narrative about imperial power. Others, in turn, have doubted whether Roman monumental art bore transparent messages to its various audiences. 

    

Chapter  frames this in more specifically republican terms as an exertion of participatory libertas (cf. Markell ) in exchange for the loss of bodily libertas. See also Roman () on poetic autonomy and Hardt and Negri’s radical conception of “counter-empire” in a modern globalized context (: –). One good example is Levick (). On retroactive constructions of Augustan history, see, e.g., Gruen (). E.g., Saller (), Nicolet (), Lendon (), and Ewald and Noreña (), and on the provinces, Ando (), MacMullen (), Woolf (), and others mentioned in Chapter . Cf. also Hölscher (), Hannestad (), Galinsky (), Wallace-Hadrill (), and Pollini (); Zanker () adds further consideration for viewership. See especially Jaeger (), Edwards (), Favro (), Rehak (), with Leach () on literary landscapes. Notably Hölscher (, trans. ), Veyne (), Elsner (), and Rutledge ().

The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus?



On the literary side, the view that the Augustan poets were mouthpieces of empire has come under question since the so-called Harvard School detected voices of resistance in Vergil more than half a century ago. More recently, philologists have reenvisioned Augustan literature as a cultural discourse around the princeps, which Alessandro Barchiesi characterizes as an “unprecedented campaign of persuasion and revision” enacting “universal diffusion at all levels.” Scholarship by Philip Hardie, Stephen Hinds, Jim O’Hara, and Barchiesi himself, among others, has shown the critical riches that this more intertextual, decentralized approach can yield, particularly when attuned to the ambivalences within Augustan poetry. Charles Martindale adds important consideration for the contingent nature of all readings. Others, including Shadi Bartsch and Michèle Lowrie, have analyzed performative aspects of textual and political authority during the early empire. They and many others have broken ground for further inquiry into the Augustan poets’ complex relationship with visual and oral culture, religion, memory, ritual, and law. But the Harvard School is a closer heir than it likes to acknowledge to Syme’s dictatorial Augustus. We still struggle to clarify the poets’ relationships with political power, often sidestepping the issue altogether or falling into the reductive “pro-” or “anti-Augustan” binary critiqued by Duncan Kennedy. Alison Sharrock’s corollary, that “in the end a text of itself cannot be either ‘pro-’ or ‘anti-Augustan’; only readings can be,” usefully points to the importance of audience interpretation even as it threatens to fall into the same binary. It also downplays the fact that not all texts lend themselves as readily to one type of interpretation as to another, and that readers within a given interpretive community show consistent patterns albeit not homogeneity in the messages they take away from a text. All this leaves unresolved questions that the present analysis pursues in new depth and detail. What relative roles did Augustus and the

   

 

Seminal works include Anderson (), Parry (), Clausen (), Putnam (), W. R. Johnson (), and Lyne (). Barchiesi (: ). See additionally Feeney (), Edwards (), Jaeger (), Smith (), Sumi (), Welch (), and Miller (). As Galinsky () observes, Barchiesi continues to see Augustan discourse as “firmly emanating from Augustus” and Ovid’s role as “oppositional.” See also Martindale (a) for a history of scholarship concerning ambiguity in Vergil. Kennedy (); see Davis (a) and Boyle (: n) for rebuttals. Sharrock (: ); compare Wallace-Hadrill’s contention (: ) that the best propaganda is the least perceptible, and Ellul (: v) on propaganda as a sociological phenomenon.



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

poets play in shaping his public image within Roman culture, and how did the resultant dialogue shape Roman readers’ perceptions of the principate? .. The Palatine as Case Study In pursuing such questions, this study opens a new perspective on the reciprocal interactions among Augustus and his various constituencies. It also traces the evolution of perceptions of the princeps over the long course of his reign, before hindsight permitted teleological rationalization. It would, of course, be wrong to underestimate Augustus’ resources or resourcefulness in cultivating public relations and planning for the future. But even Augustus could not control everything. Events and artistic expressions long understood as serving a preconceived master plan on Augustus’ part often appear, on closer examination of the sources, as ad hoc responses to contemporary exigencies or products of mutual negotiation among princeps, senate, and people. One goal of this study is to dismantle the impression of finality and conscious design that still attaches to many Augustan symbols, even in much of the scholarship discussed above. An instructive case in point is the Palatine complex in Rome, dedicated on  October  BCE and considered a “veritable ex voto” to Octavian’s victory at Actium. According to Zanker, this was one of the young princeps’ “clearest statements of self-glorification” and left “no doubt as to who would determine Rome’s fate from now on.” Yet Octavian originally vowed the temple to Apollo in  BCE during his campaign against Sextus Pompey and began building it shortly thereafter. It may be historical accident that it came to be associated more closely with Actium than with Naulochos or Egypt. For that matter, the story of the temple’s foundation involves considerable give and take that belies the autocratic intentions imputed to Octavian at this time. Historians report that Octavian had bought a prominent piece of land on the Palatine for his own residence, but Apollo showed his desire for part of the house by striking it with lightning (Cass. Dio ..; Suet. Aug. .). Octavian accordingly made the area public property, and in return, the people voted him a house funded by the public treasury (Cass. Dio ..). The resultant structure combined a modest private residence built at public    

Gros (: –) and Zanker (:  and , respectively). Vel. Pat. .; Cass. Dio ... See Section . and Miller (: ) for discussion, and Gurval (: –) for the minority suggestion that Actium’s importance to the temple has been overestimated. Cf. Hekster and Rich ().

The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus?



expense with a splendid public temple built at private expense, in meaningful counterpoint that highlighted Octavian’s piety and publicmindedness while foreshadowing the reciprocity that would come to characterize Augustan culture. This was underscored when, in return for Octavian’s much-debated “restoration of the res publica” to the senate and people in January  BCE, they granted him his honorific name along with laurels and a corona civica to adorn his doors (RG ; see Figure .). The history of the Palatine complex thus shows that the public face Augustus presented to Rome – much like his auctoritas – was not simply preconceived and imposed from above. Rather, like any text, it was “a mosaic of quotations” that absorbed and transformed other texts, in a process of continual negotiation and response in which the senate, people, and other less visible groups took an active part. As the following chapters demonstrate, moreover, monuments like the Palatine continued to serve as sites for interactive self-fashioning by ruler and subject even after they were built. An unprecedented number of buildings, portraits, coin types, and inscriptions represented Augustus to the urbs, Italy, and the provinces. They also, in their very diversity, attest to the impossibility (even undesirability) of presenting a single unified image to the geographically, socioeconomically, and culturally heterogeneous Roman world. Some, like the Res Gestae and Augustus’ lost Commentarii, clearly evince the emperor’s authorial hand. But even in the case of Augustan building initiatives, many details were left up to architects and craftsmen, and many others were added later or recycled from elsewhere. (The Palatine complex, for instance, included statues imported from Greece and the laurel and oak wreath appended by the senate and people.) For that matter, the clupeus virtutis, the Ara Pacis, the Pantheon, and many other prime examples of so-called Augustan propaganda were not commissioned or coerced by the emperor himself. Rather, these objects were communicative acts of diplomacy that allowed various constituencies to co-construct Augustus’ image and articulate expectations for his behavior  



Zanker (: ) discusses gifts and counter-gifts, citing the New Year’s tradition whereby the people gave Augustus money which he used to set up statues of the gods (Suet. Aug. .). What this return meant and how it unfolded remain subject to considerable debate. Millar () notes that the term is surprisingly rare and means only “commonwealth” in this period (as opposed to a republican system of government as by the time of Tacitus). Judge () convincingly argues that Augustus’ supposed “restoration” is a modern illusion. Cf. also Lacey (), Galinsky (: –), and Lange () for optimistic views, and Section ... Kristeva (: ). This accords with enhanced interest in Latin poetry’s dynamic, even constitutive, intertextuality since Conte (), Martindale (), Hinds (), and Barchiesi ().



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

in public view. Even coins and portraits, those crucial tools of modern propaganda, lacked stringent central supervision in Roman antiquity and often reflected local or personal motivations: of the tresviri monetales in charge of the mint and their provincial counterparts, for example, or private patrons like the commissioners of the Boscoreale Cups (Figures . and .). Many of the everyday objects through which average Romans encountered Augustus, such as decorations on gaming pieces, were manufactured and distributed among lower rungs of the social ladder rather than handed down from on high. And these might ignore, respond to, or actively mock more official representations, as in the case of the Pompeiian caricature depicting the famous Aeneas-Anchises-Iulus triad with simian bodies, long phalluses, and the heads of dogs, carrying game pieces rather than penates from the flames of Troy. In sum, one might regard Augustus’ public image not as a carefully crafted tool of manipulation but rather as a bottom-up, largely unregulated process of distributed content creation by individuals from all rungs of society. This mosaic of images, in turn, elicited heterogeneous reactions that fed back into political discourse over the course of the principate and form the subject of this study. Chapter , for instance, shows how the Augustan poets appropriated the Palatine as a locus for debate about freedom, obedience, and mercy through eulogistic responses to the building that also highlight its contradictions and omissions. Topographically, the splendor of the temple of Apollo was hard to square with the pointed humility of Augustus’ own neighboring home. Over time, the Palatine’s overtones of discipline and hierarchy would grate against the more harmonious polity envisioned on monuments like the Ara Pacis, dedicated by the senate in  BCE. This points to the fact that buildings, coins, and poems had long life spans within Roman culture and lent themselves to divergent  



  

Relevant are Galinsky (: –) on the reciprocity behind Augustan auctoritas and Russell (). Levick (: ) argues that coins represented initiatives from below (e.g. by the tresviri) designed to flatter the emperor rather than appeal to the public, though see Sutherland () contra. Galinsky argues for “no pattern of control by the princeps himself” (: ), though he also suggests that Augustus “actively sought to convey the auctoritas of the senate through the new coinage” (). For private art, see Hölscher (). Walker and Burnett (: –) discuss these humble objects though elsewhere insist that Augustan portraits were part of “a concerted propaganda campaign aimed at dominating all aspects of civic, religious, economic and military life.” See also Clarke (). Cf. Brendel (–), Galinsky (: , fig. ), and LIMC I (: –) s.v. Aineias (F. Canciani). As Gransden () observes of Aeneid .–; see also Feeney (: –). As pointed out by Hardie (: ).

The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus?



interpretations within different reception contexts: as Augustus toned down his expressions of power, for instance, or as military defeats questioned the laurels’ assertion of perennial triumph. For that matter, Hinds’ rightful warning that “we should not fall into the trap of regarding the Augustan reading public as a monolith” applies to audiences of Augustus’ representations across all media. The Palatine surely evoked different reactions from an aristocrat whose family had lost property during the triumviral proscriptions than from a newly prosperous freedman eager to escape the bustling city in the elegant environs of the Danaid portico. We have little direct evidence, of course, for the thoughts of an average Roman (as if such a person could exist) as she gazed upon the princeps’ magnificent building projects or handled a newly minted coin – if she looked at them at all. What we do have is the poets’ responses to Augustan buildings and iconography, responses that put under a microscope the process of viewing, interpreting, and judging imperial imagery in which every Roman subject engaged. These poems make no pretense of objective reportage, though, ironically, they have been used over the centuries to reconstruct monuments like the Palatine, creating a feedback loop that continues to affect modern perceptions of the emperor. The very lack of objectivity that makes them slippery as archaeological evidence, however, makes these poems uniquely valuable as echoes of ancient debates that surrounded Augustus. This is not to say that we should take these works as sincere and unmediated transcriptions of the poets’ responses to Augustan imagery, or attempts to dictate how others should respond to imperial art. Rather, these poems are designed to put the very act of viewing under public scrutiny. They perform responses to imperial iconography, some highly idiosyncratic or tendentious, that readers might choose to imitate or (more likely) weigh and critique. In doing so, they drive home the extent to which readers’ interpretive processes, rather than Augustus’ intentions as imperial auctor, shape these buildings’ significations within Roman culture. As such, these poems provide some of our most valuable, if indirect, insight into the process by which Romans interpreted images of empire – shedding a band of light on the shadowy question of how Rome perceived Augustus and his rise.   

As Phillips points out (: ), “literary critics have usually not attended to the protean nature of the principate – about what, precisely, were the authors ambivalent?” Hinds (: ). Galinsky’s skepticism about the communicative value of coins (: ) mirrors Veyne’s regarding Trajan’s column ().



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

. The Augustan Poets and Reader Response Augustus’ deathbed mime represented a last attempt to govern perceptions of his life and rule, but also marked his final loss of control: the transference of his reputation into the hands of historians and the judgment of posterity, well illustrated by the Quattrocento “Triumph of Fame” on this book’s cover. But of course, the emperor had never fully controlled his contemporaries’ interpretations. His final act merely symbolizes the condition of audience dependency that all authors confront as they attempt to create meaning through their works. In the view of this study, the poets, too, were keenly conscious of this process. Their self-representations in triumph express the flip side of Augustus’ mime: recurring fantasies of authorial power that balance the reality of readerly dependence. But many of their poems betray a deep concern with the power that readers wield over texts, and that Romans, in turn, exerted over imperial semiotics. In this era of Facebook, fan fiction, and focus groups, when audiences actively participate in the creation of media content, we need little proof of the once-controversial idea that audiences shape the meaning of texts. Even in its own day, Roland Barthes’ grand proclamation of the “mort de l’auteur” was not entirely revolutionary: in many ways, the separation of a reader’s response from an author’s intention is a logical extension of the New Critical rejection of the “intentional fallacy.” The basic concept has undergone some useful refinements and modifications over the years: for instance, Hans Robert Jauss’ conception of a “horizon of expectation” shaping readers’ responses to texts, Wolfgang Iser’s distinction between implied and real readers, Stanley Fish’s interest in the interpretive communities that shape readers’ norms of judgment, and Michel Foucault’s idea of the author as a function of discourse. Semiotic theory, particularly Ferdinand de Saussure’s focus on the arbitrary relationship between signifier and signified, further highlights readers’ role in bringing meaning  

 

Attributed to Girolamo da Cremona, and among many Renaissance adaptations of the triumph motif to illustrate the transience and succession of different forms of power; see Section .. Barthes (), stating that “the text is not a line of words releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning (the ‘message’ of an Author-God) but a multi-dimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash” (). Readers themselves impose and are constituted by these manifold “writings”: “The ‘I’ that approaches the text . . . is itself already a plurality of other texts, of codes which are infinite or, more precisely, lost” (Barthes : ). See Bennett (: –) for a comparison of Barthes, Benjamin, and Fish. Cf. Wimsatt and Beardsley (). Fish () considers texts the products of readers’ individual interpretive actions, which in turn are shaped by their community; see also Eagleton (: –) and Bennett (: –).

The Augustan Poets and Reader Response



to a text. At the same time, the complicity between power structures and interpretive practices has come under increasing scrutiny, for instance, with Louis Althusser’s attention to the contradictions of political rhetoric and the ways that “ideological state apparatuses” (such as media, religion, family, and education) function to inculcate belief. This interest in reception, semiotics, and the social practices of reading, however, is not an exclusively modern phenomenon. As writing emerged from the oral cultures of antiquity, it became a locus of anxiety in that it allowed, even entailed, a separation between an author and his words. In conversation, an author was able to explain his thoughts, answer objections, and clarify misconceptions from his interlocutor. Translated into mute signs on a papyrus roll or tablet, however, an author’s words not only depended on readers in order to be seen and voiced, but also were subject to their manipulation or abuse. In the Phaedrus (d-e), for instance, Socrates points out that texts’ separation from their creators leaves them uniquely vulnerable to interpretive violence: Writing, Phaedrus, has this strange quality, and is very like painting; for the creatures of painting stand like living beings, but if one asks them a question, they preserve a solemn silence. And so it is with written words; you might think they spoke as if they had intelligence, but if you question them, wishing to know about their sayings, they always say only one and the same thing. And every word, when once it is written, is bandied about, alike among those who understand and those who have no interest in it, and it knows not to whom to speak or not to speak; when ill treated or unjustly reviled it always needs its father to help it; for it has no power to protect or help itself.

Augustan poets’ deep concern with this issue, and with its implications for imperial representation, is no historical accident. Around this time, literacy rates were increasing, and literary culture was increasingly focused on the circulation of texts in addition to oral recitations by the author. This translated a writer’s authorial “I” into the voice of his reader – or, in many households, that reader’s literate slave or freedman – within private performance contexts that underlined the author’s real dependency on  

Trans. Fowler (). Bing () argues for a Hellenistic turn toward private reading, and Lowrie () for a discontinuity in performance tradition before the Augustan age. Wiseman (: –) cautions against false elite/popular, written/aural binaries, citing Aquillius Regulus’ distribution of a book about his dead child throughout Italy and the provinces for public recitation (Plin. Ep. ..). For silent reading, see Gavrilov (), Burnyeat (), and Johnson (). I alternate between the terms “auditor” and “reader” in recognition of the fact that many ancients encountered Augustan poetry aurally, whether in public recitations or private readings.



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

others’ minds and bodies. With the expansion of professional book production and the broadening geographical circulation of texts within the Roman empire, an author might no longer personally know or participate in the same social networks as his audience, who in turn might take un(fore)seen liberties with his text. The same anxieties that surrounded slaves, as “speaking tools” with independent agency (Varro Rust. .), thus came to attach to books. It is also tempting to imagine, in this loosening of authorial control, an analogy for the relative loss of political privilege that some Roman elites experienced along with the redistribution of power through a broader spectrum of society that was one hallmark of the Augustan revolution. The widening circulation of texts throughout empire also mirrored the social and geographic dissemination of the image of the emperor and the idea of Rome, not to mention the imperial administration’s pragmatic reliance on writing to connect Rome’s center and peripheries. As such, the Augustan poets found in the princeps a mirror for their own aspirations and anxieties – and scrutinized imperial representations, analogously with their own poems, as interpretive arenas for contestation and negotiation between author and audience. Like modern literary critics, the Augustan poets expound no unitary or homogeneous theory of reader response. Rather, they offer a kaleidoscopic array of attitudes and approaches toward the text. In keeping with its origins in the Latin verb texere, “to weave, intertwine, construct,” I use this term to refer to any verbal or visual fabric capable of bearing meaning. Weaving, poetry, and the visual arts have been interconnected since the ancient Greek rhapsodes (literally, “sewers together” of songs): Helen’s weaving of the Trojan War in Iliad .–, which becomes indistinguishable from Homer’s own spinning of the story into words, is an apt symbol. The closest Latin equivalent is, surely, the shield of Aeneas forged by Vulcan in Aeneid : a visual artifact, described as a non enarrabile textum (“not fully describable artistic surface,” .), that is paradoxically inextricable from Vergil’s own poetic fiction. The relationship between Roman art and text has attracted considerable attention as of late, notably by Jaś Elsner (, ) and Michael Squire (), with the ekphrasis commanding particular interest as a “speaking picture” with transportive powers. Others, like Diane Favro () and Paul Rehak (), frame    

Cf. McCarthy () and Pandey (a) for some literary implications. Hopkins () links the growth of empire with an increased reliance on writing; see also Woolf (, ) and Chapter .  See, e.g., Mueller (). See most recently Feldherr () and Section .. See generally Wagner () and Webb (), with Putnam () on the Aeneid.

The Augustan Poets and Reader Response



the Augustan cityscape itself as an eloquent urban narrative. There are, of course, some obvious differences between the ways a poetic scroll, a visual surface, and a built environment can tell a story, appeal to the imagination, and structure a viewer’s mental movement through time and space. These are compounded when we remember the many other sensory dimensions at play, including the performance of many literary compositions within a social context and the sights, sounds, and smells that accompanied a Roman’s progress through the urbs. But though these artistic texts are different in kind, they share an important quality. All rely for their meaning on an audience’s active interpretation. Vergil underscores the parallels by using the verb legere, which normally denotes the act of reading, for Aeneas’ visual consumption of the artwork on Daedalus’ temple at Aeneid . and the parade of future Romans at .. The verb’s root in the idea of conscious gathering or selection further recalls the audience’s critical independence in responding to visual and verbal objects that, unlike an interlocutor, cannot speak back – or defend an author’s intended meaning. The first and last of the great Augustan poets, Vergil and Ovid, make this point in a series of paradigmatic scenes that depict viewers (mis)interpreting fictional works of art. Brief analysis of a few will reveal some general interpretive strategies that ancient readers applied to texts, and that the poets themselves reapply to imperial iconography. .. Readership in Vergil The temple that caps Vergil’s vision of poetic triumph at Georgics .– vividly symbolizes his projected epic and its own frequent collapsing of verbal and visual surfaces. The Aeneid ’s many ekphrases have attracted rich analysis as hermeneutic keys to the epic, most comprehensively by Michael Putnam (). Others, like Alden Smith (), have pointed to the importance of vision and the gaze within the epic, linking it with a shift from republican oral culture to a more visually oriented imperial one. But the epic itself thwarts any easy separation between verbal and visual     

Huet (: –) discusses some of these differences in comparing Trajan’s column with a scroll of imperial res gestae. See, e.g., Jenkyns () on viewers’ sensory experiences and movement through the city. The former employs the compound perlegerent; see Section ... Reader response approaches to Latin literature include Batstone () and Slater (), but none has yet been applied systematically to imperial imagery. See Martindale () and Martindale and Thomas () for some general approaches to reception and the classics; a few shorter articles, e.g., O’Hara (), have viewed particular characters as interpreters (here, Dido).



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

rhetoric. Indeed, Vergil frequently arrests his narrative to depict viewers observing and responding to fictional art in ways that comment more generally on the modes of interpretation that audiences apply to real texts, from the verbal one of the Aeneid to the visual ones of Augustan Rome. These scenes, moreover, drive home the point that even the most confident authorial self-representations, like Vergil’s at Georgics , ultimately rely on audiences for their communicative and emotional content. A programmatic case in point is Aeneas’ encounter, early in Vergil’s epic, with another monumental façade: a depiction of the Trojan War on the temple to Juno at Carthage (Aen. .–). To the storm-tossed protagonist, this testifies to his fallen city’s fame and presages a sympathetic reception from the locals (–): “quis iam locus” inquit “Achate, quae regio in terris nostri non plena laboris? en Priamus! sunt hic etiam sua praemia laudi; sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt. solve metus; feret haec aliquam tibi fama salutem.” “What place,” he said, “Achates, what region of the earth is not now full of our trouble? Look, here’s Priam! Even here there are rewards for honor; there are tears for things and mortal affairs touch the mind. Let go your fear; this renown will bring you some safety.”

Vergil’s subsequent ekphrasis of the mural or frieze, it has been observed, reflects on the artistry of the Aeneid itself in its sympathetic portrayal of the casualties of Roman destiny. But it also speaks to ancient practices of consuming monumental art. Notably, the description evinces little if any concern with the intentions of the work’s creators: with Dido’s purpose in founding the temple or commissioning the mural, for instance, or the designs of the various craftsmen who add their hands to the work (). Instead, we see this temple only through the eyes of Aeneas, its internal audience, with frequent reminders of his mediating (“focalizing”) perspective and subjective response to the events depicted. The meaning a viewer takes away from a work of art, this passage suggests, may have little





My interpretation of this passage as a fable of reception builds on analyses by Williams (), Horsfall (), Segal (), Clay (), Leach (), Fowler (, ), Laird (: ), Putnam (), Bartsch (: ), and Smith (). See also Lowenstam (), n.  for further bibliography and n.  for the irresolvable question of whether these are friezes or murals. To use narratological terms popularized by Genette () and Bal (: ). For Aeneas’ perspective, see especially Fowler (, ).

The Augustan Poets and Reader Response



relation with its author’s original intentions, and everything to do with the viewer’s own experiences and emotions. The narrative follows Aeneas’ gaze first as he takes in the brazen grandeur of the temple (–), then as he sees the pictures, recognizes their subject (–), and interprets the images as though they are unfolding before him in present time (–). Verbs of perception highlight his increasing imaginative participation as he literally sees himself in this scene. He is equally part of the scene insofar as his Trojan sympathies color his perspective. He views Athena as “unfair” (non aequae, ), averting her eyes from her wretched Trojan suppliants (–). A similarly heartless Achilles drags Hector three times around the walls of Troy () and “sells his lifeless body for gold” (), causing Aeneas to groan as he sees the ransom, his friend’s body, and the unarmed Priam supplicating Achilles (–). This description, as focalized through Aeneas, revisits the events of Iliad  but strips them of the mutual respect and sympathy that Achilles and Priam ultimately attain. Aeneas has eyes only for Achilles’ rage and Priam’s vulnerability. Aeneas’ perspective also determines which details attract his attention. His gaze dwells in particular on the horses of Rhesus (–), the death of Troilus (–), and the loss of the Palladium, hinted at in –. These scenes all refer to omens concerning the fall of Troy, suggesting Aeneas recognizes and revisits these signs of Troy’s doom from hindsight. The strong emphasis on Aeneas’ response elides the intentions of the architects and artisans. Since the temple honors Juno, the Trojans’ divine adversary, Aeneas’ sympathetic reading has been characterized as hopelessly naïve: in actuality, this is a triumphalist monument to the goddess’ persecution of his people. Yet there are problems with this view. Most immediately, Aeneas is proven correct in his hope for a friendly reception: Dido confirms that the Trojans’ sufferings are known the world over and welcomes them to Carthage (–). More generally, much GrecoRoman art alluding to conflict, from monumental friezes like the Pergamon Altar to the statues of Laocoon, the Dying Gaul, and Marsyas in Rome,  

 

E.g., lustrat (), miratur (), videt (), animum . . . pascit (), umectat (), videbat (), gemitum dat (), and agnovit (). The swift subject transition, from line-final Achilles at  to Aeneas as the unnamed subject/ observer of –, is the first of many occasions in which Aeneas takes the place of Achilles. For this slippage, see Anderson (), MacKay (), W. R. Johnson (), and Van Nortwick (). Cf. Ganiban () ad loc. I join Bartsch (: –) in arguing against negative readings by Boyle (: –), W. R. Johnson (: –), and DuBois (: ).

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The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

centers less on the victor than on victims’ pathos in suffering. Aeneas’ ease in deciphering the mural’s visual grammar and Dido’s rapt attention to his story of Troy’s fall suggest that the Trojans and Carthaginians share this aesthetic code among other cultural similarities. Thus, though the mural’s Carthaginian setting enables a pro-Junonian interpretation, Aeneas’ proTrojan response cannot be characterized as a misreading. Rather, it is one of the many interpretations permitted, even invited, by this imagined visual text. The verbal matrix in which it exists, moreover, both privileges and vindicates Aeneas’ subjective interpretation over any authorial intent. This opening scene thus emblematizes the power that all audiences wield over art, from Vergil’s poem to the monuments of Augustan Rome. In this case, the narrator’s decision to render the Troy mural entirely through Aeneas’ perspective illustrates the inseparability of artistic meaning from audience response. It is ironic that this ekphrasis, itself a consummate work of poetic artistry, depicts an artist’s recession from his text, surrendering it to the intellectual and emotional ownership of its interpreter. But as subsequent chapters will show, it is only one of many ekphrastic passages that tacitly weigh the relative power of authors and audiences, and tip the scales in favor of the latter – at least within the immediate context of the narrative. In the case of Daedalus’ temple to Apollo at Cumae (.–), Aeneas’ vision of future Romans in the Underworld (.–), and the shield that Vulcan forges for Aeneas (.–), Vergil’s external readers are invited to step into the text, correct for Aeneas’ ignorant or uninformed readings, and recognize authorial intentions or meanings that he cannot perceive. Yet even though we occupy a superior interpretive position, we are ultimately not so different from nescius Aeneas, similarly imposing our own historically conditioned readings upon Vergil’s defenseless text. The publication history of the Aeneid offers the ultimate example of readers’ violation of authorial desire: Vergil reputedly wanted the Aeneid burned on his death, but Augustus had it published in defiance of the poet’s wishes. In this story, which equates the poem’s textual birth with  

 

See, e.g., Hölscher (: –) on Hellenistic pathos and its Roman reception. For similarities between the two cultures, cf. Venus’ speech . at –, the vision of rising Troy at .– (with its application to Carthage of Roman structures like theatris, ), and Dido’s welcome at – and –. On Vergilian ekphrasis, see Barchiesi (a) and Lowrie (). Ziolkowski and Putnam (: –) compile references, beginning with Ovid’s apparent allusion at Tr. ..– and including Plin. HN ., Gell. NA ..–, Donat. Vit. Verg. , Macrob. Sat. .., and medieval and Renaissance commentators. See also Brugnoli and Stok

The Augustan Poets and Reader Response



the literal death of the author, the Aeneid exists for us today only because of an originary act of violence against Vergil’s authorial intentions by its most powerful reader, Augustus himself. This story also provides an apt etiology for the epic’s polarized appropriation in modern times by “pro-” and “anti-Augustan” camps. It suggests that Augustus and Vergil each recognized the poem’s potential to serve pro-Augustan readings and purposes, that the dying Vergil attempted to resist such a use, but that Augustus ultimately overrode the author’s intentions. This story also implicates all readers in a subtextual tug-of-war between poet and princeps. While our sympathies often lie with the artist, we implicitly side with Augustus just by virtue of having, and having read, Vergil’s reluctant text. Thus even the reception history of the Aeneid, like the ekphrasis of the Trojan mural at Carthage, shows that the meanings of texts are not dictated by their makers; rather, they arise at the moment of reception, in the imaginations of an audience. This study will, accordingly, not concern itself overmuch with Augustus’ largely irrecoverable designs with his building program and self-representations within visual culture, though it certainly acknowledges his active participation. Rather, it will focus, as Vergil does, on the different interpretive strategies, levels of understanding, and affective impulses his subjects brought to imperial art – as well as the sometimes willful misprisions and creative violence they worked upon Augustan texts. ..

Power, Art, and Representation in Ovid

If Vergil meditates on potential divergences between audience interpretation and artistic intent from an indirect, third-person point of view, then Ovid puts the process of communication and interpretation under closer scrutiny, often from a first-person perspective whose subjective fallacies and wishful thinking highlight readers’ arbitrary power to impose meanings on indifferent or resistant texts. Thus, at Amores .., the narrator believes that the dawn “blushes” in answer to his pleas; at Tristia



(), Stok (), O’Hara (), and Krevans (), with Hardie and Moore () more generally on literary careers and their reception. The date, origin, and historicity of this ancient rumor are ultimately secondary to its very existence, which came to color audience interpretations of the epic and continues to place readers in a compromised subject position as discussed by Pandey (). For a fictional take on these circumstances, see Broch (). Tarrant (), Thomas (), Kallendorf (), and others have shown that pessimistic modes of interpretation have nearly as long a history as the epic itself; see also Harrison (a) and the  special issue of Classical World (vol. , no. ) on the Harvard School.



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

..–, that a storm abates in response to his prayers. And at Metamorphoses .–, in what I read as a parable for the very act of reading, Apollo continues his attempted rape of Daphne on a semantic plane by forcing his own desired meaning (–) on her still-resistant body (refugit tamen oscula lignum, ). As her voice and intentions recede forever behind her book-like bark (mollia cinguntur tenui praecordia libro, ), she is unable to consent to or correct Apollo’s self-serving perception that she nods in assent (caput visa est agitasse cacumen, “she seemed to nod her tree-top like a head,” ). In Ovid’s early works, the gap between authorial intention and reader response often operates, with humorous effect, to confirm the poet’s selfperceived power. In Amores ., for instance, Ovid complains that his poems have turned his beloved Corinna into common property, enjoyed by many (ingenio prostitit illa meo, ). The author chides his readers for their over-credulity in poems, which are responsible for fictions like Jupiter’s metamorphoses into animal form (–): they should have assumed that Corinna, too, was invented rather than real. But Ovid’s purported motive for insisting on Corinna’s fictionality is to keep her in obscurity and avoid sharing her with others (credulitas nunc mihi vestra nocet, ). Thus, in the winking, Möbius-strip logic of this poem, Ovid continues to maintain the illusion that Corinna is a real girl even after he berates his readers for their gullibility in thinking so. Whether or not we construe “Corinna” as Ovid’s love poetry and prostitutio as the act of publication, this punch line makes a metaliterary point that later acquires political heft. Readers, writers, even emperors can collude to make false things seem true, but the illusion is shattered when audiences decide to disbelieve. Metamorphoses The relations among author, reader, and text grow tenser in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (c.  CE), which purports to recount the history of the world from its creation to modern times (.–). Early on, though, Ovid subjects his universal mythological epic to double vision as political allegory when he writes, “if boldness were granted to my words, I would not at all fear to have called [Olympus] the Palatine of high heaven” (si verbis audacia detur, / haud timeam magni dixisse Palatia caeli, .–).  

The phrase visa est marks this nod as focalized through the god’s eyes; see also Pandey () on the Ovidian laurel as a symbol of nonconsent and discussion in Chapter . Cf. McKeown (), Feeney (: ), and Ovid’s also ironic claims for poetry to affect reality in Amores .. Hardie () treats such poetic illusionism in depth; see also Gill and Wiseman (), Malaspina (: ), and Oliensis (: ).

The Augustan Poets and Reader Response



As I discuss in Section .., the poet’s performative self-policing here comments on discursive constraints under Augustus, a “god in his own city” (Caesar in urbe sua deus est, .) who nonetheless disliked references to his dominance (Suet. Aug. .). This passage is one of several textual linchpins that crack open into diametrically opposed hermeneutic possibilities. On its surface, the epic weaves old myths into brilliant new forms. But underneath this “hermeneutic alibi,” some readers may understand the Ovidian gods’ arbitrary exertions of power as veiled reflections on Augustus’, in tacit resistance to his self-representation on monuments like the Palatine. Ovid thus invites readers to exercise a libertas in interpreting the poem that he lacked in writing it. The weaving contest between Arachne and Minerva in Metamorphoses  presents for audience arbitration a programmatic conflict between artists and autocrats, cynical and propagandistic views of power. Here, each woman’s tapestry becomes an argumentum (). Minerva’s shows the gods as they wish to be seen. The goddess depicts her victory at Athens and divine support (–), with an emphasis on her personal appearance and iconography (–; –), along with visual vignettes illustrating the consequences of defying the gods (ut tamen exemplis intellegat aemula laudis, ). Arachne’s tapestry, however, shows greater verisimilitude by depicting the gods as they are – at least within Ovid’s epic, as they seduce mortal women in various false guises. Arachne’s tapestry thus becomes a visual emblem for Ovid’s own epic, in its amatory and metamorphic content, its aesthetics of continuity (.–; cf. Ovid’s carmen perpetuum, .), and its hint of defiance. This aesthetic contest, however, is ultimately decided by force. Though even Minerva cannot find fault with Arachne’s artistry (–), the jealous goddess rends Arachne’s tapestry (), beats her with the shuttle (–), and transforms her into a spider doomed to keep spinning in diminished form (–). Readers, on the other hand, are invited to correct Minerva’s divine crime (caelestia crimina, ) within

  

  

Cf. Boyle (: –) and Barchiesi (: ) on relations among poet, princeps, and reader. In Hinds’ useful term (: ); compare Stahl (). Lowrie (: ) similarly stresses the freedom Ovid gives to readers; see also Arena on libertas as the “non-subjection to the arbitrary will of either a foreign power or a domestic group or individual” (: ), engaging with Skinner, Pettit, and Connolly. For this much-discussed episode, see, e.g., Feeney (), Rosati (: –), Oliensis (), Johnston (), and Pavlock (). Oliensis () explores this episode’s exposure of the “interestedness of Augustan (self ) representations”; see also Leach (), Lateiner (), and Harries (). Ovid also highlights Arachne’s representational accuracy (verum taurum, freta vera putares, .).



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

their own judgment, awarding Arachne the victory along with their sympathy. Ovid’s Exile The end of the Metamorphoses reenacts this victory of artist over god. While the narrator pays lip service to contemporary political discourse in predicting Augustus’ apotheosis (.–, with discussion in Section ..), he concludes by triumphantly imagining his own more lasting immortality on the lips of his readers (.–). Yet this victorious arc took a rapid downward turn, and swept representational conflict off the page and into real life, with Ovid’s relegatio by Augustus in  CE. The ‘fact’ of exile becomes an important paratextual influence on readers’ interpretations of Ovid, prompting interpretive revision and politicization of his earlier works. Like Arachne, the exiled Ovid keeps weaving his verses in debased form, with a heightened awareness of his audience’s capacity to inflict hermeneutic, even physical, violence. At the same time, Ovid’s exile poems elicit readers’ arbitration in the implicit representational battle he stages with the princeps. In Tristia ., Ovid attributes his punishment to two charges: a poem and a mistake (carmen et error). He refuses to discuss the latter, veiling his exile in mystery and confirming the sense of fear and circumspection about Augustus that he had hinted at in Metamorphoses .– (si verbis audacia detur, / haud timeam magni dixisse Palatia caeli). He does, however, state that the poem in question was the Ars Amatoria, used to accuse Ovid of teaching adultery in defiance of Augustus’ moral program (.–, –): perdiderint cum me duo crimina, carmen et error, alterius facti culpa silenda mihi . . . altera pars superest, qua turpi carmine factus arguor obsceni doctor adulterii. fas ergo est aliqua caelestia pectora falli . . . 

  

Fitton-Brown () idiosyncratically argues that Ovid never went into exile after all, though Hofmann (), Little (), and Green () offer sensible rejoinders. Whatever their (unknowable) historical accuracy, however, the poems still create a textual reality (as argued by Williams :  and Claassen ), and we can still usefully ask with Habinek (: ) why Ovid portrays exile as he does. Cf. Hinds (: ) and Martelli () more generally. Among the copious scholarship on this poem, see especially Nugent (), Davis (b), Gibson (), and McGowan (), with Rutledge (: –) on Ovid’s transgression. Ovid’s evidently fearful refusal to supply detail draws the reader into the position of sympathetic witness, a tactic advocated by Quintilian Inst. Or. ..– (discussed below).

The Augustan Poets and Reader Response



Though two charges have ruined me, a poem and a mistake, I must keep silent about my fault in the one . . . The other part remains, according to which I am accused, through an immoral poem, of becoming a teacher of wanton adultery. So it must be possible for divine minds somehow to be deceived . . .

Ovid’s cautious suggestion here that the “error” was in fact Augustus’ becomes part of his subsequent self-defense (.–): crede mihi, distant mores a carmine nostri vita verecunda est, Musa iocosa mea magnaque pars mendax operum est et ficta meorum: plus sibi permisit compositore suo. nec liber indicum est animi, sed honesta voluptas . . . I assure you, my character differs from my verse my life is chaste; my muse is playful and most of my work, unreal and fictitious, has allowed itself more license than its author has had. Nor is a book evidence of the mind, but an honest pleasure . . .

As Ovid presents it, the fault lies with reader rather than author: the emperor has misunderstood his poem as a reflection on Ovid’s true character, though the two are perfectly separable (“my life is chaste; my muse is playful”). In doing so, Augustus has committed the same error as the woman in Amores . who pretended to be Corinna: he has mistaken Ovid’s fictions for fact. This audience credulity, amusing in the Amores, now has tragic consequences for Ovid. On one level, Augustus’ interpretation prevails and results in Ovid’s banishment because the emperor is an exceptionally powerful reader. (Even history itself, in Livy’s account of Cossus’ spolia, bent groaning under Augustus’ weight.) However, this also forms the culminating example of Ovid’s recurring suggestion that readers can usurp a text’s authorially intended meaning. Thus, while Tristia  depicts Ovid as an author struggling to define and defend his poems’ meaning, the very exile that motivates the poem simultaneously testifies to the primacy of audience





I take this less as a reflection on the princeps’ actual power, with Nisbet (: ), than on Augustus’ “ability to exact guilt from the accused” (McGowan : ), which represents an extreme test case of the tyranny all readers exert on texts. Livy declines to challenge Augustus’ unverifiable personal testimony that Cossus was consul during his command in  BCE, though it contradicts other historical evidence and serves his selfinterested circumscription of the spolia opima (..–). I thank Mira Seo for the point; see also Sailor ().



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

interpretation, however erroneous. Thus Ovid’s exile poems widen the fissures between authorial intent, text, and reader response while also demonstrating the high political stakes of representation. The exile poems also widen the division between “pro-” and “antiAugustan” interpretive possibilities already implicit in the Metamorphoses. These poems have sometimes earned Ovid the over-simple label of protoimperialist or panegyricist because many foreground their consciousness of a powerful imperial “overreader.” In an apparent recantation of his claims for poetic immortality and freedom from temporal constraint in Metamorphoses , the chastened poet now fully acknowledges the supremacy of the emperor, who had the power to punish him and retains the power to save. Among his many rhetorical arguments for recall, Ovid advertises his own usefulness to the project of constructing Roman authority abroad. This argument underscores similarities between imperial representations and Ovid’s own poetry that fall under discussion throughout this study. For instance, the poet proclaims in Ex Ponto . that even the gods “are made” by verse; Caesar owes his divinity in part to the talent of poets; and Ovid would be glad to render similar service to Germanicus himself (–). However, this apparently patriotic claim draws a cynical parallel between political reputation and poetry: both are constructed, potentially fictitious, and reliant for their power on audience belief. The flip side of poetry’s prospective complicity with imperial power is, of course, its potential for censorship or cooptation, and this specter looms darkly over the exile poems. Ovid’s sentence, and his conspicuous caution in discussing it, appear to confirm his earlier fear of parrhesia (si verbis audacia detur, Met. .) while clarifying that it is the divine wrath of Augustus, not Jupiter, that Romans should most fear. Despite a lack of evidence for censorship in this period, Ovid frames himself as attempting and having failed to exercise free speech. On a local scale, 

  

Augustus’ continued rejection of Ovid’s pleas, implied by his silence, means that the Tristia continue being tristia (“sad poems”); these poems’ identity is thus based on reader response. Oliensis notes the word tristia can refer either to the poet’s sorrow or the emperor’s anger (: ). The term is Oliensis’ (: ) on Horace. Section . critiques Habinek’s argument that Ovid offers his services as a “culture worker” (: ). Augustus advised Tiberius in a letter to tolerate criticism (Suet. Aug. .), and Tacitus’ Cremutius Cordus praises the license that Augustus allowed for free speech (Ann. ., the epigraph for Chapter ); see especially Raaflaub and Samons (). But Feeney (: –) suggests shifting levels of tolerance, with a decline in the late principate; see also Crook (), Rutledge (), and Johnson (). Ovid also wavers in his portrayal; see Davis (: ) on Ex Ponto ..– versus Tristia ..–.

The Augustan Poets and Reader Response



this suggests an opposition between his own writing and the princeps’ desired public image. On a larger one, it suggests that Augustus was consciously controlling public discourse and punishing those who spoke out of line. This manufactures a “hermeneutics of suspicion” or, put more bluntly, paranoia on the part of readers. It marks positive portrayals of the princeps as potentially coerced, and it encourages readers to search them for veiled meanings. Ovid, to borrow a phrase from Sergio Casali (), thus prompts his audience to “read more” into his text, searching for moments of ambivalence and charging them with subversive meaning. Ovid proceeds to turn his power as a reader back on Augustus by reapplying the same principles of interpretation that condemned his poems to the emperor’s own building projects, public entertainments, and sponsored arts. It is unfair, Ovid argues in Tristia , for his poems alone to incur punishment for depicting adulterous love (–). Meaning ultimately lies not with authors but with readers, who can turn any work to immoral ends if so inclined (–) – even the Augustan cityscape: cum quaedam spatientur in hoc, ut amator eodem conveniat, quare porticus ulla patet? quis locus est templis augustior? haec quoque vitet, in culpam siqua est ingeniosa suam. cum steterit Iovis aede, Iovis succurret in aede quam multas matres fecerit ille deus.

( )

Since certain girls stroll in this portico to meet up with a lover, why does any portico stand open? What place is more august than temples? Let her avoid these, too, if she’s at all inclined to devise an affair. When she stands in Jupiter’s shrine, in Jupiter’s shrine she’ll conceive how many women that god has made mothers.

For that matter, Augustus himself funded and enjoyed mimes featuring scandalous love affairs for general audiences including unmarried girls (–). No part of “your Aeneid ” (tuae . . . Aeneidos, ), Ovid adds, is better read than Aeneas’ affair with Dido. The possessive adjective signals Augustus’ physical and cultural appropriation of the Aeneid after the death of its author, while the sentiment underscores the impossibility



To borrow Sedgwick’s  terms for critiquing the modern exposure of “ruses of power” that are often glaringly evident.



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

of absolute control. Ovid’s authorial self-defense thus doubles as an interpretive act of aggression. It frames Augustus as the author of the Roman cityscape, and a validating factor behind the Roman literary canon, but also shows the ease with which his interpreting subjects can subvert his representational and moral intentions.

. Reading Augustan Monuments Tristia , in its critical rereading of Augustus’ public image as inscribed in the civic and cultural landscape of Rome, renders explicit a broader preoccupation of the era. The Augustan poets, in my analysis, look intently at looking itself, highlighting interpreters’ role in creating meaning as they respond to art. They also apply their powers of critical viewership to representations of the principate. Augustan poetry is full of moments in which the narrator, or his proxy, gazes intently at an Augustan building or symbol and performs a response – be it admiring, ambivalent, or quizzical. These passages thus present accounts of reception, along the lines of Aeneas’ viewing of the Carthaginian murals in Aeneid . On this level, these poems vindicate audiences’ power to invest Augustan symbols with meaning and illustrate their susceptibility to private interpretation and contestation. At the same time, these poems are carefully composed rhetorical works with larger designs on their reading public. They transfer to their own authors some of the cultural and interpretive authority the princeps claimed over Roman audiences. By modeling hermeneutic strategies that audiences could reapply to the new regime, these poets acknowledge the mental libertas of their readers and offer their own interpretive leadership as a pleasurable, edifying, and empowering alternative to the princeps’. The following chapters unpack the range of critical, competitive, even revisionary stances the poets strike toward Augustus and his image, shedding light on the evolving interpretive dialogue that vitally affected the meaning of Augustan symbols within society. This impulse toward interrogating visual and verbal rhetoric was a product of the education that the poets shared with their readers and indeed the princeps himself. Classical literary theory promoted critical, comparative, and engagé responses to texts across media. One expressive goal was to turn the reader or auditor into a spectator, even empathetic participant, in events on the page. Homeric scholiasts, for instance, write 

On Ovid’s anti-Augustan readings of Vergil, see especially Curran (), Barchiesi (), and Thomas ().

Reading Augustan Monuments



that the poet uses graphic (ἐναργής) description in order to elicit audiences’ critical thinking (διάνοια) and thus turn them into active cooperators in the making of meaning. Poets might also engage readers’ mental faculties and enlist their skills of inference through the conscious use of paradox, inconsistency, and omission. The scholiasts themselves provide numerous examples of such readings: René Nünlist documents a tendency on their part to read between the lines, (over)identify allusions to historical events, and mark deviations from traditional versions of a story as well as internal inconsistencies. Such skills were not confined to professional critics, but were taught in schools and thus second nature to the Augustan poets’ audience. David Konstan has catalogued evidence that readers were expected to interrogate texts strenuously, in part because forensic and rhetorical training were inseparable from the study of literature. Audiences were tantamount to judge and jury, whether they were evaluating law cases, rhetorical displays, or literature. In a pedagogical treatise on how to listen to poems, for instance, Plutarch urges his young addressee to ask questions of poems and expose their inconsistencies. Thus, when a character in a Sophoclean play states that “profit is pleasant, even if it comes from falsehoods” (fr. ), Plutarch encourages readers to push back: “but in fact we heard you say that ‘false statements never bear fruit’” (fr. ; Plut. De audiendis poetis A). In fact, Konstan suggests, ancient poets wrote with precisely this type of readership in mind, often leaving questions unanswered or inscribing false conclusions in order to engage audiences in debate. This study contends that the Augustan poets encouraged their readers, already well trained in such interpretive strategies, to apply them to the imagery of the principate. They did so not because readers were incapable of doing so on their own (in fact they were likely), but because this permitted public discussion of questions that decorum, fear of reprisal, or respect for Augustan authority might otherwise preclude. Given the evidence that writers enjoyed greater freedom of speech at this time than under later  

  

Cf. Nünlist (: ) on schol. bT Il. .c ex. and bT Il. ., and (: –) more generally for readers’ active participation. E.g., one rhetorical treatise advises speakers to omit details so that listeners must make inferences on their own and thereby become more favorably disposed (Theophrastus fr.  Fortenbaugh Ps. Demetr. Eloc. ); cf. Nünlist (: ). Cf. Nünlist (: , , , , ), with examples at . Trans. Konstan (: ), with discussion. He points, by way of example, to the question about divine wrath at Aen. . and readers’ wide leeway in judging the end of the epic. See also, e.g., Williams (: –) and Pucci () on readers’ active imaginative and interpretive roles.



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

emperors, it seems possible that Augustus exerted what Herbert Marcuse has termed “repressive tolerance,” on the understanding that the appearance of open discourse would ultimately confirm his domination. The poets nonetheless needed to gauge political and economic consequences as they wrote, even as (and precisely because) they maintained independence of thought and vision. Greek and Roman rhetoricians taught that criticism of tyrants was most safely and effectively expressed when veiled in terms that rely on reader inference – what Frederick Ahl has analyzed as “figured” speech. One technique was double-edged discourse, as in Aeschines’ treatment of Telauges, poised ambiguously between praise and mockery (Demetrius, On Style ). Quintilian advises omitting details, appearing to hesitate, or otherwise leaving it to auditors to supply missing information, adding that judges are most likely to believe what they think we are unwilling to say (Inst. Or. ..–). In fact, the Roman rhetorician points to omission as a peculiarly persuasive form of emphasis, defining this device as an active interpretive decision on the reader’s part (“digging out some latent meaning from something said”) rather than a mere rhetorical figure deployed by an author (Inst. Or. ..). It mattered not whether an author’s criticism was plain to see; what mattered was that he evaded punishment by maintaining plausible deniability and allowing for alternate interpretations. This latter, in fact, is another prime means for eliciting sympathy on the part of one’s readers (Inst. ..): You can speak well and make open statement against the tyrants we were discussing, provided the statement can be understood in another way. It is only danger you are trying to avoid, not giving offense. If you can slip by through ambiguity of expression (ambiguitate sententiae), there’s no one who won’t enjoy your verbal burglary (furto).

In this light, the Augustan poets’ treatment of Augustus via his monuments is doubly distanced, highly figured discourse. They maintain a  





See note  above. The theme is developed by Powell (). This analysis largely lays aside the question of patronage, well discussed among others by Syme (), Quinn (), Zetzel (), Wallace-Hadrill (), and White (), on the grounds that economic interests did not dictate the poets’ creative output or reception, though it certainly affected their production context; see, e.g., Griffin () and (). Ahl (: ); this is a major theme of Chapter . See also Baltussen and Davis () on selfcensorship throughout classical tradition, with Ziogas’ contribution () arguing for Ovidian erasures of Augustus. One might compare Tacitus’ technique of “insidious suggestion” (so called by Develin ; see also O’Gorman ). Trans. Ahl (: ).

Chapter Outlines



cautious but powerful freedom of speech by training their gaze on the icons of the principate rather than on the principate itself and by conducting ambiguous readings, often on the knife’s edge between flattery and critique. In doing so, they elicit sympathy from like-minded audiences while avoiding negative political, economic, and social repercussions. This type of speech, moreover, not only relies heavily on readerly interpretation; it also creates like-minded readers by displaying and rewarding interpretive attention to ambiguities, inconsistencies, and silences not only in poetry but in Augustan iconography. By unpacking these poetic acts of interpretation, this study offers a new perspective on Augustan power and its reception. To borrow a term from James Scott’s  analysis of the interactions between oppressed and dominant groups, this book recovers the “hidden transcript” behind overt expressions of Augustan power – the process by which the poets debated signs of the new regime, involved their own readers in critical conversation, and thereby shaped public perceptions of the principate in their own day and for years to come. Crucially, even while asserting a strong role for themselves and articulating some cogent critiques, the poets ultimately vest poetic meaning and authority in their readers. It is a paradox that mirrors that of the principate itself. In the poets’ view, imperial authority, like poetic fame and the meaning of signs, is constructed in collaboration with an audience. The poetics of power that this book describes therefore doubles as a kind of political theory, just as the poets’ readings of Augustan symbols perform an immanent critique of the contradictions behind imperial ideology. In response to the increasing concentration of power in the hands of the emperor, the Augustan poets open up an alternate empire of the mind in which they and their readers become the ultimate makers, and masters, of imperial meaning.

. Chapter Outlines Building on these general themes, each of the following chapters treats the poets’ evolving, dialogic responses to one Augustan symbol or monument: the sidus Iulium, the Palatine complex, the Forum Augustum, and the triumph. Such imperial icons were themselves, of course, a type of figured speech aimed to communicate with contemporary interpretive communities. But each chapter also focuses on one hermeneutic strategy by which the poets disrupt this normative ideological grammar for, and with, their readers: retroactive reinterpretation, for instance, or reading with attention to omissions. Together, these chapters open a new window onto questions



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

of enduring interest to classicists, historians, and scholars of intellectual history and politics. How do literature and power engage with one another and the wider public on the plane of representation? How can we recover the contests staged beneath the surface of political imagery, and trace the ways these have shaped our own constructions of the past? It is a running theme of this study that our belated attribution of intentionality, even inevitability, to Augustus’ iconography and political career is an ironic aftereffect of texts that questioned these from every angle. Modern narratives of Augustan history, including the causality and closure we imply with that periodizing term, owe a great deal yet to be explored to the poets’ own attempts to grapple with events that were still unfolding around them. Chapter  addresses the roots of such teleological thinking by tracking the iconographical development of the Julian star (sidus Iulium) and, with it, the poets’ evolving retrospective readings of Caesar’s deification. This symbol originated with a comet that appeared over Julius Caesar’s funeral games in  BCE and was soon hailed as a sign that he had joined the gods. Scholars since Servius have assumed that Caesar’s heir, the future Augustus, prompted this interpretation in order to advance his own power as the “son of a god.” However, historical sources closer to the time argue against the idea that Octavian ‘spun’ the comet or curated its use within Roman culture. Through close analysis of coins; poems of Horace, Propertius, and Manilius; a constellation of allusions in Vergil; and Ovid’s account of Caesar’s deification in Metamorphoses , I show that contemporary representations of the sidus encode heterogeneous, and frequently skeptical, responses to the principate. The idea that Augustus masterminded this symbol instead originates belatedly as viewers like Ovid retrojected the emperor’s mature power onto his earlier career. The sidus thus comes to symbolize the problem of interpreting events without the benefit of hindsight, as well as the subsequent tendency to reinterpret them in conformity with a dominant narrative. Chapter  explores poetic responses to Augustus’ house, temple to Apollo, library, and portico on the Palatine Hill, often typologized within an early, triumphalist phase in the princeps’ self-representation. Yet the poets sidestep this complex’s political message to voice perspectives silenced by Augustus’ supposed consensus universorum (consensus of the orders), performing an individualized, interpretive libertas in the face of monolithic authority. Revising this space from an elegiac perspective, Propertius ./ defines an aesthetic and moral code beyond Augustan incursions into private life. The Danaids of the portico prompt meditation, in Horace and Vergil, on individuals’ moral autonomy in negotiating the

Chapter Outlines



competing claims of justice, forgiveness, and patria potestas. Much later, Ovid critically reexamines the Palatine from exile in Tristia ., focusing on the many ways in which Augustus’ self-advertising falls short of reality – not least, with the exclusion of Ovid’s books from the library purportedly open to all, reifying the regime’s marginalization of dissenting voices. Together, these poets verbally reconstruct the Palatine as a counterimperial space that celebrates readers’ freedom of mind even as their bodies, and books, were subject to increasing control. Revision flows in the other direction in the Forum Augustum, which Chapter  analyzes as an ideological space that both responded to and inspired literary debate about Augustus’ place within Roman history and heuristics. Under construction when Vergil died but finished by  BCE, the Forum Augustum’s statue gallery of great Romans refigures Vergil’s parade of heroes in Aeneid  in monumental form. Both, moreover, display an impulse toward mapping and ordering information that scholars have associated with Rome’s growing empire in this period. However, Vergil’s narrative also calls attention to the deaths and disappointments that are omitted from maps and monuments, encouraging readers to navigate and interpret imperial spaces for themselves. Ovid does just the latter when, in Ars Amatoria , he remaps Augustan monumental spaces for private, erotic purposes. The poet’s prediction of a triumph for Gaius Caesar, in particular, parodies the Augustan “mapping impulse” and the masculine, militaristic values espoused by the Forum Augustum. Yet Gaius’ early death would come to ironize this prediction, instead aligning him with the dead Marcellus in Aeneid  and further undermining the expansionist rhetoric of urban architecture. In charting avenues for hermeneutic invasion and repossession of the physical city, these poems question the extent to which Augustus was able to turn Rome into a coherent urban narrative and highlight the unspoken costs of Augustan imperialism. Chapter  examines poetic reversals of Augustan space on a different scale, over the vast geographical expanse of the Roman empire. Mary Beard () has shown how triumphal processions could misrepresent their imperial authors. Taking a closer look at the literary evidence, I argue that the Augustan poets use triumphs in order to highlight imperial power’s dependence on representation, both in Rome (via the paintings, processions, and spoils that displayed faraway victories to citydwellers) and abroad (via the statues, coins, and inscriptions by which Augustus made his authority felt in the provinces). Vergil’s shield of Aeneas casts doubt on the accuracy of triumphal representations, including the shield itself. Following Gallus’ distanced contemplation of a



The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

Caesarian triumph in the papyrus fragment found at Qasr Ibrîm, Proper_ than signifieds tius . suggests that triumphal signs are more important to urban viewers, yet also subject to private appropriation. Ovid amplifies this theme in his love poetry, but it is by imagining triumphs from exile (Tristia ., ., Ex Ponto ., .) that he most powerfully interrogates imperial power’s reliance on signs that are wholly severed from reality, at least from a provincial perspective. These triumph poems thereby define an important role for poets in creating and memorializing Augustan power and illustrate the high stakes of their interventions in the public image through which the princeps ruled. In these poems, reading (broadly understood) is the process that unites empire, from urban audiences’ validating observation of triumphs to provincials’ imaginative participation in Roman symbols and ceremonies. These poems thus play a role in (re)constituting empire as an imaginative res publica, in keeping with many subjects’ experiential reality. As a brief coda, Chapter  returns to Augustus’ deathbed mime and evaluates his attempts to fix his posthumous memory through his will (Suet. Aug. , Cass. Dio ..). The princeps left careful instructions for his funeral, a list of his accomplishments (Res Gestae), and possibly advice for the future governance of the empire (Cass. Dio ..–). But on all these counts, audiences continued to modify the emperor’s plans and intervene in his attempted self-representation. The power they exerted after the literal death of the auctor, however, was no different in kind from the power they exerted during his life. By closely analyzing this process as it unfolds within Latin poetry, this study recovers some of the interpretive liberty that Romans exerted over the images of empire, behind and beyond the princeps’ attempts to orchestrate public opinion. As the poets depict it, Augustus’ auctoritas was much like their own literary triumphs: even as it exalted a single individual, it was ultimately founded in audience validation. From the perspective of many of his subjects, as by necessity to modern interpreters, Augustus was less a person than a creative, collective, and remarkably democratic act of the imagination. Why this book, and why now? I noted above that “belatedness” is already a symptom of that political-historical-aesthetic construction known as Augustan culture. By interrogating Augustan iconography in diachronic dialogue with one another, the poets had the cumulative effect of 

This model puts a positive spin on Kennedy’s (: ) treatment of Augustan power as “a collective invention . . . the instrumental expression of a complex network of dependency, repression and fear.” Compare the concept of distributed authorship.

Chapter Outlines



flattening out this age and enabling teleological interpretations. In some sense, belatedness is also a necessary condition of Augustan scholarship in the current era, in the wake of the late twentieth century’s surge of innovative approaches to Vergil in particular. The present study proudly joins the third generation of that revolution: its author came of intellectual age nourished on the writings of scholars who themselves drank deeply from the Harvard School. It has benefited, moreover, from Zanker and Galinsky’s interdisciplinary approaches to the reciprocity of Augustan power within the political and visual culture of the day. It is a tribute to all these works, and in hopes of inspiring further debate across the academic spectrum, that the present volume offers a holistic theory of the poets as readers of Augustus within and against the broader backdrop of Roman culture – readers who have often imperceptibly constructed our own narratives of this pivotal moment in world history. This study shows, for the first time and in detail, how the poets exerted their power of reader response on a range of Augustan icons, rituals, and buildings to recreate these imperial monuments as sites for (re)public(an) critique. In doing so, they reclaimed viewership as a political act, reconstituting themselves and their readers as an underground republic of letters within Rome’s burgeoning autocracy. This book offers professional classicists a synthesizing approach to Augustan poetry within its cultural matrix while advancing original readings of a variety of important texts and interrogating some standard assumptions about Augustan history. It is necessarily and deeply engaged with prior scholarship, and offers scholarsin-training an overview of themes and debates within Augustan studies that I hope will spark further inquiry. Last but not least, it strives to speak to nonspecialists through its broad concern for power and its representation, including its analysis of reading as a politically constitutive act. In approaching these matters of perennial import, this book seeks to remain above scholarly fads, theoretical jargon, and footnote polemics. At the same time, this is a book that needed to be written, and needed to be written now. Recent popular votes in the United States and the United Kingdom have shown all too clearly how different readers may construct divergent understandings of cultural identity, current events, even the world at large onto increasingly fractured sources of information and opinion – sources that, thanks to the internet age, proliferate beyond the power of any one authority and reflect in their irreconcilability the breakdown of national interpretive communities. All of us, and not just those in minority groups or at publicly funded universities, will encounter mounting pressure to defend who we are and what we do – to explain

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The Mutual Constitution of Augustus

how, why, and whether classics, and the humanities in general, can speak to the problems and concerns of modernity. This book is my reply. To the ancient Romans, as to many of us today, reading offered a borderless homeland and transcendent imagined community, even and especially when their political rights and voices came under threat. This book retraces and reanimates the conversation they conducted, beneath the surface of their texts, about preserving identity and intellectual freedom in a sometimes hostile world: a collaborative κτῆμα ἐς ἀεί, “possession for all time,” that may be of use in the years to come.

 

History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her. And so my child is now flying with the meteors . . .

Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer

. A Star Is Born One of the best-known symbols of the Augustan principate was the Julian star or sidus Iulium: the comet that appeared in  BCE over Caesar’s funeral games, helped prompt Caesar’s official deification on  January , and later came, in various guises, to play a key role in Augustan art and literature. According to standard modern historical narratives, Octavian put a positive spin on the comet in support of his own bid for power. We glimpse traces of this story even a century after Caesar’s death. At HN .., Pliny the Elder quotes Augustus’ account of the comet from his now-lost autobiography (= Commentarii de vita sua fr.  [Malcovati]), but adds an aside at the end: iis ipsis ludorum meorum diebus sidus crinitum per septem dies in regione caeli sub septentrionibus est conspectum. id oriebatur circa undecimam horam diei clarumque et omnibus e terris conspicuum fuit. eo sidere significari vulgus credidit Caesaris animam inter deorum immortalium numina receptam, quo nomine id insigne simulacro capitis eius, quod 



In two separate public statements regarding her daughter, a counterprotester killed during the white nationalist rally on  August  in Charlottesville, Virginia: a  August memorial service and a  August interview with the Guardian published at www.theguardian.com/us-news//oct// heather-heyers-mother-on-hate-in-the-us-were-not-going-to-hug-it-out-but-we-can-listen-to-each-other. See especially Plin. HN .. Augustus, Commentarii de vita sua fr.  [Malcovati]; Sen. Q Nat. ..; Suet. Iul. ; Cass. Dio ..–.; Julius Obsequens ; Serv. Dan. ad Aen. ., ., . and Ecl. .. Ramsey and Licht (: –) provide an analysis of conflicting evidence regarding the date and name of the games, also known as the ludi Veneris Genetricis or the ludi Victoriae Caesaris.





History in Light of the Sidus Iulium mox in foro consecravimus, adiectum est. haec ille in publicum; interiore gaudio sibi illum natum seque in eo nasci interpretatus est. et, si verum fatemur, salutare id terris fuit. “On the very days of my games, a comet was observed for seven days in the northern region of the sky. It rose around the eleventh hour of the day and was bright and visible from all lands. The crowd believed that the reception of Caesar’s soul among the spirits of the immortal gods was signified by this star, on which account this sign was added to the bust of him which we then dedicated in the forum.” This he said in public; but with private rejoicing he interpreted it [the comet] as having been born for him [Augus tus] and himself as being born in it. And, if we confess the truth, it was advantageous to the world.

Pliny’s unsubstantiated report of Augustus’ private rejoicing (interiore gaudio) contrasts with and corrects the princeps’ own account that the crowd independently interpreted the comet as a sign of Caesar’s divinity. Instead, Pliny suggests, Augustus always privately interpreted the comet as a source of advantage – the dative case of sibi leaves matters vague – in his own pursuit of power. This, of course, meshes with Pliny’s / hindsight on Augustus’ ultimate success. Yet it elides the uncertainty about the future that existed at the time of the comet’s appearance, including Augustus’ ignorance of the role he would play in unfolding events. For much of its early history, however, this “pro-Augustan” reading of the comet was only one of many potential interpretations, and not necessarily the most compelling. Conflicting interpretations were still in circulation decades after the comet’s appearance. In the words of the poet Tibullus (d.  BCE), for instance, the Sibyls prophesied that “a comet would be the evil sign of war” after Caesar’s death (haec fore dixerunt belli mala signa cometen, ..). And on closer examination, even apparently positive representations of the star are anything but, again arguing against centralized control. One case in point is the appearance of comet-like flames on the hair of Aeneas’ son Iulus during the sack of Troy in Aeneid . The boy’s parents react with understandable alarm and try to put out the fire. His grandfather, Anchises, on the other hand, hails it as a positive omen and asks for divine confirmation, swiftly delivered in the form of a meteorite. In its local context, this omen is instrumental in advancing the family’s migration from Troy to Italy, where it would found the Julian line. Yet later in the epic, Anchises’ interpretive skills fall under doubt and comet-like imagery recurs with increasing ominousness, suggesting that such omens are susceptible to multiple interpretations whose relative persuasiveness may shift over time and with evidence.

The Comet in History



As such, these Vergilian passages comment on the sidus’ shifting appearances and connotations within Augustan culture, the theme of this chapter. They also become a metaphor for how retrospective readings have shaped perceptions of the princeps, specifically, the perception that he exercised authoritarian control over his own public image. Instead, this chapter points to some of the many other interpreters who actively shaped the comet’s representation and reception. Far from requiring Octavian’s intervention, initial responses to the comet’s chance appearance were conditioned by popular and philosophical conceptions of deification already circulating even during Caesar’s lifetime. In the following years, the comet remained subject to a wide range of motivated interpretations not only by Octavian, but also by his political rivals, the Roman people, and the poets. Even after the princeps’ ascendancy, representations of the sidus did not cohere into a “pro-Augustan” form, but remained a locus for questions about Augustan power, legitimacy, and claims to divinity. Yet for reasons of their own, later writers, particularly Ovid, retroactively cast the star as always already a sign of Augustan supremacy that was subject to the princeps’ will. By taking a close look at the evolution of the Julian star, this chapter sheds light on the complex process of interpretation to which Augustan icons were subject – and which, in turn, shaped their cultural significations. Far from originating with a single author, these symbols gained meaning through multivocal negotiations among heterogeneous readers over a broad band of media and a long period of time. Only from the perspective of hindsight could such icons as the sidus be attributed to imperial authorship. In my reading, then, the Julian star comes to symbolize not Augustus’ greatness but, rather, the problem of interpreting events – from Caesar’s comet to Augustus’ rise – without foreknowledge of the future.

. The Comet in History In the passage quoted above, Pliny insinuates a divergence between Augustus’ private motivations and public statements concerning the Julian star. Augustus’ account, embedded within Pliny’s, in turn illustrates a slippage between sign, symbol, and denotation that lies at the heart of the sidus Iulium itself. Augustus first describes in careful astronomical detail the appearance of a comet (sidus crinitum). As Servius notes, the Greek term cometes and the rarer Latin calque sidus crinitum derive 

Griffin (: ) rightly pronounces such terms a “crudity”; see also Chapter .



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

etymologically from the “hair” (coma) that appears to stream out behind comets, rendering them visually distinct from stars, as the comet of  BCE certainly was. Augustus’ account, moreover, assigns the people (vulgus) full credit for reading this comet as a sign (significari) of Caesar’s apotheosis, which Octavian translates into the visual form of the star on Caesar’s statue. Augustus also abbreviates the sidus crinitum to the catch-all term eo sidere (which this analysis will employ for the same reason), and then uses a similar visual shorthand in denoting Caesar’s divinity with the common symbol of the star (id insigne). Thus, Augustus locates the semiotic origin of the sidus within a collaborative public response authorized by the people, not authored by himself. Augustus’ version of events is the oldest and only eyewitness account of the comet’s reception. It is also, of course, highly self-interested, written well after the fact as a public accounting of this seminal moment. It is therefore understandable that modern scholars, following Pliny, have cast doubt on his account. Robert Gurval has gone so far as to suggest that the comet was invented retrospectively for propaganda reasons after Augustus had consolidated his power. The classicist John Ramsey and astronomer A. Lewis Licht have verified the comet’s existence using independent Chinese astronomical records. But they speak for many in assigning Augustus a strong role in manipulating public opinion, arguing that “the future emperor possessed in  both the luck and the skill needed to turn what was potentially a very baleful omen into a powerful symbol of his adopted father’s divinity,” in “one of the most remarkable examples of ‘spin’ control in the whole of antiquity.” Others regard the sidus as part of a master plan to gain supremacy, even divinity: “a maquette which he had liberty and time to shape in preparation for his own apotheosis.” 



 

Avienus (apud Serv. Dan. ad Aen. .): est etiam alter cometes, qui vere cometes appellatur; nam comis hinc inde cingitur (“There is also another comet which is truly called ‘comet,’ since it is surrounded everywhere by hair”). While the phrase sidus Iulium appears only once in Augustan literature (Hor. Odes ..–), it is useful for discussing star and comet together because the term sidus is part of the Latin calque for comets (sidus crinitum). It also has a broader range than other words indicating stars (e.g., stella or astrum), spanning whole constellations to individual stars, planets, and even the sun and moon, particularly when “considered as having a direct influence on human affairs” (cf. OLD s.v. , used thus by Cicero in Div. ., though the sidus Iulium itself influences the use of the term in postCaesarian writers).  Gurval (: –). Ramsey and Licht (: ). White (: ). Major discussions of Octavian’s use of the sidus to gain standing include Scott (), Gurval (), Ramsey and Licht (), and Koortbojian (); unusually, Ramage (), in keeping with Syme (: ), maintains that the sidus served the goal of dissociating Octavian from Caesar. Green () surveys the Augustan poets’ treatments of Caesar.

Horizon of Expectations for the Comet’s Reception

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I have argued elsewhere that comets at this time were not baleful omens by default, requiring interpretive spin on Octavian’s behalf; rather, their negative connotations within Roman culture seem to arise at precisely this time, perhaps because of the civil disruptions that did indeed follow Caesar’s assassination. For that matter, despite the power of his name and the acumen of his advisors, the nineteen-year-old Octavian was in no position at this time to impose any interpretation of the comet upon an unwilling crowd, much less plan ahead for his own apotheosis. The present chapter accordingly looks beyond Octavian’s role in events of , likely to remain obscure without new historical evidence, to illumine the Latin poets’ retrospective responses to the sidus within public discourse and highlight in turn their interventions in imperial iconography. Augustus was not so far from the truth when, in the Commentarii, he framed this icon’s creation as a collaboration between himself and Roman observers – a distributed act of semiotic authorship that rested on their interpretive authorization.

. Horizon of Expectations for the Comet’s Reception The extraordinary event of Caesar’s deification cannot be understood outside the interpretive milieu of these equally extraordinary times. The heterogeneous audience of Caesar’s funeral games in  BCE was not reading the comet in a vacuum, equally ready to be propelled in any interpretive direction. Their reception of the comet owed a great deal to their horizons of expectations, formed by the wider discourse about deification that was unfolding in Rome at this time at all levels of society. The plebs were well primed to hail the comet as a sign of Caesar’s divinity without external prompting: indeed, Suetonius specifies that Caesar was deified “not only by decree, but also by the belief of the people” (non ore modo decernentium, sed et persuasione vulgi, Iul. ). The people had paid spontaneous quasi-divine honors, parallel to Eastern soteriological cult practice, to Marius (Plut. Mar. .), Marius Gratidianus (Seneca, De Ira .; Cicero, Off. .), and most notably Gaius Gracchus (Plut. .). In keeping with this, Cicero, Appian, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio all attest to a strong grass-roots impulse to worship the dictator both before and after his death, as further documented by Stefan Weinstock (). On the site of Caesar’s funeral pyre, for instance, the  

The present chapter represents a substantial revision of Pandey (). Pandey (); Koortbojian (: ) additionally argues that ita sibi parentis honores consequi liceat (Cic. Att. ..) does not mean that Octavian aspired to the honors of his father.

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History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

people built an altar where they sacrificed and offered victims to Caesar “as to a god” (Cassius Dio ..–) – only later officially sanctioned and replaced by the Temple to Divus Iulius (App. BC .). They also erected a twenty-foot-high column of Numidian marble inscribed PARENTI PATRIAE (“to the father of his country”) and at its base sacrificed, made vows, and settled disputes by the name of Caesar for some time (longo tempore, Suet. Iul. ). It testifies to the strength of their belief that they continued this ritual manifestation of their regard for Caesar and objection to the conspiracy despite violently hostile reactions from members of the senate – for instance, Dolabella’s destruction of the altar and crucifixion of Caesar’s early worshippers among the plebs (Cic. Att. ..). Cicero’s, Cassius’, and Brutus’ gratitude toward Dolabella is a measure of their hostility toward the Caesarian faction rather than to the concept of deification itself. For that matter, the senate’s eventual official deification of Caesar cannot be regarded as mere metaphor or cynical pandering to superstition. During the s, the senate played a key role in transplanting the terms and trappings of Alexandrian divine kingship into Roman soil. Though their motivations remain controversial, the numerous divine and quasi-divine honors senators awarded Caesar while he was alive, including a golden throne, temples, altars, and a litter “like those of the gods” (Cass. Dio .–; Suet. Iul. .), laid groundwork for the reception of the comet as a sign of posthumous divinity. For that matter, the idea that mortals may become gods was “an old one, even among the Romans,” major conduits including not just longstanding practice in the East but also the theoretical underpinnings laid by Euhemerus and his Latin translator Ennius (cf. ND ..). Deification was already an important element of elite discourse by  BCE, from Ciceronian rhetoric to Hellenistic poetry. Spencer Cole () has explored the Late Republican political and intellectual climate from which the Roman process of deification emerged. In his reading, Cicero 

 



Cf. also Weinstock (: ) and, for senatorial fear of posthumous plebeian worship of Caesar, Cic. Phil. .., Phil. .., Att. .., Fam. .. (), and Fam. .. (). For the plebs’ role in Roman political culture, see Yavetz (), Griffin (), Horsfall (, ), and Millar (). Koortbojian likewise insists that “Divus Iulius was a unique religious and political reality – not a metaphor” (: ). The senate may have been attempting to curry Caesar’s favor or arouse animosity against him in granting him such honors, cited by Suetonius (Iul. .) and Cassius Dio (.–; .–) as a reason for his murder. Balsdon () argues that the honors were exaggerated in retrospect as the conspirators defended their actions, and Cassius Dio (.) suggests that the triumvirs themselves hoped for deification. See also Weinstock () passim. Cf. Koortbojian (: , –).

Horizon of Expectations for the Comet’s Reception



plays a pivotal role in disseminating the man/god metaphors, Hellenistic philosophical concepts, and Republican emphasis on civic merit that would ironically result in the deification of his rival. Cole further shows Cicero’s evolving treatments of deification, from the early speeches to the Philippics, to be closely attuned to and conditioned by the current political scene, much as I argue later treatments of the sidus Iulium would be. For all his unique influence, moreover, Cicero was also a product of his times, responding to contemporary thought at the same time as he shaped it. And evidence is clear that, in the mid-first century, deification played a larger role in Roman discourse than it ever had before, in ways that began to influence even how Rome’s distant past was mythologized. It was around this time, for instance, that Romulus’ deification was retroactively imagined. His lack of a public cult, H. D. Jocelyn suggests, gave late Republican thinkers leeway in using him as a figure through whom to explore conceptions of divinity. Cicero’s Republic is the first extant source not only to identify Romulus with the god Quirinus, but also to assign Proculus Julius a role in confirming his apotheosis (.). This detail, uncannily resonant with Caesar’s deification almost a decade later, is afterward taken up by Dionysius (Ant. Rom. .) and Livy (.). This evolving myth shows that deification could be considered valid even when effected through mortal intervention; the effect of the story is not to discredit worship of Romulus as the god Quirinus, simply to rationalize it within Roman history. This detail may in turn have helped fuel the notion, attested only centuries later in Servius’ impressionistic account, that Octavian, like Proculus Julius, inspired the apotheotic interpretation of the comet of . Ironically, then, this period’s historical mythologizing affected subsequent generations’ understanding of its own history. Conversely, Caesar’s death and deification also fed into this era’s understanding of the past: conversations surrounding Caesar’s katasterism, for instance, must have influenced Varro’s account of the deification of early Roman kings in De gente populi romani, under way in . 



 

See Jocelyn (: –) and Cole (: –), who suggests at n.  that Romulus’ identification with the deified Quirinus, not attested until Cic. Rep. ., may also be a late innovation. Dyer (: ) speculates that it derives from an earlier annalist rather than Cicero; the idea of Romulus’ ascension is of course as old as Ennius. See also Koortbojian (: –), Wiseman (), and La Penna (: ), suggesting a late date for the invention of Romulus’ apotheosis, with Koch (: ), who suggests that the site of Caesar’s assassination was chosen to recall the senators’ murder of Romulus. For Livy’s version, cf. Sailor (: ). Serv. Dan. at Aen. . and .. See Pandey (: ). Cf. Taylor () and Koortbojian (: –).



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

The verbal and visual arts, too, were exploring the idea of mortal apotheosis even before the comet of  and similarly helped condition its reception. Catullus  translates into Latin a now fragmentary poem by Callimachus (F  Pf.) that bears closely on the theme of katasterism and comets’ etymology in κόμη (“hair”). The poem originates with the sudden disappearance of the lock of hair that the Egyptian queen Berenice II had dedicated to Aphrodite in thanks for her new husband Ptolemy III Euergetes’ safe return from a campaign in Syria in  BCE. The court astronomer Conon declared that it had become a constellation, even today known as the Coma Berenices, and Callimachus gallantly helped mythologize the event with his poem. Catullus’ version plays on the themes of family piety and loss, transforming the lock into a monument of the love that Berenice bore her cousin Ptolemy. Playing on the pharaonic and Ptolemaic tradition of sibling marriage, the lock asks its mistress, “And did you not mourn the bed left bereft when you were abandoned, but the sorrowful departure of your dear brother?” (et tu non orbum luxti deserta cubile, / sed fratris cari flebile discidium, –). In a famous line that Vergil would later put into Aeneas’ mouth as he leaves Dido (Aen. .), the lock claims that it unwillingly left Berenice’s head (invita, o regina, tuo de vertice cessi, ) and mourns its separation from its sibling locks (abiunctae paulo ante comae mea fata sorores, ). It would rather, it says, have remained on the queen’s head than dwell in the heavens (), where it was placed by the goddess of love. The resultant constellation thus ironically becomes a testament to the immortality attained through piety, here Berenice’s toward her husband-brother, but also to the superiority of human bonds and emotions. This poem can answer few questions about first-century Roman beliefs in katasterism given its apparent faith to the Callimachean original, including its narration from the lock’s persona. On its face, it is simply a literary jeu, poetically embroidering Conon’s act of diplomacy in manufacturing a new constellation and divine intercession to gratify the young queen. On the other hand, it shows how courtly flattery, perhaps even political contrivance, could engineer a historical event into an observable astronomical phenomenon. The idea of deification was naturalized enough to feed the gentle humor of Catullus’ poem, as was the suggestion that it might

 

Cf. Gutzwiller () and Fordyce () ad loc. For this much-discussed appropriation, see especially Lyne (), Griffith (), and Feeney (: –).

Horizon of Expectations for the Comet’s Reception



owe something to human intervention. The poem’s ultimate point – that deification is something done to unwilling bodies like the lock, whether through human merit or the manufacture of fama – applies very well not only to the deification of Caesar but also to subsequent literary and political uses of the icon of the sidus Iulium. Visual discourse, moreover, was already exploring the idea of deification with particular reference to Caesar. Michael Koortbojian examines the evolution of Caesar’s portraiture through life and after death, paralleling it with contemporaneous augural imagery, Hellenistic royal iconography, and representations of deified mortals like Hercules and especially Romulus. Among many other examples, for instance, Koortbojian argues that a statue of Caesar with the inscription DEO INVICTO was placed in the Temple of Quirinus in  BCE, framing him as a Romulean figure poised to make a similar transition to the stars. So, in a sense, even before his death, Caesar was already becoming a god before Roman eyes. This iconographical development, among the many other references to apotheosis within late Republican media, certainly informed the reception of the comet and the subsequent development of the sidus Iulium. So, too, did statutes like the Lex Rufrena, a law passed after Caesar’s death that forbade his statues from being displayed near those of other mortals – thus apparently beginning to articulate an ontological distinction that would be formalized with Caesar’s official deification. In sum, the idea of Caesar’s apotheosis had no single author within Roman culture; rather, it sprang organically from the rich intellectual and cultural soil of the late Roman Republic, with many different parties watering the seeds. .. Early Coinage The coinage of the subsequent decade bears out a similar story. Here, we see the sidus Iulium in a guise that, far from being an Octavianic invention, is deeply indebted to preexisting divine iconography. Moreover, Antony and Domitius Ahenobarbus, in addition to Octavian, all participate in the symbol’s early development, appropriating it to serve their own causes. It was only in the eyes of later interpreters, once Octavian’s initial jockeying

  

Konstan (: ) maps the politics behind Callimachus’ poem onto Catullus’ Rome of – BCE; see also Miller () for Callimachean aetiology in Augustan elegy. Koortbojian (: –). Cf. ILS , Weinstock (: –, –), and, for religious ramifications, Ando (: ).



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

for power had been forgotten, that the icon could be imagined to have belonged to or originated with him. The fact that the sidus is initially represented on coins as a star, rather than a comet, has caused some consternation among scholars – giving rise, for example, to Gurval’s speculation that the comet was an Augustan invention. The ancients were certainly capable of distinguishing between the two astronomical phenomena, and there is limited numismatic precedent for the visual differentiation of comets, on a Pontic issue associated with Mithridates the Great. The star, on the other hand, had a much broader and more widely developed range of associations, one that coiners could activate by translating the comet of  BCE into this more universal iconographical idiom. While comets were a comparatively rare subset of the larger class of sidera and had little specific artistic tradition of their own prior to , stars had a long iconographical history and a well-established association with the gods and with Hellenistic kings. Moreover, the star was the simpler, more easily reproduced, and more legible form, meshing as it did with the Stoic and Euhemeran belief that great men would be eternally remembered and thus could be said to reside among the stars. Coins of the s thus tap the star’s long association with divinity, creating a visual parallel between the deified Caesar and preexisting gods that could be understood either metaphorically or literally depending on the beholder. It was only in the late s or early teens BCE, as the sidus Iulium initiated a debate about the apotheosis of Roman leaders specifically, that it evolved a new visual form in the specific guise of the comet over Caesar’s funeral games. And not until much later in the principate, as Augustus consolidated his power and Hellenistic concepts of katasterism spread, did the comet come to be envisioned as literally identical with Caesar’s soul or for that matter as a harbinger of Augustus’ own divinity. The star’s long association with the gods has already been well documented by Weinstock, Gurval, and others, and requires only brief review 



 

The comet first appears on a coin of – BCE (Figure . below; Sutherland, RIC I p.  nos. a-b/a-b, and Giard, CBN –; Sutherland, RIC I p. , no. , and Giard, CBN –), then issues of M. Sanquinius securely datable to  BCE (Figure . below; Sutherland, RIC I p. , nos. –, and Giard, CBN – and –). See Gurval (: ) and discussion below. For this small bronze Pontic issue (c. – BCE) and some coins of Tigranes featuring comets, see Ramsey (: , ), with discussion by Ramsey (: –) and Pandey (: n). Hazzard (: ) treats the latter. Cf. Bömer (: –) and Ramsey and Licht (: n). Indeed, subsequent imperial apotheoses were ratified by means of some visual token, e.g., a live eagle; see Section ...

Horizon of Expectations for the Comet’s Reception



Figure . Denarius of Julius Caesar,  BCE. Diademed bust of Venus with star in hair (obverse); trophy with shields, captives, and legend CAESAR (reverse). Crawford, RRC / = Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , Spain no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.

here. On Roman coins, the star was specifically associated with Castor and Pollux until the end of the second century, when it also started appearing on coins featuring Roma and Mars. By the mid-first century, it appears with Mercury, Jupiter, Victory, and Apollo. It was Caesar himself who first applied it to Venus on a Spanish denarius of  BCE (Figure .), perhaps building on the goddess’ prior association with the evening star that led Aeneas to Italy. The star in the goddess’ hair on the obverse signifies Caesar’s divine ancestry, while the foreign captives and trophies on the reverse testify to his own great achievements in life. In a sense, then, the symbol of the Julian star actually predates the comet of . This sign already operated within Roman discourse during Caesar’s lifetime, with Caesar’s own use informing the horizon of expectations that shaped initial responses to the comet of . Caesar’s use of the star paved the way for its transference to the dictator himself on a coin of P. Sepullius Macer, one of the quattuorviri of , making him the first mortal to be represented with a star in Roman coinage   

Cf. Weinstock (: –), Kyrieleis (), Pollini (), and Gurval (: ). Gurval (: –) summarizes the evidence, concluding that by the end of the Republic the star was “a well-recognized, though not standard, attribute of divinity.” Crawford connects this coin (RRC /, also discussed by Gurval : ) with Caesar’s victory at Munda in , which may have concluded his rivalry with Pompey for the goddess’ special protection. A similar figure appears on a sestertius of , but has been identified as Diana or Luna because of a crescent above her head (Crawford, RRC /a and b); see also Crawford, RRC /.



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

Figure . Denarius of P. Sepullius Macer,  BCE. Laureate head of Julius Caesar (obverse); standing Venus holding victory (reverse). Crawford, RRC /b = Grueber, BMCRR I, p. , Rome no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.

(Figure .). On this coin, the repetition of the star on the obverse behind Caesar’s head and on the reverse at the base of Venus’ scepter underlines Caesar’s close association with the goddess, while the relative prominence of Caesar’s star draws attention to his own divine claims. Moreover, its placement behind Caesar’s head echoes the prior use of the star in conjunction with the Olympian gods, and does not yet seem to allude to Octavian’s placement of a star upon the forehead of Caesar’s bust (compare Crawford, RRC /). Though Macer’s coin cannot be firmly placed before or after Caesar’s death on the Ides of March, it clearly reflects the honors he had received and iconography he had developed during his lifetime. Here, again, we find support for the idea that Caesar’s deification and its representation were collectively authored, already circulating within Rome  



See Gurval (: –), esp. figures – of Mars, Mercury, Apollo, etc. The obverse of this aureus of Agrippa (Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , Gaul no. ; Gurval : , fig. ) appears to depict a head of Julius Caesar (identified by Gurval :  as Octavian) with a star on his forehead. For attempts to sequence the four moneyers of  (M. Mettius, L. Aemilius Buca, C. Cossitius Maridianus, and Sepullius Macer), see Kraay (: –), Alföldi (), and Gurval (: n). Mettius’ issues appear to be earliest because they label Caesar as DICT QVART rather than IN PERPETVO, though two can be dated to after Caesar’s death (featuring the temple of Clementia Caesaris and a wreathed head of Antony, Crawford RRC / and ). Gurval () well observes that since these coins continued to circulate after the Ides, they must have retroactively been understood to signify Caesar’s divine ambitions as well as ancestry.

Horizon of Expectations for the Comet’s Reception



around the time of Caesar’s death. Moreover, since this issue remained in circulation long after the comet’s appearance and Caesar’s official deification, it would retroactively have seemed to confirm Caesar’s claim to godhood, perhaps even his prescience in anticipating it numismatically. For that matter, even in its earliest days, the evolving symbol of the sidus was subject to appropriation and contestation beyond the control of a single authorial figure. Just as Caesar himself had used the star of Venus to claim divine support, several of his would-be political heirs – not just his adopted son – subsequently used Caesar’s star on their own coins. Historical documents attest to a contemporary perception that Antony, rather than Octavian, was the primary initial proponent and beneficiary of Caesar’s deification. Even before the comet’s appearance, Antony had stage-managed Caesar’s funeral, stoking the people’s rage against the conspirators and belief in his godhood by dwelling on Caesar’s divine honors and by worshipping him “like a god” (App. BC .–; cf. Cass. Dio ..). In the fall of , Cicero threw in Antony’s face the lead role he took in promoting Caesar’s divine honors, only to fail to be inaugurated as the dead man’s flamen (Phil. .–). Centuries later, the church father Lactantius would also remember Antony, not Octavian, as the man who deified Caesar (Inst. Div. .). The coinage underlines Antony’s close and continuing association with the deified Caesar. It was Antony, not Octavian, who first deployed the image of the sidus Iulium, in an issue minted after his détente with Octavian at Brundisium in  (Figure .). The star appears beneath a portrait of Antony on the obverse, and not with Octavian on the reverse, despite the triumvirs’ identical legends (IMP.III.VIR.R.P.C., i.e., imperator and triumvir rei publicae constituendae). Gurval convincingly argues that this star and the lituus on other issues around this time signify Antony’s authority as flamen of the cult of Divus Iulius; according to Plutarch, he finally accepted this position in  along with marriage to Octavia (Ant. ). The star also appears on coins of Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus, apparently marking his reconciliation to the Caesarian cause in .    

See Pandey (: –). Crawford, RRC /a (aureus) and a (denarius); BMCRR II, p. , East no. ; cf. Gurval (: ). Gurval (: ), here opposing Grueber’s explanation of the star as “symbolic of the East” (BMCRR II, p. , no. ). Crawford, RRC / (aureus) and  (denarius). Scott (: ), Weinstock (: ), and Gurval (: ) identify it as the sidus Iulium, though Grueber, BMCRR II, pp. –, links it with the name of Ahenobarbus’ ship.



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

Figure . Denarius of Mark Antony,  BCE. Head of Antony with star beneath (obverse); bearded head of Octavian (reverse). Crawford, RRC /a = Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , East no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.

These examples suggest that, even after Octavian put a star on Caesar’s statue, he exerted no monopoly on its subsequent use; his political rivals, in fact, appear to have been the first to capitalize on its associations. However, the sidus Iulium plays an increasing role in Octavian’s coins of the s. While his rivals had used the icon to suggest loyalty to the Caesarian cause, to claim Caesar’s auspices, or perhaps to allude to their own shared greatness, on Octavian’s coins it could also recall the divine descent he shared with his great-uncle or the filial role he assumed by holding the games during which the comet appeared. On one southern Italian coin of , for instance (Figure .), the star accompanies not Caesar, but a portrait of Octavian labeled DIVI F[ILIVS]; the legend DIVOS IVLIVS appears on the reverse inside a laurel wreath. The close linking of Octavian and Caesar on obverse and reverse, the verbal echo of the two legends, the clear assertion of familial relationship, and the transference of the star from Caesar’s to Octavian’s side of the coin all seem to claim some measure of Julian glory for Octavian. Moreover, here we see a reemergence of the genealogical concept of greatness that Caesar   

Compare Octavian’s appropriation of Neptune imagery from Sextus Pompey, discussed by Powell (). Surveyed by Gurval (: –), with figures –. Crawford, RRC /; Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , Gaul nos. –; and Burnett, RPC I, p. , no.  (cf. Gurval : ).

Horizon of Expectations for the Comet’s Reception



Figure . Bronze of Octavian,  BCE. Head of Octavian labeled DIVI F[ILIVS] with star (obverse); laurel wreath encircling DIVOS IVLIVS (reverse). Crawford, RRC / = Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , Gaul nos.   = Burnett, RPC I, p. , no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.

himself had employed in the coins that linked him with his ancestress Venus. This creates a philosophical tension with the merit-based model of deification that emerges from Cicero’s writings and other coins of the triumvirate, a tension that Augustan poetry would go on to explore. Strengthening this genealogical emphasis, a subsequent issue of aurei and denarii from a moving mint in the mid-s (Figure .) illustrates how the star could also underline Octavian’s familial and civic responsibility, perhaps implicitly contrasting with Antony’s profligacy in the East. Its reverse features a tetrastyle temple with the Julian star on its pediment, bearing the legend DIVO IVL in the architrave and containing a veiled statue inside. This visual reference to the Temple of Divus Iulius and its cult statue of Caesar testifies that Octavian was by now claiming the building (finally dedicated in ) as his own special project. On the obverse, Octavian is identified as divi filius and unshaven in mourning, further emphasizing his filial piety toward Caesar. This, again, forms a pointed contrast to Antony, who was accused of neglecting his duties as flamen and stalling the temple’s dedication (Cic. Phil. .). This marks one stage in the star’s increasingly specific association with Octavian in the s, a narrowing of signification that would in turn expand interpretive possibilities during the principate. In sum, both plebeians and patricians would have understood the comet of  BCE against a set of expectations, beliefs, and discursive modes that



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

Figure . Denarius of Octavian,  BCE. Head of Octavian (obverse); temple of Divus Iulius (reverse). Crawford, RRC / = Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , Africa nos.   = Sydenham, CRR p. , no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.

were already fervidly exploring the concept of deification. The plebs had already been engaged in forms of worship that found their natural culmination in Caesar’s apotheosis. Caesar’s deification was also a logical extension of honors that the senate granted him in his own lifetime and philosophical and literary ideas popular in Rome at the time, particularly the notion that great men attain divinity through civic virtue. In this sense, while many senators resented Caesar’s accumulation of powers and honors during his lifetime, official deification in  offered a way to placate and rebuild unity with the populace after the assassination, stabilize disruptive memories, and link Caesar’s threatening greatness with his service to the state – continuing an ongoing conversation at multiple levels of society about Caesar’s actions and the distinction between men and gods. From this perspective, early receptions of the comet of  make best sense not as the outcome of politically expeditious manipulation by the adolescent Octavian but, rather, as the product of a collaborative process of interpretation characterized by debate, negotiation, and heterogeneous points of view on the nature and meaning of godhead.

. The Sidus Iulium in Early Augustan Poetry Latin poetry, too, bears out the idea that the sidus Iulium had no centralized or monolithic meaning in its early life as a symbol. Rather, the poets

The Sidus Iulium in Early Augustan Poetry



use it as a device through which to revisit the political and metaphysical implications of the events of  BCE. This process continued well after Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra at Actium, in , and even after he received the name Augustus during the so-called first constitutional settlement of  BCE, still an experimental stage in the reciprocal definition of his powers and status at Rome. The crisis over Augustus’ grave illness and the ‘second settlement’ of  BCE, too, led to clarifications in his legal status and raised questions about succession and Augustus’ own posthumous fate. Throughout this eventful period, the Latin poets reinterpret the sidus Iulium from a variety of angles to explore some of these concerns. Their poems trace a range of elite possibilities for responding to the icon and contribute to an evolving cultural conversation surrounding Augustus’ power, lineage, and legitimacy. ..

Vergil, Eclogue  and Georgics 

Vergil’s early poems, written as the political dust was still settling after Caesar’s assassination, already display an interpretive ambivalence in looking back at the comet that would come to characterize its treatment in the Aeneid and elsewhere. In Eclogues  and Georgics , Vergil uses the sidus in both its variant forms, star and comet, as an iconographical shorthand for Caesar’s deification that poses retrospective questions about his – and his heir’s – influence over subsequent Roman politics. Striking an initially optimistic note, Eclogue , published around  BCE, envisions a new Caesaris astrum exerting a beneficial influence over the lands (–): Daphni, quid antiquos signorum suspicis ortus? ecce Dionaei processit Caesaris astrum, astrum quo segetes gauderent frugibus et quo duceret apricis in collibus uva colorem. insere, Daphni, piros: carpent tua poma nepotes. Daphnis, why are you looking to old risings of constellations? Behold, the star of Dionean Caesar has come forth the star under whose influence the fields may rejoice in their crops and the grapes ripen on the sunny hills. Daphnis, graft your pears; your grandsons will pluck the fruit.

Far from being a mere symbol, the Caesaris astrum is here envisioned as a real astronomical phenomenon in the heavens, alluding directly to the appearance of the comet at Caesar’s funeral games. Yet it also looks forward to the ascendancy of Octavian, the young deus of Ecl. .– who will



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

implicitly also oversee the peace predicted here. Imagery of growth, generation, and genealogy (carpent tua poma nepotes, ) underlines the idea of succession. Yet the singer’s promise of peace and prosperity under Octavian is ultimately cast into doubt, subject to negative retrospective interpretation. This passage is part of a song that Lycidas sings to Moeris, quoting one of Moeris’ own earlier compositions. Moeris, however, has already rescinded the song’s hopes for a bright future (–; cf. –). Thus, even this first and ostensibly positive literary appearance of the sidus is highly ambivalent when read in the context of the Eclogues, just as the comet itself might take on different connotations during the aftermath of Caesar’s death. It must have continued to acquire degrees of irony in the years following the Eclogues’ composition (c. – BCE), as the peace supposedly heralded by the Caesaris astrum yielded to war between Caesar’s prospective successors. About a decade later, Vergil began his Georgics with a gentle echo of the passage at Ecl. .– in which the star appears: he announces he will describe “what makes the fields glad, Maecenas, under what star it is fitting to plow the earth and join vines to elm” (quid faciat laetas segetes, quo sidere terram / vertere, Maecenas, ulmisque adiungere vitis / conveniat, .–). He also eulogizes Octavian as a benefactor of the world and his own poetic endeavor (.–), predicting, in a clear reference to Caesar’s deification, that Octavian too may join the heavens as a new star (anne novum tardis sidus te mensibus addas, / qua locus Erigonen inter Chelasque sequentis / panditur, “or whether you add yourself as a new star to the late months, where a space is opening between the Virgin and the pursuing Scorpion,” .–). But the bright hopes associated with that star fade away by the end of Georgics , where Vergil lists “dire comets” (.) among the many terrible omens that followed the death of Caesar and portended the bloodshed at Philippi. Whatever poetic license Vergil takes in this catalogue, this mention of cometae must have brought to mind the comet of , publicly reinterpreting it as a sign of civil war rather than peace (as Tibullus does more explicitly several years later at ..). Moreover, though the conclusion of Georgics  revisits the hopes pinned on Octavian at the beginning, it ultimately questions whether he can restore peace to a 



I follow Williams () and Clausen () ad loc. in assigning these lines to Lycidas, in keeping with the M and P manuscript traditions and Vergil’s tendency toward symmetrical quotation. Coleman () assigns – to Lycidas. As Thomas () notes ad loc., Octavian’s star will be within his own birth sign, Libra, a constellation carved out from Scorpio in the first century BCE. Octavian’s predicted katasterism also alludes to the Coma Berenices, on the other side of Virgo.

The Sidus Iulium in Early Augustan Poetry



degenerate and war-torn world and ends pessimistically with the image of a charioteer careening out of control (.–). Vergil seals Georgics  with a more positive vision of himself singing by Parthenope “while great Caesar by deep Euphrates thunders in war, and as victor gives laws to willing peoples and pursues a path to Olympus” (Caesar dum magnus ad altum / fulminat Euphraten bello victorque volentes / per populos dat iura viamque adfectat Olympo, –). These lines occupy the middle of Vergil’s envoi (–), just as Octavian occupied the “middle” (medio) of the triumphal temple at Georgics .. There, the poet had offered to “carry Caesar’s name forward in fame through the ages” (Caesaris et nomen fama tot ferre per annos, .) but dwelled longer on his own glory (“as a victor, to fly through the lips of men,” victorque virum volitare per ora, .), both validating and appropriating Ennius’ prediction that he would live forever through the people’s voices (“I fly living through the lips of men,” volito vivus per ora virum, Cic. Tusc. ..). The end of the poem (.–) reapplies to the young Caesar the descriptor victor, alliteration on “v,” and aspiration to immortality, but reminds us that he is still en route (viam adfectat, ) to Olympus – though Vergil’s epic, metapoetically inscribed in Euphraten (), would speed the journey. Moreover, Octavian is explicitly not en route to Italy, where the unglamorous labor of rebuilding Rome (allegorized throughout the poem) awaits him; instead, he chases glory through a fantastically far-off, indeed fictional, war of aggression (–). The poet’s agrarian cares (–), peaceful simplicity (–), and rustic identity (–) form a contrastive reminder of the domestic peace and prosperity that war was meant to secure, and of the “lips of men” that here physically contain, create, and 

 



Cf. Mynors (: ) and Nelis (). The passage does, however, clearly envision a place for Octavian, like Divus Iulius, in heaven at –; cf. also –, Hor. Odes. ..–, and Ovid Met. .. Or the temple precinct; Mynors (: ) compares the statue of Caesar in the Forum Iulium. The river symbolizes the “vast,” “muddy” genre of epic rejected by Callimachus, Hymn to Apollo –; Scodel and Thomas () observe that Vergil’s three allusions each occur six lines from the end of a poem. Octavian conducted no war by the Euphrates, though Östenberg (: –) suggests that the river was depicted in his triple triumph. It also appears on Aeneas’ shield (.), another representation that illustrates the poet and triumphant general’s shared mingling of truth with falsehood in Section .. Commentators’ explanation that the river is merely “representative of the Near East” (Mynors : ) shortchanges the intelligence of poets and audience, whose geographical interests occupy Chapter . Donatus Vit. Verg.  relates that Octavian was on his way back to Rome when he stopped at Atella to rest his throat and hear the Georgics over four days straight. Maecenas took over when Vergil’s voice failed, his hoarseness () perhaps a sonic harbinger of the hard work ahead for both men. See Goold () on Vergil’s voice and Peirano () on the Vergilian persona and sphragis.



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

circumscribe the warrior’s fame. Even in their earliest literary incarnations, then, the sidus Iulium and the associated concepts of Julian supremacy and immortality take tentative forms that shift with the beholder’s perspective, rhetorical goals, and moment in history. .. Horace, Odes . and Propertius . The sidus raised questions about the nature of human greatness in poetry as on coins. Historically, the star had particularly strong associations with men who attained immortality through their accomplishments: on eastern coins, Hellenistic rulers, and on Roman ones, Castor and Pollux (long before its use was extended to the Olympian gods). This complements the Euhemeran and Stoic idea that mortals may reach the stars through the fame of their accomplishments – a symbolism that Varro explicates, perhaps thinking of Caesar, when he says that the souls of great men traverse the air like stars (sidera) and in this sense are considered to be immortal (Comm. Lucan .). The early sidus Iulium issues discussed above, too, suggest dual conceptions of immortality, pairing reminders of the Caesars’ divine descent on their obverses with reverses recalling accomplishments on earth (as in the Venus/Caesar coin in Figure .). The Augustan poets follow suit by depicting the sidus Iulium in ways that overdetermine the Caesars’ greatness while picking out inconsistencies in the discourse of deification (and, of course, meditating on their own role in that discourse). One case in point is Horace’s Odes . (c.  BCE), the sole attested occurrence of the term sidus Iulium within classical literature (–). Far from using the sidus as an unconditional signifier of Caesar’s apotheosis, Horace deploys it as a touchstone for examining his opening tripartite division between men, heroes, and gods: quem virum aut heroa lyra vel acri / tibia sumis celebrare, Clio? / quem deum? (“What man or hero do you choose to celebrate with lyre or shrill flute, Clio? What god?,” –). The poet first offers praise to the Olympian gods, but then shifts his attention to the ἀλεξίκακοι who were deified for their aid to men, citing Hercules, Castor, and Pollux as examples – the latter two, notably, in the form of a  



See Weinstock (: –) and Gurval (: –), with Kyrieleis () on Hellenistic rulers and Poulsen () on the Dioscuri. Agahd () assigns this statement to Varro, Ant. rer. div. , as fr. a, though Cardauns () does not; for the general idea in Varro, however, see Jocelyn (: n) and Cardauns () fr. . Compare Cic. Rep. . and discussion above. For similarities with Pind. Ol.  and Theoc. Id. , cf. Nisbet and Hubbard (: ).

The Sidus Iulium in Early Augustan Poetry



bright star (alba . . . stella, –) that calms rough seas for sailors. The poem’s Pindaric man/hero/god division further disintegrates in the next stanza’s treatment of illustrious figures from Roman history, from Romulus (deified as the god Quirinus) to Numa Pompilius, Tarquinius Superbus, Cato the Younger, Regulus, and other great men who live on within Roman legend – a point that Horace underscores by invoking the “Muse who grants fame” (insigni . . . Camena, ). Finally, in the next stanza, he arrives at the climax of the priamel (–): crescit occulto velut arbor aevo fama Marcelli; micat inter omnis Iulium sidus velut inter ignis luna minores. The fame of Marcellus grows like a tree with the unseen passage of time; among all shines the Julian star like the moon among lesser lights.

Augustus’ heir and son-in-law Marcellus, who died around the time of this poem’s publication, would be the obvious referent here for most readers, despite his more famous namesake Marcus Claudius Marcellus. Line  revises the metaphor of a young man’s body growing imperceptibly like a tree in the tragic context of Iliad .; though Marcellus’ life was cut short, his fama would at least continue to grow in forms like Horace’s poem. Moreover, while the phrase Iulium sidus draws on Greek epic and lyric similes comparing mortals to stars, it also refers to  







See Nisbet and Hubbard (: ) for parallels. The nautical imagery bears relevance to the Roman ship of state, guided by Augustus under the Julian star. Cf. Heinze () ad loc. Commentators including Fraenkel (: ), Nisbet and Hubbard (: ), and Brown () have struggled to define the governing principle behind this catalogue; perhaps it is simply the greatness, rather than goodness, of their fama. Confusion over the referent of Marcelli, discussed below, encouraged Shackleton Bailey (), following Peerlkamp, to amend to the plural Marcellis; I follow Wickham’s Oxford Classical Text (). The conqueror of Syracuse and winner of the spolia opima in  BCE; Plut. Vit. Marc.  relates that an inscription on a statue labeled him the “star of his country.” Some unconvincingly argue that this poem’s supposed lack of sorrow (compared with Aen. .– and Prop. .) means the young Marcellus must have been alive at the time of publication. Cf. also Harrison ( and : –) on Marcellus’ spolia opima at Aen. .– as a response to M. Licinius Crassus’ claim to that honor in  BCE. E.g., Il. . and .; Alcm. .–; Eur. Hipp. ; Callim. fr. .; Ap. Rhod. . and .–; and Alc. Anth. P. .. (Nisbet and Hubbard : –). However, most of these are applied to young men (and sometimes women, in romantic contexts). The exceptions are Il. ., which likens the mature Hector to a baleful star (a precedent for Aen. .–, discussed below), and the fragment of Alcaeus, which refers to Homer as the “star” of the Muses and Graces. Moreover, all these are true similes, while the Iulium sidus operates as a metaphor.



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

Caesar’s deification and transfers a generalized sense of divinity to Augustus’ entire house. In fact, given the asyndetic connection between the fama Marcelli and the Iulium sidus, Gordon Williams takes the latter to refer to the  BCE marriage between Marcellus and Julia and the dynastic expectations it may have engendered. In outshining all lesser lights – metaphorically, the reputations of other great men – the sidus harkens back to the star of the deified Castor and Pollux (–). Yet it also gently corrects the assertions of genealogical divinity propounded by the divus Iulius coins and posits limits to Augustus’ status as divi filius. The grammatical parallelism between fama in the first clause () and Iulium sidus in the second () equates the two conceptually, rendering the sidus here a metaphor for greatness rather than a proof of katasterism. Horace’s Iulium sidus, then, is more than a mere indicator of physical beauty and promise, as in the Greek literary precedents, but less than a proof of his divinity, as Octavian’s coins suggest. The point would be poignantly clear to readers after  BCE, when Marcellus’ early death at least temporarily defeated Augustus’ attempts to perpetuate his lineage. Horace’s placement of the sidus Iulium firmly within the section of the ode that treats mortals (–), rather than gods (–) or deified heroes like Hercules (–), further clarifies that Caesar’s divinity must be understood metaphorically rather than literally. Moreover, Horace goes on to specify that the self-styled divi filius rules by the grace of Jupiter (–) and only so long as he holds himself second to the god. Addressing Jupiter, he writes, “you will rule with Caesar as your deputy” (tu secundo / Caesare regnes, –), and “he [Caesar] will justly rule the joyful world, holding himself less than you” (te minor laetum reget aequus orbem, ). The latter line, however, already undermines itself by arrogating some of Jupiter’s stanzaic territory to Augustus. Thus, well into Augustus’ principate, at a moment when his succession seemed threatened and the legacy of his achievement insecure, Horace revisits the sidus Iulium to meditate on Julian greatness and its limits. In his hands, the emblem delicately circumscribes Augustus’ unprecedented but nevertheless mortal power, while also pointing to the physical mortality of his heir apparent – a fact that no consoling words could erase. Certainly, the amusingly literal vision with which Horace begins the Odes, of striking “the stars with [his] sublime head” (sublimi feriam sidera vertice, ..) if Maecenas rates him among the lyric poets, suggests a similar tension between poets’ ambition 

Williams (: ).

The Sidus Iulium in Early Augustan Poetry



for immortality and their reliance on material texts and readers that reemerges in subsequent chapters. Propertius . (c.  BCE) responds in elegiac vein to Horace’s lyric meditations on mortality. Cursing even the Campanian landscape that brought death to Marcellus, the poet asks what all the young man’s gifts and privileges availed him; he still lies dead in his twentieth year (–). In answer to Horace’s tripartite division between states of being, Propertius’ poem flattens men out; great or small, all must board Charon’s ferry. Yet finally, in an address to the boatman, the poet adds one ray of hope (–): at tibi nauta pias hominum qui traicit umbras hac animae portet corpus inane suae qua Siculae victor telluris Claudius et qua Caesar ab humana cessit in astra via. But may the sailor who ferries the pious shades of men carry your body, empty of its soul, on the way by which Claudius, conqueror of the land of Sicily, and Caesar passed from the human path to the stars.

In other words, Marcellus’ body must cross to the Underworld, but his soul is liberated to follow Marcus Claudius Marcellus’ and Caesar’s from the human world to the stars. The linkage of these latter two figures naturalizes the idea of apotheosis and contextualizes it within the long sweep of Roman history; if Caesar’s official deification can be likened to Marcus Claudius Marcellus’ fame, and even the young Marcellus can aspire to the same, then apotheosis is little more than a euphemistic metaphor. Moreover, the hesitant and self-contradictory thought process by which the narrator displays himself as arriving at this semi-hopeful conclusion suggests that deification may ultimately have more to do with the mental state of the bereaved than the ontological status of the dead. Thus, the sidus here, again, serves mixed messages. Against the bleak backdrop of the rest of the poem, the final promise of metaphorical apotheosis shines out all the more brightly, in a form that evokes the Julian star (Caesar ab humana cessit in astra via). On the other hand, it is significant that both Propertius . and Horace . employ this image in the context of a recent death in the Julian family. The star’s permanence  

Here I adopt the text of Heyworth (). Heyworth and Morwood (: –) point out the confusion here between heaven and the Elysian Fields as separate fates for the blessed dead (cf. ..–).



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

consoles insofar as it represents the glory of the house, but poignantly contrasts with the mortality of individual members.

. Sidereal Signs in the Aeneid Vergil further develops some of these concerns in the Aeneid through a constellation of allusions to the sidus Iulium. While the narrative arc of the Aeneid presents Julian supremacy as both genealogically and divinely ordained, individual passages use the Caesarian comet/star to tease out some differences between these two conceptions of greatness, in ways that also put Caesar and Augustus into shifting juxtaposition and foreground the difficulty of interpreting signs and events. Iulus’ interaction with Apollo at .– illustrates some of these tendencies while alluding to the imagistic nexus that surrounds the sidus Iulium in the Aeneid: long hair, arrows’ flights, divine intervention, and paternal example, along with heavenly bodies and (often twin) flames. In this passage, the Italian Numanus Remulus, who recently married Turnus’ sister and is over-proud of his new standing (tumidusque novo praecordia regno, ), baits the Trojans as “twice-conquered” (bis capti Phryges, ) and “women, not men” (o vere Phrygiae, neque enim Phryges, ). Insinuating that the Trojans have come to Italy through madness, rather than divine mandate (quis deus Italiam, quae vos dementia adegit?, ), Remulus promotes an explicitly cultural, nurture- rather than nature-based conception of greatness. Positing a Herodotean division between hard and soft cultures, he says that the Italians’ georgic lifestyle and material poverty make them tougher in war than the idle and luxurious Trojans. In his view, greatness is something that men pass down to their children through experience and upbringing rather than through genetics. But the rest of this passage revisits this suggestion in ways that reflect on the Divus Iulius and divi filius. After a prayer to Jupiter, Iulus attempts to realign the Trojans with harder cultures through a Laconic retort and a successful shot: i, verbis virtutem inlude superbis! / bis capti Phryges haec Rutulis responsa remittent (“Go, laugh at virtus with proud words! The twice-captured Trojans send the Rutulians this reply,” –). This 



E.g., at .–, Acestes’ flaming arrow at .–, the helmet of Romulus at .–, .–, and .–, some briefly noted in generally optimistic readings by West (a) and Williams (); this meshes with fire imagery observed most famously by Knox (). Compare Aeneas’ advice to Iulus to learn virtue and labor from him, fortune from others (.–).



Sidereal Signs in the Aeneid

statement has a deictic effect: Iulus implicitly associates virtus with the prowess he is about to demonstrate in battle, as underlined by Jupiter’s favor. But crinitus (“long-haired”) Apollo, looking down on the battle from a cloud (–), raises some themes associated with the sidus crinitum when he comments: macte nova virtute, puer, sic itur ad astra, dis genite et geniture deos. iure omnia bella gente sub Assaraci fato ventura resident, nec te Troia capit.

( )

Bravo on your newfound virtus, boy; this is the way to the stars, you who were born from gods and will engender gods. All the wars that fate brings will rightly subside under the house of Assaracus, and Troy cannot contain you.

In a reminder of the Stoic conception of immortality so frequently symbolized by the star, Apollo comments that the virtus Iulus has just demonstrated will pave his way toward godhood: sic itur ad astra (“this is the way to the stars,” .). Yet he also evokes a genealogical element of godhood when he calls Iulus dis genite et geniture deos (“born from gods and destined to engender gods”) at Aen. .. This not only double-determines the Julians’ link to the gods, but also revisits the tension between meritocratic and dynastic justifications of Julian supremacy – what John Crook has called the “paradox of a regime ostensibly founded on the principle of election to offices, all of whose successive rulers . . . thought in dynastic terms about the succession.” The matter is further complicated when Apollo assumes mortal form to warn the boy to refrain from further warfare (“May it be enough, son of Aeneas, that Numanus has perished unavenged by your arrows; great Apollo concedes you this first victory and does not grudge you equal arms; but keep out of the rest of the battle, boy,” sit satis, Aenide, telis impune Numanum / oppetiisse tuis. primam hanc tibi magnus Apollo / concedit laudem et paribus non invidet armis; / cetera parce, puer, bello, –). There is an echo here of the message of Horace Odes .; this descendant of Aeneas must carry himself beneath the gods and learn the limits of his power. Yet it is interesting that Iulus himself does not want to heed this message; riding the Trojans’ wave of exultation at his successful shot (animosque ad sidera tollunt, ), he remains eager for battle (avidum



: .



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

pugnae, ) and evidently unmindful of the god. It is the Trojan elders (proceres, ) who recognize the epiphany and restrain Iulus. Here, therefore, Apollo serves to intervene anthropomorphically in the action, but also to comment metaphorically on appropriate responses to success. His encouragement of Iulus, not explicitly marked as having been heard by anyone, may – in keeping with the oscillation between subjective and objective conceptions of godhead in the epic and especially this book – reflect Iulus’ own hope that military success will help him win eternal fame and escape the curse of Troy. Yet Apollo’s words as the fatherly Butes qualify if not contradict the exultant message that Iulus takes away, and would have gone unheard by the young prince had not the proceres (an element of society notably weakened in Augustus’ time) exerted a tempering influence. This scene thus presents a kaleidoscopic range of visions of greatness – as based on nurture, nature, success, and humility – that mirror the mixed messages of Roman culture and foreground the difficulty of following up a victory. Moreover, though Apollo’s appearance here only subtly recollects the imagery and particularly the Stoic thought behind the sidus Iulium, the poem’s reception in the form of Propertius ., discussed in Section .. below, confirms the link. In keeping with its role elsewhere as a hermeneutic touchstone, the sidus Iulium also underlies a series of omens that predict Julian ascendancy but assume increasingly menacing form within the Aeneid. Taken together, these highlight the difficulty of interpreting signs – a lesson that applies also to the comet of  BCE, which had promised peace at Eclogues .– but predicted war at Georgics .. For instance, as Anchises balks at fleeing Troy along with Aeneas, mysterious flames dance upon Iulus’ hair without consuming it (.–). This Vergilian innovation draws on the legend of Servius Tullius, as depicted by Ennius (Ann.  fr. . Skutsch) and later by Livy (.), while also conflating it with the sidus Iulium. The references to comas at  and crinem at  recall the etymology of the terms sidus crinitum and cometes in the “hair” that radiates from comets, certainly alluding to Iulus’ status as progenitor of the gens Julia. However, Iulus’ flaming hair, like the comet itself, elicits mixed responses. Aeneas and Creusa are overcome by panic and attempt to quench the fire (–),  



Compare Nisus’ speculation that people make gods of their own desires (.–). Cf. Serv. Dan. ad loc., Austin (: ), and Casali (a: ). In Livy’s account, as the boy Servius Tullius was sleeping, his hair caught fire and marked him out publicly as Tarquinius’ heir; he eventually won the throne through Tanaquil’s machinations. For this etymology, cf. Avienus apud Serv. Dan. ad Aen. ., discussed above. This wordplay confirms these flames’ evocation of the comet associated with Caesar.

Sidereal Signs in the Aeneid



while Anchises welcomes it as a favorable omen and prays for heavenly confirmation (–). This appears in the form of thunder to the left and a meteor (stella facem ducens, ) that trails through the sky and lands on Ida – another visual echo of the Caesarian comet. Subsequent books, however, dramatize Anchises’ and other mortals’ fallibility and render Julian hair/comet imagery a locus for interpretive debate. For instance, comet-like flames surround Lavinia’s hair to more dire effect at Aen. .–: praeterea, castis adolet dum altaria taedis, et iuxta genitorem adstat Lavinia virgo, visa (nefas) longis comprendere crinibus ignem atque omnem ornatum flamma crepitante cremari, regalisque accensa comas, accensa coronam insignem gemmis; tum fumida lumine fulvo involvi ac totis Volcanum spargere tectis. id vero horrendum ac visu mirabile ferri: namque fore inlustrem fama fatisque canebant ipsam, sed populo magnum portendere bellum. Afterward, when the altar smoked with pure torches, and the virgin Lavinia stood near her father, her long hair (horror!) seemed to catch fire and her whole attire seemed to burn with a crackling flame; her regal hair was ablaze, her crown was ablaze, adorned with gems; then, full of smoke, she was engulfed by a tawny light and shed fire throughout the whole house. This was truly a frightening and amazing sight, it was reported: for they prophes ied that she herself would become renowned in fame and destiny, but it portended great war for the people.

This omen’s double significance here – fame for Lavinia, but a great war for her people – easily applies also to the Julian comet, a sign of glory for Caesar and Augustus but most immediately of continued civil strife for Rome. Imagery reminiscent of the sidus Iulium prefaces civil war elsewhere in the Aeneid, too. Syme regarded the shield of Aeneas as the prime example of the poets’ conscious silence about Caesar in order to spare Augustus any embarrassment by association. Yet though Caesar is nowhere depicted on the shield, he is effectively present at its very center: in the portrait of  

See also O’Hara (). “The shield of Aeneas allows a brief glimpse of the future life, on the one side Catilina in hell, tormented by furies for ever, on the other an ideal Cato, usefully legislating among the blessed dead . . . Virgil did not need to say where Caesar belonged – with his revolutionary ally or with the venerable adversary whose memory he had traduced after death” (Syme : ). See also White ().



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

Augustus with the “star of his fathers” above his head as he faces Antony and Cleopatra at Actium (Aen. .–): hinc Augustus agens Italos in proelia Caesar cum patribus populoque, penatibus et magnis dis, stans celsa in puppi, geminas cui tempora flammas laeta vomunt patriumque aperitur vertice sidus. Here on the towering stern stands Caesar Augustus, leading the Italians into battle along with the senate and people, the penates and great gods; his glad forehead shoots forth twin flames, and his father’s star appears on the crown of his head.

By depicting Augustus at this climactic moment with the patrium sidus above his head, Vergil creates a striking visual analogy between the princeps and Caesar, who was depicted almost identically on coins after his statue in the forum was crowned with a star and who appears in this guise even in provincial statuary. Contrary to Syme’s argument that the star was used to obscure similarities between “the power and domination” of Augustus and the dictator, Vergil’s use of it here on the shield effectively renders Augustus as the dictator. Aeneas’ uncomprehending response to the shield (“he rejoices in the image, ignorant of the events, and lifts to his shoulder  



As Gransden observes (: ), the center of the shield itself occupies the middle of the ekphrasis, and the name “Augustus” occurs in the Aeneid only here and at .. Cf. an aureus of Agrippa (Crawford, RRC /, obverse; Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , Gaul no. ), a denarius of Augustus (Sutherland, RIC I, p. , no. , reverse; Mattingly, BMCRE I, p. , no. ), and the denarius of Octavian depicting a star in the pediment of the temple of Divus Iulius, directly above the statue’s head (Figure .). This statue must have been prominent, but its location is problematic: Augustus (in Plin. HN .) and Suetonius (Iul. ) state that it was dedicated in foro, but Cassius Dio (..) specifies that it was in the Temple of Venus Genetrix. Ramsey and Licht (: n) therefore take in foro to refer to the new Julian Forum, unless the statue was kept there only temporarily before being moved to the Temple of Divus Iulius when that was dedicated in the Forum Romanum in  BCE. A bas-relief found in Carthage, thought to be a copy of an Augustan original, appears to depict the Mars Ultor triad of Venus Genetrix, Mars Ultor, and Divus Iulius with a hole above his head for a bronze star to be affixed; cf. Gsell (: –). Of course, it is possible that the star was affixed later, perhaps under the influence of accounts like Vergil’s. In a gloss on aperitur vertice sidus at , Servius Danielis reports that, after the comet appeared over the funeral games, Augustus set stars on the foreheads of all the statues he devoted to Caesar’s godhead and began wearing a star on his own helmet. I can find no evidence for this, and earlier sources merely attest the addition of a star to one statue of Caesar. Perhaps Servius’ possible misapprehension reflects an eventual imaginative conflation of Caesar and Augustus via the symbol of the star, which had accompanied both figures on coins and other media; it certainly supports my argument that Vergil’s portrait of Augustus at .– evoked Caesar. It is also notable that Augustus as depicted on the shield resembles Aeneas, who has just received a flaming helmet from Venus at . (terribilem cristis galeam flammasque vomentem) and wears it to enter battle at .–. Williams (: ) notes its similarity to the helmets of Turnus (Aen. .–) and Diomedes (Il. ., this given him by Athena), creating another unsettling resemblance between Aeneas and his enemies.

Sidereal Signs in the Aeneid



the fame and fate of his descendants,” rerumque ignarus imagine gaudet, / attollens umero famamque et fata nepotum, –) therefore puts him into parallel with Vergil’s contemporary audience, unable to pass judgment yet on the consequences and significance of the events around them. On the shield, the twin flames on Augustus’ temples (geminas . . . tempora flammas, .) recall the comet-like flames on Iulus’ and Lavinia’s hair at .– and .– and the “twin crests” and mysterious “sign” that Mars adds to Romulus’ head at .– (viden, ut geminae stant vertice cristae / et pater ipse suo superum iam signat honore). Similar flames appear around Aeneas’ head, in turn, when he joins battle against the Italians at Aen. .–: ardet apex capiti cristisque a vertice flamma funditur et vastos umbo vomit aureus ignis: non secus ac liquida si quando nocte cometae sanguinei lugubre rubent, aut Sirius ardor ille sitim morbosque ferens mortalibus aegris nascitur et laevo contristat lumine caelum. A tongue of fire burns on his head and a flame pours from the top of his crest and his golden shield boss pours forth extensive fire: just as when at times bloody comets blaze balefully in the clear night, or the fiery Dog Star rises, bringing thirst and disease to suffering mortals, and darkens the sky with its sinister light.

This passage reworks the Homeric star similes describing Hector (Il. .–) and Achilles (Il. .–) into a form specifically reminiscent of the sidus Iulium, given the linkage of Aeneas’ destiny with flaming hair and comets elsewhere in the Aeneid. In fact, Aeneas is now carrying the very shield on which Augustus is depicted with the patrium sidus, underscoring the analogy between the two men. Here, however, as Aeneas prepares for war, the comparison between flaming hair (ardet apex, ) 





The passage’s meaning hinges on whether we take superum, with Servius, as an accusative referring to Romulus: “Do you see how twin crests stand from his head, and his father himself already marks him as divine with his own honor?” This would suggest by analogy that the sidus Iulium, the star of Augustus’ fathers, marks him out as divine on the shield of Aeneas; Romulus was reportedly among the ancestral images displayed at Augustus’ funeral (Cass. Dio ..). Williams () objects ad loc. that such a use would be unparalleled, preferring to take superum as genitive plural, that is, “the very father of the gods marks him out already with his own honor,” i.e., Jupiter’s thunderbolt. For the twin flames, cf. O’Hara () at Aen. ., Rebeggiani (), and Putnam (: ). Harrison (: ) takes apex as “tongue of flame” rather than “helmet-top” (as at .–) and capiti as locative. He and Conte () also accept a Renaissance conjecture of tristisque for cristisque at , heightening the sinister aspect of the flame but reducing parallels with ., ., and .. Other precedents include Diomedes in Il. . and Jason in Ap. Rhod. ., both compared to Sirius.



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

and comets (cometae / sanguinei lugubre rubent, –) finally becomes explicit – and explicitly menacing. David West attempts to explain these troubling undertones by arguing that the passage is focalized around the Rutulians and that “it is a good thing in war to frighten one’s enemies.” Yet the passage forces readers to share this unsettling perspective and to reinterpret this sign of Julian greatness from the perspective of its victims. Ramsey and Licht, in turn, have cited this passage to argue that the comet of  would have been interpreted negatively by default and thus required “spin” on Octavian’s part. But Vergil’s passage, written some twenty years later, more likely reflects the dual interpretations of that comet that had become evident in hindsight. Just as flaming hair within the Aeneid indicates the glorious Julian destiny that will first impel Aeneas to war in Italy, the Julian comet heralded not only Augustus’ eventual supremacy but also the decade of civil strife that preceded it. These successive Virgilian passages, therefore, evoke comet imagery in order to expose difficulties in interpreting the sidus Iulium and the eventualities that continued to unfold.

. The Julian Comet on Coins of the s–s BCE Around the time that Vergil was writing, the sidus was beginning to take new form on Roman coins. In its early days as an icon, it had appeared as the star traditionally associated with both Stoic and Olympian godhood; in the late s or early teens BCE, however, it began to acquire the streaming “hair” characteristic of a comet. This iconographical innovation need not mark the conscious propagation of an “Augustan myth,” as Gurval would have it; rather, much in keeping with the literary treatments of Vergil and Horace, it reflects ongoing conversations about the nature, origin, and future of Augustus’ reign. Around this time, Augustus’ Commentarii, published in the mid-s, revisited the circumstances surrounding the comet and Caesar’s deification; the temple of Divus Iulius gained new prominence with the addition of an arch likely commemorating military successes in  and , including the return of the Parthian standards; and the Ludi Saeculares of  framed Augustus’ reign as the beginning of a new age for Rome – one felt retrospectively to have been heralded by the comet of . In keeping with such public displays, the comet’s numismatic emergence during this period appears to mark the reign of Augustus as divinely preordained, whereas the star on coins of the s and s had simply claimed Caesar’s divine auspices for their various issuing parties. Still further recent developments may have fueled anxiety about the principate’s future: 

West (a: ); see also Feldherr (: ).



Gurval (: ).

The Julian Comet on Coins of the s–s BCE



Figure . Denarius of Augustus,   BCE. Head of Augustus (obverse); eight rayed comet (reverse). Sutherland, RIC I, p. , no. a = Mattingly, BMCRE I, p. , nos.  . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.

Augustus’ grave illness in  and the new constitutional settlement that followed; the death of Marcellus that same year, in the midst of plague and food shortages; and the mysterious conspiracies against Augustus’ life by Fannius Caepio and Murena around  and by M. Egnatius Rufus in . To a Roman handling coins around this time, the striking new image of the comet – with its motion through the sky and its association with the coup of  – would recall the process by which Caesar became a god and Octavian gained power. It would also serve as a tool by which to think through the princeps’ role in Caesar’s deification and susceptibility to similar apotheosis – questions that later received sustained attention from the poets. The comet first appears in a set from the “uncertain Spanish mints” that issued gold and silver coins from the late s into the early s. These denarii bear the head of Augustus on the obverse, now labeled as AVGVSTVS in his own right rather than as Caesar’s son. On the reverse, an eight-rayed comet with the legend DIVVS IVLIVS, variously placed, metonymically represents Caesar (Figure .). This comet, identifiable as



 

Crook (: –) surveys this period, noting that Cassius Dio “stresses the unpopularity of Augustus at this time, and even makes  BCE the beginning of plots against him and against Agrippa” (). Cf. Gurval (: ). Sutherland, RIC I, p. , nos. a-b and a-b and ; Mattingly, BMCRE I, p. , nos. –, ; Giard, CBN – and –; see Gurval (: ) and figures –.



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

Figure . Denarius of Augustus,  BCE. Herald of games (obverse); youthful head with comet above (reverse). Sutherland, RIC I, p. , no.  = Mattingly, BMCRE I, p. , no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.

such by the hair trailing from its top ray, evokes the etymology of the terms cometes and stella crinita and may play visually on the homophony of Caesar and caesaries (“hair”). Moreover, while the unchanging star had represented Caesar’s state of godhood, the comet’s mobility within the heavens, its political role in  BCE, and the upward motion implied by its streaming “hair” suggest greater attention to the process by which Caesar ascended to the stars. Given the contemporary political climate, such a design might well reflect or inspire increased attention to Augustus’ role in deifying Caesar as well as his own potential for deification. Caesar’s heir was seen to take an active role in the cult of Divus Iulius, for instance, on the mid-s denarius associating him with Caesar’s temple (discussed above; Figure .). Here in the West, moreover, he allowed if not encouraged cults to himself: the first was established, with his permission, in  BCE in Celtic Spain, around the time and place that this coin was minted. Given this context and Augustus’ recent poor health at Tarraco, could the close association between the comet on the reverse and the head of Augustus on the obverse of Figure . suggest that Divus Iulius’ august son was capable of making a similar transition to the stars? A later set (Figure .), issued in  BCE by M. Sanquinius to commemorate the Ludi Saeculares, converts the comet into the herald of a new  

Festus (s.v. “Caesar”) offers this as the derivation of Caesar’s cognomen, and the star/comet frequently appears in or atop figures’ hair on coins discussed above. Cf., e.g., Plin. HN .; for discussion and further evidence, cf. Fishwick (, vol. : ).

The Julian Comet on Coins of the s–s BCE



Figure . Denarius of Augustus,  BCE. Head of Augustus (obverse); Augustus placing star on head of half clad figure of Divus Iulius carrying Victory and spear (reverse). Sutherland, RIC I, p. , no.  = Mattingly, BMCRE I, p. , nos.   = Grueber, BMCRR II, p. , Rome nos.   = Seaby, RSC p. , no. . Courtesy of the American Numismatic Society.

saeculum that reflected Augustus’ glory as much as Caesar’s. Even greater symbolic potency, though, resides in the denarius (Figure .) issued by L. Lentulus in  BCE, the year Augustus at last succeeded Lepidus in the office of pontifex maximus and became the subject of a great imperial cult center founded by Drusus at Lugdunum. On the obverse, an eternally youthful Augustus is identified simply by his honorific name AVGVSTVS; by now, his legitimacy no longer derives from his relationship to Caesar via the title divi filius, as in Figures . and .. On the reverse, Augustus – identifiable by his clupeus virtutis – is setting a star upon the head of a heroically semi-nude statue of Caesar, which in turn is carrying a spear and a figure of Victory. This constitutes a striking visual echo of the Caesarian coin in Figure .: Caesar has now taken the place of his own patron 



The legend on the obverse, here partially obscured, reads AVGVST DIVI F LVDOS SAE. The reverse features a comet atop an unidentified figure’s head, variously linked with the deified Caesar “rejuvenated,” the Genius of the games, or the Genius of the Julian gens (Gurval : ). The difficulty of settling the question suggests a growing slippage between Caesar and the more youthful Augustus. Some have speculated that this coin reflects the appearance of another comet in , but the evidence is hardly convincing; see Weinstock (: n), Gurval (: , esp. nn. –), and Ramsey (: –). In its clear recollection of the comet of  BCE, the image appropriately marks the dawn of a new saeculum under Augustus (Zanker : ). See Fishwick (, vol. : ) for this center, dated to  BCE on the evidence of Cassius Dio (..), though Suetonius offers testimony for an altar dedicated in  (Claud. .). As Ramsey notes (: –), this year also marked the return of Halley’s comet, possibly among the portents surrounding Agrippa’s death (Cass. Dio ..) but not previously linked with the Lentulus coin.



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

goddess Venus, carrying her scepter and Victory, while Augustus has taken the place of Caesar. This image also ascribes to Augustus a far higher degree of control over Caesar’s deification than any source up to this time. Augustus’ Commentarii refer to the addition of a star to Caesar’s bust in the passive voice, as a formal acknowledgment of the people’s belief in his divinity (quo nomine id insigne simulacro capitis eius, quod mox in foro consecravimus, adiectum est, Plin. HN .., above). In contrast, the Lentulus coin depicts Augustus in the very act of crowning Caesar with the star, and the relative sizes and positions of the two figures reinforce the idea that power is flowing from the princeps to his ‘father’ rather than the other way around. Of all extant references to the sidus Iulium, therefore, this coin suggests for the first time that Augustus in some sense made Caesar a god and shifts the focus from Caesar’s greatness to Augustus’. It thus seems to indicate a change in perceptions of Augustus as his power matured, as well as a renewed interest in Caesar’s deification and Octavian’s accession – a sequence of events by no means inevitable at the time but rationalizable in retrospect as causal and intended.

. The Sidus Iulium in Later Augustan Poetry The shift in visual representations of the sidus Iulium around the time of the Ludi Saeculares finds a parallel, too, in contemporaneous literature. While the mature Propertius and the younger Ovid and Manilius explore diverse positions vis-à-vis the principate, they share a historical perspective that allowed them to adopt retrospective, even teleological, views of Caesar’s deification as symbolized by the sidus Iulium. Propertius . and Ovid’s Metamorphoses , for instance, each present anachronistic and rationalizing responses to the sidus that comment on contemporary perceptions of the inevitability of Augustus’ apotheosis and the level of power he was felt to exert over Roman culture and even history. ..

Propertius .

Though only a few years separate Propertius . from ., discussed above, the two poems’ outlooks seem worlds apart – in keeping with the 

Overlooked by Gurval but in Weinstock (, plate .); Mattingly, BMCRE I, p. , no. ; Giard, CBN –; Sutherland, RIC I, p. , nos. –; and Zanker (: , fig. a–b). White (: n) and Koortbojian (: ) review other, less convincing identifications for these figures.

The Sidus Iulium in Later Augustan Poetry



poet’s often-noted shift toward a closer relationship with the Augustan regime in his final book of elegies. Written around  BCE, the year of a quadrennial festival in honor of Actium (Cass. Dio .) and the year after the Ludi Saeculares, Propertius . strikes a more festive note than ., and on its surface appears to deproblematize Vergil’s treatment of the sidus Iulium within the Aeneid. At –, for instance, Propertius treats Julian divinity literally rather than metaphorically, portraying the deified Caesar as a god looking down upon Augustus’ victory at Actium much as Apollo did upon Iulus in Aeneid : at pater Idalio miratur Caesar ab astro: “sum deus: est nostri sanguinis ista fides.”

Richter emends Caesar’s first three words to tu deus es out of interpretive discomfort: surely, Caesar’s divinity ought to underpin Augustus’ rather than vice versa. But the logical inversion is interpretively significant. Here, as in the Lentulus coin, it is Augustus’ greatness that ensures Caesar’s, resulting in the strangely tautological declaration sum deus. The next clause is also problematic. Several editors have emended the est to en so that the statement points more deictically to Augustus’ victory at Actium: “behold, this [i.e., your victory] is proof of our blood.” On this reading, Augustus enjoys a genealogical greatness (nostri sanguinis) that is expressed and confirmed by his great deeds (en . . . ista fides). But if we retain est, the lack of a clear external referent for ista fides again makes a provocative statement. It most naturally refers to the preceding clause: “I am a god: and this [i.e., the fact of my deification] is proof of our bloodline.” This couplet as transmitted by the major  





See Camps (: ) for the date and occasion; discussions of its relation with Vergil include Connor () and Caston (). I cautiously use Heyworth’s () Oxford Classical Text in comparison with Fedeli’s () Teubner, explaining my choices as relevant; see below for the difficult line , which I print as transmitted by N, F, L, P, and V. Here I follow the reading of most manuscripts, sum deus est (favored by Heyworth over Fedeli’s tu deus est). Metamorphoses .–, the passage that Richter uses to rationalize his emendation (: ), also justifies the sense “I am a god: this is proof of our divinity.” Rather than emend sanguinis to numinis, we must understand the word in its extended sense of “inborn quality” (Camps) or, better, “bloodline” (Hall, referring to the Julians’ descent from Venus). As Heyworth explains it, “the victory at Actium gains credit for the myth of the origin of the Julii, and so ensures the godhead of Divus Julius” (a: ); see also Stahl (: n). Hutchinson identifies good, if inexact, parallels to this statement in Zeus’ speech in Pind. Nem. . and Laertes’ at Od. ., finding that Caesar “affirms his own deity, as if it had been uncertain even to him until Augustus proved it” (: ). The emendation of est to en was proposed by Markland following manuscripts known to Gebhard (Heyworth a: ; see note  above).



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

manuscripts thus provides radically antithetical visions of Divus Iulius’ ontological status and relation to Augustus: line  envisions him literally dwelling among the stars and approving his son’s accomplishments, while line  suggests his divinity was somehow engineered by Augustus. The self-unraveling logic behind this patriotic depiction comments more broadly on the manifold, sometimes irreconcilable readings that imperial representations elicit. Propertius .’s self-consciousness about its own status as a second-order representation is evident by comparison with Horace’s “Cleopatra Ode” on the same event (.; see also Section .). Horace frames this poem as an immediate, spontaneous response to news of Cleopatra’s death (nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero, ), even though the book was published years later, around  BCE. Propertius ., however, advertises its distance both temporally and topographically from Actium: it begins (–) with vatic preparation for a celebration that appears to take place around  BCE at the Palatine temple to Apollo. On the face of it, Propertius . appears to conduct an ideal reading of the building, recounting the poet’s ritual transportation across time and space to become an imaginative eyewitness to the original battle in  BCE. On the other hand, much like poetic critiques of this building and the triumph examined in subsequent chapters, this elegy illustrates representations’ ability to shape – or misshape – readers’ perceptions of distant events. The poem not only literalizes the Julian star and the Palatine’s account of events, but also pastiches some notoriously tendentious prior depictions of Actium, most notably on the shield of Aeneas at Aen. .– (discussed in detail in Chapter ). Propertius’ suggestion that the whole world had gathered at Actium (..–) amplifies the globalizing tendencies of Vergil’s description despite historical evidence that the actual battle was an underwhelming affair. In another exaggeration, where Vergil’s Augustus bore twin flames and the “star of his fathers” above his head (), Propertius’ has triple flames and is attended above by both



 

Some link the poem with a  BCE coin labeled APOLLINI ACTIO (Sutherland, RIC I p. , nos. –) or a  BCE celebration of the Ludi Quinquennales, held every four years to commemorate Augustus’ victory at Actium, though Cairns (: –) envisions a (possibly imagined) festival performance and Hutchinson (: ) thinks it is not associated with a specific occasion. Cf. Cairns (). And likely other sources, not all of which survive: compare the language of RG  (bella terra et mari civilia externaque toto in orbe terrarum suscepi victorque omnibus veniam petentibus civibus peperci) and the numismatic use of the globe. Syme characterized the battle as a “shabby affair” glamorized by the Augustan propaganda machine (: ).

The Sidus Iulium in Later Augustan Poetry



Apollo and Caesar – giving concrete, personified form to the sidus’ indeterminate suggestion of divine support. Throughout, in fact, . presents a highly visual, two-dimensional patina that suggests we are looking at an aesthetic surface like the Palatine temple itself. The poem’s static quality, preoccupation with spatial arrangement, and interest in labeling and differentiating the gods – most evident in the scene-setting at – before Apollo’s monologue – align it with ekphrases of artistic objects rather than epic battle narratives. The description of the water as painted (radiis picta tremebat aqua, ) further collapses elegiac text, visual art, and the narrator’s understanding of reality. We again catch the poet’s eye at work, responding to the Palatine’s many sculptural representations of Apollo Citharoedus (Figure .), when he specifies that Apollo did not appear in this unwarlike guise at Actium (non ille attulerat crinis in colla solutos / aut testudineae carmen inerme lyrae, –). From one perspective, then, this poem explores the consequences of looking back at history through the warping lens of representations like the sidus Iulium, the Palatine temple, and the poetic dialogue that was developing around both. Despite the narrator’s self-positioning as a vates, the densely intertextual fabric of his poem makes it clear that his revisitation of Actium relies on secondary sources, from Vergil’s Aeneid to Augustan visual culture. Such sources, moreover, give readers the onesided view of past events that Propertius’ poem itself embodies. Absent, here, are the sympathy for the enemy that Horace demonstrated in Odes ., the sense of movement and drama on Aeneas’ shield, even the awe and mystery that Aeneas’ ignorant wonder conveys (miratur rerumque ignarus imagine gaudet, .). From the point of view of Propertius’ poem, the victory at Actium and the appearance of the sidus are a done deal before they even occur, already woven into the fabric of Roman history (–) and discourse. Caesar’s cartoonish cameo at – from the Julian star, now hypostasized from metaphor into object, becomes a solipsistic Q.E.D. stamping a textbook written by the victors. The elegiac loss commemorated by this genre-bending poem is none other than the fading of alternate perspectives that accompanies the elegiac muse’s surrender to Calliope at –, one that prior elegies like ./ had resisted (Section .). But the poem contains seeds of its own critique. Apollo, for instance, assures Augustus of victory and urges him to absolve Rome from fear (), but then proceeds to narrate the battle scene before them much as Anchises explains the Underworld to Aeneas in Aeneid  or the narrator describes the shield at Aeneid . Essentially, the god is ekphrasizing a



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

scene that Propertius’ poem represents as history, further blurring the bounds between mimesis and reality. Moreover, even during his most prominent military action, Augustus appears less as a general than as a voyant-visible – again highlighting the importance of the interpreting subject in constructing perceptions of reality. This becomes evident in Apollo’s otherwise inexplicable warning to Augustus that the centaurs on his enemies’ prows are merely painted (quodque vehunt prorae Centaurica saxa minantis, / tigna cava et pictos experiere metus, –). Why would the commander of the Roman world need such an elementary lesson? Perhaps these words encode a hermeneutic warning to readers. Propertius’ elegy, the Palatine complex, and other aspects of Roman discourse are implicated in the very process Apollo here describes: of overrepresenting the fearsomeness of the enemy, and the glory or godlikeness of the victor, particularly as time goes on. Propertius . is both an enactor and reminder of the process whereby successive representations flatten out complex events by making their outcomes seem fated and ingraining two-dimensional ways of viewing three-dimensional reality. Fifteen years after Actium and almost thirty after Caesar’s death, this poem inverts the relative standing of Caesar and Augustus, retroactively plants the Divine Julius as a real god on the scene at Actium, and paradoxically calls attention to the falsity of representational acts that clearly include its own. .. Gods and God-Makers in Ovid and Manilius Decades later, in his own treatment of the sidus Iulium, Ovid would develop these themes and further provoke readers to reexamine the icons and stories that shored up imperial power. As the first major poet who lived almost entirely under Augustus, Ovid (whether consciously or not) frequently retrojects his experience of the mature principate onto the events of , assigning the future princeps far more control over Caesar’s deification than was possible or attested at the time. For instance, in an extended comparison of Augustus and Romulus at Fasti .–, Ovid portrays the deification of Caesar as an expression of Augustus’ filial pietas. This ostensibly chimes with representations of Augustus such as the  

Smith () applies this term of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s to Aeneas in his capacity as someone who both sees and is seen. This line calls attention to its own mimetic quality through close recollection of Aen. .–: ingentem remis Centaurum promovet: ille / instat aquae saxumque undis immane minatur / arduus, et longa sulcat maria alta carina. For textual difficulties, see Heyworth (a: ).

The Sidus Iulium in Later Augustan Poetry



denarius linking Octavian with the temple of Divus Iulius (Figure .). But Ovid goes on to chide Romulus for relying on his father to deify him, in contrast to Augustus, who deified his own father (caelestem fecit te pater, ille patrem; “Your father made you a god, he made [his own] father [a god],” Fast. .). In keeping with the Lentulus coin, Ovid boldly reframes Caesar’s deification as a testament to Augustus’ powers as author: it was he who actively and alone turned Caesar into a god (caelestem fecit). It is one measure of the power and hermeneutic ambiguity of this idea that Manilius later modulated it into more reverend tones at Astronomica .–: ne dubites homini divinos credere visus iam facit ipse deos mittitque ad sidera numen maius et Augusto crescet sub principe caelum. Lest you hesitate to believe in the divine vision of man, now he himself makes gods and sends divinity to the stars, and beneath the dominion of Augustus will heaven grow mightier yet.

Whether Augustus still rules on earth or from heaven – the poem leaves it perhaps deliberately ambiguous – line  refers to Caesar’s deification, at least, as a product of human action. Moreover, by linking Augustus’ reign with heaven’s expansion at , Manilius encourages readers to identify the princeps himself as the likely agent of the deification at  and therefore proof of man’s divine nature as mentioned at . Manilius, following Ovid, thus transmutes the deification of  BCE from a reward for the dead Caesar’s merit into a sign of the living Augustus’ power. The difference between these belated poetic accounts and earlier historical evidence is striking. Gone are the turbulence of the triumviral period, the precariousness of Octavian’s position, and the silence about the role he played within the proceedings of . Instead, formulations like facit . . . deos, mittit . . . ad sidera numen, and caelestem fecit . . . pater all imply a clear power and purpose on the future princeps’ part to set Caesar among the stars. Evidently, toward the end of the principate, Caesar’s godhood had begun to appear a product of Augustus’ own godlike auctoritas rather than an enabling condition.





Augustus himself in the Res Gestae mentions avenging Caesar’s murderers () and building the temple of Divus Iulius (); these ideas may inform Ovid and Manilius’ depiction of the deification as an act of piety (quemque novum superis numen pius addidit ipse, Astr. .). I accept Volk’s argument for an Augustan date for books – (: –), though a Tiberian date would not affect my analysis.



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium .. Metamorphoses 

Ovid positively encourages such inversions of logic and chronology in his extended narrative of Julian apotheosis at Metamorphoses .–. Audiences have often taken as panegyrical the poet’s assertion that Caesar had to be made into a god in order for Augustus not to be born of mortal seed (ne foret hic igitur mortali semine cretus, / ille deus faciendus erat, .–). However, this statement also crystallizes to the point of parody Augustus’ hegemony within contemporary discourse. It was, of course, because of a confluence of precirculating beliefs, political circumstances, and Caesar’s own accomplishments – and not some prescient reverence for the teenage Octavian – that the people and senate voted Caesar a god in the first place. Yet Ovid frames the deification as a result prompted by a pro-Augustan purpose, illustrating how perceptions and narratives of past events could warp under the princeps’ gravity. Ovid further subordinates Caesar to Augustus through teleological reinterpretation when he claims that Caesar was deified less because of his own greatness than his offspring’s (Met. .–): Caesar in urbe sua deus est; quem Marte togaque praecipuum non bella magis finita triumphis resque domi gestae properataque gloria rerum in sidus vertere novum stellamque comantem, quam sua progenies; neque enim de Caesaris actis ullum maius opus, quam quod pater exstitit huius. Caesar is god in his own city Caesar, outstanding in war and peace, whom, more than wars concluded with triumphs, deeds accomplished at home, and the fast won glory of his accomplish ments, his own progeny turned into a new star and comet; for, from the works of Caesar, there is no greater achievement than the fact that he became the father of this man [Augustus].

The idea that Caesar’s “progeny” was responsible for his deification may be understood in at least two ways, as so often in Ovid. If we regard immortality in its Euhemeran sense as a reward for virtue, this statement flatters Augustus as the greatest of the many great accomplishments that 



Feeney (: ) observes that Ovid’s wording assigns sole credit to Augustus, obscuring the fact that the deification was a collective endeavor. Manilius, Astr. .– provides a comparandum for this ne clause in ascribing predetermined consequences to this long-past event. For Ovid’s elicitation of double-readings, see Hinds (: ); as Feeney asks of another passage, “Is Ovid being too fulsome, or too frank?” (: ). Boyle (: –) reads this passage as epic parody, pointing also to Ovid’s assignment of sole responsibility to the princeps.

The Sidus Iulium in Later Augustan Poetry



prompted Caesar’s deification (even though Octavian’s potential could hardly have been apparent at the time). But in a second and more cynical interpretation, Augustus is literally the instrumental force behind Caesar’s deification: the man who, through unspecified acts of public manipulation, “turned” Caesar’s corpse into a “new star and a comet.” Even this odd choice of two heavenly bodies – why does Caesar become both a star and a comet? – evokes the awkwardly divergent representations of the sidus Iulium within Roman discourse, the true medium in which Caesar might be said to be immortal. Caesar’s transformation into a comet thus becomes yet another manipulative metamorphosis, this time enacted not by the Olympian gods but by a man who needed to be born from divine stock (Met. .–). In this reading, the final proof of his power was his success in convincing the public of his lineage and legitimacy. While Caesar was killed for aspiring to godlike honors in his lifetime, Augustus managed to grant him divine status posthumously under the guise of filial piety (Fast. .; Met. .–) and would eventually achieve the same status himself (Met. .–). As Ovid depicts him, Augustus Caesar, not Julius, was most truly “a god in his own city” (Caesar in urbe sua deus est, ), at least in terms of his apparent control over what Scott has called the “public transcript.” Yet Ovid also begins to build a “hidden transcript” in plain view. Most obviously, though the princeps disliked overt references to his supremacy and avoided divine honors within Italy (Suet. Aug. .), Ovid frequently, and with ostensibly flattering intent, compares Augustus to Jupiter within the Metamorphoses and insists elsewhere that Augustus is a “god on earth.” Ovid sheds light on this strategy when he claims at Met. .– that fame is the one force that can defy the princeps’ modest refusal of praise: hic sua praeferri quamquam vetat acta paternis, libera fama tamen nullisque obnoxia iussis invitum praefert unaque in parte repugnat. Although he forbids his own deeds to be set above his father’s, nevertheless fame, free and obedient to no commands, prefers him despite his wishes, and in this one thing fights against him.

Yet two lines prior, Ovid had already depicted the deified Caesar declaring Augustus’ deeds greater than his own (.–). In other words, Ovid is  

Scott (), discussed at Section . above. Feeney (: –) points out that such comparisons covertly criticize the absoluteness of Augustus’ power, citing Millar on the arbitrariness of imperial rule (: –, , –, , ); see also Section ...



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

publicly authoring a fama that is simultaneously flattering and disobedient to Augustus, and thus building an implicit rivalry between poet and prince – as mediated by his readers – for control over Augustus’ representation within Roman discourse. Later, as part of a postexilic argument that poets’ unique control over fama renders them useful to the emperor, Ovid asserts that “even the gods, if it is right to say so, come into being through poetry; such great majesty requires the voice of a singer” (di quoque carminibus, si fas est dicere, fiunt; / tantaque maiestas ore canentis eget, Pont. ..–). If so, then gods can also be deconstructed through poetry. Ovid proceeds in Metamorphoses  to do precisely that, by enlisting a crucial intermediary in the creation of fama: the audience. It is on their favor that Ovid predicates his own poetic immortality at the end of his epic: ore legar populi perque omnia saecula fama / siquid habent veri vatum praesagia vivam (“I shall be read by the mouths of the people, and through all the ages, if poets’ prophecies have any truth, I shall live on in fame,” .–). Here, the rhetoric of poetic fama meshes with Euhemeran thought to suggest by extension that Augustus’ power, too, depends on his Roman audience. It is their continued supportive interpretation of his public self-representation that underpins his authority and will guarantee his eventual immortality, prefigured at Met. .–. Yet Ovid also here enlists his readership as colluders in his construction of an alternative narrative of Caesar’s deification and Augustus’ ascent. This assigns Augustus sole authorship for the collective cultural phenomenon that was the sidus Iulium and, in doing so, creates the phantom sense that there are authorized and unauthorized ways of viewing Augustan iconography and interpreting Augustan texts. A “Pro-Augustan” History? The remainder of Metamorphoses .–, well analyzed by Hardie for its construction of a myth of imperial succession, also shows how Ovid’s work ostensibly “obeys” the will of Augustus while teaching an audience to deconstruct emblems like the Julian star. In this narrative, when Venus  



Cf. Hardie (: ) and Boyle (: ). Ovid’s final ascension above the stars and conveyance through the “mouths of the people” () recalls the good ruler’s rise in modum siderum through the aer of fame. Compare Maecenas’ advice in Dio .; the good emperor, through good deeds, leaves his image not in gold and silver but in the hearts and minds of his people. Hardie (: , –) argues that “only within the circle of the poet and his readers can the relationship between fama and verum become unproblematical.” In my analysis, though, Ovid’s epic continues to question this relationship and render fame disobedient to the emperor (Met. .–), according better with Gladhill () and Hardie (: ).

The Sidus Iulium in Later Augustan Poetry



realizes that Caesar must be made a god, she reacts with horror since this ostensibly happy event will entail his assassination. Trying to enlist the help of the other gods, she then laments that Caesar was the last of the Julian line (caput . . . quod de Dardanio solum mihi restat Iulo, –), contradicting the narrator’s earlier assertion at – that Caesar’s greatest achievement was being “father” (pater) to his “progeny” (progenies) Augustus. Venus attempts to protect Caesar with a cloud (–), as she had done successfully for Paris and Aeneas in other epics, but by the time the narrative clouds clear, Augustus is standing in Caesar’s place at the political summit of Rome. Jupiter’s eleventh-hour introduction of the adopted Augustus as Caesar’s natural heir might strike some readers as similar to the future princeps’ own political sleight-of-hand in making the same substitution – or rather, what looked like sleight-of-hand from the perspective of the late principate. Ovid does not, of course, explicitly point out that Augustus was merely Caesar’s great-nephew and became his heir only by an unusual testamentary adoption, though his emphatically biological descriptors (progenies, ; pater, ; genuisse, ; semine cretus, ; natus . . . suus, ) seem to mock the naturalization of Caesar’s relationship with Augustus. On the other hand, for its power as a parody, this passage depends on the fact that such filial language and imagery were already quite literally in public circulation since the divi filius coins of the late s (Figures . and .). Ovid simply exaggerates these terms and suggestively juxtaposes them with Venus’ insistence that Caesar was the last of the Julian line. He thus calls readers’ attention to the logical discrepancy between these two ideas, as well as to their own role in accepting them over the years. Yet even as Ovid’s poem amplifies dissonances within a Roman cultural conversation that it frames as suspiciously convenient to Augustus’ own interests, it continues to circulate and propagate some of the very ideas that it critiques – here, that of Augustus’ Julian paternity. But Ovid is interested less in the biological specifics of Julian succession than in the princeps’ ability to shape fama without lifting a pen. Ovid’s  



Here, years before Vespasian’s deathbed joke that he was “becoming a god” (Suet. Vesp. .), Ovid treats deification as a blackly humorous euphemism for death. Problems with the legality of this adoption had to be settled with a lex curiata of . Though adopted sons had the same legal standing as natural ones, Octavian’s testamentary adoption and Ovid’s insistence on biological engenderment are unusual. Hardie also explores this wording (: ), following Bömer, but with an emphasis on the verbal actions that construct this relationship (as in the Aeneid). Feeney (: –) discusses genealogy in this passage with regard to Venus Genetrix.



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

treatment of the Tiberian succession at lines – illustrates how an “Augustan” version of history might be created. Ovid describes Tiberius with painful correctness as prolem sancta de coniuge natam (“offspring born from his [Augustus’] venerable wife,” .). The epic diction lends an air of majesty, but also recalls that Tiberius was related to Augustus even more tangentially than Augustus was to Caesar: he was merely the son of Augustus’ wife by the man she divorced to marry Augustus when she was already pregnant (Cass. Dio .). The princeps’ lack of a blood connection with Tiberius, coupled with their rumored personal antipathy, led him to groom several other heirs over the decades; only after their successive deaths (Marcellus in  BCE, Agrippa in  BCE, Lucius in  CE, and Gaius in  CE) did he formally adopt Tiberius in  CE. Ovid, however, portrays Tiberius’ succession as a natural process driven by the apparently identical forces of fate and Augustus’ will. One critic comments, “the truth was startlingly different.” But the point is that Ovid’s story is startlingly truth-like in connecting certain factual dots – Augustus’ marriage to Livia, Tiberius’ descent from Livia, Augustus’ adoption of Tiberius – within a plausible causal schema that minimizes embarrassment to the princeps. Through the self-conscious artifice of this retrospective narrative, Ovid is pointing out how history is made, and how history is made to mislead. He is also, of course, colluding in that very process by circulating a narrative of Augustan succession that can be understood as “pro-Augustan” as well as ironic. Ovid’s climactic portrayal of Caesar’s katasterism, the fullest treatment of the sidus Iulium within Augustan poetry, most subverts while purporting to subscribe to the fictions that underlie representations of the divi filius. At Met. .–, Jupiter, in contrast to his autocratic decisions elsewhere in the epic, claims to have pored over and memorized the tabularia of fate before reporting to Venus, much as Augustus was known to consult Republican legal documents. Jupiter informs the anxious Venus that, though nobody can prevent Caesar’s death, she and Caesar’s son will together be responsible for deifying him (–): ut deus accedat caelo templisque colatur, tu facies natusque suus, qui nominis heres inpositum feret unus onus caesique parentis nos in bella suos fortissimus ultor habebit.



Hill (: ).

The Sidus Iulium in Later Augustan Poetry



That he as a god will mount to heaven and be worshipped in temples you will accomplish this, you and his son, who, as heir to his name, alone will bear the burden placed upon him and, as most brave avenger of his slain parent, will have us as his ally in war.

This recalls Ovid’s earlier assignment of credit for Caesar’s deification to Augustus (Met. . and .–) and also echoes, with a striking difference, Jupiter’s promise to Venus early in the Aeneid that she will eventually welcome Caesar into heaven (hunc tu olim caelo spoliis Orientis onustum / accipies secura; vocabitur hic quoque votis, .–). Ovid’s Jupiter, by contrast, portrays Caesar’s deification as multiply determined, not only by fate and the gods (tu facies) but also by Augustus himself (natusque suus). In a clear reminiscence of the lock’s katasterism in Catullus , Ovid then depicts Venus scooping up Caesar’s freshly liberated soul, lofting it toward the stars, and releasing it to ascend when it gets too hot to handle (–). Trailing a comet-like tail of fire, Caesar’s soul finally becomes a star and admires his son’s work from the heavens. Like the astronomer Conon’s explanation for Berenice’s missing lock, and Callimachus’ own courtly poem on the subject, this is a good story – perhaps too good. It glibly synthesizes the disparate information and iconography surrounding Caesar’s death; explains why Caesar died in the first place, despite his supposed divine favor; frames his death within a teleological narrative culminating in Augustus’ ascent; makes imagistic and interpretive sense of the comet; and charmingly literalizes the star as the outcome of Caesar’s bodily metamorphosis rather than a mere Stoic metaphor for fame (–). Yet Ovid’s decision to center the story on Venus and Jupiter calls attention to the invisibility of Augustus’ role, making readers wonder why, how, and in what sense he helped accomplish Caesar’s deification (as claimed at ., –, and ). According to .–, this whole story is motivated by what may be read as Augustus’ desire to be born from a god; beyond that, even the specifics of Jupiter’s narrative serve a version of events that favors Augustus. For instance, Jupiter ends his speech by commanding Venus to make Caesar a star “so that the deified Julius may always look upon our Capitol and the forum from his high temple” (ut semper Capitolia nostra forumque / divus ab 

See O’Hara () on this speech and Gladhill () for its Ovidian reception. Layered behind this are further resonances of Ennius (unus erit quem tu tolles ad caerula caeli templa, Ann.  . Skutsch) and Catullus (isque per aetherias me tollens avolat umbras / et Veneris casto collocat in gremio, .–). Compare also the oracle promising Latinus that Lavinia would marry someone who would “raise our name to the stars through his blood” (Aen. .–).



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

excelsa prospectet Iulius aede, –). But this purpose clause more clearly suits the will of the princeps: it was Augustus, not the gods, who built the temple from which Divus Iulius looked out upon Rome, and Augustus who receives prime credit for “turning” Caesar into a star and comet at .–. Just as Caesar was implicitly at the center of Aeneas’ shield via his conflation with Augustus at Aen. .–, so too is Augustus invisibly the prime mover behind Ovid’s deification narrative. In essence, Ovid in Met. .– performs a comically overenthusiastic reading of Caesar’s deification, one that depicts the complicity of the gods, fate, and his own narrative in serving Augustus’ interests. Ovid’s story makes a public show of understanding the princeps as he might want to be understood: as being born from a god, freely choosing Tiberius as his heir, and enjoying the support of the gods and fate. But it is precisely in his overt subservience to these goals that Ovid most defies them, by constructing the impression that Augustus had attempted to manipulate Roman discourse and inviting readers to reinterpret it ‘subversively.’ In doing so, he parodies (and helps construct as propagandistic) other texts that might be read as supporting the principate – even ones capable of sustaining much more ambivalent readings, like Horace’s Odes ., Vergil’s Aeneid, and the Metamorphoses itself. In constructing this mythological master-narrative of the sidus Iulium, therefore, Ovid frames the comet of  BCE and its reception within Roman culture as predetermined by gods who serve Augustus’ will – and encourages the longstanding tendency to read Augustan poetry as another product of that will.

. Conclusion The sidus Iulium, as both comet and symbol, thus illustrates the powerful role that interpreting audiences played in investing imperial icons with meaning. In this case, ironically, it was their retroactive assessment that assigned Octavian responsibility for ‘spinning’ the comet of  BCE even though he was in no position to do so at the time. Visual and literary 



In another narrative straining to serve Augustan interests, Jupiter at Met. .– portrays Augustus as the noble avenger of his father and vows the gods’ support at Mutina, Pharsalia, Philippi, Sicily, and against “a Roman general’s Egyptian mistress” (). But, in contrast to Caesar’s wars of expansion at –, all of these victories were against fellow Romans. Even Cleopatra was Caesar’s mistress before Antony, and her son Caesarion was executed by Octavian for his rival claim to Julian blood, as further discussed by Pandey (). So the “barbarity” Jupiter declines to detail at – belonged in great part to Octavian. See Hinds (), Oliensis (), Davis (a), and Chapter  for complementary views of Ovidian ambiguity.

Conclusion



representations, for that matter, reflect no master plan or coherent meaning. Instead, they become iconographical tools by which Roman interpreters debate a number of problems raised by Caesar’s deification: the nature of manmade divinity, Augustus’ supremacy, and his own claim to immortality. The poetic sidera Iulia examined in this chapter also call attention to the variability of interpretations over time, as the comet of  surely did in the minds of contemporary Romans. Vergil raises this very question with the shifting connotations of comet imagery within the Aeneid, showing how a single omen can simultaneously terrify and inspire different audiences, and both reactions appear justified over different frames of time. Decades later, in Metamorphoses , Ovid recasts what had in July  been an extemporaneous interpretation of a chance astronomical phenomenon as a deliberate decision of the princeps, whose ambitions were identical with fate and who (unlike Caesar) secured his godhood even while alive. Ovid’s belated account of the deification, however cynical, testifies to the prevalence and strength of belief in Augustan power that had developed by his day. It also has the effect of flattening out the role of authors other than Augustus in shaping the meaning of the sidus – including the independent and idiosyncratic conversation that prior poets conducted around this image. The comet that had crystallized doubts about the future and fears of civil war in the Eclogues and Aeneid cast a long literary shadow, from Lucan all the way to Milton; it surely informed perceptions and receptions of the Neronian comet of  CE, too. But this comet and its negative connotations eventually dissociate from the sidus Iulium, now remembered largely in its shape as a star. Thus, for instance, Valerius Maximus treats the star as a metonym for the fame and great achievements of Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, and even Gaius Caesar ( praef., .., ..) and 



Cf. Met. .–: “May that day be delayed and later than our lifetime when our august leader, abandoning the world which he governs, mounts to heaven and, far away, favors those who pray” (tarda sit illa dies et nostro serior aevo, / qua caput Augustum, quem temperat, orbe relicto / accedat caelo faveatque precantibus absens). The joke, of course, is that it would hardly be possible for Augustus to enjoy more power as an absens deus in heaven than he did as a praesens deus in his own city. For similar prayers that Augustus’ apotheosis be delayed, cf. Verg. G. .– and Hor. Odes ..; Jupiter earlier prophesies that Augustus would enter heaven when his years had finally equaled his good works (Met. .–). For the comet of  CE, see Ramsey and Licht () and Tracy (: –). Comets in the Bellum Civile portend ill, as at .– and .–, where Lucan’s use of the term sidus links Caesar’s rise with prior literary treatments of his death. Calpurnius Siculus interprets the comet of  as announcing “fatal arms” for Rome’s “wretched citizens” after Caesar’s assassination (Ecl. .–). Milton incorporates Aeneas’ battle appearance at Aen. .– into a description of Satan at Paradise Lost .–: “On th’ other side / Incenst with indignation Satan stood / Unterrifi’d, and like a Comet burn’d, / That fires the length of Ophiucus huge / In th’ Artick Sky, and from his horrid hair / Shakes Pestilence and Warr.”



History in Light of the Sidus Iulium

Silius Italicus takes it as a token of their divine descent (Pun. .–). Even the account from which we derive our best information on the comet, quoted at the beginning of this chapter, shares Ovid’s teleological attitude toward the sidus, now stripped of irony. Immediately after reporting Augustus’ account of the comet, Pliny asserts, “These things he said in public; but with internal rejoicing, he considered the comet to have been born for him and himself to be born in it. And, if we speak the truth, it was of benefit to the world” (HN ..). This narrative not only posits a politic divide between Augustus’ public speech and private thoughts, but also assigns him a degree of foresight that mortals like Pliny can ratify only belatedly. Moreover, here Pliny recasts the Julian star as an Augustan star, a stamp of his future greatness – an interpretation that would have been impossible in  BCE and clearly reflects the intervention of subsequent history. This belief in the inevitability of Augustan rule continued to surround perceptions of the sidus and Julian deification. Centuries later, Servius reports simply that “the people believed [the star] to be Caesar’s through Augustus’ persuasion” (persuasione Augusti Caesaris esse populus credidit, at Aen. .). This is our only source to ascribe any active manipulation of the comet’s reception to the future princeps, and it is factually flawed in many important respects. But it also illustrates the enduring persistence of the belief in Augustan control over the sidus Iulium that was possible only in retrospect, and occludes the creative, critical, and authoritative roles played by contemporary observers. Clearly, the process of retrospective reading that formed the sidus Iulium compounded over time, until the fourth-century scholar unironically ascribed to Augustus the godlike level of control over Roman thought, discourse, and history that Vergil and Horace had specifically denied and Ovid only teasingly imputed. In this case, as in Augustan poetry, the sidus illustrates the range of interpretive approaches that audiences could bring to imperial signs and to history itself: from doubt, uncertainty, and fear to the clarity that emerges, however misleadingly, from hindsight. 



Servius Danielis writes at Ecl. . that when Augustus saw the comet, “he himself wanted it to be the soul of his father,” and at Aen. . that the crowd was won over through Augustus’ persuasion (Augusto persuadente). Other sources have the comet rising at the eleventh hour (between  and : p.m.) and visible for seven days, facts that Ramsey and Licht corroborate using Chinese sources (: –). Servius writes that it was visible “at midday” (Ecl. .; Aen. .) and at Ecl. . cites the account of one otherwise unattested Baebius Macer that it rose at the eighth hour (:–: p.m.), was visible for only three days, and was surrounded by rays. Ramsey and Licht’s attempts to explain these discrepancies (: –) do not convince (Pandey : ).

 

Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

Then, having left the senate, he ended his life by starvation. The senate ordered his books to be burned by the aediles; but they survived, hidden and later published. In the light of this, it is all the more pleasing to deride the stupidity of those who believe that with an act of present force it is possible to extinguish the memory of a subsequent age too.

Tacitus, Ann. .

. The Discursive Face of Augustan Consensus Augustus’ public image was sustained not only by symbols like the sidus Iulium but also by the buildings and monuments with which, in his famous boast (Suet. Aug. .), he transformed Rome from brick into marble. Of these, none attracted more poetic comment than his splendid complex atop the Palatine Hill ( BCE), whose proximity to the legendary homes of Romulus and Evander seemed to signal Augustus’ own intention to found Rome anew. Caesar had famously dismissed the Roman republic as “nothing, only a name without body or face” (nihil esse rem publicam, appellationem modo sine corpore ac specie, Suet. Iul. ). The Palatine finally gave the restored res publica a face worthy of its empire, even as it would come to be synonymous with the new monarchy. This was only one of the Augustan contradictions to which the Palatine complex gave architectural expression. In a clear evocation of Hellenistic 



Tacitus here describes the death of Aulus Cremutius Cordus in  CE after being prosecuted by clients of Sejanus on the “novel” charge of eulogizing the Liberators; in a speech immediately prior, Cremutius praises the wisdom of Caesar and Augustus’ comparative tolerance for free speech among writers like Livy, Pollio, Antony, and Catullus (.). This chapter offers a counterpoint in exploring a developing sense of constrained speech among the Augustan elegists. Zanker (: –, –, – and passim), Galinsky (: –), Gurval (: –), and Miller (: –) provide overviews. This building, like many others, also circulated outside the city, e.g., via coins catalogued by Jucker ().





Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

Figure . Plan of the Palatine complex in light of Iacopi and Tedone (/), redrawn by M. C. Bishop. © M. C. Bishop.

dynastic architecture, the princeps’ home was closely integrated with a portico, library, and a temple to Apollo, the god he thanked for his victory over Antony and Cleopatra at Actium. While details are still under examination, Figure . shows the results of new excavations by Irene Iacopi and Giovanna Tedone (/) that supplant prior plans of the 

Though the temple was vowed at Naulochus ( BCE), Gros (: –) calls it an “ex voto” to Actium; see also Syme (: ) for Actium as founding myth. Gurval argues the battle’s importance has been exaggerated (: , –) and Turcan (: ) rightly notes emerging “Egyptomania” in the complex. For its dedication, cf. Vel. Pat. . and Cass. Dio ..; for its various contemporary names, including “Actius Apollo” (Aen. .), “Actius Phoebus” (Prop. ..), “Navalis Phoebus” (Prop. ..), and “Actiacus Apollo” (Ov. Met. .), see Richardson (: ) and Gros (: ). The library was divided, not necessarily physically, into Greek and Latin sections; see Bruce (: –), Iacopi and Tedone (/: –), and Houston (: ). Steinby () documents similarities to Hellenistic palaces, and Pensabene () examines the architectonics of the house itself.

The Discursive Face of Augustan Consensus



Figure . Painting of Apollo Citharoedus from the house of Augustus, Palatine Museum, Rome. Photograph by the author.

area. The Danaids’ containment within the portico before the temple, the temple doors’ theme of justice and punishment, and the chariot of the Sun that crowned the building (Prop. ..), among other decorative motifs, seemed to frame Augustus’ victory as one of masculine order over foreign, feminine chaos. At the same time, Apollo was depicted laying down his bow for a cithara (Figure .), announcing Octavian’s parallel transition from military leader to peacetime patron of the arts. Laurels and an oak wreath awarded by the senate and people (Figure .) announced Augustus’ claim to rule by consensus. The complex certainly shared some of the 



Also reprinted in Zanker (), revising earlier excavations by Carettoni (, , , etc.) and Zanker () and replacing Zanker (: , fig. ). The layout of the complex, especially the portico, is still much debated; for the latter, see especially Balensiefen (), Iacopi (), and Quenemoen (). See, e.g., Zanker (: –) for Octavian’s early self-identification with Apollo as a guardian of order, discipline, and morality, framing an opposition between the princeps and Antony that may emerge in the “Campana plaques” depicting Apollo and Hercules competing for a tripod (cf. Strazzulla : –). Miller () has argued for a more “prismatic” view of Augustan Apollo.



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

Figure . Aureus of L. Caninius Gallus,  BCE. Bare headed Augustus as DIVI F[ILIVS] (obverse); oak wreath labeled OB C[IVIS] S[ERVATOS] above doors flanked by laurel branches (reverse). Sutherland, RIC I, p. , no.  = Mattingly, BMCRE I, p. , no. . © The Trustees of the British Museum.

empire’s newfound wealth with its people in publicly displaying famed statues, works of literature, and imported materials. Yet it also expressed the domus Augusta’s quasi-divine supremacy within Rome, eventually yielding the term “palace” and strengthening the myth that Augustus’ father was not Octavius, or even Caesar, but Apollo himself (Suet. Aug. .; Cass. Dio ..). Notwithstanding these mixed messages, Paul Zanker finds the overall impact clear: “Between the Mausoleum and the ‘house’ which the young Caesar put up by the temple of Apollo in the heart of the ancient city of Romulus, he left no doubt as to who would determine Rome’s fate from now on.” But what message did “young Caesar” intend for the complex, and what did viewers take away? Because of the paucity of the material remains and the complexity of later overbuilding, answers to the first question have relied heavily on literary evidence. Yet contemporary poetic responses to the Palatine speak more immediately to the second, less examined matter of elite Romans’ response to this seat of Augustan power.  

Zanker (: ), though he sees notes of expiation at –. Literary sources like Ov. Tr. . aided Pinza’s identification of the site in ; cf. also Bishop () and Wiseman (), who argues that the temple faced northeast rather than southwest, and following Claridge (: ) questions whether the ramp thought to connect Augustus’ home with the temple was contemporaneous with the first building. See also Carandini () for the archaeology of approaches to the area.

The Discursive Face of Augustan Consensus



These poems, in turn, became part of a public dialogue that shaped readers’ perceptions of the princeps and prompted adjustments on his part, giving us unique insight into the ongoing, reciprocal process by which he fashioned himself at Rome. This provides a salutary counterpoint to retrospective histories like Suetonius’ and Tacitus’. After all, Augustus was not yet “Augustus” on the building’s dedication on  October  BCE. He would continue negotiating the terms and trappings of his power long after January of the next year, when the senate and people awarded him renewed legal powers, command over key provinces, his honorific name, and the clupeus virtutis, laurels, and corona civica in exchange for his supposed ‘return’ of the res publica. The conspicuous incorporation of the laurels and oak wreath into Palatine iconography (Figure .) emblematizes the mutual constitution of authority that underlay its building history, discussed in Section .., and underwrote even Augustus’ supposedly autocratic self-presentation at this stage. On the other hand, this symbolic exchange tended to conceal the enormous transaction cost of the civil wars, one party’s inability to consent on free and equal terms, and the transaction’s exclusion of numerous interests and opinions even as it claimed to represent the entire res publica. As mentioned in Section .., Daphne’s transformation into the laurel that would guard Augustus’ doors (Met. .–) came at the cost of her human voice, her apparent gesture of consent dubiously focalized through Apollo’s eyes (“she seemed to nod her tree-top like a head,” caput visa est agitasse cacumen, ; cf. Section ..). This silenced tree thus becomes a fitting emblem for all the dissenting voices that were muted as Augustus wreathed his fait accompli with the visible signs of concordia. Despite the consent to domination symbolized by the Palatine, the Augustan poets continue to assert another aspect of Republican libertas as they confront its iconography: freedom from usurpation of political participation. In fact, while previous analyses of Augustan poems on the Palatine have focused on sight and visuality, I suggest that the poets are also deeply concerned with this space’s implications for speech and silence, both literary and political. Their vocal disruption of emergent imperial





See especially Lacey () for this negotiation; Alföldi () and Pandey () on the laurels, with discussion below; Ker () on repraesentatio’s dual meaning as ‘vivid recollection’ and ‘immediate repayment’; and Coffee () on exchange in Roman society. Markell () argues that this is an underexamined corollary to the freedom from domination discussed by Skinner (), Pettit (), et al. For memories of the Republic in imperial culture more generally, see Gowing () and Gallia ().



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

semiotics on the Palatine insists that even the most singular temporal authority, like artistic greatness, resides ultimately in its subjects. Fresh readings through this lens advance important studies of Propertius . and Tristia . by Carole Newlands (), Lowell Bowditch (), and John Miller (), among others, and add new attention to Horace and Vergil’s more oblique responses to the Palatine via the Danaids. In my analysis, Propertius and Ovid’s elegiac ekphrases at opposite ends of Augustus’ reign speak not just “out from” but into the Palatine by interpellating autonomous perspectives otherwise excluded by this architectural expression of Augustus’ consensus universorum. In  BCE, after illegally seizing and reading Antony’s will as evidence of his Egyptian sympathies, Octavian had procured this consensus – an informal decision of the majority of enfranchised classes and groups – in order to extend his lapsed tribunician potestas and gain control over the whole state (potius rerum omnium, RG ). The “consent of the senate and people” also conferred the name Augustus (Vel. Pat. .), the title “father of his country” in  BCE (pater patriae, RG ), and other validations of Augustus’ extraconstitutional, increasingly patrimonialist power that served, in John Lobur’s analysis, as a “binding link between republic and empire.” This process not only continued to deny many Romans a political voice, but also hinted at the emperor’s creeping invasion of their privacy – from his forcible exposure of Antony’s private testament to the authority over minds and bodies connoted by his patria potestas over the state. This gradual interpenetration of public and private meant that the state, too, began exerting public power in defense of the emperor’s person. One prominent early victim was Gallus, elegiac poet and prefect of Egypt, whose insults to Augustus’ maiestas (Cass. Dio .) – or verbal licentia, Ovid suggests (Tr. .–) – find detailed discussion in Section .. An irate Augustus banned Gallus from his private home on the Palatine, but left it to the senate to condemn him by public decree, resulting in his suicide in

 

 

For the theme of vision, see also Hubbard () and Huskey (). Early drafts of this chapter () predate several of these studies. That is, these poems play with the male mono-perspective identified in this literature by Sharrock (a) as well as the penetrative aspects of vision discussed by Fredrick (); they also begin to develop a social and aesthetic “poetics of exclusion,” to use a term that Gaertner () applies more literally to Ovid’s exile poems. Eder (: ), with political context at –; the term “unanimity” tends to obscure these qualifications. Lobur (: –), with Ando () passim, Scheid () on Augustan religious conservatism, and Burbank and Cooper (: ) for the empire’s patrimonialist nature.

The Discursive Face of Augustan Consensus



 or  BCE (Suet. Aug. .). Though the loss of Gallus’ poetic corpus and the historians’ reticence on the matter has prompted modern suspicions of damnatio memoriae, Gallus’ absence continues to speak loudly in this chapter through his fellow poets’ anxieties about speech and its suppression. Some of these, at least, may have regarded the Danaid portico’s symbolic incarceration and punishment of foreign women as an architectural sign of the behavioral and disciplinary power that the princeps would come to exert on, as well as on behalf of, Roman society. In keeping with Foucault’s observation that state pressure to conform accelerates efforts at self-individualization (), the Augustan poets highlight their independence of judgment by refocalizing the Palatine through the marginalized perspectives of women, noncitizens, and conquered opponents. These alternative voices resonate with elegy’s feminine, Hellenizing, countercultural stance toward Augustan Rome and recall the dependence of elite poetic discourse on the servile bodies of books and the reading voices of slaves. By harmonizing their own narrative voices with those excluded from the Augustan concordia, the poets and their readers explore the Palatine’s representational claims and their own anxieties about status and identity as the emperor took up permanent residence at the top of the Palatine and, with it, the Roman social hierarchy. In exploring the poets’ interpellation of marginalized voices into the Palatine, this chapter meshes with a number of critical approaches. Adriana Cavarero (), for one, argues that one original and essential feature of man the political animal was his embodiment as a physical being whose unique voice entered into reciprocal dialogue with others. Only gradually over the course of Western philosophy and political history did abstract meaning (sēmantikē) come to be dissociated from, and privileged over, the 

 



See Syme (: n) for the chronology and Rutledge () for legal discussion; WallaceHadrill (: ) provides a comparable example of the senate’s supposedly unsolicited fulfillment of imperial wishes. Cf. Raymond (: ), following Boucher (); Section . examines the fragment that survived at Qasr Ibrîm. For slavery and_ reading, see Section .; Janan (), Wyke (), Miller (), and Bowditch (), in analyses that complement my own, treat elegy’s “feminine” subject position as symptomatic of a crisis of masculinity. One example of elite men’s relative loss of status was Gaius Sosius, who began rebuilding Rome’s first and only other temple to Apollo (Medicus) after his triumph in  BCE. Despite siding with Antony, he survived the civil war and reconciled with Octavian, but at a cost to his personal and architectural independence: his finished temple’s pediment commemorated Octavian’s triumph rather than his own and the Augustan Theater of Marcellus and Porticus Octaviae minimized its visual impact, as noted by Walker (: ). My focus on living, explicitly political voices complements Ramsby (: ) on elegy’s “memorialization” of lost perspectives, Roman () on poetic autonomy, and Natoli () on Ovidian voice as a sign of identity.



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

embodied voice (phōnē) that expressed it. Cavarero’s critique of the “devocalization of Logos” highlights the suppression of the feminine, the individual, and the physical within systems of thought and power that present themselves as universal. But it also maps onto the shift from direct democracy, based on interpersonal debate within the polis, to representative governments, where only some people may voice opinions and expect meaningful responses. In an important study, Joy Connolly () has defined the latter as fundamental to Roman Republican masculinity, and oral rhetoric as a vital tool of social and political cohesion within the old res publica. The rise of Augustus did not spell an end to this system: senators who survived Augustus’ pruning of their body found new “arenas for competition” in forensic and epideictic rhetoric, in particular. But none could imagine he enjoyed his predecessors’ potential to effect change, gain fame, or helm the republic through deliberative oratory, especially after Gallus’ early, cautionary example of the limits of elite masculine speech. The emperor’s later practice of convening senate meetings on the Palatine placed the patres conscripti physically as well as figuratively in the shadow of this testament to Augustus’ superhuman concentration of material resources and political capital. And that is to say nothing of the nonsenatorial elites whose rhetorical education inclined them toward literary rather than political pursuits, or whose tastes did not align with the traditional, even archaizing values of the Palatine. For that matter, as an early example of the princeps’ increasingly ambitious revisions of the urban text, the Palatine measured a shift in the language of power at Rome: from oratory, traditionally associated with the multiple voices of the senate, to the visual arts, now increasingly dominated by the central figure of the princeps even in works commissioned by others. The new visual language that began to crystallize around the emperor was paradoxically democratic: it could reach an increasingly diverse and far-flung polity, not all of whom were literate or Latinspeaking. But many official representations of imperial authority asserted an autocratic stance toward their viewers. While oral political discourse incorporated some measure of dialogue and response, imperial monuments, like written texts, substituted abstract symbols for the personal presence of an author, treated audiences impersonally as a mute collective

 

Cf. Roller (: –) and (: –). Tac. Ann. .., ..; Cass. Dio .; Serv. Dan. ad Aen. .; Thompson (); and Miller (: ).

The Discursive Face of Augustan Consensus



rather than as speaking individuals, and placed them at the bottom of an implicitly unidirectional communicative hierarchy. The best surviving examples are high imperial monuments like Trajan’s Column, whose spiraling scenes’ detail was largely illegible to viewers far below; what such objects wanted, in Veyne’s estimation (), was not to inform or communicate but to impress viewers with evidence of the emperor’s greatness. But despite the supposed humility of Augustus’ home, the Palatine, too, staged a vertical relationship with viewers, who approached the lofty temple to the arriviste god Apollo amid the Danaids subjected by the portico to his commanding masculine gaze (Figure .). The library that claimed to make learned books open to all Romans was visually sidelined by this axis, staffed by imperial servants, and symbolically subjected information and expression to the princeps’ judging gaze. It is no wonder, then, that the Augustan poets take the Palatine as an ursite for litigating Augustus’ gradual accretion of authority and working out their own anxieties about self-expression, representation, and subjecthood under the principate. The Palatine was Octavian’s first attempt to sculpt the “discursive face of power” at Rome: it gave architectural expression to the advantaged position of dominant groups and sought to define the terms and goals of political action as well as the “universe of legitimate disagreement.” It is precisely in relation to such apparatuses of power that individuals construct their subjectivities. In my view, however, Propertius occupies not a decentered but a decentering subject position vis-à-vis the newly built Palatine: bending its patrimonialist surface through the lens of his subjective gaze, he forces it into dialogue with subaltern concerns and implicitly corrects its claims to reflect universal consensus. For Horace and Vergil, the Danaids, in particular, prompt reflection on the paternal obedience espoused by the Palatine and locate redemptive value in moral autonomy. Much later in the principate, and in conscious response to Propertius, Ovid’s Tristia . measures an increase in Augustan hegemony by ventriloquizing a subject entirely created in relation to imperial hierarchy. At the same time, this poem even more powerfully deconstructs and democratizes the Palatine’s discursive face.

  

See also Mitchell () on objects’ agency and establishment of relations with viewers. The worship of this foreign god was relatively new in Rome, certainly within the pomerium; the only other temple was the one restored by Sosius and discussed at note  above. See Gagé (). To borrow Fraser and Bartky’s Gramscian definition of hegemony (: ). Also relevant are Foucault’s explorations of the disciplinary aspects of power () and models of the “fourth face of power” as intersectional with subjects’ interests and beliefs, for which see Digeser ().



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

By translating the Palatine into the subject of private, countercultural conversations, the poets remind their audiences that no text is truly autocratic; rather, its power depends on viewers who remain free to debate, dissent, subscribe to its fictions, or ignore it altogether. In a final irony, the poets’ message was vindicated by history: not only did the breath of their readers keep their voices alive through the centuries, but it is largely through these idiosyncratic, even resistant, voices that we know the Palatine today. This chapter thus doubles as a case study in the archaeology of the imagination. Rome’s prototypically imperial monument truly would be “nothing, only a name without body or face” had the poets not rebuilt it, and constructed themselves against it, within the republic of letters.

. Propertius ./ Propertius ., printed in full in the Appendix to this chapter along with . and Tristia ., has often been taken as an ideal reading of the complex, perhaps even commissioned by the princeps himself. Its opening appeal to Cynthia, however, makes clear its rhetorical intent: “You ask why I come to you a little late? Apollo’s golden portico has been opened by great Caesar” (quaeris cur veniam tibi tardior? aurea Phoebi / porticus a magno Caesare aperta fuit, –). Though this poem was likely published around  BCE, it presents itself as an immediate response to the temple’s dedication and remains our earliest and most detailed source for many of its architectonic details. The poet’s imaginative tour makes it easy to see why this aurea porticus (–) has rivaled aurea Cynthia for his time. Miller suggests that the poem “sidesteps rather than challenges the ‘official message’ of Apollo’s new Roman temple” by reading it from an “elegiac perspective.” The poet’s eye lingers on the artistry and material of the gilded portico (–), the shining marble from Augustus’ new quarries at Luna (), and the African







For this trope, see, e.g., CLE .–, Cic. Tusc. .. Enn. Epigrams – (Warmington), Hor. Odes ..– and ..–, and Ov. Met. .–, with Hardie’s excellent analysis (: –); compare Enterline (: –) on the relation between body and animus as voice-consciousness in Ovid and Section . on Stoic immortality. Heyworth (: ) regards it as a “covert piece of eulogy,” and Cairns (: –) as expressing a “rapt, universal and uncritical awe.” See also Fantham (: , –) and Syndikus (: –). Miller (:  and –, respectively), regarding it as fundamentally eulogistic with Fedeli and Heyworth, though Miller simultaneously suggests “a strain of resistance to the shrine’s imperial semiotic” (: ).

Propertius ./



ivory from which the doors were carved (). The statues he mentions were masterpieces by Myron, Scopas, and other famous artists whose transference to the Palatine illustrated Augustus’ dominance over the Mediterranean world. The (unmentioned) Greek and Roman libraries, too, must have contained untold papyrus rolls from Alexandria and other cities newly subject to Augustus. In its emphasis on the leisure and luxury items flowing into Rome under Augustus, this poem joins what Alison Keith has called “an elegiac discourse of empire.” At the same time, Propertius’ focus on the building’s medium rather than its message is meaningful. The poet is deliberately blind to the temple’s triumphal associations as expressed by the victories on the pediments, the spoils in the cella, the iconography of the doors, and the famous wall painting from the princeps’ home that shows Apollo still wearing a quiver even as he takes up the cithara – presumably, given the context, to sing a victory paean (Figure .; cf. also Callim. Hymn .). Instead, in a selective response that bears little concern for Augustus’ authorial intentions, the poet reads tears for things into this epic space, just as Aeneas would for the visually similar Carthaginian temple of Juno (lacrimae rerum, Aen. .; cf. Section .. above). Notably, too, Propertius situates this ekphrasis within a conversation with Cynthia (), who was absent from the dedication and, I suggest, unwelcome on the Palatine as an embodiment of elegiac values. This verbal domesticization of Augustus’ public space drives home the fact that all art ultimately finds meaning only within the private minds of viewers embedded in social relationships beyond the princeps’ gaze and outside his idealizing representation of Roman order.  



 



Bowditch (: ) links the latter with Cynthia’s ivory fingers (digitis . . . eburnis, ..–). Of the cult statues, Pliny attests that Apollo was by Scopas (HN .), Diana by Timotheus (.), and Latona by Cephisodotus (.); the statues on the temple roof were by Bupalus and Athenis (.); and the temple housed a collection of engraved gems dedicated by Marcellus (.). See Richardson :  and Gros : –. Edwards and Woolf (a: –) and Wiseman (: ) note that most great Roman libraries were built from spoils of war. See also Bowersock () for Augustan Rome’s relationship with the Greek world and Dufallo () on artistic ekphrasis as a means of mediating that relationship. Keith (: –, with – on this poem); compare Bowditch () on elegy’s ambivalent eroticization of the luxuries of empire. Propertius may allude to this transition from war to peacetime at ..–: “I have sung enough of war; now victorious Apollo asks for his cithara, and lays down his arms for the peaceful dance” (bella satis cecini: citharam iam poscit Apollo / victor et ad placidos exuit arma choros). To Miller (: ) and others, Vergil’s “temple whose brazen threshold rose with its steps” (templum . . . aerea cui gradibus surgebant, Aen. .–) recollects the Palatine, where “a temple of bright marble rose” (claro surgebat marmore templum, Prop. ..). Ovid’s use of surgere for the “rise” of the hexameter line of an elegiac couplet (Am. ..) enhances the sense that both are epic spaces.



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

Figure .

Danaid statue in the Palatine Museum, Rome. Photograph by the author.

The Danaid portico that forms the poet’s entrée into the complex (–; cf. Figure .) plays a programmatic role in Propertius’ elegiac rewriting of this Augustan space. According to myth, Danaus – locked in a power struggle with his twin brother, King Aegyptus of Egypt – ordered his fifty daughters to marry Aegyptus’ sons, then murder them on their wedding night. All but one, Hypermnestra, obeyed, and were punished in the Underworld by carrying leaking jars of water on their heads. Based on the arm-stubs’ angle and the points of contact atop the heads, as well as literary evidence and visual comparanda, it is in this latter pose that the Palatine Danaids likely appeared (see Figures . and .): a crowd of dusky, interchangeable foreign women confined among columns beneath Apollo’s gleaming temple, eternally punished for obeying their father’s 

See especially Keuls (); literary evidence includes Prop. ..; Ov. Ars Am. .– and Tr. ..–. It has been argued based on a late scholion on Persius . that the statues were poised ready to strike the fifty sons of Aegyptus (cf. Kellum : ), but in the absence of other evidence, it is difficult to imagine how they would fit the site. See Tomei (, ) and Quenemoen () for the Danaids’ identification with hip herms of nero antico perhaps alternating with others in red stone, arranged among columns of Numidian giallo antico (Vell. Pat. .., Cass. Dio ..) with a nearby statue of Danaus discussed below. Despite the punitive notes, Milnor has viewed the portico as “a celebration of the politicization of a family bond” (: –).

Propertius ./



Figure . Top of the head of one Danaid statue in the Palatine Museum, Rome. Photograph by Bill Gladhill. With permission.

fratricidal vendetta. The Danaids’ symbolic enclosure resonates with Apollo’s subjugation of chaos to order, and Octavian’s of Egypt to Rome, while also speaking to the kindred bloodshed of the recent civil wars – a shared guilt displaced onto these lapidary feminine others. At the same time, visitors to the Palatine walked among these Danaids before reaching the temple, sharing in their subordinate subject position within the visual hierarchy of the complex. As if to liberate both groups from the Palatine’s patriarchal connotations, the poet emphasizes the portico’s luxurious materials (aurea, ), association with Apollo (Phoebi), and femininity (femina) as he presents it to his docta puella, who shares all these qualities in her capacity as a metonym for elegy itself. Using a verb associated with 



Kellum () links the portico with Antony’s Aegypta coniunx Cleopatra; Zanker (: ) speculates that the Danaid portico might prompt “thoughts of guilt and expiation.” Trimble () on the visual replication of the Large Herculaneum Women provides an interesting comparison for the Danaids’ lack of individuation. See Wyke (), Armstrong (: –), and Prop. .. (tua sit toto Cynthia lecta foro, “your Cynthia has been read all through the forum”).



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

literary composition (digerere), the poet explains and replicates the spatial division of the portico by devoting a hexameter line to the columns () and its coupled pentameter to the Danaids (), rhyming their intercolumniation with the metrical alternation of elegy (tota erat in spatium Poenis digesta columnis, / inter quas Danai femina turba senis, “The whole place had been composed for strolling by Punic columns, among which stood the female crowd of old Danaus,” –). The poet’s elegization of the portico initiates a subtle if pervasive subjection of this space to interpretive autonomy from below, marked by the subjective, first-person phrase equidem . . . visus mihi (). The nearby statue of Apollo, he declares, “seemed to me, at least, more beautiful than Phoebus himself, the marble gaping out a song with his silent lyre” (hic equidem Phoebo visus mihi pulchrior ipso / marmoreus tacita carmen hiare lyra, –). Here, representation comes to embellish or exceed reality in the mind of a viewer (as, indeed, Ovid would go on to suggest regarding the Palatine’s flattering presentation of its other “god,” Augustus). But the Apollo statue falls short of reality in one respect: it lacks a voice. Its silence recalls a moment in Callimachus’ Hymn to Apollo where an exultant chorus of young men silences women’s lamentation (–): καὶ μὲν ὁ δακρυόεις ἀναβάλλεται ἄλγεα πέτρος, ὅστις ἐνὶ Φρυγίῃ διερὸς λίθος ἐστήρικται, μάρμαρον ἀντὶ γυναικὸς ὀιζυρόν τι χανούσης. Even the weeping rock puts aside its troubles, the glistening stone that is set in Phrygia, a marble rock in place of a woman gaping out a sorrowful sound.

In a story also depicted on the Palatine temple doors (Prop. .), Apollo punished Niobe’s boastful rivalry with his mother by killing her children, then turning her into a weeping rock on Mount Sipylus. Callimachus’ Niobe, however, is so transported by her oppressor’s hymn that she rests from her sorrow. This fantasy of masculine jubilation silencing female sorrow, and art winning tacit consent from the coerced, bears obvious

  

Cf. OLD s.v. digero  and Fedeli (: ) for the controversies surrounding this line. I follow Heyworth’s emendation of tanta erat in speciem () to tota erat in spatium (a: ). Heyworth and Fedeli follow the major manuscripts, which have hic equidem Phoebo, while Goold adopts Markland’s emendation to quidam. The allusion is noted, e.g., by Enk (: ) and Fedeli (: ); Thetis also falls silent.

Propertius ./



relevance to the Palatine. In Propertius’ poem, however, it is Apollo who seems to “gape out a sound,” occupying the position of his erstwhile victim. This hints that the god himself, imprisoned in this marble statue, has been coopted like Daphne in service of the victorious princeps’ public image. It also attunes learned auditors’ ears to lamentation behind the god’s outward joy as he stands frozen in song – an elegiac choice on Propertius’ part that responds to Apollo’s own vindication of fine songs over epic at the end of Callimachus’ poem (.–). The full Callimachean subtext (–) strengthens this tacit critique: ἱὴ ἱὴ φθέγγεσθε: κακὸν μακάρεσσιν ἐρίζειν. ὃς μάχεται μακάρεσσιν, ἐμῷ βασιλῆι μάχοιτο: ὅστις ἐμῷ βασιλῆι, καὶ Ἀπόλλωνι μάχοιτο. Cry “hië, hië”; it is wrong to fight with the Blessed Ones. He who fights with the Blessed Ones would fight with my king; he who fights with my king would fight even with Apollo.

Propertius’ revocalization of “ἱὴ ἱὴ” with the Latin hiare at  seals the allusion and transfers a shared gulp over to readers. Callimachus (–) frames a coercive complicity between gods, autocrats, and the art in which their power is couched, from Apollo’s hymn to the Palatine’s paean in stone. Yet of course, the latter’s component statues of the god were no more capable than Niobe, Daphne, or Rome of meaningful consent. The princeps worked to project the impression that his actions aligned with popular will: he returned a statue of Apollo by Myron to Ephesus, for instance, to rectify its earlier removal by Antony (Plin. HN .; RG ). But the plundered objets d’art displayed on the Palatine continued to point to his real, though symbolically exchanged, potestas over all things (potius rerum omnium, RG ). Even his supposedly pious conversion of eighty cities’ silver statues to him into gold dedications to Palatine Apollo (RG ; cf. Prop. ..–, aurea Phoebi / porticus) meant that these precious metals, like the res publica, never really left his hands. Octavian’s beautification of his rule finds further critique in the poet’s reference to other statues on the Palatine: “the flock of Myron, four oxen, living signs of their artist” (armenta Myronis, / quattuor artificis vivida signa 



Schmitzer () takes Niobe as a figure for Cleopatra; Feldherr (: –) also finds her reflective of Augustus, in his loss of many heirs, though such a reading would be anachronistic at Propertius’ time of writing and receives fair criticism by Davis (). Cf., e.g., Edwards () and Miles () on plundered art as a way of mediating Rome’s relationship with the other; Pandey (a: –) notes the economic politics of Augustus’ procuration of Venus Anadyomene from Kos to display in the temple of Venus Genetrix (Strabo, Geo. ..).



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

boves, –). Pliny attests that this fifth-century sculptor from Eleutherae “was primarily noted for his statue of a heifer, praised in some famous poems, since most men are commended for another person’s genius more than their own” (quando alieno plerique ingenio magis quam suo commendantur, HN .). Myron was known as the first sculptor who appeared to “augment reality” (multiplicasse veritatem videtur, HN .), and these epigrams – spanning several centuries before and after the sculpture’s transfer from Athens to Rome, and surviving in most part through the (Heidelberg) Palatine Anthology – vie to praise the cow’s surpassing naturalism. In doing so, Michael Squire argues, the poems themselves become so repetitive as to be almost indistinguishable, again problematizing the relationship between original and copy. One topos was that Myron had confined a real cow in bronze rather than crafting one from art (AP ., ; cf. .), echoing the Danaids’ and Niobe’s marmoreal incarceration; another, that Myron’s cow was lifelike in every way but her inability to moo (AP ., ) or satisfy the lust of admiring bulls (AP ., ; cf. Aus. .). These poems, however, often restore the cow’s missing voice by speaking for it in the first person; two poems of Antipater (AP ., ) even make it “moo” through homonymy with “Myron.” These epigrams thereby play on Simonides’ dictum that “a picture is a silent poem, a poem is a speaking picture” by illustrating poetry’s special ability to endow life and voice, which Cavarero considers a more fundamental mark of identity than meaning itself. Propertius’ revoicing of the Palatine through elegiac ekphrasis not only transforms its identity but in doing so performs an aesthetic critique that paralleled contemporary criticism of Myron. As Pliny sums up the latter, Myron was felt to be painstaking with bodily appearance, but failed to “express the feelings of the soul” (corporum tenus curiosus animi sensus non expressisse) and depicted hair and pubes in archaic fashion (HN .). Augustus’ cattle-rustling of alien artistic genius into his own moralizing monument would similarly fail to match the spirit of modern life. In Propertius’ description,   

As noted by Squire (: ). Plut. Mor. (De glor. Ath.)  F Simon. fr. b Bergk, discussed by Squire (: ). Among the copious work on ekphrasis, see especially Wagner (), Squire (), and Webb (). Inscribing similar themes of legitimized violence and disciplinary power onto the local environment, Evander (Aen. .–) recounts Hercules’ forcible appropriation of Geryon’s cows and gruesome punishment of Cacus when he attempts to steal a share and is betrayed by one heifer’s voice (). Cacus’ lair on the Aventine associates him, via Remus and Gaius Gracchus, with resistance to Rome’s normative power center on the Palatine, though the likeness of victor and victim preclude simple generalization; see O’Hara () ad loc. for bibliography.

Propertius ./



Myron’s once inimitable cow now blends in with a “flock” of four (atque aram circum steterant armenta Myronis, / quattuor artificis vivida signa boves, –), evidently copies commissioned by Augustus. But the cows’ very multiplicity seems to deindividuate them (cf. multiplicasse veritatem, HN .) and confirm their lack of soul (animi sensus). Unlike his Hellenistic predecessors, the poet describes them in disengaged, exclusively visual terms as “lifelike signs of their maker” (artificis vivida signa). Genitives throughout this poem thematize its larger exploration of the (in)subordination of people or things to fathers, masters, or meanings; thus the portico belongs to Phoebus in word (Phoebi, ), though Augustus in deed (a magno Caesare aperta fuit, ), and the daughters who obeyed Danaus remain “his” within these architectural confines (), unlike the heroic dissenter (Hor. Odes .; Section ., below). Here, artificis pulls attention from the statues’ referential objects (cows) and their owner and displayer (Augustus) to the origin’s “maker,” Myron (and perhaps the unsung hands that replicated his work). Propertius further challenges Palatine semiotics by enjoying these statues merely as signs whose artistry fails to signify Augustan authority. Myron’s cow, in turn, becomes a symbol for the Palatine itself: an augmentation of reality that might elicit admiration from the herd, but that remains sterile and silent unless viewers read into it “feelings of the soul” that it otherwise lacks. The narrator proceeds to voice a highly individualized response that asserts his interpretive freedom in the face of any moral, sexual, and aesthetic norms the Palatine may have projected. Continuing in a comparative mode that again thematizes ekphrasis’ competitive relationship with Augustan representations, the poet asserts that the god himself finds the artful splendor of the Palatine “dearer” (carius, ) than his real birthplace, then gradually draws readers into artistic illusion: Then, in the middle, rose the temple of shining marble, dearer to Phoebus than even his fatherland Ortygia, on which, above the pediment, was the 

This use of signa for statues is unusual, listed only twelfth in OLD s.v.; Heyworth (a: ) struggles to identify parallels. The manuscripts have artificis, though Brockhusius’ suggestion artifices has proven popular with some editors, including Enk () and Fedeli (). Heyworth (a: ), however, argues that it is not found in this sense before Persius ., and Camps (), Richardson (), and Goold () all empoy the -is ending. This still leaves the question of whether to regard it as an alternative spelling of the nominative plural or a genitive singular referring to Myronis. With many editors, I favor the latter, though I remove Heyworth’s punctuation to emphasize the ambiguous syntax, leaving it to the reader to decide whether to take artificis with vivida signa (Heyworth a: –) or quattuor boves (Richardson : ).



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine chariot of the Sun, and double doors, a noble work of Libyan ivory: the one mourned the Gauls, thrown down from the peak of Parnassus, the other, the deaths of Tantalus’ descendants [i.e., the children of Niobe]. Then, the Pythian god himself, between his mother and his sister, sings songs in a long gown. ( )

By line , we are looking not at a sculpted chariot of the Sun, but at the real thing, perched atop the temple pediment. At –, the ivory temple doors have acquired the independent agency to mourn their contents (maerebat). And by –, we view not a statue of the god more beautiful than reality, as at , but the god himself (deus ipse). No longer silent as outside, this god plays in the present tense (sonat, ), simultaneously and harmoniously with the poet’s own elegiac voice. Lines – thus recount a journey into the heart of the Palatine complex that mirrors readers’ entrance into artistic epiphany. It maps the process by which signa become vivida in the minds of their viewers – the very process by which fictions like Cynthia, and icons of the principate, attain power for their audiences. Yet Propertius also contests the visual authority of the Palatine by rendering it inextricable from his elegiac narration, just as artistic meaning ultimately resides within a physical matrix and its embodied interpreter. As an earlier couplet suggested, visual art can be more beautiful than reality (pulchrior ipso, ) but nevertheless fail to speak (tacita / lyra, ): it is only through Propertius’ verbal vivification that the cult statue finally sings (sonat, ). Propertius here posits a divide between appearance, which can be seductive but deceptive, and sound, which at – marks the presence of the true god (deus ipse). Moreover, though the temple’s presiding deity looks like Apollo, he sounds like Cynthia, and not only inasmuch as his song elides with Propertius’ (at sonat, ). The ivory bas-reliefs on his doors, for instance, depict the Gauls driven from Delphi and the punishment of Niobe’s children (–). Both scenes present Apollo as an agent of justice and pietas, values by which Augustus justified his pursuit of civil war and moral restoration of Rome, while omitting the clupeus virtutis’ corollary value of clementia. But Propertius personifies the doors as “mourning” their subjects (maerebat, ..) and shifts focus to the god’s hopelessly outmatched victims (deiectos . . . Gallos; funera Tantalidos,   

As Klodt (: –) and Miller (: ) observe, this underscores the epiphany. Compare Kennedy () on elegy’s “reality effect.” Jaeger (: ) argues that the doors serve as “monumenta of Apollo’s vengeance, and probably an unvoiced allusion to Antony” (: ). For the clupeus virtutis, see Galinsky (: –) and Pandey ().

Propertius ./



–). This points out that representations can speak independently from their makers’ intentions, even crystallize sympathy for the latter’s victims. .. Propertius . This early elegiac reconstruction of the Palatine serves the poet’s immediate dramatic goal of justifying to Cynthia his dalliance with the ideological home of a regime whose hostility toward elegiac values would find vivid confirmation with Ovid’s punishment if not already with Gallus’. Propertius’ omission of the Greek and Latin libraries that adjoined the portico quietly reciprocates their own evident exclusion of elegiac “feet” and corpora (cf. Tr. ..: “that too couldn’t be entered by my feet”) in favor of philosophical, legal, scientific, and literary texts that better aligned with the princeps’ conservative image as a restorer of Roman mores. Augustus’ attempt to control the circulation and reproduction of texts via his library, in what Ovid later caricatures as the fallacious assumption that ‘immoral’ texts manufactured immorality among readers (Tr. .–), mirrored his much-resented interventions in marriage and reproduction among Roman elites. In her study of the “imperial gaze” in . and , Lowell Bowditch has argued that these poems together symptomatize anxieties about Augustus’ failed moral legislation of – BCE, which would ultimately pass with modifications a decade later. I further suggest that . resists Octavian’s legislative and ideological attempts to control women’s bodies by crafting an alternate verbal library of female behavior open to readers’ free and private judgments. Ovid confirms such a reading when he elucidates these elegies’ implicit argumentation to prosecute his own poetic exclusion from Rome in Tristia . Women “inclined toward sin” (–), he states, need not read the Ars Amatoria for guidance, and can find just as many adulterous examples in canonical Greek and Latin literature (–, –), not to mention

 



Met. .– emphasizes Niobe’s deprivation of speech after her boast. See Suet. Aug. ., Cass. Dio .., P. Oxy. .–, Miller (: ), and Bruce (: ) for the libraries, and for their content, by no means well established, Galen Ind.  with Nicholls (: ). Augustus appointed the scholars Pompeius Macer and Julius Hyginus as head librarians (Suet. Iul. .; Gramm. ) and epitaphs provide names of some staff (CIL . and –). Bowditch’s primary evidence is Propertius . (: –), though Badian () argues that this concerns the withdrawal of a tax rather than marriage law; more convincing is Suetonius’ account of strict marriage legislation that faced serious senatorial opposition (Aug. ; cf. also Oros. .., Flor. .).



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

Augustus’ own porticos, temples, games, and other urban benefactions (–). The Appendix to this chapter prints these poems continuously as transmitted in the manuscripts, though my analysis applies even if we take them as a diptych, in keeping with the Renaissance division. I follow Richardson, Goold, and Heyworth in restoring .– to a transitional place between . and ., with Propertius readdressing Cynthia after his description of the Palatine: “If only you would stroll in this space whenever you are free, Cynthia! But the crowd forbids me to trust in you” (hoc utinam spatiere loco, quodcumque vacabis, / Cynthia! sed tibi me credere turba vetat). This reading creates a direct link between Cynthia’s absence from the Palatine and the moral suspicion in which “the crowd” (turba, ) holds her – confirming that this fictional woman has indeed attained autonomous life in readers’ minds (cf. also .–), exceeding the Palatine statues’ naturalism and fueling Ovid’s joke at Amores . that his poems have prostituted Corinna as common property. Propertius suggests that Cynthia is alien to Apollo’s new precinct because she worships Diana Nemorensis (–), Fortuna Primigenia at Praeneste (), Hercules Victor at Tibur (), and other gods whose sanctuaries are far from Rome’s new center of power, both geographically and culturally. As an alternate locale for Cynthia’s leisure, he suggests Pompey’s shady portico (–), which as the site of Caesar’s assassination bore countercultural political associations and likely moral ones: its sculptural program featured poetesses, prostitutes, and prodigious births, and it gained an early and enduring reputation as a place to meet loose women (Cat. .–; Prop. ..; Ov. Ars Am. .–; Martial ., .). This confirms the elegiac puella’s association with leaders, lifestyles, and female examples now supplanted by the Palatine. The poet sheds further light on Cynthia’s ill repute, and foreshadows his ultimate forgiveness, when he interjects, qui videt, is peccat: qui te non viderit ergo / non cupiet: facti lumina crimen habent (“The man who observes – it’s he who sins; he who does not see you will therefore not  



Fedeli (: –) well summarizes the textual issues. Aeaei moenia Telegoni () probably refers to Tusculum, where there was an ancient cult of the Dioscuri, though it is not known to have attracted pilgrims (Richardson : ). At , most editors accept Jortin’s conjecture Lanuvium, where there was a temple to Juno, though Richardson (: ) conjectures Ariciam anum in keeping with his decision to follow this couplet with – on Diana Nemorensis. Sulla’s sanctuary at Praeneste and Hercules Victor’s at Tibur were likely architectural influences on the Palatine. Its pleasant shade (–), musical water features (–), and metapoetically ordered plane trees () make it a friendlier space for elegy than the stern portico of the Danaids, though lines – cannot sustain firm reading.

Propertius ./



desire you; the eyes bear blame for the deed,” ..–). Editors who unite . and  place these lines after the mention of Diana Nemorensis, in which case they may represent a defense of Cynthia, possibly in her own words: if anyone saw her on the way to these feminine mysteries, he was the guilty party. Wherever they occur, though, these lines double as a comment on the morality of reading. Cynthia’s seductive powers rest on being observed (“the man who does not see you will therefore not desire you”); it is precisely such logic that debars immoral texts from the Palatine library, where they may be viewed, copied, and circulated with ease. Yet the subsequent clause (facti lumina crimen habent) transfers moral responsibility from Cynthia’s textualized body onto readers’ penetrative gaze. Their “eyes,” as conduits between word, judgment, and behavior, bear ultimate “blame” for any immoral reading – or, in another sense of crimen, govern elegy’s judgment and accusation. In a sudden volta, the narrator finally articulates an accusation of his own, as he realizes that Cynthia has been dallying with other readers’ eyes as she circulates outside the city (–): falleris: ista tui furtum via monstrat amoris: non urbem, demens, lumina nostra fugis! nil agis; insidias in me componis inanis; tendis iners docto retia nota mihi. You’re deceived: this route of yours shows the theft of your love; you flee not the city, you fool, but my eyes. You’re accomplishing nothing: the plots you compose against me are futile; you foolishly lay well known snares for my well read self.

The poet’s indignant warning that he has seen it all before doubles as a metaliterary statement: Cynthia’s behavior will come as no surprise to a doctus reader () familiar with the long literary history of female insidiae (). Instead of calling for punishment, in keeping with Palatine thematics or the Homeric sun god’s betrayal of Ares’ and Aphrodite’s affair (Od. .), the poet calls on Phoebus to testify to Cynthia’s innocence (), transforming him from a delator into a witness for the defense. The poet proceeds to unfold a series of adulterous precedents (–) that reflect the 

For this placement, see Camps (), Richardson (), Goold (), and Heyworth (a) ad loc. While most commentators view this as an expression of sexual jealousy on the poet’s part, Luck (: ) and Hubbard (: ) regard this as a bit of banter focalized around Cynthia (cf. also Heyworth a: , who uses quotes in his translation, though not his Oxford Classical Text, to frame this as her direct speech). See also Barton () on cultural links between shame and sight, with Batinski (: ) and Bowditch (: ).



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

way of the world more naturalistically than the Palatine, arguing for tolerance, rather than punishment, as a guiding principle for readers. An Alternate Library The narrator begins to liberalize his attitude toward Cynthia by recalling Catullus’ forgiveness of the profligate Lesbia in a foundational elegiac text, .–: sin autem longo nox una aut altera lusu / consumpta est, non me crimina parva movent (“If, moreover, one night or another was consumed in lingering flirtation, small charges do not sway me,” ..–). Helen, too, “changed her fatherland for a foreign love, and was brought home alive without condemnation” (–); Venus herself, though “seduced by lust of Mars” (or “for Mars,” in a suggestive elision of subjective and objective genitives), was considered no less “respectable” for it among the gods (–). All these stories advocate forgiveness toward women who make sexual choices independent from the potestas of father or husband, culminating in the very coupling that engendered Aeneas and thus the gens Julia (–): ipsa Venus, quamvis corrupta libidine Martis, nec minus in caelo semper honesta fuit, quamvis Ida illam pastorem dicat amasse atque inter pecudes accubuisse deam; hoc et Hamadryadum spectavit turba sororum Silenique senes et pater ipse chori, cum quibus Idaeo legisti poma sub antro supposita excipiens, Nai, caduca manu.

35

40

Venus herself, though seduced by lust of Mars, was never regarded in heaven as less respectable for it, even though Ida vouched that she [Venus] had loved the shepherd and lain with him, a goddess among the flocks; this also the crowd of sister Hamadryads witnessed and the old satyrs and the father of the chorus himself, with whom, Naiad, you plucked apples in the vale of Ida, catching them falling into your cupped hands.

This story replaces the Palatine’s moralizing tableau of Apollo among Myron’s mimeographic cows, surrounded by the subjugated Danaids, with a very different mise-en-scène: the goddess of love fornicating among the flocks, ringed by indulgent observers, narrated by Ida (Ida . . . dicat, ) in 



On the association between adultery and poisoning, also evident in Ovid Am. ..–, McKeown (: ) cites Rhet. Her. ., Quint. Inst. .., Tac. Ann. .., and the adultera venefica theme in Sen. Contr. . and [Quint.] Dec. . To Hubbard (: ), they show that female infidelity need not result in moral condemnation.

Propertius ./



breathless expression of the unruly, generative, feminine forces that could not be wholly subsumed by masculine order. This story contains the last of three successive references to the “crowd” (turba) that trace a slow loosening of universalizing moral schemas over the course of the poem(s). The opening “feminine crowd of old Danaus” (Danai femina turba senis, .) symbolizes the Palatine’s displacement of masculine guilt and punishment upon female bodies. Another turba of gossip-mongers (.), perhaps recalling the senum severiorum of Catullus ., warns the poet not to trust Cynthia – though their invasion of her privacy may render them guilty too (.). The final and most elaborately described turba, however, is that of sister Hamadryads, the partitive genitive here marking membership rather than obedience (.), who watch Venus and Anchises making love on the slopes of Ida. They are joined by old satyrs and the father of the chorus (Silenique senes et pater ipse chori, ), whose indulgence revises the harsh paternal role that Danaus () had assumed toward his daughters. Their unjudgmental attitude is reaffirmed by the image of the Naiads gathering apples that fall into their cupped hands (–), the fruit’s ripeness underscoring the women’s sexual availability and the mutual delight of the coupling they observe. Following Scaliger’s emendation of nai(y)ca dona to Nai caduca, Propertius’ apostrophe calls a Naiad to the witness stand in place of his previous addressee, Phoebus (). The Naiads, however, enjoy rather than judge the erotic sight before them, a reaction that aligns them with the audience of this poem. It also exemplifies the private aesthetic enjoyment that readers could take in the Palatine book collection, despite Apollo’s repressive surveillance of the Danaids just outside. Propertius’ progressive series of turbae rewinds the clock of interpretation, from acts of punishment to judgment to the nymphs’ joyous observation of their consenting text, Venus and Anchises. Casting off .’s linkage of sight and sin (qui videt, is peccat), this image encapsulates the sheer jouissance of reading. The examples at – thus advocate for moral autonomy, justify Propertius’ reconciliation with Cynthia, and





The manuscripts’ Parim () is an obvious gloss; I follow Goold (), after Barber, in reading illam as opposed to deam or Heyworth’s aliam, the hiatus onomatopoietically recreating Ida’s gasp in place of Apollo’s silent hiare (.). Richardson (: ) connects the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite (.–). Here Ida, associated with the nearby temple of Magna Mater, seems to invade Apollo’s architectural space just as Augustus arrogates prior divine symbolism in Tristia ., discussed below. To use a term of Barthes’ that Bowditch (: ) links with the pleasure of passing between the two opposing value systems around which Propertian elegy is organized.



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

supplant the opening image of the Danaids, described by Tibullus as “offenders against Venus” (..) frozen in virginal punishment. Propertius further challenges the Palatine’s reactionary message when, at lines –, he turns from mythological exempla to the multitude of modern girls behaving badly: an quisquam in tanto stuprorum examine quaerit “cur haec tam dives? quis dedit? unde dedit?” o nimium nostro felicem tempore Romam, si contra mores una puella facit! haec eadem iam ante illam impune et Lesbia fecit: quae sequitur certe est invidiosa minus.

45

Amid such a plethora of promiscuity, does anyone ask, “Why is she so wealthy? Who gave? From what funds?” O Rome, too fortunate in our time, if one girl acts contrary to the norm! These same things Lesbia already did before her [i.e., Cynthia] with impunity; she who follows is surely less worthy of blame.

The bombastic rhetoric at – parodies the “harsh and somewhat rustic old man” (senem durum ac paene agrestem, ) that Cicero invents in the Pro Caelio to critique Clodia’s scandalous behavior, with a whiff of Cicero’s own self-aggrandizement as state savior. The subsequent reference to Clodia’s Catullan pseudonym (Lesbia fecit, ) reminds readers that female immorality, far from being confined to elegy, was part of the Roman legal tradition that the Palatine library preferred. This makes sense of the otherwise inexplicable charge of poisoning for which the poet asks Phoebus to exonerate Cynthia at . This crimen elides the fictional Cynthia with the historical Clodia, whom Cicero prosecuted on the same grounds; suggests a metaphorical reading of Cynthia’s accusation, as one of morally poisoning readers; and underlines the futility of curbing women’s behavior when history is just as full as elegy of bad examples. Confirming this latter point, the poet wryly observes that “he who seeks ancient Tatius and the harsh Sabines has only recently set foot in our city” (–). These exempla ironically recall Rome’s foundation in lust and treachery (cf. Livy .– and Propertius .), suggesting that even the ongoing return to traditional values provided precedent for sexual liberty. In a possible wink to the sidus Iulium, the poet asserts that “sooner could you . . . pluck down the high stars with a mortal hand” (–) than teach 

In the light of connections to Cic. Clu. . and Q Rosc. . observed by Brockhusius and Shackleton Bailey (), Heyworth (a: ) identifies in  an echo of Cicero’s o fortunatam natam me consule Romam (fr.  Blansdörf ) and Cic. Cat. ..

Propertius ./



Roman girls not to “sin” (peccare, ) as they have done since the age of Saturn (). Again interrogating the Palatine’s idealizing portrayal of divine order, the poet asks whether even a goddess could live content with a single god (quae dea cum solo vivere sola deo?, ). Indeed, after  BCE, Vesta herself cohabited with two “gods” on the Palatine (cf. Fasti .–), just as Livia had shared a bed with Tiberius Clausius Nero before Augustus. The examples of Pasiphaë and Danae (–) further question the Palatine’s supposed protection of public space, books, and Roman values, undergirded by the tacit threat of patriarchal discipline. In contemporary versions of the myth (e.g., Ov. Her. .–; cf. Sen. Phaed. –), Pasiphaë was cursed by Venus with unhappy love when her father, Phoebus, betrayed Venus’ affair with Mars; her sexual deviancy thus directly resulted from her father’s prudishness. Her seduction by the “snowy beauty of a lowering bull” recalls her consequent concealment by Daedalus in a device resembling the bovine statues that beautified Augustan potestas on the Palatine, hinting at even state-sponsored art’s potential to inspire or enable immoral behavior. Indeed, the Palatine’s idealization of male power at the expense of female individuality and alterity operates much as Roman declamation, in Connolly’s analysis, served to propagate an oppressive “web of stereotypes” about women and slaves “that constrained them as completely as the legal and social laws that denied them legitimate authority.” Paternal protection also failed to safeguard women from incursions of masculine force: even the chaste Danae, though enclosed behind “bronze walls,” was unable “to say no to great Jupiter” (nec minus aerato Danaë circumdata muro / non potuit magno casta negare Iovi, –). Propertius thus undermines the princeps’ verbal and visual advertisement of a new age of collective moral restoration, instead suggesting – as Tristia . would confirm – that the spirit of Jupiter, across the way on the Capitoline, continues to preside over modern Rome. But whatever the coercive power of the gods or the new regime, Propertius ultimately proclaims subjects’ freedom: quod si tu Graias, si tu es imitata Latinas, / semper vive meo libera iudicio (“But if you have imitated Greek girls or Latin ones, always live free in my judgment,” –). This closing exhortation to Cynthia forms a ring structure with the poet’s initial address at ., rebuts the accusations at . and –, recalls the Palatine library’s division into Greek and Latin sections (as would Ovid’s self-exoneration at Tr. .–), and asserts elegy’s moral and aesthetic 

Cf. McAuley (: ).



Connolly (: ).



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

autonomy in the face of female silence and imprisonment on the Palatine. For that matter, this freedom exists in the poet’s individual subjectivity (meo iudicio), just as he had adjudged Apollo’s statue more beautiful than the god (hic quidam Phoebo visus mihi pulchrior ipso, ..). In keeping with his self-identification with the victims of Octavianic war, (cf. .), Propertius thereby frees subaltern perspectives from the Palatine’s alternating columns and brings them to the fore of readers’ minds. He also offers his own leniency toward the errant Cynthia as an alternative to Octavian’s sterner morality as he sought to reunite Rome and control her reproduction of books and bodies. Upsetting the Palatine’s attempted subjection of books and readers to Rome’s new hegemon, this poem envisions art as an aid to mutual alliance, dialogue, and pleasure. Propertius ./ thereby revoices Augustus’ victory monument to meditate on tolerance, forgiveness, and interpretive freedom, insisting that it is within individual consciences, and beyond imperial control, that value judgments are finally made or withheld.

. Missing Women in Horace While Horace does not mention the Palatine by name in Odes ., published in  BCE, his liberation of the Danaids from their architectural confines continues Propertius’ interrogation of that space from an alternative subject position. In this poem, Horace plucks the lyre from Apollo’s hand (cf. Prop. .. and Callim. Hymn ., , ) and bestows it on Mercury, an alternate divine inspiration whose tortoise-shell instrument delights and persuades its listeners rather than demanding submission (..–). In a revisitation of Callimachean Apollo’s silencing of Niobe (Hymn .–), transferred onto the god himself by Propertius (..), even Horace’s Danaids rest from their labors, charmed by the lyre’s sound (–). This image reimagines the Palatine statues’ immobility as one of







Libera here spans a range between “possessing the social and legal status of a free man,” as opposed to a slave; “not subject to autocratic rule”; “possessing freedom of action” or choice; and “acting without fear of the consequences” (OLD s.v. , , , , respectively). Ovid similarly plays on liber/libertas at Tristia .., discussed below. Hubbard reads the couplet more negatively: “the speaker’s final declaration gives freedom to Cynthia only in terms of judgment” (: ). For rumors that the future princeps sacrificed  Perusian equites and senators to Divus Iulius, cf. Suet. Aug. ; Cass. Dio .., and App. BC ..–.., with discussion by Kraggerud (: ). See also Leach () and Miller (: –), and compare the brief mention at Odes ... See also Williams () for Horatian ambivalence regarding the Augustan moral program.

Missing Women in Horace



aural reverie rather than eternal punishment, filling the portico with song now cleansed of coercion. In its immediate context, the Danaid myth illustrates the narrator’s warning to Lyde to submit to a husband (–), a message in keeping with the Palatine’s patriarchal thematics and Augustus’ encouragement of marriage (cf. also Callim. Hymn .–). However, building on Propertius’ exploration of silenced voices, Horace pans over to the one Danaid outstandingly absent from Hades and the Palatine: Hypermnestra, also unnamed in his song. This “splendidly deceptive virgin” won renown “for all the ages” (splendide mendax et in omne virgo / nobilis aevum, –) by disobeying her father and refusing to murder her husband, who respected her wish to remain chaste. Her heroic choice of mercy over vengeance casts doubt on the punitive, paternalistic value system that justified Octavian’s wars (e.g., at RG ) and found visual articulation on the Palatine. Horace not only includes what the Palatine omits, here Hypermnestra and the gentler virtues she exemplifies (mollior, ), but also gives her a voice that runs away with the poem’s final four stanzas and implicitly critiques Palatine iconography. In a dramatic speech warning her new husband to flee her savage sisters and father (–), Hypermnestra refuses to strike or imprison her groom (ego illis / mollior nec te feriam neque intra / claustra tenebo, –), exercising clemency and pity (quod viro clemens misero peperci, ) even if it prompts her own father to chain her or banish her to Numidia (–). Anticipating her death, she urges her husband to write an epitaph on her tomb (–), in an elegiac convention that combines with other motifs (softness at –; Night and Venus at ; everlasting fame for an action that is rather a nonaction, –) to bring strong elegiac notes into this Sapphic poem and render her a metaliterary figure for genres that had no home in Augustan ideology. The irony, of course, is that it is her sisters who will be punished everlastingly in Hades, and imprisoned between the Numidian columns of Augustus’ portico (Vell. .., Cass. Dio ..), while Hypermnestra and her husband Lynceus would go on to found an Argive dynasty. This poem stealthily accomplishes its rhetorical purpose, and continues to serve patriarchal values, by representing marriage as something to aspire to rather than a punishment: Hypermnestra “alone of the many” was “worthy of the marriage-torch” (una de multis face nuptiali / digna, 

E.g., schol. Eur. Hec.  and Paus. ... Aphrodite’s advocacy of love and sex in Aeschylus’ lost play Danaids (TrGF III fr. –) may represent part of her legal defense of Hypermnestra, just as the poets’ temporal shifting may respond to the themes of the trilogy.



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

–) and by bucking patria potestas delivered herself into her husband’s. At the same time, as Horace gives her voice in this quintessentially feminine meter, Hypermnestra makes a free choice from a strong sense of moral identity (–), wields power of life and death over her husband, and thus builds her new marriage on a foundation of equality and mercy. Her alliance with Lynceus serves as an alternate model to the hierarchical relations, latent violence, and demands for obedience encoded by the Palatine. And Horace’s voicing of a perspective that the Palatine fails to embody – the splendidly absent “one among many” – resists its totalizing tendencies, lionizes Hypermnestra’s ethical autonomy, and exemplifies the freedom of judgment that audiences brought to Augustan discourse. In fact, commandeering Augustus’ foundational prerogative, Horace here rewrites the temple of Apollo Palatine as the temple of Apollo Lyceus supposedly dedicated by Danaus himself after a wolf’s defeat of a herd of cattle augured his usurpation of Argos (Paus. ..–). The Argive temple contained a statue of Hermes bearing a tortoise that finds lyric voice, through Horace’s poem, in praise of Aphrodite Bringer of Victory, subject of another statue Hypermnestra was said to have dedicated in the same temple after a jury acquitted her of her father’s charges (Paus. ..–). This poem thus crosses media, and the Mediterranean, to show that love and mercy are just as foundational to civilization as discipline and dominance. Propertius’ and Horace’s interest in absent voices attests a propensity to read Augustan architectural texts for their silences as much as their surface meanings, further explored in Chapter . But given the Palatine’s association with Augustus’ triple triumph, and the Danaids’ with the conquest of Egypt, the most conspicuously missing woman on the Palatine was that ultimate domina and docta puella, Cleopatra herself. Horace’s Cleopatra Ode (.), which like Propertius . positions itself as a direct response to events that predated its publication by years, emerges in this light as another celebration of a woman who could not be confined within Augustus’ iconographical program. As many have noted, while the poem initially celebrates Octavian’s Actian victory, it gradually yields to admiration for Cleopatra’s choice of a noble suicide over the humiliating fate of being paraded in triumph. Though initially drunk on fortune (–), the queen stoically confronts her defeat and bravely drinks the asps’ poison into her body (–). The poem enacts an opposite trajectory on the 

Cf. Lowrie (: –) for a sympathetic and subtle analysis of this ode with bibliography; Nisbet and Hubbard (: –) take a more cynical view.

The Danaid Belt in Vergil’s Aeneid



part of the victors: sober during the war (–), they now uncork their bottles () in joyous celebration. Yet Cleopatra’s prior overconfidence serves as a warning against unrestrained rejoicing, as does the enjambment at –: privata deduci superbo, / non humilis mulier, triumpho (“[scorning] to be led as a private citizen, no humble woman, in a proud triumph”). Here, it is Octavian’s triumph, rather than his vanquished enemy, who is superbus (). The word choice is suggestive given Vergil’s reuse of this word to describe the Augustan Palatine itself (Aen. .–) and its long association with kings and their overthrow. Cleopatra’s defeat at Actium thus becomes a moral victory, and she defies Octavian’s ultimate purpose (daret ut catenis / fatale monstrum, –) by escaping the “proud triumph” (–) and its architectural commemoration. The Cleopatra Ode therefore enters into a close, even corrective, association with the Palatine complex. Though both celebrate Octavian’s victory, Horace conveys a warning against excessive pride and an admiration for the defeated that encourages readers to explore other sides of the story.

. The Danaid Belt in Vergil’s Aeneid The Augustan Palatine figures in Vergilian contexts discussed throughout this study: behind the temples representing Vergil’s poetic achievement in Georgics .– and Daedalus’ past in Aeneid .–; as a belated fulfillment of Aeneas’ vow at Cumae (Aen. .–), which proleptically corrects the temple’s perceived exclusion of feminine voices by naming Diana Trivia and the Sibyl herself as Apollo’s co-honorees; as the site of Evander’s home (Aen. .–), where “mooing” cows (mugire, ) prefigure Myron’s voiceless signs; and as the culmination of Octavian’s proud triumph on the shield of Aeneas (Aen. .–), discussed in Section .. The Danaids also adorn arguably the most important object in the plot: the balteus that Turnus strips from Pallas in Book , precipitating Aeneas’ vengeance in Book . Optimists read this episode as legitimating Aeneas’ revenge or linking Aeneas’ actions with Augustus’ during the civil war. From a pessimistic perspective, though, the Danaid   

Lucretia’s rape by Tarquin’s youngest son Sextus precipitated revolution (Livy .–); see Section . for the anachronistic triumph on Aeneas’ shield. See Chapter , note . As noted by Serv. Dan. ad Aen. . and O’Hara (), Pallas’ very name recalls the Palatine. Analyses of the baldric include Putnam (:  and ), Breen (), Conte (: ), Spence (), Putnam (), Schmitzer (), O’Higgins (), Harrison (: ), Strocka (), and Shelfer ().



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

story throws shade over both Aeneas’ victory and Augustus’ victorious selfrepresentation on the Palatine. The portico itself may have alluded to different moments in the myth: while the Danaids carried their leaky jars, Ovid places their father nearby with drawn sword, presumably ordering their cousins’ murder (Ars Am. .–; Tristia ..). The balteus, too, rewinds the clock to depict the crime that caused the Danaids’ eternal punishment (.–) and may omit the perpetrators altogether to focus on their victims. “Pressing Pallas’ lifeless body with his left foot,” Turnus snatches “the terrible weight of his baldric and the graven crime” (immania pondera baltei / impressumque nefas, –): “the band of young men murdered on the same wedding night and the bedchambers bloody with slaughter, which Clonus son of Eurytides chased with much gold” (–). This scene builds mythological resonance around the war, almost civil, that mars the Italians’ forced union with the Trojans at its outset. In keeping with the abovediscussed fear that art might prompt mimetic behavior, moreover, Turnus replicates this “graven crime” when he kills the young Pallas, stomping upon his defeated body (pressit) in a verbal echo of the stamped design (impressumque nefas). This passage, like so many others on the Palatine, goes on to explore an act of (mis)reading, here by the overconfident victor. Just as the Danaids fail to gauge the consequences of their crime, Turnus fails to understand the message of theirs or the outcome of his. quo nunc Turnus ovat spolio gaudetque potitus. nescia mens hominum fati sortisque futurae et servare modum rebus sublata secundis! Turno tempus erit magno cum optaverit emptum intactum Pallanta, et cum spolia ista diemque oderit. ( ) Now, having obtained it, Turnus exults and gloats in this spoil. Ah, the mind of men, unknowing of fate and future chance and

 



This confirms Bowditch’s speculation (: n), based on the dubious presence of the cousins, that the portico simultaneously depicted two time frames. Spence (: ) believes the Danaids were depicted at the moment of their crime; the only other such representation is a fourth-century BCE Apulian red-figure vase. She argues that Aeneas’ killing of Turnus reenacts the Danaids’ of their cousins, in turn reinforcing Augustus’ of Antony and Cleopatra. The focus on victims decoupled from narrative causality recalls modern memorials like the National September  Museum in New York or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. Turnus also fails to hear lessons from Homer (Il. ., .) and the Stoics (e.g., at Hor. Odes ..–) allusively woven into Vergil’s language; cf. Harrison (: ).

The Danaid Belt in Vergil’s Aeneid



how to preserve moderation, when exalted by happy fortune! The time will come for great Turnus when he’ll have wished for Pallas to have been ransomed untouched, and when he’ll hate those spoils and that day.

Turnus is not the only one who misinterprets the balteus. Hesitating at the end of the epic, Aeneas is almost swayed by the supplicant Turnus’ speech (et iam iamque magis cunctantem flectere sermo, .) when the “unlucky baldric caught his attention, high on Turnus’ shoulder, and the belt gleamed with the boy Pallas’ well-known bullae ” (infelix umero cum apparuit alto / balteus et notis fulserunt cingula bullis / Pallantis pueri, –). The regressively wrathful act of “foundation” that closes the epic, as Aeneas buries his sword in Turnus’ chest (condit, ), is explicitly prompted by this visual stimulus (–): ille, oculis postquam saevi monimenta doloris exuviasque hausit, furiis accensus et ira terribilis: “tune hinc spoliis indute meorum eripiare mihi? Pallas te hoc vulnere, Pallas immolat et poenam scelerato ex sanguine sumit.” Aeneas, after he drank in this trophy and memorial of savage grief with his eyes, fired with fury and terrible in his wrath, said: “Should you, wearing the spoils of my loved one, be saved from this fate by my hand? Pallas sacrifices you with this wound, and Pallas takes his retribution from your cursed blood.”

By speaking and striking as Pallas in answer to Turnus’ plea, Aeneas summarily silences the inconvenient voice by which his defeated enemy might protest, persuade (flectere sermo, .), lament (gemitu, ), or join in constituting the new polity. Despite his “drinking in” of the belt, Aeneas fails to read its graven warning about the violence to which pietas can lead, responding only to its object history as a possession. He also fails to exercise the kind of moral creativity that Hypermnestra did in forgiving her husband and founding a dynasty. Just as Aeneas’ revenge disregards the belt’s message, his unseen but inevitable despoliation of Turnus’ body moments afterward replicates Turnus’ earlier, unforeseeing, and doomed appropriation of this objet. The belt’s description as infelix () suggests that bad luck may redound upon its bearer, just as inimicum 

Cf. Potz () and Gaskin () on competing forms of pietas here. The ending also opposes clementia and iustitia, both depicted on the clupeus virtutis; see, e.g., Galinsky (: ), Konstan (), Marincola (), and Most (). Tarrant (: –) further parses Aeneas’ motivations, and Fowler (: ) also notes Aeneas’ imposition of meaning onto this object.



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

insigne (“enemy armor,” .) hinted that Pallas’ armor would some day turn against Turnus. By the end of the epic, as Aeneas stands in the same subject position as the Danaids who go unmentioned on Pallas’ belt, readers are left to fill in the consequential ellipsis – perhaps with the image of the Danaids’ endless expiation of their crimes. Pallas’ belt triangulates Aeneas’ victory through the admonitory exemplum of the Danaids to reflect on Augustus’ own challenges in reunifying Rome, but also to meditate more generally on the link between seeing and doing. The Palatine’s expropriation of spoils, materials, and multivalent iconography to serve the nascent principate might strike some as a form of overexultation in victory (.–), perhaps even a spur to wrathful remembrance. Whatever the intentions of “Clonus” in crafting the imaginary balteus (), Aeneas’ response unintentionally duplicates the crime it depicts. Ignoring its warning against broken foedera and mistaking the Danaids’ negative example for a positive one, Aeneas ultimately lacks the ethical imagination not to replicate the violence modeled by the Danaids and Turnus. The Aeneid thus converges with elegy to suggest that art, from the Danaid belt to Augustan architecture to Vergil’s own text, is what individuals make of it – and shapes their responses to the world, for better or worse. Aeneas, like Augustus, enjoyed exceptional power to inscribe his readings upon history: with Romulus, he even founds a city on a questionable act of interpretation. Yet together with Horace and Propertius, Vergil hints that the resultant community could escape the sterile cycle of retribution only through a diversity of voices and views.

. Ovid’s Elegiac Revisitations of the Palatine ..

Amores .

Later in the principate, as Augustus’ power began to seem more inevitable and his moral program took firmer shape, Ovid would knit these authors’ concerns for justice, morality, and meaning even more deeply into the poetic intertext that shrouds the Palatine. His brief mention of the Danaid 

 

As Tarrant (: ) notes, saevus dolor refers to both the murder on the belt and Aeneas’ grief; saeva ira applies only to Aeneas in his grief over Pallas (.) and to Juno in her rage against the Trojans (.–). See also Quinn (: ) on art as a spur to vengeance, Seider (: ) for the role of memory, and Wilson (), Harris (), and Gill (), among others, for Aeneas’ unstoic lapse into passion. For the artist’s unusual individuation by name, cf. Pandey (: ). Cf. Plut. Rom. – on Romulus’ competitive, even deceptive, augural competition with Remus.

Ovid’s Elegiac Revisitations of the Palatine



portico in Amores . renders explicit the space’s generalized association with moral control in Propertius (–): hesterna vidi spatiantem luce puellam illa, quae Danai porticus agmen habet. protinus, ut placuit, misi scriptoque rogavi. rescripsit trepida “non licet!” illa manu; et, cur non liceat, quaerenti reddita causa est, quod nimium dominae cura molesta tua est. Yesterday I saw a girl strolling in that portico which holds the throng of Danaus. Immediately, since she pleased me, I sent her a note and asked her out. She wrote back with trembling hand, “It’s not possible!”; and, when I asked why not, the reason was sent back that you keep excessive vigilance over your mistress.

The rest of the poem is an extended plea to the guard Bagoas to relax his vigilance, on the grounds that what the woman’s husband doesn’t know won’t hurt him (–); news of infidelity will only redound badly on the messenger (–); and the guard has nothing to gain, and much to lose, from reporting her dalliances (–; –). Instead of incurring punishment like Tantalus, Argus, and other incarcerated informants (–), the narrator insists, the guard can line his pockets by participating in a victimless social comedy: that is, feigning vigilance to flatter the husband’s jealousy, granting his mistress a “furtive liberty” (furtiva . . . libertas, ), and perhaps eventually gaining his own freedom (–; –). Though Ovid was only a generation younger than Propertius, he absorbed and responds to his predecessor so thoroughly that his poems wear their secondariness on their sleeves, politically as well as poetically. Amores . responds to and disambiguates Propertius ./ in several particulars now that Augustus had succeeded in passing the leges Iuliae (de adulteriis coercendis and de maritandis ordinibus) in  BCE. The Ovidian puella’s stroll on the Palatine at – (hesterna vidi spatiantem luce puellam . . .) revises Cynthia’s failure to stroll these environs at ..–. The Ovidian narrator adds that he and the girl are not attempting any crime (scelus, ) such as mixing poison (–) or threatening with “drawn sword” (non stricto fulminat ense manus, ). These specifically 



The current three-book edition was not published before  BCE, and likely between around  and  BCE, though work on the original five may have commenced in the mid-s; cf. McKeown (: –). For further analysis, including this poem’s relation with Am. ., see also Davis (: ), Damon (: ), and Barsby (: ). For these and their  CE modification, the lex Pappia Poppaea, see Frank (), Richlin (), Cohen (: ), Edwards (: –), and Treggiari (: –).



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

recall the poisoning accusation against Cynthia (Prop. ..) and Danaus’ own “drawn sword” on the Palatine (Belides et stricto stat ferus ense pater, Ars Am. .; Tr. ..). The poet’s prayer to “love in safety,” he maintains, is far “softer” by comparison (mollius, , recalling Hypermnestra’s mollior, Hor. Odes ..). Yet elegiac license and liberty remain no more welcome on the Palatine than Cynthia was a decade before, and the leges Iuliae vindicate Propertius’ concern for moral policing. Ovid’s argument to Bagoas doubles as a critique of the new moral program: why monitor a “crime” that has no real victims so long as it remains undetected? The girl’s response is constrained by third-party rules (non licet, ..), rather than innate virtue, religious feeling, or family loyalty, framing Augustus’ supposed restoration of all these as merely palliative. Ovid’s elaborate stage directions to the guard satirize Augustus’ legislative manipulation of Roman private lives, efforts that did not necessarily restrict behavior behind closed doors. In a comical twist on the primacy of reader response, Ovid suggests that the credible appearance of chastity is more important than its actuality. Bagoas’ name, typical of the eunuch slaves of Persian monarchs, analogizes the latter, the jealous vir, and Augustus himself in their attempts to control female bodies. Amores . further parallels the puella’s behavioral shackles with the slave’s actual bondage, suggesting that under the Palatine’s watchful eye, Romans now enjoy true libertas only when furtiva – when they disguise their private pleasures under an appropriate public guise. Ovid, of course, defied these morals and provoked his own relegatio in the Ars Amatoria, invoking the adulterous Julian ancestress as muse (coeptis, mater Amoris, ades, .) in the same breath as he excludes Roman matronae in lip service to Augustan law (.–; cf. Tr. .–). In an imaginative remapping of Rome to which Chapter  returns, Ovid identifies the Danaid portico as a good hunting-ground for men in search of a mate (quaque parare necem miseris patruelibus ausae / Belides et stricto stat ferus ense pater, “and [the portico] where the Danaids dared to prepare death for their wretched cousins, and their savage father stands with drawn sword,” –). This grim picture hardly sets the mood for love,

  



Cf. Kondratieff (: –) on Augustus’ formal and de facto censorial powers. Cf. Plin. HN .; TLL ..; Lemprière () s.v.; and McKeown (: ). Hollis (: ), rightly noting that unmarried women and Vestals also wore vittae, suggests Ovid may mean to include only meretrices; but his ambiguity may well be deliberate (cf. also Tr. ., Tib. ..–, Prop. .., and Serv. Dan. ad Aen. .). Cf. Armstrong () on Ovidian hostility toward Apollo.

Ovid’s Elegiac Revisitations of the Palatine



presenting the Danaids as signs of overobedience to the vengeful paternal authority that these promiscuous pages defy. But the Danaids and other symbols on the Palatine would soon give the exiled poet a new means for resisting the emperor’s non licet (Am. ..) and carving out room for imaginative freedom even in these ideological confines. ..

Tristia .

Tristia . (c. – CE) dialogues with the discursive face of Augustan power on the Palatine more thoroughly than any poem since Propertius ., but presents a very different portrait of both the princeps and his subjects. By the time of Ovid’s exile, the laurel and corona civica had adorned Augustus’ doors and coins for decades. After Augustus became pontifex maximus in  BCE, the Sibylline books and worship of Vesta had been moved to the site; then, following a fire in  CE and rebuilding funded in part by small symbolic donations (Cass. Dio ..), the whole structure was declared public property. Amplifying these visual measures of Augustus’ growing hegemony were Ovid’s pleas from exile, directed toward the Palatine as the symbolic seat of Augustus’ domination and the poet’s only hope for recall. Tristia . tells the story of Perillus, who crafted a bronze bull for the Sicilian tyrant Phalaris but was shut inside it to make it bellow with his own screams as it was heated. This becomes an apt image for the confinement of the exile’s living voice within the material substrate of his own poems, even as it resonates with Myron’s mute cows to recall the princeps’ corporeal power over art and artists. In the first poem of Tristia , Ovid voices a penetrating critique of Augustus’ self-presentation on the Palatine through a different material mask: his personified book itself, recently arrived from Tomis. As Newlands observes, this papyrus roll acts as Ovid’s surrogate in Rome, its outsider status permitting observations that the poet himself may not voice. I further suggest that the book’s alienated reading of the Palatine in turn alienates Augustan signs from signifieds to disrupt the discourse of  



See Goold (: xxxiii–xxxv) on the exile poems’ chronology. The Sibyl appears along with the Palatine triad on the “Sorrento base”; see Roccos () and Zanker (: , fig. ). Vesta was still worshipped in her old temple but an image and shrine were soon dedicated in Augustus’ house. Cf. Cassius Dio .., Beard, North, and Price (: ), and, for the resultant conflation of public and private, Bowman (: ), Edwards (: ), Barchiesi (: –), and Boyle (: ). Newlands (: –); see also Williams () on the physical book and Abrams ( s.v.) on the “structural irony” that arises when a knowing reader examines a naïve response.



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

power. Writing decades after Gallus and Propertius and presenting himself as a casualty of the Augustan moral program, Ovid not only validates the latter’s concern for expressive freedom but also deconstructs Palatine semiotics through dialogue with his “friendly reader” (lector amice, ). In the process, he mocks the literal thinking that led Augustus, as characterized in Tristia , to read poems like the Ars Amatoria as spurs to behavioral imitation among their readers (.–) or indices to their authors’ minds (.–; , nec liber indicum est animi, sed honesta voluptas, recalling honesta Venus at Prop. ..). The emperor, like the book, naïvely believes that signs and signifieds have an objective relation – a notion of which Roman readers have long been disabused by Augustus’ own representational fictions. Ovid’s critique of Augustan iconography in Tristia . takes two related tacks. Most obviously, the book’s unacculturated, explicitly nonauthorial perspective provides dramatic cover for a sustained exploration of the separability of Augustan signs and signifieds. Tristia . raises semiotic questions from its first lines, when the book begs readers to forgive his disheveled appearance and elegiac ‘limp’ (–), signs of his master’s sorrow and the book’s long journey from Tomis (via longa facit, ). The poet thus embeds his voice within a foreign body that sees the world with almost comic literality, misattributing abstract conventions like elegy’s metrical cadence to real-world factors like physical distance. This book also depends on audience reception in the most literal of ways. After a captatio benevolentiae (lector amice, ), the book begs his readers to tell him where a foreign visitor can find a place to stay (–). The next line clarifies that the book has been reporting the speech he gave on first arriving in Rome. Only one of Ovid’s readers heeded his plea, just barely (vix fuit unus, ), and showed him where to go as a guest-book in this city (hospes in urbe liber, , the last word setting up later play on libertas). The book thanks the reader (–) and follows him up to the Palatine. On the way, the book itself becomes a reader, of Augustus’ public image as inscribed upon the city of Rome. The book’s readings, in turn, point out symbols’ dual capacity to misrepresent the princeps and be misunderstood by his subjects, puncturing the illusion that Augustus could turn  

See also Hinds (: ), Williams (: ), Newlands (: –), and Farrell () on the corporeality of the book. I return to the guide below. Schmitzer () takes him as a monstrator waiting to show strangers around the city, linking Hor. Sat. .; Geyssen () compares Martial ..

Ovid’s Elegiac Revisitations of the Palatine



Rome into a “recognizable, unambiguous narrative” that served his desired public image. Tristia . reasserts individuals’ voice in the creation of meaning by illustrating their capacity to misread architectural texts, to fail to weave them into a coherent narrative, or to assemble them into the ‘wrong’ narrative altogether. The book’s innocent misprisions point out by contrast Roman interpretive communities’ complicity in normalizing the otherwise arbitrary connection between Augustan signs and signifieds. The book further aids this process as a voyant-visible whose own sorry plight becomes a meaningful element of Rome’s urban text. Building on Propertius’ revocalization of Logos on the Palatine, then, the exiled Ovid derationalizes its visual logic and further politicizes the hidden transcript beneath its autocratic façade. Paths to the Palatine Scholars have identified the liber’s route up the Palatine with Aeneas and Evander’s path in Aeneid .–; certainly, the latter passage forms an eloquent counterpoint, with Tibullus . resonant in the background. In a conversation that echoes Anchises’ exegesis of future Romans, discussed in Chapter , Evander points out to Aeneas sites that already had a prehistory and would figure in Rome’s storied ‘future’: among others, the Carmental altar and gate (–), Romulus’ asylum (–), the Lupercal (–), and the Argiletum. Evander’s invocation of the latter as a witness to the death of his guest Argus (–) suggests a persuasive, almost forensic, quality to the urban memoryscape. Vergil interweaves this sacred topography’s past with its glorious future. The Tarpeian rock and the Capitol, “now golden,” were in Evander’s time “prickly with wild-growing brambles” (–); the ruined remains of Janus’ and Saturn’s towns mark the site’s primeval sanctity and set off its splendid renovations under Augustus. Passing “cattle lowing here and there in the Roman Forum and the elegant Carinae” (–), Evander finally welcomes Aeneas to his own humble home on the Palatine, an analogue for Augustus’ house on the

 

Favro (:  and ); compare Jaeger (: ) on morality and topography in Horace. Space precludes full discussion of the latter, which Cairns (: ) views as a ktisis hymn for Rome. Tibullus recalls the Palatine through leitmotifs including triumph (triumphali, ; triumphe, ), Phoebus (, , , , ), and laurels (, , , , ), but simultaneously erases it from Saturnian Rome’s bucolic landscape; imperial monopolization of the symbolic language of the triumph, discussed in Chapter , also meant that his hope for Messalinus’ triumph (–) would never come to pass. Like Vergil, Tibullus juxtaposes nostalgia for Rome’s simple past (–) with recent upheavals (–) and a vision of the future (–), all triangulated through Sibylline prophecy. Rea () presents a pro-Augustan view of this intertextual landscape.



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

same site (–). Vergil thus represents this pastoral landscape as a historical palimpsest signifying Rome’s rich and unbroken history and eliciting reverence for the changes wrought by time. In his paean to modern Rome in Ars Amatoria , Ovid had mocked such Vergilian nostalgia: “The Palatine that now gleams under Phoebus and our leaders – what was it before unless a pasture for oxen to plow?” (quae nunc sub Phoebo ducibusque Palatia fulgent, / quid nisi araturis pascua bubus erant?, –). The exile poems strike a more sober note. In Newlands’ reading, the book in Tristia . retreads Evander’s path in order to evoke “the city’s founding ideals.” But Evander leads Aeneas through the Capitoline (et Capitolia ducit / aurea nunc, Aen. .–), whereas Ovid’s book proceeds straight from the imperial fora through the Forum Romanum to the Palatine gate, suggesting the routes may not be identical. More important, Ovid’s book creates a very different associative path via the landmarks it notes, in a reply to Evander’s tour and Augustus’ recent topographical revisions. Peter Wiseman has identified the book’s route with the second of two approaches to the Palatine complex, built after the fire of  CE. While the original steep western approach up the Clivus Victoriae had highlighted the building’s majesty, this new route ran from the forum past many aristocratic houses, in a possible bid to soften autocratic connotations and present the princeps’ home, like the man himself, as primus inter pares. Ovid’s book, however, has a different story to tell. Instead of beginning at the port, the Campus Martius, or some other natural point of entry for foreigners, the first identifiable landmark the book mentions – the fora Caesaris () – shows that it is already within the pomerium. The term fora Caesaris () itself bespeaks some confusion. Julius Caesar had begun a  

 

  

See Binder (: –), Gransden (: ), and Huskey (: ). In this Vergilian context, the cows of Myron signal an Augustan attempt to restore simpler values. For recent bibliography, see O’Hara () ad loc. with Wiseman (: –), White (: –), Edwards (: –), Fantham (), Klodt (: –), and Lowrie (: –). Newlands (: ); see also Fowler (). This list might also strike readers as a window into Ovid’s own memory of Rome, given the links between memory and topography; cf. Jaeger (), Favro (: –, –), and more generally Yates (). Wiseman (: –); for the book’s route, see also Bishop (: –), Kenney (, map ), and Huskey (, with maps). See Wiseman (: –), with interesting discussion of Aeneid .– as a possible reflection of the first path. Wiseman (: ) and Huskey (: ) believe that the book begins asking for directions in the Argiletum; see below.

Ovid’s Elegiac Revisitations of the Palatine



forum featuring a temple to his divine ancestor Venus Genetrix and famously received senators from its entrance (Suet. Iul. .). Octavian completed this project after Caesar’s death in a self-serving gesture of piety toward his adoptive father (Cass. Dio ..). He also in  BCE completed the Forum Augustum, whose magnificent Temple of Mars Ultor and statue gallery, discussed in Chapter , framed Roman history as a stately progression culminating in the Caesars. Either of these could legitimately be termed a forum Caesaris. But where is the Forum Romanum itself, the repository of so much Republican history and the place where tourists might linger longest? The book would have had to pass through it in order to reach the Temple of Vesta (). So the omission of its name must mean either that the new fora built by Augustus eclipsed it completely or that the Forum Romanum also by now numbered among “Caesar’s forums.” If the latter had served as a “topographical mirror of Roman constitution and society” during the republic, then it reflected a very different polity as it filled up over four decades with monuments to Augustus, including the arch of Augustus and the temple of Divus Iulius. The book continues to signpost its verbal map of the urbs with other landmarks that symptomatize the changes Augustus had wrought to Roman civic and religious life. After proceeding down the Sacred Way (), the book passes “the place of Vesta, who preserves the Palladium and fire” (locus . . . Vestae, qui Pallada servat et ignem, ) – that is, the Temple of Vesta in the Forum Romanum. But as readers well knew, Augustus had long before transferred Vesta’s shrine to his home, allowing Ovid to joke that three gods now lived on the Palatine (Fasti .–). The book’s reasonable error thus highlights the emperor’s unprecedented selfidentification with the state and arrogation of Roman tradition. This is underscored by the subsequent mention of the antiqui regia parva Numae (), the “small palace of ancient Numa.” The Regia had hitherto served as headquarters for the pontifex maximus as he tended Vesta’s flame and resided in the nearby domus publica. Augustus’ bold step of having part of     

Nic. Dam., Caes. ; Plin. HN .; Westall () reads it as a representation of Caesar. See also Section . for its relation with the Forum Augustum. Its official name was the Forum Iulium (RG ), but it commonly appears as the Forum Caesaris (Plin. HN .); cf. Platner and Ashby (: –) and Zanker (: , –). Sometimes called the Forum Martis (schol. Juv. .–; Polemius Silvius ; CIL .); cf. Platner and Ashby (: –). Schmitzer (). Not mentioned by name but suggested by the term fora Caesaris and along the book’s route; see Huskey (: ), figs.  and . Augustus’ centrality to the poem argues against Huskey’s view that it enacts “a kind of rhetorical damnatio memoriae against Augustus” (: ).



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

his own house declared domus publica transferred this function to the Palatine, represented him as a new Numa, and couched his quasi-regal power in the trappings of tradition while further conflating his public and private roles. At last, the book and his guide turn through the porta Palati (), a rare appellation for the porta Mug(i)onia. While the latter evoked pastoral Rome’s lowing cows, now present only in silent statuary form, the name porta Palati points to the structure that was coming to emblematize this new urban node, Augustan power, and the very institution of monarchy. It was around this time that the name of the Palatine hill came to denote “palace,” in a usage that Ovid himself helped to innovate in Ars Amatoria . (Palatia fulgent), Metamorphoses . (magni Palatia caeli), and Fasti . (Palatinae laurus). On the other side of this gate, the book’s guide points out the temple of Jupiter Stator, “where Rome was first founded” (hic Stator, hoc primum condita Roma loco est, ). This structure was founded by Romulus and praised for its simplicity and humility, like Romulus’ hut on the other side of the Palatine (Livy ..–). The opulent Apolline temple of Rome’s second founder (and Romulus’ nearnamesake) atop the hill must have stood in stark contrast, looking down over the city and its founder’s old temple, much as Jupiter had overtopped Saturn in Rome’s legendary past. Equally notable are this itinerary’s omissions. Most of these landmarks are relics of regal Rome: the book seems to progress directly from the age of the kings to that of Augustus, marking few buildings en route with strongly Republican associations, like the Rostra or Curia. All the edifices the book does mention have undergone some change of meaning, function, or status because of Augustus, highlighting his wholesale revision of Rome’s urban landscape and the history it memorializes. The book’s very purpose in this journey underscores Augustus’ accumulation of power. It not only steps off the boat into a Rome that looks as if it has always been a  







Cf. Lecamore (–) and Simpson (: –) for the Regia’s loss of centrality. For the lowing of cows (mugire) on the Palatine, see Aen. ., , and , Prop. .., and discussion of the cows of Myron above. Only Livy (.. and .) refers to the vetus porta Palati, vetus suggesting a name change. See Cass. Dio ..– and Lewis and Short (s.v.). Miller (: ) observes that the “palace” meaning is not regularized until Flavian times, but compare Milnor (: ). Favro () treats new civic “nodes” under Augustus, and Winterling () the development of the imperial court. The senate had considered giving Octavian the name Romulus before Plancus suggested Augustus (Suet. Aug. .). For Jupiter Stator’s associations with speech acts to save the state, cf. Livy ., Newlands (: ), and Huskey (: ). Few areas had not undergone such changes – but this is precisely my point. For the Palatine as a focal point for Augustan building, cf. Boyle (: ) and Favro (: –).

Ovid’s Elegiac Revisitations of the Palatine



monarchy, but also behaves as if it is by proceeding directly to the Palatine as the sole locus of power. The book’s naïve urban narrative, mediated by his guide (, ), thus asks Roman readers to recalibrate their responses to the public image Augustus projected. Despite his power’s supposed continuity with republican tradition and basis in popular support, Tristia . places Augustus literally and figuratively at the apex of Rome: at the top of the Palatine, the end of the book’s climb, and the climax of Roman history. That history, as Tacitus would reiterate (Ann. .), proves first and last a regal one, with a Republican interlude whose achievements and material remains were already being eclipsed, overbuilt, and erased. Jupiter or Apollo? The book’s rereading of Augustan iconography reaches its height after it passes singula marvels () – likely the houses of aristocrats, anonymized through this single adjective – to arrive at the Palatine. Here it beholds the greatest marvel of all, “doorposts conspicuous for their shining arms and a house worthy of a god” (fulgentibus armis / conspicuos postes tectaque digna deo, ), and asks whether this is the home of Jupiter (Iovis haec . . . domus est?, ). This apparently innocent confusion revisits the hermeneutically suspicious relations among Augustus, Apollo, and Jupiter that Ovid had developed in Metamorphoses , briefly discussed in Section ... Ovid’s statement that “if audacity were granted to my words, I would not at all fear to have called Olympus the Palatine of great heaven” (hic locus est, quem, si verbis audacia detur, / haud timeam magni dixisse Palatia caeli, .–) opens a self-consciously dangerous analogy between Jupiter and Augustus that limns the autocratic tendencies behind the latter’s supposedly egalitarian self-presentation. Jupiter’s summoning a council on heaven’s “Palatine” parallels him with Augustus, who convened senate meetings on the Palatine in his old age. It may reflect on Augustus, too, that Jupiter treats the other gods as subjects and possessions (vos habeoque regoque, ), there not to vote or advise but simply to approve his personal determination to destroy the entire human race () because





See Bömer (: –) for a review of the copious scholarship, favoring Heinze and Otis’ straight reading of this concilium deorum over Ribbeck and Marg’s picture of Ovid as “Urväter der Résistance”; more recently, Müller () and Segal () examine Ovid’s ambivalent portrayal of Jupiter. While Bömer takes dixisse aoristically (: ), the perfect infinitive points to the reality that Ovid has already made this comparison even in professing his fear to do so. See Tac. Ann. .., ..; Cass. Dio .; Serv. Dan. ad Aen. .; Thompson (); and Miller (: ).



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

of one man’s crimes (–). The gods’ unanimous “roar” of assent (confremuere, ) “as when an impious band raged to extinguish the name of Rome with Caesarian blood” (–) further recalls the drowning-out of individual voices within Augustus’ supposed consensus universorum. With universalizing language that parodies the latter (humanum genus est totusque perhorruit orbis, ), Ovid again ties Jupiter’s moralizing veil for his autocracy back to Augustus’: nec tibi grata minus pietas, Auguste, tuorum / quam fuit illa Iovi (“your subjects’ loyalty was no less pleasing to you, Augustus, than theirs was to Jupiter,” –). Whether this plot to shed “Caesarian blood” refers to Caesar’s assassination in  BCE or one of several plots to assassinate Augustus, the very existence of such conspiracies disproves his claim to universal support and suggests, like Ovid’s sidus Iulium narrative, that such rhetoric was possible only in hindsight. Ovid revisits this analogy between Jupiter and Augustus not only throughout his epic, but also in the exile poems, whose ontological origin in Augustus’ wrath politicizes the remembered cityscape of Tristia .. The comparison is doubly provocative because of Augustus’ self-association with the ostensibly less autocratic Apollo. Yet the overconfident young god’s treatment of Daphne at Metamorphoses .– reflects no better on Augustus. His representational disingenuity holds an unflattering mirror to the principate, as does the fact that his domination of Daphne’s resistant body – like Augustus’ of Rome – irrevocably changes her nature and removes her ability to voice dissent. As Daphne morphs into the mute symbol of the laurel, Apollo attempts to dictate what she will mean to future generations when she adorns Augustus’ home on the Palatine (–). Projecting his own desires onto her silently resistant text (libro, ), Apollo belives he is granting her an honor (–) and thinks that she nods in assent (factis modo laurea ramis / adnuit utque caput visa est agitasse cacumen, –). The god’s attempt to reauthor this sign of Daphne’s compromised identity into a symbol of his own glory parallels Augustus’ project with the Palatine complex and reminds readers of the latent coercion behind signs of consent. Through the speaking symbol of the book, however, Ovid forces these Augustan signs into a dialogue that vindicates individual subjectivities’  

Bömer (: , with references) favors the Augustan reading of Heinze and Breitenbach, against the Caesarian one of Haupt-Ehwald, Lafaye, and Otis. E.g., Apollo’s claim that he does not pursue Daphne with predatory intent (–) is belied by his extended comparison with a Gallic hound chasing a hare (–). For Ovid’s portrayal of Apollo, see also Knox (), Putnam (), Miller (/), Fulkerson (), and discussion above.

Ovid’s Elegiac Revisitations of the Palatine



role in vivifying texts and implicates his own readers in a subtextual conversation about divine models for Augustan authority. Simply by asking whether the Palatine is the home of Jupiter (), the book conducts a powerful (mis)reading. Catharine Edwards has interpreted this question as a reproach to Augustus for failing to display the humility that Evander had advocated when inviting Aeneas into his home on this very site (aude, hospes, contemnere opes et te quoque dignum / finge deo, rebusque veni non asper egenis, Aen. .–). But the book’s question does not constitute evidence that Augustus’ house was truly immodest. Rather, it shows how the complex’s careful balance between private modesty and public munificence (cf. Suet. Aug. –) could fail to speak its intended message and instead seem to equate Augustus with the gods, even assert ownership over them (cf. Phoebe domestice, Met. .). By misunderstanding the complex as an integrated space that belongs to Augustus, moreover, the book hits on the basic truth that temples glorify their builders as well as the gods. It also activates multiple senses in which Augustus’ complex might be considered dignum deo, “worthy of a god,” in Vergil’s already ambiguous phrase: worthy of Apollo, Jupiter, or Augustus, god in his own city. After picking out Jovian undertones in Augustus’ display of pietas toward Apollo, the book encounters the laurels and oak crown that adorned the Palatine doors and were reproduced throughout visual culture as signs of the popular consent and power to save that underwrote the princeps’ rule (Figure .). Yet instead of linking the oak with its usual explanatory legend, ob civis servatos (“for saving citizens”), the book reads it as an augurium (“divine sign”) confirming that this is the house of Jupiter (). This mistake draws on the oak’s long iconographical association with Jupiter to highlight Augustus’ reappropriation of the sign and usurpation of the god as its referent. The etymological link between augurium and “Augustus” underscores the visual pun and tightens the parallel between 



  

Edwards (: ), with further discussion by Newlands (: ), Huskey (: ), and Miller (: ); for the location, see Bishop (: ), with Fowler (: ), Binder (: –), and Gransden (: ). Wiseman () makes good sense of this space as a wide area Apollinis overlooked by Augustus’ house as well as the temple. By the time of Josephus (BJ ..) the temple was evidently felt to be part of the palace; see also Suet. Aug. . (in ea parte Palatinae domus) and Miller (: ). Compare Met. ., as discussed at Section .., and R. D. Williams (: ) on the ambiguity of Evander’s deo. See Galinsky (: ) for a survey of coins featuring Palatine imagery. As Zanker points out (: , fig. b), a coin of  BCE (Sutherland, RIC I p. , no.  Mattingly, BMCRE I p. , no.  Grueber, BMCRR II p. , no. ) places the corona civica above the head of the elder Julia between Gaius and Lucius, suggesting the symbol’s



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

Jupiter and pater patriae. Even when corrected about the place’s true “master” (cuius ut accepi dominum, ), the book nevertheless continues to insist on the identity between Jupiter and Augustus: “No mistake; truly this is the house of mighty Jupiter” (“non fallimur,” inquam, / “et magni verum est hanc Iovis esse domum,” –). Far from being an innocent compliment, of course, the book’s awestruck equation of the two defies Augustus’ dislike of being called dominus (Suet. Aug. .) and equated with a god. The book’s ignorance of the rules of Roman discourse and decorum thus allows it to vocalize equivalences between Jupiter and Augustus nominally clothed by the latter’s Republican offices, rhetoric, and image. Contradicting Augustus’ attempt to found a new Apolline order, the book unwittingly rewrites the Palatine as another Capitoline and replaces Jupiter with Augustus as Rome’s highest god (magni . . . Iovis, ; maxime dive, ). But the book quickly senses an inconsistency in the visual grammar of Augustus’ door. If the oak signifies the house of Jupiter, “why is the door veiled with laurel in front, and why does the shady tree enclose the august doors” (cur tamen opposita velatur ianua lauro, / cingit et augustas arbor opaca fores, –)? The book understands the laurel’s traditional association with Apollo, but not its transformation in meaning and usage under Augustus. A reuse of the aug- root (augurium, ; augustas, ) seals this sign’s reappropriation, too, by Augustus. The book proceeds, with a schoolboy eagerness betokening readerly goodwill, to question the laurel’s significations in this context. To Ovid’s more knowledgeable external readers, these questions define a problematic gap between the sign and what it purports to signify, between the laurel’s denotations (outlined at Met. .–) and Augustus’ true deserts. The book asks first whether “this house has deserved unending triumphs” (num quia perpetuos meruit domus ista triumphos, ). However, the only triumphs Augustus celebrated were at the beginning of his career,



  

detachment from its original meaning to become part of imperial insignia; others identify the image as a laurel wreath. In its other meaning as “omen,” this augurium might foreshadow Augustus’ eventual ascent to the stars, as discussed in Chapter . Boyle (: ) also connects the tectum augustum (“august house”) of Latinus at Aen. . and the tectum angustum (“narrow house”) of Evander at Aen. .. For private and provincial worship of Augustus, despite his supposed ban, see Gradel (). Compare Fantham (: ) on an opposition between the Augustan Palatine and Republican Capitoline. Newlands similarly observes that Ovid “mockingly exposes the gap between imperial title and practice” (: ), but only in relation to Augustus’ denial of clemency to Ovid.

Ovid’s Elegiac Revisitations of the Palatine



on three consecutive days in  BCE over Dalmatia, Actium, and Egypt. By the time of Ovid’s writing, Rome had experienced military setbacks that made the laurels a token of past-tense victory – note the perfect-tense meruit – rather than present or perpetual military prowess. The very idea of “unending triumphs” (perpetuos . . . triumphos, ) – recalling the perpetuos honores of the laurel forced to deck Augustus’ doors at Metamorphoses . – is a contradiction in terms, given this ceremony’s careful temporal and religious circumscription in Republican tradition. In disconnecting Augustan triumphs from real or recent victories, the book anticipates the exclusive, permanent, and increasingly symbolic association between emperors and the triumphal laurel discussed in Chapter . The book’s follow-up question, whether Augustus’ house “has always been beloved by the Leucadian god” (), recalls the specific Actian victory, near a temple to Leucadian Apollo, to which Augustus owed his supremacy. There is some suggestion that later in his reign, the princeps was embarrassed by the zeal with which he first commemorated this triumph over a fellow Roman. But monuments like the Palatine, channeled through viewpoints like the book’s, kept alive memories of the historical accidents that calcified into his enduring, quasi-divine authority. Continuing this awkward line of questioning, the book asks whether the laurel indicates that “the house itself is joyous or makes all things joyous” (ipsane quod festa est, an quod facit omnia festa, ). This points to a disjunct between the imperial domus’ festive outward appearance and its internal troubles: most recently, the pater patriae’s failure to control his own granddaughter Julia, exiled in  CE and excluded even from his Mausoleum (Suet. Aug. .), and the Varian disaster that caused Augustus so much personal tribulation the following year (Suet. Aug. .). Festa, moreover, is an antonym of tristia: the house has not, at least, brought joy to Ovid. Perhaps, then, the laurel marks the “peace which the house has given to the world” (quam tribuit terris, pacis an ista nota est, )? But at least as depicted in the Tristia, the Pax Augusta does not extend

 

 

Though he claims credit for refusing all other triumphs (RG ). The years – CE saw Varus’ loss of three legions, famine, problems with conscription and taxes, the conspiracy of Publius Rufus, and the removal of Agrippa Postumus, Cassius Severus, and Julia the Younger. Wiedemann (: –) notes that Tristia  makes frequent reference to these “embarrassing” problems, perhaps to appeal to Roman aristocrats (); Williams (: ) similarly points to the outdatedness of the accomplishments in Tristia .–. See Beard (: –) and Chapter . Beard suggests that Actium was deliberately omitted from the Fasti Barberiniani (: –).



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

as far as barbaric Tomis. Or, the book offers, does the evergreen laurel signify the house’s “unfading glory” (aeternum decus, )? Even here, the mention of a fallen leaf plucked from the branch (utque viret semper laurus nec fronde caduca / carpitur, –) recalls that, after the deaths of Marcellus in  BCE, Agrippa in  BCE, Lucius in  CE, and Gaius in  CE, as well as the Julias’ fall from grace, Augustus’ family tree was alarmingly thin on branches – so much so that Tiberius had to be grafted on in  CE. As often in the Fasti, the very multiplicity of the book’s questions underscores the arbitrariness of the oak and laurel signs’ connection with Augustus. So, too, does the fact that this marginalized subject’s attempts to engage the Palatine in mutually constitutive conversation go unanswered: this monument does not care what viewers want. The next couplet finally offers a reading of the corona civica: an inscription “indicates” that it was awarded because Augustus saved citizens (servatos civis indicat huius ope, ). But the long delay between the book’s first encounter with the oak crown in lines – and its observation of the written explanation at line  reminds us that texts open an array of interpretive possibilities and questions that remain indeterminate without readers’ intellectual consent. This reading, moreover, remains unsatisfying. The inscription attests only the immediate cause of the crown’s placement on Augustus’ door, without resolving the book’s questions about what it means or rescinding the Jovian form it gives Augustan power. This power’s salvational potential, for that matter, has by now ceded to its destructive implications: the book pleads, again without answer, for Augustus, “best father,” to add Ovid to the citizens he has saved (adice servatis unum, pater optime, civem, ). Revoicing the poet’s unanswered address to Augustus in Tristia , the book insists that the cause of Ovid’s exile was a mistake (error, ) rather than a crime (facinus, ), casting doubt on the justice of this literally “extreme” punishment (extremo pulsus in orbe, ). Yet his obedient confession that Ovid has deserved his punishment (poenarum, quas se meruisse fatetur, ) suggests that the need to placate the emperor has curtailed his expressive possibilities and created correct and incorrect ways of addressing as well as reading Augustus. 

 

See Habinek (: ) on the threat posed by barbarian peoples at Pont. ..– and ..–, with Nagle (), Williams (: ), and Section . on Ovid’s exaggerations from exile. Hall assigns these lines via quotation marks to the book’s guide, in which case the book’s evident illiteracy would deepen the joke here about cultural literacy. Compare Ex Ponto ..– and – with Davis (: ).

Ovid’s Elegiac Revisitations of the Palatine



Ovid caps the book’s questions with a striking example of the problems of reading. The book asks the reader to witness his fear of this place and its ruler (me miserum! vereorque locum vereorque potentem, ): “Do you see my paper grow pale with bloodless color? Do you see my alternating feet have begun to tremble?” (aspicis exsangui chartam pallere colore? / aspicis alternos intremuisse pedes?, –). Paleness and trembling, of course, typically signify fear. But the book is pale because of its paper, and trembles from its elegiac ‘limp’ (cf. ..–). The book’s timid questions have effectively pointed out that, like the paper’s paleness, Augustan symbols can be intelligible without being true. While its overliteral thinking makes fun of gullible readers, moreover, the book suggests more seriously that Roman audiences rethink their own interpretive complicity in validating the symbols of Augustan power. Exclusus Liber The book in Tristia . has been compared to an exclusus amator, shut out of Augustus’ supposedly public home. Strictly speaking, the place to which it ultimately seeks admission is the library, but its prayers outside Augustus’ doors confirm the princeps’ physical and figurative custodianship over the arts and public discourse at Rome. Strikingly, the book never importunes that other patron of the arts, the god Apollo, and silently passes his temple (intonsi candida templa dei, ). The book lingers longer on the temple environs: the signa of the Danaids and their “barbaric” father among columns of foreign marble (signa peregrinis ubi sunt alterna columnis / Belides et stricto barbarus ense pater, –) and the nearby library, described in terms of its openness to ideas (quaeque viri docto veteres cepere novique / pectore, lecturis inspicienda patent, “and all that ancient and modern men have comprehended with learned mind lies open for readers’ inspection,” –). Yet here, again, there is a “contradiction between the library’s purported liberalism and its actual practice” that analogizes the portico’s enclosure of female bodies with the library’s  

 

Heinsius suggests penates for potentem, which would preserve a similar conflation of place and ruling family. See Section .. for the Ovidian subjective fallacy, including dawn’s “blush” at Amores .. and Augustus’ own overliteral reading of the Ars Amatoria, and brief discussion at Section .. of Ex Ponto .. Newlands (: ), though the book readily turns to other, friendlier lovers in the form of its reading public. Newlands (: ).



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

containment of books. It is in vain that the book searches for his “brother” poems, excepting those their father wishes he had never engendered, the Ars Amatoria (–). It appears that all of Ovid’s literary children, and not just the offending ones, have been exiled from public life along with their father. Much like Metamorphoses ’s rewriting of prior sidus Iulium narratives, then, Tristia . becomes a belated master-text to earlier poems on the Palatine, confirming ex eventu the creeping determinism of Propertius ./ and vindicating that diptych’s anxiety about Augustus’ disciplinary overreach. In fact, Ovid’s poem is concerned with paternal authority on a number of levels. The line-final repetition of pater at  and , first for Danaus and then for Ovid, draws a parallel between the two father figures. Both supplicate on behalf of their children and are betrayed by a missing child: the disobedient Hypermnestra, absent from the Danaid portico, and the treacherous Ars, missing from the library’s shelves. Yet Hypermnestra’s act of resistance, as Horace shows, was also heroic: while her obedient sisters were punished, this “splendidly deceptive virgin” (Odes ..) was saved from her father’s wrath by Aphrodite and ended up in Elysium. This suggests a value in free speech, and a separation between human and divine justice, that relitigates the Ars’ punishment. The “father” that these books truly disobeyed was not Ovid but the pater patriae, whose moral dictates justified Ovid’s relegation and the books’ ban. Tristia . itself moreover becomes an agent of heroic resistance, even vengeance, in exploring the deceptions behind the princeps’ splendid public face. Within the dramatic context of Tristia ., the book fails to aid its exiled father. In contrast to the hospitality Evander showed Aeneas on this site, a guard chases the book away from the library (–), falsifying its claim to include all learned books (–) and showing the physical power that imperial freedmen and slaves – the staff of the library – now exerted over elite Roman discourse. Augustus’ repressive influence, moreover, extends throughout the city: the book is next turned away from the libraries at the Porticus Octaviae and the Temple of Libertas, where the Republican sympathizer Asinius Pollio had first made a space “open to learned books” (quae doctis patuerunt prima libellis, ). Again, labels prove misleading, and Libertas is denied to Ovid’s liber () – though Pollio had  

To O’Gorman (: ), the Danaids illustrate patria potestas; see also Davisson () for family imagery relating to Ovid’s books. Augustus’ freedman Hyginus headed the library for a time; Houston (: ) compiles epigraphic evidence for other employees.

Ovid’s Elegiac Revisitations of the Palatine



earlier opened his home to the historian Timagenes after the latter’s ban from the Palatine, in an act of defiant hospitality that Augustus made a public show of tolerating (Sen. De Ira ..–). Evoking tragic conceptions of guilt, the book laments, “Our wretched author’s fortune redounds on his children, and from birth we suffer the exile which he himself incurred” (in genus auctoris miseri fortuna redundat, / et ferimus nati, quam tulit ipse, fugam, –). Banishment from these collections, of course, had a further effect on these literary children’s longevity and ability to bear progeny of their own through preservation and transcription. The book hopes that time may wear out Augustus’ resolve () and begins beseeching the gods, with a revealing epanorthosis: “Gods, I pray, or rather – since I mustn’t address the crowd – Caesar, greatest god, attend my prayer!” (di, precor, atque adeo – neque enim mihi turba roganda est – / Caesar, ades voto, maxime dive, meo, –). The prayer to Augustus as maxime dive () highlights the cruel irony that Ovid’s persecutor is also his only potential savior, illustrating the dangers of the princeps’ personal accumulation of powers and positions traditionally distributed among many magistrates and gods. The book’s self-correction also suggests Augustus’ jealousy, even rivalry, with the pantheon; his monopolization of the top rung of all patron–client hierarchies; his hostility toward others’ building direct relationships with the turba (here, ironically, of the gods rather than the people); and his subjects’ self-policing in obedience to all these perceived rules (neque enim mihi turba roganda est, ). The poet’s illicit dealings with the “crowd” also revisit Propertius’ concern at ./ for free expression and judgment. Since it has been denied a public position (statio . . . publica, ), the book goes on to pray that it may be permitted “to have hidden” (delituisse, ) in some private place until the princeps’ anger should soften. Paradoxically, the hortatory liceat () connotes deference toward the princeps, while the perfect delituisse suggests that the book will have (or already has) defied the spirit of his book ban. The polite si fas est (), as so often in Ovid, ironically signals a disobedient subtext to the next couplet: “You too (if it’s allowed), hands of the people, take up our poetry, upset by the shame of its 

  

Compare Ovid’s interrelation of liberty, Romanness, and writing in Fasti .–, discussed by Barchiesi (: –), Newlands (: ), and Boyle (: ). On Timagenes, see Griffin (: ), and on the cult of liberty, Elm von der Osten (). For Roman libraries as a source for book copying, see Galen Ind. – and Houston (: ). Compare Met. .–, discussed above; this context further argues against Bömer’s rationalization of the perfect infinitive as aoristic (: ). As Feeney () notes on the Fasti, the fas root often raises problems of free speech.



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

rejection” (vos quoque, si fas est, confusa pudore repulsae / sumite plebeiae carmina nostra manus, –). This insinuates that anyone who reads this poem is aiding and abetting the outlaw book in seeking shelter from the princeps’ anger. Ovid’s readers are thus constructed as subversive simply by virtue of having granted this book the clementia, hospitality, and responsive readership that Augustus has denied it. This not only recalls the freedom that Propertius granted to a metaliterary Cynthia who has already “imitated” Latin and Greek models (..–), but fittingly concludes the poem’s polarization of the Palatine into “pro-” and “anti-Augustan” hermeneutic possibilities, among which the reader rather than author bears responsibility for choosing. The end of Tristia . creates, even requires, a complicity between readers and the book in evading Augustus’ ban that in turn constructs an inherently political, coequal discursive community beneath the Palatine’s vertical model of power. Its division between the unfriendly, imperially surveilled halls of the libraries and the welcoming “hands of the people” enlists all readers who felt themselves shunted, like the “crowd” of gods, into permanently subordinate status by Augustus’ singular power. It also reminds readers present and future that even Augustus could not control the private sphere, where individuals resisted him, silently and daily, simply by having, reading, and copying books. (Gallus, too, would continue to survive within the papyrus fragment found at Qasr Ibrîm and discussed in Section ., despite Augustus’ ban of his _ and surely also his books, from the Palatine.) person, The final volta of Tristia . speaks to anxieties about ideological and material constraints on poetic circulation that are already present in Propertius ./, not to mention poetic apotheoses like Metamorphoses .–, and receive more detailed discussion in Section .. Whatever their expressive freedom, poems are still embodied objects that must survive, circulate, and be copied in order to speak to, and through, generations of readers. Being banned from the libraries, therefore, was not just a blow to Ovid’s ego but a threat to the survival of his poetic voice. Yet the final couplet of Tristia . reminds us that private circulation and copying could evade this political constraint. It is no wonder, then, that the book appears to have met his guide in the Argiletum (–), where

 

Ovid’s ironic use of plebeiae () for his elite readership resembles his reference to the turba of gods (). Newlands (: ) suggests that the book’s lack of cedar oil (), used as a preservative, marks the book’s fragility.

Conclusion



books were often bought and sold. The perfect delituisse at line  was accurate: the book had already been privately welcomed and circulated even before it sought admission to the Palatine library, through the aid of a “friendly reader” () willing to take Ovid’s case. The book’s final plea for safe reception in the “hands” of the people (sumite plebeiae carmina nostra manus, ) is therefore no mere echo, as Newlands observes, of his initial search for a reader to lend him a “hand” (da placidam fesso, lector amice, manum, ): it is an answer and a precondition. We, Ovid’s readers, hold a copy of this book in our hands precisely because the hands of successive generations received and reproduced it. Despite Augustus’ exclusion of Ovid’s elegies from the Palatine and the Atrium Libertatis, a “furtive liberty” (furtiva . . . libertas, Am. ..) continued to thrive among private readers – and the final couplet of Tristia . anoints them as coconspirators to maintain the free circulation of ideas beyond Augustan control. Merely by banning a book from his libraries, Augustus could not exile its voice. On the contrary, as Ovid portrays it, the mere act of reading becomes an act of resistance.

. Conclusion As textbooks and topographical guides have it, the Palatine complex was one early and influential means by which Augustus crafted his public image at Rome, advertising his foundation of a new age under Apollo. Our impression is filtered, however, by sources that align themselves with voices outside Augustus’ supposed consensus and thereby assert interpretive co-ownership over his monarchical domus publica. In response to the Palatine’s architectural augury of the increasingly godlike power the Caesars would claim over Roman society, the poets propagate a hidden transcript in plain view. In their individual ways, they liberate Augustan signs from their authorially intended significations, valorize readers’ covert freedom to (de)construct autocracy, and reproduce ideas and poetic corpora in private as the emperor began to assert patria potestas over Romans’ moral, even sexual, choices. These poems thereby carve out a





For the location, see Wiseman (: ). Luck (: ) speculates that the “friend” addressed in Tristia . may be Hyginus, the Palatine librarian; cf. Newlands (: ) contra. Newlands rightly links this last couplet with “the crucial act of reception” (: ). Note Ovid’s emphasis throughout the exile poems on his debt to his readers, e.g., at the end of Tristia .: “by right, I give thanks to you, honest reader” ().



Questioning Consensus on the Palatine

private space on the Palatine for individual speech and response, even as they rewrite this archetypal “palace” for posterity as an object of resistance and site of interpretive contestation. Subsequent chapters will further explore how the poets answer their loss of one republican freedom by rearticulating their right to political participation in readerly form, transforming imperial spaces, symbols, even silences into an interpretive res publica.

Appendix to Chapter  Propertius ./ 31:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

quaeris cur veniam tibi tardior? aurea Phoebi porticus a magno Caesare aperta fuit. tota erat in spatium Poenis digesta columnis, inter quas Danai femina turba senis. hic equidem Phoebo visus mihi pulchrior ipso marmoreus tacita carmen hiare lyra; atque aram circum steterant armenta Myronis, quattuor artificis vivida signa boves. tum medium claro surgebat marmore templum, et patria Phoebo carius Ortygia, in quo Solis erat supra fastigia currus, et valvae Libyci nobile dentis opus: altera deiectos Parnasi vertice Gallos, altera maerebat funera Tantalidos. deinde inter matrem deus ipse interque sororem Pythius in longa carmina veste sonat.

32:7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4

hoc utinam spatiere loco, quodcumque vacabis, Cynthia! sed tibi me credere turba vetat, cum videt accensis devotam currere taedis in nemus et Triviae lumina ferre deae. qui videt, is peccat: qui te non viderit ergo non cupiet: facti lumina crimen habent. nam quid Praenesti dubias, o Cynthia, sortes, quid petis Aeaei moenia Telegoni?



Latin text based most closely on Goold (), in consultation with Barber (), Camps (), Richardson (), Hanslik (), Fedeli (, ) and Heyworth (), with notes above when relevant to my argument; translation my own.

Appendix cur ita te Herculeum deportant esseda Tibur? Appia cur totiens te Via Lanuvium? scilicet umbrosis sordet Pompeia columnis porticus, aulaeis nobilis Attalicis, et platanis creber pariter surgentibus ordo, flumina sopito quaeque Marone cadunt, et leviter nymphis tota crepitantibus orbe cum subito Triton ore refundit aquam. falleris: ista tui furtum via monstrat amoris: non urbem, demens, lumina nostra fugis! nil agis; insidias in me componis inanis; tendis iners docto retia nota mihi. sed de me minus est: famae iactura pudicae tanta tibi miserae, quanta meretur, erit. nuper enim de te nostras me laedit ad auris rumor, et in tota non bonus urbe fuit. sed tu non debes inimicae cedere linguae: semper formosis fabula poena fuit. non tua deprenso damnata est fama veneno: testis eris puras, Phoebe, videre manus. sin autem longo nox una aut altera lusu consumpta est, non me crimina parva movent. Tyndaris externo patriam mutavit amore, et sine decreto viva reducta domum est. ipsa Venus, quamvis corrupta libidine Martis, nec minus in caelo semper honesta fuit, quamvis Ida illam pastorem dicat amasse atque inter pecudes accubuisse deam; hoc et Hamadryadum spectavit turba sororum Silenique senes et pater ipse chori, cum quibus Idaeo legisti poma sub antro supposita excipiens, Nai, caduca manu. an quisquam in tanto stuprorum examine quaerit “cur haec tam dives? quis dedit? unde dedit?” o nimium nostro felicem tempore Romam, si contra mores una puella facit! haec eadem ante illam iam impune et Lesbia fecit: quae sequitur certe est invidiosa minus. qui quaerit Tatium veterem durosque Sabinos, hic posuit nostra nuper in urbe pedem. tu prius et fluctus poteris siccare marinos altaque mortali deligere astra manu, quam facere ut nostrae nolint peccare puellae: hic mos Saturno regna tenente fuit. at cum Deucalionis aquae fluxere per orbem

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Questioning Consensus on the Palatine et post antiquas Deucalionis aquas, dic mihi, quis potuit lectum servare pudicum, quae dea cum solo vivere sola deo? uxorem quondam magni Minois, ut aiunt, corrupit torvi candida forma bovis; nec minus aerato Danaë circumdata muro non potuit magno casta negare Iovi. quod si tu Graias, si tu es imitata Latinas, semper vive meo libera iudicio! (.) You ask why I come to you a little late? Apollo’s golden portico has been opened by great Caesar. The whole thing had been composed into an arcade by Punic columns, among which was the female crowd of old Danaus. The marble [statue] seemed to me, at least, more beautiful than Phoebus himself, gaping out a song to a silent lyre, and around the altar had been stationed Myron’s flock, four cows, living signs of their maker. Then, in the middle, rose the temple of shining marble, dearer to Phoebus than even his fatherland Ortygia, on which, above the pediment, was the chariot of the Sun, and double doors, a noble work of Libyan ivory: the one mourned the Gauls, thrown down from the peak of Parnassus, the other, the deaths of Tantalus’ descendants [i.e., the children of Niobe]. Then, the Pythian god himself, between his mother and his sister, sings songs in a long gown. (.) If only you would stroll in this space whenever you are free, Cynthia! But the crowd forbids me to trust in you, when they see you rushing with kindled torches to the grove as Diana’s votary, and bringing lights to the goddess Trivia. The man who observes it’s he who sins; he who does not see you will therefore not desire you; the eyes bear blame for the deed. For why, Cynthia, do you question the oracles at Praeneste, why do you seek the walls of Aeaean Telegonus? Why does a carriage convey you to Hercules’ Tibur, why so often does the Appian Way convey you to Lanu vium? The portico of Pompey, I take it, is beneath you, with its shady columns, famous for its cloth of gold awnings, and its dense order of sycamores rising evenly, and the streams that fall from [the statue of] slumbering Maro and run with waters plashing lightly through the whole basin until suddenly Triton recalls the water with his mouth. () You’re deceived: this route of yours shows the theft of your love; you flee not the city, you fool, but my eyes. You’re accomplishing nothing: the plots you compose against me are futile; you foolishly lay well known snares for my well read self. But it’s less about me: the loss of your modest reputation will be as great for you, wretch, as is deserved. For

Appendix



recently an ugly rumor about you has reached my ears, and the whole city has heard it. () But you shouldn’t yield to a hostile tongue; beautiful women have always been punished in talk. Your reputation has not been injured by detection of poison: you will testify as witness, Phoebus, that her hands are clean. If, moreover, one night or another was consumed in lingering flirtation, small charges do not sway me. The daughter of Tyndareus changed her fatherland for a foreign love, and was brought home alive without condemnation. () Venus herself, though seduced by lust of Mars, was never regarded in heaven as less respectable for it, even though Ida vouched that she had loved the shepherd and lain with him, a goddess among the flocks; this also the crowd of sister Hamadryads witnessed and the old satyrs and the father of the chorus himself, with whom, Naiad, you plucked apples in the vale of Ida, catching them falling into your welcoming hands. Amid such a plethora of promiscuity, does anyone ask, “Why is she so wealthy? Who gave? From what funds?” O Rome, too fortunate in our time, if one girl acts contrary to the norm! () These same things Lesbia already did before her with impunity; she who follows is surely less worthy of blame. He who seeks old Tatius and the harsh Sabines only recently set foot in our city. Sooner could you dry the waves of the sea and pluck down the high stars with a mortal hand than make our girls unwilling to stray; this was the norm when Saturn ruled the lands. () But when Deucalion’s waters flowed over the world and after Deucalion’s flood receded, tell me, who was able to preserve a chaste bed, what goddess was able to live alone with one god? Once the wife of great Minos, as they say, was seduced by the snowy beauty of a lowering bull; no more was Danae, enclosed within bronze walls, able to say no to great Jupiter and stay chaste. But if you’ve copied Greek models, if you’ve copied Latin ones, live forever free in my judgment! Ovid, Tristia . “missus in hanc venio timide liber exulis urbem da placidam fesso, lector amice, manum; neve reformida ne sim tibi forte pudori: nullus in hac charta versus amare docet. haec domini fortuna mei est, ut debeat illam infelix nullis dissimulare iocis. id quoque, quod viridi quondam male lusit in aevo, heu nimium sero damnat et odit opus. 

Latin text based on Goold () in consultation with Hall ().

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Questioning Consensus on the Palatine inspice quid portem: nihil hic nisi triste videbis, carmine temporibus conveniente suis. clauda quod alterno subsidunt carmina versu, vel pedis hoc ratio, vel via longa facit; quod neque sum cedro flavus nec pumice levis, erubui domino cultior esse meo; littera suffusas quod habet maculosa lituras, laesit opus lacrimis ipse poeta suum. siqua videbuntur casu non dicta Latine, in qua scribebar, barbara terra fuit. dicite, lectores, si non grave, qua sit eundum, quasque petam sedes hospes in urbe liber.” haec ubi sum furtim lingua titubante locutus, qui mihi monstraret, vix fuit unus, iter. “di tibi dent, nostro quod non tribuere poetae, molliter in patria vivere posse tua. duc age, namque sequar, quamvis terraque marique longinquo referam lassus ab orbe pedem.” paruit, et ducens “haec sunt fora Caesaris” inquit, “haec est a sacris quae via nomen habet; hic locus est Vestae, qui Pallada servat et ignem, haec fuit antiqui regia parva Numae.” inde petens dextram “porta est” ait “ista Palati, hic Stator, hoc primum condita Roma loco est.” singula dum miror, video fulgentibus armis conspicuos postes tectaque digna deo. “et Iovis haec” dixi “domus est?” quod ut esse putarem augurium menti querna corona dabat. cuius ut accepi dominum, “non fallimur,” inquam, “et magni verum est hanc Iovis esse domum. cur tamen opposita velatur ianua lauro, cingit et augustas arbor opaca fores? num quia perpetuos meruit domus ista triumphos, an quia Leucadio semper amata deo est? ipsane quod festa est, an quod facit omnia festa? quam tribuit terris, pacis an ista nota est? utque viret semper laurus nec fronde caduca carpitur, aeternum sic habet illa decus? causa superpositae scripto est testata coronae: servatos civis indicat huius ope. adice servatis unum, pater optime, civem, qui procul extremo pulsus in orbe latet, in quo poenarum, quas se meruisse fatetur, non facinus causam, sed suus error habet. me miserum! vereorque locum vereorque potentem,

Appendix et quatitur trepido littera nostra metu. aspicis exsangui chartam pallere colore? aspicis alternos intremuisse pedes? quandocumque, precor, nostro placere parenti isdem et sub dominis aspiciare domus!” inde tenore pari gradibus sublimia celsis ducor ad intonsi candida templa dei, signa peregrinis ubi sunt alterna columnis, Belides et stricto barbarus ense pater, quaeque viri docto veteres cepere novique pectore, lecturis inspicienda patent. quaerebam fratres, exceptis scilicet illis, quos suus optaret non genuisse pater. quaerentem frustra custos e sedibus illis praepositus sancto iussit abire loco. altera templa peto, vicino iuncta theatro: haec quoque erant pedibus non adeunda meis. nec me, quae doctis patuerunt prima libellis, atria Libertas tangere passa sua est. in genus auctoris miseri fortuna redundat, et ferimus nati, quam tulit ipse, fugam. forsitan et nobis olim minus asper et illi evictus longo tempore Caesar erit. di, precor, atque adeo neque enim mihi turba roganda est Caesar, ades voto, maxime dive, meo! interea, quoniam statio mihi publica clausa est, privato liceat delituisse loco. vos quoque, si fas est, confusa pudore repulsae sumite plebeiae carmina nostra manus. “I come timidly into this city, an exile’s book; give me a gentle hand, friendly reader, tired as I am; don’t dread that I may by chance cause shame to you: not a verse on this page teaches love. () My master’s fortune is such that he, the wretch, shouldn’t hide it with any jokes. Even that work which at one time amused him in his salad days alas, too late, he condemns and hates it! Examine what I bring: you’ll see nothing here () but sadness, a poem befitting its circumstance. If the crippled couplets limp in alternating verse, it’s on account of the foot, or the long journey: if I’m not golden with cedar oil or smoothed by the pumice, I blushed to be better groomed than my author: () if the stained writing is sprinkled with smears, the poet himself stained his own work with his tears. If anything seems contrary to Latin idiom, it was the barbaric land in which I was written. If it’s no trouble, readers, tell me what place, () what house to seek, a book

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Questioning Consensus on the Palatine strange to this city.” Saying these things, covertly, with trembling tongue, I found one, just barely, to show me the way. “May the gods grant you what they didn’t assign our poet, to be able to live easefully in your fatherland. () Now lead, and I’ll follow, though I’ll go back wearily by land and sea from a faraway world.” He complied, and, guiding me, said: “These are Caesar’s forums, this is the Sacred Way, named from the rites, this place is Vesta’s, who guards the Palladium and fire, () this was the tiny palace of ancient Numa.” Turning right from there, “this is the gate of the Palatine,” he said, “here’s Jupiter the Founder, in this place Rome was first founded.” While admiring the sights, I see door posts conspicuous for their shining arms and a house worthy of a god. () “And is this Jupiter’s house?” I said; an oaken wreath gave my mind the omen by which I should think so. When I learned its master, I said, “No mistake; truly this is the house of mighty Jupiter. But why is the door veiled with laurel in front, () and why does the shady tree enclose the august doors? Is it because this house has earned unending triumphs, or because it has always been loved by the Leucadian god? Or because it’s joyful, or makes all things joyful? Or is it the mark of peace which it’s given the world? () And just as the laurel is always green and is not plucked with fallen foliage, does it too possess everlasting glory? The reason for the wreath above the door is declared by inscription: it indicates that through his aid citizens were saved. Best of fathers, add one more citizen to those you’ve saved, () who hides expelled far away at the edge of the world, whose punishment, which he admits that he deserved, was caused not by a conscious crime, but by his own mistake. Wretched me! I fear this place and I fear its ruler, and my letters shake with anxious fear. () Do you see my paper grow pale with bloodless color? Do you see my alternating feet have begun to tremble? Some day, I pray, may your house be reconciled with my parent and may he look upon it under its same masters!” Then I was led with even course up the high stairway, () to the lofty, shining temple of unshorn Apollo, where there are statues alternating with exotic columns, the Danaids and their barbarian father with drawn sword, and all that ancient and modern men have comprehended with learned mind lies open for readers’ inspection. () I searched for my brothers, with those obviously excepted whom their father wishes he’d never engendered. As I searched in vain, the guard appointed to that holy place ordered me to leave those environs. I tried another temple, joined to a nearby theater: () that too couldn’t be entered by my feet. Nor did Liberty allow me to touch her atrium, which first was open to learned books. Our

Appendix wretched author’s fortune redounds on his children, and from birth we suffer the exile which he himself incurred. () Perhaps one day Caesar, won over by long time, will be less harsh to us and to him. Gods, I pray, or rather since I mustn’t address the crowd Caesar, greatest god, attend my prayer! Meanwhile, since a public place is denied me, () may I be permitted to have lain hidden in some private spot. You too (if it’s allowed), hands of the people, take up our poetry, upset by the shame of its rejection.



 

Remapping the Forum Augustum

For whether she draws out a longed for night with me or spends the whole day in easy love, then the waters of the Pactolus come under my roof, and a pearl is plucked from beneath the Red Sea; then kings will yield to me, or so swear my delights, which I pray remain until the fates desire me to perish!

Propertius .. 

. The Idea of Empire If the “enterprise of empire depends upon the idea of having an empire,” as Edward Said has posited, then the age of Augustus saw the consolidation of both. Augustus’ personal accumulation of power ushered in a revolution in Roman ways of representing and governing space at every scale. In  BCE, Augustus divided the city into fourteen regiones further subdivided into neighborhoods called vici with their own magistri. This finds a mirror in Augustus’ discriptio of Italy into eleven administrative units. But, as Claude Nicolet () has documented, Rome also began to chart her far-flung territories and express her hopes for domination of the oikoumenē within the city, with maps and other representational means aiming to reach a wide urban population. The Agrippan map in the Porticus Vipsania displayed  



 Said (: ). Part of the knowledge revolution described by Wallace-Hadrill (, ). Cf. Lott (: –) and Nicolet (: –, –). One might link the Augustan interest in measuring time, e.g., with the Horologium Augusti, Fasti, and reorganized religious calendar, much studied in recent years. Maps of Rome’s imperium were also displayed throughout the empire, as in the third-century version at Augustodunum cited by Wiseman (a: ). See also Riggsby () and Talbert’s studies of the Peutinger Map () and Roman portable sundials (). Chapter  touches on provincial perspectives on the expanse of empire; cf. also Purcell (), Woolf (), Edmondson (), and Mattingly (). Rome’s preoccupation with measuring borders finds a counterpoint in its pursuit of “empire without end” (imperium sine fine, Aen. .); see Pandey (b) for a pessimistic reading, with modern parallels, of the geographical and political transgressions the phrase may adumbrate.



The Idea of Empire



Figure . Emperor Augustus ordering the creation of a map of the Roman empire, from an  facsimile of the Hereford Mappamundi, c. . Photograph by Kathryn McKee. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St. John’s College, Cambridge.

Roman dominion over the orbis terrarum for all the urbs to witness. Wiseman contends that this extended an earlier Caesarian project to measure the known world; certainly, Caesar and Augustus were later conflated in the medieval imagination as world surveyors and explorers, notably in the Hereford Mappamundi (Figure .). Another Augustan project, the Forum Augustum, brought the whole world into the city in another sense: not only by attracting peoples from “both seas” (ab utroque mari, Ars Am. .) to the spectacular events marking its dedication in  BCE, but also representationally, by serving as a visual reminder of the territories Rome had conquered, and ritually, in its function as the point of departure and return for military expeditions. But, with the notable exceptions of Andrew Feldherr () and Sara Lindheim (), scholars have yet to unpack the literary implications of 





As, eventually, did Augustus’ list of conquered lands in the Res Gestae (Nicolet : ). Cf. also Dilke (: –) for contemporaneous Roman cartography and Whittaker (: –) on boundaries. Wiseman (a) attempts to trace its sources in various accounts of Caesar’s efforts to display world domination through mapping; see also Nicolet (: –) for the late account that in  BCE Caesar sent surveyors out to map the world who returned during the reign of Augustus. Feldherr (: ) links Vergil’s charting of the Underworld with a wider interest in representing space; compare Clark (). Lindheim () notes this same tendency in the Metamorphoses; cf. also Lindheim () on borders in the Monobiblos. Relevant more generally to space in Augustan



Remapping the Forum Augustum

the preoccupation with geographical order that was a consequence and condition of Augustan expansionism. This chapter sheds further light on what Lindheim calls the Augustan “mapping impulse” by zooming in on two poetic responses to the building that most embodies it, the Forum Augustum. Both Aeneid  and Ars Amatoria , in different ways, exhibit but also interrogate the preoccupation with mapping and possession that informs this monument. In doing so, these poems participate on a deep if diffuse level in the wider poetic interrogation of imperial representations that is the subject of this study. Maps and other symbolic arrangements of space – much like poems – necessarily reduce and omit information even as they come to stand in for reality and construct impressions of faraway places for audiences who have never traveled there themselves. They are not only a tool for empire, but a metaphor for the abstractions by which it understands and constitutes itself. Previous chapters have explored the literary, even philosophical, conversations that developed around particular signs or objects: the comet of  BCE that came to symbolize Caesar’s deification and the Palatine complex that in  BCE gave visual expression to Octavian’s supremacy. The Forum Augustum was different. Conceived as early as the battle of Philippi in  BCE, begun around  BCE, and finally dedicated in  BCE, this monument intervened in, rather than initiated, an ongoing cultural conversation about Rome’s territorial ambitions. As such, it constitutes a rare architectural reader response to Vergil’s treatment of Rome’s colonialist ethos in Aeneid . The Forum Augustum not only attained richer meaning for contemporary audiences in dialogue with Vergil’s epic, but also elicits a reader response of its own in Ovid’s Ars Amatoria. Building on Chapter ’s analysis of speaking silences on the Palatine, I suggest that both Vergil and Ovid model lacunose, even aposiopetic, responses to imperial spaces – the latter referring to the rhetorical device in which a speaker fails to complete his thought, leaving it to the reader to supply. In my analysis, Vergil and Ovid palpably omit the Forum





poetry are Milnor (), Bowditch (), Leach (), and Keith (); see also studies of Roman cosmopolitanism at note  below. For the relation between Vergil’s Underworld and the Forum Augustum’s sculptural program, see Frank (), Rowell (), Degrassi (), Horsfall (), Harrison (), and discussion below. Rowell () and Zarker () also note this space’s similarity to the hall of Latinus in Aeneid . Cf. Platt () on aposiopesis in modern American politics.

On First Looking into Augustus’ Italy in Aeneid 

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Augustum as a response to that structure’s own rhetorically motivated omission of the errors and losses that accompany imperial expansion. As in previous chapters, these poets model ways for audiences to exert interpretive control over Augustus’ urban text – here, using figures of omission to puncture the illusion of complete possession and comprehension that underlies imperial abstractions from cartography to architecture.

. On First Looking into Augustus’ Italy in Aeneid  In Aeneid , the spiritual and thematic heart of Vergil’s epic, Aeneas finally arrives in Italy and descends to the Underworld for a glimpse of Rome’s future. First, though, he makes a beeline for the Sibyl in accordance with Helenus’ prophecy at .–. Helenus had provided a proleptic verbal map of Aeneas’ westward journey; the Sibyl, too, will guide Aeneas through the Underworld and help him visualize and navigate the places, peoples, and events that await him in Italy. In both cases, cartography, which confers spatial foreknowledge, elides with prophecy, the mapping of future time. But at various moments in the book, Vergil also highlights the losses and errores – in both the intellectual and physical sense – that go into the production and fulfillment of Rome’s imperial destiny. ..

Reading for Absence at Daedalus’ Temple

Vergil maps out some of these themes with an initial ekphrasis on the temple that the legendary Daedalus dedicated on his own arrival in Cumae (.–): Daedalus, ut fama est, fugiens Minoia regna praepetibus pennis ausus se credere caelo insuetum per iter gelidas enavit ad Arctos, Chalcidicaque levis tandem super astitit arce. redditus his primum terris tibi, Phoebe, sacravit remigium alarum posuitque immania templa. While fleeing the Minoan realm, as the story goes, Daedalus, daring to entrust himself to the sky on swift wings, navigated unaccustomed paths to the frozen Arctic and softly alighted at last atop the Chalcidian hill. On first returning to earth here, he consecrated his oarage of wings to you, Phoebus, and built this massive temple.

Daedalus’ foundation of this temple to mark his escape from danger makes him a totemic figure for Aeneas and Augustus, both of whom vowed

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Remapping the Forum Augustum

temples to Apollo on the same site. But Daedalus’ efforts as an explorer, innovator, and leader ominously prefigure their own and suggest that empire building, with exploration, comes at a cost. As others have pointed out, the ekphrasis on Daedalus’ frieze at .– is one of the few occasions in ancient literature where we glimpse an artist representing his own story. But the Alexandrian footnote at  (ut fama est) invites readers to compare their own mythological understanding – and to find, with Fitzgerald (), Putnam (, ), and Bartsch (), that Daedalus’ frieze has a fraught relationship with the truth. As Vergil describes it, Daedalus depicts Pasiphae’s monstrous copulation with a bull, concealed within a wooden cow (–), and the labyrinth (). Yet he sweeps his responsibility for crafting both devices under the architectonic rug. The only time the author himself appears as an agent (Daedalus ipse, ), it is in heroic guise: “But Daedalus himself, pitying the great love of the queen, unraveled the treacherous windings of that place, ruling their blind footsteps with a thread” (magnum reginae sed enim miseratus amorem / Daedalus ipse dolos tecti ambagesque resolvit, / caeca regens filo vestigia, –). While Aeneas appears unable to parse such choices, readers with more extensive literary backgrounds would be struck by the artist’s selective and self-exonerating artistic presentation of the mythological ‘facts’ of his life. Nowhere is this clearer than in Daedalus’ omission of his own role in his son’s death (–). Here, however, Vergil’s apostrophe to the missing Icarus (“You too, Icarus, would have a large share in such a work, if grief permitted,” –) corrects the omission and renders the absent boy present for readers. Here, Daedalus’ frieze becomes a visual equivalent of the rhetorical device of aposiopesis. Quintilian explains this device through an anecdote: the painter Timanthes illustrated Agamemnon’s sorrow at sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia by veiling the king’s head and “leaving it to the imagination of the viewer, to each his own” (velavit eius caput et suo cuique animo dedit aestimandum, Inst. ..). In Quintilian’s 

   

McKay () and Galinsky () document Augustus’ rebuilding of the Apollo temple at Cumae in the s; this becomes a belated fulfillment of Aeneas’ vow at .–. See also Clark () and Pandey (: ). Cf. Fitzgerald (: ) and Putnam (: ), following Pöschl (); Helen’s tapestry of the Trojan War is another. Ross (: ). Horsfall () surveys the immense bibliography and Pandey () presents a fuller version of this argument. Vergil does not specify whether Aeneas understands these pictures, but often emphasizes Aeneas’ readerly ignorance (e.g., he is inscius at .), as discussed in previous chapters and O’Hara ().

On First Looking into Augustus’ Italy in Aeneid 



example, the visual aposiopesis of Agamemnon’s veil is an artistic solution to the problem of representing emotion. In Vergil, it is the artist himself who suffers. Omission – a real rather than rhetorical aposiopesis – is the only representational response adequate to Daedalus’ sorrow, and this very work of art becomes his veil. Daedalus’ frieze suggests the extent to which Augustan poems and monuments, too, may conceal past losses or mistakes with an aposiopesis of “what is known, or what is shameful.” This reflects back on the Palatine complex, the most obvious visual analogue for this temple to Apollo and another simultaneously post-traumatic, self-advertising victory monument. But this ekphrasis also attunes readers’ ears to the lacunae behind apparently victorious representations of space and time, a lesson that heightens the importance of audience subjectivity in constructing meaning and that will apply to the Forum Augustum and other expressions of Rome’s world dominance. Cyclical Paths through Space and Time The Daedalus ekphrasis is aposiopetic in a narratological sense, too: the Sibyl interrupts Aeneas before he can finish “reading” the temple art (perlegerent, –), reprimanding him for admiring mere spectacula (). Yet she proceeds to instruct Aeneas in another way of reading what is not there. In mapping out his future, she suggests that Aeneas is also returning to the past, superimposing the topography of Troy over that of Italy at –: non Simois tibi nec Xanthus nec Dorica castra defuerint; alius Latio iam partus Achilles, natus et ipse dea; nec Teucris addita Iuno usquam aberit, cum tu supplex in rebus egenis quas gentis Italum aut quas non oraveris urbes! A Simois, a Xanthus, and a Greek camp will not be lacking to you; already another Achilles has been born in Latium, he too the son of a goddess: nor will Juno, now that she’s been set upon the

   

In the formulation of the second-century CE rhetorician Alexander (Peri Schematon, in Walz : ), quoted by Platt (). See Pandey (: –) and Chapter . As noted by Bartsch (), contra Boyle’s argument (, a) that this passage shows the failure of art. Casali (: –) argues that Aeneas stops viewing Daedalus’ frieze where its subject might have hit too close to home: he believes the next panel would have depicted Theseus’ abandonment of Ariadne, recalling Aeneas’ of Dido.

90



Remapping the Forum Augustum Trojans, ever be absent, while you, a suppliant in destitute condi tions, what peoples of Italy and what cities will you not entreat for help!

The Odyssean first half of the Aeneid had traced the Trojans’ movement, amid many interpretive and navigational errores, westward from Troy to Italy. Now, at their moment of arrival, the Sibyl suggests that their path has been not linear but circular, back to the site of another Trojan War. Her prophecy superimposes a ghostly map of Troy upon the geography of Italy: the Tiber will become a new Scamander and Simois, and “another Achilles has been born in Latium” (–). Little does Aeneas realize that the latter refers not just to his future adversary Turnus but also to himself, about to be symbolically reborn from the Underworld to reenact Achilles’ invading aggression against the Italians. The Sibyl’s warning about the near presence of Juno (–) becomes ironic when we consider that the ground on which she and Aeneas stand was originally consecrated to Hera; not until  BCE was the site rededicated to the young, colonizing god Apollo. Aeneas himself seems to register a sense of déjà-vu, a skip in the record of time, when he tells the Sibyl that he has mentally “foreseen and experienced all these troubles before” (omnia praecepi atque animo mecum ante peregi, ). Even in offering a founding myth for Rome’s Augustan future that is simultaneously tragic and regressive, the narrative frames itself as untrustworthy and selective: a representational ambages (, ) that mirrors the tortuous path to victory. According to most prior versions of the story, Daedalus had made landfall in Sicily rather than Cumae; Aeneas’ own disembarkation there seems a Vergilian innovation. And in actual fact, Cumae was not founded until around  BCE, by settlers from Chalcis in Euboea. Vergil’s contemporary Julius Hyginus noted the anachronism of Daedalus’ temple and Aeneas’ arrival at this “Chalcidian” hill several centuries before it could rightly be labeled as such (Gel. NA ..). Yet this is only one of many cartographical errors Hyginus points out in Book 

 



Pace Horsfall’s insistence that the Achilles comparison applies only to Turnus (: ). For the role reversal of Achilles and Aeneas in the second half of the epic, see Anderson (), Otis (: –, ), and Quint (). As observed by Johnston (), though Horsfall (: , citing Livy ..) connects the site with Zeus. Cf. Herod. ., Diod. Sic. .– and Paus. .., though Sallust places his landfall in Sardinia (Hist. , frr. –). Norden infers a variant tradition, but cf. Austin (: ) and Horsfall (: ), with Casali () on the development of the Aeneas legend. Austin (: ) notes the anachronism of Euboicis at  and Chalcidica at , the latter noted too by Hyginus. For the history of Cumae, see Ogilvie () on Livy .. and ...

On First Looking into Augustus’ Italy in Aeneid 



, ones that operate within the system of inconsistencies that O’Hara () has observed in the epic and that underscore the Hesiodic theme that fama mingles falsehoods with truths (tam ficti pravique tenax quam nuntia veri, Aen. .; cf. ut fama est, .). The local landscape at this time was still forest primeval, lacking large permanent structures like the temple, and Cumae was still a land without a name – much like Fidenae, Gabii, and other future cities whose founders Aeneas will encounter in the Underworld (haec tum nomina erunt, nunc sunt sine nomine terrae, “these at that time will be names, now they are lands without name,” ). Ironically, some of these latter cities had already risen, and then fallen again, between Aeneas’ day and Vergil’s: for Horace, at least, Fidenae and Gabii were proverbially desolate (Epistles ..–). These cities’ completion of an entire life cycle again cuts against the linear narrative of Rome’s rise upheld elsewhere in Aeneid  and, eventually, in the statue plan of the Forum Augustum. The chronological and geographical impossibilities of Book  further illustrate how readily maps, histories, and other representations of reality can elide into fiction in service to power. Like Daedalus’ thread through the labyrinth, Aeneas’ invented landfall at Cumae becomes a loose thread that unravels the representational claims of this book and its artful, rhetorically motivated mapping of Augustus’ predecessor onto the great heroes of old. Landscape of Loss Aeneid  urges readerly caution toward imperial annexations of space as well as history. This book supplies a belated etiology for the Roman impulse to claim and explore new territory, both above ground, in the local landscape at Cumae, and below, as Aeneas plants an early Roman flag in the very Underworld. In this respect, again, Daedalus’ explorations reflect uneasily on Aeneas’. Daedalus is characterized by the attempt to control and command space. He not only devised the labyrinth’s inextricabilis

 



Cf. Feeney (). Compare the triumphal representation of cities that may no longer exist, noted by Beard (: ) at Ars Am. .– and discussed in Section .. My emphasis on expansion and impermanence maps onto analyses of the Aeneid as an allegory of cultural history, e.g., by Bowie () and Hardie (: ), and reflects Hardie’s emphasis on mutability (). The obvious motivation for the Cumae episode is to align Aeneas with other heroes who undertake katabasis, like Hercules and Theseus, in a newly Romanized Underworld. Aeneas himself insists on joining their ranks at – and claims descent from Jupiter rather than Venus, again suggesting the self-serving exaggerations behind historical narratives. Hyginus observes the inconsistency of the implication at . that infelix Theseus remains in the Underworld (Gell. NA ..–).



Remapping the Forum Augustum

error (), but also helped Ariadne and Theseus map their way out (“But Daedalus himself, pitying the great love of the queen, unraveled the treacherous windings of that place, ruling their blind footsteps with a thread,” magnum reginae sed enim miseratus amorem / Daedalus ipse dolos tecti ambagesque resolvit, / caeca regens filo vestigia, –, quoted above). Vergil’s transference of the reg- root from Ariadne (reginae, ) to Daedalus (regens, ) marks the power that comes from special knowledge of topography and technology, linking him with the Romans’ imperial art of ruling (tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento, ) and with Aeneas himself (described as rex at ). Aeneas’ relation with this myth is ambiguous. The labyrinth is widely regarded as an emblem for Aeneas’ own metaphysical journey in this book. Yet the “great love” (magnum . . . amorem, ) that drew Ariadne through the labyrinth ultimately resulted in her abandonment at Naxos, with implications, perhaps, for the “love of fame to come” (famae venientis amore, ) with which Anchises fires Aeneas. Similarly, Daedalus’ superterrestrial flight from Minoan Crete mirrors, on the opposite side of the horizon, Aeneas’ subterranean voyage through Minos’ realm. But it also warns of the cost of such groundbreaking explorations (insuetum per iter, ). Though Daedalus is the first human to enjoy the unobstructed aerial view that is the goal of much modern and ancient cartography, literal and figurative errors in his journey become evident to readers who mentally map it. In the fama that Vergil relates (), Daedalus appears to strike out due north from Crete (), presumably on his way to mainland Greece. How, then, did he end up so far off course to the east that Icarus fell into the sea that took its name from his death? It would seem that some unrepresented navigational confusion or overambition was compounded with Daedalus’ dangerous new technology and Icarus’ own    



Comparanda for this phrase include Cat. ., Aen. ., and Varro’s description of the tomb of Lars Porsena, apud Plin. HN ., which one could exit only with the help of a guiding thread. Feldherr (: ) and Horsfall (: , ) discuss these reg- words. See especially Rutledge (: ), Catto (: ), and, for a modern reinterpretation, Pandey (a). Even this phrase, with its verbal recollection of souls waiting to cross over the Acheron (tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amore, .), may hint at the ultimate futility of glory as described by Feeney (). Cf. Warden () on desire in Aen. . Desire’s role here in motivating complex journeys recalls the trick by which Daedalus was discovered after his escape from Crete: he was the only person who could thread a spiral seashell, by tying the thread to an ant and putting a drop of honey on the other end (Apollod. Epit. .–; Soph. Kamikoi, fr.  Radt). Daedalus is sometimes assigned an Attic origin; Horsfall (: ) notes that gelidas . . . ad Arctos () may connote ascent to the stars as well as flight to the north, but does not speculate as to Daedalus’ intended destination.

On First Looking into Augustus’ Italy in Aeneid 



hubris in flying too high. Nor is there any explanation for Daedalus’ subsequent veering even farther off course to alight in the West, in Sicily – or, in Vergil’s revision, a “Chalcidian Cumae” () that at this time was neither Chalcidian nor Cumae. From Daedalus’ frieze alone, we might view his flight as an intentional, heroic journey of escape, exploration, and foundation – a plot summary that mirrors the Aeneid’s. It is only from extratextual evidence (for instance, maps naming the Icarian Sea) that we glimpse the loss, grief, and wandering that characterize Daedalus’ course and its central, silenced landmark: Icarus’ watery grave. Names on a map, like flags planted in the ground, mark claims for the intellectual or physical comprehension of space; at , the names that will someday attach to nameless lands metonymically mark Rome’s territorial expansion. As soon as they alight on Italian soil, the Trojans begin imposing place names on the landscape, in a cartographic act of colonialism that simultaneously initiates and foreshadows Roman imperialism. But for the Trojans in Book , as for Daedalus, these names double as tombstones, illustrating the brutal exchange of power and information for human lives that underwrites imperialism. Inauspiciously for his first landfall in Italy, Aeneas arrives at Cumae amid tears for the dead steersman Palinurus () and soon learns that his trumpeter Misenus has died on the beach after challenging Triton, polluting the whole fleet (–; –). The Trojans’ first building in Italy is thus no victory monument or thanks-offering but, rather, a burial mound for this rouser of men’s fighting spirits (–). In another topographical inconsistency, this sepulcher is located miles from Misenus’ place of death, at the foot of a promontory that will forever inscribe his name on the landscape that he failed to penetrate (–). Later on in the Underworld, the Sibyl denies Palinurus’ desperate plea for burial, but assures him that he will be worshipped by the locals and give his name to the cape where he came ashore to be murdered (–). This is small consolation for the long suffering he will have to endure, though he delights in this honor for “a little while” (parumper) – surely a comment on the fleeting and ego-driven rewards that drive imperial expansion (his dictis curae emotae pulsusque parumper / corde dolor tristi; gaudet cognomine terra, “with these words, his cares are removed and the sorrow is stricken, for a little while, from his sad heart; he rejoices in the name of the land,” –). The death of Aeneas’ 

Clark () provides an optimistic analysis of this inconsistency. The burial’s Ennian and Homeric resonances enhance its metaliterary relevance to Vergil’s thematization in this book of the reasons men go to war.



Remapping the Forum Augustum

nurse Caieta will also be inscribed on the Trojans’ slowly expanding map of Italy, though the harbor that will bear her name is mentioned at ., even before her death at .–. In sum, the Trojans’ exploration of the Italian coastline, their population of its map with names and memories, is always already inextricable from their experience of loss. Viewed through the pessimistic lens of Daedalus’ frieze and the Sibyl’s prophecy, their epic incursion into this forcibly adopted new homeland doubles as a regressive and regret-filled return to the past, marked by generic intermediality with elegy and epitaph. The Trojans’ first landing in Italy thus simultaneously exhibits and etiologizes the Augustan “mapping impulse” while heightening readers’ awareness of its ultimate vanity. .. Mapping the Underworld Aeneas’ subsequent katabasis, with the Sibyl as his guide, continues to highlight the human costs of imperialism despite its purported goal of inspiring his conquest of Italy and foundation of Rome. Vergil describes the Underworld in far greater topographical specificity than Homer’s nekuia, a tendency that Feldherr links with Augustan imperial administration. The Sibyl charts Stygian geography in impersonal, even didactic, terms, frequently indicating location, direction, and distance as she marches Aeneas forward (e.g., at –). Aeneas’ mental map, in contrast, is marked by mournful encounters with the shades of loved ones: first Leucaspis and Orontes, who drowned in the storm off Libya (–); then Palinurus, who, in a famed inconsistency, is described at – as having died on the Libyan crossing but blames his own death on a savage Italian tribe at –; Dido at –; and the Trojan heroes at 







See Dinter () and Keith () for the term and practice, and Merkelbach (, ), Barchiesi (), Thomas (), and Kyriakidis () for epigrammatic qualities in and around Aeneid , e.g., with the epitaph for Caieta (.–) that end-brackets the book. Horsfall () and Nelis-Clément and Nelis () explore the poets’ and inscriptions’ mutual influence. Feldherr similarly observes a tension between the Underworld’s circular shape and Aeneas’ linear motion through it (: ). For linear history and routes, see also Purcell (: ) and Feldherr (). So much so that readers over the centuries have attempted to map it. Feldherr (: –) connects it with epic’s generic transgression into elegy, e.g., with Aeneas’ Catullan quotation in his address to Dido at . (invitus, regina, tuo de litore cessi). O’Hara also suggests to me a connection between the fields of mourning, Lugentes Campi, and the etymologization of elegy in the act of mourning. At .–, Palinurus dies on the way from Sicily to Cumae; see Williams (a: xxv–xxviii) on the Misenus/Palinurus “doublet.”

On First Looking into Augustus’ Italy in Aeneid 



–, along with Deiphobus at –. Aeneas’ forward itinerary through the Underworld thus doubles as a retrospective survey of the losses he incurred over his meandering journey from Troy. These emotional encounters, more than the Sibyl’s demarcations of space, serve as backwardpointing milestones on Aeneas’ experiential route. Further tensions emerge once Aeneas reunites with Anchises in Elysium’s largior aether (). Anchises first explains to Aeneas the principle of metempsychosis, by which human souls are cleansed of their memories and recirculated into new bodies. But, as Denis Feeney notes (), the erasure of souls’ consciousness would seem to invalidate the quest for glory that the parade of heroes supports. More generally, this cyclical, repetitive conception of time threatens to devalue temporal achievement. Oblivion may ultimately be a more powerful force than the historical glory attained by Rome’s leaders, despite the process of monumentalization in which the Aeneid and the Forum Augustum themselves participate. The Parade of Heroes This is one of several contradictions within Anchises’ long exegesis that would inform the Forum Augustum and subsequent audiences’ response. Anchises’ description of the imagines destined to be born as great Romans (.–) allows Aeneas a glimpse of the fruits of his labor and presents to readers a prosopographical summary of Roman history (in line, it seems, with Varro’s Imagines, published in  BCE and along with Roman funeral processions a mutual source for Vergil and Augustus’ parades). This Heldenschau contains little action beyond Aeneas’ intellectual process of “reading” and “learning” the faces of those to come (adversos legere et venientum discere vultus, ). Yet much as Daedalus’ frieze reflected his own biases, Vergil foregrounds the fallibility and selectiveness of Anchises’ presentation of Roman history, which is explicitly motivated by his desire to teach and inspire (expediam dictis, et te tua fata docebo,  





E.g., the description of the ancient Trojans as having lived in “better years” (melioribus annis, ) versus Anchises’ optimistic vision of the future. Aeneas’ often-noted exit through the gates of ivory, and evident failure to recall his katabasis, underscore this point. For attempts to rationalize the gates, cf. Tarrant (), West (, repr. in Harrison ), Fratantuono (), and especially Molyviati-Toptsis (), who takes them as a warning against the fallibility of representation. See Rowell (), Horsfall (), and Harrison (), with Grebe (). Varro’s more than  prose portraits may be linked with Asinius Pollio’s library, opened the same year. Feeney () and Thomas (: ) offer pessimistic readings of the parade, against Horsfall (, ) and West (). Feeling a need to comment on the odd usage, Servius glosses legere as considerare, relegere (at .).



Remapping the Forum Augustum

“I will explain this [glorious future] with my words, and teach you your destiny,” ). Within its local context, Anchises’ speech seems to succeed in kindling Aeneas with famae venientis amore (“love of fame to come,” ). But reading in historical hindsight, Vergil’s readers are far better equipped to judge Anchises’ words and Aeneas’ inability to formulate an independent critical response. The Underworld thus becomes a hermeneutic echo chamber that illustrates one danger of the concentration of power and knowledge in the hands of a single person with rhetorical designs. In Aeneid , Anchises’ disordered account fails to fit the facts of Roman history within a unified interpretive framework and frequently undermines the patriotic lesson he seeks to impart. For instance, Anchises sandwiches Augustus (–) between Romulus (–) and Numa (–), echoing the princeps’ own self-representation as a second founder of Rome but, much like the naïve book in Tristia . (Section ..), placing him squarely among the kings. Anchises depicts the republic through exempla that are selective at best and problematic at worst, sometimes subverting his own argument about the value of Aeneas’ mission (–): for instance, when Brutus’ “love of country and measureless desire for praise” (amor patriae laudumque immensa cupido, ) conquer paternal affection to prompt his execution of his own sons. Problems multiply when we remark, with Feeney (), on the contradiction between Anchises’ love of glory and this book’s general devaluation of worldly pursuits, or, with Zetzel (), on the factual discrepancies between this and other books of the Aeneid, not to mention between Anchises’ narrative and well-known versions of myth and history. Such problems question Anchises’ version of Roman history as well as Aeneas’ docile acceptance, encouraging readers to look for the motivations and omissions behind official accounts of Roman geography and history. Anchises’ injunction against civil war at –, for instance, necessitates critical retrospection: illae autem paribus quas fulgere cernis in armis, concordes animae nunc et dum nocte prementur,    

Aeneas’ guides have no qualms about misrepresenting facts when he needs encouragement, as observed by Eden (: ) and O’Hara (: –). Though love of fame is ironized elsewhere in this book, and there is no evidence that Aeneas retains any of these memories; see Most (). Reed () points out that even Anchises cannot make this list entirely positive and analyzes some problematic moments. I share Zetzel’s (: ) view that this tactic evokes readers’ critical inquiry; see also more generally O’Hara (: –).

On First Looking into Augustus’ Italy in Aeneid 



heu quantum inter se bellum, si lumina vitae attigerint, quantas acies stragemque ciebunt, aggeribus socer Alpinis atque arce Monoeci descendens, gener adversis instructus Eois! ne, pueri, ne tanta animis adsuescite bella neu patriae validas in viscera vertite viris; tuque prior, tu parce, genus qui ducis Olympo, proice tela manu, sanguis meus!

830

835

But they whom you see shining in equal arms, souls now harmo nious while pressed by night, alas, how much war, what great battles and bloodshed they will incite among themselves, if they reach the light of life: the father in law coming down from the Alpine hills and the fortress of Monoecus, his son in law opposing him with the armies of the East! Do not, my sons, grow accus tomed to such war within your hearts, and do not turn the great strength of your country against her own viscera; and you, first desist, who draw your lineage from heaven, my blood, cast your sword from your hand.

Anchises’ meaning here, though lost on Aeneas, forces rereading on the part of Vergil’s audience. Contemporary Romans would readily identify the socer (“father-in-law”) and gener (“father-in-law”) as Caesar and Pompey, linked via Pompey’s marriage to Caesar’s daughter Julia. They would also understand Anchises’ warning against civil war, primarily aimed at Caesar (tu parce . . . sanguis meus, –), to be futile – a kind of future contrafactual imperative that has already been disobeyed. The implicit condemnation of Caesar, in turn, forces readers to reconsider Anchises’ earlier praise for “Caesar” at .–: hic Caesar et omnis Iuli progenies magnum caeli ventura sub axem. hic vir, hic est, tibi quem promitti saepius audis, Augustus Caesar, divi genus, aurea condet saecula qui rursus Latio regnata per arva Saturno quondam, super et Garamantas et Indos proferet imperium . . . Here is Caesar, and all Julius’ race, destined to pass beneath the great vault of heaven. This is the man, this is he, whom you have so often heard promised to you, Augustus Caesar, born from

 

Catullus . also employs these terms. West (: –) offers a rare dissenting view, trying to detect praise of Caesar’s clementia here.

790

795



Remapping the Forum Augustum a god, who will again set up a Golden Age in Latium amid the fields where Saturn once reigned, and will spread his empire beyond the Garamantes and Indians . . .

The most obvious referent for hic Caesar () is Julius Caesar, given its proximity to Iuli in the same line and the separate mention of Augustus at –; Servius expresses no doubts on that count (Aen.  pr.). Anchises’ later condemnation at – has prompted several modern critics to argue that hic Caesar () must refer instead to Augustus. But the inconsistency, here as elsewhere, is precisely the point. When faced with Anchises’ critique, auditors must mentally reinterpret his earlier praise of Julius Caesar, just as Caesar’s earlier honors had to be reevaluated in light of his subsequent actions. Augustus’ own climactic appearance at – closely follows and echoes Caesar’s, effectively twinning the two figures much as the sidus Iulium does on the shield of Aeneas: hic vir. . . / Augustus Caesar, divi genus. Anchises’ injunction draws a moral line between Augustus’ foreign conquests and Caesar’s condemnable civil strife, to be sure. But it also suggests that the future (in both textual and chronological senses) can cast a retroactive pall over the past, and reminds us that at the time of Vergil’s writing Augustus’ political trajectory and legacy were by no means yet clear. This passage takes on further relevance for consumers of Augustan iconography when Aeneas interrupts Anchises’ speech, demonstrating his readerly power to intervene in, and force critical revision of, an author’s motivated representation of history. The narrator’s apostrophe to the dead Icarus at .– exemplified a type of regretful, aposiopetic response that Aeneas himself practices throughout the book. As noted above, he arrests his forward journey through the Underworld to address and lament the ghosts of Palinurus (.–), Dido (–), and Deiphobus (–). Now, toward the end of the Heldenschau,





E.g., Austin () and Williams () ad loc., though (illustrating my point) Austin admits that it revises his earlier understanding of Aen. . as referring to Julius (nascetur pulchra Troianus origine Caesar). That line’s similar ambiguity has attracted considerable debate, e.g., by Harrison (), expanding on Kraggerud (), and, contra, Dobbin (). The apotheosis at .– is clearly Caesar’s; such a sure prediction of Augustus’ deification would be premature at this time. Moreover, this reading upsets the temporal procession implied by the passage, from Caesar’s birth, victory, and deification (–) to Augustus’ ending of civil war and containment of Furor (–). This latter would, incidentally, recall the painting by Apelles displayed in the Forum Augustum (Plin. HN ., .; Serv. Dan. ad Aen. .), part of the imaginative “tour” discussed below. See Mackie (: –) and O’Hara (: – and : –).

On First Looking into Augustus’ Italy in Aeneid 



Aeneas intervenes in Anchises’ narrative to include a sad figure on the sidelines (–): atque hic Aeneas (una namque ire videbat egregium forma iuvenem et fulgentibus armis, sed frons laeta parum et deiecto lumina vultu) “quis, pater, ille, virum qui sic comitatur euntem? filius, anne aliquis magna de stirpe nepotum? qui strepitus circa comitum! quantum instar in ipso! sed nox atra caput tristi circumvolat umbra.” And then Aeneas (for he saw accompanying him a young man of outstanding beauty and brilliant arms, but with sad face and downcast eyes) said: “Who, father, is that man who attends him on his way? A son, or one of the great stock of grandsons? What a murmuring in the crowd! How great a counterpart in himself! But black night circles his head with mournful shadow.”

Anchises had thus far offered Aeneas a largely optimistic version of Roman history, culminating with Augustus. Yet here, Aeneas’ subjective response affects his reception of Anchises’ narrative and even alters its course to include Marcellus, whose tragic death in  BCE, discussed at Section .., frustrated the princeps’ hopes for a successor. In Aeneas’ readerly revision, then, Roman history’s upward arc is ruptured and reversed with this nineteen-year-old’s death, itself a premonition of Pallas’ death and an echo of Icarus’ plunge. This ends the triumphal procession on an elegiac, even funereal, note, culminating in another collaborative act between internal reader and author when Anchises asks Aeneas and the Sibyl for lilies to scatter over Marcellus’ shade (manibus date lilia plenis, ). Here, they finally break the fourth wall to engage with the procession as more than mere spectators, providing external auditors, too, with an emotional entrée into the poem: Augustus’ sister Octavia was famously said to have fainted when she recognized her son in Vergil’s words. By mapping the Underworld and resurrecting Marcellus, this book renders  

 

Pallas is also described as miserande puer (.) and represents another branch cut from the Julian tree before it could bear fruit (cf. Harrison : ). For this much-discussed “gloomy final note,” see Burke (: n), who following Skard () views the whole Heldenschau as a funeral procession for Marcellus. O’Hara (: ) points out that this is the only place in the Aeneid where a prophet answers a follow-up question, and even here, Anchises displays his usual tendency to suppress the negative. As Burke notes (: ), this offering is reminiscent of the Rosalia or Violaria, when flowers were scattered on the graves of the dead. Cf. Donat. Vit. Verg. , though Servius’ account (at Aen. .) differs; see Horsfall () for doubts about the anecdote’s veracity.



Remapping the Forum Augustum

readers like Octavia imaginatively present where they are absent. Unlike Aeneas, though, their only chance for reunion with their beloved dead lies in their own journey to that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns (cf. ripam inremeabilis undae, ). This gives the lie to the euphemistic use of the sidus Iulium, in Horace Odes ..– and elsewhere, to cloak the harsh reality of death. Aeneas’ katabasis, like Daedalus’ frieze, thus advances hermeneutic strategies that also apply to the Augustan cityscape: attention to the tragic losses that imperial cartographies elide, as well as the motives that inform their construction and the contradictions that complicate their messages.

. The Forum Augustum The Forum Augustum has long been considered an architectural equivalent of Vergil’s parade of heroes. Yet if Aeneid  performs an immanent critique of the imperialist impulse toward measurement and control, Augustus’ building seems to reconfirm, even reify, this drive, leaving it to audiences to arbitrate. This massive public space, analyzed in detail by Paul Zanker () and Joseph Geiger (), featured a temple to Mars Ultor and was flanked by twin statue galleries of summi viri and great Julians representing Roman history in easily decipherable form; recent excavations have uncovered lower exedrae beneath the Via dei Fori Imperiali to match the upper ones (Figure .). The focal point of the whole structure, however, was Augustus himself. In the year of its dedication, in what the Res Gestae () frames as the climax of his career, the princeps was awarded the title pater patriae and a quadrigate statue in the center of the Forum. Its carefully ordered representation of Roman heroes and conquered provinces thus seemed to profess Augustus’ domination over the orbis terrarum and even prior history, as underwritten by the senate and people. Most scholarship linking the Forum Augustum with Vergil’s parade of heroes has centered on their dates and direction of influence, no simple matter considering the building’s long construction history. Zanker thinks Augustus “borrowed” his schema from Vergil; Geiger, that he tried to “outdo” the poet; others suggest the two projects were conceived in tandem, though Augustus’ took longer to execute. Wherever the concept 

Respectively, Zanker (: ), Geiger (: ), and Frank (: –) and Rowell (), who maintain that Augustus planned the Forum’s retaining walls, with their inbuilt niches for statues, around the time that Vergil composed Book . See also LaRocca (, ) for the statues and Ganzert and Herz () for the temple.

The Forum Augustum



Figure . Plan of the Forum Augustum in light of recent excavations of the lower exedrae, redrawn by M. C. Bishop. © M. C. Bishop.

originated, though, the Forum’s dedication in  BCE, seventeen years after the poet’s death, makes it undeniably an architectural response – and, I argue, a correction. Moreover, the Forum’s copies in Italy and the provinces meant that reading audiences well beyond the urbs were positioned to read and respond to the iconotext formed by Augustus’ and Vergil’s dialogic presentations of Roman history. With his monumental retelling of Rome’s past, Augustus steps into the position occupied by Anchises in Aeneid . (In fact, he himself had 

Cf. Spannagel (), Chaplin (: ), Fishwick (: –), Geiger (: –), and Jiménez (: –) for copies in Pompeii, Arretium, Lavinium, Tarraco, Corduba, and Emerita Augusta.



Remapping the Forum Augustum

delivered Marcellus’ funeral oration, prefiguring Anchises’ eulogy at .–.) Geiger assumes that Augustus’ authorial message in the Forum was transparent to all: “Augustus produced a version of Roman history that was both attractively accessible to the greatest possible number of citizens, and also presented to them the one correct rendition of events. It was to be an history whose moral would not be lost on anybody.” On the other hand, Aeneid , like many of the poems previously discussed, both demonstrates and promotes critical awareness of the biases implicit in authorial representations. Readers of Vergil would, I think, have noticed some pointed divergences in the princeps’ way of measuring glory, mapping space and time, and representing war, empire, and the Caesars. The Forum provides a stronger ordering principle, more confidently asserts Julian greatness, and disambiguates certain problems in Vergil’s account while exalting the military and administrative ethos that Anchises declares in his famous speech at .– (tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento, “you, Roman, remember to rule the peoples with your might,” ). Yet Aeneid  models an aposiopetic style of interpretation that encourages critical attention to the Forum Augustum’s motivations, omissions, and divergences from Anchises’ account. The remainder of this section suggests some ways that this Augustan space and Vergil’s poem might have interacted in the minds of viewers. This hypothetical analysis underlines the real power that audiences exerted over texts within history, laying out one more sense in which Augustus’ authorial control over the Roman urban landscape was far from total. ..

Arrangement and Omissions

In Barbara Kellum’s view, the Forum Augustum’s circular and square geometries represented both linear and cyclical conceptions of time, meshing with the dual chronological frameworks noted above in Aeneid . In most other regards, though, the Forum organized space and time very differently and posited a different, more hierarchical relationship with its wider audience. At the beginning of Vergil’s passage, Aeneas, Anchises, and the Sibyl sit on a tumulus and view an assembly (conventus, ) and murmuring crowd (turbam sonantem, ) of future Romans arrayed before them in a long line (longo ordine, ). These imagines fall roughly  

Cass. Dio .; cf. Serv. Dan. ad Aen. ., West (: –), and Horsfall (: ).  Geiger (: –). Kellum (: ); see also Kellum ().

The Forum Augustum



into two sections: one begins with the Alban Kings and culminates in Augustus (–), the other includes various figures from the Republic and ends with Marcellus (–). The logic behind Vergil’s list is often associative and elusive, to both ancient and modern audiences, with the effect of making readers themselves the physical and interpretive focal point. Not only do they share in Aeneas’ glimpse of the Underworld, joining the select few who see it twice; they also share his privileged vantage point within the narrative, occupying a raised, central viewing position toward which these great Romans appear to be advancing (adversos legere et venientum discere vultus, ). From here, we watch over the hero’s shoulder to try to discern the larger ordering principle behind the procession. In the Forum Augustum, by contrast, the commanding lines of sight belonged not to Aeneas or the viewer but to Augustus, looking out from his statue in the center of the Forum, and to Mars, surveying the Forum from the temple pediment above (cf. Figure ., above). Their vista, moreover, was quite different: they looked out over twin columns neatly divided into Julians on the northwest flank and all others on the southeast, in geometric and chronological order. This arrangement boldly equated the gens Julia with all other Roman families combined, asserting the primacy of genealogy and chronology as organizational concepts. Augustus’ self-elevation was underscored by his position as the focal point of all these statues’ vision and, metonymically, of Roman history itself. (The statue of Aeneas stood to the side, in the northwestern exedra, as part of a  

Servius shows confusion and discomfort at the nonchronological ordering of Vergil’s list, e.g., at Aen. . and . Most scholars agree that the Julii and summi viri formed equal lines, which Geiger (: ) estimates to total –, on opposite sides of the Forum. Luce (: ) expresses disbelief that  notable Julians could be found, though he notes inscriptional evidence, cited at note  below, that some had unexceptional careers. Rowell (: –) attempts unconvincingly to square Vergil’s Heldenschau with Augustus’, arguing that Vergil’s shows an “obviously intentional” division between family (–) and nonfamily; however, this fails to accommodate the far greater space Vergil assigns to the latter, or the later reappearance of the Julians Caesar and Marcellus. West (: ) argues that the speech falls into thirds and that  percent of its lines are devoted to the gens Julia, without explaining the negativity of some of these references. Quint (: n) observes hints in the Aeneid of the tradition deriving Romulus’ bloodline from Iulus (.; possibly .–) instead of Silvius (.), who according to Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. ..– usurped Ascanius’ eldest son as king of Alba Longa. See also Livy . on potential doublets in myths about Aeneas’ son(s). Zanker’s firm genealogical opposition between the Forum’s twin galleries (: –) reflects the communis opinio that Romulus’ association with Silvius prevailed by the time of construction. This story would position Augustus’ ascendancy as a restoration of the Julii to their rightful prominence while exonerating them of Romulus’ foundational fratricide. Yet Romulus’ alternate Julian descent, also mentioned by Zanker (: ), raises the possibility that these galleries were interconnective as well as counterpoised.



Remapping the Forum Augustum

group containing Anchises and Iulus in flight from Troy.) Moreover, while Aeneas, Anchises, and the Sibyl had remained unobserved by the passing crowd in the Aeneid, the statue of Augustus entered into a powerful visual relationship with the Forum’s statues and living visitors: he commanded their gaze while at the same time subjecting them to his own. For that matter, since the statues were slightly larger than life-sized and on plinths, visitors needed to look up to view their faces and down to read the tituli as they perambulated through the Forum. Vergil’s readers faced a far less strenuous task as they perused the imagines with Anchises’ audio guide () from the comfort of their own homes or a recitatio. The Forum Augustum thus adopted clearer organizing principles than the Vergilian parade but also asserted a starker power differential between audience and author, who was also the Forum’s central honorand. War and Caesar The Forum Augustum, moreover, revises Aeneid ’s skeptical treatment of civil war, Caesar, and Augustus’ vengeance on his behalf. Anchises pauses his narrative to emphasize two major lessons from Roman history, the evil of civil war (–) and Rome’s mission to rule other nations (–): excudent alii spirantia mollius aera (credo equidem), vivos ducent de marmore vultus, orabunt causas melius caelique meatus describent radio et surgentia sidera dicent: tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento (hae tibi erunt artes) pacique imponere morem, parcere subiectis et debellare superbos. Others (well I believe) will beat out bronze that breathes more subtly, will coax living features from marble, more expertly plead cases and measure the course of the sky with a rod and describe the rising stars; you, Roman, remember to rule the peoples with might (these will be your arts) and impose the way of peace, spare the conquered and beat down the proud.

Augustus’ Forum was effectively a marble manifestation of these words. The Forum was built ex manubiis from the spoils of foreign wars, displayed the names of conquered nations, and housed the Parthian standards after

 

Cf. Zanker (: –), Barchiesi (: ), and the caricature discussed at Section ... Brunt () and Nicolet (: ) draw links between Anchises’ speech and Augustus’ policies.

The Forum Augustum



they were returned in  BCE. Though it had legal functions, Suetonius (Aug. .) and Cassius Dio (..–) underscore its military and ritual uses: here boys assumed the toga virilis, commanders set out for foreign expeditions, the senate voted on triumphs, and returning generals dedicated tokens of victory. As Steven Rutledge observes, its exotic marbles, displays of art, and other decorative elements reinforced these functions in “weaving together a tale of war and empire, and promising the perpetuity of both.” In other words, it both documented Rome’s growing dominance over the oikoumenē and perpetuated that dominance through recurring rituals of masculinity. Augustus’ choice of heroes appears to have emphasized this message. According to Suetonius, the statues honored “those who raised the imperium of the Roman people from the least to the greatest” and were dressed in triumphal garb (Aug. .). The gallery also subjected future honors to imperial control: subsequent statues would be in bronze rather than marble, awarded by the princeps in lieu of the triumphs now reserved exclusively for members of the imperial family. Even the Forum’s omission of space for oratory reaffirms Anchises’ proclamation that the rhetorical arts belong to others () while suggesting their increasing political irrelevance under empire, in keeping with the anxieties about political voice explored in Chapter . While Augustus’ building exalts Rome’s mission to rule other nations, as articulated by Anchises, it pushes back against Vergil in some other important respects. In contrast to the condemnation of Julian factionalism at .–, the Forum valorizes both Caesar and Augustus’ vengeance in his name. Favro has suggested that Augustus conceived the entire structure “as an homage to Caesar”: certainly, the dictator was prominently displayed at the very heart of the temple, as a cult statue, and perhaps also as a



 

 

Richardson (: ) suggests the Spanish and German wars were major sources of funding. For the conquered nations, see Vell. Pat. .., CIL VI , Kockel (: ), and Alföldi (: –); for the Parthian standards, Rich (). Rutledge (: ). For triumphs themselves as propagandistic sources of popular geography, see also Moatti (: –) and Section .. Ancient testimony about the statues includes Suet. Aug. .; Ovid, Fasti .–; Cass. Dio ..; Plin. HN .; Gell. NA ..; SHA Alex. Sev. .; and Degrassi () ..–. Though most of these sources suggest they were bronze, the surviving fragments are marble. Anderson (: –) and Kellum () dissent from the standard view that the statue plan emphasized military virtus. Cf. Rowell (: –), Chaplin (: ), and Geiger (: ). As Tacitus would later complain in the Dialogus de Oratoribus, on which see Saxonhouse () and Lamp (: –).



Remapping the Forum Augustum

separate colossus. Visitors likely entered Augustus’ forum via Caesar’s with its temple to Venus Genetrix, dedicated by Caesar in  and again by his heir two years later. This spatial arrangement expresses a biographical logic: it was Augustus’ love for his genitor that inspired his vengeance at Philippi, where he first vowed the temple to Mars the Avenger. Only twenty years later, around the time that construction commenced, did this vengeance gain an external object with the Parthians’ return of the legionary standards captured from Crassus in  BCE. This diplomatic victory figured prominently in Augustan iconography and the recovered standards were displayed in the temple itself. But this did not fully erase the building’s original association with civil war, as Ovid reminds us at Fasti .–: spectat et Augusto praetextum nomine templum, et visum lecto Caesare maius opus. voverat hoc iuvenis tum cum pia sustulit arma: a tantis princeps incipiendus erat. ille manus tendens, hinc stanti milite iusto, hinc coniuratis, talia dicta dedit: “si mihi bellandi pater est Vestaeque sacerdos auctor, et ulcisci numen utrumque paro, Mars, ades et satia scelerato sanguine ferrum, stetque favor causa pro meliore tuus. templa feres et, me victore, vocaberis Ultor.” voverat, et fuso laetus ab hoste redit.





He [Mars] sees the temple inscribed with the name of Augustus, and the work seems greater once he reads Caesar’s name. He had vowed it as a young man, when he took up pious arms: from such great deeds must the princeps begin his reign. Stretching his hand out, with the just army on one side and the conspirators on the other, he spoke these words: “If my father and the priest of Vesta are the cause of my going to war, and I prepare to avenge the divine might of both, Mars, be at hand and glut my sword with accursed blood, and may your favor stand on the better side. You’ll have temples and be called Avenger, if I win.” After vowing this, he returned joyous from the routed enemy.

  

Cf. Favro (: –); only a finger and part of an arm survive of the colossus. Cass. Dio .., ..; RG ; Kockel (: ) discusses the entrances. This could also be seen as retaliation for losses incurred by L. Decidius Saxa in  and Antony in  (cf. RG ; Vel. Pat. .). Herbert-Brown (: –) suggests, expanding on Weinstock (: ), that the connection between the temple and Philippi was constructed after Augustus became pontifex maximus in  BCE.

The Forum Augustum



Though Ovid describes Augustus’ vengeance against the Parthians in detail at .–, it is clearly a secondary cause of the temple’s foundation: “It is not enough for Mars to have deserved his epithet [of Avenger] once” (nec satis est meruisse semel cognomina Marti, ). Ovid himself points out the rhetorical overdetermination: “By right the god, twice avenged, was given both his temple and his name, and the well-earned honor discharges the debt of the prayer” (rite deo templumque datum nomenque bis ulto, / et meritus voti debita solvit honor, –). In a dynamic familiar from Metamorphoses  (Section ..), this passage exaggerates, even parodies, Augustus’ portrayal of the civil wars as righteous revenge within his early coinage, the Forum Augustum, Res Gestae , and elsewhere. In Aeneid , through retrospective qualification of his praise for hic Caesar (.–), Vergil had asked readers to distinguish praiseworthy external conquest from impious civil strife. As Ovid points out, however, the Augustan temple to Mars Ultor once again collapses external and internal enemies, Parthians and Liberators, disambiguating the Aeneid’s more nuanced treatment of conflict. Speaking Silences The temple’s emphasis on vengeance might seem to accord with Anchises’ injunction to “spare the conquered and beat down the proud” (). However, this message becomes notoriously problematic in the Aeneid, particularly at the end of the epic, and the same holds true for the Forum. As a repository for public memory, this monument not only exalted but also enacted Augustus’ vengeance against Caesar’s assassins through damnatio memoriae. Sometimes its omissions were overtly political. In Geiger’s analysis, Augustus certainly excluded Antony, Brutus, Cassius, and probably also Cicero and Cato, from his gallery of heroes. Years later, Tacitus would note that Brutus and Cassius were conspicuous for their absence from Junia’s funeral in  CE (Ann. .). The same could be said for their omission from the Forum Augustum. But if ‘leaving out’  

 

Cf. also Fast. ., Met. .–, Gurval (: ), Green (), and especially Barchiesi (). Geiger (: ) argues that the Forum included even Pompey, nameless in Aeneid  but linked by virtue of his marriage connection with the Julii with the ideal of world conquest (for which see Clarke : –). Varner () and Flower () examine the ancient practices encompassed under this modern term. Kockel suggests that the Forum united even Augustus’ former rivals (: ), but Geiger ( and :  and ) makes a convincing case that he left out Antony and Cato (both included in the Aeneid) as well as Brutus, Cassius, and Cicero (also omitted by Vergil).



Remapping the Forum Augustum

was a political tool, then ‘reading in,’ as modeled by the Daedalus ekphrasis, became an effective strategy for countervailing such lacunae in Rome’s architectural palimpsest. Other of Augustus’ exclusions were more subtle and subjective. By displaying great Roman heroes opposite his Julian forefathers in the statue gallery, the princeps represented his own ancestry as the state’s and the state’s as his own. This would mean that the Forum Augustum became a vast public atrium or living funeral procession for all Rome. It would also allow even plebeian visitors to share in the illustrious ancestry of the aristocratic families represented. But how might these families feel about the displacement of some of their relatives in order to equalize the numbers of summi viri and Julii? The two members of that family for whom inscriptional evidence survives were small fry: Gaius Julius Caesar Strabo, who reached the curule aedileship in , and the dictator’s father, praetor in . More accomplished members of other families were clearly omitted in their favor. It is impossible to determine how elite visitors would have responded: with a swell of pride at Roman achievement, or resignation and resentment at the slight to their own ancestors? Yet later senatorial writers like Tacitus suggest at least the possibility of the latter, and Aeneas models an elegiac reader response when he reaches out to include Marcellus in Anchises’ otherwise triumphalist representation of history. Much as the Sibyl consoles the dead Palinurus with the promise of fame, Augustus gave Marcellus a material afterlife within the city of Rome, burying his body in the family Mausoleum and placing his statue in the Forum Augustum. But as members of other aristocratic families walked through this same space, their paths must have been punctuated by nonrecognition and grief: the failure to see their own ancestors and loved ones amid a procession that Augustus offered to the Roman people as comprehensive and authoritative. .. Coopting the Augustan Cityscape In sum, the Augustan Forum asserts on its face a more autocratic relationship between author and audience than Anchises’ narrative, with its invitations to readerly critique and intervention. Ancient and modern   

Cf. Burke (), West (: ), and especially Flower (: , –); for more on funerals as multimedia didactic spectacles, cf. Bodel () and Favro and Johanson (). CIL ..  and , respectively; cf. Luce (: ), Chaplin (: n), and Geiger (: ). Cf. Hofter () and Geiger (: ).

The Forum Augustum

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writers alike assign Augustus a high level of personal control over the selection and presentation of heroes. Suetonius reports that he aimed to restore Rome’s former leaders to greatness and proclaimed his moral intentions in building the Forum (Aug. .); Pliny even credits him with writing the elogium for Scipio Aemilianus, suggesting a remarkable concern for details on his part (HN ..). In taking this didactic position visà-vis the Forum Augustum, the pater patriae assumes an Anchisean role toward its Roman visitors, with a similar goal of inspiring via exempla. But in contrast to Anchises’ self-problematizing, ambivalent presentation of Roman history, Augustus’ gallery includes only positive exempla in triumphal procession, packaged with tituli and elogia to explain and disambiguate their meaning. Some information was imparted even to the illiterate by means of onomastic tokens such as a raven on the statue of Corvus. And of course, the whole gallery was far more clearly organized, codified, and closed off than Anchises’ narrative, which along with the Aeneid itself is framed as incomplete. New statues could be added, but in bronze not marble, and only by the princeps himself. This reinforced Augustus’ role as the focal point around which space, time, and honor revolved. Even all interpretation was, in theory, channeled through the princeps. As Suetonius reports it, his authorial goal in setting up the gallery of heroes was not to educate his audience but, rather, “to lead the citizens to require him, while he lived, and the rulers of future ages as well, to follow the example of those worthy men of old” (Aug. .). These words ostensibly assign citizens an important role as witnesses of the princeps’ behavior. At the same time, Augustus stage-manages the show by selecting the exempla that define citizens’ expectations, reducing them to an instrumental role as enforcers of the values he himself authorized. Within this architectural map of Roman time and space, all roads lead to Augustus. Yet Aeneid , with its warnings about authorial bias and the importance of critical judgment, equipped viewers to resist and enrich the Forum’s authorial message. If the Forum Augustum put the princeps in the position   



Frisch (: –) and Chaplin (: –) develop stylistic parallels between the elogia and the Res Gestae; see also Degrassi () ..– and Chioffi () on the elogia. See Favro (: , fig. ) and Pandey (: , fig. ) for images, and Itgenshorst () for the space’s incorporation of Republican triumphs within an imperial system. Evidently a detail that tour guides pointed out (Jones : –). The tituli reported the honorand’s entire cursus honorum rather than just his highest office attained, as per tradition; cf. Eck (: –) and Geiger (: ). Vergil ends this scene with an ellipsis at .–; for the story of the Aeneid’s incompleteness, see O’Hara (), Pandey (), and Section ...



Remapping the Forum Augustum

of Anchises, then every visitor, in turn, was an Aeneas – but far better able to cross-check Augustus’ statements against their own knowledge of Roman history, topography, and poems like the Aeneid. Moreover, just as Aeneas brought the ghost of Marcellus back into Anchises’ narrative, so too did Roman audiences mentally repopulate Augustus’ monumental text every time they remembered loved ones who fought on the wrong side at Philippi or Perusia, or who were excluded by its disproportionate representation of the gens Julia. Like Icarus’ absence from the Daedalus frieze, Augustus’ monumental silences became meaningful semantic elements in themselves, testifying to the unspoken cost of Augustan supremacy and underlining the importance of audience subjectivity to the construction of meaning. Moreover, where Aeneas was forced to follow a prescribed itinerary through the Underworld in passive ignorance, real visitors could exert some measure of spatial and interpretive control over their experience of the Forum Augustum. However Augustus and his architects may have attempted to structure visitors’ experiences, their mobility and freedom of thought gave them considerable leeway to critique this architectural text and subject it to their own desires. Pompeian wax tablets, for instance, show that they picked out certain statues as meeting places: the two attested are the statue of Ti. Sempronius Gracchus (father of the tribunes) and a post-Augustan bronze statue of Cn. Sentius Saturninus, only a relatively short time after it was erected in  CE. This suggests that people kept abreast of iconographic changes and chose favorite spots based on loyalty, political sentiment, or novelty, rather than the reflexive reverence for history or the Julian family that the Forum sought to inculcate. Moreover, visitors could change their gaze or location at will, rewriting the Forum’s visual elements into alternate narratives, personal itineraries, and “hidden transcripts” as discussed in Chapter . Ovid does just this in Fasti .– when he looks down on the Forum from the viewpoint of the god Mars himself and admires the size, not the quality, of its art – perhaps





Roman audiences, of course, knew well that laudationes funebres, statuary inscriptions, displays in aristocratic homes, and the like tended to distort family history; cf. Flower () and Burke (: n), citing warnings in Cic. Brut. . and Livy .., ..–, and ... The Forum Augustum’s dual status as family funerary monument and public representation of Roman history makes this distortion all the more problematic. Rowell (: ) points out that Ti. Sempronius Gracchus is one of five people attested both in Vergil and in the Forum (Aen. .; Degrassi [] ., no. ); cf. also Austin (: ), and, for the statues, Camodeca () and Geiger (: ).

The Forum Augustum

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slyly confirming Anchises’ statement that others would sculpt more beautifully than the Romans (Aen. .–). The Forum Augustum and Aeneid  thus critically read and respond to one another, creating in the process a public transcript about Roman imperial values along with an implied resistance. The Aeneid also trains its readers to use the interpretive tools that co-constructed the power of images in the age of Augustus – substituting, for waning Republican arts like oratory, that of active and critical viewership. In this sense, they could share in the heroic privilege of Augustus and Aeneas, retreading Aeneas’ extraordinary journey within the memoryscape that was Rome and populating the latter with ghosts, just as Propertius ./ and Tristia . would fill the Palatine with absent voices. Augustus’ new temple to Apollo, for instance, no doubt swam before many readers’ visual imaginations as they contemplated the Cumaean temple to Apollo, an association strengthened by the transference of the Sibylline books there in  BCE. To resistant readers, as discussed in Chapter , the Danaids in the portico might recall Augustus’ creeping annexation of juridical and disciplinary powers better left to the gods, making this heavenly home on the Palatine a hell for dissenting subjects. From this topographical high point, readers’ imaginative katabasis might proceed downhill, past a Forum Romanum that looked suspiciously like Tartarus in its high level of urban development and association with discord and punishment. They then arrive in the Elysian Augustan Forum, seeing the ghosts of great Romans now in the past rather than future tense. But in keeping with the latent reversibility of triumphs and funerals, discussed in the next chapters, what begins in Vergil as a triumphal parade metamorphoses into a funeral procession with Marcellus’ burial at –: quantos ille virum magnam Mavortis ad urbem campus aget gemitus! vel quae, Tiberine, videbis funera, cum tumulum praeterlabere recentem! 

  

Kellum (: ) observes phallic connotations in this joke. Boyle (: ) links Octavian’s words at Fasti . (Mars, ades et satia scelerato sanguine ferrum, “Be at hand, Mars, and satiate iron with guilty blood”) with Aeneas’ vengeance on Turnus (poenam scelerato ex sanguine sumit, “he takes vengeance from guilty blood,” Aen. .), the latter also alluding to Romulus’ threat to Remus in Ennius (Ann.  . Skutsch). As McKay () and Galinsky () observe, Aeneas’ journey is also grounded in the topography of Cumae. At Hor. Odes .., shared contemplation of the Danaids is one hallmark of being in the Underworld. See Rebert ( and ), Berry (), and Pandey (: n) for some correspondences between the Aeneid Underworld and the Forum Romanum.



Remapping the Forum Augustum What great lamentation from the people will the Campus Martius send up to the great city! What a funeral, Tiber, will you see as you flow past the fresh built tumulus!

This “tumulus” in the Campus Martius transports us out to the Augustan Mausoleum where, as fellow speakers and addressees of Anchises’ secondperson plural commands, we scatter lilies on Marcellus’ tomb (manibus date lilia plenis, ) before exiting Rome through those mysterious gates (–). If this itinerary sounds tenuous and indeterminate, that is precisely the point: the Aeneid, in conjunction with the Augustan landscape, opens up an infinity of interpretive possibilities among which readers themselves must choose, constructing themselves and the (in)visible city within and against one another. Every Roman reader thus shared in the epic adventure of (re)reading Rome and resettling its meaning within his or her individual subjectivity. Readers who remembered Aeneid  as they walked through the city would find themselves the hero of their own journeys, in the footsteps of pius Aeneas, to refound the city in their private imaginations while recovering the silences, suppressed memories, and alternate interpretations behind Augustus’ monumental text.

. Remapping Rome in Ars Amatoria  Ars Amatoria  (c.  BCE) performs just such a reappropriative rereading of the Augustan cityscape. At –, Ovid creates a field map of Rome’s pick-up sites that parodies the desire for order and domination expressed in the Forum Augustum and the Agrippan map in the Porticus Vipsania. In annexing Rome as an arena for erotic conquest, Ovid usurps Augustus’ central role in the city and illustrates again how private viewers could subject official spaces to unauthorized desires. Here, too, silence speaks louder than words. Ovid’s verbal map pointedly omits the newly opened Forum Augustum, suggesting its inimicality to the pursuits of Venus. On the other hand, key aspects of this missing building emerge within the  

West (: ) and Harrison (: ) also note the reference to the Mausoleum; cf. Reeder () on its structure. As praeceptor Amoris (), Ovid aligns himself with the emperor through the language of rulership at – (e.g., regendus, ), and (re)foundation, as in the image of driving a plow around a future city site to delimit his poetic subject (; cf. Hollis : ). Holleman (), Labate (), Wyke (), Davis (, ), Henderson (), Casali (), and various of the essays in Gibson, Green, and Sharrock () discuss this poem’s relation to the principate; on servitium and militia amoris, see also Greene (), Bowditch (), Keith (), Drinkwater (), and Fulkerson ().

Remapping Rome in Ars Amatoria 



propemptikon to Gaius Caesar, Augustus’ grandson and heir, as he sets out for a military campaign in the East (–). His unexpected death there in  CE would give Ovid’s ostensibly humorous lines elegiac resonance for subsequent readers, recalling Marcellus’ premature death in Aeneid . Ars Amatoria  therefore works in tandem with Vergil’s epic and history itself to question the militaristic ethos and linear conception of time implied by the Forum Augustum, instead highlighting the costs of war, the interruptions in Augustan succession, and the futility of adding domito quod defuit orbi, “what’s missing of the conquered world” (Ars .), to the Roman map. .. Urbs as Orbis Among the many examples of the Augustan “mapping impulse,” the Agrippan map in the Porticus Vipsania stood out along with the Forum Augustum as a means for bringing the world into the city. Yet loss and absence lay in its very origin: it was a monument built by a dead man. Through the will he left after his death in  BCE, Agrippa regifted to Rome land given him by the people (Cass. Dio ..), east of the Campus Martius, in order to “set forth a map of the world for the viewership of the city” (Plin. HN .). The task was taken up by Agrippa’s sister, then Augustus himself, and completed sometime between  and  BCE. While the map’s form and composition have incited much debate, it seems to have included the entire oikoumenē, divided into  regions, and not just the  regions controlled by Rome. Such urban architecture, in Pliny’s later view, displayed the conquered world to the city (sic quoque terrarum orbem victum ostendere, .) and confirmed Rome’s status as caput mundi. It was doubtless from such monumental public records that many city-dwellers learned of the lands Rome had conquered and those it had yet to conquer. 

 



Pliny also alludes to written measurements made by Agrippa, suggesting the existence of a separate geographical commentary discussed by Nicolet (: –). For more on this map’s educative potential, cf. Salway (: ), and on written presentations of geographical information, Broderson (). Nicolet (: ) speculates that Pliny’s formula spectandum urbi, “to show [the world] to the city,” derives from an inscription on the monument itself, similar to the introduction to the Res Gestae. See Cassius Dio . and Nicolet (: ) for the dating, which makes it part of Ovid’s mental world as he composed the Ars Amatoria. E.g., it seems to have included the town of Spasinou Charax in Parthian territory at the mouth of the Euphrates (Plin. HN .; Nicolet : , –). It also, in Nicolet’s estimation (–), was rectangular rather than round and included dimensions of territories, unlike strict itinerary maps such as the Peutinger Map. See also Griffin (: –), Nicolet (: –), and Lamp (: ).



Remapping the Forum Augustum

Ovid’s Ars Amatoria  does something remarkably similar in subdividing and displaying the world to the city – albeit for a different type of conquest. The urbs/orbis wordplay so familiar already to Pliny originated at the very end of the Republic (Cic. Cat. .) and began to blossom in the age of Augustus, along with Rome’s identity as a cosmopolis. Ovid takes it up with enthusiasm, for instance, in his description of Jupiter Terminus at Fasti .–: “Other peoples’ land is given a fixed boundary; the Roman city’s and the world’s expanse are one and the same” (gentibus est aliis tellus data limite certo, / Romanae spatium est Urbis et orbis idem). But, in a parody of the ecumenical claims of the Porticus Vipsania, the narrator of the Ars values foreign conquest for its diversification of the erotic opportunities available to city-dwellers. Through the migration, human trafficking, and trade that stem from war, the cosmopolis contains “whatever there is in the world,” “the whole world [is] in the city,” and many a Roman is overcome by a “foreign love” (“haec habet” ut dicas “quicquid in orbe fuit,” ; ingens orbis in urbe fuit, ; quam multos advena torsit amor, ). Ovid thus echoes and inverts Roman rhetoric of domination by transposing it to an erotic sphere and changing the field of conquest from world to world-city. The humor of Ovid’s poem, and some links between elegy’s “erotics of domination” and Roman imperialism, have been well analyzed in recent years. What has not is the extent to which Ovid is usurping the role of Augustus and Agrippa in reorganizing Rome for amatory purposes, particularly in his verbal map of Rome at .–. In this passage, and its close equivalent in the advice to women at Ars Amatoria .–, Ovid catalogues hunting-grounds for urban lovers, including a variety of porticoes and temples (–), the theaters (–), the Circus (–),   





Cf. Habinek (), Edwards and Woolf (a), and Favro (). Nicolet (: ) points also to Propertius ..; cf. Edwards (: – and ) and Lowrie (). Hollis (: ) compares Propertius ..– (omnia Romanae cedent miracula terrae; / natura hic posuit quicquid ubique fuit) and other patriotic panegyrics of Italy and Rome: Varro Rust. ..–, Verg. G. .–, Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. ., and Plin. HN .– and .. Hollis (: ) argues that ab utroque mari at  refers to attendance by people from the world’s eastern and western shores, rather than the Adriatic and Tuscan seas that border Italy; cf. Met. .–, Verg. G. ., Prop. .., and Martial Spect. .–. Henderson () on Ovid’s Circus Maximus is particularly inspired. See also Cahoon (), Wyke (), Davis (, a, ), Greene (), Sharrock (), Miller (), and Casali (), inter alios, for salutary alternatives to the apolitical readings that prevailed for the past century. For elegy and the Augustan cityscape, see also Boyle (), Welch (), and Keith (, ). Space precludes discussion of the latter. Hollis (: ) provides a map of the sites mentioned.

Remapping Rome in Ars Amatoria 



gladiatorial games in the Forum (–), an Augustan naumachia (–), and private convivia (–). Many have found this list ultimately celebratory of Augustus’ building plan. Ovid’s emphasis on exotic marbles (externo marmore, ; cf. facto de marmore templo, ), for instance, echoes the emperor’s boast that he found Rome brick and left her marble (Suet. Aug. .). From another perspective, Ovid’s description might seem to erase Augustus from his central position in the city. Boyle has argued that Ovid singles out structures that were not built by the princeps and bear anti-Augustan resonances: the portico of Pompey (–), where Caesar was killed; the place where “the mother added her gifts to her son’s,” i.e., the Porticus Octaviae and Theatrum Marcellus (–); the colonnade of Livia on the Esquiline, jointly dedicated with the unpopular Tiberius in  BCE; and the temple of Isis, despite evident Augustan hostility to the worship of Egyptian gods (Cass. Dio ..; ..). But it might be objected that Octavia, Marcellus, and Livia were close members of the imperial family, the latter marked as Augustus’ consort with the punning auctoris next to her name (). Even Pompey was included among the Julians in the Forum Augustum, and Augustus took credit for restoring his theater in  BCE “at great expense, but without any inscription of my name” (RG ). For that matter, Ovid’s map includes the portico of the Danaids at –, part of Augustus’ Palatine complex, and the fora at , both discussed in Section .. as archetypally Augustan spaces by the time of writing. Chief among the fora described, moreover, is the Forum Iulium with its temple to Venus (–) and close association with the deified Julius and Augustus, who completed and expanded the project (RG ; Cass. Dio ..). I suggest that Ovid’s goal is more complex though less overtly political. In equating the city with the orbis terrarum and subdividing it into zones for erotic surveying and conquest, his map exposes and defamiliarizes Rome’s impulse toward domination. It replicates in humorous miniature the chorographic drive behind the Agrippan map. Moreover, just as the latter shrank down the known world for visual consumption in a few

 



Hollis (: ); Cass. Dio . reads this boast as metaphorical. Bonjour () and Simpson (: ) note other references to Augustus. Boyle (: –) perhaps exaggerates the anti-Augustanism here; Orlin () nuances Augustus’ relation with the Egyptian cults. Davis (: ) argues that Pompeia . . . sub umbra (.) is a veiled reference to the dead Caesar. For Pompey’s inclusion, see Geiger (: ); his image was also part of Augustus’ funeral procession (Cass. Dio .), discussed in Section ...



Remapping the Forum Augustum

minutes’ stroll, so too does Ovid’s poem telescope Augustan monuments from the foreground of the princeps’ building program to the background of lived urban experience. This challenges Augustus’ interpretive centrality to the city he remade in marble and again illustrates readers’ power over the meaning and use of the urban text, here no less than a miniature world. At the same time, the poet begins to hint at the shared lie of all maps, and indeed all mimetic acts’ claim to stand in for realities they necessarily reduce and simplify. Within Ovid’s poem, the cityscape not only mirrors the external world but threatens to supplant it as a field for dominion, without a twinge of anxiety that love might eclipse war as the focus of young men’s attention (as, e.g., at Horace, Odes .). Augustus, in turn, commands the narrator’s attention only in his capacity as urban impresario, staging the “image” of a naval battle (belli navalis imagine, ) that brings the whole world into the city (ingens orbis in Urbe, ). The narrator’s absence of concern for the reality behind the image advances a suggestion that Chapter  will pursue: that urban audiences barely knew or cared whether representations of Rome’s domination, from the Forum Augustum to the naumachia, bore any relation with the world beyond her walls, so long as they could enjoy and consume them. Ovid underscores the point’s relevance to imperial representations, and sharpens the parody, by verbally remapping Rome according to the same genealogical, traditionalist principles that structure the Forum Augustum. The founders of the spaces discussed at lines – are related to Augustus by blood or marriage, and Ovid offers Augustus’ divine lineage as an etiology for Amor’s dominion over Rome: “Aeneas’ mother has settled in the city of her son” (mater in Aeneae constitit urbi sui, .). Similarly, in an Augustan appeal to the authority of tradition, Ovid uses none other than Romulus to explain the erotic associations of the Roman theater. It was at a performance that Rome’s first founder ordered the rape of the Sabine women (), providing a “reverend tradition” () for public assault that created the first Roman families and thereby underpinned the state. Ovid’s quaint picture of the rustic theater, where people sat on turf seats, wore leaves from the Palatine, and applauded without art  



Well discussed by Beacham (); see also () more generally on imperial spectacle. Mentions of Paris () and Mount Ida () further recall the Julians’ Trojan ancestry. Compare Am. ..– (nunc Mars externis animos exercet in armis, / at Venus Aeneae regnat in urbe sui) and see Armstrong (: –) for bibliography. Compare Livy .; Ovid transfers the story from its traditional setting at the Circus to the theater. As Hollis notes (: ), citing Cass. Dio ., Ovid’s reference to military pay at – is a

Remapping Rome in Ars Amatoria 



(–), follows the “then-and-now” theme discussed at Section .., gently parodying Augustan moral nostalgia while claiming a legendary foundation for modern erotic adventurism. The seized Sabine women, aestheticized in their various postures of terror (–), come to echo the female statues in the Palatine portico. These living praeda thereby emblematize the conquest and domination that sustained the Roman state from its beginning and now provide ironic precedent for the sexual mores advocated in the Ars. ..

Ghostly Presences: Gaius and the Forum Augustum

It is through a speaking silence, though, that the Ovidian map most powerfully if quietly critiques the Augustan mapping impulse. Ars Amatoria  situates itself in time through allusion to the “just recent” (modo, ) naval battle marking the dedication of the Forum Augustum. This building itself, however, remains conspicuously absent from Ovid’s catalogue, all the more so given its physical prominence in the Augustan cityscape. If the Forum Augustum’s phallic structure asserted an almost sexual dominance over the Forum Iulium on a map, as Kellum has pointed out, then the far greater textual space that Ovid arrogates to the latter (–) shifts the power balance back from Mars toward Venus, reversing Augustus’ prioritization of military conquest within the Forum Augustum. At the same time, this absent building is powerfully present in Ovid’s map, invisibly shaping the architecture of lines –.





  

“sly glance at contemporary recruiting difficulties in the Roman army.” Respiciunt at  makes it clear that women occupied the back rows here as they did in Augustan times; cf. Suet. Aug. ., Ov. Am. .., Prop. .., and Hollis (: ). This passage revises Vergil’s depiction of the same incident on the shield of Aeneas, where the rape is conducted “lawlessly” and in the Circus (.–). Ovid’s tone, blamed by Rudd () for his exile, is far less reverential than comparanda including Aen. .–, Prop. ..–, and Prop. ..–. See Miller () for Callimachean etiology in the Ars Amatoria. Edwards () discusses Roman viewership of statues of foreigners, though the Sabine women will soon transform from foreigners into Romans. See also Myerowitz () on women’s bodies as materia requiring cultus. There is a recollection here of Propertius’ description of the spolia opima (..–). Kellum () emphasizes the space’s masculinity; Favro (: –) views the two fora as an integrated tribute to Caesar. See also discussion of the fora Caesaris at Tr. .. at Section ... Themes from the Forum Augustum percolate through the Ars Amatoria. Ovid’s initial announcement that he is writing out of a desire to avenge his wounds and triumph over his erstwhile adversary, Amor (hoc melior facti vulneris ultor ero, ), juxtaposes love, violence, and vengeance as closely as the cult triad of Mars Ultor, Venus, and Caesar. Ovid also cites Venus and Mars’ respective illegitimate sons Aeneas and Romulus, the two major statue groups in the exedrae, as founding figures for romance in Rome (.–; –). Moreover, Ovid’s list of



Remapping the Forum Augustum

Just as the Forum Augustum took ghostly shape within Vergil’s Underworld, so too does it make sense of what Goold calls “a rather abrupt digression” in Ars Amatoria : the long excursus on Gaius Caesar’s departure for a military campaign (–) culminating in an imagined triumph (–). This passage immediately follows mention of the naumachia commemorating the Forum’s dedication just one year prior to publication. But Ovid ‘forgets’ this official rationale, and neatly subverts the Forum’s message of conquest, by celebrating this gala event as an opportunity to be conquered by a “foreign love” (). He then pivots to Caesar’s preparations “to add what was missing to the conquered world; now, farthest orient, you will be ours” (ecce, parat Caesar domito quod defuit orbi / addere: nunc, oriens ultime, noster eris, –). The opening deictic interjection ecce (“Look!”) in fact calls attention to Gaius’ absence. Here envisioned as “preparing” for campaign, he had already departed by the time of publication, for what Ovid frames as a rather abstract goal: to “add what is missing” to the Roman map. The “farthest orient” (oriens ultime), vividly personified in the apostrophe at , was of course an imaginative construction known in Rome largely through representations like the Agrippan map and the decorative scheme of the Forum Augustum. These lines therefore call attention to imperial absences and cartographic constructions even as they call on readers’ imaginations to fill them in.

  



opportunities to “hunt” exotic girls (scit bene venator, –) specifically recalls the array of events Augustus staged to dedicate the Forum, including the reenactment of the battle of Salamis, hunts of exotic animals, gladiatorial fights, Circensian games managed by Gaius and Lucius, and the “Troy Game” starring Agrippa Postumus (Cass. Dio ..–). Ovid’s list recalls many of these events but suppresses their association with the Forum, instead subordinating them to the usus of the would-be lover (). Goold (: n); see Section .. for further discussion of this triumph and its relation with Prop. .. This reworks Horace’s statement that conquered Greece captivated her savage Roman victors (Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit, Epist. ..). Hollis argues (: ) that “Caesar” here refers to Augustus as the “prime mover of the expedition,” with Gaius appearing only as dux meus at . However, it is clear that Gaius was the commander who set out and is also the youth under description, though he fights under Augustus’ auspices. The emphasis on familial auspices and succession may hint at the technicality by which Augustus denied M. Licinius Crassus the spolia opima for defeating the king of the Bastarnae on the grounds he was not fighting under his own auspices, though he was permitted a triumph in  BCE for his campaigns of /. See Cass. Dio .–, Rich (), Flower (), and the Cossus episode at Section ... Rose () examines Parthian spoils and imagery in Rome; see also Rich () and LerougeCohen (). The triumphal arch that the senate voted Augustus at this time, discussed below, may be another of Ovid’s inspirations here.

Remapping Rome in Ars Amatoria 



The Forum Augustum comes into sharper focus in the subsequent lines, which envision vengeance for Crassus and the Parthian standards (–): Parthe, dabis poenas: Crassi gaudete sepulti, signaque barbaricas non bene passa manus. ultor adest, primisque ducem profitetur in annis, bellaque non puero tractat agenda puer. Parthian, you’ll pay the penalty: buried soldiers of Crassus, rejoice, and standards that shamefully endured barbarian hands. An aven ger is at hand, and proclaims himself general in his youthful years, and a boy leads a war no boy should have to fight.

The description of Gaius as ultor (), a word by now deeply associated with the standards, makes him a stand-in for Mars Ultor. The values and genealogical logic that govern the Forum Augustum find verbal evocation in Ovid’s emphasis on Gaius’ divine descent (), Julian virtus (), generational relationships (–, –), assumption of arms (), victoriousness (, –), great name and status as iuvenum princeps (–), ability to avenge (–), “pious” arms and standards (–), and protection by Mars and Augustus (–). But most notably, this propemptikon specifically recalls the ceremonial uses of the forum. As Cassius Dio describes it (.), Augustus decreed that he himself and his grandsons should go there as often as they wished, while those who were passing from the class of boys and were being enrolled among the youths of military age should invariably do so; that those who were sent out to commands abroad should make that their starting point; that the senate should take its votes there in regard to the granting of triumphs, and that the victors after celebrating them should dedicate to this Mars their scepter and their crown; that such victors and all others who receive triumphal honors should have their statues in bronze erected in the Forum; [and] that in case military standards captured by the enemy were ever recovered they should be placed in the temple.

The Forum’s ritual use to mark Roman boys’ passage into manhood and Roman generals’ commencement and conclusion of wars, not to mention its specific association with Augustus’ grandsons, would again bring it to readers’ minds as they contemplated Gaius’ youth and boyhood (–), 



Developing Propertius’ own evocation of Crassus’ vengeful ghost at ..–, another poem that plays games with time in belatedly envisioning a future event that has already come to pass, as discussed in Section ...  Rose (: ). Trans. Cary ().



Remapping the Forum Augustum

his first donning of arms (, –), and his departure from this very Forum on a military expedition expected to result in triumph. However, the Ars also raises concerns that Augustus, with his power to organize the time and lives of his subjects, forced Gaius to advance too quickly through the maturation rituals that the Forum Augustum was designed to mark. At –, Ovid’s insistence on Gaius’ youth cuts against his protestations that the boy’s divine descent prepares him to set out for war early (ante diem, “before his day,” ; note also the repetition of puer, “boy,” at , , and ). A similar concern for his inexperience emerges from the historical sources, along with a sense that Augustus prematurely hastened Gaius’ career for lack of more experienced successors (Cass. Dio ..). Even Gaius’ accelerated movement through the milestones of masculine life maps onto the Forum’s building history, with textual echoes in Ars Amatoria . The banner year  BCE marked Gaius’ birth, to much fanfare, along with the return of the Parthian standards that the Forum was designed to house. These two events are tightly linked by Cassius Dio (..–) and the syntax of Ars , where the Parthian standards at – are followed closely by a recollection of baby Gaius in comparison with the infant gods Hercules and Bacchus (–). Ovid’s statement at – that the gods’ birthdays cannot be counted, that Caesars ripen quickly, and that divinities brook no delay to their powers well encapsulates Gaius’ accelerated cursus honorum. In  BCE, Augustus served as consul for the first time in seventeen years in order to introduce his fifteen-year-old grandson into public life with extraordinary honors that recalled and normalized his own extralegal assumption of the consulship at the age of twenty (Suet. Aug. .–), initiating a trend toward the 

 



Though youth is a common panegyric theme, as Hardie () notes ad loc. on Aen. ., Ovid’s emphasis is striking by comparison to another propemptikon to Gaius by Antipater of Thessalonica, which entirely omits Gaius’ age and inexperience ( Anth. Pal. .; reprinted by Hollis , appendix III). Holleman (: ) has argued that Ovid’s emphasis on Gaius’ youth is meant as a “sardonic” criticism of his immaturity and Roman failures in the East, as well as a jab at Augustus, who was the same age when he rose to power; Mira Seo suggests to me that this may parody Augustus’ perpetual iconographical youth. Gruen (: ) suggests that Gaius’ expedition was orchestrated precisely to gain a triumph and support his status as Augustus’ heir. See Romer () for Augustus’ cultivation of Gaius’ career. Cassius Dio notes that in celebration of the event, Augustus decreed the temple to Mars Ultor, was honored with a triumphal arch, and set up the golden milestone (..–); he immediately adds that Julia gave birth to Gaius and a permanent annual sacrifice was declared for his birthday (..). In the next book, Dio connects Gaius’ expedition east with the dedication of the Forum in the same chapter (..– and –). For similar Hellenistic comparisons of leaders and euergetic gods, cf. Cic. Leg. ., Hor. Odes ..–, and Hollis (: ). Ovid here renders into infant terms Anchises’ prophecy of Augustus’ world domination by comparison to Hercules and Bacchus at Aen. .–.

Remapping Rome in Ars Amatoria 



premature bestowal of offices on members of the imperial family. That year, immediately after assuming the toga virilis and the accompanying rights and responsibilities of citizenship, Gaius was designated consul for the following year and received the honorific title princeps iuventutis along with a silver shield and spear (RG ) – events alluded to in lines –. It seems that the Forum Augustum was even opened early to the public to mark this occasion. The year  BCE marked the official dedication of the temple to Mars Ultor and similar honors for Lucius, with Augustus once again presiding over events as consul and now pater patriae. Cassius Dio asserts that Gaius and Lucius could have consecrated the temple, though Augustus did the honors and they instead managed the Circensian Games for this occasion (..). And it was on the heels of the Forum’s dedication that Augustus was forced, “through necessity,” to send Gaius east (Cass. Dio ..). At the time, this mission must have seemed an easy opportunity to introduce Gaius to command and diplomacy while distracting from his mother’s recent disgrace. Gaius was given proconsular authority, advisors, and even a wife, “so that he might also have the increased dignity that attached to a married man” (Cass. Dio ..). Yet Ovid’s insistence that Gaius is still a puer, sent off before his day (ante diem, ) to fight a war no boy should fight (bellaque non puero tractat agenda puer, ), permanently freezes Gaius in the bloom of youth and points out that even Augustus could not control time. Of course, fortune would snatch Gaius away from Augustus before his day, too (filios meos, quos iuvenes mihi eripuit fortuna, RG ), when he died in  CE in Lycia from a mysterious illness. Some suspected 









Octavian seized the consulship by military force on  August  BCE, after being inducted into the senate only on  January of that year; late Republican law had set the minimum age for holding this office at forty-two. Suetonius closely links the princeps’ extralegal entrée into public life (.) with his orchestration of subsequent consulships for himself and his heirs (.). The trend toward premature honors would culminate in Honorius’ designation as consul upon birth in  CE. Spannagel (: –); Geiger (: ); see also Suet. Aug. . for the forum’s early opening, and Cass. Dio ., .. for the official dedication date of  August  BCE. The normal age for assumption of the toga virilis varied from around fourteen to eighteen. Lott (: –) traces Augustus’ attempts to groom both grandsons and frames Gaius’ expedition in this context. Ovid’s (over-)insistence on paternity renders Julia the Elder, too, conspicuous in her absence; in  BCE, soon after the Forum’s dedication in the accounts of Vell. Pat. . and Cass. Dio ., she was exiled for pursuing adulterous love with the son of Mark Antony and Fulvia, Iullus Antonius, among others. By papering over this embarrassing episode within the Augustan domus, Ovid may call attention to its omission, as in his normalization of the Tiberian succession in Metamorphoses  (discussed at Section .). Horsfall (: ) points out that it was difficult to eulogize young men like Marcellus because of a shortage of actual achievements. Certainly, Ovid’s emphasis on Gaius’ precocity and imagined future might retroactively map onto the terms of his eulogies. See Lott (: –, –), with epigraphic evidence including CIL ..



Remapping the Forum Augustum

poisoning by Livia in order to secure the succession of her own son Tiberius, eclipsed by Gaius’ rising star (Tac. Ann. .). Ovid’s augury of Gaius’ triumphal return at – would therefore be highly ironic to readers after  CE. The vision of Gaius riding a golden chariot drawn by four white horses (–) becomes a ghostly and aposiopetic one, never to come to pass. Nor would Gaius be seen in Rome again, complete the transformation from princeps iuvenum to senum anticipated at , or engage in the adult flirtations envisioned for triumphal spectators at –. In its clear recollection of the Forum Augustum’s quadrigate statue of the princeps as pater patriae, the image of the victorious Gaius reminds us that all triumphal glory is fleeting – that all the great men depicted in that space’s statue gallery were ghosts, whatever flattering language of godhood might disguise their mortality (as in Ovid’s rhetoric of Caesarian divinity at – and, more broadly, the Julian star symbolism discussed in Chapter ). Any panegyrical notes that accompanied Ovid’s emphasis on Gaius’ youth would modulate, in the ears of later readers, into melancholy strains more reminiscent of Marcellus’ appearance at the end of Vergil’s parade. Like Aeneid , moreover, Ovid responds to the Forum Augustum’s dual temporal nature: its signification of the rituals of masculinity that repeat across generations, as well as the linear progression of history. The Ars Amatoria passage marks an interruption of the forward march of Gaius’ eastward expedition, his growth in age and honor, Augustus’ dynastic succession, and the expansion of the empire’s borders. Instead, Ovid presents an insistently cyclical conception of time that threatens the Forum Augustum’s eternalizing claims for Roman martial supremacy. In replacing this monument with Gaius’ proleptic ghost, the Ovidian map of Rome quietly critiques architectural attempts to render Augustan glory permanent. This bears on its persistent suggestion that the telos of Roman imperialism, like the narrative end of Gaius’ triumph, is not world domination but rather the erotic opportunities it affords – in which the conquering Romans will themselves be conquered by “foreign loves” (). Here, Ovid begins to apply the idea of role reversal, a favorite theme of his erotic poems, to the enterprise of empire. While war implies a clear division between self and other, and triumph a subjection of other to self, empire necessitates an incorporation of other into self. For that matter, it enables the circulation of foreign peoples into Rome, which in turn allows for 

Purcell () expresses skepticism and Barrett () connects Livia with the evil stepmother trope.

Remapping Rome in Ars Amatoria 



procreation and population growth – that shared goal of the Ars and the Augustan marriage legislation. The Gaius passage even begins to indicate, in miniature, a breakdown of the self/other boundaries that the Forum Augustum, political boundaries, and maps all seek to define. Though Gaius’ expedition is justified as revenge for the Parthian standards (–), these had already been brought home by diplomatic means in the year of his birth. Nor does Ovid mention the official reason for his departure: an Armenian “revolt” aided by a newly aggressive Parthia (RG ; Vell. Pat. .). Instead, he offers a new explanation at –: cum tibi sint fratres, fratres ulciscere laesos: cumque pater tibi sit, iura tuere patris. induit arma tibi genitor patriaeque tuusque: hostis ab invito regna parente rapit; tu pia tela feres, sceleratas ille sagittas: stabit pro signis iusque piumque tuis. Since brothers are yours, avenge wronged brothers: since a father is yours, guard a father’s rights. Your father, and your country’s father, dressed you in arms: your enemy stole his kingdom from an unwilling parent. You hold a pious spear, he accursed arrows: justice and piety stand by your standards.

These lines ostensibly refer to one of the events that precipitated Roman intervention: Phraataces’ seizure of the Parthian throne from his father Phraates IV, despite the rival claims of his brothers. Yet they also analogize Gaius with the Parthian princes, assign him filial reasons to sympathize with them, and create an equivalence between Gaius’ two paternal figures (Augustus and Agrippa) and Phraates. This passage also rewrites the casus belli: no longer is this a Roman war of vengeance against Parthia but, rather, a Roman mission to assist the wronged Parthian princes in avenging their father. The emphasis on Gaius’ fraternity with them () reminds us that Phraates IV had sent several of his sons to live in Rome as hostages (Strabo ..; Vel. Pat. ..; Suet. Aug. .). 



Cf. Cass. Dio ..–; it is likely that Augustus wanted to install one of the four hostage princes as king in Phraataces’ stead. Ovid misleadingly characterizes Gaius’ goal as the conquest of Parthia, anachronistically using language that was common a decade or two earlier (cf. Hor. Odes .., Prop. .., ., ..–, and Hollis  ad loc.), but out of place now that the Parthian standards had been restored and Rome and Parthia had peacefully coexisted for years. Augustus made these children highly visible in Rome, for instance by seating them directly behind him in the arena; see Suet. Aug. . and Rose (: ). Many also identify young barbarian hostage princes in Augustan art, from the Ara Pacis (Rose ) to the Boscoreale skyphos featuring Augustus (Kuttner : –), as a sign of the princeps’ benevolent world rule.

195

200



Remapping the Forum Augustum

They were Gaius’ contemporaries and perhaps even playmates, suggesting that friendly mixing between Romans and their erstwhile foreign enemies was already happening in the imperial household just as it occurred on Rome’s amatory battlefields. Adding another level of irony, Phraataces was himself the result of genetic mixing, the product of a union between Phraates IV and an Italian concubine sent to him by Augustus. This suggests another cycle within the ostensibly linear progression of history. Gaius Caesar was effectively repeating Augustus’ decades-earlier vengeance for his murdered “father,” as underscored by the language of ius, pietas, and paternity at –. But this time he was intervening in a Parthian dynastic squabble that ironically resulted from Augustus’ own interventions and reflected Rome’s increasingly ecumenical sphere of influence. In tracing the outlines of the Forum Augustum through the person of Gaius, Ars Amatoria .– contributes to the poem’s larger, sustained revision of the Roman cityscape as a playground for the public rather than a monument to Augustus. In subdividing the city as an erotic orbis terrarum, it mimics the administrative efforts of Augustus and Agrippa while suggesting that the ultimate point of Roman imperium is the palpable pleasure of cosmopolitan living rather than the intangible goal of adding what was missing to Rome’s territorial map (quod defuit orbi, ). Ovid suggests how abstract, even meaningless, this latter desire must have seemed to most city-dwellers when he advises observers of Gaius’ anticipated triumph simply to “invent” referents for triumphal symbols, calling one river effigy the Euphrates and another the Tigris at will (Ars Am. .–). As I argue more fully in Chapter , this passage points out that, to the average and possibly illiterate spectator, the cities, kings, and rivers borne by in triumph may as well be fictions. They point to referents far beyond most Romans’ lived experience, ones that are known only through representations, might no longer exist (cf. fuit at ), and need never have existed in order to delight audiences in the city. The latter simply go about their daily business of chatting, snacking, and falling in love on the sidelines, like the plowman on the edge of Bruegel’s painting of Icarus. In this context, Gaius’ retrospectively spectral triumph in Ars 

 

This woman, named Musa, plotted to secure the throne for her son Phraataces by sending Phraates IV’s four legitimate sons to Rome some time after the return of the standards in  BCE (Joseph. AJ .). Musa’s bypassing other heirs to secure her own son’s succession parallels her with Livia. Compare also Caesar’s imagined fighting at the Euphrates (Verg. G. .), a metapoetic marker for epic and its exaggerations discussed at Section ... Cf. W. H. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts,” –: “the ploughman may / Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, / But for him it was not an important failure.”

From Empire without End to the Ends of the Earth



 becomes another reminder of the human cost of wars both enabled and driven by Rome’s mapping impulse. It also became a reminder of “The old Lie” perpetrated by political rhetoric the world over, from the age of Augustus to our own: “Dulce et decorum est / Pro patria mori.”

. From Empire without End to the Ends of the Earth In my reading, then, Aeneid  and Ars Amatoria  encourage audiences to think critically about Augustus’ attempt to order history, define spatial boundaries, and stabilize monumental messages, in the Forum Augustum and in the Roman cityscape more generally. We glimpse this desire for control in the princeps’ careful arrangement of history in the Forum’s statue plan, his attempt to fix the meaning of those statues through tituli, and even in his Res Gestae, which Chapter  treats as a monumental titulus to Augustus’ achievements as inscribed in the city itself. By imaginatively usurping Augustus’ role as creator of topographical meaning, Vergil and Ovid testify to his power as author. At the same time, they vindicate Roman audiences’ interpretive agency over the cityscape; question some of the values inscribed therein, particularly the Forum Augustum’s imperialist message; and point out the ultimate mutability of authorial attempts to map space, order time, and fix the meaning of texts. In doing so, these poets not only construct a community of readers across political and temporal borders but also equip them to resist the conflation of representation with reality that gives maps and other signs their political power. Of course, Augustus would exert his own power as a reader, combined with his potestas as princeps, to override Ovid’s self-declaredly innocent authorial intentions with the Ars Amatoria and exile him in  CE. No punishment could be worse, for this poet of urbanity, than relegation to the edges of the orbis terrarum. But even from this immense geographical distance, Ovid would continue to reinterpret and reappropriate monuments in Rome. As discussed in Chapter , his Tristia  defends the Ars Amatoria from the charge of immorality on the grounds that readers, not authors, create textual meaning. And Tristia .– goes on to revisit some of the same erotic sites and events mentioned in Ars Amatoria  – the 



Indeed, the whole situation in Armenia and Parthia was ultimately resolved through “two working dinner-parties” (Hollis : ; Vell. Pat. .) rather than war. Pliny (HN .–) suggests that Gaius’ own mind was fired to seek eastern glory by geographical writings of Juba and Dionysius of Charax (Iuba rex in iis voluminibus quae scripsit ad C. Caesarem Augusti filium ardentem fama Arabiae, Plin. HN .–). I quote the last lines of Wilfred Owen’s  poem, which itself quotes Hor. Odes ...



Remapping the Forum Augustum

games, the theaters, the arena, the Circus, porticos, and temples, including those of Jupiter, Mars, and Venus – to show how Augustus’ own authorial acts, too, could encourage sexual license. The Forum Augustum is a prime example, enthroning as it does the adulterous couple of Venus and Mars Ultor, as well as another lover and her illegitimate child in the forms of Anchises and Aeneas (venerit in magni templum, tua munera, Martis, / stat Venus Ultori iuncta, vir ante fores, Tr. .–). In making such claims, Ovid parallels himself and the princeps as fellow authors of texts ultimately subject to their audiences’ (mis)use. Chapter  will show how the stance of exile gave Ovid a dramatic opportunity to turn his own interpretive powers back on Augustus and demonstrate the instability of imperial signs. Above all, he joins a poetic dialogue that explores the centrality of representation and interpretation to the very project of empire and, in doing so, sustains a republic of readers. 



Boyle (: ) presents a more starkly anti-Augustan view of Ovid’s treatment of Roman monuments. On Tristia , see also Wilkinson (), Marg (: –), Barsby (: ), and Nugent (: ). Ovid makes a similar observation about Venus’ role in Lucretius (Tr. .–).

 

The Triumph of the Imagination

For we princes, I tell you, are set on stages, in the sight and view of all the world duly observed; the eyes of many behold our actions; a spot is soon spied in our garments; a blemish quickly noted in our doings. It behooves us therefore to be careful that our proceedings be just and honorable.

Elizabeth I

. The Roman Triumph Previous chapters have examined poetic interventions in the signs of the principate; this one shows why they matter. The Augustan poets deconstruct the very project of imperial representation through repeated reimaginings of that most momentary of monuments, the triumph. This ceremonial parade, granted only for major victories, ritually confined in time and space, and conducted with senatorial permission, was the greatest honor to which a man could aspire. On no other occasion was a living leader more like a god or an artist. Riding his quadriga through the city in the guise of Jupiter, mortal limitations temporarily suspended, the triumphing general presided over a procession designed to awe, inspire, and cultivate favor. Small wonder, then, that Augustus and his successors came to monopolize the celebration of triumphs and, as their frequency decreased, rendered them more permanent through art. This chapter zooms in on Augustan ekphrases of the triumph, most of them imaginary, to examine how such changes were perceived on the ground and understood to comment on imperial power. Long before later emperors pressed the boundaries of fiction by celebrating real-life fake triumphs, the Augustan poets use the ritual as an imaginative tool for thinking through the arbitrary relationship between sign and signifier that 

Holinshed (: ), with spelling modernized.





The Triumph of the Imagination

underlies both political and poetic representations. Vergil’s famed shield of Aeneas, often thought to glorify Augustus, also undermines the truth claims of his triumph of  BCE and of Vergil’s own epic text. Deepening an elegiac artefactualization of the ritual that I trace back to Gallus, Propertius and Ovid show that triumphs can be usurped, even manufactured, by their audiences. But it is in his exile poetry that Ovid most fully explores the interpretive consequences. From his position at the edges of empire, the poet shares the triumphing general’s problem of presenting faraway events to audiences in the city; he also dramatizes the growing impossibility for Romans outside the urbs to participate firsthand in civic rituals like the triumph. As Ovid depicts it, both emperor and poet rely not just on representation, but, crucially, on audience interpretation to make themselves present across empire. Reading thus becomes the glue that holds the Roman empire together across distance and time.

. Triumph as Representation Triumphs thematized the relation of truth, representation, and power from their very beginnings. Polybius wrote that their aim was to put before Roman viewers’ eyes a vivid spectacle of a general’s achievements (..). As Mary Beard demonstrates in The Roman Triumph (), the triumph both “re-presented and re-enacted the victory” and “brought the margins of the Empire to its center” via placards, paintings, tableaux vivants, and other artful means. After a three-day triumph over the Macedonians, Marcus Aemilius remarked that he planned the spectacle as carefully as a military campaign (Diod. Sic. .). In other words, like an artist or impresario, a triumphing general carefully curated words, images, and actions to create a moving, speaking text felt to be almost as important as the victory that engendered it. Pompey’s quip that he found Asia a frontier and left it mediam patriae (Plin. HN .), punning on the name Media, also highlights the sequential roles of conquest and triumph in folding faraway lands into Rome’s empire, urbs, and popular consciousness. Much like the monuments discussed in Chapter , triumphs served an expository function while spreading admiration, civic pride, and imaginative transport among spectators through enargeia. The captives, spoils, and paintings on display provided concrete documentation of events in the field; were among the few means, along with the maps discussed in the previous chapter, by which ordinary Romans might know the geography, 

Beard (: ); see also –.



Cf. Gregory (: ) and Brilliant (: ).

Triumph as Representation



peoples, and events concerned; and ultimately became a “center of social memory, shared by many more Romans than ever went to war.” Though a triumph’s elements were carefully chosen and arranged, their epideictic display context tended to present them as facts. Paintings and inscriptions masked as reportage, as in the famous inscription VENI VIDI VICI paraded in Caesar’s Pontic triumph (Suet. Iul. .). Effigies of conquered regions, towns, and rivers were labeled in declarative terms (e.g., “PONTUS”) that posited a one-to-one relationship between representation and reality, even though the town under question might itself already have perished. If triumphs already stood in a selective, ekphrastic relationship with the events they depicted, their purpose of glorifying a general’s achievement heightened their rhetorical and fictitious potentialities as texts. Outlandish spoils were displayed and dedicated as authentic: Appian (Mith. ) is especially skeptical about a ‘cloak of Alexander’ paraded in Pompey’s triumph of  BCE. Imperial history yields more numerous and egregious examples. Tacitus (Ann. .) characterizes the simulacra in Germanicus’ triumph as appropriate for his undeserved triumph, while Suetonius (Cal. ) reports that Caligula recruited Gauls to dye their hair and pretend to be German captives for his farce of a victory. In fact, as Beard argues on the basis of late- and post-Augustan authors like Ovid, Appian, Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius, the triumph became “a ceremony of image-making as much as it is one of images,” and “representation itself – its conventions, contrivances, and paradoxes – was a central part of the show.” Hardie has similarly described Ovid’s Tristia . as an illusion of an illusion, a secondorder imitation of a triumph that itself would have been “largely a parade of feignings.” But Ovid’s treatment of the subject represents the culmination of a long conversation among Gallus, Vergil, and the elegists that encodes political along with metapoetic critique. All these poets use the triumph as a symbolic vehicle for examining authors’ and audiences’ relative roles in the poiesis of power. In fact, spectators figure crucially in most ancient depictions of a triumph, and with good reason: it was in their judgment that      

Brilliant (: ); see also Torelli () and Holliday (: ) for triumphs as reportage. As Beard (: ) observes of Ovid, Ars Am. .–. Moatti (: –) discusses such simulacra and tituli as “a veritable lesson in popular geography,” pointing to Plut. Pomp. .–. Cf. Holliday (: ); Beard (: –). Vell. Pat. .. and Strabo .. are less cynical; see Beard (: –, –).  Beard (: ). Hardie (: ). Galinsky () surveys many of these poems, and various interconnections have been noted, e.g., by Brunt (: ), Buchan (), Cairns (: –), and O’Rourke (); I offer a systematic reading under a fresh theoretical lens.



The Triumph of the Imagination

a general’s self-representation and claims to glory were validated – or not. For instance, Caesar’s display of the young Egyptian prisoner Arsinoe as a captive in his triumph of  notoriously backfired, evoking the pity of the audience (Cass. Dio ..–). The Augustan poets underscore the reliance of this most imperialistic of all political representations, no less than poetry and fame itself (cf. Cic. Phil. .), on audiences’ co-construction of meaning. The triumph relied on an audience in its ritual capacity, too. It was part of the religious life of the city, governed by traditional procedures, sanctioned by the senate and people, and limited by them to a particular space and time. If the ceremony began by exalting a general to superhuman status, it ended by purifying him of bloodshed, reincorporating him into the city, and reconfirming his mortality (e.g., with the much-debated servus publicus) in a way that underscored the senate and people’s balancing authority. The triumph was therefore a ceremonial means of mediating relations between the emperor, senate, and plebs, whose mutual expressions of consent Veyne finds the bedrock of empire. In addition to its inward solidification of Roman society, triumphs also, in juxtaposing Roman soldiers with barbaric spoils and captives, helped define what it meant to be Roman and non-Roman. Yet the triumph itself underwent considerable change during the principate and, in the poets’ hands, spoke to other social, political, and administrative challenges that Rome faced at this time. In keeping with the Augustan impulse toward ordering space and time discussed in Chapter , the Fasti Capitolini – likely inscribed on the arch in the Forum Romanum commemorating Octavian’s Actian victory – clarified the contentious record of past triumphs, presenting an authorized account of Roman expansion culminating in the principate. Around this time, too, triumphs were becoming the exclusive property of the imperial family. Augustus himself refused further triumphs after his triple triumph in  



  

Beard (: –). Brilliant views the emperor as a “single, hegemonic presence and his many spectating subjects” (: ); Brunt finds the triumph enlisted the plebs in the idea of Roman glory (: , ). Cf. Favro (: –); Beard, North, and Price (); and Lincoln () on ritual theory. Beard (: –) warns that conceptions of the servus publicus are stitched together from scanty evidence, notably Tert. Apol. . (respice post te, hominem te esse memento); cf. also Kuttner (: ). Veyne (); Price (: ), drawing from Geertz, and Bell (: ) offer sympathetic views. A theme of Östenberg (). See Beard () and (: –), citing Cic. Brut.  on the unreliability of private lists, with Simpson’s () questions about the location. The list ends with Balbus’ triumph of  BCE and has no space for additions.

Triumph as Representation



 BCE, but he received twenty-one imperial acclamations and lived to see Tiberius triumph in  BCE and  CE. The triumph of Balbus in  BCE would be the last conducted by someone outside the emperor’s immediate family. Rome’s population, both within the urbs and across empire, was increasing in number and diversity even as that of its leaders contracted. The triumph, allegedly first celebrated by Romulus against the Caininenses (e.g., Dion. Hal., Rom. Ant. .), arose when Rome was a humble citystate and assumed an intimately engaged civic audience. Triumphing generals, of course, had always tried to make this ephemeral spectacle last by dedicating spoils, issuing coins, and building temples ex manubiis, acts that culminate in the Palatine and Forum Augustum. Their soldiers and supporters, too, might eternalize the moment through souvenirs like the Boscoreale Cups and the Gemma Augustea. But as Rome’s geographical imperium grew, so too did the triumph’s reliance on representation, in a double sense. As generals conquered ever more distant places, urban viewers increasingly relied on representations like the triumph, monuments, and visual or written accounts to imagine their exploits. At the same time, as citizenship expanded and more people fell under Rome’s administrative sway, the theoretical audience for a triumph expanded far beyond the city of Rome to the whole empire – even though its ritual nature necessitated face-to-face interaction between a general and a witnessing audience. The imperial triumph’s increasing reliance on mimesis, its need to be represented to an audience scattered across time and space, reflects profoundly on the poets’ own attempts to make themselves known throughout empire. The Augustan poets, accordingly, use the triumph to conduct a wide-ranging dialogue about the expansion of empire, the transmission of information, the nature of representation, the meaning of Romanitas, and the author/imperator, reader/audience negotiations that underwrite political and poetic power. In doing so, they prefigure later writers’ preoccupation with triumphal fictions and lay ground for the ceremony’s  



Cf. Brunt (: –). Hickson () views Augustus’ refusals as part of a plan to monopolize triumphal honors. Augustus emphasizes the use of funds ex manubiis to build the Forum Augustum and consecrate gifts in the temples of Mars Ultor and Palatine Apollo (RG ). Orlin () argues that temples ex manubiis often had considerable senatorial support. The triumphal arch was a comparatively late development; cf. Kleiner () and Wallace-Hadrill (), with visual analyses by Torelli (: ) and Veyne (: ). Cf. Kuttner (), Hölscher (), Beard (: –), and Pandey (: –).



The Triumph of the Imagination

eventual transformation into what Beard calls a “ritual in ink.” That is, even as the celebration of real triumphs became rare, imagined triumphs gained prominence within imperial iconography, abstracted from their original performative context and permanently transferred to the emperor. The Augustan poets, in my argument, enact and enable this process long before it became a historical trend. They also shed literary light on imperial Rome’s rapid embrace of abstract symbols, which aligns with the transition from oral to visual modes of political participation described in Section .. Mario Torelli traces a similar iconographical evolution from the vivid narrative detail of Republican triumphs to the abstractions and allegories that characterize imperial ones, concentrating attention on the charismatic figure of the emperor. Finally, in a running theme of this study well encapsulated by the “Triumph of Fame” on this book’s cover, poems on the triumph crucially mediate our modern understanding of this ritual, underscoring princeps’ and poets’ mutual reliance on representation and readers to live across space and time.

. The Boscoreale Cups A brief prefatory examination of one Augustan visual representation of a triumph will highlight by contrast what is distinctive about the poets’ treatment. The Boscoreale skyphos pair was unearthed in  as part of a gold and silver hoard in the wine cellar of a villa buried during the eruption of Vesuvius in  CE. Many believe that these repoussé cups derive from some official prototype: Ann Kuttner speculates that they are based on a unified set of monumental Julio-Claudian relief panels commemorating Tiberius’ triumph of / BCE. Because of its small size, the cup depicting Tiberius’ procession performs an “artful telescoping” of the details that would have adorned a larger monument; this, in turn, selectively portrayed a triumph that was itself a carefully edited pretense of reportage. The representative choices made on the cup thereby offer insight into the details a Roman artist or patron considered most important, and, thus, how observers might have understood or remembered    



Beard (: ), though see Chapter ’s caveats about literacy. Cf. Torelli (: ); see also Holliday () on the development of triumphal painting. First published by Villefosse in . Kuttner (: –) speculates that later monuments like the Arch of Trajan at Beneventum visually echo the lost prototype, perhaps the quadratic base of a monumental column by the Ara Pacis atelier (–), though see Künzl () and Kleiner () contra. In Kuttner’s phrase (: ).

The Boscoreale Cups



a triumph. In this case, the cup omits captives, war booty, and triumphal displays in order to focus on the person of Tiberius, readily distinguishable by his physiognomy and regalia. However, other figures’ lack of epigraphic or iconographic individuation, even by nationality, makes it difficult to identify the triumphal occasion and leaves viewers significant interpretive freedom. Kuttner imagines the cup as a spur to sympotic discussion and sees it as creating an “explanatory sequence, which gives a logic of cause and effect to the fact of military success.” However, it is up to viewers to decide whether, or how, to correlate Tiberius’ triumph on one side of the cup with the sacrifice of a bull on the other (see Figures . and .). Competing modern interpretations of the latter scene illustrate its polysemy. While Kuttner identifies it as a nuncupatio votorum, demonstrating Tiberius’ pietas in discharging the correct rites before departure, others view it as a sacrifice on his triumphant return. Equally striking is the absence of visual reference to any actual military achievement. The events that happened in the field – the battles won, peoples conquered, spoils plundered – are entirely invisible, up to viewers to recollect, imagine, or ignore as they sip their wine. The cup suggests that the image and celebration of victory, as enacted by the triumph and reproduced in silver, matter more than the actuality. For that matter, users must intervene intellectually to assign Tiberius’ triumph any semantic, ideological, or truth value – not to mention physically rotate the vessel in order to view and connect the images on each side. Thus, though the skyphos omits the triumph’s original audience, it enlists its viewers as stand-ins and assigns them considerable validating authority. Their continued gaze and use of this cup preserves Tiberius’ glory long after its historical occasion has passed. At the same time, the cup transforms a large public ceremony and/or monument into a consumer product for private use, display, and interpretation within the context of a dinner party, where it no doubt served the social aspirations and interpretive authority of the host. It thus reverses the power hierarchy implicit in the triumph by commoditizing it and transferring physical and mental ownership from imperator to citizen. In this sense, it has much in common with the poetic representations to which we now turn.

 

 See Kuttner (: ). E.g., Huet () and Kleiner (). Kuttner (: –) argues that these cups belonged to a prosperous freedman of Augustus.

Figure . Silver skyphos from the Boscoreale treasure depicting a sacrifice. Musée du Louvre. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, New York. Photograph by Hervé Lewandowski.

Figure . Silver skyphos from the Boscoreale treasure depicting a triumph of Tiberius. Musée du Louvre. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, New York. Photograph by Hervé Lewandowski.



The Triumph of the Imagination

. Vergil’s Shield of Aeneas The Augustan poets further sever the supposedly causal, documentary connection between a general’s accomplishments and his triumph, defining a vital semiotic role for spectators in connecting – or failing to connect – reality with representation. This applies not only to imperial symbols but also to the poetic triumphs themselves, many of which are invented in total freedom from real-world events. Vergil’s Aeneid performs a subtler, Hesiodic mingling of truths with falsehoods, not least in its anachronistic incorporation of the triumph into its ideological and representational landscape. In a passage of debated authenticity but clear antiquity, Aeneas grudges Helen the chance to preside over a Mycenean triumph over Troy (.–). At .–, he laments that Pallas will return home as a corpse rather than riding in triumph as “eagerly awaited” (hi nostri reditus, exspectatique triumphi?, ; cf. ). Such references create the false sense that the triumph was always already part of the Trojans’ cultural idiom, allowing Aeneas to decode references to the ritual in the Underworld (.) and on the shield (., ). Yet the triumph is strikingly absent where most eagerly awaited: at the end of Book , when Aeneas’ slaying of Turnus would have earned him the spolia opima under guidelines recently clarified by Augustus to reserve the honor for those fighting under their own auspices. This ritual becomes more problematic when it takes center stage of the narrative, with the “triumphs of the Romans” (.) and above all Augustus’ triple triumph on Aeneas’ shield (.–). In this episode, at last, Aeneas gets to embrace his divine mother () and drink in a visual surface without interruption – though he still cannot be sated (tanto laetus honore / expleri nequit atque oculos per singula volvit, / miraturque interque manus et bracchia versat, –). Vergil’s description is no less finely wrought than the object itself, designed not just as a mirror of Roman history, but also as a meditation on mimesis. This passage is a triple-ply representation: a verbal description of a visual portrayal of a partial telling of Roman history. Words are inadequate to convey the shield’s non enarrabile textum (“not fully describable artistic surface,” 

 

Austin (: –) and Conte (: –) argue for, Horsfall (: –) and Peirano (: –) against, its authenticity; either way, it represents an early stage in the work’s reception. This aided the imperial family’s monopolization of triumphal honors; see Livy ., Cass. Dio ., Harrison (: ), and Flower (). McKay () argues that many scenes relate to triumphal parades and their route.

Vergil’s Shield of Aeneas



). Yet the shield is enarrabile in another sense: as an artifact of the text, this fictional object can never be extricated from the words that engender its illusory reality in the minds of readers. The shield’s version of history, too, is revealed to be a highly rhetorical construction whose slippery relationship with the truth demands interpretive caution. As many have noted, the narrator highlights Vulcan’s efforts as an artist through abundant verbs of making. His creation, too, acquires independent life with the description of the wolf licking Romulus and Remus in alternation (mulcere alternos, ). Yet in adding motion to this static surface, Vergil again interweaves it with his narrative and his own writerly process of “licking” his poems into shape. Frequent references to the shield’s materiality further collapse verbal and visual representations with the illusion of life they create. It is impossible to tell whether the goose (argenteus anser, ), porticos (auratis . . . porticibus, –), and Gauls (aurea caesaries ollis atque aurea vestis, ) are ‘really’ silver, gilded, and golden-haired, respectively, or simply chased in those metals by Vulcan: these two layers of representational fiction are forever fused, and ontologically inseparable, within Vergil’s poem. The odd phrase “you would see him [Porsenna] similar to one indignant, and similar to one threatening” (illum indignanti similem similemque minanti / aspiceres, –) again reminds us that we are doubly indirect witnesses to this scene. This mimesis within a mimesis, moreover, is an explicitly motivated and potentially suspect rhetorical object. Within Vergil’s fiction, the shield is the product of Vulcan’s desire to please Venus, who wants to encourage Aeneas; readers may decide for themselves how the conditions of its production reflect on Vergil’s own motivations and responsibilities toward Augustus and his reading public in crafting the Aeneid. The shield becomes a miniature for the epic itself – and, for that matter, historical works like Livy’s – in presenting an imago of Rome’s past (cf. ) that is based on and inextricable from representation, even as it helps construct audiences’ understanding of the truth. This condition finds a political emblem in the triumph’s self-interested depiction of events otherwise unknowable by most spectators. Vergil’s shield drives home the similarities: its portrayal of Augustus’ Actian victory and triumph is marked as a second-order representation that relies on the victor’s accounts. Thus, even in giving 



On the shield as representation, see West (, viewing it firmly as a plastic object), Hardie (: –), Putnam (), Clausen (), Casali (), and Feldherr (), with Hardie’s assertion (: ) that “the authority of the Vergilian text is no more or less than that of the other texts on which it draws, and which it completes.”  Cf. esp. Donat. Vit. Verg.  and Bartsch (). See especially Hardie (: –).



The Triumph of the Imagination

Augustus’ triumph the permanent poetic shape by which it would reach audiences across the centuries, Vergil draws attention to the interpretive dangers surrounding all politically implicated texts, from the triumph and shield to the epic itself. Augustus’ centrality on the shield (in medio, ) prefigures the focal position he would occupy in the Forum Augustum. But this area’s encirclement by the “golden image” of the sea (imago / aurea, –), its blue water foaming with white waves and surrounded by silver dolphins (–), foregrounds its highly wrought nature as a representation of a representation. Furthering the slippage between metallurgical sign and signified, in the middle are fashioned “brazen ships” (classis aeratas, ) and waves gleaming with gold (). The description’s static quality and emphasis on visual dispositio respond to artistic depictions rather than lived experiences of Actium. The artist adds visual embellishments that were never present at the battle, though they would become stock themes of imperial iconography: the Julian star atop Augustus’ head (, discussed at Section .), Agrippa’s naval crown (–), and Cleopatra with a sistrum, in her own favored iconographical guise as Isis (). Enhancing its metarepresentational resonance, the shield gives gods, abstract concepts, and nations the personified forms familiar to viewers from triumphs, sculpture, and coinage. Readers versed in the visual vernacular of the day surely envisioned Egypt, Bactria, and other nations in Antony’s train (–) as allegorical figures, put to rout along with the Indes, Arabia, and Sabaea (–). Above the picture, mirroring the conflict on earth, monstrous eastern gods like Anubis () appear to vie with Olympian Neptune, Venus, Minerva (–), and Apollo, who aids from above – as he would in Aeneid .– and Propertius . (cf. Section ..). Joining the fray are abstract personae identifiable, as in paintings in the Forum Augustum, through emblematic shorthand: Mavors, “embossed in iron,” Discord with rent robes, and Bellona with her bloody whip (–). Cleopatra does not yet see the twin snakes behind her back (.), though they will



 

O’Hara ( ad loc.) notes the shield’s tendency to present only one version of a story; Rossi () argues that much like the parade of heroes, it undermines its supposedly triumphal narrative through allusion to civil war. See, e.g., Kleiner (). These images seem to refer to portraits of Bellum and Furor Bound in the Forum Augustum, with its temple of Mars (Mavors); see Plin. HN ., Serv. Dan. ad Aen. ., and DeBrohun (: ), and compare Jupiter’s prophecy at .– that Augustus will shut the gates of war and contain Furor impius.

Vergil’s Shield of Aeneas



accompany her image in Octavian’s future triumph (Plut. Ant. .). Most strikingly, at –, the “mourning Nile” welcomes Cleopatra back into the folds of his azure lap, in a personification that evokes triumphal effigies of rivers and closely recalls Propertius’ own portrait of the Nile on parade in the triumph of  BCE (..–): aut canerem Aegyptum et Nilum, cum tractus in urbem septem captivis debilis ibat aquis, et regum auratis circumdata colla catenis, Actiaque in Sacra currere rostra Via . . . Or I would sing of Egypt and the Nile, when, dragged into the city, it flowed feebly with its seven mouths captive; and the necks of kings bound with golden chains, and the Actian prows gliding along the Sacred Way . . .

These Nilotic scenes mark Propertius and Vergil’s mutual influence on one another and draw them into intergeneric dialogue. In the Georgics, Vergil had forecast his epic intentions by borrowing the victor’s triumphal regalia (.–) and inscribing the Nile on his poetic temple (magnumque fluentem / Nilum, .–) before Octavian even celebrated his triumph of  BCE. At the same time, the end of the poem holds Octavian at geographical arm’s length, still “thundering in war by the deep Euphrates” (.–, as discussed in Section ..). Propertius’ second book (c.  BCE) invokes the Nile within a recusatio of Vergilian epic (.) and activates elegiac voices of loss within the Palatine’s epic memorialization of the victories at Actium and Egypt (./, discussed in Section .). Whatever their reception on the Palatine, Propertius’ poems were no doubt lodged in Vergil’s mental library as he composed and edited Aeneid , to say nothing of subsequent readers’. The “mourning Nile” (maerentem . . . Nilum, ) on Aeneas’ shield, then, conflates the subjugated Nile of Propertius . with the Palatine’s “mourning” doors (maerebat, ..) to inscribe an elegiac hole in the heart of this epic remash of Augustan triumphal monuments.   



Cf. also Prop. .. and Hor. Odes .. The future was envisioned as behind one’s back because it could not yet be seen; see Bettini (: –). See Östenberg (: –) and discussion below. This recalls and reverses Caesar and Cleopatra’s Nile cruise in  BCE after Pompey’s defeat; cf. Appian BC . and Hillard (). If the poem was complete by the time Vergil recited it to Octavian on his way back to Rome in  BCE; see Donat. Vit. Verg. , discussion in earlier chapters, and below for the rumor of a later modification in response to Gallus’ disgrace. Some readers might fill the hole with memories of Horace’s heroic Cleopatra, drunk on Mareotic wine (Odes ..), or Gallus, whose unsober licentia or monumental rivalry with Augustus led to his downfall, discussed below. Augustus’ appeal to different audiences’ expectations is clear in his



The Triumph of the Imagination

Much as Pallas’ belt rewinds the clock on the Palatine Danaids, moreover, Vergil’s shield depicts the Nile harboring the defeated Cleopatra before her suicide and Egypt’s annexation, as signified by the captive river in Propertius ..– and undoubtedly the triumph itself. This reverse animation of the effigy shows how such fictions acquire independent lives and histories in viewers’ imaginations, worming deep into their constructions of reality. This theme comes to a head in the ensuing description of Augustus’ triumph (–): 





at Caesar, triplici invectus Romana triumpho moenia, dis Italis votum immortale sacrabat, maxima ter centum totam delubra per urbem. laetitia ludisque viae plausuque fremebant; omnibus in templis matrum chorus, omnibus arae; ante aras terram caesi stravere iuvenci. ipse sedens niveo candentis limine Phoebi dona recognoscit populorum aptatque superbis postibus; incedunt victae longo ordine gentes, quam variae linguis, habitu tam vestis et armis. hic Nomadum genus et discinctos Mulciber Afros, hic Lelegas Carasque sagittiferosque Gelonos finxerat; Euphrates ibat iam mollior undis, extremique hominum Morini, Rhenusque bicornis, indomitique Dahae, et pontem indignatus Araxes. But Augustus, entering the walls of Rome in triple triumph, was dedicating his immortal votive offering to the Italian gods: three hundred very great shrines throughout the city. The streets were abuzz with joy and games and acclaim; in all the temples was a chorus of women, in all were altars; before the altars slain bulls strewed the ground. He [Augustus] himself, sitting on the snow white threshold of shining Apollo, reviews the gifts of the peoples and fits them to his proud doorposts; the conquered nations proceed in a long line, as different in tongue as in style of dress and arms. Here Vulcan had fashioned the race of Nomads and the loose robed Africans, here the Leleges and Carians and arrow bearing Gelonians; Euphrates was flowing now with gentler waters, and the Morini were there, farthest removed of men, and the double horned Rhine, and the indomitable Dahae, and Araxes who bucks his bridge.

Egyptian representations’ recollection of the Nilotic imagery and pharaonic regalia of the vanquished Ptolemies (see, e.g., Schork ), just as he appropriated Jovian and Apolline symbolism on the Palatine.

Vergil’s Shield of Aeneas



The quick narrative pivot with the adversative at () implies but does not specify a causal connection between the victory depicted at – and the celebrations at Rome here at –. It also marks the disjunct between distant events eyewitnessed by few and their public narration in the city through monuments, spoils, and the triumph. As Barchiesi has pointed out, the central image enthrones Augustus as an “ideal spectator” and creates a mise-en-abyme of viewership, much as the lines of sight of viewers, statues, and gods in the Forum Augustum all converged on the hermeneutic focal point of the princeps’ quadrigate statue. Here on the convex reflecting surface of the shield, Augustus’ recognition (recognoscit, ) of the “gifts of the peoples” (dona populorum, ) encapsulates the construction of self through contemplation of the other that is the root of so much history, storytelling, and representation. The internal and external viewers of Vulcan’s gift, in turn, look upon Augustus looking upon his subjects as a distorting mirror for their own conceptualization of Rome’s history and empire. Yet the epistemological echo chamber that is Aeneas’ shield contains aberrations whose warping effects were bound to confront contemporary readers. For one, the triumph of  BCE did not follow so quickly or smoothly upon the victory at Actium in  BCE. The three hundred temples Augustus consecrates on the shield () dramatically overstate the numbers the princeps himself, no humble documentarian, would claim in the Res Gestae. In a noted chronological oddity, the victor receives gifts on the white threshold of the Palatine temple to Apollo (–), not dedicated until  BCE. In the biggest anachronism of all, he prematurely wears the honorific title “Augustus” (hinc Augustus agens Italos in proelia Caesar, ) during the battle that secured his supremacy by force before it could be naturalized within titulature, symbol, and usage. The laurels and oak wreath granted along with this name by the senate and people in  BCE, in the symbolic performance of consent discussed in Section ., were prominent instruments in this process; these, and not any foreign spoils, were the “gifts” most famously affixed to the   



 Compare Ovid’s pivot with ergo at Tristia .., discussed below. Barchiesi (a: ). See Miller (: ) for this passage’s inaccuracies and O’Hara () for inconsistency more generally. He claims to have built  and rebuilt  temples (RG ), surveyed by Gros (). The Palatine temple seems to stand metonymically for all these; see Putnam (: –). Dufallo (: –) further links it with the temple of Georgics .–. Cf. Miller () and (: –), though Wiseman (: ) rightly notes that the Palatine need not have been the destination of this triumph, placed by the perfect participle invectus at some unspecified prior point.



The Triumph of the Imagination

“proud doorposts” of the Palatine (). Yet the donating “peoples” elide with a long list of defeated nations (–) that Vergil’s contemporaries would have recognized as wishful at best. These polyglot peoples parade through Rome, across Vulcan’s prophetic shield, in a “long line” (longo ordine, ) that replaces the longo ordine of future Romans at . (Section ..). The diverse subjects paying obeisance to the princeps, it seems, now include audiences from all over urbs and empire, glimpsing themselves only dimly via a distancing reflection inseparable from Vergil’s scroll. The misleading victory celebrations inscribed on the shield’s distorting representation of the past thereby emblematize the intertwining acts of political and artistic self-fashioning that together shape posterity’s impression of history wie es eigentlich gewesen. This ekphrasis unravels its own non enarrabile iconotext (.; cf. .) to show how both representation and reality may bend, like space-time around a black hole, under the gravity of autocracy. The shield’s object history illuminates the political ramifications. Even more than Anchises’ narration of future Roman heroes (Aen. .–; cf. Section ..), the shield is both motivated and motivating, explicitly intended to encourage Aeneas rather than inform or advise him (“lest you hesitate, my son, soon to draw into battle the proud Laurentines or fierce Turnus,” –). Though Vulcan is “not at all ignorant” of prophecy and future history (–), Vergil’s description suggests he has embellished the truth, like Anchises and other speakers who wish to encourage Aeneas. The book closes with Aeneas’ joyous but explicitly ignorant reader response (rerumque ignarus imagine gaudet, ), prefiguring Turnus’ unseeing joy in the baldric that will unravel his fate (quo nunc Turnus ovat spolio gaudetque potitus, .; cf. Section .). In its local context, at least, Aeneas has no need to decode or fact-check this imago for the shield to succeed in its purpose. For Vergil’s external audience, though, this scene of viewership calls attention to the tensions  

 

See also Pandey () on the blood beneath the laurels. For the Forum Augustum’s possible depiction of conquered gentes, see Vell. Pat. .., Nicolet (: ), Alföldi (), Geiger (: ), and general discussion in Section .. Servius claims they were featured in their own portico (ad Aen. .). Comparanda include the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias and Pompey’s theater, with its images of fourteen conquered nations; cf. Cancik () and Edwards (: –). Östenberg () argues that Vergil’s list reflects the hyperbole of Augustus’ actual triumph. Compare the list Augustus provides at RG –. See also Toll (), Syed (), and Reed () for the epic’s treatment of Roman identity. Zetzel (: ) reaches the sympathetic conclusion that this representation of Roman history is not necessarily false, but shows that “the truth is contingent.” For prophetic deceptions, see O’Hara (: – and : –).

Gallus and the Elegiac Triumph



and complicities among truth, power, and art. Augustus’ triumphal selfrepresentations fold into and feed the shield’s description of events, pointing to power’s self-reflexive relationship with the discourses it engenders and exists within. Aeneas’ uninformed joy, in turn, adverts to the real fervor that stems from empty images and ideological fictions – and that propels living bodies to turn fama into fata in its many senses (attollens umero famamque et fata nepotum, “lifting to his shoulder the fame and fate/ doom/prophecy/cause of death of his descendants,” .).

. Gallus and the Elegiac Triumph Well before and after Vergil was writing the Aeneid, the elegists, too, were engaged in a conversation, mediated through the triumph, about representation, readership, and Romanitas. In opposition to monumental art’s documentary impulse, the poets explore viewers’ role in constructing a triumph’s meaning and recenter their attention on the subjective experience of the bystander on the sidelines, showing how he can reject, reappropriate, or misread the triumph in service of his own militia amoris. Gallus, Propertius, and Ovid also share a tendency to invent triumphs at will rather than describe ones that happened, illustrating how poets can aid, even rival, the princeps in bringing this spectacle to life in Roman minds. Gallus is famed as an innovator of Latin love elegy and that bleaker incipient genre, political suicide under the emperors, following the inaugural acts of Antony and Cleopatra. His work was almost unknown to modernity, however, until a fragment – possibly the oldest surviving manuscript of Latin poetry – was discovered at Qasr Ibrîm, about  miles south of Aswan, in . Some attribute_ the sparsity of remains to damnatio memoriae, a real-world, archetypal example of the confinement of libertas, licentia, and libri that troubled subsequent elegists in poems discussed in Chapter . This much-debated papyrus (c. – BCE) only enhances the mystery surrounding Gallus, his poetic merits, and the crime that resulted in his exile and suicide. Remarkably, this fragment happens to touch on a subject that would preoccupy Gallus’  

On the fragment, see Anderson, Parsons, and Nisbet (); Putnam (); West (); Heyworth (); Capasso (); and for text and commentary, Hollis (: –). Raymond (: ), following Boucher (), suggests that the sparsity of historical discussion evinces such a damnatio, though most evidence for the practice is later and Tacitus characterizes Augustus’ age as relatively open to speech (e.g., at Ann. .–, quoted in the epigraph to Chapter ).



The Triumph of the Imagination

elegiac successors: the triumph as a representation of Julian power and a focus for elegy’s “transvaluation of values.” tristia nequit[ia fact]a, Lycori, tua. _ Fata mihi, Caesar, tum erunt mea dulcia quom tu maxima Romanae pars eri historiae postque tuum reditum multorum templa deorum fixa legam spolieis deivitiora tueis. . . . . .]. . . . . tandem fecerunt c[ar]mina Musae _ _ domina deicere digna mea. quae possem . . . .._ _. _.. . ._ .] . atur idem tibi, non ego, Visce, . .] . . . .. . . . l_ ._ Kato, iudice te vereor. _ ]. . .[ ]. ]. . .[ ]. Ṭyria ].

           