Augustae, Matrons, Goddesses: Imperial Women in the Sacred Space

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The reception of the image of the Augustae in Greece allows us to evaluate the differentways of integrating the imperial power in the local culture, religion, andsociety, answering to “central” stimuli through an active reinterpretation of theofficial models in accordance with the local agencies. In analogy with the maintrends recognized by D. Boschung among the emperors’ portraits, the statues ofthe Augustae could be linked to the Hellenistic tradition of timai for the basileisor benefactors; their likenesses could be updated according to the latest Romanfashions, provided with clear status symbols (stola, calcei..) and made recognizableby the official portrait types; finally, their images could be merged into religiouscontexts, assimilated to deities by the epigraphs and/or reshaped in a“theomorphic” guise, combining the individual features with a divine statue typerooted in the Classical past. These tendencies are not separated, but they eclecticallyinteract, depending on the context and on the communicative intention. The topicis examined through several examples, especially the portraits of the empressesfound, often in dynastic groups, in the sanctuaries both of the traditional deitiesand of the imperial cult, at Tenos, Olympia, Epidaurus, Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Cyrene, Eleusis, andAulis, and particularly in the theatre close to the Asklepieion of Butrint. Finally, some evidences are consideredfor an “Athenian reformulation” of the imperial myth, through which theAugustae were associated to the goddesses of the sanctuaries reshaped during the Athenianimperialism, that had had an authoritative form by the sculptors of the Phidiancircle.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoman Power and Greek Sanctuaries. Forms of Interaction and Communication
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameTripodes- Archeologia Antropologia Storia, Quaderni della Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene

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