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The Parthians in Augustan Rome

The Parthians in Augustan Rome

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The Parthians in Augustan RomeAuthor(s): Charles Brian RoseSource:
American Journal of Archaeology,
Vol. 109, No. 1 (Jan., 2005), pp. 21-75Published by:
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This content downloaded from 89.180.70.132 on Mon, 22 Apr 2013 07:48:04 AMAll use subject toJSTOR Terms and Conditions
 
The
Parthians
in
Augustan
Rome
CHARLESBRIANROSE
AbstractThisarticle considers theconceptionand commemo-ration offoreigners, especiallyParthians,asdiagrammedinthetriumphal mageryofAugustanRome. The inter-action ofTrojanand ParthianiconographyduringtheAugustanperiodisanalyzed,as is the newattitude to-wardtherepresentationofforeignersthatdevelopedinRomeduringtheearly Empire,when barbarianswerepresentedas contributors topeacerather thanitsoppo-nents.The focus is thegeneral topographicalcontext ofthe ParthianArch on the eastside of theRomanForum,but the articlealso includesnewiconographicreadingsof thePrimaportauirass,he AraPacis,heBasilicaAemiliaParthians,and thealtar fromthe VicusSandaliarius,aswell astriumphalmonumentsinAthens,Corinth,andAntioch-in-Pisidia.ThecuirassedfigurefacingtheParthianon thePrimaportabreastplateis identifiedasRoma,andthe Easternwomanand childonthe southfriezeoftheAra Pacisarelinked to theParthianroyalfamilyresidentin RomeduringtheAugustanperiod.AtriumphalarchcelebratingGaiusCaesar'ssuccessovertheParthiansisreconstructedbetweentheBasilicaAemiliaandthetempleofDivusJulius,andits decora-tionwasclearlydesignedtocomplementthat ofthe ad-jacentParthianArchandtheTempleof theDioscuri.Theimageryon theeasternsideofthe RomanForumcan bereadasaprogramoutliningtheJuliandynasty'sinvolvementwiththeParthians,andsuggestingthattheEasthadfinallybeendomesticated.
Warmemorialsofthe20thcentury,regardlessoflocation,tendtofocusononlyonesideofthe con-flict,whichis,ofcourse,thesideassociatedwiththededicatorsofthemonument.FromtheBattleofGallipolitoVietnam,memorialstypicallyshowcasetheallianceof thesoldiers,theircourageunderfire,or thesufferingoftheirfellowcitizens,buttheop-ponentisgenerallyabsent,andthisistrueaswellformanyofthemonumentsconstructedin theearlyModernperiod.1If womenorchildrenareincludedin thedesign,theyareofthesameethnicityas thededicators,usuallyundertheirprotection,andof-tenshowninmourning.Althoughthevisualpro-gramsometimesattemptstopersuadetheviewerthatthewarinquestionwasjustified,onegenerallyre-ceiveslittleinformationfromtheimagesperseaboutthepoliticalrelationshipbetween theopposingforces.Ancient Rome was different.Victor and van-quishedwereregularly representedtogether,bothon the field of battle and insubsequent triumphalprocessions.Posesofmourningwereemployedonlyfor thesubjugated,who werefrequentlypresentedasfamilyunits,andingeneralthewomen and chil-dren showninthese scenesbelongedto thesideofthevanquishedrather than the victors.2Thepowerrelationshipbetween Roman andnon-Roman,as itexisted at thetime ofdedication,wasalwaysclearlydiagrammedin the associated texts andimages.Asis thecase with most warmemorials, however,thatrelationship changedovertime,as didthetopog-raphyoftheadjacentareas,andbothwould havemodifiedthewaysinwhich theimageswereper-ceived.In otherwords,themeaningof themonu-mentwasdependenton itstemporalandspatialcontexts,and theassociatediconographywas there-foreneverstatic.Romantriumphalmonumentsthat advertisedthegrowingscopeoftheempire regularlyfeatured thedisparateregionsofEurope,Africa,and Asiainpersonifiedform,butthepolyvalenticonographyof theeasternprovincesalwaysdistinguishedthemfromthe othersinthisgroup.3Thestatusinherentin Easterncostumecouldbe eitherhighorlow,sinceitsignifiedtheTrojanfoundationsofRomeaswellasitsfiercestfoe,the Parthians.Thedesign-ersofvictorymonumentscontendedwiththis dualidentityof theEastthroughouttheImperialpe-riod,buttheirmostinnovativeprojectswere ex-ecutedinRomeduringtheAugustanperiod.Withtheseprojectscamea newconceptionofenemyico-nography,vastlydifferentfromlateRepublicanschemes,as wellasa newconstructionofthe com-ponentsofpeace.WhenAugustuscomposedthe Resgestae,he de-votedmorespaceto thepacificationof ParthiaandArmeniathantohispoliciesinanyotherregion.4Romandeterminationtoinstallclientkingsinthe
1Borg1991;Young1994;Winter1998;WinterandSivan2000.2Zanker2000;Ferris2000, 167;Rawson2003,54-9.Forarecentoverviewf theconographyfwarnGreeceandRome,seeHolscher 2003.3Forgroupsofpersonifiednationsduringheempire,seeKuttner1995,73-86.4Resgestae7, 29,32, 33;Timpe1975;Sherwin-White1984,323-41;Sonnabend1986;Campbell1993;andWiesehofer1998forParthianattitudes owardRome.21AmericanJournalofArchaeology09(2005)21-75
This content downloaded from 89.180.70.132 on Mon, 22 Apr 2013 07:48:04 AMAll use subject toJSTOR Terms and Conditions
 
22CHARLESBRIANROSE[AJA109latter area often led to war with theformer,andalthoughnowarswith Parthiaperse occurreddur-ingtheprincipateofAugustus,theimageofthehumbled Parthianwasubiquitousin themonu-ments,coinage,and literatureof theAugustanpe-riod.5At variouspointstheAugustanpoetsspokeofexactingrevenge againsttheParthiansfor theirpastannihilation ofsomanyRomanlegions,butParthianimageryoncontemporarycoinageandmonuments,whichisthe focus ofthisarticle,tellsadifferentstory.6Several scholarshaverecentlyexaminedtheroleof theParthiansn Romansociety,butthe atticstatu-arygrouponthe ParthianArchin theRomanFo-rum,and itsrelationshipto thesurroundingstructures,havenever beensystematicallyexam-ined,nor havetheybeentied tothe broaderissueofAsianiconographyduringtheearlyEmpire.DoingsorequiresacomprehensivesurveyofParthianiconographyon themonumentsofAu-gustanRome,includingtheemperor'sstatuefromPrimaporta,theAraPacis,andtheinteriordecora-tionof the BasilicaAemilia,as wellastheprovincialcommemorationof the easterncampaignof GaiusCaesar(2B.C.-A.D.4).Allof thesemonumentsreveal a newattitude towardtheEastinAugustanforeign policy,which wouldcontinuetoshapeRo-man commemoration ofeasternconquestthrough-out the remainderof thedynasty.
REPRESENTINGPARTHIA AND ROMEOf themilitarydefeats sufferedbythe Romansinthecourseof theRepublic,three battles standout in terms ofcatastrophiclosses: twoagainstHan-nibalduringthe Second Punic War(LakeTrasim-eneandCannae),and oneagainstthe Parthians(Carrhaein53B.C.),when the armies of Crassuslost theRoman standards to theenemy.Even with20,000menkilled onthebattlefield,Carrhaedidnot rivalthe deathtollofCannae,whichappearstohave beenmore thanfourtimesthatnumber;butCarrhaewasuniquein that10,000Romanshadbeentakenprisoner,andtheywouldultimately stayin Parthiafor 33years.CaesarwasreportedlyplanningamajorcampaignagainsttheParthiansbeforehisassassination,andthefollowingdecadewould,infact,witnessseveralnewcampaignsagainstthem,provokedprimarilybytheirinvasionofSyriaandmurderof theprov-ince'sgovernor.7Theproductof thosecampaigns-ledbyL.DecidiusSaxain 40B.C.andAntonyin36-wastheloss ofmoreRomanstandards,andcriesforrevengeagainsttheParthiansgrewincreasinglylouderin the worksofRomanauthors.8Augustus'sstrategytoensurethereturnofthestandardsinvolveddiplomacybackedbyforce:ear-lyin thesummerof20B.C.,hisstepsonTiberiusbroughtalargelegiontoArmenia,whileAugustushimselftraveledtoSyriatoeffectthetransferofbothstandardsandhostages.9SomeoftheRomanhostagescouldnolongerbefound,andafewcom-mittedsuicideratherthanreturn,butmosttrav-eledtoRomealongwiththe standardsin Octoberof 19B.C.10The SenatevotedAugustusa trium-phalarch,andthe standardswereinstalledin anew circulartempleofMars UltorontheCapito-line,therebyeffectivelyredefiningultor(avenger)as a wordthatsignifiedRomanvictoryovertheParthians.11Thenewtemplewasreportedlybuiltinimitationof thatofJupiterFeretrius,alsoon theCapitoline,whichhadallegedlybeenfoundedbyRomulusto receivethespolia opimaof theCanin-ians.12That shrinehadrecentlybeen restoredbyAugustushimself,andalthoughthe twobuildingsapparentlyfeatureddifferentgroundplans,thelinkbetweenthemilitarysuccessof Romulusand5Van der Vin1981;Schneider1986, 1998;Rich1998;Schafer1998.6Forthe theme ofParthianAugustanpoetry,see Wisse-mann1982.7Caesar'sarthiancampaign:lut.Vit.Caes.8.6;Malitz984;Sonnabend1986,179-85.8Goldsworthy2001Cannae);Gallorini994(LakeTrasim-ene);Timpe1962;Sherwin-White984,218-26,279-90,307-21;Nedergaard1988a,103-7;Invernizzi2001(CarrhaeandsubsequentParthiancampaigns)Anronvexillumf thirdcen-turyA.D.datehasrecentlybeendiscovered none of the housesatZeugmaontheEuphrates:Abadie-Reynal001, 288-9,fig.2.39.9Halfmann1986,158.10Suet.Aug.21.3;Resgestae9.2;Dio Cass.54.8.1;JustinB.42.5.10-11;Strab.16.1.28;Veil. Pat.2.91.2;LivyPer.141;EutropiusBreviarium7.9;ros.6.21.29L.Inhis life ofTiberi-us,Suetoniusnotes thatTiberius ecovered he standardsTib.9),but all other authors ndicatethattheywere recoveredbyAugustus (includingSuetonius,nhis life ofAugustus),andthe Tiberianreferenceisgenerallyassumed to be an error.See Van der Vin1981,120-1.11DioCass.54.8.2-3;Resgestae9;Fuchs1969, 74-6;Reuss-er1996;Rich1998,79-91.12Fuchs969,38,73-5;Anderson1984,68;Simpson1993a;Herbert-Brown994,95-108;Gurval995,283;Coarelli1996;Rich1998, 79-97;Hannah1998,425-30;Schafer1998,49-55;Spannagel1999,60-78.There are doubts as to whethertheCapitoline empleof MarsUltorwasactuallyuilt,but Dio(54.8.3)clearlyndicates hatconstructionwascompleted.Rich(1998,82)notesthat "apermanentstructureon this site[theCapitoline]sunlikelyo have eft nofurtherrecord,"but theTempleofJupiterFeretrius,which we knowexisted,has alsoleft no furtherrecord.
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