Talking Heads: the Rostra as a Conspicuous Civil War Monument

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapport/konference proceedingKonferenceartikel i proceedingForskningpeer review

Resumé

The speaker’s platform on the Forum Romanum – the main focus of this article on the display of severed heads during civil war, and on the translation of such display to the Imperial context later – was the perfect arena for political spectacles, being as it was a central part of the public space of political participation. One grisly aspect of such political spectacle included the displaying of severed heads upon the Rostra. The Rostra consequently turned from a place of commemoration for extraordinary lives and deaths (Cic. Sest. 38.83) into one commemorating civil war victories. These displays of severed heads are only mentioned by Cassius Dio in reference to civil war atrocities; the monument accordingly developed into what might provocatively be termed Rome’s main ‘civil war’ monument during the conflict of the Late Republic, adorned with the heads of the victims of civil conflict. This focus on the Rostra as a space intimately related to civil war cannot be explained merely by Dio’s historiographical decisions, but actually stems from an existing struggle over that space during the Late Republic and an existing narrative surrounding the use of that space.

That is not to say that this article is exclusively concerned with the Rostra. More generally, I wish to focus on severed heads as a topos of internecine conflict in Dio. What matters, then, is not the act of killing itself, but the subsequent displaying of the heads: the end of the process, even if its course is just as important to Dio’s reconstruction of events. A large number of the events described in this article are, obviously, connected to stasis and civil war. Having said that, even if it is accepted that the Rostra was a very conspicuous civil war monument, it does not follow that the terms bellum civile and Rostra became synonyms; it all depends what we are looking for. The display of heads of Roman citizens sheds new light on violence during the civil war period of the Late Republic and beyond. My contention in the following discussion, therefore, will be that any decision to order the display of (Roman) severed heads on the Rostra in Rome signifies civil conflict, whether that conflict be openly acknowledged by its participants or not.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TitelCarsten H. Lange & Andrew G Scott (eds.), Cassius Dio: the Impact of Violence, War, and Civil War
ForlagBrill
Publikationsdato2019
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2019
BegivenhedCassius Dio: the Impact of Violence, War, and Civil War - Aalborg Universitet, Aalborg, Danmark
Varighed: 8 nov. 201710 nov. 2017
https://www.academia.edu/30269460/NEW_conference_Aalborg_Denmark_November_2017_Cassius_Dio_the_Impact_of_Violence_War_and_Civil_War_Call_for_papers_deadline_1_March_2017

Konference

KonferenceCassius Dio: the Impact of Violence, War, and Civil War
LokationAalborg Universitet
LandDanmark
ByAalborg
Periode08/11/201710/11/2017
Internetadresse
NavnBrill's Historiography of Rome and Its Empire Series
ISSN2468-2314

Fingerprint

Civil War
Spectacle
Topos
Commemoration
Rome
Political Participation
Atrocities
Synonyms
Stasis
Public Space
Victory
Wishes
Cassius Dio
Killing
Roman Citizens

Citer dette

Lange, C. H. (Accepteret/In press). Talking Heads: the Rostra as a Conspicuous Civil War Monument. I Carsten H. Lange & Andrew G Scott (eds.), Cassius Dio: the Impact of Violence, War, and Civil War Brill. Brill's Historiography of Rome and Its Empire Series
Lange, Carsten Hjort. / Talking Heads: the Rostra as a Conspicuous Civil War Monument. Carsten H. Lange & Andrew G Scott (eds.), Cassius Dio: the Impact of Violence, War, and Civil War. Brill, 2019. (Brill's Historiography of Rome and Its Empire Series).
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abstract = "The speaker’s platform on the Forum Romanum – the main focus of this article on the display of severed heads during civil war, and on the translation of such display to the Imperial context later – was the perfect arena for political spectacles, being as it was a central part of the public space of political participation. One grisly aspect of such political spectacle included the displaying of severed heads upon the Rostra. The Rostra consequently turned from a place of commemoration for extraordinary lives and deaths (Cic. Sest. 38.83) into one commemorating civil war victories. These displays of severed heads are only mentioned by Cassius Dio in reference to civil war atrocities; the monument accordingly developed into what might provocatively be termed Rome’s main ‘civil war’ monument during the conflict of the Late Republic, adorned with the heads of the victims of civil conflict. This focus on the Rostra as a space intimately related to civil war cannot be explained merely by Dio’s historiographical decisions, but actually stems from an existing struggle over that space during the Late Republic and an existing narrative surrounding the use of that space. That is not to say that this article is exclusively concerned with the Rostra. More generally, I wish to focus on severed heads as a topos of internecine conflict in Dio. What matters, then, is not the act of killing itself, but the subsequent displaying of the heads: the end of the process, even if its course is just as important to Dio’s reconstruction of events. A large number of the events described in this article are, obviously, connected to stasis and civil war. Having said that, even if it is accepted that the Rostra was a very conspicuous civil war monument, it does not follow that the terms bellum civile and Rostra became synonyms; it all depends what we are looking for. The display of heads of Roman citizens sheds new light on violence during the civil war period of the Late Republic and beyond. My contention in the following discussion, therefore, will be that any decision to order the display of (Roman) severed heads on the Rostra in Rome signifies civil conflict, whether that conflict be openly acknowledged by its participants or not.",
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Lange, CH 2019, Talking Heads: the Rostra as a Conspicuous Civil War Monument. i Carsten H. Lange & Andrew G Scott (eds.), Cassius Dio: the Impact of Violence, War, and Civil War. Brill, Brill's Historiography of Rome and Its Empire Series, Cassius Dio: the Impact of Violence, War, and Civil War, Aalborg, Danmark, 08/11/2017.

Talking Heads: the Rostra as a Conspicuous Civil War Monument. / Lange, Carsten Hjort.

Carsten H. Lange & Andrew G Scott (eds.), Cassius Dio: the Impact of Violence, War, and Civil War. Brill, 2019.

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapport/konference proceedingKonferenceartikel i proceedingForskningpeer review

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AB - The speaker’s platform on the Forum Romanum – the main focus of this article on the display of severed heads during civil war, and on the translation of such display to the Imperial context later – was the perfect arena for political spectacles, being as it was a central part of the public space of political participation. One grisly aspect of such political spectacle included the displaying of severed heads upon the Rostra. The Rostra consequently turned from a place of commemoration for extraordinary lives and deaths (Cic. Sest. 38.83) into one commemorating civil war victories. These displays of severed heads are only mentioned by Cassius Dio in reference to civil war atrocities; the monument accordingly developed into what might provocatively be termed Rome’s main ‘civil war’ monument during the conflict of the Late Republic, adorned with the heads of the victims of civil conflict. This focus on the Rostra as a space intimately related to civil war cannot be explained merely by Dio’s historiographical decisions, but actually stems from an existing struggle over that space during the Late Republic and an existing narrative surrounding the use of that space. That is not to say that this article is exclusively concerned with the Rostra. More generally, I wish to focus on severed heads as a topos of internecine conflict in Dio. What matters, then, is not the act of killing itself, but the subsequent displaying of the heads: the end of the process, even if its course is just as important to Dio’s reconstruction of events. A large number of the events described in this article are, obviously, connected to stasis and civil war. Having said that, even if it is accepted that the Rostra was a very conspicuous civil war monument, it does not follow that the terms bellum civile and Rostra became synonyms; it all depends what we are looking for. The display of heads of Roman citizens sheds new light on violence during the civil war period of the Late Republic and beyond. My contention in the following discussion, therefore, will be that any decision to order the display of (Roman) severed heads on the Rostra in Rome signifies civil conflict, whether that conflict be openly acknowledged by its participants or not.

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Lange CH. Talking Heads: the Rostra as a Conspicuous Civil War Monument. I Carsten H. Lange & Andrew G Scott (eds.), Cassius Dio: the Impact of Violence, War, and Civil War. Brill. 2019. (Brill's Historiography of Rome and Its Empire Series).