The Funeral of Augustus: Telling Augustus' Triumphal Story through Religious and Civil War Markers

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This paper focuses on the funeral of Augustus. The will of Augustus all but suggests that there was a specific purpose attached to not only the funeral but also the actual processional route. Nothing was left to chance. What did Augustus want to show using the specific route with its specific religious and political markers? Adding to that, what might spectators have thought when watching the spectacle? From Augustus’ death at Nola to the return of his body to Rome, from the reading of the will in the Senate and the reversed triumphal procession from the Forum through the triumphal gate to his mausoleum on the Campus Martius, how did this procession through Rome’s cityscape bring back memory of past endeavours? What temples and monuments were at the centre of the funeral celebrations, and what does this piece of well-choreographed Augustan theatre tell us about his ideology? Whilst religion and politics undoubtedly had a calming effect on the way this processions would have been perceived, there was also another side to it, that of civil war. This is the story of changing a civil war into a positive exemplum. Finally, what role did our historical sources, mainly Suetonius and Cassius Dio – including his famous fictitious speech of Tiberius (?), play in our understanding of the funeral? And what about Augustus himself in the Res Gestae? The funeral shows us – from a historical, a historiographical as well as archaeological perspective – the Rome that Augustus wanted us to see: a Rome where temples, triumphal language and civil war told the story of the greatest victory of Augustus, the ending of civil war.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAsuman Lätzer-Lasar, Rubina Raja & Jörg Rüpke, Urban Religion in Augustan Rome
EditorsRubina Raja, Jörg Rüpke, Asuman Lätzer-Lasar
Publication statusIn preparation - 2021

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