University of Tasmania
whole_RobertsTansyRayner2007_thesis.pdf (37.03 MB)

The Augusta : matronal virtue and maternal status in imperial Rome

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posted on 2023-05-27, 14:21 authored by Roberts, TR
Between 14 CE and 235 CE, at least 28 women received the title Augusta. They were all close relatives of the emperor, usually his mother or wife but sometimes his sister, niece, daughter or grandmother. But what did it mean to be an Augusta?' The literary sources provide a chronology of whom received the title and under what circumstances, and yet there is little mention of the title's actual significance. If the title of Augusta conveyed only a slight or apolitical honour, why did Claudius deny the title to Messalina, why did Plotina and Marciana refuse it when it was first offered to them and, even more significantly, why was the title formally removed from Didia Clara after the death of her father? If there was a higher significance to the title, then what was it? This noticeable lack of information in the ancient sources has not been sufficiently questioned or addressed by modern scholarship, and this thesis aims to rectify this matter by examining the history and iconography associated with the women who held the title of Augusta in order to present a case that the title had a singular, specific dynastic purpose as well as a number of associated connotations. My aim with this dissertation is to comprehensively answer the question of the effect that the title Augusta had upon the status of each woman upon whom it was bestowed, and what honour or intention the emperor and the senate wished to convey when they allowed the title to be formally bestowed. In some cases there are contradictions between the way that the title affected the public images of different women, particularly in the early days when the meaning of the title was still being developed, but my focus is primarily upon on the continuities and patterns that emerge from this study. The source material consulted is necessarily varied, and is particularly reliant on the epigraphic, sculptural and numismatic evidence in order to bring a new perspective to the literary evidence.


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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2007 the Author Ch. 1. History of the Augusta -- Ch. 2. Matronal virftues and the Augusta -- Ch. 3. Dynastic fertility and the maternal Augusta -- Ch. 4. The Augusta and the goddesses -- Ch. 5. The sacred status of the Augusta

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