From Cicero’s De Re publica (54–51 BC) to Licinius’ coins (313 AD), this paper aims to reconsider some aspects of Imperial virtues, mainly from the so-called clupeus uirtutis (27–26 BC). Iustitia and Sapientia deliver the first entry to some aspects of an Imperial Discourse, made of words, images and rituals, from Augustus to Constantine. About one hundred coins and four hundred inscriptions have been collected, three coins and twelve inscriptions are considered in order to give some fresh perspectives about the main goals the emperors, members of the Urban and Imperial elites, and peoples of the Imperial cities, have tried to achieve! Even if a major evolution can be observed from the 1st to the end of the 3rd and the beginnings of the 4th centuries AD, especially with an increase of emphasis (the use of superlatives), the fundamental characteristics have been preserved: how to celebrate the princeps through his virtues in order to commemorate the legitimacy of the Imperial Res publica.
The study of the appearance and diffusion of adjectives linked to the virtues of good government (fortissimus, felicissimus, inuictissimus, indulgentissimus) makes it possible to refine the vision of the “good prince” conveyed in the official imperial discourse, as it appears in the inscriptions of the African provinces, from Augustus to Constantine.
During the Principate, the emperor is not only the one who manifests a certain number of virtues; he truly becomes the one who embodies them. Because of these dispositions, the sovereign has a singular power of action: he is the one who founds, safeguards, governs, enlarges, restores, pacifies … These merits of the sovereign are particularly praised in the inscriptions from the last decades of the 2nd century AD and become elements of the imperial titulature. These titles, often at the origin divine epiclesis, have sometimes been attested since the beginnings of the Principate. The epigraphic inventory of their attestations between the 1st century and the first third of the 3rd century AD is attached to the study, which comes back, in the last analysis, on the period and the reasons that can explain the shift of the imperial titulature from sobriety into emphase and rhetoric.
The military character of the foundation of the Roman colony of Alexandreia in Troas between 27 and 12 BC by Augustus determined the nature of the relationship of the new local Elite to the person of the Prince. This closeness resulted in a series of local initiatives (in the form of honorary dedications) which have three characteristics: first, to honor not only the emperor himself, but also his relatives, and even more remarkable, the presumptive heirs (a much rarer approach in the peregrine cities); then, to honor the prince in lapidary terms that remain faithful to the phraseology of the dedications, as it was set up at the beginning of the Principat; finally, to betray an influence of the Greek cultural milieu, whose effects were felt by capillarity effect especially in the Antonine era. A syncretic image of the prince emerges, of which Hadrien Zeus Olympios is the most telling illustration.
The Hellenistic model of the “good king” is marked by a benevolent attitude which is rewarded on behalf of the cities by a certain number of tributes including the titles and epicleseis often borrowed from the gods and above all from Zeus. Among the signs of recognition we find the title of euergetes and that of philhellene, and also a number of epiclesis such as “Olympian”. We examine through inscriptions how, under the Empire, this tradition was perpetuated and in priority which princes it concerns (Nero and Hadrian in Greece). The profile of the good prince is also the one who made it possible to fight Persians/Parthians and to perpetuate memory of the Persian Wars, therefore also consequently, the cohesion of the Greeks in the face of the enemy. The “liberating” prince is a federator and supports Pan-Hellenism and, therefore, even if this figure is partly modeled by the central Roman power, the populations of the cities of Greece are sensitive to it.
Based on the survey of around 30 000 inscriptions from Asia Minor, this paper offers a study of Greek honorific titles awarded to emperors and members of the imperial family. It illuminates the contexts in which such titles are used, their frequency and their chronological and typological distribution. It focuses on the special case of Hadrian, celebrated as “saviour and founder” all over the Greek world, with a particularly intense use of these titles in Miletus and Pergamon. Overall, these two titles are, together with that of “benefactor,” the most common ones for the emperors, strongly in line with the civic discourse elaborated during the Hellenistic period. The moral qualities of the emperors are almost never highlighted through the use of titles, while the universal nature of their power is acknowledged by elaborating on traditional titles (“benefactor or saviour of the whole world”) or by inventing new titles, reflecting a change in the ideology of imperial rule (“master of land and sea”).
The creation by Augustus of the imperial regime caused a break in the epigraphic representation of power in Rome, both in terms of the number of inscriptions and their content. It contributed to highlighting the representation of imperial power through the so-called imperial titulature, which brought together the names, powers and titles borne by the first princeps and members of his dynasty. A variety of imperial virtues were emphasized: uirtus proper, which is in essence military virtue (in the form of the praenomen Imperator and the salutations as imperator); piety (the title of Pontifex Maximus) and the extraordinary status of the princeps from a religious point of view (the cognomen Augustus); legitimacy through Julius Caesar (the nomen Caesar and his filiation, Diui f.); his status as restorer (conseruator); the care given to the governed (the title pater patriae); the universal application of Augustus’ powers (custos, praeses and rector). Augustan epigraphy, far from being stereotyped as one might think at first glance in comparison with later periods, reflected the majesty and authority of the new power.
Ancient sources provide information on the measures adopted by emperors in favour of cities ravaged by natural disasters, particularly earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. This article examines the inscriptions that mention imperial aid, by analysing the form and vocabulary used. The first type of inscription mentions the monument that was restored thanks to imperial generosity. The concrete modalities of the reconstruction, in particular the origin of the funds used, are rarely mentioned. The second type of inscription honours the emperor who contributed to the restoration of one or more cities with the title of saviour or founder.
These inscriptions are intended to emphasize the link forged on this occasion between the emperor and the beneficiary city, honouring the emperor and recalling his generosity. It also aims to spread the image of the kindness of the princeps, who meets the expectations of the inhabitants of the empire thanks to his prouidentia and his πρόνοια.
In one area, the Iberian Peninsula, where the Roman presence began in the 2nd century BC, the modalities of public homages to the princes were adopted at the beginning of the Augustan Principate. As elsewhere in the empire, texts were gradually enriched, with dedicators using the forms proposed by the centre of power to celebrate imperial power or to legitimise the presence of a new imperial family. But the manifestation of particular links between the emperors and the Hispanic cities was rare, despite the gifts of the Flavians or the local origin of two princes, Trajan and Hadrian. At the end of the 3rd century AD, the dedicators were increasingly agents of the prince, and homages left the urban centres to take their place along the roads, on the mile stones. The qualifying discourse was then very standardised.
Hellenistic rulers and Roman emperors were honoured and/or worshipped by communities because of several qualities they possessed. Aim of this contribution is to look at these virtues and to investigate which ones disappeared and which ones continued to be praised as time went by. In the second case, continuity, it has been discussed if the virtues that remained during the Roman empire were understood in the same sense they had in the Hellenistic age. The answer to this question is mostly negative and the analysis contributes to shape the gradual but deep change that occurred at the level of society from Hellenismus to the Roman empire. The survey will be focused, as far as the Roman side is concerned, on Hadrian, one of the most revered emperors whereas, when looking at the spatial perspective, the main case-study will be constituted by Pergamon and its Asclepieion.