Trojan Prophecy and Golden Offerings: Tripods in Late Republican and Early Imperial Roman Art Restricted; Files Only

Arney, Jane (Spring 2020)

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On 9 October in 28 B.C.E., Augustus inserted into the Palatine Hill, quintessential Roman memory site and place of the mythic founding of Rome, a temple to the foreign god Apollo, which he embellished with golden tripods made by melting down some 80 silver statues of himself. The purpose of this dissertation is to understand this extraordinary act within the context of the transformation of Rome from the late Republic to the newly emerging Principate of Augustus. It centers on understanding the ways that ancient Romans appropriated and reconstructed the multiple symbolic associations of Greek tripods and how those associations were understood by viewers, with a particular focus on Roman reception during the cultural renewal of the late Republican and early Imperial periods.

The significance of tripods as vessels of memory and the importance of memory in Roman culture establishes the value of the past as a useful tool to construct the present and reinvent the future. A review of Greek literary and monumental tripods illustrates how they were transformed from functional objects to symbols of victory, piety, and prophecy in Greek culture. Through conquest and trade in the mid-to-late Republican periods, tripods entered Roman culture, where their symbolism and form were modified to suit Roman values and taste. By the mid-first century B.C.E., tripods were displayed in Roman coins, wall paintings, and relief sculpture, as symbols of Apollo, sacred space, and legendary narratives of Rome’s past.

By exploring in depth for the first time Augustus’ extraordinary decision to melt down his own silver statues to create golden tripods for Palatine Apollo, I show how this destructive act, along with his subsequent creation of golden tripods, fits into the overall program of mythic reinvention engaged in by Augustus. The Palatine Hill was the site of Rome’s beginnings and the Palatine Sanctuary of Apollo, with its tripod displays, participated in Augustus’ creation of the mythology of the new golden age with him as its prophesied ruler. 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction. 1

Chapter 2: The Greek Prequel: A Selective Overview.. 15

Chapter 3: Seeing Greek Tripods with Roman Eyes. 59

Chapter 4: Silver Statues of Augustus. 87

Chapter 5: Augustus and the Palatine Hill 118

Chapter 6: Temple of Apollo and the Golden Offerings. 161

Chapter 7: Tripod Reliefs and Augustan Pietas. 185

Chapter 8: Painted Patterns, Porticoes and Prophecies. 209

Conclusions. 236

Tables. 238

Bibliography. 247

Figures. 284

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