RECONSTRUCTED PASTS AND RETROSPECTIVE STYLES IN FLAVIAN ROME
Garofalo, Laura Lynn
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This dissertation examines how the Republican past was remembered and recreated under the Flavian era. Each chapter examines a different sphere of cultural life, namely, Flavian epic, portraiture, architecture, and epistolography. In each study, I analyze how Romans represented and negotiated their history, with a particular focus on how the Flavian dynasts reshaped the Republican past in their own image. Accordingly, this project is engaged throughout with larger questions concerning memory culture, the uses and stakes of retrospective styles and traditions, and the inevitable problems of recalling, recreating, and reshaping the past. The first chapter analyzes several examples of anachronic scenes in Statius’ Thebaid, an epic re-telling of the Seven Against Thebes. In each scene discussed, Statius blends the mythological, pre-Homeric narrative setting with the customs of the Roman past. Each instance briefly compresses time and space, creating a world where the fading customs of the Roman past mingle with Greek heroes in a mythical, Romanized past. The second chapter examines multivalent Flavian portraiture styles. Following upon Nero’s fleshy, Hellenizing portraiture, Vespasian and his sons adopted a portrait style that evoked the veristic styles of the Republican elite, as well as humbler forms of realism employed by non-elites under the Julio-Claudians. This new, hybrid style suggested a break with the Neronian past as well as a return to tradition, albeit in new forms. The Flavians also reshaped the city of Rome, as examined in the third chapter. The dynasts restored several notable Republican structures, including the Temple of Honos and Virtus, Republican temples in Largo Argentina, and a monopteros in the Circus Flaminius. Alongside, the Flavians also built new, Republican-inspired porticoes, including the Templum Pacis, Templum Divi Claudii, Porticus Divorum, and Templum Gentis Flaviae. The juxtaposition of restored Republican structures and archaizing Flavian monuments elided Rome’s past and Flavian present. The fourth chapter analyzes changing notions of exemplarity in the Epistulae of Pliny the Younger. In his letters, Pliny lauds the private deeds of Arria I, Fannia, and Verginius Rufus, presenting them as traditional exemplary figures. In doing so, Pliny preserves the controversial political histories that occasioned such virtue and questions how the Flavian past may be remembered.