War and Society in Imperial Rome, 31 BC-AD 284

By Brian Campbell | Go to book overview

6

WAR AND PUBLIC OPINION

Augustus and military glory

Next to the immortal gods he [Augustus] honoured the memory of the leaders who had raised the power of the Roman people from obscurity to greatness. 1

When Augustus built his new forum as the centre-piece of his construction projects in Rome, the adjoining hemicycles and colonnades provided room for statues of distinguished men, many in military dress, which had their original inscriptions and also an explanatory notice of their deeds. One such statue was that of Marcus Valerius Corvus, who had allegedly killed a Gallic leader in single combat with the assistance of a raven, which pecked at his eyes. The statue had a raven on its head. 2 Augustus also decided that all commanders who won triumphal honours should have a bronze statue in this forum, 3 which in addition contained the columna rostrata, a column decorated with the beaks and anchors of captured warships, and surmounted by a gilded statue of Octavian. This had been erected in 36 BC to celebrate his victory over Sextus Pompey. 4 The niches in the upper tiers of the colonnades may have been decorated with additional war trophies of various types (see Figure 6.1). 5 The hemicycle to the right of the temple of Mars included a statue of Romulus, and that to the left a statue of Aeneas and members of the Julian family. This demonstrated the unique historical importance of Augustus’ own family and linked it with the tradition of the foundation of Rome. The building of the forum was financed by Augustus’ military conquests, as he himself explains in the Res Gestae—‘I built the temple of Mars the Avenger and the Forum Augustum on private ground from the spoils of war’—and was constructed on land he had purchased. 6 Although this new forum was apparently designed to accommodate the increasing number of lawsuits, it also propagated Augustus’ name and associated him with a resounding declaration of Roman military prowess, past and present. On the occasion of the dedication of the forum in 2 BC he declared by edict his view that ‘the Roman people should

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War and Society in Imperial Rome, 31 BC-AD 284
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface and Acknowledgements x
  • Abbreviations xi
  • 1 - The Origins of War 1
  • 2 - Soldiers and War 22
  • 3 - The Nature of War 47
  • 4 - War and the Community 77
  • 5 - War and Politics 106
  • 6 - War and Public Opinion 122
  • 7 - Epilogue 151
  • Brief Chronological Table 155
  • Notes 157
  • Bibliography 189
  • Index 203
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