Bread & Circuses: Euergetism and Municipal Patronage in Roman Italy

By Kathryn Lomas; Tim Cornell | Go to book overview

4

EUERGETISM IN ITS PLACE

Where was the amphitheatre in Augustan Rome?

Kathleen M. Coleman

Vespasian was to style himself Augustus' spiritual heir by claiming that the first Princeps had cherished the ambition of building a monumental amphitheatre in the centre of Rome (Suet. Vesp. 9): '[fecit Vespasianus] amphitheatrum urbe media, ut destinasse compererat Augustum' ('[Vespasian built] an amphitheatre in the middle of the city, as he had discovered had been Augustus' intention'). Seduced as we are by the magnetism of the Colosseum, it is almost impossible for us to conjure up a Rome in which plans to build it needed justification. It may prove impossible to establish the veracity of Vespasian's claim; yet it draws attention to the fact that for more than a century after Actium the topography and amenities of Rome remained devoid of a permanent amphitheatre of monumental dimensions. It has recently emerged that the amphitheatre as a permanent fixture was a feature of Roman colonies at least one hundred and fifty years before the Colosseum was built, and that the design appears to have been predicated on the temporary structures erected in the Forum Romanum at Rome. 1 We may well ask why it is that the city of Rome, where the design of the amphitheatre originated, did not acquire a monumental stone amphitheatre of grand dimensions long before the Flavian era. Why, specifically, was such an opportunity not realised by Augustus, that great benefactor who both changed the face of the city and exploited the provision of public spectacle as a major tool of self-promotion? 2

The Appendix to the Res Gestae summarises Augustus' personal expenditure in the public interest. Only his congiaria are given a monetary value: 2,400 million sesterces (App. 1). For buildings the author of the Appendix (who was not Augustus himself) is content with a list of twenty-one projects that Augustus undertook ab initio, including four connected with the provision of recreation facilities: the pulvinar in the Circus Maximus, the theatre of Marcellus, the porticus Octavia, and the nemus Caesarum across the Tiber (App. 2). Among five categories of general structures that Augustus repaired (including 'sacred buildings to the number of eighty-two', 'sacras … aedes numero octoginta duas'), the theatre of Pompey is specifically mentioned (App. 3). The Appendix concludes with a list of shows sponsored and grants-in-aid to communities and individuals in order to demonstrate that Augustus' generosity was beyond reckoning (App. 4): 'impensa praestita in spectacula scaenica et munera gladiatorum atque athletas et uenationes et

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Bread & Circuses: Euergetism and Municipal Patronage in Roman Italy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Patron as Banker 12
  • 2 - Public Building, Urban Renewal and Euergetism in Early Imperial Italy 28
  • 3 - The Development of Public Entertainment Venues in Rome and Italy 46
  • 4 - Euergetism in Its Place 61
  • 5 - The Emperor and the Cities of Italy 89
  • 6 - Imperial Building at Rome 105
  • 7 - Favor Populi 125
  • 8 - 'Restored Utility, Eternal City' 142
  • Index 167
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