Circulating Imperial Ideology: Coins as Propaganda in the Roman World Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Ellithorpe, Corey
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This dissertation examines the role of Roman Imperial coinage in the communication of Roman ideology and propaganda. From a database of more than 300,000 Roman Imperial coins of the Principate, each containing detailed archaeological data and linked to GIS-mapping software, a variety of interconnected analyses are conducted to provide a better understanding of how Roman coinage was used a medium of Imperial propaganda. The body of numismatic evidence of imperial Rome consists of millions of surviving individual coins, out of which thousands of iconographical combinations of type and corresponding inscriptions have been identified. I examine the role that coinage played as a mobile medium of politically persuasive communication for Rome to numerous groups. Within a larger political propaganda program at work during the early Roman Empire, coinage functioned as the most ubiquitous, tangible, immediate, variable, and integrated element. I argue that coinage functioned as a conscious instrument of political propaganda that enabled varying messages to be purposefully disseminated to different geographical regions and to distinct ranks of Roman society. This was a structured and efficient communication machine capable of fine-tuning the presentation of a particular message to meet the emperor’s current concerns. Moreover, I argue that a desire to manipulate public opinion is the mainspring for the vast range of coinage types found in Roman imperial coinage.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Naiden, Fred
  • Grillo, Luca
  • Bull, Marcus
  • Wigg-Wolf, David
  • Talbert, Richard J. A.
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2017

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