Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Contextualizing Roman Honorific Monuments: Statue Groups of the Imperial Family from Olympia, Ephesus, and Leptis Magna

This dissertation contextualizes Roman sculpture within its local environment, giving particular attention to the honorific statue groups of the imperial family in the first and second centuries CE. Previous studies focus primarily on issues of style and typology, whereas this project examines how statues influenced and were influenced by surrounding architecture, topographical features, and significant landmarks. Moreover, it asks how social, political, and historical phenomena relate to a group's significance and its effect on the ancient viewer. The ultimate goal of this investigation is to explore the social and physical contexts of imperial dynastic ensembles in order to improve our understanding of how honorific monuments functioned within the local landscape. The study focuses on three ancient sites - Olympia, Ephesus, and Leptis Magna - that provide some of the best preserved imperial honorific and dynastic material as well as a broad geographical spread. Groups from Rome and the West largely are omitted since epigraphic material often is lacking. The three main chapters present imperial honors (both individual and familial) in chronological order and consider relevant architectural, historical, and topographical developments. Dynastic groups with preserved statues, display contexts, and patron(s)/dedicator(s) are discussed in separate sections that outline the group's historical background, patron(s), associated sculpture, honorands, date, arrangement, and relationship to previous honors. This study confirms that dynastic groups from the three sites are centered in four major types of architectural settings: temples, nymphaea, entertainment structures, and fora/agorai. Familial groups also coexist with individual honors and ensembles of other dynasties. This investigation further demonstrates that the Julio-Claudian and Antonine households have the most extant evidence for dynastic honors and that a correlation exists between the initial phases of a dynastic monument and the first emperor of a new dynasty. Both prominent citizens and civic groups erected representations of the imperial family in areas that were visited frequently in order to express loyalty and gratitude toward the ruling household as well as visually convey their power, wealth, and prestige. These communal areas ensured maximum visibility and interaction with the statues during everyday events and special rituals related to the city's identity.