Sunday, November 27, 2022

Engraved Gems and Propaganda in the Roman Republic and under Augustus

book cover 

Archaeopress Roman Archaeology 65

Engraved Gems and Propaganda in the Roman Republic and under Augustus deals with small, but highly captivating and stimulating artwork – engraved gemstones. Although in antiquity intaglios and cameos had multiple applications (seals, jewellery or amulets), the images engraved upon them are snapshots of people's beliefs, ideologies, and everyday occupations. They cast light on the self-advertising and propaganda actions performed by Roman political leaders, especially Octavian/Augustus, their factions and other people engaged in the politics and social life of the past.

Gems can show both general trends (the specific showpieces like State Cameos) as well as the individual and private acts of being involved in politics and social affairs, mainly through a subtle display of political allegiances, since they were objects of strictly personal use. They enable us to analyse and learn about Roman propaganda and various social behaviours from a completely different angle than coins, sculpture or literature.

The miniaturism of ancient gems is in inverse proportion to their cultural significance. This book presents an evolutionary model of the use of engraved gems from self-presentation (3rd-2nd century BC) to personal branding and propaganda purposes in the Roman Republic and under Augustus (until 14 AD). The specific characteristics of engraved gems, their strictly private character and the whole array of devices appearing on them are examined in respect to their potential propagandistic value and usefulness in social life.

The wide scope of this analysis provides a comprehensive picture covering many aspects of Roman propaganda and a critical survey of the overinterpretations of this term in regard to the glyptic art. The aim is the incorporation of this class of archaeological artefacts into the well-established studies of Roman propaganda, as well as the Roman society in general, brought about by discussion of the interconnections with ancient literary sources as well as other categories of Roman art and craftsmanship, notably coins but also sculpture and relief.

H 290 x W 205 mm

618 pages

Fully illustrated catalogue containing 1,015 figures (in colour)

Published May 2020

Archaeopress Archaeology


Hardback: 9781789695397

Digital: 9781789695403


Foreword and acknowledgments ;

Part I Introduction ;
1. Preface ;

2. State of research ;

3. Aims, methodology and structure ;

Part II Theory ;
4. Self-presentation and propaganda – definitions and characteristics ;
4.1. Definitions of ‘self-presentation’ and ‘propaganda’ ;
4.2. Propaganda and persuasion ;
4.3. Propaganda and public opinion ;
4.4. Propaganda as a form of communication ;
4.5. Forms of propaganda ;
4.6. Tools and techniques of propaganda ;
4.7. The effectiveness of propaganda

5. Roman propaganda on engraved gems – general introduction ;
5.1. Anticipated areas of propaganda on engraved gems ;
5.2. Problems with studying propaganda in ancient times with emphasis on engraved gems

Part III Evidence ;
6. Beginnings (3rd-2nd centuries BC) ;
6.1. Etruscan and Italic tradition (self-presentation) ;
6.2. Hellenistic influences ;
6.3. Roman tradition (family symbols, personal branding, commemoration, state propaganda)

7. Early 1st century BC ;
7.1. Lucius Cornelius Sulla ;
7.2. Gaius Marius ;
7.3. Lucius Licinius Lucullus ;
7.4. Other politicians

8. Civil War: Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar and contemporaries ;
8.1. Pompey the Great ;
8.2. Julius Caesar ;
8.3. Less significant politicians and women from the times of the Civil War

9. Post-Caesarian and Liberators’ Civil Wars (from death of Caesar to Octavian’s sole rule: 44-27 BC) ;
9.1. The Pompeians ;
9.2. The Republicans ;
9.3. The Caesarians ;
9.4. Less significant politicians ;
9.5. Women and their propaganda significance on engraved gems

10. Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) ;
10.1. Collecting ;
10.2. Gem engravers working for Augustus ;
10.3. The final seal of Augustus ;
10.4. Portraits – personal branding induction and manifestation of loyalty ;
10.5. Commemoration and State Cameos ;
10.6. Divine and mythological references ;
10.7. Mythological Foundations of the New Rome ;
10.8. Promotion of peace and prosperity ;
10.9. Luxury objects (State Cameos, cameo vessels etc.) and religious propaganda ;
10.10. Promotion of family and successors ;
Divus Augustus ;

Part IV Summary and conclusions ;
11. Provenance, provenience, production and distribution of propaganda gems ;

12. Statistics ;

13. Summary and conclusions: ;
13.1. Use of gems in triumphs ;
13.2. Collecting ;
13.3. Employment of gem engravers ;
13.4. Seals ;
13.5. Personal branding and self-promotion ;
13.6. Induction and manifestation of loyalty and support ;
13.7. Use of heritage ;
13.8. Promotion of family and oneself through
origo ;
13.9. Promotion of faction ;
13.10. Commemoration ;
13.11. Religious, divine and mythological references ;
13.12. Political symbols and promotion of abstract ideas (
ordo rerum, Pax Augusta and aurea aetas) ;
13.13. Luxury objects: State Cameos – carved vessels – works in the round ;
13.14. Final remarks

Part V Catalogue, figures, bibliography and indices ;
Catalogue ;

Figures ;

Figure credits ;

Bibliography ;




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