Monday, October 08, 2012

Augustus and the Architecture of Masculinity

Augustus of Prima Porta, statue of the emperor...
Augustus of Prima Porta, statue of the emperor Augustus in Museo Chiaramonti, Vatican, Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Augustus and the Architecture of Masculinity

By Katie Thompson

Bachelor of Science Thesis, Coastal Carolina University, 2009
Introduction: Many previous studies have been completed on ancient Rome, including studies on Augustus, gender issues, and the Roman games, which have helped create a timeline of Augustus‟s rise to power, an architectural layout of the Circus Maximus and a social hierarchy based on gender. The purpose of this study is to illustrate the relationship between these three areas of research. The thesis will address the political agenda of the Emperor Augustus and will argue that the perceived notions of masculinity that were prevalent in Roman public life largely impacted his actions. In addition, the thesis will demonstrate how politics and masculinity were intimately related to the games, focusing mainly on the events Augustus hosted in the Circus Maximus. Finally, the work will illustrate how the architecture of the Circus Maximus, especially the location and importance of the obelisk Augustus placed on the barrier, was a political statement that embodied the social order of the empire, reminded the Roman citizens of the army‟s victories over foreign peoples, and aligned Augustus with the gods, legitimizing his sovereignty in Rome.

The first chapter addresses Augustus‟s political agenda and the major changes he was making throughout the Roman world. When Augustus came to power the Roman Republic had collapsed and the state had fallen into fourteen years of civil war. For Augustus, this made it difficult when establishing his authority and making the bold shift into an empire. The fragile state of Rome during the rise of Augustus is significant for this study, because it explains why Augustus was so eager to please the people, and why he did so many public works, such as hosting games and adorning the city with monuments. It will be important in this paper to link both Augustus‟s brutality and his willingness to work for the people to the games he put on and the monuments with which he adorned the city and the Circus Maximus. In these social acts, however, it is important to understand Augustus‟s personal agenda of establishing his absolute authority in Rome and the social ideals of masculinity that he had to maintain.

Click here to read this thesis from Coastal Carolina University