Propagating Imperial Truth? Provincial Engagements with Imperial Rhetorics of Peace

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Since the inception of pax Augusta in c. 13 BCE, the concept (if not the deity) became a ‘language’ through which provincials engaged with and reinforced a Roman-constructed framework of ‘imperialism’ filtered through a rhetoric of order, stability and peace. This propagation of Rome’s imperium in terms of pax did not necessarily mean that the Roman empire was always ethical in its treatment of its subjects or fully accepted as the ideal by those, but it nevertheless maintained an ideal yardstick against which critiques of Roman power (albeit from an internal perspective, such as Tacitus’ speech of Calgacus, Agr. 30.5) could be measured, and through which the participants and subjecst of empire expressed their relationship with the central powers (in the body of the princeps) of Rome’s imperium.

This paper traces the propagation of the pax Augusta in provincial interactions with imperial power, – predominantly through the documentary and material record – specifically as embodied in the princeps himself over the first half of the first century CE, however it also aims to illustrate that the notion of imperial power as Roman peace was not an entirely new Imperial concept born in c. 13 BCE, but can be traced back through earlier late Republican rhetorics of empire-wide peace. As such, this paper serves to tease out, from an historical perspective, the underlying dynamics of imperial power as a discourse between Rome and her subjects.
Period26 Oct 2019
Held atUniversity of Bristol, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational