A place for peace in a time of war

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Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

It was with hindsight that Tacitus could remark that ‘it was in the interests of peace that all power be conferred on one man’ (Hist. 1.1) as the culmination of several decades of civil war and conflict. After Actium, the Augustan Age was heralded in and promoted as the accomplishment of peace achieved by land and sea, monumentalized in the complex at Nikopolis and the Ara Pacis Augustae at Rome. The story of peace in the Augustan period was a sanitised version of the concept now that there was no opposition or possibility of contest. The story behind this accomplishment is not so simple. The two decades of civil war that predate the Augustan regime were a time of disagreement and dissention, of shifting meanings and a dying Republic. Different visions and versions of what the res publica should be were expounded and disseminated. The coinage provides a lens through which to examine the arguments surrounding the condition (and indeed definition) of the res publica, particularly as regards central political ideals of libertas, fides, pietas, concordia and pax. Moreover, the coinage was a platform from which such political ideology was launched and through which political language was expressed to the widest possible audience.

This paper predominantly focuses on the coinage produced over the two decades of civil wars in order to examine the cacophony of voices debating the condition of the state, and how ideas of peace were taken up as expressions suitable and necessary for the discourse on the crises. Not only does the coinage illustrate the contemporary political relevance of the concept of peace (pax), it also hints as the different possibilities and definitions of the concept itself.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCoins of the Roman revolution (49BC-AD14)
Subtitle of host publicationevidence without hindsight
EditorsAnton Powell, Andrew Burnett
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Roman coins, numismatics, civil war, Roman revolution, peace, pax, imperial ideals