BMCR 1997.02.24

1997.2.24, Galinsky, Augustan Culture

, Augustan culture : an interpretive introduction. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996. xi, 474 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm. ISBN 9780691044354 $39.50.

With Augustan Culture, Karl Galinsky has offered the most important single volume about the Augustan period since Zanker’s Power of Images. Galinsky’s treatment is culturally more complete than Zanker’s, including discussion of literature, art, politics, values, religion, and society. This beautifully produced tome contains six plates and one hundred and seventy four black and white on-page prints.

The book begins with an “evolutionary” description of Augustus’ rise to power, which is set in antithesis to Syme’s notion of Roman revolution. Galinsky explains Syme’s formulation as a product of the influence of his own times in the period before the second World War, an influence, Galinsky notes, of which Syme himself was not unaware. In the first chapter Galinsky sets forth the book’s basic thesis, namely that Augustus ruled by auctoritas rather than potestas. Having explained its root meaning, he cleverly details how in his Res Gestae Augustus claims auctoritas as his only right to lead. Galinsky’s discussion of this document is very thorough with the minor exception of his cursory treatment of the deification of Julius Caesar (17-18), an event much more profound than his treatment at this juncture would suggest. Galinsky concisely addresses the difference between the potestas of Julius Caesar and the “more nuanced” auctoritas of Augustus, a distinction that he will return to at the close of the book.

Particularly interesting is Galinsky’s discussion of Augustus as a second Numa (35-37). Numa was one of Augustus’ primary models of inspiration because Numa was associated with Apollo and because he was the quintessential paradigm of reverence for religion. But inasmuch as that king had already been claimed by the gens Calpurnia, any connection with him necessarily had to be subtle. One way Augustus forged the connection was through an issue of coinage in 23 that presented his own head on the obverse, and Numa’s on the reverse. Octavian’s second Romulus was being transformed throughout the 20s into Augustus’ Numa. Galinsky might have called attention here, or in his discussion of literature in ch. 5, to the prominence of both Numa and Augustus in the final book of the Metamorphoses. He could have also mentioned the ancilia that were said to have dropped from heaven during the reign of Numa and in Aen. 8 are described, as is Augustus, as being on Aeneas’ shield. Whether or not these same ancilia of Numa were depicted on the clipeus virtutis, presented to Augustus in 27 (v. Hardie, 367), they certainly provided a fitting mythological prototype for that shield and for the Virgilian shield of Aeneas (cf. West, PVS 15 [1975-76] 1-7).

Galinsky’s assertion that Augustus did not engage in a propaganda campaign (39-41), even if it is now in vogue to say as much (cf. Foulkes, Literature and Propaganda), seems to me less compelling than his insightful remarks about Numa. The suggestion that the content of the coinage under Augustus betrays a marked independence from the emperor on the part of its various producers simply presses too hard the anti-propaganda argument; indeed, we have already seen in the case of Numa how a subtle connection with that king promoted Augustus’ new image. Following the recent work of Crawford (in the Grierson Festschrift, ed. C. Brooke, [Cambridge, 1983] 47-64), Galinsky regards the relationship of imperial coins to the formation of public opinion to be “slight, if it exists at all” (40). As I see it, however, money is something that does a highly effective job of providing a constant reminder of who the important people are (cf. Zanker, Power of Images, 199). It is difficult for me to regard the frequent repetition of the titular DIVI F as anything less than propaganda. One need not infer, as G. does (39), that just because coins of Gaius and Lucius continued to be issued after their death Augustan coinage primarily did not have an actively propagandistic role. I recommend Zanker’s discussion (Zanker, 53-57) of how the beautifully minted coinage of Octavian offers “a case of aesthetics in the service of political ends” (Zanker, 54).

In Chapter 2 Galinsky suggests that Augustus freed the tottering res publica from disaster and he assembles several examples of the theme of Augustus as liberator in Roman coinage. Galinsky defends Augustus’ assertion in the Res Gestae that he had brought libertas to the res publica. Cicero had predicted, at the end of his own and the beginning of the princeps’ career, that Octavian was capable of doing this ( Phil. 3.3-5). Now Augustus, near the end of his own career could claim in the RG that Cicero’s prediction had been fulfilled (45f.). This chapter hangs in part on Galinsky’s definition of libertas (54-77), which he wants to be invested with a great range of meaning. He also considers other terms that will be important in the book, including res publica (58-77) and mores, which is intermingled with his consideration of res publica. These last two ideas are linked because “if the res publica was to be restored meaningfully, a revival of morals was the precondition” (60).

Innovation and blending of old and new are the hallmarks of Augustus’ reign. “As a result, the culture—political, literary, artistic and other—that developed under Augustus called for a creative response. For the most part it could be shaped and was shaped as much by individuals besides Augustus as it was by him” (71). Augustus used his auctoritas to transform Roman society, in the process revitalizing its morality. His motive stemmed from his own moral convictions and commitment to values (73), something that was a general feature of the Roman traditionalism that “left little alternative except for the seemingly paradoxical one of revitalizing that very traditionalism” (76). G. is correct to say that Augustus’ reinvigoration of religion was brought to pass chiefly in a humane manner. Nevertheless, it is hard for me to forget Tacitus’ general appraisal of Augustus’ treatment of the Roman populace: ubi militem donis, populum annona, cunctos dulcedine otii pellexit, insurgere paulatim ( Annales 2.1). That aside, however, Galinsky certainly does a good job of interpreting Augustus’ reforms in the best light possible.

Galinsky’s appraisal of Cicero’s character (73), however, seems to me less than fair. Cicero’s “opportunism” sprung from a deep sense of the connection that he himself felt he had with the state and he was opportunistic insofar as his personal vision was connected with the interests of the state, as perhaps Augustus’ famous appraisal suggests (Plutarch, Cic. 49). Is not Cicero’s opportunism perhaps comparable to Augustus’ own? I would like to have seen G. draw out such a comparison. Two examples come immediately to mind. First, the themes of cosmos and imperium, so much a part of the world of Augustus, have antecedents in Cicero’s famous description of the Catilinarian conspirators, who plan the destruction huius urbis atque adeo de orbis terrarum ( In Cat. 1.4.9; cf. P. Hardie, Cosmos and Imperium, 365f.). Second, Lutatius Catulus had proposed the title of pater patriae for the one who saved the state from the Catilinarians (Sest. 121); as pater patriae, Cicero was, therefore, a prototype for Augustus himself.

In the third chapter Galinsky sets out to discuss a number of “circumstantial” pieces of evidence for the ingenuity and vitality of the Augustan settlement. His argument begins with a most intelligent discussion of the clipeus virtutis and analysis of each of the four virtues named on it. He also discusses Augustan literature, with a good, if brief, assessment of Eclogue 4; he broaches the topic of the Golden Age as presented in the Georgics, proffering labor as the essential stimulus for civilization in G. 1 and the key ingredient of the Golden Age of G. 2.500-20 (95). Galinsky also considers Virgil’s labor improbus from G. 1.145. Though Galinsky rightly stresses the importance of labor both to the Georgics and to Augustus’ moral vision, it is difficult for me to accept the assertion that the primary meaning of Virgil’s famous phrase labor improbus is simply “immense work” (for which, cf. TLL 7.693, 46ff.), and that a secondary meaning of “wicked” vel sim. is merely meant to sound “a meaningful cautionary note” (122). Richard Thomas’ “insatiable toil occupied all areas of existence” (v. Thomas’ commentary ad loc.) seems to convey better the negative connotation that I feel abides in the adjective.

In regard to literary references about the ludi saeculares and about Augustus’ moral reforms, Galinsky’s presentation is qualified and balanced: he sees in Augustan literature a general hope for better times, not merely an indiscriminate proclamation of Augutus as Apolline savior (104-5). Galinsky also considers the Aeneid in this chapter. Particularly good here is his discussion of Aeneas’ struggle with his past (124f.). When G. turns his attention to art, especially that of the period between 17 and 13, his treatment is thorough, as it integrates numismatic evidence, as well as that of gems, architecture, statuary, and even a lamp. G. shows that Augustan art appropriated and redefined a traditional image, such as the cornucopia, both by revitalizing it with contemporary meaning (in terms of the aurea aetas) and by tying it to the rule of Augustus in particular (106ff.).

In his consideration of Augustus’ moral agenda, G. adopts a familiar premise: Augustus’ actions included legislation ultimately designed to strengthen the family as the basic societal unit. Citing a number of ancient sources that establish a connection between moral reinvigoration and imperialistic ambition, Galinsky justifies Augustus in his donning of the mantle of world dominator (133-34). Galinsky closes this important if somewhat diffuse chapter with an explanation of moral decline in the empire that contradicts Tacitus’ assertion that loss of libertas under the emperors produced a decline in rhetoric and in Roman society’s values. Instead, Galinsky believes that the moral decline that is readily apparent by the reign of Nero is caused by the peace and general happiness that imperial rule largely ensured (139). I am not convinced that there was a great deal of happiness after Augustus’ reign, and not even during it was everyone content (e.g. Ovid). Still, G. is correct when he characterizes Augustus’ achievement of peace and maintenance of moral standards “a balancing act” whose “vitality was due to its negotiation of several conflicting tensions” (139).

In Chapter 4, Galinsky sets out to suggest a parallel development between poetry (considered in chapter 5) and art and architecture. He begins with the Ara Pacis, discussing it both in terms of its own iconography and with regard to its particular placement in the Campus Martius. The extensive acanthus decoration symbolizes the abundance of nature, while the images of snakes and birds’ nests suggest that “peace and growth are never unthreatened” (152). G. also spends several pages discussing the so-called Tellus panel on the southeast side. His explanation of this debated panel more or less follows Zanker’s ( Power of Images, 174f.), for G. proposes that the goddess pictured is a composite of Venus, Tellus, Ceres and Pax. Taking a page out of reader response criticism, he suggests (149) that this depends on the involvement of the viewer. But Galinsky is nevertheless discerning on this point, denying that the figure is “simply a blank check that can be filled in as one wishes.” While Galinsky does draw together recent work on this panel nicely, it is reassuring to find that his composite proposal suggests that, like most of us, he is not one hundred percent sure about the identity of the goddess (pace Spaeth, AJA 1994). G.’s remarks about the fluidity of the figures and the “real life” situation depicted on the monument, with wiggling children and distracted parents, are astute. These human touches give this monument its power, distinguishing its humanity from the “relentless monotony of imperialism” (152) exemplified in the monuments of other despots.

In his analysis of the Augustus of Prima Porta, Galinsky brings together several strands of recent scholarship on the statue. To take one example, G. gently discards the argument for the chariot of the Sun being preceded by Aurora carrying a female deity such as Luna (suggested by Zanker, 191f.). Instead, G. follows the recent suggestion of Simon ( Saeculum Augustum, vol. 3, 1991, 214), who believes that the chariot is preceded by Dawn carrying Venus, who is herself identified with the Morning Star. Galinsky likens the Tellus figure bearing a cornucopia at the base of the cuirass to the Tellus panel on the Ara Pacis and adroitly musters literary parallels both here and elsewhere in his discussion of the statue (160).

As he moves on to consider the portrait busts of the emperor, G. continues to collate trends of scholarship. He does well to point up the inconsistency of the orthodox opinions, dismissing the rigid classifications of Augustan portraiture such as “Actium type,” which he reveals not only to be an anachronistic misnomer, but also one that implies too strong a break between styles. With others (e.g. Schmaltz [ RhM 1986]), Galinsky wants to suggest a more fluid development in portrait style. This is an important formulation, for, as Galinsky says, sharp and sudden transitions are precisely what Augustus sought to avoid. That Augustus influenced his portrait development directly is also surely correct. Galinsky again, however, seems to get bogged down a bit by the propaganda problem. On the one hand, he wants to preserve “the largely autonomous nature of the entire portraiture process” (172), while at the same time denying it (“certainly, the ruler is an active participant in determining his self-representation” 173). This is not confusion on Galinsky’s part but rather honesty for, as has often been noted, the patronage question is a thorny one that requires some guesswork on the part of the modern critic (see, e.g., E.W. Leach, in Literary and Artistic Patronage in Ancient Rome, ed. Gold, 135-73). Galinsky’s articulation of the polysemous facets of Augustan portraiture—e.g. the coexistence of select features of Alexander as well as distinctly Roman, specifically Julian characteristics—is intelligent and very important for proper understanding of how Augustus used portraiture to identify himself with victors and statesmen. Galinsky shows that throughout the thirties and even into the twenties, Octavian wanted to be a leader characterized by auctoritas, as suggested by the Actium and especially Prima Porta type portraits. In addition, he wished to reveal himself to be civilis princeps, as the Forbes type suggests (177).

In his study of wall painting Galinsky suggests that the pax Augusta and social stability that it engendered produced creative and pleasant features in wall painting of the period. He offers a somewhat detailed discussion of the paintings in the houses of Livia and Augustus, suggesting that the overall effect is not unlike that of a pinacotheca. Galinsky considers also the frescoes from Augustus’ famous “Syracuse” (sc. his technophyon, referred to by Suetonius, 72.2). His analysis includes many insightful observations as he compares the wall paintings to various Ovidian vignettes, a tack that G. had pioneered successfully in his 1975 monograph, Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Galinsky recapitulates in this chapter one of his basic themes, namely that the Augustan regime inspires a new humanitas that itself fosters artistic and literary expression (196f.), a thesis with which I am not wholly comfortable. I cannot unequivocally accept the idea that a renaissance of literature and art is more likely to come about in a basically supportive environment. Great art and literature can respond to oppression, as G. himself does concede (197). While I am not sure that there is any wholly satisfactory explanation for the simultaneous flourishing of Virgil, Horace, Propertius, et al., I do agree that in the optimistic middle period of Augustus’ reign there was a moment of perceived freedom and hope. I differ from G., however, in my appraisal of the end of Augustus’ reign, when Ovid, for example, sounds a discordant note for which he is banished. Freedom was the price that had to be paid for the pax Augusta, a valuable commodity indeed, but also a high price.

Galinsky goes on to treat Augustan architecture in this chapter. The Forum Augustum “was to be a monument where personal intent and the public purpose coalesced” (198). Galinsky spends several pages demonstrating not only the purpose behind the structure, but describing in some detail the way it appeared in its original form. He is careful with details, ranging from variegated marble floor tiles of the forum to its citations of fifth-century Greek culture (203). He demonstrates how the Forum Augustum served in many ways as the equivalent of the Athenian acropolis. In addition to fifth-century Athens, one finds a connection to the Hellenistic world of Alexander the Great, with whom Augustus also associated his person through a series of subtle and not-so-subtle associations. Following Menichetti ( MEFR 98 [1986] 565-93), Galinsky believes that the colossus at the culmination of the left porticus originally depicted Alexander, and only later, under Claudius, was its head changed to that of Augustus (208). Further, two paintings of Alexander by Apelles were housed in the Forum, as well as other artifacts pertaining to that ruler. The Forum Augustum, therefore, not only connected Rome with its past, but established Augustus’ own reputation as world ruler, while at the same time having several practical and symbolic functions: on the one hand, it was not open on all sides, but rather closed off, with controlled points of entry. On the other hand, its width allowed for much “latitude and open circulation” (212).

Galinsky closes his discussion in this chapter by turning to the Temple of Apollo Palatinus. Erected earlier than the Forum Augustum, it was situated in the oldest section of Rome, the Germalus summit of the Palatine, sacred not only for the Lupercal, the hut of Romulus and for the slope where Hercules’ slew the monster Cacus, but also for the precinct of Victory located there. Galinsky discusses Augustus’ choice for the location of the temple in this sacred setting, stressing the fact that his home would be framed by Victory on one side and on the other by Apollo. G. offers much evidence to emphasize not only Apollo’s but Augustus’ connection with Victory; many of Augustus’ personal symbols are associated with that goddess. These include the golden shield and the laurel, the latter of which was associated with victory because it was worn by the victor in a triumphal procession.

Galinsky also calls attention to the association of the Apollo temple with the god Sol, whose chariot adorned its roof. This bound Apollo to the remote ancestors of the Latins (cf. Aen. 12.164). But the Apolline association with vengeance was also a part of the building, for the ivory temple doors held a relief of the punishment of Niobe. Apollo, therefore, was the quintessential deity for Augustus, for he was both savior and avenger (219). This latter attribute was emphasized also in the portico connected to the temple, where the Danaids were depicted murdering their husbands, the sons of Aegyptus; the connection between this statue group and Augustus’ victory over Antony is obvious enough. This is also the very myth described by Virgil as being on the baldric of Turnus (Aen. 10.497f.). Citing Keuls, Galinsky mentions that the grief of the Danaids generally parallels that of Aeneas (222). What he does not mention is that one of these sisters, Hypermestra, did in fact choose to spare her husband/cousin, Lynceus. Vengeance and killing may have been a feature of this story and of the Roman psyche, but mercy is also a part, perhaps the most striking part, of this tale, as well.

In the fifth chapter G. treats Augustan literature. He begins his discussion with general remarks, echoing a theme with which he had concluded the previous chapter, namely that Augustan art and literature require a certain participation on the part of the audience. Using the principles of diegesis outlined by Gennette in Narrative Discourse, Galinsky shows that the narrative of Ovid’s poem is constantly in flux. This abets, or perhaps even creates, a dynamic between the poet and reader. G. also makes an interesting point when he says that Ovid was Virgil’s “most perceptive reader” (228). Creativity in narrative is a facet of the Augustan experience: “the urge to experiment was congenial to the Augustan age and the Augustan poets were a constituent part of that milieu” (235). This freedom, Galinsky seems to believe, is something that increased rather than waned throughout the Augustan age (for a very different opinion, one might see, of course, Gordon Williams’Change and Decline, 56-61 et passim).

In this regard, G. likens Augustan culture to that of fifth-century Athens, not with respect to any specific detail, but rather in terms of general ambiance (238). He demonstrates that Augustus himself seems to have made the association, as the inclusion of caryatids in the Temple of Mars Ultor also suggests, harking back to the Erechtheum (cf. 207f). Moving on to the great literature of the period, Galinsky highlights the transcendent quality of certain literary works. He contrasts the choices that Virgil posits for Aeneas to the simpler choice of the Homeric Achilles, who preferred a short and glorious life to a long one without recognition. Aeneas’ choices suggest a new brand of heroism, and here Galinsky paraphrases and updates the eloquent contributions of Poeschl and Otis. He also discusses Horace’s universalism of certain values: otium becomes in Horace not merely leisure time, but the “inner peace we are all trying to attain” (243). Turning to Ovid’s transcendent quality, Galinsky writes that for the Metamorphoses“the guiding auctoritas of the poet is narrative and not moral” (244), a formulation with which most will agree.

Galinsky now discusses each poet individually. In the case of Virgil, he continues his discussion of Aeneas’ choices and his comparison with heroes of Greek epic (247). His argument funnels to Aeneas’ particular decision about whether or not to spare Turnus. “The choice of Aeneas therefore, was attractive because of the almost unprecedented creative opportunity that he afforded Vergil” (250). Elsewhere, however, Virgil deliberately blurs images. Citing the famous Jupiter prophecy ( Aen. 1.286-91), Galinsky posits that the Caesar mentioned is a conflation of Augustus and Caesar. I have suggested elsewhere (MH 1994, 45f.) that Ovid seems to have understood Virgil’s text to refer to Julius Caesar only. Turning to Horace, Galinsky explains how the telos of Horatian poetry was not panegyric, but the process of poetry and life itself. Horace “carries on a creative dialogue with the Augustan milieu” (257). Horatian recusatio presents a parallel with that of Augustus himself, who refused the offices of consul and censor, satisfied with the status afforded by his own auctoritas. I find this to be one of Galinsky’s most interesting comparisons.

Galinsky’s finest work on Horace emerges at the close of his discussion of this author when he compares Odes 4 to the Ara Pacis. Both show, Galinsky argues, the humane attitudes fostered by Augustus’ auctoritas. G.’s points about Ovid’s humanizing of mythological scenes are good, if brief, and, as he had in his 1975 monograph, he reiterates the notion that the Met. is characterized by a kind of perpetua festivitas. But Galinsky does not want there to be teeth in Ovid’s wit the way Zanker does: “Ovid’s ambiguous and sometimes malicious verses apparently found a responsive audience,” (Zanker 209). Galinsky offers a perceptive comparison of a silver bowl with the nearly contemporary Metamorphoses. Less satisfying is Galinsky’s dismissal of the problem of Ovid’s exile (268f). Does not the very fact that Ovid was exiled call into question the notion of artistic and poetic liberty that Galinsky believes to have been a consistent feature of Augustan culture?

Augustan elegy presents “a constant dialogue with Augustan themes” (270). Since Galinsky decides not to consider Ovidian elegy, I am able to agree that the elegy that G. treats should not be reduced merely to a Gegenwelt of refutation and challenging of Augustan values (270). Rather, the world of Tibullan elegy is one constructed vis-à-vis various traits of the period, not so much meant to respond to them as to appropriate and adapt them to fit Tibullus’ world. The poetic environment that Propertius creates, if more like the day-to-day world of the urbs, is nevertheless quicker to take up the mythological exempla of epic. Propertius also adapts epic situations, for he transforms epic proelia into love battles in bed. Following Lyne, G. suggests that Propertus ultimately seeks “whole love” (277) and that Propertius draws a parallel between unwed lovers and those who have a true marriage, an institution protected by Augustus’ legislative measures. Perhaps it is not surprising that Galinsky decides largely to omit Ovid’s elegiac poetry from this discussion: did Ovid construct a world that paralleled and softly echoed the values of Augustan Rome or one that largely subverted them?

Turning to Livy, G. concedes that the well-known remedia of the preface “may well refer to some kind of constitutional autocracy” (282), and he further concedes that Livy’s tone in the preface is “deliberative and guarded.” Nevertheless, Galinsky swiftly moves on to an optimistic interpretation: the remedia are, for Galinsky, at least in part, the Numa-like restoration of the Old Time Religion by Augustus. I am unsure precisely what Livy means by remedia, though I am more inclined towards a negative interpretation that betrays subtle criticism of the unconstitutional office of princeps. Even if I am wrong, Livy’s low opinion of Julius Caesar (Sen. QN 5.18.4) cannot be ignored; when Galinsky does mention this, he suggests that it connotes the height of freedom of speech under Augustus (286). Galinsky’s final assessment of Livy’s history, namely that it “has little in common with the sophistication we find in the best Augustan poetry” (287) does not give Livy his due. Recent criticism has shown us that perhaps a better way to read Livy is to consider him as a literary figure in his own right. I am referring here not only to Moore’s Artistry and Ideology, which G. does cite frequently, but also Vasaly’s 1987 TAPhA article, as well as recent pieces in Latomus of Cizek (1992) and Jaeger (1993). One might even argue (cf. Cizek) that it is precisely when we look for a poetic quality in Livy’s prose that we can begin to appreciate the refinement of his style. In short, my objection to G.’s treatment of Livy is simply that I believe the A.U.C. shares more with the sophistication of Augustan poetry than Galinsky is willing to concede (cf. 287).

This chapter is in some ways the strongest, in other ways the least satisfying in the study. Galinsky can be at times sensitive and perspicacious (e.g. in his comments on Aeneas’ choices) and, at other moments (e.g. with Livy), less than inspiring. Most of all, his silence about Ovid’s elegiac production and exile, to my mind, raises as many questions as his many intelligent analyses of Horace and Virgil settle.

In Chapter 6 Galinsky argues that close examination of religion provides a “textbook illustration” of Augustus’ auctoritas in action. He begins by defining religion: “fundamentally, religion is a response and alternative to chaos” (288). Galinsky notes that the Roman “response to chaos” has itself been thoroughly chaotic in the last century of the republic, citing the particularly stark example of the flamen dialis, which was vacant from 87 until just after Augustus became Pontifex Maximus near the end of the century. Accordingly, religious buildings were run down, as were morality and religious sentiment in general (289). Galinsky notes that the physical evidence is corroborated by the ancient sources. The disrepair of religion itself reflected the disorder of the Roman state in the decades just before Augustus’ rule.

Augustus’ restoration developed along two lines: first, it was a response on his part to needs already acute in late republican society. Second, Augustus sought to revitalize rather than merely to return to existing traditions (291). Galinsky discusses thoroughly one example for which we do have solid evidence, namely that of the Fratres Arvales, going well beyond Zanker’s less detailed treatment (Zanker, 119f.). This brotherhood of cultivation was reorganized by Augustus, who significantly elevated its status. Augustus joined this society even though some of its members had formerly been his enemies. Hence his refortifying and ennobling of such sodalities had a healing effect on a society hitherto lacerated by civil strife. In the Fratres Arvales, then, we find “an emblematic commitment of the princeps and the leaders of Roman society to the agricultural heritage of Rome and its values,” a theme mirrored in the Georgics of Virgil (293). G. also notes that a further important general aspect of Augustus’ revitalization of cults is the de-emphasizing of prodigies.

Galinsky calls attention to two principal goals of Augustus’ religious policies: elevation of the princeps and a vehicle for “propagation of the new order.” Here G. sets up a syllogism that he will demonstrate from time to time throughout the rest of the book: if religion equals state and state equals princeps, then princeps more or less equals a god (289f.). Propagation of the new order, then, equals propagation of emperor. Augustus was very active in revealing himself to be a religious leader: witness his dramatic closing of the Janus temple, his taking of the augurium salutis, his restoration of the Lupercalia, his personal connection with Numa, and, what was of especially high profile, his celebration of the Secular Games.

Augustus’ program was, after all, aggressive. Eighty-three temples were restored, twelve new ones were built, and honorary statues were transferred en bloc to the Campus Martius (295). The use of Luni marble gave these new and restored buildings a certain magnificentia. Galinsky discusses in detail the Jupiter Tonans Temple (no longer extant) on the slope of the Capitoline. This temple provided a divine parallel for Augustus’ world dominance (cf. Horace C. 3.5). Likewise, the Temple of Concordia was refashioned as that of Concordia Augusta. In it were housed several paintings that depicted Apollo, thus strengthening Augustus’ association with that cult. A further feature of Augustus’ revitalization (manipulation?) of religious sentiment is his encouragement of the building of shrines to various virtues and abstractions, such as Iustitia, Augusta, Ops Augusta, and Victoria Augusta (299). Augustus also coopted many of the significant anniversary dates to correspond to dates important to his family and regime (300). All of this, to my mind, is markedly propagandistic.

Galinsky accepts Augustus’ proclamation that all of Italy rejoiced at his assumption of the office of Pontifex Maximus (RG 10.2). As Pontifex Maximus, Augustus reorganized the cult of the Lares Compitales, itself the center of collegia. While these associations had formerly fomented social disturbance, through Augustus’ agency they became “outlets for social stability” (300). Reorganizing these in a virtually Cleisthenic fashion, Augustus harmonized several social classes at once.

By focusing on the Lares, he was able to combine the genius of the pater familias with his own genius. Even as the father was the head of the family, so Augustus was the father and head of the state. The donning of the official title pater patriae followed as a matter of course (304). G. assembles ample evidence that libations were poured out to the emperor’s genius. His discussion features an especially intelligent consideration of the altar reliefs and the epigraphical testimony of the Compitum Acili (304). The leaders in the imperial cult of Augustales consisted largely of wealthy freedmen, and included women, as the evidence of several altars suggest (308). Outside of Rome, the Augustales, who formed the basis of a new middle class (cf. also Zanker 152f.), worshipped Augustus outright as a god.

Galinsky posits an incremental process for Augustus’ growth to godhead. First, and most obvious, was the deification of Julius Caesar, whereby Octavian himself became divi filius. Second, Galinsky notes, Octavian adopted a number of soteriological attributes. Perhaps as important is his acquisition of permanent tribunal sacrosanctitas in 36, which, if it does not necessarily elevate its bearer to semi-devine status de facto, at least puts him in a position essentially beyond the law, and in that sense makes him godlike. Further, assimilation to divinities and heroes such as Hercules, Mercury, and especially Apollo accomplished a similar goal (314). For this practice Augustus had an obvious model in the Hellenistic monarchs. The changing of his name to Augustus may not have had a clear precedent, but it had lasting effect. The net result was the casting of Augustus as deus praesens, a theme also reflected in contemporary poetry (e.g. Horace, C.3.5).

Despite such a seemingly deliberate accretion of divine attributes, Galinsky accepts the evidence that Augustus himself resisted being worshipped as a god in Rome. And G. may be right. After all, it is true that Augustus did not allow Agrippa’s Pantheon to be named after himself, nor would he allow his statue to be placed among the other gods (Dio 53. 27.3). Augustus preferred to celebrate the memory of his adopted father. Thus, the arrangement of the statuary in the Pantheon prefigured that of the Forum Augustum, with Augustus’ statue outside, and Caesar’s within (319). (This is only true if Galinsky is referring to Augustus as portrayed in the quadriga in front of the Mars temple, or if Menichetti’s assumption, cited above, that the colossus at the end of the northwest colonnade originally portrayed Alexander the Great, is incorrect.)

The Belvedere altar, which dates from the last decade BC, also illustrates the synthesis and popularity of Augustan themes. It includes a Victory figure and Augustus himself presenting statuettes of the Lares to Vestal Virgins. The figure of Aeneas on the altar clearly corresponds to the Aeneas of the Ara Pacis. The representation of Caelus recalls the cuirass of the Prima Porta Augustus, while the quadriga depicted below it, Galinsky suggests, represents the apotheosis of Julius Caesar (321). These themes are summarized by Ovid in the Fasti (3.415-28), when he records the day that Augustus became Pontifex Maximus.

All of this increased the divine aura about Augustus in Rome. But in the Greek east it was the emperor himself, rather than merely his aura, that was divine. This was in part because he was, like a god, a bestower of benefits upon mankind. But the emperor was also himself especially blessed, and thus sacrifices could be made to the gods for him. Throughout the east, Octavian resisted the idea that he should himself be referred to as theos; rather, he allowed shrines to be set up to himself only by non-citizens and only when his person was specifically linked to the goddess Roma. The fact that just two of the seven provinces in the Greek east had cults of Augustus, Galinsky believes, is attributable largely to the emperor’s own reluctance to be worshipped (324). I find this thesis interesting because we also see this kind of “reverse psychology” in Augustus’ dealings with the Roman Senate. Such reluctance is the only steady feature of the otherwise evolving expansion and diversification of the worship of Augustus in the east. In the western provinces, the eastern practices were imported, as for example at Lugdunum, where a cult of Roma and Augustus was flourishing by 12 BC.

In Chapter 7, Galinsky suggests, as he had at the outset, that Augustus did not suddenly usher in an empire, but rather took advantage of ideas and tastes that were already prevalent in and about Rome. He notes that Rome betrayed Greek influence at every angle. Long before Augustus, Greek architects like Hermodoris of Salamis, who designed the Temple of Jupiter Stator for Caecilus Metellus in the 140s, were at work in the city. That temple in particular had been, with the portico that surrounded it, a kind of mini-museum of Greek art that continued to flow into the city as Roman generals brought home various objets d’art among the spoils of war. This activity fostered the growing taste for things Greek.

Galinsky goes on to delineate several characteristics of the stylistic transition to Augustan sculpture. Of these, two are especially worth noting. He states that Augustan sculpture does not simply draw on a single Greek tradition, but on all of them. Further, he suggests that any given work might therefore encompass a range of associations or allusions. This articulation is very important not only for art historians but for anyone who wishes to grasp the richness of associations present in the art, as much as the literature, of the Augustan period. Galinsky goes well beyond Zanker, who wants to restrict the artist’s autonomy (Zanker, 107f.). G. stresses their artistic liberty within the tradition, aptly likening them to the Augustan poets: “what aided the Augustan poets and the artists was the very time in which they lived. Greek art, architecture, and literature provided a capacious repertory whose components now could be used synchronically in conjunction with inspiration drawn from the Roman tradition” (346). As an example of this, Galinsky considers the temple of Apollo by Sosius (20s BC). On it the old motif of amazonomachy, which in Greek tradition symbolized the victory of the Greeks over the Persians, now suggests Augustus’ victory over the Egyptian queen (348). As one finds in Augustan poetry, the ‘sign’ is resurrected, redeployed, and reinvested with new associations.

All of this leads rather nicely into a discussion of Augustan poetry. Galinsky compares the effect of Horace’s famous sphragis (C.3.30) to that of Augustus’ mausoleum. Each was aere perennius. Augustus successfully imported the eastern idea of a mausoleum to serve as a counter-example to Anthony’s desire to be buried with Cleopatra in Egypt. Likewise, Horace adapts and Romanizes the genre of Greek lyric successfully and Virgil similarly draws on features of Greek tragedy in his revivification of Homeric epic in the Aeneid. Regarding poetry, Galinsky does not tell us many things new, but he nicely brings together into a few pages current opinio communis.

His comparison of art and literature is especially valuable. He notes that, like Augustan art, the literature of the period demands the “active participation” of the reader: “layers of allusion or intertextuality … engage the reader in a creative dialogue…. This is an essential dynamic of Augustan culture” (359). The classicism that such allusion generates should be viewed as much in terms of style as endeavor, and this classicism, which was far more than merely a revival and imitation of Greek taste, had no antecedent in Roman literature or art. Its floruit was the Augustan period.

Galinsky closes the chapter with a discussion that brings together many of the various strands that he has mentioned or alluded to up to this point. He notes that one cannot doubt but that Octavian rose to power because he wanted to rule. He wanted to rule not on illegitimate grounds, but rather with a broad base of participation. Galinsky views Augustus’ reign as an evolving process, not the product of a clear master plan. The only moment where one can detect a very long-term strategy is the first “settlement” of 27. Later in the 20s, Augustus merely responded to a changing situation, abdicating the consulship after his illness in 23. Rioting and general unrest led the senate to bestow on him imperium consulare for life. After this, Augustus chose to emphasize “the transforming aspect of his leadership” (365) especially evident in his production of the Secular Games of 17 and his receiving of the title of pater patriae fifteen years later.

Galinsky catalogues some of the reasons for Augustus’ assumption of duties, such as the cura viarum or cura annonae. The haphazard way that Augustus took on these posts suggests a leadership style that addressed domestic problems primarily in an ad hoc manner. Nevertheless, in foreign affairs, Augustus did have a cohesive policy. By virtue of his monarchy, Augustus prevented petty rivalry from developing between generals. Now Augustus’ legions, under the command of Drusus and Tiberius, could blanket the Alpine regions in 15 BC and subject them using a series of pincer-like attacks (368). Augustus was not, however, seeking conquest of the entire world, for he likely recognized that imperialistic pretensions had, in some measure, contributed to the fall of the republic. Instead, Augustus was content to hold the eastern frontiers by the creation of several client kingdoms.

Yet for all his beneficence, Augustus had a dark side that Galinsky finally draws attention to at the close of this penultimate chapter. First, there is the sharp contrast between the gentler manner in which Augustus reigned and the aggressive way Octavian had risen to the principate. Octavian’s grasp for power, Galinsky admits, “had been accompanied by a bloodbath and a ruthlessness that appalled even contemporaries calloused by previous civil wars” (370). Furthermore, there was the obvious problem of the coexistence of monarchy and republic. But contradiction, Galinsky suggests, was a feature of the Augustan world in general: witness the Aeneid, where the hero who is “a model of humanness and self-control” winds up “killing, in a blaze of fury, an opponent who is on his knees and is begging for mercy” (370). Though Galinsky views Suetonius’ assessment of Augustus’ ruthless side as “the lesson learned from Caesar’s clemency” (371), he nevertheless does admit that it is something difficult to accept. Accordingly, G. is right to point out that it took a full generation for Rome to forget and to proclaim Augustus pater patriae (371).

Turning to the question of personal morality, Galinsky concedes that “there is little doubt that Octavian sowed some wild oats” (372). Galinsky examines the famous epigram of Martial that quotes the emperor’s erotic verse. But, as Octavian matured and grew into the role of emperor, his behavior must have been perceived as not conflicting with his position but as being in accord with his conservative moral legislation.

While Augustus’ precise motives will perhaps always be debated, his actions and their ramifications can be considered more objectively. It is a grim fact that Augustus exiled Ovid, and that he ordered the execution of many. He also exiled his daughter, Julia, and his own grandson, Agrippa Postumus. I will not mention Gallus’ demise or, if Gordon Williams is correct, Maecenas’ fall from grace. In light of the contrast between Augustus’ public benevolence and his harsher actions, it is fitting that Galinsky concludes this chapter by remarking that “the Aeneid is a true reflection of the Augustan age because it is so far from one dimensional” (375).

In an epilogue Galinsky recapitulates his main themes. Augustus ruled by auctoritas, which made him auctor perpetuus rather than the dictator perpetuus that his adopted father had attempted to be. Augustus was the true benefactor of the city and his name reflected his auctoritas: Imperator Caesar Augustus, where the nomen, Caesar, provided a historical basis for his auctoritas, which was itself etymologically related with his cognomen, Augustus, a name which, of course, had its own para-divine implications (378).

The lavish building program begun by Caesar and augmented and completed by Augustus also reflected his auctoritas. While he encouraged a broad basis of support for building construction, he often ultimately would pay for it himself. The aristocracy’s failure to participate in the building program was in part due to the fact that the monetary base of the senatorial class was quickly eroding, which perhaps also accounts for the general failure of senators to engage in the affairs of state. Their withdrawal precipitated Augustus’ consolidation of power and led, ultimately, to the identification of his person with the state proper (381).

Nevertheless, Augustus did exhort senators to help to rebuild the city, and at least afforded them opportunity to exercise their own auctoritas in the revitalization process. Galinsky cites the examples of Plancus’ rebuilding of the Saturn Temple and Sosius’ of the Temple of Apollo. Furthermore, while Augustus did relocate many of the statues that cluttered the city, he did not restrict their being erected (384). Self-glorification on the part of private individuals was therefore tolerated under Augustus. Moreover, Augustus wholly refrained from triumphal processions after his famous triple triumph of 29. The emperor preferred to herald his auctoritas by a great number of portrait busts and honorific inscriptions erected to him. Every milestone in Italy, to take a signal example, would have had his name on it.

In sum, Augustus succeeded by using auctoritas where others, including Julius Caesar, had failed by grasping after potestas. “An auctor,” Galinsky writes,” can work in various ways. One of them is to set in motion initiatives and ideas that will stand at the center of the discussion and will evoke responses, from strong agreement to thoughtful dissent” (387). With regard to Augustus’ principate, this reviewer stands, in the final analysis, somewhere between these two extremes, admittedly a bit closer to dissent. With regard to Galinsky’s Herculean effort of synthesizing and interpreting the rich and multifarious fabric of Augustan culture, I stand closer, if not to unqualified agreement, nevertheless to a warm recommendation to consider thoughtfully this important and well-written book.