Info

plu-LeJ i n1 either silU- mf Ihl: irnd^i: when prayers were *>t't'cred to the depicted saint. Oi l.' such scene is illustrated in [he fifth-century fresco from j iamb in the Cliii.L.nmh of n Gennaro in ^.iples (fig.

AllCJl tier freS-Uil L] L I !I ]_H LillcJLC HTlh lihoiVK lh(.L bllS-t {if A fTlfl.n in pThlVTr flunked by iwn til .. andlcs ¡md blinding under a garland (cither side of his head is the Legend: " li^ie Proilulus.1" This p^rlu .il.ir irr. demon it rates the way $ funerari portrait cou d lake tin the aspect ot a holy !cir votive! ir'.ii^-, since in this case it already existed on ., kiml of a ll;lr, ¿Lljjnieoied hy the I pain led} ai/ces-Hone* needed to «ipn¡iL the sacred nature of the representation.*

Portraits and Presence—The Im^gc of the Emperor

v. ■:iy; ■ \ ■: is-¡.a^ . '■ : . ^ .■ ■ ■

As wl1 hjvL1 seen, the strong connection between physical appearance and presenei- had t>een a central aspect if the Konian imperial cult toog before Christians -i.m'l^I r.i.iki"i:! port rails of their saints. The general patterns of the emperor cult in Rome were similar In earlier models : 111111 '1 tie He 11 enist ll e i \ i p i: c and ho we i pare it: 11 a rly a 11 al il i sht^i i n the eastern regions of the Empire.1 In Asia Minor, in pa; :iculai -in and .■. rch il ecture ■ 11 I his cult were extensive, c< 11 n licencing earl-, in t he reign 111 Augustus a]ilI i:il Iui.1iiiy temples allar.s, ¿old starli.li v. Processions, games, and public sacrifices (often for the emperor, rathei than to him) were anion^ ilu' rituals associated with ihe cult Impending u|".in the dare, region, and julej (the West -.vis latet than :iil- East to take up the cu ll), l he emperor was pc tcl- i mo re or less as equal i the = d i, espei ¡¿illy while still living. \ \ i.n i.ir., for instance, initially kept up "hr tradi lional Koman insistence on U till revered not .i-.ii god himseli b.it as the son of a g< - J ifilitts], that is, of the Divine fulius, v,hose apotlieoiis was federally . k k: i ■ v^ I l I get I after I: i -■ 11 l-.i ill. Th i s si nnce chan Red once i Ki.iM.in officially became Augustus (ot iiehastosin ihe kiv),

a cult tu lliit jjU.lI: ilg Spiril (jifihjn"r«), and allowed the pntvinlial assem-hUes in Asia Minor offei him worship in ^ith the goddess liomj. Even so, depending on the place and time, lIil- emperor mi^hl I: ii ill llis liiU or eveil iL-fuif to he necdved a.H a g[]d \-, :iilc; he wan (itili alive, especially in Italy and the western provinces

H itorians have disagreed In. ¡mi the extent o\ actual devotion the imperial cull. I 1: ■ i -11 i'si-ll has tended ii^ he as crassly political and opportunistic—lens a "irue religion4' iIi.lii ,l way cii holrling power, manipulating loyalty and patriotism, and ad^ianeLng ■.i^'iL1 pride. Clearly, the ruler Cult, tlowevei iIl'I .iial. .in important ¡o^l ft>r tDonsolLdalLn^ authority and enforcing Roman rule, even in area.s that i-, l vast and dif ticull l^■ govern. But drawing clear boundaries between culture and politico or hetween politico and religion.H aflllialiorl in tricky, at nn l:-.>t^triua1 distance Thi: portrayal of Augustuses fupiteror the repreientaiion oflui descendent Claudius in that same guise (fig. 17) should probably not he taken as an assertion thai Augustus or Claudius was transformed into a Supreme Deity, but rather that the position and authority' of the emperor was parallel to that pf the chief of the gods< However later historians perceive political function, the honor or worship given to the Roman emperor, his ancestors, his wife, and his children was a significant aspect of everyday life in the first four centuries of the Common Era.*:

As a key material aspect of this cult, the emperor's portrait played a special role in addition to establishing his personal character and general appearance. It could represent the absent ruler and receive the honor and respect due him. The system worked entirely through the connection of image and presence, the actual likeness of the imperial visage being enough to establish a kind of proxy presence. That presence was not, of course, actually of the iiving emperor himself, because he was bodily elsewhere. What was present was the emperors genius or numen, his sacred and guiding spirit that was attached to an)' image of him, This genius could be simultaneously in several places at once and could be the focus of a cult without a too overt or unseemly show of imperial hubris. Naturally, this spirit became more powerful and omnipresent as the emperor himself was elevated to the rank of divinity while yet living, as in the case of Nero, Caligula, or Domitian, But such a claim, if overstated (at least in Rome), could lead to the downfall of the claimant. The distinction between dtyus (as in Divus Julius) and deus (generally reserved to the gods them selves) was important and politically sensitive, and titles or honors bestowed in Asia Minor or Egypt were often not acceptable in more traditionally minded Rome itself*

Whatever the divine status granted to the emperor as mediator or vicar between the Romans and their gods, his image mediated presence and allowed access to power—mostly for the purpose of receiving honor* homage, or adoration, but also to establish his authority over political and legal mattery The imperial image was a vital presence that commanded fear and obedience, receiving and dispensing all th;it was due the emperor himself. It witnessed official acts, presided over judicial hearings, enforced taws, guaranteed oaths, dispensed clemency, and accepted gifts and sacrifices* An illustration of just such a tribunal can be found as late as the sixth century in an illumination from the Rossarto Gospels depicting the trial of Jesus he fore Pilate. Given the image's role as proxy for the emperor, disrespect shown to it was equivalent to treason and was met with the harshest possible consequences.'1"1

One well-known description of how the emperor's image functioned (and how it might have been both similar to and different from those of the gods} is included in the correspondence between Pliny the Younger, then Governor of Bithynia, and Emperor Trajan. Pliny had received anonymous accusations concerning certain "Christians," whom he sub-

I jVi ACE AND PORTRAIT IN ROMAN CVLTVRE ANl> RELIC EON

l|ljcTi11>- -.nre^ed- He releed thçrtl, hi wmtd ir. lii\ líder to Lhe emperor, so lonjas they denied 1 ju- charge recited ,l prayer to the gods dictât cd h>- himself, and müde an nffering Mr wine »nd intense t« the íI.ill.l- of iIil- emperor, which Plins had brought into Mil- court for this purpose 'together with images oí the gods." Those arrested liI-.ii had (o curse ( iri&t, something the governor hnid discovered that rhose ■■■■ho real];, were Christians ro.iU not be made to do,J Kiny may hav* deliberately distinguished between statues (sim&kre) of the gods and an iniajje i i'ííirtjfj)) of ! jil- L.ni|wrí>r, although lie il ne h indicate thac btílh I vfjes m images were worshiped ( míe rati) on this occasion.

This power by the prosy oí image remained entrerched well intu the L'l-.i of Christian emperors, when Che claims of divine sut us were understandably) moderated As üeverian of Calaba wrote around the year <JUU:

Si noi: jn in i pe-i >r cj n n< i be p Merit lo alJ person.*, i is necessary to sel u p the ülalw lit ih<- emptor tti Law líuiiU. market place*. public ai« mblics, and ihtdt'.Ti. In every i1 ace, n fad, in. which an ■ ~I"li-.~I acts» the imperial =.■"!■ ■must be pment» eo thai (he emperor mjy ihuu i-onfirm v.-hat Lakts plate. I^i ihç iuipfïfhr is. fjnly a human beingr a nd he lj nm>t he prt&fijii everywhere."1

I 'lis statement shows that even when ihr emperor's divinity was no lungei asserted, the image was still underslnod to continu nie ate his praclii nl .1 ml pol cm presence. Indeed, the very need for ihç ima^ is now explained l>y of i III1 c n i ; ierOr\ hurftütlit} . not Iii-, divinity.

Images of the emperoi were of several kinds, from the monumental to the miniature Permanent statues were set up n the central forum and amphitheater of cities across lhe empire. A portable painting on a wooden panel ora portrait attached to imperial insignia ora mililary sh ield ( c/.' j'i- its ) co u Id 1 ra nsfo rm a ny o rd i n .i ry spa ce i n to one o ve rsecn by the emperor's presiding spirit. A military loss of the imperial standards was a terrible disgrace and was even perceived .15.1 kind of religious -r i lege, Must widespread .liuI accessible ní all, ill Course, were images stamped onto coins (seeftgs.40—111pp.&7-&&). Fhc représenla tive presence i)J tht.L einpennr was thus widely and easily available L-:■- -.ill subjects in the empire. It may, :n fact, have been hard avoid. ' Lawbreakers mighl :-:i gain .11 U'.isl temporary asylum by grasping an imperial :mage.-1" 1 he popularity nt Imperial portrait likenesses was o'il- of the subjects of a letter sent some time between the years M5and ] 47 t .i . lu lhe yrnunf; liL'ir Id (he imperial throne» :hl { I.il^.ji MinCUS AureliuS, from his i utot Marcus Cornelius Fronto:

Vri a know how, Lti alJ the moner-chatipcrs' I-m i ^-.i li - bocMhs. bocKkstaJk, caves.

porches. windows, any w lieic everywhere (htTf Inf likeniiSes of sou eipusedto view, badly-enough painted mos1 of them to betune. and modeled fiTcarved in a p I.li n. ruit tosa.) sorr . il . h- at art, ■■ -.i .n rln ■ ---.i ■ tinie '.Our LLkt ncss, however much uf a caikatu nc, negier hen ] go out meets im cyrs without mating nr.1 part :ny lips for a smile and dream of yru.1"

tt hether well or badty executed, the Image had to possess jl leasts .mi-ventional recognizability. The achievement of an identifiable likeness was manado;! by i he transport ut models, probably originating in Rome ¿ltd l \ l i i * i l' l I l ó workshops am und the empire. While consistency in appearance was necessary in ordei to allow the Image to be recognized, variations often appeared, depending on the prevailing style, regional Iäste, or lit-sire ici emphasise .1 particular aspect of character such as piety, power, or intelligence. Images might also disappear intentionally, Images of emperors who were assassinated or disgraced» well as inicriptio-ns that referred to them, were destroyed or obliterated {damnatio mctfwriai1)."

Christian attitudes toward imperial images varied, to sntne degree according tu I he ways different writers or church officials actually viewed [hese objects. A great deal isi misunderstanding mitimljii<L> Muróle these images played, especially In ilu- persec mum of Christians, The apologetic literature of the early period provides some interesting variations un hciiv the imperial images were understood Iii function and the dangers they posed to Christians who wished to esi.st idolatry, Justin Martyr referred to imperial images indirectly by citing the (iospel story mi which Jesus used (he figure of (Caesar fin a coin to explain what was due to the empemr and what to (rfhd (Mark 12¡IÍ-L7}. fust sed this episode 1» reassure the loyal Romans in his audience that Christians we re 1.1 k p aye rs, si rice lh ey had been taught by their Lord to " re 11 d1 rib ute to Caesar." But he then pointed to Jesus1 ru-xi line—"rinder worship to t iod alone" in order to defend Christian willingness m pray for but not io the emperor:" I'hus to God alone we render worship, but in other things we gladly serve you, acknowledging you as kings and rulers, and praying that with your kingly power you be found to possess also sound judgment

Tcrtullian was more direct about the distinction between praying foj the safety, health, welfare, and wisdom oí rulers and swearing by the tutelara spirit of the Caesars (presumably including those attached La their portraits). Christian*, after all were enjoined to pray for earthly rulers (I l"im 2:2} but not for or to demons, which they were more likely to exorcise than swear by, nor he says, are Christians able to confer divine honor on spirit of the emperor,- lertullian thereby tried to portray Christians as patriotii in their own way and, in fact, even protective of the emperor bv refusing to grant him divine status or Iiis i m ages 1 he kind of ho n<>r only cue Q id. A fter all, he say st if t h e em pe roi were not a human being, he could not be emperor." In a similar way, Mimtcius Felix argued that kings and emperors are not served by being

IAÍACE ANU rORTRACT IN ROMAN (VLTVRE AND RELIC ION

flattered and fawned upon as gods m by ba* i=ilj uathii swum hidure lKcie efligki, bul they jrc honored in being offered tribute .ll actual men ■ ■I uuLHlauding quality." Mull-, these writers presentL-d Christians jh respect ful ul and even ameerned ftir I hi" weifane ■ I rh¿- rulers, perhaps

e like old-fashioned Romans than dangerous subversives in llurir attitudes toward the deification of human rulers. "Io the extent that patriotism demanded, they could represent themselves as quite respecl-fii ul th<- office i-i auctorihuot the emperoj I his was the ^ame position taken by Jews, as described by Josephus. ^ h-:-- were quite willing to pay hom^gd' to the emperor including offering daily victimless sacrifices—a " h | i ;i] h.[>ni V aci?orde*I > n n ot her person.H

Hut while second century C li i i.sli.ui wrilers kq>t a discreet silence abi---.ii lhe problem of 1 lie ^ili and tuhit images oi ihe emperor, the lirst-i_--l'nCliry fL-ivish community did not, once ihey (ell that the Romans bad LL-.i-rJ to rcspeel (heir understanding ahoul rot requiring them to erect statues of the emperors or of the pagan gods in their nation. Reports of clashes over suJ1 images prm ide .in important source of infoj mat ion ut i In.- role ul impela! porir.iiK n lh<- religion and politics 'it iK-Hmpirr. Josephus rrcoum- a demonstration of outrage ih.-i took place union g ttTUin pious Jew?; when Pilate brought military standards ^^ effigies of tinperot I ibet nis into lerusaletn. Seeing thai i Iil-\ were willing tn die jh marlyrs in j nonviulerl prtitcíí lo uphold |cwish law, l'il.il. r 1L-11 r and removed the si andard^,'1' Josephus r<.\-.y.un - ,m"ther inci-l I: - n.1, in which ( j I [gula seni a deputy by ills.- name ol i'ctronius to I miotic m I" :■:-—l.ill Cal ipulíi s ■■ 1. 111 ir in [be tempi e. demand. 11 v. I hiiT be be hailed as a god. Resisters were to be put to death. I ,LlV;[ -.Mth a lull-scale war, Retro mus bat ked down and was saved from his own execution only

0 0

Post a comment