Abstract

"[From the conclusion]: This discussion presents a linked series of hypotheses, each one suggested in its turn by evidence relating directly to C. Duilius (cos. 260), and contextualized by near-contemporary precedents wherever possible, or relevant-seeming analogues from slightly later periods. Taken together, these hypotheses support a plausible scenario in which the elogium on Duilius’ rostral column may be read not only as an account of a cunning and audacious commander whose pioneering efforts in naval warfare destroyed the myth of Carthaginian supremacy at sea, but also as an encomium on a generous benefactor to Rome’s citizenry. The inscription’s redactor has successfully delineated and asserted Duilius’ preeminence among his peers, as well as his position as patron to the Roman people, already symbolized by the imagery and position of the column that was set up by order of the senate and people near the Comitium and Rostra. The cumulative evidence also suggests that the inscription’s reference to Duilius’ distribution of ‘naval booty’ to the populace was perhaps meant quite literally, as he seems to have given away, among other things, actual chunks of captured ships [the bronze rostra] converted into coinage [aes signatum with naval imagery]. By turning a mundane medium of exchange into a vehicle of propaganda through which his exploits and generosity could be ‘broadcast’, Duilius was able to reemphasize his new status. He could do this because the coins constituted a special [triumphal/manubial] issue under his authority, and he was therefore not subject to the constraints, real or implied, that kept Rome’s annual moneyers from issuing coins with personally significant types for another 125 years. Finally, he reaped immediate political and personal rewards for these efforts, in the form of a prestigious censorship and a perpetual personal honor. .... Duilius has long been acknowledged as the first Roman to win a sea-battle, the first to be honored with a rostral column, and the first to present a gift derived from naval booty to the Roman people. Indeed, he came to be seen primarily as the man who set Rome on the road to maritime expansion and, ultimately, domination of the Mediterranean world. He was remembered also as the first (if not only) man to have a flute-player and wax-torch bearer accompany him home from feasts, as if he were perpetually triumphing. Now, we may add to Duilius’ list of firsts: he was the first politician to utilize Roman coinage to broadcast a new ideology of Rome’s (hoped for) naval greatness and dominance of the Mediterranean; he was also, it seems, the first Roman politician to use coinage as a medium for self-promotion, a century and a quarter before anyone would do it again."

Disciplines

Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture | Architecture | Classical Archaeology and Art History | Classical Literature and Philology | Classics | Construction Engineering | European History | History | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Other Classics | Political History | Social History | Urban, Community and Regional Planning