Ellen MacDougall

 

Ellen MacDougall


‘Representing the ‘Other’ in late Roman Republican coinage’

 

In this paper, I consider how foreign and subject peoples were represented in late Roman Republican coinage.  Scholarship has tended to take a broad brushstroke approach to images of foreign and subject peoples in the late Roman Republic, characterising the late Republican period as one where captive imagery predominated (see for example, Toynbee, 1962 and Méthy, 1992).  However, this paper challenges the assumption that representing foreign and subject peoples as captives was the norm in the late Roman Republic, and offers an alternative narrative.  Thorough analysis of late Republican coinage has found that captives were but one element within a diverse array of images of subject and foreign peoples.  In addition to being shown as captives, non-Roman peoples were also depicted as ethnically differentiated but unshackled individuals and as unshackled women whose coin legends or physical attributes suggest that they personified a particular people or region.  This diversity extended to the relationships that were on display between Rome and the community represented.  Foreign and subject peoples were represented as shackled and submissive figures at the foot of military trophies; as unshackled and active figures such as warriors; and as personifications of places who welcomed Roman representatives into their regions on an equal footing.  This paper will focus closely upon several key examples that demonstrate a more nuanced picture of how Rome used coinage to represent the foreign and subject communities that she came into contact with.

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