AbstractsPolitical Science

Re-writing Numa: the political usage of Numa Pompilius in the Age of Augustus

by Aimee Turner

Institution: University of Newcastle
Degree: MPhil
Year: 2014
Keywords: Numa Pompilius; Augustus
Record ID: 1052131
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/1042356


Masters Research - Master of Philosophy (MPhil) A startling similarity appears when comparing Plutarch’s Life of Numa with the historical life of Augustus, a similarity largely overlooked in modern scholarship. In fact, few scholars have focused on the reign of Numa for close study at all. My thesis sets out to determine which elements of the tradition of Numa were developed during or after the Augustan period and to provide plausible motives for the adaptation of the accounts of these authors. In order to identify these developments, I have undertaken a survey of Republican accounts of Numa in order to create a base for comparison. In the process, I have determined that little variation of the tradition occurs in this period, although it remained open to political and personal manipulation. This tradition is then compared to Augustan accounts and areas of change are identified. These changes are then placed into the historical context in which they occur, namely the events of the second Triumviral period and the early Augustan principate. By placing these traditions into this context, parallels can be seen between the adaptations of the accounts and the actions of Octavian/Augustus. A careful examination of surviving Augustan monuments, statuary and coins concludes the study and suggests that the growing connection between Augustus and Numa in this period may, in part, have stemmed from the princeps himself. This reveals that the iconography and character of Numa were an important and integral aspect of Augustan propaganda and that this propaganda influenced the authors of the period. This connection was so strong that it suggests that Plutarch, writing a century later, drew on the life of Augustus as inspiration for his biography of Numa.