Augusti filii et filiae

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Main building, auditorium A1, address: Kalevantie 4.

Doctoral defence of M.A. Sanna Joska

Augusti filii et filiae : The Role of Antonine Offspring in Negotiations of Roman Imperial and Local Power

The field of science of the dissertation is History.

The opponent is professor Tim Parkin (University of Melbourne, Australia). Docent Katariina Mustakallio acts as the custos.

The language of the dissertation defence is English.

Imperial Children as Images of Power in the Roman Empire

Power structures in society are often represented in traditional historiography as predominantly male and oversimplified as the relationship between the subject and the ruler. Power is, however, a much more complex societal phenomenon when it is examined from different viewpoints. Power is used, negotiated and represented not only by the ruler, but also by the subjects. In this study, children and dynastic continuity serve as special viewpoints to power and its negotiation.

This dissertation studies the representation of social power and status in the Roman Empire through the imagery of imperial offspring. The question of how power and status were redefined and negotiated in acts of public representation is approached from two levels, imperial and local. The study examines how the Roman emperor defined and legitimated his rule by producing imagery of his offspring and how the imagery created by the subjects of the emperor contributes to the defining of power on both imperial and local levels. The study focuses on the Antonine dynasty (AD 138-192). The source material consists of numismatic evidence, public monuments and ancient literature. The study demonstrates that the use of imperial children’s images was an effective tool in the negotiation of social power and status for both the emperor and his subjects.

This dissertation on the role of offspring in the negotiation of social power contributes to discussions on the role and importance of children, childhood and offspring in society. The use of children in negotiations of power brings family relationships, different ages and genders to the discourse. These are not traditionally seen as images or tools of power. This study also is the first to present a synthesis of the use of imperial children as representations of power and status on not only imperial, but also on the level of local patterns. The study offers viewpoints to the structures of power between and within the ruler and their subjects and makes visible the diversity among the images of power.


The dissertation is self-published, Tampere 2017. 

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