K. GALINSKY: Augustan Culture. an Interpretive Introduction. + , 6 pls, ills . Princeton: Princeton University Press, Cased, $/? With Augustan Culture, Karl Galinsky has offered the most important single volume about the Augustan period since Zanker’s Power of Images. Galinsky’s. Augustan Culture has 33 ratings and 3 reviews. James said: I first used this book for an undergraduate essay on whether Augustus’ famous rem publicam ex.

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Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Galinsky’s treatment is culturally more complete than Zanker’s, including discussion of literature, art, politics, values, religion, and society. This beautifully produced tome contains six plates and one hundred and seventy four black and white on-page prints. The book begins with an “evolutionary” description of Augustus’ rise to power, which is set in antithesis to Syme’s notion of Roman revolution.

Galinsky explains Syme’s formulation as a product of the influence of his own times in the period before the second World War, an influence, Galinsky notes, of which Syme himself was not unaware. In augkstan first chapter Galinsky sets forth the book’s basic thesis, namely that Augustus ruled by auctoritas rather than potestas.

Having explained its root meaning, he cleverly details how in his Res Gestae Augustus claims auctoritas as his only right to lead. Galinsky’s discussion of this document is very thorough with the minor exception of his cursory treatment of the deification of Julius Caesaran event much more profound than his treatment at this juncture would suggest.

Galinsky concisely addresses the difference between the potestas of Julius Caesar and the “more nuanced” auctoritas of Augustus, a distinction that he will return to at the close of the book.

Particularly interesting is Galinsky’s discussion of Augustus as a second Numa Numa was one of Augustus’ primary models of inspiration because Numa was associated with Apollo and because he was the quintessential paradigm of reverence for religion.

But inasmuch as that king had already been claimed by the gens Calpurnia, any connection with him necessarily had to be subtle. One way Augustus forged the connection was through an issue of coinage in 23 that presented his own head on the obverse, and Numa’s on the reverse. Octavian’s second Romulus was being transformed throughout the 20s into Augustus’ Numa.

Galinsky might have called attention here, or in his discussion of literature in ch. He could have also mentioned the ancilia that were said to have dropped from cultture during the reign of Numa and cculture Aen.

Whether or not these same ancilia of Numa were depicted on the clipeus virtutis, presented to Augustus in 27 v. Hardie,they certainly provided a fitting mythological prototype for talinsky shield and for the Virgilian shield of Aeneas cf. West, PVS 15 [] Galinsky’s assertion that Augustus did not engage in a propaganda campaigneven if it is now in vogue to say as much cf.

Foulkes, Literature and Propagandaseems to me less compelling than his insightful remarks about Numa. The suggestion that the content of the coinage under Augustus betrays a marked independence from the emperor on auguustan part of its various producers simply presses too hard the anti-propaganda argument; indeed, we have already seen in the case of Numa how a augusfan connection with that king promoted Augustus’ new image.

Following the recent work of Crawford in the Grierson Festschrift, ed. Brooke, [Cambridge, ]Galinsky regards the relationship of imperial coins to the formation of public opinion to be “slight, if it exists zugustan all” As I see it, however, money is something that does a highly effective job of providing a constant reminder of who the important people are cf.

Zanker, Power of Images It is difficult for me to regard the frequent repetition of the titular DIVI F as anything less than propaganda. One need not infer, as G. I recommend Zanker’s discussion Zanker, of how the beautifully minted coinage of Octavian offers “a case of aesthetics in the service of political ends” Zanker, In Chapter 2 Galinsky suggests that Augustus freed the tottering res publica from disaster and he assembles several examples of the theme of Augustus as liberator in Roman coinage.

Galinsky defends Augustus’ assertion in the Res Gestae that he had brought libertas to the res publica. Cicero had predicted, at the end of his own and the beginning of the princeps’ career, that Octavian was capable of doing this Phil. Now Augustus, near the end of his own career could claim in the RG that Cicero’s prediction had been fulfilled 45f.


This chapter hangs in part on Galinsky’s definition of libertaswhich he wants to be invested with a great range of meaning. He also considers other terms that will be important in the book, including res publica and mores, which is intermingled with his consideration of res publica.

These last two ideas are linked because “if the res publica was to be restored meaningfully, a revival of morals was the precondition” Innovation and blending of old and new are the hallmarks of Augustus’ reign.

For the most part it could be shaped and was shaped as much by individuals besides Augustus as it was by him” Augustus used his auctoritas to transform Roman society, in the process revitalizing its morality. His motive stemmed from his own moral convictions and commitment to values 73something that was a general feature of the Roman traditionalism that “left little alternative except for the seemingly paradoxical one of revitalizing that very traditionalism” Nevertheless, it is hard for me to forget Tacitus’ general appraisal of Augustus’ treatment of the Roman populace: That aside, however, Galinsky certainly does a good job of interpreting Augustus’ reforms in the best light possible.

Galinsky’s appraisal of Cicero’s character 73however, seems to me less than fair. Cicero’s “opportunism” sprung from a deep sense of the connection that he himself felt he had with the state and he was opportunistic insofar as his personal vision was connected with the interests of the state, as perhaps Augustus’ famous appraisal suggests Plutarch, Cic. Is not Cicero’s opportunism perhaps comparable to Augustus’ own? I would like to have seen G. Two examples come immediately to mind. First, the themes of cosmos and imperium, so much a part of the world of Augustus, have antecedents in Cicero’s famous description of the Catilinarian conspirators, who plan the destruction huius urbis atque adeo de orbis terrarum In Cat.

Hardie, Cosmos and Imperium, f. Second, Lutatius Catulus had proposed the title of pater patriae for the one who saved the state from the Catilinarians Sest. In the third chapter Galinsky sets out to discuss a number of “circumstantial” pieces of evidence for the ingenuity and vitality of the Augustan settlement.

His argument begins with a most intelligent discussion of the clipeus virtutis and analysis of each of the four virtues named on it. He also discusses Augustan literature, with a good, if brief, assessment of Eclogue 4; he broaches the topic of the Golden Age as presented in the Georgics, proffering labor as the essential stimulus for civilization in G. Galinsky also considers Virgil’s labor improbus from G. Though Galinsky rightly stresses the importance of labor both to the Georgics and to Augustus’ moral vision, it is difficult for me to accept the assertion that the primary meaning of Virgil’s famous phrase labor improbus is simply “immense work” for which, cf.

Richard Thomas’ “insatiable toil occupied all areas of existence” v. Thomas’ commentary ad loc. In regard to literary references about the ludi saeculares and about Augustus’ moral reforms, Galinsky’s presentation is qualified and balanced: Galinsky also considers the Aeneid in this chapter. Particularly good here is his discussion of Aeneas’ struggle with his past f. In his consideration of Augustus’ moral agenda, G. Augustus’ actions included legislation ultimately designed to strengthen the family as the basic societal unit.

Citing a number of ancient sources that establish a connection between moral reinvigoration and imperialistic ambition, Galinsky justifies Augustus in his donning of the mantle of world dominator Galinsky closes this important if somewhat diffuse chapter with an explanation of moral decline in the empire that contradicts Tacitus’ assertion that loss of libertas under the emperors produced a decline in rhetoric and in Roman society’s values.

Augustan Culture: An Interpretive Introduction

Instead, Galinsky believes that the moral decline that is readily apparent by the reign of Nero is caused by the peace and general gallnsky that imperial rule largely ensured I am not convinced that there was a great deal of happiness after Augustus’ reign, and not even during it was everyone content e. In Chapter 4, Galinsky sets out to suggest a parallel galonsky between poetry considered in chapter 5 and art and architecture.


He begins with the Ara Pacis, discussing it both in terms of its own iconography and with regard to its particular placement in the Campus Martius. The extensive acanthus decoration symbolizes the abundance of nature, while the images of snakes and birds’ nests suggest that “peace and growth are never unthreatened” His explanation of this debated panel more or less follows Zanker’s Power of Images, f.

Taking a page out of reader response criticism, he suggests that this depends on the involvement of the viewer. But Galinsky is nevertheless discerning on this point, denying that the figure is “simply a blank check that can be filled in as one wishes.

These human touches give this monument its power, distinguishing its humanity from the “relentless monotony aughstan imperialism” exemplified in the monuments of other despots. In his analysis of the Augustus of Prima Porta, Galinsky brings together several strands of recent scholarship on the statue.

To take one example, G. Galinsky likens the Tellus figure bearing a cornucopia at the base of the cuirass to the Tellus panel on the Ara Pacis and adroitly musters literary parallels both here and elsewhere in his discussion of the statue As he moves on to consider galknsky portrait busts of the emperor, G. He does well to point up the inconsistency of the auguustan opinions, dismissing the rigid classifications of Augustan portraiture such as “Actium type,” which he reveals not only to be an anachronistic misnomer, but also one that implies too strong a break between styles.

Schmaltz [ Cultur ]Galinsky wants cultuure suggest a more fluid development in portrait style.

This is augstan important formulation, for, as Galinsky says, sharp and sudden transitions are precisely what Augustus sought to avoid. That Augustus cilture his portrait development directly is also surely correct. Galinsky again, however, seems to get bogged down a bit by the propaganda problem. On the one hand, he wants to preserve “the largely autonomous nature of the entire portraiture process”augustaj at the same time denying it “certainly, the ruler is an active participant in determining his self-representation” This is not confusion on Galinsky’s part but rather honesty for, as has often been noted, the patronage question is a thorny one that requires some guesswork on the part of the modern critic see, e.

Galinsky’s articulation of the polysemous facets of Augustan portraiture — e. Galinsky shows that throughout the thirties and even into the twenties, Octavian wanted to be a leader characterized by auctoritas, as suggested by the Actium and especially Prima Porta type portraits.

In addition, he wished to reveal himself to be civilis princeps, as the Forbes type cuture In his study of wall painting Galinsky suggests that the pax Augusta and social stability that it engendered produced creative and pleasant features in wall painting of the period.

He offers a somewhat detailed discussion of the paintings in the houses of Livia and Galnisky, suggesting that the overall effect is not unlike that of a pinacotheca. Galinsky considers also the frescoes from Augustus’ famous “Syracuse” sc.

His analysis includes many insightful observations as he compares the wall paintings to various Ovidian vignettes, a tack that G. Galinsky recapitulates in this chapter one of his basic themes, namely that cuoture Augustan regime inspires a new humanitas that itself fosters artistic and literary expression f. I cannot unequivocally accept the idea that a renaissance of literature and art is more likely to come about in a basically supportive environment. Great art and literature can respond to oppression, as G.

While I am not sure that there is any wholly satisfactory explanation for the simultaneous flourishing of Zugustan, Horace, Propertius, et al.

I differ from G. Freedom was the price that had to be paid for the pax Augusta, a valuable commodity indeed, but also a high price. Galinsky goes on to treat Augustan architecture in this chapter. The Forum Augustum “was to be a monument where personal intent and the public purpose coalesced” Galinsky spends several pages demonstrating not only the purpose behind the structure, but describing in some detail the way it appeared in its original form.