The Ludi Saeculares of Septimius Severus : The Ideologies of a New Roman Empire book cover
1st Edition

The Ludi Saeculares of Septimius Severus
The Ideologies of a New Roman Empire

ISBN 9780367595319
Published August 14, 2020 by Routledge
220 Pages

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Book Description

This is the first monograph to examine in detail the Ludi Saeculares (Secular Games) of Septimius Severus and argues that the games represented a radical shift from Antonine imperial ideology. To garner popular support and to legitimise his power, Severus conducted an intensive propaganda campaign, but how did he use the ludi to strengthen his power, and what were the messages he conveyed through them? The central theme is ritual, and the idea of ritual as a process that builds collective identity. The games symbolised the new Severan political and social vision and they embodied the idea of Roman identity and the image of Roman society which the emperor wished to promote. The programme of the games was recorded in a stone inscription and this text is analysed in detail, translated into English and contextualised in the socio-political aims of Septimius Severus.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

The Task

The Evidence

The Inscription

Severan Literature

Numismatic Evidence

Severus, the Ludi and the Studies

The Ludi Saeculares

The Severan period

2. From the Antonine Era to the Severan Dynasty

3. Organising the Ludi Saeculares

Towards the New Era

Funding the Festivals

Purifying the Holy Grounds

4. The Opening Night and Day

The Rituals of the First Night

A Quest for a Happy Destiny

The Witness of the Vestals

Pacifying the Gods

Rites of the Opening Day: The God and his Servant

The Father(s) of Rome

Divine Severus?

5. Day Two: Women take the Stage

The Second Night: A Prelude?

The Second Day: Celebrating Juno

Mother(s) of the Golden Age

Imperial Concordia

The Vestals stand Still

Honouring the New Age

6. The Third Night and Day: The Empire of the Sun and the Moon

A Night of Abundance

The Goddess of Cultivation

Food and Imperial Paternalism

Guardians of Storage

The Third Day: Final Sacrifices

Apollo, the God of many Roles

Diana, the Goddess of many Roles

Written in the Stars

7. Closing Acts: The Carmen Saeculare and the Trojan Games

A Hymn for the Golden Age

The Severan Poem and its Performers

The New Leaders of the Commonwealth

Cities, Shores, and Golden Fields

Blessings for the Army

The Trojan Games

8. Conclusion

Appendix 1: The Inscription commemorating Septimius Severus’ Ludi Saeculares

Appendix 2: Records of the Severan Ludi Saeculares

Appendix 3: The Rituals of the Ludi Saeculares of CE 204

Appendix 4: The History of the Ludi Saeculares

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Jussi Rantala is a researcher at the University of Tampere, Finland. His main research interests include questions of religion, ritual, representation, identity and historiography in the Roman Empire.