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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Triumphal Route in Republican and Imperial Rome: Architecture, Experience, and Memory
by Popkin, Maggie L., Ph.D., New York University, 2012, 544; 3524184
Abstract (Summary)

The Roman triumph, an elaborate ritual celebrating Rome's military victories, traversed the city from the early republican through the imperial periods. The triumph was a quintessentially Roman institution, embodying fundamental aspects of Rome's self-image: military might and world dominance. It connected monuments, urban space, ritual, and Roman identities (both individual and collective); the triumph is essential to understanding what was unique about Roman culture. Scholars, however, have not fully explored these interconnections. While the triumph has been the subject of copious modern scholarship, the role of monuments in shaping experiences and memories of triumphs warrants much closer attention. This dissertation fills the need for a critical study of the triumph's architectural space and examines the complex relation between Romans' memories of the triumph and their interactions with its associated monuments.

This dissertation focuses on three well-documented periods in Rome's history to elucidate different modes of interaction between memory, experience, and architecture in the context of the triumph. The first, the era of the Punic Wars (264-146 B.C., when Rome became a truly pan-Mediterranean empire), emerges as the time when Romans constructed an architectural space to perpetuate memories of triumphal processions. The second, the reign of Trajan (A.D. 98-117, the "apogee" of the Roman Empire), typifies a new emphasis on building monumental spectacle buildings along the triumphal route as a means to intensify the group experience of triumphs. The third, the Severan era (A.D. 193-235, when Rome began to slip from its imperial hegemony), exemplifies a peculiar phenomenon along the triumphal route: the creation through monuments of "false" memories (that is, memories of triumphs that probably never occurred). The monuments examined in these case studies demonstrate the extraordinary power of public architecture to generate sentiments of collective identity and to shape and manipulate how Romans remembered one of their society's major rituals.

Throughout, the dissertation aims to provide a novel interpretive framework for approaching the intersection of monuments, ritual, memory, and identity in ancient Rome. Although focused on the Roman triumph and its route, it is hoped that this framework will inspire research in further areas of Roman architecture and topography.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Welch, Katherine E.
Commitee: Galinsky, Karl, Marconi, Clemente, McCredie, James R., Wescoat, Bonna D.
School: New York University
Department: Institute of Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history, Architecture, Military studies
Keywords: Ancient Rome, Monuments, Ritual, Rome, Topography, Triumph
Publication Number: 3524184
ISBN: 978-1-267-58449-6
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