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Altay Coşkun University of Waterloo, ON, Canada

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Abstract

After reflecting on the many dimensions that homecoming involves both in the present and in antiquity, the ceremonial enhancement of various returns of Caesar Augustus from military campaigns are briefly rehearsed through the Res Gestae Divi Augusti (4. 1–2) and other sources. These include the triumph following the battle of Actium (31/29 BC) and the celebration after the re-establishment of peace with the Parthians, which resulted in the cult of Fortuna Redux (19 BC). The Ara Pacis Augustae was decreed after Augustus' victories in Gaul (Res Gestae 12; Cassius Dio 54. 25. 1–4). The famous procession friezes have often been regarded as depicting the emperor's arrival celebrated as a ‘thanksgiving’ (supplicatio) in July 13 BC, but are better understood as memorializing the day on which the sacred space for the Ara Pacis was inaugurated in September. The friezes depict the emperor's family members as well as divine and mythical figures; while presented as naturalistic or historical, they are open to symbolic readings. In a certain sense, the senators enshrined the motif of Augustus' homecoming into the cult of Roman Peace (and Prosperity) and eternalized the ritualized blessing that this should bring to the Roman people. Cassius Dio's highly conflated account of the Senate's decrees in honour of the returning emperor was composed as criticism against servile flattering, but indirectly confirms the ideas underlying the Senate's decrees on the Actian Triumph, the cult for Fortuna Redux, and the sanctuary of the Ara Pacis: the salutary effect of Augustus' victorious return(s) to Rome should become a permanent blessing irrespective of the singular historical events.

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