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  • Author or Editor: Beatrice Poletti x
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Contrarily to most traditional accounts on the foundation of the Republic, Dionysius describes the passage from the Tarquins’ monarchy to the Republic as a lawful constitutional reform, in which L. Junius Brutus played a pivotal role. In my paper I analyze the speech that Brutus delivers to the Roman patricians to endorse the establishment of a new government in Rome. The new constitution, although remaining essentially monarchical, will keep its autocratic nature concealed from the people. Throughout this paper, I show how Dionysius in his presentation of Brutus picked up elements both related to the senatorial propaganda against M. Junius Brutus — Caesar’s murderer, who claimed descent from L. Brutus and the tyrannicide Ahala — and, at the same time, the character of Augustus’s newly-founded government. This account may thus be regarded as Dionysius’ own elaboration of Augustus’s constitutional reform.

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In the opening of Fasti 6, Ovid proposes different explanations for the origin of the month name June by means of a competition between three goddesses: Juno, Juventas, and Concordia. Each goddess puts forth an etymology for June that derives from her own name or individual attributions, alimenting the indecisiveness of the poet who eventually walks out of the scene unable to return a verdict. As she is depicted in this text, Juno might appear as a parodic version of the Virgilian goddess and the ideas she represents. To a close reading, however, it is evident that Juno has retained her reconciliatory function, which has allowed the Roman development, and moreover has been enriched by characteristics that look back at her ancient Italian cult and, at the same time, place her in the new Augustan reality. In particular, Ovid blends the early martial and political aspects of the goddess with her function as protectress of legitimate marriage, which seems to have been prominent in the Augustan period. In fact, Ovid emphasizes that conjugal union is the means by which Juno ends her hostility and enables further growth and development.

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Augustus' approach to cults of foreign origins has recently undergone much reconsideration. Until the late 20th century, scholars largely regarded the emperor's religious policies as deeply conservative, maintaining that Augustus was mostly preoccupied with the ‘restoration’ of ancient Italian religion and discouraged the worship of foreign gods. In the last three decades, however, scholars have identified a rather different trend, noticing, in fact, Augustus' openness towards the ‘foreign’. In this paper, I explore Augustus' position about ‘foreign’ rites that were highly popular in contemporary Rome, and specifically, the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Egyptian rites, the cult of Mater Magna, and the cult of Apollo (although, as I clarify below, the last one cannot be strictly labeled as ‘foreign’). I offer a survey of ancient literary sources – giving an interpretation of them as comprehensive as possible considering the nature of this contribution – and argue that Augustus was not only receptive of ‘foreign’ practices but was also able to shape the ‘foreign’ to his own advantage and self-promotion, transforming it into a vital feature of the new imperial reality.

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