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Signatures Events Contexts: Copyright at the End of the First Principate

  • Francesco Martelli (a1)


Can a proper name be translated? Or a signature?

J. Derrida, ‘Limited Inc. a b c’, Glyph 2 (1977), 167

The essential fact to keep in mind when dealing with these problems is that we have the institution of proper names to perform the speech act of identifying reference.

J. Searle, Speech Acts (Cambridge 1969), 174

Two sets of ‘autobiographical’ text that span the transition from the first principate into the second—the Res Gestae Diui Augusti and the poetry of Ovid's exile—offer a rare opportunity to compare the contemporaneous self-portraits of the politician and poet whose careers have evolved in tandem up until this point. Yet where scholars have studied the interactions between these texts, they have tended to overlook the parallels between the self-fashioning strategies deployed by their respective authors in favour of a hunt for corroborating historical data.

A recent book by Michele Lowrie challenges us to treat as part of the same problematic the authorising claims made in texts as ostensibly disparate as these. In this study, Lowrie balances her exploration of how the literary productions of the Augustan era responded to its social and political upheavals, reflecting and refracting the performative powers that were being used to effect political transformation at this time, against the efforts made by Augustus to appropriate the self-fashioning strategies exemplified by the poets. Her focus on how Augustus' own manipulation of the media replicates the modes of authorship practised by his literary contemporaries thus makes the social energies circulating across cultural boundaries in Rome at this time appear as traffic in a two-way street. With this work, then, we have been given a new incentive to treat the authorial names and authorising claims of Augustus and of the ‘Augustan’ poets as a package-a prompt to which I will respond in this article by unpacking the signatures of ‘Naso’ and ‘Augustus’ as a twin pair. I will therefore be looking to the Res Gestae and to the poetry of Ovid's exile in order to see how the authorial signatures of poet and princeps fare alongside each other at this defining moment of the Augustan principate; and will attempt to refine the theoretical framework required in order to plot the ways in which these different types of signature play off one another.



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I am indebted to John Henderson for helping me understand better the argument in this piece at a critical stage in its composition. Also to Richard Ellis, Denis Feeney, Philip Hardie and Tim Whitmarsh for help with particular points.

1. A rare exception to this rule is Fairweather, J., ‘Ovid’s Autobiographical Poem, Tristia 4.10’, CQ 37 (1987), 181–96. However, her focus is confined to parallels between the first chapter of the Res Gestae and Tr. 4.10, and she traces Ovid’s source not in fact to the Res Gestae ‘itself’, but to the De Vita Sua. See 194f. for a list of correspondences.

2. Lowrie, M., Writing, Performance and Authority in Augustan Rome (Oxford 2009). This book devotes a chapter to the Res Gestae (ch.12), and two to Ovid’s exile poetry (chs. 11 and 16).

3. Greenblatt, S., Renaissance Self-Fashioning (Chicago 1980)—a methodological absent presence throughout Lowrie (n.2 above)—is the exemplar for this kind of approach. See also Greenblatt, S., Shakespearean Negotiations (Oxford 1988)

4. On the literary tradition behind Ovid’s ‘signature’, see Kranz, W., ‘Sphragis’, RhM 104 (1961), 3–46; and 97–124 for discussion of the history of the sphragis. While this ‘signing off device is a common feature in the work of the other Augustans, Ovid’s fixation with his own name, esp. in the Tristia, arguably exceeds that of his contemporaries: see Paratore, E., ‘L’evoluzione della sphragis dalle prime alle ultime opere di Ovidio’, in Atti del convegno internazionale ovidiano, Sulmona, maggio 1958 (Rome 1959), i.173–203, on the evolution of the sphragis throughout Ovid’s literary career; and Oliensis, E., ‘Return to Sender: The Rhetoric of nomina in Ovid’s Tristia’, Ramus 26 (1997), 172–83, on how this poet’s preoccupation with his own name reaches new heights in the Tristia. My own contention is that Ovid’s preoccupation in the exilica with the authorising power of his name is cast in a new light by being plotted against Augustus’ attempts to empower his own name—attempts that are made uniquely available to us in the Res Gestae.

5. The exchange can be traced to Derrida, J., ‘Signature Event Context’, Glyph 1 (1977), 172–97; Searle, J., ‘Reiterating the Differences: A Reply to Derrida’, Glyph 1 (1977), 198–208; and Derrida, J., ‘Limited Inc. a b c …’, Glyph 2 (1977), 162–254, who also responds here to Searle, J., Speech Acts (Cambridge 1969). Derrida’s arguments have been developed and criticised from a number of different angles by subsequent critical theorists—including Bourdieu, P., language and Symbolic Power, tr. Raymond, G. and Adamson, M. (Cambridge MA 1991), 192–227, and Butler, J., Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (London & New York 1997), 141–59. Lowrie (n.2 above) takes account of the arguments put forward by the latter two thinkers in her analysis of the performative pretensions of the Res Gestae. In this essay, however, I turn straight to the approach made famous by Derrida, on the understanding that his main point of contention with Searle and Austin (namely with the question of intention that underpins our ability to identify a performative) is of primary importance to any study of the performative signature; and that this particular objection is not the focus of any subsequent theorist’s critique (nor, indeed, of Lowrie’s study).

6. Derrida (n.5 above ‘Signature…’), 193–96.

7. Derrida (n.5 above ‘Limited Inc…’), 162–71, in response to Searle (n.5 above ‘Reiterating…’), 198.

8. ‘Copyright’ is a legal term dating to the eighteenth century that finds no technical equivalent in antiquity. I use it here with reference to Ovid and Augustus as a shorthand to describe the kinds of authenticating expectation that we find attached (with varying degrees of credibility) to the authorial name in the Res Gestae and exilica.

9. Lowrie (n.2 above), 283–94, is among the scholars who view the Res Gestae as the inscription of a performative—not of a performative utterance as such, but of a particular kind of performative power, auctoritas.

10. For discussion of the dating of the Tristia (and, in particular, reasons for dating Tr. 4 to 11 CE) see Fairweather (n.l above), 193; cf. Syme, R., History in Ovid (Oxford 1978), 77, for discussion of the dates of the different books of the Ex Ponto.

11. And not just his own literary career: Latin elegy never quite resuscitates after Ovid. Cf. Fantham, E., ‘Roman Elegy: Problems of Self-Definition and Redirection’, in Schwindt, al. (eds.), L’histoire litteraire immanente dans la poesie latine (Vandoeuvres/Geneva 2001), 183–211, for some suggestions why.

12. Davis, K., Periodization and Sovereignty (Philadelphia 2008), a brilliant study of the politics of periodisation that focuses, in particular, on the interests (old and new) served by separating ‘the middle ages’ from the early modern, has much to teach the Classicist on the agendas more or less visible in our customary modes of periodisation (e.g. ‘Republican’/‘Imperial’ Rome etc). Davis’s comments (18) on Henry VIII’s efforts simultaneously to repudiate and repossess the ‘old’ ecclesiastical and juridical orders in order to produce a ‘tear’ in the relation between world and time that will inaugurate a new age strike many a chord with the political manoeuvres of Augustus—and with the chronological consequences that entail from those manoeuvres.

13. On the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic trajectories of literary history (and their ultimate incompatibility), see Perkins, D., Is Literary History Possible? (Baltimore 1992). For a more positive view of the necessity (and possibility) of plotting the place of literature in history ‘from the inside out as well as from the outside in’, see S. Hinds, ‘Cinna, Statius, and “Immanent Literary History” in the Cultural Economy’, in Schwindt (n.l I above), 221–57, at 224.

14. Simpson, J., Reform and Cultural Revolution. The Oxford English Literary History, Vol. 2. 1350–1547 (Oxford 2002), 1.

15. Derrida (n.5 above ‘Limited Inc…’), 170 (and throughout this long essay) provocatively refers to Searle as Sari, an acronym that stands for ‘Soci&e a responsabihte limitee’ (which translates into ‘Limited Inc.’), in order to highlight the difficulties involved in delimiting the author responsible for the ‘Reply to Derrida’, which is published in the name of John R. Searle. The ‘author’ of the Reply acknowledges debts to others at the outset; but; as Derrida points out, this cursory acknowledgement does not cover the range of influences on his words and ideas.

16. For Searle, as for Austin, the signature guarantees for inscribed utterance what the physical presence of the speaker does for the spoken word—investing the speech act with that claim to the literal presence of the source that is an assumed property of the first person pronoun. ‘Presence’ in this context has cognitive as well as physical implications, since, as Derrida points out earlier (n.5 above ‘Signature…’, 189), consciousness (‘the conscious presence of the intention of the speaking subject’) is one of the essential components of that totality of context on which Austin’s performative relies in order to achieve a felicitous outcome.

17. In their use of the first person voice, Greek and Roman epitaphs frequently use mimetic techniques to reproduce the spoken words of the buried dead, and draw on the capacity of the reader to voice words on their behalf in order to invest the epitaphic text with the illusion of presence and maximise its appearance as inscribed utterance. See Svenbro, J., Phrasikleia: An Anthropology of Reading in Ancient Greece, tr. Lloyd, J. (Ithaca & London 1993), ch. 3, and Hausle, H., Das Denkmal als Garant des Nachruhms: Beitrdge zur Geschichte unci Thematik eines Moths in lateinischen Inschriften (Munich 1980), 122–31, for discussion of the strategies used by archaic Greek and Latin epitaphs respectively to ventriloquise the ‘spoken’ words of the dead.

18. Of these titles, only ‘Augustus’ and ‘Pater Patriae’ are cited overtly (at RG 34.2 and 35.1 respectively). ‘Octauius’ is alluded to obliquely at RG 19.1. All these passages are discussed in more detail below.

19. Syme, R., ‘Imperator Caesar: A Study in Nomenclature’, Historia 7 (1958), 172–88, is the seminal discussion of the range of different names that dance around, or rather reconstitute, this particular figure in the course of his career. Syme highlights how the names not only accumulate but substitute and recombine in different ways: a title of competence (e.g. ‘Imp.’) becomes a praenomen, for example, and a cognomen (e.g. Augustus) is inverted to the position of praenomen (‘Caesar Augustus’/‘Augustus Caesar’). Every one of these nominal displacements must recreate the referent anew.

20. Text and translation of passages from the Res Gestae follow those of Cooley, A., Res Gestae Divi Augusti: Text, Translation and Commentary (Cambridge 2009).

21. Cf. Lowrie (n.2 above), 293f., who also contrasts the apparent modesty displayed by Augustus’ emphasis on the anonymity of his building projects with the repeated emphasis on his name at RG 22.

22. The practice is similar to that demonstrated by his decision (recorded at RG 24) to melt down the eighty silver statues made in his image by others. In his handling of the statues, Augustus could arguably be said to follow the precedent of Scipio Africanus, who is said to have refused permission for statues to be erected in his honour during his lifetime (Livy 38.56.12). Gruen, E., Culture and National Identity in Republican Rome (Ithaca 1992), 121’23, discusses the ‘reverse snobbery’ that this gesture of Scipio’s seems to express—at a time when the aristocratic practice of setting up honorific statues to oneself was otherwise prevalent in Rome.

23. Lowrie (n.2 above), 304: ‘Since he here inscribes his name, the inscription is displaced onto a different monument’. I assume that by ‘here’, Lowrie refers specifically to RG 20.1.

24. It is not in fact until RG 34 (discussed in more detail below) that the author of this text openly mentions (or cites) any of his names.

25. In spite of the apparent gesture of modesty entailed in omitting his name from the restoration of this building, the theatre of Pompey would eventually come to be known as theatrum Augustum Pompeianum—as Cooley (n.20 above), 192, points out. The decision to let this building keep its original name can therefore be seen as a gesture of modesty, from one perspective; or, from another point of view, as a means of incorporating a paradigm of Republican leadership embodied in Pompey the Great into the identity that ‘Augustus’ (or rather, ‘Imperator Iulius Caesar Diui Filius’) fashions for himself through this building project.

26. Lowrie (n.2 above), 304.

27. Lowrie’s phrasing here is revealing: ‘Something similar occurs with the portico of Octavius: Augustus claims he retained the name of the man who erected the previous portico on the same site. “Octavius” makes “Octavius” apparent without naming.’ [Italics mine.] Lowrie cannot help but use the two different names—Augustus/Octavian—here, yet her discussion seems immune to any distinction between the two, as though the names were easily interchangeable.

28. The adjective Octauiam here could make us think of either C. Octavius or, as Lowrie takes it, ‘Octavian’ (more accurately, Iulius Caesar Octauianus). However, as Cooley (n.20 above), 105, points out, from the moment Octavius took on Caesar’s name, he appears to have dropped ‘Octauianus’, making our use of the name ‘Octavian’ misleading. While Octavius’ rebaptism as Iulius Caesar presents the most obvious example of how Caesar’s heir fashions an identity by exploiting the citational basis of names, there is notably no reference in the Res Gestae to the use by ‘Augustus’ of the name of his adoptive father. At the end of the Metamorphoses, however, Ovid does draw attention to the nominal relationship between ‘father’ and ‘son’, when he calls ‘Augustus’ the heir of Caesar’s name (nominis heres, Ov. Met. 15.819). For discussion of this, see Lowrie (n.2 above), 380.

29. On the emphatic use of first person pronouns in the Res Gestae, see Ramage, E., The Nature and Purpose of Augustus’ ‘Res Gestae’ (Stuttgart 1987), 21–28. Westerman, W., ‘The Monument of Ancyra’, AHR 17 (1911), 1–11, at 3–9, and Syme, R., The Roman Revolution (Oxford 1939), 523, are among others who have commented on the light reference made in this text to other people. In her discussion of the performative nature of auctoritas, and its representation in the Res Gestae, Lowrie (n.2 above), 285–94, also pays close attention to the emphatic use of the first person voice in this text.

30. This is the first overt reference in the Res Gestae to any of the names by which its author goes by. Aside from the oblique reference to his former name ‘Octauius’ in RG 19.1, the only other reference to the author’s name in this text is when it appears in adjectival form when describing the Forum Augustum at RG 21.1: in priuato solo Martis Vltoris templum [fjorumque Augustum [ex ma]n[i]biis feci (‘on private ground I built from plunder the temple of Mars the Avenger and the Augustan forum’). The displacement of identities is extraordinarily complex in this sentence: the author (‘Augustus’) refers to himself in the accusative—not by naming himself but by naming a monument that is named after him.

31. Cognomen or praenomenl ‘Augustus’ has a tendency to swap places (‘Caesar Augustus’/‘Augustus Caesar’). On this mobility, see Syme (n.19 above). We may wonder how this affects the signatory force of the name. An additional form of mobility that attaches to this particular name derives from its multiple associations: Ov. Fast. 1.607–17 highlights the associative range.

32. The question of how names come to acquire referents is a topic of vast and varied philosophical theorising, ranging from Millian and causal theories of names to the description theory associated with John Searle. For a survey of the main theories, see Davis, W., ‘Searle on Proper Names’, in Tsohatzidis, S. (ed.), John Searle’s Philosophy of Language: Force, Meaning and Mind (Cambridge 2007), 102–24. The process is no less complex within the naming processes specific to Roman culture. Cf. for example Syme (n.19 above), 182, on how the praenomenImp.’ comes to attach to Octauianus as a competitive retort to Sextus Pompeius’ acquisition of the extravagant ‘Magnus’.

33. Ramage (n.29 above), 25f., also comments on the use of the first person passive Au]gust[us appejllatus sum (T was named Augustus’) at the start of this sentence, seeing it as part of a transition in the final chapters of the Res Gestae in which Augustus moves from a subject role position as agent and perpetrator, acting (transitively) in the first person, to being the recipient of attentions (and actions) from others.

34. Yavetz, Z., ‘The Res Gestae and Augustus’ Public Image’, in Millar, F. and Segal, E. (eds.) Caesar Augustus: Seven Aspects (Oxford 1984), 1–36, at 13f.

35. Livy 6.14.5

36. Plutarch Sulla 34.1–2

37. The emphasis placed by ‘Augustus’ on the universal assent behind the decision to elect him to the title of pater patriae filters down to other sources: both Ovid (Fast. 2.127f.) and Suetonius (Aug. 58.1) stress the unanimity of the decision.

38. If we could trust those sources that give Julius Caesar the title parens patriae (rather than those who call him pater patriae), then we might infer that a similar strategy of exclusion (or, at least, differentiation) was at work in Augustus’ choice (or acceptance) of the title pater patriae over the title taken by his adoptive ‘father’. Cf. Ramage (n.29 above), 227, for discussion.

39. On this, see Hinds, S., Allusion and lntertext (Cambridge 1998), esp. ch. 3.

40. DRN 1.117f.: Enniusut noster cecinit, qui primus amoenoldetulit ex Helicone perenni fronde coronam… (‘as our own Ennius sang, who first brought down from lovely Helicon a garland of perennial leafage…’).

41. This manner of alluding to Ennius recalls Horace C. 3.30.1, exegi monumentum aere perennius (‘I have constructed a monument more perennial than bronze’), a text that is also prominently at work in the Metamorphoses epilogue—signposted clearly at Met. 15.871, iamque opus exegi… (‘and now I have constructed a work…’). Cf. Woodman, A., ‘Exegi Monumentum: Horace, Odes 330’, in Woodman, A. and West, D. (eds.), Quality and Pleasure in Latin Poetry (Cambridge 1974), 115’28, at 116f., on the allusion to Ennius’ epitaph in C. 330. However, John Henderson suggests to me that the relevance of Ennius here to my argument goes beyond the poet’s epitaph to the Annates itself, with the idea that Rome itself was founded on (and/or measured by) consular names.

42. This alternative translation is commonly read as a reference to the Roman practice of preserving the soul of a dying person by inhaling their last breath. Cf. esp. Farrell, J., ‘The Ovidian corpus: Poetic Body and Poetic Text’, in Hardie, P., Barchiesi, A. and Hinds, S. (eds.), Ovidian Transformations: Essays on Ovid’s Metamorphoses and its Reception (PCPS Suppl. 23: Cambridge 1999), 127–41, at 132; and Hardie, P., Ovid’s Poetics of Illusion (Cambridge 2002), 94–97.

43. Hardie (n.42 above), 95, describes this phrase as a democratic reworking of the foundational attempt by Ennius to empower the new Latin hexameter tradition by claiming to be a reincarnation of Homer.

44. Scheid, J., Res Gestae Divi Augusti: Hauts fails du divin Auguste (Paris 2007), xxii–xxiv, offers a thorough survey of the various attempts made by scholars since Mommsen to identify different phases in the Res Gestae’s compositional stratification. Kornemann, E., ‘Zum Monumentum Ancyranum’, Klio 2 (1902), 141–62 (and in subsequent publications), begins the hunt for different strata in earnest, positing first five, and then seven, moments of composition (in 23, 12, 4, 2 BCE and 1,6, 14 CE). See also Laqueur, R., ‘Komposition und Entstehungsgeschichte der Res Gestae divi Augusti’, Vergangenheit und Gegenwart 23 (1933), 388–415. However, even the alternative Unitarian view promoted by Wilcken, U., Zur Genesis der Res Gestae Divi Augusti (Berlin 1932) suggests that the Res Gestae was revised before a ‘final’ touch-up in 6 CE—and then supplemented again in 13/14 CE. Both approaches are thus fixated on identifying an original ‘Urmonument’ hidden within the text.

45. Scheid (n.44 above), xxiv–vi, arrives at this position as a matter of practical necessity, given the impossibility of determining an alternative. It is adopted more positively by Cooley (n.20 above), 42. The consensus reached by Scheid and Cooley in these recent commentaries rejects an alternative consensus assumed by Nicolet, C., Space, Geography, and Politics in the Early Roman Empire (Ann Arbor 1991), 42, for example, writing some thirty years earlier: ‘[SJcholars agree that this work [i.e. the Res Gestae] was written by Augustus, in a preliminary form nearly complete, around 2 BCE. Nicolet follows a tradition of scholars, including Degrassi, A., Elogia (Inscriptions ltaliae XIH.iii, Rome 1937), 5; Braccesi, L., ‘Un ipotesi sull’ elaborazione delle “Res Gestae divi Augusti”, GIF 25 (1973), 25–40, and Epigrafia e storiografia (interpretazioni augustee) (Naples 1981), 11–38; Zanker, P., Forum Augustum: Das Bildprogram (Tübingen 1972), 12; and Yavetz (n.34 above), 5f., who believe that a ‘first draft’ of the Res Gestae was posted in the Forum Augustum under the statue of the new pater patriae in 2 BCE among the other statues and elogia of past founders of Rome.

46. Ramage (n.29 above), 132–35, promotes this view most strongly. It is endorsed by Cooley (n.20 above), 42. However, Scheid (n.44 above), xxiv n.79, is more circumspect.

47. Further references to 14 CE as the moment (or a moment, at least) of composition arise at RG 7.2: p]rinceps sfenatus fui usque ad e]um d[iem quo scripjseram [haec per annos] quadra-[ginta (‘I have been the highest ranking member of the senate right until the very day on which I wrote this, for forty years’); RG 8.4: et te]rtium consulari cum imperio lustrum conlega Tib(erio) Caefsare filio] m[eo feci], Sex(to) Pompeio et Sex(to) Appuleio cofn)s(ulibus) (‘and for the third time I conducted a census with consular power with Tiberius Caesar my son as colleague in the consulship of Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Apuleius [14 CE]’; and RG 25.3: qui sub [signis meis turn] militauerint, fuerunt senatores plures quam DCC, in ii[s qui uel antea uel pos]tea consules facti sunt ad eum diem quo scripta su[nt haec LXXX]]], sacerdojtes cir[c]iter CLXX (‘there were more than 700 senators who served under my standards at that time, among whom there were 83 who either before or afterwards up until the day on which these words were written were made consuls, and 170 priests’). The idea that this is the exclusive date of composition is, however, problematised by a reference to Augustus’ attempt to complete building work on the basilica Julia as unfinished at RG 20.3, when Dio Cassius reports the building’s dedication in 12 CE. Cooley (n.20 above), 194, discusses the implications of this for the compositional chronology of the Res Gestae; Ramage (n.29 above) does not mention this passage.

48. A proviso: in circumscribing the moment of composition to a specific late date, scholars are forced to amplify the question of authorship, since, it is suggested, the individual ‘Augustus’ would not have been able to compose this text alone in such a short space of time. See Scheid (n.44 above), xxvi–xxviii, for discussion of collaborative authorship. Diachronic isolation thus entails synchronic amplification.

49. Ramage (n.29 above), 134, and Cooley (n.20 above), 42, both dismiss the idea that the passage in Suetonius Aug. 101.1 relating to the depositing of Augustus’ will with the Vestals on 3 April 13 CE has any bearing on the dating of the Res Gestae, which the Vestals also produced. Like Ramage, Cooley postdates the composition of the Res Gestae to a moment after this event, yet her argument (that Augustus was inspired to write the Res Gestae in a single superstitious burst in response to a set of omens between 26 June and 24 July 14 CE) is based on premises as speculative as any other scholar’s.

50. Cf. Ramage (n.29 above), 135, for example: ‘Weber would choose the period between 26 June 14 CE, when he took on the tribunician power for the 37th and last time (4.4), and 24 July 14 CE, when he left Rome for the last time. Actually, there is no reason why he could not have worked on the document as he travelled, so that the period of composition can be extended closer to 19 August 14 CE, the day of his death.’

51. In the very first entry to her commentary on the Res Gestae, for example, Cooley (n.20 above), 105–08, discusses the debt that Augustus’ account of his mustering an army at the age of nineteen owes to the precedent of L. Brutus, P. Scipio Nasica and Pompey the Great. It is impossible to know whether or not his actions at the time were consciously ‘quoting’ these precedents too.

52. Yavetz (n34 above) strongly asserts the differences between Augustus’ De Vita Sua and the Res Gestae, seeing the former as a defence against slander from contemporaries in a pamphlet war, and the latter as a record for posterity. The differences that he maintains between the texts’ respective meanings primarily address the differences between their ‘intended’ readerships—a point that I address below.

53. Or memoirs plural: Appian BC 5.130 attests to an earlier autobiographical work composed before 36 BCE (which would therefore have also been written under a different authorial name/ identity).

54. The problem at issue in these different views of textual revision goes to the heart of the disagreement between Derrida and Searle—over the question of what iteration implies for the workings of language: whether, as Searle (n.5 above Speech Acts), 85–94, maintains, the (speech) act of reference means something identical with each repetition; or whether, as Derrida (n.5 above ‘Limited Inc…’), 190, would have it, the referential process is rendered differential through iteration. These alternative perspectives determine whether one attributes the differences between the variant texts of Augustus’ ‘life’ to their status as discrete entities, or to the inherently differential nature of an ongoing process of textualisation.

55. Yavetz (n34 above), 8–20, emphasises the focus in this text on the judgement of posterity. See esp. 20 for an insight into how complicit Yavetz is with the performative pretensions of the Res Gestae: ‘The RGDA would be much more impressive after his death: “we hate virtue while it lives and mourn it only when snatched from sight.”’

56. S. Hinds, ‘After Exile: Time and Teleology from Metamorphoses to Ibis’, in Hardie, Barchiesi and Hinds (n.42 above), 48–67.

57. On this, see Hardie (n.42 above), 91–97.

58. See Farrell (n.42 above), 128, and Lowrie (n.2 above), 377f., for readings of the performative force of the final lines of the Metamorphoses epilogue.

59. See esp. Hardie (n.42 above), 239–57.

60. See Oliensis (n.4 above); Hardie (n.42 above), 292–96.

61. Examples of this can be found, among other places, at Tr. 3.10. If. and Tr. 4.3.17f.

62. See Eisner, J., ‘Inventing imperium: Texts and the Propaganda of Monuments in Augustan Rome’, in Art and Text in Roman Culture (Cambridge 1996), 32–53; Botteri, P., ‘Ancyra, Antiochia e ApoIIonia: La rappresentazione delle Res Gestae Divi Augusti’, in de Blois, at. (eds.), The Representation and Perception of Roman Imperial Power (Amsterdam 2003), 240–49; Guven, S., ‘Displaying the Res Gestae of Augustus: A Monument of Imperial Image for All’, JSAH 57 (1998), 30–45, for discussion of the impact of the Res Gestae in its provincial contexts.

63. However, the question of the text’s transmission is potentially more complicated than this. Weber, W., Princeps: Studien zur Geschichte des Augustus (Stuttgart 1936), 114–36. imagines an elaborate stemma branching out from the ‘original’ text read out to the senate, comprising a first set of copies destined for the archives and for inscription outside Augustus’ mausoleum; a second copy that was transmitted to towns in Italy and to provincial governors, including the legate in Galatia (the ‘versions’ of the text that we have would have been copied/translated into Greek from this); and a third copy produced for publication in the acta diurna at Rome, for consultation by historians and other individuals. This stemma is radically simplified by Gagé, J., Res Gestae Divi Augusti ex Monumentis Ancyrano et Antiocheno Latinis Ancyrano et Apolloniensi Graecis (Paris 1935), 50; and simplified further by Scheid (n.44 above), xv–vi.

64. The transmission of the inscription in Greek (in Ancyra and Apollonia) as well as Latin already problematises the idea that the ‘copies’ of this text can be seen as non-differential replicas of the ‘original’. See Vanotti, G., ‘Il testo greco delle “Res Gestae Divi Augusti”: appunti per una interpretazione politica’, GIF 27 (1975), 306–25, and Wigtil, D., ‘The Ideology of the Greek “Res Gestae”’, ANRW 1130.1 (1982), 624–38, for discussion of the ideological implications of the Greek translation of the Res Gestae and of the adaptation of this text’s ‘original’ message for a Greek provincial audience.

65. The heading to the Latin text at Ancyra runs: rerum gestarum diui Augusti … incisarum in duabus aheneis pilis, quae sunt Romae positae, exemplar subiectum (‘below is a copy of the achievements of the deified Augustus…as inscribed upon two bronze columns which have been set up at Rome’). Lowrie (n.2 above), 301–08, discusses the idea of the copy (exemplar) in connection with the exemplum that Augustus offers to his readership: like the ‘original’ text of the Res Gestae, which is destined to be recopied, Augustus the man is a paradigm for emulation and imitation. The parallel she draws is revealing because it explicitly invests the ‘original’ text of the Res Gestae with the authority of a self-presence akin to that which only the real, live man ‘Augustus’ can possess, and thus further illuminates Lowrie’s own tendency to privilege the meanings of the ‘original’ over those produced by its ‘copies’.

66. A point stressed by Eisner (n.62 above), 51f.

67. Yavetz (n34 above), 8, for example, excludes the Res Gestae’s readerships in Galatia from any role in the production of this text’s meaning: ‘No one in Ancyra, Apollonia, or Antioch could possibly have been interested in the boring enumeration of largitiones and congiaria, of games and of mimes performed in Rome.’ In a footnote to this he admits to having ‘no explanation for the strange coincidence that the only three known copies of the RGDA were found in different districts of a single province’. Scheid (n.44 above), xxxiv–xxxvi, follows Yavetz in limiting his discussion of the Res Gestae’s public largely to its readership in Rome.

68. Lowrie (n.2 above), 294–301.

69. Writing, copying and reading do not alter this text’s meaning for Lowrie, because in her book these processes serve solely to bring back or recreate the lost presence of Augustus the man and/or the message of the ‘original’ Res Gestae. See esp. Lowrie (n.2 above), 307: ‘The author’s personal presence is subsumed by representation after death, but brought back ideationally repeatedly with each reading.’

70. The ‘permanence’ that Lowrie (n.2 above), 300, ascribes to the text of the Res Gestae comes to land specifically on the properties of the written word: ‘The most obvious reason to mention auctoritas in writing is to lend permanence to the transient through recording and to enable the diffusion of its representation across the empire, as is attested by the fragments. Language identifies the nature of the power much more precisely than spectacles, which could serve merely to enhance dignitas. Such are the reasons as Augustus probably conceived them.’ So, although Augustus’ auctoritas precedes writing, without writing, it would simply be a strong form of dignitasl Here the bind between reality and representation that Lowrie strives to uphold elsewhere (293: ‘symbolic power is real; it does not merely represent something else’; 280: ‘let me emphasize that you cannot convincingly represent non-existent realities’) starts to unravel. Her concluding comment is in true performative mode: auctoritas must be a ‘reality’ rather than the product of writing (or itself the inscription of something else) because it is the object and meaning that Augustus intended to record in writing the Res Gestae. That is one way of bringing the chain of signifiers to a halt—by invoking the conscious intention of the author ‘himself…

71. An earlier consensus, upheld by Mommsen, T., Res Gestae Divi Augusti: Ex Monumentis Ancyrano et Apolloniensi (Berlin 1883), vf; Dessau, H., ‘Mommsen und das Monumentum Ankyranum’, Klio 22 (1929), 261–83, at 278f.; Kornemann, E., ‘Monumentum Ancyranum’, in Wissowa, G. (ed.), Paulys Realenzyclopadie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft (Stuttgart 1933), 16.1, col. 211–31, at 224; Hohl, E., ‘Zu den Testamentum des Augustus’, Klio 30 (1937), 323–42, at 323; and also Yavetz, Z., Plebs and Princeps (Oxford 1969), 56 n.2, who maintains that Augustus was addressing the urban plebs at Rome in the Res Gestae. This view has since been replaced by the alternative view that it was addressed primarily to the elite (and primarily equestrian) youth of Rome and of other Italian cities. On this, see esp. Yavetz (n.34 above), 8–20; followed by Scheid (n.44 above), xxxv. All these scholars limit their discussion of the Res Gestae’s readership to its public in Rome.

72. It is perhaps easier to see the Galatian provincials as the intended readership of the Greek translation of the Res Gestae found at Ancyra and Apollonia, on which see Cooley (n.20 above), 26–30, than of the Latin version found at Ancyra and Antioch. However, see Botteri (n.62 above) for discussion of the significance of the Latin text for the non-Latin-reading/speaking provincial viewer as a monumental symbol of Roman power, over and above its status as a decipherable text (or, indeed, perhaps because it was impossible to decipher). Both Botteri and Eisner (n.62 above), 49–52, emphasise the religious impact of the inscription in its provincial contexts, where it invariably comes attached to buildings associated with the imperial cult.

75. For discussion of who was responsible for the transmission of the text in Galatia, see Cooley (n.20 above), 18–22.

74. The possibility is mooted by Cooley (n.20 above), 18–22, who models the scenario on the actions of a provincial governor Numerius Vibius Serenus over the publication in Baetica of the senatus consultum de Cn. Pisone patre— likewise seen as an attempt to win back the favour of Tiberius.

75. Cf. Derrida (n.5 above ‘Limited Inc…’), 188, on the multiple roles that the present/absent author of a text plays as both sender and receiver of a textual communication (whether or not the author comprises one and the same person or a number of different collaborators), and on how that communication circulates between these parties long before it reaches any further recipient.

76. Cf. Hardie (n.42 above), 287–89, on the relationship between epitaphic ventriloquisation and epistolary dictation in this poem.

77. Hardie (n.42 above), 91–97. See also Woodman (n.41 above), 127f.,for Ovid’s reworking at the end of Met. 15 of the Horatian ‘tombstone’ that is C. 3.30.

78. The phrases pereant animae and perque manes make the echo of Horatian and Lucretian references to Ennius (perennius … perennis) at the end of Met. 15 reverberate through this passage.

79. Tr. 33.60 pars mini nulla… (‘no part of me…’) likewise converts Met. 15.875L, parte tamen meliore mei super alta perennislper astraferar (‘yet with my better part I shall be borne everlasting above the lofty stars’) and Am. 1.15.42, parsque mei multa supersles erit (‘and a great part of me will survive my death’), into something more nihilistic.

80. For examples of the inscriptional formula ne sit graue…, see CLE 429.9 (with similar instances at CLE 428.13, CLE 966.4 and CLE 1055.2–4): tu qui legisti, ne sit graue dicere, quaeso J Crispinae ut nullum terrae sit pondus grauatum (‘you who have read this, I pray, let it not be a burden to say: “Let the earth weigh none too heavy on Crispina”’). For inscriptional examples of the phrase molliter ossa cubent…, see CLE [458.1 (with similar examples at CLE 479.9 and CLE 1286.4): ‘molliter ossa cubent’ dicat, rogo, quisque uiator (‘let anyone who passes by say, I beg: “May your bones lie soft”’).

81. Hardie (n.42 above), 91–97, and Lowrie (n.2 above), 374–82, reach a similar conclusion in their readings, not of Ovid’s exile poetry, but of the Metamorphoses epilogue. Both critics dwell on the competing types of absent presence that the poet ascribes to himself and Augustus respectively in Met. 15.868–79, where the princeps, whose presence will pervade the empire after his death and deification, is nevertheless described as absens (Met. 15.870) while the poet continues to make himself present (uiuam, Met. 15.879) on the mouths of men.

82. Foucault, M., ‘What is an Author’, in Harari, J. (ed.), Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism (Ithaca 1969), 101–20, at 108, has religious (and specifically Christian) forms of transgression in mind, when he speaks of ‘the bipolar field of the sacred and the profane, the licit and the illicit, the religious and the blasphemous.’ Yet in a non-Christian context, such as the world of Augustan Rome, it is an easy step to extend the boundaries of religion, and concomitant modes of transgression, to those that define the political sphere—especially given the overlap between political and religious roles in the political administration of the Roman state.

83. Cf. Scheid (n.44 above), li, for discussion of the view put forward by Staedler, E., ‘Über Rechtsnatur und Rechtsinhalt der Augusteischen Regesten’, ZRG 61 (1941), 77–122, that the Res Gestae should be seen as a eiuratio (‘resignation oath’) through which Augustus attested, at the end of his life, to the lawfulness of his political actions. Ovid’s defence throughout the Tristia is against the charge that his banishment is the result of a crimen on his part (rather than simply an error). Green, P.Carmen et error: πρóÆασιϛ and αίτία in the Matter of Ovid’s Exile’, ClAnt 1 (1982), 202–20, offers arguments that emphasise the political basis of this error. See Lowrie (n.2 above), 360–74 for an alternative reading of the legal implications of the Tristia (and esp. Tr. 2).

84. Foucault (n.82 above), 113–15, excludes literary writers from that category of author who lends his name to a discourse that extends beyond the texts penned by his own hand: the names of those like Ovid who dominate literary history are not objects of appropriation in the way that the names of Marx or Freud or, in our case, Augustus are.

85. The multiple identities of the first person Ovidian voice to emerge throughout the different phases of this poet’s literary career are sufficiently recognisable each time as to ‘neutralise’ (in Foucault’s terms) any inconcinnities that may emerge between his various incarnations. On this, see esp. Foucault (n.82 above), 111: ‘The author is also the principle of a certain unity of writing-all differences having to be resolved, at least in part, by the principles of evolution, maturation or influence.’ In spite of the negative appraisals to which scholars have subjected Ovid’s exile poetry (appraisals that would appear to defy one of the main criteria of attribution advocated by Jerome— and Foucault—namely, that of consistency of quality), none doubts that this body of poetry was written by ‘Naso’: the revisions to which he subjects his literary career in the exilica make these works unmistakably his.

86. As Henderson, J., Figuring out Roman Nobility: Juvenal’s Eighth ‘Satire’ (Exeter 1997), 20, points out, the emperor Claudius (born ‘Ti. Claudius Drusus’) becomes ‘Imp. Ti. Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus’ upon his accession. Nero (born ‘L. Domitius Cn. f. Ahenobarbus’) becomes ‘Imp. Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus’. And so it continues.

87. Suetonius Tib. 25 describes Tiberius’ reluctance to assume the titles of his predecessor.

88. Cf. Henderson, J., ‘Down the Pan: Historical Exemplarity in the Panegyricus’, in Roche, P.A. (ed.), Pliny’s Praise: The Panegyricus in the Roman World (Cambridge, forthcoming 2011) on how Trajan condenses all the aggrandising titles inherited from his predecessors with the superlative title ‘Optimus’.

89. The emperors’ practice of proliferating titles forms part of a larger trend towards increasing polyonymy in aristocratic circles in the imperial period, as courtiers took advantage of both maternal dynasties and testamentary adoptions in order to extend their identity in ever more ramifying spans of Roman history. On this, see Salway, B., ‘What’s in a Name? A Survey of Roman Onomastic Practice from c. 700 B.C. to A.D. 700’, JRS 84 (1994), 124–45, at 131–33, and Henderson (n.86 above), 19–21. Salway’s culminating example of this type of polyonymy is the consul of 169 CE, Q. Pompeius Senecio…Sosius Priscus, whose full name consists of thirty-eight separate elements, and includes fourteen different sets of nomina through a combination of blood and social relationships.

90. Interestingly, however, it is the name that ‘Augustus’ suppresses in the Res Gestae —the name that marks his own inheritance of power from another—that will have the greatest longevity of all: ‘Caesar’ lived on into the twentieth century through a succession of kaisers and tsars.

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Signatures Events Contexts: Copyright at the End of the First Principate

  • Francesco Martelli (a1)


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