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This chapter examines monuments and objects depicting the Roman emperor as a violent agent of conquest which were produced in the eastern provinces during the first and second centuries CE. Imagery of the emperor subjugating and enslaving peoples and provinces could be found on large public buildings, such as the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias, as well as on statues, coins, and terracotta votives. The creators and patrons of these imperial representations were influenced both by local (Greek, Egyptian) and by Roman concepts of rulership and artistic traditions. This desire to depict the violent treatment of foreign peoples by Roman emperors demonstrates that eastern patrons and artists sought to identify themselves with the civilised world of Rome, rather than with the subjugated barbarian ‘other’. The Roman emperor was thus envisioned as a protector of his people, and a guarantor of their safety and security. But it is probable that these images also carried a more sinister message, reminding the emperor’s subjects that he could punish them as well.
This chapter examines how different cultural and religious groups constructed narratives of Roman justice between the late first and late third century, and assesses the interactions and connections between these narratives. It focuses on three case studies: (i) the Acta Alexandrinorum, accounts of embassies and trial scenes between Alexandrian Greeks and emperors; (ii) Christian texts, chiefly the apocryphal acts featuring encounters between apostles and emperors and the martyr acts recounting trials before Roman governors; and (iii) Jewish literature, including 1 and 2 Maccabees, and rabbinic texts which include discussions of Roman justice. The narratives of justice created by Alexandrian Greeks, Christians, and Jews in the High Empire are united by the fact that they all rewrite the public transcript of Roman legal authority. These stories show evidence of cross-cultural interactions in both form and content, but this chapter argues that the ultimate purpose and agenda of the different narratives were specific to the community that produced them.