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10 - The Imperial Image in Media of Mechanical Reproduction

The Tokens of Rome

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 November 2020

Amy Russell
Brown University, Rhode Island
Monica Hellström
University of Durham
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This piece explores what the representation of the emperor on lead tokens can reveal about the dynamics of imperial ideology formation. In particular, I explore what effect mass (re)production had on the imperial image in the Roman world. Although representations of the emperor on large media and in important locations were often tightly controlled, on small media that were mass-produced, the image of the emperor escaped the control of the imperial authorities. Paradoxically, this meant that the imperial image increased in power, gathering innumerable associations and meanings as a ‘shared’ image. Allowing the inhabitants of the Roman Empire to be co-creators of imperial ideology meant that ultimately a more personalised, and thus more powerful, connection to the emperor was generated.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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