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Between History and Myth: Septimius Severus and Leptis Magna

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2012

ORIETTA DORA CORDOVANA
Affiliation:
ORIETTA DORA CORDOVANA is Humboldt Senior Fellow at the Excellence Cluster ‘TOPOI’ – Freie Universität Berlin. orietta.d.cordovana@gmail.com

Extract

The aim of this article is to demonstrate the connections between political history and the use of myth for political purposes at Leptis Magna, birthplace of the African emperor Septimius Severus. The city, capital of the Tripolitanian Emporia in North Africa, was extensively restructured by the emperor and his son, Caracalla, after the civil wars of 193–7 AD. The urban renewal involved the harbour, perhaps very early in 198, and the Eastern area of the city close to the bank of the wadi Lebdah (see figure 1). The inscriptions on the buildings clearly refer to the period of their construction: the Forum Novum Severianum was completed between 202 and 205; the Basilica was built between 209–10 and completed under Caracalla in 215–16; a lead fistula from the Nympheum gives evidence that it was finished in 210. The inscription for the dedication of the tetrapylon arch is missing. This imposing monument on the cross-way between the cardo and the decumanus maximus of the city was the first visible to anyone approaching the city from the hinterland. Scholars now agree in placing its construction around 202–3, during the imperial family's stay in North Africa.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Classical Association 2012

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