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The reign of Janus: towards a semiotics of mid-republican Rome

Dan-el Padilla Peralta (Princeton)
image of double-headed Janus from Vienna
Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 4:30pm
room tba

Prof. Padilla Peralta's description:  Modern narratives of Rome's transformation from city-state to imperial Republic justifiably make much of military exploits, and the constitutional and political innovations that fueled and sustained Roman bellicosity. In the spirit of Tzvetan Todorov's attention to signs and signification as instruments of empire formation (The conquest of America [1984]), this talk will argue for the existence of a semiotic battlefield in 3rd-century BCE Italy, one whose rules Romans became increasingly adept at manipulating and mastering. My chosen case study will be the cult of Janus, a divinity whose appearance on Rome's third-century coinages reflects the middle Republic's quickening interest in fixing and projecting a particular brand of signifying power.

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