Part One: Notes on “The Public Life of Monuments: The Summi Viri of the Forum of Augustus”
Introduction: “Monuments and Memory”
• Simple definition for monument: “a structure created to commemorate a person or event.” Monuments are used to recreate/reconstruct the past, providing a simplified meaning to complex events. “Highly selective” nature of society’s collective memory. Monuments preserve the past, making one particular historical interpretation or meaning of past events fixed or concrete. This creates the illusion of one shared belief within a society.
• However, the meaning of monuments evolve with the viewer. The authority of monuments derived from “their public’s willingness to make their monuments and the essential illusions that they express their own”
• Focus: summi viri within the Forum of Augustus
• Aims of the article: “understanding the role of memory in different eras of the Roman empire,” Evolution of commemoration over time, relationship between Romans and their monuments. Explore the effects of monuments on public memory and visitor perception. Explore how a collection was “lived and experienced”
• Main Questions: “How did the collection of images and inscriptions shape public memory (and forgetting)? How did visitors perceive it? How did they appropriate it, and to what historical conclusions, what understanding of the Roman empire, might its viewers have been moved?”
“The Summi Viri as a Monument”
• summi viri a work of Augustan ideology and a reflection of historical memory. Represents an effort to restore the past, to establish “historical continuity.” Statues of Roman/Republican heroes within the Forum. Constructed representation of Rome’s past within a public destination
• Focus: “What does it mean to see the collection as a monument, as a structure created to commemorate a person or event?” How monuments work with their audience. Understanding the summi viri requires look at the collection as it was experienced in its time.
• Knowledge of the summi viri deriving from antiquarian writers, inscriptions, wax tablets, replicas. Late Republican/Early Imperial scholars and writers expressing similar views of their history, culminating in Augustus. Scholars view work as a “three-dimensional embodiment of a teleological view of history.” The monument as an “ideological production of the emperor”
“The Monument as Commemoration”
• “What did the collection of summi viri commemorate?” A collective past, collective history
• Forgetting and Loss: Images of Roman founders, kings, heroes culminate in the creation of the Empire under Augustus. General idea of the overall logic within a collection.
• Pompey in 55 BCE filled theatre with spoils of the East. Filling the Republic with thoughts and images of the expanding empire. Cicero writing major geographical work in 59 BCE. Caesar’s Commentaries describe his conquests, planning monumental world map (a precursor to Agrippa’s) to represent his conquests.