Gods of Cultivation and Food Supply in the Imperial Iconography of Septimius Severus

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Title: Gods of Cultivation and Food Supply in the Imperial Iconography of Septimius Severus
Author: Rantala, Jussi
Publisher: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
Date: 2016-04
Language: en
Belongs to series: 20
ISBN: 978-951-51-2024-3
ISSN: 1796-2986
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/161316
Abstract: This article deals with the question of the role of gods involved with cultivation, grain and food supply in the Roman imperial iconography during the reign of Septimius Severus. By evaluating numismatic and written evidence, as well as inscriptions, the article discusses which gods related to grain and cultivation received most attention from Septimius Severus, and how their use helped the emperor to stabilize his rule. It appears that the three main deities used by Severus were Annona, Ceres and Tellus. The use of Annona and Ceres was concentrated in the first years of Severan rule, when the emperor was out of the capital and fighting wars. Apparently, the importance of Annona, the goddess symbolizing imperial food supply, was connected with the acts of the emperor: wars and other crisis were periods when food supplies to the capital were often under threat. When Severus returned to Rome for a somewhat longer period, more emphasis was put on Tellus, traditional goddess of agriculture and a deity connected with a Golden Age – as the emperor was now in the capital, this meant an age of peace and plenty for his subjects. As a result, it could be argued that the use of fertility gods was closely related to the acts of Severus himself – thus legitimizing his image as a protector of his subjects.
Subject: Septimius Severus
Food supply
Rights: Author(s) and Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

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