The famous inscription from Polla reporting a Roman magistrate’s management of problems and opportunities in Italian and provincial contexts is a perennial tease: its information is rich but contradictory. In this paper we accept a second century bce date for the inscription and the events it reports but leave the much discussed question of the dedicator’s identity aside in order to focus on the inscription’s rhetoric: by looking at the grounds on which the magistrate claims the esteem of his audience, rather than at how the information he provides ‘is consistent with’ some other set of facts, be it an individual career or a war or a political movement, we gain a clearer understanding of his message and intended audience or audiences. What emerges, we suggest, is a magistrate presenting himself as the ‘face’ of Roman hegemony in southern Italy and Sicily, and in the process revealing the complex processes of cooperation and domination, negotiation and concession that were fundamental to Roman hegemony in that period. More particularly, we argue for the relevance of our magistrate’s actions in Sicily to his reception in Lucania, despite the different status of the two areas vis-à-vis the Roman state.
Mnemosyne – Brill
Published: Nov 12, 2014
Keywords: Polla; Roman roads; Lucania; Sicily: provincial administration
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