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Etruscan identity and self-representation in the Late Republic and Early Empire

Strazzulla, Chiara 2018. Etruscan identity and self-representation in the Late Republic and Early Empire. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The thesis addresses the matter of Etruscan self-representation in the Late Roman Republic, down to and including the early years of Augustus' Principate, and the effect different dynamics of self-representation had on the development of Roman perceptions of Etruscans in that period. Its main focus is to investigate the degree of agency that can be attributed to individuals of Etruscan origins in actively influencing and shaping contemporary perceptions of Etruscans as a group. Individuals of Etruscan origins are identified either by continuing ties to a centre in Etruria, or by active claims to Etruscan heritage. Supporting evidence can be gleaned, with some degree of caution, from epigraphy and onomastics. Self-representation of individuals both in the city of Rome and in Etruria is considered, concentrating in particular on centres in Northern Etruria because of their higher degree of cultural conservativeness. A reflection on theoretical approaches considers different models for ethnic integration and assimilation, as well as the definition of 'ethnicity' as a concept in antiquity, that could be applied to the present period and topic. The main avenues for self-representation of individual of Etruscan origins are then identified as: active intervention in Roman politics, including the Civil Wars; contribution to religious tradition, with particular emphasis on divinatory practices; elite dynamics in Etruscan municipia; contributions by poets of known Etruscan origins to Late Republican and Augustan-period literature. Each of these is explored separately, addressing evidence from ancient sources, archeology and material culture, and epigraphy. The conclusions highlight a much higher degree of agency of individuals of Etruscan origins in shaping perceptions of Etruscan than posited in previous literature, as well as a much greater complexity in the building of multiple identities (nested or parallel), mutual acculturation between Etruria and Rome, and common stereotypes of Etruscans in Rome in the Late Republican period. Reactions to the cultural environment, as well as patterns of allegiance to Roman political factions, appear to have a high degree of variation between different communities, families, and even individuals. At the same time, evidence is present for an active contribution of individuals of Etruscan origins to commonplace ideas about Etruscans in the field of religion and cultural traditions. An active choice appears to be made by individuals to highlight or downplay their Etruscan origins, real or purported, depending on context and their current political needs. Augustan cultural policies aiming to equate Rome with Italy as a 'Roman-culture' block opposed to a generally Oriental one perceived as hostile facilitate this process, allowing for legitimisation of traditions attributed to the Etruscans that can now be perceived as part of a communal 'old-Roman' Italy-wide cultural heritage.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
Uncontrolled Keywords: Etruscan, ethnicity, Late Republic, Roman, Italy
Funders: South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership, AHRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 July 2019
Date of Acceptance: 1 July 2019
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2020 02:23

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