Listen: C. Brian Rose Asks "Are We Rome?"
C. Brian Rose on the Iconography of War and Triumph
This fall, C. Brian Rose, James B. Pritchard Professor of Archeology at the University of Pennsylvania, delivered the fifth annual Martin Ostwald Memorial Lecture. His talk, "Are We Rome?: Ancient and Contemporary Approaches Toward the Iconography of War and Triumph," considers the designs of war memorials in both antiquity and the 20th century, concentrating on the evolving iconography of power, conflict, and lamentation. The focus is on memorials constructed during the Greek and Roman periods, as well as those that have been erected in the last 50 years. Iconographic elements from Classical antiquity frequently appear in 20th-century designs, but we have entered a new period in the formulation of triumphal monuments, wherein artistic responses to violence, identity, and memory are very different from what one would have experienced in antiquity.
In addition to teaching, Rose is the curator-in-charge of the Mediterranean section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He is the immediate past president of the Archaeological Institute of America and is a trustee of the American Academy in Rome.
Jeremy Lefkowitz: Hello everyone and welcome. I'm Jeremy Lefkowitz, and on behalf of my colleagues and the Classics Department and the Ostwald family as well, I'd like to welcome you all to our, I believe, fifth annual Ostwald Memorial lecture. This afternoon or this evening, we're going to hear a lecture titled, "Are We Rome? Ancient and Contemporary Approaches towards the Iconography of War and Triumph" with Brian Rose, who we are very happy to have here. Brian is the James B. Pritchard professor of archeology at the University of Pennsylvania. He's also the curator in charge at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. Among other things he is the past president of the American Archeological Institute of America, and he is the trustee of the American Academy in Rome.
He's making a return here to Swarthmore in more than one way. He is a product of the tri-co community as the graduate of Haverford and student at Bryn Mawr as well as an undergraduate. He was here, I think, in 2010 or 2011. We had him come in and give us a wonderful talk on his experience talking to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan because among other things, Brian is a wonderful diplomat for the world of archeology but also someone who has had played a very important role speaking to the American military about the protection of cultural heritage in any number of lands that the American military has gone through and has been very effective in that. His work has included his first major book on Dynastic Commemoration and Imperial Portraiture in the Julio-Claudian period, so you can't get much more central than that. He's also published recently the results of his work at Troy where he was leading excavations for 25 years in post-Bronze age Troy. He's now working for the last stretch at Gordion, also in Turkey, two of the most important sites you can imagine in the Near East.
Before he starts though, it's nice to take the opportunity to say a little something about Martin and remind everyone who Martin Ostwald was. Looking out at the audience and seeing people who know Martin and knew Martin much better than I did. I did get to spend a year or two in close contact with him. I have to say that I miss him especially after things like vice presidential debates. I don't think he would have been cynical or dismissive of the political discourse last night. I think he would have really wanted to talk about it. He loved nothing more than making connections between ancient political life and modern. Even though our topic tonight, are we Rome, might make Martin say, "No, we're Athens. It must be some kind of mistake," I think he definitely would have very much appreciated the effort to connect the ancient and the modern by looking at these kinds of political and military expressions.
If we say the same biography of Martin every year at this lecture, it will be repetitive. I think that we have to come up with a new strategy. This year, we're very well-served by a really lovely article that came out in the New Yorker in late August by Andre Aciman, who is a brilliant novelist in his own right and a friend of David Ostwald's. This article in the August 26th New Yorker explored a very late in life relationship, friendship that blossomed between Martin and Lore Ostwald and the German writer Sebald, W. G. Sebald. I wanted to read a couple paragraphs from it. It's very difficult to find exactly the right passage to read because Aciman is such a great writer, and the story really begins with placing Martin and Lore out here in Swarthmore and then connecting them to Sebald, which David helped Andre do and then their epistolary relationship that then blossomed into actual a series of get togethers. Here Aciman is describing his observation of Lore and Martin when he went to meet with them at a restaurant in upper West side of Manhattan.
It nicely describes Lore's attitude towards Germany in contrast to Martin's, which was one of the more difficult things, I think, that he wrestled with throughout his life was his incredible hope and optimism towards his future relationship with Germany despite his horrific experiences there as a child. Aciman writes "Lore and her family were more fortunate than the Ostwald boys, and were able to move to England, and later to the U.S., with the help of their relatives the Wallerstein family, who were already settled there. But Lore could not forget, she said, the night in 1936 that her uncle Franz Reyersbach was sent back to his family from Sachsenhausen, on Christmas Eve, in a nailed coffin. His widow, Grete, and her brother Wilhelm later died in a concentration camp near Riga, Latvia, and her sister Else died in Theresienstadt, in 1943. In 1938, her brother Paul committed suicide, as did his wife Friedel, in 1940, in New York, on facing deportation to Germany, having been denied an extension of her visitor’s visa.
'Schweinehunde, that’s what they are,' Lore said of the Germans. While Martin had returned to Germany several times, including to his parents’ homestead in the village of Sichtigvor, in 1995, Lore had accompanied him only once, with great reluctance. When Germans called to interview her husband, Lore would prohibit Martin from speaking to them; she even tried to prevent her son from visiting Germany on tour with his jazz band. I had noticed that Martin and Lore seldom disagreed, but on the matter of Germany they were at odds. Over dinner at the Mermaid, it seemed that they were having an old argument. Martin wished to build a bridge to today’s Germany; Lore refused to cross it. He still yearned to teach in a German university, even for a while. 'When they bring back your mother,' she said."
I know that was a very dark and depressing interaction, but it's also very revealing I think of these two attitudes that they, and that they could hold those incredibly different views of their past and of their homeland and be as incredibly happy and to communicate on all other matters as well as they did is really remarkable. I think I'll leave it at that. I want to remind students that are here and that will be at dinner that almost everybody here knew Martin pretty well, especially on the faculty side. I was about to say senior, but I just said faculty. Please do ask questions if you're curious about Martin's life. I think you'll find many people that would be willing to share anecdotes. Without any further words, I'd like us all to give a warm welcome to Brian Rose.
C. Brian Rose: Thank you, Jeremy, and my thanks to all of you for coming today. Martin Ostwald was certainly one of the most erudite scholars I've ever met, so it really is an honor to be able to give a lecture in a series that bears his name. I've been thinking about war memorials and military iconography. I suppose since my days as a college at Haverford, there's nothing like Quakerism to make you think of Marshall iconography. This continued in the course of my work at Troy in northwestern Turkey over a period of 25 years and then intensified even further during the time in which I began lecturing to soldiers for Iraq and Afghanistan and Djibouti about cultural heritage protection. I've put this together with an eye toward showing the similarities that I've noticed over time between the designs of war memorials and antiquity of a modern period. I'll address a number of iconographic formulae and themes or concepts. Each one will have an ancient and a modern persona as you'll see as we move through it.
I wanted to start off by saying sometimes it's easy for us to forget the extent to which the wars of the last 15 years have affected who we are and what we do as scholars of antiquity and ancient material culture. If you look at conferences that have been held since 2003, you see the same words repeated over and over again, war and destruction, battle and conflict, violence and trauma. They continue to be held. In fact, there's nothing wrong with that. These are excellent conferences that really have done a great deal to prompt us to look at issues of violence and trauma as well as war and destruction in completely new ways, seeing it through the lens of the conflicts that have been waged all around us. You see this also of course in recent publications, or the publications that have come out since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's no longer surprising to see titles like Combat Trauma and The Ancient Greeks, Landscapes of Violence. War is Spectacle, Conflict in Greece and Rome. There were many more as most of you know. I imagine since there is no perceivable end to the conflicts that these will continue to be produced in the coming years.
Scenes like this or comparisons like this are also no longer uncommon. I've seen this repeatedly where we have a detail from Trajan's column and set up in Rome in Trajan's forum in the early second century AD as you see here. A detail that shows the Roman soldiers holding the severed heads of their Dacian enemies. Holding them up to the emperor Trajan as war trophies. Of course, we've seen the same thing in the last 15 years with the Taliban and with ISIS severing the heads of their enemies, holding them up to video cameras or in some cases even the TV cameras. War trophies in the same way that one could see on the column of Trajan. Again another indication of the extent of which time between antiquity and the modern period has really been collapsed.
One sees this also in the books that have been written about modern warfare and ancient warfare, bringing the two of them together. Most of you are familiar with these Achilles in Vietnam, Odysseus in America, Ajax in Iraq. It's easier for us to see modern conflict through the lens of ancient conflicts, especially the Trojan war. I suspect that this will continue to be a kind of cottage industry where we look at what's happening around us through the eyes of either the Greek or Trojan warriors or both. You see this also in spectacle, theater of war or program that has been staged a number of times in Philadelphia where you have war veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who read from the ancient Greek plays about the Trojan war because this helps them with the healing process. Looking at post-traumatic stress on a diachronic spectrum. Looking at what Ajax and the Greek and Trojan warriors were experiencing by comparison to what they're experiencing.
I remember when I would go to either Iraq or Afghanistan or a variety of military bases throughout the states, and I would give my briefing on cultural heritage protection. I would always be followed by a chaplain who would give the briefing on suicide prevention. He would always cite Ajax when he was giving this presentation, which caused the service, the men and women in the service to look up immediately and to start seeing what they were coping with in the longer, along the longer spectrum than they had done before. That made it easier for them to bear. This is also something that we're done now at the Penn museum, working with the Veteran's Administration Hospital on a program called The Eternal Soldier, where again we try to collapse the distance between antiquity and the modern period. I take them through the Penn museum, [inaudible 00:13:47] and Julia Wilker do the same thing with me. We talk about the Trojan war and the modern wars and the experience of the soldier in both, which for those suffering from post-traumatic stress, there's been a kind of healing process.
Now in terms of war iconography, this is already of course well established by the third millennium BC. These are just two examples, one of which I'm going to bring back to the floor again toward the end of the lecture. One example from Lagash in southern Iraq, southern Mesopotamia. One from Memphis, the one from Memphis of course is from the throne room of the palace of Merneptah in the Penn museum in the lower Egyptian gallery where you see Merneptah's son of Ramses the Second vanquishing his enemies as a group. Then the so called Stele of the Vultures from Lagash dating to about 2500 where you see the war god Ningirsu holding the enemies of Lagash, the residents of the city of Umma in an enormous net. You can see each one of these is a body held in the net of Ningirsu. Then the soldiers of the king, Eannatum, marching on the dead bodies of their enemies, specifically on the heads of the dead bodies. This is all well-established of course by 3,000 BC.
When I began to think about when we get landscapes that are shaped so as to constitute a war memorial, maybe this is just bias, but my mind went to Troy where in the late 7th and early 6th centuries, the people of Troy began to market themselves as people living in the place where the Trojan war had occurred. The Trojan war is described by Homer. There was a reshaping of the mounds and the landscape. Many of these were old neolithic settlement mounds that were either aggrandized or built in some cases from scratch, so that you had a whole field of burial mounds or tumuli, all of which were associated with the Homeric heroes, those who fought in the Trojan war. You see just two examples, tomb of Ajax and the tomb of Achilles.
I did excavate the tomb of Achilles in 1999 and 2000. Achilles was not there. Nobody was there. I found that it was a completely fictive creation that was intended to fit the stature of its alleged occupant. They have built it up as part of a tourism industry at Troy in the 3rd century BC although the beginning of this process can be traced all the way back to the archaic period where they made the site look like a place that was filled with the tombs of warriors who had been part of the Trojan war. These mounds of course continued to be, have continued to be a part of war memorials through time.
You need only think of the memorial at Marathon after the victory in 490 BC, the soros of Marathon. One of the prominent components of the decoration of the soros of Marathon, of course, were the names, the stele, the casualty list, the names of those who had died in the conflict. We get these stele with inscriptions, the casualty lists occurring continually through the 5th century BC, starting probably in the early 5th century and continuing to the early 4th century, although there were a few later examples. We even find one in Dacia during the reign, it's difficult to say whether it's Domitian or Trajan. In Romania, you have the Romans doing one of these monumental casualty lists. As one would have approached the memorial, one would have seen the names, again as one of the most prominent decorative features of that monument.
In some cases, when a temple or an altar to victory, reporting a victory, celebrating a victory, was constructed they would use mythological evocations or analogs that would describe the kind of triumph that had taken place. These are three prominent examples. The Parthenon, of course is constructed in the 440's and 430's to celebrate the Greek victory over the Persians in the Persian wars. In the architectural decoration, we have [inaudible 00:18:24] on all four sides, none of which actually shows Greeks and Persians in conflict. The triumph is recorded through mythological analog, so the battles with the centaurs, the giants, the Amazons, and of course the Trojan war. You find a similar sort of thing on the Pergamon altar celebrating the Attalic victory over the Gauls in the second half of the 3rd century BC. Although there are Gaulic victory monuments in other parts of Pergamon, they don't appear on the Pergamon altar. All you have as the primary decoration is the gigantomachy battle between the gods and the giants. Then of course the narrative that describes the life and exploits of Telephus, the mythical founder of Pergamon, the son of Heracles.
You see this also in Roman victory temples. One example would be the Temple of Apollo Palatinus on the Palatine, built in Rome, built by Augustus shortly after his victory over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium. You won't find any prominent architectural decoration on the temple per se, but in front of it you have the statues of the 50 daughters of Danaus who of course killed their bridegrooms, the sons of Aegyptus on their wedding night. The mass slaughter of the sons of a man named Aegyptus as a mythological analog for the Roman victory over Egypt in 31 BC. Sometimes the hero or the god or an earlier commander whose exploits were being revived by the current commander, there would be an effusion of the iconography of the two.
The most prominent of course is the lion skin of Heracles, which is worn repeatedly by commanders throughout the Greek and Roman period as a way of indicating that the strength, the wisdom, the power of Heracles is revisited or born again, revived in the persona of the commander who's being represented. You of course see Alexander the Great on the Alexander sarcophagus from the late 4th century BC, Mithradates IV from the late 2nd century BC who actually claimed to be a descendant of Heracles as of course Alexander did. Then Commodous, the Roman emperor Commodous in the late 2nd century AD as Heracles. Eventually moves into the private realm. You don't necessarily need a king to take over the guise. You'll find private portraits in North Africa or all over the Mediterranean presenting usually himself as Heracles following some valorous deed that they wanted to record.
In some cases what the victorious commanders would do is to take weapons from the enemy and dedicate them in a public spot along with an inscription indicating the nature of the victory. A prominent example of that comes from Alexander the Great as you know whose three battles, Issus, Granicus, and Gaugamela were fought in Granicus in northwestern Turkey, Issus in southeastern Turkey, and Gaugamela in Erbil. I always give the names. I usually ask my students if you were to fly to an airport near these battles, where would you go? I like to put them in space. This is probably the battle of Issus. After the battle of Granicus in 334, Granicus is about a two hour drive east of Troy. If you were flying into an airport, you would fly into Çanakkale. After the battle of Granicus in 334, Alexander took the bronze shields of the Persians and dedicated them on the architrave of the Parthenon at the Athenian Acropolis. Then subsequently inscriptions of Nero after his battle with the Parthians, the successors of the Persians, would be installed between those shields.
We have a series of temporal cross references, all focused on eastern conquests, the Greeks over the Persians in the Persian wars, Alexander over the Persians at the battle of Granicus, and then ultimately Nero and Corbulo over the Persians in the late 50's and early 60's. You find this also taking place in Rome. This is one example. Hieron of Syracuse who dedicated, Hieron I of Syracuse in Sicily who dedicated some of the bronze helmets worn by his Etruscan foes at the battle of Cumae in 474 to the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia. Marcus Furius Camillus after his battle against the Etruscans at Veii in 396 intended to do the same thing, sending them to Delphi. The weapons of the enemy are prominent feature of these triumphal monuments. We'll visit this again later. This of course is one that's remained where the inscription remains visible, and so we know exactly how it's fitting into the overall sense of triumph.
As we move into the Roman period, they continued to showcase the armor of the enemy in their triumphal monuments although some of the triumphal monuments would consist of Roman trophies or Roman weapons, which were organized [inaudible 00:23:51] on the friezes. They would go further than that. They would build trophies in the area where the battle had actually occurred. The three most prominent of which are the trophy of Pompey in the Pyrenees over the tribes of Spain, the La Turbie monument of Augustus, the reconstruction of which you see over here. On the Riviera, very close to Nice, this is where Princess Grace drove off the cliff. She will come back to us as well. Then, in the course of the lecture, the concept. Then the battle of [inaudible 00:24:30] in southeastern Romania, which of course was one of Trajan's most prominent victories.
As part of those trophies, in addition to weapons of the enemy, you would also find giant lists of all of the names of those who had been conquered, the tribes that had been conquered. This was the case with Pompey's trophy in the Pyrenees, which was discovered not that long ago, and it was certainly the case with Augustus's trophy at La Turbie in southeastern France, a copy of which you see here from the Museum of Roman Civilization in Rome. An encyclopedic presentation of the extent of the area of conflict, or the area where the triumph had occurred. This would extend even further once Agrippa makes a map in the early empire of the extent of the empire, of the Roman empire as it existed at that time, a monumental map in the [inaudible 00:25:31].
We get a sense of what it must have been like to look at these maps by looking at the maps of Mussolini on the street of the Imperial Fori, the Via dei Fori Imperiali, originally the street of the empire, showing the gradual progression of Rome leading up to its largest extent during the reign of Trajan. Of course, originally there was a fifth map that showed the empire of Mussolini since removed. This was a way of indicating cartographically how large the empire had become. We find this presented as well through personifications of each of the areas in the empire that have been subdued up to that point. What I'm showing you here is the Aphrodisias Sebasteion. I had the good fortune of digging here for five years in graduate school. This is a site in southwestern Turkey not far from the city of Afyon, not all that far from Ephesus for those of you who know your ancient sites. It was a monumental complex to the imperial cult. The word for Augustus in Greek of course is [inaudible 00:26:41]. Is a complex built in honor of the imperial cult, Augustus and his successors in the course of the Julio-Claudian period.
There were three porticoes on either side of processional wave that led to a temple to the Julio-Claudian emperors. As you see, this is being re-erected. Three story porticoes. This is what it looked like as of the end of last summer. This is the south portico. On the north portico, which I'm not showing you was an encyclopedic series, which included anthropomorphic representations of each of the regions that had been subdued by the Romans up to the Julio-Claudian period. Fortunately, each of them was inscribed, so you can see the Pirustae, which would be part of Yugoslavia, the Dacians, the Bessi, so that would be Thrace and Crete over here. In trying to find models for these personifications of the regions of the empire, they would always choose women, so female representations in each of the conquered regions or each of the places that were being represented. There weren't a lot of martial models to choose from.
Many of these women, each of whom and there were 50 of them representing the conquered regions of the empire, many of the women had iconography drawn from the iconography of the Amazons and Athena or Minerva. You see on the left the relief of Claudius vanquishing the personification of Britain. Fortunately that one too comes with an inscription. We could have figured it out either without the inscription, but it's always good to have it. You see Britain is presented as if she's an Amazon. Then here you see the Pirustae, let's just say Yugoslavia because right now I'm not sure if it's Serbia, Croatia, or Slovenia. Let's just say Yugoslavia. She was initially not identified as the Pirustae because how could you know? She looks like Athena or Minerva. It was only, even after we found the base, which was found separate from the statue, we weren't sure that this one went with this one because they were found some distance apart. This was one of the first ones I found.
It was only upon scrutinizing the back, yeah, only upon scrutinizing the back of the relief, so you see it here with the inscription and here in detail, where I saw that the workman who put up the relief had scratched Piruston on the background. They had the same trouble that we do. Everybody looked like Athena or an Amazon. How would you even match the proper relief with the proper inscription? They had some assistance. No one of course would have seen this inscription, this little graffito from six meters below, which is what you're viewing angle would have been. Obviously it meant everything to us. After we saw that this is what they thought the Pirustae should look like, there was a scholar in Rome who said, "I've seen that image before on the upper section of the Forum Transitorium, the forum of the mission of Nerva, the penultimate imperial forum in Rome. As many of you know, only one relief survives from the attic zone, although we have quite a number of slabs surviving from the frieze below it.
This figure had always been interpreted as Minerva. It was always said that in each of the days of the forum, and there would have been 50, 75 days, Minerva would have appeared in each day. This is unprecedented anywhere in the ancient world to have Minerva repeated over and over and over. Admittedly the temple in the forum was dedicated to her, but this would have been overkill. It was only once the Aphrodisias relief was found that it became clear this isn't Minerva at all. You can see again the relief of the Pirustae here, and the relief from the Forum Transitorium here. You see it's almost identical iconography. In all likelihood, it's a provincial personification. It's a conquered region. There were probably 50 or 75 of these just as there were in the Aphrodisias Sebasteion again advertising the encyclopedic scope of the empire but doing it through images rather than through words. Some of these, this is why I always say to my students, "You can't understand Rome unless you understand the provinces. You can't understand the provinces unless you understand Rome." You really have to do the entire Mediterranean. You also have to do the Near East, which is why the Bryn Mawr program was so good, classical and near eastern archeology.
As they were putting together the iconography of these victory monuments, they faced a kind of ambiguous iconography with which they had to engage, and which obviously gave them some trouble from time to time in that the costumes worn by the Parthians, the bitterest foes of the Romans, Phrygian cap, trousers was also worn by Trojans, the founders of the Roman people and also by Attis the consort of Cybele or the Magna Mater, whose temple was situated on the southwest corner of the Palatine Hill, the most sacred area of Rome with more legendary associations than any other area. You have a very charged iconography altered in the extremely high or extremely low depending upon the context. You'll find Parthians dressed in the same way as Attis and the same way as Ascanius, the son of Aeneas. This is a relief from the Aphrodisias Sebasteion again. Aeneas leaving Troy with his father and [inaudible 00:32:36] on his shoulders, Aphrodite hovering over the group, Ascanius here, and interestingly since this was done during the reign of Nero, they've inserted the portrait type of Nero into Aeneas, not unlike what we've seen with the lion scalp of Heracles on the heads of Alexander and Mithridates VI or Commodous.
In some areas this kind of dual iconography or bilingual iconography obviously made the designer somewhat hesitant. At Aphrodisias they'll put trousers on Ascanius, but dress Aeneas as a contemporary Roman general. The costume of the son signifies past, and the costume of the father signifies the present. In Augusta Emerita in Spain where there's a duplicate, there's a copy of the forum of Augustus, complete with the shields and the caryatids, an exact copy from what we can tell, there's an Aenean group there as there was in the forum of Augustus. Here Ascanius doesn't have the trousers. They couldn't it seems bring themselves to put the trousers on Ascanius even though all of these groups are made at roughly the same time. Again, the context dictated whether the iconography was high or low, and as a consequence you won't find any places in Rome or anywhere else where a Trojan is shown next to a Parthian. How could you? Because it would have highlighted the fact that the iconography was too ambivalent in a sense. You could get around it by saying it was the destiny of Rome to dominant the east from which it had originally come. Putting a Trojan next to a Parthian brought up too many unpleasant issues.
Not all the images of the Parthians or any enemy in Rome were presented as consistently chained or subdued or groveling, begging for life in the process of dying. There were different periods. If you look at the Parthians during the Augustan period here a reconstruction of the Parthian arch, almost certainly dedicated on the occasion of the [inaudible 00:34:44] in 17 BC. The first one with gilded bronze letters, easy to read print for those with eye problems. On top of that you had Parthians who were not shown as subjugated but as contributors to the peace that Augustus had established, offering the standards lost by Crassus to the Parthians at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC back to Augustus. Now their lower position and the smaller scale clearly indicates who is the victor and who is the vanquished, but nevertheless, they're not shown with the kinds of chains that they would be 200 years later directly across the forum on the pedestal reliefs of the arch of Septimius Severus where the Parthians are again shown in the same chain way that they are on Roman republican coinage.
What some of this is a little ironic in that the soldiers who were parading these chained Parthians in trousers and Phrygian cap are simultaneously worshiping a god who wears trousers and a Phrygian cap because of course one of the primary religions of the Roman soldiers was the religion of Mithras, who is an eastern god and as such like Attis will wear trousers and a Phrygian cap and Persian garb in general. You have them worshiping a god who looks like a Parthian at the same time in which they're actively fighting and subduing the Parthians, and Parthians are being presented as captives, led in chains through the streets of Rome on the triumphal arches that are being erected at that time.
The religion of Mithras of course is a mystery cult based on an ancient that dies and then comes back to life, so a dying and rising god or a dying and rising ancient. The kind of triumphal format that's used for Mithras signifying the spiritual triumph also begins to be used in Christianity or in Christian iconography in the early 4th century AD. They essentially take a triumphal arch, which always stood in the exterior of the area, that were outside a building, and they insert the triumphal arch into the interior of the building directly over the altar, so that the triumph was now spiritual rather than military although of course it's still signifying triumph.
In association with these mystery cults, again an agent, an entity who dies and will eventually rise again, come back to life, who will be a redemptive element in the cult, we find the dominance of the empty chair. If you look at a relief from the Julio-Claudian period of the façade of the temple of Cybele or the Magna Mater, again on the southwest corner of the Capitoline hill, what is in the center of the pediment? It is an empty throne, again, which is common for these mystery cults. You find that also on reliefs that are carried by the Phrygian priests or the priests of Cybele who wear Eastern costume, trousers and a Phrygian cap. You'll also find it in the other dominant mystery religion of this period, Christianity, and I'm showing you an image from one of the mosaics in Rivera where the empty throne of Christ is the dominant feature. Of course, you see this as well in the Basilica of St. Peters in Vatican City where you have an empty throne above the altar. We'll come back to that as well.
As we move through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, I was trying to think of characters who put on, as it were, ancient garb to make a point about the glories of the past now being repeated in the present or the injustices of the past now being rectified by the present, of which they were a part and in which they served as a commander. My two favorite examples are these. They relate to Trojan ancestry. As you know in the late Middle Ages, even in the early Middle Ages, late Middle Ages Renaissance, you have plenty of people, nearly everyone actually, claiming Trojan ancestry. The Franks, the British, the Goths, the Scandinavians, The Huns, the Venetians, and the Turks, and the Byzantines. Really there wasn't anybody left who was Greek. Everybody was Trojan. That led to some unusual interactions. When Pierre of [inaudible 00:39:14] during the 4th crusade of 1204 sacks the Greek city of Constantinople, he reportedly said, "I have finally gotten revenge on the Greeks who destroyed the city of my kinsmen, the Trojans, by now sacking the Greeks in Constantinople." Then too because he was a Frank, and he was descended from the Trojans.
Then 250 years later, when Mehmed the II, Mehmed the Conqueror, whom you see here in this portrait by Bellini, nine years after his conquest of Constantinople he goes to Troy and reportedly says, "I have finally gotten revenge on the Greeks who have destroyed the city of my kinsmen the Trojans by now sacking the Greeks in Constantinople." He's saying exactly the same words as Pierre of [inaudible 00:39:56] because the Turks at this point are claiming Trojan ancestry as had the Franks. In other words, they again have put on Trojan clothes like the Romans have done 150 years earlier, 2,000 years earlier. This continues in a way up to the present. I know that, I didn't put this into the PowerPoint, but when I was digging at Troy in 1999, and Turkey had applied long ago for membership in the European union, a membership request that is still pending, the president of Turkey at that time, Süleyman Demirel, came to Troy in his helicopter and gave a speech next to the colossal wooden horse that lies at the entrance to the site.
He said, "The Trojans were people of Asia, and the Turks are people of Asia. In a sense we are one people. Let's all remember that Troy lies at the foundation of the Iliad, and the Iliad lies at the foundation of the European cultural tradition. As a consequence, Troy and the region in which it's now located, Turkey, Turkey lies at the foundation of the European cultural tradition. Therefore, Turkey should be a member of the European union." These Trojan identities are still very much in force. It's not restricted to the Franks and the Turks or the Venetians or the Goths. This inclination to look back on the heroes or gods who were great figures of the past as a way of emphasizing that the greatness of the past has accelerated even further in the present.
We had it in America in the 19th century with the statue of George Washington as Zeus Olympios which was done by Horatio Greenough on the 100th anniversary of his birth as if to say that the greatness of Zeus Olympios is revived in the form of George Washington by using exactly the same body type with his portrait on the top of it to evoke that. This is the sort of thing that the Greeks would never had done to put a so called aged or veristic portrait type on a youthful body. The Romans did it. The general [inaudible 00:42:22], there's an example of there. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel where a god is creating Adam, God looks 60 in his face, but his body is that of a 20 year old. You have sort of the same principle prevailing here.
This accelerated even further in the 20th century with a series of dictators both east and west, or a series of politicians, let me say, both east and west. Of course, you're familiar with many of the experiments, the visual experiments of Mussolini who was presenting himself as Augustus revived or reborn, who would create an empire even greater ultimately than the one that Augustus had created. The number of inscriptions and types or images, iconographic elements that had been used by Augustus are frequent additions to the coins, medallions, and stamps that were produced by Mussolini. You see him here with the title [foreign language 00:43:18], and you see new medallions of Augustus, [foreign language 00:43:23] that are struck with the Capricorn, Augustus's zodiac sign prominently featured, stamps that show scenes from the [inaudible 00:43:32] the Augustan gem, one of the most important cameos surviving from the late Augustan period, in this case the fertile earth with cornucopia flanked by two youths, Romulus and Remus iconography. Panels of the Ara Pacis, which Mussolini had restored on the occasion of the 2000 year anniversary of the birth of Augustus in 1937. Then, Augustus himself seen here in the Augustus from Prima Porta, a statue.
Of course, he wasn't the only one to do it. If we go into the Near East, a few decades later, we find the same sort of thing happening with the shah of Iran at the beginning of the 1970's when he celebrated the 2,500 year anniversary of the foundation of the Persian empire. I don't know if the shah was taking his cue from Mussolini having celebrated the 2,000 year anniversary of the birth of Augustus, but they certainly work well together. You could have seen the shah going to the tomb of Cyrus at the Pasargadae and saluting it as if he was not necessarily the reincarnation of Cyrus, but his direct descendant. That was the message that he was trying to convey. He was also trying to convey the same notion that Mussolini had done, that the greatness of the Persian empire was now going to be revisited with the rule of the shah.
To convey that point, he dressed the presidential guard or the royal guard as ancient Persian soldiers. You see them dressed here as they would have appeared in ancient Persian iconography, which surely hastened the revolution. You can imagine yourself as one of the soldiers. Then there was a magnificent celebration at Persepolis, the capital of the Persian empire. Persepolis remember was decorated with reliefs, most of which have survived intact showing the subject nations of the Persian empire bringing gifts to the Persian king. You'll find, in a sense it's like the Aphrodisias Sebasteion although with a stronger narrative where you have each of these figures representing a different region of the Persian empire, all giving the Persian king gifts.
Obviously the shah wanted to replicate that spectacle. He invited the crown heads and great leaders of the world to come to Persepolis, all who came with gifts, just like 2,500 years ago. You see some of them aligned here who were essentially replicating what you could have seen in the Apadana reliefs of Persepolis. When I was taking to Grace prior to this lecture, I said, "How many in the audience will be over 50?" She said, "Enough." Let me ask you who we have here. Who is this? Spiro Agnew, good. And this? I can give you a clue with the pointer. Good. What about here?
Speaker 3: Grace.
Brian: Princess Grace. Right, I told you I'd bring her back. Here she is with Prince Rainier. And, Haile Selassie was there. They were all there, all these great rulers from around the world with gifts, replicating what had happened 2,500 years ago. The same sort of thing happens in Iraq in the 1980's when Saddam Hussein wanted to present himself as the second Nebuchadnezzar, and there are inscriptions wherein he refers to himself as Nebuchadnezzar reborn in essence. You're all familiar with the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, which was built around 600 BC and is often regarded as a kind of symbol of the greatness of Mesopotamia in antiquity. Now of course in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Saddam Hussein built a replica of the Ishtar Gate in downtown Baghdad with the colossal image of himself rising from it. Remember Nebuchadnezzar was the original builder. The two are placed right next to each other like Mussolini and Augustus and the Shah and Cyrus. It's really the same sort of phenomenon. Of course, it's all drawing on similar experiments that were done in antiquity. Again, summoning back to your minds the image of Mithridates VI wearing the lion's skin of Heracles. Really, it's the same phenomenon.
One of the most unusual triumphal monuments of Saddam Hussein was build in central Baghdad. It's a triumphal arch. Perhaps it's our most recent triumphal arch anywhere in the world, built in the 1980's with two crossed swords. There are in fact four hands all together, two cross swords at the beginning of the processional route, and two at the end of the processional route. The hands are modeled directly on the hands of Saddam Hussein, taken from molds of Saddam Hussein's hands. They were the victim of iconoclasm because they represented Saddam Hussein. When I was there, last time I was in Baghdad was 2009, they had pulled off the bronze plate around half of the hand. The American soldiers finally stopped them because they said the hands would now become a hazard to the pedestrians who were walking underneath them, not that there were that many pedestrians walking underneath them after 2003. Nevertheless, the iconoclasm was stopped.
Around the hands, you have these giant nets of helmets and then as you walk along the processional way from one set of triumphal arched hands to the other one, this is what it's like. These are the helmets of the Iranian enemies of Saddam Hussein that have been embedded in concrete all along the length of the processional way, so that as you walk on the processional way, you as a triumphant Iraqi soldier, you're walking on the heads of your enemies, which is the ultimate sign of defeat, of deprecation. In fact, the other thing that Saddam Hussein did at the same time was to install a new mosaic in the vestibule of the Al Rashid hotel, which was the most luxurious hotel in Baghdad. That mosaic, this is 1992, that mosaic was a portrait of George Bush, the first George Bush, so that everyone who entered the hotel had to walk on the head of George Bush as they were entering the building. It was the same sort of philosophy or principle as we see with the processional way.
These nets are also filled with the captured helmets of the Iranian enemies. You can think back to here on the first sending the captive Etruscan helmets from the Battle of Cumae to Olympia or Marcus Furius Camillus planning to do the same thing after the Battle of Veii in 396. The idea is an old one, and it's even older than I thought. When I originally looked at this, I couldn't understand why the helmets were in nets. I mean, I did in the abstract. Nets obviously indicate capture, and the Iranians at least, as far this art goes, the Iranians were in theory captured by the Iraqis. You know of course they weren't, but it's the triumphal monument. It doesn't have to tell the truth. It just has to market itself well. Why would this particular form or motif, device, have been adopted?
One day I was talking to Donnie George in Baghdad. He's the former director of the former and unfortunately recently deceased director of the Baghdad Archeological Museum. I said, "I never understood the nets with the Iranian helmets that Saddam Hussein used in his triumphal arch." He said, "I know. Once I was having coffee with Saddam Hussein, and I asked him the same question. He said that he had gotten the idea from the Stele of the Vultures," which I showed you was the second slide of this top where you have the war god Ningirsu of Lagash holding the enemy in a giant net. Saddam Hussein saw this as Mesopotamia's first great triumphal monument of 2500 BC and decided to replicate it. That's why you've got all these helmets in a net because Ningirsu had done the same thing.
The use of names as a dominant element in war memorials is of course also something that we can trace back to antiquity. I had mentioned the war memorial at Marathon had the Athenian casualty list that list the names of all of those who have died organized by tribe. Of course in 20th century memorials, both World War I and more recently we've seen the dominance of the name. Names really is the dominant element in the decoration of the monument. That certainly was the case initially with the Vietnam war memorial and of course more recently with the World Trade Center memorial. I brought up this article from the arts and leisure section of the New York Times. Names, large groups of names, provide us with a kind of comfort, and that was signaled by the arts and leisure as would be, as is easily understandable because we do find it comfortable. You have both the individual and a community represented simultaneously. That in itself is a kind of victory.
If we look at the figural decoration of modern war memorials, it's a very different thing from what we've experienced in antiquity. You don't have victor and vanquished anymore. You only have one side represented, the side that's associated with the dedicator of the memorial. Unlike ancient monuments where you have the victorious commander brandishing a sword on horseback, now at least to my eye in the figural groups that have been done most recently, the soldiers look lost. They look as if they're not certain of their purpose in this war or the purpose of the war itself. You have injected into it the ingredient of mourning, of loss, of tragedy, which you wouldn't have seen in the same way in the Roman triumphal monuments that I've shown you earlier. These are the figural additions to the Vietnam memorial, which were demanded in essence by the veterans who felt that the V with the names was an inappropriate kind of commemoration for what had happened. This more recently, a monument to the Russian intervention in Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 in Kiev, although there are many such memorials for the Afghan war all over Russia now.
I mentioned earlier that sometimes people will use a mythological analog to convey the nature of the battle, the Parthenon, gigantomachy, centauromachy, amazonomachy, order over chaos, rationality of irrational forces. Do we find this in memorials today? I don't know how common it is. This is what always comes to my mind when I ask myself that question. Those of you who are college students may not know about this, but there were four students at Kent State University in northeastern Ohio who were shot by the National Guard. This was in the course of the Vietnam War in May of 1970. The university wanted to build a commemorative monument honoring the memory of these students. They commissioned the sculptor George Segal to do the sculpture. They wanted a sculpture. They wanted figures in the monument. George Segal produced this, Abraham and Isaac. Not using the standard mythological analog, but using a Biblical analog or what he felt was an appropriate Biblical analog to reflect the sense of sacrifice that was incorporated into what had occurred in 1970 although he's made it contemporary. He's dressed Abraham and Isaac in clothes of 1970, so that it updates it.
It was done on the Ara Pacis as well where the designers of the Ara Pacis take the Trojans scene, the Trojan scene of the arrival at Lavinium, but they dress the [inaudible 00:56:44] and Aeneas as ... the [inaudible 00:56:48] are dressed as contemporary Romans. Aeneas is dressed as an older Republican Roman, but they're all dressed as Romans. They're not dressed as Trojans. The story has been pulled into the present. Segal tried to do the same thing with this Biblical analog with Abraham and Isaac linked to Kent State shootings. Kent State was horrified when they saw this and said, "This makes it look like we were endorsing murder, and we won't allow the statue to be erected on campus. It would cause more violence that would outpace even the original event." Segal offered to Princeton University, which is where it is today, next to the chapel at Princeton University. When I try to think of mythological stories or mythological icons that have been pressed into the service of commemoration of a more contemporary war or contemporary event in a kind of war, this is what I think of.
Staying with this issue of influence of ancient on modern, I had mentioned of course the empty chair in the cult of Cybele, the Magna Mater, and in early Christianity. Of course, we've seen that in modern memorials, the tragedy in Oklahoma City where you have an empty chair with a name inscribed on it, one for each of those who had died in the bombings in Oklahoma City in the 1990's. You see the chairs from a distance here and then a more detailed image of the chair. Were the designers thinking of the empty chairs in Christianity? They may have been because of course the empty chair above the altar in St. Peters is a very prominent image. Were they thinking of the Magna Mater? I doubt it. Nevertheless, you can put all of them together, and they're in a sense conveying the same general idea.
Of course in antiquity there were plenty of sculptures that were intended to convey the loss experienced by soldiers in the Trojan war. This is arguably the most famous, the so-called Pasquino group, which was probably created in the late third or early second century BC and almost certainly shows Ajax and Achilles, Ajax carrying Achilles's body from the battlefield. We find that motif or that formula continually revived for war memorials. Not all of it is identical to what we see in the Pasquino group, but I'm always reminded of the group on the battlefield of Gallipoli just across the Dardanelles from Troy where you have a Turkish soldier carrying the body of a wounded Australian soldier. It's not identical to the Pasquino, but again, you could profitably put the two of them side by side.
These Trojan groups commemorating loss are applicable to a wide variety of circumstances. Really any sense of loss can be linked to these Trojan scenes. We've seen that more recently with the dominance of Trojan motifs on books about AIDS, where AIDS is made analogous or presented as analogous to the wars that were fought on the battlefields of Troy. This is only one example of a Trojan motif focused on loss that you find on a cover of an AIDS memoir. In fact there are very many. These motifs as I say are timeless. They're endlessly flexible and adaptable to a wide variety of situations associated with tragedy.
More recently we've had to deal with the issue of how to commemorate the World Trade Center destruction and the loss of lives there. There were many after the destruction who urged a design solution analogous to that of the Greeks after the Persian wars. Leaving the shell of the building as a ruin to commemorate what had happened here as was done of course with the Parthenon after the Persian wars. That part of the Acropolis was left as a ruin for nearly 30 years until finally the new Parthenon was built, so that the monument showcased as a ruin, and we've seen this of course repeatedly in the monuments of World War II, the memory church, Gedächtniskirche in Berlin or Coventry Cathedral or the public buildings of Hiroshima, all left as ruins. Many urged that the same thing be done for the World Trade Center. They decided not to do that. They took the surviving elements. They put them in a warehouse, divided them into groups, and then shipped each piece out to different communities who then used those pieces of the World Trade Center as memorials to the event that had occurred.
Once I went to a workshop sponsored by the anthropology department at Penn, and they were talking about power. What kind of object has the highest level of power? How do you measure it? One of the things that some were saying is that the object with the greatest power will be one in which you cut the object up into an infinite number of pieces, and each one of those pieces will have the same level of power as the original ensemble, or the original structure or piece. Some would say that saint's relics are like this in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. Others would say that the World Trade Center in a way is like this. These are our relics. These in a sense are relics for the 21st century, not by any means identical to saint's relics, but not completely divorced from them either.
As we look at these kinds of monuments, where do we find ourselves? The ancient monuments, the modern monuments. There's been a kind of redefinition of what traditional conflict is. There are no longer clear winners or losers, victors or vanquished. There aren't necessarily two sides to a conflict. There aren't necessarily any sides to a conflict. It's become increasingly difficult to find the words and the images that can convey the complex range of emotions that accompany the sense of loss or tragedy or in some cases victory. I'm sure that as new monuments are created, there will be plenty of iconographic motifs drawn from the classical areas of the world. That will be incorporated as elements of the design. Certainly the monuments of the 20th century that I've shown you are ample proof of that. The redefinition of traditional conflict that we've seen all around us is stimulating responses to the issues of memory, identity, and violence, rather different from what one would have experienced in antiquity.
If you ask me, what are the monuments in 25 years, in 30 years, in 50 years, what are the monuments in Kabul or Baghdad going to look like? What are the monuments in Istanbul or Paris or Brussels going to look like, or those in Aleppo? All of these areas one day will receive commemorative monuments. What sorts of design schemes will there be? I have no idea. I only know that one cannot hope to understand the present without a firm grasp of the past. Indeed an ability to see the past in the present. Certainly this is a theme that pervaded all of Martin Ostwald's writings and all of this lectures. In commemoration of that, I want to thank him in memoriae for the examples, scholarly example that he has set for all of us. Thank you for listening to me tonight.