Scipio Africanus is normally described as an extraordinary general and politician, whose exploits, charisma, and innovative techniques for self-promotion enabled him to reach unparalleled prominence. His public presentation has been interpreted as a product of both Roman and Hellenistic influences (Haywood 1933, Scullard 1930 and 1970, Gabriel 2008). The level of Hellenistic influence has, however, probably been under-estimated, especially from the 3rd Century BC. The century prior to Scipio’s rise to prominence saw a string of remarkable honours at Rome which seem best understood with reference to Hellenistic practice and ideas. The examples of Alexander the Great and his successors were important as precedents for Scipio. Fabricius Luscinus (cos. 282, 278), a hero against the Samnites and Pyrrhus, was buried in the city, something like a founder (Cic. Leg. 2.58; Plut. Mor. 282f-283a). Metellus and Duilius received extraordinary honours during the First Punic War as elite competition sought new ways to promote new types and levels of achievement outside Italy. This presentation, then, seeks to re-examine the formation of Scipio Africanus’ public image by applying new insights to the powerful discourse of political promotion that he inherited, embodied, and exploited.


Room 536, Level 5 Michie Building