Sarah Prince (The University of Queensland) ‘Scipio Abroad: The Image of Scipio Africanus in Spain’


The exploits of Scipio Africanus in the Second Punic War have captivated ancient and modern audiences. However, traditional scholarly analyses have approached Scipio’s career through a military lens that tends to describe him as a Roman conqueror. As a result, the impact of the hellenistic world on his self-presentation is often underestimated. Yet, Scipio presented himself according to ideals and techniques that would best appeal to contemporary audiences. In Rome, he advertised his virtus in battle and links with the pietas of Aeneas. In his Spanish command (211-206 BC), Scipio embraced the tenets of hellenistic kingship and emulated the precedents of Alexander the Great and his successors. He promoted virtuous leadership and manipulated his physical appearance in order to resemble a hellenistic king or benefactor. Like Alexander the Great, Scipio presented himself, and was received, as having a special relationship with the gods. He routinely emphasised his heroic nature for social and political benefit. As a result, Scipio received honours akin to those offered to hellenistic kings, enhancing his reputation and prominence to greater heights than were attained by Roman predecessors or contemporaries. This paper will demonstrate that Scipio consciously employed hellenistic techniques and ideals during his Spanish command and was, as a result, received as if he were a hellenistic king.

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Event details

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The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for can be found at https://alumni.uq.edu.au/friends-of-antiquity