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6— The Triumph of Tiberius
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The Servus Publicus and the Date of the Boscoreale Cups

The servus publicus was the state slave who traditionally stood behind the triumphator in the triumphal car, charged with two offices. His primary


duty was to uphold and take the weight of the triumphator 's gold oak-leaf crown (corona Etrusca; Pliny HN 33.4.11); his other, famous office was to whisper in the triumphator 's ear at this moment of temporary near apotheosis the following reminder of the triumphator 's mortality and dependence on other men: "respice post te, hominem te esse memento."[19] The servus publicus 's task was traditional and necessary; this depiction of the servus publicus is extraordinary and unique. Nowhere else in Republican or imperial art do we see this shadowy figure, who alone of all the participants (according to the cup) seems not to have worn the laurel crown.[20] His function on the monuments and coins is either omitted altogether or is taken by a winged Victory behind the triumphator, holding up the corona Etrusca —not a reminder of mortality or human limitation but rather the opposite, a further panegyric to the extrahuman status investing the triumphator accompanied in this epiphany by the goddess Victory herself (figs. 104, 106–7).

This iconographic possibility was already a standard option in late Republican commemoration, for the triumph coin types of Sulla and Pompey show them crowned by flying Victories (fig. 104). It is a good bet that the quadriga statuary groups that no doubt adorned at least some of their triumphal monuments were like the statuary groups that stood on various of Augustus' arches (fig. 105), where a winged Victory stood in for the servus publicus . These are known from architectural depictions on Augustus' own state coinage,[21] a further dissemination therefore of this image.[22] The central chariot group of Augustus in his Forum (2 B.C.) (plan 123) could hardly have been different. These groups and coin types may originally have been inspired, or sanctioned, by a monument (probably second century B.C.) that the Romans thought had been erected by Romulus. This bronze quadriga, a statue of Romulus in or by it, stood in the precinct of the Temple of Vulcan; supposedly erected from the booty of Romulus' second triumph over Camerina, it showed him being crowned by the goddess Victoria (Plut. Rom. 24.3: poiesamenos heauton hypo Nikes stephanoumenon; Dion. Hal. 2.54.2 mentions its Greek inscription). By the time we get to the Arch of Titus, the next surviving relief depiction of an emperor triumphing (fig. 107), not only does Victory crown the emperor; the slave leading the horses of the quadriga, a stock figure in the Augustan period,[23] has been replaced by the figure of Roma/Virtus, while crowding behind the car replacing the human escort of the BR cup are Honos, the Genius of the Roman People, and the Genius of the Roman Senate.[24]

The process of panegyric transformation that is visible in maturity on this Flavian paradigm, and is thereafter standard for imperial art, was


begun already by the time that Augustus took up rule, and the relevant artifacts of his reign confirm the absence or allegorical replacement of the servus publicus . With reference to the BR cup, note especially the Gemma Augustea (fig. 16), which was made in Augustus' lifetime to commemorate the later of Tiberius' two triumphs and on which the quadriga from which Tiberius alights to pay his respects to Augustus is manned by a winged Victory (and the now cut-away male holding the chariot at left, his arm preserved, is probably the Genius of the Roman People; cf. Roma in the center).

The presence of the state slave in triumph depictions, then, is evidently a feature that in visual panegyric, however historical, is generally omitted as not really "real," that is, not worth notice or mention in the formal commemoration of the event. What we have in the BR depiction is a triumph narrative that is "factual" beyond even the demands of strictly documentary narrative, where selective editing of facts was taken for granted because it was a necessity imposed by the limits of a constricted two-dimensional image. There is plenty of artful telescoping in the BR triumph depiction—how could there not be? A full depiction of the displays of captives and booty, of the full tally of sacrificial victims, the full complement of lictors and escorts, et cetera, could, if desirable, be extended to encircle a monumental arch or even an entire temple (e.g., the small frieze of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus, constructed in connection with Augustus' triple triumph osf 27 B.C.).

The servus publicus is omitted or replaced in all other official images of the Republic and Empire, and the Gemma Augustea shows that this was true too of small-scale pieces celebrating members of the imperial family not of Augustus' own rank. Why then is this slave depicted on the BR cup, on a minor arts piece where, as on the Augustan cameos in general or in the allegorical depiction of Augustus on BR I:1, one would expect all of the resources of visual panegyric to be called into play? It is the depiction of this figure, in fact, which I believe provides the key to a secure date not only for the cups' prototype but for the creation of the cups themselves; this image dates the cups to the reign of Augustus and rules out the reign of Tiberius altogether. Tiberius is given prime place in this composition, but the artist has used only the "facts"—that is, the natural elevation of the triumphator in his quadriga—to call our attention to Tiberius. He has also included details like the figure of the servus publicus, and for that matter the slave at the horse team's head who is generally omitted, details whose omission at least would have been a great deal more appropriate in a tribute to Tiberius;[25] such bare omission, even if


allegorical replacement was avoided, would have been in fine keeping with Republican tradition.[26]

The immediate answer seems to be that on the BR cups Augustus alone is granted direct association with divine figures, while it is made clear that the achievements of others (Drusus and Tiberius) are strictly the work of mortals who are not themselves in possession of divina virtus, at least not to the same degree as the emperor; the servus publicus behind Tiberius keeps him in his place one rung under Augustus, as the presence of the real slave in the real triumph kept the celebrant firmly ranked below the gods. Such caution, for lack of a better word, would not in the least be necessary in the minor arts; witness not only the Gemma Augustea (fig. 16) but also other pieces, like the Boston turquoise (fig. 113), showing Tiberius as a young warrior sprung of a goddess, Livia/Venus. Once Tiberius himself became emperor, it would in no way have conformed to his taste: on a piece of armor like the "Sheath of Tiberius" (fig. 117), mass-stamped in the military armories, Tiberius is even more patently a Jupiter substitute than Augustus on BR I:1; on the pillar monument from the forum of Noviomagus (Nijmegen) (fig. 119) Tiberius togate makes a libation while crowned by Victory, a representation clearly derivative from official statue groups and reliefs.[27] This "caution" is all the more paradoxical given the fact that the BR cups as a pair give him representational focus equal to Augustus'. Tiberius, like Augustus, enjoys two panels of one cup of the pair, a not inconsiderable paean to Tiberius' deeds; compare the much more thorough subordination of Tiberius' triumph, the ostensible occasion of the scene, to the glorification of Augustus on the Gemma Augustea.

The only answer that I find plausible is that the triumph of Tiberius was not a creation of the minor arts but was copied faithfully from some public monument made to commemorate the triumph erected during Augustus' reign; this public monument, erected immediately after the triumph, could, and would, logically have depressed any complete elevation of Tiberius to Augustus' own extraordinary status as chosen delegate of the gods, driving the point of avoidance home by the inclusion of the servus publicus . I also think it necessary to see the cups themselves as having been made in Augustus' reign before Tiberius came to the throne; given the panegyric language extended to Augustus' stepsons within that emperor's own lifetime in the panegyric media of court poetry and court minor arts, I find it impossible to believe that an artist executing a commission for a "Tiberius cup" while Tiberius was emperor would have failed to omit the sordid detail of the presence of the public slave, let alone


transform that uncrowned servant into a suitable allegorical figure. Even Augustus' own coinage of A.D. 13, just before his death and Tiberius' accession, shows Tiberius celebrating his Pannonian triumph alone in the quadriga, and no slaves are visible at all.

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6— The Triumph of Tiberius
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