Update on the Portraiture of Livia

Historical Challenges:

As I’ve been studying the portraiture of Imperial Rome’s first empress, I’ve encountered several common difficulties presented to a scholar of the distant past.  Because the artifacts I’m studying are two-thousand years old, they have a long history of being damaged, altered, misattributed, or generally misunderstood.  This unreliability makes it difficult for me to make my argument that Livia was represented as divine, because I don’t want to base my assertions on partial truths.  For example, some statues of Livia in which she is wearing a diadem, which is often a symbol of divinity or at least a comparison to an established Roman god, show signs of having been modified after the statues’ original dedication so that the diadem was added later.  Livia was formally deified roughly twelve years after her death by the fourth Roman emperor, Claudius, in 41 CE, so establishing a pre-41 CE date of divine representation is crucial to my argument that she was seen as more than mortal during her own lifetime and just after her death.

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