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Political Talismans? Residual ‘Pagan’ Statues In Late Antique Public Space

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the fate of certain statues of pagan gods and heroes that were displayed not in temples but in streets, squares and public buildings. These images had a functional connection to the civic activities that took place there, especially political activities. An attempt is made to detect to what extent such functional connections were retained or disrupted in Late Antiquity. The chapter examines and compares the fate of images of Victory, Tyche, Minerva, civic heroes and emperors, both living and dead. Christian attempts to reform their uses can be detected, but these seem to have had limited impact until the mid-6th c. Tentative conclusions are drawn about the significance of the selective preservation of some statues, which may have survived as political talismans in uncertain times.

Keywords: Late Antiquity; Minerva; pagan; political talismans; Tyche



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