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Decoration and Display in Rome's Imperial ThermaeMessages of Power and their Popular Reception at the Baths of Caracalla$
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Maryl B. Gensheimer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190614782

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190614782.001.0001

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The Power of Place

The Power of Place

Where and Why Caracalla’s Baths Were Built

(p.210) 5 The Power of Place
Decoration and Display in Rome's Imperial Thermae

Maryl B. Gensheimer

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 addresses questions of topography and urban design in order to analyze the “power of place”—that is, the Baths’ deliberate associations with preexisting monuments as part of a larger dynastic building program within the city of Rome. The construction and decoration of the Baths of Caracalla, it is argued, engaged with broader concerns about dynastic legitimacy and imperial power. Thus, the chapter focuses attention on the ways in which the building program sponsored by both Caracalla and his father and imperial predecessor, Septimius Severus (r. 192–211 C.E.), repeatedly emphasizes key themes related to familial legitimacy, imperial authority, and military success.

Keywords:   baths, Caracalla, Septimius Severus, Antonine family, Severan family, dynastic building, topography, urban design, city of Rome

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