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An Examination of Epigraphical and Numismatic Evidence for the Invocation of Jupiter in Roman Imperial Italy using Network Analysis

Zehavi Husser

Biola University

My overarching project aims to examine conceptions of the ancient Romans’ highest deity, Jupiter, in Italy during the Imperial period by tracing the networks involved in transmitting components of the worship experience of the god including epithets employed, the purpose for invoking the deity, as well as how the god was propitiated. Here, network analysis is applied to various types of material and inscriptional data as a proxy for studying the transmission and distribution of ideas about the god in Roman Imperial Italy.

At this stage of the project, the focus of this paper, I analyze multiple datasets in order to better understand the actors who invoked Jupiter, which manifestations of the god they favored, and how they portrayed various forms of the deity iconographically. This paper presents a study of hundreds of epigraphic documents (including votive dedications, building inscriptions, calendars, etc.), as well as hundreds of imperial coins minted in Italy. Data is processed using the igraph package of R. Visualizations of one- and two- mode networks are created using Gephi; maps are produced using the ggplot package of R.

Results suggest that Jupiter was invoked by a wide diversity of actors with a range of statuses and occupations. It appears that certain types of persons were more likely than others to invoke a given form of the god. For instance, Jupiter Optimus Maximus, which had the widest Italian distribution of the manifestations studied, appears to have been invoked by the broadest range of actors in epigraphic evidence, but he is presented by name far less frequently by the imperial authority in numismatic evidence. Jupiter Conservator tends to be petitioned on inscriptional documents by actors with an official relationship to the state or city/town; correspondingly, this manifestation of Jupiter is by far the most frequently invoked in imperial coinage.

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Social Networks and Interconnections in Ancient and Medieval Contexts

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