This thesis examines the image of Germanicus Caesar from three different perspectives: that of popularity, iconography and visibility. It argues that the image of Germanicus was manipulated by interested parties both during his lifetime, and after his death. Ultimately this image was used for propaganda purposes, and this resulted in a perception of Germanicus which has lasted to the present day.
The first section considers Germanicus popularity. There is no doubt that Germanicus was popular, but the thesis will show that the perception of this popularity came about through both political and historiographical devices. During an examination of the extant tradition on Germanicus, it will become evident that it was primarily through his posthumous reputation that this image of Germanicus came about. The fact that three of his descendants became emperors contributed to this perception, for Germanicus was placed at the centre of a program of familial regeneration by these emperors. This resulted in a strong image of his popularity, which then passed into the extant literary sources. These extant sources will be discussed, and it will become evident that writers on Germanicus, particularly Tacitus in his Annals and Suetonius in the Life of Caligula, presented an image of Germanicus which was fashioned to display their motivations for writing as well as their own literary prowess.
Germanicus image was also manipulated at his death. The reaction at the death of Germanicus will be examined, and it will be argued that for each of the reactions which occurred at his passing, there already existed motivations for them, and that these were manipulated for propagandistic purposes. Assessment of the decrees setting out the honours granted to him after he died, the tabula Hebana and the tabula Siarensis, will show that although Germanicus was granted many honours, they were not unprecedented. However, he was granted many honours, and this created the impression that they were both unique and greater in number than those which had been decreed for others in the imperial family.
The iconography of Germanicus will be covered in the second section. Germanicus was in the unique position of being equally related to both the Julian and the Claudian sides of the family, and as a result, his image was used by successive Julio-Claudian emperors as a means of promoting differing political and dynastic positions. Many sculptural portraits of Germanicus are posthumous, and this again shows that he was used politically as part of the familial regeneration policies of Caligula and Claudius in particular. Commemorative dynastic groups will be examined, as well as relief sculptures such as the Ravenna Relief and the sculptures from the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias. Examination will also take place of the political propaganda embodied in gemstones including the Gemma Augustea, the Gemma Claudia and the Grand Camée de France, and on coins of the Julio-Claudian and Flavian periods.
Germanicus image was also used as a means of disseminating imperial propaganda through the travel he undertook as part of his duties. His physical presence in areas removed from Italy and Rome was used as a means of representing the institution of the Empire. Thus the section on visibility will examine the peregrinations of Germanicus, who during his career travelled to Germany, Gaul, the East and to Egypt. A focal point for this section will be on the practicalities of these journeys, including which routes were taken, and who accompanied him. This last was particularly important, as the impression created by Germanicus entourage was vital in increasing his visibility, and thus that of the empire itself. This had implications for the maintenance of good relations with the provincials. The section on visibility will show that Germanicus was the public face of the empire, and that his presence became the image of the emperor and of Rome.
To the Romans, image was everything, and this thesis argues that the image of Germanicus has passed into perception as a result of the fact that he was used by others to prove their own views and as a way of presenting the propaganda of the Julio-Claudian period.