Caesar's Venus Genetrix
In 46 BC, the statue of Venus Genetrix made by a certain Arkesilaos was set up by Julius Caesar in his new forum, probably in the cella of his temple of Venus Genetrix. This now-lost statue, or Sabina in the same pose, is represented on the reverse of a denarius above the legend, with Vibia Sabina on the obverse. The iconological type of the statue, of which there are numerous Roman marble copies and bronze reductions at every level of skill, was identified as Venus Genetrix (Venus Universal Mother) by Ennio Quirino Visconti in his catalogue of the papal collections, Museo Pio-Clementina, by comparison with this denarius. "From the inscription on the coins, from the similarity between the figure on the coins and the statue in the Louvre, and from the fact that Arkesilaos established the type of Venus Genetrix as patron goddess of Rome, and ancestress of the Julian race, the identification was a very natural one." A Venus Genetrix in the Museo Pio-Clementina has been completed with a Roman portrait head of Sabina, on this basis.
In establishing this new cult of Venus, reportedly in fulfillment of a vow made on the eve of the battle of Pharsalus (48 BC) Caesar was affirming the claim of his own gens to descent from the goddess, through Iulus, the son of Aeneas. It was in part to flatter this connection that Virgil wrote the Aeneid. His public cult expressed the unique standing of Caesar at the end of the Roman Republic and in that sense of a personal association expressed as public cult was the innovation in Roman religion.
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Famous quotes containing the words caesar and/or venus:
“The die is cast.”
—Julius Caesar [Gaius Julius Caesar] (10044 B.C.)
“For her own person,
It beggared all description: she did lie
In her pavilioncloth of gold, of tissue
Oer-picturing that Venus where we see
The fancy outwork nature.”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)