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South Portico Second Story Detail

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South Portico Second Story Detail
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Photo Comments

This is a view of the eastern end of the middle story of the south portico of the Sebasteion—the Municipal Imperial Cult Complex at Aphrodisias. These panels have been restored based upon finds in the area—the originals are in the museum at Aphrodisias.

The second story—in the Ionic order—held 45 panels with reliefs depicting scenes from Greek mythology.  There was an emphasis on Aphrodite and her son Aeneas, who became the founding ancestor of Rome.  The upper story had not yet been restored at the time this photograph was taken.  See Here for that restoration.

"In the Sebasteion, however, as viewers looked up from the paved court, they encountered the mythic dimensions of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.  The members of the imperial family were gods, nor replacements for the old deities but 'a new branch of the Olympian pantheon.'" (Friesen, p. 93)

The Sebasteion was a complex of structures that served as a municipal imperial cult sanctuary.  It was dedicated to Aphrodite, the main deity of Aphrodisias, and to the "gods Sebastoi"—that is to the "August Ones," namely Julius Caesar and his successors.  Local elite persons built it to solidify their ties with Rome.  Its construction began during the reign of Tiberius and continued into the reign of Nero.