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Claudius and Agrippina

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Claudius and Agrippina
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Photo Comments

This panel presents the Roman Emperor Claudius (r. 41–54) in heroic nudity and a military cloak shanking hands with his wife Agrippina.  He is being crowned by the Roman People or Senate depicted as a person wearing a toga.  The subject is imperial concord with the traditional Roman state.

Agrippina holds wheat ears: she is like Demeter, the goddess of fertility.  The emperor is crowned with an oak wreath, the corona civica of 'citizen crown', awarded to Roman leaders for saving citizens' lives: the emperor is the savior of his people.

The inscription on the base reads: [Neron] Klaudios Drousos Kaisar Sebasstos — Helios.  The placing of a Claudius relief on this base was a construction error.  the mistake was reduced by the erasing of Nero's personal name, Neron, after his fall in AD 68. (from the description of the panel in the Museum of Aphrodisias).

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.