Gül E. Durna

Keywords: Rome, Aphrodisias, Anatolia, Late Hellenistic, Early Rome

Abstract

The main objective of this article is to illuminate the place of the cult of Venus in the political relations between Rome and Aphrodisias during the Imperial Era and evaluate the involvement of the beliefs in Venus into the Roman foreign policy. Aphrodisias, a Carian settlement and a well known cult center of Venus, lived its golden age under the Roman rule which increasingly expanded from the 2nd century B.C. onwards over Asia Minor. The victory of the Roman imperialism over the Helenistic world can be regarded as a turning point for the Aphrodisians in terms of their economic and urban development. Archaeological finds, mostly inscriptions unearthed at the site, present them as the most favoured nation among the subjects of the Empire and their city as the most privileged. It is highly probable that the economic and political grants offered by the emperors through Senatus Consultum to Aphrodisias not only ensured the continuous loyalty of its inhabitants and thus a strong base essentially needed by the Roman State in order to facilitate its eastward expansionist policy but also motivated other Anatolian cities to submit. There was a sufficient ground in this intimate tie between the emperors and the Aphrodisians: "the Cult of Venus." It is obvious that the emperors' claim that they were the progenies of Venus Prometor (Venus the First Mother) in Aphrodisias, where her cult had already been deeply rooted, was quite respected.