Malka Wijeratne is going to present a working paper on ‚What’s in a name?: A study of the names Gaius Julius Caesar Divi Filius and name Imperator Caesar Augustus Divi Filius‘

The topic of Augustus’ connection to Mos maiorum is one that has already been well analysed. However less is understood on why the Roman people accepted the connections he was making to such ancient traditions and also significant historical figures in Rome. The project proposes that their pre-existing, emotional connections to Mos maiorum and the resonance they felt with it – particularly those built on previous habitualisation through ritual – allowed them to appreciate and understand the importance Augustus placed on these values. It would additionally have prompted them to view him as a champion of Roman values and Roman tradition, despite several aspects of Augustus’ ascent to power going against the values on morality and democracy that are embraced within the concept of Mos maiorum. This paper aims to demonstrate the overall argument by using two of the names Augustus used since 44BC, as an example of how he linked himself to these traditions. It will, in each case, analyse why he needed to change his name and which aspects of Mos maiorum he was channeling with each of the two names. Afterward, the paper will also investigate if an emotional connection could have existed between the ritual or tradition in question and if this could then have allowed them to understand Augustus’ message. Furthermore, in each instance, the paper will also question if each of the names would have meant something different to the Aristocracy and the masses.

The overall hypothesis of the paper, is that the support garnered for Augustus’ association with Mos maiorum was created through the Romans’ existing emotional connection to the traditions and rituals associated with it and their ability to resonate with these traditions and rituals. However, this paper, and the project overall will take into account the possibility of this support being created through ulterior motives, rather than as a consequence of strong emotional connection and resonance towards Mos maiorum. While emotional links to the rituals – especially those linked strongly with a sense of identity – could certainly have moved people to become devoted to Augustus, it should be noted that the Late Republican period saw the rise of numerous powerful Roman personalities, all vying for some form of power and frequently turning against each other to ensure that this power was obtained. It is perfectly possible, that in some instances, ambition triumphed over emotion.