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DEVOTIO IBERICA AND THE MANIPULATION OF ANCIENT HISTORY TO SUIT SPAIN'S MYTHIC NATIONALIST PAST

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 September 2006

FIONA GREENLAND
Affiliation:
New College, Oxford

Extract

In the middle of the fourth century BC, Publius Decius Mus, a celebrated general in the Roman army, sacrificed himself against enemy lines in return for the gods' protection of his soldiers and city. Two hundred and seventy years later, the eques Quintus Sertorius was rescued from the battlefield by his Iberian followers, who hoisted him onto their shoulders and passed him safely over a city wall, out of the range of fire. What Decius did was called a devotio by ancient writers; modern scholars cite Sertorius' rescue as an example of devotio Iberica. In both cases, a cognate of the verb devoveo is used. This paper explores the confusion between two related but nevertheless distinct uses of the term, and argues that devotio Iberica, although possibly referring to an actual phenomenon, should be understood primarily as an ancient practice invented by modern historians to further an idealized image of ancient Spain under the Francoist dictatorship.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Classical Association 2006

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