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Emperor’s speech to assembled soldiers

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Bas-relief showing the speech of the emperor
Bas-relief showing the speech of the emperor

Adlocutio was the emperor’s speech to the assembled soldiers. In general, the ruler directed them to soldiers before the commencement of the war campaign, during a visit or on another particularly important occasion. Adlocutio can be seen only on numismatic monuments, where usually the emperor is standing on the tribune (suggestus), assisted by praefectus castrorum, who directs his speech towards the army presented in the form of ensigns (signifer).

It is known i.e. from Gordian Pius medallion, coins of Galba, Trajan or from the entire series of sestertii of Hadrian, where the emperor is usually depicted on horseback and showing his adlocutio towards troops in various parts of the empire. In a large sculpture, this motif is known primarily from the examples of two surviving imperial monuments: Augustus of Prima Porta and a horse monument of Marcus Aurelius.

  • Anthony Corbeill, Nature embodied: gesture in ancient Rome, 2004

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