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Title: The Roman eagle : a symbol and its evolution
Author: Greet, Benjamin James Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 4775
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis studies the symbolism of the eagle throughout Roman history from the pre-Roman background to A.D. 211. Its aim is to discover whether the popular assumptions made concerning this well-known Roman symbol, i.e. that it represented Jupiter or Rome, were true or whether it has a range of meanings, previously undiscussed in scholarship. Using a combined methodology of semiotics and cognitive science, I examine the eagle in five chronological periods, each of which are divided into themes based on particular areas of the eagle’s symbolism. The first of these themes, ‘Physical Animal and Reality’, examines the ancient thought surrounding the actual eagle and its use in magic and medicine. The second, ‘Concepts and Characteristics’, examines the particular characteristics of an eagle (i.e. its eyesight and claws) used for symbolic purposes and the particular concepts (i.e. valour and criminality) it is used to express. The third, ‘Religion and Myth’, examines the divine nature of the eagle and its connection to deities, as well as its position in myth, astrology, and fringe religions. The fourth, ‘Martial and State Connections’, examines the origin of the eagle standard and its social and religious functions and the ways the eagle is used or connected to the Roman state or empire. Lastly, the fifth, ‘Political Aspects’, examines the eagle’s relationship to the symbolism of power, through either royalty, important republican figures, or emperors. Due to my methodology, which identifies that symbols have multiple and concurrent meanings, my conclusion outlines the many meanings of the eagle and how they relate to each other. These are categorised into macro-symbolism, which appears across the period, and micro-symbolism, that is defined by particular variables (i.e. location or gender). Lastly, the wider implications draw attention to the multivalences of all symbols in ancient culture and that problems of centre/peripheral identity are bound up within these symbolic expressions.
Supervisor: Goodman, Penelope ; Brock, Roger Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available