There is no ‘power’

July 19th, 2006

“Power is very rarely limited to the pure exercise of brute force…. The Roman state bolstered its authority and legitimacy with the trappings of ceremonial – cloaking the actualities of power beneath a display of wealth, the sanction of tradition, and the spectacle of insuperable resources….Power is a far more complex and mysterious quality than any apparently simple manifestation of it would appear. It is as much a matter of impression, of theatre, of persuading those over whom authority is wielded to collude in their subjugation. Insofar as power is a matter of presentation, its cultural currency in antiquity (and still today) was the creation, manipulation, and display of images.”

Js Elsner in his recent book Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph

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