The greatest expert of Greek sculpture existing in the world asked me what I think about the new publication of La Rocca re. the Nike of Samothrace, which he believes celebrated the Roman victory upon Macedonia.

This is my reply which I post also here because it may elicit the public interest of other scholars.

‘I am not convinced at all by La Rocca.

First of all the Romans prevailed upon Perseus via a land victory. Have you ever seen a land victory celebrated via a Nike on a war boat? No way.

The fact that Perseus was captured on Samothrace is irrelevant because the Romans never celebrated with monuments the capture of a foe (that was against their ideology of ‘parcere subiectis’) but their victory.

Second, in the monument of Aemilius Paullus at Delphi the friezes convey visual messages that the dedicatee is Roman, any such message is entirely absent in the case of the Nike.

Third, around 168 the Romans hated the Rhodians, because the Rhodians sympathized with Perseus, they stripped them of their possessions in Caria and Lycia, they destroyed them economically, moving the business of the harbor of Rhodes to Delos, finally they even wanted to make war to Rhodes (Polybius says that). In this context they would have never made a victory monument importing Lartian marble from that island.

The historical patron of the monument must have been either Rhodes or someone in good terms with the Rhodians.’

Originally posted 2019-05-01 18:07:27.