Do We Still Have This Problem?

Recently two seemingly unrelated accounts struck me. The first comes from a paper by Barbara Nevling Porter, “Notes on the Role of Kings of the Sea in Esarhaddon’s Nineveh A Inscription.”

If establishing Esarhaddon’s legitimacy in no uncertain terms was a major purpose of the Nineveh A Inscription, as Tadmor convincingly argues, it was also crucial that the text’s subsequent account of events of the reign should present Esarhaddon’s as inexorably successful in military affairs, traditionally taken as an indication that a Assyrian king was the legitimate ruler approved by the gods. [page182]

And the second is from Diana E. E. Kleiner’s video taped Yale course on Roman Architecture. The specific lecture is “The Creation of an Icon: The Colosseum and Contemporary Architecture in Rome

Now Vespasian came to power in a civil war, and like Augustus before him, he recognized that although coming to power in a civil war could give you the authority that you needed to govern, it didn’t give you the legitimacy. It was very important in the eyes of the Romans to have had an important foreign victory, to give your dynasty legitimacy. Augustus came to power after his civil war with Mark Antony, but he looked to his victory over the Parthians, in the eastern part of the Empire, to give his reign legitimacy. Vespasian does the same thing. He comes to power in a civil war. He beats back other Romans. So he has to look elsewhere for legitimacy, and he also looks east.


Kleiner’s, Diana E. E., “Notes on the Role of Kings of the Sea in Esarhoddon’s Nineveh A Inscription,” in Gazing on the Deep: Ancient Near Eastern and Other Studies in Honor of Tzvi Abusch, (Ed. Jeffery Stackert, Barbara Nevling, David P. Wright; Bethesda Maryland: CDL, 2010), 182-187