Date of Degree
Classical Archaeology and Art History
Roman, Women, Euergetism, Gender, Perge, Architecture
This thesis analyzes the extravagant renovation of the Hellenistic gate complex funded by Plancia Magna, an elite woman from Perge, a city in the Roman province of Pamphylia. By using Plancia Magna as a case study, I hope to use her patronage of an outstanding architectural program to examine the dynamic roles elite women held under the Roman Empire in the late 1st century to 2nd century CE. Euergetism played a key role in developing cultural standards and civic obligations. Predominantly a male dominated practice, Plancia Magna stands out as one of its active and independent participants by commissioning the costly renovation of her city’s gate complex. Elite city members participated in euergetism in order to promote themselves by bestowing benefactions that would not only benefit their city, but also legitimize their social standing, family, and wealth. These costly endeavors ranged from costly architectural programs such as nyphaeums and theaters, to providing resources such as oil and food to their fellow citizens.
In the past, scholars, such as Sencer Sahin, Mary Boatwright, and Riet Van Bremen, focused on Plancia Magna’s familial ties in order to explain the few and unparalleled male references in the epigraphic evidence found in the gate complex. For example, while Plancia Magna included her father and brother in the statuary, they were uniquely identified by their connection to Plancia Magna. These scholars also focused on the absence of her husband or son by vigorously searching for any evidence that would essentially explain why she would decide not include them, rather than considering that she could have chosen to identify herself independently. Despite their efforts to provide a coherent historical timeline by analyzing the Plancii and Cornuti family, the two most prominent families of Perge, their work resulted in a forced analysis to justify her decisions behind the gate complex’s architectural, sculptural, and epigraphic program.
This study is an attempt to first provide a historical and cultural context of Asia Minor, in order to provide a backdrop for Perge throughout its political transitions from Alexander’s death, the Hellenistic dynasts, and ultimately to the Roman Empire. After understanding the political and cultural developments that shaped Perge, I delve into a detailed analysis of the Hellenistic Gate complex, which was renovated under the patronage of Plancia Magna. By analyzing her architectural, sculptural, and epigraphic choices, Plancia Magna’s position within Perge, and the Roman East, could be reasserted through her individuality and independence.
Caceres-Cerda, Barbara F., "The Exceptional Case of Plancia Magna: (Re)analyzing the Role of a Roman Benefactress" (2018). CUNY Academic Works.