Please help me get started with the following assignment prompt: "You are Ionna Flumina, the premiere authority on Roman fashion and celebrity in the city of Rome. You are being interviewed about your career and the Roman emperors you grew to know throughout your career. Discuss the fashionable images created by and for Augustus, a Julio-Claudian emperor of your choosing, and Vespasian. What image did they present through their fashionable portraits and monuments (like the Ara Pacis), why did they 'fashion' these images of themselves to appear the way they do, and how does this compare to what you as Ionna Flumina would know about their personal lives from conversations with friends that would later help Suetonius write his history?"

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This complex assignment has numerous components, each of which seems to be weighted equally in the intended product. One way to begin tackling this assignment is to ensure that you have all the building blocks so that you can then put them together.

The core of the assignment is an...

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This complex assignment has numerous components, each of which seems to be weighted equally in the intended product. One way to begin tackling this assignment is to ensure that you have all the building blocks so that you can then put them together.

The core of the assignment is an examination of the emperor’s images and related documents. The instructions suggest the Ara Pacis as a source of the “fashionable portraits and monuments” on which your analysis will be based. Becoming familiar with this monument will help acquaint you with the kinds of images that its creators promoted. In addition to Augustus, it depicts Tiberius, which might influence your selection of the third emperor to include.

Along with the images, you are asked about possible oral sources that contributed to histories, such as that of Suetonius. His Lives of the Caesars was based in part on knowledge gained through personal experience, so you could analyze the biographies that he presents as sources of contemporary opinion. Evaluating reasons that he might present a positive or negative impression—such as his condemnation of Caligula—will be an important component of your analysis.

The required discussion of Roman emperors’ images includes “a Julio-Claudian emperor of your choosing.” Of the five emperors in the Julio-Claudian dynasty, one is Augustus, who is already one of those required in the assignment; the other four are Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. Your selection process may include your interest in the individual’s contributions to Roman society but will likely be influenced by the available images—especially but not only those in the Ara Pacis—on which to base your fashion study.

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