Astigi quod Iulienses. The mystery of Astigi and the palm of Munda
This article presents a theory why Astigi, the modern Écija (Spain), lost the importance it had possessed in Antiquity. We show that Julius Caesar’s heir Augustus could have had reasons unknown until today to elevate Astigi to its original prominence. One of his motives is connected to the palm tree found at Munda, which Caesar ordered to be preserved. In this article we assume that the tree was brought to Astigi. Since the palm sprouted, and since its sprout obtained a dynastic meaning, it is feasible that the palm tree was a determining factor that motivated Augustus to establish a colony under his name. We postulate that the later decline of Astigi is linked to the fading memory of its Julian importance, originally symbolized by the palm tree. In addition we also examine Caesar’s relation to the oppidum liberum Astigi Vetus. By newly restoring the contended inscription CIL II 138* (= CIL II 2/5, *57) we also present philological reasons why Astigi was not mentioned in the Bellum Hispaniense.
Astigi quod Iulienses presents a valuable new approach and helps to understand the historical context surrounding the foundation of the Colonia Augusta Firma [Astigitana], including the Battle of Munda, and the role both Caesar and Octavian played in the foundation of this colony. It will also lead to a better understanding of the traditional Roman cult of Divus Iulius as the origin of the Christian Palm Sunday. We should also note that our new restoration of the founding inscription of Écija has been added to the Clauss-Slaby epigraphical database, maintained by Manfred Clauss at the Eichstätt Catholic University:
[CIL 02-05, *00057 = CIL 02, *00138 = CILA-02-04, *00029 = Astigi]