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Doing Justice to the Classics

The white supremacist with a Roman name: Augustus Sol Invictus

Augustus Sol Invictus was one of the headline speakers at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, where a white supremacist killed one and injured nineteen counter-protestors. Invictus recently abandoned his campaign in Florida’s 2018 Senate race. The SPLC has documented his racist and antisemitic positions and his connections to white supremacists. Invictus was born Austin Gillespie, and Pharos’ particular interest in him lies in his decision to legally change his name to one resonant with Roman imperial history. His name apparently combines the title of the first Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, whom Mussolini adopted as a model of a fascist leader, and, less obviously, the Roman cult name for the Syrian sun god Ilah hag-Gabal, which the emperor Elagabalus promoted. Later, the emperor Aurelian created an official Roman cult for Sol Invictus. Pharos is inviting specialists to examine the historical implications of the name.

Commemorative Medallion issued by Mussolini in 1937 celebrating the two thousandth anniversary of Augustus’ birth
Reverse of Roman coin showing the conical black stone of the god Sol Invictus

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