Art and Rhetoric in Roman Culture
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Rhetoric was fundamental to education and to cultural aspiration in the Greek and Roman worlds. It was one of the key aspects of antiquity that slipped under the line between the ancient world and Christianity erected by the early Church in late antiquity. Ancient rhetorical theory is obsessed with examples and discussions drawn from visual material. This book mines this rich seam of theoretical analysis from within Roman culture to present an internalist model for some aspects of how the Romans understood, made and appreciated their art. The understanding of public monuments like the Arch of Titus or Trajan's Column or of imperial statuary, domestic wall painting, funerary altars and sarcophagi, as well as of intimate items like children's dolls, is greatly enriched by being placed in relevant rhetorical contexts created by the Roman world.
speciﬁc means 61 62 63 64 65 66 For excellent, rhetorically inﬂected, accounts of statue groups, see von den Hoﬀ 2004 and Squire 2009: 201–38 on Sperlonga). See Squire 2011a. On the pluralism of religions in Rome see e.g. North 1992; Beard, North and Price 1998: 245–363; Bendlin 2000. There is no comprehensive study of the pluralism of religious art, but see Elsner 1998: 199–235. A good example is mummy portraits, which are clearly assertively Egyptian (that is to say, provincial) in their
if not so obviously architectural, also have application to buildings. 15. Variety. In linguistic terms, polyptota, changes of case, tense, person, number, or gender, can diversify and enliven an exposition.116 A similar poikilia can be found in buildings, in the range of forms and materials on Roman façades: orders of diﬀerent sizes; column shafts with straight or twisted ﬂutes; pediments triangular and segmental; and, above all, marbles of diﬀerent colours and origins.117 The statues of eastern
2012. 2 | Sublime histories, exceptional viewers Trajan’s Column and its visibility francesco de angelis The Column of Trajan (Figure 2.1), dedicated by the Senate and People of Rome in 113 ce, was placed towards one end of the huge forum built by the emperor, in a courtyard enclosed by at least the basilica and two libraries. It was decorated with a spiral frieze commemorating Trajan’s two successful campaigns against the Dacians. As a monument, the Column is exceptional both for the
uninformed beholding, and unfocused gazes, are some of the many examples one could mention. In this context Tonio Hölscher, drawing from Hans Belting’s anthropological understanding of art, has stressed that the ontological status of the image as ‘presence’ is fundamental for understanding its functioning.14 This approach does not deny semiotic models that presuppose a high ‘intensity’ of communication (i.e. those models that are, more or less consciously, employed in traditional archaeological
narrative, and how it relates to the rest of a ruler’s life. Most obviously, Suetonius’ good rulers are generally pleasing in appearance and the bad rulers are not; the worst can be downright hideous. Caligula, the most insane of these twelve, has an awful appearance, as already seen. Augustus and Titus, the best of the bunch, are also the best looking, with relatively minor ﬂaws (Augustus’ bad teeth, Titus’ protruding belly) placed within a harmonious whole. This diﬀerence extends to the kind