Pliny's Catalogue of Culture: Art and Empire in the Natural History (Oxford Studies in Ancient Culture & Representation)
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One of the earliest surviving examples of "art history," Pliny the Elder's "chapters on art" form part of his encyclopedic Natural History, completed shortly before its author died during the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. This important new work reassesses Pliny's discussion of art, revealing how art is used to expound the Roman imperial agenda which dominates the work as a whole.
87 (1997), 92–110 and id., Between Geography and History (n. 50), on other romanocentric portrayals of the world. 54 NH 3.39–41. Strabo also includes a eulogy of Italy in his geography (6.4.1). See Clarke, Between Geography and History (n. 50), 295–9. 55 K. Sallmann, Die Geographie des Alteren Plinius in ihrem Verha¨ltnis zu Varro (Berlin and New York 1971), 95–106; C. Nicolet, Space, Geography and Politics (n. 53), 176–8; M. Christol, ‘Pline L’Ancien et la Formula de la Province Narbonnaise’, in
Pliny quotes two inscriptions set up by Pompey. monuments and the creation of roman space 61 I make no apology for not having thought of a more exciting title; and so as not to seem to disagree with the Greeks on everything, I should like to be perceived according to the example of those founders of painting and sculpture who, as you will discover in my books, used to inscribe their Wnished works—even those which we never tire of admiring—with a provisional title such as ‘Worked on by
portrait busts, such as the Barberini togatus (Fig. 44). While Pliny is writing considerably later than the Augustan date traditionally given to the togate statue, like his text, the statue suggests that a Roman could earn prestige not only through having ancestral portraits to display, but through the very action of displaying portraits (whether of one’s own family or another’s). The original portrait head of the togatus has not survived to enable us to see whether physiognomic likeness was an
imaging memory 151 Fig. 46. In Augustus ’ Forum, the republican tradition of displaying portraits and records side by side in the domus is enlarged to provide the new emperor with the greatest pedigree of all. Reconstruction of summi viri (showing statue accompanied by titulus and elogium) in the Forum Augustum. Dedicated 2 bc. Rome. Parthian trophies were housed in the cella of the Temple of Mars Ultor, like Pliny’s domus ‘celebrating an eternal triumph’. The memoria that Pliny’s ideal domus
regardless of the original form of the Colossus under Nero, the rededication of the statue speciWcally to the Sun-god suggests an attempt to draw on the associations present in other Neronian images to contrast Vespasian’s piety with Nero’s claims to divinity. 71 Bergmann, Der Koloss Neros (n. 62), 9. See Gregory, ‘ ‘‘Powerful Images’’ ’ (n. 36), 96–7; J. Elsner, ‘Image and Ritual: ReXections on the Religious Appreciation of Classical Art’, CQ 90 ns 46 (1996), 515–31 at 527–8; Varner, From