Ancient roman art

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Ancient Roman Art: Part 1, Introduction



    1. A Brief History

        1. 753 BC – Romulus (the legendary founder of Rome) builds the first wall around the Palatine Hill.

        1. Followed by “Seven Kings” the last of whom was Tarquinius Superbus who was driven out after rape of Lucretia

        1. 509 BC – Rome set up a Republic, a government in which citizens have the right to vote to choose their leaders.

        1. 451 BC – A group of ten officials wrote down Rome’s laws. These laws were carved on 12 great tablets or tables and hung in the Forum.

        1. 390 BC – Rome’s walls were successfully stormed by marauding Gauls. The Gauls sacked Rome, leaving it in ruins. But, Rome quickly recovered. The city would not be sacked again for 800 years.

        1. 211 BCE: Roman general Marcellus conquers Greek city of Syracuse (in Sicily) and brings back artwork as part of plunder. Exposes Romans to Greek art and starts “craze” for Greek art that would last for the rest of the Roman Empire.

        1. 275 BC – Rome defeats a Greek army led by Pyrrhus. Pyrrhus won every battle but lost the war. Ever since, a victory gained at too high a price has been known as a “Pyrrhic victory.” After 275 BC, the Romans were masters of all Italy.

        1. 264 – 146 BC – Rome defeats Carthage in a series of Punic Wars. As a result of these wars, Rome becomes the master of the western Mediterranean Sea.

        1. 146 BC – Rome makes Greece a Roman province

        1. 133 BC – Rome inherits Pergamon

        1. 59 – 49 BC – Julius Caesar conquers Gaul

        1. 44 BC – Julius Caesar is assassinated

        1. 31 BC – Octavian, Caesar’s adopted son, defeats Cleopatra and Mark Antony.

        1. 27 BC – 14 AD – Octavian rules Roman Empire

        1. 27 BC – 180 AD Pax Romana

    1. Let’s take a look at three maps

        1. Geographic setting

Note that Rome was located 15 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. Far enough to provide warning of sea raiders, but near enough to give it ready access to the sea.

        1. The Empire

        1. The City


    1. Overview of the city

        1. Large population

        2. Caput Mundi”: Head of the World, Capital of the World.

    1. Forum Romana

        1. A FORUM is a public square or marketplace. It was the civic center of an ancient Roman city, containing temples, a marketplace, and government buildings.

        1. As Rome was the center of the Empire, so the Forum Romana was the center of Rome

        1. The row of columns contains statues honoring the gods. The city of Rome had over 10,000 statues.

        1. The Golden Milestone – Have you ever heard the saying “All roads lead to Rome?” It was literally true. Caesar Augustus made the building of highways a major project and they all led to the Golden Milestone.

    1. Meeting the Roman people

        1. BUST – a portrait showing the head and neck detached from the rest of the body.

        2. It was traditional for Roman families to preserve wax or marble portraits of their ancestors.

        3. Busts were sufficient as a record of a person, unlike Greek statues that showed the whole body. Roman artists did attach busts to full size statues.

        4. Roman busts were usually carved in marble, often from a wax death mask.

        5. Roman portrait sculptures have intentional realism.

          1. They are VERISTIC – which means they are very true to the actual appearance. Portrait busts even show imperfections.

          2. The face’s express GRAVITAS – which means they express seriousness and duty.

          3. Why did relatives want a record of their deceased family members this way?

        1. These portrait busts were commissioned by affluent Romans who traced their ancestors back to the founding fathers of Rome. These Romans were called PATRICIANS.

        2. It was an insult to a patrician to say that he had no portrait busts in his home. This meant that he could not truly trace his ancestors and wasn’t a true patrician.

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