Eugenio La Rocca
In recent years, the question of what constitutes art has often been asked. The question arose quite naturally from the dismissal of the traditional concept of art as imitation of the real – a notion that, though variously inflected, has held sway up until the dawn of the twentieth century. In the ancient world, images were intended as a representation of the real, as ‘mimesis’, and they were perceived accordingly. By now it is common knowledge that the mimetic theory of art does not correspond to the actual practices of artists, even if they earnestly believed they were representing humans and objects as they really were. More than an actual imitation of the real, it was the artists' apprenticeship in the workshop of established sculptors and their acquisition of traditional techniques that determined how ancient artists worked. This article discusses art and representation, art as a means of communication and medium of expression, Roman art in the frame of ‘Lebenswelt’, Roman art and the Greek canon, the symbolic language of Roman art, and Roman art and stylistic dissonance.
The art of Roman Britain has often been sidelined or even denigrated, largely as a result of modern sensibilities concerning quality. Focusing on the moment of creation alone overlooks the longevity of objects, and the multiple and even conflicting potential interpretations by contemporary and later observers. How accurately any given art object may have been read is a problematic issue and one that continues today; there is a false confidence in the simplicity of this task for modern observers, even on the most basic level of subject. The varied assemblage from Roman Britain should provide more than illustrations of the deities that might have been worshipped, or the apparent failings of its makers and users in terms of competency or aesthetics. Its eventual deposition is also more complex than simple disposal of redundant objects or destruction of hated idols. The art of Roman Britain still has much to offer.
Lena Larsson Lovén
This chapter discusses visualizations of children and childhood in the commemorative arts of Roman Italy over more than three centuries (first century BC to late second century CE). During this period children, both nonmythical children and those in mythological disguise appear recurrently on various memorial types commissioned by private persons. The focus of this chapter is exclusively on representations of nonmythical children in pre-Christian funerary iconography, contextualized in their time and social setting. The body of evidence discussed includes child commemoration on reliefs, funerary altars, and sarcophagi. The chapter presents a general view of how Roman children looked, how they were dressed, differences in gender and status between children and of the expectations of children’s future roles, and how the perceived social roles of Roman children changed over time.
This chapter examines Greek and Roman theories of art, paying particular attention to images, the notion of “ancient art theory,” the theory of mimesis, and the ideas of philosophers including Plato and Aristotle. Citing book 19 of the Odyssey, it explores the material nature of the products of artistic craft, their impact on viewers, and the function and contexts framing the use and reception of artifacts. It considers the reasons for the apparent absence of “theories of art” in ancient Greece and Rome and analyzes a number of objects and texts concerning objects. It also discusses the material and affective dimensions of ancient aesthetics, along with the representational (and epiphanic) nature of art and its capacity to access an invisible reality or ideal. Finally, the chapter looks at the artist’s role in fashioning the image and the sources of the “vision” or mental apprehension informing his work.
A. A. Donohue
This chapter focuses on the modern historiography of art and architecture in ancient Greece and Rome and its relationship with modern intellectual history. It begins with an analysis of two fundamental conditions that have shaped the modern historiography of the Greek and Roman visual arts: the fragmentary survival of the remains of the Classical past and the normative position of the Classical cultures in Western civilization. It then turns to Greek and Roman texts bearing on the historiography of the visual arts. The chapter concludes with a discussion of recent and current approaches to the historiography of Greek and Roman art and architecture.