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date: 23 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines semiotics and agency in relation to the art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. It begins with an overview of meaning in the visual arts, expressed on five different levels: factual meaning, conceptual meaning, explicit historical meanings of images, implicit historical meanings of images, and actualized meaning of images. It then turns to a discussion of modern approaches to ancient art, with emphasis on hermeneutics and visual agency. The chapter also considers semiotic theory and the fundamental insights it provides with respect to cultural history, in addition to some basic problems when it is applied to the visual arts. It also looks at the emergence of the notion of social agency as a means to interpret human figures in Greek and Roman sculpture. Finally, it explores the interference between art forms and other subsystems of human culture.

Keywords: ancient Greece, ancient Rome, architecture, art, hermeneutics, meaning, semiotics, social agency, visual agency, visual arts

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