Abstract and Keywords
Approaches to the study of Roman sculptural style have been conditioned by the expectation that style should have followed an organic model of growth, bloom, and decay, similar to the one used to describe its Greek counterpart. Owing to the different circumstances of its evolution, Roman sculpture displays a variety of quite different styles, including those that are openly imitative of other cultures and those that are native to the Italic culture. Among the organizational structures attempted by scholars are some that deny the pluralistic nature of style by imposing chronological schemes and others that foreground the variety as a reflection of specifically Roman qualities. Most promising of the latter are the “semiotic” approaches that explore stylistic differences, the communicative power of the similarities and contrasts among them, and the choices intrinsic to their application as means to a deeper understanding of how and even what Roman sculptures can signify.
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