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date: 21 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores how scholars have come to categorize some sculptures as non-elite and what this category has meant for the study of Roman sculpture. Specifically, this chapter addresses the social history of Roman sculpture. It confronts some of the elite-centered paradigms that have shaped how we have seen and described non-elite Roman sculpture, namely in comparison to its elite counterparts, thus creating the elite/non-elite dichotomy. This dichotomy is both reductive and essentializing: it limits how scholars have interpreted the artistic legacy of the diverse individuals who fell outside elite circles. This chapter thus attempts to point to ways that may help us to resee—on their own terms—the individuals of financial means who had the ability to engage in Roman practices of artistic patronage to communicate their messages.

Keywords: non-elite, patronage, freedman, middle-class, arte plebea, plebeian art, Trimalchio, style, funerary monument, altar, dichotomy or dualism

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