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date: 17 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Romans interacted with their statues a great deal more than we do with statues today. Images of the gods, for example, could be bathed, clothed, fed, carried in procession, or crowned with flowers. In addition, divine statues were sometimes reported to sweat, speak, fall, or turn around. Such events were considered prodigies, signs of the gods’ displeasure, and when they occurred, the Romans often attempted to address that displeasure by doing something to or for the statues themselves. Romans’ interactions with statues were not limited to religious contexts, however: portraits of powerful men were often treated as proxies for the men themselves. Supporters might honor these men and detractors dishonor them in ways that often involved interactions with their portraits or with images of the gods who protected them.

Keywords: adornment, bathing, prodigy, expiation, lectisternium, imagines, portraits, asylum

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