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Defining Roman Art

Abstract

© 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. All rights reserved. This chapter begins with a current restrictive definition of Roman art; a definition that has resulted in a separation of artworks produced in the Roman period into "Greek" and "Roman" categories. The study of the "Greek" category as part of the study of Roman otium or private life has actually perpetuated a division of material along the same old lines. The chapter argues that these separate categories created within Roman artistic production cannot be sustained. On closer scrutiny they quickly collapse into one another, and they must be accepted as parts of the same visual culture. The author argues that the large numbers of classical Greek originals should also be included in the definition of Roman visual culture. The chapter explains how Roman visual culture actually works. For the Romans, all the visual arts of the Greek tradition, from archaic to late Hellenistic, were simultaneously present.

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