Traditional studies of Roman art have sought to identify an indigenous style distinct from Greek art and in the process have neglected the large body of Roman work that creatively recycled Greek artworks. In this fresh assessment the author offers instead a cultural history of the functions of the visual arts, the messages that these images carried, and the values that they affirmed in late Republican Rome and the Empire.
The analysis begins at the point at which the characteristic features of Roman art started to emerge, when the Romans were exposed to Hellenistic culture through their conquest of Greek lands in the third century B.C. As a result, the values and social and political structure of Roman society changed, as did the functions and character of the images it generated. This volume, presented in very clear and accessible language, offers new and fascinating insights into the evolution of the forms and meanings of Roman art.
Paul Zanker is a professor of the history of ancient art at the Scuole Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy. He is the author of The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, Mask of Socrates: The Image of the Intellectual in Antiquity, and Pompeii: Public and Private Life.
Available November 2010