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Friday, January 27, 2017

Roman Republic Art (250 B.C.E.)

The things you can learn about a culture from observing it's art!  This is probably the oldest piece of sculpture that we saw on a recent trip to Rome (where we were focusing on the Roman Republic through the Roman Empire, or roughly 250 BCE to 330 AD,  The best news is that this is housed in the funkiest museum that I have been in, the Centrale Montemartini.  It is a bit outside the seven hills of ancient Rome area, but it is very easily accessed by the Metro, and it is housed in the first public electric plant in Rome.  There is a fair amount of sculpture and mosaics that were uncovered when they were digging a branch of the metro, but it also has this particular sculpture, which was featured in two art history classes that my youngest son took.  I like it because there is a certain amount of gruesomeness to it, a man who is carrying around two heads of his dead ancestors, but in fact it very much reflects the values of the culture at that time.  Which goes to show that context is everything.  If you see a piece of art and you don't know anything about it's context, you may miss a great deal of it's historical value and what it can teach you.  The Romans of the Republic very much valued law and order and they respected their elders.  The two heads here speak to the man's social status as well as his respect for tradition.  He is depicted as an older man, with a receded hair line and a wrinkled face, showing Roman values of wisdom and experience over youthfulness and power.  It is wonderfully carved and a marvel to see.

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