Roman Empire

Roman Empire
Rome Day 2
Key dates
Republic period 700 BCE- 100 BCE
 Civil war period 100 BCE-50 BCE
 Early empire 50 BCE-100 CE
 High empire 100 CE-200 CE
 Late empire 200-400 CE
Mesopotamians= Power Military,
power over enemies
Egyptians=Power over death, life
after death, power of Pharaoh to
maintain cosmic balance
Minoans= love of nature
Mycenaeans= power over enemies
Archaic Greeks=Quest for
Classical Greeks= Quest for the Ideal
Hellenistic Greeks=Raw emotion
Roman Republic=
Ancestor worship
Roman Empire
Conspicuous consumption
Stoicism vs. Epicureanism
Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted
from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or
person of "moral and intellectual perfection",
would not suffer such emotions
the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will
that is in accord with nature. Because of this,
the Stoics presented their philosophy as a way of
life, and they thought that the best indication of
an individual's philosophy was not what a person
said but how he behaved.
emphasized that because "virtue is sufficient for
happiness", a sage was immune to misfortune.
This belief is similar to the meaning of the
phrase "stoic calm"
philosophy based upon the teachings of
Epicurus, founded around 307 BCE
Epicurus believed that pleasure is the greatest
But the way to attain pleasure was to live
modestly and to gain knowledge of the workings
of the world and the limits of one's desires. This
led one to attain a state of tranquility and
freedom from fear, as well as absence of bodily
The combination of these two states is supposed
to constitute happiness in its highest form.
Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism,
insofar as it declares pleasure to be the sole
intrinsic good, its conception of absence of pain
as the greatest pleasure and its advocacy of a
simple life make it different from "hedonism" as
it is commonly understood
Wait what?
Basically, Zeno believed in being virtuous, and
that virtue was a matter of submitting to God’s
will. As usual for Greeks who postulated a
single god, Zeno did not strongly differentiate
God from nature. So another way of putting it
is to live according to nature
he lectured his students on the value of apatheia,
the absence of passion. By passion Zeno meant
uncontrolled emotion or physical desire. Only
by taking this attitude, he felt, could we develop
wisdom and the ability to apply it.
“Let no one break your will!” he said. Man
conquers the world by conquering
himself. Start by developing an indifference
to pain and pleasure, through
meditation. Wisdom occurs when reason
controls passions; Evil occurs when passions
control us.
Virtue for Epicurus was a means to an end. That
end is happiness. It is good to feel pleasure
and to avoid pain, but one needs to apply
reason to life. Sometimes pain is necessary in
order to gain happiness. Other times,
pleasure leads to more suffering than it is
And there are levels of pain and pleasure,
smaller and greater happinesses. Friendship, for
example, is rated one of the highest
pleasures. “A sage loves his friends as he loves
himself,” he said, and “It is better to give than to
receive.” And “It is not possible to live
pleasantly without living prudently, honorably,
and justly; nor to live prudently, honorably, and
justly without living pleasantly
Mr. Eberly- I’m so lost…
Rationality over Feeling
Feeling over rationality
Note the practical similarities between
stoicism and epicureanism, despite their
theoretical differences! Both were popular
in the Roman era, stoicism in Rome’s early,
more vigorous years and continuing among
the rank and file of Roman citizenry, and
epicureanism (even hedonism) behind
closed doors, especially at the highest levels
of the empire.
What Virtues does this
guy extol? Stoicism or
How can you tell?
What themes
does this guy
How does this temple demonstrate its
derivative origins?
Typical Roman house How does it incorporate the display of power?
Atrium (central
reception area)
Impluvium(caught rain water)
Tablinium (home
Triclinium (dining
Peristyle garden
Roman Frescos/ Murals- how do they begin to
incorporate Epicureanism and conspicuous
The frescoes come from Pompeii
The wall painting styles have allowed art historians to delineate
the various phases of interior decoration in the centuries leading
up to the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, which both destroyed
the city and preserved the paintings, and between stylistic shifts
in Roman art.
The paintings also tell a great deal about the prosperity of the
area and specific tastes during the times.
The main purpose of these frescoes was to reduce the
claustrophobic interiors of Roman rooms, which were
windowless and dark. The paintings, full of color and life,
brightened up the interior and made the room feel more
1st style of Roman wall
1st Century CE
First style, also referred to as
structural, incrustation or masonry
style, was most popular from 200
BCE until 80 BCE.
•This style was a replica of that
found in the Ptolemaic palaces of the
near east, where the walls were inset
with real stones and marbles, and
also reflects the spread of Hellenistic
culture as Rome interacted and
conquered other Greek and
Hellenistic states in this period.
•This trompe l'oeil effect created
flat areas of color and 'faux" finishes
(like a fake marble or oak finish)
•This style divided the wall into
various, multi-colored patterns that
took the place of extremely
expensive cut stone.
•The First Style was also used with
other styles for decorating the lower
sections of walls that were not seen
as much as the higher levels.
Trompe l'oeil
2nd Style
The Second style, architectural style, or 'illusionism' dominated the 1st century
BCE, where walls were decorated with architectural features and trompe l'oeil
(trick of the eye) compositions.
It is characterized by use of relative perspective (not precise linear perspective)
Images and landscapes began to be introduced to the first style around 90
BCE, and gained ground from 70 BCE onwards, along with illusionistic and
architectonic motifs.
Decoration had to give the greatest possible impression of depth. Imitations of
images appeared, at first in the higher section, then (after 50 BCE) in the
background of landscapes which provided a stage for mythological stories,
theatrical masks, or decorations.
Much of the depth of the mature Second Style comes from the use of aerial
(atmospheric) perspective that blurred the appearance of objects further
away. Thus, the foreground is rather precise while the background is
somewhat indistinctly purple, blue, and gray.
Fashionable particularly from the 40s BCE onwards, it began to wane in the
final decades BCE.
3rd Style
Called the Ornamental style
These paintings were decorated with delicate linear fantasies,
predominantly monochromatic, that replaced the threedimensional worlds of the Second Style.
This style is typically noted as simplistically elegant.
Emphasis on the surface of the wall (no illusion)
Impossible columns/architectural features
These often involve a delicate architectural frame over a blank,
monochromatic background with only a small scene located in
the middle, like a tiny floating landscape.
It was found in Rome until 40 CE and in the Pompeii area until
60 CE.
4th Style
Combines elements of all the previous styles
(ca. 60–79 AD) is generally less ornamented than its
predecessor. The style was, however, much more
complex. It revives large-scale narrative painting and
panoramic vistas while retaining the architectural details
of the Second and First Styles.
The overall feeling of the walls typically formed a
mosaic of framed pictures that took up entire walls.
The lower zones of these walls tended to be composed
of the First Style. Panels were also used with floral
designs on the walls.
Contributes the still life to art
Domus Aurea of Nero
75 BCE
4th Style
-Literally means the "Golden
House of Nero"
-Monochromatic background
(Third Style)
-Animals and figures are placed
throughout the pattern (Second
-See glimpses of architectural
structures that extend past the
wall (Second and Third Styles)
OK guess the style
Can you identify
the first 3 styles in
this 4th style wall?
 1st
 2nd
 3rd
Still life w/ Peaches
Roman early empire
50 BCE
arrangement of peaches, stems, and
half-filled pitcher of water
-Concentration on the different
textures of the surfaces, roundness
of the peaches, and the pitcher
-Reflective surface of the glass
-Composition emphasizes curves
and arcs
-Delight in showing how light plays
on a given surface
-Made popular by Octavian
Augustus’s wife
Art of the Empire
Begins with Caesar but in reality it is with
the rise of Augustus in 31 BCE that the
Empire really gets going
Augustus of Primaporta
Roman early Empire
c. 20 BCE
Key Piece
-Copy of original, many many copies
were distributed around the empire
-Augustus was the son of Octavian who
defeated Antony and Cleopatra thus
making him the “First Among Equals;”
not an Emperor.
-Depicted as a young leader even when he
was near death
-Very subtle cues about his power and
-The small cupid gives reference to
Augustus' divinity. His heritage could be
traced back to Venus who was the mother
of Cupid.
-Idealized-no longer realistic
-Similar stance to "Doryphorus" (the
Spear Bearer)
-no weapon but armor
-on the armor the story of the retrieving of
a standard
Themes- Peace, Propaganda, Emperor as
Ara Pacis or Altar of Peace
Roman Early Empire
20 BCE
values- have kids!!!
•Look at all that Peace has given us!
In the summer of 13
BCE Augustus Caesar
returned to Rome after
an absence of three years
in the western provinces.
Soon after, his chief of
staff Marcus Vipsanius
Agrippa returned to
Rome, having completed
successful military
campaigns in the eastern
The Roman Senate voted several honors to Augustus upon his return,
most of which he refused. However, he did accept a senatorial decree
for an outdoor altar complex to be built on the Via Flaminia in the area
of the Campus Martius. The altar was consecrated by a senatus consultum
on 4 July 13 BCE, the constitutio.
It was dedicated on 30 January 9 BCE (Livia’s birthday), the dedicatio.
The plan of the altar is known and the
sculptures on it have been
successfully remounted so that its
program can be determined.
from the Ara Pacis Augustae
Roman early Empire
20 BCE
From the Ara Pacis or “altar of peace”
-Early Empire Period
-Reference to Classical Greek art with
the heavy drapery
-Roman patricians appear as the ruling
class not as gods
-Augustus is recognizable
-Children present (August focused on
family values)
-The years that Augustus reigned were
the most peaceful that the Romans had
ever experienced
-Note that Augustus is the same height,
not taller not special, but he is
-The scene celebrates the dedication of
the altar with a real image
commemorating the scene… but it was
made before the altar was dedicated
The identity of the members of the Imperial family have been
fairly well worked out
How do these compare?
Tellus relief from the Ara
Roman Early Empire
13-9 BCE
Tellus mater earth breasts feeds
symbols of the four elements
abound bird, cow/sheep, dragon,
water in the jug left
-There is bounty when there is
peace and harmony
The Spoils of Empire redistributed to the
Roman early Empire
20 BCE
-Aqueducts were used to provide
the people with clean water
-Amazing engineering
-The flow of the water was
controlled by gravity
-Both a road and a aqueduct
Arch of Titus
Roman Early Empire
100 CE
-Was built in Titus' honor by his
younger brother who succeeded him
-Commemorates Titus' victory over
-Triumphal arch
-Has only one passage way, so it
was an early triumphal arch
-The arch was a base for a large
statue or monument on top.
Public Spectacle for the glory of the
Spoils of Jerusalem
relief from the Arch of Titus
Roman Early Empire
100 CE
-Shows the parade of the Romans
after they had destroyed Jerusalem
-The large candelabrum or menorah
is the same that was in the Holy
Place found within the interior of
the Jewish Temple.
-In the relief across from this, Titus
is shown in his victorious chariot
and portrayed as a god.
-order is key
For the glory of the Emperorredistribution of wealth of Empire
Young Flavian Woman
Roman Early Empire
100 CE
-Typical Flavian hair style, which was a
sign of social status - you do not have to
work so you can spend time on your
-Sculptor was talented in depicting the
different textures between the hair the
woman's skin
-A drill was used rather than the traditional
chisel for the curls
Change of aesthetic and a move towards
conspicuous consumtion
Coliseum or the Flavian
Roman early empire
100 CE Key Piece
Was built under the direction of
Vespasian and known as the Flavian
-Built on a man-made lake that had been
constructed by Nero for his gardens. This
was now public property again.
-Was named because it was close to a
large statue of Nero called Colossus
-Built to house the gladiators
-Constructed with concrete barrel vaultsthe arches were weight-bearing
-The columns are built in progressive
order starting with Doric on the ground
floor and ending at Corinthian (columns
had no weight-bearing function).
-Under the floor were storage rooms and
cages for the animals.
-Originally had a roof that could be added
or taken away when needed
Bread and Circus to mollify the public
Roman High Empire
125 CE
Key piece
-Temple was built for all of the
-Most influential building in the
-Commissioned by Emperor
Hadrian who loved the classicsFormer glories revisited
-Largest masonry dome in the world
(built out of concrete)
-It is able to encompass a perfect
sphere under the dome.
-At the top of the dome is an oculus
to allow light to enter the building.
-Each god has a statue that is bathed
in sunlight that changes throughout
the year.
-coffered ceilings
Equestrian Marcus Aurelius
Roman High Empire
200 CE
Key Piece
An original bronze, equestrian
statue, which was rare because most
leaders melted the bronze down
from the previous leader to built
monuments to themselves
-Was originally thought to be a
statue of Constantine
-He is not in military attire because
he rules by reason rather than by the
sword, his calm is juxtaposed by the
-He was an enlightened emperor.
Last Stoic Emperor
Portrait of Commodus as
c. CE 200
Roman High Empire
-Son of Marcus Aurelius (He is the
emperor on which the movie
"Gladiator" was based.)
-Reference to Hercules because of
the lion's skin and clubs
-He thought he was Hercules
reincarnated and he often was seen
in the Coliseum fighting off animals
as well as fighting as a gladiator.
This was scandalous because
gladiators were the lowest class of
-His body is strong, but his face
shows some weakness.
-Looks suspended in midair
-a nice comparison to both
Augustus Primaporta, and head
of a Roman Patrician
Key Ideas
Roman art reflects the ambitions of a powerful empiremonumental buildings and sculptures were built to glorify
the power of the gods and the state
Roman architecture is revolutionary in its understanding of
the powers of the arch, the vault, and concrete
A history of Roman painting survives on the walls of
Pompeian villas
Romans show a strong interest in the basic elements of
perspective and foreshortening
Roman sculpture is greatly indebted to Greek models