Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans by John R. Clarke
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Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans
By John R. Clarke

Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans

Visual Representation and Non-Elite Viewers in Italy, 100 B.C.-A.D. 315

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Format: Paperback

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Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans by John R. Clarke

Book Description

This splendidly illustrated book brings to life the ancient Romans whom modern scholarship has largely ignored: slaves, ex-slaves, foreigners, and the freeborn working poor. Though they had no access to the upper echelons of society, ordinary Romans enlivened their world with all manner of artworks. Discussing a wide range of art in the late republic and early empire--from familiar monuments to the obscure Caupona of Salvius and little-studied tomb reliefs--John R. Clarke provides a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of ordinary Roman people. Writing for a wide audience, he illuminates the dynamics of a discerning and sophisticated population, overturning much accepted wisdom about them, and opening our eyes to their astounding cultural diversity. Clarke begins by asking: How did emperors use monumental displays to communicate their policies to ordinary people? His innovative readings demonstrate how the Ara Pacis, the columns of Trajan and of Marcus Aurelius, and the Arch of Constantine announced each dynasty's program for handling the lower classes. Clarke then considers art commissioned by the non-elites themselves--the paintings, mosaics, and reliefs that decorated their homes, shops, taverns, and tombstones. In a series of paintings from taverns and houses, for instance, he uncovers wickedly funny combinations of text and image used by ordinary Romans to poke fun at elite pretensions in art, philosophy, and poetry. In addition to providing perceptive readings of many works of Roman art, this original and entertaining book demonstrates why historians must recognize, rather than erase, complexity and contradiction and asks new questions about class, culture, and social regulation that are highly relevant in today's global culture.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780520248151
ISBN-10: 0520248155
Format: Paperback
(254mm x 178mm x 22mm)
Pages: 396
Imprint: University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
Publish Date: 7-Apr-2006
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...


Books By Author John R. Clarke

Looking at Laughter by John R. Clarke Looking at Laughter, Hardback (November 2007)

In this engaging study, a follow up to his earlier Looking at Lovemaking John R. Clarke asks what the Romans found funny, and why. As the title would suggest, he focuses on the evidence to be found in Roman art and material culture, including graffitti, although literary sources of course provide a framework for the study.

Looking at Lovemaking by John R. Clarke Looking at Lovemaking, Paperback (April 2001)

In this illustrated study, John R. Clarke investigates an assortment of Roman erotic art to answer the question of what sex meant to the ancient Romans. The text re-evaluates our understanding of Roman art and society in a study informed by gender and cultural studies.

» View all books by John R. Clarke

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Author Biography - John R. Clarke

John R. Clarke is Annie Laurie Howard Regents Professor of History of Art at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of Roman Sex (2003), Looking at Lovemaking: Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art, 100 B.C.-A.D. 250 (California, 1998), The Houses of Roman Italy, 100 B.C.-A.D. 250: Ritual, Space, and Decoration (California, 1991), and Roman Black-and-White Figural Mosaics (1979).

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