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Iona School of Arts and Sciences Dr Sophy Downes

5th-27th June sophydownes@gmail.com

Building an Empire: How History Impacted Art & Architecture, and Art &
Architecture Impacted History in Ancient Rome

Overview and Description

The monuments, buildings, and artistic expressions of the Roman empire are its most
visible legacy. The Colosseum, Pantheon, and imperial palaces loom large in our
impression of Roman civilization, and Roman architectural principles were used long
after the fall of Rome to create some of the most iconic buildings in the modern era.
Likewise, the artistic expressions that remain reveal important insights into how Ancient
Rome was created, governed, and ultimately dismantled. This course will examine the rise
and development of Roman artistic and architectural principles and analyze how they
recorded and shaped historical events that created a lasting image of empire. We will
consider the factors that determined the formal transformation of Roman art and
architecture, such as technological advancement and territorial expansion, as well as how
such changes reflect or reveal the shifting political and religious dynamics that Rome
experienced over the course of its history.

By the end of the course, students will be familiar with the basic concepts of Roman art
and architecture and how they were shaped by, and helped to shape political and cultural
trends from the Republic to the rule of Constantine. Students will gain experience
analyzing and understanding ancient sculpture, paintings, buildings and their
components, as well as identifying the historical events that influenced their creation.
Students will learn how to study and interpret architecture and visual culture within its
overarching historical context.

Assessment Criteria/Tools
Students are responsible for completing all readings listed on the syllabus and for being
prepared to discuss them; they are also required to attend all site visits. Student
performance will be measured as follows: 1) a final exam, worth 35%, will assess
students knowledge of architecture and objects, technical terms and concepts in art
history, and the basic geography of Rome, etc. as studied on the course, 2) a mid-term
short paper (400 words), worth 15%, on an object or building of the students choice,
describing its stylistic/technical features and its social and historical context, and 3) a
final paper (1500 words, excluding image captions), worth 35%, which will ask students
to analyze critically a wider artistic/social question on the basis of the surviving material
evidence. Papers should include appropriate images, citations, and bibliography.
Suggested questions for the final papers will be provided; students are welcome
(encouraged!) to chose their own questions instead, but MUST submit alternative
questions by 21st June at the latest. The final 15% of the course will be based on
participation, including attendance, preparedness, professionalism and contribution to
class discussions.

College Policy for all courses and students: (full explanations of policy may be found
in the College Catalog)

Plagiarism: Is the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of
another author/person and the representation of them as one's own original work. Iona
College policy stipulates that students may be failed for the assignment or course, with
no option for resubmission or re-grading of said assignment. A second instance of
plagiarism may result in dismissal from the College. Students who are given a failing
grade as a result of cheating, plagiarism or academic dishonesty are not permitted to
withdraw from the class. Faculty members will report all incidents of cheating and
plagiarism to the dean. After the first offense the student will be required to complete an
instructional program on intellectual dishonesty. After the second offense, the student
will no longer qualify for a degree with honors, and the student may be suspended from
the college.

Attendance: All students are required to attend all classes. Iona has an attendance policy
for which all students are accountable. While class absence may be explained it is never
excused. Professors may weigh class absence in the class grade as they see fit. Failure to
attend class may result in a failure of the class for attendance (FA), when the student has
missed 20% or more of the total class meetings. The FA grade weighs as an F would in
the final official transcript.

Cell Phone Policy: Students may keep cell phones on silent or vibrate during class, either
in their bags or on the floor, in case of emergency notifications. Students should not text,
browse, e-mail, take phone calls or listen to messages during class time; failure to observe
this policy will result in the students dismissal from the class for that period and his/her
being marked as absent.

Course and Teacher Evaluation (CTE): Iona College now uses an on-line CTE system.
This system is administered by an outside company and all of the data is collected
confidentially. No student name or information will be linked to any feedback received
by the instructor. The information collected will be compiled in aggregate form by the
agency and distributed back to the Iona administration and faculty, with select
information made available to students who complete the CTE. Your feedback in this
process is an essential part of improving our course offerings and instructional
effectiveness. We want and value your point of view.*
NOTE* You will receive several emails at your Iona email account about how and when
the CTE will be administered with instructions how to proceed.

Textbook (provided)

Kleiner, F. 2010 [2007]. A History of Roman Art. Enhamced Edition. Belmont, CA.

Class Schedule

1) Monday 5th June

Introduction. Overview of the course. Overview of Roman Art and Architecture from
the Republic to Constantine. How should we think about the relationship between art
and society?

Readings: Kleiner, F. Introduction, Italy before the rise of Rome, pp. xxi-xlvii (esp.
xxixxvii, and Summary xlvii you can skim the rest); Chapter 1, From Village
to World Capital, pp.1-3.

Clarke, J.R. 2003. Introduction, in Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans: Visual Representation
and Non-elite Viewers in Italy, 100 B.C.-A.D. 315, pp. 1-13. Berkeley.

Hodos, T. 2009. Local and Global Perspectives in the Study of Social and Cultural
Identities, in S. Hales and T. Hodos (eds.), Material Culture and Social Identities in
the Ancient World, pp.3-31. Cambridge and New York.

Stewart, P. 2008. Chapter 1, Who made Roman Art?, in The Social History of Roman Art.
New York and Cambridge.

Zanker, P. 2010. By the Emperor, for the People: Popular Architecture in Rome in
Ewald, B.C. and C.F. Norea (eds.). The Emperor and Rome: Space, Representation,
and Ritual, pp. 45-88. Cambridge.

2) Tuesday 6th June

The Republic. The origins of Rome: Greek and Etruscan influences. Republican
temples in the Largo Argentine and the Forum Boarium. Verism in portrait sculpture and
temple dedications. Problems of archaeological survival and loss.

Readings: Kleiner, F. Chapter 1, From Village to World Capital, pp. 4-15; Chapter 4,
From Marcellus to Caesar, pp. 47-59.

Alexandridis, A. 2009. Neutral Bodies Female Portrait Statue Types from the Late
Republic to the 2nd Century C.E., in T. Hodos and S. Hales (eds.), Material
Culture and Social Identities in the Ancient World, pp. 252-79. Cambridge.

Orlin, E. 2002. Introduction pp. 1-9 and Origins: pp. 11-33, in Temples, Religion, and
Politics in the Roman Republic. Boston.

Smith R.R.R. 1981. Greeks, Foreigners, and Roman Republican Portraits, Journal of
Roman Studies 71: 24-38.

Tanner, J. 2000. Portraits, Power, and Patronage in the Late Roman Republic. Journal of
Roman Studies 90 (2000): 18-50.

3) Wednesday 7th June

Pax Augusta. Peace and propaganda; public display and the imperial family; Greece
again the use of the classicizing style; civic planning, monuments in dialogue on the
Campus Martius the Ara Pacis, Mausoleum of Augustus, etc. Funerary monuments:
from emperors to freedman.

Readings: Kleiner, F. Chapter 5 The Augustan Principate pp. 61-77 (p. 73 onwards is
concerned with wall painting, and will be discussed primarily in the next session);
Chapter 6, Preparing for the Afterlife during the Early Empire, pp. 79-80, and

Favro, D. 2005. Making Rome a World City, in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of
Augustus, Karl Galinsky (ed.), pp.234-63, Cambridge.

Favro, D. 1984. Structure in The Urban Image of Augustan Rome, pp. 143-216, Cambridge.

Petersen, L.H. 2003. The Baker, his Tomb, his Wife and her Breadbasket, Art Bulletin
85.2 (Jun.), pp. 230-257.

Zanker, P. 1988. Rival Images: Octavian, Antony, and the Struggle for Sole Power, pp.
33-78 and The Augustan Program of cultural renewal, pp. 111-166 in The Power
of Images in the Age of Augustus, Ann Arbor.

4) Monday 12th June

Palaces and Houses in the Julio-Claudian Empire. Roman houses: their structure,
decoration, and social significance. The development of imperial residences from
Augustus house on the Palatine to Neros Domus Aurea.

Readings: Kleiner, F: Chapter 8, The Julio-Claudian Dynasty, pp. 103-119, (esp. Nero
pp. 115-19, and the Boscoreale cups and the Gemma Augustae, pp.103-7 you
can skim the rest); Chapter 3, Republican domestic architecture and mural
painting, pp.31-45; Chapter 10, Pompeii and Herculaneum in the first century
CE, pp. 139-151.

Allison, P. 2001. Using the Material and the Written Sources: Turn of the Millennium
Approaches to Roman Domestic Space, American Journal of Archaeology 105.2
(April), pp. 181-208.

Flaig, E. 2010. Chapter 10 How the Emperor Nero Lost Acceptance in Rome, in
Ewald, B.C. and C.F. Norea (eds.). 2010. The Emperor and Rome: Space,
Representation, and Ritual, pp. 275-88. Cambridge.

Wallace-Hadrill, A. 1988. The Social Structure of the Roman House, Papers of the British
School at Rome 56, pp. 43-97.

Welch, K.E. Section, The Domus Aurea in The Roman Amphitheatre: from its Origins to the
Colosseum, pp.148-58. Cambridge.

5) Tuesday 13th June

Games and Bathing, and the Flavian Emperors. Monumental building and mass
extravaganzas: the emperor and the people. Engineering: arches and concrete.
Aqueducts. The arch of Titus.

Readings: Kleiner, F. Chapter 9, Civil War, the Flavians, and Nero, pp. 121-137 (skim
Portraiture pp.121-26); Chapter 16, The Severan Dynasty, just the section on
the Baths of Caracalla, pp. 242-245.

Beard, M. and Hopkins, K. 2005. Chapter 2, and Then, in The Colosseum, pp. 21-41,

Clarke, J.R. 2003. Chapter 5, Spectacle: Entertainment, Social Control, Self-advertising,

and Transgression, in Art in the lives of ordinary Romans : visual representation and non-
elite viewers in Italy, 100 B.C.-A.D. 315, pp. 130-159. Berkeley.

DeLaine, J. 1997. Pt. 3. Social and economic implications: The building industry of
Severan Rome, in The Baths of Caracalla: A study in the design, construction, and
economics of large-scale building projects in imperial Rome, pp.195 ff. Portsmouth, RI:
Journal of Roman Archaeology Suppl. Series no. 25. 205.

Fagan, G.G. 1999. Chapter 2, Accounting for the Popularity of Public Baths, pp.75-84,
in Bathing in Public in the Roman World. Ann Arbor.

Welch, K.E. Chapter 5, The Colosseum: Canonization of the Amphitheatre Building

Type, in The Roman Amphitheatre: from its Origins to the Colosseum, pp. 128-162.

Yegul, F. 1992. Chapter 2, Bathing and Baths in the Roman World, Baths and Bathing in
Classical Antiquity, pp.30-47 Cambridge, MA.

6) Wednesday 14th June

Trajans Column, Markets, Forum, and Ports. The High Empire. Narrative art and
the depiction of war on Trajans column. The relationship between commerce and
religion in the fori imperiali.

Readings: Kleiner, F. Chapter 11, Trajan, Optimus Princeps, pp. 153-169.

Claridge, A. 1993. Hadrians column of Trajan, Journal of Roman Archaeology 6, pp. 5-22.

Clarke, J.R., 2003. Chapter 1, Augustuss and Trajans Messages to Commoners, in Art
in the lives of ordinary Romans : visual representation and non-elite viewers in Italy, 100 B.C.-
A.D. 315, pp. 19-41, Berkeley.

La Rocca, E. 1995. The Imperial Fora. Rome.

7) Monday 19th June
Hadrian, Rome and Tivoli. Hadrians transformation of Rome. The design and
meaning of the Pantheon domes and concrete (again). Hadrians villa at Tivoli as a
microcosm of empire Hellenism, Egyptianizing.

Readings: Kleiner, F. Chapter 12, Hadrian, the Philhellene, pp. 171-185.

Elsner, J. 2006. Chapter 8, Classicism in Roman Art, in Classical Pasts: The Classical
Traditions of Greece and Rome. James Porter (ed.), pp. 270-300. Princeton and

MacDonald, W.L. 1976. The Problem of Meaning, in The Pantheon: Design, Meaning, and
Progeny, pp.76-93. Cambridge, MA.

MacDonald, W.L. and Pinto, J.A.. 1995. Chapter 3, Familiar Architecture Chapter 4,
Unfamiliar Architecture, Chapter 6, Art, and Chapter 7, The Villa in Use, in
Hadrian's Villa and its Legacy. New Haven and London.

Wilson Jones, M. Building on Adversity: The Pantheon and problems with its
construction, in The Pantheon: From Antiquity to the Present, T. A. Marder and M.
Wilson Jones (eds.), pp.193-230, Cambridge.

8) Tuesday 20th June

The Antonines and the Severans. The rise of inhumation, and mythical sarcophagai.
The changing styles of imperial monuments: the Column of Marcus Aurelius and the
Arch of Septimus Severus. Rome in the provinces, Eastern religions in Rome. The forma
urbis Romae.

Readings: Kleiner, F. Chapter 13, The Antonines, pp. 187-201, Chapter 15, Burying
the Dead during the High Empire, pp. 217-30, Chapter 16, The Severan
Dynasty, pp. 231-245, Chapter 17, Lepcis Magna and the Eastern Provinces,
pp. 247-261.


Clarke, J.R. 2003. Chapter 2, The All-seeing emperor and ordinary viewers: Marcus
Aurelius and Constantine, in Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans : Visual
Representation and Non-elite Viewers in Italy, 100 B.C.-A.D. 315, sections pp. 42-56.

Ewald, B.C. 2003. The Social History of Roman Funerary Art and its Limits, Journal of
Roman Archaeology 16, pp.561-70.

Zanker, P. and Ewald, B.C. 2012 [2004]. Chapter 1, Sections Living with Myths, pp. 30-
35, and Allowing the Images to Speak for themselves, pp. 36-56, in Living with
Myths: the Imagery of Roman Sarcophagai, trans. Julia Slater. Oxford.

9) Wednesday 21st June
Late Antiquity. The crisis of the third century; Diocletian and the foundation of the
Tetrarchy. Abstraction, popular art, and the anti-classicizing movement. Spolia: re-use
of reliefs and building material. The Aurelian walls.

Readings: Kleiner, F. Chapter 18, The Soldier Emperors, pp.263-77, Chapter 19, The
Tetrarchy, pp. 272-89.

Ellis, S.P. 1991. Power, Architecture, and Dcor: How the Late Roman Aristocrat
Appeared to his Guests in Gazda, E. (ed.) 1991. Roman Art in the Private Sphere.
New Perspectives on the Architecture and Dcor of Domus, Villa, and Insula, pp. 117-34.

Kinney, D. 1997. Spolia. Damnatio and Renovatio Memoriae, Memoirs of the American
Academy in Rome, Vol. 42, pp. 117-148.

Elsner, J. 2004. Late Antique Art: The Problem of the Concept and the Cumulative
Aesthetic in Approaching Late Antiquity. The Transformation from Early to Late
Empire, S. Swain and M. Edwards (eds.), pp. 271-309. Oxford.

Stewart, P. 2008. Chapter 5, Sections, Unclassical Roman Art, pp. 162-6 and Late
Antiquity, pp.166-172, in The Social History of Roman Art. New York and

10) Monday 26th June

The Rise of Christianity. Change and continuity of symbolism, materials, building
types, etc. Movement to the peripheries of the city. The Arch of Constantine.

Readings: Kleiner, F. Chapter 20. Constantine, Emperor and Christian Patron, pp.

Clarke, J.R. 2003. Section, The Good Emperors and Constantine, in Chapter 2, The
All-seeing emperor and ordinary viewers: Marcus Aurelius and Constantine, in
Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans : Visual Representation and Non-elite Viewers in Italy,
100 B.C.-A.D. 315, pp. 56-67. Berkeley.

Elsner, J. 2000. From the Culture of Spolia to the Cult of Relics: The Arch of
Constantine and the Genesis of Late Antique Forms, Papers of the British School at
Rome 68, pp.149-184.

Marlowe, E. 2006. Framing the Sun: The Arch of Constantine and the Roman
Cityscape, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 88, No. 2 (Jun.), pp. 223-242.

Jensen, R.M. 2000. Chapter 2, Non-narrative images: Christian Use of Classical Symbols
and Popular Motifs, in Understanding Early Christian Art, pp. 32-63. London.

Zanker, P. and Ewald, B.C. 2012 [2004]. Chapter 5, Images and Values in Transition,
pp. 245-66, in Living with Myths: the Imagery of Roman Sarcophagai, trans. Julia Slater.

11) 27th June

Kampen, N.B. 2003. On Writing Histories of Roman Art, The Art Bulletin, vol. 84, no. 2
(Jun.), pp. 371-86.

Recommended Reference Works

Filippo Coarelli, Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide. University of California Press,
Berkeley, 2007.
John R. Clarke, Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans : Visual Representation and Non-elite
Viewers in Italy, 100 B.C.-A.D. 315, Berkeley, 2003.
Diana Kleiner, Roman Architecture: A Visual Guide. New Haven, Yale University Press,
Peter Stewart, The Social History of Roman Art. New York, Cambridge University Press,

Additional Bibliography

Bardill, J. 2012. Constantine. Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Age. Cambridge.
Beard, M. 2007. The Roman Triumph. Cambridge.
Beard, M. 2008. Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town. London.
Beard, M., J. North and S. Price. 1998. Religions of Rome. Cambridge.
Castriota, D. 1995. The Ara Pacis Augustae and the imagery of abundance in later Greek and early
Roman imperial art. Princeton.
Darwall-Smith, Robin. 1996. Emperors and Architecture: A Study of Flavian Rome. Brussels.
Dillon, S., and K.E. Welch, (eds.). 2006. Representations of War in Ancient Rome. Cambridge.
Elsner, J. 1991. Cult and Sculpture: Sacrifice in the Ara Pacis Augustae, Journal of Roman
Studies 81, pp. 50-61.
Elsner, J. 1995. Art and the Roman Viewer: The Transformation of Art from the Pagan World to
Christianity. New York and Cambridge.
Elsner, J. 1998. Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph. Oxford.
Ewald, B.C. and C.F. Norea (eds.). 2010. The Emperor and Rome: Space, Representation, and
Ritual. Cambridge.
Favro, A.D. 1996. The Urban Image of Rome. Cambridge.

Galinsky, Karl. 1996. Augustan Culture: An interpretive introduction. Princeton.
Gazda, E.K. 2002. The Ancient Art of Emulation: Studies in Artistic Originality and Tradition
from the Present to Classical Antiquity. Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome,
Supplementary Volume I. Ann Arbor.
Hallett, C.H. 2005. The Roman Nude: Heroic Portrait Statuary 200 BC-AD 300. Oxford.
Henig, M. 1994. The Luxury Arts: Decorative Metalwork, Engraved Gems and Jeweller,
in A Handbook of Roman Art, pp.139-165.
Holliday, P.J. 1990. Time, History, and Ritual on the Ara Pacis Augustae. Art Bulletin 72,
pp. 542-57.
Holscher, T. 2003. The Language of Images in Roman Art: Art as a semantic system in the Roman
World. Cambridge.
Jackson, D. 1987. Verism and the Ancestral Portrait, Greece and Rome 34, pp. 32-47.
Kleiner, D. 1992. Roman Sculpture. New Haven.
Ling, R. (ed.). 2000. Making Classical Art: Process & Practice. Stroud.
Ling, R. 1998. Ancient Mosaics, London.
Pergola, P, F. Severini, and P. Barbini. 2000. Early Christian Rome: Catacombs and Basilicas.
Pollini, J. 2012. From Republic to Empire: Rhetoric, Religion, and Power in the Visual Culture of
Ancient Rome. Oklahoma.
Pollitt, J.J. 1966. The Art of Rome C.753 B.C.-A.D. 337: Sources and Documents. Cambridge.
Ramage, N. H. and A. Ramage. 2008. Roman Art: Romulus to Constantine. New Jersey.
Richter, G. M. 1995. The origin of verism in Roman portraits. The Journal of Roman
Studies 45, pp. 39-46.
Sear, F. 1989. Roman Architecture. Ithaca.
Taylor, R. 2003. A Study in Architectural Process. Cambridge.
Trimble, J. 2011. Women and Visual Replication in Roman Imperial Art and Culture.
Wallace-Hadrill, A. 1994. Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum. Princeton.
Ward-Perkins, J. 1983. Roman Imperial Architecture. Middlesex.
Wilson Jones, M. 2000. Principles of Roman Architcture, New Haven.
Zanker, P. 2010. Roman Art. Los Angeles.

Recommended Online Resources

The best guide to the Severan Map of Rome.


Google maps for ancient Rome. Experiment with travel through the Roman empire

Perseus Project - image bank and documentation for ancient Greek and Roman culture):

The FORVM ROMANVM - well illustrated presentation of the forum and its monuments

Underground Rome -- a guide to underground sites in the city of Rome


The Ostia Page -- an outstanding page with information on the history and archaeology of
Rome's port city.

Pompeii Forum Project


The Vatican Museum -- material from all of the Vatican collections


Diotima (Materials for the study of women and gender in the ancient World.)