Ancestors at the gate
Article , Content / 2014-12-02

Opuscula 7 is now available for purchase and free download at Also available at,, and Ancestors at the gate. Form, function and symbolism of the imagines maiorum. A comparative analysis of Etruscan and Roman funerary art By Chiara M. Mazzeri Abstract Scholars have interpreted the imagines maiorum (face-like representations of Roman familial ancestors), such as the ones represented in the famous Barberini statue, as wax masks that were worn by actors who impersonated the dead during funeral processions. Since members of the Roman aristocracy displayed the imagines of their ancestors who had held an important office, most scholars have concluded that the usage of the imagines was merely social and political and therefore devoid of any ritual or symbolic value. My paper, through close analysis of Roman literary and material evidence, argues that the imagines maiorum were not masks but complete portable wax heads; furthermore, that the imagines displayed in the Roman atrium, in addition to serving as status markers, played an important role in domestic rituals. There is convincing evidence that the imagines were objects of specific, periodic ritual acts (burning of incense, application of colours and laurel). Finally, I argue that the imagines…

Dancing with decorum
Article , Content / 2012-12-02

Now available for purchase and free download at Also available at,,, and Dancing with decorum. The eclectic usage of kalathiskos dancers and pyrrhic dancers in Roman visual culture By Julia Habetzeder Abstract This article examines two groups of motifs in Roman visual culture: females modelled on kalathiskos dancers, and males modelled on pyrrhic dancers. Eclecticism is emphasized as a strategy which was used to introduce novelties that were appropriate within a Roman cultural context. The figures representing kalathiskos dancers and pyrrhic dancers were both changed in an eclectic manner and this resulted in motifs representing the goddess Victoria, and the curetes respectively. Kalathiskos dancers and eclectic Victoriae occur on many different media at least from the Augustan era and into the 2nd century AD. It is argued here that the establishment of these two motifs in Roman visual culture is closely related to the aesthetics which came to the fore during the reign of Augustus. Thereafter, both kalathiskos dancers and eclectic Victoriae lingered on in the Roman cultural context until many of the material categories on which they were depicted ceased to be produced. Unlike the kalathiskos dancers, the male figures modelled on pyrrhic dancers…

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial