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Three uses of the Pygmy and the aethiops at Pompeii: Decorating, “Othering”, and warding off demons

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Chapter Summary

This chapter demonstrates that visual representations of the Aethiops and the pygmy could serve three principal functions. They could simply be an amusing part of a decorative scheme in the house, garden, or bath. They could also represent the Colonial Other. Or, they could avert demons. When is the representation of the Aethiops and the pygmy decorative, and when is it apotropaic? Even more difficult, when do these supposed inhabitants of the province of Egypt stand for the Other, and therefore the colonial power of Rome? Since Miguel John Versluys has recently articulated the colonial aspects of the pygmy-Other in his book, Aegyptiaca Romana, the chapter concentrates principally on how the constructed pygmydwarf and the Aethiops might have averted demons. It focuses on the art of Roman Italy between 80 B.C. and A.D. 79.

Keywords: Aegyptiaca Romana; Aethiops; Demons; Pompeii; Pygmy



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