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Augustan Aphrodites: The Allure of Greek Art in Roman Visual Culture

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the autonomy of images from the domestic realm, and on the specifically private meanings they might have. It explains why classicizing mythological images had such a hold on Roman viewers, so that they filled their homes, their gardens, and eventually their tombs with Aphrodite, Dionysos, and other Greek deities. For such viewers, classicism offered not simply an impressive, politically acceptable visual style, but a seductive and compelling manner to represent their hopes and aspirations. Surrounded by these figures from Classical mythology, they could imagine themselves leading a more attractive and exalted existence. A history of Augustan classicizing art that focuses on the role of the princeps ignores too much; one needs to incorporate these private patrons and viewers, who with their paintings, their statuettes, and their gems and jewels, testify both the power and the allure of the Classical.

Keywords: Aphrodite; Augustan; Dionysos; Greek deities; Roman visualculture

10.1163/9789047444503_016
/content/books/b9789047444503s016
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