Pub. Date:
Oxford University Press
The Roman Nude: Heroic Portrait Statuary 200 BC - AD 300

The Roman Nude: Heroic Portrait Statuary 200 BC - AD 300

by Christopher H. Hallett


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Statues of important Romans frequently represented them nude. Men were portrayed naked holding weapons. The naked emperor might wield the thunderbolt of Jupiter, while Roman women assumed the guide of the nude love-goddess, Venus. When faced with these strange images, modern viewers are usually unsympathetic, finding them incongruous, even tasteless. They are mostly written off as just another example of Roman 'bad taste'.

This book offers a new approach. Comprehensively illustrated with black and white photographs of its subjects, it investigates how this tradition arose, and how the nudity of these portraits was meant to be understood by contemporary viewers. And, since the Romans also employed a range of costumes for their statues (toga, armour, Greek philosopher's cloak), it asks, 'What could the nude images express that other costumes could not?' It is Christopher Hallett's claim that - looked at in this way - these 'Roman nudes' turn out to be documents of the first importance for the cultural historian.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199240494
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 12/08/2005
Series: Oxford Studies in Ancient Culture & Representation Series
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 9.80(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Christopher H. Hallett is Professor of History of Art and Classics, University of California at Berkeley.

Table of Contents

1. The Greek background
2. The nude portrait in Greek art
3. Attitudes towards nudity at Rome
4. The Roman adoption of the nude portrait
5. The nude portrait under the Empire
6. The nudity of the gods
7. Understanding the Roman nude

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