second analysis paper

Hi everyone,

In case you lose it, I’m posting the assignment for the second analysis paper.  2nd analysis paper

Good luck!



Week 14: Trajan’s Column

Due Tuesday, April 19, by 9 am

Trajan’s column is one of the most compelling monuments of imperial Rome, but one that presents several questions and problems of interpretation.  Having read Brilliant’s overview of the column and Dillon’s focused exigesis on the meaning and interpretation of the relief, write a response keeping in the mind the following questions:  Is the column to be regarded primarily as architecture, or primarily as a vehicle for propagandistic art?  How could the average viewer appreciate the narrative thread and sculptural detail of the frieze?  What is the meaning of the scenes and their particular arrangement and the message behind them?  Brilliant argues that “the designer of the helical reliefs must be seen as a historian in stone”?  Do you agree? or do you prefer Dillon’s approach?  Why or why not?

If you would like to take a closer look at the column itself, this website is an excellent resource:

however, it currently is down – how long is not clear.

Week 12 Blog: Ara Pacis

Discuss the purpose, function, meaning of the Ara Pacis. Who commissioned it? What is depicted on it? What is it meant to represent? How were people to respond? Take into consideration the comments/analysis of this monument by both Paul Zanker and Brian Rose.  How compelling do you find Rose’s arguments?  How does his reading affect the interpretation of the monument as presented by Zanker and its meaning with respect to Augustan ideology?

Images of the Ara Pacis: Ara Pacis


research paper stuff

Hi everyone,

Note that I’ve added a page with possible research paper topics and a fairly extensive bibliography.  I’ve added more links to the side that should help you as you progress. Remember, you should have a topic figured out by next week.



Blog Week 11: Conflict and Contradiction in Republican Imagery

"piggy-eyed" Pompey: channeling "the Great" (check out the hair)

Paul Zanker characterizes this period of Roman art as one of “conflict” and “contradiction,” particularly with respect to self-image.  What does he mean by this, and, based on your various readings for this week, do you agree?  Why or why not?


Blog Week 10: Cleopatra

"The Suicides of Antony and Cleopatra," from Giovanni Boccaccio, De casibus illustrium virorum et feminarum. c. 1480. London, British Library.

Now that you’ve read a number of ancient sources on Cleopatra as well as some modern scholarship on her life and person, you likely have a different perception of this iconic figure.  The way in which modern individuals, groups and societies view and represent Cleopatra says more about them than it does about her.  Reflect upon why more recent assessments and depictions of Cleopatra take the shape they do (and by more recent, I mean the last few hundred years, as opposed to antiquity).  You can find numerous examples of images of Cleopatra through the ages here: Week 10 Cleopatra.  Feel free to also search contemporary media in the form of images, articles, commentary, etc. to see the variety of ‘takes’ on the identity and character of Cleopatra.  To this end, you might check out the recent brouhaha about the rumored Cleopatra movie starring Angelina Jolie:

due 10 pm, Wednesday March 23

Blog Week 9: Style and Message in Pergamene Art

After you’ve done the reading, look at the images here of the Gigantomachy (Battle of the Olympic gods vs. the Giants) from the Great Altar at Pergamon, as well as statues of the Celts (thought to be later Roman copies of Pergamene victory monuments).  Write a brief response regarding the effectiveness of style and composition to communicate a political/philosophical message in either the Gigantomachy or the two statues of the Celts.

Gigantomachy on the Great Altar: The frieze running around the Great Altar at Pergamon depicts the epic mythological battle between the Olympian gods and the Titans/Giants (“Gigantomachy”). As noted by Gruen, “the Gigantomachy carries clear echoes of the Parthenon friezes [i.e. the metopes], thus associating the Attalid achievement with that of classical Athens, standard-bearer of order against chaos, of Hellenic civilization against barbarism.”  How do the sculptors of the Gigantomachy achieve this stylistically?  Look at the manner of composition, relationships between figures, expressions, textures, sense of movement, and the techniques used to achieve these.

The “Suicidal Gaul” (currently housed in the Palazzo Altemps, Rome) and the “Trumpeter/Dying Gaul” (currently housed in the Capitoline Museum, Rome):  These two statues are believed to be Roman-era copies of figures that formed part of a Pergamene victory monument.  The Celts are the barbaroi par excellence (worse than the Persians!), feared and loathed by Greeks and Romans alike (at least in the literature of this period). How do we know just from looking that these figures are Celts/Gauls?  How have the sculptures used style to present a narrative/commentary on these Celts?  Pay attention to the physique – what does it mean that these Celts are shown with such impressive physiques?  What is the Pergamene (or Roman) viewer meant to feel when viewing these statues?

Note:  The labels “Celt” and “Gaul” are used interchangeably to refer to these invaders from the North who settled in Greece and Asia Minor.

**Due by 10 pm, Wednesday March 16**

“Dying Gaul (Trumpeter)” (first 5 images) & “Suicidal Gaul” (last three images):

The Gigantomachy Frieze from the Great Altar:

Download images here: Great Altar – Gigantomachy

For more information about the Gigantomachy frieze and the Great Altar more generally, go here:

I don’t normally recommend wikipedia articles, but this one is is unusually well researched and cited, and is probably the best thing available on the web.

Here’s a translation of the relevant section of Hesiod’s Theogony, which describes the battle between the Gods and the Giants/Titans: