Week 2: The Power of Images and Defining Propaganda


Jas Elsner, Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph, pp 11-14 (“the role of visual culture in Rome”) and ch. 3 (“Art and Imperial Power”). Elsner 11-14 &   Elsner ch. 3

Stewart, P.  Roman Art, ch. 4, “The Power of Images”  Stewart, Roman Art ch 4

Plutarch, Life of Antony 60.2-3  Plutarch Antony 60.2
Polybius, Histories 6.53  Polybius 6.53

Edelman, M. 1995. From Art to Politics: How Artistic Creations Shape Political Conceptions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  Ch. 1, “The Cardinal Political Role of Art”  (pp 1-14) Edelman From Art to Politics

Taylor, P. 2003.  Munitions of the Mind: A History of Propaganda from the Ancient world to the Modern era. 1-48. Taylor Munitions of the Mind


what is the relationship between images and society in the ancient world? be able to articulate the functions of imagery in ancient society.

what does Edelman mean when he says that “seeing is constructed”?

does society shape art or does art shape society?

did images in antiquity play a more crucial role in shaping society than they do today?

did images in antiquity play a more crucial role in shaping opinions about the ruling classes than they do today?

what are the origins of the word, “propaganda,” and what are its various meanings?

why does it continue to have such an insidious meaning in modern discourse?

if the message is true, does it still count as propaganda?

is the term ‘propaganda’ truly applicable to the ancient world?

does the term remain useful in critical analysis, or is it too pejorative and laden with historical baggage?


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