. . .
Rome's greatness grew out of its imperial program of conquering others and establishing colonies. This military expansion at once brought great material benefit to the Roman state and guaranteed a pipeline of wealth for Rome, the imperial city. And Rome becomes a cosmopolitan capital where high-living and material wealth become synonymous with personal importance and success. Note how the Karanis exhibit displays extravagant wall paintings, which did not decorate the walls of churches or temples but rather the homes of wealthy citizens. The exhibit also includes coins, whose minting bespeaks the abiding concern for the tokens of wealth as well.
What the Romans also did was learn from other cultures. You might wonder why APHRODITE, a Greek goddess, was memorialized in a fantastic sculpture in Roman times (and in Egypt, no less!). To their credit, the Romans recognized the richness of Greek art and architecture, and they sought to emulate the Greek masters -- and the Greek styles and themes -- in their own art. To a large degree, it was the Romans who brought Greek (and Hellenistic) culture to world attention. Romans patronized Greek artists and artisans in the glorification of a vast world of their own, Roman creation.
It is no surprise, then, that the Roman poet VIRGIL (or VERGIL) turns to Greek mythology and to the Greek epics as he fashions his own description of the origins and destiny of the Roman state, The Aeneid. Virgil writes his extended poem, in part, to win the favor of Augustus Caesar, the new emperor who emerges from the conflict surrounding the death of Julius Caesar. His other aim is to situate Rome in line with what was considered the great literary tradition of the time -- the Greek. Virgil's work thus is both polemic and propaganda: his blending of history and mythology provides a platform for the imperial agenda that Augustus will undertake. [Next]
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