Ancient Roman Art Reflection

Topics: Gladiator

Some of my perceptions of Ancient Roman art and society have remained static over the past semester, while other ideas I once held at the start of the semester have drastically changed. My original ideas and thoughts came from a variety of different influences that have developed throughout a large sum of my life such as history classes, popular culture, travel, and the assumption of Greek influences. I have spent the past semester studying Ancient Roman art in much detail through the textbooks titled “A History of Roman Art” written by Fred S.

Kleiner, “Roman Art” by Paul Zanker, and numerous supplementary scholarly journal excerpts. Because of my newfound knowledge, I have been able to expand on and reform the prior knowledge and perceptions that I had at the beginning of the semester. Art is a unique medium of self-expression and can often reflect one’s thoughts or interpretations of their current surroundings and environment. With this view in mind, although this class has been an art history class, I have gained just as much knowledge about the Ancient Roman society and lifestyle throughout the semester of studying their artwork.

Throughout my years as a student, I have taken a large number of American history and world history classes. However, only one class focused greatly on Ancient Rome. In seventh grade, my history teacher spent roughly three months covering all aspects of the Ancient Roman Society such as art, government, society, and their general way of life. The unit was concluded in late February with the annual middle school “Roman Night.

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” To prepare for Roman Night, each student would create a tri-fold board along with a hands-on model that was based on any aspect that they had learned about during the Roman unit. Each student’s work was displayed during Roman Night and the students along with their families would arrive in the evening to tour all of the different seventh-grade classrooms and view all of the completed student work. Bonus points were awarded to students who wore togas to the event. My Roman Night project was based on the Roman Amphitheaters. I had focused less on the theater aspect and more on the blood and brutality that had occurred at events held inside of the walls of the Roman Colosseum. My tri-fold board was painted a red and orange background color to represent the theme that I was portraying and listed different facts about the events held specifically in the Colosseum. My hands-on model was a styrofoam model of the Colosseum with animal figures, painted blood, and bones lying on the inside of the arena. The biggest theme and vision of the Ancient Romans that I took away from this project was that the Romans were very cruel individuals who thrived on blood, gore, Gladiator Battles, and vicious wild animal hunts that were shown in the Colosseum.

Over the past semester, I have developed much more of an appreciation for these architectural wonders including the Colosseum, and have been able to think outside of these vicious events that were held within its walls. The Colosseum is truly an architectural masterpiece because of its size, freestanding ability, and its attention to detail. The Colosseum stands 160 feet high, holds over 50,000 people, and was designed with lifting devices on the stage, preparation rooms underneath the arena, and even a special awning to shield spectators from the beating hot sun or other elements (Kleiner 157). The structure took almost a decade to build out of concrete (Kleiner 157). I find this quite amazing considering the period modern-day that the Colosseum was built. It took my hometown an entire summer to repave a small section of my street, yet without modern-day building equipment, it took under a decade to build one of the most notable structures in the world in such a sturdy and efficient manner that it still stands after almost 2,000 years (Kleiner 157). This is such an outstanding feat that I wish I could go back in time and witness the planning and execution with my own eyes. Looking back on my previous Roman night project, I wish I had focused on this crucial aspect of the Roman Amphitheaters because I would have left the class with more of an appreciation for their talent and skill rather than the negative impression of their recreational activities that I had instead left with. Ancient Rome is portrayed in many different lights throughout American popular culture. To be specific, Julius Caesar, Pompeii, and, Gladiator have been at the forefront of many historically-based films (Ancient Rome’s Influence on Popular Culture).

Movies that have focused on these three themes have, in my opinion, almost romanticized Ancient Rome. In real life, the Romans were people who wore togas, watched live animal killings in their spare time, and glorified their military in their artwork, and social lives simply because they were more brutal than other empires’ militia (Zanker 99). Also, in real life, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius was a tragedy that killed roughly 30,000 people and turned an entire city full of life into a burial ground within minutes (Bagley). But, if you watch the film Pompeii (2014), you will still see a reenactment of these deaths, but the film heavily romanticizes the city and event by revolving the story around a couple named Milo and Cassia. It fails to realistically show the devastating effects of the eruption at the cost of creating a Hollywood love story and certain imagery that supports that idea. Because of this popular culture-forme view of Ancient Rome, I grew up having this image in my head of Ancient Rome that everything was good, clean, sophisticated, and everyone in Rome was in love. These visions may have held for the wealthy Romans, but the reality is that this did not hold for the middle and lower class Romans. After research conducted outside of, but inspired by, this class, I have learned the true realities of life in Ancient Rome for the lower and middle classes. The average Roman citizen did not have huge grandiose houses as once I had once pictured, rather, most of them resided in a small shack-like homesreasonings the They were sometimes so poor that they would abandon their newborns in the streets in hopes it was for the betterment of the child’s life.

Women were looked down on compared to men and were frequently viewed as unequal and did not bear the same rights as men in society as a result (Life in Roman Times). The citizens worked tirelessly for what little they had and they made do with what they earned. The Roman streets were filled with filth and grime. It was not the romantic setting that popular culture painted the Romans to be. It turns out, there were more Roman citizens in these conditions that I have described than there were in the wealthy classes (Life in Roman Times). These findings make me wish that there was a business for historically based movies that showed these realities of the history they are exposing, rather than severely altering it for glorification. This would have given me a more realistic and raw image of the living conditions in Ancient Rome. Another source of my perceptions of Ancient Rome includes an unusual pattern of travel that I have experienced. I have been to Las Vegas, Nevada three times so far in my life. A must-see tourist attraction here is Caesars Palace, a famous luxury hotel and casino. Caesars Palace was begun by a man named Jay Sarno and he had a unique vision to bring life to the Roman Empire for tourists to visit and experience on the Las Vegas strip (Caesars Palace Inspired by the Ancient Rome).

The hotel is guarded in the front by a twenty feet tall statueincludingto including Caesar himself. The hotel rooms are housed in six separate towers including The Julius Tower, The Nobu Tower, The Forum Tower, The Palace Tower, The Augustus Tower, and The Octavius Tower. The hotel has six pools available for guests to use. They are visually modeled after the Ancient Roman bathhouses. Similar to the room towers, the pools are also named with the Roman Empire theme in mind and include: The Garden of the Gods, The Temple Pool, The Neptune Pool, The Apollo Pool, The Bacchus Pool, and The Venus Pool (Caesars Palace Inspired by the Ancient Rome). Caesar’s Palace even includes a Colosseum which is located on the hotel’s property, slightly separated from the hotel. This model building is used for theater performers that travel to the hotel for any amount of time. What stood out to me the most in my travels to Las Vegas, was not the size or the “wow” factor of Caesars Palace, but it was the attention to detail that was displayed in the decor of this hotel. Next to the hotel towers, there is a building called “The Forum Shops at Caesars.” This is a great location to go to if you are not staying at this hotel but would like to see what the location and theme are all about and truly get the experience of the Roman Empire that Jay Sarno intended. The Forum is basiclly a large-scale mall, but you feel as if you are in Ancient Rome while you are there. You are surrounded by statues, stores that are architecturally designed to look like an Ancient Roman building from the outside, grand staircases, and fountains. The famous Fall of Atlantis fountain is replicated inside basicallythatbasically the Forum Shops. Guests can walk up, down, around, and inside of the intricate fountain along with many other similar style fountains. After conducting some quick research on the Forum Shops, I found that many of the statues at the Forum were imported from Italy and/or contained marble that was also imported from Italy. Many of the statues are of Caesar himself, and many are replicas of real statues that were made by Ancient Roman artists (Caesar’Caesar’s Palace Inspired by Ancient Rome). Caesars Palace is just about the closest you can get to experiencing life in Ancient Rome and taking in all there is to see in Rome, without actually leaving the United States, or the 21st century. Considering Las Vegas is one of the more expensive United States vacation spots, and after reading that the Forum Shops at Caesars is the highest-grossinghigh-grossing high-end mall in the country, it is safe to say that this resort continues to give the impression that Ancient Rome was rich, luxurious, and that the citizens lived a high-end lifestyle (Green).

Visiting this resort is an experience like no other and I cannot truly explain what it is like to be engulfed in a world of ancient statue replicas and fountains while also standing next to a Cheesecake Factory sign, or trying to get a perfect picture of the architectural masterpiece fountains while also seeing a Sephora store in the background. Although this location is a reasonable modern representation of how some of the Ancient Romans lived, it certainly was not an accurate representation of how the majority lived as I had discussed earlier in this reflection. Many of the Ancient Romans were very poor, not well off, and certainly did not live the lives of lavish and luxury that this resort displays (Life in Roman Times). After all three of my visits to Las Vegas, I left with an unrealistic image of their society, however, the artistic imagery was pretty spot on. Many of these statues were exact replicas and many of the fountains were modeled to represent ancient stories of the Gods that they believed in. This style of art and their appreciation for art and architecture is so different from our style here in America and I strongly believe that it is hard to imagine their world without having some type of mental image to base it off of. This resort gave me that image and although it is not a perfect representation, it is a baseline for me to elaborate on throughout my time studying Ancient Roman art and society. formTheforms last source that I have drawn my past perceptions of Ancient Roman society and artform from is very different from the previous three because I cannot quite pinpoint the origin of it. For some reason, I have always linked Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome together in my mind.

My guess as to why I do this is that we always learned about the two societies in succession in my previous world history classes. We would learn about Ancient Greece, and immediately after, we would learn about Ancient Rome. The link between the two was then further solidified by learning about how the two societies worshiped the same Gods, although they did have different names, the two societies both being located in the Mediterranean, and their somewhat similar lifestyles that may have simply just been a result of the period period period period. I had always assumed that Ancient Greece had directly influenced every aspect of Ancient Rome because of this correlation. This past semester, I have learned that this is not entirely true. Although the Ancient Greeks did influence the Ancient Romans, the Romans took what they had learned from the Greeks, and turned it into their way of life and living rather than just directly copying it. Although many aspects of Greek culture and Roman culture do go hand in hand, the aspects that the Romans adopted from Greek culture had less to do with practicality and more to do with the idea of luxury and complexity. For example, the Greeks highly disagreed with the appearance of Rome’s streets and their lack of architecture basically because to them these elements of Roman society were not comparable to what they had formed in their society (Zanker Chapter 1). Second, the Romans were great admirers of Greek art.

over the over the Romans went as far as to bring Greek artists to Rome with the sole intent of refurbishing their Roman homes to a style that better appealed to them, and building new temples and monuments to be displayed in the city. The Romans did not adopt every element of Greek culture because if they had done this, they would have just been a copy of Ancient Greece and there would be no need to learn about the two societies independently of each other. However, they did build their societal and artistic foundation off of many elements of Ancient Greece. The Ancient Romans took these elements and adopted adapted them to fit their own needs and thus creating their own unique culture to align with their Roman values (Zanker Chapter 1). As  I have shown, my past perceptions of Ancient Roman art and society were not entirely wrong, but they were at least improved to a more accurate state during studying Ancient Roman Art. Studying Ancient Roman Art this past semester has truly been an eye openingeyeopening eye-opening experience as it allowed me to dive deep into one particular aspect of their society, their artwork, and with that, I have been able to take that knowledge and learn more about their culture. For example, the Ancient Romans placed heavy importance on the artwork that they were buried with the inside of their tombs (Zanker 146).

Through learning about the different works of art the art that they chose to be buried with and the heating of them, I was able to learn about how different social classes expressed themselves beyond the grave. This sparked an interest within me to further learn about the different social classes in Roman society and how their lives may have differed from the other social classes. This is a topic that had never been covered in previous world history classes that I have taken and is something that never would have crossed my mind otherwise, yet I find it to be quite interesting. This newfound knowledge paints a more accurate and realistic picture of how the Ancient Romans lived despite conflicting perceptions from my previous history classes, American popular culture, my travels, and my assumption of Greek influences.

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