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Mars and Rhea Silvia in Roman Art


Series:  
Authors:  Albertson F.C.
Year: 2012
ISBN: 978-2-87031-277-3
Pages: 241 p. + 23 pl.
Price: 45 EURO


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Summary:
Among the stories surrounding the legendary foundation of the city of Rome by the twins, Romulus and Remus, previous scholarly attention has focused primarily on one scene – the depiction of the she-wolf nursing the twins following their miraculous salvation from the floodwaters of the Tiber. This book examines another event in the cycle, the conception of the twins, in which the Vestal Virgin, Rhea Silvia, is visited in her sleep and raped by the god Mars. Some fifty-one examples of the encounter of Mars and Rhea Silvia are analyzed, drawn from coins, relief sculpture, gems, wall painting, mosaics, and pottery, covering a time frame from the motif’s origin in the early 1st century B.C. to its disappearance in the late 4th century A.D. An analysis of the scene's iconographical evolution and its documented periods of popularity, both in the public and private sphere, are associated with contemporary trends in Roman literature, religion, and art.
This monograph on the representation of Mars and Rhea Silvia is not simply a self-contained study of a single motif over a specific time frame. Within the realm of Roman art, the book discusses larger issues concerning the relationship between art, myth and religion, and political propaganda, drawing from methodologies of appropriation (Kopienkritik), word and image, semiotics, and memory culture. As such, the book constitutes a case study whose conclusions may serve as guidelines for the study of Roman art in general.


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