Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting

Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting

Hardback Oxford Studies in Ancient Culture & Representation

By (author) Steven H. Rutledge


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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 424 pages
  • Dimensions: 196mm x 246mm x 30mm | 1,120g
  • Publication date: 18 June 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199573239
  • ISBN 13: 9780199573233
  • Illustrations note: 77 in-text images and 6 maps
  • Sales rank: 1,608,293

Product description

In antiquity, Rome represented one of the world's great cultural capitals. The city constituted a collective repository for various commemoratives, cultural artefacts, and curiosities, not to mention plunder taken in war, and over its history became what we might call a 'museum city'. Ancient Rome as a Museum considers how cultural objects and memorabilia both from Rome and its empire came to reflect a specific Roman identity and, in some instances, to even construct or challenge Roman perceptions of power and of the self. In this volume, Rutledge argues that Roman cultural values and identity are indicated in part by what sort of materials Romans deemed worthy of display and how they chose to display, view, and preserve them. Grounded in the growing field of museum studies, this book includes a discussion on private acquisition of cultural property and asks how well the Roman community at large understood the meaning and history behind various objects and memorabilia. Of particular importance was the use of collections by a number of emperors in the further establishment of their legitimacy and authority. Through an examination of specific cultural objects, Rutledge questions how they came to reflect or even perpetuate Roman values and identity.

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Author information

Steven H. Rutledge is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is author of Imperial Inquisitions: Prosecutors and Informants from Tiberius to Domitian (Routledge, 2001), and the author of numerous articles on Roman history and culture.

Review quote

it makes sense to claim that late Republican and Imperial Rome was, in effect, a museum. The virtue of Steven H. Rutledge's Ancient Rome as a Museum lies in its revolution of the paradox ... What were rare books to a fighting machine? Must Rome become a nation of curators? Rutledge explores this dilemma sympathetically, reaching far beyond the logic whereby precious things and natural curiosities were merely symbols of territorial gain. Nigel Spivey, Times Literary Supplement Rutledgeas project has something important to contribute, above all in its interdisciplinary bridging of archaeological and literary perspectives...Ancient Rome as a Museum will be a useful resource for both undergraduate and graduate courses alike: one only hopes that a future paperback addition will make it more affordable for students. Michael Squire, European Review of History

Table of contents

LIST OF MAPS ; LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS ; MODERN ABBREVIATIONS ; ANCIENT ABBREVIATIONS ; 1. Introduction: Museums and Muses ; 2. Collecting and Acquisition ; 3. Viewing, Appreciating, Understanding ; 4. Displaying Domination: Spoils, War Commemoratives, and Competition ; 5. Constructing Social Identity: Pietas, Women, and the Roman House ; 6. The Monster and the Map ; 7. Imperial Collections and the Narrative of the Princeps ; 8. Access and Upkeep ; 9. Epilogue ; BIBLIOGRAPHY ; INDEX