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Hellenistic Royal Portraits

Hellenistic Royal Portraits

Hardback Oxford Monographs on Classical Archaeology

By (author) R.R.R. Smith

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  • Publisher: Clarendon Press
  • Format: Hardback | 216 pages
  • Dimensions: 224mm x 286mm x 22mm | 929g
  • Publication date: 9 February 1989
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0198132247
  • ISBN 13: 9780198132240
  • Illustrations note: + 80 black and white halftone plates, 1 text-figure

Product description

The visual image of the ruler, particularly in sculpture, played an important role in expressing the character of the new, distinctive style of monarchy brought to Greece and the East by Alexander and the Hellenistic kings. Royal portraits survive on coins and in sculpture, and we read about them in inscriptions and literature - evidence that is here combined to give an historical interpretation of the royal image from Alexander to Kleopatra. Part I looks at the historical setting of royal portrait statues, which functioned as an important medium of exchange between the king and the Greek cities. They gave a visual presentation of royal ideology and expressed the basis of the king's power in a personal godlike charisma. Part II collects together and analyses the major surviving portraits, grouped broadly by time and place, and Part III sets them in the wider political context of the period. The dated coin portraits are used to show broad changes in the royal image and how it responded to the major political challenges from Parthia to the East and Rome to the West.

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Review quote

'All scholars with a serious interest in this subject will find the catalogue indispensable. The illustrations are excellent: author and publisher are to be congratulated on their clarity and legibility ... Smith has made considerable advances in our understanding of a tenebrous field of scholarship.' Antiquaries Journal 'This important book not only provides a critical and comprehensive treatment of Hellenistic royal portraits based on sculptures and coins, but most significantly, asks 'what were royal portraits for and what did they mean to the people who saw them?' ... the enormous intellectual achievement ... Each page presents a wealth of information to which scholars will return again and again. Not the least value of this book rests in its fundamental questioning of the assumptions which we bring to the study of Hellenistic and Roman portraiture.' Lori-Ann Touchette, Johns Hopkins University, The Republic

Table of contents

Part 1 The context of royal portraits: media for the royal image; functions of royal statues; statue types, diadems and attributes; royal image and kingship theory. Part 2 The sculptured portraits: Alexander and Diadochs; the Villa of the Papyri; other mid-Hellenistic portraits; the Ptolemies and Egypt; the later Hellenistic period. Part 3 Portraits and politics: king and city to the 2nd century; late Hellenistic and Parthian kings; Romans and their friends; Pompey, Augustus and kings under Empire. Appendices: 1 - the Hellenistic dynasties; 2 - previous studies; 3 - Philip II; 4 - Torlonia "Euthydemos"; 5 - 3rd century Ptolemies; 6 - Cyprus; 7 - Iran; 8 - statues and statuettes.