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OUTLINE FOR ETRUSCAN AND ROMAN REPUBLICAN ART (Copyright 2009 - John F. Kenfield) Historical Background: (650 B.C. - 31 B.C.) Italy’s participation in Classical European civilization is a result of the Greek colonization of southern Italy and Sicily in the second half of the eighth century B.C., an event of incalculable importance in the development of the West. Rome's initial response to this Greek presence is political rather than artistic, the founding of the city state more or less on a Greek model in the year 753 B.C. The indigenous early Italic culture that responds most strongly to the stimuli of early Greek art is Etruscan . The Etruscans are important, too, because Rome was ruled by an Etruscan monarchy throughout most of the Archaic period until ca. 500 B.C. Thus early Rome's material culture is largely Etruscan, and, indeed, Rome continued to resemble a large southern Etruscan city down into the early Imperial period at the beginning of the Christian era. In fact the 1 st emperor, Augustus , attempting to rival the splendor of the Hellenistic capitals in the East, like Alexandria, Antioch and Pergamon, claimed to have rebuilt Rome, changing it from a city of mud brick into a city of marble. Though contact with the Greek world through trade had been continuous from the 8 th cent. B.C. , direct Roman political involvement in the Greek city states in southern Italy began in the 4 th cent. B.C. and gathered momentum throughout the 3 rd , reaching a crescendo with the annexation of Hellenistic Sicily at the end of that century. Then Rome turned her attention to Greece itself and the Hellenistic kingdoms in the eastern Mediterranean which had allied themselves with Carthage against Rome in the Second Punic War , better known as the Hannibalic Wars . Thus began a slow process of absorbing these states culminating in the annexation of the Hellenistic kingdom of Ptolemaic Egypt as a result of the Battle at Actium in 31 B.C. when Octavian , the adopted son of Julius Caesar who will take the title Augustus, defeats Marc Anthony and his lover/ally Cleopatra, the queen and last Greek ruler of Egypt. With the ascension of Octavian or Augustus, not only does all Greek political independence come to an end, but so does the Roman Republic. Augustus, in order to redistribute the wealth of the ancient western world more equitably, transforms the government of Rome from a plutocratic democracy controlled by a few very wealthy men for their own selfish ends, the Roman Senate, into a monarchy modeled on those of the Hellenistic kingdoms in the East. Throughout this time, the Roman aristocracy, the patricians, had become increasingly philhellenic prompting the Republican poet Horace to remark that " captive Greece had taken captive her barbarian captor ." One manifestation of this love of Greek culture, already briefly examined in this course, was an admiration for and the avid collecting of Greek art which, in turn and in order to satisfy the demands of the market, led to the
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This note was uploaded on 08/31/2011 for the course ART HIST 105 taught by Professor Kenfeild-weingert during the Fall '08 term at Rutgers.

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