Term Paper Preparation

Term Paper Preparation - CLAR 268 Term Paper Preparation...

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CLAR 268 Term Paper Preparation – The Alexander Mosaic Cohen Intro o One of the great masterpieces of ancient art (1) o Openness to discussion and interpretation, multiple contexts it evokes (1) o Dated to the second half of the second century BC (1) o Copy of a Greek painting that probably decorated a palatial building (2) o Difficulty in making context (3) Description o Several sections are missing (7) Major part of destruction occurred in earthquake in Campania in 62 AD o USE “A READING” FOR A GREAT DESCRIPTION SECTION o Soldiers in the background – arms raised, hands on head – express loss and concern (8) o Most faces are expressive and intense with emotion (13) Questions and Issues o Interpretational questions, such as reasons behind emphasis on the defeated Persians and Darius’ compositional prominence and emotional charge in a work with Greek cultural affiliations (14) Perceived sympathy for the Persian plight has led to the suggestion that this should be called the “Darius Mosaic” instead o Specifics of creation elude us (14) We do not know precisely what kind of building the original painting decorated and which audience it addressed, or even the exact moment of the painting’s making o Straightforward factual questions (17) Where was it made, in Pompeii or outside it? What was the ethnicity of the maker? Which battle (if any specific one) is the Mosaic supposed to represent? Who was the original painter whose conception we see copied on the mosaic? Who commissioned the original and who the copy? o Speculative questions, may have even been unanswerable for ancients (17) Why doesn’t Alexander wear a helmet? How did he lose it? Where is this man’s shield? Where has that soldier’s horse gone? How are the lances held and how long are they supposed to be in reality? What seasons do the clothes of combatants or the lone dry tree suggest for the mosaic battle? o ( BRING THIS UP) Underlying assumption behind this kind of reasoning is that the Mosaic is a straightforward transcription of an objective external reality (17) Mosaic doesn’t necessarily have to present a battle but the interpretation of one. (18)
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o Is it even important or even legitimate for the viewer to ask and search for an unequivocal answer to the question of when and how a given pictorial warrior lost his helmet or his weapon, when the image places no emphasis on its loss? (19) o Plato’s warning about the “silence of images” (19) o I suggest that this work is ultimately less interested in the “fleeting event” – the falling of this warrior’s helmet or the breaking of that weapon – and more with creating long term effects and histories regarding the complex clash between two
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This note was uploaded on 11/06/2011 for the course CLAR 268 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '10 term at UNC.

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Term Paper Preparation - CLAR 268 Term Paper Preparation...

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