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Children, Memory, and Family Identity in Roman Culture$
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Véronique Dasen and Thomas Späth

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199582570

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199582570.001.0001

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Wax and Plaster Memories

Wax and Plaster Memories

Children in Elite and non-Elite Strategies*

Chapter:
(p.109) 5 Wax and Plaster Memories
Source:
Children, Memory, and Family Identity in Roman Culture
Author(s):

Véronique Dasen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199582570.003.0006

Scattered and debated iconographical documents relate to the imagines maiorum, those wax portraits of office-holding ancestors which were kept in the homes of the elite. A number of plaster masks of children, often very young, have been found in tombs of the imperial period in Rome and in the provinces. These artefacts come from non-elite families and raise a number of questions relating to commemorative practices as well as to the status of children in lower social orders. Why and in what circumstances were these plaster moulds realized? On a living or a dead child? Was a wax or plaster portrait produced from these moulds? These unusual and little known funerary portraits allow us to revisit the need of memorials and the importance of mimesis in Roman society, and throw an unexpected light on the reworking of aristocratic imagery in freedmen's families.

Keywords:   familial memory, fictores, funerary masks, imagines maiorum, likeness, plaster portraits, resemblance, wax imagines, wax portraits

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