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Roman Strigillated SarcophagiArt and Social History$
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Janet Huskinson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199203246

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203246.001.0001

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Representing Romans

Representing Romans

(p.115) 7 Representing Romans
Roman Strigillated Sarcophagi

Janet Huskinson

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how people represented themselves as ‘Romans’, increasingly from the late second century. Focusing on the dynamics of the imagery, it discusses how portraits were shaped by their location on sarcophagi, how they received ideological contexts (through significant details, or juxtaposition with other imagery), and what they suggest about contemporary views of gender, community, and self. The format of strigillated sarcophagi with discrete panels offered wide scope for portraits, and also for suggesting ambivalent and diverse identities while using generic and homogeneous figure types. As the chapter argues, this flexibility (useful in a period of social plurality and change) also depended on the input of viewers, who were left to reach their own conclusions about figures juxtaposed, for instance, in the central and corner panels of the sarcophagi. Sometimes they clearly suggest complementary relationships, as in many images of marriage, yet other images seem open or ambiguous.

Keywords:   Roman, portraits, generic, homogeneous, ambivalence, flexibility, formats

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