Ancestor Masks and Aristocratic Power in Roman Culture

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Clarendon Press, 1996 - Social Science - 411 pages
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In the first comprehensive study of Roman ancestor masks in English, Harriet Flower explains the reasons behind the use of wax masks in the commemoration of politically prominent family members by the elite society of Rome. Broadening her approach from the purely art historical, Flower traces the functional evolution of ancestor masks, from their first appearance in the third century BC to their last mention in the sixth century AD, through the examination of literary sources in both prose and verse, legal texts, epigraphy, archaeology, numismatics, and art. It is by putting these masks, which were worn by actors at the funerals of the deceased, into their legal, social, and political context that Flower is able to elucidate their central position in the media of the time and their special meaning as symbols of power and prestige.

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About the author (1996)

Harriet Flower is at Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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