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Title: Images of chariot racing in the funerary sculpture of the Roman Empire : typology, chronology and context
Author: Bell, Perry Sinclair
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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Among the many forms of spectacles that were staged in Imperial Rome and its provinces, chariot racing is arguably the one most often represented in the visual arts, where it appears in public, domestic and funerary contexts. This dissertation analyses the role and significance of chariot racing in Roman society through its visual representation in funerary sculpture. The work is structured into two parts: a survey and critical analysis of images of the chariot race and of its constituent parts, the charioteer and race horse; and an illustrated catalogue of the monuments. The first chapter situates the aims of the dissertation within the framework of past and current research in Roman art, in particular studies of scenes of spectacles on funerary monuments. A statistical analysis of the corpus surveys the different forms of circus scenes (i.e. realistic, mythological), the various types of sculptured monuments, and their dates and contexts. The subsequent chapters discuss the imagery on these monuments, including ash urns, grave altars, sarcophagi, reliefs, portrait busts, statues and statuettes. The analysis of each image explicates its dating and provenance (where known), fixes its iconography within the common patrimony of circus scenes, and considers its viewership and interpretation in light of epigraphic and literary sources, and contextual data. Traditionally interpreted by scholars in dichotomous terms, as either eschatologically symbolic or purely decorative in meaning, circus scenes are shown in this work to communicate a broad range of associations, the meanings of which are contingent upon heterogeneous factors specific to each representation. By foregrounding social historical analysis, the significance of this imagery in the commemoration of ancient Romans is clarified, from the self-representation of circus personalities, like charioteers, to the image of the circus as a talisman for others, most commonly children. The conclusion summarises the interrelationships in the imagery, patronage and archaeological findspots of these monuments, in Rome and throughout the provinces. The appendix, with catalogue entries and photographs of monuments, completes the work.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available