The Public Life of Monuments

1300 WordsApr 23, 20196 Pages
Part One: Notes on “The Public Life of Monuments: The Summi Viri of the Forum of Augustus” Introduction: “Monuments and Memory” • Simple definition for monument: “a structure created to commemorate a person or event.” Monuments are used to recreate/reconstruct the past, providing a simplified meaning to complex events. “Highly selective” nature of society’s collective memory. Monuments preserve the past, making one particular historical interpretation or meaning of past events fixed or concrete. This creates the illusion of one shared belief within a society. • However, the meaning of monuments evolve with the viewer. The authority of monuments derived from “their public’s willingness to make their monuments and the essential illusions…show more content…
Scholars view work as a “three-dimensional embodiment of a teleological view of history.” The monument as an “ideological production of the emperor” “The Monument as Commemoration” • “What did the collection of summi viri commemorate?” A collective past, collective history • Forgetting and Loss: Images of Roman founders, kings, heroes culminate in the creation of the Empire under Augustus. General idea of the overall logic within a collection. • Pompey in 55 BCE filled theatre with spoils of the East. Filling the Republic with thoughts and images of the expanding empire. Cicero writing major geographical work in 59 BCE. Caesar’s Commentaries describe his conquests, planning monumental world map (a precursor to Agrippa’s) to represent his conquests. • Transformation of Rome and public history under Augustus: “found Rome a city of brick and turned it into one of marble” The Summi viri commemorates 753 years of Roman history, with the guaranteed permanence of stone. “A Destination” • Monuments must be experiences as they were in antiquity for real understanding. Meaning evolving as viewers bring their own understandings/concerns with them. Changes in the forum and its viewership cause meaning to evolve with new historical understanding. • “Through their very monumentality, seriousness, and apparent permanence, they cast their myths as being

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