The Representation Of Roman Children

1612 WordsNov 23, 20167 Pages
One of the most controversial books in the history of childhood, Philippe Aries’s Centuries of Childhood argues that childhood as a concept did not exist in the medieval society. This thought-provoking argument invites us to take a similar close look at Roman art to examine its validity in ancient Rome of whether childhood is simply an extension of adulthood or a distinctive phase of its own. Children and childhood as a subject matter can be commonly found in Roman iconography, as could be seen from the terracotta sculpture of Anchises, Aeneas and Ascanius, the procession relief on Ara Pacis, and the Amiternum relief depicting funeral cortege. This paper intends to explore the representation of Roman children primarily through a single marble portrait, a statue of a young boy from the 1st century AD, from the Art Institute of Chicago. Through visual analysis of the face and the hair, we could find evidence that childhood is treated prominently and delicately as a distinctive transitional period rather than as a phase that mimics miniature adults. The portrait features a fully naked depiction of a standing boy in his early childhood. With its feet missing from knee level downward and arms missing from chest level below, it imposes a hard task to ascertain the precise size of the art piece. Yet, from the intact portion of the piece from the head to his central torso, a best guess is that the artist depicted a boy representation in life size. Its smooth texture and gentle
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