The Visual Encyclopedia Of Late Roman Art

1823 WordsApr 1, 20178 Pages
from the “visual encyclopedia of late Roman art” to tell a story. In addition, pagans and Christians both produced similar “non-verbal, iconographical images” that pointed to a “shared conceptual backcloth” in which both pagans and Christians had a prior “agreement in a form of life.” This form is largely defined through the relationship between death and the afterlife. One such form involves the iconographical depictions of events that occurred in the catacombs themselves—refrigeria meals (in the Christian case) to commemorate the apostles and future saints Peter and Paul, or even the deaths of everyday Christians. These meals were events in which the living feasted in the presence of the dead. However, the small, perforated piscinae…show more content…
The “benefit of association” provided by collective catacomb burial, as well as artistic depictions of virtues on tombs, was one that crossed different religious and class groups; these associations suggest that, at least up until the third century, these types of shared experiences were an important way for an individual to connect their life (and death) to wider society as a whole. This, in turn, helped people make sense of the world that both Christians and pagans lived in. Thus, it is sufficient to say that Christian catacomb art, compared to pagan catacomb art, does not necessarily reflect any distinctly more confident belief in the afterlife than the other; rather, art served as a sort of “consolation” between the life one lived and how they hoped to be remembered after death, especially in the lower class. Yet, just like burial, Christian art was a way for Christians to find specific meaning in their collective Roman experience. The emergence of Christian art “reflected the emergence of a characteristically Christian social identity,” one that revolved primarily around the interpretation of biblical narratives. While it is true that both Christians and pagans used similar artistic types, it is also true that even when similar iconographical figures were depicted, Christians and pagans were attracted to icons that reflected their specific religious beliefs. This duality will be shown in two ways: first, by analyzing how
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