2018 - 2019

  Panem et Circenses: Lust and illusions in the art of the Roman world                                 
Nava SadehMexico - Arts206Mon1000-1400 Sem  2
University credit hours:  4.0

Course description

Roman painting and mosaic art are full of illusory and sensual images. Passion is also characteristic of the portraits of the emperors and their wives, with domestic objects too sometimes appearing as explicit sexual images. The approach of  "Panem et Circenses" was constituted by Emperor Augustus, and was characterised by hedonism, materialism, promiscuity and decadence, that has led the poet Juvenal to declare: "promiscuity is now at its peak".  It was an approach that influenced Roman art in every medium. The question arises as to whether these images indeed reflect decadence, or whether, rather, they are an expression of a worldview that is unfamiliar to the modern viewer. This question stood at the core of Catherines Johns' book "Sex or Symbol", and it will be the focus of the discussion in this course. The course will engage with the reflections of "Panem et Circenses" in different artistic media, such as wall painting, mosaic and sculpture, while referencing historical and poetical texts that relate to the emperors and to Roman society and ways of life.

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tel aviv university