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Twelve Caesars by Mary Beard

Twelve Caesars by Mary Beard

Author:Mary Beard
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Published: 2021-08-16T00:00:00+00:00


Alma-Tadema did not produce many paintings that featured Roman emperors, but they were far more sophisticated than Fry’s silly generalisation suggests, and would have demanded rather more than ‘half-education’.74 The spectacular painting of the Roses of Heliogabalus (Elagabalus), for example, commemorates not merely an imperial practical joke that backfires by smothering his guests; it also vividly points to a paradox lying at the heart of Roman imperial culture—that (in the ancient imagination at least) even the kindness and generosity of emperors could be lethal (Fig. 6.23). But Alma-Tadema’s treatment of the accession of Claudius raises further complexities.

6.22 In his Death of Tiberius of 1864, Jean-Paul Laurens magnified the scene of the emperor’s death in his bed into a large format ‘history painting’ (almost two and a half metres across). For an emperor, death in bed was no guarantee that it was not murder.



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