Sample Paper on Sculptures in Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece

Sculptures in Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece

The ancient Romans preferred to use bronze and marble for their finest work although they used terracotta, glass, precious metals and stone in some instances (Ellen 9). Marble is the material in use for majority of the still existing sculptures of Rome due to the high recycles of metal. Roman sculptures were majorly placed at home in cabinets by people who adored art and mostly they were made of bronze and were miniaturized imitations of the Greek works (Ellen 10). Romans in ancient times imitated the creativity of the Greek in crafting of sculptures. Roman sculpture later on spread their wing on thoughts and creativity and looked for artistic expressions that were not based on the Greek foundations by the mid-1stcentury, capturing and forming optical effects of light were the core considerations by the artists of Rome (Ellen 12).

The Romans loved to symbolize their gods in statues just like the Greeks. When Roman emperors commenced to claim divinity, they also became the piece of art by being idealized in form of statues, often with the subject depicted with an arm to the masses and striking a fittingly authoritative position as in the Augustus of the Prima Porta (Ellen 26). Statues could be used for purposes of decoration and could be miniaturized, specifically in exquisite metals like silver (Ellen 26). An example of such statues was the Lares Familliares, which signified the spirits that guarded the home and were mainly made using bronze (Ellen 27). They were exhibited in sets in a niche and are young-looking piece of art with arms elevated and long hair who archetypally wears tunic and sandals. The Roman sculpture really arises to the facade and distinguishes itself from other artistic customs in the precise area of portraiture (Ellen 28). The tradition of placing funeral guises of departed family members in ancestral home established the realism of sculpture in Rome; guises were worn by mourners at family funerals (Ellen 28). Under Hadarian, there was a comeback to idealize images, such as in Classical Greek sculpture like in the colossal statue of Antinous but there was a vital improvement in relations to a more natural execution of the eyes in marble works (Ellen 30). Previously, the iris and pupil were just being painted on finished sculptures but later on they became part of the sculpture work as they were sculptured especially in bronze works and sometimes terracotta works (Ellen 30).

Realism returned with the Antoinnes and features like crow’s feet and flabbiness came back (Ellen 31). At this time the fashion for polishing the skin portions of the marble which then contrasted precisely with the hair that was extremely engraved and left unpolished (Ellen 32).  In this period it was more stylish to have a complete chest instead of just the shoulders beneath the head. By the time of the late Emperor lite, portraiture became formulaic and it forsakes all efforts at accurately capturing the physical features of the subject (Ellen 34). Depiction of emperors like Diocletian, Galerius and Constantine barely had any distinguishable physiognomic features (Ellen 38).

Sculpture on Roman buildings barely had decorative or have a more political meaning like on triumphal arches, the architectural sculpture apprehended in detail major campaign events, which sent message to the world that the Emperor was a civilizing entity and victorious leader (Ellen 43). A typical example is the Arch of Constantine in Rome which also displays conquered and incarcerated ‘barbarians’ to clearly show the superiority enjoyed by Rome (Ellen 45). Similarly, on Trajan’s column the sculpture depicted the emperor as a great leader whose troops drew great inspiration from (Ellen 45). Such a portrayal of real people and definite historical figure in architectural sculpture is different to Greek sculpture where great military triumphs were usually outlaid in metaphor by figures from the Greek mythology like amazons and centaurs (Ellen 48). Altars could also be used to present vital individuals in a favorable light, possibly the first such piece is the altar of Domitius Ahenobarbus from Rome which portrays the orator Marcus Antonius (Ellen 49). The most renowned altar of all in Rome is the Ara Pacis of Augustus (Ellen 50).

Funeral busts and tombstones were the most common sculpture designs in Rome (Ellen 81). Roman sculpture has provided contributions to the art by use of narratives and unprecedented realism in portraits which could yield the form of grandiose emperors outfitted as gods or more modest portrayals of minor mortals which with the execution of specific physical characteristics and emotional expressions that bridged the gap between us and the ancient people by making us feel closer (Ellen 91).

Greek sculpture over the ancient had its unique style of arts but in earlier years, the Egyptian and Near East art was the source of inspiration for the Greek sculpture (Whitley 9). Artists in the ancient Greece attained ultimate artistic brilliance that seized the body of humans in a way never attained before and which was much imitated by other countries later on (Whitley 12). Greek sculptures were mainly concerned with proportion, composure and the idealized precision of the human body.

The ancient Greek stone sculptures date from the mid-7th   century BCE and were traced at Thera (Whitley 14). In this moment, figures that were made of bronze and had its own base standing freely became more common with more ambitious subjects like warriors and musicians attempted (Whitley 17). Marble sculpture commenced from the early 6thcentury and that is when life-size statues commenced to be shaped (Whitley 19). These had a memorial purpose, reachable at sanctuaries that were used as grave indicators or as figurative service to the gods. The earliest stone figures had feet almost joined and the arms were tightly placed on the sides with eyes staring blankly ahead without any facial expression (Whitley 22).

Greece would get off the chains of agreement and accomplish what had never been realized before in the world of sculptures during classical times. They produced life-like sculpture which hyped the human and especially naked male versions (Whitley 27). Marble was realized to be a marvelous medium for representing and depicting what all sculptures endeavored for; that is to create the piece look imprinted in the interior rather than chiseled from outside (Whitley 28). Figures now became sensuous and seem frozen in deed. Bronze was another item that was ideal in sculpturing.

Majority of existing statues contain signatures and names so that we recognize the wonderful artists who were accountable of constructing them. Phidias created the gigantic chryselephantine of Athens and the temple of Zeus at Olympia; the second statue was deliberated one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient World (Whitley 38). Polykleitos created the great sculpture Doryphoros and also wrote a treatise where he emphasized on the significance of correct proportion in making of sculptures (Whitley 39). Praxiteles made the first complete female naked sculpture that was known as Aphrodite and kallimachos was credited with the making of Corinthian capital whose characteristic swaying figures were copied in Roman times (Whitley 40). Greek sculpture was not just limited to standing figures but also portrait busts, relief panels and monuments in stone also tested the expertise of the Greek sculptor (Whitley 42).

Greece liberated itself from the agreements which held authority for centuries across many empires and were free to follow the idealized form of the human body (Whitley 43). Hard, lifeless materials were somehow transformed into such intangible assets as pose, mood and grace to produce great and powerful work of genius of global art and influences artists (Whitley 46). The precision in percentage realized by Greek sculptures motivates up to date.

Both ancient Greeks and Romans had vast respect for human beings and what they could accomplish with their bodies. This is why their sculptures were figures that were nude, athletic, idealized and with perfect proportions (Ellen 81). This sort of art was first practiced by the Greek and was later on imitated and implemented by the Romans and making sculpture was their way of displayingauthority and respect (Ellen 82).

Both the Greek and Roman people made the sculptures of their gods and goddess as a symbol of worship (Whitley 52). In both countries the sculptures that were made in symbolism of their gods were idolized by the citizens.

In both countries, bronze and marble were the most favored materials in the shaping of the sculptures (Ellen 62). They both did not like steel due to their high demand for recycling. Majority of the remaining sculptures of both places are in marble.

In both the ancient Greek and Roman sculptures the subject matter communicated was a major event like war, warriors and musicians (Whitley 49). Sculptured were prepared after the great in the country. People who made a difference and also the leaders in general who were currently in the throne or had ruled prior (Whitley 49).

In both countries, sculptures were used in funerals that are made in form of the deceased like a form of respect and also remembrance by the people he has left behind (Ellen 41).

The major similarity is that the Roman followed in the footstep of the Greek. This means that almost every sculpture and work done by the Roman was the work of the Greek earlier on. It was like the Romans were the children of the Greek with same behavior but adjusted lifestyle (Ellen 52).

The Roman architectural sculpture shows the influence of the development of new engineering skills and secular monuments while the Greek architectural sculptures showed more influence of gods and ideas of physical perfection in the development of their sculptures (Whitley 49). The two themes shown by the sculptures were different but the sculptures were built in the same way.

The purpose of design is another major difference. Greek sculptures were meant to be viewed as a piece of art that would give pleasure to gods; they designed buildings as a sculpture in a sense, with all beauty viewed from outside (Whitley 51). The Roman architecture turned this around and even focused on the inside since majority of the Roman sculpture were gathering places like market places (Ellen 42).




James Whitley. The archaeology of ancient Greece. Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Perry Ellen. The aesthetics of emulation in the visual arts of ancient Rome. Cambridge University Press, 2005.