Statues in Roman Society: Representation and Response

Statues in Roman Society: Representation and Response

Statues in Roman Society: Representation and Response

Statues in Roman Society: Representation and Response


Statues were everywhere in the Roman world. They served as objects of cult, honors to emperors and noblemen, and memorials to the dead. Combining close attention to individual Roman texts and images with an unprecedented broad perspective on this remarkable phenomenon, Statues in Roman Society explains the impact that all kinds of statuary had on the ancient population.


At the fifth mile from Rome the elevated course of the Via Appia widens into a small plateau and unusual place-names start to appear on the map. There is the modern suburb of Statuario; Lanciani mentions a farm of the same name. The Fosso dello Statuario marks the eastern extent of this area, while some plans mark 'Riva Statuario' just to the north. Older records refer to 'sex columnas' and above all, 'Roma Vecchia'. These epithets testify to eighteenth-century excavations, and to the extraordinary wealth of sculpture that they uncovered. In the middle of the second century the brothers Quintilius Condianus and Quintilius Maximus chose this place as the site of their palatial villa which rivalled Hadrian's villa at Tivoli and was perhaps intended to imitate it.

The exceptional haul of sculpture from the site—Neudecker traces sixty-three pieces to this provenance —includes statues, herms, busts, and reliefs; some of them, including a variation of the famous Cnidian Venus, were early Imperial antiques by the time the Quintilii displayed them. They represent gods and humans, and Wgures from Greek myth. We must imagine this villa bristling with art-works.

The Quintilii were famously wealthy and the luxury in which they lived may well have contributed to their execution in AD 182—a Wne illustration of the political significance even of private property. But we know enough of smaller, anonymous properties to realize that they too were crowded with sculpture.

R. Lanciani, Notes From Rome, ed. A. L. Cubberley (London 1988) 83.

Neudecker, Skulpturenausstattung, 191; cf. C. C. Vermeule, Greek Sculpture and Roman Taste:
The Purpose and Setting of Graeco-Roman Art in Italy and the Greek Imperial East
(Ann Arbor 1977)
66–7 on these sites.

T. Ashby, 'The Classical Topography of the Roman Campagna, Part III, Section I', PBSR (1907)
1–159, at 90–5; F. Coarelli, Dintorni di Roma, Guida Laterza (Rome and Bari 1981) 55–8; A. Ricci, 'La Villa
dei Quintili', BCAR 91 (1986) 607–15 on recent survey of the remains (614 on relation to Tivoli); on the
sculpture, most comprehensively, Neudecker, Skulpturenausstattung, 191–7, no. 39.

The majority are in Roman collections; Neudecker, Skulpturenausstattung, 192–5.

Neudecker, Skulpturenausstattung, 193, no. 39.18.

Dio 73.5.3–4; SHA, Commodus 4.9; Dio 73.13.4 (Commodus perhaps staying in the confiscated villa:
see also Herodian 1.12.5). Herodian 1.8.8 on Commodus' seizure of senatorial property.

By extrapolating from Neudecker's other lists, for example, or from more intact houses and villas
from Vesuvian sites and the sheer number of sculptures surviving from intensively excavated areas; or by
reading Cicero's concerns about 'decoration' (see M. Marvin, 'Copying in Roman Sculpture: The Replica . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.