EARLY ITALIAN ART.
SOME clear conception of the outlines of Roman and therefore of ancient Italian history is an elementary condition of the study or knowledge of Roman art. But by the word history we must understand here not the list of the Roman kings or the chronicles of Roman wars or battles or the lives of the famous statesmen and emperors, but rather an account of the general conditions of the civilization. To this account the Roman art itself offers the greatest assistance and it is for this reason that we study it; but there are entire centuries from which monuments* are lacking for the Romans themselves, and for which the general conditions of Italian history and civilization must be our guide in resurrecting in imagination that art of the Romans which once summarized and expressed their character.
Broadly speaking, it is not till seven centuries of Roman history have been passed over in imagination that we can mention existing visible remains of its greatness; and Roman art as we know it is mainly the art of the empire, which belongs to the five centuries between the accession of Augustus ( B. C. 31) and the chieftainship of Odoacer, the first Germanic ruler of Italy ( A. D. 476).†____________________