CHAPTER V.
GENERAL REVIEW OF THE ROMAN ART.

IT was in the second century B. C. that growing wealth at Rome, vast territorial power, and the influence of the Greek Macedonian and Greek Asiatic states brought about the first decided break with the old conservative traditions and with the old Roman indifference to art for its own sake. After the destruction of Corinth by the Roman general Mummius ( 146 B. C.) enormous numbers of Greek statues were carried off to Rome. A certain number of the famous statues of the modern Italian museums doubtless found their way to Italy at this time. Greek philosophy and Greek literature were cultivated with more and more attention. It was, above all, the general luxury, refinement, and case of living in the Alexandrian states which made headway at Rome and which involved that interest in art which is often professed by the man of wealth as a matter of display and ostentation, or at least of necessary fashion.

The Greek art of the mother country was at this time itself in a condition of relative decadence, not of productivity or technical capacity, but of simplicity of taste and grandeur of style. In sculpture the taste of the Roman therefore affected the realistic tendencies and minute technical perfection of the Medici Venus and of the Dying Gaul, of the Laocoön group, the Belvedere Torso, and similar works.* In the statues of Greek subjects

____________________
*
Cf. "A History of Greek Art," by F. B. Tarbell.

-72-

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