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Roman funerary art and architecture: observations on the significance of recent studies Diana E. E. Kleiner ‘The last several years have seen the publication of a number of important studies on the funerary art and architecture of Rome and its environs. One of the latest is Dietrich Boschung’s Antike Grabaltdre aus den Nekropolen Roms (Acta Bernensia 10, Bern 1987), which, like some other recent works, focuses on an aspect of Roman funerary art that has been neglected for too long in favor of the examination of Roman sarcophagi. Sarcophagi, traditionally thought to have been an art form of the Roman aristocracy, have been scientifically investigated since the 19th century; it was at that time that the sarcophagus corpora, for example of Carl Robert, began to be published? By contrast, funerary reliefs, urns, and altars were largely ignored until recently, save for Walter Altman's important 1905 study, Die rémischen Grabaltire der Kaiserzeit (Berlin). It was Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli’s epoch-making work on the relationship of art and social class that served as the catalyst for an increased interest in the art and architecture — much of which is funerary — commissioned by members of Rome’s middle class and by local magistrates in the provinces, and in the interrelationship between this art and that made for the emperor and the ruling class. A seminar at the University of Rome, under the direction of Bianchi Bandinelli, culminated in the publication of a collection of key articles on tombs and their sculptural decoration which were ‘commissioned by magistrates in towns such as Pompeii and Chieti In the course of the 1970s a series of seminal books and articles on the funerary reliefs of freedmen in Rome were published by Hans Frenz, Elaine Gazda, Paul Zanker, and the present author.5 While all four associated a particular class of funerary monuments with a special group of patrons, i.e. Roman freedmen, two included corpora of all known examples from Rome. In two lengthy articles, Henning Wrede collected the kline monuments with reclining portraits from Rome which also exclusively honored members of the middle class, and in 1981 published an important book on private deifications on such funerary monuments as altars, urns, sarcophagi, etc’ The patrons, who assumed the guises of Amor, Ceres, Diana, Hercules, Mercury, Venus ef al., were predominantly enfranchised slaves. In his 1982 study of Roman professional scenes, Gerhard Zimmer demonstrated that such scenes appear primarily on tombs, funerary altars, and sepulchral stelae, which were also commissioned by plebeian patrons.’ In 1987 two new books by Boschung, 1 Eg. by G. Rodenwaldt: ”..aristokratischen Form des Sarkophages, die ber das ganze Weltreich wandert,” id., “Rémischen Reliefs, Vorstufen zur Spatantike,” Jdl 55 (1940) 12. See also id.,"Sarkophagprobleme,” RomMitt 58 (1943) 45; G. Koch and H. Sichtermann, Romische Sarkophage (Munich 1982) 22. 2 C.Robert, ASK (1890, 1897) R. Bianchi Bandinelli, Archeologia e cultura (Milan and Naples 1961); id., Rome. The center of power (New York 1970); id., Rome. The late empire (New York 1971), 4 R. Bianchi Bandinelli, ed., Sculture municipali dell” area sabellica tra l'etd di Cesare ¢ quella di Nerone (StMise 10, Rome 1966). 5 HG. Frenz, Lintersuchungen 2u den frithen romischen Grabreliefs (Frankfurt am Main 1977); E. K. Gazda, “Etruscan influence in the funerary reliefs of late republican Rome: a study of vernacular portraiture,” ANRW 1,4 (Berlin 1973) 855-70; P. Zanker, “Grabrelicfs rOmischer Freigelassener,” Jdl 90 (1975) 267-315; D. E. E. Kleiner, Roman group portraiture. The funerary reliefs of the late republic and early empire (New York and London 1977). 6H. Wrede, "Stadtrémische Monumente, Urnen und Sarkophage des Klinentypus in den beiden ersten Jahrhunderten n. Chr,” AA (1977) 395-431; H. Wrede, “Klinenprobleme,” AA (1981) 86-131; H, Wrede, Consecratio in Formam Deorum, Vergittlichte Privatpersonen in der romischen Kaiserzeit (Mainz am Rhein 1981), reviewed by D. E. E. and F. S, Kleiner in Archaeological News 12 (1983) 39-40, 7G. Zimmer, Rémische Berufdarstellungen (Berlin 1982). 116 Review article and myself on Roman altars appeared,$ as did a study by Friederike Sinn-Henninger on Roman cinerary ums? ‘The most recent books on Roman funerary altars can serve well as the starting point for this essay." While my book focuses on altars of the city of Rome which memorialize freedmen with individual and group portraits, Boschung collects all the known examples of a wide variety of altar types from Rome and environs, including those decorated with Jupiter Ammon heads, rams’ heads, garlands, acanthus scrolls, wreaths, portraits, etc., and in that way attempts to supersede the earlier book by Altmann. Boschung’s catalogue of the nearly 1000 examples known to him is the most extensive collection to date of Roman funerary altars, although his treatment of individual pieces is of necessity more summary than that in studies devoted to specific types (e.g. H.C. Bowerman, Roman sacrificial altars (Bryn Mawr 1913], W. Hermann, Rontische Gotteraltire (Kallmiinz 1961], and my 1987 book on altars with portraits) or in studies devoted to altars in specific collections (e.g. B. Candida, Altari e cippi nel Museo Nazionale Romano [Rome 1979)). Roman altars are generally rectangular in shape, taller than they are wide, and decorated with reliefs on the front and short subsidiary sides. Most are accompanied by framed epitaphs identifying the honorands and dedicants. Boschung classifies surviving altars in nine types: ~ the basic form with gable (decorated with double volutes, acanthus, rosettes, wreaths, eagles, peacocks, other birds, facing griffins, victories, erotes, portraits, mythological scenes, Kline scenes, other figural scenes, ete); - altars with garlands (suspended from Jupiter Ammon heads, rams’ heads, bucrania, victories, torches, candelabra, etc); + altars with architectonic frames (columns, pilasters, etc.); altars with an acanthus-frieze frame; altars with wreaths; altars with portrait busts; altars with figural decoration; - round altars; -and unusual examples. In addition to discussing these types, Boschung has a scries of short chapters on the siting of altars, on workshops, and on the decoration of altars, as well as appendices on inscriptions and portraits and a catalogue. The catalogue, which comprises 999 entries, is the fruit of Boschung’s attempt to collect all known examples, an aim that was not shared by Altmann. Boschung’s entries are, however, very brief, ing only the essential information: name of the deceased, present location and provenance, size, date, bibliography, and a short description of the decoration. It is clear that for Boschung the 999 altars are primarily of interest as examples of his nine types rather than as distinctive individual works of art in their own right. Typology and chronology are Boschung’s major concerns and he is also less interested in the identity of the patrons of the Roman altars. Perhaps because of my concentration on altars with portraits and the overriding desire to have a name to attach to a face, I was more concerned with the fact that the epitaphs show that those whose names are inscribed were, for the most part, members of Rome's middle class New studies on tombs in Rome and central Italy have also appeared recently — eg. that by Michael Eisner on mausolea from the environs of Rome! and another by Valentin Kockel on tombs outside the 8D, Boschung, Antike Grabaltare aus den Nekropolen Roms (Acta Bernensia 10, Bern 1987); D. E. E. Kleiner, Roman imperial funerary altars with portraits (Archaeologica 62, Rome 1987). 9B. Sinn-Henninger, Stddtrdmische Marmorurnen (Mainz 1987); see also Sinn-Henninger's discussion of Roman urns in Koch and Sichtermann (supra n.1) 41-58. 10 See also my review of Boschung in AJA 93 (1989). tM. Eisner, Zur Typologie der Grabbauten in Suburbium Roms (Mainz. am Rhein 1986) with my review in AJA 92 1988. Diana E. E. Kleiner 7 Herculaneum Gate in Pompeii.’ Kockel’s interest in funerary monuments outside Rome is shared by Hans Frenz who has recently catalogued funerary reliefs from central and south Italy of the same format as their better known city-of-Rome counterparts.!? Sylvia Diebner has looked to the north and prepared a compendium of funerary stelae and urns from Umbria. These three studies indicate that funerary ‘monuments beyond the boundaries of Rome and its immediate environs are also now receiving increased attention. It has long been known that Roman sarcophagi enjoyed a brief period of popularity in the republic when they were commissioned by such wealthy and distinguished families as that of the Cornelii Scipiones and decorated with such simple and Greek-inspired motifs as pulvinars and a Doric frieze, and that they were resuscitated in the mid 2nd c. because of significant changes in burial custom, religious belief and artistic taste, and were enhanced with more elaborate mythological, biographical, and ornamental scenes. Both the republican and imperial examples are examined in the extremely useful 1982 handbook on Roman sarcophagi prepared by Guntram Koch and Hellmut Sichtermann. It has, however, only recently become clear that there was a unbroken chronological sequence, with some overlap, from the funerary reliefs of the late republican and Augustan periods to the altars, urns, and sarcophagi of the high empire. The above mentioned studies of funerary reliefs, altars, and urns have made this apparent, and the importance of their contribution should not be underestimated. During the late republican and Augustan periods the favored form of funerary commemoration for freedmen in Rome was the group portrait relief in stone set into the masonry fabric of the tomb. Reliefs depicting up to six individuals, grouped with their families, patron, or conliberti in full- or bust-length frontal portraits, were powerful symbols of family unity and of the new bonds formed with patrons and conliberti by slaves in Italy who had been forcibly taken from their native lands. In my book on altars with portraits, | attempted to demonstrate that the acquisition of wealth and increased independence of freedmen in the imperial period led to a new emphasis on individuality in funerary dedications. Fewer freedmen were buried with their patrons and an increasing number commissioned their own funerary memorials and were commemorated in individual monuments. The shift from group to individual dedications parallels the change from funerary reliefs to sepulchral altars and the concomitant increase in the manufacture of decorated urns. There was a concurrent development of Roman altars and urns with their common decoration of garlands, rams’ and Jupiter Ammon heads, portraits, etc. The two must be distinguished, however, by the more monumental scale of the altars, which could be placed both inside and outside tombs, and by the implicit reference in the form of the altars to Roman funerary rites.!* Another parallel development is that of figures reclining on funerary beds (Klinai) which Wrede has demonstrated date to the Ist and 2nd c. A.D. These were set up inside and in front of Roman tombs and were commissioned by and in honor of freedmen. They have their origins both in Greek and Etruscan painted and relief funerary banquets and in the reclining figures on Etruscan funerary urns, and they prefigure the recumbent figures on Roman sarcophagi of the 2nd and 3rd c.1” Although the production of urns and altars continued into the 2nd c. and later, their popularity began to diminish because of the increasing preference for sarcophagi by the same patrons who had earlier purchased urns and altars. The predilection for stone sarcophagi reflects the change of Roman burial 12 V. Kockel, Die Grabbauten vor dem Herkulaner Tor in Pompeji(Mainz 1983), reviewed by D.E.E. and F.S. Kleiner in JSAH 44 (1985) 82. 1) H.G. Frenz, Rémische Grabreliefs in Miltel- und Stiditalien (Archaeologica 37, Rome 1985), with my review in AJA 90 (1986) 369-70. 148. Dicbner, Reperti funerari in Umbria a sinistra del Tevere (I sec. aC. ~ I sec. d.C.) (Archacologia Perusina 4, Rome 1986), with my review in AJA 92 (1988). 15 Koch and Sichtermann (supra 1.1). 16 Kleiner (supra n.8) 74-75. 7 Supran.6.