Propaganda And The Roman Art Essay

443 words - 2 pages

Propaganda is the activity of spreading ideas and information with the aim of influencing the public towards specific actions using a planned employment of persuasive methods. Art played a huge role in every propagandistic matter throughout history. Among the first rulers that made extensive use of Art as a form of propaganda were the Roman emperors. They were well known for their expertise in using portraits, reliefs and monuments to influence and manipulate public opinion. The strength of their artistic medium resulted from the fact that few people had the occasion to meet the emperor in real. Thus, the image that was circulating around the vast empire through ...view middle of the document...

The primary task for the new emperor, who advertised himself as a son of a god (his father Caesar was designated the honor of god after his death), was to produce a youthful appearance. Throughout his entire reign, his image was molded to present a god-like general who luckily never aged. His portraits also carried a powerful, political message. In the portrait of Augustus as a general from Primaporta, he “wears a cuirass advertis[ing] an important diplomatic victory” (198). Additionally, the presence of a cupid at his feet is a reminder of his “divine descent” thanks to the Julians’ family relation with Venus.
During his empire, Augustus brought peace to the Roman Empire after a long period of civil wars. His biggest achievement was accordingly celebrated by the creation of one of the most beautiful altars in the history of mankind: the Ara Pacis. The monument’s marble precinct walls are an exquisite mix of acanthus foliage typical of Corinthian capitols and mythological figural reliefs. The four sides are clear ‘manifest’ propaganda: Aeneas and the divine world, which is tightly related to the emperor’s family ancestry and the new Golden Era; a Venus-like woman that embodies the fertility of the Pax Augusta; the procession of the imperial family to celebrate the Golden Age of Rome as that of florid Athens with Pericles. All the elements are chosen with a specific intention and nothing is left to chance. Most interesting is the decision to include children in the reliefs to promote marriage, procreation and moral example within the noble community in which the birthrate was declining.

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