Greek Dionysos in a Roman house?: A study in the use of retrospective Dionysiac figures in Roman domestic contexts.
This study will focus on the use of retrospective, specifically Greek archaic, classical and hellenistic, in Roman art. This area has been looked at by other scholars in recent years so in an attempt to shed new light on the material it will examine works of art with a dionysiac theme. These are found in abundance in the domestic sphere and therefore this will provide the context for the study. It will be shown that, for the Romans, visual culture was incredibly important and each choice on the part of a patron was imbued with meanings thus these dionysiac images can reveal much about their owners and Roman culture as a whole. The retrospective styles very quickly lost any meaning they may have held for the Greeks that created them and became pieces of Roman art used to portray Roman ideals. This study will also suggest that the use of dionysiac figures was widespread through several levels of society and in the domestic sphere could have many meanings and connotations; these will be examined in some detail. This examination will show that to acquire a deeper understanding of the uses and meaning of visual culture objects must be examined in a context, without modern prejudice and be studied as products of the people that created them regardless of the initial inspiration for the work.