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Video transcript

before the Emperor ruled Rome Rome was ruled by a republic by a Senate the kind of Council of Elders these generally were older men who had come from the elite families in Rome and so when we think of the people accorded the most privilege the most power in the Roman Republic these were older men and their age their experience is what counted and so we find during this period of the Republic especially the period of the late Republic sculptures where the sculptor seems to have taken every pane to record a real sense of age and experience one example of a veristic portrait is in the Vatican from the very late Republican period this is just before Julius Caesar will begin the process of turning through a public into an empire we refer to these as four ristic portraits that comes from the latin word varus or truth and so there's this idea that they're very truthful but maybe there's an exaggeration of that sense of experience and wisdom and age we see a head of a man that probably came from a much larger sculpture ultimately we see his head is covered with a toga which suggests that he was involved in some sort of ritual concern is expressed through the eyes look at the way that the lips which are quite thin or pressed together there is a solemnity there is a seriousness there is a kind of authority that is born of the qualities of the face that we're seeing as we look at this shelf with six or eight busts along it this face stands out it's really different from the tradition that will develop during the empire August's becomes the first emperor of Rome and establishes a tradition that looks back to ancient Greece and the tendency that we see there to idealize the human face and human body so this kind of eristic fortress will come to represent later on noble republican I deels what's interesting is that we see in the later images of emperors that they choose to some degree more or less to idealize themselves so that if they have themselves portrayed more realistically they're recalling the virtues of the ancient Roman Republic if they idealize themselves more they were calling an ancient Greek tradition so in other words this was a very conscious set of attributes it was a very conscious set of symbols that you could draw on more or less it was a visual language it's so interesting if you think about the way that we represent ourselves now if you open up a magazine you have young models that are ideal that are perfect and the older not even primary status in our visual culture but the ancient Romans at least for a moment felt differently
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