Andrew Laird

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211524
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History


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Henri Matisse once remarked that a spectator who responds to an artwork by trying to identify with those who lived at the time it was created is impoverishing himself, ‘a bit like the man who searches, with retrospective jealousy, the past of the woman he loves’. Something similar could be said of anyone whose interest in Roman culture excludes the richness of its reception. The importance of Rome consists in the enormity and dynamism of its legacy, from the alphabet to Latin, religion, and law. In addition, the Roman Empire, reinvoked by Charlemagne (who was crowned Imperator Augustus in 800) and later by the more enduring institution of the ‘Holy Roman Empire’, offered a model for Spanish, Portuguese, French, and British imperialism, through which Rome's influence was conveyed beyond Europe and the Near East to Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Australasia. This article shows that reception is far more than something ancillary to Roman Studies: it is a central precondition for their existence.

Keywords: Roman Empire; reception; Roman Studies; Roman culture; alphabet; law; religion; Latin; imperialism

Article.  8299 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Reception

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