Aulus Metellus, Late 2nd or early 1st century BCE

19 Aug

The kings of Rome were overthrown in 509 BCE, establishing the period of the Republic. During this period, Rome conquered vast amounts of land throughout the continent of Europe, which put a strain on its political system and weakened the power of the Senate. Art was used to insight political and social change and ease the tension on the political system. The life-size bronze statue Aulus Metellus was used to speak to the people, assuring them that their government was working in their interests. Artists of the Republican period were keen on creating believable images based on careful study called naturalism. Romans loved accurate and faithful portraits of their leaders and were drawn to the confidence in the Republic exuded by these faithful representations.

Aulus Metellus is a remarkable statue due to its naturalism and its ability to interact with the viewer. The life size statue of a Roman official (the name is inscribed in the hem of his robe) stretches his hand out toward the crowd he is addressing. With his arm outstretched toward the people, the official is letting the public know that he has the power and authority to help them. His pose makes him ‘one of the people’ rather than some god-like government official. His toga is neatly folded and draped around his body, which is un-idealized, marking him as a governmental official, but an official that is of the people and works for the people. His features are common and not idealized like the statues of the gods were. Viewers would be able to identify with this statue and place their trust in the government this official hails from. The portrayal of senators and officials as caring and strong individuals helped restore trust and ease the tension on the Republic’s political system.

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One Response to “Aulus Metellus, Late 2nd or early 1st century BCE”

  1. shasry October 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    good article, helped me a lot with my class assignment!

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