Image and Portrait in Roman Culture and Religion

P LOT I N J S objected to having his portrait painted because he distinguished between ail individual's character and mere external appearance. The outward form and, even more, the representation of that form made by an artist using pigments Otl wood was, to his mind, an illusion, A painted portrait had no life, depth, or meaning beyond recording the transitory and superficial aspect of the model, and, if it pretended to show any more than that, it was a fraud. Plotinus, like Plato, not only...

H Ai L To Fae

Slum us i he Father1 I '< > you nol believe that I am in the Fat her and the hth i is in nie l' ic words that I say v(iU d nan speak on my own b'.it ihL' Father who dwells in me does hs works.' According to these te i m , s i 11 ii' kLs li s is I su toa tn ipneher.l 11 li l- etcr u,i 1 a nd i nvi -. It-I e Deily in some -ji l. poiiibly in the same way that lieIilt biblical texts (as welt as early Christian literature) assert that the incomprehensible divine essence is known or even mediated...

Info

Hippolytus, Trinity apostoitea (Apostolic Tradition) AugustLiiEj De 'Iriiuiaie (On tlie Trinity) Wovatiin, Dl' Irirtituse (On the'lVinity) Augustine, Dc vera religione (Oil True Religion) Philasotratus, rita ApoBomi (Life of ApoDo riiu3 ofTyana) Eusebius, Vita Constantirii (Life of Constantine) Porphyry Vita Pbtirti (life of Plotinus)

Portraits of the Incarnate

AS THE previous chapters have argued, aside from the few anthropomorphic appearances of the First Person of the Trinity in the late fourth century, God the Father was universally asserted to be inaccessible to human gaze. On the other hand, the Second Person, the image of the invisible God4' (Col 1 15) might be perceived, at least in certain limited ways, according to various theological arguments about the divine activity (and presence) in both creation and redemption. Furthermore, Cod is...

The Question of Likeness Conclusion

The question of actual physical likeness in all these portraits is a thorny one, particularly since actual from life'* portraits do not exist (even in chiding any that may have been painted by Luke). Moreover, in the absence of contemporary written descriptions of most of the saints with the possible exception of Paul's description in the Acts of Paul and Theda), we have no way of comparing descriptions with portraits. Vet portraits of Peter, PauL or Mary are clearly recognizable, and they in...

Seeing the Divine in the Fourth and Early Fifth Centuries

ORlCEN'i ANALOGY of a painting1 restoration to human Kjk.n ion discussed in the previous chapter) has a dost- parallel in i h writings, gjf (he fourth-century Alexandrian theologian Athanasius. En his treatise Ort the InCtrnHtwrtt Athanasius likewise Speaks f the IncaT- i j i l' Ijul-ljv j.h j. painter or art rt s.k> rer and of the human to til, made in the image of God, as a blemished or soiled painting, obscured and 4a m-through Ibe careless acdrtion of sin. The Loge , the True linage ofC...

Face Tg Face

Le has seen i . h i ii i i-'l L mi wails or woven into curtains. H j-. i i i i also seem to indicate that, in his view, this is .i somewhat nev. practice, and he urges his readers (in oii l.i - the Emperor Iheodosius and tri anothei Bishop John oflerusalem to stop the practice outright. Kefut ing I lie defense Mt images Lliot mus 1 re .i J have been circulating, he d lares You may tel me 1 Wm the Fat hers abominated t he idols of the gentiles, w ht it ea -we make images of sai nit as a memorial...

Face To Face

For cxampl C, PI i ny l he I I it l'.i . J4- 79 i . i-. I - levcited ncartv an cutir volume ut his Natural Histor) to the painting of portraits. Here he lamenls the lack o taslc motivated b) L'Il' scramblr Inr status syinbois amuTij ih+- upwardly 11 t - t i t.- midjic i i-i l- ai his time. In im* viewH a portrait's itiost important futiction a.l Lm foster memory and respect for family and i r.iilil-> i. Huwcver, Pliny cumplAin Che dcfirtingcharac-teristk o a portrait ts physital likeness to i...

Descriptions of Saints Portraits in Literary Documents

-** ** A AA A A .A A A A A A t A A A A A A -. A A Ay. A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A AA A A A A A A A AAA iy y vv v VV w v vv v v vv 'i- v v V' v v y v1 v'v1 v'- yr'w' V w vv 1vJ V V1 V ST V V V 'vr v V1 V V V V V V 'hr V V V V -r V V V V1 V At the beginning of the fifth century, Paulinus of Nola, who had commissioned artists to decorate his basilica dedicated to Felix, commended the value of paintings on the walls of churches sacred scenes as well as portraits of Christ and the...

H Ai L To Face

Postrvsurr tion manifeslations, Ot . iv.ir.-L', the various presentations o Christ hl r11four canonical Gospels are testimony in themselves to a general acceptance of variation in the narrative of Jesus' life, at least, but Mime ill lIk1 nonuanonical literature -uIlL.'- Hj this variety in respect (o how lesus appeared U-- those who saw him, in thc Arts of Peter foi exam plf. Petei speaks of his experience of seeing iJi _ transfigured l -.is in such form as I was ahletn take in I urtheron, in...

The Invisible Cop And The Visible I Mace

Leu i i.li 11 e and salvilic, rather i 11. i. the sign uf salvation alreaiU achieved. I renacus believes lli.H vision of the Divim.- in i s full brilliant glory ultimately iTi.ir I - humans immortality and elerua) iocurroplibilily-, v> Irk Origen speaks in terms of a time when the form of the world will pass away (J Cor 7 31itnd btxlily substance will be so pure anil rdiiled llt .-. t- must L hi n Ji of 1 being like I hi- el her.1 In conclusion, althotigh most of these ancicni writers,...

The Invisible Cod And The Visible [mace

Supertelestial places, invisible to all men, holding personal intercourse with none, whom we believe to be Maker and Father ot all things.10 Here Justin recounts the story in Genesis that begins the Lord appeared to Abraham as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day (Gen 1 1) and continues through the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19 1-28), and asks Trypho and his colleagues if they fully understood the passages. They assert that they do understand, but according to their...

Ally heaverbound or apotheosized as he was transformed into a special kind of transitional deity a godmanhero savior

As art historians have noted, the pattern of Alexander's elevation was borrowed for subsequent rulers, in particular certain Roman emperors who, like the heroes of mythology, were seen as acting with divine guidance in life and undergoing apotheosis or deification after death (Julius Caesar or Domitian,for example). And as these mortals were elevated to the level of the semidivine or divine, they acquired a particular type of portrait image that transfigured even the plainest visage into one of...

Eei Nc The Divine

- i. one who can in isihly see t. d invisibly can ling lo Luid Lu an incorporeal way.' In othet places, Augustine offers inoi'.- simple idnv*ni lions that, despite lile mam- anthropomorphic depiclions of t iod in (he Bible. God dues not have a physical body like humans he has no lap or arms, no bosom or hand-S-In hin- I lord traciale on John's fiospek he e*plains this ami eve i goes on to say the eye that - (x rod are noi the eyes ol flesh but the eyes of thu pure hear . And this is even Irue...

Wpnp

Ancient Christian Writers A ri H s sin r y American Journal of Archaeology An te- Nicene Fathers Aufstieg und Niedergang der r mischen Welt Artt Religion, ftnti Theotogieal Studies Biblical Archaeology Review B bte Review Bullet in Acad mie Royale de Belgique Corpus (Jiristlanorum serie* latina Die griechischen durisiltehen Schrifatefler I Jarvard Dissertations in lit lici n Jou ma t of Eariy Ch ristictn Stud rri Jou rati i for the Study of Judai > n Supplements to the journal for she Study...

FAC r TO FA r

Saint Hippolytusn torn apart by wild horses like h inamesake in Greek mythology, 11 graphit and gory delail A. va l bears arc ntatlon 111 this I m r - id cent, on which varied colors, set pui the w hole outrage, while o er Lhe lotnb are J1 r- - dm show the vivid sightthe dragged man's bleeding limbs, I saw (here the and ited rocks oh best cd fathers, and the purple marks on 1 h brambJes. hand skilled .11 reproducing the protn thicket alio portrayed I hi rednesi oi the blood wilh vermillion...

Christolqgy Salvation and the Role of the Image

Eusebius s letter to Constantia was found (as noted above) in the iconoclastic floriUgium dated to 754. Its appearance there required its refutation during the sixth session of the Seventh Ecu Ellen ical Council (787), when the definition (hows) of the prior iconoclastic council was refuted point by point. When they came to Eusebeuss letter, they introduced it as a product of a defender of Arius, ail opponent of the holy Council of Nicaea,'1 someone having given himself up to a base mind, and...

The Philosophical Argument in the First Four Centuries CE

We have seen how the early Christian writers cited the views of ancient poets and philosophers is being in general harmony with Christian teaching on rlie invisibility of God and the vanity of the idols. The previous passage from Cicero 5 treatise TV Nitttifit Deo rum partially summarizes his teaching about the gods in one of the three main philosophical schools the Epicureans the Stoicsn and the Academics, In religious matters, Cicero generally sides with the Stoics, who traditionally objected...

The Invisible God and the Visible Image

AROV ND THE TV RN of the third century, just before the earliest known date that Roman Christians began to adorn the walls of their burial plates (with figurative art), a professional advocate and North African Christian convert, Marcus Minucius Felix, summarized a (probably fictional) debate between a Christian named Octavius and a polytheist named Caecilius. The dispute was over the credibility, morality, and value of Christian faith> and, although at the end Caecilius is converted, he...

Jesus1 Variant and Changing Appearances in

Although later (Rv antinc and early medieval) representations of lesus have a remarkable degree of consistency, the earliest artistic portrayals of Christ (in the third and fourth centuries) show significant inconsistency Sometimes Christ appears as youth led and beardless, some times as older, with full beard. Of course* he is also shown or symbolized) through the familiar visual metaphors of shepherd, lamb, or even fisher. One possible explanation for these varying presentations is that it...

Philosopher and Ruler The Bearded Type

Despite the preponderance of early narrative portrayals of Jesus as a beardless and beautiful youth, in at least some rare early examples, including the fourth-century plaque in Rome's Museo Nazi on ale alle Terme (fig. 61), Christ also appears in the guise of the philosopher, with ful 1 bea rd and bare ch est (he h as n o tun ic o r u n de rga rme nt, but on ly th e pallium draped over his left shoulder the garb of an itinerant intellectual) and holding a scroll His right hand makes a gesture...

Select Bibliography

Ore fijinaifcffffjin'r von Neapel. Leipzig Hiersemann, 1936. Anne, DtiYLd IE. Heracles and Christ Heracles Imagery in the Christology of Early Christian-i.ly. In Greeks, Romans, and Christians Estays in Honor of Abraham J. Malhetbe. Edited by > . IIa Ich el al., 3-19. Minneapolis Fortress Press 1990, Harber, Charles. Figure and Likeness On the Limits of Representation in Byzantine Icortodasm, Princeton Princeton Univ. Press, 1002. Heard, Mary, John North, and Simon Price. The...

Seeing God and Living

Theophilus, a late second-century bishop of Antioch, attacked pagan idolatry and expounded his views on the visibility of God in his apology Tp Autolysis (his only certain surviving writing . In this work, Theophilus begins by setting out thc occasion of thc dialogue, Autolycus has boasted of his gods of wood and stone, carved or cast, and scornfully asked Theolophilus to show me ytw god.'* In response, Theophilus impugns Autolycus s character, saying that God 15 seen only by those who are pure...

Visual Art Portraits and Idolatry

L. t lippolytus, Ref 9.12 l.tber Amfc 17. 2. The term catacomb comes from an ancient reference to the topography of the land near the site of a shrine for lJeter and Paul near the Basilica of San Sebastiano, not far from the area of the Callistus cemetery, containing abandoned possolana or tufo quarries that may have made It easier to construct the subterranean (hafts and tunnels of the catacombs (adtatotum-hni is derived front the f.ieek kata twnrtirsand roughly means near the hollows1')....

Portrayals of God and the Trinity in Visual Art of the Third and Fourth Centuries

Although the question of God's visibility to the human eye was a subject of much discussion by theologians, almost no surviving and parallel arguments address the related impossibility of representing God (the Father), the pre-incarnate Word, or the Trinity in visual art. Presumably, theologians who discussed the invisibility of God assumed their arguments to preclude artistic portrayal in any form but particularly as showing God with human features. In other words, the possibility may simply...

Specific Examples of Holy Portraits

O W Si'V V V V V V O S C b O V C V C s C C i C v v v vC vC v v wvC la vC'C s v'C v v Fig. 91. Gold-glass portrait of Petti* arnj Rayl,Vaticun Mu ivm,Vatican City Thti InternatiortaJ Catacomb Society Photo Eite le B-ettman), Epiphamus's condemnation of them by name indicates that portraits of Peter, John, and Haul were the earliest recognizable saints' portraits to appear in Christian art. Rusebius likewise had mentioned seeing portraits of Peter and Paul, painted in colors, which were being...

Christology and the Image of Christ in Ravenna

The variations of )esus iconography within a single building or icono-graphic program continued in the next centuries, particularly in Ravenna, which for a short time was capital of the Roman Empire in the West. From the mid-fifth to the early sixth centuries, persons with different politteal and theological affiliations constructed a group of important buildings in three subsequent stages. The first was the era from 402 to 493 c.e., when the city became the Western capital under the Catholic...

Traditions and Legends regarding Jesus Appearance

Other than the cryptic allusions to Jesus' physical appearance in Justin or in Origen (who cited the text of Isaiah as if it were historically descriptive), only a few references to eyewitness descriptions of Jesus' appearance occur in the literature. On the other hand, traditions that actual portraits were made from life1' were more widely known. Among the rare textual witnesses is a letter supposedly written bya fictitious governor of Judea, Pubis lis Lentulus, to the h< Roman People and...

Jesus as Savior and Healer The Beautiful Youth

Vatcancity

Jiyii i A AiA jiyi i. - Ji iyiji- i F ii yf *iff J 'str S r si, y liBil IF ,stii iif y 'tjr't f ip y Hjrty KJF'I 1 fyr y tyr H P Y V1 sf V y V 'Sy' V V V V hjr1 i ar h F vT Silii Hgr Kjr npnjr n JTyr f These issues lay right at the heart of the development of Christian art that first emphasized Jesus' work on earth, as a savior who performed certain deeds. These deeds, as they were represented in visual art, were directly related to specific textual narratives. The art of the early fourth...

Bv I 111 ans 111rial ion of jli jula ppa ivi I ly hii1 i i1 Li if l rcitti ji i if 1 lts

Had seriously underestimated lewish feelings about image1, ul foreign gods (on-r occupying rulers) in the r hol> places,'h Nevertheless, like fustin and 'liertullian, Joseph us look a conciliatory , 11 jpr< *iichh. 1 rsji 1 i1 1 I bal the Jewish rri lj --.a I Id l- eel or hi - i i h st lues uf t be emperors was not based on hatred or even di& respect for Rome and its rulers, bul on an understanding that they be officially granted (be freedom to abide b> heiro n religious laws, He...

Earliest Christian Iconography

Early Christian Art Cain And Abel

On il ' i -.'it righth the ihree v i M i L under i 11 tree ai a table jet ith Sarahs -i-. whilc Abraham serves hem, offcring . pialler Lli the roasted calf. In front o the i-.ih.e-, we see an jm perhapn Jilled wiLh m'Ik. since its color appears '.o be white ien lS.Si. In this composition le lll r l . iilu have ilea rh idee t i la J I aCen i i i lI drt -.lui the lciiI rj 11 yu tl i s mu this li 'vt - i v-L-i.il set o t l gt y mandorla mercly gesu res toward Abrahani's proffered platter....

Irt I ri [hLi hay a [he paintings Lni l their hungi 1 theii lionishmcnl ivin allow i K i e i hL i i 111 levup in ihern

In a letter w ritten to his friend Severus, Paulinus discusses another case of interior church d coration lhal presented a different problem the appropriateness of including the portrait of .j living individual, 1 II' ha Learned that Severus adorned the baptistery he had constructed at Primulacum with portraits of Saint Martin of Tours died ,iLi7' as well as of Paulinus himself. Although, Paulinus argues, Martin's portrait is at ceplable for such .l impace, since he bore the imajje of I he...

The Transfigured Christ and the Two Natures Controversy

In addition to seeing the variations in Jesus' image based on his different roles savior and teacher versus judge and king , a key text of Scripture also points to a variation in the appearance of Jesus at the crucial moment of his transfiguration. Up on a high mountain, Jesus appeared to Peter, James, and John as Lransligured, his face shining like the sun and his clothes dazzling white Matt 17 1-8 and parallels , Origen pointed to this text as the proof that all persons were not equally able...

Refera lo the leachings of a ber of philosophers especially the

Pythagoreans and Stolcs, although he anchors his readings of them t h the basi tenets of ihc truth-loving' Pialo, to whom he rrlurn wilh jtrcat prediclability. And yer, he Plato and the uthers were nol only indehled to the leachingscontained in the I i gt c books of Moses, bul they ani ipaied . 111 thai would be proclaimed in C 111 i 1 i .a 11 Scripture. For ampie, Moses' prohibition of temples or altars in more than one place indicated thal he knew thal God could not be contained or circum-scr...

Early Portraits of the Saints and the Question of Likeness

Ai THE HUP.CH grew and became securely established, the threat of idolatry from the outside polytheism diminished along with Christian reticence about making portraits of holy persons. By the beginning of the fifth century, portraiture was becoming a dominant type of iconography and, while narrative art continued to be produced tor illuminated books or for decorative programs on church walls, saints' likenesses were everywhere, often as relatively inexpensive items that might be produced. The...

The Earliest Examples and Types of Christian Visual Art Church Regulation

Dura Baptistery Yale

Obviously, such definitions and regulations only make sense for a time when Christian images were being produced in enough quantity to make these policies necessary. As we have seen, Christian writers of the second and early third centuries seem unaware of any significant amount or type of Christian art worthy of condemnation. Their objections were aimed at the art of others, pagans or perhaps Christian heretics, and not at their own coreligionists. The warnings against idolatry were warnings...

Early Christian Views of Visual Art Historical Analyses

Jesus Healing Sarcophagus

Y- gt t . . . - ftr-. ftft ftyn ftJ- a H jr. _ft . - , . ' jTk ft y y-. ft i ft ft ft ' ft h it i .- k v V i ji gt . i w i ji '- j' Fig. 5. Jonah at nest Scene fnonr Jonah cycle, Catacomb of CallistushRome The IntematiortaJ Catacomb Soticty Photffi Estdle Bnetttnani . Fig. i gt , Mqsss Striking the wk in the wilderness Caticoirb of Cal istuSvRorne The International Catacomb Society. Photo Estelle Brettrnan , The very fact that we may .study Christian art from the turn of the third century is...

Art and Idolatry in the Early Third Century Christian Writings

Because Tertulliar, ca, 200 was deeply concerned about the problem of Christians being ensnared in a polytheistic culture, his treatise On Idolatry extends the definition of idolatry far beyond anything to do specifically with pictorial art. For Tertullian, idolatrous practices include preoccupation with the way one dresses, the foods one eats, or the pursuit of sexual pleasures or material wealth all things that humans mistakenly lake for having intrinsic value and that they honor more than...

Funerary Portraits

Ancient Egyptian Scallop Shell Design

-_r v v v v v v v v i v v vs v ._, . sx syv yy v-v -s '-J v v v v j h 5 v '-J v v v v v s - i jT.j- -.y v v l As we have seen, portraits of living people, from Roman emperors to more ordinary persons, usually had a pract calas well as an aesthetic function. They honored, enhanced, and even shaped the character and reputations of their models while preserving evidence of their existence. The funerary portrait, by contrast, was a special kind of image, usually produced after death but also...

Terra Catacombe Meaning

Early Christian Funerary Art

FOR THE MOST PART, existing examples of Christian visual art come from Rome and date to the beginning of the third century c.e gt , a time when Roman Christians weTe enjoying a brief respite from the widespread but sporadic persecutions they had suffered during the reign of Marcus Aurelius 160-180 . During the relatively tolerant reign of Emperor Commodus ISO-192 , the church acquired land outside the city walls-, on the Via Appia Antica, for use as a burial ground, allowing them to inter...