Byzantium's Golden Age

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Byzantium, on the other hand, was a culture that was a continuation of the Roman empire that began in 324CE. Christianity was the official religion which was central to the identity of many of the empire’s inhabitants, which in turn influenced art. Although Byzantine inhabitants inherited Roman culture and called themselves Romans, much of their culture was aligned with Greek culture, especially evident in the fact that their language was Greek and not Latin like Romans. Like many transitioning states, the Byzantine empire went through stages of ups and downs as the empire expanded. The empire reached its peak, however, when Justinian was in power. His reign, from 527 to 565CE, is known as Byzantium’s golden age. In this time, Justinian successfully …show more content…
Figural reliefs decorated the inner and outer walls, depicting different mythological creatures or gods in tranquil settings, which contribute to the overall theme of peace in Augustus’ empire. The organized structure of the reliefs represent a controlled empire ruled by Augustus. In particular, the relief on the south frieze of the altar proves the specific propagandistic-type of art in the Augustan era. Standing 5’3’’ high, this relief depicts the imperial family and dignitaries, most likely inspired by the Panathenaic Festival Procession frieze from the Classical Period of Greece. However, the roman relief illustrates a specific event, “the inaugural ceremony of 13BCE when work on the altar began” (Klein, 200). The procession is made up of identifiable figures in the imperial family and members of the Senate along with children at their feet. In line with Augustan portraiture, the people’s faces are idealized and free of flaw, portraying these influential people as godlike. The children’s dispositions, however, deviates from the usual …show more content…
The children of the procession are more “childlike” in their nature as they are looking around, trying to draw the attention of the elders, instead of being illustrated as “miniature adults, as they frequently do in the history of art” (Klein, 200). The illustration of the children can also be explained with the fact that birth levels in Rome among the elite were extremely low at this time, which concerned Augustus. To contradict this, Augustus enacted laws to promote marriage fidelity and procreation. In this way, this frieze of the Ara Pacis promoted the emperor’s political and social campaigns in Rome. Those who would see these works of art were mostly religious officials as this altar was used for sacrifice, which could only be done by priests or other religious elites. The audience experienced this art in most likely a serious setting since it was a planned event with religious officials when a sacrifice would take place. Further, the entirety of the altar would instill a feeling of spirituality and thankfulness, as much of the art carried a theme of peacefulness. Further, a viewer would constantly be reminded of the one who worked to instill this peace, the great Augustus. The

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