Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Love Roman Frescoes


Reading Mary Beard's blog It's a Don's Life, has encouraged me to blog about whatever I want and throw a bit of my university life in there too - seeing as I'll be intensively involved in that realm for the next three, if not more, years. So, while I'm formally studying - and love - prehistoric Aegean religion(s), mainly Crete but also Greece, Cyprus and the Levant, my secondary interest, or my back-burner interest, is Roman Religion. It seems fitting then to post an image that is Roman, yet that harks back to the Greek Bronze Age through the Trojan Epic, Homer's Iliad, intended to depict events in the Bronze Age. The Romans liked to claim Trojan ancestry, maybe that's why the sacrifice of Iphigenia at Aulis featured in this Roman fresco. This version of the story - the sacrifice bit - does not actually feature in Homer, but in the Epic Cycle which are later compositions designed to 'fill out' parts of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Remember when the Greek fleet wanted to set out for Troy there was no wind, in some versions because of the anger of Artemis. Various reasons for her anger are proposed: either Agamemnon (father of Iphigenia) had illicitly shot a stag within her grove; he had boasted that he was a finer hunter than the goddess; or he had broken a vow to give Artemis the most beautiful thing born the year of Iphigeneia's birth - which had been the girl herself. Anyway, whatever the cause of the deity's wrath, it would only be appeased by the sacrifice of Iphigeneia. She was therefore summoned to Aulis on the pretext of marrying Achilles, and then sacrificed. In some versions of the story Iphigeneia is substituted at the last minute for a deer - as in Euripides' Iphigeneia in Aulis - which is what this fresco depicts: Iphigeneia escaping. I just love the colours and I love the scratchy appearance of most Roman frescos. Roman Frescoes = Big Fan. [But please excuse the excessive use of wikipedia in my links! To tell the truth, all this text is simply an excuse to post this beautiful fresco!]

8 comments:

Black Nyx said...

Isn't Mary Beard's blog great? I love checking in on it every once in a while. I'm also a huge fan of roman Frescoes and I'm loving the one you've posted. Thanks!

Caroline Tully said...

Thanks. Yeah, I just read the book of Beard's blog. Have you read her Pompeii book? I've got it, but haven't read it yet.

Black Nyx said...

I haven't picked up her book on Pompeii but I plan to. I was going to pick it up but totally forgot until you reminded me.

Did you like the book about her blog?

Caroline Tully said...

Well, yes, I liked to book about her blog, but there was a little bit *too much* about 'How school leavers can get into Cambridge', as in how to approach the interview etc - I frankly couldn't care less about that. I'm less interested in her university admin tasks and teaching method and more interested in her research and her travel.

Black Nyx said...

Ha - I thought your observation hit the nail on the head. I love her blog, but what you mention is why I don't check it too often. I want to hear more about her research and thoughts on Rome and not so much about the other bits.

Tara said...

I love your blog.

Caroline Tully said...

Thanks Tara. Sometimes I wonder if my blog is actually too boring. I don't really know how many people look at it, and I guess I don't update it very often either. What is annoying is that Blogger has removed - it seems - the ability to paste your text from a Word doc into the blog. So to write a blog post you have to actually do it while the blog is right there, so you've got the blog right in front of you, rather then taking time to compose something in Word and then pasting it when its ready, after editing and tweaking. Grrr! I'm sure I *used to* be able to cut and paste from Word into the blog.

Wikked Wit said...

I love your blog! So I gave you an award!! :)

http://hotweremomma.blogspot.com/2010/03/yippeeeeee-i-got-my-first-award.html