Status in stone : a study of Blanton Pinax 1981.96 and its role in the Roman household
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This thesis examines a Roman marble pinax in the collection of the Blanton Museum of Art (accession number 1981.96). Much of the most recent scholarship on pinakes has utilized a catalogue approach, wherein only the most essential information on a vast number of objects is given, followed by a cursory interpretation. While this method is useful for its recording and comparative advantages, the in-depth examination of a single pinax I utilize allows me to determine instead the role and function of a pinax within a Roman household. Following a formal and iconographical analysis, I suggest a possible reconstruction of the pinax’s missing half, with a maenad on one side and the chariot of Achilles on the other, which provides a fuller picture of this particular pinax. An examination of Roman sculptural traditions and workshops as well as the tool marks and stylistic properties evident in the pinax indicate a creation date in the second half of the first century A.D. and a potential provenance at Pompeii. I indicate that pinakes were part of a cohesive visual program of sculptural works in the peristyle garden through an examination of the material evidence of oscilla, herms, and masks with which pinakes were found and the wall paintings in which they all coexist. My final section deals with the ultimate function of this visual program: to express the high social standing of the house owner by communicating his likeness to a god. This phenomenon utilizes the visual language of the emperor under the changing social structure of the Empire, setting up the owner of the home as both emperor and deity in his own home.