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Lecture: "10. Accessing Afterlife: Tombs of Roman Aristocrats, Freedmen, and Slaves"Add to Queue

Course :  YaleCourses Roman Architecture (HSAR 252)

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  • Date posted : Jan 01, 1970

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Professor Kleiner explores sepulchral architecture in Rome commissioned by the emperor, aristocrats, successful professionals, and former slaves during the age of Augustus. Unlike most civic and residential buildings, tombs serve no practical purpose other than to commemorate the deceased and consequently assume a wide variety of personalized and remarkable forms. The lecture begins with the round Mausoleum of Augustus, based on Etruscan precedents and intended to house the remains of Augustus and the new Julio-Claudian dynasty. Professor Kleiner also highlights two of Rome's most unusual funerary structures: the pyramidal Tomb of Gaius Cestius, an aristocrat related to Marcus Agrippa, and the trapezoidal Tomb of Marcus Vergilius Eurysaces, probably a former slave who made his fortune overseeing the baking and public distribution of bread for the Roman army. Professor Kleiner concludes the lecture with a brief discussion of tombs for those with more modest means, including extensive subterranean columbaria. She also turns briefly to the domed thermal baths at Baia, part of an ancient spa and a sign of where concrete construction would take the future of Roman architecture.

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