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Comparisons Between Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome


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Art - Greece vs. Rome
Doryphoros. Roman. Copy of Greek.  Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

The Doryphoros; Artist Unknown (Roman); 120-50 BC. Pentelic marble (198.12 x 48.26 x 48.26 cm) Minneapolis Insititute of Arts

CC Flickr User Heather Harvey

Greek art is considered superior to the "merely" imitative or decorative Roman art; indeed much art we think of as Greek is actually a Roman copy of a Greek original. The goal of the classical Greek sculptors was to produce an ideal artistic form, where the goal of Roman artists was to produce realistic portraits, often for decoration. This is obvious oversimplification.


Not all Roman art imitated the Greek forms and not all Greek art looks terribly realistic or impractical. Much Greek art adorned utilitarian objects, just as Roman art adorned the living spaces. Greek art is divided into the Mycenaean, geometric, archaic, and Hellenistic periods, in addition to its acme in the Classical period. During the Hellenistic period, there was demand for copies of earlier art, and so it, too can be described as imitative.


The art we typically associate with Greece is the Venus de Milo, and the Roman art is the mosaic or wall painting known as fresco. Of course, there are many more media on which the very talented masters of art in both cultures worked. For instance, Greek pottery, among other forms, was a popular import in Italy.

For more mosaics, see Tunisian Mosaics.

Unknown Roman Artist
Tunis Tunisia
Mosaic of Personification of Roma in a Medallion
1st century-2nd century A.D.
21 1/4 x 21 1/4in. (53.9 x 53.9cm)
Brooklyn Museum
Museum Collection Fund
See: "Painting in Rome and Pompeii" The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Winter, 1987-1988), pp. 3-16.

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