The Role of Culture The Roman Empire

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Based on assigned readings, lectures, discussions, and documentaries utilized in this course since midterm, use the Roman Empire as a case study to analyze the role of culture (i.e., the arts) as a foundation for peoples, nations, and cultures. In this context, your answer must address the following issues: How and why did the Roman Empire emerge, grow in power, and maintain its power? According to Stephen Morillo, much can be learned from how people of the past viewed themselves as witnessed in cultural artifacts, language, monumental architecture, etc. Morillo uses this metaphorical device to analyze a society’s “cultural screen,” the metaphorical screen …upon which individuals and societies project images that represent conscious ideas about their identity and the meaning of the world.” (Stephen Morillo, Frameworks of World History, Volume One: to 1550 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.) Thinking about Morillo’s idea of a “cultural screen,” what role did culture play in the Roman Empire? Your answer must include analysis of each of the following cultural artifacts:

Trajan’s Column as discussed in the documentary Terry Jones’ Barbarians: The Savage Goths The Golden Ass by Apuleius What ideas about the Roman Empire can be excavated from each cultural artifact? In other words, what does each cultural artifact reveal about the arts as a cornerstone for peoples, nations and cultures in the Roman Empire?

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