The Ancient Roman Art & the Ancient Egyptian Art Comparison

King Khafre, Giza, Egypt, c. 2530 BC, diorite, height 66 1/8 in. (p. 423).

Augustus of Primaporta, c. 20 BC, marble, height 6 ft 8 in. (p. 433).

 

The ancient Roman art was quite different from the ancient Egyptian art but still some works of Roman and Egyptian art had similar implications. Roman and Egyptian art emerged on the ground of their own traditions, although Roman art absorbed many achievements and trends from the ancient Greek art, whereas Egyptian art was unique and was not vulnerable to any external impact as Roman art was. As a result, the influence of the ancient Greek art is quite strong in the ancient Roman art, whereas the ancient Egyptian art is more unique and authentic. At the same time, works of Roman and Egyptian art mirror the socio-cultural background and help to understand better the lifestyle, norms and traditions of ancient Romans and Egyptians respectively. At this point, it is possible to refer to King Khafre, Giza, Egypt, c. 2530 BC, diorite, height 66 1/8 in. (p. 423) and Augustus of Primaporta, c. 20 BC, marble, height 6 ft 8 in. (p. 433) as two remarkable works of art created by unknown Egyptian and Roman artists respectively. These works of art mirror key trends in the life of Egyptian and Roman society through the image of rulers of Egypt and Rome depicted by unknown artists.

King Khafre, Giza, Egypt, c. 2530 BC, diorite, height 66 1/8 in. (p. 423). This statue was created around 2530 BC that was over 2500 before Augustus Primaporta was created. The time difference between the two works of art is significant but still these works of art apparently have the different cultural background that can be clearly traced from the culture, media used and the overall style of each work of art. King Khafre was created in the time, when the Pharaoh’s power became particularly strong. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that the statue depicts Pharaoh Khafre, who ruled Egypt and the statue is apparently intended to show his power and respect of Egyptians to their Pharaoh.  At this point, the difference between King Khafre statue and that of Augustus Primaporta becomes particularly obvious because the Egyptian Pharaoh had the absolute power and personified the unchallenging authority for Egyptians. Moreover, Egyptians tended to view their ruler as a deity. This is why the ultimate respect to the Pharaoh was a norm for Egyptians because they believed Pharaohs to be either gods or their descendants. As a result, there were close associations between the total obedience to Pharaohs and worshipping of gods in Egyptian society.

In stark contrast, Augustus of Primaporta, c. 20 BC, marble, height 6 ft 8 in. (p. 433) was created in the time, when the Roman Empire has already emerged but Republican ideology, norms, values and beliefs were still strong. This is why the statue of Augustus of Primaporta was quite different from King Khafre because, even though Augustus personifies the Roman ruler, he still is a part of the society, where the republic ideology and ideals were still very strong (Grimal 149). This is why Augustus does not manifest the divine power or absolute superiority from the standpoint of a Roman citizen. On the contrary, the Roman Emperor personifies the power and respect as one of the most honorable and respectable citizens within Roman society, where gaps between citizens and rulers is not as broad as is the case of King Khafre.

King Khafre is sitting on the throne with symbols of his royal power in his hands and on his head. The statue is looking straightforward and seems to be looking forward by the statue is high and apparently it was located above viewers. Therefore, the position of the statue and the eyes of the statue looking straight forward seem to be above heads of viewers. As a result, viewers look at the statue with respect, whereas the Pharaoh seems to pay no attention to the audience. He looks forward and seems to pay no attention to viewers as if they are his subordinates. In such a way, he apparently manifests his superiority in relation to his subordinates, whom he views as inferior compared to his power and his authority. The superiority of the Pharaoh was one of the key messages of the statue because the promotion of the Pharaoh’s superiority was the milestone of Egyptian art because artists were supposed to glorify their Pharaohs and show their respect to their rulers. Moreover, art was the tool of the promotion of the Pharaoh’s power and the statute of King Khafre shows how important the art was as a part of the state ideology to enhance the power of the Pharaho that can be traced through the throne of the Pharaoh, the clothing, symbols of his power in his hands and the crown, which implies the superior position of the king.

In this regard, the statue of Augustus of Primaporta is quite different. To put it more precisely, the statute of Augustus of Primaporta personifies the second Roman Emperor after Julius Caesar, although he did not like to adopt the title of the emperor as an implication of the king of Rome, who ruled the huge Roman Empire. On the contrary, Augustus attempted to respect Republican values and manifested his proximity to people. This is why the statute is close to the real life size that makes the statue virtually equal to any viewer. In such a way, the Roman statue shows that the Roman Emperor was the most respectable and reputable among other Romans and served to his people and fatherland. In this regard, the statue of Augustus reveals the relationship between rulers of Rome in the time of Augustus and people. Emperors apparently had the absolute power but they were not proud of it as Pharaohs of Egypt were. In fact, it was rather a disgrace for Romans to show signs of the royal power, while Egyptian rulers took it for granted and, more important, emphasized their divine origin to enhance their authority and absolute power over Egypt (Green 114). This is why the statue of Augustus of Primaporta is more democratic compared to Egyptian statue of King Khafre. In this regard, the impact of Greek culture was also quite strong in regard to the statue of Augustus because democratic traditions were strong in Greece and matched the traditional Roman culture, which emerged from the blend of traditional Roman cultural norms and values and the impact of Greek culture. At the same time, the Roman statue has distinct Roman features, such as the emphasis of the military background of the emperor since Augustus wears armors to show the military power of Rome and Roman Emperor. In this regard, Egyptian statue of King Khafre did not involve the military background of the Pharaoh because it was unnecessary to emphasize since the Pharaoh was just the ruler of the country, who held all the power but not just a military leader as the Roman Emperor a priori was.

The technological progress may be traced in the different media used in King Khafre statue and Augustus of Primaporta statue. King Khafre statue was made of diorite, which was not as valuable as marble. At the same time, the media such as marble was not as available to Egyptians in 2500 BC compared to the 20 BC Rome, when the empire became a powerful state that virtually ruled the Mediterranean region. The marble was also a symbol of Augustus’ power (Mead 191). Moreover, marble was closely associated with the rule of Augustus, who was renowned for his saying that he took the power in Rome, which was wooden, and left Rome marble after the end of his rule. In this regard, the statue of Augustus of Primaporta literally manifests the heritage of Augustus, who made Rome the capital of the world as Romans perceived it. The marble was the valuable almost precious material, which though became a regular material in Rome under Augustus rule that manifested the prosperity and power of Rome. In such a context, the diorite statue of King Khafre seems to be less precious in material terms but the lack of the valuable material is compensated by the symbolic power of the statue. Moreover, diorite was quite valuable material for Egyptians in 2500 BC. The 2500 years gap between two statues explains to a significant extent the difference in the media used as well as the difference in other aspects of statues since in 20 BC Egypt has lost its power and Pharaohs had lost their power, while in 2500 BC, Egyptian pharaohs were very influential rulers in the East Mediterranean region.

Thus, two statues, King Khafre, Giza, Egypt, c. 2530 BC, diorite, height 66 1/8 in. (p. 423) and Augustus of Primaporta, c. 20 BC, marble, height 6 ft 8 in. (p. 433) are statues created in the different time, country and cultural environment. They both depict rulers of Egypt and Rome respectively. At the same time, they reveal the full extent to which Rome and Egypt were different. On the one hand, the Egyptian statue shows the absolute royal power of the Egyptian Pharaoh, whereas the Roman statue shows the proximity of the Roman Emperor to other Romans. On the other hand, both statues show the royal power in Rome and Egypt and uncover the difference between Roman and Egyptian traditions of the royal power. In such a way, statues reveal cultural and socio-political differences between the two countries, which used to be the major power in the Mediterranean region in their time.

 

Works Cited:

Augustus of Primaporta, c. 20 BC, marble, height 6 ft 8 in. (p. 433).

Green, P. Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.

Grimal, N. A History of Ancient Egypt, New York: Blackwell Books, 2012.

King Khafre, Giza, Egypt, c. 2530 BC, diorite, height 66 1/8 in. (p. 423).

Mead, W.R. God and Gold. New York: Random House, 2005.

 

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: October 1, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

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freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
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"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 1, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 1, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 1, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 1, 2022]
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