In the first comprehensive study of Roman ancestor masks in English, Harriet Flower explains the reasons behind the use of wax masks in the commemoration of politically prominent family members by the elite society of Rome. Broadening her approach from the purely art historical, Flower traces the functional evolution of ancestor masks, from their first appearance in the third century BC to their last mention in the sixth century AD, through the examination of literary sources in both prose and verse, legal texts, epigraphy, archaeology, numismatics, and art. It is by putting these masks, which were worn by actors at the funerals of the deceased, into their legal, social, and political context that Flower is able to elucidate their central position in the
media of the time and their special meaning as symbols of power and prestige.
Readership: Scholars and students of ancient history, in particular the social history of ancient Rome. Also of interest to classicists, art historians, and archaeologists.
Harriet I. Flower, Assistant Professor of Classics, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
"timely contribution to ancient cultural history ... in thoroughly reconsidering an important element of Roman culture, this book reaffirms its profoundly political nature." - Jane D. Chaplin, The Classical Review
"The book is an important contribution to Roman family history as well as to the study of Roman power politics. Clearly written; well organized. Very valuable listing, with translation, of testimonia." - Choice
"In addition to an exhaustive discussion of the imagines... the book contains highly plausible, useful, and in some cases... ground-breaking accounts of many other subjects. The documentation is everywhere extensive and clearly presented... and... the argumentation is generally, lucid, and easy to follow... the book is a valuable contribution to scholarship, and I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in any aspect of the ancient Roman world. David Mankin"