Gods and heroes of ancient Roman religion as subject in Italian art

Prof. Isabella Colpo
(University of Padova)

DATE: 21st August 2018
TIME: 9:00 – 12:30 pm
LOCATION: Crociferi Foundation, Venice

Gods and heroes of ancient Roman religion as subject in Italian culture


Before the advent of the Christian religion, during ancient Roman times (1st millennium B.C. – 6th Century A.D.) the population used to venerate several God, Goddesses and heroes (semidivine characters who realized awesome entreprises). Each God dominated a sector of the life and had specific temples and priests. Historians, poets and writers used to describe the histories of the Gods, usually histories of love, sex, war, vingeance and punishment, different relationship between Gods and sometimes also with humans. Through the literary tradition, all these histories survived during first Christian and Medieval times and were transmitted to the Reinassance culture, when they became one of the favourite subject for artists. Knowing the histories of ancient Roman Gods, Goddesses and heroes is absolutely important to clearly understand a relevant part of the most famous paintings and sculptures and decorative works of the Italian art, from the Reinassance up to contemporary times.

Isabella Colpo studied at the University of Padua (degree, specialization and PhD in Archaeology) and after the completion of her studies she had several fellowships and collaboration agreements at the Department of Cultural Heritage of her University. From 2012 she has been fully employed at the University Museums Centre of Padua University, where she works on the rich collection of paintings, sculptures and furniture collected by the Athenaeum during its eight Centuries of history.
Her researches focus mainly on history of ancient Roman art. The main topics are how the images (i.e. the image of a naked young man, or a bearded old one, or a dressed woman) were created by the ancient artisans, how they circulated through time and different places (i.e. using sketches) and how the artisans used them to create new images. Again, she studies the use of the images as a kind of language to communicate political or moral content in the ancient times, and finally the relationship between literature and images, in order to determine whether and how they have influenced each other and to verify the possibility to identify the lost Greek and Roman artistic repertoire using the written sources.
I have collaborated to some research project of my Department, also organizing several conferences and two exhibitions. I am currently part of the Editorial Board of two international scientific journals (“Eidola. International Journal of Classical Art History ” and “European Journal of Archaeology”).

E.M.Berens, The Myths & Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

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