In this article Lindsey Annable reviews Paul Zanker’s The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus and analyses the connections between Roman visual culture and Roman history. Originally published in 1987 in the original German as Augustus und die Macht der Bilder, the English translation followed one year later, and continues to be relevant to the study of Roman art today. This article will explore the contribution of The Power of Images to classical art scholarship, with the following areas considered in detail: the opinion of Zanker on the appropriation of Greek art in Roman visual culture; how far the representation of Octavian and Marc Antony was propagandistic; how Augustus instigated cultural renewal; and how Zanker views such aspects as culminating in the mythological imagery of the new Rome. A critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Zanker’s points will also be included, alongside other scholarly views on his work. By placing The Power of Images into a framework of past and present Roman art scholarship, its contribution to classical scholarship can be analysed in depth.
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Lindsey Annable is a second-year, AHRC-M3C-funded PhD student supervised by the Department of Classics at the University of Nottingham. Her research explores the proliferation of ‘Pompeian Rooms’ in eighteenth-century Britain.