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Ancestor Masks and Aristocratic Power in Roman Culture

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Oxford University Press

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Flower explains why the Roman elite commemorated politically prominent family members with wax masks worn by actors at the funerals of the deceased. She looks at literary sources, legal texts, epigraphy, archaeology, numismatics, and art, tracing the functional evolution of ancestor masks, from the third century BC to the sixth century AD. By putting these masks into their legal, social, and political context, Flower elucidates their central position in the media of the time and their special meaning as symbols of power and prestige.