Late antiquity  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

(Redirected from Late Antique)
Jump to: navigation, search
1872 photograph of the western face of the Greek Parthenon
Enlarge
1872 photograph of the western face of the Greek Parthenon

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Late Antiquity (circa 300 to 600 AD) is a periodization used by historians to describe the transitional centuries from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world: generally from the end of the Roman Empire's Crisis of the Third Century (c. 284) to the Islamic conquests and the re-organization of the Byzantine Empire under Heraclius.

The Roman Empire underwent considerable social, cultural and organizational change starting with reign of Diocletian, who began the custom of splitting the Empire into Eastern and Western halves ruled by multiple emperors. Beginning with Constantine the Great the Empire was Christianized, and a new capital founded at Constantinople. Migrations of Germanic tribes disrupted Roman rule from the late fourth century onwards, prompting the eventual collapse of the Empire in the West in 476, replaced by the so-called barbarian kingdoms. The resultant cultural fusion of Greco-Roman, Germanic and Christian traditions formed the cultural foundations of Western Europe.

Contents

Sculpture and art

Roman art during Late Antiquity served as a monumental transition from classical idealized realism introduced by the Greeks to the more iconic, stylized art of the Middle Ages. Unlike classical art, Late Antique art does not emphasize the beauty and movement of the body, but rather, hints at the spiritual reality behind its subjects. Additionally, mirroring the rise of Christianity and the collapse of the western Roman Empire, painting and freestanding sculpture gradually fell from favor in the artistic community. Replacing them were greater interests in mosaics, architecture, and relief sculpture.

As the Soldier Emperors such as Maximinus Thrax (r. 235-8) emerged from the provinces in the 3rd century, they brought with them their own regional influences and artistic tastes. For example, artists jettisoned the classical portrayal of the human body for one that was more rigid and frontal. This is markedly evident in the combined porphyry portraits of the four Roman tetrarchs. With these stubby figures clutching each other and their swords, all individualism, naturalism, the verism or hyperrealism of Roman portraiture, and Greek idealism diminish. In nearly all artistic media, simpler shapes were adopted and once natural designs were abstracted. Additionally hierarchy of scale overtook the preeminence of perspective and other classical models for representing spatial organization.

Nearly all of these more abstracted conventions could be observed in the glittering mosaics of the era. Although the pebble mosaics had been used for centuries in Asia Minor, a new technique employing tesserae rose as the method of choice by Christians. The glazed surfaces of the tesserae sparkled in the light and illuminated the basilica churches. Unlike their fresco predecessors, much more emphasis was placed on demonstrating a symbolic fact rather than on rendering a realistic scene. As time progressed during the late antique period, art become more concerned with biblical themes and influenced by interactions of Christianity with the Roman state. Within this Christian subcategory of Roman art, dramatic changes were also taking place. Jesus Christ had been more commonly depicted as a suffering servant, teacher or as the “Good Shepherd,” resembling the traditional iconography of Hermes. Now, Jesus was increasingly given Roman elite status, and shrouded in purple robes like the emperors with orb and scepter in hand.

As for luxury arts, manuscript illumination on vellum and parchment emerged in the late sixth century as a display of beauty and spiritual authority in gilded text. Also, ivory carvings were greatly desired by Roman generals (for illustrating their victories in processions) and the Church (usually for creating religious imagery on diptyches and triptyches).

Literature

In the field of literature, Late Antiquity is known for the declining use of classical Greek and Latin, and the rise of literary cultures in Syriac, Armenian, Arabic, Coptic, vulgar Latin and, eventually, Romance dialects. It also marks a shift in literary style, with a preference for encyclopedic works in a dense and allusive style, consisting of summaries of earlier works (anthologies, epitomes) often dressed up in elaborate allegorical garb (e.g. De Nuptiis Mercurii et Philologiae (The Marriage of Mercury and Philology) of Martianus Capella, and the De Arithmetica, De Musica, and Consolatio Philosophiae of Boethius—both later key works in Medieval education). The fourth and fifth centuries also saw an explosion of Christian literature, of which Greek writers such as Eusebius of Caesarea, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus and John Chrysostom, and Latin writers as Ambrose of Milan, Jerome and Augustine of Hippo are only among the most renowned representatives. On the other hand, authors such as Ammianus Marcellinus (4th cent.) or Procopius of Caesarea (6th cent.) were able to keep the tradition of classical historiography alive.

Poetry

Greek poets of the late antique period included Antoninus Liberalis, Quintus Smyrnaeus, Nonnus, Romanus the Melodist and Paul the Silentiary.

Latin poets included Paulinus of Nola, Claudian, Rutilius Namatianus, Sidonius Apollinaris, Corippus and Arator.

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Late antiquity" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools