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Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Orator of the Ages

Aulus Metellus

Lovingly called the Orator for the sculpture's decisive stance, this bronze is yet another look into Etruscan art history.  The northern neighbors of the Romans until their ultimate demise by their southern counterparts, these people were incredibly influential on art to come.  Much more realistic than their Greek counterparts, these Italian sculptors were incredibly realistic, portraying the character as he was in life.  Following in this modest realism, Metellus was depicted with shoes.  This may sound simple or odd to point out, but a barefoot character would be compared to a god, while Aulus is being recognized as a great and powerful man, but still only a man. While in roman garb, it is common thought that this man was Etruscan. In fact, the only reason why we know his name is due to the inscription in his toga.  The sculpture was found in Etruria with Etruscan inscription, and is believed to have been made recollecting the beginning of the Roman Republic.  In fact, many believe that this man was in charge of keeping peace during the fall of many Etruscan city-states.  The Romans were taking city after city, and Metellus's mastery of the Etruscan language along with his speaking abilities made him a major asset, vital enough to be forever placed in bronze.  While most likely Etruscan in background, the inscription on the back of his toga states that he was a roman magistrate.  Created during the turn towards the second century BCE, most likely during the time when this man was still fresh in the memory of his people.  His ability to calm the masses during a volatile time is transcribed to the people in his outstretched arm.  However, the truly amazing aspect of the piece is its bronze work.  While notable just as a masterfully done sculpture, this also symbolized a dying use of bronze in Rome.  Marble sculpting became more popular  and the Greek influenced Etruscan culture soon died with their independence.

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