Illa torvitas: Agrippa and the place of images in Pliny the Elder


  • Anna Anguissola

Parole chiave:

Pliny the Elder, Agrippa, Baths of Agrippa, Map of Agrippa, Domus Aurea, Templum Pacis, Art collections


Throughout the final five books of the Naturalis Historia, Pliny the Elder consistently draws on anecdotes about the use of art as moral exempla, in order to articulate discourses about social norms and man’s relationship with Nature. Pliny exploits the potential role of artworks for moral characterisation and for the literary construction of Rome’s recent past. Occasionally, closer consideration of passages devoted to the practices of collecting and displaying artworks provides fresh nsights into Pliny’s ambivalent stance towards individual historical figures from the late Republican and early imperial periods. In particular, Agrippa’s position in the Naturalis Historia is less straightforward than has traditionally been assumed. Despite relying on Agrippa’s map as a key source for the encyclopaedia and raising his commitment to public service, Pliny’s implicit comments on Agrippa’s decorative choices seem to suggest a less favourable opinion.