Ἡ ρωμαϊκὴ ἁρπαγὴ ἑλληνικῶν ἀγαλμάτων

S. E. Alcock, Graecia capta. The landscapes of Roman Greece, Cambridge 19963, σσ. 178-179:

The most common examples of cult displacement are undoubtedly the innumerable statues removed from Greek cities and sanctuaries as “plunder” by Roman troops or by greedy emperors. Many specific cases are recorded: the depredations of Mummius at Corinth supplied Rome with its “greatest number and best of the public monuments” (Strabo 8.6.23); Sulla’s snatching of the precious ivory image of Athena from Boeotian Alalkomenai led to the sanctuary’s subsequent neglect; and Nero, with his “universal irreverence”, appropriated no less than five hundred bronze statues, “some of gods, some of men,” from Delphi (Pausanias 10.7.1) and others from Olympia (Pausanias 5.25.9; 5.26.3). Nor were cult images the only target of these “looters”;  “among other Athenian treasures,” Sulla removed votive shields from the stoa of Zeus Eleutherios at Athens.

Two general points are worth making about such instances of “displacement”. First, the objects selected –cult statues, votives related to a people’s mythic or recent past– did not represent antiquites, curiosities or objets d’art to the Greeks, whatever the supposed Roman (or indeed modern) perception of them. As sacred things, they contained and declared the history and identity of individual civic entities, as well as of the Greeks as a whole. […]

If Greek responses to such actions have at times been underestimated, so too the intentions of the imperial agents (whether generals or emperors) have frequently been misinterpreted. Put simply, these actions have been taken far too inconsequentially and dismissed as the behavior of either of boors (Mummius) or of connoisseurs (Marcellus), men interested only in plunder or ornament. Other, more sinister motives lurk in the background: the source of Caligula’s (and later Nero’s) interest in the beautiful Eros from Thespiai, for instance, is all too clear. Yet while a fascination with Greek art and a lust for loot cannot be denied, Roman consciousness of exactly what they were taking from the Greeks must also be allowed. Depriving one’s enemy of sacred objects and possessing them yourself served two related purposes: defeating them in perpetuity and adding the power of their gods to your own symbolic arsenal. As Richard Gordon has observed, “there was a particular value in depriving a conquered city of its religious sculpture and painting, since this action ‘removed’ its gods, in much the same way that the traditional Roman practice of evocation removed the power of a divinity from the enemy to the Romans”.

 

Ὑπάρχει ἕνα ἰσχυρὸ ρεῦμα ποὺ σκίζει τὰ ροῦχα του ὀδυρόμενο γιὰ τὴν μεταφορὰ ἀγαλμάτων τῆς Ἑλλάδας γιὰ καλλιτεχνικοὺς λόγους ἀπὸ τὸν Μέγα Κωνσταντίνο στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη, ἀλλὰ ἀποσιωπᾶ τὴν γιὰ παγανιστικοὺς – θρησκευτικοὺς καὶ ἄλλους λόγους μεταφορὰ πολλαπλάσιου ἀριθμοῦ ἀγαλμάτων ἀπὸ τὴν Ἑλλάδα στὴ Ρώμη, ἀπὸ ρωμαίους «πολυθεϊστές». Εἶναι πολλὰ τὰ λεφτὰ ὅσων χρηματοδοτοῦν τρεῖς δεκαετίες τώρα τοὺς ἀγανακτισμένους ἕλληνες νεοπαγανιστές, βλέπεις.

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