GRC20090 Roman Sculpture, Myth and History

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module focuses on Roman sculpture from the Late Republic to the High Roman Empire. It examines ancient collection practices and the programmatic display of statues in the context of the Roman villa and monumental public spaces in the city of Rome and beyond. The module also addresses issues of style, iconography, and the relationship of Roman to Greek art. Many of the sculptures studied in this module are mythological, and the meanings contained in these myths provide an important insight into Roman elite culture. Sculpture was also used to assert cultural dominance or political power, and this course will examine how it functioned as a medium of Imperial self-promotion from Augustus to Hadrian and beyond. Modern replicas of several of the mythological statues examined in this module are on public display in the Dublin area.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
- identify the canonical works of sculpture from the period
- analyse their iconography in terms of attributes, style, and subject matter
- evaluate the relationship between sculpture and broader cultural and political trends
- interpret the programmatic meaning of sculpture groups and collections in a variety of architectural contexts

Indicative Module Content:

Indicative lecture topics:
1. Introduction
2. Recognising the Classics
3. Subject Matter, Restoration and Style
4. Laocoon, Sperlonga, and Rhodes
5. The Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum
6. Augustan Rome
7. Julio-Claudians
8. Flavians to Nerva
9. Trajan, Hadrian, and Antonines
10. Severans and Beyond

1. National Gallery of Ireland
2. Russborough House
3. Powerscourt House
4. Portraiture and Iconography
5. Funerary Sculpture and UCD Classical Museum

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Combines lectures and small group teaching, with a strong focus on the interpretation of visual evidence. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Coursework Essay Assignment Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Class Test: Slide Test Week 7 n/a Graded No


Assignment: Object Case Study Week 10 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Group feedback on class test, with individual feedback on request. Individual feedback on written assignments.

Beard. M. & Henderson, J. Classical Art from Greece to Rome (Oxford 2001)
Haskell, F. & Penny, N. Taste and the Antique: the Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900 (New Haven 1981)
Kleiner, F. S. A History of Roman Art (Boston 2010)
Pollitt, J. J. The Art of Rome, c. 753 B.C. – A.D. 337. Sources and Documents (Cambridge 1983)
Rutledge, S. Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (Oxford 2012)
Stewart, P. Statues in Roman Society: Representation and Response (Oxford 2003)
Taylor, R. The Moral Mirror of Roman Art (Cambridge 2008)
Tuck, S. L. A History of Roman Art (Malden 2015)
Zanker, P. Roman Art (Los Angeles 2008)
Name Role
Ms Niamh Tobin Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Thurs 10:00 - 10:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 2, 4, 6, 9, 11 Wed 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 4 Week(s) - 2, 4, 6, 9, 11 Thurs 11:00 - 11:50