Macquarie University
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This blows: social and cultural perceptions of ancient Roman brass instruments and musicians

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posted on 2022-03-28, 21:33 authored by Rodney Cross
This thesis evaluates the uses and sociocultural perceptions of the four main ancient Roman brass instruments: bucina, cornu, lituus and tuba, across a range of contexts including: gladiatorial games, religious festivals, funerals and the Roman army. The omission of an origin myth and their strong association with violence and death implies a general negative perception of these instruments in the ancient Roman world (Ziolkowski, 1999). These negative connotations are further supported by primary literary evidence. The positive symbolic use in relation to Roman concepts of imperium (power), and auctoritas (authority), especially within triumphal processions, on the other hand, complicates this view. This thesis will attempt to reconcile these two conflicting perspectives through highlighting their distinct function within Roman society, which heavily influenced their presentation within the primary source tradition. This thesis will also raise a number of key issues within the broader disciplinary area of study, including issues of: disciplinarity, terminology, and methodology. The present work is divided into four main parts: I) a literature review and a proposed methodology, II) a discussion of relevant disciplinary, terminological, typological and iconographical issues, III) an overview of the contextual uses of Roman brass instruments and IV) an evaluation of the perceptions, power and symbolism that were associated with them.


Table of Contents

Part I. -- Part II. Terminology, typology and iconography -- Part III. Contexts of use -- Part IV. The power and the passion : power, perception, symbolism -- Conclusion : the sound of power in ancient Rome.


Bibliography: pages 50-53 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ancient History

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Peter (Lecturer in Roman history) Keegan


Copyright Rodney Cross 2014. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (xv, 64 pages illustrations)

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