This blows: social and cultural perceptions of ancient Roman brass instruments and musicians
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 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.