Roman dating system
Portraits, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional, were typically detailed and unidealized, although later during the age of Hellenistic-Roman art (c.27 BCE - 200 CE), the Romans became aware of the propaganda value of busts and statuary, and sought to convey political messages through poses and accessories.
The same PR value was accorded to relief sculpture (see, for instance, the Column of Marcus Aurelius), and to history painting (see, Triumphal Paintings, below).
Moreover, we should note that cities in Ancient Rome were less provincial and far more powerful than Greek city-states, so that its art invariably played a more functional role - not least because Roman culture was actually a melange of different beliefs and customs, all of which had to be accomodated.
Thus, for example, art quickly became something of a status symbol: something to enhance the buyer's home and social position.
Their ultra-pragmatic response was to recycle Greek sculpture at every opportunity.
Greek poses, reworked with Roman clothes and accessories, were pressed into service to reinforce Roman power.
The reason for Rome's cultural inferiority complex remains unclear.
Thus when commemorating a battle, for example, the artwork used would be executed in a realistic - almost "documentary" style.
This realistic down-to-earth Roman style is in vivid contrast to Hellenistic art which illustrated military achievements with mythological imagery.
Paradoxically, one reason for the ultimate fall of Rome was because it became too attached to the propagandist value of its art, and squandered huge resources on grandiose building projects purely to impress the people.
Construction of the Baths of Diocletian (298-306), for instance, monopolised the entire brick industry of Rome, for several years.