Virgil, Horace, Catullus, Propertius—these are just a few of the poets whose work we would be without today were it not for the wealthy and powerful patrons upon whose support the Roman cultural establishment so greatly depended. Who were these patrons? What benefits did they give, to whom, and why? What effect did the support of such men as Maecenas and Pompey have on the lives and work of those who looked to them for aid?
These questions and others are addressed in this volume, which explores all the important aspects of patronage—a topic crucial to the study of literature and art from Homer to the present day. The subject is approached from various vantage points: literary, artistic, historical. The essayists reach conclusions that dispel the many misconceptions about Roman patronage derived from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century models in England and Europe.
An understanding of the workings of patronage is indispensable in helping us see how the Roman cultural establishment functioned in the four centuries of its flourishing and also in helping us read and enjoy specific poems and works of art. A book for all concerned with classical literature, art, and social history, Literary and Artistic Patronage in Ancient Rome not only deepens our understanding of the ancient world but also suggests important avenues for future exploration.