Meaning in the Making: Representing Glass Production in Imperial Rome

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Abstract

This chapter investigates Roman imperial discourse around glassmaking and glassblowing. An analysis of several literary texts which depict these processes (by Pliny the Elder, Mesomedes of Crete, and an anonymous poet of the 3rd century CED) and of a visual representation of glassblowing on an oil lamp highlights several key elements of the Roman discourse surrounding the creation of glass objects, including the notion of glass as an ‘imperial composite’, the agency of fire in its making and shaping, the sensory impact of the process, and a sense of divine involvement or assistance. It also reveals the almost total elision of the collaborative nature of glassworking in literary depictions.
In a final section, the chapter introduces the notion of ‘madeness’ as a means of relating the discourse of glassmaking to the impact of the made - Roman glass objects. For Roman owners, viewers and users, ideas about how such objects were created had a significant impact on their attitude towards them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationValuing Labor in Antiquity
EditorsMiko Flohr, Kimberly Bowes
PublisherBrill
Chapter7
Pages131-149
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-69496-5
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-69483-5
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21-Feb-2024

Publication series

NameMnemosyne, Supplements
PublisherBrill
Volume481

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