The Cultural Rise of a Superpower

The five-year project “The Days of Rome” (I Giorni di Roma” ) in the Capitolini museum in Rome, each year there will be an exhibition about art in the Roman Empire, opens with an exhibition of masterpieces of ancient art dating back to the period following the conquest campaigns in Greece f rom the end of III century BC to the second half of the 1st century BC. This was one of the most crucial periods for the future cultural and artistic identity of Rome, not only in the Republican age. The exhibition begins from the time of the founding of the Roman Empire, when Rome gradually gained control over the Mediterranean, from Spain to the coasts of Asia Minor. This period sees the formation of a purely Roman figurative language, which treasured Greek artistic tradition, duly understood, absorbed and modified over the years. This is the period in which the ruling elite realized, with increasing awareness, the consolidation of its prestige and expressed it through art. Between the III and the I century BC, Rome became the only hegemonic power over the entire Mediterranean basin. After the successful military campaigns in Greece and Magna Graecia, large amount of money and the rich spoils of war caused a change in taste that turned into a cultural revolution. Works of Greek art were exhibited during the triumphal procession of the generals. Consequently, a large number of Greek craftsmen, architects, tutors, doctors and artists arrived in Rome. So, despite the opposition of conservative elites (like anti-American quota today), the rapid hellenisation changed the city through the mixture of Greek and Roman models.