Abstract The commemorative forms of the Romans are marked by the ubiquity of two contrasting presentational modes: one essentially mimetic, rooted in the representational power of artistic forms, the other abstract and figurative, dependent on the presentation of cues for the summoning of absent yet necessary images. The mimetic mode was thoroughly conventional, and thus posed few problems of interpretation; the figurative knew no such orthodoxy and required a different and distinctive form of attention. At the tomb, epigraphic and sculptural forms, each in its characteristic manner, addressed an audience habituated by tradition to respond to both of these modes, to grasp their differences, and to rise to the challenge implicit in the very fact of their contrast.
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