Old Age in Greek and Roman Art Now Available

Book laying on a stone floor.

Now available at the Museum Store, Old Age in Greek and Roman Art is the first in-depth survey of representations of the elderly in the ancient world. The chapters are written by two distinguished experts: Susan B. Matheson, the Molly and Walter Bareiss Curator of Ancient Art at the Gallery, and J. J. Pollitt, the Sterling Professor Emeritus of Classical Archaeology and History of Art at Yale University. On painted vases and marble sarcophagi, in terracotta figures and stone grave reliefs, the elders of the time are seen with the same telltale signs we associate with old age today—wrinkles, white hair, sagging jowls, and stooped postures. However, as Matheson and Pollitt explain, two divergent outlooks can be identified. While some authors and artists of the period considered old age to be a “catastrophe,” a view reflected in images that treat the elderly with derision, others approached it as a “liberating” phase of life and thus worthy of honor and veneration, as seen in dignified portraits of statesmen and sages. With over 300 illustrations—many published for the very first time—this handsome volume offers readers an extraordinary opportunity to delve into these rare depictions of elderly priests and priestesses, gods and satyrs, kings of Athens, and more.

Tiffany Sprague

Director of Publications and Editorial Services