CHAPTER SEVEN. Pictures of Tragedy?
Jocelyn Penny Small
What does it mean to illustrate text? Must the pictures physically accompany the text? Do the pictures, whether they are together with or apart from the text, have to agree with the story? What does such agreement entail? Do pictures agree, if they add details not in the story? Conversely, what about if they omit certain details? Are they still illustrating the text if they contain elements that contradict what the text says? What role does literacy play? Can an illiterate artist illustrate a text? What about the nature of the tools available? Does it matter that for most of antiquity the dominant form for long texts was a roll and not a codex? If texts are used to understand pictures, can pictures be used to reconstruct texts? Does the relationship between text and picture change over time? These are basic questions, some of which have been considered from the beginning of modern art history, others of which have seldom been treated. Yet all are necessary for understanding how pictures and text work together and apart in classical antiquity. Of the questions just asked it is strange that one of them is rarely posed. With the exception of a handful of scrappy, incomplete literary papyri and a similar handful of fragmentary technical treatises, no illustrations from antiquity are joined physically to any text. Even those scrappy, incomplete papyri are relatively late, since the earliest ... log in or subscribe to read full text
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