Stele of Hammurabi

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Transcript Stele of Hammurabi

The Authorization of Power
How do each of these works of art authorize power?
Another way to think about these works of art is to think of them as
propaganda—they are making an argument on behalf of an
individual or a group of individuals.
Ask yourself:
What is the argument?
How is this argument effectively communicated?
On whose behalf is the argument made?
Otto I Presenting
Magdeburg Cathedral to
Christ from Magdeburg
•For the decoration of the
Magdeburg Cathedral, Otto the
Great had a group of ivory plaques
made in Milan.
•They were all once part of the
same object - either an
antependium, a bishop's throne, or
a pulpit - that Otto donated for the
newly built cathedral.
•It is likely that the occasion of the
donation was the raising of
Magdeburg to an archbishopric in
•They are wonderful to look at,
because they are intended to
instruct, report, and remind the
viewer of key events or lessons
from the New Testament.
•These ivories are also used by
Otto the Great as a way to
authorize his power as Christ’s
secular representative.
Jacques-Louis David
Napoleon Crossing
the Saint Bernard
oil on canvas
How did Napoleon actually
cross the Alps?
Whose names are “carved” in
the rock at Napoleon’s feet?
…Charlemagne, Hannibal,
Napoleon—links Napoleon to
other great
generals/warriors…Napoleon is
not authorized by God but by
being “like” other god-like
Stele of Hammurabi
c. 1792-1750
Stele of Hammurabi
c. 1792-1750
The two men at the top of the stele are
Hammurabi and Shamash (the sun god and
god of justice).
Hammurabi created the most important set of
legal codes from the Ancient Near East.
These legal codes predate the biblical Ten
Commandments and may be the source of
these laws.
This image on the stele argues powerfully
that Hammurabi’s code was given directly to
him by god—by Shamash. Notice the rays of
light which emanate from Shamash’s
shoulders. He is seated on a throne which is
“seated” at the top of a mountain.
Notice too that Hammurabi is almost as large
as Shamash; Hammurabi addresses
Shamash directly. The idea represented here
is that the laws are somehow immutable and
divine--the laws are given to man by god.
Stele of Hammurabi
c. 1792-1750
This stele is intended to ensure the
uniform treatment of people
throughout the kingdom. Below the
image of Shamash and
Hammurabi there is a tremendous
amount of writing in cuneiform.
This text has three parts: the first
enacts the king’s investiture—his
right to rule; the second section of
the text is an ode to the king’s
glory (Hammurabi is the best and
most powerful of all kings); the
third part is the most significant to
The third section records three hundred specific laws that govern Babylonia. These laws
were written in cuneiform in an accessible language and were meant to be easily
understood by the common man. The language is very direct; forbidden actions and the
requisite punishment are recorded. Significantly, the laws are uniform and apply to all
people regardless of wealth, class, or gender. The king’s role is to act as an intermediary
between his citizens and the gods.
Harold swears an oath.
The Bayeux Tapestry
Romanesque Period 1050-1150
Norman Conquest of Anglo-Saxon Britain: 1066
Norman means from Normandy, France (north west coast)
1066 Battle of Hastings
Duke William II of Normandy (1035-1087; died at age 52 years)
BBC Bayeux Tapestry
Ambrogio Lorenzetti
View of the frescoes
Sala dei Nove, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena
Ambrogio Lorenzetti
Allegory of the Good Government
Palazzo Pubblico, Siena
• Commune of Siena (with orb and
specter)—the largest figure
• Faith, Hope and Charity are above his
• Virtues flank the Commune of Siena
• Justice is to the Commune’s far left—
Wisdom floats above her, on either side
Commutative Justice and Distributive
• Concordia (seated) presides over the 24
members of the great Council of the
Siena Republic
Ambrogio Lorenzetti's most revolutionary achievement - one of the most remarkable accomplishments of the
Renaissance - is the fresco series that lines three walls of the room in the Palazzo Pubblico where Siena's chief
magistrates, the Nine, held their meetings (Sala dei Nove). These frescoes offer an argument about what
constitutes good government. The frescoes make a further argument about why good government matters….
Jacques-Louis David
The Death of Marat 1793
oil on canvas, approx 5’ x 4’
A supreme example of both
Neoclassicism as well as
history painting…Why?
Jean-Paul Marat was a radical
pamphleteer (a writer of incendiary
pamphlets) for the Jacobians (the
egalitarian democrats who presided
over the reign of terror “fter/during
the French Revolution—remember
He was murdered by Charlotte
With a knife.
In his bath.
This work constructs Marat as an
iconic figure of the French
Revolution: he is at once like a
classical god and a religious martyr.
Hatshepsut as Sphinx, Dynasty 18, c. 1473-1458 BCE
Ashurnasirpal II Killing Lions
Ara Pacis--the Altar of Augustan Peace, Rome 13-9 BCE marble
The Ara Pacis commemorates Augustus’s triumphal return to Rome after establishing
Roman rule in Gaul (present day France and Belgium). This work is a carefully
articulated expression of political propaganda: it is meant to celebrate Augustus as both
a warrior and peacemaker.
Imperial Procession, detail of a relief on the south side of the Ara Pacis
The depiction of children in an official relief was new to the Augustan period and reflects Augustan’s
desire to promote family life. Roman Realism: a portrait of the imperial family 1. Tiberius (the next
emperor after Augustus, Livia’s eldest son) 2. Antonia (niece of Augustus) 3. Drusus (Livia’s
younger son, married to Antonia) 4. Germanicus 5. Gnaeus 6. Domitia
Allegory of Peace, relief on the east side of the Ara Pacis
The mother Earth (Tellus Mater) nurtures the Roman People; on either side: the land wind (left):
swan, jug of fresh water, and the vegetation symbolizes fertility of Roman farms and the sea wind
(right): dominance over the Mediterranean .
Human-Headed Winged Lion
Lamassu (plural: lamassus)
This sculpture has the bearded
head of a man, the powerful body
of a lion or bull, the wings of an
eagle, and the horned headdress
of a god.
A pair of these sculptures would
flank the entry to the throne room.
What is a lamassu?
Why is a lamassu large—usually
twice a man’s height?
What is the purpose of the
Human-Headed Winged Lion
Lamassu (plural: lamassus)
The entire purpose of a
lamassu is to inspire civic
pride and to inspire fear.
A lamassu is a guardianprotector of an Assyrian
palace or throne room.
Usually a lamassu is twice a
man’s height to symbolize the
strength of the ruler the
lamassu defends.
Why does the lamassu have
five legs?
Hint: How is the viewer
meant to interact with this