LUXURIA

Luxury. There is not and has never been a person on this planet that would turn down a life of prosperity. But what is luxury? To answer that question, imagine this: a bed of roses; servants to satisfy your every need; and beautiful things that you don’t need but have because you can. That, my friend, is luxury. In ancient Rome, there was a surpassing amount of luxury. However, it was only accessible to a certain group of people: the patricians. Patricians were the (usually) rich aristocrats and noblemen of the Roman Empire. To them, luxury was architecture, food, entertainment, clothing, and art. The items in my exhibit all connect to this theme in one way or another. First, the jewellery is luxurious (bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings, brooches, etc.) because much of it contains gold (a precious metal), and was used to adorn the high-class Roman body. The amphoriskos (jar) is luxurious since it was used for perfume and toiletries, which only the rich would be concerned with since the lower class could not afford to add more things to their hygiene regime. This also applies to the cosmetic tube – its contents were imported from different parts of the world and sold to wealthy women. Finally, the glass bowl connects to luxury because it was used to serve the meals of the wealthy, which were brought to the table by their servants. Luxury is important because it represents a large part of life for the Romans; it was what the rich used daily and what the poor aspired to have.  

This amphoriskos is a glass jar. It was used to hold perfumes and other toiletries used by rich women. Said perfumes were often applied heavily to mask the strong scent of cosmetics. They were luxurious because of their price and the fact that the lower class did not use it.
The serpent motif was very popular during the Hellenistic period. Women wore jewellery to enhance their appearances and to show off their wealth. This item is luxurious because it is made of a precious metal and only worn by the rich.
This glass bowl was used to serve meals. Slaves, who were only owned by the rich, would bring food on fine dishes to the dining table for their wealthy masters to eat. Only they could afford to have the luxuries of owning slaves and expensive plates.
This earring is made of gold with onyx and pearl – all materials that are associated with wealth. This is because owning objects made of such materials is a luxury only afforded by the rich population of the Roman Empire. It was used to exemplify wealth and luxury.
These parting gifts were found in a coffin of a Roman legionnaire. The brooch bares an image of the goddess Athena with a shield. The items were made of gold, onyx, garnet, and pearl, which are luxurious materials afforded by the rich.
This chain medallion is made of gold with a portrait of an unknown person. It is connected to luxury since it is made of a precious metal and it presumably contains a portrait of someone important. Since it is gold, it could only be afforded by the rich.
This necklace was used to show off the wealth of the wearer, making it a luxury as not everyone could afford something like it. Also, not everyone could afford to give up money to hang on their neck for appearance.
This cosmetic tube made of glass contained accessories to enhance the appearance of Roman women. These women were obviously rich since only they could afford luxuries such as this. Its contents were imported from around the world as luxuries.
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