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    Assuming the purple: the rehabilitation of ancient Rome in Victorian culture, 1837-1901

    Broughall, Quentin J. (2015) Assuming the purple: the rehabilitation of ancient Rome in Victorian culture, 1837-1901. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    This thesis argues that ancient Rome was rehabilitated in English culture during the mid-Victorian period, following a period of effective displacement that began during the late eighteenth century. Devalued through its appropriation by revolutionary polities on both sides of the Atlantic, Rome’s profile in England was eclipsed by the contemporary popularity of Hellenism as a classical model. Yet, as a result of the coalescence of a diverse set of internal and external factors from around 1850 to 1870, Roman antiquity regained credibility and status as a central parallel for Victorian society and empire for the rest of the century. Although founded upon concepts of reform and progress, as well as defined by its industrial and technological capabilities, mid-to-late-Victorian society became incongruously in thrall to the Roman past for guidance and support at a time of unprecedented commercial development, domestic security and overseas colonial expansion. Presenting a unique episode in the classical framing of the English national experience, this period therefore demands evaluation of the role played by classical Rome in contemporary constructions of domestic and imperial identity. Taking a culture-wide, integrative approach, this thesis explores the chronological trajectory of the reception of Rome during the Victorian era. Surveying the interplay of domestic and external causes behind the Roman revival, it seeks to achieve three fundamental ends: - To trace the re-emergence of Rome as a comparative model at this time. - To identify and analyse the matrix of causes behind Rome’s restoration. - To evaluate the impact of Rome’s revival on Victorian society and empire. Accordingly, the thesis shows how the shifting dynamics of Victorian responses to Rome were intimately bound to contemporary trends and events. The first chapter, ‘Eclipse’, sets Rome’s nineteenth-century reception in a broad historical context, before investigating the recession suffered by its profile as a result of the events of the revolutionary age. The second and third chapters, ‘Rehabilitation I’ and ‘Rehabilitation II’, examine respectively the set of internal and external factors that motivated Rome’s renewal as a cultural model. The final chapter, ‘Impact’, assesses the influence that this resurgence exercised across the spectrum of mid-to-late Victorian culture. Thus, through a diachronic and interdisciplinary approach, the thesis portrays the diverse ways in which Victorians assumed the purple of ancient Rome.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: purple; rehabilitation; ancient Rome; Victorian culture, 1837-1901;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > Ancient Classics
    Item ID: 6332
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2015 15:51

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