Early Christian Art and Pagan Art

Early Christian Art and Pagan Art

Special note: religion can be a sensitive issue; please be tactful and courteous to your fellow students.

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What does the style and function of Early Christian art tell us about its cultural context? How does it compare to pagan art and culture of Greco-Roman society?

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To explore these issues, compare the Greek Archaic Calf Bearer to Christ as Good Shepherd catacomb painting. How are they similar and how are they different in terms of style, treatment of subject matter and symbolism, and function? What did early Christian artists borrow from pagan art and architecture? And, if they saw themselves as having a completely different religion, why would their art look at all like pagan art?

You are welcome to do outside research on this one to add to the discussion as it progresses, so be sure and provide links or citations of your sources when necessary.

NOTE: If, as the discussion develops, you want to choose a different pair of works, like a temple vs a basilica church, please do so and include images for the class and also be sure that they predate 500 CE.

As always, please write your composition in your own words.

calf bearer

Calf Bearer

Christ as good shepherd

Christ as Good Shepherd, catacomb painting, Rome.