ON THE USE OF POPULAR ICONOGRAPHIC TYPES OF DEITIES IN ROMAN SCULPTURE FROM BULGARIA
Keywords:votive reliefs, Roman art, Roman sculpture, Roman Thrace
The present article addresses the copying of the familiar iconographic types of deities on votive reliefs dating back to Roman period, discovered on the territory of present-day Bulgaria. The discussed reliefs share a common feature – namely, the combination of the iconographic scheme of a dynamic, hunting Diana, depicted in mid-action, with the static iconographic types of the other deities like Apollo and Dionysus. On another mentioned relief several deities are depicted: Silvanus is rendered in a relaxed pose, Diana is hunting and the Three Nymphs are dancing.
Those were the iconographic types which were included in the standard repertoire of the sculptors and, at the same time, which were immediately recognizable for the provincial society in Roman Thrace. In this sense, their mass use could raise the question: Could it be that in these instances the mentioned deity iconographies were so widespread and familiar because they had become “patterns”? “Patterns” that are used whenever needed, in various combinations, without being necessarily included in uniform compositions or in particular interrelations. Rather, the emphasis was on the religious connection in the cults of the deities as well as on the recognizability of the deities that were central to the particular rites wherein these reliefs were used.