Altera Roma: Art and Empire from Mérida to Mexico


Series: Monographs 83
ISBN: 978-1-938770-01-2
Publication Date: Jun 2016
Price: Pb $75, eBook $30
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John M. D. Pohl and Claire L. Lyons

“As a whole, this volume is an invaluable contribution to the study of the cultural processes following the first encounters between Europeans and indigenous Americans. It captures the complexities characterizing the emergence of the early modern Atlantic world and should thus be of interest to scholars from a range of disciplines.”
Ray Hernández-Durán, Hispanic American Historical Review, 2018

Altera Roma explores the confrontation of two cultures—European and Amerindian—and two empires—Spanish and Aztec. In an age of exploration and conquest, Spanish soldiers, missionaries, and merchants brought an array of cultural preconceptions. Their encounter with Aztec civilization coincided with Europe’s rediscovery of classical antiquity, and Tenochtitlán came to be regarded a “second Rome,” altera Roma. Iberia’s past as the Roman province of Hispania served to both guide and critique the Spanish overseas mission. 

The dialogue that emerged between the Old World and the New World shaped a dual heritage into the unique culture of Nueva España. In this volume, 10 eminent historians and archaeologists examine the analogies between empires widely separated in time and place, and consider how monumental art and architecture created “theater states,” a strategy that links ancient Rome, Hapsburg Spain, preconquest Mexico, and other imperial regimes.

Table of Contents
  • Introduction by John M. D. Pohl and Claire L. Lyons
  • Ch. 1: Rome, Tenochtitlan, and Beyond: Comparing Empires across Space and Time by Walter Scheidel
  • Ch. 2: The Visualization of Imperial Dominance: Hobbes’s Leviathan, the Mexica Templo Mayor, and the Materialization of Authority by Eulogio Guzmán
  • Ch. 3: Monuments of Empire in Roman Spain and Beyond: Augusta Emerita (Mérida), the “Spanish Rome” by Jonathan Edmonson
  • Ch. 4: Aztec Art in Provincial Places: Water Concerns, Monumental Sculptures, and Imperial Expansion by Emily Umberger
  • Ch. 5: Dramatic Performance and the Theater of the State: The Cults of the Divus Triumphator, Parthenope, and Quetzalcoatl by John M. D. Pohl
  • Ch. 6: Aztec and Roman Gods in Sixteenth-Century Mexico: Strategic Uses of Classical Learning in Sahagún’s Historia General by Andrew Laird
  • Ch. 7: The Mexica Pantheon in Light of Graeco-Roman Polytheism: Uses, Abuses, and Proposals by Guilhem Olivier
  • Ch. 8: Toward a New World’s Laocoön: Thoughts on Seeing Aztec Sculpture through Spanish Eyes by Thomas B. F. Cummins
  • Ch. 9: Death in the Hands of Strangers: Aztec Human Sacrifice in the Western Imagination by Cecelia F. Klein
  • Ch. 10: Alia Herculanea: Pre-Hispanic Sites and Antiquities in Late Bourbon New Spain by Leonardo López Lújan