1. One of the aspects I like about this article is that the author posits that female viewership is neither neutral nor passive. How does this opinion challenge the theoretical “dominion” of the male gaze?
2. Rose’s thesis is that the representations of mistresses and slaves that she discusses are both a reflection of a late antique social reality as well as a construction of ideal behavior. Does she succeed in her “mission” and does the contemporary literary evidence that she cites support her findings?
3. Who was the intended audience of the Projecta casket? How does that impact its meaning in your opinion? Do you feel that Projecta was acting as her own agent in fashioning herself as a “beautiful and seductive woman?”
4. What happens when Venus and Early Christianity collide?
5. How are slaves depicted on the Projecta and Sevso caskets? In the mosaics from Carthage? The interplay of the objects in these images, such as mirrors and jewels, affects not only how we read the mistresses in these works, but also the slaves who accompany them. What does the nudity of the bathing mistress suggest about the status of the slaves nearby?
6. In delineating the multivalence of these images, Rose discusses the generic nature of late antique portraits and their function in conveying virtues or social values. Discuss how these images of mistresses and their servants embody this “culture of display.”
7. What was the reality of a slave’s existence during this period? How much do these images really have to do with the mistresses? Isn’t it all about the master and his status?
8. How did women’s status change in the 4th century? Do you think this had an impact on the art under consideration?
9. “By depicting the women adorning themselves, the images permanently commemorate them in the act of making themselves beautiful for the view of others…….women’s bodies themselves are like toilet articles, ultimately for possession and pleasure.” Discuss.
10. Why were women only depicted in the guise of vanity and not in the act of spinning wool?
11. Do you think these images fostered a sense of loyalty among the slaves depicted therein? Are we, in the end, taking about female agency in this group of works?