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Not surprisingly, therefore, while numerous Greek sculptors (like Phidias, Kresilas, Myron, Polykleitos, Callimachus, Skopas, Lysippos, Praxiteles, and Leochares, Phyromachos) and painters (like Apollodorus, Zeuxis of Heraclea, Agatharchos, Parrhasius, Apelles of Kos, Antiphilus, Euphranor of Corinth) were accorded great respect throughout the Hellenistic world, most Roman artists were regarded as no more than skilled tradesmen and have remained anonymous.

Of course it is wrong to say that Roman art was devoid of innovation: its urban architecture was ground-breaking, as was its landscape painting and portrait busts.

Even then, the absence of an independent cultural tradition of its own meant that most ancient art of Rome imitated Greek works.

Rome was unique among the powers of the ancient world in developing only a limited artistic language of its own.

Portraits, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional, were typically detailed and unidealized, although later during the age of Hellenistic-Roman art (c.27 BCE - 200 CE), the Romans became aware of the propaganda value of busts and statuary, and sought to convey political messages through poses and accessories.

The same PR value was accorded to relief sculpture (see, for instance, the Column of Marcus Aurelius), and to history painting (see, Triumphal Paintings, below).

The Romans didn't invent the arch - it was known but not much used in Greek architecture - but they were the first to master the use of multiple arches, or vaults.

However, the arts were still not a priority for Roman leaders who were more concerned about survival and military affairs.

It wasn't until about 200 BCE after it won the first Punic War against Hannibal and the Carthaginians, that Rome felt secure enough to develop its culture.

Some Classical scholars have pointed to the pragmatic Roman temperament; others, to the overriding Roman need for territorial security against the waves of marauding tribes from eastern and central Europe and the consequent low priority accorded to art and culture.

To which we might add that - judging by the narrowness of Celtic art (c.500 BCE - 100 CE) - Roman artists weren't doing too badly.