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Elizabeth Shaw on 'Useless Beauty: Luxury and Rome'

  • RD Milns Antiquities Museum, Level 2, Michie Building, Univsersity of Queensland University Drive Saint Lucia, QLD, 4067 Australia (map)

oin our expert panel for an intimate evening of ancient and modern luxury as we discuss the long history of jewellery as a luxury item.

You will be personally greeted by Antiquities Museum staff and receive a drink on arrival, before being introduced to one of our panelists to explore Useless Beauty: Luxury and Rome from their unique perspective.

The panel discussion commences at 6:45pm and after it you will have an opportunity to continue to explore the treasures of the Antiquities Museum.

This exclusive event is not to be missed.

About the Panelists:

- Ms Elizabeth Shaw is a Senior Lecturer in Jewellery and Small Objects at the Queensland College of Art. She is an experienced silversmith whose work investigates aspects of societal and cultural values and the meanings associated with objects of material culture.

- Dr Janette McWilliam is the Director/Curator of the Antiquities Museum and studies Greek and Roman social and cultural history.

- Dr Shushma Malik is a Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at UQ and an expert in Rome's tyrannical rulers, including the decadent Emperor Nero.

About Useless Beauty:

Luxuria (extravagance, luxury, excess) was a problematic concept for the Romans: it undermined traditional ancestral customs. Proper Roman behaviour was supposed to be dictated, not by foreign imports and extravagant lifestyles, but by one's virtus (moral excellence), gravitas (seriousness conveying dignity), continentia (self-control) and frugalitas (frugality). From the third century BC, the Romans attemtpted to legislate against its corrupting effects, often in vain.

Useless Beauty examines a stunning range of artefacts including Roman jewellery, perfume vases, and table wares, in conjunction with contemporary comment from Roman moralists and poets. It explores how and why the desire for luxury goods, and love of the foreign and exotic, quickly became a part of Roman elite culture.

"What will a woman do with no fear for safeguard, when there is Rome to teach its luxury?"

Propertius, Elegies, 3.12