Roman writing of the late Republic and early Empire, especially historiography, is filled with exempla, stories of the past meant to serve as models for contemporary and future behavior. This period also witnessed the rise of an encyclopedic mode of composition among Latin authors, which purported to collect and organize the totality of knowledge in a given field. The following essay proposes that exemplarity and encyclopedism were not just literary devices, but deep organizational principles throughout Roman culture. It seeks to show how they were operative in the visual arts in the first century BCE, focusing especially on a frieze depicting the baking process on the tomb of Marcus Vergilius Eurysaces in Rome. By approaching a monument like the frieze of Eurysaces through such principles we may better articulate both visual and thematic relationships across a variety of genres within the broader Roman image world.

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