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Epilogue

There is always a lot of talk about the extent to which Roman art - and, by implication, the art of the Roman empire - is derivative: the extent, that is to say, of its derivation from, and imitation of, Greece and Etruria, a theme that has been mentioned more than once in this book. These discussions seem, quite often, to miss the point. Every art is, in some degree, derivative; no art is entirely, ioo per cent, original. The whole doctrine of 'originality' has a somewhat Victorian ring, and need not be reinvoked nowadays. Nevertheless, there does remain a question about Roman art, and the art of the Roman empire: is it so completely unoriginal that no such thing exists?