Enchanted Objects in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Milton’s Comus

“charm’d drinkes and amorous potions”

Romeo and Juliet and Comus make ubiquitous reference to potions, and inherently magical objects, both imprisoning, soporific, poisonous, and catalytic. Such ambivalent objects append both play and masque in juxtaposing narrative modes, revealing other tensions. They represent what Pollard calls a “hybrid genre intrinsically divided between the domain of tragedy (death) and that of comedy (erotic desire)” (95). Contextualised by Early Modern pharmacy, the narcotic drink, with its ambiguous identity of medicine and poison, reflects on the play’s intentionally hybridised status, as in the 1597 quarto title: “An Excellent Conceited Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet” (Shakespeare 395) . While promises of ease, gratification, and revitalisation link sleeping potions intrinsically with comedy, an inherent threat of fatality evokes tragedy too. Similarly, Comus’ sticky chair: in holding the chaste, yet sexually mature Alice Egerton in place, it allows the reestablishment of the masque court, when the nymph Sabrina employs her “[…] office best / to help insnared chastity […]” (Milton lines 908-9). However, this popular masque convention is destabilised by the inability of any but a female medicinal ‘matron’, not the traditional monarchic or paternal figure, to release the Lady from her “gumms of glutenous heat” (918). The poison of tragedy or antimasque, catalysed by enchanted objects, in its own paradoxical way enhances the presence of the medicinal and comedic, both often categorically female.

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 The dichotomy expressed by both poison and cure roots itself in another inherently ‘enchanted’ object of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: theletter. Letter writing, and language become objects of intense debate. While Romeo views them as news givers and love carriers: “I will omit no opportunity / That may convey my greetings, love, to thee” (3.5.49-50), Benvolio and Mercutio discuss that “Any man that can write can answer a letter / […] how he dares being dared” (2.3.9-10). An element of duplicity exudes itself from the text from the moment the debates begin: when physically expressing feelings, news, or challenges in writing, there is always the danger of deception.

For the lovers, and indeed those writing, letters become a “signifying chain […] proceed[ing] with blind automatism to cross and corrupt the paths of subjects at random.” Though Lehmann guarantees that “the letter always arrives at its destination” (204), for every mistake along its journey it “leaves a symbolic debt in its wake which must be paid.” (204). In the case of Romeo and Juliet, the consequence of missed, and failed signifiers, is suicide. However, I would argue that Lehmann’s criticism misses a vital strand of meaning. Romeo and Juliet, portrayed by Shakespeare as physical vessels of language, themselves become enchanted objects, poetical letters, interpolated and coerced into doing things “by th’ book” (1.4.124). Not only does Lady Capulet express Juliet’s future husband as “delight writ there with beauty’s pen […] this precious book of love, this unbound lover” (1.3.84-9), needing only Juliet’s dynastic lineage as a cover “to beautify him” (1.3.90), but Romeo suggests that his “love goes toward love as schoolboys from their books” (2.1.202). Framed as volumes of ancient knowledge, bound by dynastic marriage, or lineage, Romeo and Juliet become mere by-products of their forefathers.

Such assertion calls to mind the Early-modern preoccupation with parody, and the re-appropriation of texts in the pastiche world of early-modern theatre. Romeo and Juliet, parodies of their forbearing paternal identities: Capulet and Montague, are also parodies of Shakespeare’s original inspiration, Brooke’s 1562 narrative poem, The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet. This linguistic environment, in which the only supposed mode of articulaction is “speech in a dead language” (Lehmann 194), marks the point where some critics place early-modern authors as “doomed to circulate like a dead letter postdating its own ideological demise”, (Lehmann 194), citing their emergence prior to the birth of the ‘Author’ under eighteenth-century trademarks of individualism, and copyright. Such frank dismissal of Shakespeare’s work fails to realise the intricate play of linguistics and consent in the characters of Romeo and Juliet. As enchanted objects, written upon the page and physically acted out, they contain the liquid and humoral fluctuations of non-consensual familial interpolation, physicalising the anxiety of being a mere blank parody of their Petrachan source, both textually speaking, and within the world of the play: “Romeo: Dry sorrow drinks our blood. Adieu, adieu.” (3.5.59), and, “Juliet: Hood my unmanned blood, bating in my cheeks, / with thy black mantle, till strange love grows bold” (3.2. 14-5). Not only does ‘blood’ allude to the dangerous humoral imbalance of sexual passion and desire, but also to the obsessive, and anxiety provoking allusion to the dynastic ancestries that swamp the play.

 The idea of consent throws up issues that also surround Milton’s Comus, and especially the attempted rape of his Lady. In a bold figuration of desire, Comus ensnares Alice Egerton in his lair, and attempts to force and seduce her into drinking from his cup:

“And first behold this cordial Julep here

That flames, and dances in his crystal bounds […]

Is of such power to stir up joy as this,

To life so friendly, or so cool to thirst.” (670-6)

 She resists, naming “the freedom of [her] minde” and pure, virgin chastity as her sustaining sources (663). Imbued with the historical weight of Comus’ mother, Circe, the Cup becomes the oxymoronic figuration of abnormal sexual desire, rape, and even bestiality:

“Soon as the Potion works, their human count’nance,

Th’ express resemblance of the gods, is chang’d

Into som brutish form […]

And they, so perfect is their misery, […]

But boast themselves more comely then before” (63-78)

Comus’ troupe, sordid Freudian nightmares infused with latent sexuality, unwillingly become carbon copies of himself, lacking only the magical quality of his phallic staff, becoming merely the image of uncivilised fiends: “headed like sundry sorts of wilde Beasts, […] with Torches in their hands.” (144).

Kerrigan reads a distinctly Freudian aura in the Lady’s resistance to Comus’s raping cup, viewing it as a Foucauldian case in which sense “exude[s] its own adversary, and ‘no’ means ‘yes’” (Foucault 43). This interpretation precedes the explanation of why the Lady remains glued to the throne by the “gumms of glutenous heat” even after her brothers confront Comus (917). It is “because her virtue is bound to a repressed wish for sex.” (Kerrigan qtd. Stockton 233) However, Stockton debunks this victim blaming interpretation, suggesting, “Taking an intoxicating drink from the cup is not a symbol for sexual compliance, nor is it the metaphorical end of this romance seduction” (233). Neither does it preface sex. The innate idea of symbol and metaphor assume a physical sexual intercourse about which the masque can only allegorise, anticipating, but not actually representing sex.

In exploring Comus’ “Crystal Glasse” (66), imbued with historical treasure from Odyssean heights, one cannot fail to come to the potion within it: Comus’s “orient liquor” (66). This enchanted vessel encompasses an even more interesting and nuanced signifier. Derrida suggested that the ambiguous nature of narcotics offers a direct interplay with status of language and literature, and has done for centuries. “In attacking poetry in The Republic, Plato refers to literature as a Pharmakon, an amalgamation of poison and remedy. Aristotle used a similar vocabulary in arguing that plays held medicinal value, inducing a katharsis of the emotions they elicited.” (Derrida qtd. Pollard 96) This debate was echoed in early modern Engalnd, where play-goers drew on pharmaceuticals to describe the effects of theatre, Censure demanded the public to ruminate upon drama as a “charmed drinke, & amorous potion” (Munday 101), or even “Soule-devouring poison” (Prynne 38). In turn, those supporting the theatre described playwrights as “good Phisitions” (Lodge 5).

 Romeo and Juliet offers Shakespeare’s most complete and obvious explorations of potion, prescription and medicine. However, “the prescription most discussed and finally sought to resolve the ills of the play-world is posion, underscored by the fourteen times that the word is used in the play – the hightest incidence in all of Shakespeare’s drama.” (Bergeron 360) In professing either metaphor and allegory, or in direct reference to the two forms of narcotic drink that catalyse the play’s dénouement, the text formulates its identity within the realms of the medicinal, or deadly.

Friar Lawrence provides Juliet with a sleeping potion in Act 4, which she cautiously observes, before taking: “What if it be a poison which the Friar / Subtly hath ministered to have me dead” (4.3.23-4). Juliet suspends the action, wondering if both the ministry of the Church, and indeed her herbal cure might in fact turn out to be a poison. Though she means this literally, it also takes on a more allegorical significance, when viewing the play as a whole.

The sleeping potion and, by association, the imaginative realm of sleep and dreams “temporarily suspend the play’s identity, holding out the possibility of a return to comedy by offering the lovers the means to escape a tragic ending” (Pollard 96). Nonetheless, its apotropaic remedial potential is underscored by the Early-modern observation of such an enchanted object within the tradition that “Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy” (Paracelus qtd. Pollard 98)”. Ultimately, it is this dichotomy, and the dosage of the sleeping potion that poisons the action of the play, leading to Romeo’s own desperate search for an actual poison, juxtaposing and disguising it as a “cordial, and not poison” (5.2.85), viewing himself as sick in “bitter conduct, […], unsavoury guide, / Thou desperate pilot” (5.3.116-7). Thus the potion-poison dichotomy speaks to the sick-health paradox explored by Beregon: “the lovers are willing to distort meaning, to designate that which kills them as a balm for their weary souls” (362). Just as Juliet renames and reshapes the nominal influence of a rose in Act 1, both she and Romeo seek to re-assign genial qualities to that which eventually identifies itself as a toxin.

 In blank terms, the enchanted vessel, containing either toxin or remedy is also applied to the early-modern body, especially when seen through the lens of Hippocratic discourses of humoral temperance. Just as Romeo and Juliet become enchanted vessels of anxiety, Alice Egerton becomes a humorally dependent object of desire, and chaste virtue. Her “gumms of glutenous heat” (918), denoting her leaky “corporal rind” (664), and uncontrolled excess of humoral fluids, link her to the Early Modern illness found in sexually mature, yet inactive women: greensickness, or, “Irregularity of menstruation and certain other uterine troubles, [denoting] chlorosis, and general debility” (“Greensickness”). Juliet is also accused of greensickness, when Capulet mistakes her lovesickness for Romeo: “out you greensickness carrion” (3.5.155), and again, when Romeo first beholds her on the balcony. He charges her to find a cure in emphatic caesura: “Her vestal livery is sick and green, / And none but fools do wear it. Cast it off” (2.1.51-2).

 I would argue that Juliet’s ‘greensickness’ is cured by her chaste appeal to marriage, and though she seeks to defy social convention by marrying one to whom she is not promised, she still conforms to the early modern ideal of wifely devotion and chaste marriage: “The good vvife is in feare, least her husband should go from her.” (Abbot 99). Alice Egerton, on the other hand, seeks to remain virginal and unmarried, and is only relieved of the ‘greensickness’ by the matronly medicine of Sabrina. However, in order to prove her virtue, she must be tested, an insignia that frames Milton’s masque, culminating in her imprisonment in Comus’ sticky chair:

“Nay Lady sit; if I but wave this wand,

Your nerves are all chain’d up in Alabaster,

And you a statue; or as Daphne was,

Rootbound, that fled Apollo.” (659-662)

Comus introduces into the masque’s mythological world a violent allegorical reading. Volatile, warm and female godly bodies are replaced by the rigid, stone like Daphne. Throughout the text, Milton has stressed the power of Comus’ Cup and Wand, but these verbal patterns look forward to the more, dreadful possibilities- an immobilisation in stone, or more effectively a rape: in this case, culminating in the test of Comus’ sticky chair.

Milton often referred to this image of the tested or tempted Christian, especially in his 1644 Aeropagitica, suggesting: “Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather: that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary” (12). Ultimately, Comus’ antimasque chair allows such tribulation, revealing the chastity of its occupant, and restoring the masque scene: “’Tis chastity, my brother, chastity. / She that has that is clad in complete steel,” (406-7). As Shullenberger implies, “The Mask stages a rite of passage for its Lady from childhood into womanhood. Her fixture in the chair, subject to Comus’s temptation and threat, makes sense as an element typical of rituals of initiation” (184)

 However, the sticky chair also provides a subversive element to Milton’s masque. Legislatures of male chastity, the Egerton brothers head off the libertine, Rochester-esque Comus, but Egerton needs a woman’s touch to release her from her chair, completing her initiation. Comus’ enchanted chair thus divides Milton’s masque in two, both sections with a presiding supernatural figure that involves themselves with the sticky chair. Shullenberger suggests that Comus “plays the role assigned the figure of the ‘mock bridegroom’ […] presid[ing] over the first phase of her trial” (184). According to Richards, the Bemba of Zambia also practice the tradition, where “the mock bridegroom’s role involves sexual teasing and threats to the initiate” (122). She is given instruction concerning her vulnerabilities when in contact with male sexual potency, in this case, Comus’ staff, cup and chair. Conversely, governing the second part of the trial, is Sabrina, a “tutelary godmother, to mediate the generative mysteries of womanhood to the Lady, and to mobilize her for the social exercise of those mysteries” (Shullenberger 184). Sabrina personifies a remedial maternal influence. The restorative remedy to Milton’s antimasque of greensickness, is decidedly female.

 The structural trope of masque and antimasque brings to mind the Jacobean court masques of Ben Jonson, who in the preface to his 1631 masque, Chloridia implies, “Upon this hinge, the whole Invention moov’d” (2). Jonson describes the abrupt volta in the masque, transforming the scene and announcing the masquers. With no concrete masquers in Comus, its “hinge” remains elusive. I posit that its identity is revealed by Wilkenfeld when he says, “I believe that the “hinge” in Comus is neither a myth nor an act, but an emblem: the concrete, visual, dramatically viable emblem of the Lady paralyzed in the seat of Comus” (170-1). As with Romeo and Juliet, the innate identity of the text is at once revealed and complicated by its enchanted objects.

Will Stockton opens The Seduction of Milton’s Lady, with the assertion, “I will argue that […] Milton’s masque distance[s] sex from the genitals, suffusing all bodily appetites with sexual and moral significance” (238). In blank terms, Stockton refuses to acknowledge any direct reference to genitalia and its meaning for sexuality in Milton’s masque. In my opinion, in refusing to explore such angles, Stockton negates the inherent power of both Comus’ Cup and Wand, which White argues are themselves phallic and vaginal metaphors that recreate Northrop Frye’s distinction between “the demonic world” and “the analogy of innocence” (22). For White, they remain “at once [Comus’s] inheritance, his trademark, the source of his power; and, as the Attendant Spirit tells the Brothers, seizing them is the only way to overcome him” (qtd. Stockton 23).

Comus is said to bear Circe’s cup: “The daughter of the Sun? Whose charmed Cup / Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape, / And downward fell into a groveling Swine” (51-54) Milton associated the Odyssean goddess and witch with deceit, bestiality, and the temptation of the flesh: “let Ignorance throw off her humanity, let her have Circe’s cup and betake herself on all fours to the beasts” (Milton Prolusions 7 155). Not only does this bestial, flesh metaphor take hold in the form of the cup, but independent of the wand, the chalice would have suggested the Christian Eucharist, the sacrament through which man is reconciled to God. The wand is connected with healing and also with the serpent, like Mercury’s caduceus, the symbol of medical professionals.

 Opposing this view of the Cup and Staff as visual classical and medicinal archetypes, I would like to argue for their allegorical reference as direct symbols of sexual appetite and indeed human genitalia. Irene Tayler suggests, “Comus’s wand is a sign of his phallic power; […] an image of perverted sex” (24), a symbol proliferated long before the birth of Christian tradition. They are sex symbols of universal acceptance, “the Lance, or Spear, representing the Male, the Cup, or Vase, the Female, […] they are absolutely in place as forming part of a ritual dealing with the processes of life and reproductive vitality” (Weston 75). On the most basic level, both the Cup, and Wand imply Comus’ use of sexuality to enthral, charm and seduce. In a deeper strand of meaning, they adhere to his ability to manipulate the reproductive forces of life itself.

 The enchanted imagery of objects, impregnated with phallic and vaginal metaphor also permeate Shakespeare’s text. They surface in the bawdy references of Mercutio and the Nurse, “Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid / Her chariot is an empty hazlenut” (1.4.64-5), and again in the self-made epithalamion of Juliet: “O, I have bought the mansion of a love, / But not possessed it; and though I am sold, not yet enjoyed” (3.2.26-7). Not only do these references seek a source of feared, yet necessary power in the text, ultimately held by pervasive sexuality, they also coin an identity for their users.

 In exploring the role of enchanted objects and identity in these texts I turn briefly to another work of Shakespeare, Hamlet. In Act 3, Scene 2, Hamlet suggests:

“[…] the purpose of playing, whose

end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as ’twere, the

mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own

image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure” (3.2.17-24).

Emphatic extended metaphor exposes the notion that enchanted objects, like mirrors, reflect the identity, personality and intentions of those who possess them. One of the most obvious examples of this, is Romeo’s vial of poison, of which he tells the apothecary: “I sell thee poison; thou hast sold me none” (5.2.83-4). Gone are the oxymoronic, Petrarchan ideals of love that Romeo’s apostrophe expresses in Act 1: “O heavy lightness, serious vanity” (1.1.174). His character has undergone a shift that reimagines his oxymoronic speech in a physical search for the most lethal cure he can find: poison. As Seward implies, “When all hope, all joy have been drained out of a person, life, like the Apothecary’s shop, becomes nothing more than a repository of worthless objects, a faded and shopworn collection of unwanted merchandise” (29 qtd. Grace). Not only does the setting inform both plot and intention, but the reworked and shifted object, the vial, implicit in the poison-potion dichotomy, makes Romeo’s volta in character ever stronger.

In astute rhetoric, Hamlet’s musings also throw up the use of enchanted objects within the world of the play. It would be unwise to forget that each of the items mentioned also take physical form in staged performance, or within the masque. Not only are they a reflecting medium through which to convey a character’s intention, but they denote a direct performance and relationship with their intended audience. Gramscian theory suggests that “Man is above all else mind, consciousness — that is, he is a product of history, not of nature” (42), and within such ideological and cultural hegemony, objects, too, are woven with cultural signifiers that have an intended socio-political purpose. In an early-modern play world, this cultural significance would have been intensely important. Lacking the elaborate scenery and staging of the later baroque era, early-modern props conform to Stanislavsky’s principle of “central objectives” (104), where a director delegates characters ‘central desires’ that “direct [them] along the right path and restrain [the actors] from false acting” (105), allowing the audience to see a realistic depiction of human nature and environment. Props create, reflect and resituate the world of the play or masque within the central objectives and imaginations of the audience’s own ideological hegemony.

Both Milton and Shakespeare reflect on an early modern world saturated with images of enchanted objects. Not only vesicles of latent power, sexuality and humoral temperance, they contain an entirely human nature that exposes itself throughout the texts. Young lovers become letters that tell of anxious dynastic identity, and virgin daughters appear as chalices, symptomatic of a humoral greensickness that threatens the patriarchal world of drama. In themselves, such structures only serve to paint the literary world, and verse in particular, as a sacred, enchanted object. Milton’s Lady says as much, looking forward to an even greater enchanted text:

“Thou art not fit to hear thy self convinc’d;

[…] dumb things would be mov’d to sympathize,

 And the brute Earth would lend her nerves, and shake,

Till all thy magick structures rear’d so high,

 Were shatter’d into heaps o’re thy false head.” (792-9)

Where Romeo and Juliet hypothesises the dynastic lineage of its form into the hybridised peak of Shakespeare’s later dramas, Comus prophecies a textual object to make the Earth quake. In both meaning and physicality, these texts themselves become enchanted objects, momentarily suspended in their textual moment.

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Works Cited

Abbot, George. An exposition vpon the prophet Ionah, University College, 1600, EEBO, https://eebo.chadwyck.com/search/fulltext?ACTION=ByID&ID=D10000998363580007&SOURCE=var_spell.cfg&DISPLAY=AUTHOR&WARN=N&FILE=../session/1542119168_21762, 11 Sept. 2018.

Bergeron, David M. “Sickness in Romeo and Juliet”. CLA Journal, vol. 20, no. 3, College Language Association, pp. 356-64, 1977.

Foucault, Michel. The History of Homosexuality, vol.1, trans. Robert Hurley, Random House, 1978.

Gillum, Michael. “Yet Once More, ‘Gumms of Glutenous Heat”. Milton Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 1, Wiley, pp.47-51, 2010.

Grace, Dominick. “Romeo and the Apothecary”. Early Theatre, vol.1, pp.27-38, 1998.

Gramsci, Antonio. Prison Notebooks: European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism, Columbia UP, 1992.

“Greensickness”. OED,

Jonson, Ben. Chloridia Rites to Chloris and her nymphs, Thomas Walkley, 1631.

Lehmann, Courtney. “Strictly Shakespeare? Dead Letters, Ghostly Fathers and the Cultural Pathology of Authorship in Baz Lurhmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet”. Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 52, no.2, Folger Shakespeare Library, pp. 189-221, 2001.

Lodge, Thomas. A Defence of Poetry; Music and Stage-Plays, London, 1579.

Milton, John. Aeropagitica; a speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of unlicenc’d printing, to the Parlament of England, London, The British Library,1644.

—. Comus

—. “Prolusions 7”, Epistolarum Familiarium Liber Unus: Quibus Accesserunt, Eiusdem, jam olim in Collegio Adolescentis, Prolusiones Quaedam Oratoriae. Brabazon Aylmer, pp. 150-5, 1674.

Munday, Anthony. A second and third blast of retrait from plaies and Theaters, London, 1580.

Pollard, Tanya. “‘A Thing Like Death’: Sleeping Potions and Poisons in Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra”. Renaissance Drama New Series, vol. 32, U of Chicago P, pp.95-121, 2003.

Prynne, William. Histriomastix: The Player’s Scourge, London, 1633.

Shakespeare, William. The Oxford Shakespeare: Hamlet, Oxford UP, 2008.

—. The Oxford Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Oxford UP, 2008.

Shullenberger, William. “Girl, Interrupted: Spenserian Bondage and Release in Milton’s Ludlow Mask”. Milton Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 4, Wiley, pp.184-204, 2003.

Stanislavsky, Constantin. “Units and Objectives”. An Actor Prepares, Bloomsbury, 2013. pp. 97-110.

Stockton, Will. The Seduction of Milton’s Lady: Rape, Psychoanalysis, and the Erotics of Consumption in Comus. Sex before Sex: Figuring the Act in Early Modern England, ed. James M. Bromley and Will Stockton, U of Minnesota P, pp. 233-61, 2013.

Weston, Jessie L. From Ritual to Romance.

Wilkenfeld, Roger B. “The Seat at the Center: An Interpretation of Comus”. ELH, vol. 33, no. 2, The John Hopkins UP, pp. 170-97, 1966.

White, Robert A. “The Cup and the Wand as Archetypes in Comus”. Milton Quarterly, vol. 25, no. 1, Wiley, pp.22-5, 1991.


Do Mind Independent Objects Exist According To John Locke and George Berkeley

This essay will investigate the question of whether mind independent objects exist according to John Locke and George Berkeley. John Locke reasons that objects do exist independently of our mind but this is not without some caveat. George Berkeley on the other hand argues that no material substances exist other than ideas or perceptions in our minds. Hence there are no mind independent objects.

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I will argue that John Locke’s reasoning is actually stronger than Berkeley’s and therefore the case for mind independent objects existing is coincidentally stronger as well. Locke’s argument in support is that we can be sure of the limits of our knowledge of their existence because of the ideas we obtain from our senses. I will firstly detail how Locke’s reasoning supports this contention. Secondly I will explore Berkeley’s claim which denies that any form of material substance and hence mind independent objects do not exist independently. I will argue that Berkeley’s claim fails because of inadequacies raised during his rejection of Locke’s argument. Berkeley relies on an appeal to the supernatural (e.g. God) to counter the universal proposition that he inevitably draws himself into with the existence of other minds in external human bodies and in his contention that external objects only exist as ideas in the mind.
Locke adopts a pragmatic approach to this inquiry because he uses the senses in a practical everyday way to assess the degree of certainty of knowledge. Importantly, Locke accepts the limitations of human knowledge which then defines the inquiry question of ‘what level of certainty there is for the existence of external objects’ (Bennett, 2007).
Locke says that an ‘idea’ is; “whatever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks” (Bennett 2007 p2). This is an important definition because it suggests an ‘idea’ to be more than just a representation of an external object. What Locke alludes to here is that we have a cognitive ability to obtain knowledge of the external world through a relationship in our mind between simple (sensations from experience) and complex (abstracted from particular to universal principles) ideas and are thus able to pass judgement (subjective) about the certainty of that knowledge. Locke states that;

“Knowledge, then, seems to me to be nothing but the perception of the connection and agreement, or disagreement and incompatibility, of any of our ideas. That is all it is” (Bennett, 2007, p196).

So knowledge then becomes the outcome of complex ideas created in our mind from sensations. The mind has no innate ideas and starts out as a tabula rasa (or blank sheet) but with mental faculties which thus enable the creation of ideas from experiences of the external world (Bennett, 2007). This is not unproblematic though because it raises the question of exactly which faculties are then innate. However, the ideas created come into being from when a person first has sensations. Locke says that:

“Since there appear not to be any ideas in the mind before the senses have conveyed any in, I think that ideas in the understanding arise at the same time as sensation” (Bennett, 2007 p22).

These ideas fashioning our knowledge are thus derived from our experience. They are also built upon the immediate impression of external objects in our mind through our senses. More complex and abstract concepts result from our own introspection.
Locke then talks about three types of knowledge which are important in our understanding of the certainty of the existence mind independent objects. He claims that these three types of knowledge are;

Intuitive Knowledge which is the immediate agreement or disagreement between ideas without an intervention of other ideas;
Demonstrative Knowledge which does not immediately perceive the agreement or disagreement of ideas. It therefore brings into itself more ideas and creating complex ideas thus calling it reasoning;
Sensitive Knowledge which is knowledge gained through the senses (Bennett, 2007 p22).

Sensitive knowledge is the key element of his claim that external objects exist independent of the mind.
Whilst it is readily conceded by Locke that sensitive knowledge is not as certain as intuitive knowledge or demonstrative knowledge, it nevertheless “goes beyond probability” (Bennett, 2007, p202). It follows then that the level of certainty in establishing a case for the existence of external objects knowledge using the senses is limited. But I contend that the degree to which it is limited does not discount its use. Locke also asserts that whilst some philosophers question whether external objects exist even though they may have an idea in their mind, there is a “degree of evidentness” which puts the question beyond doubt (Bennett, 2007, p202). So he postulates that we can feel the sun, notice the difference at night without the sun and appreciate the contrast between a dream and an idea coming into our mind through the senses (Bennett, 2007, p202).
So for all practical purposes, I contend along with Locke that this is all we need to establish a high level of certainty about the existence of mind-independent objects. This is not to say, that his logic is not without some openings for criticism such as the probabilistic certainty of sensitive knowledge.
However I argue that the strength of Locke’s reasoning for the existence of mind independent objects lies in its pragmatic simplicity. If we have the idea that something exists independently of our mind and we confirm this with our senses, then it is highly probable that it does exist independently of our mind. If we have the idea that the ground we walk upon is solid, then the idea comes from our experience of solid ground through our walking upon it. Using Locke’s reasoning then, the idea of solid ground (as a mind independent object) can be held to be certain; to the limit that sensitive knowledge allows.
In contrast to Locke, one can postulate as does George Berkeley, that material substances (and hence mind independent objects) do not exist. In his inquiry, scepticism surfaces amidst the proposition that we think only about the idea and not the actual external object. This scepticism charges the materialism of Locke for example, with implying that it leads to disavowing God (Downing, 2011). This aspect of Berkeley’s rejection of Locke’s materialist conceptions of the existence of external objects is also a key element of my rejection of Berkeley’s Idealism.

Berkeley’s main argument for the mind independent objects not existing is structured thus;
“That we perceive ordinary objects and I wouldn’t have known them if I hadn’t perceived them by my senses;
Things perceived by the senses are immediately perceived; and
Things that are immediately perceived are ideas; and
Ideas can’t exist outside the mind.
So it follows that;
The existence of things I perceive by my senses consists in being perceived.
When they are actually perceived [the existence of things], therefore, there can be no doubt about their existence” (Berkeley P41).

Unfolding what Berkeley means by this hinges upon his use of the word perceive. If the definition of perceiving is to become aware of something through the senses, then it seems that what Berkeley is saying is that we can have knowledge of the existence of external objects. But in fact that is not what he is saying. In #1, #2, #3 he is arguing that our perception or awareness of ordinary objects (external) is based upon the use of our senses creating ideas which can then only exist in our minds. Premise #5 makes his argument look remarkably circular but I will grant that it isn’t for this purpose. What he is saying is that external objects only exist because we are able to be aware of them. His conclusion at #6 reiterates the thrust of his claim that when we are made aware of external objects by our senses, then we cannot doubt their existence. He does not mean the external object. He means the idea of the external object.
So, if the external object is not a representation and it is not anything other than an idea brought about by a perception or awareness through the senses, how is it that we come by the idea of knowledge of the external world? And more so, how is it that when we are not present or are denied our senses for any reason, that other people continue to experience the external world. Berkeley answers this by saying that “When I say that sensible things [external objects] can’t exist out of the mind, I don’t mean my mind in particular, but all minds. Now, they clearly have an existence exterior to my mind, since I find by experience that they are independent of it” (Berkeley p42).
I argue here that this sentence inherently disrupts Berkeley’s claim that there are no mind independent objects. How is it that there can be other independent minds (assuming them to be within external human bodies) which have an existence exterior to his and which perceive external objects whilst Berkeley is say, asleep? How is it that they are not considered to be external mind independent objects? There must be some other explanation.

So Berkeley finds himself having to refer to the supernatural deity for relief; God. “There is therefore some other mind in which they [external objects] exist during the intervals between the times when I perceive them; it necessarily follows that there is an omnipresent, eternal Mind which knows and comprehends all things and lets us experience them in a certain manner “(Berkeley p42).

In my assessment this appeal to the omnipotence of God diminishes Berkeley’s argument dramatically. It is not a question of having or not having a belief in God. It is about establishing a level of certainty that the external world exists independently of our mind. In contrast to Locke’s argument which allows for a probabilistic consideration about the certainty of knowledge; Berkeley simply refutes the external mind independent world and fills the void he creates with that of a supernatural deity. It is contextually understandable but I argue that it severely reduces the plausibility and explanatory power of his claim that mind independent objects do not exist.
This essay has argued that Locke’s assertions about the existence of mind independent objects are stronger than Berkeley’s claim that no mind independent objects exist and to this I offer my support. Locke’s probabilistic approach to sensitive knowledge assists him to overcome the vicarious connections between the mind and the external world. This is not without its problems though as I have discussed in the paper. Locke struggles with innateness of ideas and faculties along with proving the level of certainty against a measure of probability.
In contrast, Berkeley simply rejects mind independent objects outright, which leaves him with the problem of how to then deal with the issue of other minds and human bodies. To this he simply defers to a supernatural deity in God. This I contend creates a most significant weakness in his argument and causes me to reject it.

Continuities/Discontinuities between Hindu and Buddhist Veneration of Objects Deemed Sacred

Table of Contents






Reassessment of Traditional Religions



Continuities/Discontinuities between Hindu and Buddhist Veneration of Objects Deemed Sacred

The peoples having one origin and one community, they also have one ultimate end, God, whose providence, goodness, and purpose of salvation extend to all until the elect meets in the holy city, may glory God will illuminate and where the people will walk in his light (Klostermaier, 2014). Consequently, people await from the various religions the answer to the obscure riddles of the human condition: what is a man? What is the meaning and purpose of life? What is good, sin, pain, happiness, death, the last judgment?In the declaration,it takes into account some of the world’s major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, and this study discusses the continuities or discontinuities between Buddhist and Hindu veneration of objects deemed sacred.

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Hinduism is generally considered a mystical religion. Hinduism is more a “symposium” of religions than religion itself. It has no historical origin with a charismatic founder. Its sources are the mystical and mythical speculations contained in the so-called revealed books and traditions, which have evolved and expanded like a snowball that becomes a mountain. This also consists of their longevity (Schonthal, 2016).

Hinduism could be called the religion of dharma (law of universal harmony), which contains the following fundamental elements.The Brahman-atman relationship (the cosmic and the personal principle): man’s end is to lose oneself in Brahman (Taylor et al., 2016). The law of Karma-samsara (the law of the repercussion of one’s actions upon the fate of rebirth or reincarnation): This law lasts until it is not completely purified. The social practical consequence of the Varna (Varna) of which three superiors (Brahmana, sacrificers [Brahmins or priests], depositaries of Vedic knowledge; Kshatriya, warriors; Vaishya, producers, and the lower fourth (shudra, servants), besides the without caste. The notion of redemption or salvation consists essentially of the liberation (Mukti) of samsara (cycle of birth) and Maya(the multiplicity of illusionary appearance) and immersion in Brahman (Andersen, 2014). 

The three ways of liberation, out of which two behaviours are distinguished in Hinduism. First of all, there is a behaviour called monkey behaviour, exemplified in the behaviour of the monkey cub, which has been active since birth and that clings closely to the mother to find refuge and protection. This behaviour implies two ways: the way of knowledge (jnana-marga), which teaches to know one’s own reality and how to distance oneself from the world, and the way of action (karma-marga), which implies ritual actions and disinterested social behaviours (Eliot, 2018).

The second behaviour is that of the cat, exemplified by the passive kitten that finds refuge in maternal protection and which implies a commitment to devotion: the path of love (bhakti-marga). Whereas in the first two ways liberation is the fruit of knowledge (vidya) and personal initiative, in the third, this is as much a gift from above as a conquest of man.Liberation is, in any case, a complete fusion of Atman with Brahman, it is a loss in the cosmic self. 

While the first two pathways belong to the higher social classes, which can access knowledge and liberation through the work of gurus or yoga masters (meditation), the third pathway is open to everyone even to shudra and to women and men, one lives and manifests in popular religion (Gallois, 2017).

Three major Hindu religions can be distinguished: Vixnuism, with the veneration of the solar god Vixnu; Shivaism, with the veneration of the god Shiva; Shaktism, with the veneration of female deities. Particularly live the devotion to Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, who represents a true holy protector for those who resort to his intercession (Klostermaier, 2014). In Bhagavad-Gita the path of devotion is above all a behaviour of devotion to Krishna: Fix your mind on me. Be my devotee, sacrifice to me, lean before me, and after you have exercised yourself, devoted to me, you will reach me. 


As you can see, Hinduism is a mixture of religions, a mixture of human and social reunions, books and sacred traditions, philosophies and conceptions of the world, dharma, and ways of liberation. One of its constant is profound religiosity. Hindu is religious by intrinsic conviction. For him, the divine is as real as breathing air. Though deeply immersed in this cosmic flow, he tends existentially to full liberation in God, provided that his union with the Supreme Being is understood. And to that end, it commits all the energies of its being. The pathways of knowledge, meditation, renunciation, ascetic action, and devotion are the instruments for achieving this mystical contact with God (Broo, 2016). 

In Hinduism, the primacy is given to the spiritual life as a constant pursuit of spiritual salvation. In this context, the elevation of the moral life is underlined through the exercise of human virtues such as respect for men and nature, kindness, honesty, asceticism. From this also derives his tolerance for other recognised religions more or less adequate ways of salvation. That is why in Hinduism there is always a behaviour of assimilating the positive elements of other religions (Broo, 2016). Take, for example, the Neo-Hindu movement of the Ramakrishna Mission (founded in 1879 by the disciples of Shri Ramakrishna), which regards the founders of other religions as incarnations of the one deity (Eliot, 2018). This is why Jesus Christ is also admired as a significant divine avatar with an extraordinary moral and religious doctrine. Doing so, however, Hinduism does not consider itself as an alternative to Christianity, but assimilating the Christian religion, presents itself as a global and not partial religion and therefore superior to Christianity itself (Klostermaier, 2014). 

The most relevant socio-religious boundary of Hinduism – which later becomes a cultural datum that permeates the entire environment – is that of caste: Hindu homo religiosus is also homo hierarchical with a still-today socio-religious incommunicability between the various castes. Consequently, the concept of love and service to one’s neighbour is very limited, while socio-economic discrimination, not only tolerated but also religiously justified, is widespread (Bulkeley, 2016). 

Beyond the conception of the substantive equivalence of all religions, all substantially valid in manifesting the one divine reality, another difficulty in interreligious dialogue with Hinduism stems from the lack of attention to the historical dimension of salvation. Christianity sees in Christ’s historical event God’s supreme salvific manifestation of humanity. Consequently, Christian salvation is not an escape from existence, but a supreme valorisation of personal history, which finds not its annulment but its fulfilment in eternal life also in its cosmic and corporeal dimension (Gallois, 2017). 

We list other limits of the Hindu conception: a certain idolatrous polytheism especially in the popular religions; the lack of the concept of creation, whereby the eternal world returns cyclically upon itself; the absence of the notion of person as absolute value: each man seems to have no identity of his own, reduced to an appearance of himself, none or a hundred thousand; The idea of ​​sin is also lacking, as a personal and voluntary act of offence against the goodness and love of God (sin is either a mistake that can be repaired on its own or it is a given that is received without personal responsibility);the lack, therefore, of the requirement of a redeeming saviour; The pursuit of salvation, on the other hand, is not a communal but essentially individualistic fact.

In light of the above, the evaluative synthesis of Hinduism’s conciliar statement Nostra Aetate is also positive:Thus in Hinduism men search the divine mystery and express it with the inexhaustible fecundity of myths and with the penetrating attempts of philosophy, they seek the release of the anxieties of our condition either through ascetic forms of life, whether in deep meditation or in refuge in God with love and intimacy (Colfer, 2015). 

Buddhism is generally called an ascetic religion. If Hinduism is a mythical religion, Buddhism is a historical religion. If the Hindu has the mind’s gaze turned to God, the Buddhist has turned it to himself. Buddhism stems from the ascetic and spiritual tradition of Buddha, a historical character who lived, such as Lao Tzu and Confucius, between the 6th and 5th centuries BC. The sacred texts of Buddhism (sixty books) are contained in the Pali Canon (Pali language).Bulkeley (2016) also called Tripitaka (or three baskets) written in its present form around the 1st century AD. This contains the basket of discipline (Vinaya) with the rules of the Buddhist order; the basket of doctrine (sutta) with the discourses of the Buddha; and the basket of philosophy (Abhidharma) with the commentary on its doctrine (von Rospatt, 2013). There is also the Sanskrit Canon. 

We can gather around the following statements the fundamental teaching of Buddhism, which expresses natural truths, not revealed from above: Buddha accepts the Hindu law of Karma-samsara (Andersen, 2014). It rejects, however, that of Brahman-atman, and thus of the existence of the cosmic self and the personal self, proposing instead the doctrine of the anatta (non-self). According to Buddha, the source of all evil, suffering, delusion and delusion is precisely the affirmation of self. This is the heart of Buddhist teaching. Buddha, therefore, diagnosed the source of suffering (dukkha), teaching the way out of this and into nirvana. In Benares’ famous speech, Buddha lists four noble truths (Singh, 2015). 

a)      The first is to consider that everything is suffering (dukkha): birth, sickness, death, being united with the unloved, being separated from the unloved, not having what is desired.

b)     The second is to consider that the cause of dukkha is the thirst for existence, pleasure, satisfaction.

c)      The third noble truth is the effort to abandon and completely withdraw from this thirst and to cease. To arrive at the cancellation of suffering, there is the so-called eightfold path, consisting of right understanding, right intention, the right word, right action, right life, right effort, right intention, and right recollection.

d)     The fourth noble truth is to believe that once freed from this thirst (i.e. the liberation of karma and samsara), one enters into nirvana, which is a state of peace and purity, the complete extinction of the desire to live (von Rospatt, 2013).

The whole of Buddhist teaching is contained in the three jewels which are the Buddha, the Dharma (the doctrine) and the Sangha (the Buddhist community made up of monks and laity). Over the centuries three Buddhist traditions have developed, called the three vehicles.

There is primarily Hinayana Buddhism or Little Vehicle or Theravada (traditional), which represents the purest form of Buddhism (present in Myanmar, Thailand, and Sri Lanka) and in which the ideal of the Buddhist is the monk (Schonthal, 2016).The second great Buddhist tradition, which appeared at the beginning of our Christian era and diffused in China, Korea, Japan, is called Mahayana or Great Vehicle and is not reserved for just a few, but also open to the laity. The idea here is not the lone monk who moves undisturbedly towards nirvana with his total asceticism, but the bodhisattva, who, though having touched the border of nirvana, is still on earth helping his fellow men to reach freedom from suffering. In Mahayana, Buddhism salvation is not only the result of asceticism but above all the merciful help of the Buddha and the bodhisattva (Taylor et al., 2016).

Finally, there is Tibetan Buddhism called Tantrayana or Vajrayana or Diamond Vehicle, founded on the use of magic formulas (mantra) along with the forms of Buddhist meditation. Typical exponents of this Buddhism are the Lama (Andersen, 2014).

Notwithstanding the fact that Buddhism is essentially an interiorised asceticism, it is not lacking especially among lay people a number of ritual religious practices, such as the pilgrimage to famous temples and monasteries, meditation, the offering of wreaths, perfumes, clothing and food to the monks. In Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism a true form of popular religiosity is practised towards the Buddha and his bodhisattva who represent the intermediaries for attaining nirvana (Singh, 2015).

In the Japanese Buddhist School, “Zen”, meditation is emphasised to attain adequate enlightenment of Buddhism (satori). Specifically, rather than an intellectual pursuit, the method is either to occupy the mind with a problem without logical solution (koan) or to remain seated trying to empty itself of one’s thoughts and out of temporality. Devotees are like birds that fly and sing free in the sky, or like fish in the sea do not meditate for a purpose (Andersen, 2014).


Buddhism is a way of salvation and liberation of man from his suffering. The emphasis on traditional Buddhism is placed on personal asceticism, not so much on foreign aid or from above. Each one is saviour and liberator of himself.Salvation consists of nirvana, which represents the only Omni-understanding and Omni beatifying reality, and which cannot be represented. Nirvana is the Absolute, but not a personal God. Therefore salvation is not a reality fulfilled in person. The analogy of negative or apophatic theology is often applied to nirvana (Taylor et al., 2016).

In this context, the reality of the Trinity and that of Jesus Christ are not understandable. Jesus Christ as a mediator is not a necessary figure for the Buddhist monk. The claim of their divinity further increases the Buddhists’ perplexity about this. The categories of Christian meditation (church, grace, sacraments, and prayer) lose meaning. Christ’s death and redeeming pain, too, are unknown realities and difficult to understand and accept. The eternal smile of the Buddha and the dramaticness of the Crucifix are the best syntheses of the two religious views. Buddhist salvation and liberation do not derive from without, from above, or from another, but lies in the ascetic effort of the individual (Schonthal, 2016).

Buddhism, like Hinduism, has no notion of sin. The only reality that needs to be liberated is samsara, the cycle of reincarnation. The only means to attain nirvana is not God’s forgiveness of sins, but the ascetic effort to extinguish the Brahma of existence and the satisfaction of pleasure.Therefore, the ascetic life of Buddhist monks is of exceptional human exemplarity: their poverty and chastity are a formidable testimony to man’s inner and spiritual strength to dominate and discipline his most profoundly human instincts. From this point of view, there is an existential point of contact between Buddhist asceticism and Catholic religious life (Andersen, 2014).

It must be pointed out here that in Mahayana Buddhism salvation is not only entrusted to the ascent of the singular but is also granted from above with the help of the Buddha and the bodhisattva. Hence the widespread devotional practice on the part of the laity expressed in the construction of temples, ritual offerings, etc. Moreover, for some Buddhist currents, Buddha is regarded as an authentic deity, with a function of mediation and thanksgiving. In Amidism, which developed in China and Japan from the fifth century AD, Buddha, also called Amida, is a true saviour from above. It takes faith in him to be saved. In fact, it is enough for people to pronounce the formula “Homage to Amida Buddha” to be certain that they will be reborn in the paradise of the West (von Rospatt, 2013).

In Buddhism, according to its various schools, the radical insufficiency of this changing world is recognised, and a way is taught to which men with a devout and confident heart are able to attain the state of perfect liberation or to reach the state of supreme enlightenment either by their own efforts, or with help from above.

We must not forget the meaning and value of the so-called traditional religions, present not only in Africa but also in the Americas, Asia and Oceania. Improperly called tribal or primitive religions, paganism, idol worship, witchcraft, animism, these are very open to the acceptance of Christianity.These have a “holistic” approach to life (Broo, 2016). Therefore, a positive change in your appreciation cannot be denied. If previously its limits were evident above all – such as polygamy, discrimination against women, human sacrifices, some degrading rites, rejection of twins, a continuing state of psychological fear of evil spirits – today, on the contrary, and rightly, one tends to emphasise positive values, such as the sense of the sacred, respect for life, the sense of community, the spirit of family, a spiritual view of life, the sacred aspect of authority, the symbolism (Klostermaier, 2014).

Referring to the African situation, John Paul II’s post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa (September 14, 1995 = EA) saw in these values ​​a providential preparation for the transmission of the Gospel:Africans have a profound religious sense, a sense of the sacred, and a sense of the existence of God the creator and a spiritual world. The reality of sin in its individual and social forms is very much present in the conscience of those peoples and felt is also the necessity of the rites of purification and atonement (EA n. 42) (Eliot, 2018).Later it also highlighted the importance of the family, the acceptance of life and children as a gift from God, the veneration of ancestors, respect for elders and parents, the keen sense of solidarity and community life (cf. EA No. 43) (Shaw, 2016).

According to Prof. Dosithée Atal Sa Angang, director of the Center d’Études des Religions Africanise de Kinshasa (Zaire), the category »life» can be considered the matrix of traditional African values: life received from above (religious dimension), shared and open life (dimension anthropological), sheltered and protected life (therapeutic dimension), respected and developed life (political dimension), accompanied and protected life (educational dimension). Life received from above is expressed in a profound sense of the sacred, of the existence of the Creator God and a living spiritual mode, present and in communion with history (Gallois, 2017).

Certainly, in traditional religions, there is no shortage of limits and needs, such as an excessive distance and inaccessibility to God, an exaggerated fear of spirits, the use of witchcraft, a certain reserve in contact with those who do not have the same family ties. The acceptance of values, the rejection of non-values ​​and the purification of limits form the object of Christian evangelisation.Also in other contexts, such as in the Polynesian peoples, traditional religions bear positive human and religious values, such as faith in God the creator, ancestor veneration, strong family and social cohesion continually restored after each incident by their own rites of worship (Singh, 2015).

Faith, morality and worship are the three pillars of traditional religions. Traditional religions generally do not rely on revealed books, nor do they articulate with theoretical statements of a theological or philosophical nature. The richness of its contents and its numerous values ​​are most often found in celebrations, tales, and proverbs and are transmitted through gestures, customs and behavioural codes. The moral code is considered to have been passed down from generation to generation and sanctioned by God through spirits. 


Andersen, P.B., 2014. Sagram Murmu and the Formation of a Linguistic Identity. The Politics of Ethnicity in India, China and Nepal, pp.239-254.

Broo, M., 2016. Rites of Burial and Immersion: Hindu Ritual Practices on the Disposing of Sacred Texts in Vrindavan.”. The Death of Sacred Texts: Ritual Disposal and Renovation of Texts in World Religions, pp.91-106.

Bulkeley, K., 2016. Big dreams: The science of dreaming and the origins of religion. Oxford University Press.

Colfer, C., 2015. Creating religious place in Ireland: Hindu public places of worship and the Indian sculpture park.

Eliot, G., 2018. Hinduism and Buddhism (Vol. 1). BoD–Books on Demand.

Gallois, W., 2017. History goes walkabout. History and Theory, 56(2), pp.167-196.

Klostermaier, K.K., 2014. Hinduism: A short history. Oneworld Publications.

Schonthal, B., 2016. Securing the Sasana through Law: Buddhist constitutionalism and Buddhist-interest litigation in Sri Lanka. Modern Asian Studies, 50(6), pp.1966-2008.

Shaw, J., 2016. Buddhist landscapes in central India: Sanchi Hill and archaeologies of religious and social change, c. third century BC to fifth century AD. Routledge.

Singh, D., 2015. Reinventing agency, sacred geography and community formation: the case of displaced Kashmiri Pandits in India. In The Changing World Religion Map (pp. 397-414). Springer, Dordrecht.

Taylor, B., Van Wieren, G. and Zaleha, B., 2016. The greening of religion hypothesis (part two): Assessing the data from Lynn White, Jr, to Pope Francis. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 10(3), pp.306-378.

von Rospatt, A., 2013. Buddhist strategies of keeping its sacred images and shrines alive: the example of the Svayambhu‐caitya of Kathmandu. Art of Merit: Studies in Buddhist Art and its Conservation. London: Archetype Publications, pp.275-285.


How Can Integral Calculus Be Derived and Applied to Find the Volumes and Surface Area of Complex Three-dimensional Objects?

1.    Rationale

While looking for an area of maths to delve into my Mathematical Exploration, I took inspiration from my grandfather’s hobby of pottery and glass blowing. In the garage, he would have sheets of glass and clay blocks occupying the shelves. We had a shared past-time where he would make beautiful, symmetric vases out of the wet clay using his hands. I would be in awe of how symmetrical they were, given their curved appearance. He would go to the local glass blowing studio and create multiple curved vases, bowls and sticks.

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As a housewarming present to my parents, he gifted a series of clay and glass vases that he made. I was entrusted with filling up the vase with water and putting flowers, but more often than not, I would overshoot, and the water would overflow. As a child, it was hard to understand the Archimedes Principle as a vase was not measured like a container, which gave me an indication of the exact amount of water needed. This stimulated my interest in how much volume an oddly-shaped glass vase can contain. Using my favourite topic, integral calculus, I am able to calculate this volume and using a more complex method, I am able to calculate the surface area of the amount of glass used. I was reading this online news article titled, “Australia’s Glass Recycling Crisis” which detailed the 460,000 tonnes created per year currently polluting the environment, (Davis, 2017). This prompted me to discuss its overall effect on the environment by finding out how much glass is used.

2.    Aim

To understand and apply the derivation of the volume and surface area integral formulae to a three-dimensional glass vase.

3.    Background Information

Before calculating the surface area and volume of the vase using integration, it is imperative that one understands the basic principles behind the phenomenon, that is integration, in order to correctly apply it to the real-world.

3.1.           Volume

The following formula for finding the volume of a revolution of a curve about the
-axis between the points where the
-coordinate of the points are
, respectively:
1       V=π∫ab(fx)2 dx

What does this mean? How is this equation derived?

Suppose a random function, y = f(x) is graphed on a Cartesian Plane:

Thin rectangles can be drawn underneath the curve from the x-axis to touching the curve.

These thin rectangles have an equal width of
(difference between
-values) and length
. This length can be calculated (above, right) by substituting the first
-coordinate of every rectangle width into
as the rectangle touches the curve at this

However, by observation, these rectangles do not wholly account for the area under the curve as there are some gaps between the curve and rectangles, suggesting an underestimation and the rectangles are overshooting the curve, suggesting an overestimation of the area.

How can this area accurately be measured given these under/overestimations?

Rectangles of smaller widths can be created to minimise these over- and underestimations. This means that their widths (
) would be as small as possible, i.e. as the limit of
approaches 0. Due to these very small widths, the number of rectangles would have to increase to make up the length of the area under the curve. Therefore, as the limit of
approaches 0, the limit of the number of rectangles approaches

. This aids in obtaining a more accurate value for the area and later on, volume and surface area, as the gaps between the curve and rectangles are minimised.

Therefore, in calculating the area under the curve, this technique of adding up an infinite number of rectangles using its area formula (length x width), is called the Riemann Sums.

This is seen in the following formula:
2      Area=∑i=0n–1f(xi)×∆x


The width is
, the height is
-coordinate with the lowest value in
place, taken from limits

This phenomenon can be used in the function y = f(x) to find its volume when rotated around the x-axis in the sketch on the left:

The volume of this three-dimensional object can be calculated by adding the volumes of an infinite number of small cylinders, which is similar to the rectangles in the Riemann Sums but extended in a three-dimensional sense.

Using the volume of a cylinder formula: V =
and volume enclosed by lower and upper limits ‘a’ and ‘b’, the following volume formula is derived:

is the first
(i.e. the difference between consecutive x values – e.g.
= the number of cylinders, as there are


, this sigma notation is replaced by the integral sign and
is replaced by an infinitesimally small width,
. This can be written in the formula:
1      V=π∫ab(fx)2 dx

3.2.           Example Calculation:


The volume of the curve when rotated about the x-axis will be identical to a sphere. This can be proven through integrating from the previously derived volume formula:
∵ V=π∫–RRR2–x22 dx
V= π R2x–x33–RR
∴ V=43×π×R3

Thus, it is evident that this is the general volume of a sphere formula.

3.3.           Surface Area

The volume for finding the surface area of the three-dimensional object created from a 360˚ rotation about the x-axis is the following:
3         SA=2π∫abfx×1+dydx2×dx

What does this mean? How is this equation derived?

In reference to the Riemann Sums, the similar basic principles are used to find the surface area of a function rotated about the x-axis (i.e. the surface of a revolution). This surface area is calculated through the addition of the outer, rounded surface area of an infinite number conical frustum (bottom section of cone).

{Image from: (Ving, 2015)}

Calculating the surface area under a curve by dividing into frusta.

{Images & Proof referenced from (Wilson J. , -)}

From the diagrams above, the surface area of the conical frustum can be derived.

Given that triangle A
triangle B (equiangular)
 label this
∵   L2= L1–L
 label this
Therefore, L2=rLR–r
SAfrustrum(Shaded Area)=Area Major Sector –White Area Minor Sector
As the area of a sector is given by,
Therefore,Area of Major Sector=12L12θ Label this

, we can rewrite this as equation:
Area Major Sector=12L12s1L1

Area Minor Sector=12(L2)2s2L2

Using the labelled equation above, we obtained the surface area of a frustum above:

With reference to figure 3.3.3, we see that
, therefore this equation becomes:
4       SAfrustrum=πR2LR–r–πr2LR–r
∵  π(R2–r2)L(R–r)=πR+rR–rL(R–r)
∵  πR+rR–rL(R–r)=πR+rL
∴ SAfrustrum=2πR+r2L

This surface area formula can be written in sigma notation, much like Riemann Sums:
5         SAfrustrum=∑i=0n–12π×fxi+f(xi+1)2×∆li

∆li=slant height

Through Pythagoras’ Theorem,
can be written as

In the limit as
approaches ∞ we obtain the exact surface area of the revolution of this curve. In this limit,
approaches 0 and
, which is redefined as f(x).

Therefore, the final equation is for limits
3          SA=2π∫abfx×1+dydx2×dx

3.4.           Example Calculation


The surface area of this function revolved around the
-axis will result in the derivation of the surface area of sphere.

Using equation (3) with the upper and lower limits being
, I calculated the surface area to be:
∴Surface Area of a Sphere= 4πR2

The above method shows that the familiar formula of the surface area of a sphere can be obtained.

4.    Modelling the Shape of The Vase

4.1.           Obtaining measurements

In order to effectively explain the measurements, I obtained using a 30-centimetre ruler, tape measure, a piece of non-stretch string, a marker and a camera phone as my measuring equipment.

Below, I have sketched the cross-section of the vase and labelled it with measurements.


L = 10.0 centimetres, O = 8.1 centimetres

I was able to measure the diameter of the open top section to one decimal place. In doing so, I have maintained consistency and a degree of accuracy. Knowing that the open top is a circle, I found the radius to be 5 cm. The same method was applied to find length O at the base of the vase.

In finding the thickness of the glass, there is a distinction being made between the volume of the vase and the volume contained by the vase. This will be important when testing the validity of my results for the vase’s volume. 

M = 7.8 centimetres

In order to accurately model the shape of the vase, I had to find the point on the vase that had the smallest width. I tied a piece of non-stretch string tightly around the vase, at the minimum width and marked a point on both ends of the string as well as the vase to give the location of the point for later measurements. This measurement only gives the circumference of the outside of the vase. This means the diameter (M) of the circle is 7.8 cm. In measuring this circumference, length M, I have made the assumption that this vase, is composed of a circular disks of varying diameters.

N = 13.8 centimetres

Similarly, in measuring the largest width, I had to use observation to locate this point of maximum width, tie the non-stretch string around it, mark the point at which both ends of the string touch and the location of this maximum point.

Using the same method, the length N is found to be 13.8 cm by dividing circumference, 43.5 cm by π. 

Q = 11.5 centimetres, P = 3.7 cm, R = 9.8 cm

In finding the minimum and maximum widths of the vase using the non-stretch string, I marked the points at which these occur and used observation from taking a photo to find the vertical height (Q).

Length P was also found using this method. Length R was found by summing lengths P and Q and subtracting it by the overall height to obtain R.

One major assumption that I made was in determining where my point of minimum width was. Given the available equipment, I used observation to determine the points of minimum and maximum widths, which is a quicker and more effective way of determining these points. Although, in reality, one can use technology such as photography scaling, to locate these points to greater precision. No matter where this point is situated, the measurements would be in the same approximate range of values (i.e. 24-25 centimetres). Given the small measurements involved in these calculations of area and volume, a difference of one centimetre would not drastically change these area and volume values.  

Another assumption was made in determining length Q. Through observation and photography, I was able to find this length. Concerning accuracy, I made sure I held the ruler as straight as possible (perpendicular to the floor) in one hand and the camera in the other hand and attempted to take a photo at level with the ruler to avoid any parallax error. Given the difficulty of this method, there is a greater margin of error in Q’s length and is incurred into the equation, volume and surface area.

4.2.           Finding an equation

A trigonometric equation must be derived from these measurements in order to find the surface area and volume. Through experimentation, I found the cosine curve, the most accurate.

Using the general equation:
6         y=AcosBx–C+D

A, B and D values were derived.

Given that A is the amplitude: half of length Q (radius) – half of length M (radius), i.e. 6.9 – 3.9 = 3, to give the vertical distance between the two points and halved to obtain the distance of 1.5 cm.

B was found from doubling length Q to obtain a period of 23 cm. Therefore, B =

D was found through adding 6.9 and 3.9 and dividing by 2 to find a vertical translation of 5.4 cm.
y=1.5 cos⁡2π23x+C+5.4

Through simultaneous equations, the missing C value can be calculated.

From my measurements, one point from points: (0,5) from the top of vase of length L or (25,6.9) from the base and sides of lengths N and S respectively, can be used.

In substituting point (0,5):
5=1.5 cos⁡2π230+C+5.4

This function’s graph represents a limitation of the modelling process due to the finite number of parameters (limits) available in the general form: A, B, C and D. Each parameter equates to one point. Given that the maximum and minimum points (W and V) are two parameters, the length from these points (length Q) measured at 11.5 cm is another parameter. This means that either the point of the base (25, 4.05) or the top point (0,5) must be graphed to find ‘C’. In graphing one of the above, it does not necessarily mean that the other point will lie on the curve, which is exactly the case above as the cosine curve has a y-intercept of (0, 4.586) instead of the desired (0,5) obtained from measurement. As a result, a slight underestimation of the volume and surface area occurs (refer to Reflection).

5.    Find volume and surface area using formulae derived

5.1.           Volume
V= π∫ab(fx)2 dx
V=π∫0251.5cos⁡2π23x–4.13893405+5.42 dx≈2304.1 cm3

Calculated through Wolfram Alpha Online Integration Calculator.

5.2.           Surface Area

Use of Wolfram Alpha to differentiate f(x).

SA(Curved Surface)= 2π∫025Acos⁡Bx–C+D×1+0.40…sin⁡4.13…–0.27…x2dx

SA (Curved Surface)=868.0638077≈868.06 cm2
(2 decmial places)

Rounding as ruler can only measure up to 0.1 of 1 centimetre.

  Use of Graphic Display Calculator.

Total Surface Area = Circle base + Curved surface ≈ 919.5 cm2

Another limitation in determining the values of volume and surface area was my level of maths. Given the complex nature of the integrational calculus above, the use of technology in finding a straightforward answer by entering the equation into a Graphic Display Calculator (GDC) or Wolfram Alpha online calculator, was imperative in yielding a result. In using the exact value or full number correct to the maximum number of decimal places was essential in yielding an accurate result but could lead to certain inaccuracies caused by simple mistakes in entering the formula into the GDC.

6.    Discussion of Results

6.1.           Finding a distinction between capacity and volume

Looking at the results I have obtained from this Exploration, I wanted to test the accuracy of the results for the volume of the vase. I would achieve this by finding the initial weight of the empty vase and completely fill it with water and weigh it. In doing so I would obtain the volume able to be contained inside the vase, given that the density of water is 1 gram per cm3, meaning that the weight and volume absolute values are equal.

Finding the capacity of the vase

   0.5 kg

   2.7 kg

The capacity of the vase is 2,200 cm3 which is approximately 104.1 cm3 lower than the answer obtained for the vase volume.

Why is there such a large difference?

The overall thickness of the glass contributes to the overall volume of the vase adding 1 centimetre to the diameters of the circular disks that make up the vase. This is accounted for when finding the volume and was the major factor in creating this difference between volume and capacity.

In order to keep this method consistent, there needs to be a way to find the surface area of the vase where there is a greater degree of accuracy. The reliability of my results decreases as there are no other methods to test their accuracy, given the equipment at hand.

6.2.           Re-modelling the vase

Another crucial limitation in my experiment was the modelling of the vase. As discussed in section 4.2, there are only 4 available parameters and 5 available points to fit those parameters meaning that the final equation of the function will not pass through all 5 points. In order to rectify this, I proposed that another function, for simplicity an exponential, be created which passes through the point of minimum width (3.651, 3.9) and through the point (0, 5) as follows:

In doing so, all five parameters are met and a more accurate value for the volume and surface area is attained. In finding the equation of the exponential by transforming general function:

This curve should pass through the points (0,5) and (3.651, 3.9). Thus, substituting the point (0,5), I obtained
= 5.

The function is reflected about the
-axis then, multiplied by 5 to obtain a
-intercept of   (0, 5).

The unknown
value must be obtained by substituting the minimum width point and solving for


The use of a combination of these two functions combines the integral equations into the following volume equation:

V=π∫03.6515e–0.06…x2 dx+π∫3.651251.5cos⁡2π23x–4.1…+5.42dx≈2357.6 cm3 

In general, my yielded results are very valid, and that the correct methods were applied to reach these calculations. One option to limit the underestimations would be to measure more points on the vase to give a more accurate indicator. However, given the inherent nature of error in measurement and mathematical theories, the more measurements and calculations that are made, the greater is the margin for error. Thus, the following has limited my aim in acquiring the true value. It has also placed doubt as to whether any type or form of measurement can be 100% justified. 

7.    Evaluation & Link to Real-World

Throughout my investigation, I have made the attempt to learn how integral calculus has been derived and applied to finding the volume and surface area of any function that is rotated around the
-axis. Not only have I learnt about these techniques, I have also learnt about the history and logic behind the derivation of a fundamental part of the mathematical world. These formulae are derived from the basic “Riemann Sums” principle originally discovered by German mathematician Bernhard Riemann in 1854, where the sums of the rectangles under the curve are added up to obtain an area (Downey, 2019). The Riemann Integral was then derived.

As found by my observations in its application in the real-world, the Riemann Integral is limited in its scope. The inability to integrate non-continuous functions (e.g. some piecewise functions contain points of discontinuity) affects the ability to expand into higher domains where all
-values can be bound in the shape of say a circle or ellipse (The Bright Side Of Mathematics, 2018). This led to the derivation of other integrals such as the Lebesgue Integral, which appear to contain less limitations.

It is also worthy to note, that Riemann was also known for his developments in “Riemannian Geometry”, a form of non-Euclidean geometry used to describe a curved surface, which served as a basis for Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity” (Mastin, 2010); (Setia, 2008).

On a global note, a possible extension of this Exploration could be in the area of the use/misuse of glass in the production of three-dimensional objects such as vases, drinking glasses and artworks and how they can have a large impact on the levels of pollution in the world. The combustion of natural gas and the decomposition of raw materials leads to the emission of CO2 (AGC, 2019). In some cases, the nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide emitted from the decomposition process cause acidification (decrease in the pH of the world’s oceans – more acidic, more aquatic life dead) and increased formation of smog (AGC, 2019). Given that glass is 100% recyclable, the recycling of glass is predicted to reduces related air and water pollution by 20% and 50% respectively. (WWF, 2019). My exploration allowed me to understand how much glass goes into making a standard vase and consider the effects of making each one, on the environment. From my findings, I found that approximately, 0.5 kg of glass (weighed in section 6.1) making up 0.004% of the 11,470 tonnes of glass in US landfills according to 2015 data (EPA, 2015).

Suppose, if the vase is made into a right cylinder, with a diameter of 8.1 cm (length O) and vertical height 25 cm, the surface area of this rounded surface would be 25.4 cm2 instead of 868.1 cm2. This highlights the 97.1% increase in surface area for the sake of aesthetic appeal from the curved nature of the vase. This cost is then incurred to the environment where there is an inefficiency in glass usage and hence, pollution.

8.    Conclusion

Overall, given the process undertaken in my Mathematical Exploration, I have gained knowledge and insight into integration and its derivation and application in the real-world. I have gained a better grasp on the basic, founding principles of integration, its inherent inaccuracies and have used it to explore and expand my understanding of the world in which I live in the present, as well as the mathematics and mathematicians in the past who moulded this reality.

References & Bibliography:

AGC. (2019, – -). Our environmental impact. Retrieved from AGC Glass Europe: http://www.agc-glass.eu/en/sustainability/environmental-achievements/environmental-impact

Davis, L. (2017, August 9). Australia’s glass recycling crisis: the industry responds. Retrieved from Sustainability Matters: https://www.sustainabilitymatters.net.au/content/waste/article/australia-s-glass-recycling-crisis-the-industry-responds-809131767

Downey, T. S. (2019, – -). Riemann Sums. Retrieved from Math Open Reference: https://www.mathopenref.com/calcriemann.html

EPA. (2015). Glass: Material-Specific Data. Retrieved from United States Environmental Protection Agency: https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/glass-material-specific-data

Mastin, L. (2010, – -). 19th Century Mathematicians – Riemann. Retrieved from The Story of Mathematics: https://www.storyofmathematics.com/19th_riemann.html

Pubmed.gov. (2014, February 21). Retrieved from Pollution due to hazardous glass waste.: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24281678

Setia, V. (2008, July 13). Riemann Geometry. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/science/Riemannian-geometry

The Bright Side Of Mathematics. (2018, October 31). Riemann integral vs. Lebesgue integral. Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGPZ0P1PJfw

Ving, P. K. (2015, May 14). Calculus of One Real Variable. Retrieved from Areas Of Surfaces Of Revolution: http://www.phengkimving.com/calc_of_one_real_var/12_app_of_the_intgrl/12_07_areas_of_surf_of_revltn.htm

Wilson, J. (-, – -). Conical Frustum. Retrieved from University of Georgia: http://jwilson.coe.uga.edu/EMAT6680Fa2013/Kar/EMAT%206690/Essay%202/Frustum.pdf

Wolfram Alpha. (2019). Wolfram Alpha. Retrieved from Wolfram Alpha: https://www.wolframalpha.com

WWF. (2019, – -). Recycling Glass – How it helps the environment. Retrieved from WWF: http://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/teacher_resources/project_ideas/recycling_glass.cfm


How Is It Possible to Study People, Rather than ‘Art’ or ‘Architecture’ or ‘Objects’, Through Material Remains?

The expression of civic identity can be interpreted through material remains such as funerary monuments during the Roman period, as they provide material testimony of one’s life as well as facilitating status, recognition, legitimacy and identity amongst the living.[1] The reason for these beliefs is extensive due to being principally connected with a desire for status and recognition within the community as well as a fear of annihilation, which leads for a desire to be immortalised.[2] This was important in commemoration leading to many individuals seeking immortality in the world of the living by erecting monuments that celebrated their lives and allowed fragments of their existence to remain.[3]

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It has been demonstrated religious beliefs were unaffected by economic status which meant individuals from the lower class would have been equally afraid of their existence being forgotten. Unlike wealthier members of the community who were often honoured with statues in the Forum and commemorated themselves by virtue of their public works and generous gifts to the community, the lower classes lacked significant opportunities to publicly memorialise themselves during their lifetime.[4] Thus, the commemorative properties of funerary monuments and activities assumed particular importance.[5] This is evident in Rome’s complex past of non-elites (libetini) who had complex lives, from having been slaves freed by their masters to become Roman citizens. [6]During the Augustan period, a baker named Eurysaces built a giant grain silo and ovens whilst bearing a frieze depicting himself at work. [7]The tomb makes it apparent not only about his economic success, but rather how this was achieved. It is presumed Eurysaces had a ‘freedman’ identity, his motivation is speculated through the commission of the tomb and the ostentatious display of the baker’s financial success which is shown through the unconventional use of architectural form as well as decoration.[8] The notable décor of the tomb is sculpted pictorial friezes elaborating in visual terms while the epitaphs below convey into words. Depicting various stages of bread making in a large-scale commercial setting; the intriguing circular forms in the third or upper story; and, below the cornice, a sculpted pictorial frieze that depicts various stages of bread making in a large scale commercial setting, such as ‘’the consignment and grinding of grain (south), mechanical kneading of dough, formation of dough into loaves, bread baking (north), and weighing of bread.’’[9] Therefore, unified in concept; this is a tomb of a baker and baking contractor, who owned a huge establishment, emphasised that it was the same size as the tomb itself.[10] In addition, scholars have noted that a marble relief portrait of Eurysaces and his wife Astia were found nearby, it has been suggested that this belonged to the eastern façade due to the scale and uniformity. [11]

Figure 1: Model of the monument of Eurysaces.

Figure 2: South Frieze.

Figure 3: North Frieze.

Figure 4: West frieze.

Figure 5: Marble portrait of Eurysaces and Astia.
The visual strategies did not differ significantly from the ones used by prominent Roman citizens at the time.[12] It could be noted through the unconventional form of the monument to the portraits of the individuals. Kleiner argues the style of ‘freedman’ portraits imitate the aristocratic attire, with Eurysaces wearing that of the traditional veristic style of the Republic. While Astia displays coiffures similar to the contemporary style worn by aristocratic women.[13] Kleiner believes the portrait of Atistia and her husband fits well into this trickle-down model, in which the aristocracy establishes stylistic trends that the lower strata imitate.[14] Although, not all familial funerary portraits designate the social standing as depicted, but in the epitaphs of Eurysaces’ and Atistia’s epitaphs, there is no formal legal status that appears with their names.[15] It was common for a freed slave to use the abbreviation ‘L’ but not universal, this was notably absent from the inscriptions but due to the medium and style used, it has been asserted that the husband and wife were ‘ipso facto’ ex-slaves.[16] Referring back to the name Eurysaces, it was considered a Greek rather than a Latin name, has led some to conclude that he had been a slave of Greek origin.[17] It was known that labour-intensive activities of baking were typically associated with slaves, but nonelite citizens, which included freed slaves, could own bakeries in addition to working within them. This could link to the unconventional appearance of the monument, being specifically associated with the association of Eurysaces identity being that of a wealthy ex-slave.[18] As well as the location of the monument, where Eurysaces had to contend against his neighbours for perpetuation of memory. Near his tomb was another complexed monument of that of an elite whom worked with Augustus, which is now known Porta Maggiore, which included his descendants and hundreds of slaves. Thus, suggesting that Eurysaces tomb participated in dialogue with its neighbours – freed slaves and born elite alike. [19]

Figure 6: Map surrounding the area of Eurysaces.
Like that of Eurysaces funerary monument, the gravestone of Regina bears a striking resemblance to circumstances of her past being a slave. The Aramaic inscription highlights the strong link between ethnic identity language also clear in Palmyra itself where Aramaic in commemorative inscriptions was never replaced by Latin or Greek. Though her biography was mainly written in Latin.[20] The desire of the Palmyrene community in general to preserve its cultural and‘ the insignia of women’ religious identity in a foreign environment has been demonstrated elsewhere, for example at Dura Europos on the Euphrates.[21] Scholars note that form of dress in general can function as a form of code through which people communicate to their audience their place in society, or identity, this was reinforced by Regina’s non-Roman attire in the portrait. This possibly reflects her attire in life or the idealised version of dress, signifying status and ethnic belonging.[22] It could be suggested that Regina herself may have requested her husband to be depicted in this manner, as she wanted to visibly notify her peers of her status, as well as wealth, power and ethnic affiliation. Her dress and bodily adornment were instrumental in making  a social persona from which ethnic affiliation, wealth and status could be read. But her social persona also entailed gendered behaviour and the manifestation of feminine virtue.[23] With visible evidence of her skills in spinning and wool-working, Regina appears as an ideal wife, an image that resonated in Roman society in Italy as much as in the western and eastern provinces of the Roman world. The desire for women to appear as legitimate and diligent wives must have been particularly strong in communities like Arbeia where there were real constraints on valid Roman marriage and where women often had limited legal or even social rights.[24] In context, the presentation of Regina conveys her as being a respectful, modestly clothed wife, constructing ideals in both death and perpetuity.

Figure 7: Gravestone of Regina.      

Figure 8: Wool working equipment.     
Referring to the latter, both funerary monuments depict both individuals bearing similar realities of their past with their present identities being overlapped. This is particularly evident in the disparity between status and gender, where both monuments and inscriptions have given a closer insight to that of the Roman world and the ideals that came along with it. It is apparent both individuals do not conceal their ethnic identity nor of their past, but rather acknowledge it and mention accomplishments in their life. Although, it could be suggested that idealised roles for both the deceased may have been created at death, due to the competitive display and elaboration of a temporal nature with restraint replacing extravagance as an indicator of status.[25] This could be linked to both monuments, as for Eurysaces, he glorified his monument by stating his bakery was of large proportions. But excavations near his site contradict his statement and indicate that bakeries tended to be small complex operating on a smaller scale.[26] This was similar to that of the tombstone of Regina, whom was represented as a modest wife, which was the idealised representation of how women should behave. Thus, with both monuments, it is apparent that both individuals wanted to convey these specifications as being integrated into their identities. But through these idealisations, lack reliability in how they were in their life, although, by examining these monuments, it has enabled scholars and archaeologists alike to gain insight into the conventions of Roman society, and how civic identity was portrayed according to certain individuals.
To conclude, it is apparent the theme of civic identity comes of importance when linking to funerary practices in the Roman world, regardless of economic status many strived to be immortalised in memory. This was evident in that of the funerary monuments of Eurysaces and Regina, whom were both ex-slaves, but became on a similar level with the elite. Although, it could be argued that the idealisations of Roman society may have glorified both monuments, allowing both monuments to fulfil the standards that would make them both notably worthy of being remembered. Though the depictions of both identities may have not been reliable, nor factual, it allows scholars to gain insight into the ideals of their desire of recognition, status and identity to be conveyed amongst the living.  (Word count: 1625)

Caroll, Maureen. ‘‘The Insignia of Women’: Dress, Gender and Identity on the Roman Funerary Monument of Regina from Arbeia’, Archaeological Journal 169 (2012), 281-311.
Carroll, P.M. Ethnicity and Gender in Roman Funerary Commemoration: Case studies from the empire’s frontiers, in: Tarlow, S. and Nilsson Stutz.(eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial. (Oxford,2013), 559-579.
Croxford, B. Goodchild, H.Lucas, J., and Ray, N. (eds.) (2006) TRAC 2005: Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Birmingham (Oxford, 2005).
Heyn, Maura. ‘Gesture and identity in the Funerary Art of Palmyra’, American Journal of Archaeology 114 (2010), 631-661.
Hope, Valerie. Constructing identity: The Roman funerary monuments of Aquileia, Mainz and Nimes. British Archaeological Reports, International Series 960 (Oxford, 2001),
Jones, Nathaniel. Exemplarity and Encyclopedism at the Tomb of Eurysaces. Classical Antiquity 37 (2018),  63-107.
Petersen, Lauren. ‘The Baker, His Tomb, His Wife, and Her Breadbasket: The Monument of Eurysaces in Rome’, The Art Bulletin 85 (2003), 230-257.
Toynbee, J.M.C. Death and Burial in the Roman World. (London, 1971).
Verboven, Koenraad and Christian Laes, (eds.) “Work, Labour, and Professions in the Roman World.” Impact of Empire. Boston (2016).
Yasin, Ann. ‘Funerary Monuments and Collective Identity: From Roman Family to Christian Community’, Art Bulletin 87 (2005), 433-457.

[1] EJ, Graham, 57.
[2] Maureen Caroll, 3.
[3] EJ, Graham, 66.
[4] EJ, Graham, 66.
[5] EJ ,Graham, 67.
[6] EJ, Graham, 66.
[7] EJ, Graham, 66.
[8]  Lauren Petersen, 231.
[9] Lauren Petersen, 231.
[10] Lauren  Petersen, 231.
[11] Ciancio Rossetto 3-79 cited in: Exemplarity and Encyclopedism at the Tomb of Eurysaces, 64.
[12] Verboven, Koenraad and Christian Laes, (eds.) ‘Work, Labour, and Professions in the Roman World.’ Impact of Empire. (Boston, 2016), 267.
[13]  Diana Kleiner, an Group Portraiture: The Funerary Reliefs of the Late Republic and Early Empire (New York,1977) 118-57 cited in: The Baker, His Tomb, His Wife, and Her Breadbasket: The Monument of Eurysaces in Rome,
[14] Diana Kleiner, an Group Portraiture: The Funerary Reliefs of the Late Republic and Early Empire (New York,1977) 118-57 cited in: The Baker, His Tomb, His Wife, and Her Breadbasket: The Monument of Eurysaces in Rome,
[15] Lily Ross Taylor, “Freedmen and Freeborn in the Epitaphs of Imperial Rome,” American Journal of Philology 82 (1961) 113-33, referenced in: Lauren Petersen, Insignia of Women, 237.
[16] Lauren Petersen, 237.
[17] Tenney Frank, “Race Mixture in the Roman Empire,” American Historical Review 21 (1916): 689 cited in Lauren Peterson, 230.
[18] Nathaniel Jones, 65.
[19] Petersen, 241.
[20] Mullen, A. 2011. Latin and other languages: societal and individual bilingualism, in J. Clackson (ed.) A Companion to the Latin Language, 527–48, London: Wiley-Blackwell cited in: Maureen Carol, 285.
[21] (Dirven 1999, 192–95). Cited in Maureen carol, 286.
[22] Maureen Carol, 299.
[23] Maureen Carol, 304
[24] Maureen Carol, 305.
[25] Valerie Hope, 6.
[26] Nathaniel Jones, 91.