Geometric, Orientalizing and Archaic Greek Pottery
|Geometric Period 1050 BCE - 700 BCE (700 BCE) |
Orientalizing Period 700 BCE - 600 BCE (600 BCE)
Archaic Period 600 BCE - 480 BCE (600 BCE)
Context: These diagrams are designed to provide you with a context for some of the vessels in this section. In the same way that we can identify a ketchup bottle from a wine bottle, the Greeks were trained from an early age to be able to identify the vessels they used and the purpose for them.
The names linked with each vessel tell us something about them. For example, a hydria with the root of hydra sounds suspiciously like our words hydrate and hydrant, both of which deal with water. This vessel is then used for water.
A. Amphora from the Greek "To carry on both sides." was used for storage and was a large vessel.
B. Kylix "To roll out." (from use of potter's wheel) is used for drinking wine from.
C. Oinochoe "To poor out." is a serving vessel
Dipylon Amphora, c. 750 terra cotta 4'11" tall
found Dipylon Cemetery, Athens, Greece
National Archeological Institution, Athens, Greece
Geometric Period Form: This case is almost exactly the same in from as its counterpart above however slight differences in the shape and ornamentation are evidence that even in such a rigid and stylized form there is room for creativity and difference. Renown art historian Ernst Gombrich developed a theory to explain these changes and referred to it as schema and correction. If we were to look at one vase as the plan or schema, we can see how one artist might take this schema and update it in order to make the design more pleasing according to the artist's and clients' tastes. These changes are referred to as the correction.
Orientalizing Oinochoe (wine pitcher) c650BCE
from Rhodes, Orientalizing Period
Form: The ornamentation of the vase is organized into a series of registers or frets of almost equal size and this appears to be fairly common in black figure vases of the Orientalizing period. Each register is devoted to a scene which depicts mythological or real creatures. The ornamentation of the registers contains less geometricized and more naturalistic figures than the earlier geometric period's designs. The bottom most register has an organic papyrus(?) leaf pattern but others from this phase often have purely geometric forms in this register. The mythological animals, in this case a kind of griffin, is a composite creature consisting of an eagle head, lion's body and wings. Overall the design exhibits a similar horror vacui to the vases from Knossos in that every empty space on the vase has been filled with flower like rosettes or lozenge like forms. Developed initially in Corinth, the black-figure style in which the vase is decorated builds on the technology of earlier styles of decoration. The natural color of the clay is used as the back ground. Engobe is still used to create a silhouettes and touches of red purple gloss are applied here and there but the polychrome of the vase is supplemented by incising details with a sharp stylus or awl. This is sometime referred to as scraffito. Which means something along the order of scratched designs which is very similar to its cousin graffiti. (See Stokstad page 173, Technique, Greek Painted Vases)
Iconography: The mythological monsters or animals, in this case a kind of griffin, is a composite creature consisting of an eagle head, lion's body and wings. The individual attributes of the griffin on this vase may represent an undefeatable carrion and predatory monster since it has the characteristics of two formidable animals.
Creatures like this are usually the guardians of a sacred precinct that pose a threat or a challenge to a hero. For example, in the myth of Oedipus, Oedipus is confronted by an enigmatic monster with the head of a woman, the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle, called a Sphinx. This Sphinx put a stranglehold on the city of Thebes by closing off the main road to the city. When an individual attempted to pass, the Sphinx posed a life or death question, "What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon and three in the evening?" If the traveler solved the riddle (which none did until Oedipus) he or she would be allowed to pass safely. If the traveler was unable to solve the riddle the Sphinx tore her or him apart. Oedipus was able to answer this riddle; "It is man who crawls as an infant, in adulthood walks on two and as old age with the aid of a cane."
Context: This style represents a formal and iconographic correction of two earlier schemas. The formal correction is that the Corinthian artists who first developed the style took the existing technology and added the engraved scraffito. They also built on the initial designs of the geometric period and combined them with other culture's naturalistic manner of depicting animals and creatures. The subject matter changed from a simple funerary scene to a more decorative motif.
Art historians believe that the griffin, and creatures like it, have an "eastern" or "oriental" or asian kind of feeling. Stokstad states, "the source of these motifs can be traced to the arts of the Near East, Asia Minor, and Egypt. The term "orientalized" although an accepted art historical term seems to have a rather Eurocentric meaning. The term seems to lump all the cultures east of Greece in this blanket term and therefore tends to generalize a bit too much.
Blinding of Polyphemus and Gorgons
also called the Ulysses Vase
or Eleusis Amphora
by Menaleus 675-650 B.C.E. 56" tall,
Archaeological Museum, Eleusis
Form: The ornamentation of this vase is organized into a series of registers or frets of almost equal size and this appears to be fairly common in black figure vases of the Orientalizing period. Each register is devoted to a scene which depicts mythological creatures or people. The ornamentation of the registers contains less geometricized and more naturalistic figures than the earlier geometric period's designs. Overall the design exhibits a similar horror vacui to the vases from Knossos in that every empty space on the vase has been filled with flower like rosettes or lozenge like forms. The figures are stylized curvilinear and cartoon like. The figures of the men in the top register are shown in a modified composite view whereas the Gorgons in the bottom most register are even more abstracted. Click on this link for more detailed views.
Developed initially in Corinth, the black-figure style in which the vase is decorated builds on the technology of earlier styles of decoration. The natural color of the clay is used as the back ground. Engobe is still used to create a silhouettes and touches of red purple gloss are applied here and there but the polychrome of the vase is supplemented by incising details with a sharp awl. This is sometime referred to as scraffito. Which means something along the order of scratched designs which is very similar to its cousin graffiti. (See Stokstad page 173, Technique, Greek Painted Vases)
The vase is signed "Menaleus made me."
Iconography: The iconography of the vase deals with mythology and legend and outlines the adventures of two clever Greek heroes: Odysseus and Perseus. The top register depicts a scene out of Homer's "Odyssey" the Blinding of Polyphemus. (see MencherLiaisons 12-14 (The Blinding of Polythemus). Odysseus or Ulysses, conquers the single eyed inhospitable Cyclops through his intelligence and scheming and therefore secures the release and safe journey of his crew.
The bottom most register depicts the three Gorgon sisters who had snakes for hair and were so hideous that if one looked upon them you would be transformed into stone. Medusa, committed and act of hubris or hybris (an act of disrespect, excessive pride or arrogance) by lying down with Poseiden in Athena's temple. In the tale of Perseus, he encounters the Gorgon Medusa, decapitates her and uses her head to freeze his enemies.
The monsters' physical attributes depicted in these tales summarize their failings. For example, the Cyclops is short of vision and the Gorgons are ugly of spirit and the snakes represent their deceit. The heroes are idealized versions of soldiers. They instruct us to be clever, loyal and be a soldier.
Context: This style represents a formal and iconographic correction of two earlier schemas. The formal correction is that the Corinthian artists who first developed the style took the existing technology and added the engraved scraffito. They also built on the initial designs of the geometric period and combined them with other culture's naturalistic manner of depicting animals and creatures. The subject matter changed from a simple funerary scene to a more decorative motif.
Art historians believe that these vases have an "eastern" or "oriental" or asian kind of feeling. Stokstad states, "the source of these motifs can be traced to the arts of the Near East, Asia Minor, and Egypt. The term "orientalized" although an accepted art historical term seems to have a rather Eurocentric meaning. The term seems to lump all the cultures east of Greece in this blanket term and therefore tends to generalize a bit too much.
Often you will see this vase referred to as a Proto-Attic amphora. The term Attic refers to its origins as Athenian. Proto- means early or before. This term is meant to demarcate the difference between vases made in the same orientalizing style in Corinth which are sometimes referred to as Proto-Corinthian .
The status of the artist must have been on the rise in Athens as well because this is one of the first examples of artwork that has been signed.
Excerpts from Homer, Odyssey, IXThe end of the eighth century and the seventh century was marked in Greek culture by the process of colonization, when the Greek city states established colonies in other parts of the Mediterranean world. This period is also called the Orientalizing period. This label given by modern scholars is a reference to the Eastern or Oriental influences on Greek culture brought about by the contact the Greeks had with the Ancient Near Eastern cultures during this period of colonization. The Odyssey can be read from these perspectives. In the first part of this passage, Odysseus and his cohorts arrive on the island of the Cyclopes and they assess their environs. Note the colonist’s perspective here as they assess the adjacent island. The most famous part of Odyssey IX recounts Odysseus’s encounter with the Cyclops Polyphemos. In this context the Cyclopes can be read as the non-Greek, “barbarian.” It is also a good example of heroic “arete”. Try to articulate the values and priorities of Greek culture re-presented in these passages.
The amphora above was found at an ancient graveyard at Eleusis. It was a gravemarker for a male's grave. It is an important monument in the development of narrative representations. On the belly of the vase is represented the story of the hero Perseus fleeing with the aid of Athena from the Gorgons after he had beheaded Medusa. This story was widely popular in the art of the 7th and 6th centuries. It is interesting to note the experimental nature of this narrative by observing the form of the gorgons that do not reflect the later canonical form. On the neck of this vase is represented the story of Odysseus Blinding Polyphemos:
Compare this representation to the Homeric account that follows. Note the thematic connections of the stories shown on this vase.
 “Thence we sailed on, grieved at heart, and we came to the land of the Cyclopes, an overweening and lawless folk, who, trusting in the immortal gods, plant nothing with their hands nor plough; but all these things spring up for them without sowing or ploughing,  wheat, and barley, and vines, which bear the rich clusters of wine, and the rain of Zeus gives them increase. Neither assemblies for council have they, nor appointed laws, but they dwell on the peaks of lofty mountains in hollow caves, and each one is lawgiver  to his children and his wives, and they reck nothing one of another.
“Now there is a level isle that stretches aslant outside the harbor, neither close to the shore of the land of the Cyclopes, nor yet far off, a wooded isle. Therein live wild goats innumerable, for the tread of men scares them not away,  nor are hunters wont to come thither, men who endure toils in the woodland as they course over the peaks of the mountains. Neither with flocks is it held, nor with ploughed lands, but unsown and untilled all the days it knows naught of men, but feeds the bleating goats.  For the Cyclopes have at hand no ships with vermilion cheeks, nor are there ship-wrights in their land who might build them well-benched ships, which should perform all their wants, passing to the cities of other folk, as men often cross the sea in ships to visit one another —  craftsmen, who would have made of this isle also a fair settlement. For the isle is nowise poor, but would bear all things in season. In it are meadows by the shores of the grey sea, well-watered meadows and soft, where vines would never fail, and in it level ploughland, whence  they might reap from season to season harvests exceeding deep, so rich is the soil beneath; and in it, too, is a harbor giving safe anchorage, where there is no need of moorings, either to throw out anchor-stones or to make fast stern cables, but one may beach one's ship and wait until the sailors' minds bid them put out, and the breezes blow fair.  Now at the head of the harbor a spring of bright water flows forth from beneath a cave, and round about it poplars grow. Thither we sailed in, and some god guided us through the murky night; for there was no light to see, but a mist lay deep about the ships and the moon  showed no light from heaven, but was shut in by clouds. Then no man's eyes beheld that island, nor did we see the long waves rolling on the beach, until we ran our well-benched ships on shore. And when we had beached the ships we lowered all the sails  and ourselves went forth on the shore of the sea, and there we fell asleep and waited for the bright Dawn.
“As soon as early Dawn appeared, the rosy-fingered, we roamed throughout the isle marvelling at it; and the nymphs, the daughters of Zeus who bears the aegis, roused  the mountain goats, that my comrades might have whereof to make their meal. Straightway we took from the ships our curved bows and long javelins, and arrayed in three bands we fell to smiting; and the god soon gave us game to satisfy our hearts. The ships that followed me were twelve, and to each  nine goats fell by lot, but for me alone they chose out ten.
“As soon as early Dawn appeared, the rosy-fingered, he [the cyclops Polyphemus] rekindled the fire and milked his goodly flocks all in turn, and beneath each dam placed her young.  Then, when he had busily performed his tasks, again he seized two men at once and made ready his meal. And when he had made his meal he drove his fat flocks forth from the cave, easily moving away the great door-stone; and then he put it in place again, as one might set the lid upon a quiver.  Then with loud whistling the Cyclops turned his fat flocks toward the mountain, and I was left there, devising evil in the deep of my heart, if in any way I might take vengeance on him, and Athena grant me glory. “Now this seemed to my mind the best plan. There lay beside a sheep-pen a great club of the Cyclops,  a staff of green olive-wood, which he had cut to carry with him when dry; and as we looked at it we thought it as large as is the mast of a black ship of twenty oars, a merchantman, broad of beam, which crosses over the great gulf; so huge it was in length and in breadth to look upon.  To this I came, and cut off therefrom about a fathom's length and handed it to my comrades, bidding them dress it down; and they made it smooth, and I, standing by, sharpened it at the point, and then straightway took it and hardened it in the blazing fire. Then I laid it carefully away, hiding it beneath the dung,  which lay in great heaps throughout the cave. And I bade my comrades cast lots among them, which of them should have the hardihood with me to lift the stake and grind it into his eye when sweet sleep should come upon him. And the lot fell upon those whom I myself would fain have chosen;  four they were, and I was numbered with them as the fifth. At even then he came, herding his flocks of goodly fleece, and straightway drove into the wide cave his fat flocks one and all, and left not one without in the deep court, either from some foreboding or because a god so bade him.  Then he lifted on high and set in place the great door-stone, and sitting down he milked the ewes and bleating goats all in turn, and beneath each dam he placed her young. But when he had busily performed his tasks, again he seized two men at once and made ready his supper.  Then I drew near and spoke to the Cyclops, holding in my hands an ivy bowl of the dark wine:
“‘Cyclops, take and drink wine after thy meal of human flesh, that thou mayest know what manner of drink this is which our ship contained. It was to thee that I was bringing it as a drink offering, in the hope that, touched with pity,  thou mightest send me on my way home; but thou ragest in a way that is past all bearing. Cruel man, how shall any one of all the multitudes of men ever come to thee again hereafter, seeing that thou hast wrought lawlessness?’
“So I spoke, and he took the cup and drained it, and was wondrously pleased as he drank the sweet draught, and asked me for it again a second time:
 “‘Give it me again with a ready heart, and tell me thy name straightway, that I may give thee a stranger's gift whereat thou mayest be glad. For among the Cyclopes the earth, the giver of grain, bears the rich clusters of wine, and the rain of Zeus gives them increase; but this is a streamlet of ambrosia and nectar.’
 “So he spoke, and again I handed him the flaming wine. Thrice I brought and gave it him, and thrice he drained it in his folly. But when the wine had stolen about the wits of the Cyclops, then I spoke to him with gentle words:
“‘Cyclops, thou askest me of my glorious name, and I  will tell it thee; and do thou give me a stranger's gift, even as thou didst promise. Noman is my name, Noman do they call me — my mother and my father, and all my comrades as well.’
“So I spoke, and he straightway answered me with pitiless heart: ‘Noman will I eat last among his comrades,  and the others before him; this shall be thy gift.’
“He spoke, and reeling fell upon his back, and lay there with his thick neck bent aslant, and sleep, that conquers all, laid hold on him. And from his gullet came forth wine and bits of human flesh, and he vomited in his drunken sleep.  Then verily I thrust in the stake under the deep ashes until it should grow hot, and heartened all my comrades with cheering words, that I might see no man flinch through fear. But when presently that stake of olive-wood was about to catch fire, green though it was, and began to glow terribly,  then verily I drew nigh, bringing the stake from the fire, and my comrades stood round me and a god breathed into us great courage. They took the stake of olive-wood, sharp at the point, and thrust it into his eye, while I, throwing my weight upon it from above, whirled it round, as when a man bores a ship's timber  with a drill, while those below keep it spinning with the thong, which they lay hold of by either end, and the drill runs around unceasingly. Even so we took the fiery-pointed stake and whirled it around in his eye, and the blood flowed around the heated thing. And his eyelids wholly and his brows round about did the flame singe  as the eyeball burned, and its roots crackled in the fire. And as when a smith dips a great axe or an adze in cold water amid loud hissing to temper it — for therefrom comes the strength of iron — even so did his eye hiss round the stake of olive-wood.  Terribly then did he cry aloud, and the rock rang around; and we, seized with terror, shrank back, while he wrenched from his eye the stake, all befouled with blood, and flung it from him, wildly waving his arms. Then he called aloud to the Cyclopes, who  dwelt round about him in caves among the windy heights, and they heard his cry and came thronging from every side, and standing around the cave asked him what ailed him:
“‘What so sore distress is thine, Polyphemus, that thou criest out thus through the immortal night, and makest us sleepless?  Can it be that some mortal man is driving off thy flocks against thy will, or slaying thee thyself by guile or by might?’
“‘Then from out the cave the mighty Polyphemus answered them: ‘My friends, it is Noman that is slaying me by guile and not by force.’
“And they made answer and addressed him with winged words:  ‘If, then, no man does violence to thee in thy loneliness, sickness which comes from great Zeus thou mayest in no wise escape. Nay, do thou pray to our father, the lord Poseidon.’
“So they spoke and went their way; and my heart laughed within me that my name and cunning device had so beguiled.  But the Cyclops, groaning and travailing in anguish, groped with his hands and took away the stone from the door, and himself sat in the doorway with arms outstretched in the hope of catching anyone who sought to go forth with the sheep — so witless, forsooth, he thought in his heart to find me.  But I took counsel how all might be the very best, if I might haply find some way of escape from death for my comrades and for myself. And I wove all manner of wiles and counsel, as a man will in a matter of life and death; for great was the evil that was nigh us. And this seemed to my mind the best plan.  Rams there were, well-fed and thick of fleece, fine beasts and large, with wool dark as the violet. These I silently bound together with twisted withes on which the Cyclops, that monster with his heart set on lawlessness, was wont to sleep. Three at a time I took. The one in the middle in each case bore a man,  and the other two went, one on either side, saving my comrades. Thus every three sheep bore a man. But as for me — there was a ram, far the best of all the flock; him I grasped by the back, and curled beneath his shaggy belly, lay there face upwards  with steadfast heart, clinging fast with my hands to his wondrous fleece. So then, with wailing, we waited for the bright dawn.
“As soon as early Dawn appeared, the rosy-fingered, then the males of the flock hastened forth to pasture and the females bleated unmilked about the pens,  for their udders were bursting. And their master, distressed with grievous pains, felt along the backs of all the sheep as they stood up before him, but in his folly he marked not this, that my men were bound beneath the breasts of his fleecy sheep. Last of all the flock the ram went forth,  burdened with the weight of his fleece and my cunning self. And mighty Polyphemus, as he felt along his back, spoke to him, saying:
“‘Good ram, why pray is it that thou goest forth thus through the cave the last of the flock? Thou hast not heretofore been wont to lag behind the sheep, but wast ever far the first to feed on the tender bloom of the grass,  moving with long strides, and ever the first didst reach the streams of the river, and the first didst long to return to the fold at evening. But now thou art last of all. Surely thou art sorrowing for the eye of thy master, which an evil man blinded along with his miserable fellows, when he had overpowered my wits with wine,  even Noman, who, I tell thee, has not yet escaped destruction. If only thou couldst feel as I do, and couldst get thee power of speech to tell me where he skulks away from my wrath, then should his brains be dashed on the ground here and there throughout the cave, when I had smitten him, and my heart  should be lightened of the woes which good-for-naught Noman has brought me.’
“So saying, he sent the ram forth from him. And when we had gone a little way from the cave and the court, I first loosed myself from under the ram and set my comrades free. Speedily then we drove off those long-shanked sheep, rich with fat,  turning full often to look about until we came to the ship.
|Francois Vase |
by Kleitias (painter) and Ergotimos (potter)
Black figure volute krater
from Chiusis, Greece c570BCE
Now in the Museo Archeologico, Florence
|Form: The vase, signed twice by Kleitias (painter) and Ergotimos (potter) exhibits horror vacui but does not contain the rosettes and ornaments of the Orientalizing period. The ornamentation of this vase is organized into a series of registers or frets of almost equal size and this appears to be fairly common in black figure vases of the Orientalizing period. Each register is devoted to a scene which depicts mythological creatures or people. The ornamentation of these registers contains more than 200 naturalistic figures. These figures exhibit correction on the earlier Geometric or Orientalizing periods' designs by taking the the level of realism up a degree or two. Interlaced throughout the figures are the names of the character's on the vase. |
Iconography: The pot tells a story about Greek mythology, focusing on the exploits of Peleus and his son Achilles, the great hero of Homer's Iliad, and of Theseus, the legendary king of Athens. The detail scene depicts a centauromachy ( a battle between centaurs and humans). In this episode the Lapiths (whom Theseus aided) and and centaurs (half horse half man creatures) do battle after the wedding of Pirithous, king of the Lapiths. The centaurs, drunk after the celebration become unruly, and attempt to rape (in this case it means sexually and to abduct or steal them) the young boys and young girls. Apollo stops the battle and sends the centaurs home.
Overall the mythological scenes on this vase are designed to instruct or indoctrinate the viewer into the ideologies and behaviors symbolized in the tales. More specifically, the centauromachy, whose main antagonists are half-man half-beast, represent the struggle against man's bestial nature. Gardner's "Art Through the Ages" makes the observation that although many cultures have composite creatures, centaurs are unique to Greek culture.
see http://www.pantheon.org/articles/p/peleus.html for more on Peleus and Centaurs.
Context: Found by an archeologist named Francois, often you will see this vase referred to as an "Attic" vase or Attic black figure vase. The term Attic refers to its origins as Athenian but this Attic vase was found in Italy. This demonstrates the importance of trade and the reverence for the quality of Athenian workmanship.
Interlaced throughout the figures are the names of the character's on the vase and the vase is also signed. This indicates two things. The written word was at least in some circles fairly commonplace and that the status of the artist must have been on the rise in Athens as well because this is one of the first examples of artwork that has been signed. The indication that Kleitias was the painter and Ergotimos was the potter also gives us a clue into the fact that there was a refined division of labor.
Ajax and Achilles playing a game.
by Exekias, c540-530 B.C.E.
Attic black-figured amphora found
in an Etruscan tomb in Vulci, Italy.
|Form: The overall design of this vessel demonstrates an evolution form the earlier horror vacui style to a more naturalistic and roomy style. The entire vase is not taken up by a series of registers. Instead a single scene, symmetrically laid out, dominates the center of the amphora. The figures are very naturalistically depicted with the exception of some distortions in anatomy and that the eyes on their profile faces are actually in a frontal view as in Egyptian art. The black figures' capes and clothing are complex delicately incised designs that were etched down into engobe glaze so that the red ground clay shows through. The incised designs of the cape depict some of the rosettes and design elements found in orientalized pottery. The engraving is supplemented by the addition of touches of white. Around and between the two figures are written words. (click here for detail view) |
Iconography: The scene on the vase represents Ajax and Achilles, heroes from Homer's "Iliad," playing a game of dice. Their shields are near and they hold their spears suggesting each man is ready for action at a moment's notice. The depiction of heroes in armor is meant to reference the ideal of the heroic male in the same way that we decorate children's lunch boxes and dishes with real and imaginary heroes. Since the Greeks believed that men were created in the image of the gods. The ancient Greeks began to depict their art work more realistically because they wanted their heroes to be more godlike.
Here, myth and legend are combined. The myth of Perseus and the Gorgons is laid over the legends outlined in the "Iliad." The shields of the two characters contain a Gorgon like image that could be a reference to that myth and would also associate their prowess with the mythological Perseus. The shields then almost serve an apotropaic function.
Context: This vase too was found in Italy and demonstrates the desire of Etruscans for goods from Greece. The writing on the vase shows the rise in literacy of a small elite group who could afford such luxury items and in fact the words are actually not who the characters are but rather what they are saying. According to Gardner, "Out of the lips of Achilles come the word tesara (four); Ajax calls out tria (three)."
Ajax and Achiles playing a game. It was found in Vulci, Italy but was manufactured most likely in the studio of a potter named Andokides in Greece 540-530CE. and then exported.
The Andokides Potter.
The "Bilingual Amphora with scenes of two soldiers playing a game."
It is not known who painted this vase.
The scenes probably depict Ajax and Achiles playing a game. It was found in Vulci, Italy but was manufactured most likely in the studio of a potter named Andokides in Greece 540-530CE. and then exported.
This vase is very important for art historians because it exhibits two different styles of painting on each side of it. It exhibits the black figure style on one side and the red figure style on the other.
The history or provenance of the vase is a little confusing because most people want to claim that the painting on the vase might have been done by the Potter named Andokides. In sixth century Greece it was common for there to be a division of labor between the Potter who made the vases and vessels on a Potter’s wheel and a Potter’s assistant who may have decorated the vase. We see that in several vases where there are actually signatures by both the Potter and the painter on the vase. In this case, this vase is not signed. The reason why people attribute it to the painter Andokides was because a historian in 1901 named Beazley made an attribution based on the similarity in the painting style to other vases with signatures by Andokides. The proof that this vase was painted and made by the same artist is not clear so the best we have are educated guesses.
This vase called the bilingual amphora is probably made by a Potter named Andokides and possibly painted by Andokides however, there are small differences in style, sort of like a handwriting in line quality, between each side. The lines and the way things are drawn look a little bit different on each side and this may suggest that another painter participated in making the decorations on the other side. We also don’t really know if Andokides hired a separate painter to be his painter and all he did was throw the vases and then hand them to decorators after he was done.
Other important contextual data about the Potter Andokides is that contemporary historians believe that it’s possible that the red figure type of pottery was born in his workshop. It’s also believed that Andokides was possibly the student of the Potter that we studied named Exekias.
This vase has two types of decoration on it. On one side it has a more traditional black figure style of decoration in which the figures skin is almost a silhouette that is filled in with black glaze. The reverse side of the vase uses what art is sometimes referred to as “figure ground reversal.”
Figure ground reversal is actually just a fancy way of saying the image becomes positive and negative and you can see slightly different things in it for example look at this diagram. Essentially, what the Andokides painter was able to do was make the skin color of the characters the red of the clay which makes a little bit more sense by painting all of the space around the figures with a darker glaze. However, this looks more realistic and became a favorite style when we get into the high classical age of ancient Greece. So the fact that there are red figures on one side and black figures on the other is an important detail. The fancy way of saying this is that the painter was bilingual, meaning he spoke to languages in terms of visual style the black figure and the red figure.
The next important formal elements concern the overall scene and its composition. On both sides of the vase there is a ovoid or rectangular-ish shape that defines a scene in the center of the amphora. This is a shift away from the horror vaccui that the earlier phases of pottery exhibited. Now there are some decorations that are on the handles and a leaf or organic design that helps to define the major scene in the center. Seated in the center of this “scene” are two men, on one side wearing the armor on the other side book ended by their armor and shields, playing a game on a low box. Both of the figures on either side are depicted in profile view and the anatomy of each is very realistic and fairly naturalistic in terms of proportion and shape although there are some suggestions of stylize in the forms of legs and feet geometrically. Sometimes the anatomy looks like it’s been reduced to geometric shapes. The faces are still fairly cartoonlike and the eyes, although the head is in profile appear to be in frontal view.
Horror vaccui is exhibited in the ornamentation of the clothing and the armor which has intricately carved or incised lines that describe different kinds of shapes for example flower patterns. This is called scraffito and is accomplished by taking a sharp metal needle or awl and incising intricate designs into the glaze probably before the pot has been fired.
The title that Beazley gave this pot is, “Ajax and Achilles playing a dice game.” Although a majority of vases depict the low in battle in which the two heroes from Homer’s “Iliad and Odyssey,” this could be just two soldiers playing a board game. However, the majority of scholars overwhelmingly describe the scene as specifically Ajax and Achilles playing a dice game because of its provenance in the Iliad. Since this is a reasonable assumption we can probably take the iconographic analysis a little bit more deeply and examine why there are so many depictions of soldiers and so many depictions of heroes from Homer’s famous books.
Most likely the depiction of heroes from Greek literature had a twofold purpose. In some ways the heroes on these vases are very similar to our depictions of people like George Washington crossing the Delaware or famous war monuments. They are part of the culture and they also depict the values of the culture that are most highly prized. In this case it’s a way of reinforcing the idea of establishing oneself through battle and through heroic acts. One of my professors, Herbert Broderick from Lehman College at City University of New York, suggested the idea of a cult of “death” or heroic death that is reinforced by depicting famous warriors. Almost like the Norse mythology that deals with falling in battle will bring you immediate entrance into Valhalla the Norse heaven.
Schema and correction: A theory developed by Ernst Gombrich. Schema refers to the original plan or idea of something and correction refers to the changes that were made to that original plan. kalos The Greek term for beauty is kalos (calos). The term kalos can also be interchanged with and is synonymous with goodness. Therefore, to call someone or something beautiful also means that that thing is also "good."
Geometric, Orientalizing and Archaic Greek Sculpture and Architecture
|Geometric Period 1050BCE - 700 BCE (700 BCE) |
Orientalizing Period 700 BCE - 600 BCE (600 BCE)
Archaic Period 600 BCE - 480 BCE (600 BCE)
Centaur, from Lefkandi, Euboea,
c980 BCE or after
terra-cotta, height 14 1/8"
Archaeological Museum, Eritrea
|Form: The creature is a composite of a horse and human referred to as a centaur. Stokstad comments that this work exemplifies the Proto-Geometric style because the body and forms painted, in slip, on this sculpture are geometricized. Some of the overall geometric shapes are further broken down into cross hatched designs. The face as well as the limbs while recognizable are still not very naturalistic. The sculpture was made on a potter's wheel and the body and limbs are hollow. Context: Stokstad relates that this sculpture was found broken in two and placed in adjacent graves. This may indicate that the duality of the centaur's nature may represent or have something to do with the development of Greek ideas concerning duality and symmetry. |
Iconography: Images of the centaur are almost always associated with the story of the Lapith's battle with the Centaurs or centauromachy ( a battle between centaurs and humans). The Lapiths and and centaurs do battle after a wedding celebration. The centaurs, drunk after the celebration become unruly, and attempt to rape (in this case it means sexually and to abduct or steal them) the young boys and young girls. Apollo stops the battle and sends the centaurs home.
Overall the mythological scenes on this vase are designed to instruct or indoctrinate the viewer into the ideologies and behaviors symbolized in the tales. More specifically, the centauromachy, whose main antagonists are half-man half-beast, represent the struggle against man's bestial nature.
Olympia. c 750 BCE
Bronze, height 4.5".
Metropolitan Museum, NY
Iconography: In this version of a centauromachy, the scale is out of proportion with reality probably intentionally. The exaggerated size of the human figure is probably symbolic of the imminent victory of the human over the centaur. Which in turn might represent the victory of humanity over its bestial nature. Gardner's proposes that this particular sculpture represent Hercules' battle with the centaur Nessos. After volunteering to carry Hercules' bride across a river, Nessos attempts to abscond with the bride at which point they battle.
Context: Small sculptures like this were probably used as votive figures either in the home or a shrine. Perhaps they were given to shrines as gifts or sacrifices. The inscription on the Mantiklos Apollo (below) would tend to support this. Probably even more significant about small solid cast bronzes such as this is that they are the beginning schemas to much more complex large scale sculptures developed during later periods.
Form: This sculpture, while still a bit more naturalistic than the Centaur, from Lefkandi, is still somewhat stylized. The rendering of the forms is not so much geometric as it is inaccurate. Not the problem the artist had with attaching the human form to the horse. This works is truly a composite because the entire front end of the form is human including the genitalia which on later representations of the centaur are located in the rear regions and belong to the horse component.
This small sculpture was made with thecire perdue or lost wax process. The process is referred to as lost wax not because we have lost the process, but because the figure is originally sculpted from wax which is lost in the process. The original is encased in clay. Two drainage holes are placed in the clay and when the clay is heated, the wax runs out of the hole leaving a cavity. Bronze is then poured into the cavity and when the bronze cools the clay mold is broken open revealing the bronze sculpture. Since the bronze is a fairly soft metal, details can be etched and molded while the bronze is cool.
For large hollow sculptures the process is different. See this diagram.
Mantiklos Apollo, statuette of a
youth dedicated by Mantiklos
to Apollo, from Thebes,
c 700-680 BCE
Bronze, Approx. 8"
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
|Form: This nude figure of an idealized young man is made of solid bronze using cire perdue. The sculpture is said to be orientalized in appearance because it looks similar to Persian or Assyrian designs from the same period. Note the hair and the brow and how similar these look to the sculptures from Tell Asmar. The rendering of the anatomy is still based on geometric forms such as triangles and squares and elements, such as the neck and the facial features are distorted, however, this sculpture is still very naturalistic. On Apollo’s leg is an inscription "Mantiklos dedicated me as tithe to the far-shooting Lord of the Silver Bow; you, Phoibos (Apollo), might give some pleasing favor in return." (Translation quoted from Gardner's) Perhaps the sculpture originally had gems placed in the eye sockets. Iconography: This sculpture demonstrates the desire of the Greek artist to move towards a more naturalistic or realistic style. The figure's body is the idealized and perfect looking youth figure that will later on be referred to as a kouros figure. Naturalism and specifically depicting the male human form accurately is linked to the fact that the Greek gods look human. Man for the Greeks was created in their gods' image and therefore it is almost a form of representing the divine if the work is naturalistic |
The figure is also beautiful and this is an icon of goodness for the Greeks. In Greek epic poetry the hero is always described as handsome or beautiful and their physical appearance is a reflection of the character's virtue. The idealism or beauty of the Greek figure is linked to the concept that you can judge a book by its cover. The Greek term for beauty is kalos (calos). The term kalos can also be interchanged with and is synonymous with goodness. Therefore, to call someone or something beautiful also means that that thing is also "good."
Context: Art historians believe that these vases have an "eastern" or "oriental" or asian kind of feeling. Stokstad states, "the source of these motifs can be traced to the arts of the Near East, Asia Minor, and Egypt. The term "orientalized" although an accepted art historical term seems to have a rather Eurocentric meaning. The term seems to lump all the cultures east of Greece in this blanket term and therefore tends to generalize a bit too much.
Pediment from the Temple of Artemis c580 BCE
Gorgon Medusa, detail of a sculpture from
the west pediment of the Temple of Artemis,
Korkyra (also called Corfu)
limestone, ht. 9'2"
Archaeological museum, Corfu
|Form: This high relief sculpture is part of the pediment (the triangular section on top of the columns) of a larger doric style temple. The organization of the pediment is symmetrical. The large figure, which depicts Medusa, at the center is sculpted in an orientalized style and is flanked by two lions that also look orientalized. Gardner's makes the comparison that the lions are very similar in style to the lions on the Lion Gate at Mycenae. Medusa's body is stylized and organized into a kind of pinwheel or swastika like design. The limbs radiate out from the center of the form as if she is in motion. She has fangs and snakes coming out of her hair and snakes entwined on her belt. Originally, she was flanked, between her body and the two lions were two smaller figures. Iconography: The Doric style of the temple is considered to be one of the most masculine, dignified, and oldest styles of Greek temple architecture. The main figure of Medusa was one of the three Gorgon sisters who had snakes for hair and were so hideous that if one looked upon them you would be transformed into stone. Medusa, committed and act of hubris or hybris (an act of disrespect, excessive pride or arrogance) by lying down with Poseidon in Athena's temple. In the tale of Perseus, he encounters the Gorgon Medusa, decapitates her and uses her head to freeze his enemies. After Perseus decapitated Medusa she gave birth to two legendary creatures from her blood or her neck, Chrysaor and Pegasus. |
The use of the Gorgon on shields and temples serves an apotropaic function but also serves a didactic (instructive) one as well. The monsters' physical attributes depicted in these tales summarize their failings. For example, the Cyclops is short of vision and the Gorgons are ugly of spirit and the snakes represent their deceit. The heroes are idealized versions of soldiers. They instruct us to be clever, loyal and be a soldier. (compare to the Eleusis Amphora)
Context: Corfu is a small island off the coast of Greece and was an important stopping off point for Greek trade. Therefore, it would makes sense that any towns and temples on that island might benefit from the wealth and be able to decorate and furnish their temples lavishly.
An interesting element in the decoration is that the decoration serves a more heraldic purpose. Meaning that is is more symbolic than narrative and this is supported by the anachronistic (out of sequence or not in time) narrative of the story of Medusa. The sculpture depicts a sort of composite view of time. The children that spring out of her neck should not be there if Medusa has not been slain yet.
In the lower left and right hand sections of the pediment were separate sculptures that might have represented other narratives. As Janson's points out, the battle between the narrative scene and the heraldic one, as well shall see, is later won by the narrative in Greek temple relief sculpture.
Kouros from Attica (the region surrounding Athens)
c600 BCE 6' 4" marble
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
|Form: Originally, this larger than life figure would have been polychromed (painted poly- many, chroma- color) in bright colors with a combination of hot wax and ground up earth pigments known as encaustic. Although stylized in a somewhat orientalizing fashion, still is an idealized and fairly naturalistic representation of a young male figure. The archaic smile the figure exhibits is one of these distortions. Furthermore, the musculature is simplified and the proportions of the body are still somewhat inaccurate. In many ways this sculpture shares much with its Egyptian and Sumerian counterparts. The hair is stylized and the eyes are over large and share a similar structure of nose and brow to the statues from Tell Asmar. The Kouros also stands and is posed in the same blocky manner as Egyptian sculptures. (Go to this link to compare visually.) Despite these obvious distortions, this sculpture marks a strong shift towards realism in Greek art. Although these sculptures are sculpted "in the round," meaning they can be viewed from every angle, they are still really meant to be viewed from the front. When viewed from the back and sides they are a bit awkward. |
Iconography: These sculptures are idealized representations of the perfect young male who possesses kalos. Stokstad asserts that the Greeks might have viewed these as fertility figures. More specifically they may have been portraits of specific people. Gardner suggests that the archaic smile is a convention meant to symbolize that the figure is alive.
Context: We cannot fully explain what the meaning or function of these kouroi (plural for kouros and kore). Most historians seem to believe that these were probably grave markers, portraits or votive figures. The inscription on the Anyvasos Kouros (in Stokstad) does seem to support that they would have been used as gravemarkers. Another question raised is that the female counterparts or Kore figures are always clothed while the males are always nude. Most likely this is an indication of some sort of chauvinism on the part of Greek males who controlled the production of art.
|Calf Bearer (Moscophoros)560 B.C.E. 5'5" |
marble, encaustic found on the Acropolis
(click for close up detail)
Form: Like the earlier Kouros from the Metropolitan, this sculpture possess the archaic smile, would have been polychromed and is stylized in a orientalizing fashion. Unlike the Kouros the is figure probably had precious stones placed in the eyes and the beard and clothing would indicate that this it is an attempt at a more naturalistic representation of a middle aged or older male figure. The calf the sculpture holds is very realistic and the naturalistic representation of it is somewhat similar to the Vapheio cups. The base of the sculpture is inscribed.
Iconography: The inscription is from an individual named Rhonbos who dedicates the statue to Athena. Gardner suggests that this sculpture's clothing is an invention of the artist and does not represent accurately the clothing of the times but is probably meant to dignify the sculpture in some way. The beard is probably meant as an icon of age and therefore wisdom.
Context: We cannot fully explain what the meaning or function of these kouroi (plural for kouros and kore), however, the inscription on this sculpture and the fact that it was located in the rubble of the Acropolis (it was used as land fill) indicates that it was probably a sculpture gifted to the religious complex and was used as a votive figure. It is also likely that Rhonbos was an important individual, or at the very least a wealthy one who in being a patron also raised his own status somewhat.
Summary of the development of Greek Art. (Borrowed but edited from this page: http://www.reed.edu/~rwhanson/ArtHistory.html)
- It went from the geometric to the anthropomorphized to the illusionistic. This transition is more commonly refered to as the transition from Archaic to Classical. Classical Art essentially last from a little before 400 to the fall.
- An example of the primarily geometric was the Dipilon Amphora. It was a five foot tall grave offering. It was geometrically proportioned into 2/3rds base 1/3rds top. It was a burial marker that depicts a grave scene. There is no use of perspective or foreshortening.
- Human figures are first introduced as the Kouros and Kouri. Kouros are male, Kouri are female. They are not lifelike looking, but they have the beginnings of techniques such as perspective. They were usually grave markers. They represented a homeric ideal, not the actual physical reality of the person whose grave they marked. However, they were intended as a kind of portrait. An example of this is the Calf Bearer.
- The Parthenon is Illusionistic or Classical. Some development can be seen on the Parthenon itself, as the south side was completed first. Inside are the most illusionistic statues that appear to have weight in addition to perspective and foreshortening. The main theme is of us vs. the other.
- Art went from decorative to serving as function in politics as propaganda, as well as a medium in which to bring up messages.
- Why Greek art is special?
- It shows the relationship between the individual and the community
- It was not a technical revolution
- It had a new purpose and this is what had far reaching consequences for the rest of western art.
Schema and correction: A theory developed by Ernst Gombrich. Schema refers to the original plan or idea of something and correction refers to the changes that were made to that original plan.Ancient Greece During its "Golden Age" Focus on the city Athens and its Acropolis
polychromed To polychrome something is to paint it in many colors. (poly- many, chroma- color)
encaustic Encaustic is a combination of hot wax and ground up earth pigments that are applied hot.
Now we are going to look at the main and most important building on the Acropolis that is called the Parthenon. As you leave the entrance, you see it on the right-hand side facing you. It is meant to represent the home of Athena, the goddess of wisdom. We know a lot about this building because there were actually records left from that time including; how it was paid for, who worked on it, etc. The main architects for it were Iktinos and Kallikrates. The main sculptor who worked on it was a guy named Phidias. It really is a “magnum opus” (one of the greatest works we will look at) because it is the schema building for all the future buildings we will be studying, both in architecture and design/ornamentation.
The story is that “Athena,” who is the goddess of wisdom, is also the patron goddess for this building. I think it is kind of important that this building represents her main attributes which are wisdom and also chaste values, meaning she is a celibate goddess that is very dignified, very logical and very powerful. She is also the main goddess who supports Odysseus in the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Remember Zeus gave birth to Dionysus?
Well, he also gives birth to Athena, and this is how it happens. One day he has a terrible headache and the God of the Forge; Hephaestus, or you may know him by his “Star Trek” or Roman name, “Vulcan” comes and cuts his head open with an ax and Athena springs from his head like a fully formed idea; fully armed, clothed and ready for battle in her weaponry and all her glory. I also think that there is a little bit of that weird idea that she also springs out of his head from a headache, (I guess some parents feel like their kids are headaches) so you can draw your own conclusions to that.
Iktinos and Kallikrates The Parthenon c450 BCE Athens, Greece
Pythagorean ratios 6:8, 9:12
The building represents “symmetria,” “kalos” and a lot of the irrational and rational ideas concerning numbers that we discussed before. So first off, when you are approaching it; you actually approach it from the West side. It is canted at a slight angle so you get to see two sides of the building. The West side is the short side facing you and it is not the entrance; it was actually used as a storage room. And remember, we talked about the Pythagorean idea concerning the ratio of 8 to 17; that it is a beautiful and kind of a strange irrational number, but also how it makes the building look about three times longer? So when you travel down it, you get the sense that the building is extra-large because you get to see the entire length of the building as you bring your goods to Athena who is housed inside.
When you step up closer to the building you see that it seems to be completely square, logical and level, but I think one of the most interesting things that a lot of people have taken a look at and find particularly interesting, is that it actually has a bunch of curved lines. In the base it actually, I think, rises a couple of centimeters in the center and in the entablature; and the columns themselves kind of tilt in a little bit. Those sorts of weird little distortions that are not squared off and do not seem completely logical, are actually quite logical. If you did not have that rise to compensate for the curvature of the eyes and some weird things that happen in terms of how we see things, it would probably look like it was sort of leaning out and kind of bubbling in a strange way. So those distortions in the foundation, the rise of the building and the columns canted back, are meant to actually compensate for irrational things that happen with the structure.
Overall, it is a “Doric” order temple and that means it’s the most masculine order of temple. I think it is also interesting that they chose the most dignified (for them) and the most masculine order, to house a female goddess; who incidentally is a virgin goddess. The term “Parthenos” means “virgin.” Do you remember the term “parthenogenesis” means “virgin birth” from biology class? This is the virgin’s “cella” or chamber.
If we look at the Doric order and we analyze a little bit more closely using these diagrams, I think you can see some things that are important. So notice that it does not have a base and that it is a simple column that goes straight into the “stylobate.” Remember when I told you that the term for column is “stylos” and the term for base is “bate”? So, “stylobate” means “column base” and we also have the term “steriobate,” which means “second base.” And that’s probably the original “stylobate” and “steriobate” foundation for that structure. They started a temple in about 490 to Athena. Then when the Persians came and decimated the Acropolis, all that was left (more or less) was the foundation; so it (or parts of it) were used to construct the Parthenon.
If we zoom in on the frieze of the entablature, you will see that there is also an alternation between what are called “triglyphs” and “metopes.” For “triglyph,” the term “tri” means “three,” meaning it has three marks. The “metopes” actually made up the end parts for the original wooden structures of that time; and would have been used to keep animals (such as birds) from getting in through the roofline. They were originally made out of “terra-cotta tiles.” Now all of the elements that we see for this building are made out of this almost solid stone and emulate or mimic the original wood structure. So a lot of it is just left over style. For example: like how in some cars the hubcaps looks like they have spokes, but now they are just for decoration compared to the actual spokes on the original cars when they were first made in the 1920s and 30s and were actually functional. I think a lot of the elements on the entablature of Greek buildings are kind of like those left over vestiges that are just ornaments that people like to have, and they are included because they are part of the Doric order.
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We are looking at a temple from Italy actually; because some of the best preserved temples are in Italy. What I want you to notice is that as we move up the column, we see that there is fluting, a slight swelling in the center; sort of three quarters of the way or two thirds of the way up the column, that it drops back into the echinus or “capital” of the column and that the swelling is called “entasis.” This is a way of actually making the columns appear straighter and possibly used to either make it look as if the columns are swelling under the pressure of the entablature to give an organic kind of feel to it; or the other way of looking at it, is possibly that the drop back about two thirds of the way up the columns is meant to increase the already emphasized size of the building.
Greek, Paestum Italy Basilica 550BCE entasis
The next place where you zoom in on is the pediment of the building, which is the top. It has frame like molding or outline on it called a “cornice.” I think in Italian it is called a “corniche” which literally means “frame.”
We are going to take a look at the sculptures that were set in there. In the pediment of the Parthenon are a series of sculptures that have kind of been put up there like knick knacks on a shelf. Most of them do not actually exist anymore on the Parthenon. Most of them are in England, in the British Museum. Now we will talk about how Athena lost her marbles.
These are three of the figures that would have been tucked into the top of the pediment, and the first idea that I want to bounce off you is actually where they all went. Phidias is the sculptor and they have been there for thousands of years (more or less). Then there is the war between the Ottoman Turks and the Venetians. Around 16 CE, there is this battle where the Ottomans have munitions dumps or some powder kegs and gunpowder inside the center of the Parthenon; and unfortunately for us, the Venetians score an unlucky hit and the powder kegs explode; therefore, bursting the whole Parthenon from the inside out. So what is more or less left after that, is the metopes that are surrounding the entire entablature and a couple of the pediment sculptures, but probably a lot of the heads fell off. I also have the suspicion that some of the heads were stolen much earlier by robbers, because you could just climb up there and grab a couple of heads; you could sell them on the antiquities market.
Then we get into the 1800s, late 1700s and there is this guy named Lord Elgin; and he was a Scottish Lord, who was basically the ambassador to Turkey. He got permission to remove all of the marble sculptures from the Turkish government, bring them back and put them on his Scottish mansion in the UK. So this guy basically says he is preserving these things. He brings them back and then when he dies, he leaves them all to the British Museum. And so they are called the “Elgin marbles” because they were renamed after Lord Elgin. So if you ever want to see a really significant and great collection of the marbles from Athens, you have to go to England.
Something interesting about them is that they are finished on the back as well as the front; even though they would have been placed up there like knick knacks on a shelf. We do not actually know who these three figures are. They are just kind of given the term “Three Goddesses.” If you noticed, they are in “wet drapery” style and they show the anatomy of the female form. Some people suggested that the pediment they come from represents the birth of Athena and that is entirely possible. Phidias, who sculpted them, basically seems to have had a kind of workshop where you have a group of sculptors working for a master sculptor and mentor.
Three Goddesses? (Hestia, Dione, and Aphrodite?) (Possibly the three fates) (The Elgin Marbles)
from the East pediment of the east pediment of the Parthenon
sculptor: Phidias ? c438-432 BCE tallest figure 4'5"
If we zoom in on the corners of this, you will see that there are a couple of horses, kind of springing out of that pediment. It has been suggested that the way this is arranged shows good organization of the space by creating the sculptures to best fit the design. The horses rising on the left-hand side represent the sun God, “Helios” who is somewhat interchangeable or synonymous with, “Apollo”; and he is rising along with the sun in the East. If you move across to the right-hand pediment, there is a horse that actually does not really exist in record history. This horse has its head leaning over the right-hand side of the pediment and is possibly either Helios’ or Apollo’s lead horse or, as Jennifer Tobin has suggested, Selene, the goddess of the moon’s horse. So what you possibly have is the sun rising with Helios and setting with the moon taking over with Selene. I think a good way of looking at it would be to imagine that Helios’ or Apollo’s chariot is simultaneously launching and landing. In our view we only see the tops of the horses being shown as they ride across the sky leading Apollo’s chariot, because in some ways that would really kind of make sense. The East pediment is greeting the sun and Athena is the goddess of wisdom, Apollo is the God of rationality and the sun rising is a metaphor for enlightenment; similar to what we saw in “The Allegory of the Cave” by Plato. So all of those are ideas are about how rationality, enlightenment and intellect are part of what makes the sun shine on the planet and that the doorway that leads into Athena’s chamber is basically greeted by wisdom, knowledge or enlightenment.
Apollo's Lead Horse? (Selene's Horse?) (The Elgin Marbles)
from the East pediment of the east pediment of the Parthenon by Phidias ?
c438-432 BCE approximately 2' tall
Now these diagrams show what the façade might have possibly looked like if all the sculptures were there. I do not know if you can completely trust it, but I think what is kind of cool that it is “polychromed,” has the battles of the “Lapiths and Centaurs” and, as Jennifer Tobin has suggested, that the whole frieze depicts the birth of Athena as she was released from Zeus’s head with the rest of the sculptures being gods and goddesses that were acting as an audience or witnesses. You can see that the wind drawing is slightly different from the actual reconstruction we just looked at. I also wanted to show you a reconstruction of the metopes and how the Parthenon might have looked with its original polychromy from the encaustic wax that would have been used as paint to illustrate the series of stories around the triglyphs and metopes.
What I would like to do next is talk about the “triglyphs” and “metopes”; as well as, the entablature for both inside and outside because even though this is a Doric temple, it has ionic features. It has a box within a box kind of design. The outer sequence is a purely Doric entablature and column style. The interior has a sort of box that originally had walls around it. It was an enclosed space within a series of perimeter columns called a “peristyle.” If you think back to the term “stylobate,” then think about it, a “perimeter stylos” means a perimeter of columns, right? Then it would have the “cella” in the interior.
Pheidias Panathenaic Frieze
Phidias? Detail of the Panathenaic Procession(The Elgin Marbles)
from the north frieze of the Parthenon
c438-432 BCE approximately 3' 6" tall
(now in the British Museum) Classic Greek
Let us look at another frieze. We see this other frieze from the so-called “Panathenaic Procession.” What you are seeing is a parade. There is no deep space, this would have been colored, and these figures are in wet drapery; which shows the female forms. These are probably figures in the Panathenaic parade that led up to Athena; and this frieze supposedly culminates into this next one.
If you look at this frieze, it shows, a “peplos” or a sort of garment that is the thing that they would dress the figure in the center of the Parthenon in. This leads us to the second theory about what this might represent if it is not the “Panathenaic Procession”; and there are some good reasons why it wouldn’t. The first reason would be that almost all the temples that precede this one always had mythological themes and this is actually more like a genre scene of everyday life; not necessarily every day, but it is actual live people from that time period. It is almost like a current event sculpture in low and high relief.
Fig. 402 Maidens and Stewards, Marble Height approx. 43 in. 447 – 438 BCE
Fragment of the Panathenaic Procession from the east frieze of the Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens.
(now in the Louvre) Classic, Greek
Another possible explanation is that it represents a little-known myth from Athens about a king named Erechthus; who had to sacrifice his daughters in order to win a battle. Therefore, the friezes themselves might represent the funeral procession; and that the gown or garment that we are looking at here, is a representation of the funeral gown that their bodies would have been dressed in. I guess you can decide for yourself about what these friezes represent, but I need to caution you that almost universally, people believe it is the “Panathenaic Procession.”
An idea to stress is that these represent godlike or ideal figures. Although the building and its sculptures predates Plato and his writings, one could still say that these figures represent a “Platonic ideal.” They have “kalos”; which means they have beautiful figures and musculature, they are powerful looking, the women are beautiful and their bodies are perfect. So this might represent in some ways the ideal Athenian citizen. And if you think about that, you can actually relate it to Pericles’s “Funeral Oration” (recorded by the historian Thucydides).
Pericles boasts that all the citizens of Athens matter, that Athens is the model for all other cultures and that Athens has somehow earned some kind of place of honor by being morally superior, physically superior, intellectually superior and superior in terms of the arts. It shows how they saw superiority as the way of measuring worth in their world/time period. When you think about the athletic and military primacy of Athens the idea of “kalos” might not be too far off. That, to me, really supports that this is a representation of the “Panathenaic Procession.”
|The frieze and entablature with sculptures in situ|
Now, the last segment that I want to discuss with you is on the “entablature” with the sculptures. Some are “in situ”; which means “original setting/location,” but some of them are in the British Museum. What I want to look at is the metopes and triglyphs on the outer entablature; which is really traditionally a Doric entablature. The triglyphs and metopes are basically an alteration of design motifs, and the metopes are where all the decoration begins.
Let us zoom in a little bit one of the triglyphs for a second. They probably are a vestige that represents the ends of beams and they have these little pegs that are in the bottom called “guttae”; which are basically just wooden pegs or nails.
Then when we see this figure, it almost looks like he is dancing. Do you remember the Band called “the Eurythmics” from the 80s? They got their name actually from an old-fashioned term called “eurythmea” or “eurhythmic gesture.” “Eurythmia” literally means the dance pose or moving in a dance like way to music. It almost looks like these guys are dancing and this guy is about to cut off the centaurs head.
I want to suggest is that the bodies are extremely beautiful, and this represents “kalos” and the power and beauty of the human body. So do the centaurs, but another interesting element is that the centaurs body is actually the size of a pony. If you want to really represent a sort of Apollonian and Dionysian conflict you can’t really represent things to scale because if they are in true scale, there’s a sort of disproportion favoring the bottom half that runs away with you. Remember talking about how the centaurs got drunk, their bottom half ran away with them and they tried to rape people? I think that is evidenced in this piece. So, we have beautiful Lapith human figures that represent the rational human side and then the centaurs that are being defeated by the Lapiths and rationality.
metope relief from the Doric frieze on the south side of the Parthenon c440 BCE eurythmea eurythmic gesture
Professor Jennifer Tobin suggested is that the faces of all the centaurs look like they are in agony while the humans all look placid and peaceful. I am not sure that is true. You might want to Google them and decide for yourself. I think they all look kind of unemotional even though their bodies are moving in “eurythmia” or “eurhythmic gesture.” I think it is more likely that, the humans represent a beauty that only humans can have and the horses are beasts in some ways.
The interior of the Parthenon has two sections. That storage room behind the cello was probably just used as a place to put the goods that were brought up to Athena. If you were walking up to the Parthenon, confronted with the West side and walked all the way down the base of the building until you ended up at the “cella,” you would see a statue of Athena inside it.
The thing is you cannot go inside the “cella.” You can only stand in the doorway where there would be oil lamps lit up and you can hand your goods to the priest who would set them at the base of the sculpture of Athena. I think that is rather significant because it is a dramatic way of affecting how you feel about Athena when you walk up to the structure. So what I am suggesting is that after you have had this whole Panathenaic sort of walk; even if it is not during the “Panathenaic Procession”; you have walked all the way up to the top of the Acropolis and down the entire length of this building to stand at the doorway; and you can only look in. It makes you feel that it takes a lot to be able to be in/near the presence of a god/goddess; therefore making you appreciate them more or increasing the amount of value you place on them. And what you see when you look inside; lighten only by oil lamps would be this statue of Athena that stands seemingly taller than what she would be outside the building.
One of the stories that I’ve heard is from one of Dr. Rufus Fears’ lectures that I have listened to recently. He talked about Phidias who was the sculptor for the Acropolis. The lecture covered how Phidias was a good friend of Pericles; the guy that got the money together and was the patron of the arts for the Acropolis, how Phidias was brought up on charges of impiety over putting an irreverent sculpture on the shield of Athena and actually thrown in jail for it and that he eventually died in prison for it. I think the sculpture actually represented Pericles or it represented Phidias as an artist, but I am not sure which one.
So, I will leave it at that and we will talk more about the “Erechtheion” in the next lecture
A term paper that is most excellent:
Prof. Kenney Mencher
April 29, 2002
ParthenonHigh on the top of a hill in Athens, Greece sits the ruins of a city. The Persians in 480 BCE destroyed a once continuously developing and thriving city-state, the Acropolis. The remains of this city on the hill were to remain as a Greek memorial displaying the sacrifice made defeating the Persians. On the highest point of this devastated structure lay the remains of a sanctuary that housed an olive tree. This sacred symbol, devoted to the Goddess Athena, would be the focus point and driving force of reconstruction some thirty years later. However, a new temple would be built to house this Goddess of Athenian military power. Conforming to an architectural level of brilliant and outstanding proportions, this temple would symbolize Athenian honor to the Virgin Goddess Athena. This temple would be known as the Parthenon. The Parthenon is an example of unique and original architecture of a powerful empire that embodies the ideals of a culture that regarded itself as having a special unity between its people, government and gods. This statement will be established through contextual, formal and iconographic analysis.
The formal design of the Parthenon would enlist the skills of architects (Iktinos and Kallikrates) and sculptor (Phidias) whose brilliance in their fields would allow success in achieving the immense task of creating a temple of monumental proportions. They would be innovators of new design while making bold statements of unity between the people and its gods. No expense would be spared for this massive undertaking. Twenty thousand tons of marble would be used for its construction alone. The Doric style of architecture would have changes made in its symmetry. Instead of the usual six columns across it would have eight, making the structure 230 feet wide. Seventeen columns in width would give the Parthenon a length of 100 feet. Since perfectly straight lines would make the structure look curved to the human eye, the architects intentionally put slight curves and entasis style columns throughout the architecture giving the building an appearance of being perfectly straight. "By overcoming the distortions of nature, the Parthenon's sophisticated architecture made a confident statement about human ability to construct order out of the entropic disorder of the natural world" (Martin 188.8.131.52). The confidence of the Athenians close relationship to their gods would be further expressed within the sculptures of the Parthenon. Its unique and innovative style of sculpture would be a distinctive form executed through the skills of Phidias. While the temple used standard Doric features, which included pediment sculptures, one particular area of the complex incorporated a continuous frieze done in the Ionic order. Combining an Ionic frieze to a Doric temple would attract attention, which of course it was meant to do. The sculptures would embrace Athenian deities, as well as the Athenians themselves. The low relief style carving of the Ionic frieze included 114 separate sections that when combined measured 524 feet in length and 3 feet in width. The combined classic architecture and sculpture of the Parthenon not only reflects the prosperity, originality, and artistic genius of Athenian culture, but also depicts their ideals concerning a special relationship with the gods.
Within the entablature of the Parthenon, the Ionic frieze not only acknowledges the homage paid to the Goddess Athena, but symbolizes an Athenian mind-set of their strength and unity between themselves and the deities. Extending along both sides of the temple, the frieze depicts a festival that was held every four years known as the Panathenaic procession. The frieze shows idealistic carvings of young, strong, but graceful Athenian men and women in procession. Skillful men on horseback along with sturdy, yet graceful looking women are shown in harmony during their ascent to the top of the Acropolis. The symbolic statements mirrored in this low relief sculpture reflect healthy and strong citizens who represent the "ideal inhabitants of a successful city-state" (Stokstad 192). At the head of the procession, deities await their arrival. Having been included in the presence of these deities symbolizes a prevailing confidence between the Athenians and their gods. The Athenian culture of the "Golden Age" reflects a time in history when the defeat of an overwhelming enemy would inspire new ideals and confidence of its people. Original laws of citizenship were established that would unite the people as a democracy. Their creativity would continue to expand in areas of art and architecture unique to Athenian culture. With the profusion of wealth, the construction of the Parthenon had no limits of artistic license and would ultimately represent a powerful empire while emphasizing its independence. Combining both the citizens of Athens and their deities within the sculpture of the Ionic frieze conveyed a symbolic statement about the unique relationship between the gods and these favored citizens of the "Golden Age".
Martin, Thomas R. "An Overview of Classical Greek History." The Perseus Project 1997. <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/vor?type=phrase&alts=0&group=typecat&lookup=Parthenon&collection=
Perseus:collection:Greco-Roman#Section> 17 Apr. 2002. Neils, Jennifer "Reconfiguring the Gods on the Parthenon Frieze." Art Bulletin Vol. 81 (1999) : 16 Mar. 2002 <http://catalog.ohlone.cc.ca.us:2083/ehost.asp?key=184.108.40.206_8000__740279529&site=ehost&return=n>
Stokstad, Marilyn "Ancient Greece." Art History. 2nd ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2002.
Detail of the Panathenaic Procession
(The Elgin Marbles)
from the North frieze of the Parthenon
Phidias ? c438-432 BCE
approximately 3' 6" tall
|Form: These youthful figures on horseback are sculpted in relief style. Originally polychromed, these sculptures are idealized as well as naturalistic. The space that they inhabit is still fairly flat in that the figures are placed against the front of the picture plane, but some attempt has been made to create depth by overlapping the figures. Depth is further enhanced by the deeper relief towards the upper part of the scene. Remember that these reliefs are supposed to be seen from below and it is always more difficult to see the upper parts. Therefore, the sculpture is required to bring out those details so that no part of the scene is lost. The diagonal of each figure drives the viewer forward in an attempt to move through the story of the procession. Iconography: Although Stokstad mentions that there is some debate as to the exact interpretation of these friezes, in my opinion, they represent the Panathenaic procession. We can guess that these figures are the ideal Athenian citizens who participate in the procession. These men, in particular, exhibit the qualities of young Athenian men by demonstrating control over their horses and by sustaining an obvious physical strength. |
Context: The structure of the Parthenon is almost a box within a box. The exterior structure had Doric columns and a Doric entablature while the interior structure had Doric columns with an Ionic entablature. These friezes would originally have been placed in situ on the interior perimeter of the structure. As such they would have been slightly less visible than the metopes that would be on the Doric exterior frieze. (Click here to see some images.)
November 11, 2002
Art History 103A
Mencher The Athenians : “Gods Among Men” or Merely Snobs?
“There are two types of people - Greeks and everyone who wish they was Greek.” - Gus Portokalos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Since the time of the Renaissance, Europe and America have been enthralled by the legacy left by the ancient Athenians. For the great Europeans of the Renaissance, it was Greek art and literature that left its lasting impression on them. Artists such as Michelangelo and authors like William Shakespeare borrowed freely from the Greek arts to create their own masterpieces. In the United States, Revolutionary leaders looked towards Athens - the first democracy - for ways to shape their new government. Over the years we've borrowed (and stolen) a number of ideas from the Athenians. But, does that mean they’re infallible? Hardly. The Athenians may have created the first democracy but they weren’t perfect. Indeed, the ancient Athenians were rather full of themselves. And through a formal, iconographic and contextual analysis of the frieze at the Parthenon, designed by Phidias in 432 BCE, I will prove that the Greeks weren’t as idealistic as we might have believe.
“2,500 years ago, Athenian reformer Cleisthenes renounced tyranny and proclaimed the birth of a radically new government, democracy” ( Fleischman 1). Athens created democracy, a government for the people, but that didn’t make it an utopian nation. For one thing, they didn’t listen to everyone in the city-state. Women were still thought of possessions. Slaves were, of course, ignored. Unless you were a privileged Athenian man, democracy still meant next to nothing. Even men from different places were considered “barbaric.” And as the years passed, Athenians only began to think more and more about themselves. In 454 BCE, the building of the Acropolis, or Athenian high city, began. Originally, the area served as the last defendable resource of the city. But, while at war with the Persians, the city was burned down. When the Athenians returned from defeating the Persians, a new high city was begun. It was to be a representation of Athenian pride and greatness. But, the money used in building the new structures at the Acropolis was not even Athenian money. The great statesman, “ Pericles used the financial resources from the tribute contributed by the Greek city-states, funds which were intended to secure Athenian military projection” ( Hamilikas 2). With this stolen money, Pericles built a number of large and beautiful buildings in a show of conspicuous consumption and Athenian pride. The largest and most important of these buildings was the Parthenon, one of the temples to the patron goddess of Athens, Athena. And, one of the most interesting and controversial decorations on the Parthenon is its frieze.
The Parthenon frieze, a running relief sculpture 160 meters long and built of marble, is a piece of Athenian art that has baffled historians practically since its creation. One of the major problems in interpreting the frieze is its position at the Parthenon. As to be expected, the piece was skillfully sculpted. “The compositions on the west frieze blocks are free, and ingenious... varied in pose, dress or gesture of each figure” ( Boardman, 107) Phidias created a piece that places the viewer in an illusion, even while the execution of actual depth had yet to be created. Yet, the frieze also stands apart from its audience. It is lifted 12 meters off of the ground and divided by the columns that stand 20 meters away. “...[T]he Parthenon was a work of art not specially considerate of
those wanting to see it: the frieze particularly so” (Spivey 141). Why would Phidias bother to design anything that can’t really be seen? According to Nigel Spivey, the reason for this is that “Works of art... are not necessarily bound to care whether anyone sees them or not” (141). The Parthenon frieze is an example of artistic hubris, or creating art for an ideal audience. But, it is also an example of Athenian bragging - to create a piece and not allow anyone to see it.
There is another interpretation as to why the Athenian’s hid their art. Athens was created by two separate stocks of men - the Dorians and the Ionians. “According to ancient Greek racism, those of Dorian stock and origin were considered the hardier, the tougher, the more manly... The Ionians, on the other hand, were those orientalized Greeks, spoiled by the wealth, feminine elegance, and soft living of the near Eastern culture” (Adair 2). Athenian art was also divided by these two cultures, with the Doric order appearing more spartan and “masculine” and the Ionic more graceful and “feminine.” Generally, the Greeks preferred the Doric style to the Ionian but the Athenians always had to be different. “Attica, the territory in which we find Athens... [ showed] a tolerance, even a preference, for Ionic architecture. Athens, in particular, preferred it” (Adair 2). Athens had gained a heritage from the Ionian culture - Homer (author of The Iliad,) for one, had come from the near East. And, yet the Athenians didn’t want to appear soft or unmanly. They had just won the war! Why would they want to appear as anything but powerful? So, they contrived to hide their femininity.
There is also an undoubted sense of tension throughout the piece. It is generally believed that the frieze is a representation of the Panathenaic procession - a parade held every four years. At that time, a great procession of people would weave their way through Athens and to the Acropolis and “an enormous peplos [female garment] was taken to the Acropolis for Athena Parthenos (‘virgin’) in the Parthenon” (Brooklyn College Classics Department 4). Animal sacrifices would follow at the altar. But, one must notice that the peplos is never delivered. “The whole procession, from beginning to end, was a preparation” (Adair 3). The horses are unruly and the appearance of human bodies, both in the nude and through their clothing, increase a sense of anxiety. Athenians were worried about their masculinity but they refused to show it to anyone else - another picture of the Athenian superiority complex. And the Athenian pride doesn’t stop there.
Not only was the Panathenaic festival a celebration of Athena’s birthday but it was also a celebration of Athens, herself and her defeat of the Persians - the peplos was believed to be carried on the mast of a ship, a sign of the Athenian victories at sea (Brooklyn College Classics Department 4). This procession is another show of how well the Athenians thought of themselves. Granted, the Parthenon was a part of their city and built solely to accommodate Athena. But, they weren’t the only Greeks to fight the war. If they were the idols that some historians claim them to be, they would have given a little credit to the fellow Greeks who fought before them.
All in all, the Athenians weren’t as great as they would have led other Greeks, or even their own citizens, to believe. They were certain that they were the height of civilization. The problem with the Athenians is that they were impossibly sure of themselves even in the face of their own complexities. We, as Americans, can admit that the Athenians did give us a lot. But, by looking at the Parthenon frieze, we can also admit that they were often nothing more than snobs. And, we often seem to fall into this trap as well. We do tend to see and show ourselves as better and more brilliant than any other nation. But, maybe by looking at Athenian art we can change that for the better. And, by studying the Parthenon frieze in a new light and understanding the Athenians, we might be able to escape the mistakes of yesterday.
Adair, Mark J. “A Dream in the Parthenon.” American Journal of Art Therapy Aug 1990: 14 Ebscohost .OhloneCollege Lib., Fremont, CA. 31 Oct 2002.
Boardman, John. Greek Sculpture : The Classical Period. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1985. 106-109.
Fleischman, John. “In Classical Athens, A Market Trading in the Currency of Ideas.”
Smithsonian July 1993: 38. Ebscohost .OhloneCollege Lib., Fremont, CA. 31 Oct 2002.
Hamilakis, Yannis. “Stories from Exile: Fragments From the Cultural Biography of the Parthenon (or ‘Elgin’) Marbles.” World Archaeology Oct 1999: 18. Ebscohost .OhloneCollege Lib., Fremont, CA. 31 Oct 2002.
Neils, Jennifer. “Reconfiguring the Gods on the Parthenon Frieze.” Art Bulletin. March 1999: 6.
Ebscohost .OhloneCollege Lib., Fremont, CA. 6 Nov 2002
Spivey, Nigel. Understanding Greek Sculpture. Ancient Meanings, Modern Readings. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1996. 140-148.
Wilford, John Noble. “New Analysis of the Parthenon’s Frieze Finds It Depicts a Horrifying Legend.” New York Times.4 July 1995: 11. LexisNexis . OhloneCollege Lib., Fremont , CA . 7 Nov 2002.
Lapith Fighting a Centaur,
metope relief from the Doric frieze
on the south side of the Parthenon c440 BCE
British Museum, London
|Form: These idealized and naturalistic figures inhabit a square picture plane that is still fairly flat. The fabric draped around the body of the male figure effectively frames his muscular torso and follows the movement of his outstretched body. The composition is arranged symmetrically so that the human Lapith inhabits the left section and the Centaur the right. Some attempt has been made to create depth by overlapping the figures. The poses the figures take in these and other metopes that represent the centauromachy are somewhat artificial. It's almost as if the figures are "vogueing" or dancing. These kind of dance, or art poses are referred to as eurythmea or eurythmic gesture. |
Iconography: This relief tells a story about Greek mythology, a centauromachy (a battle between centaurs and humans). In this myth the Lapiths and centaurs do battle after the wedding of Pirithous, king of the Lapiths. The centaurs, drunk after the celebration become unruly, and attempt to rape (in this case it means sexually and to abduct or steal them) the young boys and young girls. The human men help their kin by fighting back, but Apollo stops the battle and sends the centaurs home.
The concept of symmetry or symmetrea is reflected in the centauromachy, whose main antagonists are half-man half-beast, represent the struggle against man's bestial nature. This is reflected in the symmetrical layout of the composition and the equal proportion of man to horse in the centaurs' bodies.
This metope demonstrates the desire of the Greek artist to move towards a more naturalistic or realistic style. Nevertheless, the figures and their bodies are still idealized and perfect looking. Naturalism, and specifically depicting the male human form accurately, is linked to the fact that the Greek gods take a human form. Man for the Greeks was created in their gods' image and therefore it is almost a form of representing the divine if the work is naturalistic. (By the way, this is similar to the Judeo-Christian notion that man is created in God's image.)
The figures are also beautiful and this is an icon of goodness for the Greeks. In Greek epic poetry the hero is always described as handsome or beautiful and their physical appearance is a reflection of the character's virtue. The idealism or beauty of the Greek figure is linked to the concept that you can judge a book by its cover. The Greek term for beauty is kalos (calos). The term kalos can also be interchanged with and is synonymous with goodness. Therefore, to call someone or something beautiful also means that that thing is also "good." Interestingly enough, this concept remains throughout art history.
Compare the metopes to the Francois Vase.
2. 2(Charles Rowan Beye, Ancient Greek Literature and Society (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975 and 1987) 127-128.
3. 3 According the Dictionary of Architecture, "a parapet is a low wall, sometimes battlemented, placed to protect any spot where there is a sudden drop, for example, at the edge of a bridge, quay, or house top."
John Fleming, Hugh Honour and Nikolaus Pevsner, "parapet," Dictionary of Architecture, Third Edition ed.: 237.
4. 4Bass- base or low relief -relieved or pushed out from the wall.
Sculpture During the Classic Period
Doryphoros (Spear Bearer)
(also called "the Canon")
by Polykleitos c450-440 BC
Roman copy after a bronze original
marble height 6'6"
tree stump and leg brace are later
|Form: This frontally oriented sculpture of a young male figure is well over life sized, is idealized, and naturalistic. Some of the features of the face, the musculature of the abdomen and above the genitals have been distorted to fit in with an ideal of physical beauty. The hair, nose of the figure and eyebrows have a rather geometrically stylized aspect to them as does the overall anatomy of the figure. There is still a hint of the archaic smile. The figure stands in a life like contrapposto pose (contra- against posto- posture) in which the body takes on an over all "s" curve. There is a shift of weight at the hips and a majority of the figure's weight is on one leg. The torso is turned in a slight angle opposite to the angle of the hips. The pose looks almost as if the figure is in movement. |
This is a marble sculpture made by Romans copied from a bronze original that used the hollow casting or the cire perdue or lost wax process. The process is referred to as lost wax not because we have lost the process, but because the figure is originally sculpted from wax which is lost in the process. The original is encased in clay. Two drainage holes are placed in the clay and when the clay is heated, the wax runs out of the hole leaving a cavity. Bronze is then poured into the cavity and when the bronze cools the clay mold is broken open revealing the bronze sculpture. Since the bronze is a fairly soft metal, details can be etched and molded while the bronze is cool.
(go here for diagrams)
Iconography: This sculpture depicts a perfect and beautiful young man the essence of kalos.
In Greek epic poetry the hero is always described as handsome or beautiful and their physical appearance is a reflection of the character's virtue. The idealism or beauty of the Greek figure is linked to the concept that you can judge a book by its cover. The Greek term for beauty is kalos (calos). The term kalos can also be interchanged with and is synonymous with goodness. Therefore, to call someone or something beautiful also means that that thing is also "good."
The original sculpture was actually designed to be an icon that represented physical perfection of the human form and therefore a god-like kalos. The Doryphoros by Polykleitos was considered so proportionately perfect that it was called the "canon" (a set of rules or criterion or standard of judgment).
The contrapposto pose serves the same purpose as the archaic smile. Both were designed to give the work a more lifelike illusion. In the case of the archaic smile, it almost as if there is the beginnings of movement in the face and the same is true of the contrapposto that seems as if the body is about to move.
Context: Schema and correction play heavily into this work. There are elements derived from the original kouros figures, such as the step forward, the idealized form and the archaic smile, but, Polykleitos builds on the naturalism to make the sculpture more life-like.
Since this is a Roman marble copy after bronze original, this would make this yet another corrected view. This copy of the work is the "correction" on the Greeks original "schema" and so its accuracy is in question. Historians and Romans have often called this work the Canon. This work was designed by Polykleitos to be his canon or his treatise (a complete guide of sorts) to making a perfect sculpture. Unfortunately, neither his sculpture or his written texts survived but we do have Roman descriptions of the text and Roman copies of the sculpture and so the Romans referred to it as the "Canon." The naming of this sculpture is complicated for this and other reasons.
It is thought that the original bronze carried a long spear and that is where he gets his name. Doryphoros in Greek translates as "spear bearer." This marble sculpture of the Doryphoros is a Roman copy of the first original bronze by Polykleitos. We are lucky enough to have a sculpture that was made at the same time as the original Doryphoros referred to as the Riace Bronze or Young Warrior from Riace (c 460-450 BCE) that approximates what the original Doryphoros must have looked like.
|Kritian Boy by Kritios, |
"Ephebe of Kritios" c480BCE
marble, height 46"
|Form: This sculpture shares much in common with the Doryphoros: it is of a young male figure, it is idealized, naturalistic and shares in the same stylizations. Some of the features of the face, the musculature of the abdomen and above the genitals have been distorted to fit in with an ideal of physical beauty. The hair, nose of the figure and eyebrows have a rather geometrically stylized aspect to them as does the overall anatomy of the figure. There is still a hint of the archaic smile. The figure stands in a life like contrapposto pose (contra- against posto- posture) in which the body takes on an over all "s" curve. There is a shift of weight at the hips and a majority of the figure's weight is on one leg. The torso is turned in a slight angle opposite to the angle of the hips. The pose looks almost as if the figure is in movement. |
Iconography: This sculpture, like the earlier Kouros figures, was actually designed to be an icon that represented physical perfection of the human form and therefore a god-like kalos. This sculpture might even have been the schema for the Doryphoros by Polykleitos.
Context: This sculpture was found in the rubble underneath the Acropolis and was preserved in the same way as the Moscophoros. Since the only sculptures that survived by Kritios were Roman marble copies, this sculpture was considered quite a find and was attributed to the sculptor based on its formal and stylistic similarities to Roman copies.
Blonde Boy's Head 480B.C.-
|This sculpture is a good formal example of the idealized distortions made by Greek sculptors of the human head and face. Side view facial features are idealized. Hair is perfect. No indention from nose to forehead, known as a "Greek Nose." The ear is too high and far back. This sculpture is made based on their conception of physical beauty. They simply decided to make nature over according to their tastes.|
by Myron c450BCE
Roman marble copy after a
Greek bronze original
Form: This sculpture shares much in common with the Doryphoros and Ephebe of Kritios: but aside from the idealized stylizations of these sculptures it appears to be in movement. In actuality the sculptor Myron has chosen to freeze an actual moment in the process of an athlete throwing a discus. Nevertheless, the sculpture, like all Greek sculptures, whether in the round or relief style, is frontally oriented. There is only one way the sculptor meant for the viewer to see the image. Iconography: This is a symbol of Greek male athleticism and therefore the ideal citizen and soldier. The athletic activity he is participating in is probably also a reference to heroism during the Olympics.
Context: This sculpture is one of the first examples of a figure caught in a convincing frozen moment. The original sculpture would have been cast from bronze and this possibly would have eliminated the need for the tree stump and for one of the arms to be engaged or connected with the leg. This sculpture also demonstrates the ability of the Greeks to actually observe nature and mimic the movement of the human body convincingly.
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin, from Latin, ruler, rule, model, standard, from Greek kanOn
Date: before 12th century
4 a : an accepted principle or rule b: a criterion or standard of judgment c : a body of principles, rules, standards, or norms
1 a : a regulation or dogma decreed by a church council b: a provision of canon law
2 [Middle English, prob. from Old French, from Late Latin, from Latin, model] : the most solemn and unvarying part of the Mass including the consecration of the bread and wine
3 [Middle English, from Late Latin, from Latin, standard] a: an authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture b: the authentic works of a writer c: a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works
5 [Late Greek kanOn, from Greek, model] : a contrapuntal musical composition in two or more voice parts in which the melody is imitated exactly and completely by the successive voices though not always at the same pitch
synonym see LAW kalos In Greek epic poetry the hero is always described as handsome or beautiful and their physical appearance is a reflection of the character's virtue. The idealism or beauty of the Greek figure is linked to the concept that you can judge a book by its cover. The Greek term for beauty is kalos (calos). The term kalos can also be interchanged with and is synonymous with goodness. Therefore, to call someone or something beautiful also means that that thing is also "good."
Pronunciation: 'trE-t&s also -t&z
Etymology: Middle English tretis, from Anglo-French tretiz, from Old
French traitier to treat
Date: 14th century
1 : a systematic exposition or argument in writing including a methodical
discussion of the facts and principles involved and conclusions reached
on higher education>
2 obsolete : ACCOUNT, TALE
Roman Art and Architecture: Classic Roman Period Art
Young Flavian Woman. c 90 CE marble, height 25" Museo Capitolino, Classic Roman
|Portrait of Augustus as General. |
from Primaporta Rome, Italy
c20 B.C., 6'8''.
Vatican Museum, Rome
|Form: This idealized portrait is possibly a copy of a bronze original. The statue stands six feet eight inches tall and is made of white marble. The statue depicts a male figure wearing armor and some drapery, with his right arm raised. The figure carries a bronze spear or staff in his left hand. The texture of the hair and skin mimic the texture of real hair and skin. Augustus stands in contrapposto, appearing to be stepping forward with most of his weight resting on his right hip. Attached to his right leg is a small dolphin with a winged baby on its back. Iconography: This sculpture presents a more realistic portrait of Augustus than Greek portrait sculpture did however he is still idealized because he is the ideal. The unnatural height of the statue is symbolic of the god-like status of Augustus. The figure's armor is a symbol of his role as a military leader. His raised right arm with an extended index finger appears as if he is gesturing or lecturing. According to Professor Farber, this is "called ad locutio gesture that traditionally conveyed the power of speech in Roman art." This is symbolic of his abilities as a leader and a speaker. The bronze staff in its left hand is an icon that signifies his status as a leader. The statue appears to be stepping forward and most of the weight appears to be resting on his right hip. This pose referred to as contrapposto was first developed in classical Greece. The use of contrapposto represents a legacy inherited from the classic Greek culture. Engaged against the right leg is a small dolphin with a winged baby on its back. The dolphin is a maritime reference and the small winged figure on its back, may represent winged victory. The two icons when juxtaposed against one another may represent victory at sea. However, some interpretations of this iconography have suggested that the winged figure is Cupid and therefore represents Augustus relationship as a descendent of the gods. |
Context: Augustus Caesar (1st century B.C.) was a dictator who considered himself a God. He subverted the Roman republican, democratic system, but pretended it still existed by granting the senate some power. This statue is probably one of the copies that was placed as public art in many town squares as a work of political propaganda. Augustus waged an extremely profitable series of wars and was able to extend the Roman Empire's borders as well as control the Senate. The unnatural height of the statue is symbolic of the god-like status of Augustus because the average height was around five feet. His raised right arm symbolic of his abilities as a master orator refers to an earlier statue, the Aulus Metellus. The raised arm, a symbol of rhetorical power as a speaker is combined with the bronze staff and armor are references to the abilities that any Roman leader should possess. In some ways, this is the originating idea of our conception of the "Renaissance Man" of the 1500's. The references to the Aulus Metellus statue, contrapposto pose, invented by the classical Greek culture, and the Cupid, that represents Augustus as a descendent of the gods, grant both the Augustus Primaporta and Augustus authority based in time honored traditions.
|Colosseum, (Flavian Amphitheater) |
Rome Italy 70-80 CE
|Form: One of the major innovations in this building is the technology used to create it. A combination of complex arches (see Stokstad for more in depth description) and concrete which is a building material which consists primarily of lime, cement, sand (pozzolana), and water with rubble mixed into it and as such is very inexpensive and easy to work with. Since concrete can be easily molded or poured into a durable and strong stonelike substance, it was also used to create the arches and the internal filling of the walls. A an excellent student, Sue Che wrote, |
with the invention of concrete, the Romans were much more daring in creating new styles in construction. They came out of the shell of ‘post and lintel’ and started with simple arches like the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamian. The simple arches such as the triumphal arches could not satisfy their creative minds, the Romans extended the arches and got the barrel vaults. To add more interests to the vaults, they were placed across or next to each other and created the groin vaults and the arcades. Finally, the easily bored Romans put all the ideas and efforts together and built this giant oval shaped amphitheater called the Colosseum. The whole structure was designed with arches, connected vaults and arcades. The outer façade is tiers of arches all the way around. When you go inside, barrel vaults and cross vaults support the tiers of seats for the audiences. It is truly amazing what the Romans can do when you put concrete in their hands.
Stokstad points out that it existed before but that the Romans perfected it and without many Roman building would not have been able to be created. (Before you do the worksheet, make sure you read Stokstad for a more complete description of concrete and the different forms and ways it was used.)
The exterior walls were of a creamy colored calcium carbonate material called travertine, the inner walls of siliceous rock deposits called tufa, and the vaulting of the ramped seating area of monolithic concrete (for support). The fourth floor was embellished with Corinthian pilasters (ornamental) which carried wooden masts from which an awning was suspended to shield spectators from the sun. Composite are on top of the pilasters and are more visually and though makes the building look more taller. Marble and wooden seats accommodating up to about 50,000 spectators surrounded an arena measuring 280 ft by 175 ft. The floor of the arena was made of heavy wooden planks: chambers below the floor housed animals for the games.
Its construction was started by Vespasian in AD 69 and inaugurated in AD 80. This Amphitheater was very important because of arch technology. This building had four stories and its arches were framed by superimposed orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian or Composite. This orders were used to adorned several stories of a building, they were normally in an ascending sequence from heaviest to most slender. Doric order was assigned to the ground floor of the building,
Iconography and Context: According to the Britannica,
"CONSTRUCTION OF THE COLOSSEUM WAS BEGUN SOMETIME BETWEEN AD 70 and 72 during the reign of Vespasian; the structure was officially dedicated in AD 80 by Titus in a ceremony that included 100 days of games. Later, in AD 82, Domitian completed the work by adding the uppermost story." The Colosseum was used by the Roman Empire to entertain the masses of people who lived in the city. Gladiators were often prisoners of war or criminals. Sometimes gladiators would fight one another and other times they would fight ravenous beasts. Enemies or individuals who were perceived as threats (a good portion were Christians) to the Roman Empire sometimes were thrown in the in the ring with wild animals. This was often done dramatically by utilizing elevators and trap doors that would raise the animals into the arena. Sometimes these atrocities were committed while a massive water powered organ made music that accompanied the events. This is one of the reasons why organ music does not become popular in the Catholic Church until around 1500.