Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Roman Art

Roman Art and Architecture: Classic Roman Period Art
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A Roman Patrician with Busts
of his Ancestors,
late 1st C BCE
Marble, lifesize
Classic Roman
Form: This lifesize naturalistic figure, which stands in contrapposto, is also realistic. The individualism of the figure's face and the portrait busts he holds is a bit of a departure from the idealism of the Classic Greek era.  Even during the Hellenistic period of Greek art, the figures were still extremely stylized.  In this case, the idea of a realistic likeness warts, balding, and wrinkles are recorded accurately.  This kind of realism is referred to as verism. This sculpture also incorporates as part of its initial design the use of supports, such as the plant form that supports the bust in the figure's right hand and the robes that support his left.  This is a bit different from the Roman marble copies of Greek bronze originals in which the supports were added as afterthoughts to the initial design to make up for the marble's lack of tensile strength.
Iconography:  This sculpture is a portrait but is also meant to show the lineage (ancestry) of the Roman patrician (leading citizen or founding father.  Literally comes from pater: father).  By holding effigies of his ancestors he is showing his importance and therefore it is fairly important to make sure that the likenesses express the character of the individual.
Context:  The culture of the Roman Empire was fairly different from the Greeks, but much of their plays, music, art, education, and way of representing themselves were based on the Greek culture.  Rome was originally founded as a republic which is a fairly democratic form of government similar to and somewhat based on Greek forms of government.  In a republic, an individual's rights as well as accomplishments can often distinguish them.  Paradoxically, the accomplishments of one's family can also distinguish the individual.  This might explain the increase of realism while still using some of the Greek schemas or conventions for sculpture.
Also see Stokstad's section Roman Funerary Practices
Some of the specific artistic forms and processes borrowed from the Greeks were,

  • the wet drapery style- drapery appears to hang on sculptures as if wetted. This shows off the anatomy underneath the cloth.
  • contrapposto- the subtle shift of weight at the hips that gives sculptures a more lifelike appearance.
  • the Greek orders

Head of a Roman Patrician from Ortricoli,
c75-50 BCE Marble approx. 14"
Museo Torlonia, Rome
Classic Roman
Head of an unknown Roman.
terra cotta with traces of color. 1st C BCE
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Classic Roman
Form:  The veristic style of the Roman Patrician above is also expressed in Roman portrait busts.  According to Gardner, the Romans, unlike the Greeks, believed that a sculpture of the head alone was enough to fulfill the requirements of creating a portrait of an individual.  The Greeks believed that one needed the whole body for an accurate portrait.  Nevertheless, in each of these busts, every feature is recorded faithfully, but, the age of the sitter and the verism of the portrait was probably influenced somewhat by the gender of the sitter. The materials also varied in portrait sculpture.  Marble and cast bronze were often used.  Often the scultures were polychromed as well.  In the case of some sculptures, and even cheaper material, such as terra cotta- was used and then painted with encaustic.  (Terra cotta is fired clay often with a bit of sand or gravel mixed in.)   The use of clay, in which both an additive and subtractive process can be used was probably convenient because with this form of sculpting mistakes can be fixed.
Iconography and Context:  At the start of 200 B.C. individuality was increasing. Sculptures were often produced to show the power and wealth of an individual such as a statesman or a military leader. The Roman Empire had representational form of government run by the Senate. The Senate system was powerful, however, some military leaders "ceasers" who had distinguished themselves in battle and through political coups, became emperors who considered themselves living gods. Often power was passed from relative to relative and through generations. Sculptures were made of these family members almost as a form of ancestor worship.
Interestingly enough these sculptures also express how the Romans viewed male and female roles in their society. Often portraits were made to show the men as older and distinguished, at a time in their lives when they were most powerful. Women are almost never depicted as aged. They are mostly depicted as young and beautiful. Since art was mainly produced and commissioned for a male audience it is possible to draw the conclusion that art reflects a dominantly male view of the world. This is often referred to by art historians and scholars as the "male gaze."

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
Classic Roman

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.

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Colosseum, (Flavian Amphitheater) 
Rome Italy 70-80 CE
Classic Roman

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.
quoted directly from:
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,
Ionic order to the middle story, and
Corinthian order to the top story.

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.

Pantheon. AD 118-125
architect was possibly Emperor Hadrian Rome,
Rome, Italy
Classic Roman

Art 103A Term Paper
Sara E. Foster
Pantheon: the unknown truth
Form, Formal, Physical
The Pantheon is noted as one of the best-preserved monuments because of the building and landscape renovations that have been done throughout the centuries. It is surrounded by some of the original baths built by Agrippa as well as a few smaller temples by Hadrian and a long courtyard that leads to a church at the far end. According to William Mac Donald, the author of The Pantheon: design, meaning and progeny, the Pantheon has three major parts to its structure - the porch, the structural niches and the domed rotunda. The front of the building is the large porch with a series of columns that act as support and design. The columns throughout the monument were constructed of carved granite using the Corinthian order that was originally developed but the Greeks for interior use but soon afterward also used for the exterior of temples and other monuments. The outer perimeter walls of the entirety are 20 feet thick that raise nearly 75 feet high. These walls were put together using concrete and wood materials so that the architect and design crew could cover a large amount of interior space and create vast apparent ceilings. The dome rotunda is 143 feet in diameter and 143 feet in height supported by a circular wall known as the drum. The drum is deigned with block coffers that service as both esthetic and structural purposes. Structurally the coffers are used as a compression system: the building is stabilized by unabsorbed weight that is properly placed. There are a total of 143 coffers in 28 rows. The dome consists of 9/10th concrete that has been poured over an immersed hemispherical wooden form. Both the interior and exterior walls are believed to be finished with alabaster porphyry or marble for esthetic purposes. Coffers also give the human eye an illusion of the dome being lightweight and having depth. To show the richness and importance of this culture here are a few other examples of the materials used to create such a masterpiece. The floors were covered with a wide range of colored marble designed in geometric shapes, the doorframes were made of bronzed metal and the original roof was glided gold plates that were eventually replaced with lead plating.
Icon, Iconography, Symbol
The true iconography of the Pantheon is still questioned today but we do know that it is represented as a great spiritual building. When Hadrian created the building it was a house for all gods, which meant it was a non-religious monument. It housed the twelve major gods and goddesses: Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, Minerva, Apollo, Diana, Mars, Venus, Vulcan, Vesta, Mercury and Ceres who all represent something of good/bad nature in the world (Ebscohost). These gods are houses in the dome rotunda, which presents the visitor with a sense of emptiness and apotheosis, a feeling one could float upward to escape and commune with the gods. The circular design of the monument originally descends from two sources: religious buildings and tombs. They were never intended for internal visitor use, only external viewing because they questioned the safety of the structure and it was a sacred place that only priest could enter.
Context, Social, Historical
According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, the cities had public squares that were surrounded by buildings such as the Pantheon. The Roman’s built these to accommodate the vast expansion of the Roman Empire. When designing the Pantheon they were highly influenced by the Greek and Etruscan construction using arches and post and lintel; however the dome rotunda was primarily a Roman invention (Ebscohost). The argument still stands on who the buildings architect and creator really was - was it Marcus Agrippa or Hadrian? Before the Pantheon was built an earlier temple (in honor of the Anthony and Cleopatra defeat) accompanied the site which was built by Agrippa in 27 BC and burnt down in 110 BC. Then between 125 –128 CE Hadrian and still an unknown architect built the Pantheon. Historians do believe there was an actual architect that helped him because at that time Hadrian was just an amateur at what he did. Why then is the creator unknown? It is not clear whether or not Hadrian kept the originally porch and roof or if he recreated the original which says the following, "M`AGRIPPA`L`F`COS`TERTIVM`FECIT –Marcus Agrippa the son of Lucius, three times consul, built this (Mac Donald, pg.13)." Though it is clear that Hadrian constructed the monumental dome rotunda that makes the building so grand. When the Pantheon, a temple for all gods, was finished it was used to house the twelve Olympian gods but in 609 CE Pope Boniface IV dedicated it as the Christian church of St. Mary and the Martyrs. From that point in history that event brought the destruction of all of pagan temples to this day.

Roman Art in Pompeii

Pompeii 79 CE:Context:  Pompeii- on August 24, 79 AD a volcano on Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried two entire Roman resort towns near the coast under thousands of tons of volcanic ash. Poison gas was sprayed into the air and as it went down the heated gas killed all the people. The bodies which were covered with volcanic ash were destroyed but left a type of fossil impression in the dried ash and lava. The result was that the town and some of its people were completely preserved for archeologists and historians to uncover later. From the remains of the city we know how the people looked like, how they lived and how they did business. They had organized business and residential districts and paved streets. They even had hot and cold running water. The houses that were preserved by the ashes have left us with a good idea of what kind of lifestyle these people might have lead.

These plaster forms were made by pouring plaster into the air pockets created by the bodies of Pompeiian who were covered with volcanic ash.  The bodies disintegrated or burned and left hollows.  Some of the gestures and expressions are so life like that we can almost guess as to what they were thinking and we can actually see some figures protecting other figures.

Form:  The city was walled and laid out in a logical grid line plan that was divided into several zoned sections that were defined by the main roads named the upper and lower decumanus and cardo maxiumus.  These names were invented by modern archeologists. The sections were zoned as our own cities are today, with a forum (civic areas and shopping centers,) residential quadrants, entertainment areas with theaters and amphitheaters and combined areas.
Iconography:  One would think that a city plan would not really be symbolic of anything but on closer inspection there is a lot of symbolism.  The city plan is evolved from both Greek and Etruscan culture's plans and in this way indicates that the Romans emulated them and saw themselves as heirs to these cultures.
The triumphal arch (Herculaneum Gate) which served as the entrance to the town was basically a useless arch that was there as a symbol.  The use of the arch and the symbolic gate it covered was a way of expressing just how Roman they were.
The city plans also install order on the plan of the city which represents the Roman mission in the world which they saw as civilizing the barbarians and bringing order to the world.  It also segregated, the way they spent their time and divided the rich from the poor, the sacred from the profane.

Street in Pompeii with stones for walking across.
Form: The cobbled city streets had drainage ditches, sidewalks and were laid out in a standard size because axle lengths were standardized throughout the empire.  The standardized sizes allowed the installation of walkways (the three stones across the street) that would allow pedestrians to walk above the street when it was filled with rain and avoid the horse poop and mud.  The stones also acted as a kind of "speed bump" because the carts would have to slow down to enable themselves to move through the ruts.Iconography:  The cliché "all roads lead to Rome" applies here in the idea that the Romans really believed that a solid civic infrastructure symbolized order and civilization. 

Brawl in the Pompeii amphitheater,
Fresco from  House I,3,23 Pompeii
c. 60-79 CE  5'7"x6'1"
Naples National Museum
Empire Period
Form:  Fresco is a term that literally means "fresh."  There are two kinds, buon fresco and fresco secco.  This painting painting is made by coating a wall with plaster and while the wall is still damp, ground up pigments are mixed with water and lime and painted on the wall.  The paint soaks in and literally stains the wall up to a half an inch and becomes permanent.  This is called buon fresco (good fresh).  Details with more expensive colors (such as blue made from lapis lazuli) are added with tempera paint (egg yolks and glue) when the fresco is dry.  This is called secco fresco (dry fresh). This fresco depicts Pompeii's arena which was there version of the Colosseum, where gladiatorial events took place.  The building is rendered with the illusion of space called intuitive perspective and isometric perspective.  (This kind of perspective is not as illusionistic as the linear perspective that is invented during the Renaissance around 1400 CE.)

Iconography:  Walls in both public and private homes were often decorated with frescos during the Roman era and it was a symbol of the person's status to be able to afford such decoration.  This fresco is rather like our posters and paintings of sports today and it expresses the importance of such activities in their culture.  Usually the gladiators who performed in such games were originally criminals or enemies of the state, however, if they were successful they became heroes of a kind and their careers were followed by fans.
Context:  In 59 CE Pompeii hosted a game in which they competed with their neighbors the Nucerians.  A brawl erupted and a riot ensued which was similar to the soccer riots of today.  The riots and loss of life and property were so severe that the central government issued a decree that Pompeii was forbidden to have gladiatorial games for ten years.
The fresco shows the velarium a cloth awning that protected arenas like this as well as the double set of steps that allowed the quick entrance and departure of the spectators.

Portrait bust of a Boy from the
Popidous Family of Pompeii
before 79 CE
plaster with traces of encaustic paint
Form:  The veristic style of the Roman Patrician above is also expressed in Roman portrait busts.  According to Gardner, the Romans, unlike the Greeks, believed that a sculpture of the head alone was enough to fulfill the requirements of creating a portrait of an individual.  The Greeks believed that one needed the whole body for an accurate portrait.  Nevertheless, in each of these busts, every feature is recorded faithfully, but, the age of the sitter and the verism of the portrait was probably influenced somewhat by the gender of the sitter. This sculpture was originally part of a larger figure that was hurt or destroyed in an earlier earthquake or eruption.  The head was preserved and placed on a stand however the nose had been broken off.  The broken nose was replaced with a bit of plaster to fill in the broken off portion.
Iconography and Context:  Portraiture like this was probably valuable in both an economic as well as in more sentimental and  familial context and that would explain why, rather than creating a new sculpture they repaired this one.  This sculpture also provides us with a record of one of the catastrophes the people of Pompeii lived with before the final one of 79 CE.

Form:  Many of the streets of Pompeii were lined with two story town houses.  These homes were made from brick and concrete which was later veneered with stucco, plaster and even marble.  The rooves were made from wood and often had awnings which jutted out over the sidewalks.  The fronts of these buildings usually contained shops that opened out on to the streets.  The more elaborate stores were two level and had windows that opened out above.  Located through a short passageway was usually a more elaborate or expensive dwelling that was the home of a wealthier family.  (see the floor plan below or Stokstad figure 6-52)Iconography:  These home/shop organization was integral to and symbolized the economic health that supported the infrastructure of Rome and its towns.  To own such a home in itself demonstrated the wealth and prestige of the landlord.  The types of shops fronting the homes was also up to the discretion of the zoning of the town as well as the homeowner who lived behind the shop.
Context:  These houses had hot and cold running water and a plumbing system that ran underneath the house.  The center of the house had an open skylight above the atrium which caught fresh water and was stored in a cistern usually underneath or at the rear of the house's garden.

Form:  The typical atrium style house of Pompeii was fronted by the shops (1).  The structure usually housed a main house and sometimes even an additional ones (7) was rented out.  The fauces (latin for throat) or vestibulum (2) was a thin passageway that led into the atrium (8) in which the an open skylight above the atrium caught fresh water.  A similar open air peristyle courtyard (9) was located further in and the bedrooms, dining room, bathrooms, kitchen and other service areas radiated out from.  A vegetable garden in addition to the the flower garden provided delicacies such as fresh fruit and staples such as vegetables.Context:  These atrium style houses were really apartment houses and commercial districts combined into one structure.  As such, they were an incredible investment for the wealthy owner.  Not only were they self sufficient in terms of food, the rental on the shops and additional dwellings often paid for whatever loans and taxes owed on the complex.

Mosaic in the Fauces of an Atrium
Style House.
Form:  Mosaics were made from small blocks of stone, ceramic tile or glass called tesserae.  These blocks were then pushed into either plaster, for walls, or cement, for floors.  The blocks, when placed together combined together like the pixels on a computer screen to make an image.  When one looks at the the images from a distance the blocks of color one next to the other mix because the eye would blend them together.  This is called optical mixing.  Depending on the skill of the workman/artisan, the work could be extremely realistic of cartoonish.  These were a particularly durable form of decoration as they were impervious to staining and fading.  Further up in this photo you can see the impluvium (pool) of the atrium.Iconography/Context:  The location and subject of this mosaic makes a lot of sense.  The image of the dog in the front hallway is apotropaic and roughly the equivalent of an alarm sticker on a window or "beware of dog sign."  In fact some mosaics are accompanied with the latin "cave canum" which means literally translates "beware of dog" and indicates a high degree of literacy if they expected a thief to be able to read the warning.

Two atriums from houses in Pompeii

The lead pipes which moved the water through the houses.
The next stop in the house was the atrium.  The latin word for heart or chamber is atrium and  this room is where the water was gathered from an opening in the ceiling and then collected further back in the house in a cistern. In the center of the atrium was the impluvium or pool that collected the water.  In the image on the left you can see a fountain and a sink.This room, as almost every room in the house, had a mosaic floor, and frescoes on all the walls.  Depending on the home, some rooms even had special themes and addressed specific stories.
This room is where a guest could stop and wash up before meeting with the occupants.  Bathing was an important part of Roman culture and there were even bathrooms with hot and cold running water.  The pipes that moved the water were made from a soft lead which in itself is a bit of health hazard and probably caused the early death of some of the wealthier citizens of Pompeii who could afford such luxuries..

Peristyle Court
Peristyle Court at the house of Vetii
Form:  These peristyle courtyards had ornate sculpture and flower gardens surrounded by a perimeter of stylos (latin for column).  The perimeter columns held up the roof overhang under which furniture was placed.  The columns were often made of marble and often there was marble veneer on the concrete and brick wall.  The wall of the courtyard were often decorated with mosaics and or fresco.Iconography/Context:  The peristyle is almost misnamed because it is truly the atrium (latin for heart) of the house.  This is where the family gathered and in essence it was an outside living room.  Here air and light flowed through the space but the occupants would not be bothered by the noises and smells of the street.

Mosaic portrait from Pompeii

 Fresco from the House of the Baker,
The baker and his wife
Context:  The sculpture we have seen already demonstrates the Roman propensity and desire for accurate portraiture.  This desire to have a likeness made was not limited to just the wealthy or upper class but also to anyone who might be able to afford such work to be made.
The image on the top is a fresco.    Fresco is a term that literally means "fresh."  There are two kinds, buon fresco and fresco secco.  This painting painting is made by coating a wall with plaster and while the wall is still damp, ground up pigments are mixed with water and lime and painted on the wall.  The paint soaks in and literally stains the wall up to a half an inch and becomes permanent.  This is called buon fresco (good fresh).  Details with more expensive colors (such as blue made from lapis lazuli) are added with tempera paint (egg yolks and glue) when the fresco is dry.  This is called secco fresco (dry fresh).
Mosaics were made from small blocks of stone, ceramic tile or glass called tesserae.  These blocks were then pushed into either plaster, for walls, or cement, for floors.  The blocks, when placed together combined together like the pixels on a computer screen to make an image.  When one looks at the the images from a distance the blocks of color one next to the other mix because the eye would blend them together.  This is called optical mixing.  Depending on the skill of the workman/artisan, the work could be extremely realistic of cartoonish.  These were a particularly durable form of decoration as they were impervious to staining and fading.
Iconography:  The image on the left of the Baker and his wife depicts a couple how they would like to be seen.  The baker holds a scroll and his wife holds a wax tablet and a stylus that would have been used to scratch out notes and practice writing.  In all probability, the baker and his wife were either illiterate or semiliterate, yet they hold symbols of their literacy and therefore intelligence.  This is how they wanted to be seen.
In both images the portraits are verist images; however, as in the portrait of Augustus they were probably "prettied up" a bit.  Their features are a bit idealized and their hair a bit too styled.

Iconography:  Frescoes like this one depicting fruit and glasses or pure water were symbolic of the pleasures of every day life and perhaps of the delicacies one might desire.  Fruit was not available all year and it is one of the fleeting pleasures.  The depictions of fruit and other delicacies, such as Herakleitos' Unswept Floor (fig 6-58) are references to the wealth of the patron and the skill of the artist.  The clear vessel of water is what is referred to as an artist's conceit or concetto (italian for conceit) because painting a transparent vessel is one of the harder things to paint.

The Three Graces
Fresco from Pompeii before 79 CE

Theseus and the slain Minotaur with the
Athenian youths.
Fresco from Pompeii before 79 CE
Formal:  These two frescos depict idealized human figures, all standing in the classic contrapposto pose, rendered with light and shadow.  The use of light and shadow, or value structure, to depict volume is sometimes referred to as chiaroscuro.  Chiaroscuro literally translates into Italian as light and shadow or dark and light.In the fresco depicting Theseus and the minotaur with the Athenian youths, is fairly complex in how it depicts space.  For example, the figures are placed in and around an architectural structure and the body of the Minotaur is depicted in a foreshortened pose.  As the head and torso of the Minotaur project into the foreground they begin to look shorter than if the view was a strict profile view.
Iconographic:  Both of these images are powerful symbolic statements of the kinds of values the Romans held.
The Three Graces, represent the three most important qualities a Roman could possess beauty, grace, and intellect (which was linked to virtue).
The image of Theseus links him to the Doryphoros and to other images of athletic youths who possess kalos.  The Minotaur is a composite creature, that symbolizes antithetical qualities to our human hero.  The bull head represents certain negative qualities.
Context:  The story of Theseus and the Minotaur at the heart of the maze would have a certain amount of resonance for citizens of the Roman empire because the maze represents the Minoan government lead by the evil King Minos and the Minotaur in its center, is represents the heart of Minos's problems as a ruler.
(see the Legend of the Minotaur in Stokstad page 134). or go here : n, pl -ros [It, fr. chiaro clear, light + oscuro obscure, dark] (1686) 1: pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color 2 a: the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art b: the interplay or contrast of dissimilar qualities (as of mood or character) 3: a 16th century woodcut technique involving the use of several blocks to print different tones of the same color; also: a print made by this technique 4: the interplay of light and shadow on or as if on a surface 5: the quality of being veiled or partly in n, pl frescoes
[It, fr. fresco fresh, of Gmc origin; akin to OHG frisc fresh] (1598)
1: the art of painting on freshly spread moist lime plaster with water-based pigments
2: a painting executed in fresco -- fresco vt
The term fresco comes from the Italian word for fresh.  The paint is applied quickly in fresh patches of plaster that haven't had a chance to dry yet.  This allows the paint to sink into the plaster and stain it sometimes up to a quarter of an inch below the surface of the wall.
In buon fresco, which literally means "good fresh," the water color and lime (the mineral not the fruit) are painted directly on damp plaster that has just been applied.
Fresco secco (Italian for "dry fresh") is a little less permanent and the paint sometimes can flake off the walls.  Paint and especially details and expensive colors are applied to sections of the mural that have already dried.  The medium in this case is either tempera (egg and water) or some kind of glue usually made from animal skin or some sort of dairy product.

According to the Brittanica,

Fresco is a method of painting water-based pigments on freshly applied plaster, usually on wall surfaces. The colours, which are made by grinding dry-powder pigments in pure water, dry and set with the plaster to become a permanent part of the wall. Fresco painting is ideal for making murals because it lends itself to a monumental style, is durable, and has a matte surface.Buon', or "true," fresco is the most durable technique and consists of the following process. Three successive coats of specially prepared plaster, sand, and sometimes marble dust are troweled onto a wall. Each of the first two rough coats is applied and then allowed to set (dry and harden). In the meantime, the artist, who has made a full-scale cartoon (preparatory drawing) of the image that he intends to paint, transfers the outlines of the design onto the wall from a tracing made of the cartoon. The final, smooth coat (intonaco) of plaster is then troweled onto as much of the wall as can be painted in one session. The boundaries of this area are confined carefully along contour lines, so that the edges, or joints, of each successive section of fresh plastering are imperceptible. The tracing is then held against the fresh intonaco and lined up carefully with the adjacent sections of painted wall, and its pertinent contours and interior lines are traced onto the fresh plaster; this faint but accurate drawing serves as a guide for painting the image in colour.
A correctly prepared intonaco will hold its moisture for many hours. When the painter dilutes his colours with water and applies them with brushstrokes to the plaster, the colours are imbibed into the surface, and as the wall dries and sets, the pigment particles become bound or cemented along with the lime and sand particles. This gives the colours great permanence and resistance to aging, since they are an integral part of the wall surface, rather than a superimposed layer of paint on it. The medium of fresco makes great demands on a painter's technical skill, since he must work fast (while the plaster is wet) but cannot correct mistakes by overpainting; this must be done on a fresh coat of plaster or by using the secco method.
Secco ("dry") fresco is a somewhat superficial process that dispenses with the complex preparation of the wall with wet plaster. Instead, dry, finished walls are soaked with limewater and painted while wet. The colours do not penetrate into the plaster but form a surface film, like any other paint. Secco has always held an inferior position to true fresco, but it is useful for retouching the latter.
The origins of fresco painting are unknown, but it was used as early as the Minoan civilization (at Knossos on Crete) and by the ancient Romans (at Pompeii). The Italian Renaissance was the great period of fresco painting, as seen in the works of Cimabue, Giotto, Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Correggio, and many other painters from the late 13th to the mid-16th century. Michelangelo's paintings in the Sistine Chapel and Raphael's Stanza murals in the Vatican are the most famous of all frescoes. By the mid-16th century, however, the use of fresco had largely been supplanted by oil painting. The technique was briefly revived by Diego Rivera and other Mexican Muralists in the first half of the 20th century.


Monday, October 7, 2019

Greek Classic Parthenon

For all the videos in order with a textbook and study guides please visit:

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
17:8 ratio
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.

Doric Order

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

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
So the “cella” and the storage room on the other side of the wall have a “continuous frieze.” A continuous frieze is actually an Ionic feature that we have seen in other temples. This is not a feature of the Doric order.  The Doric order has that alternation of metopes and triglyphs and so the architects placed an Ionic style continuous frieze on the interior peristyle. You can see on this continuous frieze that there is no division between the characters or figures that are dancing across it. There are two possible stories being represented here. The favorite theory seems to be that it is the “Panathenaic Procession” that happens every four years and that this is a series of figures in a procession leading up to Athena.
If we zoom in a little bit on one of the friezes, it is depicting ideal soldiers or ideal Athenian citizens who have “kalos.” I think an interesting thing is the relationship between the sizes of the riders’ bodies to the sizes of the horses because I don’t think the sizes are accurate. I think the whole point is to show that these figures are ideal or beautiful people.

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.

Zoom in on some of these metopes; some of which are actually in the British Museum.  They all represent the Lapiths fighting the centaurs. We looked at this story before, so we kind of know it is a representation; in some ways, of this idea of the bestial or uncontrolled nature fighting the rational Apollo or Apollonian ideology. So what I am suggesting is that this represents that battle between the Apollonian and Dionysian conflict of the rational self and the passionate or uncontrolled ecstatic self. I think that this really clearly represents that you can slice it down the middle. This especially was my favorite example because it is so symmetrical. So you can slice it down the center, it is symmetrical and half of it is taken up by a Lapith man; the other is taken up by a centaur. If you don’t remember the story, just go back to the “François Vase.”
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.

Lapith Fighting a Centaur,
metope relief from the Doric frieze on the south side of the Parthenon c440 BCEeurythmea
eurythmic gesture
One of the ideas about why the battle of the Lapiths and the centaurs is represented on the exterior and the metopes of the Parthenon, is that it might also represent; in some kind of metaphorical or symbolic way, the battle between the Persians and the Athenians. It suggests that the Persians are the animal creatures that need to be defeated and that the Lapiths are the humans and, therefore, the Athenians are the rational ones. So if you think about it, it is the same kind of ideology and the same kind of propaganda that you will see in any kind of war poster. You could think about this as a combination of religion, politics and propaganda all put together.
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.

 So, one of the things about the “cella” is that Kallikrates actually designed a “double tiered” structure so that there were two sets of columns on the interior. There are reasons for this design. First, if you make the columns the same size as they are outside, they would be massive and take up all the floor space. So, if you make thinner columns and double stack them; it actually takes up less floor space. I think that it was also, in part, a symbolic thing because the other thing it does is make the sculpture’s height seem doubled; even though the original sculpture has obviously been lost. The sculpture would have been; I suppose, almost 50 feet tall. In her right hand there would have been a statue of a “Nike” figure; which stands for “winged victory.” She would have had a mast or wooden structure as her core and the exterior would have been encased in gold leaf, gold sheets or ivory that would have been tinted to look like flesh. She would have been carrying a shield, holding victory in her right hand and probably standing in a “contrapposto” pose. So this would have been a cult (religious) statue that was in the center of the Parthenon and you would have dropped off your goods for that.
 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 an interesting element is that we have this sculptor Phidias, who is working with the architects, Iktinos and Kallikrates while working on this wonderful building; that they were under the protection of Pericles and that Pericles was not actually able to protect his own sculptors. They were actually brought up on charges of misappropriating funds and that kind of thing. So, I guess the same kind of contention that exists today when we have these kinds of things existed then.
 So, I will leave it at that and we will talk more about the “Erechtheion” in the next lecture

Additional Information
A term paper that is most excellent:

William Harmon
Prof. Kenney Mencher
April 29, 2002
Art 103A
Term Paper
High 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.

Parthenon 447-438 BCE
architects Iktinos and Kallikrates
sculptor Phedias (Phidias)
view from the Northwest
marble, polychromed with encaustic
The Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Looking at the context of the Parthenon, we can see how overcoming such devastating odds defeating an enormous rival such as the Persians gave way to feelings of immense confidence to the citizens of Athens. This Greek victory set in motion an era known as the "Golden Age". This would be an era that would further Athens development of a new democracy and social environment. Influenced by an aristocrat named Pericles, various new laws were introduced setting apart Athenians from any other cultures of its time. One of these laws imposed would dramatically affect the social standing and rights of the common people. "In 451 B.C. Pericles introduced one of most striking proposals with his sponsorship of a law stating that henceforth citizenship would be conferred only on children whose mother and father both were Athenians" (Martin 9.3.1). With this new regulation came new advantages for these exclusive citizens of Athens. This privilege allowed ownership of private land while being protected under the same laws as the wealthy aristocrats (Martin, 9.3.1). You now had an equal voice that could influence decisions about your future as a citizen of Athens. This marked the way for participation in politics. Women also shared new, but limited privileges compared to men. Although women did not have a political voice or were allowed to get involved with large financial dealings, they were still protected by the law. In spite of this somewhat prejudiced ruling, the women of Athens could enlist the services of a legal male guardian and have him speak for her in court if a situation developed that needed legal assistance, such as a law suit (Martin 9.3.1). Although the new citizenship standing had some shortcomings, it still prevailed as a groundbreaking and exclusive change unique to those who were true citizens of Athens. New feelings of extraordinary stature began to develop in the mindset of Athenian culture. Defeating a tremendous enemy such as the Persians was proof that the gods favored them during this "Golden Age". The next step during this era of great wealth and prosperity would not only show Athenian unity of its people and government, but pay homage to their Goddess of military power. The wealth and brilliance of a united and powerful empire would soon be echoed through outstanding architecture and sculpture. The construction of the Parthenon would not only express Athenian honor to the Virgin Goddess Athena, but also make a bold and distinctive statement about its culture.
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 The confidence of the Athenians close relationship to their gods would be further expressed within the sculptures of the ParthenonIts 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".
Works Cited
Martin, Thomas R. "An Overview of Classical Greek History." The Perseus Project 1997. <
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 <>
Stokstad, Marilyn "Ancient Greece." Art History. 2nd ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2002.

Three Goddesses(?) (Hestia, Dione, and Aphrodite?)
(Possibly the three Fates or Graces)
(The Elgin Marbles)
from the East pediment of the Parthenon
Phidias ? c438-432 BCE tallest figure 4'5"
The Doric entablature with its triglyphs and metopes.
Form:  These three reclining figures are designed so that they would fit in with the triangular shape of the pediment.  They are meant to be incorporated into a large narrative placed on the pediment and their position maintains their involvement.  They were placed on top of the pediment almost like nick nacks on a shelf: they were not bolted or attached to them.The figures were originally polychromed with encaustic paint, as were all sculptures on the Parthenon.  They are idealized figures that incorporate the wet drapery style as a means to accent their perfected features.
Iconography:  It is hard to comment on the iconography of the three figures without the required conclusive evidence as to their identities.  Stokstad discusses the identities of the three figures on page 190.  Even without their specific identities these figures represent a feminine ideal for the culture.  The anatomy and wet drapery style contribute to this notion by accenting certain idealized (and erotic) features.
Context:  Approximately 60% of all the sculpture from the Parthenon resides in England's British Museum.  These figures and several more like them found their way to this museum through the adventures of a Scottish noble named Thomas Bruce, the earl of Elgin.  Bruce, who was the ambassador to Turkey, asked the Turkish government, who controlled Greece in the mid 1800's, if he could remove some of the sculptures and bring them home.  The Turkish government granted his request with a bit of hostility.  Bruce then installed the sculptures within his home.  After a time the sculptures came to be in the possession of the British Museum.  There remains a constant struggle for the Greeks to regain ownership of these sculptures.
This kind of relocation of great works of art and the question of replacing works such as these has been one that is hotly debated across national lines.  In the last thirty years or so, mainly because of the theft of art and other treasures by the Nazis, a system of international codes and laws have been enacted to protect and restore such works to their original owners.  Unfortunately, these laws are complex and somehow the Elgin Marbles have remained in England.

Apollo's Lead Horse? (Selene's Horse?)
(The Elgin Marbles)
from the East pediment of the Parthenon
Phidias ? c438-432 BCE approximately 2' tall
Form: This extremely naturalistic rendering of the head of a horse would have been originally placed in the lower right hand corner of the east pediment.  As with the three female figures, its shape is designed to maintain the form of the triangular pediment.  The horse's nose and lower lip were designed to overlap and break the framing device of the cornice.  Originally this sculpture would have been painted with encaustic.Iconography:  The identity of the horse and its owner is still heavily disputed, but Professor Broderick of Lehman College has provided the most interesting attribution: Since the grouping resides at the entrance end of the Parthenon, which is also the end that greets the sun in the morning, Broderick suggests that the horses on the far left portion are the horses of Apollo rising in the morning.  Perhaps this horse, which is at the far right, is the lead horse as the Apollo's chariot sets, making the world become dark again.
This suggestion of meaning also allows for a certain economy in terms of the symbolic narrative.  Only the necks and heads of three or four horses need to be seen for the viewer to "get" the narrative.  Figures simply need to suggest and the viewer's imagination can provide the rest.
Context: Recently this sculpture and the other Elgin marbles have been in the focus of the media because the British museum has been accused of improperly cleaning the Elgin Marbles in the 1930's.  To complicate and compound the problem the museum has attempted to cover up its mistakes by hiding the documents that pertain to this discussion. (See Art News Magazine, Summer 2002)
Despite these accusations, it is possible that the marbles and sculptures that exist in the British Museum's collection are still better off than those that are still in situ (in their original placement.)  The marble sculptures that are still in situ on the Acropolis have been severely damaged by Athens' heavy pollution.

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.)

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Lapith Fighting a Centaur,
metope relief from the Doric frieze
on the south side of the Parthenon c440 BCE
British Museum, London
Greek Classic
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.
1. 1Delos is a small island off the coast of Greece. This is where the original treasury was to be kept.
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.

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