Test 2 Study Guide
Sequencing events – key periods in Greek art
- c 1050-900 bce Proto-Geometric Periods
- c 900-700 bce Geometric Period
- c 700-600 bce Orientalizing Period
- c 600-489 bce – Early Classical Period
- c 450-460 bce High Classical Period
- c 400-323 bce Late Classical Period
- c 323-31/39 bce Hellenistic Period
The majority of what we have of Greek art are not the original pieces, but rather, they are marble recreations made by the Romans. This is because the Greeks made most of their statues out of bronze – that bronze was melted down by the church.
After the collapse of the Mycenaeans, Greece suffered a dark age – they were disorganized with no government. They produced very little art during this time. From the 8th to the 9th century, the development of city states begins – a governing system that continues throughout Greek history – self-governing city states, rather than full wide-spread empire like Rome. Although they are independent, they will unite to fight outside forces (the Persians), but they also have a history of fighting each other (the Athenians & the Spartans).
Not a lot of good farmland, so instead, the Greeks became good traders. They had olive oil, wines, pots. They traded with the Egyptians, Mesopotamians – as a result of this, you will see the influence of this trade and exposure to these cultures in their art. Greeks adopted writing from the Phoneticians in the 7th century BCE.
The government they eventually developed was a democracy, although this idea of democracy mostly applied to the wealthy male population. Citizens (men) could hold public office, vote, had freedom of speech. Women were expected to stay at home. And there was still the idea of slavery. Male Citizens could also participate in the Olympics – this required physical training – the Greeks had a strong idea of the need for both a sound body and sound mind. The male form was something to perfect and was visually important, as evidenced by a majority of Greek sculpture. Men would work out in the nude in the gymnasium and the Olympics were performed in the nude. Sculpture contained an emphasis on the nude male body – this perfect, idealized form that still held a great deal of naturalism and attention to detail in musculature, form, movement.
Men also often took a younger male under their wing – the older male would serve as a tutor in the ways of the world – how to be male and what it meant to be a man in Greek society. These younger men were often lovers of the older men, although the older men were still married. Sexuality was not defined the same way in their culture as it is in ours.
Background on Greek Gods/Mythos
Earth and Heaven mated and produced the 12 Titans. One of the Titans – Kronos – castrated his father, took over and married his sister. Kronos, (Roman – Saturn) swallowed each of his children as they were born (Referenced Goya Painting: <a href=” Saturn Devouring His Son) because he is afraid they will overthrow him as he overthrew his father. Rhea (his sister-wife) saves one of the children by tricking Kronos. Instead of feeding him the child (Zeus), she wrapped up a stone and fed it to Kronos.
Zeus grew up, and, as Kronos feared, overthrew his parents – but not before forcing Kronos to vomit up his siblings. These new gods, with Zeus as their patriarch, would be known as the Olympian gods, named thus because they ruled at Mount Olympus (the tallest mountain in Greece).
These gods are different from earlier gods – particularly in that they have more human attributes. They have human forms, much more human emotions and in some cases, produced children with humans (demigods).
Some of the major Greek gods:
- Zeus (Patriarch) – ruled the sky. Weapon: thunderbolt.
- Apollo – god of sun, light, truth, music & healing
- Poseidon – god of sea. controls waves, storms, earthquakes. Holds a trident.
- Aphrodite – goddess of love & beauty
- Athena – goddess of wisdom & warfare; the virgin (Athena holds many different attributes that we will see, especially at the Parthenon. She was the patron god(dess) of Athens – said to be born from the head of her father (this idea of wisdom)
Like the Egyptians, the Greeks had temples and sanctuaries (places of the gods). Within these sanctuaries, there were altars and statues, theatres for ritual performances, housing for priests and even gyms (again this idea of the Olympics is tied to the gods).
150 – 48 BCE – Proto-Geometric Period
city states, foundation of architecture, religion
Greece : Archaic
1050 BCE – 480 BCE
Columns (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian)
- Doric were the first – plain with a flat top
- Ionic columns have a capital (top) and the two side curls (buns?) (called volutes)
- Corinthian columns began as interior columns and are decorative on top (flowers, rosettes). Eventually they began to be used in the exteriors of things.
Pediment – triangular shape on top of the temple.
Frieze – Below the Pediment. Then you have the Triglyph & the Metatope (the blank space between the triglyphs.)
Archaic, New York Kouros – 600 bce
During this period, this type of freestanding sculpture is prevalent. Male figures are referred to as Kouros figures.
This figure was found in a graveyard near Athens and is believed to be a grave marker. Likely the deceased had a wealthy family and this piece would have been commissioned upon his death. These are believed to be general depictions of a young man, rather than being specifically representative of one person. These general depictions may be references to warriors, athletes, ancestors or a god. These pieces were marked by the almond shape eyes and archaic smile and feature both naturalism and idealism. They were previously painted.
The form of these figures is reminiscent of ancient Egyptian statuary (one foot forward, clenched hands at side). The foot is not forward for the same reason, however. The foot provides balance, as these sculptures are the the round. It also shows movement, whereas Egyptian statuary used this pose to show one foot in heaven and one on earth (power). The most obvious and significant difference here, however, is the fact that these statues are nude.
Archaic, Kouros (Kroisos) 600-480 BCE
6ft, 4in. Marble.
His name was left on his grave along with an inscription indicating that he was a warrior.
Significant changes from the previous Kouros figure – much more naturalism: more curving in the hips, shoulders are wider, thighs are longer, proportions are better. the legs have more muscle. The sculpture has been rounded out to show muscle and flesh. The face is less elongated and natural – more fleshy and proportionate to the body. However the figure is still idealized. Something you can’t get away from with the Greeks is this concept of the ideal body.
Although he didn’t give us any Kore figures specifically to cover on the test, I think it’s important to make note of them. They are the female counterparts to the Kourous figures. The early ones were shaped like columns, and although later ones gained more forms, they looked drastically different from the Korous figures. They also seemed to be more representative of goddesses, priestesses or for protection, rather than grave markers as the Korous figures seemed to be.
Archaic, Exekias, Suicide of Ajax, 540 BCE
Achellies had just died in the Trojan war. Ajax had competed with Odessyus for the armor of Achellies lost. Myth says that Athena then caused him to go mad and kill a herd of sheep and cattle. (Athena and Hera do these sorts of things a lot.) As a result of these two traumatic events, Ajax decides to kill himself. So here on this amphora, we see that this is the scene that Exekias has painted – Ajax preparing for his suicide. Ajax is setting a sword into the ground so that he can impale himself on it. His motivations are both shame (the killing of the sheep and cattle & the loss of the armor to Odessyus) and sorrow (the death of Ajax).
This amphora contains a similar style to the amphora which depicted Achilles and Ajax playing dice – this is the style of the artist. Notice the tree and the armor act as framing of the composition on either side of Ajax – these are borders. Obviously Ajax is the focal point. The artist emphasizes this again through line – we really look at the sword first, and then our eyes move out. The piece is not completely balanced – it is slightly heavier on the right side because of the armor vs the tree, but it is balanced because it is framed. We consider this partial symmetry.
In art, we’ve previously seen art broken into registers – we don’t see this anymore. (We saw that in the Near East, Egypt) But do note the pattern along the top.
In these scenes that we see, there is a sense of drama – there is a sense that there’s something coming – we know he’s going to commit suicide here- sense of tension in these scenes. As with previous piece – they could put their armor back on, grab their shields and go back to battle. Always a sense of something coming/tension.
Archaic, Priam Painter, Women at a Fountain House
Comments from fb group to format later and do my own research —
Michael: I know I’m late but this is all I have : • Women married in teens
• Little or no education
• Seen as husbancds priority
• Women married at 14 – men at 30 before that homo
• 520 – 550 B.C.
• Ceramic 20”
• Water Jug
• Where women get water and socialize
• Scene from women everyday life
Micaela:I also have 520-510 bce. he might be looking for the term “genre scene” (which is what michael described about a scene from women in everyday life). The main point I got is that women, being less equal to men (basically property) were kept in the house and going for water was their only chance for socialization. ps… the columns are of the doric order.
High Classical Period (450-400 BCE)
This is when Athens & Sparta become very important city-states. They existed previous to this time, but this is when they really gain power. After the Persian battles, the Greeks formed a league for battle so they could come together & defeat whoever came in if this happened again. Greece wasn’t an empire – they don’t have this idea like the Romans do. You have leaders, not emperors.
During the high classical period, the Acropolis was rebuilt. (The Persians had destroyed it) This began a Greek tradition of burying some sculpture – to protect it out of fear that it would be destroyed. The Acropolis became a place for Athena, patron goddess of Athens. Even though we have this idea of humanism in Greece – you still have the idea that the gods & goddesses are going to help you out, so veneration is still very important. Humanism doesn’t get to where it is today until the enlightenment and science. So this is why they did this for Athena – to keep her happy so that something like that the Persian invasion would not happen again.
Although Greece is a democracy, there are still leaders, and one of the most important leaders of Athens at this time was Pericles. He was the one who wanted to rebuild the Acropolis. He really pushed for it. He said that it was Athena that helped the Greeks defeat the Persians. Not only did he want to build the Acropolis and build these temples to thank her for this, he wanted to have this great architecture for Athens as well. He wanted to build the Parthenon for Athens. This was also a move to begin civic pride for the Athenians.
It took about 50 years to rebuild the Acropolis and all of those buildings. And to get the money to do it, Pericles took it out of the defense fund, so you can see a sort of tyranny setting in. A lot of people did not want the money taken out of there and he wasn’t listening to them.
Polykleitos, Spear Bearer
6 ft 11 inches – originally bronze (this is a marble roman copy. Note the tree trunk & little thing to hold the arm so it doesn’t break off.)
Polykleitos was a sculptor and a theorist – he wrote the canon on how to create a human figure and the human body in sculpture. So think of it as a set of rules that he set up. Canon means measure rule or law. He wrote this about 450 bce. We don’t have the orignal copy of this but we have references to this in other literature. What he did was he set up ratios between a basic unit and the length of a body part. The Spear Bearer was created to illustrate his theory.
It’s possible that the Spear Bearer is a representation of an athlete, but he also could have been a warrior holding a spear in one hand. Note the contrapposto – the shift of weight – one leg bent, one leg straight, hips shifting – going up. This shows movement with symmentry – a balance created with the Spear Bearer’s head turned in one direction, while his leg is, in a sense, pointed in the other direction. One arm is bent and the other is straight, one leg is bent and the other is straight.
As with the discus thrower, there is a tension in the muscles – naturalism. Also in the face, there is little expression – we won’t really see much expression in the face until the Hellenistic period. It’s possible this absence of expression is connecting him with the Gods, but it’s also possible there just wasn’t a need for expression, since this piece was created to for a purpose – to display Polykleitos’ canon for the perfect human figure.
Iktinos and Kallikrates, Parthenon
From Micaela on FB:
The parthenon was the temple dedicated to “virgin” Athena (parthenos means virgin) as part of the acropolis in Athens. It was rebuilt after persian defeat from 447-438 bce (iktinos and kallikrates were the architects) and is believed to be the earthly home of gods and goddesses. The battle of athena and posiedon was on the west pediment.
Battle of Athena and Poseidon (west pediment)
via Christina on FB:
-This shows the battle between Athena and Poseidon fighting over Athens to be their patron god. Athena won by making Olive trees, where as Poseidon made creeks.
-She won because the Greeks can use olives.
-This also shows Lapiths battling Centaurs (symbol of barbarians) Might indicate the battle of Greeks vs. Persians.
via Christina on FB:
-Marble -41 ft tall –was painted with blue, red & gold.
–Has a sense of rhythm and repetition.
-This is refering to a festival that happens every 4 years.Every 4 years the woman of Athens wore a peplose for Athena (wool garmet) Part of the Athenian fashion. They would take the peplose and carry it to the Acropolis to clothe the statue of Athena.
-There would be dancers, musicians, had a big parade, etc
-Notice that they are all dressed so then we are looking at women.
-This is done in low and high relief.
Late Classical Period (400-323 BCE)
Prior to this the Spartans had just defeated Athens in 404 bce – you need to remember that the Spartans were really warriors. The Athenians were warriors but not like the Spartans. Spartan boys were trained to be warriors from a young age. During this time Athens regained its independence and Plato founded his school outside of Athens. Philip the 2nd of Macedonia conquered in 359 bce – also took the other Greek city states. So this is when Greece does become an empire. Philip will unify all these city states under his empire – his son, Alexander the Great will take the throne (because his dad is murdered) Alexander will take the empire and expand it (he conquers Persia & Egypt). Greece will become more and more multicultural and become a little more accepting of other ethnicities – they will still think they are civilized and others are barbarians, though. This Western idea that we have – colonialism – we are civilized and everyone else is uncivililzed dates back to Greece.
The late classical period ends with Alexander the Great’s death.
Praxiteles, Aphrodite of Knidos
6ft, 8 in. Marble.
Aphrodite – a woman in the nude. We have not previously seen any nudity when dealing with godesses or the upper class women prior to this. Why this change? Why now? In Greece, you’re never going to see a nude woman – you might see a nude servant, not one from the upper class. Women who were shown in the nude were considered to lack character. So this was very shocking.
The artist thougth the Greeks would be okay with this piece because she’s about to take a bath – and we all bathe in the nude. But it was still rejected by the Greeks.
So it was sold to the city of Knidos (a town in Asia Minor – part of Greek territory now). In this area, it was perfectly fine to show nude goddesses.
Here, we see the goddess about to take a bath, so she’s taking her clothes off, and there’s a jar of water. People of Knidos put this in an open temple you could see in from all sides. It is said the sculpture was a type of early pornography, and used in the same way. Somewhat appropriate since Aprodite was connected to sexuality. Conflicting reasons why she’s covering her pubic region – is it to hide or draw attention and make it more erotic?
According to legend, Aphrodite went to the temple and asked “Where did the artist see me naked?” Thsi is because of hte naturalism. There is also idealized.
Hellenistic Period (323-30 BCE)
Begins with the death of Alexander the Great & continues until 30 BCE when the Romans come in and take over.
When Alexander died, the territories were split up amongst his generals. So one general got Macedonia, one got Greece, one got Egypt, one got Persia, etc.
During the Hellenistic time, you’re going to see how Greek culture spread througout all these Greek provinces. Alexander really spread Greek culture, but he also spread other cultures throughout Greece. He connected himself to the god Amun (there’s a coin with him with ram horns). He was very into spreading culture both ways. So now there’s a new cultural age in Greece. Duing this period the subject matter’s going to change. We’re gong to see depictions of non-Greeks. You’re going to see a lot more depcitions of common people rather than just upper class & gods and genre scenes from everyday life.
Alexander confronts Darius III (310 BCE)
Battle of Issus.
Moasic – floor mosaic from a hosue in Pompeii.
This is the first time we’re really seeing a painting in Greece since the vase paintings. Alexander is on the far side and Darius is in the center. Alexander is shown with no armor – because he doesn’t need it (propaganda). Unlike the Persian leader, he can do it all without armor. He’s such a great warrior that he doesn’t need it.
Here we are seeing the defeat of Darius the 2nd. he is about to retreat on his chariot.
This piece is really known for its formal elements – something we spoke about with formal analysis:
- Focal point created with real and implied line.
- Focal point is either Darius or the black horse (particularly its rear)
- Chaos is created with conflicting lines, how busy the piece is and the colors – so once your find the focal point, your eye leaps all over the composition.
- The beginning of a foreground & a background.
- beginning to see perspective & space in the work -One way he does that is through foreshortening (horse)
The piece is supposed to be very chaotic, but also supposed to show Alexander and the Greek’s victory over the Persians (barbarians). Theme of Order over Chaos.
Gallic Chieftan Killing Himself and His Wife (220 BCE)
Marble 6ft 11 inches
Roman copy (original in bronze)
Orignal sculpture was in the ancient Greek city of Pergamon and this city was in Asia Minor (Turkey)
Galls – Celtic people – seen as barbarians by the Greeks. Again, you have this whole idea of the Greeks defeating the barbarians. Even though we see this idealized male form, they are showing this Gallic Chieftan as a barbarian – hair is emphasized as being unkempt & sloppy. This sculpture was part of several that was actually part of a monument that was talking about the victory over the Galls, so they had several statues showing the defeat.
The Chieftan is shown killing himself because he doesn’t want to be taken prisoner by the Greeks (they would make him a slave). He has his wife by the arm, notice she’s limp, so she’s either dead or near death. He’s plunging this sword into his heart.
This piece is very dramatic. Hellenistic art is referred to as theatrical. A woman is dying or dead and a man is about to die. We haven’t seen this in Greek sculpture before. Unlike previous sculptures which were quiet and reserved, especially in expression.
The woman is fully clothed, man is naked. Notice the drapery. Notice we do have contropposto, but the body is really twisting and turning.
Why did the Greeks do this, why did they make this work so dramatic, so emotional? The greeks wanted to get an emotional response from the viewer. We’ve started Greek Theatre in the classical period, so we’re seeing this leak over into sculpture. In Greek plays we have tons of death & suicide.
Old Market Woman (150-100 BCE)
50 inches high (over 4 ft).
Marble, Roman copy.
Here we have a woman going to the market. She has a chicken, a basket of vegetables & fruit & she’s going to the market to sell it. We have movement – both legs are bent so it looks like she’s moving.
Idealism is out the window – here we have her face, she’s got wrinkles, she looks old, she’s missing her teeth. However her breasts are still soemwhat idealized. It’s almost like her head was pasted on. It was done to show that she’s worked so hard in her life – and she still lives in poverty even at this age. Here you see social realism. Drapery. You can also think of this as a genere scene – this is depicting an every day person.
So now we have all these different cultures & influences & attitude – culture contact – art is changing – thus we are starting to see everyday people. The art is also reflecting the society – looking at this we can see that their ideas are changing. This whole idea of humanism – some people might be moving away from the idea of the gods so they want more of these real/genere scenes.
Etruscans, Sarcophagus 520 BCE
terra cotta 6’11”
From Sierra & Micaela on FB
Etruscans: sarcophagus held cremated remains of the couple and shows them as a wealthy couple in reclined dining pose. (note that Etruscan women were considered more equal). The hand gestures invite the viewer to the banquet, and their faces are animated and smiling, indicating an optomistic view of the afterlife. They are idealized in their youthfulness, and in the lack of detail in their legs < which resemble ionic columns.
animated faces. Poses.
Augustus of Primaporta (reign 31 BCE – 14 CE) (1st Century CE)
roughly 7′, marble (original was bronze)
From Sierra and Micaela on FB:
First emporor of rome, defeated Cleopatra and Antony.
Seen as man who can repair rome.
Identifies directly with god. resigns Power to the Senate in 20ce.
Copy made, original made in Bronze. about 7ft tall (Found in primaporta) At least 140 copies. Commissioned for the senate.
Wearing Armor-Military Leader.
Cupid riding dolphin- Cupid is the son of Venus, showing connecton to Venus. Movement in Legs. Contraposto.
Also note for Augustus Primaporta that the statue would have been painted (he showed a slide in class). Various symbols represent how he wanted to be portrayed, the position of his arms indicates that he was a public speaker, and the toga he is wearing associates him as a citizen of the empire.
Altar of Augustan Peace (13-9 BCE)
From Sierra and Micaela on FB:
3ft tall woman sculpture. With two women. Could reference peace, venus, or of she wolf. Women next to her represent wind.
Procession of women and men on it. Shows ow Augustas is addressing society. Really promoted marraige.
Wall of Mysteries (60-50 BCE)
Fresco – 5 ft 4 inches
By about 80 bce, this style became very popular in Pompeii & the surrounding areas. This is extremely diferent from the first style.
Here we have these the artist attempting to show 3d space on a 2d space and give us this illusion that we’re looking into this work. There is debate amongst scholars on whether this was a greek or roman invention, but we did see this in Greek painting in the depiction between darius and alexander.
This is from the Villa of Mysteries in Pompeii.
Pigment was made by mixing pigments in a solution of wine and soap. Sometimes they’d put a little wax in there. Probably things from the earth. clay and so forth.
What this scene is believed to be referencing is the mystery religion of Dionysis This mystery cult was very popular in Pompeii during this time. and what we could be looking at is an initiation rite into the religion. This is the room where you would come to be initiated. This is a mystery religion so not much is known about it, it was kept secret. Probably there was some form of baptisim. We’re looking at mortals and mythological figures interacting.
When you walked in this room and you were going hrough these rites, you were supposed to intract with these figures. So you felt like you were in/part of this mural-fresco – that’s why there is so much naturalism. Also, you see the influence of Greek sculpture, particularly in the figure of the man reclining – the laurel wreath in the hair (men who won Olympic games would often wear them). There is also a Greek mask from a play.
And then if you look at the bottom, you can see the first style. The 1st style didn’t completely die out, but the 2nd style becomes more popular.
The first style is referred to as the “masonry” style. because the goal of this mural & other murals in this style was to imitate expensive marble. This style we actually know – we’ve seen this style in Greece in the 4th century bce. Influence from Greece. Most likely came to Italy during the Hellenistic period when Greek influence was spreading.
It’s important to note that although we only spoke about two, there were 4 styles of Fresco.
Portrait of Husband and Wife (70-79 CE)
fresco – 1ft, 11 in x 1 ft 8 in
In a house in Pompeii. Homeowners would commission for their portraits to be painted on their walls.
Here we have a husband and wife, notice they’re together, just like the Etruscan sarcophagus.
Women’s roles are very different in Rome than in Greece – in Greece, they were property, even if they had money, they still had to mainly stay at home. In Rome, women could become educated, become writers, doctors and even Nero’s mother was a writer. This could never happen in Greece.
Women could also own their own property in Rome. Not so in Greece.
When you look at this portrait, you see the woman- in her hand is a stylus (a utensil used for writing on a wax tablet, which is what she has in her other hand). So we’re being shown that she’s a writer. Her stylus on the chin because it makes it look like she’s thinking about what to write or that she’s in deep thought. The husband has a scroll in his hand – this tells that he’s well read. That he reads and that he’s smart.
This portrait – since it’s roleplaying – it’s similar to even the images of the emperors – think of hte image of Augustus. This woman may or may not be able to write, this man may not be able to read, but this is an illusion you want to give to your guests when they come to your home. These are poses you see throughout roman portraits. You want to come across to your guests as smart, well read, know how to write, and so forth.
These are thought of as wedding portraits.
Colosseum (70-80 CE)
164 ft tall, 6 acres long
It was begun by Vespasian and was finished a year after his reign ended. It is a Flavian Amphitheater (The dynasty after the Julio-Claudian dynasty).
It gets its name in part because of its size – it’s an enormous structure. But also because of a giant statue of Nero that once stood in this area. The Colosseum was built on Nero’s old palace, which was purposefully leveled. This was done to show that Nero was no longer important and to wipe away everything that he had done. And to replace the memory of this hated man, a stadium for the people – for entertainment.
Opening performances for the Colosseum lasted 100 days – 200 gladiators killed, 9000 animals killed.
The Colosseum seated about 50 thousand people, had 3 levels of seating and 76 entrances.
People came here to see gladiator fights, animal hunts. Some scholars believe that they filled up the bottom part with water and did mock sea battles.
Animal hunts: skilled archers would come and shoot the animals from the stands. Sometimes teh animals were brought together to fight and sometimes a person was thrown into the ring with no weapons and no armor as a form of execution.
Gladiators were professional fighters, usually escaped slaves that were trained to fight in hand to hand combat. Some survived long enough to become celebrities. The government owned the gladiators so that they couldn’t band together and orchestrate an ovethrow.
Generally the schedule would go like this: Morning: Men vs Animals, Noon: Prisoners executed, Afternoon: Gladiator fights.
Construction: The Romans used a barrel vault. We’ll see more of this in the Gothic Churches. They also used a Groie Vault – 2 Barrel Vaults put together. They used concrete to build.
There are some references to Greek architecture – they are 2 Greek theatres put together, and the use of columns are present througout. However they are not freestanding columns like we saw in Greece – they are engaged columns – they’re in the wall.
On the bottom, there are Doric columns (Technically Tuscan columns, brought in by the Etruscians). On the second level, Ionic columns and on the third level, Corinthian columns.
Also, notice that only a portion of the Colosseum remains – during the middle ages, they began to take it apart to build other things. (Sculptures, buildings, etc.)
142 ft high
Pantheonmeans “All of the gods” – built for all of the Roman gods.
We still use the word Pantheon to reference religion
commissioned by Emperor Hadrian (reigned: 117-120) who loved Greek Culture.
We’re looking at a Greek temple here – similar to what we saw on the Parthenon. We have the pediment, the frieze, the Corinthian columns. It is believed there was a sculpture of Jupiter in the pediment – he’s the head of all the gods (The Roman Zeus)
The Pantheon had a circular plan with a dome (of course we’re going to see domes in a lot of the Christian churches. But right now, the whole idea of the dome is completely new. Brunalesci finished a dome by looking at this. what you have going on here – references to circles – referencing the Earth (or the orb of the earth.) (Sometimes you see Roman depictions of Emperors holding an orb. In the middle ages, we’ll see Jesus holding orbs.)
Also have the idea of another orb – the dome being the heavens – so you have another circle. Earth – circular floor – dome – heavens.
So you have this unified space.
Niches that would have held images of the Roman gods & goddesses. 7 Niches.
And then in the center of the dome you have an opening – Oculus – this is interesting because the pantheon is a very closed space but the oculus opens it up. Idea of open & closed space all at once. Sun comes through – reference to sun god.
On the dome you have coffers? decorative. Romans introduced them but we’ll continue to see them throughout architecture.
Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius 176 ce
ruled from 161-180 ce
11 ft 6 inches – bronze
This sculpture sets up the tradition of leaders on horseback sculptures.
Full head of hair, beard like Hadrian.
He’s saluting – his arm is out, his finger is out, just like Augustus – he’s leading the people, leading the troops, idea of leadership.
Notice he’s not wearing armor, doesn’t have weapons (like Augustus did). This is to show that he’s connected with the people and it’s similar to the Darius vs Alexander piece – the idea that he didn’t need armor. He believed the gods were protecting him, divine right to rule. Gods are behind him.
Marcus Aurelius was a stoic philosopher. (Stoicism begins with the Greeks).
Under this sculpture originally, there was another sculpture of a barbarian/enemy, so it looked like the horse was going to stomp on this figure. Shows his military conquest/military mind. Idea of other people being barbarians continued from Greece.
Reason why this bronze sculpture remains (during middle ages a lot of bronze was melted down) is because they thought this was a sculpture of Constantine who was a christian ruler. They didn’t melt it down because he wasn’t pagan.
Constantine the Great .325-326
Last Roman emperor, First Christian emperor.
Legalized Christianity – it is said he had a vision of a flaming cross and was told “In this sign, you shall conquer,” After which, he decided to legalize Christianity in 313 CE. There is a lot of debate on whether or not Constantine was actually Christian. It’s said he continued worshiping the Roman Gods and legalized Christianity because it was such a popular movement and a was gaining a lot of power. To prevent an uprising, he legalized it, as well as all other religions.
In 324, Constantine got a bit more strict with his religious permissions – he outlawed ritual sacrifice and prostitution. These things were frowned on by Christianity, so you can see there, the power they held – the Emperor was outlawing the things they were against.
He moved the capital of the Empire from Rome to Constantinople (modern day Turkey).
Some say that when he died in 337, he accepted Christianity and was baptized, others say he never was.
In this piece, he’s showing himself as an emperor, but also as Jupiter, the great Roman god and patriarch.
This head is what remains of a 30 foot statue that was made of marble and wood. There were pieces found with sheets of bronze that were used for the drapery. The head is 8 ft 6 inches high.
Showing himself so big again emphasizes the depiction as a god.
He uses idealism to connect himself to the gods. Large eyes that look out into nowhere. This statue also uses naturalism.
It is believed that this colossal statue sat on a throne and held a scepter in one hand and an orb in the other – showing him ruling over the world. As has already been mentioned, we will later see a lot of Byzantine art of Jesus holding an orb.
Colossal Head, La Venta (1000-400 BCE)
from Sierra & Micaela on FB:
17 found so far
Heads are 5-12ft in height, 5-20 tons, all look different. Made of Basalt.
NOT Sculpture in the round, ment to be viewed from the front. Backs extremely flat and smooth.
although the heads have common style to the features in the almond eyes, wide noses, and downturned mouths, they have individualized characteristics that indicate that they may have been portraits of different rulers. They are wearing caps with chin straps and earspools that resemble the paraphernalia of ball players, and some have remnants of paint.
Olmec, La Venta Monument 5, 1000-400 BCE
From Micaela on FB:
I have that the La Venta Monument 5 (stone, 61″ ? not sure I got the size right) was originally thought to be a sacrificial altar, but now is believed to be a throne. It is a mix of high and low relief with a man coming out of the hole with a baby, a reference to the emergence myths. This could be interpreted as a presentation scene to introduce the heir to the throne, or possibly a sacrifice victim. It’s partially destroyed, possibly for reuse of the stone. On the other side, there are two men holding were-jaguar babies. The low relief part shows elongated heads (a sign of beauty) on the babies, referencing the corn cob shape, as tribute to the maize god.
Teotihucan, Temple of the Feathered Serpent (Quetzalcoatl) (about 200 CE)
This temple was dedicated to Quetzalcoatl (feathered serpent).
This was a sacrifical temple – we know because they found people buried within.
There were seven levels with a temple on top. These are considered talud-tablero construction. Quetzalcoatl (regeneration/feathered serpent) and Tlaloc (storm god) were depicted in the tableros. It was fully painted in red, blue, white and yellow. Red to reference blood. There were also traces of black paint, thought to reference the shadows of the underworld.
Compare mezo-american temples to Egyptian pyramids:
- Purpose: Egyptians- tombs // mezo americans- for the gods/sacrifice
- Time: Egyptian pyramids were constructed quickly – before you die – burial tomb // pyramids of mezo america over 100 yrs – kept building on them.
- Representation: Egyptian – rays of the sun // mezo-america: volcanoes
Teotihuacan, Great Goddess, 650 CE
God or goddess in center… (Hierarchy in scale, centered, focal point) with priests on sides. Great Goddess (Representing fertility, eath, the rainforest)
Priestd are bloodletting for her… Wearing matching headdresses…. Priests are chanting.
Many times only the extremely important, gods, etc.. are in frontal view.
Mayan, Princeton Vase 8th Century
This is a depiction of the Popul Vuh – the Mayan version of the Old Testament (creation stories). This is the story of the Hero twins to avenge their father, the Maize God. And then to avenge their own deaths, because they played the ball game and they lost and so were killed. It also shows the God L, god of Death, hanging out with his Concubines, putting bracelets on them and women making hot cocoa. Off to the side, you see the Rabbit recording what is going on. The rabbit is a trickster connected with the moon goddess, which we later found out from a continuation of the story found later.
In the continuation, we se the Hero twins and a god being sacrificed. Also, the god L with all of his regalia gone, showing that he is about to be sacrificed. He has paper through his piercings as torture. And at the top, you can see the moon goddess and the Rabbit, conspiring against god L and that’s why he fell.
Mayan, Copan Ballcourt, 738 CE
long, rectangular in shape, eye shaped.
The Ball Game was played with a large rubber ball. There have been rememants of an Olmec rubber ball found, so it is believed that the game began with them and was passed on.
To play the game, you would use your legs, elbows, knees, hips (no hands). The goal would be a hoop, and usually the goal was to get the ball through the hoop. This was very difficult and was usually only played to one point. Other times, there were targets to knock off, or you were required only to hit the hoop to score.
The ball game had several functions – religious, political and social.
Religious: Saw the ball – the ball being hit during the ball game – as the movement of the sun and the planets as they move through the sky. The other religious function of the ball game was sacrifice – who would be sacrificed would be determined by the outcome of the ball game. It would be pre-decided before the game whether the victors or the losers would be sacrificed, probably for various reasons.
Political function: Sometimes, instead of fighting with neighboring city states, they would simply play the ball game to resolve conflicts, deciding what to do based on the outcome of the ball game. When they captured prisoners, they also forced them to play the ball game – which often resulted in sacrifice anyway.
Social: The obvious – it serves as entertainment. The king would come out, sit on his leopard pelt and watch, priests, dressed in blue (representing sacrifice) would sit near him. And other people would also come and watch.
Mayan, Maize God, Copan, 68-750 CE
This statue was found under the ruins of a building believed to be a temple of the Maize god. This was a very important god – he was connected with their main food source and there was an idea of ressurection. He was the Mayan Osiris. The Maize God was also the father of the Hero twins.
It was believed that every year the Maize god was sacrificed and then reborn – like cutting the top off the corn.
In comparison to the god L, he looks very youthful. He has a full head of hair and there is this image of a corn cob growing out of his head. This thick head of hair symbolizes fertility and also references the stalk of teh corn.
His head is elongated – a symbol of beauty to the Mayans – other art that contains this elongated head is directly referencing the Maize god.
He has ear spools and is wearing the sun necklace that you’ll see the kings & queens wearing. He also wears the arm bands that we see the ball players wear. Notice his hands – he looks like Hindu sculpture, but he was probably holding on to something originally.
Mayan, Temple of Inscriptions, 7th Century CE
The Temple of Inscriptions is located in Palenque (modern state of Chiopfis?). The first royal dyansty at Palenque began in 431 CE. Pakal, for whom the Temple of Inscriptions was built, ruled from 615-683 CE (7th Century). He became king at 12, but his mother ruled for him as regent until he came of age. Pakal had to turn up the religious and the political propaganda a bit more than previous kings because he wasn’t of direct lineage in the Palenque area, so you will see this in the art and archetecture he constructed.
75 ft high, built next to the palace.
The temple of Inscriptions is unique because it was built as a burial tomb for Pakal, in direct contrast to most of the pyramids that we see in Mezo-America (built for the gods/sacrifice). Inside, were found inscriptions that refer to Pakal and his life – thus the name. In 1952, Archeologists found an opening that lead down into the pyramid and located the burial tomb.
The tomb contained 6 skeletons – people who were sacrificed with Pakal to help him with his journey into the afterlife.
When the temple was built, they began with the crypt and built up. This is the most important part of the temple. They buried him here at the bottom not only to protect him, but to plant him – because he is the Maize god and he will sprout and make that journey into the upper world. This pyramid therefore references the world tree which will also help him on his journey.
It contains 9 layers – referencing the 9 layers of the underworld.
Mayan, Sarcophagus Lid, 680 CE
9 ft x 12 ft
This is the lid for the sarcophagus of Lord Pakal. Here we have him wearing a jade skirt, referencing the maize god. He has the cosmic/world tree growing out of his stomach (looks similar to a cross). We also have the mouth of the earth monster. On the lid we have inscriptions referencing Pakal’s life and his ancestors.
It is interesting to note that Mayans would use poison to protect the tombs and sarcophagi from thieves.
Mayan, Bonampak Mural-Bloodletting Scene, 759 CE
This is a depiction of bloodletting. This was a way for noble men and women to give their blood back to the gods without dying. The women would pierce their tongues, then thread a string with spiked beads through their tongues and bleed out that way. The background is sacrificial blue and the young prince can be seen at the bottom of the piece piercing his finger, learning another way to practice the bloodletting.
There is a basket there that is filled with paper that would catch the blood, then the paper would be burned as a sacrifice.
14. were jaguar
18. Popul Vuh
19. World Tree