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Ancient Greek and Roman Libraries, by James Fieser

University of Tennessee at Martin


Poetry

Eoeae

The Great, epic poem, attributed to Hesiod, on the father of Epidaurus, on suitors of Hippodamia, on Hyettus, on Meleager, on Mycene, on the wife and children of Phylas, on Pirene.


A Hellenistic Bibliography: Epigram


Philosophy

Socrates, Xenophon, and Plato


Ancient Greek and Roman Libraries, by James Fieser

University of Tennessee at Martin


Eclecticism, by James Fieser, Ph.D.

University of Tennessee at Martin


Greek Philosophy, by James Fieser, Ph.D.

University of Tennessee at Martin


Peripatetics, by James Fieser, Ph.D.

University of Tennessee at Martin


Sophists, by James Fieser, Ph.D.

University of Tennessee at Martin


Stoicism, by James Fieser, Ph.D.

University of Tennessee at Martin


Isocrates, Aristotle, and Diogenes


Presocratics

University of Tennessee at Martin - The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Science

Wonders of Ancient Greek Mathematics


Sculpture

An introduction to Greek Sculpture

  The sculpture of Greece is definitely one of the most influential artistic movements of any ancient culture. Even though Greece itself was influenced visibly in the beginning by strong trade routes, especially with Persia to the east and Egypt to the south, they quickly assimilated these methods and characteristics of the older civilizations and created within a few thousand years a lasting inspiration that fueled many other advances in culture and art. The Romans most notably copied Greek sculpture's perfect forms from the Classical and Hellenistic ages and it's through their assimilation of the Greek culture that most of our sculptures survive today. Later revivals of antiquities were given new life and power in the Renaissance of Italy. One is hard pressed to imagine what the Renaissance would have been without the influences of this ancient Greek art form.
  The sculptural standard that the ancient Greeks created has carried itself gallantly even into this modern day, changing its form and meaning to meet the demands of new civilizations and fluctuating cultures. We see this in our park sculptures, our increasing image bytes and even into the new stylus abstractions of modern art. The treatment of the form, especially the human form, had its strongest foundation stones laid down by the sculptures of ancient Greece.   The sculpture of Greece is definitely one of the most influential artistic movements of any ancient culture. Even though Greece itself was influenced visibly in the beginning by strong trade routes, especially with Persia to the east and Egypt to the south, they quickly assimilated these methods and characteristics of the older civilizations and created within a few thousand years a lasting inspiration that fueled many other advances in culture and art. The Romans most notably copied Greek sculpture's perfect forms from the Classical and Hellenistic ages and it's through their assimilation of the Greek culture that most of our sculptures survive today. Later revivals of antiquities were given new life and power in the Renaissance of Italy. One is hard pressed to imagine what the Renaissance would have been without the influences of this ancient Greek art form.
  The sculptural standard that the ancient Greeks created has carried itself gallantly even into this modern day, changing its form and meaning to meet the demands of new civilizations and fluctuating cultures. We see this in our park sculptures, our increasing image bytes and even into the new stylus abstractions of modern art. The treatment of the form, especially the human form, had its strongest foundation stones laid down by the sculptures of ancient Greece.
by Nathan Marcel & Dana Starkey


Neolithic or 'Stone Age' Sculpture

  Most of the sculptures that we have today from the Neolithic age are in the form of “votives” or aids in worshipping. Some figurines are carved from rock others are made of clay. The most famous of these are female fertility figures or “Great Mother Goddess”. These figurines are found all over the ancient world and are identified by the typical roundness and bulging forms. The Neolithic sculptors placed a heavy emphasis on the childbearing hips and sexual parts sometimes entirely dropping away the feet and hands.
   They seem unconcerned with the faces as well, or maybe these have just rubbed off over time. They are usually small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and with this evidence we can believe they were used by nomadic people. We can also imagine the idea of these figurines traveling perhaps outside of the communities where they were made in easily.
  During the middle Neolithic period 4800 - 4400 BC, the Sesklo civilization was known for their pottery and their similar figurines. This popular theory of the female “fertility figure” has been questioned or challenged by some who believe that too much emphasis has been placed on the “Mother Goddess” belief. Attention has not been shown to human male figurines and animal figurines that have surfaced along with the known female “fertility figures”. Overall it is unclear how or why these statues were used.


The bronge age of sculpture in Ancient Greece

  In the Bronze Age we begin to see a refinement in sculpture developing. Settlements start springing up along trade routes with other countries and from this we can notice regional developments, native populations outlining their own standards of style.
  Early Mesopotamian votive statues Most Greek artists are heavily influenced by Mesopotamia and Egypt. We believe that ancient sailors brought new votive images to their citizenry. As far as art historians can tell, the earliest of the Bronze Age sculptures do not happen on mainland Greece; instead they happen on the surrounding cluster of islands.
  Cycladic Art
  Some of the earliest images are from the Cycladic Islands The sculptures are monuments or idols usually made of marble. These are almost always female goddess/spirits with folded arms. They were used for markers buried near or with their dead. They have a very geometric and angular quality. Most of the statues represented were slim, pubescent nude females. These figurines followed a particular stance which enabled them to stand independently. The face is flat and oval shaped with an elongated nose. The face tilts slightly upward whilst the wedge-shaped body is tightly pressed with two folded arms against the torso. Both legs are pressed together and bend minimally at the knees whilst the feet are pointed at a downward angle. It is believed the Cycladic statues most likely descended from the voluptuous full bodied fertility figurines during the Old Stone age. It is unknown why the slim figurines replaced the Old Stone age figurines. However, religious beliefs were the most probable explanation. It is thought that the largest figurines may have had some association with the sun in the cycle of life and death. Smaller statue versions were kept in households, although their meaning is unclear. These statues have also been located in Marathon and Santorini. The Cycladic sculptures were the only female nude statues created until the mid-fourth century BC.
  Most of the sculpture from the Bronze Age on Greece comes from Mycenean settlements. The development of Mycenean sculpture seems to reflect heavy influence from Near Eastern, Egyptian, and Minoan art (from Crete).
   The major cultural center around Greece during this time was on the Island of Crete where the rich had time to build impressive palaces and explore fanciful arts such as wall painting, vessel making and some sculpture, both in relief and free standing. The Minoan prosperity is probably due in a large part to their being on an island so they didn't have to face the constant threat of being invaded, as well as being on the shipping routes. The most famous palace on Crete is the palace of King Minos and from the name of the King we call this period Minoan Civilization.
  Minoan Art
  Minoan civilization, as mentioned above, was by far the most cultured. We are still unraveling the mystery as to why this culture did not survive through the dark ages. Minoan sculpture is refined and sophisticated in a playful manner. The “Snake Goddess” is an example of some of the fine Minoan craftsmanship. It has been suggested that the snakes are associated with male fertility and the goddess's bared breasts are associated with female fertility. The goddess's large eyes with heavy arched eyebrows are indications of kingship. One particular symbol that is a trade mark of the Minoan civilization is the bull. Bulls were depicted in both painting and sculpture. One particular example that demonstrates the Minoans' skill is a rhyton (drinking horn) that is in the shape of a bull. This particular piece is from Knossos and dates back to 1500-1450 BC. The bull rhyton has carved shaggy fur, crystal eyes and a muzzle decorated with shells.
  Mycenean Art
  Most sculpture found in the areas of the Greek mainland of ancient Mycenae has been unearthed from their shaft graves and beehive tombs. The most impressive specimens are made of gold. Most of the style development seems to come from Minoan influence as well as a style probably descendent from the ancient Greek tribes, their ancestors. The Mycenaeans made clay figures, not bronze, due to their unfamiliarity with the casting process. Many of their statues were imported. The Minoan and Egyptians civilizations were in close contact with the Mycenaeans and imported sculptures and other decorative items.


Greek Sculpture in the Dark Ages

  Very little sculpture survives from the dark age in Greece, if much sculpture was even made. What we do have for these 300 years in the way of sculptures are small temple offerings, mostly of little animals made of stone and clay. Especially worth noting are the number of horse statues. The Greeks were very fond of horses.
  The largest development during this time was in vase making. Pottery seems to have offered a more practical endeavor for artists, one linked directly to survival and supply and demand. But after about 800 BC the Greeks rapidly start developing a sculptural history expressing an interest in the human figure and architectural decoration.


The archaic period of sculpture in Ancient Greece

  What emerges from the Dark Ages are sculptures that can definitely be identified with the Greek peoples, even though most influences can be traced to Egypt and Mesopotamia. During this time however we begin to see an emerging Greek identity. This new identity rapidly advances over 400 years into a defined visual language concentrated on the expression of natural perfection in the human form. In comparing and contrasting the Greek statue style to the Egyptian, it can be noted that the early Greek archaic statues appear rigid, stylized and less natural. An Example would be depictions of women. The Egyptian statues of woman allowed the legs and hips to show their outline through their skirts. The Greek female statues showed the skirt as a solid form, with only the toes shown below. This is not to say that the Greeks had no admirable qualities. They mastered the ability to create statues that were free standing. The Egyptians supported their statues to some extent in stone background. Other differences can be seen in the eyes. The Greek statue's eyes were huge with a direct stare, yet Egyptians portrayed their statues with a faraway gaze. There are two general terms given to the statues. The female statues are referred to as Kore, which means maiden, and the male statues are Kouros, meaning youth. It is unknown why the females are depicted clothed yet the males nude. Both Greek and Egyptian statues share the same stance where one foot is in front of the other . According to some researchers, a pair of parted human lower legs was the hieroglyph for walking. The Egyptian stance was to be understood as a symbol. However the Greeks interpreted the stance as a man standing at rest. Some depictions of the Kouros show him with a beard, which suggests a man of full maturity. The bodies of the Kouros depict physical perfection or the ideal body which is similar to Egyptian depictions of the human body. Slight changes in the statues began to appear around 500 BC and before, such as the Kouros carved with a smile known as the Archaic smile (sign of life). A famous example of a Kouros with a smile would be the Rampin Head dated 560 BC. The Kouros statue also began to be depicted with tight cloaks still allowing the body's form to be seen, yet leading away from total nudes. The Kore statue's clothing is depicted in a more realistic light with slight folds and creases. For the most part, the Kore does not go through as many changes as the Kouros. The hair on both male and female statues is carved in a stylized pattern, almost to resemble a wig. The overall image of both statues becomes less rigid and has a softer and rounder look.
  We can trace the rigid geometry and angular style to paintings done on pottery at this time. It is interesting to note that these ancient sculptures were almost always painted. This would add an element of realism that unfortunately we cannot experience today.
  Out of the Archaic period we also begin to see a major emphasis on decorative architectural sculpture. The most important of these sculptures are done in the pediments and facades of temples. These start out being high relief sculptures carved into the stone deeply in order to bring them forth from the background. They gradually began putting relief sculptures into other areas of the new monumental buildings. By the end of the Archaic period we find balanced designs of the human form in action. High relief gives way to separate standing statues in architectural decoration. The major theme of the statues of this time are gods and mortals in battle, they loom impressively over the entrances in proportions close to life-size.


The severe style of Greek Sculpture

  The severe style roughly covers the first 50 - 80 years of the early classical period. It is marked by the abandonment of the Archaic smile and more interest and concentration on representing human nature and form in art. Overall, most of the sculptures are markedly more sober and realistic. The poses and action of the sculptures begin to loosen up in this short period but still remain rather stiff. Opening up is mostly due to the “contrapposto” pose. This is an Italian word meaning “counterpoise” which describes the stance of one leg held back as it supports the weight of the body while the other leg remains loose and free. This adds an amount of realism to the statues. The realism is in the way it brings a sway to the hips and body and engages the viewer easier by this new animation and expression.
  Another notable development that begins is the increasing use of bronze in sculpture. They began to use bronze as an artistic medium because it is stronger than marble and doesn't need supports for open poses with outstretched arms or wide stances. These facts helped artists explore more daring poses without as much fear of damage or breakage. It is from this that sculpture develops “in the round”, which means that the sculpture wasn't meant to be seen from just one angle but was able to be seen from all sides. This led to an increase of action-oriented themes and confident mastery of anatomy. An example of a bronze sculpture in the conroposto pose is “Zeus” who stands at six feet and ten inches. The statue of Zeus is poised as if he were about to hurl a lightning bolt. This statue shows the contrast of stability in the midst of motion, which are the key components that make this sculpture so grand and powerful.


Classical style sculpture of ancient Greece

  One of the first celebrated works of the fifth century that we can define as the classical style is the very famous “Disk Thrower” statue by Myron. Almost all of the famous classical and Hellenistic statues that survive today are marble Roman copies from the original bronze sculptures. Myron's Disk-Thrower (Discobolos) is no exception. It was so famous in ancient Greece and Italy that many copies were and have been made over the ages. Myron achieved the fame of this statue by representing a frozen moment in time through the twisting balanced movement, and in the way he rendered the realism of the anatomy and the thrust of the figure's weight in an expressive split second of time that has stood for over two millennia.
  Phidias was another major sculptor of the early classical period. He was responsible for the amazing marble decorations of the Parthenon. His sculptures also show a realism that had not been seen before. All of the very famous sculptors at this time enjoyed a degree of celebrity status. Phidias was probably the greatest sculptor/celebrity. He was helped by the powerful political leader Pericles who was rebuilding Athens. Pericles noticed the sculptor's skill and mastery of the medium and made Phidias chief architect, sculptor, painter and designer of the new buildings being erected on the Acropolis, among other public works programs. One of the legendary sculptures by Phidias was his creation of the colossal statue of Athena made of gold and ivory in the temple, as well as the novel, celebrated frieze built behind the columns of the Parthenon, 4 feet high and 523 feet long. The frieze was a vivid illustration of the religious procession that took place in Athens to honor the goddess Athena every four years. It stands as one of the greatest reliefs in the world because of the rhythmic movements and the absence of repeated stiff forms, so often seen on monumental friezes throughout history.
  Another one of the developments that really separates the classical style from earlier styles is the quality of “Pathos” that the statues begin to develop. Pathos is the Greek word meaning “suffering” and becomes a major movement in later Hellenistic styles. An ideal statue depicting the quality of pathos is the “Dying Niobid” dated 450-440 BC. One can see the quality of pathos in the body's pose and facial expressions. According to the legend, Niobid insulted Apollo and Artemis's mother by boasting of her seven sons and seven daughters. The two gods killed all of the children. The statue depicts Niobid sinking to her knees after being shot in the back while running. As she reaches behind to pull the arrow out, her garment has slipped off, leaving her nude. This statue is the earliest large female in Greek art to be nude. The self-contained suffering is expressed on her face.
  Other sculptors worth mentioning included a late classical or pre-Hellenistic flavor, such as Scopas who was one of the sculptors at the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. His style is marked by deep set eyes and dramatic sweeping gestures.
  Praxiteles was another sculptor who worked on the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. His most famous sculptures are standing gods who achieve a perfection of flesh and grace that established his fame and reputation throughout the ancient world. They are relaxed and polished forms that for the first time in Greek sculpture are wrapped in an atmosphere and feeling that glows from within.
  Another sculptor that enjoys lasting fame and respect is Lysippus who set new proportions for the human body, he changed the style of sculpture through these new proportions and other sculptors followed his lead. His figures were more slender and lithe with smaller heads and expressive postures that began to break from the ordinary contrapposto. His figures also show a new kind of spontaneity. His most famous sculpture “The scraper” is the statue of a young athlete with messy hair scraping olive oil from his body as was the practice of cleaning oneself at this time.


Hellenistic Style of Greek Sculpture

  During the Hellenistic era Greek sculptures were spread throughout vast territories due to the continuing expansion of Greek territories and colonies, but despite this expansion, Greek sculpture continued to become more Greek. The tides of culture had turned. Rather than being greatly influenced by other cultures, the Greeks were influencing other cultures, in the arts and in other ways. A dramatically different character of sculpture can be noted during this period, more victorious and stately, reflecting the pride the Greeks had begun to feel in their accomplishments. This was done by placing a greater emphasis on pathos as well as greater spontaneity and a greater variety of poses.
  The sculptors of this era begin to challenge the set patterns of standing sculptures and displayed more expressiveness and greater variety. The sculptures develop a heavier quality. More weight and balance can be felt, especially in the structure of the Pergamum altar. From about 180 BC the most impressive part of the Pergamum altar is the great frieze that confronts the viewer. It is bold. The subject is the battle of the Gods and the Giants, which was seen as a symbol of the Greeks' victories in their own wars. The altar however, abandons subtlety and relies instead on the dramatic muscular bodies and extreme poses that almost break out of their swirling garments. Even as the figures fall wounded, they threaten to come off the surface. Done in tremendous dynamic movement the entire design is overwhelming. Playing through the throes of combat, the pathos on the faces shows the violence of struggle in battle and in unity with the strain and emotion of the body. Another battle related sculpture is the “Dying Trumpeter”. (230-220 BC) This statue was created in order to celebrate the victory of Attalus I of Pergamum (a city in north-west Asia Minor) over the Celts. The sculptor must have had some knowledge of the Celts for his art remarkably depicts their facial characteristics. Also the knotted rope around the trumpeter's neck is another Celtic symbol. The pathos expression of the mortally wounded trumpet player is that of silent dignity and pain. The trumpeter earns the viewers' respect for his acceptance of death, yet his lingering strength can be detected in the weight of his arms that are his only support.
  The Nike of Samothrace has been called “the greatest masterpiece of Hellenistic sculpture” because of its feeling of movement. The wind and air whip around and through the folds in her clothing. You can feel the atmosphere as it ruffles the feathers of the wings thrown back behind her body as the goddess lands on the prow of a ship. In all its amazing fantasy and fantastic realism it moves through the space around it with forceful animated action and advancement.
  Another aspect of Hellenistic sculpture are the small scale statuettes often called “Tanagra figurines” produced in shops for private ownership. These are an exception to the otherwise mythological themes. Even though they do include some of them in the beginning, they begin to represent everyday people and rarely do we find the monumental public sculpture qualities. Instead, most of the figures simply lean or walk, or sit, and the subjects are just everyday people, street beggars, entertainers, dancers, fashionable ladies, and gymnasts, among others.
  Before we can leave Hellenistic sculpture we should give some credit to the Laocoon Group which was found in Rome in 1506 AD. It has been identified as a Roman copy of a Greek original. It shows the tragic death of Laocoon and his two sons when they were punished by the gods for warning the Trojans not to admit the Greeks' wooden horse into their city. It has been said that the death of Laocoon was the first in a chain of events leading to the founding of Rome, and therefore an important myth. It is also an incredibly important piece because when it was unearthed in Rome, it influenced many Renaissance artists. Among those was Michelangelo who must have been impressed by the bulging, straining musculature and the vigorous triad of the figures. It also seems hard to imagine that he would forget the extreme sense of pathos on the faces of the figures as they are caught in the serpents' writhing forms, struggling to the death.


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