Greek Art No matter how accomplished they might be, the works of art we have discussed so far seem alien to us. The ancient cultures that produced them were so different from our own that we find few references in those works to our time. Greek architecture, sculpture, and painting, however, are immediately recognizable as the ancestors of Western civilization, despite their debts to earlier art. A Greek temple reminds us of countless government buildings, banks, and college campuses; a Greek statue recalls countless statues of our own day; and a Greek coin is a little different from those we use today.
This is neither coincidental nor inevitable. Western civilization has carefully constructed itself in the image of the Greek or the Roman worlds. For an art historian trying to understand the visual culture of those worlds, this presents a special challenge: It is tempting to believe that something familiar on the surface holds the same significance for us as it did for the Greeks or the Romans, but scholars have discovered time and time again that this is a dangerous fallacy.
Another complication in studying Greek art arises because there are three separate, and sometimes conflicting, sources of information on the subject. First, there are the works themselves—reliable, but only a small fraction of what once existed. Second, there are Roman copies of Greek originals, especially sculptures. These works tell us something about important pieces that would otherwise be lost to us, but copies pose their own problems. Without the original, we cannot determine how faithful the copy is, and sometimes multiple copies present several versions of a single original.
To make things even more complicated, a Roman copyist’s notion of a copy was quite different from ours. A Roman copy was not necessarily intended as a strict imitation, but allowed for interpreting or adapting the work according to the taste or skill of the copyist or the wishes of the patron. Moreover, the quality of some Greek sculpture owed much to surface finish, which, in a copy, is entirely up to the copyist. If the original was bronze and the copy marble, the finish would differ dramatically.
In some rare cases, apparent copies are of such high quality that we cannot be sure that they really are copies. The third source of information about Greek works is literature. The Greeks were the first Western people to write at length about their own artists. Roman writers incorporated Greek accounts into their own: many of these have survived, although often in fragmentary condition. These written sources offer a glimpse of what the Greeks themselves considered their most important achievements in architecture, sculpture, and painting.
This written testimony has helped us to identify celebrated artists and monuments, though much of it deals with works that have not survived. In other cases, surviving Greek works that strike us as among the greatest masterpieces of their time are not mentioned at all in literature. Reconciling the literature with the copies and the original works, and weaving these strands into a coherent picture of the development of Greek art, has been the difficult task of archeologists and ancient art historians for several centuries.
The Greek Gods and Goddesses All early civilizations and preliterate cultures had creation myths to explain the origin of the universe and humanity’s place in it. Over time, these myths evolved into complex cycles that represent a comprehensive attempt to understand the world. The Greek gods and goddesses, though immortal, behaved in very human ways. They quarreled, and had children with each other‘s spouses and often with mortals as well. They were sometimes threatened and even overthrown by their own children.
The principal Greek gods and goddesses, with their Roman counterparts in parentheses, are given below. ZEUS (Jupiter): son of Kronos and Rhea; god of sky and weather, and king of the Olympian deities. After killing Kronos, Zeus married his sister HERA (Juno) and divided the universe by lot with his brothers: POSEIDON (Neptune) as allotted the sea and HADES (Pluto) was allotted the Underworld, which he ruled with his queen PERSEPHONE (Proserpina). Zeus and Hera had several children: ARES (Mars), the god of war HEBE, the goddess of youth
HEPHAISTOS (Vulcan), the lame god of metalwork and the forge Zeus lost had numerous children through his love affairs with other goddesses and with mortal women, including: ATHENA (Minerva), goddess of crafts, including war, and thus of intelligence and wisdom. A protector of heroes, she became the patron goddess of Athens, an honor she won in a contest with Poseidon. Her gift to the city was an olive tree, which she caused to sprout on the Akropolis. APHRODITE (Venus), the goddess of love, beauty, and female fertility. She married Hephaistos, but had many affairs.
Her children were HARMONIA, EROS, and ANTEROS (with Ares); HERMAPHRODITOS (with Hermes); PRIAPOS (with Dionysos); and AENEAS (with the Trojan prince Anchises). APOLLO ( Apollo), with his twin sister ARTEMIS, god of the stringed lyre and bow, who therefore both presided over the civilized pursuits of music and poetry, and shot down transgressors; a paragon of male beauty, he was also the god of prophecy and medicine. ARTEMIS (Diana), with her twin brother, APOLLO, virgin goddesses of the hunt and the protector of young girls.
She was also sometimes considered a moon goddess with SELENE. DIONYSOS (Bacchus), the god of altered states particularly that induced the wine. Opposite in temperament to Apollo, Dionysos was raised on Mount Nysa, where he invented winemaking; he married the princess Ariadne after the hero Theseus abandoned her on Naxos. His followers, the goatish satyrs and their female companions, the nymphs and humans who were known as maenads (bacchantes), were given to orgiastic excess. Yet, there was another, more temperate side to Dionysos’ character.
As the god of fertility, he was also a god of vegetation, as well as of peace, hospitality, and the theater. HERMES (Mercury), the messenger of the gods, conductor of souls to Hades, and the god of travelers and commerce. The great flowering of ancient Greek art was just one manifestation of a wide-ranging exploration of humanistic and religious issues. Artists, writers, and philosophers struggled with common question, still preserved in a huge body of works. Their inquiries cut to the very core of human existence, and have formed the backbone of much of Western philosophy.
For the most part, they accepted a pantheon of gods, whom they worshiped in human form. (See Informing Art, above) Yet they debated the nature of those gods, and the relationship between divinities and humankind. Did fate control human actions, or was there free will? And if so, what was the nature of virtue? Greek thinkers conceived of many aspects of life in dualistic terms. Order (cosmos, in Greek) was eternally opposed to disorder (chaos), and both poles permeated existence. Civilization, which was, by definition, Greek, stood in pposition to an uncivilized world beyond Greek borders; all non-Greeks were “barbarians”, named for the nonsensical sound of their languages to Greek ears (“bar-bar-bar-bar”). Reason, too, had its opposite: the irrational, mirrored in light and darkness, in man and woman. In their literature and in their art, the ancient Greeks addressed the tension between these polar opposites. THE EMERGENCE OF GREEK ART: THE GEOMETRIC STYLE The first Greek-speaking groups came to Greece about 2000 BCE. These newcomers brought with them a new culture that soon evolved to encompass most of mainland Greece, as well as the Aegean Islands and Crete.
By the first millennium BCE the Greeks had colonized the west coast of Asia Minor and Cyprus. In this period we distinguish three main subgroups: the Dorinians, centered in Peloponnese; the Ionians, inhabiting Attica, Euboea, the Cyclades, and the central coast of Asia Minor; and the Aeolians, who ended up in the northeast Aegean (see map 5. 1). Despite their cultural differences and their geographical dispersal, the Greeks had a strong sense of kinship, based on language and common beliefs.
From the mid-eighth through the mid-sixth centuries BCE, there was a wave of colonization as the Greeks expanded across the Mediterranean and as far as the Black Sea. At this time, they founded important settlements in Sicily and southern Italy, collectively known as Magna Graecia, and in North Africa. After the collapse of Mycenaean civilization, art became largely nonfigural for several centuries. In the eighth century BCE, the oldest Greek style that we know in the arts developed, known today as the Geometric.
Images appeared at about the time the alphabet was introduced (under strong Near Eastern influence). It was contemporaneous, too, with the work of the poet Homer (or a group of poets), who wrote the lasting epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey, tales of the Trojan War and the return of one of its heroes, Odysseus, home to Ithaka. We also have works in painted pottery and small-scale sculpture in clay and bronze. The two forms are closely related: Pottery was often adorned with the kinds of figures found in sculpture. Geometric Style Pottery
As quickly as pottery became an art form, Greek potters began to develop an extensive, but fairly standardized, repertoire of vessel shape (fig. 5. 1). Each type was well adapted to its function, which was reflected in its form. As a result, each shape presented unique challenges to the painter, and some became specialists at decorating certain types of vases. Larger pots often attracted the most ambitious craftsmen because they provided a more generous field on which to work. Making and decorating vases were complex processes, usually performed by different artisans.
At first painters decorated their wares with abstract designs, such as triangles, “checkerboard”, and concentric circles. Toward 800 BCE human and animal figures began to appear within the geometric framework, and in the most elaborate examples these figures interacted in narrative scenes. The vase shown here, from a cemetery near the later Dipylon gate in the northwestern corner of Athens, dates to around 750 BCE (fig. 5. 2). Known as the Dipylon Vase, it was one of a group of unusually large vessels used as grave monuments. Holen in its base allowed liquid offerings (libations) to filter down to the dead below.
In earlier centuries, Athenians had placed the ashes of their cremated dead inside vases, choosing the vase’s shape according to the sex of the deceased. A woman’s remains were buried in a belly-handled amphora, a type of vase more commonly used for storing wine or oil; a man’s ashes were placed in a neck-amphora. A krater, a large bowl-like vessel in which Greeks normally mixed wine with water, had also been used as a burial marker since the early first millennium(see fig. 5. 1). The shape of the example illustrated here shows that the deceased was a woman; its sheer monumentality indicates that she was a woman of considerable means.
The amphora is a masterpiece of the potter’s craft. At over 5 feet tall, it was too large to be thrown in one piece. Instead, the potter built it up in sections, joined with a clay slip. A careful proportional scheme governed the vessels’ form: Its width measures half of its height and the neck measures half the height of the body. The artist placed the handles so as to emphasize the widest point of the body. Most of the vase’s decoration is given over to geometric patterns dominated by a meander pattern, also known as a maze or Greek key pattern (fig 5. ), a band of rectangular scrolls, punctuated with bands of lustrous black paint at the neck, the shoulder, and the base. The geometric design reflects the proportional system of the vase’s shape. Single meander patterns run in bands toward the top and bottom of the neck; the triple meander encircling the neck at the center emphasizes its length. The double and single meanders on the amphora’s body appear stocky by contrast, complementing the body’s rounder form. Above the triple meander on the neck, deer graze, one after the other, in an identical pattern circling the vase.
This animal frieze prefigures the widespread use of the motif in the seventh century BCE. At the base of the neck, they recline, with their heads turned back over their bodies, like an animate version of the meander pattern itself, which moves ever forward while turning back upon itself. In the center of the amphora, framed between its handles, is a narrative scene. The deceased lies on a bier, beneath a checkered shroud. Flanking her are standing figures with their arms raised above their heads in a gesture of lamentation; an additional four figures kneel on sit beneath the bier.
Rather than striving for naturalism, the painter used solid black geometric forms to construct human bodies. A triangle represents the torso, and the raised arms extend the triangle beyond the shoulders. The scene itself represents the prothesis, part of the Athenian funerary ritual when the dead person lay in state and public mourning took place. A lavish funeral was an occasion to display wealth and status, and crowds of mourners were so desirable that families would hire professional mourners for the event.
Thus the depiction of a funeral on the burial marker is not simply journalistic reportage but a visual record of the deceased person’s high standing in society. Archeologists have found Geometric pottery in Italy and the Near East as well as in Greece. This wide distribution is a sign of the important role not only the Greeks but also the Phoenicians, North Syrians, and other Near Eastern peoples as agents of diffusion all around the Mediterranean. What is more, from the second half of the eighth century onwards, inscriptions on hese vases show that the Greeks had already adapted the Phoenician alphabet to their own use. Geometric Style Sculpture A small, bronze sculptural group representing a man and a centaur dates to about the same time as the funerary amphora, and there are distinct similarities in the way living forms are depicted in both works of art(fig. 5. 4). Thin arms and flat, triangular chests contrast with more rounded buttocks and legs. The heads are spherical forms, with beards and noses added. The artist cast the group in one piece, uniting them with a common base and their entwined pose.
The group was probably found in the sanctuary at Olympia. Judging by its figurative quality, and by the costliness of the material and technique, it was probably a sumptuous votive offering. The figures obviously interact, revealing the artist’s interest in narrative, a theme that persists throughout the history of Greek art. Whether the artist was referring to a story known to his audience is hard to say. The figures’ helmets tell us that their encounter is martial, and the larger scale of the man may suggest that he will be the victor in the struggle.
Many scholars believe he represents Herakles, son of Zeus and a Greek hero, who fought centaurs many times in the course of his mythical travails. THE ORIENTALIZING STYLE: HORIZONS EXPAND Between about 725 and 650 BCE, a new style of pottery and sculpture emerged in Greece that reflects strong influences initially from the Near East and later from Egypt. Scholars know this as the Orientalizing period, when Greek art and culture rapidly absorbed a host of Eastern motifs and ideas, including hybrid creatures such as griffins and sphinxes.
This absorption of Eastern ideas led to a vital period of experimentation, as painters and sculptors mastered new forms. Map 5. 1 The Ancient Greek World 5. 1 Some common Greek vessel forms 5. 2 Late Geometric belly-handled amphora by the Dipylon Master, from the Dipylon Cemetery, Athens. ca 750 BCE. Height 5’1” (1. 55 m) National Archaeological Museum, Athens 5. 3 Common Greek ornamental motifs 5. 4 Man and Centaur, perharps from Olympia. ca 750 BCE. Bronze. Height 4 3/8 ” (11. 1 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917. 17. 190. 072 Miniature Vessels The Orientalizing style replaced the Geometric in many Greek city-states, including Athens. One of the foremost centers of its production, though, was Corinth, at the northeastern gateway to the Peloponnese. This city became a leader in colonizing ventures in the west and came to dominate the trade in exports. Corinthian workshops had a long history of pottery production. Vase painters learned to make a refined black gloss slip, which they used to create silhouette or outline images. They could also incise the slip to add detail and vivacity to their work.
They particularly specialized in crafting miniature vessels like the vase shown here, which is at Proto-Corinthian aryballos or perfume jar, dating to about 680 BCE (fig. 5. 5). Archeologists have discovered vessels like this one throughout the Greek world, left in sanctuaries as dedications to the gods, or buried as grave goods. Despite its small size, intricate decoration covers the vase’s surface. Around the shoulder stalks a frieze of animals, reminiscent of Near Eastern animal motifs and of the early example seen on the Dipylon Vase (see figs. 2. 25 and 5. 2).
Bands are real and imaginary animals are a hallmark of Corinthian and other Orientalizing wares, covering later vases from top to bottom. A guilloche pattern ornaments the handle, and meander patterns cover the edge of the mouth and the handle (see fig. 5. 3). The principal figural frieze offers another early example of pictorial narrative, but the daily life scenes of Geometric pottery have yielded to the fantastic world of myth. On one side, a stocky nude male wielding a sword runs toward a vase on a stand. On the side shown here, bearded male struggles to wrest a scepter or staff from the grasp of a centaur.
According to one theory, the frieze represents a moment in Herakles’ conflict with a band of centaurs on Mount Pholoe. In Greek mythology, centaurs were notoriously susceptible to alcohol, and the mixing bowl for wine represented on the other side may indicate the reason for their rowdiness. Others interpret the “Herakles” figure as Zeus, brandishing his thunderbolt or lightning. No matter how one reads this scene, there is no doubt that it was meant to evoke a mythological reality. BRONZE TRIPODS During the Geometric period, Greeks would sometimes set up bronze tripod cauldrons in sanctuaries as dedications to the gods (fig. . 6). The gesture was an act of piety, but it was also a way of displaying wealth, and some of the tripod cauldrons reached monumental proportions. From the early seventh century BCE, a new type of monumental vessel was introduced— the Orientalizing cauldron. Around the edge of the bowl, bronze-workers might catch protomes, images of sirens (winged female creatures), and griffins— both were fantasy creatures that were known in the Near East. The cast protome shown here, from the island of Rhodes, is a magnificently ominous creature, standing watch over the dedication (fig. 5. 7).
The boldly upright ears and the vertical knob on top of the head contrast starkly with the strong curves of the neck, head, eyes, and mouth, while its menacing tongue is silhouetted in countercurve against the beak. The straight lines appear to animate the curves, so that the dangerous hybrid seems about to spring. ARCHAIC ART: ART OF THE CITY-STATE During the course of the seventh and sixth centuries BCE, the Greeks appear to have refined their notion of a polis, or city-state. Once merely a citadel, the place of refuge in times of trouble, the city came to represent a community and an identity.
City-states, as they are known, were governed in several different ways, including monarchy (from monarches, “sole ruler”), aristocracy (from aristoi and kratia, “rule of the best”), tyranny (from tyrannos, “despot”), oligarchy (from oligoi, “the few,” a small ruling elite), and, in Athens, democracy (from demos, “the people”). The road to democracy moved slowly, starting with Solon’s reforms at the end of the sixth century in Athens. Even by the time of Perikles’ radical democratic reforms of 462 BCE, women played no direct role in civic life, and slavery was the accepted practice in Athens, as it was everywhere in the Greek world.
With the changing ideal of the city-state came a change in its physical appearance. The Rise of Monumental Temple Architecture At some point in the seventh century BCE, Greek architects began to design temples using stone rather than wood. The earliest were probably built at Corinth, in a style known as Doric, named for the region where it originated. From there the idea spread across the isthmus that connects the Peloponnesos to the mainland and up the coast to Delphi and the island of Corfu, then rapidly throughout the Hellenic world.
The Ionic style soon developed on the Aegean Islands and the coast of Asia Minor. The Corinthian style did not develop until the fourth century BCE (see page 142). Greeks recognized the importance of this architectural revolution at the time: Architects began to write treatises on architecture— the first we know of— and the personal fame they achieved through their work has lasted to this day. Writing in Roman times, the architect Vitruvius described the Doric and Ionic styles, and his discussions of them have been central to our understanding of Greek architecture.
However, our readings of his text have been mediated through early modern commentators and illustrators, who wrote of Doric and Ionic “orders” rather than “types”, which is a better translation of Vitruvius’ “genera”. The distinction is important: “Order” suggest an immutable quality, a rigid building code, when in fact we find a subtle but rich variation in surviving Greek architecture. The essential, functioning components of Doric and Ionic temples are very similar, though they may vary according to the size of the building or regional preferences (fig. 5. ). The nucleus of the building—in fact, its reason for existing— is its main chamber, its cella or naos. This chamber housed an image of the god to whom the temple was dedicated. Often, interior columns lined the cella walls and helped to support the roof, as well as visually framing the cult statue. Approaching the cella is a porch or pronaos, and in some cases a second porch was added behind the cella, making the design more symmetrical and providing space for religious paraphernalia. In large temples, a colonnade or peristyle surrounds the central unit of ella and porches, and the building is known as a peripteral temple. The peristyle commonly consists of six to eight columns at front and back, and usually 12 to 17 along the sides, counting the corner columns twice; the very largest temples of Ionian Greece had a double colonnade. The peristyle added more than grandeur: It offered worshipers shelter from the elements. Being neither entirely exterior nor entirely interior space, it also functioned as a transitional zone, between the profane world outside and the sanctity of the cella.
Some temples were set in sacred groves, where the columns, with their strong vertical form, integrated the temple with its environment. Echoed again inside the cella, the columns also integrated the exterior and interior of the building. Most Greek temples are oriented so that the entrance faces east, toward the rising sun. East of the temple is usually the altar, the truly indispensable installation for the performance of ritual. It was on the altar that Greeks performed sacrifices, standing before the cult statue and the worshipping community of the Greek polis.
Differences between the Doric and Ionic styles are apparent in a head-on view, or elevation. Many of the terms Greeks used to describe the parts of their buildings, shown in figure 5. 9, are still in common usage today. The building proper rests on an elevated platform, normally approached by three steps, known as the stereobate and stylobate. A Doric column consists of the shaft, usually marked by shallow vertical grooves, known as flutes, and the capital. The capital is made up of the flaring, cushionlike echinus and a square tablet called the abacus.
The entablature, which includes all the horizontal elements that rest on the columns, is subdivided into the architrave(a row of stone blocks directly supported by the columns); the frieze, made up of alternating triple-grooved triglyphs and smooth or sculpted metopes; and a projecting horizontal cornice, or geison, which may include a gutter (sima). The architrave in turn supports the triangular pediment and the roof elements (the raking geison and raking sima). Ionic temples tend to rest on an additional leveling course, or euthynteria, as well as three steps.
An Ionic column differs from a Doric column in having an ornate base of its own, perhaps used at first to protect the bottom from rain. Its shaft is more slender, with less tapering, ART IN TIME ca. 8th century BCE—Homer writes The Iliad and The Odyssey 776 BCE—First Olympic Games ca. 753 BCE—Rome founded ca. 750 BCE—Dipylon Vase 5. 5 The Ajax Painter. Aryballos (perfume jar). Middle Protocorinthian IA, 690-675 BCE. Ceramic. Height 2 7/8” (7. 3 cm). diameter 1 3/4” (4. 4 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Catharine Page Perkins Fund. Photograph © 2006, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 95. 12 5. 6 Geometric tripod cauldron from Olympia. th century. Height 2’1 1/2” (65 cm). Olympia Museum 5. 7 Griffin-head protome from a bronze tripod-cauldron, from Kameiros, Rhodes. ca. 650 BCE. Cast bronze. The British Museum, London 5. 8 Ground plan of a typical Greek peripteral temple (after Grinnell) and the capital has a double scroll or volute below the abacus, which projects strongly beyond the width of the shaft. The Ionic column lacks the muscular quality of its mainland cousin. Instead, it evokes a growing plant, something like a formalized palm tree, and this it shares with its Egyptian predecessors, though it may not have come directly from Egypt.
Above the architrave, the frieze is continuous, rather than broken up visually into triglyphs and metopes. Whether Doric or Ionic, the temple structure was built of stone blocks fitted together without mortar, requiring that they be precisely shaped to achieve smooth joints. Where necessary, metal dowels or clamps fastened the blocks together. With rare exceptions, columns were made up of sections, called drums. The shaft was fluted after the entire column was assembled and in position. The roof was made of terra-cotta tiles over wooden rafters, and wooden beams were used for the ceiling.
Fire was a constant threat. Just how either style came to emerge in Greece, and why they came together into succint systems so quickly, are still puzzling questions. Remains of the oldest surviving temples show that the main features of the Doric style were already well established soon after 600 BCE. Early Greek builders in stone seem to have drawn upon three sources of inspiration: Mycenaean and Egyptian stone architecture, and pre-Archaic Greek architecture in wood and mud brick. It is possible that the temple’s central unit, the cella and porch, derived from the plan of the Mycenaean megaron(see fig. . 19), either through continuous tradition or by way of revival. If true, this relationship may reflect the revered place of Mycenaean culture in later Greek mythology. The shaft of the Doric column tapers upward, not downward like the Minoan-Mycenaean column. This recalls fluted half-columns in the funerary precinct of Djoser at Saqqara (see fig. 3. 6), of over 2,000 years earlier. Moreover, the very notion that temple should be built of stone and have large numbers of columns was an Egyptian one, even if Egyptian temples were designed for greater internal traffic.
Scholars assume that the Greeks learned many of their stone-cutting and masonry techniques from the Egyptians, as well as some knowledge of architectural ornamentation and geometry. In a sense, a Greek temple with its peristyle of columns might be viewed as the columned court of an Egyptian sanctuary turned inside out. Some scholars see the development of Doric architecture as a petrification (or turning to stone) of existing wooden forms, so that stone form follows wooden function. According to this view, at one triglyphs masked the ends of wooden beams, and the droplike shapes below, called guttae (see fig. . 9), are the descendants of wooden pegs that held them in place. Metopes evolved out of boards that filled gaps between the triglyphs to guard against weather. Mutules(flat projecting blocks), for their part, reflect the rafter ends in wooden roofs. Some derivations are more convincing than others, however. The vertical subdivisions of triglyphs hardly seem to reflect the forms of three half-round logs, as scholars suggest, and column flutings need not be developed from tool marks on a tree trunk, since Egyptian builders also fluted their columns and yet rarely used timber for supporting members.
The question of how far stylistic features can be explained in terms of function faces the architectural historian again and again. DORIC TEMPLES AT PAESTUM The early evolution of Doric temples is evident in two unusually well-preserved examples located in the southern Italian polis of Paestum, where a Greek colony flourished during the Archaic period. Both temples are dedicated to the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus; the Temple of Hera II, however, was built almost a century after the Temple of Hera I, the so-called Basilica (fig. 5. 10). The differences in their proportions are striking. The Temple of Hera I( on the left, fig. 5. 0) appears low and sprawling—and not just because so much of the entablature is missing—whereas the Temple of Hera II looks tall and compact. This is partly because the temple of Hera I is enneastyle (with nine columns across the front and rear), while the later temple is only hexastyle (six columns). Yet it is also the result of changes to the outline of the columns. On neither temple are the column shafts straight from bottom to top. About a third of the way up, they bulge outward slightly, receding again at about two thirds of their height. This swelling effect, known as entasis, is much stronger on the earlier Temple of Hera I.
It gives the impression that the columns bulge with the strain of supporting the superstructure and that the slender tops, although aided by the widely flaring, cushionlike capitals, can barely withstand the crushing weight. The device adds an extraordinary vitality to the building— a sense of compressed energy waiting to be released. The Temple of Hera II is among the best preserved of all Doric temples (fig. 5. 11), and shows how the ceiling was supported in a large Doric temple. Inside the cella, the two rows of columns each support a smaller set of columns in a way that makes the tapering seem continuous despite the architrave in between.
Such a two-story interior is first found at the Temple of Aphaia at Aegina around the beginning of the fifth century BCE. That temple is shown here in a reconstruction drawing (fig. 5. 12), which illustrates the structural system in detail. EARLY IONIC TEMPLES The Ionic style first appeared about a half-century after the Doric. With its vegetal decoration, it seems to have been strongly inspired by Near Eastern forms. The closest known parallel to the Ionic capital is the Aeolic capital, found in the region of Old Smyrna, in eastern Greece, and in the northeast Aegean, itself apparently derived from North Syrian and Phoenician designs.
The earliest Ionic temples were constructed in Ionian Greece, where leading cities erected vast, ornate temples in open rivalry with one another. Little survives of these early buildings. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesos gained tremendous fame in antiquity, and numbered among the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Ephesians hired Theodoros to work on its foundations in about 560 BCE, shortly after he and another architect, Rhoikos, had designed a vast temple to Hera on the island of Samos. The architects, Chersiphron of Knossos and Metagenes, his son, wrote a treatise on their building.
Like the temple on Samos, the temple at Ephesos was dipteral, with two rows of columns surrounding it (fig. 5. 13). Along with the vegetal capitals, this feature emphasized the forestlike quality of the building. The Temple of Artemis was larger than Hera’s temple, and it was the first monumental building to be constructed mostly of marble. These Ionic colossi had clear symbolic value: They represented their respective city’s bid for regional leadership. Stone Sculpture According to literary sources, Greeks carved very simple wooden sculptures of their gods in the eighth century BCE, but since wood deteriorates, none of them survive.
Yet, in about 650 BCE, sculptors, like architects, made the transition to working in stone, and so began one of the great traditions of Greek art. The new motifs that distinguished the Orientalizing style from the Geometric had reached Greece mainly through the importation of ivory carvings and metalwork from the Near East, reflecting Egyptian influences as well. But these transportable objects do not help to explain the rise of monumental stone architecture and sculpture, which must have been based on careful, on-the-spot study of Egyptian works and the techniques used to produce them.
The opportunity for just such a close study was available to Greek merchants living in trading camps in the western Nile delta, by permission of the Egyptian king Psammetichus I (r. 664-610 BCE). KORE AND KOUROS Early Greek statues clearly show affinities with the techniques and proportional systems used by Egyptian sculptors. Two are illustrated here, one a small female figure of about 630 BCE, probably from Crete (fig. 5. 14), the other a life-size nude male youth of about 600 BCE (fig. 5. 15), known as the New York Kouros because it is displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Like their Egyptian forerunners (see figs. 3. 11 and 3. 12), the statues are rigidly frontal, and conceived as four distinct sides, reflecting the form of the block from which they were carved, The female statue stands with feet placed firmly together, her left arm by her side, and her right arm held up to her breast. Like Menkaure, the Greek male youth is slim and broad-shouldered; he stands with his left leg forward, and his arms by his sides, terminating in clenched fists. His shoulders, hips, and knees are all level.
Both figures have stylized, wiglike hair like their Egyptian counterparts, but there are significant differences. First, the Greek sculptures are truly free-standing, separated from the back slab that supports Egyptian stone figures. In fact, they are the earliest large stone images of the human figure in the history of art that can stand on their own. More than that, Greek sculptures incorporated ART IN TIME ca. 680 BCE—Corinthian aryballos mid-7th century BCE—Black-figured vase-painting technique develops ca. 650 BCE—Greeks establish trading posts in Egypt ca. 20 BCE—Draco codifies Athenian laws 5. 9 Doric and Ionic styles in elevation 5. 10 The Temple of Hera I (“Basilica”), ca. 550 BCE, and the Temple of Hera II (“Temple of Poseidon”), ca. 500 BCE. Paestum 5. 11 Interior, Temple of Hera II, ca. 500 BCE 5. 12 Sectional view (restored) of the Temple of Aphaia, Aegina 5. 13 Restored plan of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos, Turkey. ca. 560 BCE empty space (between the legs, for instance, or between arms and torso), whereas Egyptian figures remained immersed in stone, with the empty spaces between forms partly filled.
Early Greek sculptures are also more stylized than their Egyptian forebears. This is most evident in the large staring eyes, emphasized by bold arching eyebrows, and in the linear treatment of the anatomy: The male youth’s pectoral muscles and rib cage appear almost to have been etched onto the surface of the stone, rather than modeled like Menkaure’s. Like most early Greek female sculptures, this one is draped. She wears a close-fitting garment which reveals her breasts but conceals her hips and legs; in fact, the skirt has more in common with Egyptian block statues than with Queen Khamerernebty (see fig. 3. 2). While the Greek female statue and Menkaure are clothed, the male youth is nude. These conventions reflect the fact that public nudity in ancient Greece was acceptable for males, but not for females. Dozen of Archaic sculptures of this kind survive throughout the Greek world. Some were discovered in sanctuaries and cemeteries, but most were found in reused contexts, which complicates any attempt to understand their function. Scholars describe them by the Greek terms for maiden (kore, plural korai) and youth (kouros, plural kouroi). These terms gloss over the difficulty of identifying them more precisely.
Some are inscribed, with the names of artists (“”So-and-so’ made me”) or with dedications to various deities, chiefly Apollo. These, then, were votive offerings. But in most cases we do not know whether they represent the donor, a deity, or a person deemed divinely favored, such as a victor in athletic games. Those placed on graves may have represented the person buried beneath; yet in rare cases a kouros stands over a female burial site. No clear effort was made to individualize the statues as portraits, so they can represent the dead only in a general sense.
It might make most sense to think of the figures as ideals of physical perfection and vitality shared by mortals and immortals alike, given meaning by their physical context. What is clear is that only the wealthy could afford to erect them, since many were well over life size and carved from high quality marble. Indeed, the very stylistic cohesion of the sculptures may reveal their social function: By erecting a sculpture of this kind, a wealthy patron declared his or her status and claimed membership in ruling elite circles. DATING AND NATURALISM The Archaic period stretches from the mid-seventh century to about 480 BCE.
Within this time frame, there are few secure dates for free-standing sculptures. Scholars have therefore established a dating system based upon the level of naturalism in a given sculpture. According to this system, the more stylized the figure, the earlier it must be. Comparing figures 5. 15 and 5. 16 illustrates how this model works. An inscription on the base of the latter identifies it as a funerary statue of Kroisos, who had died a hero’s death in battle. Like all such figures, it was painted, and traces of color can still be seen in the hair and the pupils of the eyes.
Instead of the sharp planes and linear treatment of the New York Kouros (fig. 5. 15), the sculptor of the kouros from Anavysos modeled its anatomy with swelling curves: looking at it, a viewer can imagine flesh and sinew and bones in the carved stone. A greater plasticity gives the impression that the body could actually function. The proportions of the facial features are more naturalistic as well. In general, the face has a less masklike quality than the New York Kouros, though the lips are still drawn up in an artificial smile, known as the Archaic smile, that is not reflected in the eyes.
Based on these differences, scholars judge the Anavysos Kouros more “advanced” than the New York Kouros, and date it some 75 years later. Given the later trajectory of Greek sculpture, there is every reason to believe that this way of dating Archaic sculpture is more or less accurate (accounting for regional differences and the like). All the same, it is worth emphasizing that it is based on an assumption—that sculptors, or their patrons, were striving toward naturalism—rather than on factual data. The kore type appears to follow, a similar pattern of development to the kouros.
With her blocklike form and strongly accented waist, for instance, the kore of figure 5. 17 seems a direct descendant of the kore in figure 5. 14. On account of her heavy woolen garment (or peplos), she is known as the Peplos Kore. The left hand, which once extended forward to offer a votive gift, must have given the statue a spatial quality quite different from that of the earlier kore figure. Equally new is the more organic treatment of the hair, which falls over the shoulders in soft, curly strands, in contrast to the stiff wig in figure 5. 14.
The face is fuller, rounder, and the smile gentler and more natural than any we have seen so far, moving from the mouth into the cheeks. Scholars therefore place this statue a full century later than the work shown in figure 5. 14. All the same, there is more variation in types of kore than in types of kouros. This is partly because a kore is a clothed figure and therefore presents the problem of how to relate body and drapery. It is also likely to reflect changing habits or local styles of dress. The kore of figure 5. 18, from about a decade later than the Peplos Kore, has none of the latter’s severity.
Both were found on the Akropolis of Athens, but she probably came from Chios, and island of Ionian Greece. Unlike the korai discussed so far, this kore wears the light Ionian chiton under the heavier diagonally-shaped kimation, which replaced the peplos in fashion. The layers of the garment still loop around the body in soft curves, but the play of richly differentiated folds, pleats, and textures has almost become an end in itself. Color played an important role in such works, and it is fortunate that so much of it survives in this example. Architectural Sculpture: The Building Comes Alive
Soon after the Greeks began to build temples in stone, they also started to decorate them with architectural sculpture. Indeed, early Greek architects such as Theodoros of Samos were often sculptors as well, and sculpture played an important role in helping to articulate architecture and to bring it to life. Traces of pigment show that these sculptures were normally vividly painted—an image that is startlingly at odds with our conception of ancient sculpture as pristine white marble. The Egyptians had been covering walls and columns with reliefs since the Old Kingdom.
Their carvings were so shallow (for example, see fig. 3. 29) that they did not break the continuity of the surface and had no weight or volume of their own. Thus they were related to their architectural setting in the same sense as wall paintings. This is also true of the reliefs on Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian buildings (for example, see figs. 2. 21 and 2. 22). the Near East, however, there was another kind of architectural sculpture, which seems to have begun with the Hittites: the guardian monsters protuding from the blocks that framed the gateways of fortresses or palaces (see fig. . 23). This tradition may have inspired, directly, or indirectly, the carving over the Lion Gate of Mycenae (see fig. 4. 22). THE TEMPLE OF ARTEMIS, CORFU That the Lion Gate relief is, conceptually, an ancestor of later Greek architectural sculpture is clear when one considers the facade of the early Archaic Temple of Artemis on the island of Corfu, built soon after 600 BCE (figs. 5. 19 and 5. 20). There, sculpture is confined to a triangle between the ceiling and the roof, known as the pediment. This area serves as a screen, protecting the wooden rafters behind it from moisture.
The pedimental sculpture is displayed against this screen. Technically, these carvings are in high relief, like the guardian lionesses at Mycenae. However, the bodies are so strongly undercut that they are nearly detached from the background, and appear to be almost independent of their architectural setting. Indeed, the head of the central figure actually overlaps the frame; she seems to emerge out of the pediment toward a viewer. This choice on the sculptor’s part heightens the impact of the figure and strengthens her function.
Although the temple was dedicated to Artemis, the figure represents the snake-haired Medusa, one of the Gorgon sisters of Greek mythology. Medusa’s appearance was so monstrous, so the story went, that anyone who beheld her would turn to stone. With the aid of the gods, Perseus beheaded her, guiding his sword by looking at her reflection in his shield. 5. 14 Kore (Maiden). ca. 630 BCE. Limestone. Height 24 1/2” (62. 3 cm). Musee du Louvre, Paris 5. 15 Kouros (Youth), ca. 600-590 BCE. Marble. Height 6’1 1/2” (1. 88 m). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 5. 16 Kroisos (Kouros from Anavysos). ca. 540-525 BCE.
Marble. Height 6’4” (1. 9 m). National Museum, Athens 5. 17 Kore in Dorian Peplos, known as Peplos Kore, ca. 530 BCE. Marble. Height 48” (122 cm). Akropolis Museum, Athens 5. 18 Kore, from Chios (? ). ca. 520 BCE, Marble. Height 21 7/8” (55. 3). Akropolis Museum, Athens 5. 19 Central Portion of the west pediment of the Temple of Artemis at Corfu, Greece, ca. 600-580 BCE. Limestone. Height 9’2”. (2. 8 m). Archaeological Museum, Corfu, Greece Traditionally, Medusa has been thought of as a protective visual device, but recent approaches argue that she served as a visual commentary on the power of the divinity.
She is conceived as a mistress of animals exemplifying the goddess’ power and her dominance over Nature. Two large feline creatures flank Medusa, in a heraldic arrangement known from the Lion Gate at Mycenae, and from many earlier Near Eastern examples. To strengthen the sculptures’ message, the artist included narrative elements in the pediment as well. In the spaces between and behind the main group, the sculptor inserted a number of subsidiary figures. On either side of Medusa are her children, the winged horse Pegasus, and Chrysaor, who will be born from drops of her blood, shed when Perseus decapitates her.
Logically speaking, they cannot yet exist, since Medusa’s head is still on her shoulders; and yet their presence in the heraldic arrangement alludes to the future, when Perseus will have claimed the Gorgon’s power as his own—just as the sculptor has here, in the service of Artemis. The sculptor has fused two separate moments from a single story, in what is known as a synoptic narrative, bringing the story to life. Two additional groups filled the pediment’s corners, possibly depicting Zeus and Poseidon battling the giants (a gigantomachy), a moral race who tried to overthrow the gods.
Like the central figures, they strike a cautionary note, since the gods destroyed them for their overreaching ambitions. With their reclining pose, the felines fit the shape of the pediment comfortably. Yet in order to fit Pegasus and Chrysaor between Medusa and the felines, and the groups into the corners, the sculptor carved them at a significantly smaller scale than the dominant figures. Later solutions to the pediment’s awkward shape suggest that this one, which lacks unity of scale, was not wholly satisfactory.
Aside from filling the pediment, Greeks might affix free-standing figures, known as acroteria (often of terra cotta) above the corners and the center of the pediment, softening the severity of its outline (see fig. 5. 21). Greek sculptors also decorate the frieze. In Doric temples, such as at Corfu, where the frieze consists of triglyphs and metopes, they would often decorate the latter with figural scenes. In Ionic temples, the frieze was a continuous band of painted or sculpted decoration.
Moreover, in Ionic buildings, female statues or caryatids might substitute for columns to support the roof of a porch, adding a further decorative quality (see figs. 5. 21 and 5. 53). THE SIPHNIAN TREASURY, DELPHI These Ionic features came together in a treasury built at Delphi shortly before 525 BCE by the people of the Ionian island of Siphnos. Treasuries were like miniature temples, used for storing votive gifts; typically, they had an ornate quality. Although the Treasury of the Siphnians no longer stands, archeologists have been able to create a reconstruction from what survives (figs. . 21 and 5. 22). Supporting the architrave of the porch were two caryatids. Above the architrave is a magnificent sculptural frieze. The detail shown here (fig. 5. 22) depicts part of the mythical battle of the Greek gods against the giants, who had challenged divine authority. At the far left, the two lions who pull the chariot of the mother goddess Cybele tear apart an anguished giant. In front of them, Apollo and Artemis advance together, shooting arrows into a phalanx of giants. Their weapons were once added to the sculpture in metal.
Stripped of his armor, a dead giant lies at their feet. As in the Corfu pediment, the tale is a cautionary one, warning mortals not to aim higher than their natural place in the order of things. Though the subject is mythical, its depiction offers a wealth of detail on contemporary weaponry and military tactics. Astonishingly, the relief is only a few inches deep from front to back. Within that shallow space, the sculptors (more than one hand is discernible) created several planes. The arms and legs of those nearest a viewer are carved in the round.
In the second and third layers, the forms become shallower, yet even those farthest from a viewer do not merge into the background. The resulting relationships between figures give a dramatic sense of the turmoil of battle and an intensity of action not seen before in narrative reliefs. As at Corfu, the protagonists fill the sculptural field from top to bottom, enhancing the frieze’s power. This is a dominant characteristic of Archaic and Classical Greek art, and with time, sculptors executing pedimental sculpture sought new ways to fill the field while retaining a unity of scale.
Taking their cue, perhaps, from friezes such as that found on the Siphnian Treasury, they introduced a variety of poses, and made great strides in depicting the human body in naturalistic motion. This is well illustrated in the pediments of the Temple of Aphaia at Aegina, an island in the Saronic Gulf visible from Attica (see fig. 5. 12). PEDIMENTS OF THE TEMPLE OF APHAIA AT AEGINA. The temple of Aphaia’s original east pediment was probably destroyed by the Persians when they took the island in 490 BCE. The Aeginetans commissioned the present one (fig. 5. 3) after defeating the Persians at the battle of Salamis in 480 BCE. It depicts the first sack of Troy, by Herakles and Telamon, king of Salamis. The west pediment, which dates from about 510-500 BCE, depicts the second siege of Troy (recounted in The Iliad) by Agamemnon, who was related to Herakles. The pairing of subjects commemorates the important role played by the heroes of Aegina in both battles—and, by extension, at Salamis, where their navy helped win the day. The elevation of historical events to a universal plane through allegory was typical of Greek art.
The figures of both pediments are fully in the round, independent of the background that they decorate. Those of the east pediment were found in pieces on the ground. Scholars continue to debate their exact arrangement, but the relative position of each figure within the pediment can be determined with reasonable accuracy. Since the designer introduced a wide range of action poses for the figures, their height, but not their scale, varies to suit the gently sloping sides of the pedimental field (fig. 5. 23). These variances in height can be used to determine the figures’ original positions.
In the center stands the goddess Athena, presiding over the battle between Greeks and Trojans that rages on either side of her. Kneeling archers shoot across the pediment to unite its action. The symmetrical arrangement of the poses on the two halves of the pediment creates a balanced design, so that while each figure has a clear autonomy, it also exists within a governing ornamental pattern. If we compare a fallen warrior from the west pediment (fig. 5. 24) with its counterpart from the later east pediment (fig. 5. 25) we see some indication of the extraordinary advances sculptors made toward naturalism during the decades that separate them.
As they sink to the ground in death, both figures present a clever solution to filling the awkward corner space. Yet while the earlier figure props himself up on one arm, only a precariously balance shield supports the later warrior, whose full weight seems to pull him irresistibly to the ground. Both sculptors aimed to contort the dying warrior’s body in the agonies of his death: The earlier sculptor crosses the warrior’s legs in an awkward pose, while the later sculptor more convincingly twists the body from the waist, so that the left shoulder moves into a new plane.
Although the later warrior’s anatomy still does not fully respond to his pose (note, for instance, how little the pectorals stretch to accommodate the strenuous motion of the right arm), his body is more modeled and organic than the earlier warrior’s. He also breaks from the head-on stare of his predecessor, turning his gaze to the ground that confronts him. The effect suggests introspection: The inscrutable smiling mask of the earlier warrior yields to the suffering and emotion of a warrior in his final moments. Vase Painting: Art of the Symposium
In vase painting, the new Archaic style would replace the Orientalizing phase as workshops in Athens and other centers produced extremely fine wares, painted with scenes from mythology, legend, and everyday life. The vases illustrated in these pages were used to hold wine, but were not meant for everyday use. The Greeks generally poured their wine from plainer, unadorned vases. Decorated vases were reserved for important occasions, like the symposium (symposion), an exclusive drinking party for men and courtesans; wives and other respectable citizen women were not included.
Participants reclined on couches around the edges of a room, and a master of ceremonies filled their cups from a large painted mixing bowl (a krater) in the middle of the room. Music, poetry, storytelling, and word games accompanied the festivities. Often the event ended in lovemaking, which is frequently depicted on drinking cups. Yet there was also a serious side to symposia, as described by Plato and Xenophon, 5. 20 Reconstruction drawing of the west front of the Temple of Artemis at Corfu (after Rodenwaldt) 5. 21 Reconstruction drawing of the Treasury of the Siphnians.
Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, ca. 525 BCE 5. 22 Battle of the Gods and Giants, from the north frieze of the Treasury of the Siphnians, Delphi. ca. 530 BCE. Marble. Height 26” (66 cm). Archaeological Museum, Delphi 5. 23 Reconstruction drawing of the east pediment of the Temple of Aphaia, Aegina (after Ohly) 5. 24 Dying Warrior, from the west pediment of the Temple of Aphaia, ca. 500-490 BCE. Marble. Length 5′ 2 1/2” (1. 59 m). Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, Munich 5. 24 Dying Warrior, from the west pediment of the Temple of Aphaia, ca. 500-490 BCE. Marble. Length 5′ 2 1/2” (1. 9 m). Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, Munich centering on debates about politics, ethics, and morality. The great issues that the Greeks pondered in their philosophy, literature, and theater—the nature of virtue, the value of an individual man’s life, or mortal relations with the gods, to name a few—were mirrored in, and prompted by, the images with which they surrounded themselves. After the middle of the sixth century BCE, many of the finest vessels bear signatures of the artists who made them, indicating the pride that potters and painters alike took in their work.
In many cases, vase painters had such distinctive styles that scholars can recognize their work even without a signature, and modern names are used to identify them. Dozens of vases (in one instance, over 200) might survive by the same hand, allowing scholars to trace a single painter’s development over many years. The difference between Orientalizing and Archaic vase painting is largely one of technique. On the aryballos from Corinth (see fig. 5. 5), the figures appear partly as solid silhouettes, partly in outline, or as a combination of the two.
Toward the end of the seventh century BCE, influenced by Corinthian products, Attic vase painters began to work in the black-figured technique: The entire design was painted in black silhouette against the reddish clay; and then the internal details were incised into the design with a needle. Then, white and purple were painted over the black to make chosen areas stand out. The technique lent itself to a two-dimensional and highly decorative effect. This development marks the beginning of an aggressive export industry, the main consumers of which were the Etruscans.
Vast numbers of black-figured vases were found in Etruscan tombs. Thus, although in terms of conception these vases (and later red-figured vessels) represent a major chapter in Greek (and specifically Athenian) art, if we think about their actual use, painted vases can be considered a major component of Etruscan culture, both visual and funerary. A fine example of the black-figured technique is an Athenian amphora signed by Exekias as both potter and painter, dating to the third quarter of the sixth century BCE (fig. 5. 26). The painting shows the Homeric heroes Achilles and Ajax playing dice.
The episode does not exist in surviving literary sources, and its appearance here points to the wide field of traditions that inspired Exekias. The two figures lean on their spears; their shields are stacked behind them against the inside of a campaign tent. The black silhouettes create a rhythmical composition, symmetrical around the table in the center. Within the black paint, Exekias has incised a wealth of detail, focusing especially upon the cloaks of the warriors; their intricately woven texture contrasts with the lustrous blackness of their weapons. The extraordinary power of this scene derives from the tension within it.
The warriors have stolen a moment of relaxation during a fierce war; even so, poised on the edge of their stools, one heel raised as if to jump at any moment, their poses are edgy. An inscription in front of Ajax, on the right, reads “three”, as if he is calling out his throw. Achilles, who in his helmet slightly dominates the scene, answers with “four,” making him the winner. Yet many a Greek viewer would have understood the irony of the scene, for when they return to battle, Achilles will die, and Ajax will be left to bear his friend’s lifeless body back to the Greek camp, before falling on his own sword in despair.
Indeed, Exekias himself would paint representations of the heroes’ tragic deaths. This amphora is the first known representation of the gaming scene, which subsequently became very popular, suggesting that individual vase painting did not exist in artistic isolation; painters responded to one another’s work in a close and often clever dialogue. Despite its decorative potential, the silhouettelike black-figured technique limited the artist to incision for detail. Toward the end of the sixth century BCE, painters developed the reverse procedure, leaving the figures red and filling in the background.
This red-figured technique gradually replaced the older method betwee 520 and 500 BCE. The effects of the change would be felt increasingly in the decades to come, but they are already discernible on an amphora of about 510-500 BCE, signed by Euthymides (fig. 5. 27). No longer is the scene so dependent on profiles. The painter’s new freedom with the brush translates into a freedom of movement in the dancing revelers he represents. They cavort in a range of poses, twisting their bodies and showing off Euthymides’ confidence in rendering human anatomy.
The shoulder blades of the central figure, for instance, are not level, but instead reflect the motion of his raised arm. The turning poses allow Euthymides to tackle foreshortening, as he portrays the different planes of the body (the turning shoulders, for instance) on a single surface. This was an age of intensive and self-conscious experimentation; indeed, so pleased was Euthymides with his painting that he inscribed it with a taunting challenge to a fellow painter, “As never Euphronios”.
On a slightly later kylix (wine cup) by Douris, dating to 490-480 BCE, Eos, the goddess of dawn, tenderly lifts a limp body of her dead son. Memnon, whom Achilles killed after their mothers sought the intervention of Zeus (fig. 5. 28). Douris traces the contours of limbs beneath the drapery, and balances vigorous outlines with more delicate secondary strokes, such as those indicating the anatomical details of Memnon’s body contrasts with the lift of Eos’ wings, an ironic commentary, perhaps, on how Zeus decided between the two warriors by weighing their souls on a scale that tipped against Memnon.
After killing him, Achilles stripped off Memnon’s armor as a gesture of humiliation, and where the figures overlap in the image, the gentle folds of Eos’ flowing chiton set off Memnon’s nudity. His vulnerability in turn underlines his mother’s desperate grief at being unable to help her son. At the core of the image is raw emotion. Douris tenderly exposes the suffering caused by intrasigent fate, and the callousness of the gods who intervene in mortal lives. As we saw on the pediment from Aegina, depictions of suffering, and how humans respond to it, are among the most dramatic developments of late Archaic art.
In this mythological scene, Athenians may have seen a reflection of themselves during the horrors of the Persian Wars. Indeed, the vase is brought into the realm of everyday life by its inscription, with the signatures of both painter and potter, as well as a dedication typical of Greek vases: “Hermogenes is beautiful. ” THE CLASSICAL AGE The beginning of the fifth century BCE brought crisis. A number of Ionian cities rebelled against their Persian overlords.