[Chp. 5: The Art of Ancient Greece]

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[Chp. 5: The Art of Ancient Greece]


Learning Goals

After reading the chapter, you should be able to do the following:

  • Label a map of ancient Greece

  • Explain what is meant by "Man is the measure of things," and relate it to the development of Greek art

  • Compare the New York Kouros with the Egyptian sculptures of Menkaure and his Queen

  • Describe the position of women in ancient Greece

  • Identify Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle and describe the essential features of their philosophy

  • List the Greek gods, discussing their functions and attributes

  • Draw and label the plan of the Parthenon

  • Draw and label the Doric and Ionic orders of architecture

  • Identify all the works and define the terms featured in the chapter

  • Describe the development of Greek pottery styles and their techniques, from Geometric to White Ground

  • Describe the development of Greek sculptural styles from Orientalizing through Hellenistic

  • Describe the style, technique, and iconography of the Battle of Issos mosiac

  • Describe the techniques of lost-wax bronze casting, encaustic painting, and pottery

  • Compare the Greek canon of Polykleitos with the Egyptian proportional grid

  • Compare and contrast the temple of Zeus at Olympia with the Parthenon, from the point of view of style and iconography

  • Identify the twelve Labors of Herakles

  • Draw and label the plan of the Athenian Acropolis

  • Compare the depictions of males and females in Greek sculpture

  • Identify the leading figures of Greek history

The Art of Ancient Greece (c. 800–1st CENTURY B.C.)

Geometric Period (1000 BCE – 700BCE)

  • Greek alphabet introduced (c. 750 B.C.)

  • Homeric epics composed (c. 750-700 B.C.)

  • Delphic oracle; Olympian gods

  • Battle of Marathon: Persian defeat (490 B.C.)

  • Philosophy: Plato; Socrates; Aristotle

  • Theater: Aeschylos; Sophokles; Euripides; Aristophanes

  • "Man is the measure of all things"

  • Vase painting; mosaics; monumental sculpture

  • Orders of architecture: Doric; Ionic; Corinthian

Periklean Athens (c. 450–400 B.C.)

  • The Parthenon; canon of Polykleitos

  • Herodotos ("father of history")

  • Peloponnesian War: Sparta defeats Athens

  • Alexander the Great dies (323 B.C.)

Hellenistic period


The ancient Greeks are known as a self aware people. No other culture in western civilization history was quite as introspective as the Greeks. They prided themselves as the most civilized society in the world. In fact the term “barbarian” basically meant non Greek. The development of Greek civilization rises from the ashes of the ancient Mycenaean and Minion cultures. From After the decline and eventual fall of the Mycenaean culture in 1100 BCE, the Aegean Islands would experience a “dark age” period for about 200 – 300 years. By 800 BCE Greece would begin to show growth and stability in their government, economy and culture. This period is referred to as the Homeric Age. The writer Homer would write the stories of prehistoric Greek history (If you have not had to read The Iliad or The Odyssey in your academic career thus far, just wait, it is coming.) It is the Greek culture that would be the basis for western cultures for art, architecture, music, theater, philosophy, literature and politics.

Key Terms


the flat slab that forms the topmost unit of a Doric column and on which the architrave rests.


a Mediterranean plant with prickly leaves, supposedly the source of foliage-like ornamentation on Corinthian columns.


the open space in an ancient Greek town used as a marketplace or for general meetings.

Alexander the Great


an ancient Greek two-handled vessel for storing grain, honey, oil, or wine.

Archaic smile


the lowest unit of an entablature, resting directly on the capital of a column.


excellence + more

Athenian Acropolis

Athens and Sparta


a series of balusters, or upright pillars, supporting a rail (as along the edge of a balcony or bridge).

Battle of Salamis

black-figure style

describing a style of Greek pottery painting of the sixth century B.C., in which the decoration is black on a red background.


a set of rules, principles, or standards used to establish scales or proportions.

canon of proportions


a supporting column in post-and-lintel construction carved to represent a human or animal figure.


the main inner room of a temple, often containing the cult image of the deity.


a series of columns set at regular intervals, usually supporting arches or an entablature.


a stance of the human body in which one leg bears the weight, while the other is relaxed, creating an asymmetry in the hip-shoulder axis.


see Order.


the projecting horizontal unit, usually molded, that surmounts an arch or wall; the topmost member of a Classical entablature.

Delian League

Dorian and Ionian Greeks


see Order.


(a) one of the cylindrical blocks of stone from which the shaft of a column is made; (b) the circular or polygonal wall of a building surmounted by a dome or cupola.


in the Doric Order, the rounded molding between the necking and the abacus.


a painting technique in which pigment is mixed with a binder of hot wax and fixed by heat after application.


the portion of a Classical architectural Order above the capital of a column.


the slight bulging of a Doric column, which is at its greatest about one third of the distance from the base.



a small decorative element at the top of an architectural member such as a gable or pinnacle, or of a smaller object such as a bronze vessel.

flutes, fluting

a series of vertical grooves used to decorate the shafts of columns in Classical architecture.



the use of perspective to represent a single object extending back in space at an angle to the picture plane.


(a) the central section of the entablature in the Classical Orders; (b) any horizontal decorative band.


(a) based on mathematical shapes such as the circle, square, or rectangle; (b) a style of Greek pottery made between c. 900 and 700 B.C., characterized by geometric decoration.

“golden mean”

Greek panel painting

Greek theaters

Greeks vs. Persians


an ancient Greek or Roman water jar.


see Order.

isocephaly, isocephalic

the horizontal alignment of the heads of all the figures in a composition.

kore (korai)

Greek word for maiden; an Archaic Greek statue of a standing female, usually clothed.

kouros (kouroi)

Greek word for young man; an Archaic Greek statue of a standing nude youth.


a wide-mouthed bowl for mixing wine and water in ancient Greece.


an ancient Greek drinking cup with a wide, shallow bowl.


an ancient Greek vessel with a long, narrow neck, used primarily for pouring oil.

Lord Elgin and the “Elgin Marbles”

lost-wax bronze casting (cire-perdue)

a technique for casting bronze and other metals.

meander pattern

a fret or key pattern originating in the Greek Geometric period.


the square area, often decorated with relief sculpture, between the triglyphs of a Doric frieze.


the inner sanctuary of an ancient Greek temple.


a groove or molding at the top of a column or pilaster forming the transition from shaft to capital.


an ancient Greek wine jug.


one of the architectural systems (Corinthian, Ionic, Doric) used by the Greeks and Romans to decorate and define the post-and-lintel system of construction.

Panathenaic Festival


(a) in Classical architecture, the triangular section at the end of a gable roof, often decorated with sculpture; (b) a triangular feature placed as a decoration over doors and windows.



surrounded by a row of columns or peristyle.


a colonnade surrounding a structure; in Roman houses, the courtyard surrounded by columns.





(a) a colonnade; (b) a porch with a roof supported by columns, usually at the entrance to a building.

protome, protoma

a representation of the head and neck of an animal, often used as an architectural feature.

red-figure style

describing a style of Greek pottery painting of the sixth or fifth century B.C., in which the decoration is red on a black background.

Roman copies of Greek statues


(a) a length of writing material, such as papyrus or parchment, rolled up into a cylinder; (b) a curved molding resembling a scroll (e.g., the volute of an Ionic or Corinthian capital).

Severe Style


the vertical, cylindrical part of a column that supports the entablature.


in ceramics, a mixture of clay and water used (a) as a decorative finish or (b) to attach different parts of an object (e.g., handles to the body of a vessel).


the top step of a stereobate, forming a foundation for a column, peristyle, temple, or other structure.


a small piece of colored glass, marble, or stone used in a mosaic.


in a Doric frieze, the rectangular area between the metopes, decorated with three vertical grooves (glyphs).


in the Ionic order, the spiral scroll motif decorating the capital.

wet drapery


describing a style of Greek pottery painting of the fifth century B.C., in which the decoration is usually black on a white background.

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