Greek humanism

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TEXT PAGES 104-165


Define or identify the following terms:

Dorians A people who settled in Peloponnesos. They are believed to have brought the end to the Mycenaean civilization. Originally from the north of Greece.

Ionians Settlers of the west coast of Asia Minor.

Olympiad The first Olympian games, held in 776 BCE.
Identify the role played by each of the following Greek gods, goddesses, heroes, and mythical creatures and indicate their Roman equivalents.

(Venus) Goddess of love and beauty.


(Apollo) God of light and music. A great archer.


(Diana) Goddess of the hunt and wild animals.


(Minerva) Goddess of wisdom and warfare. Her city was Athens.


(Ceres) Goddess of grain and agriculture.


(Bacchus) God of wine.

Gorgons Demons with the body of a woman and the wings of a bird.
Hera (Juno) Goddess of marriage.
Herakles (Hercules) Greatest Greek hero who performed 12 great labors. According to legend, he established the Olympic games.
Hermes (Mercury) Messenger of the gods, guide of travelers.
Laocöon A character from the Aeneid: a Trojan priest who was strangled, along with his two sons, while sacrificing at an altar.
Lapith Northern Greek tribe.
Medusa A gorgon with a hideous face and snake hair, she turned anyone who gazed at her to stone.
Nike Winged goddess of victory.
Zeus (Jupiter) King of the gods.
1. Name two groups which were excluded from participation in Greek democracy:

a. Women

b. Slaves


Define or identify the following terms and describe how each was portrayed in Greek art:

Centaur Mythological beast, half man and half horse. Usually portrayed with the man half in front and on top and the horse half in back.
Herakles Greek hero who performed 12 great labors. Portayed wearing a lion pelt and holding a club.
kore (korai) Statue or statuette of a goddess or maiden.
Siren Mythological creature who was part bird, part woman.
1. List three characteristics typical of vase decoration from the Geometric period.

a. Almost exclusively covered in abstract motifs.

b. Human figure is highly stylized.

c. No depth of space.

2. Why was the 7th century known as the “Orientalizing” period in Greek art?

The Greeks borrowed many motifs from Egypt or Near Eastern art due to closer contact through trade.

List two new subjects appeared on Greek vases during this time:

a. Egyptian monsters, like the Sphinx and lamassu.

b. Black-figure painting.
3. What effect did the establishment of a Greek trading company in Egypt in the 7th century BCE have on Greek art?

It brought Greeks into direct contact with the monumental stone architecture of Egypt. Soon after, the first stone buildings since the fall of the Mycenaeans appeared.

4. Name the earliest known Greek temple with sculptured decoration. Where is it located? Temple A at Prinias on Crete.
5. List three characteristics of the Daedalic style:

a. Triangular flat-topped head and a flat face.

b. Small belted waist.

c. Fondness for pattern.


1. Define or identify the following:

contrapposto “Counterbalance”, the disposition of the figure in which one part is turned in opposition to another part (usually hips and legs one way, shoulders and chest another), creating a counterpositioning of the body about its central axis. Also called “weight shift” because the weight of the body tends to be thrown on one foot, creating tension on one side and relaxation on the other.

entasis Pronounced swelling, such as in the middle of columnar shafts.

Euphronius Red-figure ceramic painter who first experimented with showing how the figure is actually seen.

Exekias Black-figure ceramic painter, the acknowledged master of the technique, whose work was not only exported but copied.

Foreshortening The use of perspective to represent the apparent visual contraction of an object that extends back in space at an angle to the perpendicular plane of sight.

kouros (kouroi) Statue or statuette of a male youth.

1. What characteristics do sixth century kouros figures share with Egyptian statues?

Rigidly frontal pose with left foot advanced slightly, arms held tightly beside the body.

In what respects do they differ from them?

Kouros were nude, instead of clothed, and liberated from the original stone block. Kouros sculptors were also more interested in representing motion.

2. Describe the different visual effects created by the garments worn by the Peplos Kore (FIG. 5-11) and the Ionian Kore (FIG. 5-12).

The Peplos Kore has a more columnar appearance, more geometric. The Ionian Kore is rendered much more naturally, relieved of stiff frontality of the body, and is more lifelike.

3. Draw a simple floor plan of a typical Greek temple like the one that appears on page 116 and identify the following features: peristyle, naos or cella, pronaos, stylobate, column-in-antis.
Where did the people stand when worshipping at the temple?

Outside. The altar faced east, towards the rising sun. The inside of the temple was the residence of the god.

4. List four differences between the Doric and Ionic orders.
Doric Ionic

a. Severely plain a. Highly ornamental

b. Echinus convex and cushionlike b. Echinus small and supports

bolster ending in scroll-like

c. Frieze subdivided into triglyphs and metopes c. Frieze left open to provide

continuous field for relief


d. Massive in appearance d. Light and airy in


5. Label the parts on the following diagram and indicate the architectural order for each half of the figure below.

shaft volute pediment stylobate capital entablature triglyph echinus abacus frieze

metope cornice architrave

Doric on left, Ionic on right

6. What features of the facade of the Treasury of the Siphnians at Delphi (FIG. 5-16& 5-17) identify it as an Ionic building?

Continuous sculptured frieze on all four sides; also, caryatids are unknown in Doric architecture.
7. How does the black-figure technique of pottery decoration differ from red-figure?

With red, interior figures can be drawn with a soft brush instead of a stiff metal graver. With red glaze, the glaze thickness could be varied, expanding the chromatic range.

Name a painter who worked in each.
Black-figure: Exekias
Red-figure: Euphronios
8. Describe or draw simple diagrams of the following popular vase shapes:
Amphora Krater

two-handled jar Wide-mouthed bowl

9. What features of the warrior from the west pediment of the temple of Aphaia at Aegina (FIG. 5-27) mark it as archaic?

The sculpture looks directly at the spectator and smiles despite pain, and the torso is rigidly frontal. There is no sense of a thinking or feeling human being.

What features of the warrior from the east pediment of the temple of Aphaia at Aegina (FIG. 5-28) illustrate the new Classical mode?

The posture is more natural and complex, angled instead of frontal, and does not look directly at the spectator. The man reacts to his wound.


Define or identify the following:


Leader of the Athenians by mid-5th century BCE who converted the Delian League into an Athenian empire. He started the embellishment of the Acropolis, including building the Parthenon and the Propylaia.

Lord Elgin

British ambassador to the Ottoman court at Istanbul, dismantled (with permission) many of the Parthenon sculptures and shipped them to England between 1801 and 1803. He sold them to the British government at great financial loss. In modern times accused of “stealing” Greece’s cultural heritage, but also saved them from certain ruin if they had been left at the site.

1. What mythological subject was represented on the east pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (FIGS. 5-30 & 5-31)?

The chariot race between Pelops and King Oinomaos, the story told in Aeschylus’ Oresteia.

What is represented on the metope from Olympia (FIG. 5-32)?

The 12 labors of Herakles, founder of the Olympic Games.

In what way does the style of these figures lead scholars to call the Early Classic phase of Greek art the “Severe Style”? How did the advent of contrapposto change this style? The attitude (more human and emotional) and dress (simple Doric clothing) contrast with the elaborately clothed, always smiling Late Archaic style statues. Contrapposto, the shifting of weight to create counterbalance, was a large step towards the depiction of natural movement. Poses of the Late Archaic period were inspired by Egyptian rigidity and frontality and did not accurately show how real human beings stand.

2. Briefly describe the lost wax or “hollow casting” method of casting bronze.

1) The sculptor makes a full-size clay model of the intended statue. 2) A clay master mold is made around the model and removed in sections. 3) When dry, the various pieces of the master mold are put back together for each separate body part. 4) A layer of beeswax is applied to the inside of each mold. 5) When the wax is cool, the mold is removed, and the sculptor is left with a hollow wax model in the shape of the original clay model. The artist can refine details at this stage. 6) A final clay mold (“investment”) is applied to the outside of the wax model, and a liquid clay core is poured inside the model. 7) Metal pins are driven through the new mold to connect the investment with the clay core. 8) The wax is melted out (“lost”) and molten bronze is poured into its place. 9) When the wax is hard, the investment and the core are removed. 10) The individually cast pieces are put together and soldered, and surface details are added.

3. One of the most frequently copied classical statues was the Doryphoros (FIG. 5-38) by Polykleitos. Briefly describe his principle of symmetria. He uses dynamic asymmetry rather than static symmetry. Chiastic (cross) balance is motion while at rest. Tense and relaxed limbs oppose each other diagonally (the right leg and the left arm are relaxed, and the left leg and the right arm are tensed).

4. What was the main purpose of the Parthenon? It was a temple to Athena.

What was its basic style? Doric. Two Ionic elements used in it are:

a. The back room had four tall and slender Ionic columns as its sole supports.

b. The inner frieze that ran around the top of the cella wall was Ionic.

Like Polykleitos, the creators of the Parthenon believed that beauty was achieved by the use of harmonious mathematical proportions. However, the architects deviated from the strict mathematical precision. List three illustrations of this deviation. a. The stylobate curves upwards at the center on both the sides and the façade, forming a shallow dome.

b. The curvature of the shallow dome of the stylobate carries up into the entabulature.

c. The peristyle columns lean inward slightly.

What reason did the Roman architect Vitruvius give for the deviations? They were done to compensate for optical illusions. A stylobate laid out on a level surface will appear to sag at the center; also, corner columns of a building should be thicker because they are surrounded by light and would appear thinner than the neighboring columns if they were the same thickness.

Describe the Athena Parthenos:

The Athena Parthenos was a 38-foot tall statue of Athena, made of gold and ivory. She was fully armed with a shield, spear, and helmet, and she held Nike, the winged female personification of Victory. Her sandals and shield bore paintings and reliefs of battles.

What do the metopes of the Parthenon depict, and what are they thought to symbolize?

The south side metopes showed a centauromachy (a battle between the Lapiths and the centaurs); the north side metopes showed the sack of Troy; the east side showed a gigantomachy; and the west side showed an amazonomachy. Theseus of Athens played a major role in the battle of the Lapiths and the centaurs. In that metope, a centaur is shown rearing above a crushed Greek. It suggests that the battle was a difficult one and that losses as well as victories occurred—much like the war against the Persians.

5. What is the Propylaia and what architectural orders were used in it?

The monumental gateway to the Acropolis, located on a steep slope. Both Doric and Ionic orders were used, on the exterior and interior respectively.

6. Why is the Erechtheion an unusual building?

It has an asymmetrical plan, the antithesis of simple and balanced Doric style.

What explanations have been given for its unusual features?

It was located on an uneven terrain and had to incorporate a multiple shrine, an olive tree, Poseidon’s trident, and a tomb.

7. List three stylistic features that characterize the relief of Nike Fastening Her Sandal (FIG. 5-54).

a. Clinging garments reveal curves of the body

b. Intricate linear patterns of folds create abstract designs

c. Deep carving produces pockets of shade to contrast with the polished marble

8. The use of the white ground technique was most popular on vases known as

Lekythos. What were the advantages of the white ground technique over the black- figure or red-figure techniques? Were there any disadvantages? advantages included being able to use colors besides red and black; disadvantages included impermanence of the material, which made it impractical for everday-use vessels.


Define or identify the following terms:

cavae Latin for “hollow place, cavity.” The auditorium for Greek theater, always on a hillside.

orchestra “Dancing place,” the part of the theater where the actors and chorus performed.

skene The scene building that housed dressing rooms and functioned as a backdrop.

tholos A circular shrine that probably housed the sacred snakes of Asklepios, god of healing.

1. What effect did the changes in Greek political and social life after the Peloponnesian War have on art?

In the 5th century BCE, artists believed they could impose order on their environment and create “perfect” statues and discover the “correct” mathematical formulas for architecture. Political upheavals in the 4th century BCE that brought disillusionment and alienation correlated with a growing focus on the individual and on the real world of appearances rather than on the community and the ideal. Distinctive individual styles of sculpture emerged during this time as well.

2. Briefly characterize the ways in which the work of the following sculptors differed from the work of sculptors of the 5th century.

Praxiteles He kept the superhuman beauty of the Early Classical period but lost its solemn grandeur in exchange for worldly sensuousness (e.g., female nudity in the Aphrodite of Knidos). He specialized in showing smooth flowing flesh rather than sharp outlining of body parts.

Scopas He portrayed intense emotion, whereas the Early Classical period favored serene emotion.

Lysippos He introduced a new canon of proportions, with the head one-eighth the height of the body instead of one-seventh, for a more slender figure. He also began to break down the use of the dominance of the frontal view of sculptures and encouraged viewers to look at the sculptures from multiple angles.

3. Who was Alexander, and why was he important for the study of Greek art?

Macedonian king and conqueror in the 4th century BCE. He authorized only Lysippos to sculpt his image, believing he to be the only worthy artist. He was portrayed in sculpture for centuries after his death.

4. Describe the pebble mosaic styles and give an example of it.

Pebbles collected from beaches and riverbanks were set in cement. The mosaics could be quite realistic and intricate. One style was setting light figures against a dark ground, like red-figure painting. Thin strips of lead defined contours and details. Volume was modeled by shading of light and dark. Gnosis, Mosaic of a stag hunt, Pella, Greece, ca. 300 B.C.E. (image 5-68).

5. The main advantage of a Corinthian capital over an Ionic capital was:

All four sides have a similar appearance, so corner Corinthian capitals did not have to be modified like Ionic capitals to follow the rule of “triglyphs at the corners of a frieze must meet so that no space is left over.” They also did not require the use of metopes or triglyphs, because an Ionic frieze could be used instead.


Define or identify the following terms.

Agora Open square or space used for public meetings or business.
Portico A roofed colonnade or entrance porch.
Stoa An open building with a roof supported by a row of columns parallel to the back wall; a covered colonnade or portico.
1. List four ways in which the Temple of Apollo at Didyma (FIG. 5-74) differs from Greek temple types of the early and High Classical periods:

a. It had no pediment or roof.

b. The grand doorway to the cella was elevated five feet off the ground and could not be entered.

c. The interior was much more complex and developed than the exterior, whereas in Early and High Classical periods the exterior was treated as almost a work of sculpture.

d. The unroofed dipteral colonnade was really only an elaborate frame for a central courtyard, which was entered through narrow, dark tunnels.
2. Note four stylistic characteristics that identify the Nike of Samothrace (FIG. 5-82) as a Hellenistic sculpture:

a. The motion created through the beating wings and the wind-swept drapery.

b. The theatrical effect created by the statue’s original setting, high atop a fountain that featured water falling down two tiers onto boulders.

c. The statue interacted with its environment: it was reflected in the water of the fountain, which caused it to seem light and moving. The sound of the water also provided an aural element. It was not an isolated work on a pedestal.

d. Its dynamic pose causes it to appear living, breathing, and emotional.
3. List three works that you think best represent the realistic bent of Hellenistic sculptors. What makes them good examples?

a. 5-81 Dying Gaul: The figure reacts to pain naturalistically; his face is contorted and the musculature of his whole body is tense.

b. 5-87 Old Woman: Age is portrayed faithfully in this figure, who is in no way idealized: she is bent over, wrinkled, and tired.

c. 5-85 Sleeping Satyr: The eroticism in this figure is unmistakable, but it also shows a different state of consciousness than most statues: sleep, representing the fantasy world of dreams, which contrasts with the Classical ideals of rationality and discipline.

4. What subject was depicted in the statue of Laocöon and his sons (FIG. 5-89)?

The Trojan priest Laocöon and his sons were strangled by sea serpents while they were sacrificing at an altar, a scene told in the Aeneid.

Briefly describe its stylistic characteristics:

Great emotion is showed by Laocöon, who seems to give out a huge cry of pain, which is heightened by the writhing forms of the serpents. Even his hair is twisted and active. Motion is created by dynamic poses and every muscle of each figure is tensed with drama.


  1. How were the different conceptions of the individual in the Greek and Sumerian civilizations reflected in their art?

  1. Compare the Greek Geometric krater from the Dipylon Cemetery (FIG. 5-1) with the krater by the Niobid Painter (FIG. 5-57). How does the decoration of each relate to the shape and surface of the vase, and what does the subject matter of each tell us about the people who made them?

  1. Who was responsible for the creation of the Egyptian Temple of Amen Re (FIGS. 3-25 & 3-26) and who was responsible for the creation of the Greek Parthenon (FIGS. 5-42 & 5-43)? How does the aesthetic effect produced by each reflect the political and religious systems of the two cultures?

  1. Discuss the development of pedimental sculpture from the point of view of narrative and formal cohesiveness as seen in the pediments of Corfu (FIG. 5-15), Aegina (FIGS. 5-26 to 5-28), Olympia (FIG. 5-30), and the Parthenon (FIGS. 5-46 & 5-47).

  1. What are the primary changes you see in the treatment of the human figure when you compare a Greek Kouros (FIG. 5-8) with the Egyptian statue of Mentemhet (FIG. 3-40), with the bronze Warrior from Riace (FIG. 5-34) with Praxiteles’ figure of Hermes (FIG. 5-62) and with Lysippos’ Apoxyomenos (FIG. 5-65)? Note the changing proportions, the depiction of motion, and the conception of the figure in space.

  1. Discuss the development of Greek relief sculpture by comparing the friezes from the Siphnian treasury at Delphi (FIG. 5-17), the Parthenon (FIG. 5-48), and the Altar of Zeus from Pergamom (FIG. 5-79). How do they embody the stylistic characteristics of the Archaic, Classic and Hellenistic styles respectively?

  1. Compare the Hellenistic Boxer (FIG.-5-86) with representations of 5th century athletes like Myron’ Diskobolos (FIG. 5-37) and Polykleitos’ Doryphores (FIG. 5-38). How do they differ in emotional impact and what formal differences contribute to those effects?

  1. Select three figures that you think best demonstrate the development of the female figure in Greek sculpture, one each from the Archaic, the Classic, and the Hellenistic periods. How does each illustrate the stylistic characteristics of her period?

  1. How did social and political conditions of fifth century Athens differ from those of the Hellenistic period? In what ways do the figures of Dionysos (Herakles?) from the Parthenon (FIG. 5- 46) and the Dying Gaul (FIG. 5-81) reflect these conditions?

  1. The Greeks believe that the marbles that Lord Elgin brought to the British Museum in London should be returned to Greece, but the British disagree. Work with another student and present arguments that could be made by both sides.

Write at least one page comparing the Battle of Issus (FIG. 5-69) with the relief of the Ambassadors from the Palace of Darius (FIG. 2-27). Describe what is being represented in each of the works. Analyze each of the images using the following terms: form and composition; material and technique; line and color; space, mass and volume; Perspective and Foreshortening

Note particularly how the formal elements create the sense of motion or stability, and that help to create the sense of space or lack of it.

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