Category Archives: Art
The Human Body in Ancient Greek art and Thought, Lecture by Ian Jenkins, PhD accessed [https://youtu.be/NfWd9QZfils]
“At Alexander [the Great]’s court there was no more fatal imputation than that of refusing worship and adoration to Hephaestion. Alexander had been so fond of him that to appoint him a God after his death was, for such a worker of marvels, nothing out of the way. The various cities at once built temples to him, holy ground was consecrated, altars, offerings and festivals instituted to this new divinity; if a man would be believed, he must swear by Hephaestion. For smiling at these proceedings, or showing the slightest lack of reverence, the penalty was death.”
“Demetrius the Platonic was reported to Ptolemy Dionysus for a water drinker…. He was summoned next morning, and had to drink in public.”
“No other vice [than drinking] has so gotten a grip on the courts of the mighty… At times the courtly life is one of perpetual drunkenness, on par with the drunkenness that captures citadels, and at times a treasurer, knight, mayor, muleteer, scribe, or cook who shows up for work sober is an unwelcome sight to that bloated court.”
“Vincent Obsopoeus (?-1539) was a gifted translator, a superb Latin poet, a minor figure in the Reformation, and he was, by all accounts, an obnoxious guy. He delighted in twitting others for their failings, however minor. It is only too believable that he could have written The Pig War. Five years earlier [in 1525], he had angrily accused [Philip] Melanchthon of passing him over while recommending people for jobs at the new Gymnasium in Nuremberg; Melanchthon had (said Obsopoeus) ridiculed him on various grounds, not least his drinking.”
“The usual method is to seize upon real characteristics of a victim, and only paint these in darker colors, which allows verisimilitude. A man is a doctor; they make him out a poisoner; wealth figures as tyranny; the tyrant’s ready tool is a ready traitor too.”
“My other reason for [writing The Art of Drinking] is the false opinion some people have of me, and the smears that certain trash talkers have put out there. When they go accusing me to one and all of being a ‘world-champion wine drinker’ (which isn’t true, and nothing I’ve ever done to them ever provoked them to say that, other than their being unable to live without blackening someone else’s good name); — those stupid idiots don’t understand that they’re actually ‘insulting’ me in the most honorable way possible….You see, I do like wine more than water, but I’ve always controlled my enjoyment of it with such moderation that I’ve made sure that no one’s ever gotten misled or hurt by my drinking.Meanwhile, those sobriety-worshippers who are slandering me—who go around signaling their virtue in public while binging in private—they’ll surely spell the doom of no few people with their destructive teaching, contaminated as they are by far more disgraceful sins and behavior.”
“No one should ever convict without considering everything scrupulously.”
“The witches turned my hair white”
“…out of the grief I feel for the many innocent witches I’ve accompanied to the stake.”
- Pliny the Elder
- Hieronymus Bosch
- Albrecht Dürer
- Vincent Obsopoeus
- Friedrich Spee
- For book one, which is all about learning how to handle alcohol, it’s totally obvious: Ovid’s Art of Love, books one and two.
- For book three—where Obsopoeus recants his admonitions to cultivate sobriety and teaches us his tricks and hacks to win drinking games—it’s also obvious: Ovid’s Cures for Love.
“Among the paintings of Apelles—those monuments of old—that learnèd Greece celebrates in its writings, his ingenious hand left behind a masterpiece. … I’ll describe that picture, though its excellence outdoes my song and its precious art defeats my verses.”
“In fact, no such painting ever existed. In creating the haunting allegory of addiction and alcoholism that follows, Obsopoeus took inspiration from (1) Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights (1490–1510) and (2) Renaissance re-creations of paintings by Apelles. The latter include … The Calumny of Apelles (1480s), which Botticelli re-created from a description of Apelles’ Allegory of Calumny in Lucian’s dialogue Slander, a Warning.”
“Unlike his excellent rival painter Protogenes … Apelles himself knew when to take his hand off a picture.”
“By way of precaution against it, then, it is my design to sketch the nature, the origin, and effects of slander, though indeed the picture is already in existence, by the hand of Apelles.”
“The painter was impressed by his experience, and took his revenge upon Slander in a picture.”
“On the right sits a man with long ears almost of the Midas pattern, stretching out a hand to Slander, who is still some way off, but coming. About him are two females whom I take for Ignorance and Assumption.”
“Slander, approaching from the left, is an extraordinarily beautiful woman, but with a heated, excitable air that suggests delusion and impulsiveness; in her left hand is a lighted torch, and with her right she is haling a youth by the hair; he holds up hands to heaven and calls the Gods to witness his innocence. Showing Slander the way is a man with piercing eyes, but pale, deformed, and shrunken as from long illness; one may easily guess him to be Envy. Two female attendants encourage Slander, acting as tire-women, and adding touches to her beauty; according to the cicerone, one of these is Malice, and the other Deceit.”
“Following behind in mourning guise, black-robed and with torn hair, comes (I think he named her) Repentance. She looks tearfully behind her, awaiting shame-faced the approach of Truth. That was how Apelles translated his peril into paint.”
Written by Divya Gupta, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Greek Vases provide a rare insight into life in Ancient Greece. They reflect the artistic developments, religion, trade, and political beliefs of ancient Greek civilization.
Types of Greek Pottery
Greeks pots were traditionally made using terracotta (fired clay) and were fashioned into different shapes and sizes depending on the intended function. Some of the most common vases were Amphora, Loutrophoros, Krater, Pyxis, Alabastron, and Hydria. Each of the cups had unique shapes that served a different purpose.
The ‘Krater’ pots were used to mix water and wine during the celebrations. It had a voluptuous body and wide opening that allowed the stirring of content. ‘Hydria’ as the name suggests, was used to collect, carry, and pour water. It had a bulbous body and three handles; two for holding and one stretched along the back for supporting and pouring.
Origin of Amphora Pottery
Amphora is a vase with two elongated handles. Its name is derived from the Greek word amphoreus, meaning ‘carried on both sides’. In ancient times, these were used to store and transport foodstuffs like wine and olive oil. Research shows that these vertically designed vases were adopted from the eastern Mediterranean, which quickly spread throughout the whole world. From Phoenicians to the Romans, every civilization had its own version of pottery which became an important survivor in the archaeological records.
Storytelling and Narrative used in Greek Amphora Pottery
Starting from the Bronze Age, pottery had various styles and sizes but Amphora was the most common ancient pottery shape throughout the ages. Every period had a significant impact on the design and pattern of the pottery. Some Amphora pots were kept plain and were typically used for transportation of liquids, whereas others were highly decorative with red or black figures.
These exterior painting compositions reflected the style of a certain period. For example, vases created during the Geometric Period (900-700 B.C.) had geometric patterns carved on the surface. One of the most famous vessels during this period was Dipylon Amphora made in 750 B.C. which is exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
During the Orientalizing Period (700-600 B.C.), the display of animal processions became common. This style took inspiration from Eastern motifs and decorated the vases with intricate patterns completely filling the surface.
During the Classical Periods (600-323 B.C.), vases primarily displayed human and mythological activities. These were scenes varied from everyday mundane activities like (fetching water) to heroic stances (Theseus and the bull), to gods (Zeus abducting Ganymede), to theatrical performances and hunting scenes. These paintings serve as a window to the past to help us understand the lives and beliefs of ancient Greeks over time.
Structure and Shape of Amphora Pots
Amphora pots were generally used as storing and transporting vessels for olives, cereal, oil, and wine. The height of these pots varied from large geometric vases of 5 feet to smaller ones around 8 inches, also called amphoriskoi.
The wine Amphora had a standard measurement for 39 liters or 41 quarts of liquid, these were specially painted to be used as decanters and were given as prizes. The size of the vessels was standardized to enable it to be carried by one or two people with the utmost ease.
There are two basic types of amphora; the neck amphora, which has a shoulder that joins the neck sharply, and belly amphora that has a suave curve joining the neck to the foot. These shapes were gradually developed to increase the functionality of the pots. With time, these pots became taller and slimmer to facilitate ease of packing and transporting.
With such distinctive pot styles came a plethora of techniques that the Greeks incorporated to achieve stability and strength in the structure. These unique vase shapes consisted of a couple of horizontal sections that were made separately on the pottery wheel and later attached using the score and slip method. The entire body of the vessel was compiled together along with the handle to achieve a sturdy structure.
Many Amphorae that were used for transportation were stamped before firing. These seals had the place of origin (pottery workshop), batch number, the monogram of the manufacturer, and regional symbols embossed on it. In the case of wine, the age of good wine was marked on the containers, and drink-by-date for cheap wines were mentioned. Very similar to the modern-day wine bottles, right?