If you've just stumbled onto this blog, please forgive the appearance; it's still under construction. If I've used one of your photos (found on Google) in a lecture and you don't approve, please write a comment and I'll remove it.

The purpose of this blog is to explain the basics of art and culture to English language learners in secondary school in Slovakia. This is not for profit. If you look to your right, you'll see a long list of topics that I plan to cover. This is a large project that will most likely take years to complete, covering some topics I know little about (like dance), so I will be borrowing heavily from other experts, with their permission, giving credit wherever possible. Please be patient, and, of course, all advice is greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Art of Ancient Greece

    The ancient Greeks lived in separate city states, from Turkey to the south of France, but shared the same language and religion. Sometimes they fought each other, and sometimes they worked together to fight other enemies.

    The history of ancient Greece can be organized into periods (or ages):

            The Bronze Age                                                                         3200 – 1100 BC
                 The Mycenaean Age (Late Bronze Age, aka Age of Heroes)                  1600 – 1100 BC
            Archaic Period                                                                            600 480 BC
            Classical Period (Golden Age, ending with Alexander the Great)   480 323 BC
            Hellenistic Period (after the death of Alexander the Great)          323 31 BC

    The Mycenaean Age was named after the village of Mycenae, the first of its period to be discovered and excavated by archaeologists.

    The Mycenaean Age is considered the age of heroes because this is when all the epic events took place, which Homer wrote about - the battle of Troy, and the return of Odysseus.
    Art of the Mycenaean Age consisted mostly of pottery, with simple, geometric figures and designs. Greek ceramics had distinct shapes, based on function:

          Amphora - were mostly wine jugs (for storing wine). Also used as urns. 
          Hydria - were water jugs.
          Oinochoe - were wine jugs (for pouring at the table)
          Kraters - were jugs for mixing wine and water.
          Kylix & Kantharos - were drinking cups.
          Lekythos - a jug for olive oil.
          Pyxis - for women's cosmetics & jewellery.

    Greek Pottery can also be divided into stylistic periods:
      Proto Geometric      1050 900 BC
      Geometric             900 700 BC
      Oriental                 800 – 600 BC
      Black Figure           620 – 480 BC
      Red Figure            520 320 BC
      White Ground      around 500 BC
    The greatest art of the Archaic Period were marble statues of young men (Kouroi) and women (Korai). The women were dressed in elegant gowns, but the men were nude. These statues were life-size and free-standing, and were used to mark gravestones. They had arrogant, aristocratic facial expressions.
    The Classical Period was Greece's Golden Age, when they produced their most famous art, architecture, theatre, poetry, and philosophy. This period began with the defeat of the invading Persians (present day Iran).
    The Parthenon in Athens was built in the Classical Period.
    Greeks also began the production of gold and silver coins in the Classical Period.
    Hellenistic Greece began with the death of Alexander the Great, and the division of his empire. It ended with the Roman invasion.
    The greatest artworks of Hellenistic Greece were statues, for example Nike of Samothrake, and Laocoön and His Sons.
    Alexander the Great was so famous, that he started a fashion trend - a clean-shaven ruler. Greek and Roman rulers copied this for 500 years, up until the Roman Emperor Hadrian grew a beard.

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