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ART204 Greek Art Intro

Greek art reflects ideas of a culture that, through their art people are glorified and idealized as a reflection of the divine in mortal physical terms.

Their sculpture and architectural achievements express a need to establish order into the world of chaos, a mathematical perspective that establishes philosophically an intellectual order on the world of change.

Changing Perspectives of Earth Peoples Beliefs as revealed in the Art.

Prehistory Cave/Neolithic

Art and ritual to ensure a cooperative attitude towards each other and nature to survive.

Belief and process to engage nonphysical realms of power and the ability to and manipulate it.


Divine stewardship to raise civilization to new levels. Predictable passage to next life, Immortality. For those who led a good life, Maat.


Divine is moved off planet to the celestial
Divine King and Dominion over, workers / warriors expendable
Gods become war like, and unpredictable
Salem group at UR. Offers the contrast.


Earth as playground of divine through the mind. Yet, people are the measure of things. Acknowledging the dualism of order/chaos, mortal / divine.


Nationalism, Survival of the state at expenses of workers warriors and Nature.
Class distinction.

Early Hebrew

God manifest in all things Nameless until the myth of God, is elevated above all things.

Late Hebrew

Third revelation of Salem group and forbearers of the Essences, A universal compassionate god, forgiving and teaches immortality for faithful

Review of:

  1. Intelligent Cooperation—prehistory, Bond with mother, family. nature. Cave Art
  2. Bond with Nature. Id of Mana and ritual to participate with non-physical realms, into the Neolithic
  3. Immorality—Egyptian Art
  4. Id of Physical Self - Greek Art
  5. Id of Psychological Self - Greek Art.
  6. Self as Temple- Early Christian Art
  7. Ego Satisfaction
  8. Revolution of Ideas / Beliefs
  9. Turn Inward
  10. Creative Balance

Aegean Culture

The Island peoples, Minoans.

Early beliefs around the mystery of the islands in prehistory myth. Seen as places of early temple building in matriarchal times, when early goddesses presided over the communities needs.

History suggests that the Island of Crete is first Aegean civilization, occurring 3000 to 1000 BC. Evidence of trade around Mediterranean. Sailing culture, in a very abundant relatively peaceful world for several 1000's of years.

A volcanic eruption 1645 BC destroys the region with total devastation. Tidal wave from collapse of Sanatoria Island.

Cities are rebuilt 1400—1200 BC. Then the Mycenaean's, a warrior class of people sailing from Greek mainland with long knifes and bronze armor. Will bring down the Aegean culture.

Greek Art—Mainland

Informative Years 2000 - 1600 BC

  • Minion influence, as a goddess priest class is taken to the mainland.
  • Remnants of oral myths of divine play or influence on earth
  • Matriarchal social standards and attention to the present.

The Mycenaean Period 1600 - 1100 BC

  • Mycenaean's from islands off Sparta, invade and conquer the Minions.
  • Mycenaean carries an attitude of Individualism and self-determination into the Greek culture.

Doric and Ionic Invasion 1200 BC

  • Ionic people settle into what will be Thebes and Athens.
  • Doric come down from Northern Mountains invading the Mycenaean center including Sparta, and the Aegean Islands.
  • They like the Ionians will assimilate the Mycenaean's on their way to power.
  • Ionic and Doric will establish the Hellenistic civilization from a mixture of these influences, by 1100 BC.

Athens will become the center of the Ionians, and Sparta the Dorian's.

Fall of Troy 1184 BC.

Myth or real conflict between Early Ionic Greeks and Roman Achaeans?

Geometric Orientalizing Period 8—650 BC, Athenians.

  • Growing independent settlements to city states.
  • Writings of Homer, The Trojan War and Atlantis.
  • The religious Calendar and Hesiod's theology, which defines the Greek mythology.
  • 1st Olympic games 776 BC in Athens.


Emerging city-states, assume more individual characteristics like earlier Mycenaean's. Socially the acropolis offers protection from invaders. These centers of population are sustained agriculturally.

Politically they develop the first ideas of a government with laws not to enforce civil standards, but to guarantee freedom. A Republic / Democracy.

Not until Alex the Great from Macedonia, will the concept of a divine king reappear in the Mediterranean.

The art and mythology moving from the Archaic Period to the Hellenistic will reflect a shift, politically matriarchal to patriarchal belief systems which compromises the wisdom of early Goddess religions.

Some believe this occurs at the time when oral myth was written down by the early Greeks.


The Olympic Games

Was time to settle family and social disputes, and political subplots between city-states. 100's of oxen would be sacrificed to the gods. As well as intertribal marriages.

Early agricultural settlements made clay cow icons as offerings to the rising sun.

Then the real male bull was scarified as a sacrament for fertility, then for favors from the divine.

Niemans held 1st Olympic games where the city-states came together to compete their best athletes against each other.

Competed in the nude, no prizes but winner will receive a year of adulation.


Sparta & Athens will represent opposing attitudes of a community life.

Sparta settled by less aesthetic, warlike Dorians.

Athens spared from conquest, inherits the attitudes of the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures.


Ionic Order

Individualism and Political Freedom

In contrast to Sparta, Athens social structure is not static, because of individualism.

Citizenship to all free people, excluding slaves. A benign class distinction.

Wealthy landowners and merchants are elected to the government.
Voting rights extended, government positions with substance pay, magistrates are liable for their decisions.

Women cant vote but are important matriarchs in the family.

Emphasis on education, at least for the privileged sons.


Doric Order

A Spartan discipline. Citizens owned by state, compulsory Military training at 20.

Required marriage with certain number of children.

Education is state guided.


Creation myths, that are expressed in more human terms.


No image of her, but important early goddess in Orphic rites. Born from chaos, gives birth to day Gaea and airy space.


Is the most ancient earth mother and prophetess, she creates the heavens, stars and planets. Takes Uranus as lover and births the solar system. Including the earth, titian's, typhoons, and furies. She then creates the sea and with Poseidon, the deities of the waters. She was consulted at Delphi, an ancient oracle. Demeter and then Hera will follow her.

Intruders from the north, led by Zeus will battle with Gaea's descendent Hera and her allies, the typhoons, titans, and furies. Zeus will win battle against Hera, and Dorian priests take the temple for Apollo, who is consulted in the form of a dolphin.

"Apollo from his shrine can do no more than divine a hollow shriek, the steep of Delphi's leaving".

Delphi is later sacked by the Celts, then claimed by Rome. Looted by Constantine, "the true cross" is taken to Byzantium. The temple remained an important oracle but is destroyed by Emperor Theodosius after Christian church is legalized.

The imposition of Apollo, on taking Delphi from Hera, occurs with growing importance of Zeus at Olympia.

Where a temple to Hera preceded his. This occurs early with the influence of Achaeans and conquering Dorians from the north.


6TH C. BC.

  • Peoples of the Athenian countryside rallied from the fields in force, to stop a military company of an Athenian Noble Cylon, who with some other aristocrats planned a tyranny.
  • Athens becomes the major city-state. First aristocratic, then a Republic with one year terms. Massive public works.
  • Mediterranean is a busy commercial arena, with trade, coins, and more communication between cultures.

561 BC Athenian tyrants weaken Athens. As original ideas of Republic weaken.

520 BC Fortification of Athens with Persian threat.
494 BC Persians under Darius invades, but Greeks win Battle of Marathon.

480 BC Persians under Xerxes defeat Sparta and with their help sack Athens, Ends Archaic.

470 BC Athens rebuilds defeats Persian fleet and rebuilds initiating the classical period under Periciles and a renewed Republic.


Archaic Aesthetic is defined as a formal style, reflecting a subdued dignity, Realism to suggest a soft naturalism, celebrating body and mind.
Why a growing intellectual or egotistical need to express in the art more realism? Psychologically to personify the human body in more rational terms.

Philosophically, the Greeks believed the body was the carrier of the divine. Thus, the image of people is to celebrate the body that transcends the dualism of mortal and divine in this world.

In contrast to Mesopotamia, which moved the divine off planet.

Then Roman Art will celebrate higher authority and colonization, rather than metaphysical identity issues.

Greek art importantly demonstrates people’s entry into the modern world. The influences are seen in politics, philosophy, science, and education. Root meaning of education in Greek is to, draw out from.

Greek art and philosophy are founded on reason, and individual inquiry rather than higher authority.
It is one's own will, that now guides creativity.

Greek art will show a profound shift in peoples perspective of themselves and the nature of reality, reflecting a philosophy of :

  • A growing confidence in rational self rather than the divine who reside in the celestial. Mind is seen as the locus of the divine.
  • More reliance on pragmatic observation, to understand a seemingly predictable nature rather than an inductive, magical subjective nature of things. This will culminate in dominate Aristotelian thinking that leads to the demise of the prophetic mysteries, the moon principles, the world of matter fused to the spirit of things.
  • The individual, not gods or divine king is now the measure of all things. Gods have "a life of their own to live".
  • People, their physical body fused to the divine intellect and mind is seen as the highest achievement of an ordered, knowable nature, overcoming instinctual primate behavior.
  • Can lead to inflated ego like irrational adolescents, if not balanced by matriarchal moon aspects.

For the Mesopotamians both the observable and the unexplainable phenomena were manifestations of an unknowable divine force.

The Greeks propose an idea, that gives equal value to both the known and unknown. A distinction was made between that which was knowable empirically, Aristotle. And that which was beyond rational comprehension, Plato

The knowable become the sciences and the mysteries like creation, immortality and non-physical influences, are dealt with in art, myth, and religion.

These identity issues are acted out in more human terms because it is believed as descendants of the divine; we are like them, unpredictable and fallible, as we establish desire into our realms.

This provokes more realism in the art, as a celebration of our bodies as a reflection of theirs.

Greek Creation Myth or, the myth of divine spark.
In the beginning was chaos, from which Gaea the Earth, and Uranus the sky produce the first inhabitants on earth, the elemental entities.

These elemental forces are the Titans typhoons and Furies. They represent unrestrained forces with out reason. They will align themselves with Hera.

Cronus, the father of Titians and Rhea, birth Hera. Goddess of the Earth.

Cronus, also with Rhea, sires Hades god of underworld, and Poseidon the sea, and Zeus of the land.

Aphrodite 1st daughter of Earth Mother is born when Cronus tricks Uranus onto Gaea's bed.

Aphrodite is then a union of both earth and divine.

Esoterically, Aphrodite is said to be the daughter of Dione the dove, and the first male deity to descend onto the corporal world.

She is a goddess of Early Greek prophecy and fertility, then Venus and Diana the goddess of hunt and love in Rome.

By the time of Zeus's triumph, Aphrodite will be replaced by Apollo and Dionysus.

Zeus has an affair with Leto, a sea nymph. Jealous Hera tries to stop but Apollo is born with twin, Artemis. With this, there is equality between gender, sun and moon principles.

Apollo will represent order from chaos, the divine presence of the sun, then justice, prophecy and healing. Originally attributes of the Goddess.

Artemis the twin represents the primal forest, and moon. She represents uncultivated nature, and like the Wicca gives medicine and runs with the wolves. In time she becomes a fearful goddess who turns a mortal spying on her into a stag and sends her wolves after him.

With Apollo and Artemis equal respect is given to mind and nature, reason and intuition, order and chaos.

Dionysus is born to the mortal Semele, who is seduced by Zeus.

She then is killed by lightening when Hera tricks her into seeing Zeus as the disguised lover in his true form.

Zeus takes the unborn child and sews it into his thigh, the birth from which ensures him immortality. Dionysus will become associated with rebirth, fertility and spring plantings.

At worst, young men become victims for their sacrificial blood to fertilize the land.

Dionysus is eaten by the Titans during the 12 year war with Hera. Zeus will then destroy the Titians.

Zeus then creates people from the ashes of the Titans. And since the Titans had eaten of the Dionysus a god, humankind contains the "divine spark"

Or, in another version, people are resurrected from his uneaten phallus. Which was presented during spring festivals by the priestesses and women of the community,

In later Greek, he represents sensuality and the divine nectar, or fruit of immortality.


Votives and Sacrifices. Were made to confirm the equal exchange.
Occurs at the Temple at the center of the city-state, or in the groves.

Gifts were offered to the gods by their worshippers. They could be given either voluntarily or in response to demands by the priesthood.

Sacrifices were gifts to the gods. They were bloodless offerings such as grasses, roots, grains, fruit, oil, or were blood-offerings like wild and domesticated animals, birds and fish.

The food was cooked on raised altars so that their aromas could rise heavenward or dropped into wells, holes, or tombs. What was left was consumed by the people.

Some of the healing sanctuaries housed replicas of body parts donated in thanks for hope of cure.

Sculptural monuments in bronze and marble were routinely dedicated by either private donors or the city architects.

The ancient Greek was a deeply religious person. He had a strong sense of his weakness before ones fate and acknowledged his dependence upon the divine beings for a favorable life.

The salient features of this religion were a pantheon of individualistic gods and goddess having human form and feeling.

The absence of any established canon or authoritative revelation such as the Holy Spirit or scriptures, or a complete subordination of religious life to the state, suggests the Greek idea of Individualism.

EARLY ARCHAIC: Mythology and Art

In early ritual and ceremony, death and rebirth is celebrated by Demeter and her daughter, Kore.

Demeter is a descendent of Gaea. She is linked to Crete and was celebrated by the Mycenaean's and like Hathor of Egypt, she gives agriculture, laws and prophecy to the early Greeks.

Her daughter, Kore or Persephone descends each fall into the underworld where Hades known as Pluto in Rome rules. Her departure after harvest and return in the spring is reenacted by the women, which brought the community together for important social events.

In some stories she is abducted, or goes willingly, to return and ensure fertility and spring plantings.

Dionysus will replace the Kore or Persephone as deity of fertility.

By the time of early Athens, Hera is the earth mother, replacing Gaea and Demeter.

Hera is linked to the Achaean's, who with Zeus gains more influence over the Greek mainland.

Hera's priestesses honored the ancient mother Gaea, the founder of civilization. Gaea was also seen as the goddess of battle, the Amazon, the prophetess or medial, the lover or hectare, and birth mother. As we have seen in Lilith of Mesopotamia.

Zeus wages 10-year war against Hera, wins and they settle on Mt Olympus.

Early Greeks marry Hera to Zeus.
She becomes a jealous powerful wife and he a seducer of the conquered peoples goddesses and mortal maidens.


Heracles, the favorite son of Zeus
Like Jesus, a divine birth, that demonstrates immortality, and like Mary, his Mother will ascend.

Hera didn't want him born, as it is prophesied, he will shoot her when he takes cattle from her sacred land. Sends two snakes to kill him as an infant.

Zeus fools Hera by putting Heracles to her breast while she sleeps. This gives him special powers. When she awakens, she throws him aside. Her spilt milk becomes the Milky Way.

When grown, he was given armor and shield forged by Hephaestus, with this he is more than a match for men and gods alike. After his death, was granted godhood and was welcomed to Mount Olympus by all the immortals, where he marries Hebe. Heracles could obtain immortality by marring her and live in her garden of paradise eating fruit from the tree of life. Though, in other stories he declines ascension, and helps people.

Heracles is said to be of the age Heroes, the fourth generation of divine descendent . Half man, half god.
As punishment for giving mortals stolen fire, Zeus orders Hephaistos to chain Prometheus to a rock..

Zeus sends an eagle to ravage the Titan's immortal flesh each day.
Heracles kills the eagle and frees Prometheus. Becoming a hero to the people.

Heracles is conceived when Zeus seduces his mother, Alkmene, a mortal. Her husband goes insane. Heracles goes on 12 trials to clear his name. From killing monsters to cleaning the kings stalls in one day.

Obtains immortality and is given true story of the flood.

He becomes people's hero. Is a similar myth from Osiris, to Heracles to Jesus.

Artemis in Greece

Huntress, protector of animals the forests. The bear and stag symbols may link her to Europe. Romans called her Diana.

The hunter Alcaon paid penalty for spying on the unclothed goddess Artemis, while she bathed in a stream. She turns him into a stag that is hunted by his own hounds. She is free to follow the wind, gives medicine from the forest.

Daphne running from Apollo cried out to Artemis for help and was turned into a sycamore or laurel tree "whispering her feeling in the rustling of her leaves"

Sycamore grove and Fig tree given by Gaea.
Fruits are essence of goddess gift of immortality. Living body of Hathor on Earth. Fruit is wisdom of gods.

Aphrodite- introduced into Greece by Phoenicians. Initially revered as a multifaceted deity, then prophecy and love. Virgins gave offerings to Aphrodite before accepting love of a man. To the early Christian she is the maid of Bethlehem.

Holy women served Aphrodite in her temples honoring the arts of love for mortals, refining the essences of love, between mortal and divine.

Romans name her Venus.

Athena Goddess of wisdom and battle. Born of Libyan Amazons or Zeus head. Offers Athens the olive tree. Guardian of oracles. "One with Gaea, your serpents are in Athens."


Aesthetic Definition - Formal subdued dignity, in a soft naturalism, celebrating body and mind.

Egyptian and Mesopotamian art show little deviation in style, technique, or innovation for 1000's of years.

Greek art exhibits a steady evolution from simple to complex in 500 years. 700-200 BC because:

  • No fixed dogma because of a Philosophy of free exercise of reason based on individual inquiry. Socially, education was important.
  • Philosophically, the mind as seat of the divine, people were seen as the highest achievement of a knowable universe. Science is based on rational observation.

The art is to establish "the perfect ideal" into this reality for people to emulate.

There art is to express an image of people in the physical and psychological sense, as a free entity in a world governed by reason.
Few original works. Romans after the conquest will reproduce from originals for a demanding market.

In the social sense, ideally early Greek followed 4 virtues:

  1. courage
  2. temperance
  3. justice for each
  4. pursuit of truth .

Divine Ideals, expressed in reason or the art becomes the vehicle to reflect the divine, or ideal into corporal time.

Thus glorifying Athenians as the highest achievement of civilization.

An amazing achievement in elevating civilization in terms of humanism and civil rights.

Athenian Greeks provided a foundation for a greater study of human potential with Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, in the coming classical period.

ARCHAIC PERIOD: The Flowering 600 to 479 BC

The city-states continued to flourish during the Archaic period, in spite of threats from others and social unrest. By the 6th century BC a majority of the most important and powerful city-states were ruled by tyrants.

The origins of democracy can be traced to Athens in the years following the fall of the aristocratic tyrants, (560-510).

Commerce and the arts flourish and Athenians begins a massive building program.

Colossal marble temples to house huge cult images of the gods were built in various parts of the Greek world.

  • 40 ft standing sculpture of Zeus. Marble, ivory flesh and gold robes. At Olympia 450 BC
  • Temple of Artemis at Ephesus 550 BC . Asia Minor, 60 ft ionic columns.
  • Two of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Colossus of Rhodes, or Helios sun god and Mausoleum at Halicarnassus are Hellenistic structures.

Towards the end of the Archaic, trouble will come from Persian threat and invasion. Athens is destroyed, but will reemerge in the classical period, 480. BC.

The final victory of the Greeks over the Persians was celebrated in Greek art and literature as a symbol of the triumph of civilized peoples over the force of barbarism.


Ancient schools of science taught how to move energy up through the physical body, acquiring the ability to heal oneself and seek wisdom. Over coming disease.

500-428 BC Anaxagoras
People don't perceive but create and assimilate in the mind through thought. Thus quality of life lies with the individual.

Democrats Atoms (atoma) are tiny particles in constant motion.

Anaximander World is one in an unbending succession of worlds.

Heraclitus Essential condition of nature is flux.

Hippocrates First school of medicine classifies and diagnosis through rational observation. Denies illness is divine intervention.

Sophists - Education is necessary when responsibility lies with the individual, not deities. Boys of status trained in liberal arts, girls learned to read and write to manage household

580- 507 BC Pythagoras essence is found in numbers Harmony of spheres, Golden mean and spiral.

Science: Knew distance to moon, circumference of earth, made a clock that followed the 364-5 days cycle.

Woman's Life

Greek women had little political rights.

The important duties for a city woman were to bare children, preferably male, and to run the household.

Duties of a rural woman included some of the agricultural work; the harvesting of olives and fruits and vegetables.

Men spent most of their time away from their houses, thus home life was dominated by women.

She supervised the daily running of the household, in a benign slave based economy, plentiful numbers of female slaves were available to cook, clean, and carry water.

A male slave's responsibilities were for the most part limited to being to farm work or doorkeepers and tutors to the male children. For the most part, a rather benign class distinction.

Men's activities encompassed politics, arts and crafts, construction, agriculture, sea faring, manufacturing and trade. Greek states relied upon the land for their basic income, even the rich who did not labor in the fields themselves.

For common people agricultural work was the usual reality for most.

The privileged honored the pastimes of hunting and horseback riding and the important theme of competitive war games.