Cycladic, Greek and Roman collection of various kinds of vases has played a great role in demonstration of their culture and belief. Greek philosophy of art is realistic and that images reflect the people’s custom and myth. Basically, designs and arts in vases served two purposes in the lives of these people: in terms of form and function and the mythology associated with their beliefs. These painting in vases according to an online article come in four classes, in which the first two are recognized as relating to ancient form of art, such as (1) relating to mythology and (2) relating to heroic age and ancient Greek traditions.
However, in some instances, myth is not depicted in the art. Thus to view vases of this period is to understand the essential uses of these objects to Greek culture and traditions that are suggested in the figures. Amphora for instance is a two-handled vase commonly used for storing transporting foods; most images drawn here speak the activity associated with it. There are others that are used exclusively for mixing and cooling wine and for drinking water and wine; in the same way describe the perspective of the people who are using it.
General Impressions: Attic Black-Figure Neck-Amphora of 525-500 BCE (myth/everyday life scene) This type of Greek pottery represents a culture and art that is mimicry of activity usual of these people of their period. As Robin Osborne puts it they “don’t just symbolize, they do things, and the things they do are of interest for their mental as well as their physical side” (p. 29). The figures on the vase could be interpreted as a celebration of young men in which the man at the center performs while the rest are expectants.
The gestures are suggestive of what the celebration was all about; obviously, the activity has something to do with competition of physical strength. As the designs in this amphora are closely associated with activities done outside the home, it is presumed that designs represent the activity of the carriers. Red Figure Volute Krater of 330-320 BCE (large and with a sister-piece in the same gallery) This Apulian vase has a unique characteristic because it is highly mythical as reflected in the figures representing angelic beings, a bearded man and two women.
The images portray the lighter side of life, in which men interact with the underworld. The figure on the neck is presumably a noble man because of the decorations around the image. The vase as Tom Rasmussen and Nigel Jonathan Spivey noted is “attributed to the Underworld Painter” (p. 181). The Krater is a kind of vase used for mixing wine and water. This scenario only depicts that wine had always been part of Greek celebrations and tradition, in which some of these celebrations were associated with religious festivities such as in Anthestiria, or a celebration of wine.
The image of gods in the vase is only a representation that a religious activity is celebrated with the presence of wine. Greek Theatrical Masks Masks for ancient Greek Theater according to Graham Ley have been “significant elements of the worship of the god Dionysus” (p. 17), in which early vase paintings may have adopted. Early existence of theater was not to entertain; rather it was to celebrate Dionysus- the god of wine and fertility. As part of tradition, plays of that period dramatized man’s experience and relationship with gods. There are many reasons why early actors and actresses wore masks.
Primarily, they help recreate or portray different characterization especially when there were few actors were available. Masks such as the one used to show tragedy may show exaggeration of facial expressions that is little bigger than the face enough to envelop the head. Masks in its primary function help create a powerful effect since one or more roles may be played by one actor. Red-Figure Chous, 400-350 BCE A wine jug or a chous dated 400 to 380 BCE with figures of a man and hounds slaying him to death, while the legs of a lady is shown turning away from the scene.
The head of a man is at a distance looking at the man’s direction. The chous named Oinochoe is a red-figure vessel, which according to the description is Aktaion depicting his death (Museum of Fine Arts). The story of Aktaion is only a myth that was very popular in ancient Greece. The story which is also played in theaters during that period represents that the supernatural beings like Artemis mingled with ordinary people. Likewise, in the presentation of the story in a chous, it shows only that not only actual events are drawn on jags; myths are also painted because it tells about their beliefs.
Libation Bowl (Phiale Mesomphalos) This vessel is really interesting because it is made of pure gold dated around 625 BC. It has no decoration except the inscriptions “The sons of Kypselos dedicated (this bowl) from Heraclea” (Museum of Fine Arts). Libation bowl mirrors an ancient Greek culture because by tradition, it is used in rituals when pouring something as an offering. Greek just like other civilization of the world was highly ritualistic in expression of their religious beliefs.
Name three things you learned about ancient Greek and Roman life from this collection. I discovered and appreciated Greeks’ artistic ability, intelligence, and religiosity. People at that time in the absence of papers had recorded important aspects of their history through arts; that parts of their existence were expressed with their interaction with what they know as their gods as shown in arts; and lastly, I think myth is not myth in the perspective of these people; rather, the gods and their stories were real for these people.
What impressed you personally about the museum collection and the opportunity to view actual artifacts from an era 2500 years ago? The opportunity to see various collections of artifacts has amazed me and gave an impression that Greek and Roman culture had shared tremendous impact in the present time. The ingenuity and intelligence of the people is so vast that the absence of formal education, people were able to leave a wonderful legacy for this generation and the generation to come. How can we today learn from this ancient civilization through its arts?
Ancient Greek civilization as Kerri O’Donnell puts it is “the birthplace of western civilization” (p. 4). Around 2500 years BC when this civilization flourished, signs of developments have been noted such as the development of sports, religious beliefs and practices, literature, arts, and customs that have depicted in the figures drawn on vessels. Though many of those beliefs are considered highly mythical, yet what people should appreciate about Greek civilization is their ability to contribute knowledge that serve as foundation of many discoveries of the modern world.
Work Cited “Collection Search Result. ” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. http://www. mfa. org/collections/search_art. asp? recview=true&id=154081&coll_keywords=red+figure+chous&coll_accession=&coll_name=&coll_artist=&coll_place=&coll_medium=&coll_culture=&coll_classification=&coll_credit=&coll_provenance=&coll_location=&coll_has_images=&coll_on_view=&coll_sort=0&coll_sort_order=0&coll_view=0&coll_package=0&coll_start=1
Ley, Graham. A Short Introduction to the Ancient Greek Theater. USA: University of Chicago Press, 1991. O’Donnell, Kerri. The Ancient Civilizations of Greece and Rome: Solving Algebraic Expressions. USA: Rosen Classroom, 2005. “Origins of Greek Pottery. ” http://www. 2020site. org/greece/vases. html Osborne, R. Archaic and Classical Greek Art. USA: Oxford University Press, 1998.