Ancient Greece: A Comparative Essay
Ancient Greece 950 BCE was a culture that took great pride in perfection, excellence and overall greatness. The people weren’t what today’s society would consider modern, but of their time they were. The Greeks essentially molded the creative world with their intelligence in art, architecture, and astronomy for many cultures to come. The Romans who basically claimed the Greeks developments as their own destroyed many of their ideas and art forms. Even though so much of the Greeks culture has been destroyed, much of it still remains within society today. So many aspects of modern day life have been in some way, influenced by the Greeks.
The Greeks were a culture that strived for perfection, and harmony. They were fascinated with the human form, and this is revealed in most of their artwork. The Greeks were the first to glamorize the perfection of the human body during the Archaic period. Using balance and proportion the Greeks sculpted what they considered to be the perfect male and female forms. They called the male the Kouros. He was considered to represent Apollo (a Greek G-d) or the perfect male athlete. The Kouros was always depicted nude in a contrapposto position, meaning one foot in front of the other, and facing forward. He had braided hair, no eyeballs, (Greeks believed that the eyes were the windows to the soul) (-----------) and an archaic smile. The female figure was called the Kore; she was a freestanding fully clothed figure, usually depicted draped in jewlery. The Kore was much more youthful looking than the Kouros. She also had no eyeballs and the infamous archaic smile.
These two forms of Greek sculpture along with others can be related to our society today. The Kouros and Kore served as antique models. What the Greeks considered to be ideal body types have influenced our own views. Men should be muscular and strong, and women youthful and well dressed. The Kore was depicted more full figured than what is considered to be acceptable today, but she is perfect by the standards of following cultures such as the Romans. The fact that the Greeks depicted the Kore younger looking also relates to modern society and the pressures of women aging in our culture. Beauty is constantly being compared to youthfulness, and the media manufactures an idea of youth by subjecting the public to young girls dressed as adults. This only makes the issue harder on middle-aged and elderly women.
Another Greek art form was their pottery. This was from the geometric period. There were two different types of pottery in the Greek culture. The first was Black figure pottery consisting of black figures upon a red (terracotta) background. The second was Red figure pottery consisting of red figures upon a black background. The pottery was useful to their culture, and was only considered to be an art form many years later (www.tuftsuniversity.com). Painting was displayed on the ceramics because the Greek took great pride in their belongings, and not just because they thought it looked pretty. Some types of pottery were an Amphora a large storage jar with handles, and a Hydria (jug for water), Skyphos (a cup), and Kreater (mi bowl).
Obviously these object are used today, but the Greeks invented them thus aiding in the modernization process. The figures displayed on the pottery were to explain stories of Greek mythology. Now days their pottery has little meaning. It is displayed for their visual aesthetics.
Greek architecture was mostly focused around temples, used predominantly for worship of the G-d's The Greeks use of harmony, and proportion is evident in their architecture. They had a distinct way of construction called “the orders” consisting of three types of columns: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. They were a means of breaking down complex forms into simple units that made up the whole (Brommer p.184). The most famous Greek building was the Parthenon. The Parthenon was built on the Acropolis, and was dedicated to all G-ds. The Parthenon was considered to be the perfect temple consisting of a series of columns with a roof. Both the interior and the exterior were decorated with relief sculptures depicting the Pananthinian games (ancient Olympics). The Parthenon was essentially the model for many other structures of their time.
The Romans were the first to incorporate the techniques of the ancient Greeks in their own architecture. Their very famous Pantheon looks, and has many of the same visual compositions as in the Parthenon. Today we still see remnants of Greek architecture. Many houses today copy the columns. A good example of this is The White House with its Post and Lintel pillars leading up to the entrance. Many of the more classical looking homes, and even some modern ones often incorporate the stylized “orders” to give the buildings a perfected and historical ambience.
The Greek culture was very influenced by the importance of G-ds, and their connection to astronomy. Astronomy was theorized as the study of stars, planets, and other such objects that make up the heavens and the universe (www.virtuallibrary.com) . This was proposed by Hipparchus a Greek mathematician, and scientist. Most of the Greek constellations were named after G-ds. The Greeks looked to the constellations (G-ds) for answers about their future, and afterlife. This is still practiced today by many hopeful people. It has even been turned into a major money making industry, with celebrity endorsers such as Latoya Jackson, and Dionne Warwick. These women own psychic phone operations that promise people their fortunes by looking to the ‘stars’.
It is apparent, the Greek culture prided themselves on their excellence and superiority in the arts and astronomy. They introduced many innovations that are still seen within society today. Although most of the ancient Greek art and architecture has been destroyed, what remains has obviously impacted future cultures, as well as our own extensively.
brommer, discovering art history
Word Count: 981