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A History of Ancient Greece
The Glory That Was Greece
Greek, Hellenistic period; 1st century B.C. copy of 4th century B.C.
original; Marble; 68.6 cm (27 in.); Founders Society Purchase, General
Membership Fund; 24.4
The torso is an impressive example of the respect and enthusiasm the ancient
Greeks felt for renowned works of art by famous Greek artists of an earlier
time. The DIA Aphrodite is an adaptation based on a statue by the 4th century
B.C. artist Praxiteles. This revered sculpture of the goddess Aphrodite was
created for her temple at Knidos, on the Aegean coast of modern Turkey.
1st century A.D.; Roman copy of late 5th century B.C. original; Marble;
height 153.7 cm (60 1/2 in.); Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford II; 74.53
Toward the end of the 5th century B. C. a famous Greek statue of Aphrodite,
the goddess of love, was created, probably to decorate a temple in Athens. It
was such a popular image that it was later copied many times. The type became
known throughout the Greco-Roman world and was associated with the Roman
In more complete examples, Aphrodite is shown holding the apple awarded her in
the contest among goddesses where she was judged the most beautiful. Female
nudity was not sanctioned in art until later in Greek history but artists
discovered a way to reveal aspects of feminine grace. Aphrodite's garments
cling to her body, outline and emphasize the contours, creating the illusion
of female beauty at its most sensuous.
320-310 B.C.; The Baltimore Painter; Greek, South Italian, Apulian;
Ceramic; height 1.2 m (47 1/2 in.); Founders Society Purchase with funds from
various contributors; 1983.25
Intended to serve as a funerary offering, this volute Krater, set in its own
stand, was created in a Greek colony in southeastern Italy. On the obverse
(front) of the krater, an image of the deceased with his horse is shown as
part of a funerary monument. Above is a scene of banqueting. The colonial
artist, in a style characteristically his own, has densely packed the reverse
surface of the vessel with a complex assembly of the major deities of the
Greek pantheon. Zeus, enthroned in the center, is flanked by gods and
goddesses identified by the attributes they hold. Below Dionysus and Ariadne
ride in a chariot drawn by two panthers. Greeks and Amazons battle above.
Head of Aristaeus
150-100 B.C.; Greek, Hellenistic period; Marble; height 52.1 cm (20 1/8
in.); Founders Society Purchase, Membership and Donations Fund; 41.9
Aristaeus was the divine son of the god Apollo and the nymph Cyrene. He was
known in the ancient world as the founder and patron deity of the city of
Cyrene in Libya, a Greek colony in North Africa. This head, from a colossal
statue, portrays the god with a rather bland face surrounded by tousled
assymetrical curls, which are given dramatic life by being carved in high
relief. On Aristaeus's head is a mural crown -- a round flat-topped
headdress with four vertical raised strips, perhaps intended to represent
the defensive towers of the city walls. The enormous statue could have stood
in a temple in Cyrene dedicated to Aristaeus.
2nd-1st century B.C.; Greek, Late Hellenistic period; Marble; height 1.5 m
(61 in.); City of Detroit Purchase; 24.113
The beautifully draped statue of a mature woman may be a representation of
Calliope, the muse of epic poetry. A flat surface on the folds of the cloak
against the left arm of the figure may have held a tablet, an attribute of
Calliope. She might have been fashioned as a funerary monument, representing a
deceased matron as Calliope, or as part of a public sculpture with all nine
muses portrayed. Her stance produces a gentle curve to her body. Since the
back of the statue is unfinished, it was presumably set against a wall or in a
niche. The work of art appears to be a late Hellenistic copy of an early
Hellenistic creation, elegant even though incomplete.
ca. 470-65 B.C.; The Leningrad Painter; Greek, Attic red-figure ware;
Ceramic; height 40 cm (15 5/8 in.); City of Detroit; 24.120
This vessel, with handles reminiscent of columns, was designed as a container
in which to mix wine and water for serving at social gatherings. On the most
important side of the krater, Helios, the sun god, wearing a rayed sun disk on
his head, is shown standing in his chariot drawn by two winged horses. He
represents the sun in its daily journey across the sky; the ocean waves and a
leaping dolphin lie below.