Notebook, 1993-

Ancient Greek Culture

Ministry of Culture - Museums, Monuments, and Archaeological Sites . . . . Reference Sites - [A few of many resources available on the World Wide Web, such as tours, exhibitions, collections, and specific works of art - Major internet projects which offer comprehensive and scholarly resources are included.]

NOTE: This site is under construction. It is possible to view the documents which are underlined. [Unless otherwise noted, the documents here come from 'Eternal Greece,' Constantine D. Kyriazis, translated by Harry T. Hionides. A Chat Publication.]


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    "There is a land called Crete, in the midst of the wine-dark sea, a fair, rich land, begirt with water; and therein are many men past counting, and ninety cities." -- When Homer sang these lines, perhaps in the ninth century before our era, Greece had almost forgotten, though the poet had not, that the island whose wealth seemed to him even then so great had once been wealthier still; that it had held sway with a powerful fleet over most of the Aegean and part of mainland Greece; and that it had developed, a thousand years before the siege of Troy, one of the most artistic civilizations in history. Probably it was this Aegean culture --as ancient to him as he is to us --that Homer recalled when he spoke of a Golden Age in which men had been more civilized, and life more refined, than in his own disordered time . . . . . [Durant, Will. Aegean Prelude in The Life of Greece. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1939.]

Birth of Greece - [Lévêque, Pierre. The Birth of Greece. NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. / DISCOVERIES. 1994 [Pierre Lévêque is a professor of Greek history at the Université de Franche-Comté, in Besançon. In addition to his scholarly histories of Greece, he has published several popular surveys of ancient Greek culture as well as guidebooks to Greece and Sicily. His most recent published works are about the history of religion.

Historical Events in the Greek World [From the Neolithic Age to the Fall of Constantinople]

Between History and Legend

Hellenism: 331 B.C. - 324 A.D. - [The Marriage of East and West] "God Himself, the father and fashioner of all that is, older than the Sun or the Sky, greater than time and eternity and all the flow of being, is unnamable by any lawgiver, unutterable by any voice, not to be seen by any eye. But we, being unable to apprehend His essence, use the help of sounds and names and picture, of beaten gold and ivory and silver, of plants and rivers, mountain-peaks and torrents, yearning for the knowledge of Him, and in our weakness naming all that is beautiful in this world after His nature--just as happens to earthly lovers. To them the most beautiful sight will be the actual lineaments of the beloved, but for remembrance' sake they will be happy in the sight of a lyre, a little spear, a chair, perhaps, or a running-ground, or anything in the world that wakens the memory of the beloved. Why should I further examine and pass judgment upon Images? Let men know what is divine [Greek text], let them know: that is all. If a Greek is stirred to the remembrance of God by the art of Phidias, an Egyptian by paying worship to animals, another man by a river, another by fire--I have no anger for their divergences; only let them know, let them love, let them recall." [Maximus of Tyre, Dissertation XXXVIII] [p. 239]

The Heroic and Homeric Ages - " . . . . the poetry of the heroic age is no longer folk poetry for the masses; we do not find songs or hymns for groups, but individual songs about the fate of individuals." [Hauser, Arnold. The Social History of Art. Vol. One. New York: Random House, Vintage Books. 1951.]

Mythical Themes in Greek Art - "Never before have the seriousness and reality of human situations been revealed so lucidly; have the crises of decision, the fatal interplay of human wills, and the force of circumstances been so impressively shown. Myth was the given theme of the epic. Under its impact, in Greek thought, the world became narratable even before it became knowable in terms of science. Clearly the grasp of reality in a myth differs from that which descriptive science offers. A myth is not a true statement of fact, nor a direct representation of a reality at hand: it rather constitutes the opposite, namely a transfer of experienced facts into a created fantasy. Yet as such it can be turned into a reasoned account of events, however fictitious; indeed, a guide to reality. . . . The Greek world simply was a world founded on literature, intellectually, because myth, which is a literary form of narrative, had come to mould the common modes of knowledge. As a matter of course, artists shared these universal interests and experiences, like everyone else. But as a consequence an entire new dimension of meaning and connotations accrued to the visual images of art, beyond that primary symbolism which all images convey by themselves as representations of reality. The power of the artist to bind the ineffable and abstract in concrete and visible forms was thus enormously extended. " [p. 143-44] [Brendel, Otto F. Part Three: The Early & Middle Archaic Period. Chapter 12 - Literary Aspects of Archaic Art, The Emergence of Literary Subjects - Mythical Themes in Greek Art. In Etruscan Art. New York: Penquin Books. 1978.]

Crete - [Hauser, Arnold. The Social History of Art. Vol. 1. New York: Vintage Books/Random House. 1951.]

Santorini - [Doumas, Christos, Prof. of Archaeology at the Univ. of Athens, Director of Excavations at Akrotiri. Santorini, A Guide to the Island and Its Archaeological Treasures. Athens: Ekdotike Athenon S.A. 1995.]


Greek Religion

Ancient Religious Beliefs of the Greeks

The Gods in Greek Religion

Gods of Greece - [Stassinopoulos, Arianna and Roloff Beny. The Gods of Greece. New York:Abrams. 1983]

Mythical Themes in Ancient Greek Art

    Birth of Myth


Greek Language



Ancient Greek Philosophy - Chronological Summary - Philosophers - Pre-Socratic - The Ionian Hylozoists - The Pythagoreans - Eleatic School - The Atomists - The Sophists - Attic Philosophy - Socrates - The Socratics - Plato - Aristotle - Hellenistic Philosophy - Epicurus - The Stoics - The Sceptics - The Neoplatonists



Wall Paintings - [Doumas, Christos, Prof. of Archaeology at the Univ. of Athens, Director of Excavations at Akrotiri. Santorini, A Guide to the Island and Its Archaeological Treasures. Athens: Ekdotike Athenon S.A. 1995.]

Prehistoric Thera: Akrotiri - Excavations at Thera Vi. [1972 Season]. By Spyridon Marinatos, Prof. of Arch., EM., Uiversity of Athens. Athens. 1974. With 6 Figures in the Text, 112 Plates in Black and White, and 11 Colour Plates with 7 Maps in Spearate Pocket. Athens. 1974. " . . . . One of the principal characteristics of the art of Akrotiri is that the artist had complete command of the space in which he moved unhesitatingly. He infallibly selected a subject suitable for filling the surface offered by the arrangement of the area. Door and window jambs, small surfaces of wall between two such openings, zones which are of necessity created for the opening of cupboards or windows and finally large expanses of wall, always bear the composition best suited to their shape and size. A representation of a pithos plant pot with lily adorned the jambs of the window in the West House . . . . "

Evans, Sir Arthur. The Palace of Minos. - A Comparative Account of the Successive Stages of the Early Cretan Civilization as Illustrated by the Discoveries. Vol. II: Part II. Town-Houses in Knossos of the New Era and Restored West Palace Section, with its State Approach. New York: Biblo and Tannen:. 1964. ". . . . The egg-like pebbles of the frieze--derived, we may suppose, from cut conglomerate--with their cross striations, are also paralleled by similar examples on fragments from the present deposit. These banded pebbles are a very persistent feature in Minoan Art, which [p. 450] was taken over at Mycenae and elsewhere in Mainland Greece. Throughout we see the same decorative device--originating, it may be supposed, in a very ancient acquaintance with intarsia work--of depicting the face of the stone as if cut in section, which is also so characteristic of Minoan painted borders. Many of the rocks here present the appearance of brilliantly veined agate or of artificially coloured onyx, sliced and polished . . . . From the rocks spring wild peas or vetches--the pods shown simultaneously with spiky flowers--clumps of what seem to be dwarf Cretan irises, blue fringed with orange, and--for varietyÍs sake--rose edged with deep purplish green. To the left, for the first time in Ancient Art, appears a wild rose bush, partly against a deep red and partly against a white background, and other coiling sprays of the same plant hang down from a rock-work arch above . . . . "

Isthmia - Broneer, Oscar. "Topography and Architecture." Vol II. Isthmia, Excavations by the University of Chicago under the Auspices of The American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Princeton, New Jersey: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. 1973. " . . . . At the bottom of the walls was a low dado in the color of the stucco, set off from the painted panels by broad bands in a deep maroon color [Pl. B]. These stripes also run vertically in the corners. On the inside, between the maroon bands and the painted panels, runs a white stripe, ca. 0.008 m. wide. The background, in mottled marine green and a somewhat darker bluish green, is a convincing rendering of water in which fish and crustacea are represented swimming. The largest and best preserved panel on the right, northwest wall, shows five marine animals, preserved in whole or in part [Pl. A, top]. In the upper left corner is the end of a tail in red, apparently part of a lobster. Next to it is a fish of medium size, rendered in two shades of red, with splashes of white. Although the shape is not exactly right, the color is perhaps sufficiently characteristic to indicate that this is likely to have been meant as a barbouni [red mullet], a great favorite in the Greek fish market . . . . " [p. 63]


Minoan Art. Walberg, Gisela. Tradition and Innovation. - Essays in Minoan Art. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp Von Zabern. 1986. " . . . . Minoan art is not commemorative; there are no scenes celebrating victorious kings and armies or showing prisoners of war or their slaughter as in official Egyptian and, to an even greater extent, in Mesopotamian art. But there are also scenes which do not fit into the idyllic Minoan world which is so widely believed in, such as the Knossos Town Mosaic, which seems to have been a siege scene. One of the factors that has contributed most strongly to the idea of Minoan spontaneous joie de vivre is an interpretation of the movement of the figures in Minoan art as dancing or playing. But was it actually the artist's intention to show these figures as dancing? A study of human figures, animals and plants will show that the qualities described as spontaneity and fluidity and the "playful" movements can be linked with the origins of these motifs and are the result of a long Minoan artistic tradition, but usually have little to do with dance or play [Chapter V]. The traditional element is strong in Minoan art, in spite of the fact that creative spontaneity is seen by many as its most characteristic feature . . . . . "

Pictured at the top of this page: View of Propilea [Ariadne Network Hellenic Civilization Database]



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