This lively and accessible book draws on the latest discoveries and research and presents a concise and readable overview of the fascinating history of ancient Greece, from its earliest origins through to its legacy in the modern world. Designed with the nonspecialist in mind, the book begins with the rediscovery of the Classical Greeks. The author then traces their evolution from Bronze Age civilizations through the emergence of the city state, discussing topics such as writing and art, government and philosophy, warfare and hunting, trade and colonization, gods and heroes, entertainments, and domestic life. Additional information is highlighted in special feature boxes throughout the text. With over 170 illustrations of ancient Greek art and culture as well as extensive reference material and recommendations for further reading, the British Museum Concise Introduction to Ancient Greece will appeal to a wide range of general readers, museum visitors, undergraduate students and life-long learners. Jenifer Neils is Ruth Coutler Heede Professor of Art History at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. A scholar of Greek art and archaeology, she organized the exhibition "Goddess and Polis: The Panathenaic Festival in Ancient Athens" and edited the exhibition catalogue. She is also the author of The Youthful Deeds of Theseus and The Parthenon Frieze.
What was childhood like in ancient Greece? What activities and games did Greek children embrace? How were they schooled and what religious and ceremonial rites of passage were key to their development? These fascinating questions and many more are answered in this groundbreaking book-the first English-language study to feature and discuss imagery and artifacts relating to childhood in ancient Greece. Coming of Age in Ancient Greece shows that the Greeks were the first culture to represent children and their activities naturalistically in their art. Here we learn about depictions of children in myth as well as life, from infancy to adolescence. This beautifully illustrated book features such archaeological artifacts as toys and gaming pieces alongside images of them in use by children on ancient vases, coins, terracotta figurines, bronze and stone sculpture, and marble grave monuments. Essays by eminent scholars in the fields of Greek social history, literature, archaeology, anthropology, and art history discuss a wide range of topics, including the burgeoning role of childhood studies in interdisciplinary studies; the status of children in Greek culture; the evolution of attitudes toward children from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic period as documented by literature and art; the relationships of fathers and sons and mothers and daughters; and the roles of cult practice and death in a child's existence. This delightful book illuminates what is most universal and specific about childhood in ancient Greece and examines childhood's effects on Greek life and culture, the foundation on which Western civilization has been based.
While the Olympics, because of their modern revival, enjoy the greatest fame today, in ancient Greece other religious festivals were equally elaborate and impressive spectacles. The lavishly illustrated Goddess and Polis is the first work devoted to the Panathenaia, the most significant of these festivals to be held in ancient Athens. Founded in 566 B.C., this complex ritual performed for the goddess Athena vied with other Greek festivals in grandeur and importance and was particularly distinguished by the works of art commissioned in its service. Among these were the painted vases known as Panathenaic amphoras, each of which contained forty liters of olive oil, awarded to athletic and equestrian victors. The contests depicted on these vases are the best extant illustrations of Greek sport. Although women were excluded from the competitions, they had an important role to play in the weaving of the peplos, an elaborate textile that took nine months to produce. The culmination of the festival was a long procession bearing this new robe to the cult statue of the goddess; the procession in turn was the subject of another great work of art, the Parthenon frieze. Combining art, spectacle, and civic consciousness, the Panathenaia contributed to the development of the high classical style of Periklean Athens. This book deals with every aspect of the festival and produces a vivid portrait of the worship of the patron goddess of the city. Essays by eminent classical scholars examine in depth the musical and poetic competitions, the athletic and equestrian contests, the peplos, and the evolving image of Athena as documented in sculpture from the Acropolis. Jenifer Neils, the curator of the exhibition Goddess and Polis, held at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, has contributed an introduction to the Panathenaia, an essay on the prize amphoras, and detailed entries for the seventy objects exhibited.
This volume provides an overview of the Parthenon from antiquity to the modern era. Recent discoveries, such as the marble sculpture fragments found during the current restoration work on the Acropolis, or a vase excavated in Northern Greece whose decoration echoes a lost pedimental composition, have forced scholars to reconsider many aspects of one of the most important monuments of classical antiquity. Bringing together essays on various aspects of this world-renowned temple, this book examines the dramatic setting of the temple and its impact on modern architects such as Le Corbusier; new reconstructions and interpretations of Pheidias' vast sculptural program; in-depth analysis of architectural refinements; the techniques employed in making the colossal gold-and-ivory cult statue; and a consideration of the Christian and Muslim phases of the Parthenon's history. Collectively, they enhance our understanding of one of the icons of Western art.
The Parthenon frieze, one of Western civilization's major monuments, has been the subject of intense study for over two hundred years. Most scholarship has sought an overall interpretation of the monument's iconography and therefore neglects the visual language of the sculpture, an essential tool for a full understanding of the narrative. Dr Jenifer Neils's study provides an in-depth examination of the frieze which decodes its visual language, but also analyzes its conception and design, style and content, and impact on the visual arts over time. Unique in its wide-ranging approach, The Parthenon Frieze also brings ethical reasoning to bear on the issue of repatriation as part of the ongoing debate on the Elgin Marbles.
This attractive book presents a general introduction to the Greater Panathenaia, the week-long religious and civic festival held at Athens every four years in honor of the city's patron goddess, Athena. The highlight of the city's festival calendar, with its musical, athletic, and equestrian contests, tribal events, processions, sacrifices, and other activities, the Greater Panathenaia involved all the residents of Athens; not just adult males but women, children, metics (resident aliens), foreigners, and even slaves. The facilities, administration, program events, prizes, and associated monuments are described.
This attractive book takes a fresh look at the representation of women from the ancient world. Packed with illustrations, it includes striking images of sculpture, wall paintings, ceramics and mummy cases, engravings, silver and jewels, ranging from public art to domestic artefacts. The book portrays a variety of roles and activities of women across a range of ancient cultures. Through themes such as the ideal woman, marriage, childbirth and the family, dress and nudity, work, religion, priestesses and goddesses, the author highlights the diverse roles and preoccupations of women in the ancient world, often with surprising resonances for our time.
The foremost religious festival of ancient Athens--the city dedicated to Athena, goddess of war, fertility, arts, and wisdom--was the Panathenaia. Challenging old assumptions and refuting new theories, Worshipping Athena addresses the many problems of interpretation and understanding that have swirled for years around the Panathenaia. Among the issues discussed is the recent sensational controversy over the Parthenon frieze, perhaps the best known but least understood work of Greek art. For centuries the frieze has been thought to represent the Panathenaia procession, but recently the argument has been advanced that it depicts the sacrifice of the daughters of the Athenian king Erechtheus. Worshipping Athena offers compelling evidence that the frieze does indeed depict the festal procession and also demonstrates that scenes of contemporary ritual were not unique to the Parthenon. Editor Jenifer Neils and the contributors--eminent classicists, archaeologists, and art historians--explore the role of the Panathenaia in Athenian life and compare it with similar festivals held throughout the ancient Greek world. They discuss such topics as the Panathenaia's mythical origins, the phenomenon of the festival's valuable prizes (oil-filled amphoras, rather than the customary laurel wreath), and the architecture, sculpture, and painting related to the festival. Worshipping Athena will provide valuable insights to scholars and students concerned with ancient religion, mythology, art, literature, and gender issues, as well as anyone with a keen interest in the ritual topography of the Athenian Acropolis and the iconography of the Parthenon frieze.