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Article

Thorsten Opper

Elaborate monument erected by Octavian (later Augustus) in 29–27 bc on the Preveza Peninsula in Western Greece, north of the present-day town of Preveza, overlooking Cape Actium, to commemorate his naval victory over Mark Antony at Actium in 31 bc. The nearby city of Nikopolis (Gr.: ‘city of victory’) was founded for the same purpose at about the same time.

According to the historian Dio Cassius (Roman History LI.i.3), after his victory Octavian laid a foundation of square stones on the spot where he had pitched his tent, which he then adorned with the captured ships’ rams. On this foundation, according to Dio, Octavian established an open-air shrine dedicated to Apollo. Suetonius (Augustus xviii.2) and Strabo (Geography VII.vii.6) corroborate this evidence, although the trophy itself (with the ships’ rams) was, according to Suetonius, dedicated to Poseidon and Mars, presumably for their help during the battle. The hill itself was, according to Strabo, sacred to Apollo, and therefore the shrine was dedicated to him....

Article

Thorsten Opper

Source of a group of Roman and Greek works of art, in particular a group of Greek bronze sculptures and statuettes. In 1900 sponge-divers discovered the remains of an ancient shipwreck in the sea off the Greek island of Antikythera. In one of the first operations of this kind, they salvaged some its cargo. A new investigation of the wreck site took place in 1976 and succeeded in recovering many further objects, as well as (still unpublished) remains of the hull. All the finds are now in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The ship, which must have foundered in the second quarter of the 1st century bc, carried a mixed cargo of ‘antique’ and contemporary bronze and marble statuary, as well as luxury products such as bronze furniture attachments, rare and expensive types of glass, gold ingots etc. It also contained the so-called Antikythera Mechanism, an elaborate type of astrolabe....

Article

Thorsten Opper

(b Claudiopolis [Bithynion] c. ad 110; d Egypt, October ad 130).

Greek youth from north-western Asia Minor who became the companion and lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian (reg ad 117–138) until his mysterious death in the Nile in October ad 130. The bereaved emperor gave orders for Antinous to be deified as Antinous-Osiris and founded a new city, Antinoöpolis, close to the spot where Antinous had died. From there, his cult spread rapidly over the empire, especially the Greek-speaking areas, where festivals in his honour were established and an astounding number of images dedicated. Most remarkable (apart from preserved representations on coins, gems etc, and paintings attested in literary sources) were his sculptured portraits, frequently likened to gods of the Classical Pantheon, of which nearly 100 have survived—a number surpassed only by the portraits of the emperors Augustus and Hadrian. Their ubiquity and often high quality made them icons of ancient art, highly influential and frequently copied from the Renaissance onwards....

Article

Luca Leoncini

This statue of the Greek sun-god Apollo (h. 2.24 m) in the Octagonal Courtyard of the Belvedere of the Museo Pio-Clementino, the Vatican, may be a marble copy made in the time of the Roman emperor Hadrian (reg ad 117–38) of a bronze original by the Greek sculptor Leochares; it is now regarded as a Roman creation of the early 2nd century AD. The statue represents the god stepping forwards lightly on his right foot and looking to his left, his left arm outstretched and supporting his cloak (see fig.). When it was found the figure probably lacked most of the left forearm and part of the right hand. These and other parts were restored by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli between 1532 and 1533, although the restored portions have now been removed. It is likely that in his left hand Apollo was holding the arrows that were the usual attributes of the sun-god. There is also a tradition identifying the statue with the Apollo Venator, the god of the hunt; perhaps for this reason he is often shown beside the huntress Diana. The date and place of the statue’s discovery are uncertain, although Pirro Ligorio advanced the theory that the ...

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

Thorsten Opper

In 1954 a large number of fragments of ancient plaster casts came to light in the Roman city of Baiae on the gulf of Naples. Of a total of 430 fragments, 293 were in a condition that allowed further analysis. This revealed that they originally belonged to a group of 24–35 full-length statues that formed a representative collection of plaster copies of Greek bronze originals (gods, heroes, mythological figures) mainly of the 5th and 4th centuries bc. Twelve of these statues could be identified through comparison with Roman marble copies (e.g. Tyrant Slayers, Ephesian Amazons, Athena Velletri, Westmacott Ephebe, Hera Borghese, Eirene and Ploutos). For others likely identifications have been suggested, but cannot be proven (e.g. Doryphoros). The Baiae plaster statues were technically highly accomplished (hollow-cast figures with internal armatures, probably the first casts produced from high-quality moulds), and are likely to have been imported, perhaps from a place such as Athens, where at least three of the originals were located....

Article

G. Lloyd-Morgan

Sculpted female figure (equivalent to the male Atlantid) used in place of a column (see fig.). Caryatids first appeared in ancient Greek architecture around the mid-6th century bc; they were also used in Roman architecture, and these models were revived in the 18th and 19th centuries (see §2). Classical caryatids are always clothed; they may be dressed in the Ionic style and may have either a polos or a high-sided crown on their heads, or a wider drum representing a basket containing sacred objects. When dressed in Doric costume, however, caryatids bear the capital directly on their heads. Where hands survive, they may hold ceremonial religious vessels. Non-architectural caryatid figures occur as decorative elements in the minor arts of Greece, Etruria and Imperial Rome. The most notable are the stand supporting mirror-discs, usually dating from the 6th and 5th centuries bc. Caryatids were used in furniture decoration, often as bronze mounts, during the 18th and 19th centuries....

Article

Irene Bald Romano

Image of a divinity that served in antiquity as a focal-point for worship and cult rituals. Most cult statues were housed in temples or shrines, although outdoor worship of images is also attested. Although aniconic worship (i.e. of a non-anthropomorphic symbol of a deity such as a rock or pillar) is known in Near Eastern, Greek and Roman cults, most deities by the late 2nd millennium bc were worshipped in an anthropomorphic form and were, as such, earthly substitutes or humanized manifestations of the presence of a deity.

Anthropomorphic cult statues are well attested in the Ancient Near East, Anatolia, the Levant and Egypt. Near Eastern cuneiform records going back at least to the 2nd millennium bc indicate that Mesopotamian cult images were made of wood and opulently clad in tiaras, robes and jewellery. The garments of the statue were ceremonially changed, and ritual meals were served up to the cult image. Specific attributes and attire aided identity. From ...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

An islet to the west of Paros and Antiparos in the centre of the Cyclades. It has been identified as ancient Prepesinthos, mentioned by Strabo (Geography X.v.3) and Pliny (Natural History vi.66). The archaeological remains of Despotikon were first explored in the late 19th century by pioneer Greek archaeologist Christos Tsountas, who excavated Early Cycladic (c. 3200–2000 bc) cemeteries at Livadi and Zoumbaria, and identified remains of a prehistoric settlement at the site of Chiromilos. Sixty more graves of the Early Cycladic period, as well as one of the Roman period, were discovered in the mid-20th century by the Greek Archaeological Service. Rescue excavations were initiated again in 1997, focused on the site at Mandra, where an extensive sanctuary dedicated to Apollo has been located. The excavation has yielded a great number of finds, many of which are of prime importance as to the interpretation of the site, its role in the Aegean and its relations with the Near East, from the Archaic to the Roman period....

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

Greek city situated at the foothills of Mt Olympus in northern Greece (district of Pieria), 14 km south of modern city of Katerini. It was an important Macedonian political and cultural centre from the Classical to the Roman periods (6th century bc–4th century ad). By the 6th century bc it seems that the Macedonians were gathering at Dion in order to honour the Olympian gods, chiefly Zeus; according to myth, Deukalion, the only man to survive the flood at the beginning of time, built an altar to Zeus as a sign of his salvation. His sons, Macedon and Magnes, lived in Pieria, near Olympus, and became the mythical ancestors of the Macedonians. The altar allegedly erected by Deukalion remained the centre of the cult life at Dion throughout its history.

King Archelaos of Macedon (c. 413–399 bc) organized athletic and dramatic contests in the framework of the religious celebrations, following the practice of the Greeks in the south, such as at the great sanctuaries of Olympia and Delphi. Philip II (...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

(fl late 1st century bc).

Roman gem-engraver active in Rome at the time of Augustus (27 bcad 14). According to Pliny, Dioskourides made ‘an excellent likeness’ of the Augustus emperor on the emperor's personal seal, which was also used as a state seal by successive emperors (Natural History 37.8). The story is repeated by Suetonius, who adds that Augustus ‘at first used the figure of a sphinx, afterwards the head of Alexander the Great, and at last his own, engraved by the hand of Dioskourides’ (Life of Caesar Augustus 50).

No fewer than 11 intaglios and cameos signed by Dioskourides survive (Richter, nos 664–72; Plantzos, 96–7), and many more have been attributed to him and his workshop. Dioskourides signed his name in Greek, with his name in the genitive case, as was customary for gem-engravers in the Greek world. Although several Roman artists of the Augustan period assumed a Greek professional name to enhance their business prospects, or signed their Italian names in Hellenized form and script, it seems that Dioskourides was actually of Greek origin. He belonged, therefore, to the wave of artists and craftsmen who came to Italy in the ...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

[Satra]

Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...

Article

Luca Leoncini

Large marble statue by the ancient Greek sculptor Glykon (see fig.). It is 3.17 m high and represents a heavily muscled Hercules leaning on his club. According to the inscription, it is probably a version of a work by Lysippos or his school made in the 3rd century ad for the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, where it was found in 1546. When discovered, the statue had no head or legs. The sculptor Guglielmo della Porta, a pupil of Michelangelo, worked on the restoration. He replaced the original head, which had been found six years before, and provided the statue with new legs. The original legs were discovered a few years after the restoration, but it was not until 1787 that they were restored by Carlo Albacini (fl 1780–1807). The Hercules was exhibited in the court of honour of the Palazzo Farnese until 1787, when it was brought to Naples and set up in the old porcelain factory of Capodimonte. In ...

Article

Idolino  

Luca Leoncini

[the Idol]

Bronze statue (h. 1.50 m) of a youthful nude in sinuous pose, his lower right arm outstretched. It is probably a copy by a Roman artist of a Greek original by Polykleitos, although some scholars believe it is Greek and attribute it to Polykleitos himself. It was found in 1530 in the course of building excavations at Pesaro and donated in the same year to Francesco Maria I della, Duke of Urbino, Rovere for his Villa Imperiale, which was then under construction near that city. In 1533 the statue was given a pedestal in antique style, with an inscription created for it by Cardinal Pietro Bembo: ut potui huc veni delphis et fratre relicto. In 1630 Francesco Maria II della Rovere sent the statue to Ferdinando II de’ Medici, who would have inherited it in any case. In 1646–7 it was listed at the Uffizi. Between 1800 and 1803 it was in Palermo to escape the French. In ...

Article

Laokoon  

Luca Leoncini

[Laocoon; Laocoön]

Marble sculptural group that represents an episode recounted in Virgil’s Aeneid (II.199–231), in which a sea monster attacks the Trojan priest Laokoon and his two young sons in front of the walls of Troy. The date and provenance of the work (Rome, Vatican, Cortile Belvedere; h. 2.42 m) is disputed. Its identification with the Laokoon by the Rhodian sculptors Hagesandros, Polydoros and Athenodoros, said by Pliny (Natural History XXXVI.iv.37) to have adorned the Palace of Titus at Rome, has been questioned because Pliny claimed that the latter was made from a single block of marble, while the extant group is made from several. However, stylistic resemblances between the surviving group and the sculptures in the grotto at Sperlonga actually signed by Hagesandros, Polydoros and Athenodoros (see Sperlonga, §2) have caused many scholars to accept it as the Laokoon mentioned by Pliny. They regard it as a work of the 1st century ...

Article

Werner Fuchs

Term coined by Heinrich Brunn in his Geschichte der griechischen Künstler (Stuttgart, 1853) to designate sculptors of the 1st century bc to the 2nd century ad who added the epithet Athenaios (‘the Athenian’) after their signatures. The sculptors produced copies and adaptations of earlier statues, such as the bronze herm of Apollonios, son of Archias, based on the head of the Doryphoros by Polykleitos (?2nd half of the 1st century bc; Naples, Mus. Archeol., 4885), and marble reliefs on kraters, candelabra etc also derived from earlier works. The style arose from the Attic neo-Classical movement of the mid- to late 2nd century bc (see Greece, ancient §IV 2., (iv)), and Neo-Attic workshops served rich patrons in Pergamon, Alexandria and above all Rome and Italy, as well as in Greece itself. Important Neo-Attic works include those from the Mahdia shipwreck near Tunis (c. 100 bc; Tunis, Mus. Alaoui), and various reliefs found at ...

Article

Thorsten Opper

[now Torre Annunziata]

Roman settlement on the seaward slopes of Mt Vesuvius about five km north-west of Pompeii, in what is now Torre Annunziata. The name Oplontis is attested in the Tabula Peutingeriana, a 13th-century copy of an ancient map of the Roman Empire (Vienna, Österreich. Nbib., Cod. 324). Baths were discovered at the locality of Punta Oncino in 1834 while systematic excavations between 1964 and 1984 unearthed two villas and remains of a portico in the nearby area of Mascatelle.

Villa A is a grand residence with origins in the 1st century bc and extended in the Claudian period (mid-1st century ad). It is also known as Villa of Poppaea, after Poppaea Sabina, second wife of the Roman emperor Nero (an amphora inscribed with the name of one of her freedmen was found on the site). The villa was empty and undergoing restoration work at the time of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in ...

Article

Mark D. Fullerton

(fl Rome, 1st century bc).

Greek sculptor and writer from South Italy. He is generally regarded as the head of a school producing eclectic, neo-classical statuary related to Neo-Attic decorative reliefs. Virtually everything known about Pasiteles is derived from a few literary references. No signatures of his are extant, although a marble statue of a youth (c. 50 bc; Rome, Villa Albani) is signed by Stephanos as his pupil. Pasiteles received Roman citizenship around 89–88 bc, when enfranchisement was extended as a result of the Social War (Pliny XXXIII.lv.156; XXXVI.iv.40). He is mentioned as an expert in the chasing of metal (caelatura), especially elaborately decorated silver vessels (Pliny XXXV.xlv.156; Cicero: On Divination I.xxxvi.79). Despite being both a sculptor and metalworker, Pasiteles is never mentioned by Pliny in his section on sculptors in bronze. Rather, he is specifically identified as a modeller and ivory carver (XXXV.xlv.156; XXXVI.iv.40). He must have worked in marble as well, since his name occurs twice in book XXXVI, where marble sculpture is treated, and his student ...

Article

Trophy  

Luca Leoncini

Dedication of the remains of a defeated enemy, usually on or near the battlefield. This custom was practised by the Egyptians and the Sumerians as well as other peoples of the Mediterranean region and the Ancient Near East. Except in the case of some Egyptian and Mesopotamian monuments celebrating important victories, however, it was never accompanied by any special artistic production in these areas. In Greece and Rome, however, the artistic commemoration of a victorious battle became very popular.

The first trophy documented with certainty is Greek: the trophy of the Aiginetans in the Temple of Aphaia, celebrating their victory over Samos (520 bc). Trophies were mentioned with increasing frequency throughout the 5th century bc, but they became less popular in the 4th century bc and the Hellenistic age (323–31 bc). Among some of the Greeks, however, including the Spartans and the Macedonians, the custom of dedicating everything that remained on the battlefield to the gods remained for some time. For the rest of the Greeks the trophy was at once a symbol of victory, an ex-voto and a warning to the enemy. Two types of trophies are known. In the first and more common type the enemy’s arms were suspended from a post or cross, arranged as they had been worn by the soldier. This ‘anthropomorphic trophy’ was commonly connected with the figure of Victory. The second type, the ‘cumulus trophy’, was a stack of arms often placed on a pile of stones; the earliest form of trophy appears to have been a simple cone of stones. The array of enemy arms displayed in the two types symbolized the dedication of the defeated who had worn them to the gods who had given the victory. The first example of Victories connected with trophies was possibly the one on the balustrade of the ...

Article

Eugene Dwyer

[puteal]

In its most essential form, a screen-wall or parapet, analogous to a precinct wall, surrounding a taboo place in the Greek and Roman world; also a means of enclosing a well or pit (Lat. puteus) in the earth. One type, a bidental, signified a place struck by lightning, consecrated and enclosed by the priests, where propitiatory offerings were made to the lightning. The puteal Libonis (untraced) was a bidental in the Forum Romanum: it appears on coins as a parapet, circular in plan, adorned with garlands, lyres and the hammer of Vulcan. It is typical of the architectural type commonly employed by both Greeks and Romans as well-heads. Larger well-heads, such as the one found at the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia at Praeneste, sometimes took the form of a circular parapet supporting a monopteros. Alternatively, the well-head or parapet itself was sometimes surrounded by a monopteros or tholos (circular columnar buildings), as in the well (perhaps a ...