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Dimitris Plantzos

(fl 5th century bc).

Greek gem-engraver, presumably born on the island of Chios. His signature survives on four of the gems he engraved, all fine specimens of 5th-century Classical Greek art. Two of these works come from sites in southern Russia, in the region to the north of the Black Sea, widely populated by Greek colonists since the 6th century bc. It is thus suggested that Dexamenos was active in the Black Sea colonies, catering for the Greeks residing there or for clientele drawn among the native populations, who widely interacted with the Greeks in most matters, as well as art.

Between 480 and 450 bc, gem-cutting in mainland Greece and the islands had undergone significant changes, gradually abandoning Late Archaic forms and motifs. The shape of choice was the scaraboid, a plain-backed, often highly domed oval stone, carrying a device engraved on its flat side. These stones were perforated lengthways, in order to be fitted in a metal swivel hoop or a plain piece of string. Chalcedony is the commonest material, in its white and blue varieties, though there are many examples cut in cornelian, rock crystal, agate and jasper. Dexamenos’ four signed works show a remarkable variety of subject-matter, as well as being some of the finest examples of Greek art of the time (...

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

[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

Dimitris Plantzos

( fl 4th–3rd century bc).

Greek gem-engraver associated with the glyptic portraits of Alexander the Great (reg 336–323 bc). According to Pliny (Natural History 7.125), Pyrgoteles was one of the three court artists authorized to depict Alexander's likeness in art (the others being Apelles for painting and Lysippos for sculpture). The same author (Natural History 37.8) adds that Alexander had issued an edict forbidding anyone to engrave his image on emeralds, other than Pyrgoteles, ‘who was without a doubt the most illustrious master of his art’. According to Plutarch (Life of Alexander, 4.1), it was Alexander himself who designed his public image, and saw that it was widely publicized through art, as a means to cultivate his own legend. Plutarch also relates that Alexander demanded from his court artists, in order to convey his royal qualities through his idealized portrait, that ‘the poise of the neck turned slightly to the left and the melting of the eyes’, in order to broadcast ‘his manly and leonine quality’ (Plutarch, ...