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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investigation of the wreck site took place in 1976 and succeeded in recovering many further objects, as well as (still unpublished) remains of the hull.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

Mark D. Fullerton

(fl Rome, mid-1st century bc).

Greek sculptor. He was one of the greatest masters of his time, though referred to only by Pliny. A contemporary of Pasiteles, like him he worked in a variety of media (marble statuary, marble and/or metal vessels) and believed in the value of preliminary models, which were themselves sold at high prices. Arkesilaos was commissioned by L. Lucullus or his son to make a statue of Felicitas (Pliny: XXXV.clv–clvi), which was never completed. His most famous work was the cult statue for Caesar’s Temple of Venus Genetrix (ded. 46 bc). Hadrianic coin representations of this deity show a figure close to the late 5th century bc Fréjus Aphrodite type. If these represent Arkesilaos’ cult statue, then it must have been classicizing in style. The Temple of Venus, however, was extensively rebuilt in Trajanic times, so the statue depicted may have been a 2nd-century ad replacement. Only two other works are mentioned: a group of ...

Article

Luca Leoncini

revised by Thorsten Opper

Group of three ancient Greek bronze figures, now in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens. The various fragments were recovered in 1926, 1928 and 1937 from the sea-bed site of an ancient shipwreck off Cape Artemision at the northernmost point of Euboia, Greece, together with scant remains of a wreck whose cargo they seem to have formed. The most famous is the bronze statue identified as Zeus or Poseidon (h. 2.09 m), datable to the second quarter of the 5th century bc (see fig.). It is attributed to an Attic artist, perhaps Kalamis, who made the Omphalos Apollo. The figure represents a bearded man with long hair tied up at the back of his neck, striding forward with his arms extended. He is poised to throw either a thunderbolt or a trident, depending on which of the two gods he portrays. Ample iconographic parallels exist for both (coins of Poseidonia show Poseidon hurling his trident in this manner, while Zeus is represented in a similar pose in numerous bronze statuettes). The position of the fingers of the right hand suggests that the statue originally held a trident rather than a bolt of lightning, though Zeus is represented in a similar pose in numerous bronze statuettes (see Stewart, ii, pls 287–9). The hypothesis that this was the pose of an earlier cult statue in the Temple of Zeus at Olympia before Pheidias created his colossal chryselephantine ...

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

Balbus  

Thorsten Opper

(Marcus Nonius)

(fl 1st century bc).

Roman patron and statesman. A wealthy Roman benefactor, supporter of Octavian (the later emperor Augustus) and patron of the city of Herculaneum [now Ercolano; formerly Resina], Balbus was a native of Nuceria Alfaterna in Campania, and embarked on a successful senatorial career, serving as Tribune of the People (32 bc), and Praetor and Proconsul of the double province of Crete and Cyrenaica. He chose to live in Herculaneum and lavished benefactions on the town, financing a complete rebuilding of the basilica, town gates and walls. In return, Balbus was appointed the patron (official representative) of the town and received countless honours, among them numerous portrait statues (ten are currently attested in the epigraphic record; five statues have survived). Through their range of media and statuary types, and with their associated base inscriptions, these provide an exemplary insight into the Roman system of portrait honours. Two marble equestrian statues, dedicated by the People of Nuceria and Herculaneum respectively (Naples, Mus. Archeol. N., inv. 6211 and 6104), were discovered in ...

Article

Luca Leoncini

revised by Gordon Campbell

Ancient Greek sculpture. The Torso (h. 1.59 m; Rome, Vatican, Mus. Pio-Clementino) is a famous work of ancient sculpture, signed by the otherwise unknown Athenian artist Apollonios, son of Nestor, who may have been active in the 1st century bc. This can be read in the inscription on the base between the fragmentary legs. It belonged to a figure of extraordinary muscular development, often identified with Hercules, seated on the skin of an animal (possibly a lion) spread on a rock. Other interpretations have identified the Torso as Marsyas, Skiron, Polyphemos Philoktetes on the island of Lemnos, and more recently as the Greek hero Aias contemplating his imminent suicide. It is first documented between 1432 and 1435 in the collection of Cardinal Prospero Colonna in Rome. Later it was probably given to the sculptor and antique collector Andrea Bregno, in whose home it remained at least until his death in ...

Article

Mark D. Fullerton

(fl ?2nd century bc).

Greek sculptor and metalworker. His signature occurs on a bronze archaistic herm (Tunis, Mus. N. Bardo) from the Mahdia shipwreck that supported a statue of a winged youth identified as Eros or as Agon, the personification of athletic contests. Though the lettering of the inscription suits a date in the 3rd century bc, the eclectic classicizing features of the youth and the one-sidedness of the group favour a century later, when ‘Boethos of Chalkedon’ signed the bases of a portrait of Antiochos IV (reg 175–164 bc) on Delos and of a portrait at Lindos (c. 184 bc; see Marcadé, p. 28). This Boethos was probably also the famous engraver mentioned by Pliny (Natural History XXXIII.lv.155) and Cicero (Against Verres IV.xiv.32), and the sculptor of a bronze group of a Boy Strangling a Goose (Pliny: Natural History XXXIV.xix.84). This work is probably reproduced by various Roman copies (e.g. Rome, Mus. Capitolino; ...

Article

Luca Leoncini

[Borghese Warrior]

This statue (h. 1.99 m; Paris, Louvre) portrays a warrior lunging forward with his shield arm extended and his sword arm drawn back. Signed by Agasias of Ephesos, it is in the stylistic tradition of Lysippos and may be a copy of c. 100 bc of a work by his school. It was found in 1611 at Nettuno, near Rome, and by 1613 it formed part of the Borghese collection of antiquities. By 1650 it was on display in a ground-floor room of the Villa Borghese in Rome, but in 1807 it was sold to Napoleon Bonaparte along with a substantial part of the Borghese collection. In 1811 it was on display in the Salle d’Apollon at the Musée Napoléon in Paris, and by 1815 it had its own room, named in its honour. During the 17th century the statue was unanimously identified as a gladiator, originally holding a sword and/or a shield, and this interpretation is still broadly accepted. Later it was suggested that the figure might represent a boxer or discus thrower. Winckelmann believed that the work portrayed a specific hero or historical figure, and Carlo Fea proposed one of the two Ajaxes or Leonidas; Ennio Quirino Visconti suggested Telamon. The ...

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

Article

(fl c. 300 bc).

Greek sculptor. A pupil of Lysippos, he was best known for the bronze Colossus that stood by the harbour in the main town on Rhodes (it probably did not straddle the harbour, as was believed in the Middle Ages). The statue was paid for by the sale of siege machinery left behind by Demetrios Poliorcetes when he unsuccessfully besieged the town in 305–304 bc. Little is known about the Colossus, though it is briefly described by Pliny (Natural History XXXIV.xviii.41) and Philo (On the Seven Wonders of the World IV). It stood over 100 feet high and represented Helios, the sun god, with a radiate crown. Having taken more than 12 years to complete, the statue appears to have stood for less than a century; an earthquake overturned it in 227–226 bc, and the remains were plundered in the Middle Ages, carried away to Edessa in Turkey. The head of the statue may be reproduced on Rhodian Helios coins of the 4th and 3rd 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

Andrew F. Stewart

(fl earlier 2nd century bc).

Greek sculptor from Messene. The only ancient author to mention him is Pausanias, who was impressed by his statues for the Peloponnesian towns of Messene, Aigion, Megalopolis and Lykosoura. Yet since Pausanias gave no dates, and the numerous inscriptions mentioning the sculptor and his family are also undated, Damophon’s chronology must be inferred from the neo-classical style of his surviving works. This points to the period when the Achaian League (to which all the cities above belonged) was at the height of its prosperity and engaged in an extensive building programme.

Damophon specialized in marble cult statues, though he also produced acrolithic works, in which stone was used for heads, hands and feet, and wood for the rest. He was also chosen to restore the ivory on Pheidias’ Zeus at Olympia. His surviving works, all in marble, include the head of Apollo and some other fragments from Messene (Messene Mus.) and numerous pieces from his colossal cult group of ...

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

Mark D. Fullerton

(fl ?later 2nd century bc).

Greek sculptor. He was the son of Timarchides family and a member of a family of Athenian sculptors that included Polykles and Timokles. Dionysios signed (together with Timarchides, son of Polykles) a portrait of C. Ofellius Ferus on Delos (c. 100 bc; Delos, Archaeol. Mus.), its Classicizing style recalling works of the 4th century bc associated with Praxiteles. Dionysios’ signature is first in this inscription, and it is believed that the Timarchides with whom he collaborated was Timarchides the younger, probably his nephew, rather than Timarchides the elder, Dionysios’ father. Dionysios also worked at Rome with Polykles (possibly his brother; Pliny (Natural History XXXVI. iv.35) attributed to them the possible cult statue of Jupiter Stator in Metellus Macedonicus’ temple, built c. 146 bc in the Campus Martius. The same two sculptors were also responsible for one or more statues of Juno in the adjacent Temple of Juno Regina (ded. ...

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 ...