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Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl late 5th century bc).

Greek painter. He was the son of Eudemos and came originally from Samos, but worked in Athens; none of his work survives. He was said to be self-taught. Vitruvius (On Architecture VII.praef.11) claimed that Agatharchos was the first artist to paint a stage set on wooden panels. This was for a tragedy by Aeschylus (525/4–456 bc), although it may have been a revival presented later in the 5th century bc. Vitruvius added that he wrote a commentary discussing the theoretical basis of his painted scenery and that the philosophers Demokritos (late 5th century bc) and Anaxagoras (c. 500–428 bc) followed him in exploring theories of perspective. It is unlikely that Agatharchos organized his compositions around a single vanishing point. More probably, individual objects and buildings or groups of buildings were depicted receding towards separate vanishing points. If Agatharchos’ experiments in perspective were confined to stage scenery, they would have been limited to architectural backgrounds, before which the actor moved. Aristotle (...

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

Roman town in Italy on the southern slope of Mt Vesuvius immediately to the north of Pompeii, sometimes identified with the ancient Pagus Augustus Felix Suburbanus (one of the town's outer districts). Excavations carried out mainly in the later 19th century brought to light some thirty villae rusticae, part of an intense network of smallholdings situated on the lower slopes of the volcano and the adjacent Sarno plain, and plentiful evidence of intense agricultural activity, principally the production of wine and olive oil. Probably due to its fertility, the area was resettled after the eruption; baths dating to the 2nd or 3rd century ad were discovered in Via Casone Grotta. Most of the villas were reburied after the excavations and documentation tends to be sparse. Finds are now mostly in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, as well as a number of private collections; more recent discoveries are exhibited in a new local museum. The nearby Villa Regina is the only structure that can be visited; it has wine production facilities and large storage areas....

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

A distinctively Macedonian type of monumental chamber-tomb, consisting of a built chamber roofed with a barrel-vault, sometimes also preceded by an antechamber, and covered by an earth tumulus. The type emerged some time in the 4th century bc, and was widely used in Macedonia and its sphere of influence well into the Hellenistic period (323–27 bc).

Inhumations and cremations were practised contemporaneously in Macedonia, and are often found in the same tomb; it seems that the choice was a matter of personal preference or family tradition. Cremated remains were deposited inside a chest (larnax) made of stone, metal or wood, or a metal or clay hydria (water-jug). The tombs were furnished with couches, thrones, stools, chests, tables, benches etc reproducing actual interiors. The furniture presumably had a practical as well as symbolic role as it may have been used in funerary rituals. Movable offerings were also deposited to accompany the deceased in the afterlife, offering a glimpse into a world of skilful extravagance and sophisticated luxury....

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 ...