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ARTH202: Art of Ancient Greece and Rome

  • Unit 3: Greek Art: Hellenistic Art, 323-31 B.C.  

    The Hellenistic period of Greece began after Alexander the Great's conquests. His conquests spread “Hellenism,” or Greek culture, to the Mediterranean basin and beyond.  A vast new geographical context acted upon and changed the Greek cultural tradition while the model of the city-state declined (and Athens’ prominence along with it). The period’s visual arts are characterized by, among other things, an ever-increasing naturalism and a focus on representing intense emotion through the human figure. Meanwhile, new trends in architecture and architectural planning reflected a new social order. By the middle of the second century B.C., Romans had conquered a large part of Greece, and the assimilation of Greek culture and art began in earnest.

    Unit 3 Time Advisory

    This unit will take approximately 18 hours to complete. 

    ☐ Subunit 3.1: 5 hours

    ☐ Subunit 3.1.1: 3 hours

    ☐ Subunit 3.1.2: 1 hour

    ☐ Subunit 3.1.3: 1 hour

    ☐ Subunit 3.2: 5 hours

    ☐ Subunit 3.2.1: 1 hour

    ☐ Subunit 3.2.2: 2 hours

    ☐ Subunit 3.2.3: 2 hours

    ☐ Subunit 3.3: 2 hours

    ☐ Subunit 3.4: 4.5 hours

    ☐ Subunit 3.4.1: 2.5 hours

    ☐ Subunit 3.4.2: 1 hour

    ☐ Subunit 3.4.3: 1 hour

    ☐ Subunit 3.5: 0.75 hour

    ☐ Subunit 3.6: 0.75 hour

    Unit3 Learning Outcomes

    Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

    • Trace the general timeline of the Hellenistic period of Ancient Greece.
    • Explain how important historical developments and social-historical contexts had an impact on art’s evolution during Greece’s Hellenistic period.
    • Link important historical and artistic developments of the Hellenistic period of ancient Greece to specific geographical contexts.
    • Identify the important stylistic and technical developments of the art of the Hellenistic period of Ancient Greece.
    • Recognize and discuss important Hellenistic artworks.
  • 3.1 The Hellenistic Period  

  • 3.1.1 The Hellenistic World  

  • 3.1.2 Culture and the Arts  

    • Reading: Utah State University: Mark Damen’s “Ancient Literature and Language: Hellenistic Literature”

      Link: Utah State University: Mark Damen’s “Ancient Literature and Language: Hellenistic Literature” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please go to the webpage above and read the passage titled “Hellenistic Literature.” This passage includes a discussion of Hellenistic visual arts. Scroll to the top of the webpage for a link to a PowerPoint presentation complete with images.

      Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives: you may share the work under the conditions that you correctly attribute it and that you do not alter or build upon it.

  • 3.1.3 Arts in the Hellenistic Period  

  • 3.2 Architecture and the City  

  • 3.2.1 Athens during the Hellenistic Era  

    • Reading: Archaeology of the City of Athens: Charalampos Bouras’ “The City of Athens during the Hellenistic Period”

      Link: Archaeology of the City of Athens: Charalampos Bouras’ “The City of Athens during the Hellenistic Period” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please read this article, taking notes on how the spread of Hellenism and a new social-historical context had an impact on the cradle of classical art that was Athens.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the terms of use and copyright of the webpage above.

  • 3.2.2 A Remote Hellenistic City: Ai Khanoum  

    • Reading: Wikimedia’s “Ai Khanoum”

      Link: Wikimedia’s “Ai Khanoum” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please view this map so as to situate Ai Khanoum in its geographical context.

      Terms of Use: This document is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License: you may copy, distribute, and modify it under the condition that you do so under the same license.

    • Web Media: Livius.org’s “Alexandria on Oxus”

      Link: Livius.org’s “Alexandria on Oxus” (HTML)

      Instructions: This webpage will serve as the basis for understanding Rachel Mairs’ article, which is assigned below. Please read it and view the accompanying images.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: Academia.edu: Oxford University: Rachel Mairs’ “The Temple with Indented Niches at Ai Khanoum: Ethnic and Civic Identity in Hellenistic Bactria”

      Link: Academia.edu: Oxford University: Rachel Mairs’ “The Temple with Indented Niches at Ai Khanoum: Ethnic and Civic Identity in Hellenistic Bactria” (Adobe Flash or PDF)

      Instructions: Please read page 1, the last paragraph of page 3, and pages 4 to 16. This article provides a specific example of the ways in which various cultural influences mingled and impacted the remote Hellenistic city of Ai Khanoum, one of Alexander the Great’s conquests. The author also explores the ways in which the city and its structures reflected ethnic and civic identities. Please take notes on the specifics of the site and try to identify the author’s main arguments. What can the city and its buildings tell us about the spread of Hellenism?

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.2.3 Domestic Architecture  

    • Reading: WiredSpace: Rex Martienssen’s “The Hellenistic House, with Special References to Examples at Delos”

      Link: WiredSpace: Rex Martienssen’s “The Hellenistic House, with Special References to Examples at Delos” (Microsoft Word)

      Instructions: Please go to the webpage above, scroll down to the section titled “Files in this Item,” and click on “View/Open.” Read Rex Martienssen’s article, which focuses on the layout of Hellenistic houses while emphasizing their classical structures. Try to assess the ways in which Hellenistic culture built on and broke with classical traditions in the field of architecture and planning.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the terms of use and copyright of the webpage above.

  • 3.3 Sculpture  

    • Reading: Oxford University’s Beazley Archive: “Sculpture: Hellenistic Sculpture”

      Link: Oxford University’s Beazley Archive: “Sculpture: Hellenistic Sculpture” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please read the webpage above for a brief introduction to Hellenistic sculpture. 

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.3.1 Portraits  

    • Reading: Oxford University: Beazley Archive: “Sculpture: Portraits”

      Link: Oxford University: Beazley Archive: “Sculpture: Portraits” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please read the webpage above.  Then, go to all three of the subsequent pages by clicking on the numbers situated on the bottom right side of the webpage. Though the passage treats the art of portraiture in a variety of different time periods, pages 3 and 4 treat of Hellenistic art specifically. Read all four pages to get a sense for the elements that distinguish Hellenistic period portraiture from that of other historical eras of ancient Greece. 

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.3.2 Single Figures and Deities  

    • Web Media: SmartHistory.org: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker’s “Dying Gaul”

      Link: SmartHistory.org: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker’s “Dying Gaul” (Adobe Flash)

      Also available on:
      YouTube

      Instructions: Please watch this video (approximately 3:30 minutes), which presents a Roman copy of a Hellenistic sculpture. Pay close attention to the video’s discussion of the colonial context of the original artwork, the subject matter, and the characteristically Hellenistic emphasis on emotion. 

      Terms of Use: This open educational resource is licensed under a Creative Common Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike: you may share and adapt the work under the conditions that you correctly attribute it, that you do not use it for commercial purposes, and, that in the case you adapt and distribute it, you do so under a similar license.

    • Reading: Oxford University: Beazley Archive: “Hellenistic Period: Sculpture: Deities”

      Link: Oxford University: Beazley Archive: “Hellenistic Period: Sculpture: Deities” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please read the webpage above and view the images to get a sense for general trends in the representation of deities during the Hellenistic period.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Web Media: SmartHistory.org: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker’s “Nike of Samothrace”

      Link: SmartHistory.org: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker’s “Nike of Samothrace” (Adobe Flash)

      Instructions: Please watch this short, 3-minute video, which discusses Hellenistic characteristics of sculpture through the example of the Nike of Samothrace.

      Terms of Use: This open educational resource is licensed under a Creative Common Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike: you may share and adapt the work under the conditions that you correctly attribute it, that you do not use it for commercial purposes, and, that in the case you adapt and distribute it, you do so under a similar license.

    • Web Media: SmartHistory.org: Brian Seymour and Monica Hahn’s “Hellenistic Art at the Metropolitan: Eros Sleeping and an Old Market Woman”

      Link: SmartHistory.org: Brian Seymour and Monica Hahn’s “Hellenistic Art at the Metropolitan: Eros Sleeping and an Old Market Woman” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please watch this short, 5-minute video that discusses both the figure if a deity and of an old woman. Take notes on the characteristics of Hellenistic sculpture as they are expressed in these examples. 

      Terms of Use: This open educational resource is licensed under a Creative Common Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike: you may share and adapt the work under the conditions that you correctly attribute it, that you do not use it for commercial purposes, and, that in the case you adapt and distribute it, you do so under a similar license.

  • 3.3.3 Groups: New Compositions and Treatment of Space  

    • Reading: Oxford University: Beazley Archive: “Hellenistic Period: Sculpture: Narrative Groups”

      Link: Oxford University: Beazley Archive: “Hellenistic Period: Sculpture: Narrative Groups” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please read the webpage above and view the images to learn about the new sense of space expressed in the period’s narrative sculpted groups.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.3.4 Sculpture in Provinces  

    • Reading: Oxford University: Beazley Archive: “Hellenistic Period: Sculpture: The Remoter Kingdoms”

      Link: Oxford University: Beazley Archive: “Hellenistic Period: Sculpture: The Remoter Kingdoms” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please read the webpage above and view the accompanying images to get a sense for how the style of Hellenistic sculpture varied due to differing geographical contexts.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.4 Painting  

  • 3.4.1 Pottery Painting  

    • Reading: The University of Colorado’s “Classics Exhibit: Hellenistic Pottery”

      Link: The University of Colorado’s “Classics Exhibit: Hellenistic Pottery” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please read the webpage above in its entirety and explore any of the links included within the text.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright of the webpage above.

  • 3.4.2 Painted Funerary Monuments  

    • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Mark B. Abbe’s “Painted Funerary Monuments from Hellenistic Alexandria”

      Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Mark B. Abbe’s “Painted Funerary Monuments from Hellenistic Alexandria” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please read this article on early Hellenistic paintings from Alexandria. Take careful notes on the pictorial devices used during this era. View the images that accompany the overview by clicking on the thumbnail images situated above the text and read the articles that accompany the slides. 

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.4.3 Mosaics  

    • Reading: Cardiff University: Ruth Westgate’s “Greek Mosaics of the Classical and Hellenistic Periods”

      Link: Cardiff University: Ruth Westgate’s “Greek Mosaics of the Classical and Hellenistic Periods” (HTML)

      Instructions: The above webpage is composed of abstracts of papers written by Ruth Westgate from Cardiff University. These can serve as an introduction to mosaics and their role within Hellenistic culture. Please read the webpage in its entirety.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the terms of use and copyright displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.5 Other Arts  

    • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Colette Hemingway and Séan Hemingway’s “Hellenistic Jewelry”

      Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Colette Hemingway and Séan Hemingway’s “Hellenistic Jewelry” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please read this article on Hellenistic jewelry in the context of Alexander’s conquests. View the images that accompany this overview by clicking on the thumbnail images situated above the text. Read the articles that accompany the slides. 

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.6 From Hellenistic to Roman: The Example of Cyprus  

    • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Department of Greek and Roman Art’s “Hellenistic and Roman Cyprus”

      Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Department of Greek and Roman Art’s “Hellenistic and Roman Cyprus” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please read this article on Cyprus’ material culture, which was a part of the Hellenistic empire before it fell under Roman control. Please view the images that accompany this overview by clicking on the thumbnail images situated above the text.  Read the articles that accompany the slides. 

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.