Persians in Greek Art

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  1. Image Upload
    • Left: RF amphora by Berlin Painter c480BC
    • Right: Nolan RF amphora c480BC

    • Left:
    • Athenian Vase - Greek art
    • Large bow - sign of a coward, long-distance weapon
    • Large curved sword
    • Cap
    • Beard - bushy, unkempt, more common Dionysian satyrs. Cowardly and uncouth

    Unrealistic! You can’t hold a sword and shoot arrows
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    • Croesus Amphora
    • 500-480BC
    • Left: Croesus on pyre
    • Right: Theseus, Antiope, Peirithoos

    Cf Hdt 1.86
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    • Persians wearing Skythian-style outfits
    • Both c480BC
    • L: Cup by Painter of Oxford Brygos:
    • Greek vs Persian with wicker shield
    • c.480 BC (Oxford)
    • R: Cup interior. Greek defeats Persian

    • Persian with large wicker shield
    • Greek with smaller round shield
    • Trousered Persian in both
    • Persian with spear on left
    • But v similar sword to Greek on right
    • Cap with flaps in both
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    • Calyx krater: Greek spears
    • Persian, Persian runs, c. 450 BC (Basel)
    • Greek is visually heroised - ‘tactical nudity’ - stripped to minimal hoplite attributes, defensive armour gone. Bare skin vs gaudy dress
    • Persian visually diminished - archer, inadequate defence = weakness? 
    • Bronze, large round shield, long spear
    • Enemy in retreat - cowardly? Yet he has no shield and fights an armed Greek
    • Long wide trousers, sleeves, patterns, cap

    • Persian runs
    • Terror
    • No control
    • Empty quiver - impotent
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    • Eurymedon Jug
    • c460BC
    • Left: Eurymedon eimi
    • Right: 'I stand bent over'
    • Eurymedon is dressed in a peasant's short cloak, and scrubby beard
    • Eurymedon = a river in SW Anatolia and the site of a famous Greek victory against the Persians (probably 466)
    • Important victory in terms of wealth and prestige

    • Literal interpretation? Greeks treated captives badly?
    • Metaphorical? Greeks victorious over Persians?
    • Iconographical? Greeks masculine, Persians effeminate?
    • Naval prestige? By 470s navy already of paramount importance

    Social context = interplay between classes in early Classical Athens

    • Earlier Oriental figures identified as Skythians - see Francois Vase boar hunt. Pointed cap! Shown as attendants/allies to Greeks
    • These disappear in Persian War period. Orientals become opponents.

    • Cf. Calyx Krater - Greek stabs Persian
    • Naked Greek - no hoplite accoutrements though. 
    • Non-ideal Greek features. His cloak is straight, his beard is wispy. Is this a coded portrayal? 
    • Ideally tidy beard, good hair, folded cloak, or a linen xitwn. Young man no beard, chitoniskos.
    • Lower classes - a short tradesman’s cloak cf Hephaistos. A flawed body is rare but would be lower class. 
    • Scanty beards = farmers, Thracians, amorous failures, labourers
    • Lower class = dubious morality in elitist thought
    • Diminished Persian - empty quiver, bow, no defensive weapons, cap, a straggly beard(?)

    • Neither comes off well! The Persian is worsted both by the rape imagery but also by the lower-class Greek (who himself is nothing to be proud of)
    • The all-powerful Greek is a low-life
    • Athens is dependent on non-heroic forms of warfare (her navy), but cannot shed traditional attitudes about moral worth and social standing
Card Set:
Persians in Greek Art
2014-03-02 16:39:13

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