Ancient Greece : An Oral And Literary Style Of Telling Myths Essay example

Ancient Greece : An Oral And Literary Style Of Telling Myths Essay example

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Artists during Ancient Greece were presented with many various stories they could represent through sculpture and paintings. However, as many of these stories started out in an oral and literary format, painters and sculptors had to come up with designs for the various gods, goddesses and heroes to be represented in their artwork. The major problems artists encountered were making sure that the viewer knew who was who and what was being depicted, what myths and scenes from the myth would be chosen and how to represent the story in the artwork.
To depict any sort of scene in a painting or on some pottery, one of the key details is making sure the viewer knows who they are looking at. In the traditional oral and literary style of telling myths, they would simply say the subject’s name and be done with it. In many pieces, artists did the same and simply inscribed the god or goddess’ name like in Hector and Andromache; Helen and Paris (fig 6). However, in many cases, this could be displeasing to the eye, especially if it would have distracted from the action in the scene while alternatively, it was used to fill up excess space. Artists, over time, came up with more symbolic ways of depicting each character. Many of the Greek Pantheon were given attributes; ways to differentiate them from other male and female characters who may be in the same scene or have played a similar role in a story. For example, Athena is shown in many depictions featuring heroes, however, her helmet, spear, shield and aegis would differentiate her from any other female goddesses like Demeter or Hera.
During scenes of battle, often characters may be depicted as fighting someone strangely formed. This was present in later depictions of the Gigantomachy, as t...


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..., while a good technique to show nearly the whole story at once, could be considered confusing to a viewer as it is physically impossible for Polyphemus to drink the wine while holding the legs of the sailors, as Woodford notes.
Through use of these various techniques, ancient Greek artists were able to depict a variety of stories to an assortment of viewers. From the most basic, with inscriptions listed, to the more in-depth that required a deeper understanding of the myth, many of these classic stories were able to be given form. Attributes and knowledge of myths were the typically key requirements to properly identify any scene, as even with attributes, some myths could be similar and barring detail or further context, confusing to the viewer. While limitations within the art form, they also prompted a greater variety to the pieces produced depicting the same myth.

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