Symbolism In Ariadne

analytical Essay
2755 words
2755 words

More common than the theme of Ariadne’s abandonment, however, is what has been called the “strangely sociable” depiction of Ariadne at the moment of desertion, accompanied by one or more winged figures, often with one weeping and a second pointing to the receding ship, as Sheila McNally explains in Sleeping Ariadne. As Jàs Elsner assesses in Roman Eyes, “the privacy and desolation of the moment is staged as a group with the pointing figure making visually explicit Ariadne’s gaze at the ship while the lamenting Eros externalizes her state of mind and tears,” as seen in the first century CE fresco from Pompeii (IX.5.11). The fact that in many of the extant examples the weeping Eros covers his eyes only heightens the scheme’s emphasis on gazes and visual emotion. Clearly, here is a play of desire defeated and desire fulfilled. In each case the lovers are separated by water with the female gazing out at the male in action who sails away from her. As Elsner explains, “gaze (different characters’ gazing, the different potential objects upon which the gaze may be focalized, the self-consciousness of representing the gaze itself being gazed at) is a central weapon in the visual mythographers’ pictorial argument. In the case of Campanian wall paintings of Ariadne, this weapon was used to show women’s dependence on men and their vulnerability and maudlinism.
The Greek theme of women suffering at the hands of men continues with the myth of Iphigenia. In the most famous incident of sacrifice of a young person, a prophet tells Agamemnon that in order to cease the wrath of Artemis so that he may sail to Troy, he must appease her by sacrificing one of his daughters, Iphigenia. This story is told by the playwright Aeschylus in his drama...

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...ce. Her head is covered by a veil, adorned with flowers, with knotted strands hang down either side of her neck. As for her body, it differs from those of the mythological women in its fullness; it better resembles that of a mother. A large tunic fully covers her skin. The maturity and fruitfulness of the depicted Livia conveys a greater sense of importance and respect for the empress. However, as Glenys Davies critiques in “Portrait Statues as Models for Gender Roles in Roman Society,” the messages conveyed by these art mediums are subtle and seductive: “they suggest that a woman who conforms will be rewarded—not only by fine clothes and access to hairstylists but also by commemoration in a marble portrait. But by various means they also make clear that conforming means not behaving like a man, not aspiring to male roles, and knowing what a woman’s place is.”

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the "strangely sociable" depiction of ariadne at the moment of desertion, accompanied by one or more winged figures, heightens the scheme's emphasis on gazes and visual emotion.
  • Analyzes how elsner's method of following the gazes in a painting contributes to the viewer’s understanding of the story.
  • Analyzes how silberberg-peirce describes a contemporary wall painting of iphigenia that supports another take on the myth.
  • Analyzes how a fourth style fresco of perseus and andromeda from the house of dioscari in pompeii mirrors greek modes of depicting women of myth.
  • Analyzes how the three graces at the casa di t. dentatus panthera in pompeii (mid-1st-century ce) are depicted as aesthetically pleasing objects for the eye to behold.
  • Argues that there is a clear difference in the pattern of how actual women and mythological women are portrayed in roman frescoes.
  • Compares iphigenia on taurus with the three graces in that the former depicts women as they truly are, while the latter shows them how men would like to see women.
  • Analyzes how the villa of fannius synistor at boscoreale is home to many famous second style wall paintings. one of the frescoes, from room h, derives itself from the greek tradition of megalographia.
  • Explains that cleopatra was often equated with venus genetrix due to caesar's affinity for the goddess and her power and sexuality.
  • Argues that the representation of rulers as gods and goddesses was not common practice, though it certainly found its way into sculptures.
  • Analyzes how the greek theme of women suffering at the hands of men continues with the myth of iphigenia.
  • Analyzes how the painting depicts a hellenistic ruler and his wife in the villa of mysteries.
  • Concludes that the frescoes as sappho and the baker and his wife depict real women with real abilities and pretensions to literate status.

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