Worlds, New Space, continued
black figure lekythos
Attic black-figure lekythos depicts two runners racing in either
the stadion race (600 feet) or the diaulos race (1200 feet)
between two judges on the racecourse. The naked runners wear red fillets
on their heads. The vase was made in Athens in about 550 B.C. and likely
depicts an athletic event from the Panathenaic Games, a part of the largest
religious festival of the city, including both musical and athletic contests
held in honor of its patron goddess, Athena. The Panathenaic Festival
was one of the largest and most famous local festivals in the Greek world
in which athletic victors were given prize amphoras filled with olive
oil. The vase, about 0.29 meters high, was excavated from a chamber tomb
at Narce in Italy.
two runners on this vase have been used as the model for a new U.S. postage
stamp to be issued in conjunction with the 2004 Olympic Games.
silver tetradrahm, obverse with head of Olympian Zeus, reverse with
horse and rider.
II and the Olympic Games
silver tetradrahm, struck in Macedonia, depicts a walking horse and rider
on its reverse side. The naked rider holds a palm branch symbolizing victory.
The obverse side shows a bearded silhouette of Zeus, a portrait of the
colossal gold and ivory cult image of Zeus by Pheidias that was housed
in the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. The coin was manufactured by Philip
II, King of Macedonia, to commemorate his victory in the horse race at
the Olympic games in 356 B.C. The letters above and to the right side
of the horse spell out, of Philip, referring to the victory.
Roman writer Plutarch in his Life of Alexander tells us that Philip
received three messages on the same day in the summer of 356. The first
told of the victory of one of his generals, Parmenio, over the Illyrians;
the second mentioned the victory of his race horse at Olympia; and the
third told of the birth of his son Alexander. Clearly Philip was not at
Olympia during this contest, nor did he come in 352 or 348 B.C., when
his equestrian teams won two additional victories there. Later, in 338
B.C., Philip defeated the allied forces of the Greeks at Chaeronea to
assume leadership of the Greek states.
David Gilman Romano Gr81, senior research scientist, Mediterranean Section
statuette of Aphrodite.
malodorous salt-flats outside of the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi may
have once marked the location of legendary Lake Tritonis and its island
Temple of Aphrodite, today covered with a Moslem cemetery. This area is
the place of origin of the Museums exquisite statuette of a naked Aphrodite
daintily wringing the salt-water out of her hair while she rises from
the seaunder the circumstances not unlike a gorgeous butterfly emerging
from an ugly caterpillar. Carved from large-grain gray-white Parian marble,
she rises less than 13 inches above her cut-off thighs. While some have
argued that she might have been originally displayed standing thigh-deep
in a pool of water, the angles of the cuts make her appear to be toppling
backward. Perhaps she was damaged in antiquity, since laboratory analysis
reveals no signs of her having been reshaped in modern timesnor clad
in separately carved drapery below the waist for that matter. Her type
ultimately derives from a famous lost masterpiece by the painter Apelles
from the island of Cos. Goddess of physical desire and carnal sex, her
raw physicality has been muted here by the figures refined carving and
the slightly blurry, veiled expression achieved around the eyes by the
deliberate crushing of the marbles crystalline surface (unless she was
over-cleaned with dilute acid before she came to the museum, a possibility
one would just as soon overlook!). One of the smaller examples of the
stone carvers craft in the Museums collection, she is also one of our
very finest, exemplifying perfectly the Greeks renowned abilities to
create masterpieces in miniature.
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