Classics Lecture 2

Classics Lecture 2 - Classics 51A Lecture 2 The Discovery...

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Unformatted text preview: Classics 51A Lecture 2 The Discovery of Ancient Lands: Ruins & Romanticism Ruins & Romanticism • What brought ancient Greece out of obscurity & into the modern world? • For the Greeks of the historical era (i.e. after 700 BC) and even to those living in the 5th century BC, knowledge of the Minoan & Mycenaean worlds was limited indeed • Apart from the legendary Trojan War, knowledge in antiquity of Greece between 1600 & 1200 BC was very dim Thucydides writing in the 5th century BC has this to say: (the passage is in your course reader) • “It is evident that what is now called “Hellas” [the Greek word for Greece] was not permanently settled in former times, but that there were many migrations, and people were ready to leave their land whenever they met the force of superior numbers…. • There was no trade, and they could not communicate with each other either by land or over the sea without danger…. • Each group used its ground merely to produce a bare living; they had no surplus of riches, and they planted nothing, because they could not know when someone would invade and carry everything away, especially since they had no walls…. • They counted themselves masters of just enough to sustain them each day, wherever they were, and so made little difficulty moving on…. • Because of this they had no strength, either in the size of their cities or in any other resources.” • ALL THIS IS PATENTLY WRONG! We may well ask: what do we know of the period in North America 700 years before our own time? • Some 700 years after Thucydides, in the 2nd century AD, Greece – having been long conquered by Rome – had become something of a museum for upper class Romans • Pausanias (worked AD 143-176), that indefatigable traveler & geographer, wrote (in 10 books/chapters) the first “guide book” of the monuments & even ruins of Greece • He describes what he saw at Mycenae (a ruin in his time), including the celebrated Lions’ Gate • Pausanias writes: Mycenae, Gate of the Lions • “There are parts of the ring wall left, including the Gate with the Lions standing on it. They say this was the work of the Kyklopes” • People in Classical & Roman antiquity could not believe that Mycenae was built by human hands • Pausanias also described many other sites: Leukas, Olympia, Delphi, Athens, Delos Olympia Olympia (stadium) Delphi Delphi And Athens (Erechtheion), which he devoted much attention to Writings, such as those of Pausanias, • Remained the most important means of “discovering” Greece until the 19th century • Pausanias may not have been the first person to compose this kind of guidebook, but his is the only complete guidebook to have survived • And it was most often with Pausanias in hand that serious travelers of the 18th & 19th centuries explored the riches of Greece • The tyranny of the text? • We know very little about him, except that he was a Greek from Asia Minor & was probably from a wealthy family to have been able to travel from the Euphrates to Italy Greece to the Euphrates Many modern scholars have questioned Pausanias’ reliability • Indeed, he has been much maligned, yet where the information he does give can be checked, it is often correct • Rather than make judgments of his own on any given monument or statue, or to provide an historical narrative, Pausanias preferred to describe • In the great tradition of scholars since the 2nd century BC, he ranks the sculptor Pheidias – who oversaw the Parthenon sculpture – as the greatest artist of Classical Greece Pheidias, cult statue of Athena Whatever one thinks of the veracity & intelligence of Pausanias • His guide remains an invaluable & unique mine of information • Moreover, some 80 years after Pausanias, Greece was ravaged by Barbarians (Barbaroi) • In AD 267 Athens was ransacked by the Herulians & a gradual process of destruction – a result both of invasions & the increasing power of Christianity, which was against the depiction of idols – provoked a shift in the centers of creativity • During Late Antiquity, Athens became a cultural backwater • Greece had become a province of the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine Empire, and the focal point of Greek life moved from Athens to Constantinople (Istanbul) The Roman Empire A troubled period thus began for Greece • Invasions of the Slavic peoples from the 6th – 9th centuries AD (referred to as Second Dark Age) • The capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204, which placed Greece under the control of the Franks • This was the beginning of some six centuries during which time Greece was ruled by foreign masters (whom they tirelessly resisted) • Despite all this, ancient Greece was never entirely forgotten, even in the Middle Ages, but as the centuries passed, ancient Greece was less & less understood on account of both religious & cultural reasons • Christianity opposed Hellenic culture, which was synonymous with paganism • In the 6th century AD the Christian Emperor closed the famous philosophical schools of Athens that were founded 1000 years earlier by intellectuals like Plato & Aristotle & many of Greece’s most famous temples were transformed into churches (some later into mosques) The Parthenon (the Temple of Athena Parthenos – the Virgin) was consecrated to the cult of the Virgin Mary Theseion/Hephaisteion • Was consecrated to St. George • So, memory of Classical Greece plunged into dark obscurity • But throughout all this, the ancient Greek texts, or at least those deemed worthy or important enough to preserve, were never lost • Part of the reason for this was the monks of the Eastern & Western churches who copied the manuscripts Monasteries, monks & the transmission of Classical texts All this was to change, however, at the turn of 14th century • With two pioneers in the rediscovery of Greece who broke the silence that had lasted for centuries (more or less since Pausanias) • They were: • Christoforo Buondelmonti & • Cyriacus (Cyriac) of Ancona • Both were Italians, and both took part in the humanist movement that was flourishing in Italy • Both were interested in actual places & in accurately reproducing what they saw Cristoforo Buondelmonti • Florentine monk • First attempt of historical map making – or cartography – to be applied to Greece • Visited the islands of the Ionian & Aegean • Map of the island of Leukas (1420), the earliest known map of a Greek island Cyriacus de Pizzocolli, better known as Cyriacus of Ancona • In many ways the work of Cyriacus was broader & more diverse than Buondelmonti • It would not be an exaggeration to state that Cyriacus is the founder of Classical Archaeology • Born in Ancona in 1391, to a prosperous family of merchants specializing in trade over long distances • As a traveling merchant, he had the spirit of enterprise, a taste for risk & a thirst for riches • Like many Italians of the 15th century, Cyriacus traded in manuscripts & small antiquities • He sold medals, coins, & intaglios to collectors Such as this gemstone • Of rock crystal, with the goddess Athena • He also deciphered the inscription: • “Eutyches, the son of Diokourides of Aigai, made this” • He was part romantic &, to a large degree, a good old businessman • Cyriacus was entrusted with diplomatic missions & was thus in touch with many influential people • He also made the earliest extant illustration of the Parthenon Cyriacus of Ancona Visited Greece 1434, 1435, 1444, & 1447-8 At about the age of 30, Cyriacus • Had aroused his curiosity in the monuments of the past through his various voyages (he never attended university) • Around 1420 he began copying inscriptions in Italy & it was then that an idea occurred to him that was radically original for its time, I quote: • “The monuments & inscriptions are more faithful witnesses of classical antiquity than are the texts of ancient writers” • He decided to gather all the testimony of antiquity he could get his hands onto & present them in one book, Commentary upon Ancient Things • Unfortunately, only a few fragments of the book survive Cyriacus’ drawing of the bust of Aristotle found on Delos Cyriacus was able to penetrate into Hellenic regions • Without difficulty as he spoke modern Greek fluently & developed relationships with local authorities • In 1441 he wrote: • “I was pushed by an ardent desire to see the world, to seek out those monuments of antiquity scattered throughout the universe which have for so long been the principal object of my study, & to put down on paper those that are, day by day, falling into ruin because of the long assault of time & the carelessness of men, and which nevertheless deserve to be remembered” The loss of Cyriacus Commentary is irreparable • From the fragments that survive & from his letters, we can get a good idea of how he worked • The drawings of the material he saw on Delos (e.g. the bust of Aristotle) are sometimes extremely precise, although many of his readings of inscriptions are often less accurate • He was the first to give a fundamental role to material remains in reconstructing the past • But it took several centuries for this obvious fact to become generally accepted Delos • One of the islands that particularly fascinated Cyriacus • Incidentally, the earliest Synagogue in the world • At the end of his life Cyriacus was aware that he was witnessing the death throes of the ancient world, which he had linked with the advance of the Ottoman Turks • It was for this reason he rushed to gather as many remains as possible while Greece was still open to him Delos (Terrace of the Lions) Hermes (Roman Mercury) • A sincere Catholic, Cyriacus defended the right of Christians to read pagan authors • He compared Christ to Zeus & invoked the inspiration of the Greek god Hermes, a relief of whom he drew while on Delos Ottoman advance • The years following Cyriacus saw the phenomenal advance of the Ottomans over Greece • Typical naïve rendering of the Siege of Lemnos by the Ottomans in the 15th century • In 1453 Constantinople fell to the Turks (Istanbul) • In 1456 Athens & Attica were annexed • The Morea in 1460, Euboia in 1470, and Lemnos in 1478 • There followed a period of hostilities between the Ottomans & other foreign powers, such as the Venetians Titian’s portrait of Jacopo Strada • The 16th century saw the beginnings of the first great collections of rare & precious objects of Classical antiquity • Much of focus shifting to Italy • In 1568 Titian painted this portrait of Strada, referred to as a Roman citizen & antiquarian • He was interested in coins & statues (Venus) • Collectors like Strada were among the first to realize the profits that could be made from antiquities • Sold many to the royal courts of Bavaria & Austria • Antiquities as commodities Jacques Carrey (1674) • The era of great travels to Greece really began in the 17th century • From now on there was an ever-growing interest in collecting & publishing things Greek • Carrey’s drawings of the Parthenon frieze & metopes (many subsequently damaged) Monument of Lysikrates • In addition to travelers, the 17th century also saw the establishment of missions & missionaries in Greece • Jesuits, among others • The French Capuchin missionaries even acquired the choregic monument of Lysikrates, later built into the corner of the monastic library • Byron & Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage Jacob Spon (1647-1685) (Ephesos) Spon occupies a special place among archaeologists • He was the first to use the term “archaeology” in a modern context in the preface to his book on inscriptions • He believed that Classical philology (Greek texts) was no longer sufficient to ensure the advancement of knowledge • Like Cyriacus, he saw the need to go to the ancient remains • While in Turkey, Spon copied over 2,000 Greek & Latin inscriptions • He wrote: “It is….by means of objects that the ancients transmitted religion, history, politics, arts, & sciences” • Spon constantly compared & contrasted the evidence of texts with observable data Jacob Spon & George Wheler undertook the first great archaeological exploration of Athens & his maps & drawings remain invaluable. Book: Journey to Italy, Dalmatia, Greece & the Levant was translated into many languages, & was something of a textbook well into the 19th century Spon was one of the last Western Europeans to have seen, drawn & described the Parthenon while it was still intact as a mosque • On September 26, 1687, the Venetians led by Morosini laid siege to the Turkish forces occupying the Acropolis (German lieutenant) • Venetians has established their canons on the Hill of the Muses & began firing; the Parthenon (mosque) was used as a munitions store by the Turks • The Venetians scored a direct hit, which destroyed completely the roof; the wall of the cella & many columns collapsed, leaving the temple cut in two Another representation of the 1687 bombing Parthenon as church & mosque Acropolis from the Hill of the Muses (where Morosini placed his canons) Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1825) The Apogee of Greece • In the 18th century Greece was in fashion, attracting a large number of wealthy & learned travelers & artists, many who had studied Greek & Latin • This led to more & more publications containing travel accounts & information, many illustrated • Schinkel’s very “Bavarian” looking Greece (Heroic nude) • The Greek “craze” during the 18th century was in keeping with the spirit of the age Temple on the Ilissos • At the same time learned societies sprang up in Europe with the aim of promoting the study & publication of Greek antiquity • In 1714: “…some Gentlemen who had traveled in Italy, desirous of encouraging, at home, a taste for those objects which had contributed so much to their entertainment abroad” founded the Society of Dilettanti • They commissioned architects & painters to travel to Greece • Two of the best known were James Stuart & Nicholas Revett • This temple was quarried sometime later & today only its foundations are extant Similarly, a French architect was responsible for this rendering of Palati (Temple of Apollo at Naxos) A number of historical novels began to appear that were set in Greek antiquity • If Hollywood was around then, it would have been the era of Cecille B. DeMille extravaganzas • The Greek style was not merely a fad, it reflected as well a need for rebirth in European art, literature and mores as a reaction against the decline of the Baroque era • This led to a Neo-Classical revolution, and a Greek Renaissance, which was particularly evident in architecture throughout Western Europe Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768) • Perhaps the most influential scholar of the 18th century was this man • Pioneered the study of the history of Classical art • Wrongly cited as the “Father of Classical Archaeology” • Believed in a pure Greek civilization: “The eminent general characteristic of the Greek masterpieces is a noble simplicity & a silent grandeur” • He also once wrote: “No one has a finer head than me!” Laocoön (Vatican) 1506 • Winckelmann’s description of this statue is still widely quoted today • Found in Rome in 1506, it was highly influential in the emergence of the Baroque style at that time • Francesco da Sangallo & Michelangelo were among the first to have set eyes on it • Winckelmann based his aesthetic theory of the ideal of beauty on particular statues, such as this Apollo Belvedere • In his History of the Art of Antiquity, Winckelmann formulated the idea of the evolution of art “which is born, flourishes, & declines with the civilization in the midst of which it develops” • Attempted a classification based on style • Problem: Roman (not Greek) • Winckelmann a fascinating individual: great prestige; attached to the Pontifical Court • Murdered in 1768 Lord Hamilton & Emma at Pompeii • Also at the start of 18th cent that large-scale excavations were begun at Pompeii & Herculaneum, mainly in search of treasure (Pliny) • On the one hand the unsystematic excavations in search of Classical art (as here) (Susan Sontag) • On the other hand there was the careful study of remains that were never lost from view (e.g. Acropolis) Pompeii Venus de Milo • At the end of the 18th & early 19th centuries, the hunt for art treasures intensified by the needs of the great public museums of Europe • The Venus de Milo went to Paris in 1801 in the Musée Napoléon (later Louvre) Aigina Aphaia Pediments in Munich Glyptothek in 1830 Parthenon frieze (bought by British Museum in 1816, museum established in 1753) Laocoön • This was pillaging & looting on an unbelievable scale • In 1797, Napoleon plundered the Italian collections &, by victor’s right, moved them to Paris (including this) • If Napoleon had not returned from Elba & was not defeated at Waterloo, these statues may still be in Paris • Who owns the spoils of war? • In Athens, Greece in the early 1800s was still under Ottoman rule, which was on the wane • In opposition to Napoleon, the British became the protector of the Sultan of Turkey between 1799-1806 • Lord Thomas Elgin took the Acropolis marbles during this period (with permission from the Turks, who lost Egypt to the French: Napoleon) Between 1801 & 1805 Elgin seized the Parthenon pediments Took down 56 slabs from the frieze & 15 of the metopes He also removed part of the frieze of the Temple of Athena Nike He removed one of the Caryatids of the Erechtheion Elgin’s chaplain even suggested taking the whole building Eyes also on the Lions’ Gate at Mycenae (cf. one of Hamilton’s collection at the bottom of the English Channel) British Museum (the Parthenon marbles become the Elgin marbles, installed in 1819). Response by the Society of Dilettanti Parthenon frieze in situ • The purchase price (₤35,000) was a great disappointment to Elgin • But well before the marbles left Greece, Elgin’s plundering aroused a wave of outrage & condemnation, especially by foreigners in Athens who witnessed it • Among them Lord Byron (George Gordon) who described Elgin as • “the spoiler,” “the sacrilegious man,” who carried off “the last poor plunder from a bleeding land” • From then on, the right of the powerful to strip the weak of their cultural heritage came into question Lord Byron (George Gordon). The image of the romantic poet & Philhellene Lord Byron (died in Mesolongi, April 19, 1824) Sounion (Temple of Poseidon) Byron visited Sounion in early 19th century (graffiti) Sounion ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/20/2012 for the course CLASSIC 51a taught by Professor Papadapolous during the Spring '12 term at UCLA.

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