HUM 111 THE HELLENISTIC AGE II: ART AND ARCHITECTURE
Hellenistic Era: 323 BC (death of Alexander) to late 1
The dominant influence of the Hellenistic era is realism, empiricism, Aristotle
The cities that Alexander created grew during the Hellenistic era. These were all new
cities, not old cities that had Persian roots. Alexander would lay out brand new cities that
became the centers of the new trade and activity in the east. They were usually laying on
the important trade routes. This is where the concept of urbanization came. He settled
them into one place, it is easier to organize and tax the citizens this way as well.
There were Macedonian concepts headed east, but eastern concepts headed west too (like
divine kingship and mystery religions)
During the Hellenistic era, Rome is rising over in the west at the same time, but we will
talk separately first about the east, then about Italy, and bringing both up to the battle of
Actium. This keeps them from getting confused with one another.
During the Hellenistic building the emphasis changes from religious buildings to secular
buildings: museums, houses, motels, etc.
Personal monuments were also created. The concepts of realism, empiricism,
individualism spread everywhere at this time.
Monument to Lysicrates, Athens
The monument to Lysicrates is in Athens but is a Hellenistic work. It is a solid
monument, not a building. It is not a rectangular, Hellenic style building, it is new and
The emphasis during this time is on newness and novelty, we have moved away from the
idea that everything should get better and better and be perfect (Plato’s views). Instead,
Aristotle’s idea that everything should be real is more in place. Now the architects can
think about the here and now. They can break away from the form that they have had for
This is a monument celebrating the achievement of an individual. Lysicrates won a choral
competition (he owned the chorus, so he got a prize), and in order to brag about the
competition victory, he put up a monument of himself. This would never have been heard
of in the Hellenic times, 5
century. But in the Hellenistic times, the celebration of the
individual was allowed, and so one could put up the monument for themselves. The
columns on this building are no longer free standing, important, but are just simple half
columns, and are Corinthian capitals (not Doric/Ionic). The Greeks developed the
Corinthian, but the Hellenistic time used it. The Romans used flashy and showy things.
Psycho historians ask, why do we go from the Hellenic (focus on gods, building temples)
to Hellenistic (individual, great houses, decorations)? – most say because of the change in