New Kingdom Temple Architecture

The Cult Temple of Amun-Ra, Hypostyle Hall, was begun by Ramesses I (19th Dynasty, 1292-1290), continued by his son, Seti I (19th Dynasty, 1306-1290 BC), and completed by Ramesses II (19th Dynasty, 1303-1213), Karnak, Egypt
https://www.worldhistory.org/image/12797/great-hypostyle-hall-columns-karnak/

Late in the Second Intermediate Period (ca. 1650–1550 B.C.), the Theban rulers (Dynasty 17) began to drive the Hyksos kings (Dynasty 15) from the Delta. This was finally accomplished by Ahmose I, who reunited Egypt, ushering in the New Kingdom—the third great era of Egyptian culture. Ahmose’s successors in Dynasty 18 conducted military campaigns that extended Egypt’s influence in the Near East and established Egyptian control of Nubia to the fourth cataract. As a result, the New Kingdom pharaohs commanded unimaginable wealth, much of which they lavished on their gods, especially Amun-Re of Thebes, whose cult temple at Karnak was augmented by succeeding generations of rulers and filled with votive statues commissioned by kings and courtiers alike. New Kingdom Temple Architecture is the next step in exploring the Art of Pharaonic Egypt!

Thebes became the cultural and religious capital of New Kingdom Egypt. The Pharaohs lavished their gods with luxurious Cult Temples and built their Mortuary Temples on Thebe’s west bank, where they were also buried in huge rock-cut tombs decorated with finely executed paintings or painted reliefs illustrating their everyday life, and religious texts concerned with the afterlife. For the talented artists working diligently for the Pharaohs, a town was established in western Thebes, where archaeologists discovered a wealth of information about life in an ancient Egyptian community of artisans and craftsmen. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/nking/hd_nking.htm

Known especially for monumental architecture, Cult and Mortuary Temples dedicated to Gods and Pharaohs, the New Kingdom, a period of nearly 500 years of political stability and economic prosperity, produced an abundance of architectural masterpieces we must explore… starting with our 4-Steps to Success… and an Essential Question… What did ancient Egyptian Temples represent?

Egyptian Temples were holy centers where priests served the gods (Cult Temples) and the memory of the diseased Pharaoh (Mortuary Temple). Cult Temples were the earthly houses of one or more deities. Egyptians believed that the worshiped God or Goddess lived within the statues kept in the Temple’s Sanctuary. Temples were also the centers where cultural knowledge was stored and curated in libraries and scriptoria.

Each Temple represents the universe as the ancient Egyptians understood it. To exemplify their point of view, Temple walls and Columns were divided into three zones. The lower zone, the closest to the ground, is decorated with “physical” images of the Egyptian land like plant motifs. The middle zone represents the world of the living. It is dedicated to the Pharaoh and presents scenes like the king conducting rituals and worshipping the gods. Finally, the third zone, the ceiling of the Temple, is covered in stars and constellations representing the world of their deities.

It is important to remember that ancient Egyptian Temples shared structural similarities, but they were also singular and distinctive. The beauty of their Architecture is that they evolved over Egyptian history like living organisms. They started as small edifices built of organic materials like river reeds, into large stone monuments. In places like Karnak, Luxor, and even Abu Simbel, they dazzle the viewer with their grandeur and splendor.

During a class period dedicated to New Kingdom Temple Architecture, we will discuss the specific characteristics each Cult Temple shared… the Pylon, the open Court, the Hypostyle Hall, and the Sanctuary. Two very unique Cult Temples, that of Amun-Ra at Karnak, and the Ramesside Temple of Abu Simbel will be presented and further investigated.

Mortuary Temples, equally important to Cult Temples, were places of worship dedicated to the Pharaoh and his cult under whom they were constructed. During the New Kingdom period (1539–1075 BC) the kings were buried in rock-cut tombs, in the Valley of the Kings in the area of western Thebes. Their Mortuary Temples, constructed in the vicinity of the royal tombs, served as depositories for gifts and food to the dead monarch. They were economically independent through endowments of estates and lands to ensure religious services and offerings in perpetuity and fully staffed with priests, to perform the necessary rituals. The finest example of a New Kingdom Mortuary Temple was commissioned by Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty, r. 1507-1458 BC) at Deir el-Bahri.

For the PowerPoint ‘The Art of the 2nd Intermediate Period’, please… Check HERE!

For the PowerPoint ‘New Kingdom Temple Architecture’, please… Check HERE!

For the New Kingdom Timeline, please… Check HERE!

Enjoy a Travel Video by Rick Steve titled Luxor, Egypt: The Karnak Temple Complex… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqO4PE4uZhc  

Another Video about New Kingdom Architecture and the Karnak Cult Temple Complex by Manuel Bravo… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_6inr3KLx0

A Khan Academy Video on the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut and Large Kneeling Statue, New Kingdom, Egypt, very informative and educational… https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/ancient-mediterranean-ap/ancient-egypt-ap/v/mortuary-temple-of-hatshepsut-and-large-kneeling-statue-new-kingdom-egypt

The dynamic Middle Kingdom

Model of a Boat from the Tomb of Meketre  12th Dynasty, ca. 1981–1975 BC, Wood, paint, plaster, linen twine, linen fabric, Length: 132.5 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wooden_tomb_model#/media/File:Model_Paddling_Boat_MET_20.3.5_EGDP011930.jpg

The dynamic reunification of the Two Lands in ancient Egypt, in the period we call the Middle Kingdom, created new requirements for the Egyptian Pharaohs. No longer an aloof divine representative of the gods on earth, the king in the Middle Kingdom was expected to be more available to the people. This period also saw increased interactions with the outside world, the re-establishment of connections with Syria to the north and the establishment of forts reaching south deep into Nubia. Rich in literature (often of great knowledge and wit), this era also produced exquisite works of art. The cult of Osiris grew as did the number of Egyptians who could equip themselves for the afterlife, what we might recognize as a “middle class.” The dynamic Middle Kingdom represents an amazing period in Egyptian history worth exploring… https://smarthistory.org/middle-kingdom-and-second-intermediate-period-introduction/

During the Middle Kingdom, a period stretching from about 2040 to 1650 BC, Egyptian cultural principles were reimagined. We will start with my Steps to Success Lesson Plan Outline… our Goal is to “travel” through the Middle Kingdom timeline and discuss aspects of cultural and social developments, changes in religious perspectives, and new artistic viewpoints. Let’s not forget that the Middle Kingdom is considered by some scholars the ‘classical’ period of the ancient Egyptian era.

Credited with reuniting Egypt, Mentuhotep II of the 11th Dynasty, brought back peace and prosperity to Egypt and became the first Pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom. During the extended period of his reign, a unique burial complex in Deir el-Bahri was constructed, and a fresh style in Pharaonic representation took shape. By the end of the 12th Dynasty art production reached new heights in architecture, sculpture, painting, relief decoration, and jewelry.

Statues of Senusret or Sesostris or Senworset III, 12th Dynasty, c. 1878-1839 BC, Granodiorite, Height: 122 cents, British Museum, London, UK
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senusret_III  

If the art of the Old Kingdom appears majestic and confident, let’s not forget the solid stone pyramids, and the youthful, serene, self-assured statues of the pharaohs, the new Middle Kingdom era captivates us with its sense of maturity, and realism. The key development in art is the invention of the Portrait. The transition towards a humanizing tendency in portraiture is captivating. The Portrait of Senwosret III is a good example, as the ruler seems to have consciously chosen to represent his humanity rather than an idealized image of eternal kingship.

Fascinating is the Middle Kingdom’s penchant for symbolic jewelry. The cloisonné pectoral of Princess Sithathoryunet, for example, is astounding. Inlaid with 372 carefully cut pieces of semiprecious stones the pectoral presents us with high-quality craftsmanship and a new  Egyptian love for rendering detail… even on the back part of a jewelry piece, the part visible solely to the Egyptian who wore it!

Finally, the increase in the number of private monuments, like the rock-cut tombs in Beni Hasan, the lavish fresco decoration on the walls of these monuments, and the vast production of simple, yet enchanting, funerary gifts like the wood models of workshops, food-production facilities, and domestic structures, is compelling. It shows that a group of talented workmen served the provincial ‘aristocracy’ with fine quality work in every medium, suggesting that during the Middle Kingdom afterlife was ‘democratized’ to allow nonroyal individuals access to a different type of afterlife, and a wider range of ‘available’ symbols to use.

For the PowerPoint ‘The Art of the Middle Kingdom’, please… Check HERE!

For the Middle Kingdom Timeline, please… please Check HERE!

Learn about Pharaoh Mentuhotep II and his achievements through a DW World History Videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNArI5Y8MOg

Watch a Video about the small MET Model of an Offering Lady  Bearer from the Tomb of Meketrehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4k9JklNrTk

The Art of Ancient Egypt: A Resource for Educators is very informative and easy to download… https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/The_Art_of_Ancient_Egypt_A_Resource_for_Educators

The Art of the Old Kingdom Period

Statue of Ka Aper from Saqqara (detail), c.2450-2350 BC, 5th Dynasty, Wood, Eyes: Eyes: Rock crystal, calcite, copper, black stone, Height: 112 cm, The Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt https://www.reddit.com/r/OutoftheTombs/comments/vi7q9q/the_4500_years_old_wooden_statue_of_kaaper_the/

Ancient Egyptian art must be viewed from the standpoint of the ancient Egyptians to understand it. The somewhat static, usually formal, strangely abstract, and often blocky nature of much Egyptian imagery has, at times, led to unfavorable comparisons with later, and much more ‘naturalistic,’ Greek or Renaissance art. However, the art of the Egyptians served a vastly different purpose than that of these later cultures. The Art of the Old Kingdom Period is rich in masterpieces… awaiting us to explore them! https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/egypt-art/beginners-guide-egypt/a/egyptian-art?modal=1

Let’s start with my Steps to Success Lesson Plan Outline… Today, our Goal is to “travel” through the Old Kingdom timeline and identify important artworks that reflect aesthetic values, fascinating funerary traditions, or daily life.

Let’s focus on Old Kingdom three-dimensional, and two-dimensional Sculpture

Statue of Ka Aper from Saqqara, c.2450-2350 BC, 5th Dynasty, Wood, Eyes: Eyes: Rock crystal, calcite, copper, black stone, Height: 112 cm, The Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt https://www.reddit.com/r/OutoftheTombs/comments/vi7q9q/the_4500_years_old_wooden_statue_of_kaaper_the/

Sculpture played an important part in the lives of ancient Egyptians. They used sculpture to appease their gods, honor their kings and queens, and satisfy the needs of the afterlife. Old Kingdom three-dimensional art sets the tone. Always facing forward, towards eternity, Egyptian statues in the round, appear powerful, motionless, firm, serene, and self-possessed. The represented Egyptians look formal and idealized. They either sit regally, as if expecting to be served, or stand upright, one foot forward, firmly placed on the ground, as if they are about to walk. The form is closed, the arms are held close to the sides, and stone fills spaces between limbs for extra security and support.

Old Kingdom two-dimensional art was equally important, particularly ‘relief’ sculpture. Two-dimensional art was for the Egyptians a way to present, but not replicate, aspects of the ‘real world.’ What they did is interesting… each object or element in a scene was rendered from its most recognizable angle and these were then grouped together to create the whole.  This is why images of people show their face, waist, and limbs in profile, but eyes and shoulders frontally. The finished scenes are complex composite images that provide complete information about the various represented elements as if designed from different viewpoints. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/egypt-art/beginners-guide-egypt/a/egyptian-art?modal=1

Ancient Egyptians used two kinds of ‘relief’ sculpture. Very popular is the so-called ‘bas-relief’ where the design stands out from the surrounding surface and the background of the composition is cut away and smooth. Equally popular is the ‘sunk relief’ where the outlines of designed forms are carved within a flat surface beyond which the forms do not project.

The Old Kingdom was an incredibly dynamic period of Egyptian history. The Old Kingdom was equally dynamic in Art. It astonishes us with the serene beauty exhibited in its statues, the displayed Pharaonic, or not, power and confidence, and the amazing dexterity of craftsmanship. Simply put…Amazing!

Follow The Art of the Old Kingdom Period PowerPoint and examine more than forty-five Old Kingdom works of art…  statues, jewelry, furniture, frescoes, and relief carvings. The presented Old Kingdom ‘highlights’ range in date from about 2600 BC to 2400 BC. Please… Check HERE!

For an Old Kingdom Timeline, please… Check HERE!

Learn about the Pyramids at Giza, Egypt’s Ancient Wonders  through a Rick Steves Videohttps://classroom.ricksteves.com/videos/pyramids-at-giza-egypt-s-ancient-wonders

Watch a Video about the Mastaba of Mererukahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wQJ9AH2so0

Watch a National Geographic Video (6:13min) on how Ancient Egypt contributed to society with its many cultural developments, particularly in language and mathematics… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hO1tzmi1V5g&t=303s

The Bastille in the first days of its Demolition

Hubert Robert,  French Artist, 1733-808
The Bastille in the first days of its Demolition, 1789, oil on canvas, 96×135 cm, Musée Carnavalet, Paris, France https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubert_Robert#/media/File:The_Bastille_in_the_first_days_of_its_demolition,_by_Hubert_Robert_(cropped).jpg

More than any other event of the eighteenth century writes Prof. Mircea Platon, the French Revolution, which began in 1789, changed the face of modern politics across Europe and the world. And it all began one July day when the people of Paris captured a fourteenth-century gothic prison known as the Bastille. The 14th of July is the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille, a major event of the French Revolution, and the most important French Fête Nationale! Hubert Robert’s,  painting of The Bastille in the first days of its Demolition shows us how important and hated Bastille was by the French Revolutionaries. https://origins.osu.edu/milestones/july-2014-storming-bastille?language_content_entity=en

In the summer of 1789, Paris was at a boil. In May, the Estates-General, France’s Parliament, met for the first time in more than one hundred years, but it was a failure. Members of the Third Estate broke ranks and declared themselves to be the National Assembly of the country. On the 20th of June 1789, they gathered in a tennis court near the royal palace and solemnly swore not to separate before having established a Constitution. There was more… heavy taxation, food shortage, army mobilization around Paris, and the dismissal of the popular minister Jacques Necker on the 11th of July. The political situation in Paris was explosive! https://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/collections/serment-du-jeu-de-paume-le-20-juin-1789 and https://origins.osu.edu/milestones/july-2014-storming-bastille?language_content_entity=en

Early on the 14th of July, the angry Parisian crowd besieged the Hôtel des Invalides where they looted approximately 3,000 firearms and five canons. The weapons, however, required gunpowder, which was stored in the Bastille. After arriving at the prison and negotiating with its governor, marchers burst into an outer courtyard and a pitch battle erupted. By the time it was over, the people of Paris had freed the prisoners held in the Bastille and taken Governor de Launay captive. All of this happened on July 14, which has been known in France and all over the world as “Bastille Day” ever since. Hearing that the Bastille had fallen, Louis XVI asked the duke de La Rochefoucauld: “So, is there a rebellion?” To which the duke retorted: “No, Sire, a revolution!” https://origins.osu.edu/milestones/july-2014-storming-bastille?language_content_entity=en

On July 15, 1789, the day after Bastille was captured by the angry Parisian crowd, its demolition was decided and entrusted to the contractor Pierre-François Palloy. It was an important decision the citizens of Paris wanted to remember! As workmen tore down the spires on the roof, ordinary people ripped stones off the base. These stones soon became collectors’ items, souvenirs of the people’s role in the outbreak of the Revolution. https://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/en/collections/bastille-early-days-its-demolition and https://revolution.chnm.org/d/17

One of the many artists who painted Bastille’s Demolition was Hubert Robert. Known for his capricci paintings, real or fictional compositions of contemporary buildings, and/or archaeological ruins, the artist was famous, popular, and prolific. His painting of Bastille’s Demolition presents a historic event. The medieval fortification is depicted as monumental in size, strong, and commanding. The dramatic use of chiaroscuro acquires a symbolic and meditative dimension. According to the Musée Carnavalet experts, the Bastille state prison symbolized absolutism and the monarchy. Hubert Robert’s painting of  The Bastille in the first days of its Demolition encourages us to remember the stormy, and bumpy road toward representative democracy, and the noble ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity. https://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/en/collections/bastille-early-days-its-demolition

Joyeux Quatorze Juillet à tous!

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

John Singleton Copley’s Portrait of Paul Revere

John Singleton Copley, 1738 – 1815
Portrait of Paul Revere,
1768, oil on canvas, 89.22 x 72.39 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA, USA https://collections.mfa.org/objects/32401  

Listen, my children, and you shall hear /  Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, / On the eighteenth of April in Seventy-Five; / Hardly a man is now alive / Who remembers that famous day and year. / He said to his friend, –“If the British march / By land or sea from the town to-night, / Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch / Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light— / One if by land and two if by sea; / And I on the opposite shore will be, / Ready to ride and spread the alarm / Through every Middlesex village and farm, / For the country-folk to be up and to arm…     /     So through the night rode Paul Revere; / And so through the night went his cry of alarm / To every Middlesex village and farm,— / A cry of defiance, and not of fear, / A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, / And a word that shall echo forevermore! / For, borne on the night-wind of the Past, / Through all our history, to the last, / In the hour of darkness and peril and need, / The people will waken and listen to hear / The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, / And the midnight message of Paul Revere. Thus, begins and ends Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.” On the 4th of July 2022, I want to remember and honour the man, the brave Massachusetts Minuteman, and the talented silversmith… by looking at John Singleton Copley’s Portrait of Paul Revere! https://poets.org/poem/paul-reveres-ride

By 1867 Paul Revere was a member of the Massachusetts Minutemen, a group of patriots ready to act against the British army at a moment’s notice, had joined the Sons of Liberty group and was an active political figure. He was also famous for his considerable talents as a silversmith. Today his fame springs from Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.”, a work that was first published in the January 1861 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, his remarkable portrait of 1768 by John Singleton Copley, and a select group of silverware like the “Sons of Liberty Bowl,” commissioned by 15 members of the Sons of Liberty in 1768, and made by the artist.

John Singleton Copley, 1738 – 1815
Portrait of Paul Revere (details),
1768, oil on canvas, 89.22 x 72.39 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA, USA https://smarthistory.org/john-singleton-copley-paul-revere/

It is interesting how John Singleton Coplay portrayed Paul Revere in his traditional job as a silversmith, and not as the important revolutionary figure he was. He stands behind his highly polished table, holding a silver tea-pot, tools of his trade in front of him, modestly dressed… showing an industrious and humble character. It is no surprise that Revere was portrayed this way, for the revolutionary Americans, especially those of the north, were very proud of their industrial nature. https://gschmittleinushistory.weebly.com/mfa-project.html

Copley’s portrait of Paul Revere is, according to Dr. Bryant Zygmont, striking in many ways. The way he is dressed is one of them… Revere, shown by Copley in half-length, wigless, holding his chin with his right hand and regarding the viewer as if he has just looked up, is not portrayed wearing his “Sunday’s Best” clothing, as was the custom of the time. Revere wears, for example, no Jacket or Coat, as every Colonial American man would have worn if they could afford to do so. Instead, he wears simple working attire, a decision that underscores his artisan, middle-class status. Details not to be missed are… the open-collared shirt, made from plain white linen, the lack of cravat, a kind of formal neckwear, the open undershirt peeking from underneath his linen shirt, and a wool (or perhaps a dull silk) waistcoat, unbuttoned as well, yet featuring two gold buttons. https://smarthistory.org/john-singleton-copley-paul-revere/

There are more details to notice. Revere’s, for example, open white shirt and the blue-green waistcoat is worn without a jacket are associated with work clothes. Yet, the cleanliness of his attire, the golden buttons of his vest, the nearly completed silver tea-pot in his left hand, and the polished, pristine table in front of him, do not reflect the garments Revere actually wore to ply his trade, nor the craftsman’s workbench. Is John Singleton Copley’s Portrait of Paul Revere an idealized image of the American artisan at work? One can only wonder! https://collections.mfa.org/objects/32401

Happy 4th of July

Information for my short presentation was sourced in https://smarthistory.org/john-singleton-copley-paul-revere/ and https://collections.mfa.org/objects/32401

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

For a Student Activity on Copley’s Portrait of Paul Revere, Check the Teachers Resource Book of Picturing America by the National Endowment for the Humanities, pp. 10-11 https://web-archive-2017.ait.org.tw/zhtw/PUBS/PicturingAm/PA_TeachersResource_Book_en.pdf

Photo of the 2019 Exhibition Becoming a Painter in 18th-Century Boston: Copley and Others. Copley’s Portrait of Paul Revere and the “Sons of Liberty Bowl,” created by Paul Revere Jr. and commissioned by 15 members of the Sons of Liberty in 1768.
https://www.mfa.org/programs/gallery-activities-and-tours/becoming-a-painter-in-18th-century-boston-copley-and-others

The Sarcophagus of the Muses in the Louvre

Sarcophagus of the Muses, c. 150-160 AD, Pentelic Marble, 0.92×2.06 m, the Louvre Museum, Paris, France
https://twitter.com/MuseeLouvre/status/1254455247449317379/photo/1

[36] Come thou, let us begin with the Muses who gladden the great spirit of their father Zeus in Olympus with their songs, telling of things that are and that shall be and that were aforetime with consenting voice. Unwearying flows the sweet sound from their lips, and the house of their father Zeus the loud-thunderer is glad at the lily-like voice of the goddesses as it spread abroad, and the peaks of snowy Olympus resound, and the homes of the immortals. And they uttering their immortal voice, celebrate in song first of all the reverend race of the gods from the beginning, those whom Earth and wide Heaven begot, and the gods sprung of these, givers of good things. Then, next, the goddesses sing of Zeus, the father of gods and men, as they begin and end their strain, how much he is the most excellent among the gods and supreme in power. And again, they chant the race of men and strong giants, and gladden the heart of Zeus within Olympus, — the Olympian Muses, daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder… Writes Hesiod in his Theogony, describing the Muses… the lovely goddesses who dance and sing and inspire poets like Homer, Virgil, Dante, John Milton, and William Blake… Can The Sarcophagus of the Muses in the Louvre help us learn more about them? https://www.theoi.com/Text/HesiodTheogony.html

It does, indeed! According to the Louvre experts… Created around the mid-second century BC, this sarcophagus was probably made for a cultivated Roman anxious to demonstrate his attachment to Greek culture, with models drawn from Greek art. The composition of the frieze, the neutral background and the retrained attitude of the Muses all evoke the classical art of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. This impression is sustained by the very discreet employment of the drill and the rounded forms of the carefully polished surfaces. The elongated figures of the young women and their almost statuesque appearance, suggested by the depth of the relief, also recall Hellenistic art. Furthermore, each Muse is clearly identified by her attributes and demeanour… https://collections.louvre.fr/en/ark:/53355/cl010278285

Sarcophagus of the Muses, c. 150-160 AD, Pentelic Marble, 0.92×2.06 m, the Louvre Museum, Paris, France
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Muses_sarcophagus_Louvre_MR880.jpg

Let’s Identify them, starting from left to right…

Kalliope… According to Hesiod, Kalliope was the oldest of the nine Muses, the wisest, and the most assertive. As for the Roman poet Ovid, she was the Chief of all Muses! Orpheus was her son and poets since antiquity called upon her for inspiration! Kalliope is the Muse of Epic Poetry, Music, Song, Dance, and Eloquence. Her attribute is the Wax Tablet or the Scroll. Her name means beautiful-voiced.

Thalia… like all nine Muses, was the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne (Goddess of Memory) and the mother of the Corybantes, the warrior dancers who worshipped goddess Cybele with drumming and dancing. Thalia is the Muse of Comedy and Bucolic Poetry. Among her attributes are the Comic mask, an ivy wreath, and the shepherd’s staff. She is the joyous, flourishing Muse.

Terpsichore… whose name means Delight in Dancing, is fittingly considered the Muse of Dance. Interestingly she is usually, not in the case of the Louvre Sarcophagus, depicted sitting down, holding a lyre, accompanying the dancers’ choirs with her music. Terpsichore was the mother of the dangerous Sirens, who lured sailors with their music and singing voices to shipwreck and death! Her attribute is the lyre.


Euterpe… the Giver of Delight, was, according to ancient Greek poets, the Goddess of Lyric Poetry. Along with her sisters, she entertained the Gods and Goddesses at Mount Olympus, but she also loved to wander around Mount Helicon and Mount Parnassus. Euterpe is credited as the inventor of the Aulos, an ancient Greek wind instrument, often translated as Flute or Double-Flute. The Aulos is her attribute.

  Polyhymnia… Muse of the sacred Poetry, is the most serious looking of all Muses. Often depicted pensive, and meditative, like in the case of the Louvre Sarcophagus, Polyhymnia, whose name means Praise, is often covered in a veil which is her attribute as well. Diodorus Siculus wrote that Polyhymnia, because by her great (polle) praises (humnesis) she brings distinction to writers whose works have won for them immortal fame…

Clio… whose name derives from the Greek root κλέω/κλείω, meaning to make famous or to celebrate. is the Muse of History. She is often presented holding an open scroll or seated beside a chest of books, which are her attributes as well.

Erato… is the Muse of erotic poetry, and mimic imitation. Her name, etymologically, shares the same root as Eros, the god of love! Erato is usually depicted holding her attribute, the Lyre or a Kithara, and she is adorned with a wreath of myrtle and roses!

Sarcophagus of the Muses (Urania and Melpomene), c. 150-160 AD, Pentelic Marble, 0.92×2.06 m, the Louvre Museum, Paris, France
https://mobile.twitter.com/archaeologyart/status/1448317781582172165/photo/1

Urania… the heavenly Muse of Astronomy, is often depicted wearing a cloak covered in stars, looking upwards toward the sky. In the case of the Louvre Sarcophagus, Urania is portrayed as pensive, looking downwards, pointing to the celestial Globe with a staff. In Orphic Hymn 76 to the Muses Urania is beautifully described as heavenly bright.

Melpomene… is the Melodious Muse of Tragic Poetry, the Muse who celebrates with dance and song. Melpomene is often depicted with her attributes… carrying a sword or a dagger, holding the tragic mask, and wearing cothurnus boots which were worn by tragic actors.

For a PowerPoint on The Sarcophagus of the Muses in the Louvre, please… Click HERE!

Interesting information on the 9 Muses can be found… https://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Mousai.html and https://www.thoughtco.com/the-greek-muses-119788 and https://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/The_Muses/the_muses.html and https://pantheon.org/articles/m/muse.html  

The Death of Socrates by Jacques Louis David

Jacques-Louis David, French Artist, 1748-1825
The Death of Socrates, 1786, Pen and black ink, over black chalk, touches of brown ink, squared in black chalk, 27.9 × 41.6 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/679783?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&ft=Jacques+Louis+David&offset=20&rpp=20&pos=40

Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman (February 17 – May 15, 2022 – the MET, NY) is the first exhibition devoted to works on paper by the celebrated French artist who navigated vast artistic and political divides throughout his life – from his birth in Paris in 1748 to his death in exile in Brussels in 1825. His iconic works captured the aspirations and suffering of a nation, while addressing timeless themes that continue to resonate today. Among the works exhibited at the MET, in New York City, The Death of Socrates by Jacques Louis David, a most delicate and fragile drawing of 1786, is a priceless treasure in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. Every time I see the drawing or the oil painting of the same theme, I remember my senior High School year… reading The Apology of Socrates by Plato, on the quest for Wisdom, on piety and the corruption of youth… and the acknowledgment that philosophy begins with an admission of ignorance. https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/jacques-louis-david-radical-draftsman and http://www2.hawaii.edu/~freeman/courses/phil100/04.%20Apology.pdf

In 1786, on the verge of the French Revolution, Jean Charles Philibert Trudaine de Montigny, French administrator, scholar, and scientist, commissioned David to paint The Death of Socrates, a theme inspired by a pivotal moment in ancient Greek history, when the ideals of Athenian Democracy were questioned and challenged. David was fascinated by Antiquity, Greek or Roman. The recipient of the coveted Prix de Rome, the artist first traveled to Italy in October 1775. By 1786, he was familiar with the dynamics of Classical Art, and although he declared, the Antique will not seduce me, it lacks animation, it does not move, he kept twelve sketchbooks with drawings of antique sculptures that he and his studio used as model books for the rest of his life. He was also acquainted with the German artist Raphael Mengs, who advocated the rigorous study of classical art. He was familiar with the writings of the German scholar, and many considered to be the founder of modern Art History, Johann Joachim Winckelmann, and in 1779, had visited the ruins of the newly discovered city of Pompeii. David, a great admirer of the High Renaissance, Raphael in particular, and Classical Culture was ready to render a theme of ancient Greek origin, The Death of Socrates, and do it justice. https://www.biography.com/artist/jacques-louis-david

Jacques-Louis David, French Artist, 1748-1825
The Death of Socrates, ca. 1782, Pen and black ink, with brush and gray wash over black chalk, with light squaring in black chalk 24.4 × 37.8 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/426600

Two drawings on paper, one in the Metropolitan Museum and the other in a Private Collection, testify to the fact that David was intrigued by the circumstances of Socrates’s Death, as early as 1782. Both these drawings were a starting point for the final version of the theme, an impressive oil painting,  dated 1787, in the MET Collection as well. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436105

Jacques-Louis David, French Artist, 1748-1825
The Death of Socrates (Detail), 1786, Pen and black ink, over black chalk, touches of brown ink, squared in black chalk, 27.9 × 41.6 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/metcollects/the-death-of-socrates-video

Thanks to the MET Exhibition Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman, we can closely examine David’s 1786 preparatory Drawing of the theme of Socrates’s Death. Perrin Stein, an expert on the subject par excellence, emphasizes how David’s drawing in the MET,  is a working drawing, that sheds light on the artist’s main concerns. For example, the perspective lines in the lower left recede toward a vanishing point just above the head of Plato, the somber figure seated at the foot of the bed. In this subtle way, Perrin Stein explains, David calls attention to the special role of Plato, who was not present in Socrates’ prison cell, but who described the scene in Phaedo, one of his Dialogues. Another interesting feature is Socrates’s gesture toward the heavens which suggests that Socrates’s final moments were spent describing to his disciples his notions on the immortality of the soul. It is also interesting to note the ancient lyre, lightly sketched, just behind Socrates’s right leg. The musical instrument in David’s drawing figures—metaphorically—in Plato’s text as a proposed analogy for the relationship of the human soul (music) to the body (instrument). Finally, it is important to notice the many visible pentimenti, or changes, in the disciple’s hand holding the cup, in Socrates’s hand pointing up, and in both of Socrates’s legs, all indications of the artist’s exacting focus on the nexus of forms and gestures that would become the resonant and haunting focal point of the final oil painting.

Jacques-Louis David, French Artist, 1748-1825
The Death of Socrates, 1787, oil on canvas, 129.5 x 196.2 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436105

For a  PowerPoint on Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Socrates, please… Click HERE!

Jacques-Louis David, French Artist, 1748-1825
The Death of Socrates, after 1787, Oil on canvas, 133 x 196 cm, Princeton University Art Museum, NJ, USA
https://puamsab.princeton.edu/2019/11/death-of-socrates-anika-yardi-21/

An interesting MET Video titled: “What is the path to a masterpiece?” by Dr. Perrin Stein, who presents and analyzes the dynamics of  Jacques Louis David’s The Death of Socrates drawing… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgWouRo_1hw

The Legacy of Jacques Louis David (1748–1825) is a short MET presentation worth reading… https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/jldv/hd_jldv.htm

The Exhibitions Catalogue… Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman by Perrin Stein with more contributions by Daniella Berman, Philippe Bordes, Mehdi Korchane, Louis-Antoine Prat, Benjamin Peronnet, and Juliette Trey, is published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press. https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9781588397461/jacques-louis-david

Small Arch of Galerius

Small Arch of Galerius, early 4th century AD, carved from a single block of marble, Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki

“The Galerian Complex, the most important monumental group in Thessaloniki, was built at the turning-point of two worlds, the Roman and Byzantine. Its erection began in the late 3rd century-early 4th century AD when the Caesar Galerius Valerianus Maximianus (293-311 AD) chose Thessaloniki as the seat of the eastern part of the Roman Empire.”  The Small Arch of Galerius found in the Octagon area of the Complex, valued and cherished, is exhibited today in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. http://galeriuspalace.culture.gr/en/

One of the most important buildings within the Galerian Complex, the Octagon is a significant and luxurious structure worth exploring. It was the first important building that visitors arriving at the Palace by sea would enter and be dazzled. Facing the glorious Thermaic Golf of Thessaloniki, the Octagon is massive and opulent. All Palace buildings were meant to impress the visitor and set the tone… the Octagon area did an excellent job!

Excavation of this amazing structure started in 1950 and continued up until 1981, bringing to light all that survives today.  A splendid conservation and restoration program continued and in 2008, the archaeological site of the Palace of Galerius in Thessaloniki was awarded a EUROPA NOSTRA medal by the European Union. Today, the Galerian Complex, right in the heart of the city, is one of the most popular archaeological sites in Thessaloniki.

The Galerian Complex and the Octagon Area

… Agathoniki was on an official visit to the Court of Emperor Galerius in Thessaloniki… powerful and rich, she was treated with respect for her age and the loyal services extended to the Emperor…  She was modestly dressed but her gifts to the Emperor were valuable and exotic, coming all the way from Seres, the mythical lands of the East. She was guided to enter the Palace Complex through the grand, South Peristyle Court, its Porticos adorned with magnificent floor mosaics and a beautiful garden in the center. It was her first visit to Thessaloniki and she enjoyed every single thing she saw… she was, however, on a mission, so she briskly walked through a triple arch, a Tribelon with two columns, to enter an impressive Vestibule with two semi-circular niches on its narrow ends. She stopped for a minute to compose herself, reflect on her mission, and confidently entered the grandest room of the Palace… the domed Octagon! The room was magnificent! Its walls were covered with multicoloured marble revetments and square panels intricately worked in the opus sectile technique. The floor, featuring marble geometric motifs, created simple yet elegant chromatic oppositions… and there were four different Emblemata, right where she was standing, worthy of a great master! What a wonderful Audience Hall this is, she thought, as the entrance of the Emperor brought her to her knees…

Agathoniki, the imaginary visitor of our story, saw many more wonderful rooms and artefacts in the Palace of Galerius… My favourite artefact, still surviving today, is a small, marble Arch. Discovered at the north end of the eastern portico of the South Peristyle Court, the Small Marble Arch crowned a horseshoe-shaped niche framed by pilasters. This Arch, known by the conventional name “The Small Arch of Galerius”, is on display in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. Could this small, luxuriously adorned, niche be a Palace Temple?

This Arch, known today as “The Small Arch of Galerius”, is on display in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. According to Thessaloniki Museum experts, “The arch, a work of high artistic quality, is the product of a local workshop in Thessaloniki. The rich relief decorations occupy three sides of the arch. The main side depicts two men from the East, possibly Persians, raising two circular medallions with their hands. The right medallion depicts Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus, while the left one initially depicted his wife, Galeria Valeria. During a later intervention, after Galerius’ death, a mural crown was added to the female portrait. This alteration transformed the female bust into the depiction of a deity, most probably the “Tyche (fortune) of Thessaloniki”, who accompanied Galerius, the deified ruler of the city. Two winged Eros figures holding a garland fill the space between the medallions. Another medallion with a bust of Dionysos is located at the inner part of the arch, surrounded by vine branches. The right side of the arch depicts the hooved god Pan playing a pipe and holding a lagobolon (stick for hunting hares). The left side depicts a maenad.”    http://galeriuspalace.culture.gr/en/monuments/oktagono/    and    https://www.amth.gr/en/exhibitions/highlights

Along with my Grade 6 students, we study the history of Thessaloniki, visit the Archaeological Site of the Galerian Complex and prepare a RWAP (Research-Writing-Art-Project) that they thoroughly enjoy…

For a PowerPoint on the Galerian Complex Octagon Hall, please click HERE!

For a student RWAP on the Small Arch of Galerius, please click HERE!

For examples of Student RWAP Work, please click HERE!

Grade 6 student RWAP
RWAP stands for Research – Writing – Art – Project

Celebrating the Greek War of Independence

K. G. Papagiannaki,
The Greek Boy, 1837, oil on canvas, 0,28×0,21 cm, Benaki Museum, Athens

It was for these children that we fought… Celebrating the Greek War of Independence …paraphrasing the words of Yanni Makrigianni, 1794-1864, Greek Revolutionary Fighter of 1821!

If you wish to learn more about the Greek War of Independence and the preparation for the Bicentennial Celebration in 2021, please VISIT the official Greece 1821-2021 Bicentennial site: https://www.greece2021.gr/en/ and/or https://www.greece2021.gr/

For our Youngsters…

For celebratory mood and quality time with your youngster, you can VISIT the National Historical Museum site http://www.nhmuseum.gr/en and then go to http://www.nhmuseum.gr/el/ekpaideysi/ekpaideytiko-yliko/.

This a Colouring Page Activity (in Greek BUT easy to understand and DO) on famous figures of the Greek War of Independence. It was inspired by the Exhibition The 1821 Greek War of Independence Retold in… Playmobil! Activity is very EASY! http://www.nhmuseum.gr/el/ekpaideysi/ekpaideytiko-yliko/

To do the Colouring Activity Press on each picture you wish your child to colour – download it – print it – DONE! You can choose between heroes and heroines of the Greek War of Independence and celebrate an important moment in Greek History.

From top to bottom the Colouring Page Figures are: Theodoros Kolokotronis, Odysseas Androutsos, Laskarina Bouboulina, Konstantinos Kanaris, Manto Mavrogenous, Germanos, Metropolitan Paleon Patron, Andreas Lontos, Asimo Goura, Ioannis Makrigiannis, Domna Visvizi, Christos Kapsalis, Andreas Pipinos, Dimitrios Papanikolis

Colouring 1821-Greek War of Independence

For an easy to print Celebrating the Greek War of Independence Worksheet, please… check HERE!

Panagia Kosmosotira in Feres

The imposing, the 12th century Panagia Kosmosotira in Feres

A church of the utmost quality, unpretentious, beautiful and imposing, the 12th century Panagia Kosmosotira in Feres, is the Katholikon of a grand Monastery, in the Byzantine type of the cross-in-square church with two columns and five domes. The Monastery is built in a magnificent location, the Byzantine city of Bera, modern-day Feres, next to the Delta of Evros River.

Panagia Kosmosotira, the Monastery, and its Katholikon were founded by Sevastokrator Isaakios Komnenos, the third son of Alexios I Komnenos (c. 1048 – 15 August 1118), founder of the Komnenian dynasty. Isaakios was a Porphyrogennetos (born in the purple) prince, a title he was granted as he was born during the reign of his parents. Although the origin of the title Prorphyrogennetos is not clear, it is widely accepted that a special Chamber known as “Porphyra” in the Great Palace of Constantinople was used for the delivery of the imperial newborns. Anna Komnene, a Porphyrogennete herself, describes this special room as “set apart long ago for an Empress’s confinement” located “where the stone oxen and the lions stand” (the Boukoleon Palace), and was in the form of a perfect square from floor to ceiling, with the latter ending in a pyramid. Its walls, floor and ceiling were completely veneered with imperial porphyry, which was “generally of a purple colour throughout, but with white spots like sand sprinkled over it.” https://www.doaks.org/resources/online-exhibits/gods-regents-on-earth-a-thousand-years-of-byzantine-imperial-seals/imperial-titulature/porphyrogennitos and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Born_in_the_purple

Isaakios Komnenos had the title of Sevestokrator as well, granted to him by his brother, Emperor Ioannis II Komnenos (1087 – 1143) with whom he was in constant dispute and rivalry over the Byzantine Throne. He is also known as the author of several treatises and poems, a cultured man of learning and a great patron of the arts. Isaakios is responsible for rebuilding the Chora Church in Constantinople, where on the lower right side of the grand Deesis mosaic, his donor portrait survives to this day.

The Katholikon of Panagia Kosmosotira was Isaakios’s final resting place. A bit after 1150 he was forced to retire to his estate in Thrace, where in 1151/52, he founded the cenobitic monastery of Kosmosoteira (“Theotokos the World-Saviour”) in Bera (modern Feres). “The construction of the monastery, which was meant as his residence and final resting place, was of great emotional importance to Isaac, who invested considerable time and effort in it: although heavily ill at the time, he still went and supervised the monastery’s construction almost daily, and personally authored its typikon (charter) in 1152, making meticulous provisions about its governance and assigning extensive grants to it, including his own estates at Ainos. Possibly in imitation of his brother’s foundation of the Pantokrator Monastery, he also ordered the erection of a hospital outside the monastery walls.”

When visiting Panagia Kosmosotira, please note 1. The “monumental simplicity” of its architecture 2. The curved “contour” lines that characterize the structure of the church 3. The interplay of stone and brick in the construction 4. The interior fresco decoration dates back to the 12th century, an exquisite example of the Constantinopolitan style 5. The four painted military saints depicted between the arched windows of the northern and southern aisles (portraits of members of the Komnenos family?), and 6. the walled-in ceramic depiction of the single-headed eagle, a symbol of the dynasty of the Komnenos family in Trebizond.

For a WAC (stands for Writing Across the Curriculum) Student Activity, please… check HERE!