c). Theran pumice
b). Transcendental character- They symbolized the mother-goddess that was associated with rebirth and fertility.
c). Standing female figurines- They represented the deceased, servants, ancestors, substitute concubines or human sacrifice.
The inscription on the left side of the Athena reads “from the games at Athens.”
The inscription on the right side is the signature of the vase painter.
iii. The idealized face.
iii. a crown in the form of a towered wall
The portrait is not the actual Cybele goddess but that of a woman who was probably a priestess. Wealthy women of the time would commission their portraits depicting themselves as goddesses
Greece is considered the home of ancient civilizations for its developments in the areas of literature and arts. Indeed, nowhere else has the world witnessed as huge collections of art as the ones witnessed in ancient Greece. Part of the proliferation of this art stems from the association that Greeks had with their culture. In these times, sports and athletics were considered a major part of the people’s culture. It is actually from this culture that the idea of the Olympics Games was developed. Such was the high regard associated with athletics that most of the art was motivated by athletes and other games. In this essay, we consider two different artworks in understanding the significance of athletes in Greece. The Panathenaic Amphora and the Red-Figure Cup are two artworks that deeply communicate the significance of athletes. In addition, the poem Olympian XIV by Pindar cements the growing significance of this group of people. Ultimately, the significance of Athletic Victors is manifested in the different forms of art in Ancient Greece.
Panathenaic Amphora and the Red-Figure Cup
The significance of athletics and athletes in particular is evidenced in form of religious festival. The Panathenaic Amphora is a manifestation of this significance as it exploits the festivities that included competitions in the field of music and athletics. Particularly, the festivals were conducted in honor of Athena, who was the goddess of Athens where these competitions were held. In the artwork, the figure of Athena is depicted in an old fashioned manner to reflect the nature of life during the time. The fact that this artwork is based on the goddess of Athens is enough proof of the glorification of Athletic Victors during the ancient times. These religious festivals incorporated the competitions of athletics to show the significance that the sports had on the culture of Greeks (Hemmingway & Sean 67). In fact, this same pattern of athletes’ glorification through festivals resulted in the development of the Olympic Games that are held every four years.
The significance of athletes in Greece is well demonstrated in the numerous pieces of art that glorify athletes. The Red-Figure Cup, for instance is purely dedicated to the horse racers. The boys are depicted in the cup as having raced their horses on a familiar scene in Greece. The artwork seems to be celebrating the speed at which the horses travel thus portraying the athletes in positive light. In fact, most of these arts are based on victories such that those defeated are rarely depicted in pieces of art. Still, the first piece of art is also an extension of this celebration as a participant in a race leaps off a moving chariot only to join it later after racing on foot for quite a distance. The determination with which these athletes pursued victory is part of the reason why they are highly celebrated in these forms of art. By portraying the athlete in such light, the artwork shows the significance of these athletes in extending the fame of their cities (Hawhee 38). Moreover, winners were given numerous prizes that pushed their motivations even farther.
The gifts and prizes given to the athletes also serve to show the importance that was attached to athletes and the sports involved. For instance, the Panathenaic Amphora was one such prize whereby winners of races were given one hundred and forty gifts of the same trophy with lid. It is very clear that the prize given to the victors was highly valued and well decorated to show the value of athletes in Greece. In addition, the trophy had inscriptions that reflected the participation of athletes in the games held at Athens. In so doing, athletes could boast of such a huge wins in the national games held at Athens. The action of granting such beautiful gifts and prizes to the winners of the events served to increase the significance of the games while appreciating the participants even more (Kyle 71). In the second piece of art, the prize given to the winners was a cup with a fragmentary image of a footrace. In the same cup, a runner is depicted having stretched forward with both of his right arm and leg behind him. In similar fashion, the use of the athletes’ images on prizes was useful in improving the significance of athlete victors in such races.
The portrayal of different forms of athletics in the prizes and artworks was a mark of the significance of victory among athletes in Greece. Each of the prizes had a different connotation in regard to the different sports that were held in Athens. For instance, the first artwork is a depiction of the Amphora that was given as prizes to winners of horse racers. In this artwork, the painter showed the significance of a special form of horse race that required the participants to leap from a moving chariot. By depicting athletes in such determinations to win the horse race, the painters of these artworks further showed the importance of these athletes (Lunt 375). In addition, the second artwork portrays two nude boys racing their horses and is painted on a drinking cup. The fact that this is a drinking cup shows the important place that families put their athletes in. It is symbolic in that it points to the notion that the athletes were in the lives of very other family in Greece.
Olympian XIV Poem
The significance of athletes was also witnessed in other forms of art such as poems and literature. One such poem is the Olympian XIV composed by Pindar in celebration of Athletic victors of Greece. In one line, the poet glorifies the winners of the Olympics by asserting the importance of the Olympian father. In fact, the poet goes to the extent of comparing their victory to the dances and feasts that the gods arrange. The poem is a dedication to the participants of the boy’s foot race that is held in high regard. In singing poems for winners of such games, the people of Greece had high respects and adoration for the people. In fact, winners of these athletics events were considered heroes in their host cities.
The significance of athletic victors in ancient Greece is manifested in various forms including artworks and the bestowment of prizes. In addition, the glorification of these athletic games in artworks is a manifestation of the importance attached to the games. Further, the images of these athletes in their different games are a pointer to the important role that athletes played in the society (Hawhee, p. 54). Part of the glorification of these athletes stems from the fact that the games they played enriched the culture of the Greeks. The two art pieces coupled with the poem analyzed shows the different ways in which athletes were honored in Greece. All these examples portray to a large extent the significance of the athletic victors in Greece. The passion for athletics is portrayed by both the spectators and athletes. In Greece, athletics was based more on an individual’s physical endeavor in overtaking an opponent. This is the reason why team performances and competitions were excluded. It was more about setting of records for individual participants (Lunt, 263). The importance of athletics was signified by how the athletes used to train. They used the gymnasium where they attained training from past victors. There was a belief in Greece that their love for athletics is something that distinguished them from non-Greeks.
Hemingway, Colette, and Seán Hemingway. “Athletics in Ancient Greece.” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (2002).
Hawhee, Debra. Bodily arts: Rhetoric and athletics in ancient Greece. University of Texas Press, 2004.
Kyle, Donald G. Athletics in ancient Athens. Vol. 95. Brill, 1993.
Lunt, David J. “The heroic athlete in ancient Greece.” Journal of Sport History 36.3 (2009): 375.
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