Home Forums Hellenistic Variety Hellenistic Variety Reply To: Hellenistic Variety

Raven Shaw

This doesn’t really fit anywhere, but I thought it was interesting: like the mudras of Hindu goddesses, later Classical period Aphrodite statues had her hands covering her breasts or vagina, crouching, looking back at her own butt, or taking off her sandal to beat an offender. In the case of Aphrodite looking back at her own butt, it’s interesting to see the Disney character Tinkerbell caught in the same pose in the original Peter Pan animation. This suggests to me that both Tinkerbell and Aphrodite are archetypal characters that are passed through our collective memory to be expressed in new forms.

The Hellenistic period allowed a broadening of subject matter, such as depicting children and the elderly along with the traditional perfect young men and women. They depicted gods as more human-like, more vulnerable, in the case of the Bronze Statue of Eros Sleeping.

Instead of showing serene faces of athletes and warriors even as their body is strained or dying, Hellenistic period statues could show emotion. The statue of the dying Gaul for instance shows a mustache that wouldn’t belong to a Greek warrior, face contorted as he dies. It is interesting that such empathy for the defeated is shown in this statue.

The drapery of carved tunics became more dynamic, if you look at the earlier bronze statue of the Charioteer in comparison to the Great Altar of Zeus and Athena. In the former, the draping fabric mimics Grecian pillars, standing solid and strong. In the latter, the clothing of the gods creates exciting movement. There is struggle rather than just showing calm victory. Figures from the chaotic battle crawl off the wall and share the stairs with the worshipers that have come to give offerings.

The Late Classical Period saw Greek art being sold to and adopted by other cultures such as the Romans. That was when classical rules, such as women are never shown nude, were broken by cultures that were less strict. Aphrodite was shown in dynamic poses without clothing. In the Hellenistic Period, goddesses were shown in action, clothing plastered to their bodies to show all of their feminine glory — as in the statue of Nike of Samothrace. And in the case of the Venus De Milo, her top has fallen off completely. Neat.