Archive for Hellenism

On Anacreon

Posted in Art, Poetry with tags , , , , on November 18, 2016 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

pandura

Oh beloved who didst love the clear lute, O thou who didst sail through thy whole life with song and with love.

Text: Anonymous, The Greek Anthology VII:23B translated by W. R. Paton. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1917
Image: Anonymous, Woman sitting on a rock and playing the lute or pandura, 1st quarter of the 3rd century BC, Musée du Louvre
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Agrigentum

Posted in Painting, Philosophy with tags , , , on November 17, 2016 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

pierre-henri-de-valenciennes-agrigentum

“I felt more joyful and breathed more freely, when I passed to the southern coast, and saw something Greek. Agrigentum, in its desolation, left much to the imagination, but stirred it deeply. Not so much the ruins as the magnificent site, as if all the seven hills of Rome had been linked together in a chain, doubled in height, and been made to overhang the forum and the lower town in a broad curve. That vast acropolis must have been a sublime thing. Outwards, on the convex side, it is a sheer precipice; inwards its horns descend to the plain and make it accessible. One of these horns is occupied by what remains of the town. I climbed to the top, partly by steps. There was a little square, with a café, but no vestiges of the temples that must have stood there: for a  reward I saw some large white goats, apparently clean as lambs, browsing among the steep lanes or perched upon the stone enclosures that bordered them. These ancient fortresses, in the days of peace, must have been very domestic and country-like in the simplicity and monotony of their ways. Dull, except for the recurring festivals and the frequent wars, yet well fitted, in both aspects, to fix the character of tragedy and comedy, as the Greeks fixed it, limited, monotonous, liturgical, but intensely felt, profoundly human, wonderfully central and final.

Agrigentum was a colony, suddenly rich, like an American mushroom city, short-lived and ruined even more suddenly than it had grown up; but for its day it was enormous, and it gave birth to a great poet-philosopher, the literary model of Lucretius, and a grander personage, with his tragic end soon enveloped in legend. Both Lucretius and Empedocles are said to have killed themselves, or voluntarily become gods: in any case they saw the world as the gods would: that is to say, as we all should, if we could surmount our accidental humanity and let the pure spirit in us speak through our mouths. I wonder if a mushroom civilisation, by its very thinness and sudden brilliancy, like fire in straw, may not be easier for the spirit to profit by and to transcend than a more deeply rooted tradition.”

Text: George Santayana, My Host the World. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953
Image: Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, L’ancienne ville d’Agrigente, 1787, Musée du Louvre

Doric

Posted in Architecture, Philosophy, Photo with tags , , , on November 17, 2016 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

alexander-john-ellis-paestum-1841alexander-john-ellis-paestum-1841a

“…I went to Paestum, and there saw Doric temples for the first time, symbols of severity, simplicity, harmony, and strength. There was the pure vein to be traced in the quartz of Roman accumulations and grossness…

Doric purity is not a thing to be expected again in history, at least not yet. It indicates a people that knows its small place in the universe and yet asserts its dignity. In early Christian art there may be simplicity and naïveté, but never self-knowledge. The aspiration in it is childlike. For anything like Doric fortitude in the West we must look to the castles, not to the churches; and the castles are Christian only by association. Here then was an ultimate point of reference, a principle of manly purity, to mark one extreme in the moral scale of all human arts…”

Text: George Santayana, My Host the World. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953
Image: Alexander John Ellis, two daguerreotypes of the temple of Hera at Paestum, 1841. via Getty Images

 

Julian and the Goose

Posted in Greece, Writing with tags , on September 18, 2016 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

goose

In the tenth month, according to your reckoning, — Loos I think you call it — there is a festival founded by your forefathers in honour of this god, and it was your duty to be zealous in visiting Daphne. Accordingly I hastened thither from the temple of Zeus Kasios, thinking that at Daphne, if anywhere, I should enjoy the sight of your wealth and public spirit. And I imagined in my own mind the sort of procession it would be, like a man seeing visions in a dream, beasts for sacrifice, libations, choruses in honour of the god, incense, and the youths of your city there surrounding the shrine, their souls adorned with all holiness and themselves attired in white and splendid raiment. But when I entered the shrine I found there no incense, not so much as a cake, not a single beast for sacrifice. For that moment I was amazed and thought that I was still outside the shrine and that you were waiting the signal from me, doing me that honour because I am supreme pontiff. But when I began to inquire what sacrifice the city intended to offer to celebrate the annual festival in honour of the god, the priest answered, “I have brought with me from my own house a goose as an offering to the god, but the city this time has made no preparations.”

Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus, Misopogon, 363 AD, translated by Wilmer Cave Wright. Cambridge, Mass.: The Loeb Classical Library, 1913

Isis-Aphrodite, c. 300 BCE

Posted in Art, Greek Myth, Object with tags , on December 18, 2014 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Mosaic of Arsinoë III

Posted in Art, Greece with tags , , , on December 14, 2014 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Epigram of Damagetus

Posted in Art, Greece, Poetry with tags , , , , on December 14, 2014 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


ARTEMIS, who wieldest the bow and the arrows of might, by thy fragrant temple hath Arsinoë, the maiden daughter of Ptolemy, left this lock of her own hair, cutting it from her lovely tresses.