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Old Mar 1, 2006, 12:55 AM   #1
Wolfgang336
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The Art Thread (#1)

I'm going to try to find some interesting sculptures and paintings over the next while, for the purpose of seeing if people can recognize historical / mythological figures etc, and hopefully starting some nice big debates.

Here's the first... The symbolism sort of hits one over the head! Who is this? Is there controversy? Why is he/she depicted in the manner she is? What would this have represented to the Greeks (or Romans)? Why? This one shouldn't be too hard to figure out, but I'm looking forward to the debate that should accompany it!

Evan
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Old Mar 1, 2006, 01:15 AM   #2
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Hmmm..Greek boy in Phrygian cap symbolising the Greeks serving Rome represented by Eagle? Maybe Perseus or Apollo - remember Perseus being displayed on coins of Phillip V and Perseus his son of Macedon, c.180BC (ish). Both were defeated by Roman consuls.

Think I have seen this statue - I have been to Louve, Vatican and Florence within last year so would guess at...mmm...Louve?

Alex

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Old Mar 1, 2006, 01:39 PM   #3
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I agree...without knowing a thing about the piece, or when it was created, I'm going to guess at first century BC, late Republican Rome, perhaps at some point shortly after the Romans took control of the Greek world. Marian or Sullan times? Is it symbolic of once-proud Greece submitting to Imperial might? I love the eagle - where is that piece? I've been to a majority of the museums in Italy and a number of the ones in Greece and I've never seen that sculpture before.

Steve

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Old Mar 1, 2006, 05:55 PM   #4
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Time for some hints:

Bertel Thorvaldsen

1818-1829

Think "Zodiac".

Not sure where's it's housed, I'll try and find out... [edit] Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen [edit2], Ok, maybe it's actually in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts- at least one of the two is a cast.

Evan

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Old Mar 1, 2006, 06:17 PM   #5
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After giving my guess to Evan earlier on MSN, it has been revealed that the eagle is Zeus in the form of an eagle. Lucky guess for me Anything spring to anyone's mind now?

Andrew
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Old Mar 1, 2006, 06:31 PM   #6
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I have found the answer!!!!! But under Evan's instructions, I won't give the answer yet, to give some other people a chance I'll give you one hint to think about, though. The eagle is what started it for me. Think about eagles in ancient history. You have all seen it before

Andrew
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Old Mar 1, 2006, 07:06 PM   #7
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In Greek myth, Aquarius was Ganymede, the young boy kidnapped by Zeus. Zeus sent his eagle, Aquila, to snatch Ganymede out of the fields where the boy was watching over his sheep. Ganymede would become the cupbearer for the Olympian gods and Zeus' lover.

Right?

Jeff
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Old Mar 1, 2006, 07:18 PM   #8
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yes.

It is titled "Ganymede Watering Zeus as Eagle" housed at Minneapolis Institute of Arts

http://www.artsmia.org/collection/se...rt.cfm?id=1629

Here is the myth.

Tros, lord of the Trojans, had three unblemished boys. They were Ilus, the founder of Ilium, Assaracus, and the youngest was Ganymede. All of the boys were cared for and loved but it was the laughing, lissome Ganymede who held the biggest plece of his father's heart.

The youth was spending time at Mount Ida in ancient Phrygia, the setting for more than one story in the early mythic history of Troy, where he was undergoing his necessary rustic education with other young sons of the nobility. Guardians and tutors watched over the boy as he wrestled with companions, or rode to the hounds, or climbed the steep rocks or swam through the warm seas of the Mediterranean

One day, looking down from his throne on Mount Olympus, Zeus spied Ganymede in the meadows of Mount Ida, and instantly desired the boy. He threw out out his massive thunderbolts and shook the clouds, whipping up a tempest that turned night into day. Then he assumed the shape of an eagle and, under cover of the storm, swooped down and seized Ganymede in his talons. The aged guardians reached out to stop him, the hounds barked, but heedless to the din, the eagle carried the boy up higher and higher until they vanished from sight.

Once safely established in Olympus, Zeus appointed Ganymede as his personal cup bearer. But another held that position, his own daughter Hebe. As the the goddess of youth, Hebe wandered around Mt Olympus in a sleeveless dress serving the nectar and ambrosia and taking care of small odd jobs like preparing the bath for Ares and helping Hera climb into her chariot. She was not impressed when Zeus replaced her with the beautiful boy. The other Olympians rejoiced to have the delightful Ganymede among them and welcomed him joyously, almost all of the Olympians, all but one. And that one was Hera, the mother of Hebe.

While the events on Mt Olympus revolved around who was going to serve the drinks at the divine feasts, Tros was filled with sorrow. He frantically searched up and down the slopes, hills and gullies of the mountain, calling out and crying for Ganymede. No one knew where the fierce tempest had taken his boy, no one could tell the demented Tros the whereabouts of his beloved son. Finally Zeus was moved by this suffering and sent Hermes to tell Tros what had happened. As a consolation he also sent a pair of magnificent white horses, the very same steeds that carry the immortals, a princely ransom for a handsome prince. The gift cheered up Tros, and he rode away in his chariot as fast as the wind.

Zeus made a place for Ganymede among the stars as Aquarius the Water Bearer and there, today, the most beautiful boy in the world still pours nectar for the gods.


Ganymede, handsomest of mortals,
caught up to pour out drink for Zeus and live
amid immortals for his beauty's sake
Homer

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Old Mar 1, 2006, 07:59 PM   #9
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Jeff is bang on! (and so were you Andrew )

Quote:
The youth was spending time at Mount Ida in ancient Phrygia, the setting for more than one story in the early mythic history of Troy
Which brings up the headdress of the the youthful Ganymede, and its traditional relationship to freedom. Freedom from what? I believe it represents freedom from his earthly constraints, although it could also be seen as a rebellion against early Victorian views on sex in the statue's context. Yes? No? And yes, there's homoerotic connotations... I believe Plato used the myth to justify his of pedastery, which was both socially acceptable, and to a degree encouraged in Greek society. Agree or disagree?

Evan

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Old Mar 1, 2006, 08:50 PM   #10
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Hi, Evan. It was the amphora and cup that tipped me off to think Aquarius...

In addition to the homoerotic hypothesis, I can see the myth as a metaphor for the breaking from parental bonds and aspiring for a higher purpose. It's notable that Tros gives up his claim to Ganymede upon learning of his new calling (and receiving a "dowry" of sorts from Zeus).

Jeff
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Old Mar 2, 2006, 10:38 AM   #11
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I got the hat right anyway...

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Old Mar 2, 2006, 07:07 PM   #12
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The "Phrygian cap" of Ganymedes

Perhaps as early as the 4th century BC Paris of Troy was given the 'Phrygian' cap to mark him (along with his pre-adolescent body) as Anatolian, because he was Trojan. Copies of this Paris type were, I think, the model for Thorwaldsen's Ganymedes. I do not know whether this Phrygian/Scythian cap originally was identified with the Liberty cap; I doubt it, but I don't know.
I uploaded the Archer in pants and sleeves from the West Pediment at Aegina. This pediment was carved c. 490 BC (the East one was redone after the Persians). Thorvaldsen restored these, but they have removed the slightly implausible knob on his cap that T. provided. There are also vase-paintings with generic easterners wearing such caps, and there are offering bearers on the friezes at Persepolis wearing them, too.
Pat Lawrence
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Old Mar 2, 2006, 09:34 PM   #13
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MAN!!!

Would that I had visited the forum when this challenge was first posted!

I love this sculpture. It is displayed locally (local for me, anyway... I live just a 20 minute drive away from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts). There is SO much good art at this museum. I get over there at least once every few months just to see if they've added anything cool.

Travelers: if you are ever in the Twin Cities area (even if just for a few days on business) and if you appreciate ancient (or even modern) art, this is one place you should definitely visit. It's on the southern edge of downtown Minneapolis in a trendy, Victorian-era neighborhood.

The MIA has one of the best collections of Asian art in the United States. I've spent many hours just swooning over that part of the museum. The MIA's classical European civilations collection is smaller, compared to the Asian collection, but it's still very much worth seeing.

The Twin Cities area is rife with wonderful museums of all sorts, from a massive Children's Museum, to an impressive Science Museum, to too many art museums to count (although the MIA is by far the best "free" one). If you're ever scheduled to visit this area, let me know and I will be most glad to tell you where you can find the "best of" the museum scene around here.
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Old Mar 3, 2006, 12:11 AM   #14
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Interesting... so why (and when) did the Phrygian hat become associated with liberty? It was used on the EID MAR after Caesar's assassination, but beyond that, I'm unaware of its history.

Evan
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Old Mar 3, 2006, 09:12 AM   #15
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From Wikipedia's entry on the Phrygian cap: "The Phrygian cap was worn during the Roman Empire by former slaves who had been emancipated by their master and whose descendants were therefore considered citizens of the Empire. This usage is often considered the root of its meaning as a symbol of liberty."
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