The Art of Libation in Classical Athens

Book Details

Author  Milette Gaifman
Publisher  Yale University Press
Publication Date   February 27, 2018
ISBN  0300192274
Pages  196

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Description

This handsome volume presents an innovative look at the imagery of libations, the most commonly depicted ritual in ancient Greece, and how it engaged viewers in religious performance. In a libation, liquid—water, wine, milk, oil, or honey—was poured from a vessel such as a jug or a bowl onto the ground, an altar, or another surface. Libations were made on occasions like banquets, sacrifices, oath-taking, departures to war, and visitations to tombs, and their iconography provides essential insight into religious and social life in 5th-century BC Athens. Scenes depicting the ritual often involved beholders directly—a statue’s gaze might establish the onlooker as a fellow participant, or painted vases could draw parallels between human practices and acts of gods or heroes. Beautifully illustrated with a broad range of examples, including the Caryatids at the Acropolis, the Parthenon Frieze, Attic red-figure pottery, and funerary sculpture, this important book demonstrates the power of Greek art to transcend the boundaries between visual representation and everyday experience.

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