|Publisher||Princeton University Press|
|Publication Date||November 21, 1989|
This handsome and lavishly illustrated volume invites the reader to explore the exotic and distant world of Greek culture--not primarily the conventional literary idea of that culture but the range of experiences presented in its iconography. Between the sixth and fifth centuries B.C., Athenian artisans flooded the Mediterranean world with remarkable decorated vases depicting a large variety of images. Using the resources of social and religious anthropology, the authors exploit the richness of this material to re-create the intellectual and emotional milieu of the inhabitant of a Greek city-state.
Surprises multiply in this innovative work, translated into English for the first time. The Greeks incorporated the ambiguous and problematical aspects of human existence into their representational repertory, and many images are disconcerting in their brutality, their violence, and their strangeness. Paradoxically it is through pursuing this strangeness in its multiple contexts that we come the closest to ancient Greek civilization.
The book presents the great cultural themes of the time: the hunt, war, erotic love, and the festival. The earlier chapters lead to the discussion of the most disquieting figure in the Greek universe--Dionysus, god of sacred wine, magic masks, and animal metamorphoses. Many reproductions in the work are in private collections and have been rarely seen by the public.