THATMuse

Most people know that the Ancient Greeks invented democracy, and the Olympic Games. Ancient Greek philosophers and Greek tragedies are famous all over the world, and mythological stories from Ancient Greece still fascinate and inspire us today. But you may not know how much of the technology we rely on today is thanks to the inventions of Ancient Greece. In this post, we delve into the world of Ancient Greek technology, to learn about some ancient inventions that we still use in our daily lives.

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If you scrolled through social media over the weekend, you can’t have missed that last Sunday was Mother’s Day. Or at least, over in the US (and most other countries) it was (here in the UK we celebrate it in March, lest my fellow Brits start panicking on behalf of their neglected mums). In honour of mothers everywhere, we’re sharing some of our favourite mothers in art history. Though all of these ladies can be found at the Louvre, none of them are actually French by birth. But they’re all mothers (good or bad), and are important to the history of France in one way or another.

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In Ancient Greek mythology, Nike was the Goddess who personified Victory.  Personifications weren’t rare in Greek religion. For example, Arete was the Goddess of excellence and virtue, and Aeltheia was the spirit of truth. Sister of Kratos (Stregth), Bia (Force), and Zelus (Zeal), the Greek Goddess of Victory was famous for her grace, strength and speed.

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In the last 15 years, the Percy Jackson series has become one of the most popular book and movie franchises of our time. Fans of the series will know that Percy’s adventures mirror many of the deeds of the Greek hero Perseus, the inspiration for his character. But how well do you know the real story of Perseus and his nemesis, Medusa? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the real mythological story of Perseus and Medusa. So, take a seat and get ready to learn about gods and demi-gods, love, drama, monsters and heroes!

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In Greek mythology, the Amazons were a tribe of strong lady warriors. In some versions of the myth, they lived in isolation, at the edge of the civilised world, and only communicated with men in order to reproduce. Proud to live in their own community, the Amazons didn’t allow men to enter their country, and would only meet them once a year to prevent their community from dying out. After giving birth, they only kept their female babies, leaving the boys with the neighbouring tribe.

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This week the boys and I made a general mess, moving furniture about to convert our dining room into an avant-garde, everyone-wants-to-be-there ‘PP GALLERY’. As you know from my last blog post, this is the beginning of my homeschool art project with the kids. We’re going to PARTY with hip artists & snazzy characters from history (fictional and otherwise) whose portraits we’re sticking on the walls. The installation of this #PortraitParty will be laid out over several weeks, and involves a covert operation with which to surprise Daddy (Hernan), our guest of honor. Our secrets will be unveiled at the opening, or vernissage of the PP GALLERY (PP stands for Portrait Party, and of course has the unreasonably sophisticated reference to our refined toilet humor).

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After a few weeks of self-isolation, I realized my edge on getting the kids into art history wasn’t cutting it with wonderful museum virtual tours. Even the naughtiness of Beyoncé & JayZ’s Louvre music video, ApeSh**t, had lost its luster for Storsh (aged 9) and Balthazar (aged 4). Moreover, art at home with Balthazar (making a police bus out of a cherry tomato carton (clad with criminals), or becoming a pressed flower card-making factory for Easter) wasn’t replacing the in-person drip of art history games that the boys are used to.

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Ever heard of the terrible 5th century Plague of Athens? Over 2400 years later we’re living though another dreadful health crisis. How did the Greeks handle theirs? And is coronavirus comparable to the many illnesses that have hit the world so far? Historians and art-historians like us love to say that the past always teaches us something. Some stories, like that of the Plague of Athens, are timeless, and we can learn from them even today.

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Il Diadumeno di Vaison è una statua Romana in marmo che rappresenta un atleta vittorioso. Trovato a Vaison, una cittadina Romana nella Francia Meridionale, questo meraviglioso tesoro è oggi al British Museum (perché il Louvre si rifiutò di acquistarlo per il suo ‘prezzo spropositato’!). Si tratta di una copia romana realizzata su un modello originale greco in bronzo. Prova a pensare a quanto i Romani impararono dai Greci… Dopo aver conquistato le loro terre, portarono a casa tutte le loro opere più belle per farsi ispirare da esse. Chiaramente, non avrebbero potuto dimenticare il Diadumeno, un meraviglioso pezzo realizzato da uno dei più famosi artisti della Grecia Classica, Policleto.

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The Daidoumenos of Vaison is a Roman marble statue of an ancient Greek athlete. Found at Vaison, a Roman town in Southern France, this beautiful piece is at the British Museum (because the Louvre refused to buy it for its ‘unreasonable price’!). The statue is a Roman copy of a Greek original in bronze. Just think for a second about how much the Romans learnt from the Greeks… After conquering their lands, they brought back home all their most beautiful artworks and took inspiration from them. Clearly, they couldn’t forget the Daidoumenos, a sculpture by one of the most famous artists of Classical Greece, Polykleitos.

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This post is also available in Italian!

In ancient Greek society people carefully followed the social rules of good behaviour. Women had to be good mothers. Kids and youths went to school, to the gym and were trained to be brave warriors. The elder ones inspired the new generations with their wise advice. And everyone prayed to the gods during the religious festivities. There was a time though, when almost everything was allowed and when social rules of good behaviour could be forgotten: the symposium. Museums are filled with vases showing symposiasts having fun and playing, precisely because the Greeks, like the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, the Chinese and the Anglo-Saxons, often buried their dead with games (or scenes of games), in order to allow them to have fun during their afterlife.

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Just a heads up: things in bold might be answers to bonus questions on your Fun & Games hunt!
The First ever Version in Italian will be on Friday April 3rd at 5.30 pm.  
You can also read this blog in Italian here!

From sculptures to pottery, from paintings to temples, mythology is a broad topic in ancient Greek art and architecture. The Parthenon architecture, one of the most famous ancient complexes of all times, is a striking example of how the ancient Greeks took inspiration from their classical mythology to make sense of the real world.  

Greek Art and Mythology: one of the earliest representations of the Trojan Horse, 750-650 BC 
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