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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

F. B. Tarbell, A History of Ancient Greek Art

Greek Sculpture - General considerations

Purposes of sculpture

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HOMER

PLATO

ARISTOTLE

THE GREEK OLD TESTAMENT (SEPTUAGINT)

THE NEW TESTAMENT

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DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE

MAXIMUS CONFESSOR

SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN

CAVAFY

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Greek sculpture may be classified, according to the purposes which it served, under the following heads:

(1) Architectural sculpture. A temple could hardly be considered complete unless it was adorned with more or less of sculpture. The chief place for such sculpture was in the pediments and especially in the principal or eastern pediment. Relief-sculpture might be applied to Doric metopes or an Ionic frieze. And finally, single statues or groups might be placed, as acroteria, upon the apex and lower corners of a pediment. Other sacred buildings besides temples might be similarly adorned. But we hear very little of sculpture on secular buildings.

(2) Cult-images. As a rule, every temple or shrine contained at least one statue of the divinity, or of each divinity, worshiped there.

(3) Votive sculptures. It was the habit of the Greeks to present to their divinities all sorts of objects in recognition of past favors or in hope of favors to come. Among these votive objects or anathemata works of sculpture occupied a large and important place. The subjects of such sculptures were various. Statues of the god or goddess to whom the dedication was made were common; but perhaps still commoner were figures representing human persons, either the dedicators themselves or others in whom they were nearly interested. Under this latter head fall most of the many statues of victors in the athletic games. These were set up in temple precincts, like that of Zeus at Olympia, that of Apollo at Delphi, or that of Athena on the Acropolis of Athens, and were, in theory at least, intended rather as thank-offerings than as means of glorifying the victors themselves.


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