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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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(4) Sepulchral sculpture. Sculptured grave monuments were common in Greece at least as early as the sixth century. The most usual monument was a slab of marble – the form varying according to place and time – sculptured with an idealized representation in relief of the deceased person, often with members of his family.

(5) Honorary statues. Statues representing distinguished men, contemporary or otherwise, could be set up by state authority in secular places or in sanctuaries. The earliest known case of this kind is that of Harmodius and Aristogiton, shortly after 510 B.C. The practice gradually became common, reaching an extravagant development in the period after Alexander.

(6) Sculpture used merely as ornament, and having no sacred or public character. This class belongs mainly, if not wholly, to the latest period of Greek art. It would be going beyond our evidence to say that never, in the great age of Greek sculpture, was a statue or a relief produced merely as an ornament for a private house or the interior of a secular building. But certain it is that the demand for such things before the time of Alexander, if it existed at all, was inconsiderable. It may be neglected in a broad survey of the conditions of artistic production in the great age.

The foregoing list, while not quite exhaustive, is sufficiently so for present purposes. It will be seen how inspiring and elevating was the role assigned to the sculptor in Greece. His work destined to be seen by intelligent and sympathetic multitudes, appealed, not to the coarser elements of their nature, but to the most serious and exalted. Hence Greek sculpture of the best period is always pure and noble. The grosser aspects of Greek life, which flaunt themselves shamelessly in Attic comedy, as in some of the designs upon Attic vases, do not invade the province of this art.

 

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