Tag: mythology art

Italian Art: Mars, Venus and Amor by Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)

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Italian Art: Mars, Venus and Amor by Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)

Tiziano Vecellio (Titian)

Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (c. 1488/1490 – 27 August 1576 better known as Titian was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near Belluno (in Veneto), in the Republic of Venice. During his lifetime he was often called da Cadore, taken from the place of his birth.

Recognized by his contemporaries as “The Sun Amidst Small Stars” (recalling the famous final line of Dante’s Paradiso), Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of color, would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art.

During the course of his long life Titian’s artistic manner changed drastically[4] but he retained a lifelong interest in color. Although his mature works may not contain the vivid, luminous tints of his early pieces, their loose brushwork and subtlety of polychromatic modulations are without precedent in the history of Western art.

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Mythology Art: The Torture of Prometheus

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Mythology Art: The Torture of Prometheus

Prometheus in Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan, the son of Iapetus and Themis, and brother to Atlas, Epimetheus and Menoetius. He was a champion of human-kind known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals. Zeus then punished him for his crime by having him bound to a rock while a great eagle ate his liver every day only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day. His myth has been treated by a number of ancient sources, in which Prometheus is credited with – or blamed for – playing a pivotal role in the early history of humankind.

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Greek Mythology: Apollo and Marsyas

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Greek Mythology: Apollo and Marsyas

mythology art, greek mythology, greek culture, apollo and marsyas, pietro perugino, italian art, giclee prints, fine art posters, figurative art

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Mythology Art: Moon Goddess Diana in Roman Mythology

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Mythology Art: Moon Goddess Diana

In Roman mythology, Diana (lt. “heavenly” or “divine”) was the goddess of the hunt and moon and birthing, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy.

Diana was worshiped in ancient Roman religion and is revered in Roman Neopaganism and Stregheria. Dianic Wicca, a largely feminist form of the practice, is named for her. Diana was known to be the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, Diana, Minerva and Vesta, who swore never to marry.

Oak groves were especially sacred to her. According to mythology, Diana was born with her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos, daughter of Jupiter and Latona. Diana made up a triad with two other Roman deities: Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.

Diana often appeared as a young woman, age around 12 to 19. It was believed that she had a fair face like Aphrodite with a tall body, slim, small hips, and a high forehead. As a goddess of hunting, she wore a very short tunic so she could hunt and run easily and is often portrayed holding a bow, and carrying a quiver on her shoulder, accompanied by a deer or hunting dogs. Sometimes the hunted creature would also be shown. As goddess of the moon, however, Diana wore a long robe, sometimes with a veil covering her head. Both as goddess of hunting and goddess of the moon she is frequently portrayed wearing a moon crown.

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Mythology Art: Diana the Huntress in Roman Mythology

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Mythology Art: Diana the Huntress in Roman Mythology

In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and nature being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was eventually equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy. Diana was worshipped in ancient Roman religion and is revered in Roman Neopaganism and Stregheria. Diana was known to be the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses — along with Minerva and Vesta — who swore never to marry.

Oak groves were especially sacred to her. According to mythology (in common with the Greek religion and their deity Artemis), Diana was born with her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos, daughter of Jupiter and Latona. Diana made up a triad with two other Roman deities: Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.

The persona of Diana is complex and contains a number of archaic features. According to Georges Dumézil it falls into a particular subset of celestial gods, referred to in histories of religion as frame gods. Such gods, while keeping the original features of celestial divinities, i.e. transcendent heavenly power and abstention from direct rule in worldly matters, did not share the fate of other celestial gods in Indoeuropean religions—that of becoming dei otiosi or gods without practical purpose, since they did retain a particular sort of influence over the world and mankind.

The celestial character of Diana is reflected in her connection with light, inaccessibility, virginity, and her preference for dwelling on high mountains and in sacred woods. Diana therefore reflects the heavenly world (diuum means sky or open air) in its sovereignty, supremacy, impassibility, and indifference towards such secular matters as the fates of mortals and states. At the same time, however, she is seen as active in ensuring the succession of kings and in the preservation of humankind through the protection of childbirth.

These functions are apparent in the traditional institutions and cults related to the goddess.

The institution of the rex Nemorensis, Diana’s sacerdos (priest) in the Arician wood, who held the position until someone else challenged and killed him in a duel, after breaking a branch from a certain tree of the wood. This ever open succession reveals the character and mission of the goddess as a guarantor of kingly status through successive generations. Her function as bestower of authority to rule is also attested in the story related by Livy in which a Sabine man who sacrifices a heifer to Diana wins for his country the seat of the Roman empire.

Diana was also worshipped by women who wanted to be pregnant or who, once pregnant, prayed for an easy delivery. This form of worship is attested in archeological finds of votive statuettes in her sanctuary in the nemus Aricinum as well as in ancient sources, e.g. Ovid.

According to Dumezil the forerunner of all frame gods is an Indian epic hero who was the image (avatar) of the Vedic god Dyaus. Having renounced the world, in his roles of father and king, he attained the status of an immortal being while retaining the duty of ensuring that his dynasty is preserved and that there is always a new king for each generation.

The Scandinavian god Heimdallr performs an analogous function: he is born first and will die last. He too gives origin to kingship and the first king, bestowing on him regal prerogatives. Diana, although a female deity, has exactly the same functions, preserving mankind through childbirth and royal succession.

F. H. Pairault in her essay on Diana qualifies Dumézil’s theory as “impossible to verify”.

Dumezil’s interpretation appears deliberately to ignore that of James G. Frazer, who links Diana with the male god Janus as a divine couple. This looks odd as Dumézil’s definition of the concept of frame god would fit well the figure of Janus. Frazer identifies the two with the supreme heavenly couple Jupiter-Juno and additionally ties in these figures to the overarching Indoeuropean religious complex. This regality is also linked to the cult of trees, particularly oaks. In this interpretative schema, the institution of the Rex Nemorensis and related ritual should be seen as related to the theme of the dying god and the kings of May.

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Venus in Roman and Greek Mythologies

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Venus in Roman and Greek Mythologies

Venusis the Roman goddess whose functions encompassed love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity, victory, and desire. In Roman mythology, she was the mother of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed her as his ancestor. Venus was central to many religious festivals, and was revered in Roman religion under numerous cult titles.

The Romans adapted the myths and iconography of her Greek counterpart Aphrodite for Roman art and Latin literature. In the later classical tradition of the West, Venus becomes one of the most widely referenced deities of Greco-Roman mythology as the embodiment of love and sexuality.

Venus embodies sex, love, beauty, enticement, seduction, and persuasive female charm among the community of immortal gods; in Latin orthography, her name is indistinguishable from the Latin noun venus (“sexual love” and “sexual desire”), from which it derives. Venus has been described as perhaps “the most original creation of the Roman pantheon”, and “an ill-defined and assimilative” native goddess, combined “with a strange and exotic Aphrodite”.

Venus in Roman and Greek Mythologies

Her cults may represent the religiously legitimate charm and seduction of the divine by mortals, in contrast to the formal, contractual relations between most members of Rome’s official pantheon and the state, and the unofficial, illicit manipulation of divine forces through magic. The ambivalence of her function is suggested in the etymological relationship of the root *venes- with Latin venenum (poison), in the sense of “a charm, magic philtre”.

In myth, Venus-Aphrodite was born of sea-foam. Roman theology presents Venus as the yielding, watery female principle, essential to the generation and balance of life. Her male counterparts in the Roman pantheon, Vulcan and Mars, are active and fiery. Venus absorbs and tempers the male essence, uniting the opposites of male and female in mutual affection. She is essentially assimilative and benign, and embraces several otherwise quite disparate functions. She can give military victory, sexual success, good fortune and prosperity. In one context, she is a goddess of prostitutes; in another, she turns the hearts of men and women from sexual vice to virtue.

Images of Venus have been found in domestic murals, mosaics and household shrines (lararia). Petronius, in his Satyricon, places an image of Venus among the Lares (household gods) of the freedman Trimalchio’s lararium. Prospective brides offered Venus a gift “before the wedding”; the nature of the gift, and its timing, are unknown. Some Roman sources say that girls who come of age offer their toys to Venus; it is unclear where the offering is made, and others say this gift is to the Lares. In dice-games, a popular pastime among Romans of all classes, the luckiest, best possible roll was known as “Venus”.

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Mythology Art: The Birth of Venus by Adolphe Bouguereau

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Mythology Art: The Birth of Venus by Adolphe Bouguereau

The Birth of Venus (La Naissance de Vénus) is one of the most famous paintings by 19th century painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau. It depicts not the actual birth of Venus from the sea, but the transportation of Venus in a shell (a visual metaphor for the vulva) from the sea to Paphos in Cyprus.

For Bouguereau, it was truly a tour de force. The canvas stands at just over 9’10” (3m) high, and 7’2″ (2.2m) wide. The subject matter, as well as the composition, resembles the rather more famous rendition of this subject, Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, as well as Raphael’s painting, The Triumph of Galatea.

The painting is in the permanent collection of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris but is currently on exhibit in the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco as part of the Birth Of Impressionism exhibition.

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Mythology Art: The Torture of Prometheus

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Mythology Art: The Torture of Prometheus

Prometheus is a Titan in Greek mythology, best known as the deity in Greek mythology who was the creator of mankind and its greatest benefactor, who stole fire from Mount Olympus and gave it to mankind.

Ancient myths and legends relate at least four versions of the narratives describing Prometheus, his exploits with Zeus, and his eternal punishment as also inflicted by Zeus. There is a single somewhat comprehensive version of the birth of Prometheus and several variant versions of his subjection to eternal suffering at the will of Zeus. The most significant narratives of his origin appear in the Theogony of Hesiod which relates Prometheus as being the son of the Titan Iapetus by Clymene, one of the Oceanids. Hesiod then presents Prometheus as subsequently being a lowly challenger to Zeus’s omnipotence.

In the trick at Mecone, Prometheus tricks Zeus into eternally claiming the inedible parts of cows and bulls for the sacrificial ceremonies of the gods, while conceding the nourishing parts to humans for the eternal benefit of humankind. The two remaining central episodes regarding Prometheus as written by Hesiod include his theft of fire from Olympus for the benefit of humanity against the will of Zeus, and the eternal punishment which Prometheus would endure for these acts as inflicted upon him by the judgment of Zeus.

For the greater part, the pre-Athenian ancient sources are selective in which of these narrative elements they chose by their own preferences to honor and support, and which ones they chose to exclude. The specific combinations of these relatively independent narrative elements by individual ancient authors (Hesiod, Homer, Pindar, Pythagoras), and specific exclusions among them, are often influenced by the particular needs and purposes of the larger myths and legends which they are depicting. Each individual ancient author selectively preferred certain crucial stories depicting Prometheus over others.

The intensive growth and expansion of Greek literature and philosophy in the classical fourth and fifth century Athenian period would greatly affect both the interpretation and influence which the myth of Prometheus would exert upon Athenian culture. This influence would extend beyond its dramatic and tragic form in the Athenian period, and influence large portions of the greater Western literary tradition which would follow it for over two millennia.

All three of the major Athenian tragedians, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, were affected by the myth of Prometheus. The surviving plays and fragments of Aeschylus regarding Prometheus retain a special place of prominence within modern scholarship for their having survived the ravages of time. The majority of plays written by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides have been lost to literary antiquity, including many of their writings on Prometheus.

Both during and after the Renaissance, Prometheus would again emerge as a major inspiration for his literary and poetic significance as a symbol and archetype to inspire new generations of artists, sculptors, poets, musicians, novelists, playwrights, inventors, technologists, engineers, and film-makers. His literary and mythological personage remains prominently portrayed in contemporary sculpture, art and literary expression including Mary Shelley’s portrayal of Frankenstein as The Modern Prometheus. The influence of the myth of Prometheus extends well into the 20th and 21st century as well.

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Andromeda Tied to the Rock by the Nereids

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Andromeda Tied to the Rock by the Nereids

mythology art, greek mythology, andromeda, nereids, giclee prints, greek culture, world cultures, french art, figurative art, fine art posters

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Andromeda in Greek Mythology

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Andromeda in Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, Andromeda is the daughter of the Aethiopian king Cepheus and his wife Cassiopeia. When Cassiopeia’s hubris leads her to boast that Andromeda is more beautiful than the Nereids, Poseidon sends a sea monster, Cetus, to ravage Aethiopia as divine punishment. Andromeda is stripped and chained naked to a rock as a sacrifice to sate the monster, but is saved from death by Perseus.

Her name is the Latinized form of the Greek Ἀνδρομέδα (Androméda) or Ἀνδρομέδη (Andromédē): “ruler of men”, from ἀνήρ, ἀνδρός (anēr, andrós) “man”, and medon, “ruler”. As a subject, Andromeda has been popular in art since classical times; it is one of several Greek myths of a Greek hero’s rescue of the intended victim of an archaic hieros gamos (sacred marriage), giving rise to the “princess and dragon” motif. From the Renaissance, interest revived in the original story, typically as derived from Ovid’s account.

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