Journal Entry 5
Spirits in the Material World
Fri. 2/10 10:30 am –12 pm (Intro & Step One)
As discussed in class on Tuesday, February 14th, an example of a building gives a very good sense of what kind of leader a person was in order to have a building named after the person. In contradiction, there are highways, schools, statues and buildings named after racist men. This makes the idea of naming less appreciative because leaders who may not necessarily deserve the same recognition as others are receiving gratitude.
Power and prestige are definitely represented in the material forms of leadership that are closest to me. For example, the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial or the Thomas Jefferson memorial are all named after America’s Founding Fathers. Americans who take pride in the history and development of this country view the Founding Fathers as exemplar leaders. Statues such as Martin Luther King’s memorial in Washington D.C, Ruby Bridges’ statue in New Orleans, Louisiana and the Medger Evers statue in Jackson, Mississippi, on the contrary, depict leaders who assisted their people during times of racial tension and adversity. They, amongst many others who haven’t been granted a statue, fought for equality and freedom that they themselves were not always guaranteed to see (in the future.)
While I am in no way undermining the work of America’s Founding Fathers, we must question what kind of country we live in where abolitionists, racists and freedom fighters all deserve some form of recognition of power and leadership. Although America is literally the answer since America’s hypocrisies are nothing new, giving people recognition whose ideals do not match one of the entire country or region is unfair. And when these biased ideals are actually valued by people, we must question their leaders.
The memorials, buildings and statues to which I am directly exposed are great examples of community leadership. Although one person may be the center of attention, they often share quotes of the leader in which their selflessness, ideals or intelligence are displayed. Take the Statue of Liberty for example. Although her origins are controversial, whether she was modeled after a Black women, a Roman goddess or a Muslim woman, her individuality, poise and structure all speak to her message of freedom for all.
How is the composition arranged? Who goes where and who is doing what? Can you tell which figure is Alex the Great, and which one is Darius? How does the artist convey who is the victor in this struggle and who is the defeated party?
Seen in the mosaic are two fighters. The two leaders automatically capture your attention because one of them has the highest elevated head in the picture and a helmet on, while the other is the only one with his face shown on the right side of the picture, because of its quality.
In the mosaic, there are more weapons on the right than on the left. The direction in which the weapons are pointing show that the soldiers on the left side of the portrait are more prepared for the fight. The fighter on the left side of the portrait appears as if he is the one running away from defeat. I think that fighter is Darius III. According to the colors of the warriors on the right, they appear to have more men and be more prepared. The faces of both fighters appear to be one of concern. However, the fighter’s face that I believe is Darius III’s appears more of a fearful concern. However, Alexander the Great appears to be concerned about his soldier who appears to be struggling to fight. The artist is very detailed in what they want to portray in this mosaic despite the areas of ruin. They create a clear picture of the battle. The facial expressions of the fighter allow one to ponder on what goes on in the minds of warriors during battle.
Note- It is known as an “anastole” (a term used to refer to a hairstyle. It is the Greek term for a hairstyle that is typically seen in portraits of Alexander the Great (356–323))
Sun. 2/12 7- 10:30 pm (Step Two)
Interesting notation The color of the robe that covered Alexander the Great’s casket was purple. *one of my favorite colors :) Purple has been noted as a color that resembles and depicts royalty, despite sometimes being seen as feminine. Imagine the colors seen on the kings/queens in cartoons. They’re often gold, purple and red, even if the details are just small gems of purple and red.
Notes- Alexander the Great had a very iconic, royal casket. He was highly celebrated and respected, even in death.
An acroterion or acroterium or akroteria is “an architectural ornament placed on a flat base called the acroter or plinth, and mounted at the apex of the pediment of a building in the classical style.”
Theme for pictures (*suspended from the nets) “The majesty of the king, greatness of his power and exploits and the diverse, cultural character of his realm”
Interesting comparison of how both ancient Greeks and ancient Egyptians honored other human beings in death. But is this plausible? What does humanity receive in return honoring another, seemingly equal, human being? Should we praise other humans and give them as much recognition and praise as we do? Although I do acknowledge the necessity and importance of leaders, we must question ourselves, as humans, about what is stopping all of us from being leaders of some sort. There are still people who feel that they do not possess the capability to lead, even if they tried. Now I will acknowledge that there are adults who are incapable of making rational decisions. However, we must question what other characteristics they possess that will be beneficial to society or their immediate family and friends.
Inquiry: How did kings and other leaders view and treat artists, sculptors and painters? Were they treated with respect?
Greek art was used to make political statements. On the contrary, Hellenic art was often used to depict the strength and power of rulers. It was also used to glorify and praise rulers. Alexander the Great’s carriage is known as the first Hellenic work of art. This extravagant example embodies the perception of the purpose of Hellenic art.
Plutarch states “It is the statues of Lysippos which best convey Alex the Great’s physical appearance.” I found it interesting that Alexander the Great only allowed Lysippos to sculpt him. However, I can relate. As a woman, when you find the person who does your hair perfectly, why would you go to another one? Alexander the Great obviously valued how Lysippos sculpted him. According to findings, his work was very distinguishable and difficult to replicate.
What does the royal iconography depicted in this chapter, in each of its forms (sculpture, coins, gems, paintings) convey about leadership that a text could not convey?
The visual image of a leader, in various poses, displays the strength, intellectual ability and power of the leader. Although the strength and power of ancient leaders could be depicted through text, words are less descriptive than an imitation of an actual person. The preservation of art, with the exception of paintings, can sometime be more manageable than the preservation of text. For example, the statues shown in the article are centuries old. Texts that are centuries old most times are barely legible.
Because Alexander the Great has gone down in history as such a great influence, his iconic depiction of himself throughout history using art will be replicated. His followers will want to embody the idea of what he is. If one does not want to embody Alexander the Great, they cannot ignore the fact that possessing great artists such as Lysippo, Apelles and Pyrgoteles to replicate one’s image is a good idea.
Thoughts of power, purity and influence come to mind when viewing the various examples of material culture. Some paintings show the succession after battle or images on coins show the great warriors in their armor. During this time, being a great warrior also automatically translated to being a great leader.