Spirits in the Material World

“Spirits in the Material World”.

Hours 1–3: Throughout much of last week as well as over the weekend I have been pretty sick. I was unable to make it to class on Thursday. I spent most of the weekend starting the module. The module opens with three sppecific terms we will be using throughout the module:

Iconography: (there were three versions of the deifnition but I liked the last one the most) the imagery or symbolism of a work of art, an artist, or a body of art.

Iconology: The study of visual imagery and its symbolism and interpretation, esp. in social or political terms.

Material Culture: The material remains of a past society, including artifacts and ecofacts.

In your world, where do you see leadership (i.e., power, authority, prestige, particular leadership virtues) represented in material culture?

  • I think there is leadership shown on many platforms. Buildings and things like that can be considered leadership, like who can build the tallest building or the best building can be considered a leader. The same applies with consumer goods like the iphone. Lots of people consider Apple to be the “leader” in the phone industry.

Next, consider this question: what kind of leadership do your examples display? Individual leadership? Community leadership? If your examples communicate power, what kind of power? How is power legitimized? How do you think the display of leadership and power are related?

  • I think my examples display community leadership. Apple benefits a good number of Americans with their products, they hold the power of the number one communication device and it is legitimized by the reviews.

The module begins with the “Alexander Mosaic”.

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?

  • The mosaic is arranged with two opposing sides. Alexander and Darius III are the two distinct figures that you can make out. Alexander is on the left and Darius III is on the right. The horse pulling the chariot that Darius III is in is clearly turning back, which indicates a retreat and the expressions on Darius III’s face show either shock or worry.

Now focus in on the faces of Alex and Darius in the slideshow above. What message does the artist send about leadership and retreat in the facial expressions of these two kings? Note that Alex the Great has a lock of hair that stands straight up from his forehead. This is an “iconographical signifier” that identifies him as the conqueror of the known world at the time, and all images of him contain this marker. It is known as an “anastole”.

  • Alex the Great has a very steadfast facial expression which signifies his leadership, whereas Darius III’s facial expressions are of worry.

Consider the audience of this mosaic. It was found in one of the rich Pompeian villas and would have been viewed by the owners and their guests. What kind of response in the audience would this image provoke?

  • I think that the people admired leadership and people who win battles and I think it would have provoked a sense of pride in Alexander the Great, because he won battles and led his people.

In addition, Alexander had been dead for almost 300 years by the time Pompeii was buried. Why would the Romans not have pictured their own leaders instead?

  • Everyone wants to see the depiction of a leadership that did not fail. People like to envision successful leadership because we value that more over a turbulent and failed leadership.

The second section of the module was about Iconology and the images of Alexander the Great.

How does Pollitt describe the change in art from the Classical Greek period to the Hellenistic Greek period?

-The classical Greeks would build monuments or buildings. Sculptures depicting the actual person were brought about during the Hellenistic Greek period. There was a shift and they began to focus more on the characteristics of he leader and their key events.

Why does Alex, according to Plutarch, allow only Lysippos to sculpt his portrait?

-Alex only allowed Lysippos to sculpt him because he felt that he was the only one who could really capture his image and portray it correctly.

What traits of leadership do the marble portraits convey?

-The marble portraits are said to convey a leaders ethos or personal character as well arete or the virtues that the people admire.

Take a close look at the coins depicted in this chapter. How do they align leadership with divinity? How do they accommodate for different ethnic or cultural groups?

  • The coin depicting Alexander with the sheath and the lightening bolt imply his divine right, because he is a son of Zeus.

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?

-I think it conveys how important the leaders physical image was and how it was essentially glorified.

-That the physical image of a leader was important not only to the leader for propaganda purposes, but for the people as well.

Why do you think Alex’ successors — the Hellenistic kings — copy this style of royal iconography?

-I think they copy this style because they see it as a successful style and people tend to want to imitate success because they know that it will be effective.

Hours 5.5: On Tuesday we opened up class with a Dr. Sandridge guitar lesson. This guitar lesson reminded me of a time when I lived in Hawaii and one of the natives named Kapuna would come and teach us chords on the Ukulele. We would strum the same chord until we all got it right and then we would eventually add words. I didn’t really enjoy the Ukulele because I remember it would leave blisters on my finger so I only ever played the piano but the two are very similar, with the exception that one instrument is portable.

We also discussed the different chords and the three ways to reduce stress: Running long distance, sex and music. We discussed how its not enough to just listen to music, but you have to make music.

Throughout class we discussed the topic of leaders having to do things and make decisions that may not necessarily appeal to the following. We used the example of President Fredrick meeting with the Secretary of Education. There was a lot of conflict around this meeting but in the end President Fredrick had to do what he had to do. I would not question his morals simply over a meeting.

Hours 6–7: The second section of the module deals with Augustus.

View the film on the Ara Pacis, pausing it where it shows Augustus: :39, 1:44, 2:51; 3:07, 3:39, and 8:29. Take notes on how Augustus is representing himself. What does he look like? What is he wearing, and what do you think his clothing “means”?

  • Augustus is shown as almost a savior. He is clad in robes and looks very noble when he is standing and the people around him appear to be very approving and close to him.

Spend at least five minutes looking closely at each of the images on the slideshow how is Augustus’ “look” different from Alexander’s, and where are there similarities?

  • Augustus looks more soft, not in a sense of weakness, but in a sense of tempermant. The pictures display him in robes and cherubs around him. I think the Augustus of Prima Porta displays his military leadership more because of the strong pose and armor.

What does it mean to have women and children on this monument — what is Alexander trying to convey about them, do you think?

  • I think women and children were on the monument to show that Augustus is a hero to all, not just men, but women and children too.

The altar itself is a symbol of his leadership, and conveys symbolism associated with nature, fertility, and religion:

Why are these three aspects important? How are they interrelated?

  • These aspects are important because these ideals were very prominent in those times. They are all interrelated in the fact that they somewhat depend on each other.

One panel shows Aeneas, the mythical founder of Rome, who was thought to have been Augustus’ ancestor. Why was it important to include this on the altar: what does that do for the perception of Augustan Leadership?

  • I think that by adding Aeneas it sort of adds an air of doubt that maybe Augustus did not found Rome. Aeneas presence represents the doubts of some people and it in a way undermines Augustus’s leadership because of the conflict between the two people.

Hours 8–10: The next section was about the Roman Emperor, Trajan. Trajan had a diffrent look than that of Alexander the Great, but they had similarities as a military leader. I think it is important to note the similarities and differences in apperance between ancient leaders because it helps us define how leadership has evolved.

Trajan’s column is an example of how ancient artifacts and rulers can still have an impact on the world today. His column has inspired more monuments to be built.

The column stands and is covered in carvings depicting battles, marches, negotiations, speeches, etc.

Where do we today have examples of Bildsprache — language through images, with or without words? How do these examples work to convey their messages?

  • When I was younger I went to elementary school in Georgia. They had picture books in the library, which were just books without words. I enjoyed them because although Im sure they had an intended story I was able to imagine the story being told for myself and that can be an example of Bildspache.

Can you tell who are the Romans, and who are the Dacians?

  • The Romans are on the side of Trajan in the first war scene and thats when I was able to differentiate between them.

What do you notice about dress?

  • The Romans when in battle wear helmets and armor and they carry shields.

Can you see any women, and what are they doing?

  • In the 4th scene Trajan is depicted directing women and children into boats and I beleive there may be women present in scene 5 where Trajan is giving a speech.

Are the Romans clearly depicted as winning and the Dacians as losing in every slide?

  • I would say that the Romans are depicted as winning. In the first battle scene, the Romans seem to be pushing the Dacian’s forces back. Then after the war there are scenes that depicts the surrender and fleeing of the Dacian people as well as the suicide of their King Decebalus.

What kind of information do the slides give you about architecture, war machinery, and the natural environment? Why do you think this information was included?

  • The slides and just the column in general are a true statement to how grand architecture was in ancient times. The meticulus carvings on a 180 ft tall stone column is a fantastic feat. We also see how important war was and how it was almost essintial for a leader to be considered great.

Continuing to look at the column, there were four scenes that depicted Trojan leading in various situations:

Trajan addressing his troops.
Trajan giving rewards to a soldier.
Trajan receiving the severed heads of Dacian kings.
Trajan makes a religious sacrifice.

How is Trajan portrayed as a leader in these four scenes?

  • Trajan is seen standing near the front or in the middle of the gathering and he always portrays a grand gesture as he addresses the people.

Is he easily recognizable?

  • I believe he is easily recognizable because his image carved in stone seems almost bigger than the others. The scenes that he is in, the people are always angled toward him.

Why is that important?

  • It is important because it displays his command presence. When he is around people will turn to him to see him and hear what he has to say. The greatest command presence is when you don’t even have to say anything a the following just knows what you expect of them.

How are other men portrayed — do you see distinctions in dress, hairstyles, etc? Do you think these represent individual portraits or generic soldiers? Why or why not?

  • The Roman soldiers are dressed similarly to Trajan, but they do not carry the long robe that hangs off his shoulder in many of the scenes.

What messages about his leadership do the scenes on the columns convey?

  • I think it shows that he was an effective leader because he had the attention of his followers, and they went into war with him. I feel like anyone who will go to war with you trusts you as a leader.

The Romans in the Forum would not have been able to view the reliefs at all, really, because the column was set on a gigantic base that contained Trajan’s tomb, and the stairs were on the inside of the column. In your mind, is this monument still an effective display of Trajan’s military leadership if you can’t actually “read” the images? Why or why not?

  • I think the monument is still an effective display because it was a symbol of his leadership. When you see the column you know why it was bult. Leaders want their legacy to outlive them, and in Trajan’s case it has. This column is still standing and people still look to it for inspiration and in awe. I think the column accomplished what it was intended to.
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