Laconian marble grave relief depicting two enthroned heroes receiving offerings from (far smaller) worshipers.  Artist unknown; ca. 550-530 BCE.  Found at Chrysapha, near Sparta; now in the Altes Museum, Berlin.


Greek Xenon Ware Kylix with Laconian Hound, Southern Italy, Apulia, 325 BC

This is a beautiful kylix, a drinking cup, with two raised handles extending from near the rim and a pronounced foot. The black background has attained some iridescence from the firing process. A laurel leaf motif wraps the interior and exterior rims; in the center of the interior is a charmingly posed dog. All are in a pale orange/pink tone. This style of overpainting on blackware is known as Xenon ware, a uniquely Apulian version of an Attic style.

The dog has pointed ears, a long tail, and a body built for speed - this is the famous Laconian hound, the swift, Spartan dog known to be native to ancient Greece, used for hunting, guarding the home and livestock, and of course canine companionship.

Xenophon, the ancient Greek philosopher and military leader describes these dogs in detail in chapter 4 of Cynegeticus, his treatise about hunting with dogs.

Heracles grapples with the Cretan Bull, while a Siren watches from a branch above.  Tondo of a Laconian black-figure kylix, in the manner of the Arcesilas Painter; ca. 550 BCE.  Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Photo credit: Claire H./Wikimedia Commons.


Extremely Rare Stater From Crete, 4th Century BC

From the city of Polyrhenion, the obverse with the laureate head of Zeus, the reverse with the facing head of a sacrificial bull with pendant fillets hanging from its horns; ΧΑΡΙΣΘΕ above, ΠΟΛΥΡΗΝΙΟΝ around - Extremely Fine. Extremely Rare, and among the finest known examples.

Polyrhenion was one of the oldest Dorian settlements in Crete. According to Strabo, it was settled in archaic times by Achaean and Laconian immigrants. Excavations from 1938 exposed a temple which was probably dedicated to Zeus, as well as other unidentifiable structures.

The sacrifice of bulls was a universal element of Greek religion, especially in Crete, which was full of mythological traditions relating to the bull, either by it being directed by a god or as a theriomorphic god in the form of a bull. The importance of the bull in Cretan culture was present even before the Mycenaean Greeks arrived there in the 14th century BC. The origin of the idea of bull (or ox) sacrifice was believed to be from the story of Prometheus in Hesiod’s Theogeny (521-616). During a sacrificial meal at Mecone which celebrated the “settling of accounts” between mortals and immortals, Prometheus deceived Zeus by giving him a delicious looking portion of the ox that was nothing but its bones “wrapped in glistening fat.” This ensured that humans would be able to keep the meaty part of the animal for themselves and burn bones wrapped in fat as offerings to the gods.

icelandlesbian  asked:

this is really random but i was wondering if you know any Cool Facts about ancient sparta? sorry for the random question i've just been reading & interested in it lately!

here’s a cool quote about sparta from plutarch’s life of lycurgus:

Μουσικωτάτους γὰρ ἅμα καὶ πολεμικωτάτους ἀποφαίνουσιν αὐτούς: 

ῥέπει γὰρ ἄντα τῶ σιδάρω τὸ καλῶς κιθαρίσδεν,

ὡς ὁ Λακωνικὸς ποιητὴς εἴρηκε.

for [the spartans] reveal themselves simultaneously most musical and most warlike: 

‘for playing the kithara skillfully is weighed on par with the sword,’ 

as the laconian poet* has said.

*alcman, fragment 35 bergk

My New Favorite Story from History

So there’s this guy Cleisthenes in ancient Greece, with a beautiful daughter Agarista, and he’s like “oh man, only the best for my daughter” so he goes to the olympics and announces “alright if you want to marry my daughter come back to my place and I’ll pick the coolest guy after judging you all.” He’s serious about this, he builds some sports stuff to check out how good these guys are.

And so a bunch of dudes go to his house, and stay with him for a year, and he comes to like this guy Hippocleides in particular, so at the end of the year he announces that he has chosen Hippocleides to marry his daughter Agarista, and they all throw a wild party.

And Hippocleides busts out his funkiest dance moves. He does the Laconian, he does the Attic, and Cleisthenes starts to get mad because evidently these are some inappropriate funky dance moves, but Cleisthenes just kind seethes with disapproval and sits, but then Hippocleides busts out his ultimate move, and that’s when it gets real.

Hippocleides does a handstand (with no underwear, because that wasn’t a thing in ancient greece) and starts clapping his legs to the beat, in the air. And Cleisthenes, when he sees the upside down man with legs clapping and balls flapping says “you have danced away your marriage!” And Hippocleides says, (and I’m quoting the text here,) “Hippocleides doesn’t care.” And Herodotus, our heroic narrator, notes that this is where the phrase “Hippocleides doesn’t care” comes from. 

Thanks, Ancient Greece.

Ancient Greek Dog Rhyton, c. 340-325 BC

Molded into the shape of a Laconian dog, the rhyton comes from the ancient Greek colony of Apulia, in what is now southern Italy. The vessel was designed with a wide mouth at one end, with the other pierced with a small hole.

It is believed that the cup would have been used to scoop wine from a larger carrier, blocking the hole with a thumb, before releasing again to let the fluid drain out. The stunning item bears the trademark style of ancient Greece, painted in black over terracotta.

Ancient Art

A Greek Late Archaic Bronze Kore From a Candelabrum or Thymiaterion

Bronze, Late Archaic, early third quarter of the 6th century B.C.E., South Ionian?, Allegedly from Ionia

H. 16.2 cm. (statue); 6.75 cm. (base)

Solid-cast by the lost wax process, carefully worked in the cold.

The Kore was the main element of a candelabrum or thymiaterion - the bowl would have been affixed to the flat top of her head.

Her general stance and attitude are the same, in her upraised right hand she holds an open lotus flower, whereas it is closed on our example. Other features, in spite of differences, evoke a similar feeling, in part because they fulfil a similar function.

For instance, the cylindrical cushion elements above her head and below her feet; on the Berlin piece the moulding on the elements is divided by three vertical incisions and on ours by a raised ridge.

The Berlin statuette is acknowledged as a typical Laconian bronze, but here the face and short thorax are very different as to the volume which is both rounded and compact.

Furthermore, the Berlin figure is sober in comparison to our more voluptuous eastern Kore with the flaring element under its feet carrying a stylized lotus and palmette pattern, and other details such as the more complicated folds of her clothing and the rich engraving on her sleeves.

In conclusion, these differences lead us to believe that the Kore is one of what must have been numerous East Greek prototypes responsible for so many features of Laconian artistic production of the period and responsible for influencing other areas as well [3].

She probably comes from an artistic centre in the Miletus-Didyma region.

A possible comparison, though it is only a fragment, in marble, different in many details and later in date, is the Kore from Didyma

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