Ancient Greek Literature in Art

Over the centuries, the authors and characters of Ancient Greek literature have been portrayed in many different ways; here are a few below. If you want to see an artwork in a larger size, just click on the image. To learn more about classical Greek art, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrun Timeline of Art History, which offers excellent images, including photos of several urns, and detailed, interesting information; some unclad human figures are included.

 

Athena's head is depicted on this Greek silver coin dating from 335-330 BC.

“Athena” [Minerva] by unknown Greek artist
silver coin, 335-330 BC
The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
Creative Commons License

This fragment of papyrus, containing a passage from the Odyssey, dates from the 1st century B.C.

(click image to zoom in)
Scroll Fragment of
“The Odyssey”
,
[scribe unknown,]

1st century B.C., Papyrus
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California.
Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.
The passage on this fragment describes the reaction of Ulysses’ men when he frees them from bondage to Circe.

Antigone Pouring a Libation over the Corpse of Her Brother Polynices by William Henry Rineahrt, 1867-18700; carved 1870 Gift of the family of John H. Hall, in his memory, 1891 (91.4) Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Antigone Pouring a Libation over the Corpse of Her Brother Polynices,
by William Henry Rinehart
, 1867-18700; carved 1870. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the family of John H. Hall, in his memory, 1891 (91.4). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Terracotta plaque, ca. 460-450 BC, artist unknown The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1930 (30.11.9) Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. From the description from the Metropolitan Museum website: “Odysseus returning to Penelope....Here [Odysseus] is shown approaching the disconsolate Penelope, as the faithful members of his household—his father, Laertes, his son, Telemachos, and the swineherd Eumaios—look on.”

Terracotta plaque, ca. 460-450 BC,
artist unknown

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Fletcher Fund, 1930 (30.11.9)
Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
From the description from the Metropolitan Museum website: “Odysseus returning to Penelope….Here [Odysseus] is shown approaching the disconsolate Penelope, as the faithful members of his household—his father, Laertes, his son, Telemachos, and the swineherd Eumaios—look on.”

Sophocles, date and artist unknown, photograph taken by Marie-Lan Nguyen, 2010

Sophocles, date and artist unknown, photograph taken by Marie-Lan Nguyen, 2010

Bust of Homer from the Vatican Museum. Original artist unknown; photograph by Marie-Lan Nguyen, 2006.

Bust of Homer from the Vatican Museum. Original artist unknown; photograph by Marie-Lan Nguyen, 2006.

Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn), from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Fall of Icarus sculpture

The Fall of Icarus, a 17th-century relief sculpture.

Antigone and the Body of Polynices

Antigone and the Body of Polynices

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