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Introduction: Viewing Personifications In Classical Athens

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter of this book, which investigates the role of civic personifications-figures like Peitho and Hygieia-in Classical Athenian art and therefore directly addresses the questions about the Hamilton Vase and many similar questions about the role of personifications in the visual arts of Athens. Peitho and Hygieia are personifications, representations of abstractions in human form. The importance of these virtues in civic and private affairs underlines their relevance at weddings and their appropriateness on such a 'wedding vase'. The book examines how Athenian artists used personifications to say something about their polis. It focuses on those personifications whose human forms, whether labeled or not, were deliberately used as the literal representations of nonhuman entities, i.e., personifications named after the concepts they represent.

Keywords: Athenian art; Hamilton Vase; Hygieia; Peitho; personifications; polis

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