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Visualizing Creation in Ancient Greece

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There is very little direct representation of acts of creation in Greek art. This paper examines the visual potential of the extended creation narrative first related by Hesiod, focusing on the handful of episodes which are to be found in the visual arts—the births of Aphrodite and Athene, Zeus's slaying of Typhon and the Gigantomachy—while attempting to account for their selection. It also considers the remarkable lack of an authoritative account of the creation of mankind in the archaic and classical periods, and the relatively late development of Prometheus's role as man's creator, which contrasts with the much earlier establishment of traditions concerning local “first men” and the creation of the first woman, Pandora.


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Affiliations: 1: University of Leeds


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