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Polytheism and the Arts in the Ancient World.

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Arts Age Levels High School (16 to 18 years old), Post-Secondary

This collection explores the roles of art, architecture, music, literature and philosophy in the polytheistic cultures of the Ancient World. It contains examples of the influence of polytheism throughout the Ancient world and is targeted towards those with a curiosity towards this concept. 

Societies as early as the Sumerian and Mesopotamian cultures express ideas of polytheism. Sculpture from these early cultures depicts anthropomorphic versions of their gods, and ruins of ziggurats, or early Sumerian temples, also provide evidence of polytheistic values. The Sumerian people constructed individual temples to worship their gods with each one housing a statue of the honored god.

The idea of architecture and sculpture as homages to the gods continues throughout antiquity. The Ancient Greeks erected the Erichthonius Temple, with its exquisitely carved caryatid support sculptures, on the Acropolis in Athens Greece to honor the Goddess Athena and the magnificent Roman Pantheon initially served as a place of worship of the gods by the Roman people. 

Literature and music also depict themes of polytheism in the Ancient World. Evidence found on ancient vessels, ruins and artwork suggests that music was performed as part of religious ceremonies in Ancient Egypt. The Greeks utilized music in their theatrical performances and religious rites going so far as to develop various modes of music still employed today. Various musical modes would be performed to reinforce themes of theatrical performances or religious ceremonies. The emergence of early Greek drama helped to reinforce polytheistic ideals with performances intended to celebrate and appease the gods. Earliest examples of Greek drama are plays that were performed in celebration of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility and other Gods. 


References 

“Polytheism.” AllAboutHistory.org, www.allabouthistory.org/polytheism.htm. Accessed 2 Feb. 2019.

“An Introduction to... Ancient Greek Theatre.” An Introduction to... Ancient Greek Theatre | APGRD, www.apgrd.ox.ac.uk/learning/an-introduction-to/an-introduction-to-ancient-greek-theatre. Accessed 2 Feb. 2019.

“An Introduction to... Ancient Greek Theatre.” An Introduction to... Ancient Greek Theatre | APGRD, www.apgrd.ox.ac.uk/learning/an-introduction-to/an-introduction-to-ancient-greek-theatre. Accessed 3 Feb. 2019.

Benton, Janetta Rebold, and Robert DiYanni. Arts and Culture: an Introduction to the Humanities: Combined Volume. 4th ed., Prentice Hall, 2012.

Black, J. A. Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 119, no. 4, 1999, pp. 698–698. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/604860. Accessed 2 Feb. 2019
 
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Erechtheum.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2 May 2016, www.britannica.com/topic/Erechtheum. Accessed 2 Feb. 2019.

Cartwright, Mark. “Caryatid.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 9 Feb. 2019, www.ancient.eu/Caryatid/.

Lloyd, Ellen. “Mysterious Sumerian Statues With Big Blue Eyes - A Sign From The Gods.” Ancient Pages, Ancient Pages, 6 Jan. 2019, www.ancientpages.com/2017/02/23/mysterious-sumerian-statues-big-blue-eyes-sign-gods/. Accessed 3 Feb. 2019.

Nasios, Angelo, and Angelo Nasios. “The Hearth of Hellenism: Did the Philosophers Believe in God?” Patheos, Patheos, 2 Oct. 2017, www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2017/10/hearth-hellenism-2-2/. Accessed 3 Feb. 2019.

Image Credits

Funerary scene:
Stele (Wood; painted; ht. 12").. Artstor, https://corvette.salemstate.ed...

Sumerian statue: 
Statue (gypsum, shell, lapis lazuli, bitumen; ht. 36 1/4").. Early Dynastic IIIb; 2500-2400 B.C.. Artstor, https://corvette.salemstate.ed...

Greek Lyre:
Vessel (krater; red-figure).. ca. 420-400 B.C.. Artstor, https://corvette.salemstate.ed...

Pantheon
Maerten van Heemskerck. Frontal View of the Pantheon [Ansicht des Pantheons von vorn]. ca. 1532-36. Artstor, https://corvette.salemstate.ed...

Caryatids:
Artstor, https://corvette.salemstate.ed...

Epidaurus Theatre: 
Ronny Siegel [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons, 2/10/19 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... 

#AHMC2019




Funerary scene in Ancient Egypt

Louvre Museum, Paris France.

Ancient Sumerian Statue

National Museum of Damascus

Apollo and his lyre

Archive for Research on Archetypal Symbolism

The Roman Pantheon

Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin