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Ancient Greek Values Infused in Art

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Ancient Greek Values Infused in Art

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  • December 2005
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There were three ideas and values that defined Greek culture; rationalism, idealism and humanism. These values were a large part of their society, infusing the people so deeply that it showed in everything from politics to art. Rationalism, a theory of intellect and reason being the key source of knowledge, was evident in the Greek's architecture and the way they viewed themselves, humans. Idealism brought out the best of all the abilities of the Greeks, only viewing and thinking about things in their most ideal form. Humanism was also revealed in every aspect of their lives, in the way they took breaks from work and toil to enjoy games to being able to adapt to anything. The concept focused mainly on the achievements, values, and abilities of humans. These three values are apparent in the Doryphoros, and the Parthenon temple.

The Doryphoros, a sculpture by Polyclitus and also called the Spear bearer, is a great example of the combination of these three ideas. This sculpture is well known as the Canon, being perfect in proportion of body parts. It also embodies these three values of rationalism, idealism, and humanism. The reason the Doryphoros is considered to be an example of perfect proportion is because Polyclitus used complex mathematical relationships to figure out the proportion of a body part to another body part. This is a good example of rationalism, using only facts and basic knowledge objectively to find the perfect proportions. He based these mathematical relationships on a unit of measure called a module. So a certain number of modules would make up the length of a forearm, which would be equal to the width of the chest and so on. Idealism is obvious when looking at the sculpture itself. It is a beautifully carved sculpture of someone in the prime of their life. A warrior like physique coupled with flawless features shows what an ideal Greek man would look like. Humanism is also infused in the figure. The Doryphoros is a glorification of humans...

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