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Passion and Violence in a Most Unassuming Art: The Wonders of Greek Vase Painting

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We see Greek vases standing in quiet dignity in museum galleries, their lovely shapes designed for service and display.  But more than any other art form, the decorations on them give us a most vivid insight into the lives and character of the ancient Greeks.  Painted with the greatest artistry, often by artists who signed their work and even boasted about their talent, they show us an energetic, rowdy people given to surprising extremes, in subjects taken sometimes from literature and at other times from daily life.   We see episodes of abandoned revelry celebrated alongside the brutalities of warfare; athletes, artists, work and sex are seen along with myths and jokes, magical spells and events that we just cannot understand.  This lecture will also introduce the forms of Greek vases and their functions, which often relate to the decorations of these wonderful art objects; and we will see why no one should want to pass by a display of Greek vases ever again.