The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great
In the NYR Daily, Garry Wills writes, “Twenty-one Greek museums and four North American museums have cooperated to collect over five hundred artifacts from Ancient Greece in an extraordinary exhibition called ‘The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great.’ Much of this material, most telling the finds from Mycenae and Vergina, reminds us that we learn a great deal about Greek art by being grave robbers. The immensely privileged eased themselves into the afterlife with much of the booty that had cushioned their time on earth. It seems they aimed at taking along enough symbols of power and wealth to get whatever passes for honor in the underworld. Greek and Roman rulers and victors wore wreaths more often than crowns; so we find gold imitations of the rich foliation of crowns made from different tree branches. Phillip II was buried in an underground miniature temple wearing an oak leaf wreath made with stunning realism by his little army of goldsmiths. That wreath is not in the show, but visitors can see the gold myrtle wreath worn by his queen Meda, who was buried with Philip. It has scores of minutely accurate branches, buds, and blossoms, in a miracle of craftsmanship—enough to teach us why so many Renaissance artists began as members of the goldsmith guilds.”
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