Glossary


Aegean Sea:
The part of the Mediterranean between the Balkan peninsula, Crete and Asia Minor.

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agora:
In ancient Greece the agora was the public square in the lower part of the city, where citizen meetings were held. The council, magistrates and tribunals came together there under the protection of the gods.

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Alexander the Great:
Son of King Philip II of Macedonia, Alexander (356-323 BC) created a vast empire, through successive invasions of regions controlled by the King of Persia. In 331 BC, he entered Egypt and founded the city of Alexandria. He died in Babylon in 323 BC.

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altar:
In Greek religious ceremonies the altar was used for making sacrifices to the gods. Some altars were made of stone, and were sometimes reached via a staircase, like the Great Altar of Pergamon.

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Antioch:
Founded in approximately 300 BC by Seleucus I Nicator, Antioch became the capital of the Seleucid Empire and the center of the Hellenistic East. Conquered by the Romans in 64 BC, it was the Roman Empire's third city after Rome and Alexandria.

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Archaic period:
A period in Greek Art extending from 600–480 BC.

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Attalid dynasty:
The Attalid Dynasty (Attalus I Soter, Attalus II Philadelphus, and Attalus III Philometor) ruled the city of Pergamon and conquered a large part of Asia Minor during the Hellenistic Period.

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Attic:
Relating to Athens and its region (Attica).

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cantilever:
A building or object extending beyond its last point of support.

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Champoiseau:
In 1863 Charles François Noël Champoiseau (1830-1909), French vice-consul in Adrianople, received a grant from the imperial government in 1863 to carry out archaeological investigations on the island of Samothrace, where he discovered the Winged Victory.

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chiton:
Finely-pleated linen tunic belted at the waist, short and sleeveless for men, long and sleeved for women, worn next to the skin. The garment was fixed at the shoulders with stitching or one or more brooches or pins, hence the length of the chiton's sleeves could be adjusted.

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course:
A succession of stones of equal height set in a single horizontal row.

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Demetrius Poliorcetes:
Demetrius Poliorcetes (c. 336–283 BC) was a Macedonian general. Son of Antigonus the One-eyed, one of Alexander the Great's generals, he was king of Macedonia from 306 to 287 BC.

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Dioscuri:
In Greek and Roman mythology, the Dioscuri were Castor and Pollux, twin sons of Zeus and Leda. They were famous horsemen and took part in several legendary exploits such as hunting the Calydonian boar and the quest for the Golden Fleece with Jason and the Argonauts. After Castor's death, Zeus granted Pollux his wish of sharing his own immortality with his brother.

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halo:
Usually luminous but sometimes represented by a simple line, the halo encircled the head of Christ, the Virgin Mary and the Saints as an indication of their sacred status.

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Hellenistic period:
The term Hellenistic refers to the three centuries following the conquests of Alexander the Great (from 321 to 31 BC). During this period the conquered territories were influenced by trends in Greek art and culture.

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high relief:
Relief whose projecting shapes represent between half and three-quarters of the real volume of a human body or an object.

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himation:
Cloak consisting of a piece of rectangular woolen fabric, which could be worn in different ways. Men wore it over their chitons, or directly against the skin. It could be draped around the body, most often asymmetrically, or worn symmetrically around the upper arms like a shawl. Women wearing the himation could roll it around their hips, or pull one end up over their heads. By extension, the term applies to any freely-draped top garment or cloak.

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Kabeiroi:
The Kabeiroi were mysterious divinities worshiped in several parts of Greece, notably the islands of Samothrace and Imbros.

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Larissa:
Greek city in Thessaly.

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libation:
An offering of liquids such as milk, wine, or wine mixed with honey, made to a deity. The libation was poured from a phiale onto the ground or altar to mark a feast, the beginning of a journey, family worship, or in honor of the dead.

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Macedonia:
A region of northern Greece.

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Mysteries:
Unlike the common forms of worship that took place mainly in public, the Mysteries were characterized by the secrecy surrounding their celebration.

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Mollien:
Jean Gaspard Félix Ravaisson-Mollien (1813–1900) was a French philosopher and archaeologist.

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oar boxes:
On Greek battleships, the oar boxes extended outwards on each side of the hull, set sufficiently high to provide support for several superposed rows of oars. These cantilevered boxes gave Hellenistic ships the highly distinctive shape illustrated by the base of the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

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oar slots:
Four-sided openings in the hull of a ship through which the oars passed.

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Paros:
An island of the Cyclades, in the Aegean Sea.

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Parthenon:
A Doric building on the Acropolis in Athens, built between 447 and 432 BC by the architects Ictinos and Callicrates, doubtless supervised by Phidias. Despite its appearance, the Parthenon is not a temple, but a gigantic treasure-house designed to house the Athena Parthenos, a devotional statue by Phidias, made of gold and ivory, together with the treasury of the League of Delos, transferred to Athens in 454 BC.

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Philip V of Macedonia:
King Philip V of Macedonia (238–179 BC) was a member of the Antigonid Dynasty.

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prow:
The front part of a ship.

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Quattrocento:
An Italian term for the 15th century and more generally for the Early Renaissance, a sweeping cultural and intellectual movement born in Florence.

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ram:
A pointed projection on the bow of a ship, either for decoration or for piercing the hulls of other ships.

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Rhodes:
One of the islands of the Dodecanese archipelago in the Aegean Sea.

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stem:
An assemblage of pieces of wood or metal, usually rounded, attached to the keel and forming the prow of the ship.

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Theoi Megaloi:
Great Gods.

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Thessaly:
A region of Greece.

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waterline:
The level to which the water rises on the hull of a ship.

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