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Title: Time and religion in Hellenistic Athens : an interpretation of the Little Metropolis frieze
Authors: Haysom, Monica
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Two stones that form a part of the spolia on the Little Metropolis church (Aghios Eleutherios) in central Athens consist of a frieze depicting a calendar year. The thesis begins with a Preface that discusses the theoretical approaches used. An Introduction follows which, for reference, presents the 41 images on the frieze using the 1932 interpretation of Ludwig Deubner. After evaluating previous studies in Chapter 1, the thesis then presents an exploration of the cultural aspects of time in ancient Greece (Chapter 2). A new analysis of the frieze, based on ancient astronomy, dates the frieze to the late Hellenistic period (Chapter 3); a broad study of Hellenistic calendars identifies it as Macedonian (Chapter 4), and suggests its original location and sponsor (Chapter 5). The thesis presents an interpretation of the frieze that brings the conclusions of these chapters together, developing an argument that includes the art, religion and philosophy of Athenian society contemporary with the construction of the frieze. Given the date, the Macedonian connection and the link with an educational establishment, the final Chapter 6 presents an interpretation based not on the addition of individual images but on the frieze subject matter as a whole. This chapter shows that understanding the frieze is dependent on a number of aspects of the world of artistic connoisseurship in an elite, educated audience of the late Hellenistic period. Important is an awareness of their intellectual appreciation of the perfection of the cosmos and the links between this comprehension of a rational domain and religion. Coupling their wonder at these two spheres with the custom for enjoying enigmatic pieces of work leads to a conclusion that the frieze attempts to relate religion and astronomy, rather than present a straight-forward calendrical list of events.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of History, Classics and Archaeology

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