Show/hide main menu

Level 5

5AACAR20 Art and Power in the Age of Alexander (Hellenistic Art I)

Credit value: 15

Module convenor/tutor: Dr Eleni Zymi
Teaching pattern:
10 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list  for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 750-word commentary (30%); 1 x 2,000 essay (70%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Assessment (pre-2019/20)

1 x essay of 2,500 words (60%); 2 x commentary of 750 words (20% each)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

In the first century AD, Pliny the Elder famously claimed in his Natural History that art ceased in the early third century BC only to be revived in the middle of the second century by artists much inferior to their predecessors. This damning opinion of Hellenistic art has long influenced its study, but the surviving material shows it to be a dynamic, varied and complex art subject to technological innovation, exotic influence and demand for realism, caricature, humour and eroticism.

This course traces its development from the death of Alexander through to the Battle at Actium between Octavian, later the Emperor Augustus, and Mark Antony, in an area extending from Italy, Sicily and Punic North Africa, across the Attalid, Macedonian, Ptolemaic and Seleucid Kingdoms bordering the Mediterranean and out east to Bactria and Persia. The sheer variety of influences provides a unique opportunity to study the indigenous art of each area alongside the processes leading to the creation of hybrid forms.

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

  • Burn, L. Hellenistic art from Alexander the Great to Augustus (Los Angeles, 2005).
  • Bugh, G.R. The Cambridge companion to the Hellenistic world (Cambridge, 2006).
  • Charbonneaux, J. Hellenistic art (New York, 1973).
  • Davis, N. & C.M. Kraay, The Hellenistic Kingdoms: portrait coins and history (London, 1973).
  • Errington, R.M. A history of the Hellenistic world(Oxford, 2008).
  • Erskine A. (ed.), A companion to the Hellenistic world (Oxford, 2003). [Esp. Stewart]
  • Green, P. Alexander to Actium: the historical evolution of the Hellenistic age (Berkeley, 1990).
  • Ogden, D. (ed.), The Hellenistic world: new perspectives (Swansea, 2002).
  • Onians, J. Art and thought in the Hellenistic world (London, 1979).
  • Pollitt, J.J. Art in the Hellenistic age (Cambridge, 1986).
  • Robertson, M. A history of Greek art (Cambridge, 1975).
  • Smith, R.R.R. Hellenistic sculpture (London, 1991).
  • Smith, R.R.R. ‘The use of images: visual history and ancient history’ in T.P. Wiseman (ed.), Classics in progress: essays on ancient Greece and Rome (Oxford, 2002), 59-102.
  • Westgate, R.C. ‘Hellenistic Mosaics’, in D. Ogden (ed.), The Hellenistic World: New Perspectives (Swansea 2002), 221–51
Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454