The period of high classics (V century BC). Art.


Theatrical performances go back to the cult acts in honor of Dionysus, at which the initiators of dithyrambs (songs in honor of God) performed. Since 534 BC, the display of tragedies has been officially included in the Dionysian festivities. The tragedy at first was a playful performance associated with the companions of Dionysus goat-footed creatures - satyrs, from which the word tragedy - "song of goats" - originated. When the plots of the productions go beyond the Dionysian festivities and playwrights turn to heroic tales, tragedies lose their cheerful character and become part of public life.

The heyday of the Greek theater falls on the period of high classics and is associated with the names of three great playwrights: Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. The Greeks themselves tried to link these three names, timing them to the famous naval battle with the Persians at Salamis (480): when Aeschylus fought, Sophocles led the chorus of young men praising the victory, and Euripides was just born.

Aeschylus (525-456), the "father of Greek tragedy", came from a noble Eleusinian family, participated in the Greco-Persian wars, in the battles of Marathon and Salamis, created over 80 works, of which only seven have been completely preserved ("Persians", "Seven against Thebes", "Prometheus Chained", the Oresteia trilogy, etc.). Before Aeschylus, tragedies were a dialogue between one actor and a chorus - the playwright introduced a second actor to the stage.

Aeschylus is characterized by a conviction in the rational arrangement of the world, existing according to eternal laws under the supervision of the gods. Human actions can shake this world order, but they cannot change it. The conflict between human passions and the unshakable world order is a characteristic feature of Aeschylus' works. For example, in the tragedy "Persians", describing the defeat of the Persians at the island of Salamis, the victory of the Greeks is interpreted not only as a consequence of their military and political superiority, but also as a result of the criminal pride of King Xerxes, who attempted to change the existing world order.

Sophocles (496-406) came from a family of a wealthy Athenian gunsmith, received an excellent education, was familiar with Herodotus and the major political figure of Athens, Pericles, held high positions, but did not succeed in the public field, although he was respected for his honesty. During his life he created more than 120 tragedies, of which, like Aeschylus, only seven have survived ("Antigone", "Oedipus the King", "Elektra", etc.). In his dramas, Sophocles increased the number of actors to three.

Sophocles' work coincided with the highest rise of Athenian democracy and reflected, on the one hand, the Greeks' awareness of the fullness of human freedom, and on the other, their doubts about the inviolability of religious and moral foundations. In Sophocles' tragedies, people, being free and responsible for their actions, come into conflict with the objectively existing order of things and violate moral, religious or state-established norms. They manage to correct the mistake only with the help of the gods, who do not directly interfere in people's lives, but make themselves felt through prophecies. For example, in the tragedy "Antigone", the main character, the daughter of Oedipus Antigone, performs a symbolic burial of her brother Polynices, whose body was forbidden to be buried by the ruler of Thebes, Creon. Captured by the guards, Antigone declares to the king that he has no right to violate moral and divine laws. However, Creon considers his will above these regulations and orders the execution of a girl who, being imprisoned in a cave, commits suicide. As punishment for the crime, the gods deprive Creon of his only son and wife.

Euripides (c. 484-406) was born on the island of Salamis, did not enjoy the same fame during his lifetime as his predecessors, moved to Macedonia, where he died. Euripides created 92 dramas, 17 of them have been preserved ("Medea", "Bacchantes", "Iphigenia in Aulis", etc.). Almost all extant tragedies were written in the early years of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, which left an imprint on his work as a tragedian.

Euripides, unlike Aeschylus and Sophocles, is more interested in the inner contradictory world of man than the unshakable world order surrounding him, which, in his opinion, may not be intelligent enough. In the tragedies of Euripides, human moral values lose their basis, and the source of conflict becomes the inner experiences of a person. In Medea, the wife of the Argonauts leader Jason, the daughter of the king of Colchis Medea, wanting to take revenge on her husband who cheated on her, kills him along with her children and a new spouse, but the crime does not bring satisfaction to Medea, but only devastates her.

In the V century BC, after the tragedies, a new dramatic genre appeared - comedy (from the Greek "to make a procession"), also dating back to the Dionysian festivals, at which humorous and sometimes obscene songs were performed. The comedy was first staged at the Great Dionysias in 486 BC. The folklore source of comedies is everyday scenes with an altercation between two actors, one of whom beats the other.

The greatest comedian of the era of high classics was Aristophanes (ca. 446 - ca. 385), who wrote about 40 comedies, 11 of them reached ("Clouds", "The World", "Women in the People's Assembly", etc.). Like Euripides, Aristophanes' work was associated with the Peloponnesian War. His comedies describe the social utopia of ordinary people weary of war, whose ideals have remained in the past. These farmers willingly enjoyed the benefits of democracy, but did not accept its extreme manifestations associated with the need to wage war - this was how satire on political figures was born. For example, in the comedy "The World", a simple farmer riding a huge dung beetle ascends Olympus to free the goddess of peace, who was in captivity with the god of war.

Visual art. Sculpture.

The art of high classics is quite fully characterized by the words of Pericles, the strategist who stood at the head of Athens for fifteen years: "We love beauty without whimsicality and wisdom without effeminacy." The wise Solon put it even more briefly: "Nothing superfluous." These were the basic principles underlying Greek art.

Statues were not belonging to museums and were installed in temples, in open-air squares, in crowded places, and passers-by perceived them as part of everyday life. Sculptures were usually painted with bright colors, and were perceived accordingly. The idealized image of snow-white statues appeared only in the Renaissance. In addition, most of the Greek statues are known from Roman copies, sometimes not of the best quality, since the originals have not been preserved. In the classical era, portrait art was not developed: in sculptures, attention was paid primarily to the plasticity of the body, and not to facial expression.

One of the first major sculptors of the classical era was Polycletus, who wrote a special work - "Canon". The artist was interested in the problem of the form inherent in each statue, and in the "Canon" he tried to identify the main elements that make up the human body, to subordinate them to a certain numerical ratio. Polycletus formalized art as much as possible, looking for universally valid laws of proportions, and created a statue of Doriphorus (spearman) as an illustration of his composition. In the spearman, everything is verified with mathematical precision: for example, the head is 1/8 of the height of the figure, the hand is 1/10. This absolute, terrible in its perfection, systematization is realized in the statue, which nevertheless has a living plasticity due to a technique called chiasm, thanks to which it is not completely clear whether the Dorifor is moving or not. The right leg, slightly set back, is opposed by the left arm with a spear clamped in it, and the left leg, on which the body weight fell, is opposed by the free-hanging right arm: if you draw lines along the shoulder girdle, sloping to the left, and the hip belt, which is slanted to the right, they will intersect, forming the letter "X". This is chiasm, a technique used not only in sculpture, but also in architecture and even literature as a figure of speech.1

Another famous sculptor of the fifth century was Myron, an artist who, in contrast to Polycletus, tried to convey intense movement. In the "Discobolus" statue, compressed energy is achieved through the plasticity of the arms and legs, and not the entire figure: the torso of the discobolus is virtually motionless. The statue can only be viewed from a certain position: it is not fully voluminous, because it has a relief character.

Another sculpture group of Myron is "Athena and Marsyas". According to legend, Pallas made flutes, but when she began to play in the presence of the gods, she was ridiculed, because the goddess's cheeks were ridiculously swollen. She was offended and threw, cursing, the flutes, which were picked up by the god of fertility Silenus Marsyas, who had learned to play them perfectly. He became proud and challenged Apollo himself to a musical contest, who, having defeated Marcius, brutally dealt with the flutist, skinning him alive. Myron depicted the scene when Athena just threw the ill-fated instrument, and Marsyas noticed it and is going to pick it up. The psychological center of the group is a flute between two heroes. Marcia's movement is torn between two impulses: she wants to grab greedily, but on the other hand, she recoils in fear, and Athena is about to leave, but slowly and threateningly looks around.

Visual art. Architecture.

In the classical era, the principle of orders is being developed. An order in architecture is a certain combination of load-bearing and load-bearing parts of a rack-and-beam structure, their structure and artistic processing. During the classical period, three main orders appeared: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian, which formed the basis of European architecture of the XVI-XIX centuries. The difference between them is best illustrated by the example of the columns of these orders. The Doric column is simple and austere, covered with longitudinal grooves - flutes, its capital (the crowning part) is made in the form of a stone pillow without ornaments. This is a harsh style, in architecture it is identified with a masculine character and in Doric temples columns could be replaced by statues of Atlanteans. The temple of Poseidon in Paestum (ca. 460 BC) belongs to the Doric.

In the Ionic order, which probably arose under the eastern influence, the columns are straight, practically without entasis (a slight thickening in the middle, mandatory for Doric columns); the proportions of the structures are lightened, they are characterized by both lightness and elegant refinement. The capitals are made in the form of two tight curls, volutes. The Ionic order, in contrast to the Doric, was correlated with the feminine principle - it was not for nothing that volutes were compared with female curls, and the columns themselves were sometimes replaced by statues of girls, caryatids. In this spirit, one of the porticos of the Erechtheion, a temple erected on the site of the legendary dispute between Athena and Poseidon on the Athenian acropolis, was decorated.

In the Corinthian order, the columns were crowned with stylized acanthus leaves. According to legend, the architect who first applied this order saw a basket with her favorite toys on the grave of one girl, brought to the cemetery by a disconsolate nurse. The basket was entangled with acanthus leaves sprouting through it - a picture that inspired the artist.

The pinnacle of architecture of the classical period was the architectural complex of the Athenian Acropolis, which was at the same time a sanctuary, a fortification, a public center, a place of storage of the state treasury, an art gallery and a library. The Acropolis received its final design under Pericles. Ictinus and Kallikrates rebuilt the Parthenon, the sanctuary of Athena, and Phidias erected a huge statue of her in the center of the Acropolis with the expectation that the reflection of the tip of Pallas's spear would be visible from afar to ships sailing to the city. The architecture of the Acropolis combines two orders: Ionic and Doric. This complex is inextricably linked with the surrounding landscape, which is generally characteristic of the construction of the classical era. The temple was not opposed to nature, but merged with it, and the current sharply contrasting whiteness of ancient temples is the result of the destructive action of time, since they, like statues, were painted: the vertical parts were black, and the horizontal ones were red; now all the colors have been erased. The entrance to the Acropolis was the Propylaea, built by the architect Mnesikl, to the left of them was the Pinakothek, the first art gallery, and to the right - the temple of Niki Apteros (wingless); her wings were stripped so that the goddess of victory would never leave the city. On the Acropolis itself, the above-mentioned Parthenon and Erechtheion towered, chiastically located in relation to the Pinakothek and the temple of Niki Apteros. If you draw two lines "Parthenon - Pinakothek" and "Erechtheion - temple of Niki", they will intersect in the form of the letter "X", - a combination of buildings heterogeneous in design, harmoniously balanced by an ingenious layout.

Since the VI century BC Athens has become a symbol of the highest achievements of Greek culture. Artists, poets, sculptors aspired here; even the poet Pindar, who came from Boeotia and always treated this city with hostility, wrote: "Brilliant, crowned with violets, glorified glorious Athens, the pillar of Hellas, the divine city." And one of the sharp - tongued contemporaries stated: "If you have not seen Athens, then you are a stump, if you have seen and were not admired, then you are an ass, and if you left them at will, then you are a camel." Camel was one of the most offensive nicknames in antiquity.