Beyond Aphrodite: Interpreting Portrayals of “Real” Women in Ancient Greece
Greatest glory will be hers who is least talked about among men, whether for good or for bad.
−Pericles to the Athenian widows,
Thucydides, Histories, 2.45.2
A Space for Dialogue: Fresh Perspectives on the Permanent Collection from Dartmouth’s Students is a unique opportunity within the Hood Museum of Art’s senior internship program, which includes museum positions in curatorial, public relations, and educational work. Interns choose objects from the Hood’s permanent collection, write descriptions of the objects, design a space, create a brochure, and conduct a public gallery presentation. The program allows students to develop art projects and displays within the Hood Museum of Art, creating a “space for dialogue” between works of art and their viewers.
In her installation, Katelyn Burgess, a Classics major and member of the Class of 2013, explores representations of female figures in ancient Greece. While surviving literary sources and artifacts often feature powerful female goddesses, images and texts describing the lives of everyday, or “real,” Greek women are more difficult to identify and understand. Given the dearth of textual evidence describing the day-to-day lives of “real” women, representations of females in Greek art provide the greatest insight into their world. The objects in Katelyn’s exhibit show four different representations of the female figure during the Classical and Hellenistic periods (about 480–146 BCE). These representations both provide insight and raise questions about the social dynamics and cultural values of ancient Greece while highlighting some of the major problems inhibiting our understanding of women in the ancient world. All of the objects in this installation are on loan from the Yale University Art Gallery as part of the Mellon Foundation-funded Yale Collection Sharing Initiative.
A Space for Dialogue, founded with support from the Class of 1948, is made possible with generous endowments from the Class of 1967, Bonnie and Richard Reiss Jr. ’66, and Pamela J. Joyner ’79.