Glossary

Amazon

A member of a legendary race of female warriors believed by the ancient Greeks to exist in Scythia (near the Black Sea in modern Russia)or elsewhere on the edge of the known world

amphora

A tall ancient Greek or Roman jar with two handles and a narrow neck, used primarily for storage and transport; See Panathenaic amphora

Aphrodite 

The Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus. She is the mother of the god Eros. She is often accompanied by doves, male goats, apples, and myrtle.

aryballos

A spherical container of ointment or oil worn on an athlete’s wrist

augustus

“The revered one.” An ancient Roman honorific title reserved for the Roman emperors and their family. Also used to refer Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, considered the first Roman Emperor (reigned 27 BCE– 14CE). Born Gaius Octavius Thurinus and later called Octavian, he was the nephew and adopted heir of Julius Caesar. He formed the Second Triumvirate with Mark Antony and Lepidus after Caesar’s assassination. They defeated Brutus and Cassius at Philippi in 42 BCE and divided the empire between them. Rivalry between Antony and Octavian was resolved by the defeat of Antony at Actium in 31 BCE. While preserving the form of the republic, Octavian held supreme power.In 27 BC the Senate awarded him the honorific title Augustus. See Denarius of Octavian, “AEGYPTO CAPTA”

BCE

Before the Common Era, a designation for the calendar era preceding the year 1 CE

Beazley archive

A world center for the study of ancient Greek painted pottery. The Archive contains the world’s largest collection of photographs of ancient Greek painted pottery, as well as relevant books and offprints, extensive material on the history of gem-collecting, and thousands of other documents and photographs relating to classical archaeology and to Sir John Beazley.

black-figure

A style of decoration on Greek pottery of the  7th and 6th centuries BCE originating in Corinth, in which black decoration appears silhouetted on a red ground. Clay was mixed with iron oxide, wood ash, and rain water, painted on to the vase, and when fired, the decoration changed to black, leaving the ground red.See Black-figure hydria and Black-figure siana cup

bulla

An amulet given to male children in ancient Rome nine days after birth and worn until a boy reached adulthood. The bulla was worn like a locket around the neck to protect the child against evil spirits and forces. See Stele with portrait of a boy

Caelestis

Roman version of the Carthaginian goddess of fertility, Tanit. The cult, with an oracle, was important in Roman Carthage , where it became an emblem of the province of Africa, and is found later at Rome and in other centers. Caelestis was closely linked with Baal, interpreted in Latin as Saturnus , and had points of contact with many other cults including the Magna Mater. The patronage of Septimius Severus was particularly important for the success of the cult, and Julia Domna was sometimes identified with her.

Chalcolithic period

A period in the 4th and 3rd millenia BCE chiefly in the Near East and South Eastern Europe during which some weapons and tools were made of copper. Also known as the Copper Age.

CE

Common Era, a designation for the calendar era starting with the year 1 CE

Contrapposto

The Italian term for a pose in which one part of the body is turned in the opposite direction from another. In particular, it is used to denote the asymmetrical, but balanced, posture of the standing human figure that first appeared in 5th-century Greek sculpture

deme

A political division of Attica in ancient Greece

Dionysus

The Greek god of wine, winemaking, the grape harvest, ritual madness, and ecstasy. His mother was a mortal woman, Semele, and his father was the god Zeus. See Draped figure of Dionysus

emperor

A soveriegn ruler of great power rank, especially one ruling an empire. The title given to the head of the Roman Empire.

encaustic

A technique of painting with hot wax colors, invented by the ancient Greeks. The colors are made by mixing pigments with molten beeswax and a little resin. After being painted on to their support they are fused to it by passing a heat source over them. Perhaps the most famous surviving examples of encaustic painting are the mummy portraits from Fayum, dating from the 1st century BCE to around the 3rd century CE. See Portrait of a youth

erastes

A man, older than 30, who would be both the lover and educator of a boy (age 12-18) in the  tradition of pederasty, a form of homosexuality practiced in ancient Greece.

eromenos

A 12 to 18 year old youth who would be the ‘beloved’ (ἐρώμενος/erṓmenos) of a man older than 30, the ‘lover’ (ἐραστής/erastḗs), who would also educate him. This was part of the  tradition of pederasty, a form of homosexuality practiced in ancient Greece.

Eros

The Greek personification of love as sexual desire (Latin Amor, Cupido). Usually, Eros is regarded as being the son of  Aphrodite, in whose sphere of influence he represents a central figure.  Ares is named as his father. See Figurine of Eros

Fayum portraits

Wooden tablets with painted heads or busts of women, men and children. They were typically integrated into the casing of a mummy at the level of the face, where a gap was left for them. Many of the c. 900 known pieces, dating from the 1st to the 3rd century CE, come from necropolis of Fayum, an oasis south-west of Cairo, but they were also found elsewhere along the Nile. See Portrait of a bearded man and Portrait of a youth

Gallienus

Roman emperor (reigned 253-268 CE). Born Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus, son of Valerian, appointed Augustus with him in CE 253. While his father lived, he commanded in the west and fought a series of successful campaigns on the Danube and Rhine.

genius cucullatus

A deity of generation or birth,  or guardian spirit depicted wearing a cucullus, or hood fastened to a cloak or coat. Name ascribed to cultic images from Celtic shrines built during Roman occupation. Though the images vary in size from the dwarfish to the giant, they are identified by hooded outdoor garments. Closed from neck to knee as well as hooded, the cucullus was commonly worn by contemporary Celtic peoples and implied an affinity between the god/s and worshippers.See Figurine of a man with cloak and tall hat.

Hadrian

Roman emperor (reigned 117–138 CE ). Born Publius Aelius  Hadrianus in 76 CE , probably at Italica near modern Seville in Spain. Related by marriage to emperor Trajan (reigned 98–117 CE), he became a ward of the future emperor. During Trajan’s reign he progressed through a series of military and civil offices, succeeding him in 117 CE.

Herakles

A hero of myth and cult celebrated in ancient Greek literature and art for his extraordinary strength and courage, demonstrated in the completion of the Twelve Labors and many other exploits. The son of a divine father, Zeus, and a mortal mother, Alcmene, Herakles is often described as the greatest of the Greek heroes.

Hercules

Roman name for the Greek hero Herakles.

hydria

An ancient Greek water jar, with rounded shoulders, horizontally attached handles, and a vertical handle at the neck for use when pouring.See Black-figure hydria.

himation

A cloak of a rectangular length of material; fabrics used include wool, linen and silk. They could be variously colored (white, diverse shades of red, yellowish, black) with gold brocade or purple stripes.  A himation was worn over the khiton draped from the left shoulder across the back and on to the right shoulder, or it was placed over the left shoulder from behind, across the back, under the right arm and finally over the left arm or the left shoulder

ichtyocentaur

Centaurine  sea-gods with the upper body of a man, the lower front of a horse, and the tail of a fish.

Jupiter

King of the Latin and Roman gods. His name derives from the Indo-European dieu (bright sky) and pater (father), words that point to his origins in a supreme sky-father god of an earlier Indo-European religion. This heritage is shared by the Greek god Zeus, whose myths Jupiter assimilated. As a result, not only was Jupiter the supreme god of the Roman state, but he also became a significant character in the Roman literary tradition. See Standing figurine of Jupiter.

khiton

A full-length garment made of linen with wide, billowing sleeves; evidently a status item. In Homer, the khiton is a man’s garment. However, according to the visual, archaeological, and literary sources, women adopted the khiton at some point in the late seventh or early sixth century BCE, after which time only wealthy, older men continued to wear the long khiton. Younger men wore a shortened version underneath their armor.

krater

An ancient Greek vessel for mixing wine and water, with a hemispherical body and wide mouth. See Red-figure bell krater  and Red-figure column krater.

kylix

An ancient Greek drinking cup with a wide, shallow-footed bowl and two horizontal handles. See Red-figure kylix.

Lar

The Lares (singular Lar) are Roman spirits, which were worshipped in houses, on streets and at crossroads ; they were sometimes equated with the deified souls of the dead. See Figurine of Lar.

Lazarus

One of two men named Lazaurus mentioned in the New Testament. In John 11, Lazarus is the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany. Four days after his death, Jesus miraculously restored him to life. See Cup with wheel-cut decoration.

lekythos

Ancient form of vessel, used to contain oil. See Red-figure squat lekythos.

maenad 

In ancient Greece, a female follower of Dionysus, traditionally associated with divine possession and frenzied rites.

Nereids

Sea nymphs, daughters of Nereus and Doris, traditionally numbering fifty. The graceful, playful, and helpful Nereids usually appear in literature and the visual arts as a group, but some of them have their own specific myths. See Sarcophagus fragment with a reclinging Nereid and Sarcophagus fragment with Eros and Nereids.

Nero

Roman emperor (reigned 54–68 CE). In the popular imagination Nero is the quintessential vicious tyrant, probably more so than any other Roman emperor. He was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus on 15 December in the year 37 CE , during the reign of his uncle Gaius Caligula—an emperor whose reputation for depravity is probably second only to Nero’s.  See Head of a man, possibly reworked.

Nike

The Greek personification of victory. Nike is the daughter of Styx and Pallas and the sister of similar personifications: Zelos (zeal), Kratos (power) and Bia (force). Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Victoria.  See Figurine of Nike.

Octavian

The first Roman Emperor (29 BCE–1CE), also called Augustus. Nephew and adopted heir of Julius Caesar, he formed the Second Triumvirate with Mark Antony and Lepidus after Caesar’s assassination. They defeated Brutus and Cassius at Philippi in 42 BCE and divided the empire between them. Rivalry between Antony and Octavian was resolved by the defeat of Antony at Actium in 31 BCE. While preserving the form of the republic, Octavian held supreme power. See Denarius of Octavian, “AEGYPTO CAPTA”

Palmyra

Oasis in central Syria, about 240 kilometers north-east of Damascus and about 200 kilometers west of the Euphrates. Palmyra, from which routes led to Emesa, Ḥamāh, and Aleppo, was an important caravan station on the route from Mesopotamia to central Syria, Lebanon, and Arabia. This made Palmyra one of the richest and most influential cities in Syria from the 1st to the 3rd centuries CE. The city was incorporated into the province of Roman Syria, established in 64 BCE by the general Pompey the Great, by approximately 18 CE. See Funeral stele of Herta.

Pan

As the god of goatherds and shepherds, Pan’s home is Arcadia ; he has theriomorphic traits (the feet and head of a goat) but always walks upright. Pan was in some regions worshipped as a son of Zeus Lycaeus and Callisto  and in others as the son of Hermes and of a daughter of Dryops. In addition to Zeus and Hermes, Apollo and Kronos are mentioned as his father, and various nymphs as his mother.See Figurine of Pan.

Panathenaic festival

The civic and religious festival held in ancient Athens in honor of the city’s patron deity, Athena. Perhaps originally simply named the “Athenaea,” the festival was reorganized and expanded in 566 BCE as the “all-Athenian” or Panathenaea. Like many major Greek festivals, the Panathenaea involved a procession culminating in a large animal sacrifice and feasting, along with athletic and equestrian competitions. And like other venerable festivals, it had heroic founders, in this case Theseus and Erichthonius. See Panathenaic amphora.

pankration

In this event boxing and wrestling were combined with kicking, strangling, and twisting. It was a dangerous sport, but strict rules were enforced by the judges. Biting and gouging were forbidden (except at Sparta), but nearly every manœuvre of hands, feet, and body was permissible. See Panathenaic amphora.

Pentathlon

An athletic event comprising five different events for each competitor, in particular, in ancient Greece, leaping, running, discus-throwing, spear-throwing, and wrestling.

polis

A settlement, that is, a nucleated settlement consisting of houses. Also used to describe a community, that is, a political community made up of citizens. As a settlement it was a town or city, not just a village. As a community it was what we would call a polity or a state. Polis (plural, poleis) is often used in the senses of city and state simultaneously so that an apt rendering is city-state.

Priapos

A Greek god of harbors and gardens. The god’s distinguishing feature is his huge erect penis; he sometimes carries a club or a sickle, or a load of garden produce. There is a strong resemblance between the figure of Priapos and the herms (small pillars surmounted by a bust of Hermes) that guarded Greek doorways. Priapos appears at Rome from the first century BCE onward as the guardian of gardens. See Relief with a Nilotic scene.

Priapus

Roman name for the Greek god Priapos.

red-figure

The style of Greek vase painting of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE which succeeded black-figure vase painting. The background and outlines of the figures were painted in black slip, leaving the design in the red of the clay. Details could be added in black with a brush, leading to greater sophistication. See Red-figure kylix,  Red-figure bell krater, Red-figure column krater, and Red-figure squat lekythos.

simpulum

A ladle for scooping liquids. The simpulum also served as a liquid measure and was used as a ceremonial vessel in offerings. There are two shapes: a handleless form and another with a long handle rising vertically from a bowl, the handle sometimes ending with an animal head finial. See Denarius of Hadrian, “COS III”

sistrum

Ancient type of rattle used in worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis, comprising rings or bells which jingled on a metal frame when shaken by handle. See Denarius of Hadrian, “AEGYPTOS”.

slip

Diluted pottery clay used in ceramics. It is usually a different colour to the clay of the main body of the pottery form and is employed as decoration, but it can also be used as a coating to make it waterproof or as a glue to join parts together.

stele

Stone or pillar set upright in commemoration of some event or as a marker for a grave. Stelae are frequently carved or inscribed. Most areas of the world at most periods have produced such objects, but they are often called by other names and the word stele is used chiefly in the Mediterranean world. See Stele with a portrait of a boy and Sepulchral stele.

strigil

A small, curved metal tool used in ancient Greece and Rome to scrape sweat and dirt from the body. See Red-figure column krater.

symposion

Highly ritualized drinking party that developed in Archaic and Classical Greece. Initially restricted to aristocratic circles, participants were exclusively male; women, if they attended at all, attended in subordinate roles as servants, dancers, musicians, prostitutes or more refined courtesans (Gr. hetairai). A symposion took place in specially constructed room, the andron (men’s room), fitted to accommodate a series of klinai (dining couches) along the walls and usually recognizable in the archaeological footprint of a house through its off-centre doorway. See Red-figure bell krater.

tempera

A painting medium used to bind pigments, most commonly made from egg yolk. Although tempera was used since Roman times and remains the principal paint medium for the icons of the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, it is normally associated with Italian panel painting of the 13th to 15th centuries. See Portrait of a bearded man.

terracotta

Italian for “baked earth”. Used to create pottery as well as statuettes, figurines, masks, and some busts. The hardness and strength of the baked clay varies according to the temperature at which it has been fired. The presence of certain chemicals, such as iron oxide or other organic and mineral impurities, affects the color of the baked product, and the firing of terracotta may cause the color to vary from light buff to deep red.

toga

The common outer garment worn by Roman men (an originally women as well) from the  Republican Period. It was a heavy woollen garment, roughly semicircular in shape. Wearing the toga became the distinctive badge of Roman citizenship. See Stele with a portrait of a boy.

tondo

The circular painting in the center of a painted vase. See Black-figure siana cup and Red-figure kylix.

Trajan

Roman emperor (reigned 98–117 CE). Born Marcus Ulpius Trinus probably in 53 CE at Italica in Baetica the son of a distinguished consular under the Flavians. He was a skilled general and administrator and was made junior co-emperor by Nerva (reigned 96-98 CE) in 97 CE, on whose death, he became Emperor. He conducted major campaigns in Dacia (101–102, 105–106) and against the people of Parhtia (113–117), enlarging the Roman Empire to its greatest extent. See Denarius of Trajan , “VIA TRAIANA”.

Triton

In Greek mythology, a sea god, son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. He was half man and half fish, with a scaled body, sharp teeth and claws, and a forked fish tail. He had power over the waves and possessed the gift of prophecy. See Sarcophagus fragment with Eros and Nereids.

wheel-cut decoration

A technique in which shallow cuts were made in the surface of a glass vessel by applying a rotating wheel of abrasive metal or stone to it. This decorative technique could be used to create lines, geometric designs, or figural scenes. See Cup with wheel-cut decoration.

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    Head of a man, possibly reworked from a portrait of Nero, front view
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    Standing figurine of Jupiter, detail
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    Cup with wheel-cut decoration, view with Raising of Lazarus
    Black-figure hydria
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    Portrait of a bearded man
    Sarcophagus fragment with a reclining Nereid
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    Lamp in the form of a head (1)
    Vase in the form of a bust
    Figure 3. Hearst, Obverse
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    Draped figure of Dionysos
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    Black-figure Siana cup
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    Head of a man, front view B
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    Red-figure squat lekythos, detail A
    S.977.201, Nilotic relief thumbnail
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    Denarius of Julius Caesar
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    Sestertius of Hadrian, reverse
    Denarius of Hadrian, reverse
    Denarius of Hadrian, reverse
    Denarius of Hadrian, reverse
    Denarius of Hadrian, reverse
    Denarius of Hadrian, reverse
    Denarius of Hadrian, reverse
    Denarius of Hadrian, reverse
    YUAG 1938.1999, "VOTA PUBLICA"
    Sestertius of Hadrian, reverse
    Dupondius of Hadrian, reverse
    Sestertius of Hadrian, reverse
    Denarius of Trajan, reverse
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