Distorted Ideals in Greek Vase Painting

Distorted Ideals in Greek Vase Painting : The World of Mythological Burlesque

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This book examines Greek vase-paintings that depict humorous, burlesque, and irreverent images of Greek mythology and the gods. Many of the images present the gods and heroes as ridiculous and ugly. While the narrative content of some images may appear to be trivial, others address issues that are deeply serious. When placed against the background of the religious beliefs and social frameworks from which they spring, these images allow us to explore questions relating to their meaning in particular communities. Throughout, we see indications that Greek vase-painters developed their own comedic narratives and visual jokes. The images enhance our understanding of Greek society in just the same way as their more sober siblings in 'serious' art.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 450 pages
  • 184 x 256 x 36mm | 1,260.98g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 144 b/w illus.
  • 052189641X
  • 9780521896412

Review quote

'... highly readable ... Walsh has offered up a publication that is both solid and timely.' American Journal of Archaeology '... a mature, judicious and very readable account ...' Times Literary Supplement 'Anyone interested in ancient humor will be off to a good start with Walsh's book.' Classical World 'Based on a catalogue of 144 vases, over half of them illustrated, this user-friendly book will especially interest scholars of ancient Greek art, drama and culture who want an introduction to and thoughtful discussion of this puzzling group of images.' Phoenix 'In Distorted Ideals, David Walsh ... presents an innovative and insightful in-depth analysis of vase-paintings that identifiably depict ancient Greek gods and heroes in an irreverent manner, from the seventh to the end of the fourth centuries BC.' Hermathenashow more

About David Walsh

David Walsh is a Visiting Research Scholar in the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures at the University of Manchester.show more

Table of contents

1. Introduction; 2. The dramatic, artistic, religious and social context of humour; 3. Strange beginnings; 4. Violating the sanctuary; 5. Ridiculing the gods; 6. Subverting the hero; 7. Distorted bodies; do the 'uglies' have the last laugh?; 8. Distribution: being in with the 'in-crowd'; 9. Final reflections: the world reversed.show more