Celebrating victory: art and war booty in Classical GrCelebrating victory: art and war booty in Classical Greeceeece
The celebration of victory, along with the demonstration of power and invincibility, was one of the key elements of public art in advanced ancient civilizations. Ancient Greece was no exception. Classical Athenian art was largely funded by the Athenians’ military booty and the members of the Delian League. Every piece of work was designed to make the unity and power of the Greek world visible, led by Athens, to emphasize the difference between Greeks and those they called barbarians. Permanent monuments, tropaia, served to constantly remind people of the great triumphs of the Hellenes over defeated enemies. They began to appear during the Greco-Persian Wars. These were community works that later became a model for the propaganda repertoire of the Romans and other nations. However, there were not the only Greek memorials celebrating victory. In individual city-states and temple districts were buildings, sculptures and paintings celebrating the power of Hellenes that were complemented by literary works of poets and playwrights. The effort to make military power and superiority more visible in art was also characterized by the fratricidal battles of the Greeks during the Peloponnesian Wars.
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