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Egyptian and Greek Art

. . in the friezes with which the Greeks decorated their vessels and utensils. . . . The combination of an animal body with a human head is ultimately derived from Ancient Egyptian art' (44). Sphinxes, griffins, and other fanciful beasts created by earlier civilizations found a place in the imaginations and sculptures of Greek artists.

Yet the Greeks employed such figures differently in their own art, and this ultimately led to the establishment of a different artistic tradition and style. Human figures in particular serve different purposes for the Greeks from those in Egyptian works, and those differences become evident as soon as apparently similar figures are compared between cultures. As Bullock, et al, note:

The Greeks had adopted the outward appearance of the erect male figure from the Egyptians. But in their free pose that dispenses with any outside support, the vigorous tension of the limbs and the coherence of all the parts within the framework of a closed whole, the early Greek youths are essentially different from any Egyptian work. They are purely Greek, the earliest no less than the later (15).

The distinction lies not only in the artistic styles used to express similar forms but also in the inherent cultural differences between the two societies. As Carpenter writes, 'Just as there could be no distinction between Greek secular and religious art, so too there could be no diversion of art to magical or mystical purposes, as in Egypt and elsewhere' (18). Many Egyptian sculptural figures were designed for funerary purposes, to accompany the dead into the afterlife, or to chronicle the connections between this life and the next. Even depictions of important, specific people were usually not attempts to reconstruct the individual being portrayed but were instead more general representations of the human form.

Carpenter argues, 'To a Greek mind such memorial images could not have possessed any of the magica...

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Egyptian and Greek Art. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:25, July 20, 2017, from
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