July 31, 2008
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v2.1 Reference

As Witnessed by Images

The Trojan War Tradition in Greek and Etruscan Art

What informed and inspired the visual artists who depicted the Trojan War on vases, on walls, and in sculpture? Scholars have debated this question for years. Were Greek painters simply depicting the stories of Achilles and Odysseus as recounted in Homer’s epics? Or did they work independently, following their own traditions without regard to the Iliad, the Odyssey, and other poetry of their time?

Steven Lowenstam offers here an alternative theoretical framework, arguing that Greek artists and poets interacted with each other freely, always aware of what the others were producing. As Trojan War myth was the common inheritance of all Greek storytellers, verbal and visual depictions of heroic myth were not created in isolation but were interdependent responses to a centuries-old tradition.

As Witnessed by Images investigates visual depictions of Achillean and Odyssean myth from ca. 650-300 BCE and traces the many messages that the stories of Achilles and Odysseus inspired. Lowenstam identifies a variety of images and interpretations—some regarded Achilles as a hero, others believed him to be a cruel bully—that reflect and directly respond to the ancient heroic tradition from which the Iliad and Odyssey evolved.

About the Authors

Steven Lowenstam (1945-2003) was a professor of classics at the University of Oregon. Educated at the University of Chicago and Harvard, he contributed significant scholarship to the field of Homeric studies. He is the author of The Scepter and the Spear: Studies on Forms of Repetition in the Homeric Poems, The Death of Patroklos: A Study in Typology, and numerous journal articles.


"Highly recommended."

"A thought-provoking book that also well illustrates the salient points of the author's argument."

- Peter A. Clayton - Minerva

"These rich essays by Steven Lowenstam contribute to the centuries-long debates on the relationship between painting and poetry.The volume is quite successful in bringing together for comparison and contrast stories of the Trojan cycle as told by the Greeks and Etruscans."

- Johns Hopkins University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9780801887758 : as-witnessed-by-images-lowenstam-carpenter
248 Pages
$57.00 USD

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