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ART AND IDEOLOGY: THE CASE OF THE PERGAMON GIGANTOMACHY

Richard Whitaker
Acta Classica
Vol. 48 (2005), pp. 163-174
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24595401
Page Count: 12
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ART AND IDEOLOGY: THE CASE OF THE PERGAMON GIGANTOMACHY
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Abstract

The Attalid rulers of Hellenistic Pergamon, in Asia Minor, strove to make their city the cultural equal of classical Athens through public building and art. They represented their partial victory over the Galatians as the equivalent of the Athenian triumph over the Persians. A major Attalid public monument suggesting this was the Great Altar at Pergamon, with its frieze depicting Gigantomachy (the battle of gods and giants). The article discusses the representation of gigantomachy in earlier Greek art, and shows how the Pergamon frieze intensifies certain ideological tendencies of that representation. The frieze uses many contrasts - animal vs. human, high vs. low, calm control vs. frenzied emotion - to suggest the superiority of the Attalids over their enemies. But there are many elements that cut across these contrasts, making the frieze more than a simple ideological statement.

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