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The Artistic Legacy of Ancient Greece

Weekend All-Day Lecture/Seminar

Saturday, August 6, 2022 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2212
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Materials for this program

  1. Handout

The Parthenon in Athens

Ancient Greek culture has shaped Western civilization’s understanding of the world and its perceptions of beauty. Reflections of Greek sculpture and architecture are found all over the world. Ideas about politics and government, first formulated in ancient Greece, are still alive and fiercely debated today. The ancients’ methods of speculation are the basis of our scientific discoveries of the cosmos. 

Without the gift of ancient Greece our world would be a very different place.

In a richly illustrated daylong program, Nigel McGilchrist looks at this unique legacy, uncovering its origins in the rocky terrain and surrounding waters of the Aegean world, and following its ongoing influence through the universal appeal of the humanity of its art.

9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Geography and Geology Come First

The shores of Ancient Greece—a peninsula and a scattering of many islands in the Aegean Sea—faced both Europe and Asia. The region was a natural link of two continents and the Ionian, Mediterranean, and Aegean seas—and a natural fulcrum of the evolving Asian and Mediterranean worlds from as early as Neolithic times.

11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Greek Sculpture and the Western Tradition

Explore the exquisite Cycladic figurines, the masterpieces of Praxiteles, and the Bronze Warriors of Riace in a discussion of the Greeks’ passionate fusion of sensuality and proportion—and how it shaped later ideas of Western art.

12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Break

1:15 to 2:30 p.m. The Strange Success of Greek Architecture

The influence of the Greek temple is seen in buildings in places as far-flung as Louisiana, Virginia, Manila, and Belfast. Why has this style been such a disproportionate success in world architecture? And what are its origins?

2:45 to 4 p.m. The Power to Transform

From the ground-breaking philosophy of Pythagoras, through the sculptural masterpieces of the Acropolis to the timeless beauty of the Hellenised Buddhist sculptures of Pakistan’s Gandhara region, the genius of the ancient Greeks transformed elements of what had been done before into something dramatically different. 

McGilchrist is the author of a series of books on the history and culture of the Greek Aegean Islands and a book on Pythagoras and early Greek thought. He lectures for many museums and institutions in Europe and the U.S.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*

Patron Information

  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
  • Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from CustomerService@SmithsonianAssociates.org.
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

This online program is presented on Zoom.