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An ideal world comes alive before our eyes
Important intellectuals of the antiquity take part in an imaginary philosophical dialogue. Hadrian converses with the Epicurean philosopher Metrodotus and with two great representatives of the Second Sophistic, Antonius Polemon and Herodes Atticus and with Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher, who wrote his meditations in the Greek language.
Plato and Aristotle reveal their presence in this conceptual encounter, as diachronic symbols of the ancient Greek philosophical thought. Their conversation is attended by the gathered in the audience kosmetai, the Athenian officials of the Diogeneion Gymnasium, who retain responsibility for the education of the ephebes and stand as guardians of the traditional Greek education in the Imperial period.
The picture of the landscape with olive trees behind the gathering of the kosmetai enlivens the natural environment of the Academy, where apart from the similarly called Gymnasium, there also was Plato’s philosophical school, active in the matters of philosophy up until 529 A.D., when it was permanently reduced to silence by an edict of Justinian.
Provenance: Athens. Height: 0.18 m. Marble: pentelic.
Chronology: Roman copy of an original dating about 360 BC.
The figure is depicted with wrinkles on the forehead and knitted eyebrows suggesting thoughtfulness. The original portrait probably derives from the head of a renowned statue, carved by the Athenian sculptor Silanion. The statue was erected in the Gymnasium of Academy, where the great philosopher, who brought the Athenian philosophy to its peak, taught.
Provenance: Athens. Height: 0.42 m. Marble: pentelic.
Chronology: Roman copy of an original dating from the last quarter of the 4th century BC.
Aristotle studied at the Academy of Plato and in 335 B.C. he founded his own school in the Gymnasium of the Lykeion. Along with philosophy, he dealt with the scientific research and is thus considered the founder of many sciences. His teaching aimed at the approach of all fields of knowledge, so that the individual would be able to develop a multifaceted personality, which was accomplished by the parallel training of the body.
Provenance: Athens. Height: 0.42 m. Marble: pentelic.
Chronology: Roman copy of an original dating from the last quarter of the 4th century BC.
Aristotle studied at the Academy of Plato and in 335 BC. he founded his own school in the Gymnasium of the Lykeion. Along with philosophy, he dealt with the scientific research and is thus considered the founder of many sciences. His teaching aimed at the approach of all fields of knowledge, so that the individual would be able to develop a multifaceted personality, which was accomplished by the parallel training of the body.
A symbolic dialogue
Chronology: 130-140 AD. EAM 3729
The figure wears a corona civica (wreath) of oak leaves, to which golden leaves were once attached. The oak and the eagle on the wreath of the philhellene emperor are characteristic symbols of Zeus and probably refer to the title of Olympios, which was given to Hadrian in AD 128 in Athens, along with the completion of the temple of the Olympian Zeus in AD 131/132.
The head was intended to be inserted into a colossal, probably cuirassed, statue. The portrait, a major work of an attic workshop, is considered to be a free rendering of the «Imperatori 32» type. The depiction of Hadrian with a luxuriant hairstyle and a beard signifies a shift towards Greek models of the classical period.
Chronology: 130-140 AD. EAM 632
The head is turned slightly to the left and was intended for insertion, as it is shown by the treatment of the surface. The figure would have worn a himation. A work of a Greek artistic sense created by a distinguished artist. The portrait belongs to the «Imperatori 32» type.
The shift towards the education and the culture of Classical Greece, introduced programmatically by Hadrian, resulted in the imitation of the Greek way of dressing and of the hair style.
Chronology: 117-138 AD. EAM 368
Metrodoros is depicted bearded. He turns the head to the left and wears a himation over his left shoulder. On his chin, the luxuriant beard is divided into two parts. The smooth forehead with the soft wrinkles, the broad cheeks, the pronounced cheekbones, the straight, classical nose and the fleshy, partly open lips evoke models of the 4th century BC.
Chronology: 130-140 AD. EAM 427
The portrait depicts a bearded man. He turns the head sharply upwards and to the left and he wears a himation over his shoulders. The crescent-shaped locks form a tongue-shaped extension on the forehead. The eyelids, rendered in «metallic» precision, the expression wrinkles and the partly open mouth evoke Classical models. It has been suggested that the portrait represents the sophist Polemon, famed for his haughty and pompous style.
Chronology: around 150 AD. EAM 435
The portrait depicts Vibullius Hipparchus Tiberius Claudius Atticus Herodes (101-178 AD), a prominent Athenian orator and sophist philosopher, who was a benefactor principally of Athens, but also of many other cities, by erecting public buildings. In the context of the Second Sophistic, Herodes had Hadrian, who was one of his numerous pupils, as a model in his public and personal life (imitatio Hadriani).
Chronology: after 170 AD. EAM 572
Marcus Aurelius is depicted in the third type of his iconography. The hair is rendered in dense flammiform locks, while the luxuriant beard forms spiral locks worked in lower relief. The high forehead, the heavy eyelids, the flat, smooth cheeks and the partly open mouth evoke Classical models. The calmness and the self-control in the expression are due to the stoic philosophy, of which he was an adheren.
The kosmetai are high-ranking officials in the Athenian gymnasia, serving an one-year term. They have absolute control over the administrative and financial management of gymnasia, while, at the same time, they look after the instruction of the ephebes. They draw up the syllabus of courses, appoint instructors, organise races in the context of religious festivals and supervise the progress of the pupils, while at the end of their tenure they submit a final account to the boule (Council). Athens, by joint decision of the Assembly, the Boule and Areios Pagos, was attributing honour to their work by erecting in the gumnasium area inscribed Hermaic stelae with their portrait.
Chronology: 115/116 AD. EAM 384
According to the inscription on the stele the kosmetes Heliodoros, son of Heliodoros, from Piraeus is depicted. The accentuated features of his advanced age (baldness, wrinkles, flaccid cheeks, bags around the nose and mouth, double chin) refer to the realism of the Flavian era. The broad forehead and the square chin are characteristic of portraits of the Emperor Vespasian. The swollen ears indicate his athletic past as a pankratiast or a wrestler.
Chronology: Late Trajanic period. EAM 410
The portrait depicts an old man. The accentuated facial features indicate his age (baldness, sagging upper eyelids, sunken cheeks due to the absence of teeth, clenched mouth, non-existent lips). The few tufts of hair on the sides of the head slightly in relief. The realistic rendering refers to portraits of the Flavian and Trajanic period.
Chronology: 110-138 AD. EAM 392
The portrait depicts a beardless man with short hair arranged in unkempt, crescent-shaped and spiral locks going in opposite directions. The heavy eyelids, the fleshy lips and the plump chin, combined with the tilt of the head, contribute to the melodramatic style of the figure. This is a sophisticated «Greek» appearance, cultivated by the representatives of the Second Sophistic and adopted by the élite of the Hadrianic period.
Chronology: early Hadrianic period. EAM 413
A man of advanced age, bearded and extensively balding, is depicted. It is recognizably evocative of Greek portraits, such as Thucydides or the Vienna-type portrait of Aristotle, in terms of the shape of the skull, the arrangement of the wrinkles on the forehead and the rendering of the beard. It is, however, also associated to beardless portraits of the late Flavian period (square chin).
Chronology: 130-140 AD. EAM 416
The portrait depicts a mature bearded man, with short hair, which is combed towards the front in crescent-shaped locks, running in opposite directions. The short beard is arranged in locks rendered in low or shallow relief. The fleshy lips, the beard, but also the thick eyelids with the clear «metallic» outline, recall bronze models of the Classical period (see the portrait of Perikles, work of Kresilas, circa 430 BC).
Chronology: 129-138 AD. EAM 387
According to the inscription on the stele the kosmetes Onasos, son of Trophimos, from Pallene is depicted. He is shown bearded. The oblong shape of the head, the hair arranged in tousled loose locks, the luxuriant beard and, mainly, the “tense” expression of the face evoke portraits of intellectuals of the 4th and 3rd century BC (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Epicurus, Metrodoros).
Chronology: 141/142 AD. EAM 385
According to the inscription on the stele the kosmetes Sosistratos, son of Sosistratos, from Marathon is depicted. He is shown bearded. The austere expression of the face, the short beard in low relief, treated as a single mass, the thick, heavy, tousled locks of hair and the smooth face refer to the portrait of Lucius Aelius Caesar, Hadrian’s adopted son, and to the portrait of the sophist Herodes Atticus.
Chronology: 142/143 AD. EAΜ 386
According to the inscription on the stele the kosmetes Chrysippos, son of Damasias, from Phlya (Chalandri) is depicted. He is shown as a mature bearded man, with a little baldness over the forehead. Both his short hair and short beard are rendered in low relief. The austere expression of the face and his «intense» look evoke portraits of intellectuals of the Classical past (Demosthenes).
Chronology: 150/160 AD. EAM 404
The portrait depicts a mature, bearded man. The dense hair, organized into heavy, tousled locks, the short beard, worked in fairly low relief, and the lean but smooth face constitute a deliberate attempt to imitate portraits of the Hadrianic era, but also later ones, which derive from Asia Minor.
Chronology: before the end of the 2nd century AD. EAM 405
The head was inserted into the stele. A man of advanced age, bearded and bald is depicted. The hair on the sides of the head, arranged in spiral locks in high relief, the beard worked in low relief and the inner tension of the face refer to portraits of Stoic philosophers of the Antonine period and to the portrait of the philosopher Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Chronology: around the end of the 2nd century AD. EAM 394
The portrait depicts a bearded man at an advanced age wearing a himation over his left shoulder. The hair, fairly luxuriant for his age, is arranged into tousled, heavy locks. The particularly long beard is wavy, while the thick moustache completely covers the upper lip. Influences are traced to the philosopher-sophist type portraits of the period of Marcus Aurelius.
Chronology: around the end of the 2nd century AD. EAM 407
The portrait depicts a man of advanced age, bearded and extensively balding. The scanty hair at the sides is arranged in tousled, plastically rendered, locks, in contrast to the short beard worked in relief. The thick moustache covers the whole mouth. The portrait follows the trends of the time. It is similar to the portraits of the sophist Aelius Aristides and the philosopher-type portraits of Asia Minor.
Chronology: around the end of the 2nd or early 3rd century AD. EAM 389
The portrait depicts a man at an advanced age, bearded and bald. He would wear a himation. The hair is arranged in thick, tousled, crescent-shaped locks. The beard is short and the moustache completely covers the upper lip. It is associated with portraits of Stoic philosophers of the Antonine period (Iunius Rusticus) and the philoshoper-type portraits of Asia Minor.
Chronology: end of the 2nd/early 3rd century AD. EAM 408
The portrait depicts a bearded man in middle age. His luxuriant, thick hair forms tousled, spiral locks, separated by deep drillings. The beard, equally luxuriant, is worked in lower relief. The horizontal wrinkle on the forehead and the vertical ones over the eyebrows underline the spirituality of the figure. The portrait follows the iconographic type of the philosopher of Asia Minor.
Chronology: 211-217 AD. EAM 411
The portrait depicts a mature man with a short beard. The stubborn expression, the thin moustache and the shaved chin refer to the portraits of Caracalla (first main type). However, the unusually long locks of hair in flat relief, combed to the right at the forehead, are traced back to portraits of the Athenian historian Xenophon, of the decade 340-330 BC.
Chronology: 220-235 AD. EAM 415
The portrait depicts a bearded man in his early maturity. His luxuriant hair, combed to the front, is arranged in crescent-shaped, tousled locks worked in relief. The very short beard is rendered in very low relief. The standard stylistic features of portraits of the middle-late Severan period are recognizable.
Chronology: 220-235 AD. EAM 393
The portrait depicts a man at an advanced age, bearded, with a thick long moustache. Both his hair, worked in unkempt heavy locks, and his luxuriant, long and wavy beard, refer to portraits of Cynic philosophers (Antisthenes). The passion of the expression, however, reflects the Hellenistic philosopher-type portraits of Asia Minor.
Chronology: 220-235 AD. EAM 412
The portrait depicts a mature bearded man. The tripartite division of the hair at the forehead and the temples refers to Antoninus Pius’ portraits, while the beard evokes portraits of the Emperor Macrinus. There are, however, references to portraits of the 4th century BC, such as these of the orator Lycurgus of 350 BC and Aeschines of 320 BC.
Chronology: 220-235 AD. EAM 414
The portrait depicts a mature, bearded man. He would wear a himation. His short hair is rendered as a single mass. The use of the drill to separate the locks is restricted at the sides. The fluidity in the modeling of the surface, visible around the eyes, is a typical feature of the late Severan period.
Chronology: 220-235 AD. EAM 395
The portrait depicts a man at an advanced age, bearded and bald. He would wear a himation. Both the arrangement of the curly hair at the sides and the shape of the face refer to portraits of Caracalla’s successors. It recalls, however, the «Naplestype portrait» of the orator Aeschines. The swollen ears indicate his athletic past as a wrestler.
Chronology: 220-235 AD. EAM 396
The portrait depicts a mature, bearded man. The short hair is combed to the front. At the sides and at the back of the head, the hair is formed in successive rows of crescent-shaped locks, worked in very low relief. The luxuriant, long beard is arranged in wavy locks. It follows the stereotypes of the portraits «Boehringer-type» of Plato of the decade 350-340 BC but in eclectic style.
Chronology: 231/232 AD. EAM 388
The portrait depicts a mature, bearded man. He wears a himation over his left shoulder. A receding hairline and deep wrinkles on the forehead indicate his age. His physiognomy, but mostly the solid structure of the skull with a tongue-shaped tuft of hair in the middle of the forehead refers to portraits of the orator Aeschines of 320 BC. The swollen ears indicate his athletic past as a wrestler.
Chronology: 220-240 AD. EAM 390
The portrait depicts a bearded man in middle age. The philosophical mood and the inner tranquility of the face refer to Classical models. Similarly, the arrangement of the hair at the tall forehead recalls portraits of the orator Aeschines, the poet Menander, and possibly of the Stoic philosopher Seneca.
Chronology: 200-230 AD. EAM 397
The portrait depicts a mature, bearded man. The short hair is arranged in tousled, crescent-shaped locks rendered in high relief. The short beard and the moustache are worked in lower relief. The swollen ears indicate his athletic past as a wrestler. He would wear a himation.
Chronology: around the middle of the 3rd century AD. EAM 409
The portrait depicts a mature, bearded man. His hair is arranged in tousled locks running in opposite directions and rendered in high relief. The short beard is worked in extremely low relief, almost engraved. The eyes, deeply sunk in the sockets, intensify the tension of the look. The portrait adopts the style of portraits of the Traianus Decius’ period both iconographically and stylistically. He would wear a himation.
Chronology: around the middle of the 3rd century AD. EAM 402
The portrait depicts a mature, bearded man. The short hair is combed to the front in crescent-shaped locks; at the forehead the locks diverge outwards running in opposite directions. The short beard is organized in spiral locks. The rugged expression of the face follows the style of portraits of the period of Philip the Arab and Traianus Decius.
Chronology: around the middle of the 3rd century AD. EAM 406
The portrait depicts a mature, bearded man. The structure of the head is heavy and the face broad and angular. The hair and the short beard are rendered in extremely low relief, worked with a fine point. It follows the contemporary trend of the portraits of the period of Trebonianus Gallus. The swollen ears testify his athletic past as a wrestler.
Chronology: around the middle of the 3rd century AD. EAM 398
The portrait depicts a bearded man in his early maturity. His hair is treated as a single mass, while the locks are almost engraved. In contrast, the beard is plastically rendered, organized in spiral locks. The thin moustache is engraved, as, too, is the hair of the eyebrows. It follows the contemporary trend of the portraits of the early Gallienus period.
Chronology: after the middle of the 3rd century AD. EAM 403
The portrait depicts a bearded man with beautiful, idealistic, classicizing features. He would wear a himation. His luxuriant hair is arranged in short, crescentshaped locks. The short beard is worked in low relief, while the hair of the eyebrows is rendered by oblique, engraved lines. The expression of the face is severe and melancholy. It recalls portraits of the Hadrianic period.
Chronology: 260-270 AD. EAM 400
The portrait depicts a mature bearded man. The short hair, combed to the front, and the short beard are rendered in shallow relief; both are worked with a fine point. The head evokes spirituality, following the contemporary trend of the portraits of the neoplatonic philosophers of the Gallienus’ period.
Chronology: Julio-Claudian period (14-68 AD). EAM 401
The portrait depicts a beardless young man with short hair. It is not certain that the head belonged to a herm, as the heroic turn of the neck to the right refers to Classical, Polykleitian models. The hair, in low relief, is not fully treated, which suggests that the head was probably unfinished.
Chronology: 238-251 AD. EAM 391
The portrait depicts a beardless young man. He wears a himation over his left shoulder. His short hair is treated as a single mass and the locks are barely indicated, almost engraved. The face is young with smooth, plump cheeks and fleshy mouth. The portrait follows the contemporary style of the time. It is close to portraits of Gordian III.
Chronology: shortly before 280 AD. EAM 399
The portrait depicts a beardless young man. The hair is arranged in straight, flat locks, combed to the front and hanging in a straight line to the forehead. The face is oval with «chubby» cheeks, a rounded chin and the mouth is small. The expression of the face is secretive. It follows the style of the portraits of Gallienus’ sons.
Places of corporal and spiritual instruction of youths
Gymnasia are since the 6th century B.C. the places par excellence for the athletic training of youths. From the 5th century B.C. physical exercise is combined with spiritual instruction, primarily aiming at the harmonious integration of young people into the socio-political and religious life of the city. In Roman times, gymnasium education focuses on the cultivation of the spirit, while physical exercise is limited. Already in the mid 2nd century B.C. the education programme includes classes on oratory, philosophy, but also on other sciences, such as medicine, physics and astronomy, resulting in the transformation of the gymnasia into educational institutions, with teaching rooms, lecture halls, even libraries. Philosophers and orators find at the gymnasia their audience and their natural abode. The three traditional gymnasia of ancient Athens, Academy, Lyceum, Cynosarges, were situated in groves outside the city walls. Towards the end of the 3rd or the beginning of the 2nd century B.C., two other gymnasia, the Diogeneion and the Ptolemaion, are founded in the heart of the ancient city.
Chronology: just after 130 AD. EAM 417
Nude bust with the head in the main figural type of Antinous, Hadrian’s beloved. The type was probably the creation of an attic workshop and was especially popular. Full nudity suggests the hero worship [of Antinous] and the association with the gymnasium, through which the veneration of Antinous was promoted.
Chronology: around 465-455 BC. EAM A 12462
The two sides of the exterior depict a school scene. The column behind the seated student suggests the interior space of the school. The young man is about to receive from his teacher, the grammatistes, a diptych, namely, a tablet for writing exercises. Correspondingly, on the other side, a young man, prepares to receive his lyre from the music teacher for the class of music.
Chronology: around 460 BC. EAM A 17302
Both sides of the exterior depict scenes from the athletic activity in the palaestra, the stoic building of which is indicated by a column. In the centre of one side, an athlete with a stleggis looks at his co-athlete, who is preparing to throw the javelin. On the right, a young man in himation, perhaps the paidotribes, supervises both athletes. On the other side, an athlete offers an aryballos with perfumed oil to another one undresses in order to compete. Another paidotribes in himation supervises both athletes.
Chronology: 117-138 AD. EAM 1468
On a projecting base stand three relief male figures. In the centre, the «kosmetes» is crowned by an ephebe wearing a chlamys. On his right, is shown another ephebe, nude, crowning himself and holding a palm branch; next to him rests a hydria. The background of the representation would have been red initially. At the bottom, a ship with seven oarsmen and a helmsman refers to a «naval battle» contest. The inscription on the shaft of the stele may have been painted.
Chronology: 139-140 AD. EAM 1484
The stele is divided into two unequal parts. On the cornice, is the inscription: «For the Good Fortune of the Emperor Antoninus» (Agathei Tychei Autokratoros Antoneinou). At the top, are depicted three male figures in relief. In the centre, the kosmetes Archelaos, son of Apollonios, from Piraeus, wrapped in his himation, is crowned by two ephebes, one wearing a himation and the other a chlamys. The inscription on the field mentions the archon, the sophronistai, the paidotribes, the hoplomachos and the hegemon. At the bottom, are inscribed names of ephebes, citizens of Athens (protengraphoi) and foreigners (epengraphoi).
Chronology: 163/164 AD. ΕAΜ 1466
The stele is crowned by a relief pediment inscribed in the rectangular slab. The inscription mentions the name of the archon and the kosmetes Herakleides from Melite. On the shaft of the stele are inscribed names of ephebes (Athenians and foreigners), festivals (Antinoeia in the City and in Eleusis, Germanikeia, Hadrianeia), the two systremmatarchai and other officials of the gymnasium (agonothetai, gymnasiarchoi, sophronistai). At the bottom is the depiction of a ship with three seated oarsmen, wearing a chlamys, and two others, standing at the prow and at the stern, with the oars over their shoulders.
Chronology: 212/213 AD or later. EAM 1465
The stele is divided into two unequal parts. At the top, inside a rectangular recessed panel, are depicted three relief male figures. In the centre, the kosmetes Aur. Dositheos or Thales, son of Dositheos, wrapped in his himation, is crowned by two ephebes, one wearing a himation and the other a chlamys, who hold palm branches. Next to the kosmetes, is depicted a bundle of scrolls, while an amphora rests next to the ephebe on the right. To the left and right of the panel are relief olive wreaths with inscriptions indicating that the kosmetes honour the ephebes and the ephebes honour the kosmetes. Under the panel are inscribed names of the officials and instructors of the Gymnasium (antikosmetes, paidotribes, grammateus, sophronistai, hyposophronistai, prostates, hypopaideotribes, hegemon, hoplomachos, didaskalos, hypogrammateus, kestrophylax, gymnasiarchoi, systremmatarchai, strategoi, kerykes, basileus, polemarchos, agoranomoi, astynomoi), festivals (Antinoeia, Germanikeia, Antoneia, Hadrianeia, Theseia, Athenaia, Severeia, Amphiareia) and ephebes by tribe. At the bottom, two relief ships, each manned by two oarsmen, refer to the «naval battle» contest in which the sons of the kosmetes had taken part.
The exhibition was organized by the National Archaeological Museum in collaboration with the Italian Archaeological School of Athens. It is being presented in room 31a of Roman Sculptures since 28.11.2017.