What fascinates me about ancient Greek literature and art is how the myths are reused, retold, repurposed, and recycled across different mediums and in different times. This vast area of interest gives me license to acquire a range of books, but my collection coalesces into two parts.
First, books exploring the interaction between text and image in Greek art, exemplified in this exhibition by the survey of vases compiled by Gerhard. What intrigues me about this book, and other illustrated books of vases, are the many sources, visual and textual, that scholars, collectors, and artists drew upon when choosing and depicting vases in these gigantic illustrated surveys.
The other core of my collection focuses on women and ancient Greek poetry, an example being the works of Anyte of Tegea. The stories of many female writers, translators, collectors, and artists who created and engaged with Greek poetry remain and present an important perspective on texts that are reinterpreted across millennia.
So much ancient Greek art and literature has not survived the centuries, but what does remain has been a source of enthrallment for many across time and, in a small way, my collection explores the books that document this constant rebirth.
The Poems of Anyte of Tegea. The Greek text with English prose translation.
(Anyte of Tygea.) Aldington, Richard (trans.) Cleveland, OH: The Clerk’s Press, 1917.
Anyte of Tegea (Ἀνύτη Τεγεᾶτις) was an Arcadian poet of the 4th century BC and described as the female Homer by Antipater of Thessalonica, a 1st century literary critic. This little book prints the original Greek text of her 25 surviving fragments, next to translations by the Imagist writer Richard Aldington. Unfortunately, it appears the majority of Anyte’s works, including the lyric and epic poems for which she was best known in antiquity, are lost.
Etruskische und Kampanische Vasenbilder des Königlichen Museums zu Berlin.
Gerhard, Friedrich Wilhelm Eduard. Berlin: Verlag von G. Reimer, 1843.
This enormous survey of ancient Etruscan and Campanian vases in the museums of Berlin is one of the many works by the German archaeologist Eduard Gerhard. It illustrates 30 terracotta red and black vases that depict scenes and figures from Greek mythology, including Aegisthus, Herakles, Ariadne, and the Calydonian hunt. These legends are also treated in the writings of Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus and others.