Gods of Balance - Ryan Morrison

The Ancient Greeks composed their art for their gods in near perfect balance and sometimes symmetry whether it was in their pottery, paintings, sculptures, or even in their architecture itself. Never in their work does it feel like their is uneven space. Almost all content of any of their works are arranged evenly throughout the area in which they are distributed. In the way that gods are seen to be perfect, so was their artistic representation of them and their activities.

When you look at the rim of this vessel you can see a scene with the Greek gods Adonis, Aphrodite, and Persephone. In the exact middle you see one of them lying down on what appears to be a couch or bed. To the left and right you can see 3 people in each direction with an even amount of red and black space. The handles are in perfect symmetry as well as are the designs around the circumference of the vessel and along the rim. All of the little designs you see are nearly mirrored throughout this beautiful creation.
This pot holds a scene from a classic story of their god Zeus taking the form of a swan and seducing Leda. There are a lot of characters evenly distributed vertically and horizontally in this piece. There is a gazebo type structure in the center that takes the focus with scenes branching out from it in perfect balance. Like other pottery works of art from this time, there seems to be an even balance of black and red giving it a sense of perfect balance. The handles and other designs are also in symmetry.
This pelike, or storage jar, depicts a story of Thetis, mother of Achilles, lover of Zeus, a Greek god. Thetis is the white figure centered on the vase with a number of other red figures surrounding her. The balance here is of making the focus on the main character, Thetis, while bringing life to the rest of the piece with the other characters filling up the outside of the jar. As with the other pottery works, the darkness is balanced by the red figures of the characters portrayed. The handles and rims and other designs are equally proportioned as well throughout the jar creating a perfect balance.
This painting is a reconstruction of one of the temples of the acropolis in Selinunte, a Greek city, which is now in Sicily. These temples were dedicated to different Greek gods such as Hera or Dionysus. You can see the perfect balance here in all forms, from the statues between the columns to the figures in the frieze on top. The perfectly spaced fluted shafts were meticulously planned to be balanced across the acropolis perfectly. The scenes represented in the frieze sloped downward as they came toward the end in both directions so the artists had to make the sculptures in various poses that stayed true to the scene but also achieved the balance they needed to fill the space of the frieze accordingly. The way the positioned these figures is still breathtaking today.
This reconstruction of the original marble from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi are only a part of the larger temple itself, however you can tell how each and every part of the frieze are evenly balanced just by looking at the pieces we can see here. Looking right in the center we can see the two figures leaning away from each other with legs crossed over each others', arms flung open wide, and looking across at each other. This is a wonderful example of balance in the friezes of this time. They nearly mirror each other with the exception of one being clothed and the other nude. To the left and right of these figures is a wide open scene of a battle, where other figures are spaced and positioned evenly throughout the frieze. The left and right part of the frieze reflect one another almost perfectly with the men gliding through the air, laying on the ground, or standing facing each other.
The Temple of Hephaestus pictured here was completed around 415 B.C. and shows how dedicated Greek architects and artists were to balance, symmetry, and perfection when it came to their gods. The columns, as one can tell, are spaced perfectly around the temple, with the entablature balancing out the dark space below it with bright marble. The pediment which sits atop the temple houses a frieze that, like other Greek temples of this era, housed a wonderful scene filled with sculptures of the god(s) that the temple is dedicated to. The evenly placed marble sculptures and architectural parts of the temple create a perfect sense of balance and composure that are fit for the gods they serve.
This bronze relief shows how not all of the Greek art had a symmetrical balance. Some, such as this, used asymmetry to achieve the balance that portrayed the gods they served. The god Aphrodite and her lover Anchises are shown here with a few other figures from the story. On the right we see a large Aphrodite and then as the scene moves left the figures get smaller, however there are more of the figures fit into the space the smaller they get, which balances out the scene marvelously and makes the artist able to fit the picture into this circular piece of bronze we see below.
This Greek ring most likely belonged to a wealthy and prominent individual and goes to show that the balance and symmetrical proportions that artist of this time period used was not just limited to their architecture and sculptures, but down to almost every piece of work they completed. We see the column in the middle with branches on either side of it symmetrically and the birds above mirror one another. The balance of the left side and right side of this ring are nearly identical.
I absolutely love this bronze mask of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. The balance here is remarkable, and similar to the symmetry of a person's face, Dionysus' facial features are balanced meticulously. One side of his beard is nearly a mirrored reflection of the other side. The wrinkles and individual features of his facial language are symmetrical as well, showing his perfection as a god. His crown of grapes on top of his head balances the weight of his beard beneath his face, creating a harmony within the mask.
This bronze case shows a scene of Aphrodite and Pan in which Aphrodite sits almost perfectly in the center of the case. Pan sits on one side while another character sits on the other. Since Aphrodite's legs lean to one side of the case, the artist placed a bird on the other side to balance the scene out and evenly take up space on the container. Even though it is not symmetrical exactly, it is clear that there is a sense of balance where space is taken up on either side of the scene.
One last image that shows the wondrous use of balance in Greek art is this limestone relief of Dionysus and Isis in these cornucopia shaped objects. It is almost a mirror image of the characters from one side to the other. Their hair is symmetrical to each others', the objects their heads rest upon are symmetrical, and even their eyes seem to mirror each other. On top of all of that, The 'white space' of the sculpture is almost perfectly evened out with the figures on top of it. This type of symmetry and balance is what the Greek's art is almost known best for.
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