The ancient Greeks loved a good story. They reveled in relating tales of the adventures and loves of their gods and heroes. In stories from the epics of Homer to the tragedies of Aeschylos, Sophocles, and Euripides, we learn of the important role played by mythology in the lives of the ancient inhabitants of Greece. The importance of myth is also reflected in the many works of art that survive from classical times. Narrative art—art that tells or illustrates a story—was especially favored by Greek and, later, Roman artists. By examining a few of the works of art in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, we will explore how myth was utilized by classical artists and what the intersection of myth and art can tell us about ancient society.
• Feel comfortable using Museum objects as teaching tools
• Explore the relationship between art objects and the culture that produced them
•Understand the role of the elements and principles of art in art-making (NVAS 2)
•See how art reflects the larger culture that produced it (NVAS 4) (NSHT 2G)
•Experience the learning value of close observation of objects and discussion
•Generate hypotheses based on observation and prior knowledge (NELAS 4, 12) (NSHT 3J, 5B)
•Begin to interpret works of art in the context of the history of ancient Greece and Rome (NSHT 2G, 3B, 3E)
•Identify different mythological personages, stories, and motifs as represented in Greek and Roman art (NVAS 4)
•Gain an understanding the impact of classical mythology on Greek and Roman life (NHS E3:2B, 3A)
•Recognize differences and commonalities in ancient Greek and Roman images (NVAS 2, 4)
Using this Resource
The content material in this online gallery is divided according to specific sets of stories that are being told through the works of art in that section. The text that accompanies each slide offers information about the artwork. To make further cultural connections, additional images from the collection of American art at the Museum can be found on Educators Online.
•Social Studies teachers and students will be interested in what this gallery reveals about and how it will enhance the study of classical society and the shared tastes and beliefs between the ancient Greeks and Romans.
•Art teachers and students will be interested in the different methods, materials, and techniques employed by artists in the decorative arts and sculpture as well as the content of the artworks and the birth of new styles in classical art, particularly in ceramics.
•English Language Arts teachers and students will be interested in using the images as prompts for creative writing or using the gallery to place assigned reading materials in context.
Exploring this gallery, you will discover the social values and beliefs of the ancient Greeks and Romans as shown in various pieces of art. The objects in this tour are just a beginning. We encourage you to explore the Museum's online collection through this web resource—or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries—to look for other objects that will provide further insights into the history of ancient Greece and Rome.