Greek mythology in western art and literature
The widespread adoption of
Christianitywould not curb the popularity of the myths and their continual recycling in art, music and literature. With the rediscovery of classical antiquity in Renaissance, the poetry of Ovidbecame a major influence on the imagination of poets and artists and remained a fundamental influence on the diffusion and perception of Greek mythologythrough subsequent centuries.cite encyclopedia|title=Greek mythology|encyclopedia=Encyclopaedia Britannica|date=2002
* L. Burn, "Greek Myths", 75] From the early years of Renaissance, artists portrayed subjects from Greek mythology alongside more conventional Christian themes. Among the best-known subjects of Italian artists are
Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" and " Pallas and the Centaur", the Ledas of Leonardo da Vinciand Michelangelo, and Raphael's "Galatea". Through the medium of Latin and the works of Ovid, Greek myth influenced medieval and Renaissance poets such as Petrarch, Boccaccio and Dantein Italy.
In northern Europe, Greek mythology never took the same hold of the visual arts, but its effect was very obvious on literature. Both Latin and Greek classical texts were translated, so that stories of mythology became available. In England,
Chaucer, the Elizabethans and John Miltonwere among those influenced by Greek myths; nearly all the major English poets from Shakespeareto Robert Bridgesturned for inspiration to Greek mythology. Jean Racinein Franceand Goethein Germanyrevived Greek drama. Racine reworked the ancient myths — including those of Phaidra, Andromache, Oedipus and Iphigeneia— to new purpose.l. Burn, "Greek Myths", 75]
The 18th century saw the philosophical revolution of the Enlightenment spread throughout Europe and accompanied by a certain reaction against Greek myth; there was a tendency to insist on the scientific and philosophical achievements of Greece and Rome. The myths, however, continued to provide an important source of raw material for dramatists, including those who wrote the
librettifor Handel's operas " Admeto" and "Semele", Mozart's " Idomeneo" and Gluck's " Iphigénie en Aulide". By the end of the century, Romanticisminitiated a surge of enthusiam for all things Greek, including Greek mythology. In Britain, it was a great period for new translations of Greek tragedies and Homer, and these in turn inspired contemporary poets, such as Keats, Byronand Shelley.l. Burn, "Greek Myths", 75-76] The Hellenism of Queen's Victoria poet laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson, was such that even his portraits of the quintessentially English court of King Arthrur are suffused with echoes of the Homeric epics. The visual arts kept pace, stimulated by the purchase of the Parthenon marblesin 1816; many of the "Greek" paintings of Lord Leightonand Lawrence Alma-Tademawere seriously accepted as part of the transmission of the Hellenic ideal.l. Burn, "Greek Myths", 76] The German composer of the 18th century Christoph Gluckwas also influenced by Greek mythology.
American authors of the 19th century, such as
Thomas Bulfinchand Nathaniel Hawthorne, believed that myths should provide pleasure, and held that the study of the classical myths was essential to the understanding of English and Americal literature.Klatt-Brazouski, "Ancient Greek and Roman Mythology", 4] According to Bulfinch, "the so-called divinities of Olympus have not a single worshipper among living men; they belong now not to the department of theology, but to those of literature and taste".T. Bulfinch, "Bulfinch's Greek and Roman Mythology", [http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/b/bulfinch/thomas/b93fab/chap1.html 1] ] In more recent times, classical themes have been reinterpreted by such major dramatists as Jean Anouilh, Jean Cocteau, and Jean Giraudouxin France, Eugene O'Neillin America, and T. S. Eliotin England and by great novelists such as the Irish James Joyceand the French André Gide. Richard Strauss, Jacques Offenbachand many others have set Greek mythological themes to music.
List of movies based on Greco-Roman mythology
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